Geometrically progressive

“That’s what I love about reading: one tiny thing will interest you in a book, and that tiny thing will lead you onto another book, and another bit there will lead you onto a third book. It’s geometrically progressive–all with no end in sight, and for no other reason than sheer enjoyment.”

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Persephone, by Kaitlin Bevis

Persephone is a young adult fantasy based on the Greek myth of Persephone. The reader doesn’t need to know any Greek mythology before reading the book; everything that needs to be explained is taken care of throughout the narrative. With some knowledge of the myths, you’ll notice little references that aren’t pointed out explicitly – for example, Persephone (in this novel) often snacks on pomegranate seeds, and her mother, Demeter, owns a flower shop. In addition, the book takes place in present-day Athens, Georgia.

I really enjoyed it and read it pretty quickly. I love stories that are modern versions or retellings of myths, and this was a good one. The plot was only semi-wrapped up; it leads directly into the second book in the Daughters of Zeus series, Daughter of the Earth and Sky. I haven’t decided if I’m going to continue the series, though. I would have preferred the book as a stand-alone novel, because at present, there are five books and I’m not sure that I’ll devote the time to reading them.

I will say, because this is a huge pet peeve of mine, that there was one sentence in the book that made me cringe, reread it to make sure I’d read it properly, and cringe again. The sentence in question is a quote from Hades: “Her soul returned to her body, and she’s alive enough to where I can’t reach her.”

The author has a Masters Degree in English, according to Goodreads, so I’m not sure why she allowed that “alive enough to where” to slip in there. What’s wrong with the word “that”? A much less clunky (and much more specific, precise) way to say it is “She’s alive enough that I can’t reach her.” The whole “to where” thing just drives me up the wall.

The book didn’t grip me enough to convince me to keep reading the series, but for me, that’s not unusual. I’ve also only read the first book of the Jackaby, Red Queen, Daughter of Smoke and Bone, and The Wrath and the Dawn series. That, and the previously mentioned “to where” phrasing (it just REALLY bothers me!) led me to only rate this book 3 stars. It was a good, solid book.

Ryan Topps

Well, “dealing” with Ryan turned out to consist of three major pastimes (in order of importance): admiring Ryan’s scooter, admiring Ryan’s records, admiring Ryan. But though other girls might have balked at dates that took place in Ryan’s garage and consisted entirely of watching him pore over the engine of a scooter, eulogizing its intricacies and complexities, to Clara there was nothing more thrilling. She learned quickly that Ryan was a man of painfully few words and that the rare conversations they had would only ever concern Ryan: his hopes, his fears (all scooter-related), and his peculiar belief that he and his scooter would not live long. For some reason, Ryan was convinced of the aging fifties motto “Live fast, die young,” and, though his scooter didn’t do more than 22 mph downhill, he liked to warn Clara in grim tones not to get “too involved,” for he wouldn’t be here long; he was “going out” early and with a “bang.”

Pulchritude

Pulchritude. From the Latin, pulcher, beautiful. That was the word that first struck Joyce when Millat Iqbal stepped forward onto the steps of her conservatory, sneering at Marcus’s bad jokes, shading his violet eyes from a fading winter sun. Pulchritude: not just the concept but the whole physical word appeared before her as if someone had typed it onto her retina–Pulchritude–beauty where you would least suspect it, hidden in a word that looked like it should signify a belch or a skin infection. Beauty in a tall brown young man who should have been indistinguishable to Joyce from those she regularly bought milk and bread from, gave her accounts to for inspection, or passed her checkbook to behind the thick glass of a bank till.

Twins

But the fact was Millat didn’t need to go back home: he stood schizophrenic, one foot in Bengal and one in Willesden. In his mind he was as much there as he was here. He did not require a passport to live in two places at once, he needed no visa to live his brother’s life and his own (he was a twin, after all). Alsana was the first to spot it. She confided to Clara: By God, they’re tied together like a cat’s cradle, connected like a see-saw, push one end, other goes up, whatever Millat sees, Magid saw and vice versa! And Alsana only knew the incidentals: similar illnesses, simultaneous accidents, pets dying continents apart. She did not know that while Magid watched the 1985 cyclone shake things from high places, Millat was pushing his luck along the towering wall of the cemetery in Fortune Green; that on February 10, 1988, as Magid worked his way through the violent crowds of Dhaka, ducking the random blows of those busy settling an election with knives and fists, Millat held his own against three sotted, furious, quick-footed Irishmen outside Biddy Mulligan’s notorious Kilburn public house. Ah, but you are not convinced by coincidence? You want fact fact fact? You want brushes with the Big Man with black hood and scythe? OK: on April 28, 1989, a tornado whisked the Chittagong kitchen up into the sky, taking everything with it except Magid, left miraculously curled up in a ball on the floor. Now, segue to Millat, five thousand miles away, lowering himself down upon legendary sixth-former Natalia Cavendish (whose body is keeping a dark secret from her); the condoms are unopened in a box in his back pocket; but somehow he will not catch it; even though he is moving rhythmically now, up and in, deeper and sideways, dancing with death.

Brown Girl Dreaming

other people’s memory
Jacqueline Woodson

You were born in the morning, Grandma Georgiana said.
I remember the sound of the birds. Mean
old blue jays squawking. They like to fight, you know.

Don’t mess with blue jays!
I hear they can kill a cat if they get mad enough.

And then the phone was ringing.
Through all that static and squawking, I heard
your mama telling me you’d come.
Another girl, I stood there thinking,
so close to the first one.
Just like your mama and Caroline. Not even
a year between them and so close, you could hardly tell
where one ended and the other started. 
And that’s how I know you came in the morning.
That’s how I remember.

You came in the late afternoon, my mother said.
Two days after I turned twenty-two.
Your father was a work.
Took a rush hour bus
trying
to get to you. But
by the time he arrived, 
you were already here.
He missed the moment, my mother said,
but what else is new.

You’re the one that was born near night,
my father says.
When I saw you, I said, She’s the unlucky one
come out looking just like her daddy.
He laughs. Right off the bat, I told your mama,
We’re gonna call this one after me.

My time of birth wasn’t listed
on the certificate, then got lost again
amid other people’s bad memory.