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The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms

As I mentioned in my last post, it’s been an embarrassingly long time since I’ve finished a book. But I finally did it! (Too bad it was about a week late for me to partake in the Vaginal Fantasy discussion– actually, I wasn’t even home the night of the hangout, so I wouldn’t have been able to either way. *shrug*)

Since I’m from San Francisco and still saddened by the 49ers’ loss not really a sports person, this past weekend was the perfect opportunity to dive into a novel. I ended up devouring it.

A high fantasy novel set within an elaborate world and led by a female protagonist (of color!), N.K. Jemisin’s The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms is absolutely mesmerizing. The world and mythology is so rich and the language is gorgeous.

Poetic and well-paced, The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms twists and turns (there were many a time I actually said “WTF” aloud! The actual phrase of course, not just the acronym– although, I’ve totally done that too), and all the mystery and confusion ultimately pays off in the end.

To be perfectly honest, if I could give it four and a half stars, I would, if only because I feel some of the characters aren’t as fleshed out as they could be, however, I understand that comes with the territory given the first person perspective. Additionally, I wish the protagonist had more agency– although that idea in and of itself is addressed and explored within the story, so points for that.

Character issues aside, the world-building is the strongest aspect of the novel as well as my favorite. The cosmology and subsequent moral thematics (e.g. the nature and consequences of desire; change; free will) are so fascinating and I love how ingrained it was within the novel. There are so many nuanced customs and philosophies for the different societies within the story, and they make sense when understood through the mythology. I really wish there was more backstory for the gods (I assume this happens in the rest of the series?), because holy hells, they were my favorite. C’mon, sassy, pansexual, pseudo-incestuous gods are the best. Always.

art, books

“We too are stardust.”

If you’re lucky, you’ll come across a book that will open your eyes up to new worlds and new ideas, as well as open your heart up to new people.

If you’re really lucky, that book will become a bridge, irrevocably linking you to those wondrous individuals.

Jostein Gaarder’s Sophie’s World is one such book for me. Part fiction, part philosophical textbook, it’s a novel that urges its reader to learn. It’s a book for anybody, whether they’re like the protagonist in their early teen years, a young adult ready to start living the examined life, or an older reader who’s interested in understanding the principles of different philosophical schools of thought.

I’ve read this book twice and it’s been nearly six years since the last time*, but even with that temporal distance, this book still means so much to me, especially since it became one of the first things that helped forge an amazing friendship.

It was said friend’s birthday just two weeks ago and, because I can be a sentimental sap, I took it upon myself to make something that represented that initial bonding process. In addition to being sentimental, I can also be overly ambitious, as I decided that this would take the form of a typography print that featured one of our favorite excerpts. Never mind the fact that I hadn’t done anything typographically-heavy before. But this is the result:

Sophie's World - "we too are stardust"

It was printed at a much higher resolution on photo matte paper and I’m so pleased at the result. Although some of the texture detail is lost at this size, the italicized and regular text is still discernible to indicate two speakers. Yes, this is a conversation, but I did away with the quote marks. *shrug*

Have any of you read a book that has led to fantastic friendships?

Despite all that, as I was writing this, I found out that I still had so much to say, so keep an eye out for that post in the future!


Vaginal Fantasy August 2013

As much as I’d like to claim otherwise, only one of these fulfills goal #1 of my September 2013 Simple Monthly Goals.

Assassins in Love (Assassins Guild, #1)Assassins in Love by Kris DeLake
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Classical badass & witty characters (attractive leads being attractive), in an environment that’s set up nicely. Very interesting technology. Unfortunately, as fascinating as that was, as can be expected given the title, the world building takes a backseat to sexy!times. The overall pacing was problematic, with an an ending that felt very rushed. In spite of that, I might still read the next one in the series, mostly because I want to know more about that particular character.

Born of Night (The League, #1)Born of Night by Sherrilyn Kenyon
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

When I started reading it, I immediately liked it more than the main Vaginal Fantasy pick; it may have been the overall writing style. Throw in charming and intriguing characters (gotta love unapologetically dour assassins) occasionally providing relatively complex moral convictions, and I’m sold.

But then things began getting very… domestic. Now, I’m not just talking sweeping, romantic, emotional admissions, or sex, but really blasé activities. Food tasting! Shopping! However, the environments were fabulous enough to be me through the couple-y mundanities, especially since I imagined the different worlds through a very Cowboy Bebop filter. While I had no real issues with the main characters, the supporting cast was really what helped me get through the book; Nemesis’ crew is wonderful and I’m hoping that in the next books, the more I discover about them, I more I like them.

Finally, random fancast note, for any Haven (Syfy) fans: I definitely imagined Eric Balfour as Syn. Gotta love ‘im.

View all my reviews

books, miscellany, philobabble

The End is the Beginning is the End*

I’m graduating on Saturday. In an effort to combat the debilitating fear and impending doom, I’m trying to take comfort in the fact that I’ve somehow managed to incorporate a few of my favorite things into my academic career. I’ve managed not only to bookend my college experience with my favorite book, Michael Chabon’s The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, but I’ve also snuck in my favorite television show, Buffy the Vampire Slayer**.

Thesis Components. When one wants to write about identity, heroism, transformation, and regret.

Thesis Components: When one wants to write about identity, heroism, transformation, and regret.

My first encounter with Kavalier & Clay was in my senior AP English class. Our final assignment (outside of the year-long “Senior Project” which also incorporated Buffy- what? I’m nothing if not a dedicated fan!) was a simple book report. The catch was that the list included works like Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Remains of the Day, Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov, Isabel Allende’s The House of Spirits, and among them was Chabon’s Pulitzer Prize winner. It was the last book I read as a senior in High School, and by a stroke of luck, it was also the last one I read and wrote on when I transferred from one college to where I am now; finally, it’s become a part of my undergraduate thesis.

As trite as the symmetry is, I’m a little weepy. Of course, using it in my thesis was deliberate, but it was an easy choice given that this beautiful book is a goddamn tome; rich, elaborate, poignant, and inspiring. Naturally, it’s a story about heroism, but it’s also about identity and human connections. Through my third revisit, I still find myself getting emotional, if not more so, given that I’m already aware of how it all unravels.

Obviously, each time I’ve written on Kavalier & Clay has been on a different theme, and this time it’s used in conjunction with the idea of metamorphosis and psychological dissonance. Because, why shouldn’t I make the last major work a giant piece of actual self-help? Right?!

The inclusion of Buffy follows along the same points of choice, but considering that that her character is an inversion of some many traditional tropes, she’s a fascinating character to explore.

*Yes, this is the title of The Smashing Pumpkin’s song from the Batman & Robin Soundtrack (one of the best OSTs, don’t deny it!), and it’s also fitting because I’m including Batgirl into my thesis. Be jealous.

**Today is the tenth anniversary of the series finale! :’) *sniff*

books, challenge

The Mediator Series: Shadowland, Ninth Key, & Reunion

Given that the last book I read was Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel’s Dart and that I’ve also started reading A Feast for Crows, the fourth book in George R. R. Martin’s “A Song of Ice & Fire” series, I really needed to take a break from weighty tomes. What better way to do that than to read a Young Adult book from my adolescence?

Now, I can’t take credit for the sudden nostalgia; my friend Kim and I went our local used bookstore (yes, those still exist!) where she ended up getting a couple of R. L. Stine’s “Fear Street” books, and the melodramatic storylines tugged at the heartstrings of my childhood memories.

Thanks to my love for Sailor Moon and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, most of the books I read when I was younger were fantasy driven with strong female leads (not much has changed!), and Meg Cabot’s “Mediator” series falls right into that category. Despite the fact that I’d only really read the first book in the series– back when it published under Cabot’s pseudonym “Jenny Carroll” and with far better cover art– once I reread the first book, I had to finish the series; I’m half-way there!

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