The next chapter

It was new and exciting. She bubbled over with anticipation. Nothing was as it had been, everything was clear. She reveled in the novelty of it all, welcoming the flitting butterflies tumbling across her lungs. It was hard to breathe this close to him, but she did not for a moment consider taking a step back.

Book Review: Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

I just finished Red Queen and in a nutshell, it is a good one. If you love young adult fantasy, you will enjoy this one. Think Hunger Games meets Divergent meets Avengers. Between the love triangle (or square?), superhero powers, social commentary, and plot twists, this book took me on a ride.

The main character, Mare, is a teenage girl who finds herself caught in the midst of a royal war bigger than she bargained for. The book ends on a bit of a cliffhanger, which leads into the 2nd book. Her family has very little so she grows up scrapping her way through life. I appreciate the social parallels with society; instead of skin color dividing races, it is blood color that divides them. The people with silver blood have all the privilege, whereas those with red blood have none. It is an interesting take on the tensions that are present in our society and culture today.

The characters seem well-developed, and the plot is quite interesting. However, is it just me or do teens in books/movies tend to act way too mature for their ages? Mare and her counterparts are around 15-17 years old, but somehow act like full grown adults, soldiers, spies, criminals, and killers. I mean can kids just be kids? This is how I feel every time I read one of these young adult fantasy books, but it could just be me.

So far so good with the series. I start book 2 tonight.

The man on the ladder

The little girl carefully tied a blue dish towel to her head, positioning it just so, pretending to flip her “long hair” over her shoulder. She wandered outside, feeling the sun warm her shoulders and bare feet.

“Hello?” She called, imagining a world filled with colorful bunnies and flying fairies. She peeked around the corner of the house, pretending to hide from imaginary bad guys.

“Hello!” A man’s voice pierced her make-believe world, startling her. The blue dish towel slipped off her head as she spun to see the source of the voice. A thin young man stood on a ladder, cleaning windows.

The little girl blinked up at him. A wave of embarrassment washed over her as she realized he must have seen her prancing about the lawn, bedecked in her dish towel hair and immersed in her imaginary world. He calmly continued washing the window pane, wiping with smooth, practiced swipes.

Back to school

Life as a university student was not what she expected. For starters, everyone was just so nice. The bursars lady, the resident assistant, the librarian. Everyone was bursting at the seams with niceness in a way Maureen had never experienced before in her life. She was accustomed to cold politeness, but this warmth? This was new. And so much eye contact. It was all a bit much. But she decided she could live with it, as it wasn’t the worst thing in the world.

Maureen dressed quickly before her roommate returned. Sharing a tiny room with a stranger was not high on her list of favorite things, but she made it work. Her roommate was a wispy little thing from an affluent family, who wore nothing but bright prints and crop tops. Given that Maureen was carrying a few extra pounds, she was not keen on being seen undressed by her waifly instragram model of a roommate.

The neighborly

She glanced in the mirror on her way out the door, and almost did a double-take. The woman in the mirror was not someone she saw often. Her coiffed and glossy reflection gazed back from under curled lashes, skin fresh and dewy. Her normal messy bun was replaced by a sleek low ponytail, secured at the nape of her neck.

“Who dis?” she joked at the mirror, as she slung her keys up from the counter.

“Hey lil lady!” Mrs. Ramsen called, thumbing through envelopes retrieved from the mailbox. “Look at you all dolled up, you sure do clean up good.” Her sweet neighbor always had a compliment to give.

“Thank you ma’am,” she hopped into her car. “It sure does feel weird, but I gotta put my good face on for this interview.”

“Go get’em, girlie.” Mrs. Ramsen gave a supportive thumbs up. “I know they’ll be lucky to have ya!”

She smiled and waved, deeply thankful for her lovely neighbors.

Book Review: Turtles All the Way Down, by John Green

Unpopular opinion alert… I did not enjoy this book. I am truly sorry to everyone who loved this book and recommended it to me. I feel the same way as when I couldn’t get into House of Cards or Game of Thrones when everyone else was obsessed. I just don’t get it the hype.

Honestly I don’t know what else to say about the book. I was really looking forward to reading it after seeing rave reviews everywhere. But it was not particularly memorable or noteworthy, in my opinion. I had a tough time getting through it, and I feel bad saying that I am not sure the effort was worthwhile.

The main character suffers from a mental illness (OCD) and I wanted so badly to love her and the book in general. I am just terribly sad that I could not enjoy this book as much as I wanted to. Although I didn’t have great luck with it, I hope you will at least give it a chance. Many people love this book, and I support any works that de-stigmatize and humanize mental illness.

Book Review: Sharp Objects, by Gillian Flynn

It took me a little bit to get into this one. I actually put it down 3 chapters in, and read a couple other books before returning to this again. But honestly I am glad I picked it back up because it turned out to be a pretty good read! There are a couple twists that I did not see coming.

The main character, Camille, is a reporter from Chicago who goes back to her home town to report on a couple murder cases. She seems tormented and isolated, but also very smart and resourceful. She had some character growth over the course of the story, which is always nice to see.

The story is fast-moving in some parts but slow in others, but overall I quite enjoyed it. I’d recommend this book to anyone interested in a thrilling read with some unexpected plot twists.

Street food

The petite woman poured a creamy mixture into the scalding cast iron skillet. She waited a beat, then flipped it expertly with a fluid motion. Her forearm rippled with sinewy muscles, an unexpected sight given her slight stature. A line of hungry onlookers had formed, each appreciating the delicious aromas whilst waiting for their portions.

The day had started off crisp and clear, but the weather had turned just before midday. Clouds gathered ominously overhead, looming and thick. The air was ripe with impending rain. Despite the darkening sky, the line at the food cart grew nearly as quickly as it did on sunny days.

Selling at the hospital has its perks, the petite woman thought, noting that many who stood in line wore scrubs or business attire. No storm can stop these medical folks from their street food. Good for business.

The escape

She drove away, relief flooding over her. Away from the immediate danger, the tension that had tightened around her began to loosen. Adrenaline still coursed through her system, leaving her trembling as she gripped the steering wheel.

Just drive. She focused on the road ahead, peering through the pelting rain. Her daughter squealed in her carseat.

“We’re ok, pumpkin.” She reassured the baby. Then in a whisper, “We’re going to be ok.”

Three generations

“Mom, could you pass me a paper towel please?” Darla asked.

“Huh?”

“A paper towel,” Darla said again.

A pause. “What?”

“Nevermind.” Exasperated, she reached for it herself. “You need to get your ears checked, Mom” she said, as she wiped bits of egg and toast from the counters.

“My ears are fine.”

Darla rolled her eyes. Her mother’s ears had been “fine” for over a year now.

Checking her phone for the time, Darla swept the scattered toys up with efficient motions and tumbled them into a yellow bin.

“James,” she called. “Get your shoes on.”

She gathered up the rest of the toys and a few books from the carpeted floor.

“James,” she called impatiently. Can no one in this house hear me?

Quick footfalls sounded on the stairs as the little boy bounded down, spaceship in one hand and a Lego man in the other. Blond curls framed a cherubic face.

“Mommy,” James panted exaggeratedly. “Did you see that? I ran so fast.”

“Yes you did, sweetheart,” Darla agreed, smiling at his showmanship. “Now can you speed over and get your shoes on?”

He raced away in the direction of the shoe rack, followed by Darla.

“Back in a few,” Darla called to her mother, as she slipped into her boots.

“Bye grandma!” James called.

She buckled him into the carseat and pulled the Volkswagen out of the driveway a moment later.