Review: The Power in the Storm (Tris’s Book) by Tamora Pierce

b096b8294007904889eb7ded232cc467.jpgOh, Tris. Your power is cool and amazing but you kind of bug me. Here we are at the second book in our Circle of Magic adventure. It focuses mostly on Tris, the weather witch. It hasn’t been long since the four came to Winding Circle, but they went through a lot together in the last book that brought them together, but Tris seems to be the only hold out for just getting along with everyone.

She has a rough back story, so I can understand her being as cold and untrusting as she is, but ugh, she gets on my nerves sometimes. She’s a bit too whiny for me. She’s always so resistant to people trying to help, people she should know care about her. Maybe she’ll come around in the last couple of books, but I found myself being annoyed by her a lot in this book.

My grievances with Tris aside, this book presented our young mages with all new challenges. They continue to learn more and more about their powers, and are discovering just how strong they are. There’s a bit of betrayal in this book, and it touches on big issues of death and remorse. Though her books are geared toward younger audiences, Pierce never shies away from serious issues. She discusses them rationally and openly, which I respect.

~Ren

Review: I Was Here by Gayle Forman

i-was-here-9781471124396_hrI’m becoming more and more of a fan of Gayle Forman’s the more I read of her. She does a good job capturing what it’s like to be a teenager again: the emotions, the relationships, the fears and hopes and dreams. Her writing is easy to get through but is fun and engaging to read.

I Was Here, to me, is really a novel that works to bring awareness to mental illness. Over the past few years I feel like talking about mental health or having a mental health problem has become less taboo. We are more open to it and aware and we want to help (obviously not all of us, but a lot of people). This is great, though there is still work to be done. But even though people might be ready to listen it doesn’t mean the people needing to be heard will speak.

Cody is a good example. She loved Meg, thought they were best friends, and they were, but she still was completely unaware of her condition. It was through no fault of her own, and I wouldn’t even say it was Meg’s parents fault. Again, their actions were dictated by a societal norm that causes more harm than good in these situations. It’s sad and unfortunate but very much true.

This isn’t the first book I’ve read about teen suicide, nor will it probably be the last. Those other books were great, but I appreciate this one even more because it is very clearly shining a spotlight on the way we treat mental illness and how it needs to change. I recommend reading the Author’s Note at the end of the book as well.

~Ren

The Hostel Life

Sooo, I’ve been living at a hostel for the last two months, dear travelers. For those of you who are familiar with hostels, I’m sure you can imagine how interesting the last couple of months have been for me. Add on top that I’ve been responsible for the housekeeping as well and you have the perfect recipe for a blog!

Here are a few things I have seen, heard, and had to deal with during my time living at a hostel.

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During the first month of my stay there were a few guys living there that I would sort of hang out with. One day we were having a conversation and somehow the joke was made that I was staying in room 69. Then a couple days later I saw this. They got me good.

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From time to time there are less than hygienic people that come to stay. And lucky for me, I get to clean up after them. This particular lodger somehow managed to spread laundry detergent everywhere (on practically every night of his stay) and caused me to spill L&P on the floor because he hadn’t put the cap on all the way. Also, yes, they are usually men…boys.

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This has been a theme throughout my stay. Apparently it is very hard to pull off a length of toilet paper without also dropping half of it on the floor. And the even more difficult part? Picking it up.

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This I just don’t understand. Like, really? Who—who does this?

At the end of August there was a girls football (that’s soccer to you Americans) team staying with us for a week. A couple things about that. 1) I really hate teenage girls, especially when they are in packs, which, let’s be honest, when are they not? 2) It was super satisfying to tell them off one night when they were being ridiculously loud. And 3) apparently teenage girls like to hoard trash. That one I didn’t see coming.

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I’m pretty okay with doing laundry every day. Especially on a day like this, when I can pretend I’m building the shittiest blanket fort ever.

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This picture will just have to stand in for all the other gross disgusting things I’ve had to deal with in the kitchen because people don’t know how to clean up after themselves. The reason this particular spill was photo-worthy is because to most people it is probably lentils, to me, it is cat puke.

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A tasty Vietnamese Pancake my roommate made for me. 

Living in a hostel can be good or bad, depending on who you are, what hostel you’re staying at, and who is staying there with you. It’s kind of like living in a really big house, only you have actual roommates, you’re probably sleeping in a bunk bed, and everyone speaks a different language.

But those are also the cool things about living in a hostel. I’ve met lots of lovely people from many different places: Vietnam, China, France, Slovenia, England, Germany and Belgium. There have been good days and bad days, but despite all the shit, my time at Aurora will always have a special place in my heart.

~Ren

Review: Magic in the Weaving (Sandry’s Book) by Tamora Pierce

879226Okay, so somehow I missed it on my first visit to the library, but they did in fact have the first quartet in the Circle of Magic books. So I started reading those in addition to continuing The Circle Opens quartet.

The first in the series is Sandry’s book. This is where we are introduced to our four young heros: Sandry, Daja, Tris and Briar. All four come from very different backgrounds, and all have very different personalities. There is a continuing undertone of tension between all the characters throughout the book as they learn about each other and get used to their new lives at Winding Circle Temple.

The list of interesting and strong characters doesn’t end there. Each young mage has an equally intriguing teacher. I’ve always loved Tamora Pierce for her characterization. Everyone has their own voice, their own quirks, and unique styles. She develops her relationships well, too. The dynamics between Briar, Tris, Daja and Sandry improve as time goes on, but the feel of sibling rivalry still lingers.

I mentioned this in my review of Magic Steps but I enjoy learning about these different kinds of magic, a kind that can be specific to a certain element, not just general magic. I might like it because it remind me a bit of Avatar and the bending of the elements. But still, it’s fun!

~Ren

Review: The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente

150px-fairylandbycatherynnevalenteGreat title, eh? Cat Valente’s The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland is a popular children’s book that follows the adventures of September as she explores the many magical (and not so magical) places of Fairyland. I heard Cat Valente speak once and she is very interested in fairytales and folklore, which is evident in this book. In this book, she has created her own magical land with its own history and stories and tales.

While this book is accessible to young readers, I found it very enjoyable to read as an adult. Every chapter held some sort of whimsical and fantastical surprise. The characters were intriguing, like a wyverary, half wyvern, half library, or even 100-year-old furniture that has finally woken up. The voice of the narrator is very distinct and almost lulls you into feeling like the story is being read to you instead of the other way around.

I totally wasn’t expecting it, but there was a twist ending! It was the kind of twist ending that broke your heart a little bit. So be prepared for that. Overall, reading this book was an adventure in itself and I look forward to reading the subsequent books.

~Ren