Saturday, March 22, 2014

Some more things to keep you occupied

Since I just started one book and finished a different one I decided was to horrible for me to humanely review, here's a post of interesting stuff.

Authors on Tumblr:

John Green

Malinda Lo

Megan Spooner 

Cassandra Clare

Cindy Pon

Holly Black

Ellen Oh

Remember that kitten I posted a picture of in the first 'something to keep you occupied'? Here he is now-

I know. The picture isn't all that flattering. It's all I have, though.

Random facts that have nothing to do with books (but may have to do with words and letters):

Whales evolved from something that looked like this:
(Image from

That is why whales have hipbones, despite missing a couple crucial things, such as hips.


It takes a Venus Flytrap one to two weeks to digest a meal.


'&' used to be a letter of the alphabet. However, no one really used it because it is useless and sad, so it's gone now. Frankly, writing 'and' is much easier that drawing that thing right.


Bonobos do not kill other bonobos. In fact, aggressiveness is extremely rare in bonobo society.


 Defenestration means 'the act of throwing something or someone out a window'. The only instance I can think of that this word would be even vaguely useful is in the Avengers movie. Though I'm pretty certain that would be written on the script as 'Loki throws Tony Stark out the window', not 'Loki commits the defenestration of Tony Stark'.


These are Chinampas. They serve as a reminder that we could solve the world's food crisis if genocide wasn't so fashionable back in ye olden days.


Within six feet of you, there is probably a spider. Especially now.


Saturday, March 15, 2014

These Broken Stars

These Broken Stars
(Image from
Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner

Now for the shortest summary in the history of Yas Read Yas:

Space Titanic.

Yeah. Two words. That's all you need to know about the plot for the rest of the review to make sense.

If you want to understand more, the premise is pretty much that the two MCs- Lilac and Tarver- are on a super expensive and big ship that, as you could expect from the shorter summary, crashes. There's some romantic tensions and 49,998 people died. No bueno.

Okay, that longer-but-still-inadequate description doesn't do the book justice, but anyway! Reviewsies!

I hate to say it, but I'm a total reading hipster. The Fault in Our Stars? Psh, too mainstream (I did read it, though). Twilight? Pshhhh, too horrible. So when I read the cover flap of These Broken Stars, I was kind of like 'Wow, this sounds really ordinary. Hm. Probably cliches and glitter.' But, like Pi, human stupidity is infinitely finite, so I picked it up.

I admit now that perhaps reading this wasn't such a lapse into my stupid side.

There are two main characters, whose POVs the book alternates between. Lilac is a wealthy socialite, Tarver is a jaded low-class soldier. I'm going have to say here that I wasn't particularly fond of Tarver. It wasn't the way he was written or what his actions were, he just wasn't... special, I guess? I mean, I understand that if he was a super speshul snowflake, I wouldn't like him, either. At the same time, though, he didn't do anything that really stood out. His personality didn't stand out. His backstory didn't stand out. And when someone does so little to stand out, they begin to fade off. Other than being a soldier, he sounded a lot like the hundred other male MCs and love interests I've read about. He wasn't bad at all, he just had an air of safety, bubble-wrapping his personality to ensure no one would feel either way about him. 

Lilac, however... I liked Lilac. If there's one cliche that really, really gets me in YA books, it's the 'I'm not like the other girls' thing. As far as I could tell, Lilac was like those mysterious 'other girls'. And that is beautiful. She had grit, but could totally waltz into a ball and be 100% comfortable in a dress. She didn't have to take her time stepping on other girls and screaming, 'Me! I'm important! I'm better them, huh, aren't I?! I drink tea and climb trees! I hate the other girls! Aren't I better than them?!' A heroine whose 'good marks' don't require vilifying others or treating them like the enemy is a heroine who deserves to be read.

Despite Lilac being an above-average character, the plot coasted on 'decent' for most of the book. It was roughly what I expected for the first 75%. Some romantic tension, brief fights about class differences, mortal danger that brings them closer together, lots of angst about their respective pasts, blah blah blah. I wasn't really expecting it to get interesting. But it did! In the last 25%, that is. Which is a bit hard to get to unless you have either a sense of dogged determination or too much free time.

The timing and pace, as I think you can assume from the 75/25 thing up there, wasn't too great. If the (SPOILERS, SKIP AHEAD TO THE NEXT PARAGRAPH TO AVOID THEM) energy being/telepath thing had been introduced halfway, not three-quarters of the way, through the book, I think it would have read a little easier.

I loved the survival side of the story, though. I am 100% fu-fu. The idea of having to go weeks without hot water or tea or anything is, frankly, terrifying. Having nothing to eat but ration bars and grasses is also on the 'nope' side of things.

The non-survival plot elements were pretty fab, too. (SPPPOOOOOIIIILLLLEEEERRRRSSSSS) The whispers (Eee! They didn't unnecessarily capitalize 'whispers'! Yay!) were friggn' cool. Also, I must celebrate the fact that this wasn't suspension of disbelief sci-fi (read: The Future of Us). The authors actually explained why there were visions and whispers and such. The backstories seemed to pretty much center around people the MCs loved dying, which felt a little overdone after a while. However, since the entire book had a big thing about lots people dying, per Titanic tradition, it wasn't too bad like that.

Lastly, the romance. I would like to make it clear that I am not a fan of I-hate-you-I-love-you romances. This one, though, at least deserved to be called 'decent' (at most, it deserved to be called 'Fred'). I understand this doesn't sound like a step up, but it is. The only time the romance actually bothered me or got in the way of the plot was for about twenty pages late in the book. And that's because every other scene was them kissing or referencing shirtlessness. Then the kiss-noshirt-kiss-noshirt thing dies down and we go back to dining on the succulent meat of the plot.

(PS: They totally had sex.)


Thursday, March 6, 2014

Lola: a Ghost Story

Lola: a Ghost Story
(From the artist's deviantArt page)
J. Torres and Elbert Orr

Now I shall attempt something never having been done in the history of YAs read YAs...

I'm going to try and review a graphic novel.

I know. You're shocked. I'm shocked. But I've got to spread my wings, like the majestic cabbage moth.

Okay. Summary time.

Jesse is gifted (or possibly cursed) with the ability to see demons and dead people. He doesn't know anyone else who can do the same- except his grandmother. Their relationship was strained (she tried drowning him) while she was alive. Going to the Phillipines for her funeral, he doesn't expect much from the rest of his extended family. But while he faces his demons, can he help others, too?

Ugh. I was doing so well with that until that last sentence. Anyhow, review time.

Jesse, the protagonist, is all around a really likeable character. He's mostly quiet and scared of lots of things (Seeing ghosts, you know?), but he isn't a cut-and-dry coward. In fact, he's not a coward at all. Paranoid, yes, nervous, of course, a bit of a loner, who isn't? I would be if I could see dead people. Maybe if I met him as a person instead of a drawing on a piece of paper, I'd feel a bit differently, but whatever. He doesn't exist. His entire life does not exist. Nothing exists. Nothing but the void.

*Cough* Well, onto the weather. I mean plot.

Let me remind you (in case you forgot since The Lost Snuggie) that I am in love with folktales and monsters and demons and such. I also like mermaids, but they come up a lot less. So the fact that there were things that go bump in the night totally amped up the plot points for me. However, the plot would definitely do great even if it weren't being read by the monster-obsessed me.

While I can't review the writing style, which usually fills this empty spot in the review, I will talk about the execution. Since the story bordered on the horror genre, secrecy and slow reveals were fairly important. They were mostly good, but could get a little confusing.

Oh! And translations. I love the way that translating the Tagalog words into English was set up. It always kind of annoys me when dialogue translations are done like this- "Delicioso! Delicious!" He exclaimed. Like, who would translate what they say after they say it. Asterisks are the way the cool kids do it. I am 100% pro-Asterisk.

Through all my love, I have one thing to say, and it's not even the book's fault. The fact that it was labeled "7+" (at least where I saw it) kinda gets me. I'd hate to say "Shield your children! They can't know about reality!", I don't think this is exactly suited for "7+". There are dead people. I mean, like, really, really dead people. And a brief show of drinking problems, but I'm more concerned about the dead people. When I was seven, I was scared of friggn' Scooby Doo. Personally, I think a bit higher age rating is necessary.

I feel so old saying that.

Well, short review. I loved the book with my own heart and the hearts of all those in my control. Since there's nothing to whine about, I'm just going to gently force you to read it.

Read it.