Here I am again, obsessing over Penguin Classics. Again. I mean, what else is new? They just get everything so right. Like these and these. And my latest idée fixe, the hardcover classics designed by Coralie Bickford Smith. I can’t stop thinking about them.
Coralie’s designs are stamped on the linen cases. The endpapers are colored. There are ribbon markers. Need I say more?
You can choose from a stellar variety of Victorian classics from the likes of Dickens and the Brontes, as well as childhood classics like Little Women and Treasure Island. Most importantly, you can secure the entire Jane Austen collection. I know.
Happy Monday, friends! I’m on recess for the rest of the month, kind of like the Supreme Court, which means full dedication to tackling my ever-growing Goodreads list.
Let’s get to it.
I’m still sort of wrapping my mind around Thirteen Reasons Why. I’ve been both wanting and waiting to read it (if that makes sense), mostly because I was intrigued by the premise but at the same time, the idea just seemed so…heavy. It’s not exactly a summertime beach read if ya know what I mean.
From the back cover:
“Clay Jensen doesn’t want anything to do with the tapes Hannah Baker made. Hannah is dead. Her secrets should be buried with her. Then Hannah’s voice tells Clay that his name is on her tapes–and that he is, in some way, responsible for her death. All though the night, Clay keeps listening. He follows Hannah’s recorded words throughout his small town…and what he discovers changes his life forever.”
Any copy that ends in “changes his life forever” and I’m so there. You got me.
But suicide. Oy.
The concept of the book is basically brilliant. You are reading a simultaneous narrative: Hannah’s voice on the tapes and Clay’s thoughts as he’s listening to them. Genius, right? Now I’m kicking myself for not listening to the audiobook. It took me a couple chapters to really get used to the style, but I think overall it’s great. From the get go I needed to know what happened.
As the title suggests, there are thirteen reasons why Hannah commits suicide, thirteen people, really, who affected her life is way they didn’t know. She leaves a shoe box full of cassette tapes to be passed around among them. It’s as ghoulish and haunting as it sounds. The first cassette centers around the incident that started a whole chain of events that led to her death, and the buildup keeps the pages turning, especially as various characters and stories intertwine.
Along with the tapes, Clay has a map of the town that Hannah left him. Throughout the narrative, Hannah directs him to points on the map where each incident took place. Clay’s an interesting one. He’s the “good kid” at school, whose reason for being on the list is far different from the others, and he’s the character who really makes the story compelling. You feel like you’re with him on this journey to unraveling Hannah’s story and understanding her actions.
I think this book is a great read for anyone in high school. If I had to sum it up, I’d say that the book is about what we do and say to others, and how those actions and words, no matter how small, affect people (so go give someone a high five).
…and I’m off to secure Jay Asher’s second book, The Future of Us!
A very wise friend of mine once told me to judge a book not by the quotes on the back cover, but by who said it. So you can imagine my expression as I picked up The Goose Girl and saw Stephanie Meyer’s quote on the front cover *rolls eyes* (only kidding, Twihards). But then I flipped it over to see the New York Times Book Review call it “enchanting”, which so happens to be one of my favorite words, so there was that.
From the back cover:
“Anidori-Kiladra Talianna Isilee, Crown Princess of Kildenree, was born with her eyes closed and a word on her tongue. She spent the early years of her life listening to her aunt’s stories and learning the language of the swans. Then, a colt was born with a word on his tongue–his name, Falada–and when Ani spoke it, she found the key to his language, too. But as Ani’s gift grew, so did others’ mistrust of it, and soon her mother felt she had no choice but to send her away to be queen of a foreign land…”
This description only covers the very premise of the book, which I like! No spoilers. But I didn’t really know what to expect plot wise. Without giving too much away, I’ll let you know that the story is largely centered on treason, friendships, and loyalty, chronicling Ani’s journey to and sojourn in the new kingdom, Bayern, and the traitors who accompany her. I can only sing the praises of Shannon Hale’s writing. She writes so eloquently with vivid imagery but not so much that you get distracted from the action. This is a really, really great read. Fairytale retelling with princesses and magic? Count me in. Luckily, there are three more books in the Bayern series! I’m reading them all.
Like most 90s children, I thought a part of my soul
was put in a horcrux died after finishing the Harry Potter series. I suppose that’s expected after you spend half of your life anticipating the release of the next book. It took me a few years to read another YA book. Tragic, right? It started with the Hunger Games and Percy Jackson and everything Sarah Dessen and Richelle Mead and rereading Lemony Snicket and Narnia. Maddy, step away from the YA section. (Don’t worry, I didn’t tap into my Judy Blume collection.)
Then I turned 24 and thought why stop now? That’s when I found Fledging: Jason Steed by Mark A. Cooper at my local library. I had read great great great reviews on Goodreads and have been wanting to read it for months (months!) with no luck finding it in any bookstores. So I read it, today, and loved it.
From the back o’ the book:
“Jason Steed is just like any other kid…except that he’s a martial arts expert, skilled pilot, and a member of an elite British military group called the Sea Cadets. When a routine training exercise goes terribly wrong, Jason finds himself in the middle of a deadly secret mission. Can he use his expertise to help stop a nuclear war?”
After reading so many YA books with werewolves and vampires and what not, it’s so refreshing to read about a superhero human kid who doesn’t have supernatural powers (did I just say that?). But seriously, I was on the edge of my seat. Jason Steed is one tenacious 11-year-old spy. The story is original, moving, and action-packed with good twists. It’s a tale of adventure, friendship, bravery, and loyalty. There’s even a little love story! Two thumbs up.
Any other shameless YA addicts out there? Come forth. Tell me what to read next.
Tomorrow I turn 24. Between celebratory mid-week drinks at Eastern Standard, last night’s surprise party at Lolita, and this morning’s breakfast at Deep Ellum, you could say my friends have been spoiling me. Just a little bit.
But let’s talk about books. Yesterday was a Penguin delivery day. My will power died when I saw the latest additions to the Penguin Threads series, which were released at the end of April. Art director Paul Buckley commissioned yet another brilliant artist (Rachell Sumpter) to embroider the cover designs of The Wind in the Willows, Little Women, and the Wizard of Oz. Since the latter two titles are among my all-time favorite classics, I needed them. (I use the term “need” loosely but you know what I mean.)
GalleyCat posted an article today about the announcing of MTV’s movie award nominations, which were heavy on book-to-film adaptations. I used to be that girl who stuck her nose to the sky when the characters on those beloved pages became faces on a screen. Not that I was trying to get all holier than thou on moviegoers who hadn’t read the book (exception: those who didn’t finish Harry Potter. I don’t understand you.), but I mostly feared that my best-loved stories would be turned into cinematic atrocities. (Which is why I’m anxious/excited for the release of Baz Luhrmann’s production of The Great Gatsby, starring Leo and Carey Mulligan. Perfect casting. Also, Gemma Ward is in it. Remember her? Throwback to TeenVogue circa 2006.)
Ahem, back to the MTV movie award nominees. Literary adaptations nabbed 4/5 spots in the “movie of the year” category: The Hunger Games, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2, The Help and The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1. These nominees, apart perhaps from The Help, quickly turned into cult phenomenons, and I’m curious to understand why (thoughts welcomed/encouraged). Though I won’t dive into the vast difference in quality between Twilight and well, everyone else, I find it interesting that each book, so different in writing style, managed to create such a hullabaloo across generations, even. And all within the same year.
Let’s hear your thoughts on book adaptations! Love ’em, hate ’em? Which “movie of the year” nominee do you think worked best in adapting the book? Favorites? Least favorites? What made people go crazy for The Hunger Games right before the movie release?
Once upon a time, like last year, fashion illustrator Ruben Toledo and Penguin Classics partnered in the release of the Couture Deluxe Editions series. The six available books include Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, The Picture of Dorian Gray, Dracula, and The Scarlet Letter. Stunning cover designs, French flaps, cut pages. Complete and utter magic.