Posted in Books

R.I.P. It or Ship It: Round 13

For round 13, I picked

Kate from You Know Me Well
and
Shigure Sohma from Fruits Basket

Background
Kate runs away from things. She dedicates her painting portfolio to a girl she won’t speak to and ditches a lifelong friend for an understanding acquaintance. She freaks out and changes her mind over and over but rarely tells people why.

Shigure plays dumb so well almost no one suspects him. He uses his trashy romance novels as a cover for more devious schemes. His closest friends don’t know what he wants; they just know he’s up to something.

The Couple
know I said I aged up the characters, but…

…Shigure loves high school girls.

Why am I saving this
It’s canon.

One of Shigure’s exes described him as a ripple on water; every time you try to get close, he moves away. Now that I think of it, he embodies the lyrics to “Marry Me A Little” almost perfectly. I didn’t think that was possible.

Kate admits she’s kind of a mess. Romance terrifies her; college freaks her out. She buys people artichokes instead of flowers…when she decides to show up. With the amount of overwhelm she experiences, Kate can only handle one day at a time. (There were several solid title puns in that sentence, but I resisted.)

Luckily for her, Shigure wouldn’t care. He wouldn’t invest either. Shigure’s not one for moving forward; he stays firmly in the moment. Others running away has never bothered him; he’s good at biding his time.

These two wouldn’t help each other grow. This pairing doesn’t burst with health. I don’t want to be on board, but the rapport between these two makes sense.

To be clear, I don’t condone settling. AT THE SAME TIME…these characters both struggle to make healthy choices. Why push them to do better when this easy dynamic exists?

IN CONCLUSION, these characters are confused…and so am I.

Related image
Sorry, dawg.

Verdict: SHIP IT????

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Posted in Books

R.I.P. It or Ship It: Round 9

For round 9, I picked

Ryan from You Know Me Well
and
Catherine Morland from Northanger Abbey

Background
How do you know Ryan is a serious artist? He writes SLAM POETRY and works on a LITERARY JOURNAL, two things that would make him cool if he wasn’t such a terrible friend. Ryan pretends his “friends with benefits” relationship never happened. When confronted, HE NEVER APOLOGIZES. His feelings eclipse every wrong he’s ever done. In short, Ryan is the WORST.

Ryan
“I’m the real victim here!”

And then we have Catherine Morland, the patron saint of stupidity. Young, fanciful, and dumb as a rock, she creates AN ENTIRE MURDER PLOT out of nothing. That’s not fanciful; that’s insane. I don’t love that when people think of “bookish” characters, they list Hermione Granger, Harriet the Spy, and her. THIS IS NOT THE CHAMPION I ASKED FOR!

Ruining
Catherine Morland: ruining reading for women since 1817.

The Couple
Well…they’ve tied for first in my Most Hated Character contest.

Ryan loves slapping ill-fitting labels on himself and others; for instance, he, the oblivious, self-centered tool, is the Sensitive Artist, while his emotionally-savvy best friend is the Dumb Jock.

Related image
Cute.

Catherine sees things that aren’t real. She would buy into Ryan’s broody shtick real fast. She might even see good qualities he CLEARLY DOES NOT HAVE. Ryan must be who he says he is; Catherine’s read plenty of books with Sensitive Artists in them!

PEOPLE ARE MORE COMPLEX THAN THAT, CATHERINE.

I don’t know if you’ve picked up on the fact that I despise Catherine Morland.

Image result for catherine morland
I’M NOT SORRY

EVEN SO, I can’t help but think of the devastating fallout ahead.

Do you know how much energy it takes to feed someone’s self-perception? Constantly feeding another person’s ego while they roil with “torment” kills relationships.

What happens when Ryan’s facade finally fails and Catherine sees there’s nothing there?

She’ll discover that her relationship, much like creating murder mysteries out of thin air, has been a complete waste of time.

I wouldn’t wish that on ANYONE.

Verdict: R.I.P. IT

Posted in Books

Lauren’s Go-To Reads: New Favorites Editions

This list did not turn out how I planned.

I started writing about my all-time favorite books – Princess DiariesLunar Chronicles, all that junk – when I noticed a pattern.

I have a habit of acquiring books, thanks to unwise spending habits, a Seattle library card, and literary friends. I fill my pile with finds that others have recommended or that have interesting covers or that cost $8 at Target (a price that hits my stingy sweet spot. $9.99? What am I, made of money? $8? That means I can buy 4!) The floor of my studio is covered with brand new and gently used books I should be reading right now.

AND YET…

…I reread the same 11 books instead.

I think about these books constantly. I press them on good friends, whispering, “This book ruined my life.” I read them to stave off anxiety attacks and cure bad moods.

These aren’t long-time favorites that I’ve collected throughout my life, but more recent volumes that I’ve read over the last two years. These are the stories I need right now, the ones that reassure me I’m on the right track. Continue reading “Lauren’s Go-To Reads: New Favorites Editions”

Posted in Books

BOOK REVIEW: The Infinite Moment of Us by Lauren Myracle

The premise: “Good girl” Wren Gray has just done the unthinkable–she’s withdrawn from college and decided to move to Guatemala for a year, much to her controlling parents’ chagrin. Wren continues to disappoint her parents by pursuing foster kid Charlie Parker. The rest of the book chronicles their intense, confusing, and ultimately triumphant relationship.

I’ve got a few trigger authors, and Lauren Myracle is one of them. The phrase “trigger author” doesn’t denote anything bad, per se–I’ve just read a lot of their stuff and know them well enough to know they’re only okay. (My other trigger author is David Levithan. I find him consistently underwhelming. It’s a struggle.)

I’d been wanting to read The Infinite Moment of Us for a while, but was hesitant when I found out Myracle had written it. Like with Levithan, I’ve never found her particularly insightful or entertaining, so New York Times‘ description of her as “this generation’s Judy Blume” was baffling to me. (Or maybe Judy Blume is another one of my trigger authors. It’s a mystery.)

I read the book anyway, clearly. It was at the library and had a pretty cover–I couldn’t resist.

There was no epiphany–I’m still not a huge fan of Myracle’s writing–but, unlike many of her other books, this one evoked a reaction. The way Myracle addressed the confusion of adolescence, growing up, and the risk of intimacy was well-done–every page resonated . The importance of family is a common theme in her books and this book was no exception, contrasting Wren’s hyper-controlling parents with Charlie’s loving foster family.

Myracle also explored her characters’ other relationships: Wren realizes her friendship with best friend Tessa is valuable but transitory, while Charlie navigates a dysfunctional relationship with Starrla, knowing he should pull away but unsure about the timing.

The book does a pretty good job of increasing tension, though some of the conflicts come across as a little…childish? Yes, these are 18-year-olds, and I recognize some of these behaviors as (unhealthy) things I’ve done in prior relationships. In that way, the book represents the teenage experience very well. Some of the teenage navelgazing was a little irritating, but most, if not all of the conversations, were ones I could see real teenagers having. I guess I was surprised that much of the plot hinged on two teenagers’ inability to deal with minor relationship difficulties. I read YA fiction all the time, so maybe I shouldn’t feel this way? It felt more dire than other YA books I’ve read (Anna and the French Kiss comes to mind), but not as heartbreaking as others (i.e., I’ll Give You the Sun.)

Okay, fine. I cried. A lot. From page 286 to the end.

I cared about the characters. Even though I thought they were dumb at times and made terrible, terrible decisions, I cared about what happened to them, and I wanted a happy ending. One of my favorite books that I read this year (Just One Day–review forthcoming) had an ambiguous yet satisfying ending. Infinite Moment‘s ending reminded me of that, which I enjoyed. I didn’t need everything in the characters’ lives to be wrapped up; I was happy enough to know they were on the right track.

The only other aspect I wasn’t crazy about was the graphic sexuality. There are, however, only one or two sexual scenes. I know people have different opinions about sexuality in YA books, so do with that information what you will.

Even though I’ve never been crazy about Lauren Myracle–or about books that take place in the South–I would recommend this book. It’s the best one she’s written by far and will leave you crying for 31 pages.