book review · books · shanti

Review: Tiffany Sly Lives Here Now

Tiffany Sly Lives Here Now is an incredibly complex novel, and one that fits a lot into it’s short timeframe of seven days. I loved Tiffany Sly and I love all the pieces of her that Dana L. Davis uses for her story. It’s a story about figuring stuff out, and how the process is more important than any potential answers.

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Tri-review: Carry On

This is an extensively awesome and also long review so you should read it and not this. In case you don’t know,Carry On is by Rainbow Rowell and was published recently. We got our friend Anna (remember her?) to help us write this-Shar

carryon1carry on 2

Shanti: Hi you guys. I thought that we’d start with a three word description, then sort of interview each other about our thoughts. My three words are: Delicious (because seriously the food), eerie, and surprising.

Shar: My three words are ship, thatendingthough (totally one word), and keptkeepingmeuplate (maybe this is more like a hashtag: I guess I could also use the word engrossing)

Anna: My three words are adorable, surprising and nostalgic (because Harry Potter memories…)

Shar: So Anna and Shanti, what were your first reactions to the ending? (Because starting at the beginning is too mainstream)

Shanti: Truth be told, something along the lines of “How can this be over?”

I was also a little bit confused, because I didn’t know the morality of *spoiler alert* certain characters. Also whether another character was dead or not because rosebuds.

Anna: I thought it was unfair. It’s like depriving him of the only thing he valued. *no spoilers*

Shar: I actually liked that, to be honest. His choice at the end and the way the Insidious Humdrum was defeated was so utterly unlike most chosen one books. I enjoyed that creative aspect so much. *tries so hard not to spoil*

Shanti: It sort of reminded me of the Rest of Us Just Live Here, actually (we’re totally spoiling people, guys)

Shar: Also, with Lucy, I was soo confused like what even. Is she alive? Is she dead? Is she only there for the sake of dramatic irony?

Shanti: Shar, you’ve been learning your english class vocab, I see.

Anna: I was confused too. I kept getting mixed up between Lucy and Baz’s mum

Shar: Me too! I thought they were the same for a while

Shanti: I think we can all agree that it was a very fast paced and dramatic conclusion though.

Shar:Yes. Moving on. Let’s discuss favourite characters?

Anna: Penny

Shanti: Me too! I also really liked Baz and Ebb. And Nico was fascinating to read about, especially as we see several different vampire sides. Really though, I was rooting for most of the characters.

Shar: This book definitely did secondary characters well. They were round and just as intriguing as the main characters. But how did you feel about all the different perspectives? (Some felt unnecessarily confusing to me, actually)

Shanti: I know what you mean, but the flashbacks worked quite well to flesh out the world, particularly if you hadn’t read Fangirl. Simon’s memories featured quite heavily too. Did we get a point of view from Ebb or Baz’s mum? *can’t remember* Also Shar, let me ask the next question, you have to share.

Shar: Okay, fine. And no, we didn’t get their perspectives, as far as I remember..

Anna: They were, I had to keep going back and checking who was “speaking”. And there was definitely one from Ebb. *spoilers – it was near the end*

Shanti: I did like how the voices developed and worked together to tell the story- I particularly noticed Penny, Baz, and Simon as being pretty distinct. And the chapter headings helped too. Agatha was sort of unnecessary until the end, I think. Next question: Do you think the plot distracted from the characters or vice versa? Because it sometimes seemed to me like they were warring with each other, and the characters were a bit stronger. I still loved both the plot and the story though.

Anna: I see what you mean, it was definitely more of a character-driven book. There was a lot more sitting around, talking, plotting and angsting than your average finale. (It is written by Rainbow Rowell)

Shar: This was because of the ship we saw so much of in fangirl (not that I remember much of Fangirl), *fangirls*  You’re right though, Anna. I definitely felt the middle and beginning were a lot less actiony than the end we alluded to earlier.

Shanti: Carry On was definitely a very contemporary flavoured fantasy, and I think its’ (semi) standaloneness helped that. I do adore Rainbow Rowell’s writing too- it’s so present and lively.

Shar: Yes, Carry On definitely had a more contemporary, easier to read feel than most fantasies. It was good but weird. Authors changing genres isn’t that common, if you think about it.

Anna: Also angst and unrequited love. but with merwolves.

Shanti: Lots of both of those things. I wanted to find out more about the merwolves, but I loved that they were just there (sort of like the giant squid in HP)

Anna: Definitely. Obviously this book is a sort of follow on from Fangirl, and Cath spends most of the book fangirling about Carry On and Simon. Was this book any different from how you imagined it to be, having Cath describe it first?

Shanti: Hmm, interesting question. There were definitely parts of Cath’s fanfiction that weren’t in the novel, but I imagine that fragments would be hard to incorporate into a entirely different whole. I mentioned this to you before, Anna, about how Carry On is somewhere in between Carry On, Simon, and Simon Snow and the Eighth Dance (is that what it was called) You don’t need to read Fangirl to read this, but it totally helps. It was interesting, because while Carry On was definitely *sings* A book worth fighting for *stops singing* it was a bit different, because Simon and Baz hadn’t been in love for years, but Cath’s passion for the story helped me to love it.   

Anna: Are we going to start making mulan references? Because DISHONOUR ON YOU!


Shar: Dishonour on your cow! But I need to be honest here, I don’t remember much of Fangirl. *reads ancient review*. Apparently I thought that from Fangirl, Carry On sounded fun! It totally was (you can find the review in our archives, but please don’t. I hadn’t blogged very long, and it sucked). It was fun, but also very intense and good and less Harry Potteresque than I originally thought. (It got less like Harry Potter the more I liked the characters)

Anna: You’re absolutely right. The lack of context in some of the excerpts in Fangirl will haunt me forever (how did they end up hanging off a cliff? I will never know.) You’re right Shar, but you can’t deny some of the characters were very familiar *cough* Ebb = Hagrid (almost) *cough* There was also a lot less kissing than advertised.

Shanti: I wanted to know more about Penny’s boyfriend and the Americans! So I have another question: What did you think about the Harry Potter parallels? Is this fanfiction, and is it okay to sell it if that’s the case?

Anna: Well, not exactly. It was more an embellishment on the idea, and while there are parallels it definitely wasn’t exactly the same. Also, on piracy issues: other books have been published that are fanfictions but with the names changed.

Shanti: The differences to Harry Potter were pretty interesting too. The magic system was really cool (and did they ever make up their own spells?) And the morally ambiguous Mage was really interesting as a not-quite Dumbledore figure. I also thought it was interesting how much more in control of Simon the Mage was (like choosing his foster homes) compared to the Dumbledore-Harry relationship. I don’t think it’s fanfiction- Rowell changed enough for that, but you could see how the boarding-school magic genre (which is certainly extended beyond HP and Carry on- think of the Iron Trial and Princess Academy) has stemmed from Harry Potter

Shar: *cough* Fifty Shades of Grey *cough* . There were parallels, but I found the differences significant enough to get over. No houses, less of a formal school structure, more connecting Muggles/Normals. There was a clear british/boarding school/magic theme(Did it sound just a tad American to anyone else? I think I caught most of the British references, but just a few wordings sounded American. Anna? (resident Brit, help us!).

Anna (resident Brit): I thought she did really well on the British thing, considering. She got most of the slang right, there were a lot of TV references etc. (I have never seen the word chavvy written down before. Who knew it had two v’s?). Although she does make references to ounces and yards, which we don’t use. Also, Downton Abbey.

Shar: I love Downton Abbey. It’s like a TV show version of a early 20th century chic flick. (i.e, Shar in heaven)

Shanti: What does chavvy mean exactly? Downton Abbey references are the best. I should finish watching that show, I think the sixths season is airing currently.

Anna: Chavvy is kind of a mean way of saying lower class. Sometimes it just means the sort of person that drinks and smokes etc. And you should. Although season six is a little…messy.

Shanti: hmm, I guess I’ll find out if I watch it. I did realise that there would be less plot if everyone hugged each other and told the truth. What did you guys think about the romance?

Anna: *smug smile* Not that kind of messy… I thought it was adorable. There was a lot of tension and misunderstanding (hush little Basil, don’t you cry. Mama’s gonna sing you a lullaby…), but basically they are my babies. STAY TOGETHER AND BE HAPPY.

Shar: *squees* *fangirls* Shanti could attribute to the fact that the adorableness and amazingness made me squeal probably too much. And they were so perfect and cute but then it took a while and Simon *hugs Simon* and also Baz! *hugs Baz* *feels happy* *can’t talk*

Shanti: It was highly adorable, and the tension was awesome. I loved how they overcame their enmity (even if it maybe wasn’t enmity at all), and also that there were other gay characters and also CHRISTMAS AT THE PITCHES.

Shar: So, the last question (because anyone who reads a review this long is already a hero!). How many stars does it get, and why?

Shanti: Four Stars. There were a few little things that bothered me, but overall it was a great story with amazing characters who do amazing things.

Anna: Same here. It was awesome, with great characters and intriguing plot, but not quite five-stars.

Shar: Again, I would agree with all the little things that made it imperfect, and the middle section was a bit long without enough action, but when I finished it my gut reaction was definitely 5 stars because it was so enjoyable. I’ll degrade it to 4.5 because of the above bothersome things, but just read it peoples.

Have you read Carry On? What did you think? How do you feel about almost-fanfiction? Which other genre switching authors can you think of? Do you watch Downton Abbey?


Stacking the Shelves (2)

Shar: Hello readers! Today Shanti and I went shopping for the first time in ages. We happened to stop at a secondhand bookshop. Delight ensued. (aside: when does something stop being secondhand and therefore cheap and become retro, antique, and vintage, and therefore expensive.) Anyway, for that reason we decided to do another stacking the shelves, hosted by Tynga’s reviews. Also, yeah, I haven’t been blogging much! Sorry! I’ll explain why later. 

The most boring cover ever
The most boring cover ever
because a) I saved tinsel from christmas and b) tinsel and c) sense making
because a) I saved tinsel from christmas and b) tinsel and c) sense making
4 stars
4 stars

Shanti:Lots of books! Yay! I got Days of Blood and Starlight and the High Lord and Sunshine. I already read DoBaS and it was good, but rereading is great, right? I’m also really proud of having accumulated an entire trilogy. I know most people like matching covers, but to me it is really awesome that I have three pre loved books with unmatching covers from different publishers. Maybe its just me, though. Right now I’m reading quite a few books. I just finished Disruption by Jessica Shirvington, I’m reading another book for English class, I’m reading Collapse by Jared Diamond and Emma by Jane Austen and I’m about to start Storyspinner by Becky Wallace. I also have quite a few books (Magonia! Ember in the Ashes! The Secrets We Keep! Challenger Deep!) out from the library and several titles on hold, so I’ve mandated a library ban for the moment.

I think this’ll be a good book, since Trudi Canavan is amazing. I”m also really proud of owning an entire series.
This is a vampire novel, but it looks like a fresh take on the genre. I thought that the sunshine was appropriate, and I'm excited to read it. .
This is a vampire novel, but it looks like a fresh take on the genre. I thought that the sunshine was appropriate, and I’m excited to read it.
This is a beautiful book. I HAVE  already read it, but I am a rereader and I'm definitely going to reread it. Also, it's beautiful.
This is a beautiful book. I HAVE already read it, but I am a rereader and I’m definitely going to reread it. Also, it’s beautiful.
Days of Blood and starlight is a bit of a sad book, so I though the nice daisy would cheer it up :)
Days of Blood and starlight is a bit of a sad book, so I though the nice daisy would cheer it up 🙂

Shar: Well for English I’m reading The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, which apparently won a Pulitzer prize. From the first 50 (exactly 50) pages it’s been… interesting. I finished Jane Eyre (finally! I kinda disagreed with the ending) so I’m off my library hiatus.    I tried to ignore Shanti going crazy in the book shop, even though I kinda  went crazy in the library, and I was like ‘I wanna reread all these good books now I am free of Jane Eyre.  But then all these new books look so good!!! Arghghghgh decisions are so hard why is life so unfair?’ So I got one reread and one not.  Heist Society by Ally Carter is pretty good, and I love Kat. I finished that yesterday (I think I’ve read it twice before). I got Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas and from the first 3 chapters it’s bound to be intriguing. Last week I read Bumped and Thumped by Megan McCafferty, (technically I hadn’t finished Jane Eyre so I wasn’t supposed to but I also read this song will save your life, How to be bad and a few others while in the middle of Jane Eyre, because multitasking on reading is a bad habit I’m proud of.) which both had an interesting take on teen pregnancy, dystopia, morality, and twins. I’ve read them both before, Bumped twice and Thumped once, but that was last year, and I’m a chronic rereader. (Why try to find new books when you can enjoy your favourites over and over again?)

Shanti: I’ve also been busy with school and studying. Luckily I mostly like my teachers, the trauma of course selection is over and I find my courses interesting, but I have been keeping busy (and not reading so much, sadly) *I am aware that my’not reading so much’ is someone else’s ‘reading a lot’ but still* This is a picture of my bed (also known as my studying centre) at the moment if you want an idea.DSC02400
Shar: If you’ve been wondering why I haven’t been blogging, it’s a combination of procrastination and a lot of work. This week I had a concert and dress rehearsal and went to two other concerts (two of my siblings also performed, and we were required to go). This week I had a maths test, chemistry internal exam, bio, history, and RE quiz and some homework and things. And then there was just normal school and practicing for two instruments and running and just general flailing. I have some more externals coming up but I’ve finished all the actual subject matter for a lot of classes and it’s just chilling/projects/revising so that’s hopefully better. Anyway, yeah, I’m just one of those insanely busy teenagers. But I will try to keep blogging and reading people’s blogs. 

So how do you balance blogging and school/work/other stuff? What books have you got recently? Are you a tidy person (like Shar) who can’t function in a really messy room, or like Shanti who ‘will tidy up tomorrow’ (or so she claims). Do you like external exams? (because that would be weird)  What has been making you busy recently? P.S we’ll fix the horrible formatting later 🙂


Mockingjay, Part One: A Conversation

Mockingjay Part One came out. Shar and I watched it. We’re going to tell you how we felt.

(picture from :url)

Shanti : First off, I am going to say that hearing Shar whimper “Finnick” for two hours was horrible. I had to remind her what happens to him. (SPOILER REDACTED)

Shar: Thanks. It’s been ages since I read it! Why would I remember the details? And he’s just so hot and nice!

Shanti : (I have a tendency to spoil people, and Shar gets the worst of it) Shar, you have to say that he’s pretty sad in this movie.However, when he was talking in the roses…MY HEART JUST DIED. The guy is a great actor and i was so happy when…something happened at the end of the movie.

Shar:vYeah that was so cute. I was happy for him. And JLaw did a really good job of being conflicted. The love triangle was even more love triangle-y than the books, if that possible. She showed it really well. And you spoil so much. Like today. Good thing I was only half listening but I’ll try not to think about it. Echoes of Us just won’t be the same for me anymore!

Shanti : You totally deserved it Should I hit you over the head with Dreams of Gods and Monsters (600 + pages)? Yeah, Katniss did a great job portraying someone who had been through so much. Even though she didn’t mean to become the Mockingjay, she is a profoundly real and in-the-moment character. It was pretty funny when she was struggling to act for propaganda. I loved the way that the propaganda videos worked within the context of the story. Sadly, they WERE the story. At least some good side characters made up for it. (Cressida’s hair…. I LOVE IT)

Shar: Yes, it was really a ‘two hour advertisement for the next movie’ and clearly just a ploy to make more money. Harry Potter, Twilight, Divergent (maybe), the Hobbit, all the franchises do it. I guess you just have to accept it but like you said before, there wasn’t much of a substantial plot to make two movies.

Shanti: Yeah, that was where this movie fell apart. It was mostly setting up scenes. There were some very moving scenes, and violence (why i need people to come with me to the movies: cuddles and telling me when to open my eyes). The violence was not sanitised in any way, nor really legitimised. But a clear us and them developed in this movie. They are bad, and its okay if  they die But the suits of the stormtroopers PeaceKeepers, removed them of their humanity along with their faces, and, while that is in the book, the role of violence is hugely against my beliefs. (Reasons 1-99 of why I love Echoes of Us by Kat Zhang. You should read it)

Shar: Shut up about it already! Yeah, I hated the violence too. But it wasn’t a complete us and them. Snow totally treats Katniss so nicely,like she’s his niece or granddaughter or something, even as he bombs the resistance or forces Peeta to give out propaganda. It’s like he can’t decide. And yes, they are exactly like stormtroopers. Just make them look different or call them that already!

Shanti: Snow  does really like Katniss. I think that its because she was the first one he couldn’t control, and he has no idea what she will do next. I said this already, but I love the side characters in this movie. Effie (it took me a few minutes to work out who she was) is hilarious. The actor who plays Coin totally understands where she is coming from, and is really amazing. Buttercup is perfectly grumpy. Cressida is awesome, like one would expect with that haircut. And all of the camera crew are brilliant. Also, Beetee is very epic. And Prim. She is much less innocent in this movie, but she takes responsibility and is compassionate and kind. I love that about Willow Shields. She is an excellent actor. I love the scenes that this movie sets up actually. the plot just didn’t quite hold together. However, all actors (at least those given names) do add quality to the film. It just needs quantity. Plot quantity.

Shar: Yes. It’s interesting how they did that. But it did give them time to establish a lot of things that they didn’t with the first movie- which was silly, if you ask me. There were some really cool shots of the District 13- which was really done well. The set was so good. And District 12- just some kind of dystopian landscape, ages, skeletons. It was really cool. But after a while the amazing set became like Tolkien’s descriptive passages- just over the top and boring. I found myself identifying all the film techniques from english class after a while- zoom in, fade, close up, dialogue, tracking shot, pan, diagetic sound, oh look, something’s happening. I guess the characters, set, and things were filling in for the lack of plot, which made it a mostly enjoyable 2-hour advertisement. They emphasised some events more that i don’t remember being important in the book, but that was a long time ago.

Shanti:  Now who’s paragraphs are long? My conclusion: the actors are amazing. The film is telling a heart breaking story and does it well. However, the breaking part of heart break means that this movie is overly long and mostly establishes the next movie. It does not stand on its’ own. It would be good if I could see both (movies) at once.

Shar:Anyway, I liked it, it was okay and all that stuff. I gasped a lot and I just can’t decide if I love Gale, Finnick or Peeta more. Afterward someone asked us if we heard the crying in the theatre, and we hadn’t but then wondered if that was us, even though we weren’t crying, because it was very exciting.I hated the violence. I would give it 3 1/2 stars.