Tomoko the New Kindle Paperwhite

ETA: Found a dead pixel or something 30 minutes after I blogged about this . . . Looks like I’m returning this. Tomoko was not meant to be with me! :(

Kindle Paperwhite Kindle Paperwhite

Guess who decided to get the new 2nd gen Kindle Paperwhite? /o\

I couldn’t resist. It’s been something I’ve been thinking about since a couple of weeks ago when I saw them at the PX. I couldn’t really justify getting the new one because my 1st gen Paperwhite works fine, but I still wanted it just because it’s a newer model and the screen looks so much better. My co-worker finally said to me “It’s okay to upgrade. You don’t have kids. And consider this to be like your super early graduation gift to yourself.” Luckily, I already have two people who wants to buy my old one for $40, so that makes me feel better about this purchase. And oh, wow, the screen is so much brighter and better. No idea if it’s faster yet, but I imagine the page turn speed won’t really make a difference to me. But the screen, the screen is so amazing! asdfjkl;asdfjkl;

Anyway, I named it to “Tomoko”, which follows the trend of naming my Kindle devices with Japanese name :D I love it so far. Just whee! Too bad grad school is already sucking up my life, though. That certainly cuts into my reading time! Just gotta look forward to April!

Divergent and Legend Trilogies

Divergent Trilogy

In May 2013, I read The Hunger Games trilogy, and minus the third book, I was riveted by the dystopian world, something that has not happened to me since reading The Giver and “Harrison Bergeron”. I couldn’t stay away from the realistic portrayals of Katniss’ world, and I wrote a status update on Facebook expressing my awe on the books. Couple of people recommended me the Divergent trilogy by Veronica Roth, and JJ suggested the Legend trilogy by Marie Lu. Hungry for more YA dystopian novels, I put them on my backlog, and last week, I began reading the books and finished both series yesterday.

To compare the two series wouldn’t be fair, but since I read them back-to-back, I can’t help but compare them. Overall, I really liked the Legend trilogy over Divergent. The former proved to get better from book one to book three; the latter went downhill after the first book. The world building was more believable in Legend, and I really could see the correlation to the Republic to North Korea, and I could only wonder if a similar experience is occurring there like what Day and June went through.

Legend Trilogy

Character-wise, I like Four over June and Day because something about him calls to me. I think I admired him for the way he was shown as a mentor. Tris and June were both strong female characters, but I ended up liking Kaede and Cara over them both. In fact, I really loved the secondary characters moreso than the main ones. I have a newfound love for Metias, Uriah, Cara, Johanna, and Anden. Seriously, I have this humongous crush on Metias, and I keep wanting him to be paired up with Day and Anden in an alternate universe, haha!

Which brings me to another point I noticed about the two series — the inclusion of LGBT characters in non-LGBT mainstream YA novels. Just, WHOAH. I swear that surprised me since I’d have never seen LGBT characters in mainstream non-LGBT YA novels when I was in high school! The inclusion makes me happy because it shows just how much time has changed to where it affects literature now. I am certainly not complaining about these subject matter being in the books!

But going back to the series, I really liked Legend better for the more believable plot and the better writing, and I am still struck by the possibility of the Republic being something akin to North Korea. Divergent gave me Four, and I did like the world building, but the series as a whole was just not as good as Legend. I do not regret reading Divergent, but I’d definitely recommend Legend over it.

Mini Book Reviews

After finishing The Book Thief, I began reading this monstrosity known as The Second World War by Antony Beevor. That took me about ten days to read, to where I came to the following conclusion:

The Second World War by Antony Beevor gave me a comprehensive overview on WWII from the European and the Pacific theatres, both of which demonstrated complex and convoluted events where leaders backstabbed and mistrusted each other. Not to mention the rape. God. Rape happening with both Allies and Axis soldiers. It’s like, really? I know the soldiers suffered and all, but it’s bloody ridiculous. Aside from that, I enjoyed reading about Winston Churchill and his relationships with the other leaders, Joseph Stalin and his generals that developed rivalry with each other, Adolf Hitler and his thousands of cronies who I could never keep track of (Himmler, Goring, and whoever? Don’t ask me who did what.), and Franklin Roosevelt and his military officials. Oh, and I learned a lot more about the Holocaust. And Patton. He rocks. That is all.

After finishing that 850+ page book, I decided to continue on with my backlog, of which I am devouring YA novels. Over the weekends, I read three and started on a fourth. I read:

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. It was a good read. I admit, I read it with wariness because I wasn’t sure if it’d lived up to the hype. It didn’t. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the book, but it wasn’t a book that made me go asdfjkl;asdfjkl;!!! Plus, I didn’t really cry with this book. I guess after reading all those Lurlene McDaniel’s books growing up, stories about cancer and terminal illnesses are familiar territory for me. The snark level and the black humour in this book was perfect, though. And the character interactions were done well.

Fan Art by Sarah Tregay. This LGBT YA novel was another great read, one of the better LGBT YA novels I’ve read recently. In fact, this is actually and ARC, and I wrote my full mini-review at Goodreads. TL;DR ~ Loved the characters and the interaction, but felt like the overall plot was just bloody convoluted to the point where the last half of the book dragged on forever.

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell. Aside from wanting to type “Roswell” for “Rowell”, I didn’t really like this book. I did like how Park was half-Korean, but I feel like the author (who’s not Asian) didn’t capture the Korean heritage well through Park and his Mum. I kept wondering things like, “Where’s the effing kimchi?” Yes, they lived in Nebraska, but a lot of Koreans I know will figure out a way to make kimchi with American ingredients, but I digress. Going back to the book . . . I didn’t feel like the romance really worked in this book. If anything, I think I’d like this book better if Eleanor and Park had just remained friends.

And with that said, I am now reading Divergent. I expect to be done with the trilogy in a few days because I can’t put the book down. HOMG. It’s like Hunger Games/Percy Jackson/Leviathan series all over again! My only problem: not having enough time to read!

Khaos Komix Kickstarter Goodies

Back in September, I saw that Khaos Komix finally had volume 3 out and was going to release volume 4 soon. I contacted Tab to let him know that I wanted the two books I’ve yet to own in my collection, but then I saw that Tab started a kickstarter project, so I opted to “upgrade” my options.

Khaos Komix Kickstarter Goodies

The goodies finally came to me. This collection consisted of:

* Khaos Komix volumes 3 and 4 signed by Tab
* A Khaos boxset
* PDF files of volumes 1 through 4
* Khaos timeline
* PDF file of Khaos timeline
* Certificate
* Buttons

I’m a happy fan. :D I had to wait a few months for it, but I wasn’t in any hurry and it was worth waiting for these goodies! Plus, I’m glad I got to participate in my first kickstarter project. Huzzah for me!

The Book Thief

In 2013, I actually kept track of what I read — books, ebooks, mangas, comic books. I did a lot of my reading on my Kindle Paperwhite, due to convenience. I read 101 total, but the actual number is closer to 150+ since I didn’t count all the manga scanslations I read over the year. In fact, my original goal was 50 books, but I went over it. I decided to set my goals for 50 books again for 2014, and I finished one book today, a book I started in November 2013. I cannot recall taking that long to finish a book, but The Book Thief by Markus Zusak was just not a book I could rush through. I am not sure why — maybe the pacing was just too slow at the beginning? That’s how it felt to me since once I read about 60%, the rest of it I was able to zoom through. Regardless, though, it was a beautifully written book.

The way I described this book to several people is that it’s like a young adult version of Slaughterhouse-Five. Both books use WWII as its time period, both books take place in Germany (well, Slaughterhouse-Five takes place in Germany part of the time), both have a similar tone to them (the black humour and the surrealistic narration), and both reveal the plot throughout the story. However, Slaughterhouse-Five did not make me cry. The Book Thief broke me at the part where Liesel found Max in the Jewish March through Molching, and my heart cried at Himmel Street’s “climax” towards the end. Yes, I knew it would occur since Death kindly reminded me every chapter or so, but reading the actual scenes brought tears to my eyes. Liesel and her relationships with Hans, Rosa, Rudy, Max, and Ilsa were all portrayed realistically and with the right emotion and words. Zusak really amazed me with his characterisations and the wacky plot structure.

My words do not do this book any justice. I do highly recommend it to those who like historical fiction, unusual plot structure, and a unique narrator. If anything, just read this book at least once.