in which “i am so, so alive”

Hello, world.

another Maggie Stiefvater post what are you talking about

You might surmise from the plethora of posts I’ve written about Maggie Stiefvater that I’ve exhausted this topic altogether. (Um, not quite.)

DAY 14: MY FAVORITE BOOK FROM MY FAVORITE AUTHOR

Goodreads summary:

It happens at the start of every November: the Scorpio Races. Riders attempt to keep hold of their water horses long enough to make it to the finish line. Some riders live. Others die.

At age nineteen, Sean Kendrick is the returning champion. He is a young man of few words, and if he has any fears, he keeps them buried deep, where no one else can see them.

Puck Connolly is different. She never meant to ride in the Scorpio Races. But fate hasn’t given her much of a chance. So she enters the competition — the first girl ever to do so. She is in no way prepared for what is going to happen.

You might be thinking, what? Not the Raven Cycle?

Okay, I love those books SO MUCH. You know that. Gansey is my boy. But this book …

This book is my soul book.

If you were to cut my heart open, I think my heartstrings would look and sound and feel something similar to this book (if hearts could do that, of course). The Scorpio Races is mythic and nostalgic and heartrending and real, despite its rather extraordinary situation. It’s the life I would love to have: small, but significant.

The characters, as always, are Maggie’s strong suit. Puck is lovely and fiery, terrified and brave. I relate so much to her fierce love for her family, to her consuming love for the land of Thisby. (I feel that way about Britain.) She’s certainly not perfect, but she cares for her own and grows to know her own soul. I admire her so much.

And Sean Kendrick. That precious cinnamon roll (too good, too pure for this world). He’s one of the best characters I’ve ever had to opportunity to know. He’s quiet and still and grounded and he freaking love his horse so much. He and Corr are the real love story of this book–the deepest, purest sort of friendship. Sean’s wants are few, but he wants them so passionately that my heart breaks for him. He is the silent fire you don’t always know is burning, but when you do–you can’t look away.

I know I said Sean and Corr are the real love story, but the actual love story of the novel is so dang lovely and perfect. Puck and Sean compliment each other in all the right ways; they grow and develop together, building off of their kinship and passion for the things they care about. I love, love, love how subtly Maggie does romance, and I feel like she binds Puck and Sean together so quietly that I, as a reader, just sit there and wonder if there was ever a time when they weren’t Puck and Sean.

One of the things I love most about this book, though, is the island–Thisby. The setting is a character all its own, and Maggie does such justice to it. Throughout the novel, you really get to know the island, its wants and its mannerisms. You get to know the people that grow from it, which is most telling of all. Thisby is a wild creature, but a good one, I think, too. More than anything, it makes me feel like I’ve come home, gone to the home of my heart, which is the best compliment I can give to a story.

amelie le fabuleux destin damlie poulain
i’m just using all the amelie gifs lately

(It wouldn’t be a post about a Maggie Stiefvater novel if I didn’t include some lovely quotes, too.)

It is the first day of November and so, today, someone will die.

Does anyone ask you why you stay, Sean Kendrick? They do. And why do you? The sky and the sand and the sea and Corr.

I am so, so alive.

Just read the Scorpio Races, okay?

yours, Natalie

Tune in tomorrow at noon for the next post!

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in which words are not enough

Hello, world.

I’ve talked many times on this blog about the fact that I am horrid at choosing favorites of anything, because

  1. I’m indecisive and
  2. I don’t like to limit my options to that one thing.

This equally applies to my favorite authors. I have many, many, many favorite authors–writers who have inspired and influenced me in my own identity as a writer. I cannot choose one because I feel they all have a place in my heart, in some way.

(This is a hard choice, but also easy, in a way.)

DAY 13: MY FAVORITE WRITER

Maggie. Freaking. Stiefvater.

As I have said in my posts about the Raven Cycle and Blue Lily, Lily Blue, I love Maggie Stiefvater SO MUCH. When I read her books, I feel like I am reading a reflection of my own soul. Her writing brings the dream-stuff of the universe into the world. I  remember reading Shiver for the first time and thinking, this is the language of my soul. Thinking, this is the kind of story that I want to write. I had never felt so understood in my life. It was a strange and wonderful experience.

amelie audrey tautou movie heart

Maggie’s books feel like myths you have heard somewhere and sometime before. Sometimes she writes about wolves and kisses and songs. Sometimes she writes about monstrous horses and islands and deep-rooted relationships. Sometimes she writes about welsh kings and cars and friendships. Sometimes she writes about other things entirely.

I always leave her books feeling like I had left the world of my soul. Like I had left the real version of myself, and that the outside version was just a mere shadow of the person I am.

(does that even make any sense?)

I was lucky enough to hear and meet Maggie on one of her stops for the Raven King tour. She’s just like you would imagine her from her books and online writings, except funnier and lovelier and more faelike. I laughed till I cried and bumbled like an idiot when I spoke with her. It was the loveliest night.

If you haven’t read any of her novels, please, please do. They have had such an influence on me, as a writer and as a person.

(Also, do check out her tumblr. It’s rather hilarious.)

yours, Natalie

Tune in tomorrow at noon for the next post!

 

in which i am a little embarrassed

Hello, world.

It’s a rather natural thing for tastes and opinions to change as we grow older. For myself, twenty-year-old me is quite different from thirteen-year-old me. However, the things we liked as younger creatures often seem rather, uh, embarrassing to the older manifestations of our selves. Much as we try to hide them, we all have those awkward things that we somewhat hardcore regret.

Today, I’m going to admit one of mine.

(Yikes.)

DAY 12: A BOOK I USED TO LOVE BUT DON’T ANYMORE

Goodreads summary:

About three things I was absolutely positive.

First, Edward was a vampire.

Second, there was a part of him—and I didn’t know how dominant that part might be—that thirsted for my blood.

And third, I was unconditionally and irrevocably in love with him.

In the first book of the Twilight Saga, internationally bestselling author Stephenie Meyer introduces Bella Swan and Edward Cullen, a pair of star-crossed lovers whose forbidden relationship ripens against the backdrop of small-town suspicion and a mysterious coven of vampires. This is a love story with bite.

I want to preface this post by saying that if you do love Twilight, THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT. (There’s definitely still a part of me that enjoys the story and the nostalgia that it brings.) I’m mostly just embarrassed by the extent of my obsession with them.

I was so obsessed with Twilight.

(Really though–you don’t even understand.)

There are many reasons for this.

  1. I was a young teenage girl.
  2. I was a young teenage girl.
  3. I was a young teenage girl.

I read the first book when I was twelve or thirteen years old, and I felt like Twilight was the balm to soothe all my teenager-y woes. Finally, I thought, something that gets me. Because you know, I, too, was a super average girl just wanting to fall in love with a vampire. (What?) After reading Twilight, I was hooked. I consumed all the books, over and over and over again. I read fanfiction until the wee hours of the night. I analyzed anything and everything that Stephenie Meyer had ever written about the series. I made entire journals dedicated just to the books, filled with images of the movie cast and doodled hearts declaring that I love Edward Cullen. I had t-shirts and magazines and anything else you could imagine.

It was pretty horrific.

Yikes

Then, one day when I was a little older and more mature, I realized the books were just  okay.

I realized that I had been a little too invested in them, especially for a book that didn’t quite deserve such time and emotion from me. (Again, this is just the opinion of twenty-year-old Natalie.)

I tend to have a rather obsessive personality when it comes to things I really love, and my relationship with Twilight was, like, the first manifestation of that. So, looking back, it’s no surprise that I was so obsessed with the books. It’s just a little embarrassing. I was really loud about my love for them. Everyone around me knew I loved them, and even now some of my family members from home bring the books up when I see them.

I’ve since learning to be quieter about my obsessions.

So, yes, I was a hardcore Twilight fan. I’m not ashamed. (Well, kind of.)

yours, Natalie

Tune in tomorrow at noon for the next post!

in which i rather dislike a book

Hello, world.

Now, I’m not one to really hate anything: it’s just not in my nature. So, I can’t say that I truly hate any book.

I did really dislike one book when I was in middle school, though.

DAY 11: A BOOK I HATED

I don’t know why I disliked it so. (Probably because I was eleven and disinclined to like anything that wasn’t the Bobbsey Twins or Great Illustrated Classics.)

If I were to reread it now, I’m sure it wouldn’t be so terrible. Great, even.

But I can’t reread it, as that would betray the eleven-year-old in me.

yours, Natalie

in which i am no bird

Hello, world.

Second post of the day because I need to catch up what.

As an English major, I hold classic books in a dear, special place of my heart. I mean, I voluntarily read the Odyssey when I was thirteen because I felt it would round out my Greek mythology knowledge and also because I wanted to. (If that doesn’t make me a nerd, I really don’t know what does.) In preparing for this post, I deliberated a long time on which classic to call my *favorite* (you readers should know by now that I can’t pick favorites). But, in the end, I do dearly, dearly love this book.

DAY 10: MY FAVORITE CLASSIC BOOK

Goodreads summary:

Orphaned into the household of her Aunt Reed at Gateshead, subject to the cruel regime at Lowood charity school, Jane Eyre nonetheless emerges unbroken in spirit and integrity. She takes up the post of governess at Thornfield, falls in love with Mr. Rochester, and discovers the impediment to their lawful marriage in a story that transcends melodrama to portray a woman’s passionate search for a wider and richer life than Victorian society traditionally allowed.

With a heroine full of yearning, the dangerous secrets she encounters, and the choices she finally makes, Charlotte Bronte’s innovative and enduring romantic novel continues to engage and provoke readers.

JANE EYRE IS SO GOOD GUYS.

love michael fassbender romance mia wasikowska novel

This book is just such a pinnacle of its time. It’s gothic and revolutionary, but it’s also sweet and inspiring. It feels like a reflection of my soul, but it also reassures me that I can be better, if I try.

Jane is my actual hero. (I’ve written an entire essay comparing myself to her.) I relate a lot to her quiet tendencies, but I also admire her so much for her passion and conviction in her beliefs. She makes me think that I can defend myself even though I, too, am rather “poor, obscure, plain, and little.” Really, Jane is quite the kick-a** character for the Victorian era, and I love her for that.

Mr Rochester is a rather controversial character, but I really do love him. I love his Byronic-ness, his passion, his utter imperfection. He’s not a ***flawless character, and because of that I think he feels much more human. Throughout the novel, he does try to improve and reform, not just because he wants Jane but because she makes him realize he needs and wants to be better. I think Mr Rochester has a really good heart, underneath his callous, disillusioned nature, and by the end of the novel, he proves that. Also, their love is so sweet. There is no joy that compares to reading the sentence, “Reader, I married him.”

The entire novel is just so wonderful (as it would be, since it resulted out of Charlotte Bronte’s stubborn desire to write a novel with a heroine who was neither beautiful nor well-off) and has had such an impact on me as a writer. I had the lucky opportunity to visit the Bronte Parsonage in Haworth, England, and it basically is just the sort of place you’d imagine a novel like Jane Eyre would come from. Visiting there was one of the best days of my life.

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the table where Charlotte wrote Jane Eyre

To conclude, I will just leave you with a few of my favorite quotes from the novel (there are so many golden ones):

I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will.

I am not an angel … and I will not be one till I die: I will be myself.

I have a strange feeling with regard to you. As if I had a string somewhere under my left ribs, tightly knotted to a similar string in you. And if you were to leave I’m afraid that cord of communion would snap. And I have a notion that I’d take to bleeding inwardly.

So, so good.

If you have never before read Jane Eyre, I highly entreat you to do so. It’s such a precious, delightful novel that transcends all time. I love it so very much.

yours, Natalie

Tune in tomorrow at noon for the next post!

 

in which c.s. lewis makes a much needed appearance

Hello, world.

(First, I must apologize for the lack of a post yesterday. I always forget how much moving throws my schedule out of whack. The next few days might be a little sporadic with posts, but soon hopefully things will be settled again. I’m so, so sorry!)

sorry apology reaction i apologize forgive me

OK, focus.

Like I said in my last post, I’m quite selective with books I read; I know what I like and I’m rather good at finding books I know I’ll love. But …

DAY 9: A BOOK I THOUGHT I WOULDN’T LIKE BUT ENDED UP LOVING

Goodreads summary:

The Horse and his Boy is a stirring and dramatic fantasy story that finds a young boy named Shasta on the run from his homeland with the talking horse, Bree. When the pair discover a deadly plot by the Calormen people to conquer the land of Narnia, the race is on to warn the inhabitants of the impending danger and to rescue them all from certain death.

I read the Chronicles of Narnia books when I was a young girl, as all children must at some point. They’re classics for a reason–partly because they’re written by C.S. FREAKING LEWIS. (Oh my gosh, chill, Natalie.) I read the popular ones first–the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, etc. But I always skipped the lesser known ones, not because I thought I wouldn’t like them, but because they didn’t have movies. (Scandalous, I know.) As I grew up, though, I realized it was time for me to read all the Narnia books because that’s what you do when you grow up.

So, I first read the Horse and His Boy when I was fifteen years old. And I loved it.

I LOVE THE HORSE AND HIS BOY.

I don’t even really know why I love it so. It’s quite different from the rest of the Narnia books, taking place in a neighboring country of Calormen. And while there are a lot (repeat: a lot) of problematic things with this novel, I just really love the characters and the relationships between them. Bree and Shasta, in particular, have a really darling and fun relationship. They grow and learn together so much on their journey to Narnia. And Aravis, too, is one of the most interesting female characters that Lewis writes in the entire Narnia series. She’s spunky and brave, which I admire so much in female characters (mostly because I’m not). All the main characters are a real strength to this novel, and I just love watching them interact.

And, as always, I just love C.S. Lewis’s writing style. He always manages to cut right to my very heart.

I do not dare not to dare.

Say what you will about this novel, but I do love it, irrationally and entirely.

yours, Natalie

Tune in tomorrow at noon for the next post!

in which i’m the odd man out

Hello, world.

I had a hard time thinking of an answer to today’s prompt, actually. I’m not the kind of person to read a book just because it’s popular or well-admired–if I’m not interested in the story, I won’t read it. So, consequently, I usually read books that I really like.

But there are, on occasion, books that don’t meet my expectations.

DAY 8: A MOST OVERRATED BOOK

Goodreads summary:

Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee.

Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life—a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling.

Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha . . . and the secrets of her heart.

Shadow and Bone is the first installment in Leigh Bardugo’s Grisha Trilogy.

I really wanted to like this book. Gorgeous cover? Check. Russian mythology? Yes, please. Bad-a female protagonist? Give it to me.

The execution, however, fell rather flat, in my opinion.

I think my biggest issue with this novel, and its following books (which I can never bring myself to read), is the writing. It just seems very cliche and undeveloped to me. Alina is super special, but not by any merit of her own (and of course everybody–mostly boys–really loves her). When something needs to happen for her, it does. There’s conflict and tension, sure, but all in all I feel like things happen to her rather than things happening because of her choices.

I just really dislike Alina as a protagonist. (Pls don’t kill me.)

WordPress (petalhaus)

I won’t elaborate too much on my dislike for this book because I don’t want to make any of you feel bad if you do like the book–because you shouldn’t feel bad. You should never feel bad about whatever books you do enjoy (and the people who say different are liars). That’s the nice thing about books: there are enough to fit everyone’s personal tastes and likes.

If you do enjoy the Grisha Trilogy, please let me know! I’d love to hear some contradictory opinions. Maybe you can even convince me to like them.

yours, Natalie

Tune in tomorrow at noon for the next post!

 

 

in which duels happen

Hello, world.

In case you weren’t aware, there are a lot of books in the world–far too many to read in a lifetime. Consequently, many good, dear books get pushed underneath the best-selling and award-winning ones. And that’s just how the world works, I guess. But every once and while, those other good, dear books need some love, too.

DAY 7: A MOST UNDERRATED BOOK

Summary from author’s website:

Meliara and her brother promised their dying father to free Remalna from a bad king’s oppressive rule and to preserve the vital Covenant with Remalna’s aloof, unhuman Hill People. Meliara, the stubborn barefoot countess, is determined to win or die fighting. But she not only has the evil king to contend with, there’s the elegant Marquis of Shevraeth, who always seems to be one step ahead . . .Brought to court by a mysterious letter, young Countess Meliara finds herself the subject of courtly intrigue, both sinister and romantic, on the part of the deposed king’s sister, the enigmatic Marquis of Shevraeth, and a secret suitor. Meliara has to contend with the mysteries of politics and the mysteries of romance. Is risking your life less dangerous than risking your heart?

Crown Duel, and its sequel Court Duel (which are often published in a single book), is a delightful little piece of fiction that rarely gets the love it deserves. (I think I’ve met one or two other people who’ve read this book.) I heard about this book from leader at a youth camp I attended years ago, and I’m so glad I did because this book is a right gem.

The main character, Meliara, is such a wonderful protagonist. She’s kind and passionate and unconventional, but she also has a lot flaws (flaws that constantly get her into trouble). She progresses and grows so much throughout the two books, which, to me, is such an important thing in a character. She realizes (albeit sometimes unwillingly) her faults and does her best to correct them. A+ human, right there.

The world that the story inhabits is also super interesting. It’s medieval and fantastic and charming. The magic works in really unusual ways compared to other fantasy books I’ve read. Also, the second book, Court Duel, offers a fun glimpse into the world of courts and aristocracy, which I really enjoy learning about.(This book definitely was the first to teach me titles like viscount and marquis.)

The romance is also 10/10 and rather catches you by surprise. (At least it did when I was fourteen years old. If I were to have read this as an adult, it would probably seem more obvious, but I imagine it would still be delightful to discover all the same.) I’m ever the fan of Pride and Prejudice-esque love stories where the two hate each other before they realize they’re totally in love.  If any of you sympathize can with me, definitely give this book a try.

Actually, just give this book a try, period. It’s a great fantasy novel and deserves much more love than it receives!

yours, Natalie

Tune in tomorrow at noon for the next post!

 

in which i am very sad

Hello, world.

Today’s post will likely be rather short because I’m moving out of my apartment today and who’s stressed not me. Even so, I wanted to make sure that I posted today, because I love the book I’ve chosen for today’s prompt and I’m procrastinating cleaning what.

DAY 6: A BOOK THAT MAKES ME SAD

Goodreads summary:

It’s just a small story really, about among other things: a girl, some words, an accordionist, some fanatical Germans, a Jewish fist-fighter, and quite a lot of thievery. . . .

Set during World War II in Germany, Markus Zusak’s groundbreaking new novel is the story of Liesel Meminger, a foster girl living outside of Munich. Liesel 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 before he is marched to Dachau.

This is an unforgettable story about the ability of books to feed the soul.

I rather like sad books; the make me feel alive in an odd way. The Book Thief is one of the saddest and most beautiful books I’ve ever read. I remember very clearly when I first read it as a young teenager, the aching change that occurred in my heart. I cried and cried, but I knew I would love this book forever.

sad crying leonardo dicaprio romeo and juliet baz luhrman

Since I am short on time today, I will just give five short reasons why I love this dear book.

  1. The words
  2. Hans
  3. Rosa
  4. Death
  5. Rudy (“He does something to me, that boy. Every time. It’s his only detriment. He steps on my heart. He makes me cry.”)

That is all. Please read this book and have a box of Kleenex handy when you do.

yours, Natalie

Tune in tomorrow at noon for the next post!

in which i am very happy

Hello, world.

I imagine each of you have that one book that makes you happier than anything–that one book that you turn to when life seems rather dark and unwelcoming. Perhaps the pages are yellowed with years of reading, the spine well cracked from the countless times you’ve opened the book. Whether a new or an old friend, this book knows you as well as you know it.

I know I have a book-friend like this.

DAY 5: A BOOK THAT MAKES ME HAPPY

Goodreads summary:

At birth, Ella is inadvertently cursed by an imprudent young fairy named Lucinda, who bestows on her the “gift” of obedience. Anything anyone tells her to do, Ella must obey. Another girl might have been cowed by this affliction, but not feisty Ella: “Instead of making me docile, Lucinda’s curse made a rebel of me. Or perhaps I was that way naturally.” When her beloved mother dies, leaving her in the care of a mostly absent and avaricious father, and later, a loathsome stepmother and two treacherous stepsisters, Ella’s life and well-being seem to be in grave peril. But her intelligence and saucy nature keep her in good stead as she sets out on a quest for freedom and self-discovery as she tries to track down Lucinda to undo the curse, fending off ogres, befriending elves, and falling in love with a prince along the way. Yes, there is a pumpkin coach, a glass slipper, and a happily ever after, but this is the most remarkable, delightful, and profound version of Cinderella you’ll ever read.

Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine is one of the dearest books on the entire earth. (Don’t fight me on this.) I call it my sick book–literally, any time I feel ill, I bring out my paperback copy of Ella and read it until my soul feels well again. This is me after reading Ella Enchanted:

smile photography 1990s mr pride

It’s such a magical book. How can you not love Ella, the spunkiest, kindest, and loveliest incarnation of Cinderella to ever exist? Ella taught me so much when I was a young girl (and, let’s get real, still teaches adult-me). Even though the book is a children’s novel, Ella felt, and still feels, like such a real, complex character to me. Throughout her entire life, she faced a difficult struggle with her curse. Despite this, though, Ella never truly lost her hope or courage to move forward. She has her virtues and her flaws, but Ella ultimately proves that being frightened or defeated does not prevent you from being brave and strong at the same time. (This was life-changing to childhood me, the timidest girl in the world.) I love that the major point of the novel is for Ella to learn to love and accept herself, unabashedly and without restraint. Because when we do that, we gain a strength beyond anything (strength enough to break the curse that you’ve been under your entire life, for example).

Also, we can’t talk about Ella Enchanted without discussing the literal perfection that is Ella and Char’s relationship. (Talk about #relationshipgoals, am I right?) I love it mostly because it’s founded on a real, solid friendship. Unlike in the movie (which is so wrong in so, so many ways), Ella and Char meet at her mother’s funeral and slowly create a mutual affection for each other. From the beginning, Char isn’t a silly, pompous, ignorant Hugh Dancy, but a responsible, albeit too serious, boy who just wants to do the right thing. So, naturally, when he meets the hilarious and darling Ella, he takes quite a fancy to her. Even so, it takes quite a bit of time for the two to develop romantic feelings for each other, including a year of writing letters (SO ADORABLE, RIGHT?). Even when Ella tries to reject him for his own safety, Char still respects her and loves her so well. “You need not be Ella, if you don’t want to be.”  (Be still my heart.) If I could have a love like theirs, I’d consider myself lucky.

All in all, Gail Carson Levine created such a piece of perfection with Ella Enchanted. Her retelling is so clever and hearkens to the fairy tale in all the best ways. IT JUST MAKES YOU FEEL SO GOOD PLS READ THIS BOOK IF YOU HAVE NOT BEFORE.

(After writing this, I’ve convinced myself that I need to reread the book again. Not that I’m complaining.)

Tune in tomorrow at noon for the next post!