Newspapers: Online Versions, What?

I’m going to go ahead an be a bit unpopular and say that I prefer E-books to real books. Why the heck not? They’re more convenient (I can open them up while riding in a bus or while I’m waiting for something to happen), more portable (yes, they go everywhere with me) and I can carry around a whole bunch of them (this is invaluable when you finish books as fast as I do).
In my opinion the invention of the epub is one of the best things to happen since the invention of the printing press to the book world.

Until recently, I was an ebook sceptic, see; one of those people who harrumphs about the “physical pleasure of turning actual pages” and how ebook will “never replace the real thing”. Then I was given a Kindle as a present. That shut me up. Stock complaints about the inherent pleasure of ye olde format are bandied about whenever some new upstart invention comes along. Each moan is nothing more than a little foetus of nostalgia jerking in your gut. First they said CDs were no match for vinyl. Then they said MP3s were no match for CDs. Now they say streaming music services are no match for MP3s. They’re only happy looking in the rear-view mirror.”
― Charlie Brooker

…But I can’t really say the same for newspapers.

Maybe this is a bit weird (especially in this day and age, when everyone knows you’re not supposed to believe anything you read in the papers), but I like reading the paper.

As Aneurin Bevan (the post WW2 health minister of UK) said,

I read the newspapers avidly. It is my one form of continuous fiction.

There is something very sacrosanct and sacred about opening the neatly pressed and folded pages of a newspaper…and something even more special about trying and failing to put them back just as neatly. (There are two kinds of people: those who leave a newspaper slightly less organised then when they picked it up, and those who leave it in complete shambles).
I love skimming over the headlines in a single 10-15 minutes, putting aside a little time to read the front page and then the editorials. If I have time after, I read any other articles that caught my attention.

However,  online versions of the newspaper just don’t work like that. They absolutely insist that once you open an article, you read the whole thing.
Besides- where is the addictive smell of cheap, freshly printed ink?

Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.

-Thomas Jefferson

I can write it out in black and white: The online versions of newspapers confuse me.

On a somewhat unrelated topic, can someone recommend a newspaper in the US that I might enjoy reading? I liked the Economic Times in India (which is less about finance than you think), but the Wall Street Journal here sort of bores me.

The Start of Me and You: A Book Review

Knowing what happens is different from knowing how it happens. And the getting there is the best part.

Book: The Start of Me and You

Author: Emery Lord

The Start of Me and YouBlurb:

Brimming with heartfelt relationships and authentic high-school dynamics The Start of Me and You proves that it’s never too late for second chances.

It’s been a year since it happened—when Paige Hancock’s first boyfriend died in an accident. After shutting out the world for two years, Paige is finally ready for a second chance at high school . . . and she has a plan. First: Get her old crush, Ryan Chase, to date her—the perfect way to convince everyone she’s back to normal. Next: Join a club—simple, it’s high school after all. But when Ryan’s sweet, nerdy cousin, Max, moves to town and recruits Paige for the Quiz Bowl team (of all things!) her perfect plan is thrown for a serious loop. Will Paige be able to face her fears and finally open herself up to the life she was meant to live?

My thoughts:

Right now, I am rooting around somewhere deep in my brain for the perfect word to describe this book. Genuine. People, there is nothing affected or unnatural about this book. It is the very honest, very natural story of a teenage girl. (Period, no semi-colon or ellipsis).
Yes, she was the girlfriend of the boy who drowned. But that’s not her whole identity. After all, they only dated for two months and the story begins a year after his death. Really, the only thing lingering about him is her swimming phobia, and random strangers in her small-town walking up to give her their condolences. Yes, she was sad for what could have been. And she felt it was a terrible tragedy to have someone close to you die in such a horrible way, but she’s moved on with her life. (Unlike some other YA protagonists I can think of after break-ups. *Cough*Bella Swan*Cough*).

If you’re looking for a book about a ‘broken’ heroine healing due to the love of a persistent white knight, look elsewhere. Paige isn’t broken. Sure, she has problems. For one thing, her happily-divorced parents are dating again (and Paige is too mature to hope for a Parent Trap ending). Another, her Grandmother is slowly wasting away due to Alzheimers. Three, she’s mildly jealous of her best-friend’s charisma and presence (especially since her long-time crush seems to be crushing on her). But there is no white-knight on the scene. Yep, Max is cute- but for the most part he acts in friend capacity.

And this is really the strong point of the book: the friendships. This book explores what friendship means, and the friendship between Paige, Tessa, Kayleigh and Morgan is one of the most natural ones I have seen. Sure, there are hiccups down the road (how could there not be when each and every one of them have such distinct personalities?). But, the girls always have each other’s back.

In friendship we are all debtors. We all owe each other for a thousand small kindnesses, for little moments of grace in the chaos.

I haven’t really talked about Max at all, have I? What can I say, Max is adorable. As a fangirl, I loved all the references he made. He encourages Paige to be more confident, to go-for-it (whatever it may be). I think one of the things I love about the romance in this book is how comfortable Paige is with Max.

Ryan Chase was my eighth-grade collage, aspirational and wide-eyed. But Max was the first bite of grilled cheese on a snowy day, the easy fit of my favorite jeans, that one old song that made it onto every playlist. Peanut-butter Girl Scout cookies instead of an ornate cake. Not glamorous or idealized or complicated. Just me.

Another thing I need to mention, the grown-up’s in this book are pretty awesome.
Ms. Peppers:She plays the role of the cool English teacher (as long as you don’t make jokes about Dr. Pepper and Mr. Salt in front of her).
Max’s mom is portrayed to be incredibly strong. And Grandma, Mom and Dad are all supportive and understanding. It’s really great to see such relatable adults in a YA book.

If you want a honest, sincere and genuine book- this is the one for you. This book will make you smile, and you’ll put the book down your heart a little bit warmer, and your head brimming with possibilities.

Overall Rating: 3/5

Other Books Like This: 45 Pounds More or Less, Fangirl, The Art of Lainey

Quotables:

“Our little nerd,” Kayleigh said, pretending to dab at her eye. “All grown up and competing against other nerds.”

Before I could tell them I was fine, Morgan’s arms engulfed me and Kayleigh was right beside us, pulling Tessa in, too. I could pick out their scents–the soft vanilla of Morgan’s perfume and the floral of Kayleigh’s hair and the spearmint gum that Tess chewed any time we were outside of school. With our arms around each other, I almost believed that strength could travel between us like the heat of our bodies. Nothing, not even sadness, could be greater than the sum of us.

Secret Weapon: A Poem

You’re a tornado of destruction, yes.

But I figured that out even as

You invited me to be involved.

No disappointments :You were a mess.

But I knew that before I opened the door.

I saw the soot smudged windows

And the peeling purplish paint.

I saw the garden of weeds rising high.

I saw the whole trailer park hellish estate.

I saw storm clouds gathering in the sky.

So when I walked in, I walked in aware.

You’re a mad-house. A mental hospital of sorts,

With twice covered tattoos of hearts then barbed wires.

You don’t wear your heart on your sleeve.

You just wore a badge of conquests won,

Of vicious cons, rather cleverly run,

Who thought they had won, but had actually lost.

And the barbed wire? You made a point from the start.

A fair warning from a secure predator to his prey.

But when you smiled a challenge at me, I smiled right back.

Because I knew what my smile meant.

I had the knowledge that you’ll always lack.

And I decimated you. Destroyed you totally.

You’ll realise it too late, after a long while.

As soon as I smiled that simpering pearly smile.

I attacked you with demure twin sets and fingers twirled in hair,

With faux-shy glances under very real lush lashes.

And cheek pinching, red rogue induced ‘blushes’.

I won the game. Did you even realise we were playing?

I suppose it comes to you as a surprise

That suburban 3 bedrooms can bring the house down,

That blonde hair and blue eyes are targeted missiles

When combined with bubblegum lips and sadistic designs

And that wolves really do walk around in sheep disguise.

Their sharp teeth hidden beneath pure white fleece.

Made You Up: A Book Review

Please don’t let this be a delusion. Please let this be real.”

Book: Made You Up

Author: Francessa Zappia

Made You UpBlurb:

Reality, it turns out, is often not what you perceive it to be—sometimes, there really is someone out to get you. Made You Up tells the story of Alex, a high school senior unable to tell the difference between real life and delusion. This is a compelling and provoking literary debut that will appeal to fans of Wes Anderson, Silver Linings Playbook, and Liar.

Alex fights a daily battle to figure out the difference between reality and delusion. Armed with a take-no-prisoners attitude, her camera, a Magic 8-Ball, and her only ally (her little sister), Alex wages a war against her schizophrenia, determined to stay sane long enough to get into college. She’s pretty optimistic about her chances until classes begin, and she runs into Miles. Didn’t she imagine him? Before she knows it, Alex is making friends, going to parties, falling in love, and experiencing all the usual rites of passage for teenagers. But Alex is used to being crazy. She’s not prepared for normal.

My thoughts:

This book made me bawl. Like a baby. Before I began to read this, I couldn’t even begin to imagine what it would be like to have to second guess whether everything I saw was real or not. I couldn’t imagine having to take pictures so I could pore over them later to evaluate whether that Nazi gas mask was a figment of my imagination or not.  I couldn’t imagine being unable to trust myself. I couldn’t imagine ever being strong enough, brave enough to accept a mental disease but determined to make my way through life with it. I couldn’t imagine it then, but now I don’t have to. Because, people Ms. Zappia already did that for me via Alex.

“Was everything made up? Was this whole world inside my head? If I ever woke up from it, would I be inside a padded room somewhere, drooling all over myself?
Would I even be myself?”

As an unbelievably brilliant but unreliable narrator, Alex’s definitely one of my favorite heroines of 2015.  She has depth- and she’s so sincere, your heart will break for her over and over again. But at the same time, she’s so plucky (I’m sorry to use such an old-fashioned word, but it’s really the only one that works) and determined to work past her mental illness, that you have to admire her too. She’s kind of a bitch, so it’s hard to feel sorry for her. But it’s so easy to like her, to care for her (and what happens to her) and to love her.

“You know a school is run by stuck-up sons of bitches when it doesn’t even have a bike rack.”

Though this book is about schizophrenia (A mental disorder triggered by a breakdown which leads to faulty perception, inappropriate actions and feelings, withdrawal from reality and personal relationships into fantasy and delusion, and a sense of mental fragmentation), it’s not all about a girl who’s suffering from a disorder. Alex is a real girl who exasperatedly loves her little sister, engages in prank wars, baits mean-girls and forms strong friendships.

As for the romance- Oh my god, I’m still fangirling over it! There is no insta-love and there are no love triangles (which we’re all very grateful for, I’m sure). Miles (red hair,blue eyes and a possible sociopath- which is really rare to see in YA love interests) and Alex are imperfect characters- not broken characters who need to fix each other, just imperfect ones- who gradually fall in like and then in love with each other. They both combat aspects of their personalities they dislike in themselves, but just being around each other brings out the most beautiful parts of their character in a very natural way. Together they’re unabashedly nerdy, sarcastic, witty, supportive- and altogether, perfect.

“Dear Asshole : Thank you for keeping your word and believing me. It was more than I expected. Also, I’m sorry you were inconvenienced by my gluing your locker shut at the beginning of this year. However, I am not sorry that I did it, because it was a lot of fun.
Love, Alex.”

If you want a book that will really make you feel, something that’ll end with you throwing the book away, collapsing into tears and then lovingly picking up the book again to read it sometime when you’re stable again- then this is the book for you. If you want something that explores perspectives and reality- then this is the book for you. If you want something beautiful, profound and heartbreakingly compelling -this is the book for you.

Overall Rating: 4/5

Other books like this; Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta, Hatelist by Jennifer Brown

Quotables;

“People say teenagers think they’re immortal, and I agree with that. But I think there’s a difference between thinking you’re immortal and knowing you can survive. Thinking you’re immortal leads to arrogance, thinking you deserve the best. Surviving means having the worst thrown at you and being able to continue on despite that. It means striving for what you want most, even when it seems our of your reach, even when everything is working against you.”

“I didn’t have the luxury of taking reality for granted. And I wouldn’t say I hated people who did, because that’s just about everyone. I didn’t hate them. They didn’t live in my world.
…But that never stopped me from wishing I lived in theirs.”

“Intelligence is not measured by how much you know, but by how much you have the capacity to learn.”

“Believing something existed and then finding out it didn’t was like reaching the top of the stairs and thinking there was one more step.”

Paper: A Poem

n front of you, I feel like paper.
Thin and tearable as your eyes pierce
Through micro-layers of pulp,
Finely ground pieces from a million places
Somehow put together and presented
In the form of a page of paper.

In front of you, I feel like paper.
Bending. Folding. So prone to tear.
So dependent on your help,
Trusting that I’ll be full of perfect folds and creases
Sent by you, somewhere meaningful, an airplane of paper.

In front of you, I feel like paper.
So full of confused doubt and maybe-fears.
So afraid that without you, I have no self.
I’m just an empty body and blank face
For you to project on me, an ideal her.

In front of you I feel like a piece of paper.
So fragile and empty that there’s nothing to hear
From me but the occasional rustle that tells
Nought beside what you say or taught me to say.
Because when I’m in front of you, I’m nothing but a piece of paper.

Hidden Huntress: A Book Review

“Here lay the gateway between worlds, the divide between reality and fantasy. A dream or, depending on who waited, a nightmare.”

Book: Hidden Huntress (Malediction trilogy #2)
Author: Danielle Jensen

Hidden Huntress (The Malediction Trilogy, #2)

Blurb:

Sometimes, one must accomplish the impossible.

Beneath the mountain, the king’s reign of tyranny is absolute; the one troll with the capacity to challenge him is imprisoned for treason. Cécile has escaped the darkness of Trollus, but she learns all too quickly that she is not beyond the reach of the king’s power. Or his manipulation.

Recovered from her injuries, she now lives with her mother in Trianon and graces the opera stage every night. But by day she searches for the witch who has eluded the trolls for five hundred years. Whether she succeeds or fails, the costs to those she cares about will be high.

To find Anushka, she must delve into magic that is both dark and deadly. But the witch is a clever creature. And Cécile might not just be the hunter. She might also be the hunted…

My thoughts:

Oh! I wanted to like this book so much more. This book was possibly my most anticipated book of 2015, and while it wasn’t bad- it wasn’t spectacularly mind-blowing like the first book, the Stolen Songbird (I love the titles and covers of both).
I think my main problem with the book was that I had built it up to be so much better than it actually was. There was character development with Cecile becoming a little braver and coming into her own and Tristan learning to trust others and eating a bit of humble pie.  But I just wasn’t as invested in their story; I didn’t feel and want for them , since half the time they had no idea what they wanted themselves!
Another thing: the main characters were separated from each other for at least  80%  of the book. I’m sorry, but the Cecile/Tristan magic only works when they’re together. I did like the insights we got into enigmatic and mysterious Tristan’s mind, but I think their characters would have shone a lot brighter if they were near each other. What can I say? They bring out the best in each other.
Also, there was a serious lack of banter. And I love banter.

The side characters were brilliant, but some how Anais, Marc, Chris- I wouldn’t say they faded into the background, they just weren’t instrumental to the plot.

And while we’re talking about plot, let me just say I was pretty disappointed with it. The whole book revolves around figuring out the identity of the witch (Anushka), and I had a pretty good guess from the last book (I was right, by the way). Yes, we got an impressive backstory for her ( I just love it when the villains get awesome backstories), but honestly, I think a novella or a short-story would have showcased her point of view a lot more impressively.

Another disappointment was the setting. Trollus was an enchanting and interesting place I fell in love with the second I started reading about it. I loved the magical concept of the tree, the mines seemed appropriately terrifying and the problem on essentially being trapped under a huge rock seemed very real. I loved the intrigue and the layered secrets of the palace as well as the complex relationships the characters had with each other. Unfortunately, only the last two were present in this book.
Now that Cecile’s back in the real world, her days are filled with balls, the opera and faux-witchery. When she’s not pining away for Tristan, she’s pondering her complicated relationship with her mother or feeling guilty for using her brother. This all combined to somehow seem artificial and contrived, nowhere as moving and honest as her emotions towards Tristan and the Trolls in the previous book. Also, the human world is kinda…boring.
Tristan’s story is set in Trollus, but he barely seems to notice his surroundings, and he honestly has no reason to explore the magnificent place (that he grew up in, so we assume he’s familiar with it). Instead he spends his days plotting to one-up his father, steal the throne and keep Cecile safe- all the while pondering who his greatest enemies and allies are. Honorable objectives, maybe- but it felt a bit much.

I did like this book, but it didn’t meet my expectations; this book suffers from middle-book syndrome. If you’ve read Stolen Songbird, then you have to read this too- but honestly, if you skip it, you wouldn’t miss much in terms of plot. You might miss a couple of awesome (and I mean this in the very real sense of the word) quotes.

Overall Rating: 3/5

Books Like This: Court of Thorns and Roses, Crimson Bound

Quotables:

“I’d admired him, and yes, lusted after him, but then I’d fallen. Fallen for a man who felt too much and took on too much, who believed if only he worked tirelessly and ceaselessly enough, that he could improve the lives of an entire race of people. And I’d had that depth of passion turned on me – seen it in his eyes, felt it in my heart. He loved me, and I loved him. And I’d love him as long as I lived, and if my soul endured, I’d love him for eternity”

“It seems to me, that no matter what we do, no matter what choices we make, there isn’t a happy ending waiting for us at the end of the long road.”
“But that doesn’t mean we give up. It doesn’t mean we stop fighting.”

Anasthesia: A Poem

I am the opposite of amnesia,

Because I remember with impressive intensity,

Because I remember with intimidating alacrity,

Memories under anaesthesia

Of hearing, seeing, touching you.

But never for real feeling you.

And though I can remember the exact hue of your eyes,

The way lavender and lemon lavishly loved your skin,

Each ebony lock teased into an individual bobby pin,

And how your face came alive in gleeful surprise.

The sly smile when you finally got what you wanted,

The bell-peal laughter when your every wish was granted.

Your smiles, your laughter were intoxicatingly beautiful.

And I was the lucky fool who got it all.

I can remember the perfect crystal of each tear,

As they fell one by one into a painful purgatory.

And I was it- your anger, your disappointment, your fear.

I couldn’t take it, being the villain of your fairy-tale story.

You couldn’t fake it: the dented armour left you unimpressed.

Amusement turned to agony. Fascination turned to frustration.

In peacock blues and stupendous scarlet you dressed.

I hovered to the side, your rusted attendant, placed above his station.

I left for you, you know.

And you say that it was for my sake

You let me go. I know.

We cleaved into two, an even break.

But I’m the opposite of amnesia,

So I remember the hazy medicated quality

Of those happy memories of anaesthesia.

Maybe I was high, but at least I was happy.