04 December 2018

Bookishness / Umbertouched by Livia Blackburne


Read _ in the midst of a move and its aftermath

When coming home brings
death and destruction ...



Brokenness is usually not an admirable trait. Neither is failure. These have been weary times, and sometimes I just want my heroines and heroes to succeed and thrive, not botch things up like I and the rest of the world do! Yet they are made more human for it. And in Umbertouched (2018), Livia Blackburne's sequel to Rosemarked (2017), I found myself repeatedly rooting for the very human Zivah and Dineas. These characters at the helm of the story are scarred, visibly and invisibly, and yet they endure in ways that make me hopeful for myself.

17 May 2018

Bookishness / The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden



Greetings from a faraway land, a land that has been bereft of books ... until now. I haven't been able to write for a while, for various reasons personal and procrastination-ish, but this book has lingered in the back of my mind. Yes, I had committed to writing this review, but more importantly, I wanted to do it but I didn't get to it in a timely manner. And so I thought, "Maybe I'll reread the book to refresh my memory so I can write a proper review." Then, "I won't read any other books until I write this review."

Then life happened, health happened, and a few months later, nothing happened.

Until I decided to pick up another book and read.

I intentionally chose a book in a different genre, a lighter dose of realistic fiction to get me turning pages but that wouldn't mix too much with my memories of Vasya and medieval Russia. And it worked. I started reading without guilt, and I've now started writing bits and pieces again.

And because I have followed through in writing about a book a read several months ago, you'll know it's good.

/ / /

Read _ during the remnants of summer -- yet still, I shivered...

Political intrigue, complex relations,
and a dangerous masquerade ...



I read. Shivered. Went back to reread sections. Savored. But at some point, many months overdue, a review needs to be written.

The Girl in the Tower (Winternight #2) was a very welcome follow up to The Bear and the Nightingale, and, already, I can't wait for Vasya's story to conclude in The Winter of the Witch (forthcoming in January 2019). (Truly, does this series have to stop at 3?)

13 June 2017

Bookishness / Thick as Thieves by Megan Whalen Turner


Read _ While planning my next adventurous escape for the summer

A daring escape through desert and mountain,
where nothing is what it seems


Two years ago, the Tall Man and I embarked on a cross-country road trip. With a new car and adventure in mind, we plotted a zigzagging route from Los Angeles to Philadelphia, connecting the dots between friend's houses, meeting relatives, and nature's wonders -- plus the odd man-made creation like the Jolly Green Giant (Blue Earth, Minnesota). Although I had visited various national parks in the past with my family, the sheer diversity in the landscape still wowed me. There was an immensity to our trek, a pilgrimage of sorts through all of America's textures and faces.

Reading Thick as Thieves, the fifth installment of The Queen's Thief series, was a little like this trip. The book focuses primarily on a journey -- a physical one across varied landscapes, but also an emotional one, charting the trajectory of a friendship, of identities, of belonging.

16 March 2017

Late night tracks / Jean Chaumont

From a September 2016 concert with pianist Michael Bond in Hopewell, New Jersey

Recently I've been on a bit of a jazzy kick, thanks to the movie musical La La Land. My feet have been tapping ever since I left the theater. That opening scene alone is worth the watch, but the rest of the soundtrack is a great repeated listen for its splendid fusion of jazz, pop, latin, and bits in between. For better or worse, I find that Ryan Gosling's character and I have a similar taste for big band jazz. I like my horns brassy, my rhythms quick, my saxes sassy. (Fun fact: No body doubles for that pianist!)

And yet, I'm drawn to tonight's listen: a more melodic and contemplative form of the genre, courtesy of French guitarist and composer. Jean Chaumont. It's not exactly music to fall asleep to. It's no Kenny G (thank goodness -- no offense, KG). Clearly it's kept me awake. It's thoughtful, sometimes challenging, hitting me in a way I can't quite place.