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Bite-Sized Book Reviews: FAIREST, GROUNDED, and AN ABUNDANCE OF KATHERINES

BooksKristina PinoComment

Fairest by Marissa Meyer

This book is a spin-off within the Lunar Chronicles series, which tells the backstory of its main villain, Levana. Where Cinder got its inspiration from Cinderella, Scarlet from Red Riding Hood, and Cress from Rapunzel, Fairest takes its inspiration from Snow White, a theme which is continued in the latest major installment of the series to date, Winter. Levana's story is an interesting one: she's totally twisted beyond repair, a ruthless leader, an expert strategist. But she's also hopelessly in love with someone who will never love her back, and she's more than a little bit vain. Great read for any fan of the series, especially if you, like me, love to get more information, backstories, and generally just like to play a little more in the universes that authors create for us. I wish more sci-fi and fantasy series authors wrote spin-off novels - even when they're as tragic as Levana's story.

Grounded by Megan Morrison

Grounded is a retelling of the story of Rapunzel, blended with the story of Jack and the Beanstalk and a dash of The Wizard of Oz. Rapunzel is happy to stay up in her tower, and she fends off all the princes and otherwise curious folk who try to rescue her. That is, until the day Jack tricks her into climbing down, and she sets off on a journey. There's magic, and there are fairies, and this super old tree she's got to find in order to learn truths about herself and her Witch. There are a few things I rather liked about this book: Rapunzel keeps a firm grasp on her agency throughout the story, lending her own logic to the circumstances and situations she's in. Though some folk dismiss her as ignorant, her central character trait is her innocence, and the way other characters handle that says more about them than it does about her. I liked the way she stands up for herself and the resourcefulness with which she proves herself to others, too. This is a nice read for youngsters and I was also happy to note it's the first in a new series.

 

An Abundance of Katherines by John Green

I finally found a John Green book I truly love. If you've read another of his works and weren't sure you wanted to try again, try this one. We follow the story of Colin Singleton, who takes off on a road trip of self-discovery with his best friend Hassan following a break-up with one of the many Katherines he's dated. This isn't really a story about break-ups or loss or angst or whatever, it's really about relationships (and friendships) in general, and the funny way our brains work, and how any little thing can remind you of a person, or a place you've been to, or some other memory. The narrative meanders to and fro much in the same way our memories and experiences do, and the whole thing is just lovely.

As someone who appreciates linguistics and word play, I also loved all the tidbits and trivia I picked up from this book, such as this:

Just lovely.

Friday Things: 05/10 - bookish parodies, an excerpt, and the story of Nellie Bly

LinksKristina PinoComment

[It's a beautiful Saturday, so let's bang these out shall we...?]

On Books and Reading:

Olde Book Pillow Classics

They're books. That you can sleep on. Because they're pillows! Click on the image to be taken to the listing on ThinkGeek. :)

There's a new graphic novel out that I'm dying to read, but I'll settle for an excerpt for now. This One Summer, by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki.

John Green discusses why adults dig YA fiction.

This post on BookRiot is over a month old, but it touches on something I plan to vlog about soon: likeable/unlikeable characters. Linking doesn't necessarily mean I agree with everything stated, just that I think it's a good and interesting discussion.

On Music:

(via C|Net) The Game of Thrones theme as you've never heard it before: on wine glasses.

A new line of Disney soundtracks, called The Legacy Collection, will be released to celebrate film anniversaries, and The Lion King is getting the re-release treatment first with 30 minutes of never-before-released score.

Apparently, Miami is ranked the third most stressful US city to live in, owed in part to the high cost of living.

Great little list on BookRiot of bookish song parodies. I have to agree with the post author, I can't even with some of these.

This is important:

If you're a bit confused about what's going on with Net Neutrality and all that, Vi Hart explains it fantastically well in this video.

Fantastic read on FlavorWire about an overlooked woman in history. I quote: "A pioneering female journalist at a time when women were relegated to the lifestyle section, Elizabeth Jane Cochran, writing under the pen name 'Nellie Bly,' pulled off stunt journalism that entranced America and had its part in shifting the world a bit."

[Enjoy the weekend!]

Link Bits: Make it the best TANGLED party ever

LinksKristina PinoComment

[The streak continues!]

(via Neatorama) There probably isn't any sure way to make me want to eat shoes, but these come close.

A literary crash course on Homer's The Odyssey.

Disney Style has a few DIY tips for any futureTangled-themed parties.

The "Nothing's Impossible" show featuring Disney at the Mondo Art Gallery during SXSW (March 7-11) looks like it'll be fantastic - wish I could go.

(viaTheMarySue) I love Japanese commercials most of the time, but it's things like pretty ladies head-smashing a stack of tiles that reinforce my affection. This commercial is about a credit card, and the basic message is "use your head."

(via PR) October will see the launch of the new supernatural romance series, Honey Blood, followed in November by the magical girl adventure Kiss of the Rose Princess. They're being released both digital and in print by VIZ Media's imprint Shoujo Beat.

Re: Honey Blood:

When a girl at her school is attacked by what seems to be a vampire, high school student Hinata Sorazono refuses to believe that vampires even exist. But then she meets her new neighbor, Junya Tokinaga, the author of an incredibly popular vampire romance novel… Could it be that Junya’s actually a vampire – and worse yet, the culprit?! Discover his true identity and other secrets in this new 3-volume manga series created by Miko Mitsuki.

Re: Kiss of the Rose Princess:

Anis Yamamoto has been told that if she ever removes the rose choker given to her by her father, a terrible punishment will befall her. Unfortunately she loses that choker when a bat-like being falls from the sky and hits her. Anis is granted four cards representing four knights whom she can summon with a kiss. But now that she has these gorgeous men at her beck and call, what exactly is her quest?! Find out in this new 9-volume series by creator Aya Shouoto.
Listen to a bestseller for $7.49 at audible.com!

Bite-Sized Book Reviews: GONE GIRL, LOOKING FOR ALASKA, and ELEANOR & PARK

BooksKristina PinoComment

Sometimes I have a lot to say about the books I read. Sometimes I don't. Here's a look at my short thoughts on three books I read recently:

Gone Girl, Looking for Alaska, and Eleanor & Park. The first two were books I read for the Les Literables book club, so if are interested in a more involved discussion of either of those, do check out those episodes on YouTube!

Gone Girl  by Gillian Flynn

As I mentioned before, I read this book for Les Lit. I didn't really know what to expect going in, except that it was some kind of suspenseful story regarding the disappearance of Amy, the main female character. I was even a little bit apprehensive of getting into it, because it seemed like it might be a bit of a horror read, and I'm not generally into the thrill of being scared. Thankfully, it isn't scary at all, unless you think really hard about the possibility you might marry a psychopath.

Flynn wrote this book well, alternating between the perspectives of the two lead characters (Amy and Nick). Both of their voices are completely distinct, and presented in different styles. Technically, the story begins during their fifth wedding anniversary, since that's when Amy disappears. But we get a nice mix of reminiscing the past as everything unfolds. I enjoyed reading this book, and honestly had a hard time putting it down. All the little bits of info trickled in at a maddeningly slow pace (but in a good way), and there's a fantastic twist.

If you like suspense, you should enjoy Gone Girl. A note though, this book isn't really for younger readers. [Buy it at Amazon]

Looking for Alaska by John Green

After reading (and loving) The Fault in Our Stars, I was prepared to read more of John Green's work, but had no idea where to go next. A friend pretty much sold me on reading this one, so I picked it for the book club.

Looking for Alaska is told in the perspective of a boy (Pudge) who decides to go look for a big change in life, and leaves to boarding school. It covers one school year, and doesn't have a strict plot in terms of main conflict, good guy, bad guy, etc. We just follow through his experiences that year, about the people he meets, and the main event, which is Alaska's disappearance and his reaction to (coping with) that. If nothing else, it's an interesting read that raises good questions about growing up and life in general. It also made me realize that although I've had problems with narratives centered around an un-likeable character in the past, it isn't always a bad thing.

Since, like I said, this book pretty much follows Pudge's experiences, it's kind of a "drifting" book. Things happen and we follow along. I felt relaxed reading it, and despite objections from some silly adults, I think it's a great young adult novel. Is there a teen in your life in need of something to read? Don't hesitate to hand this one over to them. Of course, it's a good read for adults, too. [Buy it at Amazon]

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

This book came in my Christmas mail. It's another one that silly adults have challenged for reasons that don't follow having read it at all, but I think it's a very important story. It follows the perspectives of Eleanor, a girl with poor self-confidence and a bad situation at home, and Park, a boy who prefers to be invisible (not literally, of course). As with Gone Girl, it goes back and forth, and they both have their different ways of expressing themselves.

The two kids are crazy for each other, and as if their own personalities weren't already working against their relationship (remember, Eleanor is lacks confidence, and Park hasn't come out of his shell), they've got their own problems dealing with people at school, and an extra big problem dealing with Eleanor's family life. I enjoyed reading a book that dealt with some of the more complex issues that teens (and adults) worry about today without falling back on drugs and alcohol - which are valid points of focus in YA fiction, don't get me wrong, but there's more to the life of a teen.

As much as I loved this book, and some parts of it tugged at my heartstrings, I didn't like the ending. It's not that the ending is bad, it's just a frustrating (though probable) conclusion. That's just my own personal opinion, though, and I welcome you to chat me up about it if you've also read the book, because I haven't had anyone to chat with yet!

I recommend Eleanor & Park to fans of YA fiction, including, of course, the target audience. [Buy it at Amazon]

Friday Things: 11/02 - Penguins in Belgium, Tyrion quotations, and Hawkeye goes hardback

LinksKristina PinoComment

[Halloween is over! It's a new month, and the weather is getting colder... brrrr. Warm up with some coffee and enjoy some yummy internet.]

On Travel:

One of my chums as Tomopop went to Belgium recently and took some plastic penguin companions with him to lead a tour for our readers. Previously, he took them through Venice. I can't wait for more.

Lame - some new planes are going to have even narrower seats for long haul flights.

On Books and Comics:

Game of Thrones fans might be interested in the newly-released book based on our favorite imp: The Wit & Wisdom of Tyrion Lannister. Read an interview with its illustrator, Jonty Clark.

Check out all the titles that'll be handed out on World Book Night next year. April 23rd - mark your calendars!

If you've not read any of the Sandman comics, but want to dip your feet in without getting to heavily into spoiler/story territory, The Mary Sue offers a nifty guide regarding which comics to pick and choose.

Michael Crichton fans may or may not know that back when he was in med school, he wrote books under a pen name. They're being re-printed.

This is old news in internet time, but just in case: Larry Kasdan has stepped up to screenwrite Star Wars Episode VII, replacing Michael Arndt.

I reviewed a super awesome planner called the Hobonichi Techo, and even made a companion video for the article I posted up on Japanator.

More Weird Things...! Yay!

Wednesday, Nov. 6th - Hawkeye, Vol. 1 is out in hardcover! It collects issues 1 through 11. (via David Aja)

NaNoWriMo folks: beware when considering plugging song lyrics into your book!

On YouTube:

(via Cheezburger) Watch this video about how a few more veggies and fruits a day can improve your life drastically.

How to make Spider-Man candy apples. Yum.

Delightful book trailer for Chris Hadfield's An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth.

John Green explains the origins of various superstitions.

My latest snack video! Double Berry Pocky and Winter ed. Milk Cream Koala cookies.

Other:

I'm jealous of the folks who'll have the pleasure of having Neil Gaiman as their professor.

A look at con harassment and what we need to do to minimize it.

Cute story about how a man who needed a life-saving kidney transplant eventually married the lady who gave it to him.

iPad-exclusive Marvel Creativity Studio is out! It looks like a neat app for folks who want to learn to draw some of their favorite comics characters. You can buy a special stylus for it which also fully unlocks all its features. The app itself is free to download.

[Okay, so that was a bit longer than usual, too. Still making up for missing the week before last, hah.]

Friday Things: 09/06 - Life lessons from a bear and a dancing Science Guy

LinksKristina PinoComment

[It's a little late, but it's still Friday in many places, so yay! Here's this week set of things I saw around the internet recently]

On Books:

(via Bookshelf) Rockin' Star Wars Millenium Falcon bookcase.

"Life Lessons from Winnie-the-Pooh" over at BookRiot. Beautiful.

Hugo Awards - full list and winners!

(via Twitter) If you ever wonder what ever happened to Clarissa (from Clarissa Explains It All), this might be the answer to all your burning questions. New book scheduled for release in 2014. I'm there.

Oyster is like Netflix for ebooks, and it looks amazing. All ya need (for now) is an iPhone. (further reading at BookRiot)

On Comics:

Ohio Dad was a bit worried about the costs of his daughter's wedding. So he sold his copy of Amazing Spider-Man #1 to fund it. Yay, Ohio Dad!

New comic I'm interested in: The Star Wars, which will be an 8-issue mini-series adapting George Lucas' rough draft.

This couple not only made their engagement shoot horror-themed, they then turned the images into a comic. Very cute idea!

On YouTube:

You saw this coming, I'm sure. The latest video by John Green on Mental Floss. 107 Regional Slang Words.

New webseries, Ask A Slave, headed by a lady who was one (as an actor, of course) at one of those historical parks, based on actual questions and such she got while in character. 

 

 

Other:

(via Fashionably Geek) Legend of Zelda spiritual stone props as well as spiritual stone necklaces.

I reviewed an awesome art book for Japanator!  It's called 100 Masters of Bishoujo Painting, vol. 2.

Bill Nye on Dancing With the Stars? Looks like I need to figure out a way to watch this season.

[Enjoy the links, and have a great weekend. :)]

 

 

Friday Things: 8/23 - The home stretch

LinksKristina PinoComment

[alright, so I'm still out having adventures, but it's Friday again so it's time to share. Because I care. I just hope that this time the formatting won't be all nutty...]

If you're into grammar or want to be better at it, there's a new iOS game out by Grammar Girl. I'll be trying it out soon. http://bit.ly/1ayOdzY

New Batman. It's Ben Affleck. I'm neutral on the casting, though it'd be rad if he'd been hired to direct instead. http://bit.ly/BatmanCasting

Lauren Orsini: "Maybe you're the reason anime is dying." Another excellent piece. http://bit.ly/157RORl

Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book is being adapted to graphic novels. Have a look at some of the pages. http://bit.ly/16yTkyn

The Daily Dot posted an interesting story about the Mako Mori Test as a response to the inadequacies of the Bechdel Test. Of course, it isn't perfect, but the concept (the evolution) is interesting. http://bit.ly/17WLIRD

"28 Foods Named After People" (Mental Floss video): http://bit.ly/1c0v0Fa

Third gender birth certificates in Germany! http://bit.ly/14m8rFB

Andrew Evans, NatGeo explorer, discusses how he stays connected all around the world. Great tips for travelers. http://bit.ly/12aQbkR

What are the most common clichés in fiction writing? On HuffPo books: http://huff.to/1bzYERk

[thats it for this week, since I've been spending more time taking it easy than browsing this week. Back to normal for the next one!]

Friday Things: 08/02 - Tattoos, brain flossing, and bonus Harry Potter

LinksKristina PinoComment

[Another week gone by... 
I'm doing something really cool this weekend, by the way! More on that soon.]

On Books:

(via Bookriot) J.K. Rowling is so amazing... if you remember what happened with her latest book, you might be pleased to know she struck back at the law firm that broke her confidentiality and the settlement went entirely toward charity.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows' cover redesign! (Bonus: the spines make up a picture of Hogwarts Castle)

10 Sci-Fi Predictions That Became Science Fact. Pretty neat list, since it's all in reference to literature.

Another dumb book ban? Yep. (Bonus: Here's Maureen Johnson on the subject.)

Not one, but two links to cool bookish tattoos.

Chuck Palahniuk is writing a sequel to Fight Club!

A lot of folks got their panties all in a twist over President Obama going to an Amazon warehouse to talk about how awesome they are at creative jobs. Because apparently that would mean that Obama hates independent book stores. No. Just, no.

 

 

On Movies:

A friend pointed me to this great article which discusses women and time travel. Why can't women time travel?

John Williams will be scoring Star Wars: Episode VII. Yay!

On the subject of Star Wars, here's another delightful bit of art by Amy Mebberson. Belle x Han Solo.

Artemis Fowl is getting a movie adaptation!

 

 

On Shameless Self-Promotion:

My latest video on YouTube is about my experience at Wonder Festival Summer. It's a little long, but I touch upon all the major points of the convention and what my thoughts are overall. It was my first Japanese nerd con and I had a blast. For a look at the pictures I shot for Tomopop that day, check out their Wonder Festival coverage. I'm responsible for all of it except for Vertex, 3A, Indie, and the various Garage Kits roundups.

I've got a new feature on Japanator, which I've titled Kristina's Summer Vacation. For the duration of the month of August, I'm going to try and post up a daily picture that I've taken in Japan.

For J.K. Rowling's birthday, I wrote up a thing for Quirk Books titled: 7 Characters From the Harry Potter Universe Who Deserve More Words.

 

 

Other:

The latest mental floss video featuring John Green has been making waves the past few days. 79 Common Mispronunciations.

The problem with being a creative person in the world of video games. Though, really, this applies to many professions. If you remember a few months back, I wrote about how Charlaine Harris received awful threats over the way she ended her Sookie Stackhouse series. People can really be awful.

[Looking good.. .a little long today, huh? See ya next week!]

 

 

Friday Things: 03/31 - Misquotations, dubs, and only barely on-topic

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[Whoops, looks like I totally forgot to do a link dump last week! Sorry about that, folks. I was pretty busy because of Sports Day preparations and then festivities over the weekend, so it totally slipped my mind. Things should be pretty calm from here on out, though.]

On Disney:

Have you ever wondered what some Disney characters would look like in the 1920's? Don't worry, Katia Oloy sketched some of them out for ya. Want more? Catch an interview with her here.

Aaaaand this is pretty amazing. Pat Carroll, who voices Ursula the Seawitchwas put up to reading the lines of our Ghost Host from the Haunted Mansion. She's so rad.

Best Rapunzel and Flynn cosplay, or best Rapunzel and Flynn cosplay? (via Fashionably Geek)

 

 

 

On Geek Apparel:

Customized Book Locket Pendants. 'Nuff said.

Loving these nerdy tops handmade by Etsy user radrocket. The thing that turned my attention to this shop is the now-sold Batman and Nightmare Before Christmas tops seen at Fashionably Geek.

If you think sloths are as cute as I do... you might want a sloth ring.

Only Kind of, Barely Book-Related: 

John Green delivers 50 Common Misquotations for Mental Floss.

I enjoyed the first Bridget Jones book, and have enjoyed both movie adaptations, so I'm naturally pleased to know that Helen Fielding has announced the title for her next book featuring Bridget, Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy. Read more about it on GalleyCat. Lucky me, I picked up the second book at a random bargain sale at a Japanese book shop, so I'll be up to date soon enough.

True Blood Season 6 trailer!

Mary Ness on TOR talks about Bed-Knob and Broomstick by Mary Norton, which, you guessed it, has a lot to do with the Disney movie Bedknobs and Broomsticks. I didn't know there were books...!

Shameless Self-Promotion: My latest on Quirk Books: "Eight Literary Hats You Can Totally Crochet Yourself."

 

 

Other:

Awesome timeline of "bigger on the inside" things, like the TARDIS, and to my delight, Mary Poppins won out as the earliest example with her bottomless carpet bag. And this is available as a real poster you can hang up in your home. Win-win. (via GeeksAreSexy)

A friend brought this article to my attention via Facebook. "Breeding the Nutrition Out of Our Food."

The latest from Lindsey Stirling (game music cover): HALO. Bonus: William Joseph on Piano, my favorite instrument.

[That's my list for this week! Have a great weekend, and see ya around! I added a few extra links than the usual to make up for last week. :)]

 

 

Friday Things: 05/17 - speeches, music, and fancy shoes

LinksKristina PinoComment

[Hey, it's Friday again! And this time around, my link dump isn't ridiculously long. I tried to keep things mostly to the point. Enjoy!]

On Books, Writing, Authors, etc.:

Some clown wrote an article on HuffPo titled, "What's a library?" and, though the title makes it seem like we might read something lovely and enlightening about an institution that is growing (not shrinking, against popular belief), it's actually an awful read. Here's a run-down of what sucked about it, and what you should read up on instead.

(via GeeksAreSexy) I like snazzy commencement speeches. Here's a good one by David Foster Wallace.

John Green talks about common grammar mistakes. It's always good to brush up.

 

 

On Japan:

Green tea beer has made my list of things I need to try at some point this year.

I recently reviewed a book for Japanator titled Kojiki. Give it a try if you're into Japanese myth, or anime!

 

 

On Music:

This week, Nick Pitera uploaded a video to spread some anti-bullying awareness. It's a cover of Live Like A Warrior.

Peter Hollens' latest video (feat. his wife Evynne) is a Les Miserables medley. Enjoy! It's 100% A Cappella.

The Piano Guys' latest video is a cover of Phillip Phillips' Home. No lyrics - just piano and cello.

Other:

Yay, Scurvy Scallywags is submitted to the App store! Here's a trailer.

Wear your love for Hawkguy on your sleeve. By the way, Matt Fraction's commissions on these tees go towards Futures Without Violence. The only problem is, no girly tees. Sometimes, I feel like the lack of girly tees in nerddom seriously helps perpetuate the whole, "boys-only club" thing, which is the farthest away from reality, but still an unwelcoming feeling. That doesn't mean ladies shouldn't buy the Hawkguy gear, it just means that I personally won't, because I like wearing clothing that's designed with my gender in mind.

It's too bad these are only ornaments... I'd totally wear these Disney character-, princess-, and villain-inspired shoes!

(via GeeksAreSexy) Shopping malls are designed to make you spend money, and here's why.

(via Jeff Green) Ever wonder what Tatooine looks like when not occupied by Star Wars characters?

Angelina Jolie, who was at high risk for ovarian and breast cancer, chose to have a preventative double mastectomy in order to reduce her chances and thus, stick around longer to raise her kids, among other things. Her article on the matter is wonderful.

[Have a beautiful weekend!]