Spring snuck up on me

Bright dandelions dot the grass stripe between car lanes. The sun beats down cheerfully and the inside of the bus I’m riding is slowly being baked.

Now I am in a city-train where it isn’t as warm but it has all those spring smells, too. The smell of the warmth, the sweats clinging to people, the fragrance of spring flowers, the smell of greenery.

Days have been passing too quickly for me to remember anything coherent. I’m spinning around, trying to grasp the time, but it languidly escapes my cramped fingers.

Now the greens, yellows, whites, violets, light blues dominate the scene. People show their arms, legs, toes, chests. Flowery, swishing clothes or simple t-shirts. Sun glasses and sunny blond braids. All around me everything is pulsing with life. I am too, now that I have allowed myself to find my center again. As long as I am steeped in the nature, I am relaxed and loose and carefree. It’s impossible to be stressed out when you look outside.

Okay, almost impossible, anyway.

Batch Review #2

A quick note: I am going to be a lot more absent for the following weeks, months, who knows how long. Yep, university has started again.

ceremony in deathCeremony in Death by J. D. Robb
Even though the series takes place on the Earth, it’s basically Nora Roberts’ universe – thanks to the Urban War the systems and trends and people are different and same. Laws she can conveniently create, inventions that are super helpful for the police investigations, etc. But I just love those little details Nora has created. What I love maybe more is the clash of new technology and the “old” crimes. Crimes motivated by greed, hatred, love, jealousy. Crimes of “God-complex”. Old prejudices against minor social or religious groups that still prevail. It must be said that Eve-universe and the real world have split.and continue on different tracks. The explosion of technological development starting from the end-90s to beginning-2000s is something Nora Roberts apparently didn’t foresee (or did but chose to ignore – how can I know? I was a baby when Naked in Death came out.) in early to mid-90s. Also, I’ll probably live to see 2058… now won’t that be interesting *wink*
I do hope Jamie Lingstrom (Langstrom??) makes a re-appearance, maybe he really will become a cop!

Vengeance in Death by J. D. RobbVengeance in Death
This time, a series of garish murders and mutilations hits very close to the investigating Eve Dallas’ home. It takes her, Roarke and Summerset back to Ireland and the series of murders and mutilations that took place more than a decade ago… following the rape and death of Marlena, Summerset’s only daughter.
Also: Eve is involved in her second explosion in the series following Rapture, Feeny is away in Mexico (a vital plotline for introducing McNab into the series) and Eve gets a new (jazzy but pea-green) cop car.

I’m such an idiot… -_- or: blogoversary

April 4th 2013.

That’s the date I uploaded my first content on this blog. It was a review of the Summer series by Jenny Han. I probably took a day or two to tinker with the design (not much to do) and set up pages (ditto) etc.

Anyway.

AHHH I MISSED MY BLOG’S FIRST BIRTHDAYYYY!!!!

I wouldn’t make a fuss out of this – especially (?) since I’m only a week late, and we didn’t have an internet connection a week ago anyway – if this blog wasn’t the first blog EVER to actually HAVE an official anniversary.

I’ve kept a string of blogs – some book blogs, some personal, some mash-ups like this one – over the past three years and not one of them made it through the one-year-mark before I deleted or privatized them.

Argh. I knew the blogoversary was rolling around but I just completely missed it. I’m sorry, blog. I’ve changed your name twice in one year, so I don’t know how to call you, but I’M SORRY.

Gah. I’ll do better next time around… which means I actually have to keep this blog for another year. Is that desperation I hear in my voice? Or anticipation?

 

Fangirl

Yes yes yes to everything

it’s actually three stories – Simon Snow fantasy series (reminded me first of HP, later it didn’t), Cath’s fanfiction version of Simon/Baz (cath seriously you’re so cool) and the actual plotline of Fangirl (which takes up the majority of page numbers, as it should)

it’s fun & full of college stuff and it’s sometimes heart-drenching (as in drenched in tears) and snort-out-loud, it’s messy and insecure and wonderful just like real life

Fangirl

i love Cath and her stories and she reminds me of me so much but she’s being more honest with herself; i hide behind a mask of confidence and stress myself out but cath just owns herself even if she doesn’t like it and even if she knows she’s being unusual an’ shit

yes cath yes to panic-why-are-there-people thing, yes to i-don’t-wanna-go-to-dining-hall thing, yes to saying no when you want to say yes, yes to saying no to parties even though there are cute guys and reliable roomates (i never really have a chance to say no to parties my friends hate me every time i do and then i hate them for not understanding me and then we get back on track), yes to being afraid that the more people care about us the more likely they are to get tired of us and our shit but doesn’t everyone have their own shit? like wren wanting independence and then missin’ you like crazy and doing stupid stuff and you worry about your dad and you don’t want to meet your abandonment of mother and of course you get mad when wren contacted her without telling you

the ending’s a bit cliff-hanger-ish even though this is a stand-alone i hope you have three more years of awesomeness i will try too cath, i will try too. And I like you a lot.

Classics Club Challenge (4)

It has already been a full month since my last update! Wow, time sure does fly!

My major accomplishment since the last update is that I finished Emma by Jane Austen.

I’m still stuck with Measure for Measure and with Jo‘s Boys, the latter mostly because I want to read it after I finish Eve LaPlante’s biography of Louisa May Alcott and her mother, Abigail May.

I know Émile Zola’s The Fortune of the Rougons is on my April TBR, but I am not at all sure whether I will finish it on time – I haven’t even started it, and my brain is inclined towards some light contemporary reads right now (which is why I have started Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl today).

I really hope to read some more classics in the following months!

A new home! & Batch review #1

Days of packing & two intense days of unpacking have given us a new, cozy, clean home.

We are happy.
(In case you are wondering, the “we” I refer to are my family and me.)

And as of today, we also have (again) the access to the internet, and working washing machines and phones. These simple (!) technological pleasures I will never take for granted again. (And I will very probably forget about my new resolution in three weeks. Life’s sad.)

Perhaps because I had no access to the internet except on my smartphone, I got more reading done than expected. So following my last resolution, here are my impressions/reviews.

The Manual of Aeronautics#1 The Manual of Aeronautics by Scott Westerfeld (author) & Keith Thompson (illustrator)

This little (53 pages) book is a guide-like book to Scott Westerfeld’s Leviathan trilogy (Leviathan; Behemoth; Goliath). The pages are all in full-color and contain many illustrations of beasties and Clanker engines by Keith Thompson (quite a few not shown in the trilogy’s illustrations!) and short explanations by Scott Westerfeld. The last four pages are dedicated to four people (Alek, Deryn, Count Volger and the lady bofffin)’s portraits and their official (meaning Dylan, not Deryn) bios of what they are doing now the WWI is over.
Recommended if you are a die-hard fan of the Leviathan trilogy or interested in knowing how the airbeast Leviathan, Alek’s Stormwalker and many more beasties and Clanker walkers look like.
I personally bought this book about 60% off the retail price, which is the only reason I acquired it; otherwise it’s ridiculously expensive at 20 USD.

Rapture in Death#2 Rapture in Death by J. D. Robb

Probably my fifth re-read. I’m on the mission of re-reading all the In Death books I’ve read so far (18, plus two novellas) before I continue on with the series. From Vengeance on I’ve read them only once, so details are a little fuzzy.
In the case of Rapture, I knew the main plot twists & who the murderer was & etc. but I’d forgotten how hilarious (esp. Eve and Peabody) & heart-warming Eve and her little (as of yet) gang can be! I also adore Roarke and Eve as an item.
There is one detail, however, that has and would have continued to escape me if it hadn’t been for the recent burst of explanation videos on YouTube about consent and consensual sex.
Spoilers for Rapture in Death
In chapter fourteen, Roarke is being influenced by Jess Barrow (through subliminals hidden in music using his brain-pattern) to get very lusty about Eve. He (J.B.) has done this before in one of the early chapters of the book, but that time it was for both – they (Eve and Roarke) both wanted each other. It’s still mind-control and therefore illegal because it robs you of your free will, but at least it wasn’t rape by either party.
This time, however, Roarke’s the only party to be influenced, and he can’t control his urges. So he drags Eve into a nearby closet and starts getting sexy. Eve’s at first amused and a little bit aroused, but she tells him to cut it out since they are at a party. Roarke doesn’t respond to this. It comes to vaginal intercourse, and Eve tells him to stop, because he’s hurting her. Roarke doesn’t – can’t – stop, so Eve shuts her eyes and waits it out. Afterwards, or even during the whole thing, Roarke is horrified at what he’s done / is doing, and tells Eve “Good God, Eve. Good God. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. […] For Christ’s sake, I’ve raped you.”
To which Eve responds, “No. […] You did not. I know what rape is. What you did wasn’t rape, even if it was a little overenthusiastic.”
Now, Eve is trying to protect Roarke. She loves him, and seeing the controlled ice-man so scared and appalled at himself has shaken her. Instead of being hurt or traumatized that he has exploited her trust, she tries to protect him. (To which Roarke responds something in line of are you crazy I just raped you.)
And here is the point: What Roarke did was rape. He violated Eve sexually because she never consented to any sexual activities. She even told him to stop, and he didn’t stop. Roarke himself was a victim (of Jess Barrow’s) in this case, but he still did rape her.
This is a truth that kind of rings inside me in a clear, startled way. Because I learned that rape is not justified just because the individuals are married or in love or whatever. It doesn’t matter whether they have had sex countless times before. Consent has to be given every time, even multiple times during a sexual act. And given consent can be retracted any time. Sex is not a contract; it’s voluntary, it’s personal, and it involves a great deal of trust.

A similar thing happens a few chapters later, when Roarke asks her to make love with him that night and Eve becomes flustered and says something in line of  “You don’t have to ask. We got married and everything.”
This line gives off a wrong impression as well, for the reasons stated above. Normally, Eve and Roarke are pretty much in sync when it comes to sex or other sexual activities. Their consent is usually implied by their urgency to take each other on, so to speak. So it’s not like “Wanna have sex?” “Sure do” with them, but this does not mean that they didn’t have consensual sex before.
End of spoilers for Rapture
The In Death books provide for me a mindless escapism into the future. Nora Roberts / J. D. Robb has gotten a few predictions right but they still have a “retro” feel to me since the early In Death books were written mid-1990s when internet wasn’t yet a widespread thing. I still can’t believe that this series is almost as old as I am. And that I still enjoy the books a lot.

Why I think it’s important (for me) to start reviewing regularly

The apartment I share with my family looks ransacked, my nerves (and others’, too, actually) are shot, and curses and moans about why we have so much stuff can be heard at least ten times a day.

Yep, we are moving.

It took me three days (with interruptions), ten boxes, and back twinges to pack all the 400+ books I own. I haven’t even started on other personal items yet, i.e. stuff in my drawers etc.

I probably own close to 600 books in total if you count all my books – books in English, German, and Korean, some handful (50+) volumes of mangas/manhwas.

Prior to all the packing, I donated 120+ books that were in German or English to a local organization that accepts donated books and sells them, creating and giving work for people who receive social welfare.

And still I had so many books to pack… and as I was packing my non-English books (because all 500 of them were hand-picked by me in the recent years), I noticed a recurring theme: I was keeping the (German & Korean) books because of my history with them, because of the memories I have of reading them. I probably was never going to read them again, but I just couldn’t bring myself to give them away. To severe every tie I have with the books that bring me so many fond memories.

(To a lesser extent there were books I received as gifts and couldn’t justify giving them away.)

But this got me thinking: Why should I hoard all these books when all I’m going to do with them is to look at them twice a year or something, and nothing more?
Now, there is nothing wrong with keeping all your books. But recently I’ve started to realize that I actually don’t like keeping all the books.

I hate throwing away books in perfect conditions; I just detest the idea of wasting what could give another person comfort, inspiration, entertainment. I used to give away English books that I didn’t wish to keep or read to a friend. Then, starting last year, I sold two boxfuls of books for the ridiculous prices this one company offered – about 40 Cents a piece on average, I believe. And a couple of weeks ago, I donated two more boxfuls of books.

While I was doing this, I did feel an occasional pang about some books because I had enjoyed reading them (just didn’t wish for a re-read), and now they would slowly fade away from my memory. I became greedy; I agonized over some books whether I really wanted to give them away even though I knew I’d probably never re-read them again. Because over the time, no quotes, no impressions, no feelings about them would remain.

I will very probably give away or sell another box or two or three filled with books I do not wish to keep. But for the next time, I want every book that leaves my hand to be somehow documented – on this blog, preferably. Very often I am either over- or underwhelmed by a new read to write long, thoughtful reviews on them. But it’s okay to write short, fleeting impressions about them, too. Or a handful of quotes. Even about those that I am sure (for now) they are keepers. Because you never know when your resolve will change. I’m a fickle person; my opinions change, my feelings fade, my thoughts become forgotten.

March Wrap-Up & April TBR

What I read in March:

  • The Beautiful and the Damned by Jessica Verday – my review (contains spoilers!) GR rating: 4/5
  • Princess of the Silver Woods (Princess #3) by Jessica Day George – a wonderful end to a trilogy! I wish there were more but at the same time I wish the princesses (and their respective husbands) no more crazy encounters with non-beings. Oh, and these books take place in a fictional continent that is modeled after Middle Age German territories (among other things). There are certainly some German words and names, especially in the first book (Princess of the Midnight Ball). GR rating: 4/5
  • Little Men by Louisa May Alcott – my review GR rating: 3/5
  • Etiquette & Espionage (Finishing School #1) by Gail Carriger – We had a rocky start, but after the first 70 pages or so, we both adjusted to each other. A delightful read!
    It was a fun reading about Sophronia’s adventures in a floating dirigible/finishing school but something felt… incomplete . I just would have loved to learn more about everything, you know? It has an episodic ending although I’m curious to see whether Sidheag will continue to be a significant part of the books; whether Monique will return; what happens to Mr. Soap; and, most importantly, what other delicious adventures are awaiting Sophronia & Co.
    GR rating: 3.5/5
  • Bright Young Things (Bright Young Things #1) by Anna Godbersen – my review/rant (contains spoilers for the ENTIRE TRILOGY!) GR rating: 3/5 (more like 2.5/5)
  • All These Things I’ve Done (Birthright #1) by Gabrielle Zevin – A surprise read that I had not at all planned into March; I’d started last summer on my Kindle (about 25% in) and finished the rest in a matter of two days. More character-driven than anything. Not especially impressed, although enjoyable. GR rating: 3/5
  • Emma by Jane Austen – my review GR rating: 4/5
  • Hidden Riches by Nora Roberts – This one has a different feel to it compared to other Nora Roberts books. The romance-angle, the male character (Jed is the most violent hero by Nora Roberts so far in my experience), the end of the bad guy. Enjoyable, memorable, but also kind of uncomfortable. GR rating: 3/5

 

What I want to read in April:

  • The Fortune of the Rougons by Emile Zola
  • Also, I’m reading Eve LaPlante’s Marmee & Louisa, and while it’s a slow process, I’m loving every minute of it! So here’s to finishing this book, too!