Month: December 2013

Yet another young adult novel set at boarding school! I’ve been attracting them this year. I’m starting to wish I could have gone to boarding school. Apparently, they make for interesting and intense upbringings. Of course, being a teenager is an intense and weird experience. I must say that young adult fiction is better now than when it was when I was a teenager. I read more adult novels from age fourteen onward than young adult novels.

This novel is very similar to Winger, and if I were to pick the two, I think Winger got to me more. It had more humour, but this one had some light moments too. I felt the rawness of youth with it. I also questioned mortality a lot when I became a teenager. A lot of the questions on religion an the after life posed in this novel affected me when I was thirteen and fourteen.

This was my first John Green novel and I chose to read this before his even more acclaimed The Fault in Our Stars. I liked the experience even though I find it a bit too dark and intense for me at times. I definitely think Green can write.

Recommended if you enjoy raw and honest young adult fiction.

Read December 29-30, 2013.

When I was around the age of Sara Crewe, I had seen the 1995 movie adaptation of this book and liked it. It was magical. I really adored the message about every girl being a princess and the sense of magic in the work. I didn’t know how true the movie was to the book until now.

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Sunday Salon

Hello! I hope everyone is having a good holiday so far. I’ve been quite busy and even sick the last couple of weeks. It feels a lot has happened. I’m not working until the 6th which is great but a bit strange since I’ve been working so much the last couple of months.

Yesterday, I read A Little Princess and the review for it and the 1995 movie will be up tomorrow. Today, I think I’ll read John Green’s Looking for Alaska.

I plan on doing the Classics Club Readathon on January 4. I won’t read the whole day, but I’ll definitely make a concerted effort to read a classic that day.

For the rest of my time off, I’ll be seeing some friends, organizing my Filofax planner(s), making job applications, and cleaning my desk and filing cabinet in anticipation of the new year.

Yesterday, I started drafting up my 2014 reading goals and challenges. I usually do a review of 2013, but I may not do it this year because I am busy. I completed most of my reading challenges for 2013 and have tweaked my 2014 goals accordingly. How was your 2013 reading goals? What do you plan for in the new year?

This is novel’s setting tone and style is highly reminiscent of “Downton Abbey”, Edith Wharton, andHenry James. If you enjoy any of those three like I do, you’ll at least find this novel mildly interesting.

Like DA, this novel has several elements of soap opera. It has many predictable moments, public humiliation, men and women with mother issues, love affairs and love squares. Most of the characters are not well drawn. The writer has just enough about each of them, but not enough for me to find it remarkable or anywhere near a character study.

I really only liked Cora the protagonist towards the end. I identified with her because even with her spoilt upbringing, she is straight forward and frank. I felt bad for her as well. As a result, the ending left me dissatisfied. It reminded me about how I felt with the ending of James’s A Portrait of a Lady. I wasn’t exactly ecstatic or pleased with how it ended. It just ended almost abruptly.

It did make me reflect how the rich in those days had such insufferable lifestyles where you had to host so many parties, live in idleness and all the gossip and the social machinations that goes with it. It really makes you think how things are better without such foolishness especially for women.

This was a decent debut novel, and it got better as the somewhat predictable plot progressed. I started to care for the characters as it went on, but I don’t think this is an outstanding work. It suited my day of recovering from illness. It was a fine read for my mood.

Read Dec 22 2013.

I had somewhat high expectations for this novel given how much I liked Agnes Grey and the style of Anne Bronte’s writing overall. I found my expectations were not quite met. In general, this is a good novel and like Grey, it is a very interesting view about Victorian marriage. As a proto-Feminist novel, I can appreciate it as well.
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The last young adult I read set in an American boarding school fell short, but this one is much more interesting.

It is funny and has a few hand drawn comics done by the protagonist, Winger aka Ryan Dean West. There is this sense of timelessness in the book too. There is actually very little technology mentioned in the book, but it’s focussed more on the rawness and alienation of being a fourteen year old boy. The author captured the craziness of that time well or from what I vaguely remember as a teenager.

The book has some random, funny and poignant moments. The ending was particularly intense. It did make me cry a little. I thought it was moving and a big testament to the characters and the various forms of friendships. Friendship and loyalty were big themes in this novel and Smith drew that out well. The characters were well developed in a short period of time and there was a lot of pathos without being preachy or sanctimonious. The ending was handled well.

Read Dec 15-16, 2013. This was my 65th book of the year which was my GoodReads reading goal. I was well ahead of my reading up until the busy October-November I had. In any case, I will do my best with my next goal of 70. I haven’t raised it the last couple of years, but I think it’s time that I should.

Gap-tastic CowlI wanted a giant cowl to go with my first leather jacket. I’ve had this pattern queued up for awhile now. It was between this or the Herringbone Cowl, but this one won over by being reversible and textured. I did forgot how boring it was to knit moss st/single rib though.
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IMG_2052For many years and up to a year ago, I only had one fountain pen. Now I have 5 usable and decent ones. I have always liked writing by long hand and with pens, but I have only recently had a collection of fountain pens which I use on a daily basis.

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I would consider myself a romantic. Perhaps more practical and analytical than some others, but one none the less. This is not the first book I have read on the scientific and anthropological reasoning behind romance, love, and sex.

I quite enjoy anthropology and social science books. Indeed, I did some of my graduate work on social epidemiology. This book is a bit outdated as it was published in 2004, and in the world of science, it’s not news. There is a lot of interesting information about the science of our brains when we are in love or when we are rejected in love.

The author has an easy and understandable style. She uses a lot of literary quotations and examples which other bibliophiles would appreciate. It’s not a self-help book by any means, but from the studies, the author and the reader does consider how to best deal with a heartbreak and try again.

For those with an interest in romance from an anthropological and sociological perspective, I’d recommend this book.

Read Dec 1-2, 2013.