Friday, September 28, 2012

Confessions of China Living

I wish someone had told me, before I moved to Shanghai last year, to be careful to not let China make me a meaner person. I had thought that I had adjusted well. I had learned the width of the narrowest opening between two people that I could weave through on a crowded city street. I learned to accept the smaller dimensions of personal space here, but not give it up for the obnoxious, privileged young Shanghainese women who will cut you in line. I learned not to cross at crosswalks and how to judge the likelihood of a car hitting me by its distance from and the speed at which it is going. I accepted the fact that horns were going to blare at 3am, and have even begun to be able to sleep without earplugs.

I learned to survive, but I mistook my accumulated survival skills as signs of my emerging cosmopolitanism. This is what it is to be an urbanite! I thought. I am tough-skinned, competent, and worldly!

But in actuality, I was slammed by the thrice-as-forceful wave of post-graduate life, city life, and Chinese life all at once. I can't separate the three, can't ever figure out whether my feelings and frustrations are the natural reactions of a newly minted independent adult, those of a space-and-quiet-loving girl whose prior contact with cities up till now had been day trips into New York and Philly, or the result of coming to a Chinese city.

I no longer want to deny it, no longer want to cover it up with euphemisms. China is impatient and judgmental and unforgiving, and in my struggle to survive here, I've absorbed a lot of that into myself.

It's easy to internalize a lot of frustration in China. That's what happens to a society led by a government that doesn't allow freedom of speech. It only takes one bus ride in Shanghai to get a pretty thorough gist of what makes me angry here. As the bus pulls to the curb, middle-aged men and single-minded young mothers push shuffling old women out of the way to be the first onto the bus. The bus drivers slams the doors shut as soon as you step on board, barely avoiding catching the back of your shirt in its wheezy path. Slouching young men with artfully arranged bangs sit in the courtesy seats and bury their heads in their iPhones or iPads, determinedly ignoring the thin-wristed, white-haired little old ladies who cling to the side of their seats and struggle to stand upright as the bus driver lurches in and out of traffic with his hand permanently pressed against the horn. The man desperately missing his sixteenth cigarette of the day on his short bus journey groans and shudders and jerks his head and hacks up a thick gob of spit into the single, tiny, overflowing trash can. Oh, traffic lights? A mere suggestion. The thing that counts down the seconds until your light turns green? Obviously an indication that traffic is supposed to go when there are still 4 seconds left of the red light to go. If you get to your stop and the bus is crowded, which is often, it becomes a game of push and shove, see how many people you can bang with your overstuffed purse on your way to reach the door. The concept of letting people off the public transport vehicle before new passengers board? A mere concept, rarely put into practice.

A trip on Shanghai's public transportation illustrates the selfishness and inconsideration of a nation that adopted capitalism while still held in the thrall of communism. Knowing this, everything in China becomes suspect. The smiling, well-made-up waitress who serves you at dinner may be secretly resenting your white-collar job and accompanying salary. You buy a cheap watery beer for 40RMB at a pub that tries to evoke European legacies and feel guilty that your one beer could feed for one whole day one of the many beggars, often deformed or missing limbs from factory accidents, who sit in the streets. You become suspicious of every price given to you at the local market, wondering if the seller isn't trying to gyp you out of a few more yuan despite his already reasonably low price. Silence does not indicate contentment, but rather decades of pent-up frustration at inequality and corruption.

No community is perfect, but I never thought that I'd lose so many of the things I used to like about myself--listening skills, objectivity, concentrated kindness--so quickly, in this environment. It took almost a year's worth of unhappiness and regretful meanness on my part for me to realize that I don't like much of who I've become. So, starting now, I will strive to be more aware of when I'm being mean, and to resist the easy temptation of sliding into meanness. I will also write more about China, my travels, and my thoughts here. I haven't written as much about my life abroad as I had expected to mostly because I'm really unhappy with many things about it. But if writing about it will be my catharsis, then I'm going to. I'm going to put the truth out there, because I'm still an American citizen, I'm still a reluctant leader of humanity, and the truth cannot be denied.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Review: Fifty Shames of Earl Grey by Fanny Merkin

Tags: humor, parody, BDSM


Soon-to-be-college graduate Anna Steal meets the irresistibly sexy, rich, handsome, suave, and nerdy Earl Grey and gets swept away in a romance beyond her imagination. The sex and presents may be great, but Earl Grey has some deep dark things that he is ashamed about, which can threaten their chances of staying together forever.


FIFTY SHAMES OF EARL GREY was at its best when it scathingly critiqued the (many) flaws of Fifty Shades of Grey and E. L. James’ writing. Alas, FIFTY SHAMES OF EARL GREY enjoyed itself too much too often, and the liberties it took with plot, characterization, and humor ultimately weakened my overall enjoyment of the book.

FIFTY SHAMES OF EARL GREY has an arguably unlimited source of material to parody, and that’s what it does best. I giggle-snorted the most when Merkin/Shaffer laid bare the utterly ridiculous inelegance of James’ writing.

On meaningless descriptions:
“I gaze into his gazing eyes gazingly like a gazelle gazing into another gazelle’s gazing gaze.” 
“We step inside the cabin and he turns the lights on. Wow. What a place. There are so many things, like couches and chairs and tables.” 
“It doesn’t seem fair that one man could be so beautiful, and so talented, and so rich, but damn: Earl Grey is the total package. My inner guidette shakes her head. That’s like the fiftieth time you’ve said that, using nearly the exact same words, she says.” 
On using physical qualities to repeatedly characterize “her” characters:
“I watch as he pulls his credit card out of his wallet using his long fingers, which I swear have to be longer than his forearms.” 
On illogical progressions in story events:
“’I’m kind of glad you crashed into the ocean,’ Earl says.
‘And why is that, Mr. Grey?’
‘Because I’m throwing a masked charity ball tonight, and I’d love for you to come with me.’” 
On Christian Grey’s creepiness/unrealisticness/unattractiveness:
“He’s just too good looking to say no to. I can’t quit him, even if I tried. Mostly because he would stalk me to the ends of the earth, but still.” 
“’You’re doing so much good in the world, Mr. Grey,’ I tell him.
‘It’s to balance out the cruelty in my own heart,’ he says grimly.
I don’t say anything, because there’s no use arguing with Earl Grey when he’s PMSing.” 
On the transparency of Fifty Shades of Grey being Twilight fanfiction:
“Earl is only six years older than me, but sometimes the gulf between our ages seems like something I can’t bridge. It’s like he’s a 104-year-old vampire in a twenty-seven-year-old’s body.” 
So yeah, the book has some great biting lines about FSoG being an utter piece of crap. But, as I mentioned, it’s one thing to parody and criticize the original material’s ridiculousness, it’s another to add your own kind of ridiculousness. The liberties that FIFTY SHAMES OF EARL GREY took with content left me mostly unmoved. For instance, Earl Grey has a love for Tom Cruise that shows up in the form of multiple movie references. Shaffer explains this as being a running gag, but it didn’t do anything for me. Neither did Jin’s (Anna’s “ethnic friend,” ahaha poking fun at token minorities as “diversity” in literature) bronyism, Katherine’s alcoholism, or “Triassic Park.”

On Ana/Anna’s idiocy:
“Once I graduate, I’m going to start looking for a ‘real’ job. I don’t have anything lined up yet, but I’m not one to worry. In this economy, it shouldn’t be too hard for a fresh college graduate to find a new job.” 
“I feel naked before him, mostly because I don’t have any clothes on.” 
“Less than a minute later, there’s a reply from Earl Grey. Somebody clearly wasn’t busy enough.” 
Actually, that last line illustrates another of the head-shaking things about EARL GREY: Anna Steal has a better head on her shoulders her counterpart. Ana Steele was too stupid in a blank, wish fulfillment kind of way for the author and susceptible readers; Anna Steal was over-the-top stupid (and also, might I add, cringe-inducingly horny), but she also hits it spot-on with her character analyses of Earl Grey. Such insight does not belong to Ana/Anna’s character; the fact that it does in FIFTY SHAMES OF EARL GREY makes readers wonder why she felt she deserved Earl Grey when she clearly deserved better than him.

My favorite lines from the book:
“He’s a nice guy. Like Mark Zuckerberg, only less autistic.” 
“’Look, the point is, there are plenty of ponies in the sea.’
‘Yeah, and they’re called “seahorses,”’ Jin says, sulking. 
And the utter truth about FSoG, spoken about Anna (which, again, makes her smarter than her counterpart ever was):
“’You act like there’s something wrong with you, like everything you enjoy is embarrassing or scary. News flash, Mr. Grey: This isn’t 1950 or whatever. Your sexual tastes aren’t as shocking or as deviant as you think. Neither is anything else you like. Maybe if you didn’t take your fifty shames so seriously, I wouldn’t be so compelled to laugh at them.’” 
Over and out.

Da Capo Press / July 31, 2012 / Paperback / 224pp. / $13.99

e-galley received for review from publisher and NetGalley.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Author Interview with Sarah Beth Durst

Sarah Beth Durst has been a steady fixture on the YA fantasy scene for the past few years. Her latest is VESSEL, is recently out from Margaret K. McElderry. Us PoC book lovers have been dedicatedly keeping an eye on this book for a while, thanks in large part to the breath-stealing cover:

And this alluring book synopsis:
In a desert world of sandstorms and sand-wolves, a teen girl must defy the gods to save her tribe in this mystical, atmospheric tale from the author of Drink, Slay, Love.

Liyana has trained her entire life to be the vessel of a goddess. The goddess will inhabit Liyana’s body and use magic to bring rain to the desert. But Liyana’s goddess never comes. Abandoned by her angry tribe, Liyana expects to die in the desert. Until a boy walks out of the dust in search of her.

Korbyn is a god inside his vessel, and a trickster god at that. He tells Liyana that five other gods are missing, and they set off across the desert in search of the other vessels. For the desert tribes cannot survive without the magic of their gods. But the journey is dangerous, even with a god’s help. And not everyone is willing to believe the trickster god’s tale.

The closer she grows to Korbyn, the less Liyana wants to disappear to make way for her goddess. But she has no choice: She must die for her tribe to live. Unless a trickster god can help her to trick fate—or a human girl can muster some magic of her own.
Today, I have Sarah Beth Durst as a guest on my blog to talk more about herself and VESSEL, hooray!

1. Your cover has a beautiful POC model on it, and that is a total deal-maker for me! Can you tell us a bit about the type of research you had to do for VESSEL, and which cultures, if any, you drew upon for it? What was the most surprising thing you learned in your research?

I researched the lives and cultures of people who live in deserts, specifically the Sahara, the Gobi, and the southwest United States. And I meshed them together and injected them with magic to create my desert world.

A few things I learned: Snakes can stay venomous for twenty-four hours after death. You can eat a scorpion raw (if you cut off the tail). And date palm trees have bark that you can climb, but the bark is also sharp enough to cut you.

2. What was the hardest part of VESSEL to write? What was your favorite part?

I loved creating the world, especially inventing the mythology. (Oral storytelling plays an important part in the culture of my desert land.) The hardest part for me is always the first draft, when the story is the farthest from what it's supposed to be. I love revisions because, for me, that's when the story comes to life.

3. Give us a snapshot of A Day in the Life of Sarah Beth Durst, Writer.

Every morning I wake at the crack of dawn to feed the fire-breathing dragons, then I have to muck out the centaur stables and check on the were-chickens in between writing a few paragraphs...

Okay, I don't really wake at the crack of dawn. But otherwise, it's fairly accurate. My day is a constant mix of writing and daily life. I do my best to balance both.

4. You're stranded on an island. Would you rather do it on your own (Robinson Crusoe-style) or with a group of strangers (Lord of the Flies-style?)

If the island has its own library, then alone is fine. If not... then I suppose I'll take my chances with the people. Aside from being able to type fast, I don't have many survival skills so it would be nice to have other people... at least until they decide I'm Piggy.

5. What is your favorite thing to do after a good writing session?

Collapse on the couch with my husband and a bag of tortilla chips! I'd like to say something a lot more exotic, such as "after I finish writing, I head off to skydive, followed by a snorkeling expedition and a hunt for the Loch Ness Monster," but really, I just like to watch Project Runway then go to sleep.
6. Complete the following sentences:

- Fans of Tamora Pierce, Robin McKinley, and Kristin Cashore will enjoy VESSEL.

- When reading VESSEL, readers should prepare date pastries and goat cheese on pita bread as their snacks.

- After reading VESSEL, readers will never be able to think of sand in the same way again.

Thank you, Sarah! Be sure to check Sarah out at her author website, Twitter, and Facebook. Remember, VESSEL is out now from booksellers!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Review: Shadowfell by Juliet Marillier

Shadowfell, Book 1

Tags: YA, fantasy, romance, fairies


On the run from the dreaded Enforcers of the king of Alban’s terrifying rule, 16-year-old Neryn has no one left. Her only option is to travel north to a place called Shadowfell, where rebellion against King Keldec is rumored to be brewing. Shadowfell may be the only place Neryn can be safe…for she holds a rare, magical talent that the king is determined to destroy…or, even worse, possess.


I write this review from the point of view of a Juliet Marillier fan who, shamefully, has only read a handful of her books (so far!). SHADOWFELL, the first book in her new YA fantasy series, may not be as canonical as some of her other works, but it is still a solidly good fantasy read that will please fantasy and non-fantasy readers alike.

SHADOWFELL’s strengths lie, strangely enough, in its great use of common fantasy tropes. Say what? But you hate tropes, Steph! Yeah, well, sometimes you just need a story in your favorite genre with a bit of feel-good predictability. SHADOWFELL does that primarily with its straightforward quest plot, angelic heroine, and simmering romance.

The primary thing that Neryn does in this story is walk…all the way…to her destination. Rather than be bored, however, I was fully engrossed in the many adventures she encountered along the way: the people she talked to, the Folk she befriended, the constant tense threat of encroaching Enforcers. Marillier doesn’t spend too much prose describing the landscape of Alban, but you know enough to envision Neryn traversing dark forests thick with thousand-year-old trees, bleak rocky landscapes, and mountain ridges with the sharp autumn wind conspiring to push her off the edge of the world. Neryn may only do one thing throughout SHADOWFELL, but the story purrs along in that smooth, pleasant way of good rides.

Neryn is a sympathetic heroine, despite her being almost too good to be true. As she unwittingly completes more and more of the “tests” that determine her (ahem) calling, she maintains a sort of golden-heartedness that seems only to exist in literature. Neryn follows her late grandmother’s mantra of “You always have something to give others” so carefully that some readers might be prone to rolling their eyes. Nevertheless, she makes for the perfect protagonist for a quest plot, as she encounters, and overcomes, a number of scenarios and obstacles.

Last—but certainly not least—we have what probably makes all of Marillier’s fantasies stand out the most: the romance. Huzzah, no insta-luv! Flint and Neryn’s attraction develops almost painfully slowly. Neither one of them had an upbringing that endears them to easily trusting others. Perhaps the thing I appreciated most in SHADOWFELL was how we readers, alongside Neryn, never knew whether or not we could trust Flint. That man sure walks the line between two sides so talently. The uncertainty of Flint’s loyalty adds a refreshing uncertainty to this literary romance.

SHADOWFELL probably doesn’t break any new grounds in fantasy, but it’s the sort of story that could’ve easily gone wrong at the hands of a less talented author. Marillier fans, this book may not be your new Marillier favorite, but it is worth your time. And as SHADOWFELL’s voice runs a little younger, this may be the perfect book to give to young readers who have received devoured all of Tamora Pierce’s books and are begging for more.

Similar Authors
Maria V. Snyder
Sherwood Smith
Tamora Pierce

Cover discussion: I am underwhelmed by this cover. The eye skips off it; there is nothing to hold one's attention.

Knopf / Sept. 11, 2012 / Hardcover / 416pp. / $16.99

e-galley received for review from publisher and NetGalley. Thank you!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Speechless Giveaway!

For Speechless, Hannah Harrington's sophomore novel, Harlequin Teen has partnered with the Love Is Louder movement to spread the word about the power of love and support and help those who are bullied know that they are not alone. Therefore, I have a special giveaway for you today. One (1) winner will receive a finished copy of Speechless and a branded iPhone skin!

About the book:
Everyone knows that Chelsea Knot can’t keep a secret. Until now. Because the last secret she shared turned her into a social outcast – and nearly got someone killed. Chelsea has taken a vow of silence – to learn to keep her mouth shut and to stop hurting anyone else.

Speechless explores the real-life teen issues of bullying, mean girls, LGBT awareness and hate crimes. Compared to the many books already out about bullies, Harrington’s novel stands out for its authentic voice and unflinching portrayal of what it means to be part of the bullying. In October 2012, Harlequin TEEN will be releasing a brand new survey that has interviewed 1,500 girls between 13-18 years old on the subject of bullying.
Hannah's author website:
More about Speechless' partnership with Love Is Louder:

Check out the book trailer:

The special Speechless/Love Is Louder phone skin you could win!
About Love is Louder:
Harlequin TEEN has partnered with the nonprofit Love is Louder, a movement that started when actress Brittany Snow, MTV and the Jed Foundation decided to do something to help those feeling mistreated. Hundreds of thousands of people just like you have come together to raise the volume around the message that love and support are louder than any internal or external voice that brings you down.

To enter, just fill out the Rafflecopter form below. One entry per household, please. This giveaway is open to entrants with a US or Canadian mailing address, and ends Saturday, October 6, 2012. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, September 21, 2012

Review: Moon Over Manifest by Claire Vanderpool

Tags: middle grade, Newbery Award, historical fiction, small towns, mystery, immigrants


12-year-old Abilene Tucker’s dad sends her back to his childhood town of Manifest for the summer while he works the railroads. Abilene is not too thrilled by the dullness of town, but things begin to look up when she discovers a hidden trove of trinkets and letters dated from 1917 and 1918. Through a “business agreement” with Miss Sadie, the local diviner, Abilene begins to unravel the story of two friends, Ned and Jinx, that took place over the years 1917-18, back when Manifest was a mining town that was tense with the mass diversity of immigrants arriving for work. But what do Ned and Jinx’s nearly 20-year-old story have to do with her? And why is her father never mentioned in any of Miss Sadie’s stories?


I wasn’t swept away by MOON OVER MANIFEST the way I want books, especially Newbery Award-winning ones, to do to me. In some ways, this is an odd book: the 1936 plotline mingles with the 1917-1918 plotline that’s told through stories, and for some reason or another I found the 1918 plotline so much more interesting than the 1936 plotline. I actually have to shake my head a little at how it’s possible for the 1936 plotline to be so dull. But there you have it: what could have been a charming plotline about Abilene Tucker arriving at Manifest, getting to know the town’s quirky residents, and digging into its secrets turned into a snoozefest in which Abilene runs around town with all the productivity of one of those annoying little dogs that always have so much energy and yet are so stupid, has placeholder conversations with the townspeople and eats their food, and purportedly has adventures with her two friends (whom I couldn’t pick out of a three-person lineup if I tried, they were so uncharacterized) without actually doing anything that was actually worth writing 350+ pages about.

That was a bit harsh of me. I like clever books that surprise and outsmart me, and the revelation at MOON OVER MANIFEST’s ending did that, and even brought out some tears in me. However, under no circumstances can I wholeheartedly recommend a book just for its good ending if I felt the rest of it was just average. And, yeah, I felt MOON OVER MANIFEST was just average. It’s clever, the way the two storylines finally connected, but that’s not enough to overcome average characters and a slow plot. If I was inclined to put it down several times in the middle, how do you think a middle-grade audience would feel?

Delacorte / Oct. 12, 2010 / Hardcover / 368pp. / $16.99

Personal copy.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

STORMDANCER Blog Tour: Interview with Author Jay Kristoff

A couple days ago I posted my review of STORMDANCER by Jay Kristoff, one of the biggest earth-shaking reading experiences I have had this year so far. I'm lucky to say that today, as part of the Stormdancer Blog Tour, I'm featuring an interview with author Jay Kristoff, who has given some of his precious time to thoughtfully and intelligently answering my many questions. Welcome, Jay, to Steph Su Reads!
1. How did the idea for writing STORMDANCER come to you?

This is kind of a lame answer, but I had a dream. It was about a little boy in a field of dead grass. He was standing in front of a griffin and screaming at it, trying to get it to fly, but the griffin’s wings were broken and it couldn’t get off the ground.

Friends who think too much about “what dreams mean” tell me that the little boy was me, and the griffin was my first novel (which I was querying at the time, and wasn’t going to get off the ground no matter how much I yelled). But that image of a griffin with broken wings stuck in my head. It all kinda came from there, really. The little boy became a teenaged girl, and the dead grass became blood-red flowers, but that was where it started.

2. What influences and inspirations did you draw upon to create your world of the Shima Isles and the oppressive Lotus Guild?

There’s this strange habit among a lot of steampunk authors where they treat the advent of industrialization as something fantastic. The machine is a gateway into awesome adventures and inexplicable corsetry. When in reality, the industrial age was forged on the backs of serf and slave labor, child exploitation and misery. So I wanted to make the gatekeepers to Shima’s technology bad guys. The machine is destroying the nation, even as it empowers it. I wanted to draw a parallel between the Guild and the constructs we see in our world today – faceless oil and munitions companies dictating foreign policy, wars being fought in the name of resource acquisition and to keep the military industrial complex afloat.

I’m not some hippy who wants to go back to the days of growing your own potatoes and starving to death when Mr Fungus comes to town, but I do genuinely believe we’re addicts, just like the people of Shima. Not to chi, maybe. But to something that looks an awful lot like it.

3. Tell us a bit about the writing process of STORMDANCER. Did you outline in advance or just start writing? What was the first scene you wrote? What is your favorite scene? What was the hardest scene for you to write?

I just started writing. I’m a pantser by nature. I like not knowing what’s going to happen next. I like surprising myself. Before I actually wrote the scene where he appeared, Kin was going to be a girl. The scar on Kaori’s face was something I threw in on a whim, and over the course of writing the sequels, it’s become this huge, character defining trait for her. The one thing I knew for sure when I started writing was how the book was going to end, and it didn’t end that way at all. :)

The first scene I wrote was chapter 2: Yoritomo giving Hideo his decree. Although again, when I started writing it, Yoritomo was much younger – eleven or twelve. It was only after the story developed that I aged him up and made him an utter bastard.

My favourite scene to write was the scene where Yukiko and Buruu are fighting the oni, and their minds converge for the first time. There’s a really cool brutality in that scene, but it’s framed in this moment where Yukiko and Buruu are perfectly in tune and moving through the world like water amidst all this blood and thunder. Lots of fun to write.

Hardest scene to write is full of spoilers, so I can't talk about it ☺

4. Did any part of the story surprise you with how it turned out?

Oh, absolutely. Most of the big twists in Stormdancer are twists I didn’t know were coming. I have this document called “So what happens now?” dated 2010 on my hard drive, back from when I was first drafting Stormdancer. It outlined where the book was going to go from the halfway point. I read through it now and it’s hilarious - everything ended differently from how I expected.

I can’t really talk about details without throwing in huge spoilers, but the twist at the end of the second act? Had no idea that was coming. The twist during the prison break with Masaru? No idea that was coming either.

But I enjoy that element of uncertainty. If you don’t know how your story is going to end, it’s a sure thing most of your readers won’t either.

5. Yoritomo is one of the creepiest fantasy villains I have ever read. Who are some of your favorite literary villains?
I like real life villains. Villains who have a plausible foundation for their evil. I based Yoritomo on the Roman Emperor Nero – a kid who basically came to rule far too young, and eventually began experimenting with the limits of power. If you’re an absolute monarch who isn’t raised with a sense of justice and integrity, eventually you’re going to figure out you can do pretty much anything you feel like, and nobody is going to stop you – particularly if you’re the lynchpin of a dynasty. The choice between suffering a madman’s rule or plunging the nation into a bloody succession war in which thousands will perish – that’s a hard choice for most people to make.

I like studying people like Nero or Caligula. Xerxes. Alexander the Great. Edward the 1st. Henry the 8th. Napoleon. Stalin. These men were all absolute bastards – villains and conquerors and murderers, all corrupted by the absolute power they wielded. I like that idea. I like an evil founded in reality and human desire, a villain who started with the best of intentions and somewhere just went… bad.

6. How did you put yourself into the mindset of a teenage girl? Was it difficult? Did you have anyone checking your writing for you to make sure Yukiko's voice was genuine?

It was difficult, but I’m not sure if it would be any more difficult than writing in the shoes of another archetype I’m not and will never be. Is writing a teenage girl any more difficult than writing a soldier? I’ve never been to war, never killed anybody. Never swung a sword or felt my life in real danger. I think every writer faces that difficulty – unless you’re writing an autobiography, you’re always in someone else’s shoes. I guess that the challenge of what we do. I tried to stick to universal truths when writing Yuki – male or female, there are things everyone wants and needs. Friendship. Love. A place to belong. We all want those, no matter the configuration of our chromosomes.

I do have my wife vet all my work though. She devours books – she’s the most well-read person I know. So not only is she great for keeping the female voice true, but she spots clichés or tired tropes and my stumbling, bumbling logic. She’s brutal in her criticism, but she’s good at keeping me honest. This series wouldn’t exist without her.

7. Do you have any particular "writing quirks" (location, outfit, time of day/night, snack, music, etc.)?

I write all slouched on the couch with my feet on the coffee table. Usually wearing ugg boots (very glamorous, I know). Sometimes the dog sits on my lap, so I balance the laptop on his back. I always work at night – I just seem more comfortable when the world is asleep. The only snack I really pop is red bull. This is my rock and roll author life.

8. Can you give us a teeeeeeny tiny hint as to what the sequel will feature? :)

It’s actually tricky to talk about that – there are some massive spoilery events that occur in the first half dozen pages of book 2 that I shouldn’t be let out of the bag yet, and if you haven’t read book 1, the climactic events at the end of book 1 are also huge spoilers.

But basically, the Shima imperium begins to descend into all-out war. The seeds they’ve planted with their conflict overseas against the gaijin begin to bear bitter fruit, the nation begins tearing itself to pieces. The Lotus Guild try to maintain their grip on power as the nation begins to decline, and they risk all in a stratagem to wipe out the Kagé rebellion once and for all. Yukiko’s powers are growing beyond her ability to control, and she’s also trying to deal with the mantle of “hero” that’s been thrust upon her. We meet new friends, new enemies and a couple of the minor characters from Stormdancer become major players.

If you wanted to read more about Kin after book 1, you’ll be happy with book 2. Although maybe not happy with the way it ends…

Dun, dun, duuuunnnnnnnn.

9. What do you hope readers will take away from your book?

Buruu says it best.


I have a little more optimism than Buruu. I have a little more faith in our ability to turn back from the precipice we’re rushing towards in our 8-cylinder SUVs, tossing our Starbuck’s cups out the window. Maybe not much, but a little.

Everyone can make a difference.

You can make a difference.

Your time starts now.

Thank you so much, Jay. Visit to learn more about the author and book. You can also visit the other stops on the Stormdancer Blog Tour here. Stormdancer is now available in the UK and US.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Review: Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan

The Lynburn Legacy, Book 1

Tags: YA, paranormal, mystery


Kami Glass’ family has always lived in the small village of Sorry-in-the-Vale, which used to be rule by the mysterious and intimidating Lynburns from a grand mansion overlooking the town until the Lynburns all left a few decades ago. But now the Lynburns are back, stirring up old feelings, but no one will tell Kami anything about them and why she should stay away from them.

Kami’s journalist instinct cannot let the mystery rest. Finding what little information there is available about the Lynburns is hard enough, but things get extremely complicated when the boy whose voice Kami has been hearing in her head ever since she can remember appears in real life…as a Lynburn.


A slow plot. A long book that could’ve been cut down by 150 pages. An important reveal that should’ve happened 100 pages earlier. A love triangle (sort of). An average but not particularly memorable protagonist. These are the qualities that seem to be characteristic of YA bestsellers these days—and, since, UNSPOKEN had all of these, I’m sure it has a shot at getting on the bestseller list. Unfortunately, because of all these qualities, this book didn’t end up being my thing.

Kami fancies herself a “sassy female detective,” but Veronica Mars she is not. This is in part, I think, due to Brennan’s rather strange choice of telling the story in third person, instead of from Kami’s point of view. I LOVED Kami’s voice in the first-person opening, and was initially shocked, then eventually disappointed, when the rest of this long long overly long book proceeded in third-person. Presumably this was because sometimes, randomly, the POV switched over to Jared’s—but the main characters were so forgettably bland anyway that having a few pages from their POV didn’t impress them upon me more. So anyway, my point here is that any potential for the Veronica Mars-esque sassiness that Kami claims to possess was unfortunately smothered by the third-person narration.

Speaking of “long long overly long”… At less than 400 pages, UNSPOKEN is shorter than a lot of books I’ve read and loved, but even that length was unnecessary for the events—or lack thereof—that transpired. Maybe the idea suffered from YA trilogy-itis? I read this on my Kindle, and the Important Big Reveal, the revelation that would justify the characters’ (and readers’) confusion and curiosity up till then, didn’t occur until more than two-thirds of the way through the book. Come on. That’s just basically assuming that readers will be pulled along by sheer curiosity instead of anything actually substantial—which I suppose some readers might be, but I’m thoroughly not put over the moon by a bunch of villagers being all “Hush, we don’t talk about the Lynburns” while initially nothing scarier than the common fear of a haunted wood happens.

The first two-thirds of UNSPOKEN (you know, the part that should’ve been condensed to half its length) consist of Kami running around—sometimes by herself, sometimes with Jared—picking up clues but then not acting on them because she’s so busy agonizing over her confused feelings about Jared vs. Ash. True, she’s no Bella Swan over boys, but still. Kami. Girl. Don’t be the person who loses all common sense in the midst of a crisis because you can’t decide how a certain boy feels about you.

With the exception of a few good quips, Kami and Jared don’t hold a candle to the supposed supporting characters (and let’s not even talk about Ash). I loved the casual yet loving banter among Kami’s family members, and Kami’s friends Angela and Holly stole the scene every time they appeared. (Why couldn’t Angela have been the protagonist instead? I could totally get behind a people-hating protagonist.) Alas, the vibrancy and attractiveness of the supporting characters meant that the main characters’ “conflicts” felt terribly clichéd in comparison. I found myself not caring much about how Kami and Jared struggled to deal with their feelings for each other. YAWN, YA TROPE ALERT. For an author in a position of literary influence (I thought that Sarah Rees Brennan’s Demon’s Lexion trilogy was great, and she belongs to a literary circle of some of the most influential YA authors in the past decade), I was greatly disappointed by all the clichés and tropes that this story ended up using.

In this review I once again dredge up what I find frustrating and lacking in the so-called “YA bestsellers” of these days. Which means that the majority of YA readers will love this, and I will be the curmudgeonly old lady in the ratty overstaffed armchair in the corner of a drafty room furthest away from the fireplace, knitting and talking to my friends the rats and cats.

Similar Authors
Maureen Johnson
Marta Acosta
Lee Daniels
Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl
Jessica Spotswood
Kendare Blake

Cover discussion: It's a pity about this book, because I love that cover. It's so striking. It would've looked great on my bookshelf, but alas.

Random House / Sept. 11, 2012 / Hardcover / 384pp. / $18.99

e-galley received for review from publisher and NetGalley.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

FINALE Excerpt Reveal Blog Tour

I'm excited to be part of an exclusive blog tour put together by Simon & Schuster and revealing excerpts of FINALE, the conclusion to the Hush, Hush series by Becca Fitzpatrick. Finale is the fourth and final book in the Hush, Hush series and will be released on October 23, 2012. Read on for an excerpt of this embargoed book. :)

“When do I get to see these dance moves of yours?” he asked. “We’ve never gone dancing at the Devil’s Handbag together.”

“You aren’t missing much. I was told tonight I’m definite fish-out-of-water material on the dance floor.”

“Vee needs to be nicer to you,” he murmured, pressing a kiss to my ear.

“Vee doesn’t get credit for that line. That would go to Dante Matterazzi,” I confessed absentmindedly, Patch’s kisses lulling me into a happy place that didn’t require a lot of reasoning or forethought.

“Dante?” Patch repeated, something unpleasant creeping into his tone.


“Did I forget to mention Dante was there?” I asked. Patch had also met Dante for the first time this morning, and for most of the tense meeting, I feared one would drag the other into a fistfight. Needless to say, it wasn’t love at first sight. Patch didn’t like Dante acting like he was my political adviser and pressuring me into war with fallen angels, and Dante . . . well, Dante hated fallen angels on principle.

Patch’s eyes cooled. “What did he want?”

“Ah, now I remember what I wanted to talk to you about.” I cracked my knuckles. “Dante’s trying to sell me to the Nephilim race. I’m their leader now. Trouble is, they don’t trust me. They don’t know me. And Dante’s made it his mission to change that.”

“Tell me something I don’t know.”

“Dante thinks it might be a good idea for me to, ah, date him. Don’t worry!” I rushed on. “It’s all for show. Got to keep the Nephilim thinking their leader is invested. We’re going to squash these rumors that I’m dating a fallen angel. Nothing says solidarity like hooking up with one of your own, you know? It makes for good press. They might even call us Norante. Or Danta. Do you like the sound of that?” I asked, trying to keep the mood light.

Patch’s mouth turned grim. “Actually, I don’t like the sound of that.”

“If it’s any consolation, I can’t stand Dante. Don’t sweat this.”

“My girlfriend wants to date another guy, no sweat.”

“It’s for appearances. Look on the bright side—”

Patch laughed, but the humor was lacking. “There’s a bright side?”

“It’s only through Cheshvan. Hank got Nephilim everywhere all worked up over this one moment. He promised them salvation, and they still think they’re going to get it. When Cheshvan comes, and ends up being like any other Cheshvan on record, they’ll realize it was a crapshoot, and little by little, things will go back to normal. In the meantime, while tempers are running hot and the hopes and dreams of Nephilim are hanging on the false belief that I can free them from fallen angels, we have to keep them happy.”

“Has it occurred to you that the Nephilim might blame you when their salvation doesn’t come? Hank made a lot of promises, and when they aren’t fulfilled, no one’s going to point fingers at him. You’re their leader now. You’re the face on this campaign, Angel,” he said solemnly.

I stared at the ceiling. Yes, I’d thought of it. More times today than I wanted to sanely contemplate.

One forever night ago, the archangels had made me the deal of a lifetime. They’d promised to give me the power to kill Hank—if I quashed the Nephilim rebellion. At first, I hadn’t planned on taking the deal, but Hank had forced my hand. He’d tried to burn Patch’s feather and send him to hell. So I shot him.

Follow the rest of the blog tour this week for more sneak previews into Finale!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Review: Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff

The Lotus War, Book 1

Tags: steampunk fantasy, Japanese, griffins, rebellion


Ruthless Yoritomo, latest in a long line of shoguns of the Kazumitsu Dynasty, rules the Shima Isles with a tight fist. Every day, more and more precious land is used to grow the blood lotus flower, which poisons the land, turns the sky red, and makes the air hard to breathe.

When Yoritomo orders Yukiko and her hunter father to find and capture the mythical thunder tiger for his personal enjoyment, she fears this will be their end. After all, how can they capture something that hasn’t been seen in a hundred years? But seeking the thunder tiger is only the beginning of Yukiko’s amazing journey, one that may influence the entire course of Shima’s totalitarian future…


I’m scared to write my review for this book. I never like writing reviews for the ones that blew me away. How can I do the author’s words any justice with my words? Couldn’t you just install some sort of webcam in my eyes and brain and witness for yourself the emotions and amazement I felt as I read STORMDANCER?

Don’t just this book by its first few chapters. Because STORMDANCER is set in such a different fantasy world than ones we’re used to reading about—one in which there is so much Japanese influence that the details are nearly debilitatingly overwhelming—it requires a lengthy and unwieldy exposition to get you into the feel of things. So much detail is given to descriptions of clothing, hairstyles, city layouts, machinery, and more that the story is nearly drowned in it all.

Is all this description necessary? It’s hard to say. Did I appreciate Kristoff’s attention to detail in the exposition later as the plot picked up? 100 percent. Kristoff picked the difficult task of setting STORMDANCER in a world that not only drew from the complex and fascinating culture of Japan but is also complete in its own steampunkish way. With all the details laid down as they were, and with Kristoff’s naturally cinematic writing, it felt like I was reading this story in high-definition, watching every character’s actions, every one of their subtle tics, on a big, flawless screen.

Cinematic and soaring as STORMDANCER can be, it is also one of the most human books I have read in a while. The characters in STORMDANCER exist in a world where to let down their guard is to court death, and thus we can only see one side of them. Yet Kristoff gives us smatterings of glimpses that hint at more to them than what they show the world: a stiff gesture from Lady Aisha, a too-long pause in Hideo’s words. How much more realistic can it get than these smallest of details, often overlooked except for when someone astute spots them and knows how much meaning they can convey?

Rather than burdening readers with a plethora of meaningless details, STORMDANCER gets us to care for the characters and their predicaments, so that all that we know about them we find valuable. And nowhere does this quality of STORMDANCER show itself more clearly than in the relationship that develops between Yukiko and Buruu. Appropriately wary of each other at the beginning, the two grow to form a human-creature bond that will rival the most famous of such bonds in literature. From a mindless creature who can barely speak in one-word phrases, Buruu becomes the greatly welcome comic relief in this book, delivering laugh-out-loud one-line observations that counterbalance STORMDANCER’s intense nature.

For, for all its fantastical imaginings, STORMDANCER is a deeply serious book with a message for humanity that is never more relevant than it is now. The Shima Isles, practically brainwashed by the Lotus Guild and ruled by the ruthless and corrupt Kazumitsu Dynasty, reflects the steampunk path our own world can take if we don’t act now to save the Earth from greed at the cost of our environment and self-gain at the cost of stagnant or declining living conditions for the general society. This is not a message that Kristoff directs only to a certain country or culture; this is one that applies for everyone. So read this. And heed it.

Is STORMDANCER for everyone? No. The first several chapters will catch those who are less patient with worldbuilding. Others might focus on the action and plot and miss the relevant message altogether. But I think that STORMDANCER has the potential to make a difference. And I want to be a part of it by spreading the word.

Similar Authors
Christopher Paolini
Robin McKinley
Patrick Rothfuss

Cover discussion: Hands-down one of my favorite covers of 2012. Because it's self-explanatory.

Thomas Dunne Books / Sept. 18, 2012 / Hardcover / 336pp. / $24.99

Requested and received for review from publisher. Thank you so much!

Friday, September 14, 2012

BBAW 2012: Pimp That Book!

The name of this Book Blogger Appreciation Week prompt makes me giggle as I shout the chorus line to that show Pimp My Ride ("!") in my head. I'm so excited about this prompt because, hey, book pimpin gets dem people spendin G's.

A lot of the new favorites I read this year are already pretty well known, so I'm devoting my pimping largely to one book: Among Others by Jo Walton. Not that this is an obscure book--it seems to have been sweeping nearly all this year's Best Fantasy Novel awards, after all--but it's a book that I want more people, MORE MORE MORE, to read, for its unusualness and quirkiness and hugginess and squeeness.

You will enjoy this book if you:
  • enjoy novels written in diary format.
  • like reading about adolescent females coming of age in a historical time period.
  • like your fantastical elements weird--we're talking surly, unhelpful fey; spells done hurriedly in the rare escapes from boarding school; and estranged mothers who may or may not be violently insane.
  • are a bookworm and get all giddy/excited/turned on when interacting with other bookworms about books.
  • have a heartbeat, like books, and like teenagers.
Among Others is
combined with
and set in
It features
and, of course, lots and lots of

Wow, I want that kind of bookstore. Anyway, check out my not-at-all-helpful review of Among Others or learn more about it on Goodreads. I hope you'll be inspired to read it this year! (Bookworm squee, I tell you. Bookworm. Squee.)

Thursday, September 13, 2012

BBAW 2012: LEVEL 2 Giveaway!

What highly anticipated 2013 ARC am I giving away today as part of the Book Blogger Appreciation Week celebrations? Oh, only the debut novel that people have been talking about for over a year already... the YA blogging community's very own Lenore Appelhans and her genre-defying, life-after-death thriller LEVEL 2!

About the book:
Since her untimely death the day before her eighteenth birthday, Felicia Ward has been trapped in Level 2, a stark white afterlife located between our world and the next. Along with her fellow prisoners, Felicia passes the endless hours downloading memories and mourning what she’s lost—family, friends, and the boy she loved, Neil.

Then a girl in a neighboring chamber disappears, and nobody but Felicia seems to recall she existed in the first place. Something is obviously very wrong. When Julian—a dangerously charming guy Felicia knew in life—comes to offer Felicia a way out, she learns the truth: a rebellion is brewing to overthrow the Morati, the guardians of Level 2.

Felicia is reluctant to trust Julian, but then he promises what she wants the most—to be with Neil again—if only she’ll join the rebels. Suspended between Heaven and Earth, Felicia finds herself in the center of an age-old struggle between good and evil. As memories from her life come back to haunt her, and as the Morati hunt her down, Felicia will discover it’s not just her own redemption at stake… but the salvation of all mankind.
About the author:
Lenore Appelhans is the debut author of a YA novel LEVEL 2 (due January 15, 2013 from Simon and Schuster BFYR) as well as a picture book CHICK-O-SAURUS REX (under the name Lenore Jennewein) with her husband, illustrator Daniel Jennewein (due Spring 2013 from Simon and Schuster BFYR).
...But, obviously, you should visit Lenore at her famous blog, Presenting Lenore, or her author website for more info!

ONE international winner will receive:
  • a signed ARC of Level 2
  • Level 2 postcards + magnets from the author herself!
To enter, fill out the Rafflecopter form below, making sure to answer the question: "If you were to go to a Level 2 in your afterlife, what favorite memory of yours would you revisit?" There are other options as well to gain more entries! This giveaway is open internationally and ends September 30, 2012. Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

BBAW 2012 Interview Swap with Vy's Blog!

For Book Blogger Appreciation Week 2012's interview swap, I was paired with Vy of Vy's Blog. Read on to learn more about this young YA blogger!

1. Tell us about yourself in a few short sentences. For example: name, location, occupation, hobbies, pets... and so on!

My name is Vy and it's pronounced just like the letter "V". I’m currently a high school sophomore and I live in the lovely state of Oregon. Besides reading and blogging, I enjoy playing ping pong and going on long runs.

2. Tell us about your blog. When did you start it and why? What interesting things can visitors expect?

Vy’s Blog is mainly a young adult book blog. I started my blog around the beginning of my 8th grade year in 2010 after I started reading YA books. Readers can expect to find a young adult’s view on many topics and reviews on my blog.

3. What are some of your favorite books you discovered through blogging?

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein is a book I would have never thought of to pick up if it weren’t for fellow bloggers. It is one of my favorite books of the year. I also discovered high fantasy through blogging and I've been in love with the genre ever since.

4. One thing I discuss every once in a while on my blog is my understanding of my Asian identity and how Asians/Asian Americans are represented in YA lit. What is your relationship with your Asian identity? When you've traveled to Asia in recent years, where did you go and what were your impressions?

I’m from a Vietnamese family that is very close to our culture. I was fortunate enough to have been to Viet Nam a total of four times and I enjoyed every visit. My most recent trip to Viet Nam, I went to Nha Trang, Cần Thơ, Saigon, and Phú Quốc. It was great to experience the difference in the way the people interacted and the amazing foods from each location.

5. What are your favorite snacks to have while reading?

I love eating fruit and gold fish while reading.

6. Tell us something you wish people "in real life" knew about you, or, alternatively, something people IRL know about you that you want to share with bloggers.

I guess I wish that people “in real life” knew about my “blogging life”, but I also enjoy keeping it private.

7. What are some things besides books that you just LOVE to receive for presents? :)

Getting posters, and fun fandom or bookish related accessories are my favorite to receive.

8. What do you hope to get out of BBAW 2012?

I met a lot of other bloggers through last year's BBAW and I hope to meet more bloggers through this year's.

Thanks, Vy! Be sure to check out Vy's Blog, and also the interview she did with me over there, in which I talk about my life in Shanghai and my ideal YA character roommates. I greatly enjoyed answering her interview questions, so would appreciate it if you'd give it some love. :)

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Review: Wonder by R. J. Palacio

Tags: middle grade, contemporary, acceptance


August Pullman is ten years old and starting school. Previously, he was homeschooled, because Auggie was born with a facial deformity. Auggie, as well as the other people in his life, have mixed feelings about him entering school, but perhaps Auggie will prove to everyone, as well as himself, that with a heart of gold, he can accomplish things beyond everyone’s expectations.


If this book doesn’t get its own slew of awards this year, there is no justice in the literary world. WONDER is unmatched in the middle-grade contemporary genre—but, in fact, it is not middle-grade so much as it is a winning tale that transcends reading age groups.

There are many great things I can talk about regarding WONDER, but my favorite thing about it is how R. J. Palacio successfully uses multiple perspectives to weave together a very full portrait of Auggie and his struggles and triumphs. Palacio treats the story humanly and realistically. Just as in real life, characters are not perfect in this book: Auggie’s older sister, Via, struggles with her guilt over her occasional flashes of resentment and embarrassment over her brother, while Auggie’s friend Jack learns how to balance social expectations with his personal feelings about their friendship. As readers, then, we might prefer some characters over others, but we cannot hate any of them, because we fully understand where they come from.

Auggie, the protagonist, is a character that simultaneously possesses the youthful optimism of the truly good and the observational skills of one who has borne more than he should have to. My heart jumped each time he made an insightful observation on subtleties in human behavior, such as the way he remarks on that “one-two look” people give him and his face. You know what he’s talking about, because you’ve either received it, or have done it (the latter doesn’t make you a bad person, as this book shows). Auggie’s narration is so honest and unflinching you feel like you should pity him, but you can’t, because he just wants to be a normal boy…only he is too good of a person to be considered just normal. You know how that movie Say Anything has the tag line “To know Lloyd Dobler is to love him”? Yeah. To know August Pullman is to love him.

WONDER is marketed as a middle-grade novel, at least in the US, but I think it can be even better appreciated by older readers who are aware of both the innocent and not-so-innocent actions of children and also how cruel the world can be. Regardless of your age and genre preferences, WONDER will leave you in a mess of strong emotions and have you better appreciating your blessings. Thank you, R. J. Palacio, for reminding us of what it means to be human.

Similar Authors
Holly Goldberg Sloan

Cover discussion: It isn't that much to look at, but I like that color blue, and after reading the book, I fully appreciate how the cover doesn't overshadow the book's contents or set up misleading expectations.

Knopf / Feb. 14, 2012 / Hardcover / 320pp. / $15.99

Personal copy.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Review: The Wise Man's Fear by Patrick Rothfuss

The Kingkiller Chronicle, Book 2
(Book 1: The Name of the Wind review)

Tags: fantasy, magic


As the morning of the second day dawns on Waystone Inn, Kvothe continues to recount his incredible life story to Chronicler and Bast. The University goes on as ever but Kvothe is beginning to realize that, in order to find the answers about the Amyr and the Chandrian that has been obsessedly searching for, he may need to leave his beloved University—nay, even leave familiar lands completely—and travel to the far-off land of Vintas, where he dabbles in court politics, robber-hunting, Fae relations, and more.


Those who loved The Name of the Wind will not be disappointed: THE WISE MAN’S FEAR is as meticulously plotted and beautifully written as the first. Which means that you should just read my review of The Name of the Wind for all the reasons why you should read this series, and in this review I will talk instead about some of the things I found, well, a little lacking.

I found myself making a Star Wars comparison as I closed the cover to THE WISE MAN’S FEAR. Specifically, that this book served all the purpose of Episode 2: Attack of the Clones: it was exciting and adventurous, but hardly answered any of our questions from the first story. In THE WISE MAN’S FEAR, Kvothe pretty much remains the same and does exactly the same sorts of things he did in the first book: he verbally spars elegantly with his superiors, gets into nearly impossible situations and gets himself out or through by dint of his cleverness, and on and on. Oh, and in THE WISE MAN’S FEAR Kvothe adds to his overflowing litany of good qualities some mad skillz in the sack. Kvothe is this perfect hero who experiences no growth throughout books one and two, and it’s finally begun to grate a little on my nerves.

Kvothe goes on his adventure under the pretext of learning more about the Amyr and the Chandrian, but narratively speaking, that seems like just an excuse for him to get into increasingly unbelievable mini-adventures, none of which seem to aid him on his ultimate quest of avenging his parents’ death. Which is why I made the Star Wars comparison: I’d be curious to find out if, at the end of the series, his side journeys into Vintas and beyond are actually essential parts of his path to the Chandrian.

For the most part, Patrick Rothfuss characterizes beautifully: supporting characters such as Simmon, Wil, and Vashet stole my heart and demanded more page-time than they were allotted. However, I simply cannot get behind Denna as the love interest. It’s almost like Rothfuss wrote a lifetime’s worth of frustration over females into this impossibly beautiful, charmingly clever, woefully haunted woman. She represents the embodiment of unattainable female perfection, and therefore Kvothe is living out the male population’s dream by getting closer to said unattainable female perfection than anyone has before. Their dynamic is unrealistic, self-delusional, and more than a bit annoying. (Don’t get love lessons from Kvothe: you don’t win over your perfect partner by never giving them any indication that you like them as more than friend, because you’re scared that they don’t like you back in the same way. This leads to unhealthy cases of unrequited love, in which you can’t move on in your life.)

With all that’s been said, however, I will still devotedly read the third and last book in the series when it comes out. Fans will appreciate this installment that’s chock-full of Kvothe’s diversionary adventures, but boy, I hope questions will actually be answered in the next book!

DAW Trade / March 6, 2012 (reprint) / Paperback / 1008pp. / $19.00

Personal copy.


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