Category Archives: Book Rambles

“If a body catch a body coming through the rye”

J.D. Salinger’s classic The Catcher in the Rye offered something to me that had never happened before in the entirety of my reading life. Well, actually, it offered several things along those lines, but one stood out to me particularly. After reading only the first three or four chapters, I decided it was one of my favorite books.

I didn’t care how the plot turned out; I didn’t care how Holden Caulfield’s character developed. I didn’t care whether Holden stayed in New York City or went home or ran off to join the circus. I immediately fell in love with the narrative style, the vivid supporting characters, the vintage-yet-timeless atmosphere of the setting, and above all, Holden himself and all that he symbolizes. The fact that this was a classic I was being forced to read for school completely fell by the wayside. I read it as an extraordinary social commentary–not to mention an enjoyable, if somewhat depressing, story.

What is it about The Catcher in the Rye that appeals to me so much, besides the aforementioned basics? What launches it from simply an excellent book to an absolute favorite? As I’ve said to many, “Holden Caulfield is my spirit animal.” He and I see eye to eye on a lot. Given, we have vastly different outer selves–I doubt Holden would associate himself with such a nerd–but I saw many reflections. I’ll admit that The Catcher in the Rye‘s frequenting of banned books lists caters to my rebellious side. I love the idea that such a controversial book could attain such towering literary status.

Finally, I’m fascinated by the book’s central theme of death and how our society in general views it. I’m interested in the way these views effect those in mourning. What I take away from The Catcher and the Rye, at the heart of all the other commentary, is that the way we try to act as if death does not exist makes it impossible to properly grieve and move on, and that this is essentially what caused Holden’s depression and descent into mental instability. “If a body catch a body coming through the rye”: Holden wants to be able to save all the children from going over the cliff. After the deaths of his brother Allie and his classmate James Castle were swept aside, Holden was unable to move on and accept death for what it is. His is an eternal sort of character: stuck on a worn-down carousel of a life, read over and over again.


Posted by on April 14, 2012 in Book Rambles


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Books Waiting in the Wings

One of the worst parts of slogging through a long, somewhat boring text (coughInheritancecough) for me is looking at all the books you have around that I have yet to read. Here are some of the books that I’ll be reading after Inheritance.

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clark

Even if this book weren’t an international bestseller and Book of the Year, the premise would be enough to get me interested in reading. I’m starting to venture into the realm of “regular” (i.e., adult) fiction, and this looks like a good book to start off with.

Escape from Verona by David Gray

This one was a gift from a friend. I love Romeo and Juliet and tear up every time I see an adaptation on stage or screen. Mercutio’s death really gets me. Anyway–I admit the premise is of this book is somewhat cheesy (Romeo and Juliet faking their deaths in the tomb and escaping), but I’m willing to overlook it.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith

Jane Austen plus zombies is an instant win for me. What more can I say? I can’t wait to read this one.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

I’ve heard nothing but good about this book, from book blogs, professional reviews, and friends. The story sounds quite original and just the sort of thing I’d like. I highly look forward to reading this one, as well.

Have you read any of my books waiting in the wings? What did you think? What do you think I should read first? Tell me in the comments!


Posted by on March 20, 2012 in Book Rambles


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Inheritance: A Progress Report

My current reading situation is one that I am entirely new to. Going back into my January archives, you’ll find references to my failed attempts to read Christopher Paolini’s Inheritance at a somewhat decent pace. Any reasonable person would assume that by now I have either given up or finished and forgotten to write a review.

I am still reading it, and just approaching the halfway point. This may well be considered an abomination to reader-kind, an act of blasphemy against the reputation of a bibliophile. I must assure you that I have conquered books just as formidable as Paolini’s work in a much shorter time. What is it about Inheritance that is making it so difficult to read?

My first theory is that it has been such a long time since I read the first three books in the Inheritance Cycle that I have ceased to care about the characters or the story. Correct me if I’m wrong–actually, don’t, because even as slow as this reading process is going, I don’t want spoilers–but I have a sneaking suspicion that our hero, Eragon, will triumph, and I’m just following him on his arduous journey to success. As I continue reading, though, I’m getting more and more intrigued as to how this is all going to turn out. Nevertheless, I don’t have the deeply personal interest in the characters’ well-being as I did a few years ago.

Secondly, the plot has taken a good deal of time in building and laying out a framework for how the rest of the novel is going to go. The action is really starting to take off now and I find myself reading more and more every day. Maybe this long, foot-dragging reading experience will end now and I can finish off Inheritance within the week.

Either way, my preliminary assessment of the book so far is overall good–not fantastic, but good. Readers looking for a rollicking thriller from page one may want to avoid it. There have been lots of plot elements left hanging that need to be finalized, and I’m curious to see how Paolini does it.


Posted by on March 10, 2012 in Book Rambles


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A Reader Torn

“So many books, so little time.” –Frank Zappa

Never has this little nugget of wisdom rang truer with me than now. Christopher Paolini’s Inheritance is sitting less than a quarter read on my bedside table nearly a month after I started it–school and other commitments have only left room for about a chapter a night. No less than eight books are sitting on my shelves waiting to be read. I’m in the midst of reading The Mortal Instruments series and the Gemma Doyle Trilogy. And every day I get loads of book reviews delivered to my inbox so I can add another book to the ever-expanding list of volumes To-Be-Read.

It’s somewhat masochistic.

I spend a good amount of time trying to organize my reading life. What would be the benefits of reading this book before that one? Should I put aside the books already in my possession to pick up a newer, shinier release? Should I spend by extra time reading (“honing my craft” is my excuse) or actually writing? To top it off, I’ve started experiencing something I call Reader’s Guilt. It comes to me in under various guises:

  • Haven’t-Read-That Guilt. This is experiencing guilt over having not read classics like, in my case, Lord of the Rings, the Chronicles of Narnia, Don Quixote, or anything by H.G. Wells. I feel I should take a break from keeping up with the new stuff and try to build up my reader’s repertoire a bit more.
  • Leaving-a-Series Guilt. I’m experiencing this version of Reader’s Guilt at the moment with the Heroes of Olympus series, one of the various derivatives of Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson and the Olympians series.I haven’t read The Son of Neptune and don’t intend to. This type of guilt can also be associated with leaving a once-beloved author; for example, I haven’t read anything by Brandon Mull since his Fablehaven series concluded.
  • Why-Did-I-Buy-It Guilt. Have you ever bought a book and just let it sit there for more than six months? Yup. That pretty much sums up this one. One feels that if a book has been purchased, one is obligated to read it at some point.
  • And, finally– Not-Reading-Enough Guilt. Maybe if I just didn’t check my email in the morning, or spent less time making lunch, I could fit in ten minutes of reading in the morning? Or maybe I could bring my book to school and read in between classes…this is that feeling that tries to guilt-trip you into spending more time reading when you’re already bending your schedule to fit in that daily half-hour.

What about you, readers–how do handle your extensive reading lists? Do you experience any forms of Reader’s Guilt, or am I alone in my suffering?


Posted by on January 20, 2012 in Book Rambles


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Books as Projectile Weapons

This post is for the January 2012 Teens Can Write Too! blog chain. This month’s prompt was:

“What are examples of books you’ve thrown across the room with force? Why did you throw them?”

This was a pretty tough prompt for me–to be honest, I’m not much of a book-thrower. I’m really more of set-down-the-book-as-if-it’s-a-bomb-and-start-crying person, and I’ve only done that one or two times. If I had the strength of will, however, to throw a book across the room and risk denting my Doctor Who poster, here are a few volumes that could have had the honor.

  1. Bright Shadow by Avi. I think we can all agree that if we met Avi, we would get down on our knees and worship him. He’s an amazing writer and just as cool as any pop star–he goes by just one name, after all. However, this book severely disappointed me. I probably wouldn’t have hated it so much if I hadn’t expected so much. The plot, characters, everything seemed poorly done. It’s been quite a while since I read this, so I can’t go into much more detail, but I know that this book was the bane of my existence for a few days in middle school. Although I didn’t throw this one myself, I did witness my science teacher throw a copy of it across the room when I told her I hated it. Thanks, Ms. N.
  2. Swordbird by Nancy Yi Fan. I’m just begging for rotten fruit to be thrown at me by including this one on the list. Nancy was 12 years old when this one was published, making her a common teen author idol. The book was good enough–perhaps a high average. I was frustrated by this one because of pure, raw, teen-angsty jealousy. The only reason I did slam this book down when I’d finished and not, for example, Eragon, was because there were some aspects I disliked rather than none at all. I’m ashamed to include this one on the list, but I’m speaking for my past self here.
  3. Thirteenth Child by Patricia C. Wrede. How did I dislike thee? Let me count the ways…oh, this book.  I absolutely detested it. The characters were poorly drawn, the world-building was weak, and the action was so slow that when I got to the end, I hadn’t realized that the climax had already happened. Some folks absolutely adore Wrede’s work, but I won’t be getting another one of her books. When I threw this book down, it was more out of relief that I’d finished than anything.
  4. The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan. I used to be completely and utterly infatuated with Riordan’s work. I still have a soft spot for the PJatO series and the various derivatives, but I haven’t read any more of it since this one. I thought everything was going to be merry and bright when the young demigods made it back to Camp Half-Blood, but no–we have to reveal a horrible truth in the last sentence of the book. Riordan fans, you know what I’m talking about. I said “NO!” about five times before it finally sank in that the book was over on that sour note. I then went into a phase of pseudo-depression for about a week before I got over it.
  5. Mastiff by Tamora Pierce. This book, too, was tossed down on the bed and moped about because of the ending. *SPOILER ALERT* I waited six months for my pre-ordered copy of this series conclusion to come, barely able to wait for Rosto and Beka to finally declare their mutual love. And what do we get? Some random mage dude instead. *END SPOILER ZONE* I really think Pierce could have done better with that. Authors, you can only cross us fangirls so many times before we get upset. Your book might just end up wedged in somebody’s bedroom wall.

Want to follow our blog tour? Here are the participating parties, day by day

January 5 –— From My Head
January 6 – — Comfy Sweaters, Writing and Fish
January 7 – — Laugh A Blog
January 8– — Tay’s Tape
January 9 – — Esther Victoria1996
January 10– — The Word Asylum
January 11– — Kirsten Writes!
January 12– — A Farewell to Sanity
January 13 – — Red Herring Online
January 14– — Here’s To Us
January 15–– The Incessant Droning of a Bored Writer
January 16– –Teens Can Write Too! (We will be announcing the topic for next month’s chain)




Posted by on January 14, 2012 in Book Rambles


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The Confessions of an Ex-Twilight Fanatic

My past self would have worshipped this poster on her knees.

With Breaking Dawn: Part One taking over the box office, these are dark times for those of us in stolid opposition to the Twilight franchise. From the poorly-written anti-feminist novels to the films stewing in their own angst, everything about the series is begging to be hated. However, all of those posters hanging around featuring Bella clinging to her pasty Edward with Jacob standing aside looking stoic and hunky are stirring up something terrible from my past: my days as a 12-year-old Twilight fangirl.

I used to love those books, I’m sorry to admit. I thought the first volume was surprinsingly well-written upon reading it, which is the exact opposite of my views today. I swooned over Edward, I cursed Jacob’s name, and I felt for Bella all the way through the series. Although I never saw the movies–I wasn’t much of a cinema-goer then–I adored the franchise. I spent hours stalking Stephenie Meyer’s website for any extras, and I could spend just as long on the phone with my older cousin expounding on Edward’s relative hotness. In fact, I think Edward was the first fictional guy I had a crush on, glittery skin and all. So how did a mere two years–and a lot of reading–completely turn around my view of the infamous Saga?

I just said it: a lot of reading. Reading Shakespeare, The Hunger Games, and in-between galore has led me to realize that there’s more to a good story than a plethora of attractive non-humans. Just because a book contains passionate kissing does not make it a great work of literature. At 12, I kind of lacked that understanding, having just started to tentatively step out of the realm of squeaky-clean Middle Grade. I thought Twilight pushed boundaries, made a statement. Yeah, right. Try reading Libba Bray, past self, if you want some quality writing that does that for real.

For your entertainment, here are a few excerpts from my original reviews of the Twilight Saga:

“This is an enjoyable, contemporary romance/fantasy that will keep readers turning pages.” –on Twilight (4 star review)

“This sequel to the popular Twilight is nearly as good as the first. However, Bella’s misery slows down the action and the reader is dragged down with it. I would still recommend that all fans of the first book read it, as it really provides key points and lead-ins to the final books.”–on New Moon (3 star review)

Extra reader insight: the only real reason I didn’t like this one was because there was so little of Edward.

“A fantastic, compelling entry in The Twilight Saga, Eclipse is sure to please fans with the suspense, thrills, and romance that Meyer piles on.” –on Eclipse (4.5 star review)

“The phenomenal finale to the hit teen series, Breaking Dawn will surely satisfy the reader’s thirst for romance and action alike. Don’t be daunted by the novel’s size; every word is worth it!” –on Breaking Dawn (4.5 star review)

Pardon me while I travel back in time to give my past self a smack upside the head.


Posted by on November 26, 2011 in Book Rambles, Movies and TV


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A Very Hyper “Mailbox”

It’s here! It’s here! It’s finally here!

Whoa, slow down, Allegra, and take a deep breath. What’s here?

There it is, straight out of the package, with my bedspread in the background. My copy of Mastiff, book three in the Beka Cooper series by Tamora Pierce, finally arrived. So far, it’s great, just as I expected. This is probably the best “Mailbox” I’ve had, ever.

What was in your mailbox this week?

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme for book bloggers hosted by The Story Siren.


Posted by on November 6, 2011 in Book Rambles


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