Sue Klebold: A Mother’s Reckoning: Living in the Aftermath of Tragedy (Crown, 2016)

A Mother's ReckoningIt’s not really relevant to the tragedy, but much like I remember exactly where I was on 9/11, I remember where I was on April 20, 1999, when I heard about what had happened at Columbine High School. I was ten years old, in the fourth grade, and I was with my dad on one of his side jobs after he’d picked me up from school. I think he was fixing a refrigerator or something at a bar or pizza joint of some sort. I remember sitting in the dimly lit bar watching CNN on one of the TVs most likely reserved for viewing ESPN mounted in the corner of the room, seeing footage of kids running frantically down the hill away from the school. I was a naturally anxious kid, but I always thought I was safe at school. Columbine was a watershed moment in the way it forced people to look at security in schools, our nation’s growing obsession with guns, bullying, and adolescent mental health. “Columbine” alone is one of those words that is inextricably linked to human suffering. Everyone knows what you’re talking about when you say it; there is no need for further explanation. Continue reading

Diana Gabaldon: A Breath of Snow and Ashes (Bantam, 2005)

A Breath of Snow and AshesI read Drums of Autumn and The Fiery Cross too quickly to actually have anything useful to say about them, other than that they were too long and rather meandering in places. I have a list of random bullet points sitting in a post draft that I’m never going to finish, so I guess I’ll throw it here so I have some context for this discussion:

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Lev Grossman: The Magicians (Plume, 2009)

The Magicians

It’s been a long time since I’ve had to force myself through a book I actively disliked. Most of those books were for school.1 This one was not, but for some reason I’m a glutton for punishment and I had some vague hope that things would improve as I read further.

They didn’t.

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Jenny Lawson: Furiously Happy (Flatiron Books, 2015)

Furiously HappyI bought this book because the cover was ridiculous.1 But I’m really glad I did, because I think it’s a really important addition to the cultural discourse on mental illness, and it definitely made me feel better about my own struggles with mental illness. This is going to be a pretty personal post for that reason.

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Jojo Moyes: Me Before You (Penguin, 2012)

Me Before YouSo the trailer for the film version of this book came out recently, and after I watched it and screamed to myself because Daenerys Targaryen, the First of Her Name, Queen of Meereen, Queen of the Andals, the Rhoynar and the First Men, Lady Regnant of the Seven Kingdoms, Protector of the Realm, Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, Breaker of Chains, Mother of Dragons and Finnick Odair1 are the romantic leads and I love both of them, I decided to go home and start reading the book immediately, since I bought it a few months ago and then got sucked into Outlander2 and forgot about it.

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Heather Cocks & Jessica Morgan: Spoiled (LB Teens/Poppy, 2011)

SpoiledI first heard about this book back when it was first published, because I used to be a religious follower of The Fug Girls, Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan.1 I love YA fiction, obviously,2 so I figured I would get around to reading this eventually.

Four years later…

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Voyager — Diana Gabaldon; Bantam Books, 1993

9780385335997I am so emotionally exhausted after finishing this book. This is not the kind of book you should read in four days. First, because it made me cry about fifteen times. Second, because there is too damn much going on, and now my brain is all blurry and even though I took notes about things I wanted to discuss, I’m probably gonna have to pull a SparkNotes on the last two hundred pages because I was too enthralled to write anything down!

As with the previous installment, let’s go over my questions from before I started the book:

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Dragonfly in Amber — Diana Gabaldon; Bantam Books, July 1992

First, I have to ask: how the hell did Diana Gabaldon crank out these books so quickly? Outlander was well over 600 pages, Dragonfly in Amber is roughly 740, and Voyager, the third installment, is 870 pages. This woman has a gift.1 Meanwhile, I can’t even finish NaNoWriMo.

Second, let’s address my questions from the previous post:

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Outlander — Diana Gabaldon; Bantam Books, June 1991

outlanderDiana Gabaldon’s Outlander series has been around nearly my entire life (the first book having been released when I was two and a half), and yet I don’t think I actually ever heard about it until Starz picked up the rights for the TV series. I wanted to see the show, mostly because I’m an unrepentant fan of The Hobbit film trilogy1, and Graham McTavish2 plays a sizable role in Outlander as Dougal MacKenzie, so I figured if I wanted to see the show I ought to read the book first.3 Continue reading

Yeonmi Park — In Order To Live: A North Korean Girl’s Journey to Freedom; Penguin Press, September 2015

When I was a senior in college, a friend introduced me to South Korean pop music and media, and I became so interested in the language and pop culture that I eventually applied to teach English as a foreign language there, since I didn’t make it into Teach for America and I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to do with myself after graduation.1 I’d never studied abroad, and the only foreign countries I’d ever visited were Canada (which is not that dissimilar to the U.S.) and Italy (which has a slightly different culture but is still a western country).

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