The Genre Dilemma

I’m at a dilemma. After reading The Mime Order I’m kind of stuck in a rut due to my current love of the supernatural.

I ought to give you the whole backstory. You see, I have a predisposition of getting obsessed with a genre and sticking to it for a really long time until I get bored with it and move on. I do this a lot – the most memorable and long obsessions began about two years ago, when I started reading books about Asian culture.

It all started with the wonderful Amy Tan and her first novel The Joy Luck Club which chronicled a group of older female Chinese immigrants and their daughters in San Francisco. I had actually read an excerpt of the novel and was absolutely fascinated to the point where I just had to read the book. It was, and remains, one of my favorite books of all time. It’s heart warming, heart breaking, and everything in-between.

After that I decided to read her newest book The Valley of Amazement about a Chinese/American woman living and working in multiple courtesan houses. Now this book was incredible. I’ve mentioned before that a great book makes you feel as though you’re the character. That their pain is your pain, that their activities are your activities. That is exactly what happened here. I felt so connected with the main character that I actually took the book with me places so I could read while I was waiting for appointments or classes or whatever I had going on that day. I would literally break down in tears while in public reading this book. In fact, I was waiting for a class to start (I had two hours before it started) and decided I would buckle up and read the rest of the novel. I finished it in an hour and a half, and spent the next thirty minutes crying in the women’s restroom. It, too, was spectacular. Absolutely amazing, and gut wrenching at the same time.

Soon I had read nearly all of Tan’s books (I only have one of her books left! I’m saving it for the perfect time!) and was watching a documentary on olden days China on Netflix when I came across a documentary on Geisha girls in Japan. Oh my god was I fascinated. I was so fascinated that when I finished the documentary I immediately ordered Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden, who was featured in the film. I was so entranced by his novel that I actually ended up writing an entire essay based on Geishas and their customs. It took a lot of documentaries and a lot of books, but I couldn’t have been happier doing that research.

So, for me at least, finding a subject that I enjoy and want to learn more about means reading a ton of novels based on the topic. My sister and I even went to Boston and I saw a woman reading a book on the subway based on a Japanese family’s life over the span of something crazy like 100 years, and I took note of the book and author so that when we got home I could buy the book. That happened about 7 months ago. I was on this Asian kick for nearly a year. I was that obsessed.

Now, I’ve moved on to supernatural/fantasy novels, usually young adult. I’ve always loved this genre – I mean my blog name is based off of a line from Harry Potter! But last January when I read The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon, I began to slowly integrate fantasy novels into my repertoire, until it became all I was reading. I read books in the meantime (and I’ll admit some of them were about Asian culture – you never get rid of a love!) but I waited an entire year for the Bone Season sequel to come out. That was “my precious.” Then I finally got and read the sequel, The Mime Order, all I want now is for the next book. My next “precious.”

And this is where the dilemma begins. After reading such an wonderful novel, it’s so hard to find something similar that can live up to my expectations. So, I can either stick to my guns and continue reading supernatural/fantasy novels (I’m currently almost done with The Maze Runner by James Dashner) or I can reach out and find a new topic to hone in on. I was thinking of switching over to romance novels – I just bought One Day by David Nicholls, or perhaps a John Green novel… but then fantasy novels are just amazing, and so exciting to read! Dilemma, dilemma…

Let me know what you guys think. Maybe I’ll start taking some suggestions!

In the meantime, let’s get reading! Until next time.

Rachel

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The Mime Order Review!

Hooray!!! I’ve finished The Mime Order!!! It was absolutely incredible. Samantha Shannon’s first book was wonderful – a powerful depiction of human survival instincts. Her second book is honestly even better – a powerful depiction of human manipulation and deception.

It’s always a little weird after you finish a book. It’s almost like the world around you is exactly the same – going on as usual as if you haven’t just had deep emotional trauma the past week you’ve been reading the book. No one quite understands that feeling of absolute shock, of having to tell everyone you know that right now you’ve just experienced something that only a book can do: get you involved into an entirely new world, only to have that world shatter beneath you. It’s both a horrible feeling, and, in a weird way, a wonderful one.

It took me a total of 10 days to read the 500 page book. I was reading maybe two or three chapters almost every night, so it took a lot longer than it did for me to read The Bone Season, which had about the same amount of pages, but only took me 3 days to read. Looking back on it, I’m glad it took me ten days because that’s 7 less days that I’ll be wishing I had another one of her books! I mean, holy cliffhanger…!

Shannon has an estimated five more books until she completes the series. I, for one, can’t wait. After reading The Bone Season last January, I claimed it as one of my all-time favorite books. The second I started reading The Mime Order I started to lean more towards the excellence of the sequel. By the end of the book I was in love. The last hundred pages or so are just mind boggling. It’s so intense that I was literally sitting in bed biting the inside of my lip so hard that it bled. It was so fantastic, such an awesome novel. This has easily become one of my top favorite books of all time, and that includes the first novel of the series, giving Samantha Shannon some pretty decent reign over my favorite books.

In my studies, (*pushes glasses up my nose*) I’ve learned that a good author knows how to captivate you, to get you interested in the story, and to be excited reading it. But a great author brings you into the novel as if you could be any one of the characters, so that even the goings on in the story start to seem real! For example, as I was reading last night I felt this dread in my mind and actually thought to myself “oh my god. I have to compete in a scrimmage in a few hours!” before snapping myself out of it and realizing that I was certainly not competing in a scrimmage, but that Paige was. So a great author gets you to feel those exact emotions that a character is feeling. It’s not just you following a character around and hearing their story, but rather being a part of their story. This writing technique is something that Shannon excels at beyond anything else.

I have to say, though, now that I’m done with the book I’m almost at a loss for what to read! I have a ton of books that I own that I really want to read, but when I think about which one to choose I just say to myself, “It’s no Mime Order… It’s no Paige and Warden.” So touchè, Samantha Shannon, touché. You’ve managed to keep me hooked for another year. The next book can’t come soon enough! Hurry it up, lady!

Until next time (with a new book!),

Rachel

To See or Not To See? That Is The Question

At my sister’s house this morning I noticed a book in her bookshelf: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. I’d like to preface this story by saying that my sister is not someone who likes to read. She likes the idea of reading, but can never finish a book – I love her anyway, but I give her endless crap for it. That said, she had Flynn’s book in her bookshelf, facing the room. Not with the spine showing, with the cover showing. So of course my first instinct was to say, “hey! Put that book in with the other books properly! It misses its friends!”

But then I looked at the cover, which had been altered from it’s original state so it could be recognizable for the movie’s audiences, and instead started thinking about just how much I want to see that movie. It looks amazing! It’s like a well-written Lifetime movie! The book-lover in me tells me to read the book first and then see the movie, which I had originally decided. But is it always better to read the book first?

Here’s the thing: if you’re not planning on reading the book, then you should by all means see the movie. But what if you want to read the book and see the movie? It’s a toss up! We’re all guilty of seeing a film first and then being so excited about the movie that you want to read the book. Usually, you read the book afterward and realize just how much more amazing the book was and you wish you had read it first. Especially because now you picture the actors as the characters!

However, I don’t think that’s a bad thing. I’m generally an advocate of reading the book first, don’t get me wrong. But picturing actors is natural, and I find it really helpful a lot of the time. For example, I read The Hunger Games series before the movies came out and I loved the books. After seeing the first two movies I re-read the series and pictured the amazing Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss. Let me tell you… she is an AMAZING Katniss!!!! When I picture J-Law as the main character, I’m thrilled! I see the features perfectly, I can picture her facial expressions, and it’s wonderful! When I try to think of the character I used to picture before seeing Lawrence as Katniss, I actually remember a different actress that I mistakenly thought looked exactly like the character – Lawrence wins as Katniss. So what’s the difference? If I’m going to end up picturing celebrities as my protagonists anyway, why not see the movie and picture their flawlessness??

I mean, Ben Affleck is in the new Gone Girl movie. Is it really that bad to have to picture Ben Affleck when you’re reading? NO! (I’d like to mention this now, because I won’t get the opportunity again – hate me if you will: I prefer Matt Damon.)

So what’s the big deal in seeing the movie first? Other than the bragging rights you get to have (“I already read the book so I know what happens at the end so if you don’t buy me the large popcorn/drink combo I’ll tell you the end of the story before we watch”) I don’t really think there’s a huge problem with it! I’m a big re-reader. Some of my favorite books I’ve read maybe 10-15 times. A lot of those books have been turned into movies, and honestly I really don’t mind picturing an actor as the main character, or the villain, or even just the butler. I like having a more vivid idea of what the character looks like, talks like, and what their expressions are. I like thinking of the characters as real life people, and sometimes seeing the movie first helps with that!

So my deliberation: if you like a bit of risk, see the movie first! It’s not always bad, and then when you read the book after you see it, you get the same story but in so much more vivid detail! So next time a book turned movie comes out, try seeing the movie first. Maybe you’ll like it!

Until next time!

Rachel

A Brief Update

Hello blog family! I’d like to give you all a brief update on The Mime Order by Samantha Shannon. The reading itself is going rather slow since I only read at night before bed, and I’ve been ready to pass out the second I hit the mattress. That said, I am passed the halfway mark!!

I have to say that I’m sad that the reading is going so slowly (especially since I read the first book, The Bone Season, in three days because I read it nonstop) but I’m kind of excited about it too. It’s like watching all of the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings movies, but only one per couple of days, so you spend all day wondering what’s going to happen next. It’s that same cliffhanger type book and I’m only just over halfway done! So good.

The book has been incredible. I don’t want to jinx it yet, but so far I like this book even better than the first. It picked up exactly where it left off which I always think is a really cool way of starting a sequel IF you can do it right. The concept seems simple: wherever you left off, just pick up from there. But it seems like authors tend to get a little mixed up when they do that. I can understand it in some ways: you work really hard to have a cliffhanger ending – to make it stand out so the reader wants to read more immediately- that it’s hard to just pick up where you left off. It’s much easier to start the book a day or two after where the novel ended, or even in J.K. Rowling’s case for all of her Harry Potter books, it started right around Harry’s birthday, about a month after the ending. But when it’s done right, the author is able to convey an exciting start to the new book. That’s what has happened here.

Both of Samantha Shannon’s book are about 500 pages, so they’re long books to begin with, with a lot of content. But what she is able to do – which I think all writers aspire to be able to do – is write 500 pages of quality content that just makes you want to know more. This book just has it all, so far. I absolutely love it. If you’re looking for a light read, this isn’t it – it’s complex, it’s often very dark, and it has so many different terms and sayings that there is a glossary in the back of the book. But if you can read it, you will get so into it you won’t want to put it down. I only do so very reluctantly. Damn you sleep!!!

I’ll give you a whole bunch more information when I’m done with the book. But until then, I will give you my favorite line of the entire book so far. I read this line and thought “wow, that was an amazingly written sentence.”

“Dark blood was spilling from his neck, and no wonder: his head was nowhere to be seen.”

Until next time, ladies and gentlemen! Happy reading!

Rachel

Books I Want To Read Part 1

It occurs to me that I’ve told you to read books, but I haven’t told you what books I look forward to reading! It’s weird because I read a lot of books, but I also have a HUGE amount of books that I buy in bulk purchases that I want to read and haven’t gotten the chance to… yet. This will have to be separated into a couple of parts because there’s no way I can cover them all in one blog post.

That said, I’d like to talk about the first book I’ve been wanting to read: Samantha Shannon’s The Mime Order which I’ve been waiting for, for over a year, has FINALLY arrived!!! I told you a bit about The Bone Season, and I told you I’ve been waiting for her new book to arrive at my house so I can read it. Well, I pre-ordered the book online about a little more than a month ago to make sure I’d get a copy the day it came out. On January 27th, the day The Mime Order came out in stores and online, I got an e-mail saying that my shipment had been delayed. I was sad, but I figured that it would ship the next day and then I’d be all set with my new book for overnight shipping. Nope. It took until January 31st for them to ship me my book, and I got it three days ago, February 2nd. I was very frustrated, but I have it now, so let bygones be bygones. I am so ecstatic that it has finally arrived, though! You’ll all be getting a review of the book as soon as I’m done!!

Now onto some of the books I want to read:

  • This second one is embarrassing that I haven’t read it yet, but I really want to read it!! The Fault In Our Stars by John Green. My last post mentioned the book Let it Snow by a trio of authors, one of whom is John Green. If his other books are anything like what he wrote in that novel, I will love this book. Everyone already seems to love both the book and the movie, so I really need to read it ASAP. Sorry John Green lovers! I’ll read it as soon as I can! (And maybe make a book vs movie in the process!!)
  • Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. Another book turned movie that I have yet to read. The movie looks amazing, and I contemplated seeing the movie first, but then decided against it (just FYI, I could write an entire blog about that alone. It’s such a tough decision!!!) I honestly don’t know too much about the novel except that there’s a murder and they’re trying to figure out who killed the person. But everyone has said that the book is amazing with a million plot twists, so I’ll give it a shot!
  • The next book, All My Friends Are Superheroes by Andrew Kaufman, looks amazing. It’s about a a boy who has superhero friends, and marries a superhero. But one of her ex-boyfriends hypnotizes her so her husband is invisible. The husband then has a limited amount of time to get her to see him or she never will see him. It seems like such a weird concept that it HAS to be amazing. I’ve heard great things about it, so I look forward to reading it.
  • The last book that I reeeeeally want to read is the first of a series: A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness. This book has been sitting on my bookshelf for so long. Every time I see it I say, “Oh! I’ll read that next!!” and then I get distracted by shiny objects and forget about it for a while. From what I gather of the book, it follows a girl whose family comes from a long line of witches. She finds an old alchemy book that awakens all types of demons and monsters and other sinister things and she’s the only one who can stop them. It looks so good. This is really the exact type of book I love to read most, and it’s even a series!! I can’t wait to read it. Soon… soon…

So that’s it for now, I have so many more to tell you, but I know if I keep going it’ll be a list of 30 books I want to read. So I’ll split this up and keep you posted on some stuff I want to read as it comes along. I hope you’re all enjoying the first of the next six more weeks of winter! Has it been six weeks yet?

Until next time!

Rachel