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Sugo

The Emotional Range of a Teaspoon

Bookworms thrive here, in the lair of an OCD... ahem, avid artist and snarky critic who loves Hermione, is in an abusive relationship with anime, and is obsessed with the incorrect use of "good."

Currently reading

半分の月がのぼる空 1: 1 (Japanese Edition)
橋本 紡
Me, Just Different
Stephanie Morrill
The Rithmatist
Brandon Sanderson
Tamashii O Tsunagu Mono
Manabu Kaminaga
No.6, Volume 1
Atsuko Asano
Hawksong
Amelia Atwater-Rhodes
H.I.V.E.: Higher Institute of Villainous Education
Mark Walden

The Fault in Our Stars

The Fault in Our Stars - John Green The Fault in Our Stars was devoured and thoroughly digested by the Kind Book Monster inhabiting my brain. It was hungry - really hungry - and inhaled The Fault in Our Stars. But as the digestion process began, the Kind Book Monster's stomach churned. This review is its super beautiful crap.

I have no idea how to rate this book, because I really enjoyed it, and I thought it was good but... Yeah. As I began to consider it in its entirety, I saw all its flaws. Like, while I was reading, I expected these things to be smoothed over because The Fault in Our Stars is really so enamoring. I don't even feel like reviewing it, maybe out of emotional exhaustion, like explosions in my brain, but I'll give it a big, crappy, totally unedited go.

It's a book chock full of good points or whatever. There are strengths, which is good. I fully understand and acknowledge why people like The Fault in Our Stars. For me, though, something didn't click? I felt a strange void that kept me from being blinded by an emotional orgasm - which I consider a strength in my neurons. Then I realized that reading this book started making me write like a pretentious high schooler, so I immaculately dropped a star.

"I looked over at Augustus Waters, who looked back at me. You could almost see through his eyes they were so blue. 'There will come a time,' I said, 'when all of us are dead. All of us. There will come a time when there are no human beings remaining to remember that everyone ever existed or that our species ever did anything. There will be no one left to remember Aristotle or Cleopatra, let alone you. Everything that we built and wrote and thought and discovered will be forgotten and all of this' - I gestured emcompassingly - 'will have been for naught. Maybe that time is coming soon and maybe it is millions of years away, but even if we survive the collapse of our sun, we will not survive forever. There was a time before organisms experienced consciousness, and there will be time after. And if the inevitability of human oblivion worries you, I encourage you to ignore it. God knows that's what everyone else does.'"


............Oh.............

'I'm in love with you, and I'm not in the business of denying myself the simple pleasure of saying true things. I'm in love with you, and I know that love is just a shout into the void, and that oblivion is inevitable, and that we're all doomed and that there will come a day when all our labor has been returned to dust, and I know the sun will swallow the only earth we'll ever have, and I am in love with you.'


......



A-ahem.

The Fault in Our Stars has a quality that gives you the wonderful ability to read something in record time. I didn't put this book down except to sleep, do stuff, and fuss to my mother about why I didn't feel like doing X because I wanted to read Y. It was a nice feeling. The book's strengths are mostly technical things and most of the flaws can be found in certain characterization, plot choices, etc.

Here's what I liked. I enjoyed Green's writing style. It was smooth and quick. The book felt fresh, though not fresh enough. Isaac and Hazel were (mostly) cool characters, and the side characters were very strong. I enjoyed the IDEA of Gus, but he didn't really develop, so poo. I liked when stuff was developed in the plot, but there wasn't always enough of that. I liked that I wanted to keep reading the book. The romance was done well enough, but...

And here's what I didn't like. (The list is subjective.) Gus was like a shell of strengths. He was there, ready and waiting to be further developed and pushed into I-feel-like-I-could-touch-himness, but gosh darn it, he didn't get there. He remained that shell of strengths for the whole book, besides a few tasteful additions that were mostly added through Hazel's narrative, not straight from his mannerisms/mouth, so it wasn't convincing and watered down their relationship a bit.

Second, the plot bothered me at some points. It was either too thin, or it was almost just right. But it was undeniably cliche and predictable, and Green tried way too hard with some parts of the plot. Some stuff was heart-wrenching. I did shed a few tears. Sometimes, though, the book seemed to veer off track because points weren't developed enough, whereas others were, leaving me with this void of unsatisfied expectations.

Third - when the book didn't get all trying-to-be-heavy or trying-to-be-funny or trying-to-be-smart, I enjoyed it because, hey, it felt realistic. But the book was always trying to do one of those things, and if there's one thing I despise, it's when someone tries to force me to feel something. Just no. Stop.

Lastly, though, it wasn't that I couldn't stand the dialogue. Sometimes it felt staged, but okay, that might've been part of the characters. Okay, they talked like they were wise and smart, but hey, that might've been part of their characters. But if there was one thing I couldn't stand, it was when they'd say philosophical crap, then Green would smack a "or whatever" or "like" on the end. No, that doesn't make them sound like teenagers. Pick a style of dialogue and stick with it. That's when it sounds convincing, sir. And show their perpetual teenagerness with a huge dash of wise and a stick of big words in other ways than just "or whatever" and "like."

...I liked the book. It was enjoyable to read. I'm serious.

Also, had no idea who this John Green was before reading this book. Have I been living under a rock?

You don't have to answer that.

Don't forget to check out my blog, Sugodemic!

Ella Enchanted

Ella Enchanted - Gail Carson Levine
“That fool of a fairy Lucinda did not intend to lay a curse on me. She meant to bestow a gift. When I cried inconsolably through my first hour of life, my tears were her inspiration. Shaking her head sympathetically at my mother, the fairy touched my nose. ‘My gift is obedience. Ella will always be obedient. Now stop crying, child.’

I stopped.”
Yeeeaaaah.



Happy Birthday, Ella.

I picked up the book because I loved the Ella Enchanted movie when I was a wee lass. Do I remember it? Nope. Not one bit. I remember it being funny, and I remember that I thought the actress was gorgeous, and I like to think I can recall this book having paramount differences from the movie. I may just be creating memories based on what other people have said.

I confess: I’m not the kind of girl who likes fairy tales. Not too much, at least, and not for the same reasons that a lot of people like them. I’m not easily caught up in magical things and I’m more drawn into tales that are kind of morbid, or at least grittier—darker. And if the book has princesses and all that, I’m more involved in the medieval-ish world as research for my own stories. However, Ella Enchanted really hit the spot. It wasn’t stupid, even though it easily could have been, and Ella was so satisfying as a character…

This is a charming book. To be all… talesy (I have no idea how to put it), I guess that fits. It was a breath of fresh air compared to everything else I’ve read this year—mostly lackluster, or borderline (I’m hoping to change that). But did it jump into the greatness category? I can’t say it did. I was planning on dishing out four stars, but I digress. I really wanted it to develop more.

One thing this book has is a whole lot of character—that sounds simple, but it does wonders.
“…But Mandy was bossy, giving orders almost as often as she drew breath. Kind orders or for-your-own-good orders. ‘Bundle up, Ella.’ Or ‘Hold this bowl while I beat the eggs, sweet.’

I disliked these commands, harmless as they were. I’d hold the bowl, but move my feet so she would have to follow me around the kitchen. She’d call me minx and try to hem me in with more specific instructions, which I would find new ways t evade. Often, it was a long business to get anything done between us, with Mother laughing and egging each of us on by turn.

We’d end happily—with me finally choosing to do what Mandy wanted, or with Mandy changing her order to a request.”
Ella made her first impression on me then. Her narrative is charming and straightforward. She’s a brave, no-nonsense type of character. She knows what situations she’s in and faces them without all that glittery crap. Because of her, the story unfolds in a simple, realistic way that I really enjoyed. If she’d further embellished on things, or dwelled on them too long, I may not have liked the book as much as I did. It completely lacked shallowness, letting me go along with things—cliché things, farfetched things—that I could’ve spit at.

Fittingly, the romance is handled in a firm but gentle way. It’s not overpowering, nor is it vomit-worthy. It’s actually very light, which allows every gesture to blossom with extra meaning. It’s wonderful that Char and Ella have some great chemistry. I can understand their romance. That sounds like it should be a given, but a lot of writers forget that “little” detail.

To match this, the writing is simple, the story is simple. I actually found it devoid at some points, almost stripped bare. It’s a light book, rather short and easy to get through, and it doesn’t drag only because of the pacing. The book is paced in a faster way even though there are no fight scenes or anything too interesting. Ella Enchanted draws breath from the little things.

Thinking about it now, I actually didn’t really like the plot as a whole and found it cliché. Without context, I would have hated it. In the book, it worked because I was distracted from it or, again, Ella didn’t dwell on things too much. Her narrative saved it from being… blah, but that doesn’t mean that those things weren’t there. Some of the things that happened in the story seemed convenient. Let’s say that Ella was shoved into a Cinderella role in every way possible. She kept moving forward, thank goodness. It reminded me of Cinderella (my least favorite fairy tale, with Sleeping Beauty as a close second) in some ways. The book’s greatest strength, though, is also one of its flaws. Sometimes I felt detached from the story because it could be so bare; other times, the writing worked well to keep things interesting.

I still want more. More of Ella, more explanation, more complexities. When I realized that it was wrapping up, I was disappointed. In a way, Ella Enchanted is memorable for the very reason that it isn’t. It’s fresh, light, and quick, like a breath of fresh air, but that air’s going to keep blowing along and more will come by eventually and—
“I’m writing nonsense. In my first letter I had hoped to impress you with my brilliant prose, but that will have to wait for the second.”
That quote by Char will suffice for now.

(Be sure to follow my blog, Sugodemic!)

Fearless

Fearless - Cornelia Funke As the end drew near, I realized that I was reading this book so fast because it was a library book. That I cared more about the fee than the book itself. Oh, Funke. You like building worlds, right? They’re nice, really, but you can’t make a whole pie with just a vivid story.

Forget it.

It’s funny. I really, really liked Funke’s books at one point, even crowning her a favorite author of mine. I loved her style of storytelling and what she weaved with carefully chosen words. Actually… Like some others, it was Inkheart and only Inkheart. As I read more of her books, I realized that maybe I didn’t like them as much as I thought, and began to doubt my love for her. I have to commend her for what she is skilled at, because those things she does very well, and I’ll remember her for the inspiration her writing spoon-fed into my mouth, but really. Really. This book was so disappointing, and I didn’t even have expectations.

Returning to the pie analogy, this pie was burnt and bland, cooked far too long with not enough substance. It screamed for sugar and eggs and some spices. Something to make it special. To make it more.

There was no characterization—at all. I realized that there never had been. They completely lack enigma and chemistry. The characters were the bare minimum of everything else you’d see in a typical story with a finishing touch of the most common human emotions. Emotions are described but not felt because they come straight from Funke instead of being breathlessly spoken through a character that seems real enough to touch. The plot, even, was rigidly built, completely predictable.

As always, it was the world that kept this story afloat. Just barely. Funke’s storytelling has strength and so does her world-building, but her stories really mimic a childhood fairy tale in the worst way.

They’re simple.

(Also posted on my blog.)

Starlight

Starlight - Erin Hunter The older I got, the more these books lost their enigma. Bye, Erin Hunter. It was fun.

Wonder

Wonder - R.J. Palacio In one word: Sweet.

Wonder is one of the books that make me wonder about things (sorry, I just had to do that). Like—it’s not a particularly groundbreaking tale. In fact, it doesn’t bring much “new” to the table. It’s easy and quick to read, warms hearts, and has a good message. It’s something that anyone could relate to, so long as they were a child once—change for the better, the minds of teenagers, the struggles we’ve all gone through, peer pressure, confidence, friends. A lot of books touch these subjects, some more masterfully than others. So what is it that makes Wonder popular, with a multitude of books similar to it?

I’ll tell you what I think.

I’d had my eye on the book for awhile, maybe a year, and was always drawn in by the cover. I was kept reading by the characters. Honestly, the characters remind me of myself. Not in their situations, which are quite common, but in the way that they react to them depending on their own particular personalities. Every decision and thought they make comes from their perspective. Nothing that they say or do seems to diverge from their character, life, or age. This is something hard to find in a book filled with generally intelligent kids, all going through things that take maturity to handle (heck, even tolerate). So many authors think that an intelligent, mature kid means one that 100% acts like an adult.

They act like children.

They talk like children (yeah, dude!).

I never doubted that they were, in fact, children.

If you’re reading this review, you probably know the deal about the book—some of it, at least, and are wondering about the rest. To put it in simple terms: Auggie has a facial deformity. That’s all, though. Otherwise he’s pretty normal and pretty cool.

I’ve had two good friends with Down Syndrome (that I can honestly say I liked and respected more than my other “friends”), so the behavior that Auggie had to put up with got under my skin, especially since his narration made it clear that he was awesome. I kept thinking “What a great guy” or “He seems really sweet.” I’d seen it before—just not in such a large, wide-spread way like family or closer friends. It hurt and brought light to other sides and perspectives. I’ve been there, done that, and it made me think of what I’d do if I was looking on the outside: seeing Auggie’s face, being scared and curious and apprehensive…

The growth in Auggie’s character was refreshing and well done. He started apprehensive and scared, his untrusting, insecure nature clear in everything he said. Then he blossomed. Oh, that was a wonderful process. I loved that he whined and cried and grew up and wanted to be independent and less selfish. The little dude’s character seemed three-dimensional because of that. Slowly, his dark world became brighter and brighter until it was filled with pops of color! Yes, yes! Woohoo! But…

But before I go through the rest of the narrators (yes, narrators), I’ve got to say: it’s cliché. Not gritty enough, but perfect for a feel-good story of this caliber, geared towards such an impressionable age group. What about the two-dimensional villains whose side we didn’t get to see? That part was just typical. Everything is expected and has been done before. Sort of like a classic, it seems like this story’s cliché patterns can be overlooked because of how much was put into the story—so much work to make it not tiring.

Still, if you look at any other story similar to this, you’ll see it. Niceness. Nice people, mean people who weren’t really mean who turn nice, nice parents (still, I really like Auggie’s family and his parents are cool, especially in their dialogue and mannerisms), nice family, nice teachers, the usual nice friendship tropes, nicely resolved conflict, nice endings wrapped up in a pretty bow. Oh, and everyone’s nice deep down. This is purposeful, all things considered. And if it wasn’t like this, the story wouldn’t be the same—at all. It wasn’t enough to be called idealized. And it felt real, to a point. But I continued to doubt, looking for some more grittiness, flaws, and depth. This is an overlookable issue if you enjoy the book. I think I prefer the warm, fuzzy feeling I get from Wonder the way it already is.

The characters, particularly the narrators, were all human, all likable, and all cliché. But decently-to-nicely developed. (To clear it up, there were six points of view in all. It sort of surprised me, but it worked pretty well. I don’t think the same effect could have been achieved without a break from Auggie’s perspective.) There was enough difference in their words, however subtle, for me to create a particular voice in my mind. I don’t know if any of the points of view were unneeded, but some were small. I do give the writer credit for stopping at points that didn’t make me want to throw my book at the wall and scream, “WHY DID YOU CHANGE IT NOW?!”

The points of view went through Via (Auggie’s sister), Summer (Auggie’s friend), Miranda (Via’s friend), Justin (Via’s boyfriend), and Jack (Auggie’s friend). And Auggie (duh). They’re juggled pretty tactfully, if I do say so myself, and all add some depth to the story. I think Wonder benefited from this more than it didn’t. It would have been somewhat stifling to stay in Auggie’s head the whole time; he only has his own understanding of events. Seeing the way others saw them made the story more emotional and well-rounded, and added more flaws. I won’t go into all of them, but I found the perspective of Auggie’s friends and sister to be the most imperative of all. It showed their inner thoughts about Auggie, how they changed, what they regretted thinking, what they hid… What they struggled with. It breathed a huge sense of humanity to the story that Auggie couldn’t have on his own.

In closing, this story was—I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again—sweet. I don’t think it transcended the average book, except in emotions and good messages, but it brought up some good points and handled them respectfully and with maturity. That in itself is commendable. There were some tears brought to my eyes—however, I don’t think Auggie brought up the most emotion for me, except the feel-good kind (at times). If anything, it was Via, who I found quite relatable… and one moment that can always make me cry: The death of the family pet. Oh God, I swear that I’m more emotional about animals than I am about humans.

One more thing: “You know, I’d really like to see a movie of this,” was what I kept thinking while reading this book. My opinion has not changed. I’m sure it would be great. If there’s one book that deserves the praise, it’s Wonder.

Make it happen!

*Also posted on my blog.

Hawksong

Hawksong - Amelia Atwater-Rhodes You know you like a book when you're frequently compelled to pick it up and sift through the whole thing to find your favorite parts, only to realize you just read most of it.

The Singer of All Songs, The: Chanters of Tremaris, Book One: Chanters Of Tremaris Book One (Chanters of Tremaris Trilogy)

The Singer of All Songs, The: Chanters of Tremaris, Book One: Chanters Of Tremaris Book One (Chanters of Tremaris Trilogy) - Kate Constable Quite bland and awkwardly written, with gray dialogue, a sluggish plot, and characters that never get past "okay." They stay in their same boxes throughout the story and don't necessarily grow, which is pretty annoying. The book is surprisingly well-written, though, to the point where I felt like I was reading just because of that.

Inkheart

Inkheart  - Anthea Bell, Cornelia Funke I bought Inkheart four years ago and since then it has been a beloved book made by an author that I have grown to love. From the first sentence to the last hurrah, the believable characters, captivating and intricately weaved storyline, and relatable situations caused me to breeze through this book with a delighted expression - not once, but every single time. It could certainly be long-winded (this goes for all of Ms. Funke's books), but as an aspiring writer myself and a reader of many books, I got used to, or perhaps overlooked, this and lapped up the book up. At some times, I merely lived off of one thing until the book picked up again; I really do love Ms. Funke's writing style. It has a magical quality that kept me reading. I've molded my own writing style around it (and other writing styles). When I'm bored or looking to clear my mind, I'll pick up this book, torn edges (and wrinkly bits from late night readings in the tub) and all, and read the first few chapters. I've read these chapters again and again. As I grow older, the love that I have for this book changes and evolves, but I'll never forget it. This review has been written, probably in a bias way, by a person who has a deep love for this book. Inkheart is the first book I have ever gone to so much, the first book I have ever been so attached to, and the book I have ever reread so enthusiastically. I do not merely read this book - I digest it thoroughly every time. And I look forward to doing it again.