Thursday, 3 July 2014

Introspective Thoughts + Reviews x 4 = Long-Ass Blog Post

18's such a heavy number. Suddenly, the things that we were too young for, we should have started long ago. Expectations become not lines drawn for us by others, but benchmarks we set for ourselves. Saying "I'm not ready" isn't OK anymore... it won't be subject to pity, only derision. School was a cocoon... we're been released into the waters of reality now. And it's a slap to the face.

It will probably be worse 4-5 years from now, when we've left university as well, and the endless expanse of life lies before us. But for now, even this lighter chiding slap sends me reeling.

JeffreyFever is one of my favourite Youtubers. He doesn't have that many subscribers, but his videos are strikingly similar to those of Kevjumba. They're usually tidbits of his life, which contains all the excitement most of us wish we had. But yesterday he posted something different.

It was a little depressing, and the charming wit usually present in his videos was nowhere to be found, but it really only got me thinking of all the struggling actors in Los Angeles in the exact position he's in... without anyone to tell their story to. To jump so far out of his comfort zone without a safety net... later on it could be inspiring, but for now it's just plain terrifying.

I always have a small identity crisis when it comes to these times of change. Am I happy with myself right now? What kind of person do I want to become? I've recently started lifeguarding at a local pool, and while discussing life with one of the regulars, I asked him if he was getting the impression that I was antisocial. He nodded yes and laughed, then said seriously, "No, I just think you're the type of person that separates work and play." I liked that a lot. Not necessarily the description, but the meaning behind it. Those words give a sense of firm solidity, and I think deep down, they describe the the type of person I've been trying to be all along: clean-cut, dependable, honest, no ambiguous ethics.

It's one of the reasons I have mixed feelings about graduating. On the one hand, there's a certain sweetness and nostalgia, and on the other hand, there's... relief? Relief not only from school work, but from a certain social chaos that I have now learned apparently comes attached with graduation. I guess since leaving high school also means not having to be in close proximity with any of your classmates if you don't want to be, there's room for all the dirty laundry to be aired... pent-up emotions that have been bottled inside for four years all come tumbling out in an effort to wipe the slate clean. Those small bombs often ignite emotions within others, like frustration and regret, but in the end, the dust settles, and we go on. I remember around this time last year, I made a post wondering if I should be leading a life more akin to those of my elementary school friends. I've decided that the answer is no. Drama can show itself out... I've got things to do.


Summer hasn't boosted my reading pace as much as I had hoped. I've started another Ayn Rand novel, Atlas Shrugged, which I'm loving so far. (Side note, ARI's sending me a package of Ayn Rand books yayyy this is going to be awesome reading material for the plane ride to China *looks contentedly over at the copy they sent me of The Fountainhead, which has already been highlighted and dog-eared beyond repair* I will probably have reviews up before the end of the summer!) But other than that, since IB exams ended, I've only finished four books, having stopped halfway through a fifth one because I couldn't bear where it was going. I did write up my thoughts on each...


The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, by Stieg Larsson (Millenium, #1)

Plot summary (from Goodreads)

Mikael Blomkvist, a once-respected financial journalist, watches his professional life rapidly crumble around him. Prospects appear bleak until an unexpected (and unsettling) offer to resurrect his name is extended by an old-school titan of Swedish industry. The catch—and there's always a catch—is that Blomkvist must first spend a year researching a mysterious disappearance that has remained unsolved for nearly four decades. With few other options, he accepts and enlists the help of investigator Lisbeth Salander, a misunderstood genius with a cache of authority issues. Little is as it seems in Larsson's novel, but there is at least one constant: you really don't want to mess with the girl with the dragon tattoo.

My take

I dislike the misleading title. Lisbeth Salander - the girl with the dragon tattoo - really isn't the main character of this story. In fact, none of it really even revolves around her (is this considered a spoiler?). Blomkvist is the star, with Lisbeth used as a sidekick / crutch / convenient character to make the plot work. By putting her in the title, I have the expectation that there will be a turning point where she becomes huge... and when that doesn't happen by the end of the book, it's sorely disappointing.

That being said, the story was superb. I especially love how Larsson didn't over-romanticize the relationships (not just the messed up ones, even the normal-ish ones)... Blomkvist brings with him a refreshing sense of sensibility and honesty that every book needs.

This book definitely deserves to be raved about, but since it's already very hyped up, I'm obligated to give it a perfunctory sniff and shrug while saying, "Meh... it's ok."



On Strike for Christmas, by Sheila Roberts

Plot summary (from Goodreads)

At Christmastime, it seems as though a woman’s work is never done. Trimming the tree, mailing the cards, schlepping to the mall, the endless wrapping—bah humbug! So this year, Joy and Laura and the rest of their knitting group decide to go on strike. If their husbands and families want a nice holiday—filled with parties, decorations, and presents—well, they’ll just have to do it themselves. The boycott soon takes on a life of its own when a reporter picks up the story and more women join in. But as Christmas Day approaches, Joy, Laura, and their husbands confront larger issues in their marriages and discover that a little holiday magic is exactly what they need to come together.

My take

I know I know... a Christmas story in the summer? On top of that, something from the General Fiction section rather than YA? What's happening?! Is this what they call development?

The truth is, I've always enjoyed Christmas stories. No matter what time of the year, reading about the Christmas Spirit always gives me a warm glow on the inside. The relationships that make up this book are a lot more mature than I'm used to reading (no not mature as in graphic, but as in built on a lot more solid a foundation than a few months in high school), and it's nice to read about what happens in marriages after the honeymoon phase dissipates. Sheila Roberts has written a lot more of these types of books, all set in Christmas-time, so I'm definitely making a note of her - 'To be read when in need of optimism regarding the human condition'.



Insatiable, by Meg Cabot

Plot summary (from Goodreads)

Sick of hearing about vampires? So is Meena Harper.

But her bosses are making her write about them anyway, even though Meena doesn’t believe in them.

Not that Meena isn’t familiar with the supernatural. See, Meena Harper knows how you’re going to die. (Not that you’re going to believe her; no one ever does.)

But not even Meena’s precognition can prepare her for what happens when she meets—then makes the mistake of falling in love with—Lucien Antonescu, a modern-day prince with a bit of a dark side. It's a dark side a lot of people, like an ancient society of vampire-hunters, would prefer to see him dead for.

The problem is, Lucien's already dead. Maybe that’s why he’s the first guy Meena’s ever met that she could see herself having a future with. See, while Meena’s always been able to see everyone else’s future, she’s never been able look into her own.

And while Lucien seems like everything Meena has ever dreamed of in a boyfriend, he might turn out to be more like a nightmare.

Now might be a good time for Meena to start learning to predict her own future . . .

If she even has one.

My take

This book is proof that I am not done with the YA genre. This was beautiful. Breathtaking. Spoiler: there's a perfect, perfect love triangle the entire way! Ahhhhh *dissolves into a puddle of happiness*

(Also, the last line. The last line. Good lord that last line was simple but it still made me squeal and tear up a bit, it brought up so many feels.)

This isn't my first time reading Meg Cabot, and she never disappoints me. If I could write like any author, I'd want to write like her. Author crush <3



Jellicoe Road, by Melina Marchetta

Plot summary (from Goodreads)

Taylor is leader of the boarders at the Jellicoe School. She has to keep the upper hand in the territory wars and deal with Jonah Griggs - the enigmatic leader of the cadets, and someone she thought she would never see again.

And now Hannah, the person Taylor had come to rely on, has disappeared. Taylor's only clue is a manuscript about five kids who lived in Jellicoe eighteen years ago. She needs to find out more, but this means confronting her own story, making sense of her strange, recurring dream, and finding her mother - who abandoned her on the Jellicoe Road.

My take

This was recommended, so I entered it with high expectations... and it kind of reached them? A little more than halfway through the book, I had already figured out most of the story, so the ending was slightly anticlimatic. I will say this though: no matter how many books I read, circular endings still make me feel complete.


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