Monday, September 30, 2013

Septemb-Eyre (Chapters 30-End)

And we're done! I'm happy to say that Jane Eyre remains one of my favorite books. In fact, I probably liked it more on a second reading.

I was surprised by how much I had forgotten about this section of the book. I remembered that Jane runs away, finds some people who end up to be her cousins, and almost goes to India with St. John. I remembered St. John as a much nicer character though. In my head, he was a bit strict and uptight, but also caring and a bit more understanding. The real St. John was unrelenting, cold, and judgmental. Quite honestly, I don't know how Jane put up with him so long. Living under the scrutiny, guilt trips, and impossibly high moral standards would wear me out very quickly. I cheered a bit when Jane told St. John she scorned his idea of love.

Jane realizes that marriage with St. John would be a very bad idea. Thanks to some psychic communication of some sort, Jane ends up back with Rochester. And thanks to a several very convenient occurrences, Jane has inherited money from a long-lost relative, found family via the same long-lost relative (a least good female cousins), and Rochester has found himself able to marry again due to the death of his first wife in a fire she started herself. I had to laugh a bit at Jane's reaction to gaining a fortune:
One does not jump, and spring, and shout hurrah! at hearing one has got a fortune; one begins to consider responsibilities, and to ponder business; on a base of steady satisfaction rise certain grave cares, and we contain ourselves, and brood over our bliss with a solemn brow.
Jane would certainly make an unusual lottery winner, would she not? Most tellingly, Jane is much more excited by acquiring family (via Diana, Mary, and St. John) than wealth. This is what Jane has truly been lacking her entire life.
It may be of no moment to you; you have sisters and don't care for a cousin; but I had nobody; and now three relations...are born into my world full-grown. I say again, I am glad!
In previous parts of the book, I mentioned how the relationship between Jane and Rochester makes me a bit uncomfortable at times. Once Jane and Rochester are reunited, I'm much more comfortable with them together. In fact, I'm fully in the Jane-Rochester camp, because they come to it as equals. Jane is not dependent upon him for employment, money, or her sole source of companionship. She has the means to support herself and has family and friends outside of Thornfield/Ferndean. More tellingly, she's not holding him at a distance this time. Reader, she married him.

Want More Jane Eyre?

While I had only read Jane Eyre once prior to this, I've read several other novels that involve Jane Eyre, all of them very different. If you just can't get enough of Jane, check one of these out!

Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys
I'll be honest. I remember maybe 5% of this book. I read it in an AP English lit class, possibly as an example of postcolonial literature. I was unused to the style of writing and had not read Jane Eyre, so the book made very little sense to me. It's pretty short, and college gave me an appreciation for postcolonial lit, so I have it sitting on my bookshelf to be revisited. Wide Sargasso Sea is a prequel/parallel to Jane Eyre--it tells the story of Bertha Mason (name Antoinette Cosway in WSS) up to her marriage with Rochester, humanizing the woman who otherwise serves as a plot device locked up in an attic.

The Flight of Gemma Hardy by Margot Livesey
The Flight of Gemma Hardy is a recently published book that retells the story of Jane Eyre in 1960s Scotland. For the first part of the book, Livesey stays very close to Jane Eyre. I enjoyed finding the connections at first, although it got a bit old and forced in the middle. Gemma becomes an au pair in the Orkney Islands where she falls in love with her employer, Mr. Sinclair. The age difference between them is maintained--and it does not work quite as well in the 1960s.

I loved Gemma just as much as I love Jane, and my favorite parts were when Livesey wasn't trying as hard to replicate Jane Eyre and told Gemma's story instead. At the end, the novel takes Gemma into Iceland to discover her family history and herself. Also, Livesey does such a beautiful job of describing landscapes and the feelings that different places in Scotland and Iceland evoke throughout the book, I was ready to hop on a plane at the end to see them for myself.

The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde
How does one describe the Thursday Next series? If you like off-the-wall humor, more literary references than you can count, comic fantasy, or book and grammar jokes, you should check out this series. Basically, the series is set in an alternate universe where the Crimean War is still going on, people have dodo birds for pets, and it's possible for a few people to read their way into the world of books and interact with the characters. Thursday is a literary detective for SpecOps in the outside world initially, and ends up being a literary detective within the BookWorld (with Miss Havisham as a mentor) in future books. In The Eyre Affair, the villain, Acheron Hades, kidnaps Jane Eyre from her book. This is particularly troublesome because the story is told in first-person, which means the BookWorld can't just get any old character to stand in for her. Thursday has to figure out how to enter the novel and stop Acheron. It's great, and the following novels are even better!

This post is part of the Septemb-Eyre Read-Along hosted on Entomology of a Bookworm. Be sure to check out what other bloggers had to say, and an extra special thanks to Kerry for hosting the readalong!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Welcome to the Glade

It all begins when Thomas wakes up inside an elevator with no memory of who he is other than his name. When he eventually arrives in “the Glade” after what has to be the longest elevator ride in history, he meets the other boys living there who all went through the same experience: no memory and mysteriously delivered to this place. Around the Glade are huge walls that move every night creating a maze. Some of boys are designated runners who try to find an escape route every day to no avail and Thomas quickly learns rule number 1: don’t get caught in the maze after dark. Once the lights go out (or the sun. They may be in a completely manufactured world, so I’m not really sure how it works) the maze fills with Grievers, half machine half gross monsters who eat children. If the boys get stung they go through a painful process called the Changing which drives some mad.

I love, love, love, loved this book! It was perfectly plotted. The boys are trying to figure things out at the same time as the reader and So Much Tension! It started out a little slowly as Thomas tried to figure out his place in this new world, but with the arrival of Theresa, things really starting picking up. Escaping from the Glade became ever more important and I was completely rooting for these kids even as I dreaded the world they would find on the other side. 

Dashner did an amazing job at world-building. The setting was its own character, well fleshed out and with complexity (because it’s a maze, get it?). The walls dominated every aspect of the characters lives and while reading, mine. I’ve seen some images of the upcoming movie version and they *nailed* it. I’m so excited for the movie and to read the other books in the series.

2 small notes: 
1.) While I was reading, I honestly thought this book was written by a woman, sorry James Dashner.
2.)  Read the epilogue! Sometimes people skip it. Do not skip it!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Septemb-Eyre (Chapters 22-29)

Here There Be Monsters Spoilers.

Can we start off by discussing how many quotable lines Jane had in this section? 

When Rochester somehow believes that it's a good idea to start a marriage proposal by continuing to deceive your intended that you plan on marrying someone else:

"Do you think I am an automaton? a machine without feelings? and can bear to have my morsel of bread snatched from my lips, and my drop of living water dashed from my cup? Do you think because I am poor, obscure, plain, and little, I am soulless and heartless?" (296)
When Rochester is physically holding her in place and tells her not to struggle like a wild bird:
"I am no bird; and no net ensnares me; I am a free human being, with an independent will..." (297)
The morning following the proposal, when Rochester insists on putting her on a giant pedestal and calling her an angel:
"I am not an angel...and I will not be one till I die; I will be myself, Mr. Rochester; you must neither expect nor exact anything celestial of me..." (304)
Rochester had a few good lines too:
"I sometimes have a queer feeling with regard to you, especially when you are near me, as now; it is as if I had a string somewhere under my left ribs, tightly and inextricably knotted to a similar string situated in the corresponding quarter of your little frame." (295)  
Anyway, Jane continues to be amazing. When Rochester admits he was courting Blanche to make Jane jealous, Jane's biggest concern is whether he hurt Blanche in the process. When Rochester tries to buy her fancy dresses and jewels, she refuses most of them--above all she wants to be herself.

Granted, although she seems to be aware of several warning signs, and keeps Rochester at a bit of a difference, she ignores them. Including the giant symbol of the burnt tree. Hello Jane? You read a lot of books. Don't you recognize a literary device when it's staring you in the face?

Photo by zingyyellow...!,  CC BY 2.0

But, surprise! Rochester has more than a skeleton in his closet attic--he has a crazy wife he's stashed away up there. He doesn't seem to think this is a big deal, and tries to convince Jane to pretend to be his wife anyway.

And Jane, because she is amazing, refuses. Upset, he asks her "Who in the world [besides me] cares for you?"
"I care for myself. The more solitary, the more friendless, the more unsustained, I am, the more I will respect myself." (369)
Hurrah, Jane!

As I alluded to in my last post, I have very mixed feelings about Rochester. He tricks Jane, pretends to love someone else, and then hides his past from her. Also, let's not forget that he's hidden his wife away in an attic. Hark, A Vagrant has a comic that captures my feelings about this very well (warning: there are spoilers for the end of the book in the footnote at the bottom):

At the same time, he does love Jane and tries to treat her well in his own way. They banter wonderfully, and they are well-matched. He's genuinely heartbroken when Jane announces she is leaving. If you ignore or accept the weird stuff, it is very romantic, I suppose.

Our section concludes with Jane running away and almost starving to death before finding a new home with the Rivers--St. John, Mary, and Diana. (Side note: St. John is pronounced SIN-jihn. I have yet to  figure out why.)

This post is part of the Septemb-Eyre Read-Along hosted on Entomology of a Bookworm. Be sure to check out what other bloggers had to say!

It was actually kind of funny...

Not going to lie, I fully expected to hate It's Kind of a Funny Story. It's written by Ned Vizzini, who published Be More Chill while I was working at B&N, which truly earns the award for worst title and worst cover art in the history of YA fiction.

I'd also seen trailers for the movie and it didn't really seem like my kind of thing.

The book ended up being not quite so bad. It starts off with a a brilliant hook: "It's so hard to talk when you want to kill yourself." I was instantly interested. Ultimately, this book about teen suicide ends up being much mroe upbeat than I expected. 16 year old Craig Gilner worked for a year preparing for the entrance exam for an elite high school in New York. Once he got in, he realized that now he actually has to attend this school with other kinds who were also smart enough to be accepted. Reeling from the fact that he might not be as exceptional as he assumed, Craig starts suffering from depression. It gradually gets worse, until he can no longer sleep or eat and he starts contemplating suicide. When he calls a suicide hotline found in one of his mom's self-help books, he's told that the suicide hotline is actually overwhelmed with calls that night and his best option would be to go to the emergency room. Through a series of unlikely concidences, Craig is admitted to the locked adult psychiatric wing where he has to stay for at least five days, or until the doctors think him well enough to rejoin society. Over the course of those five days, Craig finds himself: he realizes that pre-professional school really isn't for him since his real love is art (nevermind that he hasn't drawn since he was four), and that realization changes his life for the better - he achives what he calls a "shift.

Craig's self-depreciating tone turns what could be a very depressing read into something more; it's real, and intimate, and funny. The issues Craig faces, most obvious the pressure of figuring out who you are would be relateable to many teens. In the end, though, I found the book to be too unbelievable to truly love. The give day turn-around seems awfully quick. Craig's problems are instantly gone when he checks into the hospital; he can now eat, makes friends quickly, finds a girlfriend, has his first sexual experience, and has a breakthrough. The overall message was great, but it was tied up in a neat little bow that I found unrealistic and would add even more pressure to teens facing their own issues.

Lastly, do teen boys really think about sex as much as Craig does in this book? If so, I fear for the future. He meets a girl while in the hospital and his entire focus is on making her his girlfriend. Is it not enough to be friends with this girl? That doesn't even occur to him. And honey, you met this boy yesterday. In a psych ward. And you're 16. Can we not let him get to third base? Have some respect for yourself.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Original Skin

I haven't reviewed a mystery in a while and this one is worth talking about! I really loved The Dark Winter by David Mark when I read it last year. It was totally different and the main character was really fantastic. The premise is basically a killer going around murdering people the way they would have died, which is always totally horrific. I couldn't WAIT for the library to purchase this book! Then they did and I thought DS Aector McAvoy was great and I wanted to know more about him. Then comes Original Skin.

This plot on it's own would have drawn me in but already knowing the characters was nice. Aector is still his lovable self and I couldn't have been happier about that. There are a few different plot lines being drawn together and they are woven together so nicely. I never felt as though the changes in the book were jarring, mostly they just cutaway right before the good stuff to keep you reading! I also only felt like I was missing out on one plot point that seemed less developed. I won't give anything away but I will say the way the book opens, it doesn't really go back to that often and let you explore where that could have gone.

This one gives more insight to the main character and his life with his wife. I loved that this takes a different spin on the detective's life than many of the other murder mysteries I have read recently. There seems to be a lack of family life or a really tragic back story regarding their family. I enjoyed reading about a happy and stable relationship for a change.

I'm actually really impressed that The Dark Winter was this authors first novel. He is definitely gifted with mystery writing and tells a really addicting tale. Add to all this the fact that before writing these novels David Mark was a crime reporter for fifteen years? His experience definitely shows and it makes the novels that much more alive. I read a lot of really dark murder books but these two definitely need some recognition.

Overall, I would say definitely pick this one up if you need a new mystery! It would make sense without reading the first one but it was so good you should read both of them!

I received an ARC copy of this from NetGalley the week after this was published (May of 2013). Keep an eye out for book 3!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Septemb-Eyre (Chapters 12-21)

(Click on the comic to see a bigger version on the artist's website)
Kate Beaton: "Dude Watchin' with the Brontës" Hark, A Vagrant! #202.

This comic captures what life must have been like for the Brontë sisters. Let's face it--Rochester isn't really going to win any personality awards. He's definitely a step above Heathcliff, the male lead from Wuthering Heights, if you are familiar with Charlotte's sister's novel. He's kind to Jane and Adele in his way and seems to care about them to some degree. At the same time, he's grumpy, brooding, and unpredictable. I have trouble getting over the age difference between him and Jane (he's twice her age--she's 18 and he's 35). And what is he doing with Blanche Ingram, eh?

One thing that struck me as I reread the book this time was how lonely and isolated Jane is prior to Mr. Rochester's arrival. I don't think that had really stood out to me before. In my head, she was content to be at Thornfield from her arrival until Rochester enters the story. In reality, she's has more wanderlust and desire to escape her situation than I remembered. Faced with this loneliness (which I imagine reflects Charlotte Brontë's loneliness), it's no surprise that she falls for Rochester so quickly.

Having read Jane Eyre before, there's not a lot more I can add because I don't want to spoil anything for first time readers. I will cryptically say it's been enjoyable finding more hints of what's to come scattered throughout the book. 

This post is part of the Septemb-Eyre Read-Along hosted on Entomology of a Bookworm. Be sure to check out all the wonderful posts from other participants.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

How I wish for '50s glam...

The best way to describe this book is: The Bell Jar, but non-fiction. Pain, Parties, Work tells the story of Sylvia Plath during the month of June, 1953 and her internship at Mademoiselle magazine in New York City. That month in NYC was exciting, but with a manic foreboding.

This book bugged me, its set-up was extremely tangential. We’d randomly be talking about someone Plath dated once or twice, then jump backward to her feelings about her mother, then forward again to someone vaguely famous that walked by Plath and the other girls once on the street. It didn’t make any sense. Winder also couldn’t seem to decide what format to go with. For example, there was a “Dictionary of Adolescence” chapter that just listed everyday things and throughout the book, there were boxes of asides relating to crew cuts, or oysters, or the fact that Sylvia got nylons for Christmas one time. Why do we care?! Winder didn’t seem to actually know much about Plath, but was trying to piece together a book that would sell. Chapters were full of information about things that Plath loved, but without any credibility. In the afterward, she did include the names of people she had interviewed, but didn’t cite anything within the text of the book. I would have liked some footnotes.

The one thing that I truly did love about this book was that it gave personal insights into Plath’s life. In most ways, she was just a regular girl and in a way I think that adds something to her. She could be anyone, which is why The Bell Jar resonates with so many young girls: they can identify with Esther and thus Plath herself. All in all, this book was a let-down; don’t waste your time – just go read The Bell Jar again.

P.S. Why that cover image? It’s lovely, I’ll admit, but a biography (especially a biography of someone who loved being photographed) should have an image of the subject on the cover, not some random woman.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Septemb-Eyre (Chapters 1-11)

"Governments and fashions come and go but Jane Eyre is for all time."  
from The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde*

Photo by Stephen Cummings, CC BY 2.0

Good news, everyone. I'm safe. I've been including Jane Eyre on my list of all-time favorite books since I read it in 2008. Having only read it once, I was afraid that I would reread it and end up hating it. But, we're only a fourth of the way in, and I already remember why I love the book so much. It have very little to do with the plot and almost everything to do with Jane.
“I remembered that the real world was wide, and that a varied field of hopes and fears, of sensations and excitements, awaited those who had the courage to go forth into it's expanse, to seek real knowledge of life amidst it's perils.” 
Jane is one of my favorite characters of all time. She's smart, independent, introvert (I love a well-written introvert), passionate, a reader, a good friend, and a decent human being. She deals with hardship, but doesn't accept it. She stands up for herself and works toward better position for herself. Jane. Is. Awesome.

Take one of my favorite scenes, where a ten-year-old Jane is confronted by her nasty aunt, Mrs. Reed, and Mr. Brocklehurst, from her future school. The two are trying to scare her into "good behavior" by asking her about hell. Mr. Brocklehurst asks her what she should do to avoid it, and she answers:
"I deliberated a moment; my answer, when it did come, was objectionable: 'I must keep in good health, and not die.'"
And then, after Mr. Brocklehurst leaves, she confronts her aunt about the lies her aunt told about her.
"How dare I, Mrs. Reed? How dare I? Because it is the truth. You think I have no feelings, and that I can do without one bit of love or kindness; but I cannot live so: and you have no pity...How dare I, Mrs. Reed? How dare I? Because it is the truth."
Oh, Jane!

(Also, I wish that the photo above captured my Jane Eyre rereading experience, but sadly there was no hot coffee/chai tea because it's still 90 degrees out.)

*The Eyre Affair is the first book of the delightful Thursday Next series by Jasper Fforde. Thursday is a literary detective in an alternate world where it is possible to enter books. Thursday is a literary detective who is pulled into the BookWorld when Acheron Hades kidnaps Jane Eyre from her book. Fforde's humor takes a bit of getting used to (think Monty Python or Douglas Adams), but the series is hilarious and chock full of literature/reading jokes.

This post is part of the Septemb-Eyre Read-Along hosted on Entomology of a Bookworm. There's still time to join us, if you like!

Monday, September 2, 2013

An Apple a Day

I've noticed a certain trend in my non-fiction...I mostly read about eating disorders and animals. I will read some memoirs but they have to be pretty good or I get bored quickly. I love a book that will make me laugh so the new book by Jim Gaffigan (my favorite comedian) was an obvious choice as well as BossyPants by Tina Fey. I also like the occasional random non-fiction thrown in there but I usually ready about murder or anything YA. I can't help it.

Best line of the book. "Remember when Kate Moss said, ‘Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels’? She’s wrong: chocolate does." This is said as Emma Woolf walks down the street unwrapping a kitkat, the first chocolate she has eaten in over 10 years. 

I thought this book was great. I loved how honest the author was in her struggle and she just seemed so real. I will say she also has some pretty strong views on things and isn't shy to let you know them. I didn't like her view on suicide because it seemed skewed and actually a bit juvenile. Her thoughts were that suicide is selfish and I used to think that growing up but as I got older I realized it isn't that way for those who suffer severe depression or suicidal thoughts. I have a very close relationship with a couple people with suicidal tendencies and I definitely have a different view, including my own bout of depression while growing up. Senior year in high school was really hard for me because of depression so I am not one to judge others on their demons.

Back to the eating disorder part. Emma Woolf brings up some good points. Doctors and even family members have the main goal of trying to get the sufferer to their "goal" weight that is healthy for them but there isn't always a lot of therapy for the mental side of the problem. Once your at a higher weight it can seem like everyone is thinking, "Oh well you're fine now. No big deal just eat." Well it's not that easy.

I thought it was brave of the author to write a column while she was struggling with overcoming anorexia and letting her audience kind of follow her progress. That is also a scary decision and for the less brave might have even set them back quite a bit in their recovery.

I think the most heart-wrenching part was reading her struggle to stop over controlling her food and body so that she could have a baby. For some reason when people can't have children or get pregnant and have miscarriages it makes ME emotional, as though I am suffering right along with them. I don't have children nor do I want them right now. I do not have a stable enough life for kids, my cat is plenty yet these aspects of stories really get me. It might be because I would love to have children someday or because I know people who struggle but it goes right for the heart.

If you like to read about eating disorders for whatever reason, you should definitely pick this one up. It might just give you a different view on things. I give this one 4 stars.

Under the Dome

This was ridiculous!!!! I had to re-read this prior to the miniseries starting because I could not for the life of me remember how this ended. But I didn't have time to read it so I listened to the audio version. I really hated the narrator the first time I tried listening back in 2009. Hated him. His voices for women are still pretty awful but I got used to it and I was really curious about the story. I remembered the first half of the book really well and the second half was like I'd never even read it.

The premise for this book is fantastic. A dome falls around a town completely shutting it off from the rest of the world. Awesome!!! Well, as long as you're one the outside!

Stephen King really knows how to make characters that you just truly hate. I hated so many people in this book. I was so filled with rage at times I wasn't sure how he could even write some of those scenes. Some of these people were so awful I almost wanted to quit reading but of course I couldn't wait to find out what happens next!!

When there were lovable characters I clung to them for dear life just praying they wouldn't get killed off. Then you meet someone and it says right there in the book they are going to die but they are still alive and you start to get attached. "But wait! This person doesn't suck! Just let them stay and instead you kill of so-and-so!" Not gonna fall for that one? At least I tried.

The time frame for the book is actually really short. The entire plot takes place just over a week which is really impressive. There is a lot packed in to that one week from hell. Everything happened for a reason or tied into something else which is really neat. There weren't random plots just left hanging or half explored. This was plotted out wonderfully and came together perfectly at the end.

I will say for how epic and addicting the plot is, the ending was more of a fizzle and than a bang. I was left thinking, "Really? That's it? Hm..." and that makes me a little sad. Overall, I totally recommend this book. It is so unlike anything I have ever read and probably will read. Even with the infuriating awful characters there are still some gems that you have to root for! I give this one 4 out of 5 stars.


I'm trying something new this month and participating in a read-along! I often include Jane Eyre on my list of all-time favorite books, but I've only read it once. When Kerry at Entomology of a Bookworm suggested a read-along, it seemed like a perfect excuse to revisit the book.

(Note: I've gone temporarily deaf to anyone who questions the wisdom of taking on a reading challenge with work, starting grad school, and half of Vanity Fair to read for book club already on my plate. I don't need to sleep, right?) 

The moral of the story is that I might fall behind, but that's okay.

Who am I?
If you're new to the blog, here's a bit about me. I'm a twenty-something owl (yes, owl--see more about our blog here) who lives in the midwest. I'm a librarian-in-training, and I read more than is probably healthy. Outside of the bibliosphere, I enjoy running flying, baking, and wasting time on the Internet. I have a human alter-ego who tweets at @knsievert and also rates books on GoodReads.

I have read Jane Eyre before, and I loved it. I've only read it once--while I was a counselor at an summer camp for owlets from all over the world who were learning English as a second language. Needless to say, I didn't have a lot of spare attention to give to the book, which I read during the little downtime I had. I'm looking forward to a quieter reading experience this time.

I have the Barnes & Noble Classics version of Jane Eyre, and I've also downloaded Project Gutenberg's copy for my ereader so I don't have to lug the book around on the bus.

Since Owl You Need is a Good Read is a group blog, I might try putting all my updates in one post, with new content at the top each week. I can't wait to get started and to find out what all the first-time readers think!

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Scent of Darkness

I really wanted to like this more than I did. I was told to read this book by someone that has very similar book taste to my own and so I thought I would love it. I think this was just a bit weird for me. I liked the idea behind the story but not really the story itself. Fragrance + a grandmother who is a master of scent = super special scent that can change your life. Neat! Well...maybe not to so neat.

I think one of my main problems was that I didn't really like the main character. Eva was just kind of lame. She was ok but I didn't really root for her. She got herself into these messes and then seemed so blah. I didn't care about her love life or her for that matter. I did like the young boy that kept hanging around her and wanted to help her. I would read his story.

The love was lame. It didn't feel real or passionate. It just existed and you were expected to care about it but I didn't care at all. Both her potential love interests are lame and not worth the time she was putting into them. She didn't really know them and the way she met her first love interest was just weird. "Hey, I'm going to go clean out my dead grandmother's house! *sees boy* What are you doing here?" "'s just quiet in here. I liked you grandmother. Everyone did." What the hell? Could she not have thought of something less weird that a med student studying in a dead ladies house?

The scent. I understand that she doesn't know what is happening or how much to read into feelings of attraction towards her but she wanted to get caught up in a disaster because she gets herself in a big ol' mess and then whines about it. C'mon Eva, you knew what was going to happen and you let it happen anyway.

It also pissed me off that she just let's the artist use her. I know I said she wanted to get in those sticky situations but really. She just lets him get by being a flipping crazy person when really she should have kicked his ass and said leave me alone. I get it, the scent drove him crazy and he would do anything to get it. Even if it meant killing her to put her blood in his paint. Um...ew. I want that to be cool! It's gross and interesting and I want to like that but my disdain towards the characters is preventing me from liking that.

I say if you're really curious give it a whirl but you really could just as well skip this one. At least it's only 240 pages? I rated this 3 stars on goodreads but would actually give it 2.5. It was creative and I thought it really felt like dark magic and the scent thing was cool. I also believed the atmosphere of New Orleans. This was written well and I would try another book by this author.

Yogurt or Yogurt Soda?

At the beginning of 'A Teaspoon of Earth and Sea,' the storyteller Khanom Basir shares two matching rhymes about yogurt and yogurt soda that are used at the end of the story to reveal whether a story is truth or fiction. (Maast is the word for yogurt, doogh is yogurt soda.)

If a story was fiction, the poem starts out with yogurt.
Up we went and there was maast,
Down we came and there was doogh.
And our story was doroogh (lie!).
If a story was true, the poem starts out with yogurt soda.
Up we went and there was doogh,
Down we came and there was maast.
And our story was raast (truth!).
And so, at the end of the story, you wait for the first line of the rhyme. Was the story yogurt or yogurt soda?

Saba has a murky memory of the day, but one she firmly believes happened--seeing her mother and twin sister, Mahtab, get onto a plane and leave Iran for America. But those around her, in her rural community in northern Iran, believe that Mahtab is dead. As Saba grows up with her friends Reza and Ponneh, three surrogate mothers, and a distant father, she tells stories of how she imagines her twin's life in America. She imagines her twin facing life confidently and bravely, facing challenges that are very different but at the same time very similar to Saba's difficult life in Iran. Are these stories yogurt or yogurt soda? Are Mahtab and her mother alive and well in America?

'A Teaspoon of Earth and Sea' was a bit slow-moving, but ultimately a lovely book. There were several especially touching relationships--the semi-dysfunctional and close friendship among Saba, Ponneh, and Reza; the father-daughter relationship between Saba and Agha Hafezi; and the marriage and deep love between the elderly Agha and Khanoom Mansoori. 4.5 stars.