An Introduction to Classical Poetry

Hey y’all!

It’s National Poetry Month which is exciting to me because I’m such a poetry dork. Previously, I’ve only been able to post during my Top Ten Tuesday related to poetry. If you follow me on Twitter, I tend to tweet (a lot of) poems day-to-day but they can get a little scattered. I talked in my introduction to the month post about how this is going to work on the blog: I’m spotlighting a genre of poetry a week, as classified by yours truly. I tend to divide poetry into three categories: classical, spoken, and contemporary poetry.

You might be into classical poetry if

  • your phone autocorrects years to Yeats (guilty on this one)

  • you find yourself referencing lines from Frost in everyday life

  • you annotate your paperbacks of Neruda beyond recognition

  • prefer reading leather-bound books or reading foreign writers

The thing about classical poetry is that it’s very rhythmic. It’s formal, which makes it harder to get into, but it’s also refreshing in a  way because it’s an entirely different style than most “normal” writing nowadays. It’s the type of writing that makes me feel like I should read these poems in my dad’s study, perhaps inhaling the smell of peppermint and cigar smoke. It’s the type of poetry that makes me want to have a name-dropping conversation with “Oh, you’ve read Baudelaire? What elements do you think are derived from so-and-so?” I’ve been trying really hard to read more of the “big names” of poetry. I’d love to be able to call myself a pretentious reader, but I can’t stomach poetry that’s too dense. Despite that, I think I’ve managed to find a few poets that are much more gentle when reading more formal poetry for the first time. I hope y’all enjoy!

The Reading List

Read Rumi if you like romantic poetry with elements from the non-Western tradition

#1

“You Are Not Your Eyes”

Those who have reached their arms 
into emptiness are no longer concerned 
with lies and truth, with mind and soul, 
or which side of the bed they rose from. 
If you are still struggling to understand, 
you are not there. You offer your soul 
to one who says, “Take it to the other 
side.” You’re on neither side, yet 
those who love you see you on one side 
or the other. You say Illa, “only God,” 
then your hungry eyes see you’re in 
“nothing,” La.
You’re an artist 
who paints both with existence and non. 
Shams could help you see who you are, 
but remember, You are not your eyes.

#2

A night full of talking that hurts,
my worst held-back secrets. Everything
has to do with loving and not loving.
This night will pass.
Then we have work to do.
#3
The minute I heard my first love story,
I started looking for you, not knowing
how blind that was.

Lovers don’t finally meet somewhere,
they’re in each other all along.
Read Bukowski if you like grittier takes on life
#1
“unless it comes out of
your soul like a rocket,
unless being still would
drive you to madness or
suicide or murder,
don’t do it.
unless the sun inside you is
burning your gut,
don’t do it.

when it is truly time,
and if you have been chosen,
it will do it by
itself and it will keep on doing it
until you die or it dies in you.

there is no other way.

and there never was.”
#2
“great writers are indecent people
they live unfairly
saving the best part for paper.

good human beings save the world
so that bastards like me can keep creating art,
become immortal.
if you read this after I am dead
it means I made it.”
#3
“I sit here
drunk now.
I am 
a series of
small victories
and large defeats
and I am as
amazed
as any other
that
I have gotten
from there to
here
without committing murder
or being
murdered;
without
having ended up in the
madhouse.

as I drink alone
again tonight
my soul despite all the past
agony
thanks all the gods
who were not
there
for me
then.”

Read Neruda if you like gorgeous lines crafted with timeless emotion

#1

I like it when you’re quiet. It’s as if you weren’t here now,
and you heard me from a distance, and my voice couldn’t reach you.
It’s as if your eyes had flown away from you, and as if
your mouth were closed because I leaned to kiss you.

Just as all living things are filled with my soul.
you emerge from all living things filled with the soul of me.
It’s as if, a butterfly in dreams, you were my soul,
and as if you were the soul’s word, melancholy.

I like it when you’re quiet. It’s as if you’d gone away now,
And you’d become the keening, the butterfly’s insistence,
And you heard me from a distance and my voice didn’t reach you.
It’s then that what I want is to be quiet with your silence.

It’s then that what I want is to speak to you your silence
in a speech as clear as lamplight, as plain as a gold ring.
You are quiet like the night, and like the night you’re star-lit.
Your silences are star-like, they’re a distant and a simple thing.

I like it when you’re quiet. It’s as if you weren’t here now.
As if you were dead now, and sorrowful, and distant.
A word then is sufficient, or a smile, to make me happy,
Happy that it seems so certain that you’re present.

#2

Tonight I can write the saddest lines.

Write, for example,’The night is shattered
and the blue stars shiver in the distance.’

The night wind revolves in the sky and sings.

Tonight I can write the saddest lines.
I loved her, and sometimes she loved me too.

Through nights like this one I held her in my arms
I kissed her again and again under the endless sky.

She loved me sometimes, and I loved her too.
How could one not have loved her great still eyes.

Tonight I can write the saddest lines.
To think that I do not have her. To feel that I have lost her.

To hear the immense night, still more immense without her.
And the verse falls to the soul like dew to the pasture.

What does it matter that my love could not keep her.
The night is shattered and she is not with me.

This is all. In the distance someone is singing. In the distance.
My soul is not satisfied that it has lost her.

My sight searches for her as though to go to her.
My heart looks for her, and she is not with me.

The same night whitening the same trees.
We, of that time, are no longer the same.

I no longer love her, that’s certain, but how I loved her.
My voice tried to find the wind to touch her hearing.

Another’s. She will be another’s. Like my kisses before.
Her void. Her bright body. Her inifinite eyes.

I no longer love her, that’s certain, but maybe I love her. 
Love is so short, forgetting is so long.

Because through nights like this one I held her in my arms
my sould is not satisfied that it has lost her.

Though this be the last pain that she makes me suffer
and these the last verses that I write for her. 

#3

If You Forget Me

I want you to know
one thing.

You know how this is:
if I look
at the crystal moon, at the red branch
of the slow autumn at my window,
if I touch
near the fire
the impalpable ash
or the wrinkled body of the log,
everything carries me to you,
as if everything that exists,
aromas, light, metals,
were little boats
that sail
toward those isles of yours that wait for me.

Well, now,
if little by little you stop loving me
I shall stop loving you little by little.

If suddenly
you forget me
do not look for me,
for I shall already have forgotten you.

If you think it long and mad,
the wind of banners
that passes through my life,
and you decide
to leave me at the shore
of the heart where I have roots,
remember
that on that day,
at that hour,
I shall lift my arms
and my roots will set off
to seek another land.

But
if each day,
each hour,
you feel that you are destined for me
with implacable sweetness,
if each day a flower
climbs up to your lips to seek me,
ah my love, ah my own,
in me all that fire is repeated,
in me nothing is extinguished or forgotten,
my love feeds on your love, beloved,
and as long as you live it will be in your arms
without leaving mine.”

***

All of these poets are absolutely phenomenal and I love them so much. The dog-eared copies of poems I have by them are underlined and highlighted beyond the point of recognition. Need a few more to get started? Check out additional suggestions below! I hope y’all enjoy!

Other poets to check out: Mary Oliver, Baudelaire, Sylvia Plath, Rainer Maria Rilke

 

If You Enjoyed The Book Thief

Hey y’all!

A little while ago, I decided to start a little mini-series on the blog. Have y’all noticed the little “recommended for” blurbs at the end of my reviews? I always recommend a few books for people who like the book that I reviewed. I started doing this on my Twitter as well, where I’d name a book title and name a few books to read if you enjoyed that title.

I know a lot of people really love The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak. I have multiple people tell me it marks among their favorites. Between the gutting historical context and the engrossing perspective, and a thousand other things, it just all falls together so well. I read it for the first time this year and it took me a really long time to finish it but I didn’t want to do so. It’s one of those books that affects you. Not necessarily obviously, but it’s one that burrows its way in and tells you you’re a different person now that you know this story. It’s subtle, funny, sad, everything that makes an excellent read.

THE BOOK THIEF by Marcus Zusak

The Book Thief

 

It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will become busier still.

Liesel Meminger is a foster girl living outside of Munich, who scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement.

In superbly crafted writing that burns with intensity, award-winning author Markus Zusak, author of I Am the Messenger, has given us one of the most enduring stories of our time.

 

It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what makes The Book Thief so distinct and enthralling but I’m going to try and round up a few reads y’all might like if you loved it.

So here goes:

if you liked the heart-wrenching history and atmospheric details

Revolution

Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly | Goodreads

It’s been three years since I first read this (it was actually one of the first books I ever reviewed on the blog) but it’s still my number one, unequivocal favorite book. The lyrical writing somehow manages to incorporate little tidbits of history rooted in such elaborate, well-plotted research that I physically have no idea how one person could craft such a book. In addition, complex characters who will break your heart and multiple side-stories weaving through and everything else lead to utter perfection in a book. I don’t use it lightly, but this book has everything that I could possibly ever want in a book and I have serious doubts about how I could ever find another book to take its place. It’s a story that’s affected me deeply.

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein | Goodreads

This is one that took me a few attempts to get through, simply because I didn’t have the time to read it in one sitting and by the time I’d pick it up again, I forgot some key details. It’s a little slow to get going but the brutality of the circumstances mixed with the hilarious, poignant narration of the main character lead to a stunning read. This book left me sobbing. It took so many turns and the plotting was marvelously put together. I actually had a quiz on WWII the day after I read this book and I completely ignored my notes and read this instead to call it “studying” – not quite sure how well I did on that but the thoughtful details woven into the narrative are fascinating for any history buff. I loved this book and it’s one that tugged at the heartstrings.

if you liked the slow-building intensity with strong foundations of character/plot

The 5th Wave (The Fifth Wave, #1)

The Fifth Wave by Rick Yancey | Goodreads

This book is long, so exhaustively engaging in the best possible way. It’s stressful and well-written, dark with a plot twist around every other corner. The intensity is constantly ratcheted up a notch with an excellent overall arch to it. The characters are strong with a healthy complexity that keeps the story mainly plot-based but with a connection to each. It’s a book that made a splash last year, and for good reason.

When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead | Goodreads

While it’s a middle grade – and wildly different from the subject matter – this book is a “quiet” book, one that excels in the subtlety that makes The Book Thief so distinct and intimate. It’s been a while since I’ve read it but the details are still vivid. The characters mesh together and grow so steadily throughout the book. The plot is smart, snappy, and loops together magnificently at the end. Throughout, the slow pacing keeps it languid, not boring. It’s thoughtful and heartwarming and also a little sad – profound in a way that’s rare to discover.

if you want to take a risk on a book that’s different but with a similar style

The Count of Monte Cristo

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas | Goodreads

I’m not a huge classics fan although I’d like to be, but this is by far the best book that my class had to read in eighth grade. The pure genius behind it makes it so easy to get over the initial shock of the older language, and the characters are so fascinating. Between the betrayal, intrigue, and overall timbre of the words, it’s a really wonderful book. It’s so clever and solid that I immediately thought of this one when reading The Book Thief, although there are no immediate parallels.

Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson | Goodreads

A reason why The Book Thief was so successful was also because Death’s narration still allowed you to connect with the characters and forge these unbreakable bonds of caring about them. In a similar fashion, Tiger Lily is narrated by Tinker Bell but forces you to  become so invested in the stories buried within this book. It’s emotional. It takes a well-loved story and turns it upside down, with tragic characters and lovely writing and a story that will stay with you. This is one of my favorite books.

Graceling by Kristen Cashore | Goodreads

In a high-fantasy world gracefully built from the ground up, Graceling takes solid characters and an interesting writing style and creates a long but well-paced masterpiece. If you’re looking for a wonderful series or world to delve into next, this one comes highly recommended for fantasy lovers. It reminded me of The Book Thief because of the protagonists’ similar ways of thinking and the lush details that constantly add to the story.

If you have any requests for some books I should highlight in these, leave a comment below or tweet me with your favorites! What books would y’all recommend for fans?

National Poetry Month

Hey y’all!

In honor of National Poetry month during April, I’ve been thinking about what poems and poets I really wanted to spotlight here on the blog. Previously, I’ve only been able to post during my Top Ten Tuesday related to poetry. If you follow me on Twitter, I tend to tweet (a lot of) poems day-to-day but they can get a little scattered.

In the next month, I’m going to spotlight a classification of poetry a week: classical, contemporary, and spoken. In my eyes, poetry can be pretty clearly divided between these three lines.

Classically, I’m a self-proclaimed Neruda fangirl. His emotional lines, gorgeous word choice, and absorbing style get me every time. I’ve also been told that his vowel choice is really nice to read in Spanish, but unfortunately I’m in French and Latin so that doesn’t really affect my personal viewing of his poems. Rilke is also really excellent, and Charles Bukowski is good if you don’t mind being a little depressed at the end of the book. Baudelaire and Rumi? Check. I jokingly told a few friends that one of my goals for the year was to be a little more pretentious, poetry-wise. I would love to immerse myself even further in “traditional” poetry.

When it comes to contemporary poets, I veer majorly towards poets that use synesthesia and such. I have a full-on obsession with Shinji Moon and Iain S. Thomas from the famous I Wrote This For You. They have this way with words that wraps around you. Not only am I not a particular fan of rhyming, but their styles are both distinct and lovely. Contemporary poetry speaks the truth clearly but it’s all conveyed so beautifully with a complexity that I could only pray to one day have in my writing. This is the type of writing that’s purely stunning and I could read for hours.

Spoken poetry is one that I used to be really hesitant about but that I’m warming up to because of Andrea Gibson, Neil Hilborne, and Sarah Kay. It’s nice because spoken poems can ramble in a way that mimics thought, so engrossed in different descriptions and conversations and an unadulterated view on real life. It’s vivid, it’s a performance – it connects really well. If done by a good poet, it’s captivating beyond anything else.

So stick around! I’ll be showing off some of my favorite poems on the blog, from my thousands of screenshots in the poetry folder on my phone, and the underlines in my favorite poetry books.

What are some of y’all’s favorite poems?

 

If You Enjoyed the Vampire Academy Series

Hey y’all!

A little while ago, I decided to start a little mini-series on the blog. Have y’all noticed the little “recommended for” blurbs at the end of my reviews? I always recommend a few books for people who like the book that I reviewed. I started doing this on my Twitter as well, where I’d name a book title and name a few books to read if you enjoyed that title.

I’ve had a lot of requests recently for books similar to the Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead. People absolutely love it. I’ll admit that the covers turned me away at first but then I actually read the books and they’re absolutely incredible for me. Depending on what y’all really liked about the series, I’ve grouped a couple similar reads that I think y’all might really love. So here goes:

if you liked the absorbing, intricate plot and action

Cinder by Marissa Meyer | Goodreads

I’ve said this before but Cinder is a book that will utterly shock you. It’s one that I was surprised that I liked, but instantly drew me in with its fresh twists and intensity. Between the elaborate world building and cinematic action, this is one that led to pure escapism. I don’t remember having that feeling since reading the Vampire Academy series for the first time, and that was such a nice surprise.

The Diviners by Libba Bray | Goodreads

Libba Bray is pretty hit-or-miss with me and this one was a definite hit. After getting through the first fifty pages or so, the pacing immediately picks up and the narrative becomes scattered with sinister motivations, eerie coincidences, and a cult-focused mystery that will not let you sleep. The clear research buried behind every sentence allows the book itself to be so accurately presented, with the glitzy details that let the time period completely saturate the book. If you want a creepy book set in a rich time period, with plenty of plot twists and alternate point-of-views, this would be perfect.

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas | Goodreads

Very few fantasies are as refreshing and cinematic as this one was to me. The main character prompted my post on strong female characters in YA. While drawing on several tropes abundant in the YA genre, the vivid vigor and corruption in every chapter were more than enough to satisfy. The world-building was distinct but not overwhelming.

if you liked feisty protag and the supernatural excitement rooted in an interesting setting

Daughter of Smoke and Bone (Daughter of Smoke and Bone, #1)

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor | Goodreads

One of my favorite books, Daughter of Smoke and Bone is a phenomenal story focused on more obscure myth and with stunning backdrops of Prague, Egypt, and other exhilarating settings. Between the ethereal main character and the colorful backstories, the pure brilliance behind this book cannot be overstated.

Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins | Goodreads

Sophie is one of the funniest protagonists I’ve come across (I hardly ever underline in my books and I have so many lines that I was crying laughing over) which really set aside the book in a time when the genre was drowning in similar paranormal stories. The alliances and up-and-downs to magic are explored in this dynamo of a book, with just enough action to keep the plot constantly moving but still with some comic relief. Plus, I love boarding school books.

Paranormalcy by Kiersten White | Goodreads

Like in Hex Hall, the main character Evie was a riot. She was emotional, funny, and genuinely kind, while much of that humor came from sarcasm. In the same spirit as Rose, she had that fine balance between stubbornness and a passionate desire to protect the few people she loved. This book packs surprising emotional punches, a well-crafted plot, and some great characters who foster some interesting romances.

if you liked the intense romances and varied characters

Evernight (Evernight, #1)

Evernight by Claudia Gray | Goodreads

This is the book out of this list that I feel most mirrors the Vampire Academy. The romances and thought processes of Bianca are similar to those of Rose, while her character is a bit more dialed down. Between the tremendous plotting, pacing, and structure, as well as the characters that you’ll find yourself connecting with almost immediately, both books feature boarding schools based on vampires and stories that compliment each other with every plot twist. If you’re longing for a similar book, the Evernight series is a great place to start.

Glass Houses by Rachel Caine | Goodreads

Claire’s maturity and grace, while still being a character you can connect to, is one of the reasons I was originally attracted to this book. The small-town setting, rather than being stifling, adds an malevolent intensity to much of the danger exhibited in the plot. There were so many great things about this book that made it different from many of the paranormal stories that came out at the time, and contributes to it being in one of my most-recommended series. In addition, I listened to the first few on audio and they’re excellent – if you’re looking for a new audiobook, these come highly recommended.

The Night Circus by Erin Morganstern | Goodreads

Engaging and taut, this adult novel will not let you put it down. More characters and suspicions contribute to the gripping nature of the story. It’s dreamy and inventive, with characters that you will never stop wondering about and stories within the stories that will leave you reeling. Despite the jumps around in time, the narrative never misses a beat and ties together so elegantly at the end. Everything about this book is imaginative.

If you have any requests for some books I should highlight in these, leave a comment below or tweet me with your favorites! What books would y’all recommend for fans?

Top Ten Books on My Spring TBR

Hey y’all!

I’m here today to do Top Ten Tuesday, a weekly meme hosted by the lovely ladies over at The Broke and the Bookish. Each week they choose a different topic and bloggers pick ten reads related to the prompt. This week’s prompt is “Top Ten Books on the Spring TBR”. Very fun, although I’ve just recently been able to scour the catalogs to keep up with some excellent upcoming reads!

wlstoall

1. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han | Goodreads

Jenny Han’s writing is always poignant, authentic, and just funny enough to keep us laughing through the tears. From her awe-inspiring The Summer I Turned Pretty series to the sassy-yet-intense Burn for Burn coupled with Siobhan Vivian, any book by her is one to watch. The synopsis has me hooked and I’m dying for this one.

2. Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige | Goodreads

Fairytales are my weakness; specifically, fractured fairytales. With an absolutely nefarious twist on the beloved Oz, I can’t wait to dig into this one. A fresh twist on a tired dystopian trend filled with action and just enough darkness to keep things really interesting? This book is one that’s flown under the radar a bit but that I’m absolutely craving.

3. Tease by Amanda Maciel | Goodreads

The sound of this one reminds me of Speechless by Hannah Harrington in the most flattering way possible. That book was tender and emotional, and this one sounds like one it’ll leave me changed. The thought-provoking synopsis, engrossing perspective, and overall emotional impact are so promising.

4. Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson | Goodreads

Morgan Matson’s most praised for her first book, Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour, but I considered Second Chance Summer to be one of my favorites from last year. Her relatable writing style and sentimentality are absolutely beautiful to read in both books, just as I’m sure they’ll be in this one.

5. Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor | Goodreads

Evocative prose and thrilling plot twists kept me turning the pages of this series long past when I should have been sleeping. Part of me can’t wait for the next installment but another part doesn’t want it to end! The intricacy of the characters are an absolute blessing and the concept itself stands out against the rest of the YA grain, especially with all the travels thrown in that only add to the texture.

6. After the End by Amy Plum | Goodreads

Amy Plum’s devastatingly romantic Revenants series was one of my absolute guilty pleasures last year and hearing that she’s tackling a grittier plot immediately caught my interest. She’s a wonderfully talented writer, and the twist in the synopsis lets me know that this one is going to be riveting.

7. Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour | Goodreads

I love passionate people more than anything, and the main character is so absolutely in love with the film industry. As a girl dying to go into the publishing industry as soon as possible, that alone is enough to make me long to read the book. Throw in romance and some lovely story lines, and it sounds like one that’ll make its way on my favorites list.

8. Guy in Real Life by Steve Brezenoff | Goodreads

For those on the lookout for a book to fill the Eleanor and Park void, this one looks like it’ll be a standout. A thoughtful love story with layered perspectives? It sounds utterly adorable but with that underlying heart-wrenching backstory that I love to agonize over.

9. The Taking by Kimberly Derting | Goodreads

While I’m usually wary of the amnesiac trope so common in recent YA, this one was pitched as “The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer meets The 5th Wave”, a comparison that forces it on my to-read list immediately. Kimberly Derting’s expertise with pacing and tension would be perfectly suited for this kind of read and so I’m definitely going to be on the watch for this one.

10. Prisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blankman | Goodreads

This one’s going to be an emotional read. Provocative, with roots in history and politics that have always fascinated me – I haven’t heard much buzz about this one but it deserves it. It sounds eye-opening, risky, beautiful. All the things that make a book change you. This one is one I’ll buy on the release date.

What books are y’all looking forward to?

The Art Forger by B.A. Shapiro

Release Date: October 23, 2012

Publisher: Algonquin Books

Format: Paperback

Source: Borrowed

Check it out on Goodreads

The Art Forger

On March 18, 1990, thirteen works of art today worth over $500 million were stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. It remains the largest unsolved art heist in history, and Claire Roth, a struggling young artist, is about to discover that there’s more to this crime than meets the eye.

Making a living reproducing famous artworks for a popular online retailer and desperate to improve her situation, Claire is lured into a Faustian bargain with Aiden Markel, a powerful gallery owner. She agrees to forge a painting—a Degas masterpiece stolen from the Gardner Museum—in exchange for a one-woman show in his renowned gallery. But when that very same long-missing Degas painting is delivered to Claire’s studio, she begins to suspect that it may itself be a forgery.

Her desperate search for the truth leads Claire into a labyrinth of deceit where secrets hidden since the late nineteenth century may be the only evidence that can now save her life.

As part of my pledge to read more out-of-genre books, including classics and adult novels, I picked up The Art Forger by B.A. Shapiro due to a friend’s recommendation, and I could not be more excited about it.

With absorbing descriptions, intriguing characters, information rooted in bits of history and allure, The Art Forger is a subtle yet consumingly addictive artistic thriller. Its elegance is understated, with savory depictions of works from all over time supported by a strong protagonist and romantic views.

When Claire – a social pariah of the art world after a messy relationship with both a painting and a painter – is approached by Aiden Markel, owner of one of the finest galleries in Boston, she isn’t expecting the bargain that he proposes. Comfortable reproducing famous works of art for an online company but aching to show off her own works again without the scorn that her notoriety produces, she’s itching to make it to the big shows again. However, a show isn’t what Aiden comes to offer her. Aiden seeks Claire’s help in something a lot more illegal.

After the Bath was a painting stolen in the famous Gardner heist about twenty years ago. And Aiden has it in his possession. Instead of simply returning it to the museum through an anonymous donation, Aiden wants Claire to copy it for him. Not just copy – forge. He offers Claire the money she desperately needs, and a chance to return to the art world with a fresh new debut.

The difference is immense. A copy is something that one knows isn’t the original – its origin is publicized. A forgery is something that pretends to be the original – something fake.

When Claire says yes, she’s quickly entered into a story she has no choice but to see through to the end. Between digging through history to find the forgery she suspects Aiden has given her and relishing the challenge that her new painting project presents her, she’s got her hands full with more than her Reproductions.com gig. Soon, however, it gets away from her.

Claire was a strong character who had the tendency to make weak choices. I liked her a lot, actually. She was funny and sweepingly passionate about art and her various pursuits, and nothing makes me happier than passionate people. Her colorful descriptions could delve into almost synesthesiac-esque depictions which I adore. Bits of her character reminded me a lot of myself which was entertaining to say the least; she would completely throw herself into her work with an ecstatic devotion, especially if she was upset, which I do a lot with various projects. Her pure love for art in itself was a refreshing element in the book – she could carry on for ages about famous forgers and the rich histories underlying her favorite works. Despite being dry, it padded the rest of the book with an even more compelling touch.

Romance saturated most of the book, but not only in relationships – it talked about falling in love with paintings, with history, with social scenes and attention and all sorts of things. It’s a book for connoisseurs of a sort. Filtered through this dreamy perspective but not afraid to tackle the grit, The Art Forger did a gorgeous job of looping it all together.

Hands down best part of the book was a pacing. It was truly excellent – spun together tantalizingly, each chapter tempted me to the point where I devoured it in a day and a half. I kept marveling at simply, how well the book was written. It wasn’t showy – it was pretty straightforward in the writing style, not overly poetic or purple – but just a solid story.

It depicted a pretty fascinating social scene that really isn’t dealt with that often; mostly, when I read about art, I read about characters who escape into their artwork, not those who make successful albeit challenging careers from them. It brought a new meaning to the “starving artist” trope. Most of Claire’s friends and descriptions held the sparkling intrigue for the art world that most of us bloggers hold in regard to the publishing industry. It dealt with the depiction of art equally as a fevered conduit for self-expression as well as the business side of it.

This book left me so satisfied. The ending was honestly – and I use this word lightly – perfect, with one of the most gratifying endings I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading. I had my doubts about the concept of it being a “thriller” but it truly is – it’s gripping. The exquisite portrayals of some of history’s most delectable paintings were tampered with a fervent voice; the history was well-researched, full, and precise. It’s a view I don’t see in my AP Art History class, and one that I’m very grateful I was able to pick up. Pages will fly by so quickly.

A well-rendered venture into the seductive nature of the art world, in equal parts glitz and rich history, The Art Forger is an irresistible choice. Especially if you’re someone like me, who rarely gambles on a book in the adult spectrum, this is really really really good. This one comes highly recommended.

Any of y’all reading adult recently? Leave me some suggestions below!

My Latest Venture

Hey y’all!

I’m here today to tell y’all about my latest project – working on Lit Up Review! I’ve mentioned it a few times on here, but I’m really excited for it. I love all the girls working on it and I’ve been dying to write for them ever since they first announced it.

If you saw my post on instalove earlier this month, that was a collaboration between a few of the girls and me. If you pop on over there, you might see how our writing styles mesh – we’re all pretty opinionated about YA and hopefully we’ll be colleagues in a few years!

Lit-Up has all the excellent features that any blog requires, with the thoughtful contributions from bloggers who rock at different things and have been in the community for a while, so I couldn’t be more grateful to start writing for them as well. For example, Emily’s reviews are incredible and Willa can fangirl over anything.

So I’m excited to learn from them. Of course, this blog is still my number-one priority but it seems like it’ll be refreshing to work on something different. In addition, I’m a thousand times more motivated to work on certain posts and I’m learning a lot about wordpress.org along the way, which might come in handy later if I choose to transition this blog onto self-hosted.

My first post was last week, about books similar to The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson. If y’all want to check out some of the other girls’ blogs (which are all fantastic), here are some of the links!

Hope y’all enjoy! Leave us a comment over at Lit Up or go tweet at the Lit Up account.

Happy reading!

Just One Year by Gayle Forman

Release Date: October 10, 2013

Publisher: Dutton Children’s

Format: Hardcover

Source: Bought

Check it out on Goodreads

Just One Year (Just One Day, #2)

Just One Day. Just One Year. Just One Read.

Before you find out how their story ends, remember how it began….

When he opens his eyes, Willem doesn’t know where in the world he is—Prague or Dubrovnik or back in Amsterdam. All he knows is that he is once again alone, and that he needs to find a girl named Lulu. They shared one magical day in Paris, and something about that day—that girl—makes Willem wonder if they aren’t fated to be together. He travels all over the world, from Mexico to India, hoping to reconnect with her. But as months go by and Lulu remains elusive, Willem starts to question if the hand of fate is as strong as he’d thought. . . .

The romantic, emotional companion to Just One Day, this is a story of the choices we make and the accidents that happen—and the happiness we can find when the two intersect.

Don’t get this wrong because of the cover; this is not a love story. This is not a pure romance stricken with longing and constantly thinking of the other. It was about looking for somebody, yes, but it was about finding himself. In all his travels and random explorations, Willem was thinking about much more than simply a relationship. And it was an incredible book.

This book was so elegantly put together. The more I think about it, the cleaner the connections were. I love books that make everything tie together in the end and this book did a beautiful job while still maintaining that yearning feeling of there being untold stories beneath the one we just read. Gayle Forman has this compelling writing style rooted in evocative detail that still manages to feel completely solid. It’s a breath of fresh air.

There’s this allegory in the book about double happiness, being two sides of the same coin. The books themselves - Just One Day and Just One Year - are two books that meshed so well together. As a whole, the books don’t overanalyze each others’ perspectives or go into too much detail. Instead, it plucks different details from each narrative, two separate stories that just managed to intersect and leave a lasting impression. That’s what a story like this should be; it made me so unbelievably and full.

I read this article about how we can never get lost anymore. Willem’s character really made me think about it – he had this magnificent ability to just pick up and leave and explore the world. I always think about how there’s a difference between being alone and being lonely and Willem seemed to toe that line constantly. It was about being lost and finding himself in the process.

Willem was so interesting. First off, books from the male perspective are always great to read in a market that (although progress has been made) is often saturated only with the feminine POV. Between his engrossing personality and struggles borne from his family and relationships, he quite literally runs away constantly. It brings up questions of travel and identity, how easy it is to get left vs. leave. He was so well-rounded with an intelligence and passion that was really refreshing. Willem’s definitely one of my favorite characters of the past year.

The supporting characters were so vivid. Yael and Broodje were really the only two recurring characters but Willem had so many enchanting interactions with people from all around the world. The bonds he formed while traveling were instant, and sometimes he had these bizarre coincidences that linked it all together in a way that showed the world to be really lovely.

This book awakened my wanderlust to travel. Willem seemed to land in a different country every fifty pages or so and it was such a freeing concept. He maintained connections and had a full life but he wasn’t in the same place. It was never monotonous. He discovered so many amazing little back-roads and interesting places. It took a kind of strength: leaving everything, including material possessions, behind.

This tied in family really well, which I hadn’t been expecting. Part of Willem’s personality spurred from his family history, which was messy but not overtly dramatic. It was complex, it was real, it was both disheartening and inspirational by the end. There were stories that weren’t told but they weren’t broken plot threads. It was woven together in a way that emphasized the clash in personalities and the overlaps that comes with a tangible family. In addition, the mesh of cultures and languages added to the colorful texture of the book itself.

I love books that don’t focus on the romance. Don’t get me wrong – I love my love stories. But instead, the book was dotted with this longing, this wistfulness for what-ifs and what-could-have-been. There were casual girls and slighted ex-lovers and friendly banters but it wasn’t solely focused on the girl he was looking for in Paris: Lulu. There were moments when he mulled over that day with a breathlessness and frustration that kept him looking for her, but that showed itself through his other adventures. It never felt overdone.

Accidents. That’s what this book was about. Willem deliberately would go out of his way to experience things, whether it be a new play to audition for or a friendship to build. He’d just pick a place and go. His nostalgia and reckless bravery in what he decided he wanted for a life were admirable and thrown in so well. His memories punctuated each chapter beautifully. This book is about the merciless accidents that can suddenly change the course of life and coincidence and the strangeness of the world we live in. That was absolutely beautiful to read about and it was such an engaging book that it was a complete experience.

With a balance between making me think and sweeping me away into a wistful mixture of longing and wanderlust, Just One Year is a solid read with an air of romance that’s unparalleled at the moment. You definitely don’t need to read Just One Day to understand it but they came out so nicely together. This is self-discovery in an intelligent, dreamy form that’s a treat to read.

Recommended for anybody who loves: Wanderlove, Just One Year, Juliet Immortal, Eyes Like Stars, When You Were Here, This is What Happy Looks Like; etc,.

 Possible book club questions to come.

Top Ten Written Poems

Hey y’all!

I’m here today to do Top Ten Tuesday, a weekly meme hosted by the lovely ladies over at The Broke and the Bookish. This week is a bit of a freebie topic so I decided to do something that most of y’all who follow me on Twitter know about, but isn’t as prevalent on the blog.

Poetry! I’m a massive poetry fanatic and I devour them – anything with synesthesia especially. In my book taste especially, I tend to gravitate towards lyrical writing (Tahereh Mafi, Maggie Stiefvater, Lauren DeStefano) and such. Recently, I’ve also been getting into spoken poetry to further my goal of pursuing out-of-genre. These are just a few well-loved poems/poetic thoughts that I’ve scrounged together - I’m going to do a spoken poetry day on the blog sometime soon as well, but for now, I hope y’all enjoy these!

1. He Loves the Rain by Shinji Moon (my absolute hands-down favorite ever)

I think we all speak a different kind of language
than each other, but you sound a whole lot like coffee on a
Sunday morning and the rain is falling bitter against the windowpane
and your elbows are making holes in the countertops, and
I only want to tell you that I wish I was as close as the threads of your
t-shirt, and if I can’t be that, then I’ll be content with
drinking my drink beside you, with the rain sloppy open mouth kissing
the roof, trying to dismantle the etymology of a conversation
that falls out of the realm of words.

Shinji Moon

2. (you are what you eat)

she was referring to my coke and fries, but
that night i ate a dandelion salad,
no dressing.

the next day: nectar and rose petals
for breakfast; my parents
don’t ask questions, you know how
teenage girls are these days

at lunch, i ask for
water in a glass, no ice;
i eat it all and delight in my newfound
transparancy, the way i
flow and ebb
back
and forth.

i have feathers for dinner and you hold me
so i don’t get carried off
by the breeze.
i swallow a firefly by accident
and glow all night long.

(maybe tomorrow, i think,
i’ll drink the wind
and disappear)

(j.c.)

3. THE LANTERN IN THE LIFEBOAT by Iain S. Thomas

I am nervous. I’m afraid. But I will stand here in the white hot heat of you. I will play Russian roulette with your playlists. I will tell jokes I’m not sure you’ll find funny. I will hold on until there is no more reason to. And in the end, I will break the stars and resurrect the sun.

4. I think about this… by Mila Jaroniec

I think about this sometimes, how much of life is really just comprised of aptly timed accidents. How we work so hard planning and strategizing and everything else when those skills are illusory life tools at best. How we like to believe we’re in total control of our situations, but when things start to happen, really happen, when things suddenly start to pulse and detonate all over the place, what we really need to know how to do is adapt, fall off the ledge and land safely on our feet. I think about this too, how nearly every valuable thing I’ve hit upon in life has been the result of some kind of lucky or horrible accident. And how completely awesome yet unflinchingly absurd that is.

I think about this sometimes, what it would have been like if we had worked out. If I had chosen you instead of not-you. Would you still be saying all those sweet things and making large-scale projections about our idyllic future? Would you still be sending me new songs to listen to every day and notebooks through the mail? Would I still idealize you just as much? I don’t know. Part of me likes to think we could have been happy if given the option but the other part has a feeling we would have cracked right down the middle, your neuroses were what I liked about you but maybe your neuroses plus my neuroses would have been too many. We’ll never know at this point, but that doesn’t mean I don’t think about it.

I think about this sometimes, what it would be like to have a second, completely separate life to live alongside this one, just for fun. Just to test out the various potentialities present-day me will never get to realize, like becoming an Olympic gymnast or finishing my neuroscience degree. I wonder if leading parallel lives would eventually get too crazy or whether I’d be able to switch between them, flip cleanly over from one to the other like a light switch. I wonder if parallel me would actually do anything different than what present-day me is doing. I wonder if parallel and present-day me would eventually converge. I wonder if wondering about this means I have too much time on my hands.

I think about this sometimes, what life would have been like if I had never met you. What it would have been like if you never came along when you did, never gave me whiplash, never crawled into my heart, if I hadn’t fallen for you or for anyone at all, just stayed blissfully unaware of love and heartbreak and their sides of horrible and delicious feelings. If I had never met you, I think I would have turned out different. Not better, but maybe more careful. More stable. Or maybe more clueless, relegated to making those high school mistakes in college and beyond instead. What I don’t like to think about is the fact that a part of me will always love you, and it’s nothing that logic or time can starve out. It’s like autumn happening in October or the recurrence of a particular time of day. It just is. And that’s it.

I think about this sometimes, what it would be like to start over, just shut down and reassemble, shed every single layer and do it again, differently. Quit everything, sell everything, pack up and disappear without a trace or a last goodbye. It’s a tempting idea that’s constantly in the back of my head, but I never actually act on it because I have a pretty strong feeling (or strong literary evidence, rather) that that kind of move usually and/or always ends in disillusionment. But that doesn’t mean I’m not tempted. In fact I’m pretty sure the temptation has evolved into a sort of coping mechanism: when things get really awful all I tell myself is “you could leave if you wanted,” and for some reason knowing that, repeating that makes me feel more capable.

Mila Jaroniec

5. The wind, one brilliant day by Antonio Machado 

The wind, one brilliant day, called
to my soul with an odor of jasmine.

‘In return for the odor of my jasmine,
I’d like all the odor of your roses.’

‘I have no roses; all the flowers
in my garden are dead.’

‘Well then, I’ll take the withered petals
and the yellow leaves and the waters of the fountain.’

the wind left. And I wept. And I said to myself:
‘What have you done with the garden that was entrusted to you?’

6. someone asked me what home was… by e.e. cummings

someone asked me what home was
and all i could think of were the stars
on the tip
of your tongue.
the flowers sprouting from your mouth
the roots
entwined
in the gaps
between your fingers
the ocean echohing
inside of your
ribcage.
7. Stay by Andrea Gibson
…’cause god knows we have smoked the stars,
made wishes on falling ashes.
something’s gotta give,
it may as well be your fingers.
touch me ‘til my ribs become piano keys,
’til there is sheet music scrolled across the inside of my lungs
cause i’m breaking old patterns.
for anyone else i would rhyme and end this line with saturn,
but you are not the type to wear rings,
and i’m not the type to want to celebrate forever
when right now is forever walking down the aisles unnoticed.hold me.
sing me lullabies at dawn
when i’ve been up all night painting the wind
to remind myself that things are moving.
8. when the violets roar at the sun by Charles Bukowski
they’ve got us in the cage
ruined of grace and senses
and the heart roars like a lion
at what they’ve done to us.
9. Body Thesaurus by Jennifer Militello
In your dream, the act of breathing is a red-headed girl
with a body lactose-pale and livid against the skin
of water. A crack along the porcelain cup of this,
colored all absinthe with you. The closed white shuttersof your backbone as you sleep toward wrists spilling
their listless snowflakes farther south. Mouth:
night’s lilacs branching insolubly. Hair hissing, stems.
Mouth: the hospital: your houses are asking chemicalsout of the dark. Your lids are the lime-lined,
impromptu graves of thieves. As a mind,
your body is a wall of leaves; let its edges whisper
a collage of liquids singing, lips, the sangria weeds.10. Grace is wild… by Doug Wilson

Grace is wild. Grace unsettles everything. Grace overflows the banks. Grace messes up your hair. Grace is not tame.

11. i am not the first person you loved by Clementine von Radics
i am not the first person you loved.
you are not the first person i looked at with a mouthful of forevers.
we have both known loss like the sharp edges of a knife.
we have both lived with lips more scar tissue than skin.
our love came unannounced in the middle of the night.
our love came when we’d given up on asking love to come.
i think that has to be part of its miracle.
this is how we heal.
i will kiss you like forgiveness. you will hold me like i’m hope.
our arms will bandage and we will press promises between us like flowers in a book.
i will write sonnets to the salt of sweat on your skin.
i will write novels to the scar of your nose.
i will write a dictionary of all the words i have used trying to describe the way it feels to have finally, finally found you.
and i will not be afraid
of your scars.
i know sometimes it’s still hard to let me see you in all your cracked perfection,
but please know: whether it’s the days you burn more brilliant than the sun
or the nights you collapse into my lap
your body broken into a thousand questions,
you are the most beautiful thing i’ve ever seen.
i will love you when you are a still day.
i will love you when you are a hurricane.
clementine von radics

I might do this more often! I adore poetry and it’s a huge proportion of my identity as a reader. What do y’all think?

Instalove in YA (The Return to 2012)

Hey y’all!

Today I’m here with a few of my fabulous soon-to-be co-bloggers from Lit Up Review. In case y’all missed the news, I was selected to be a writer for the Lit Up team along with Meredith, Willa, Emily, and Jessica. I met Willa at BEA 2012 which was absolutely wonderful but since then, I’ve just known her and the others as my blogger friends from Twitter. It’s a really strange feeling to be such good friends with people you’ve never met, but I couldn’t be happier to finally be working on projects with them.

Lit Up’ll probably be up and running around March! Until then, hopefully you’ll be seeing a bit more of these ladies around the blog.

Before Valentine’s Day, Willa, Em, and I got into a discussion about love and specifically, love at first sight. When applied to YA novels, it becomes that eye-roll inducing, nauseating you’ve-known-each-other-for-two-hours-he-is-not-your-supernatural-destiny trope. (Throwback to 2012 when “instalove” was seen in EVERY YOUNG ADULT NOVEL EVER.)

So I asked them to come by and talk about it a la my Real Relationships post from last year. Without further ado, real teens’ thoughts on the trend:

Emily from Forever Literary

http://www.foreverliterary.blogspot.com

Profile Picture 2

image taken from We Heart It

I don’t believe in love at first sight. You—not fate and destiny—get to decide who you are and whom you care about, and you are not predetermined to fall in love with one set individual. You can be happy with multiple people; you simply have to reconcile your differences and make it work. When you meet a person, you cannot tell just by looking at him or her whether or not you are going to be compatible, and therefore instalove is not a real thing.

However, there is no denying that instant attraction abounds in real life as well as fiction. I understand when a person or a character develops a crush after a single glance, and sometimes that superficial gravitation can grow into something deeper.

Occasionally, it seems as if instant attraction is what authors are going for when they write relationships with rapid beginnings. The characters are not truly in love, but they feel enough chemistry to make them think they could be. As long as the author builds their romance after that spark and makes the characters realize what they felt at the beginning was not real love, I don’t mind seeing a bit of initial allure. In many cases, you could argue that it is realistic because many real-life high school relationships start over physical attraction.

Whether characters start out hating each other or admiring each other, the most important aspect of a fictional relationship is gradual development. I barely care how a romance starts if its path builds with each encounter. Instalove is not real, but so many other kinds of love are, and as long as a YA relationship crescendos to that four-letter-word rather than jumps there at the beginning, I am happy to cheer for the characters and their romance.

Willa from Willa’s Ramblings

http://willasramblings.wordpress.com/

116_large

image taken from We Heart It

I’ve always been the addictive kind of person, so when I read and I like the characters, I fall head over heels and can’t stop reading. When insta-love is involved, a lot of times I don’t really realize it until after I finish the book and look back, and realize how insta-loved the relationship was. A lot of times in this situations, it makes my stomach turn and the book falls down a couple points in my eyes.

It’s not like I don’t believe in love at first sight – I think it can definitely happen – but I believe it’s rare. Sure, you might think someone is attractive when you first see them and want to get to know them better and pursue a possible relationship based on what you find out about them, but that’s not love at first sight. That’s a normal progression of a relationship, in my eyes. Love (in my opinion) comes with time. It comes with time where you get to know the other person better and you both learn more about yourselves through your relationship. Love doesn’t happen in an instant.

My favorite YA relationships are those built over the course of a book. Examples include: Mara Dyer and Noah Shaw of The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, Jonah Griggs and Taylor Markham of Jellicoe Road, and Juliette and Warner (not even going to lie that I totally ship them) in the Shatter Me series. These relationships build over time, and when the book ends, you see them lasting. You see the beautiful, deep relationship between people, which I think is what love is all about.

That isn’t to say insta-love isn’t fun to read about, and isn’t something I love to read every once in a while, I think it’s just healthy to remember that’s not really how relationships happen. At least, not many. And not many that last.

Me

I read Catching Fire as soon as it came out and I’m still fixated on the one detail that convinced me that Katniss and Peeta were real. In the early pages, there’s a paragraph: one paragraph, where Katniss talks about Peeta’s eyelashes. She says she’s been fixated on them and she notices how they’re so long they get tangled when he draws.

That’s love at first sight in YA. There’s a difference between love at first sight and lust at first sight and a lot of books tend to get that confused. I believe in that, but I don’t think it means love when you see someone for the first time.  I think it means, when you notice something about someone that you wouldn’t normally notice. Not about their attractiveness or the “smoldering gaze across the classroom” that seems to be so popular in instalove. Something you only notice because you want to know that person. A little quirk, a scar, eyelashes. I consider myself a romantic in most senses of the word but I’d rather read something that isn’t fake and calculated so that I can’t easily name five possible plot twists and guess the ending. We’re not supposed to know how it ends; maybe it won’t end well, and that’s okay.

I love hearing about awkwardness and details rather than what’s seen as right. I’m of the belief that you never really know a person as much as you possibly can and so I’d rather characters learn about each other – slowly or quickly, it doesn’t matter – and discover childhood memories, weird quirks, little observations.

I distinctly remember throwing the book across the room multiple times in 2012 just because I was so frustrated with some of the passiveness of YA heroines at the time. For a lot of books, “instalove” substitutes itself for character. I love character, I love reading about messy relationships, I love reading love stories that start out as friendships (unless it’s one of those books where you just know the girl is going to end up with the guy friend in the end – c’mon y’all, it’s really not that difficult to figure out that they’ve loved each other since age six.) If a YA book throws together a “smoldering” guy and a girl who’s just going to be just like any other character, I already know what the relationship looks like in the story arc and I’m tired of that.

Give me best friends. Give me mistakes, and awkwardness, and confusion about what’s supposed to be what. That’s the type of YA I want to read. I want to read about the eyelashes.

What do y’all think? What are your favorite YA relationships?