Monday, October 24, 2011

Opening Lines: Birthmarked

Some opening lines jump out of the book, grab you by the collar, and say "This book is different!  Here's how!"

For example, Birthmarked by Caragh O'Brien:

In the dim hovel, the mother clenched her body into one final, straining push, and the baby slithered out into Gaia's ready hands.

Whaaaaaat?  That's right: this book opens with our main character delivering a baby.  It turns out, she delivers babies all the time.  And right there, Caragh O'Brien hooked me; I can't say no to a book about a teenage mid-wife.

Friday, October 21, 2011


I have had Scarborough Fair, by Simon and Garfunkel, stuck in my head ever since I finished Impossible by Nancy Werlin.  But thanks to Werlin, the song is no longer the benign pretty ballad I once thought it was; now it is deliciously chilling.  Werlin’s own realization about the creepy nature of the songthe man asking to the woman to complete impossible tasks in order to prove her loveinspired her to write Impossible.

Impossible focuses on the silent victim of Scarborough Fair: the woman who must somehow make a shirt without seam or needle work.  But this is a different version of the song than the one popularized by Simon and Garfunkel.  In Werlin’s variation, rather than the tasks winning the narrator’s love, the tasks are necessary if the woman wants to escape from being trapped as a true love of the narrator.  Instead of the refrain “Then she’ll be a true love of mine,” Werlin’s narrator says “Else she’ll be a true love of mine.”

Monday, October 17, 2011

Daughter of Smoke and Bone

I am a pretty fast reader, but I forced myself to slow down while I was reading Daughter of Smoke and Bone; I didn’t want to miss a single exquisite word.  (And it’s might be a while before the next book in the trilogy comes out, so I had to make it last.)  Laini Taylor strikes a tonal balance that makes you feel as if you are reading a traditional folktale retold by a modern writer who seriously respects the story’s roots.  The world building and the characters are also absolutely amazing, but what really feels unique is the way Taylor reveals that world and those characters, peeling back the layers one by one.  Or, to use a metaphor appropriate to the book, flipping through the pages of main character Karou’s sketch book, revealing a new piece of the story in every drawing.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

VD and SC

Almost in time for this week's new episodes, here are my favorite parts from last week's Vampire Diaries and Secret Circle:

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


What does the internet have to offer this week?

  • For starters, I just found a Will Grayson, WillGrayson tumblr (  What could be better than a daily serving of the Wills and Tiny Cooper?  Highlights include a wonderful erasure poem using a page from the novel as the source material.
  • This great essay on YARN points out that most YA novels take place in high school.  The author hungers for a YA perspective on college (besides all the adult novels that take place in college, which, she rightfully notes, have a different tone and point of view from YA).
  • What could be better than a Pride and Prejudice retelling?  A P&P retelling that involves Prom!  Considering all the balls that happen in Austen novels, prom is a perfect fit.  And this YA Crush review is making me want to add Prom and Prejudice to my Can't Wait to Read file.
  • Girls swept the Google Science awards last week!  And the winner of the 17-18 category got her start in science making blue spinach.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Opening Lines: Laini Taylor

I just purchased Daughter of Smoke and Bone, and I am now convinced that Laini Taylor is a champion of opening lines.

The opening lines of DOSAB (in italics, just before the first chapter): Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love.  It did not end well.

Shivers!  Chills!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

I Loved Drink, Slay, Love

Pearl, the protagonist of Drink, Slay, Love, is not a good person.  That’s because she’s not a person at all; she’s a vampire with no soul.  Until a unicorn stabs her through the chest, and she starts developing a conscience.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Classic Covers: The Secret Circle

These are the beautiful covers of the Secret Circle books, as I read them in the St. Agnes branch of the library on the upper west side of Manhattan in 1992.  I went to the library every day after school to wait for my dad to pick me up.

The library was a quiet temperate sanctuary after a crazy day of junior high.  More importantly, there were shelves full of wonderful books for me to browse, including every book in every LJ Smith series (The Secret Circle, The Vampire Diaries, The Forbidden Game, Dark Visions, and Night World).  But I found the Secret Circle books first, and I read them over and over again in my library haven.