In My Mailbox (16): Free and Awesome Stuff

 

I got a bunch of books a few weeks ago, but I was too lazy to make an IMM post. I was at home, but I was just plain lazy — sorry about that. :) I got some pretty awesome stuff the past weeks, some of them free, so I figure it’s time to write one. But better late than never, right? :)

Bought:

 

  1. Deadline by Mira Grant (Fully Booked) – I also got the Kindle copy of this one first, but I can’t pass the print one up of course. Like my print copy of Feed, this is mainly for borrowing. :D
  2. The Lover’s Dictionary by David Levithan (Book Depository) – I ordered this about three weeks ago as a reward for finishing an article. It took a while to get here, and I dropped everything else to read this when I received it. Talk about excited. :) I have a line of people waiting to borrow this already.
  3. Magic Slays by Ilona Andrews (Fully Booked) – I got this at the same time as Deadline but I only got to read it during the rainy weekend. So much Kate + Curran goodness! :)

Won:

  • Audiobook of Suite Scarlett by Maureen Johnson (won from Helen’s Book Blog) – this is my first audio book ever, which I won during the Twitter party during Armchair BEA. Thankyou so much, Helen! :)

For review:

Last Friday, Blooey invited some local book bloggers for a dinner with some people from Scholastic. It was such a fun night eating and talking about books and blogs and travel and everything else in between. :) It was also the first time I had dinner with publishers and received books for review too! Yay free books (almost as exciting as cool grad gifts). :D

Scholastic Books

  1. Shiver and Linger by Maggie Stiefvater – now I’m not a paranormal romance person anymore and truth be told, I have no plans of reading these books. But Chachic and Tarie told me it’s good, so I’m hoping I will like it well enough too. :)
  2. The Cry of the Icemark, Blade of Fire and Last Battle of the Icemark by Stuart Hill – I have no idea what this is about, except that Blooey blogged about it recently. I’m glad they gave us the entire set, though, because at least I won’t have to scramble for the copies. :)

The fun thing is, not all book packages were the same. While I think all of us got all the Icemark books, everyone else got different stuff, depending on what we’ve read. Case in point: Chachic and Tarie got Linger because they’ve already read Shiver, while Aaron didn’t get any of Stiefvater’s books because they’re not his type. Thanks again to Blooey for inviting us and to Joyce and Roselle from Scholastic for the dinner and the books. :)

Photo c/o Tarie

And that’s all for the past weeks’ haul. I have another book buying fast happening now to prepare myself for my big trip this August, so no additions to my TBR unless they’re gifts. Not to worry, anyway since I still have a very big reading mountain to conquer. :D I’ll be back tomorrow for my mid-year recap, so for the meantime, do share in the comment section what you got this week. :)

The Lover’s Dictionary

The Lover's Dictionary by David LevithanThe Lover’s Dictionary by David Levithan
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Number of pages: 211
My copy: hardbound, ordered from Book Depository

A sweet and touching modern love story, told through dictionary entries.

basis, n.
There has to be a moment at the beginning when you wonder whether you’re in love with the person or in love with the feeling of love itself.

If the moment doesn’t pass, that’s it—you’re done. And if the moment does pass, it never goes that far. It stands in the distance, ready for whenever you want it back. Sometimes it’s even there when you thought you were searching for something else, like an escape route, or your lover’s face.

How does one talk about love? Do we even have the right words to describe something that can be both utterly mundane and completely transcendent, pulling us out of our everyday lives and making us feel a part of something greater than ourselves? Taking a unique approach to this problem, the nameless narrator of David Levithan’s The Lover’s Dictionary has constructed the story of his relationship as a dictionary. Through these short entries, he provides an intimate window into the great events and quotidian trifles of being within a couple, giving us an indelible and deeply moving portrait of love in our time.

* * *

When I first heard about David Levithan’s latest book, The Lover’s Dictionary, I wanted to read it only because of the clever idea behind the book. I love anything that involves wordplay. I loved the idea that this book is told using dictionary words, and for some reason, this gives me the feeling that this book has a universal feel to it, like anyone could relate to an entry here at one point. I ordered a copy off Book Depository a few weeks ago after I realized that it’s cheaper there, and when it finally arrived, I actually dropped the books I was reading to devour this one.

The Lover’s Dictionary is quite easy to devour given its short, dictionary-like format. This book, as mentioned in the blurb, tells the story of an unnamed couple, written using different words from a dictionary. The narrator, who is a guy based on the entries, is a writer while the girl seemed like a wild, whimsical character who seems to have enchanted our narrator. But as their relationship goes on, it gets harder for the both of them, and we readers are left wondering if the they decide to stay together or part.

The entries weren’t written in chronological order so the timeline tends to jump from one anecdote to another, while others just seem like a sharing, or a comment on how the relationship is or how each has changed because of the relationship. It’s equal parts sad and happy, a lot mushy and it tends to leave the readers pondering on what makes a relationship tick. There’s something about finding common ground, which I really liked:

akin, adj.

I noticed on your profile that you said you said you loved Charlotte’s Web. So it was something we talked about on that first date, about how much the world radiant sealed it for ach of us, and how the most heartbreaking moment isn’t when Charlotte dies, but when it looks like all of her children will leave Wilbur, too.

In the long view, did it matter that we shared this? Did it matter that we both drank coffee at night and both happened to go to Barcelona the summer after our senior year? In the long view, was it such a revelation that we were both ticklish and that we both liked dogs more than cats? Really, weren’t these facts just placeholders until the long view could truly assert itself?

We were paining by numbers, starting with the greens. Because that happened to be our favorite color. And this, we figured, had to mean something.

Or this, about being intimidated by one another:

daunting, adj.

Really, we should use this more as a verb. You daunted me, and I daunted you. Or would it be that I was daunted by you and you were daunted by me? That sounds better. it daunted me that you were so beautiful, that you were so ate ease in social situations, as if every room was heliotropic, with you at the center. And I guess it daunted you that I had so many more friends than you, that I could put words together like this, on paper, and could sometimes conjure a certain sense out of things.

The key is to never recognize these imbalances. To not let the dauntingness daunt us.

I’m pretty sure the story the authors intended for the characters here is not the same for everyone, but I think everyone who’s ever loved will find that they are able to relate to one or two or more entries in The Lover’s Dictionary. This makes the book very rereadable, especially in random — just pick it up, open to a page and read. This book also makes me wonder: if I were to make a dictionary of my own love life, what words would I use?

But alas, my own love life is still nonexistent. That fact made me a bit distant to the novel, because I can’t relate. Not yet, anyway. However, The Lover’s Dictionary affirms things that I know, based from stories, reading and yes, even experiences (the proper place to elaborate on this is on my personal blog :P): relationships are messy, it takes a lot of work and it would hurt both parties a lot…but allow me to believe that even so, relationships can be beautiful at the same time. :)

Whether you’re a romantic or not, I recommend The Lover’s Dictionary by David Levithan. I’m sure you’ll find a bit of yourself in one of the entries in this dictionary.

Rating:

Other notes:
For some reason, this book reminded me of this short YouTube movie by WongFu Productions, Strangers again:

YouTube Preview Image

Other reviews:
Book Harbinger

Want Books: The Lover’s Dictionary by David Levithan

 


Want Books? is a weekly meme hosted at Chachic’s Book Nook and features released books that you want but you can’t have for some reason. It can be because it’s not available in your country, in your library or you don’t have the money for it right now.

It’s been a long time since I did a Want Books post because most of the books I want (particularly the 2011 releases I’ve been waiting for) were pre-ordered in my Kindle, so in some sense, I already have it. The other books were spur-of-the-moment buys, or at least planned buys after I didn’t buy books for all of Lent.

That, and I’m really trying to avoid buying too many books when I still have so much to read (don’t we all?).

So this book has been on my radar for a long time now, but I almost forgot about it until I saw it in Fully Booked‘s weekly e-zine. Which meant, the book is already available here.

The Lover's Dictionary by David LevithanThe Lover’s Dictionary by David Levithan

A sweet and touching modern love story, told through dictionary entries.

basis, n.
There has to be a moment at the beginning when you wonder whether you’re in love with the person or in love with the feeling of love itself.

If the moment doesn’t pass, that’s it—you’re done. And if the moment does pass, it never goes that far. It stands in the distance, ready for whenever you want it back. Sometimes it’s even there when you thought you were searching for something else, like an escape route, or your lover’s face.

How does one talk about love? Do we even have the right words to describe something that can be both utterly mundane and completely transcendent, pulling us out of our everyday lives and making us feel a part of something greater than ourselves? Taking a unique approach to this problem, the nameless narrator of David Levithan’s The Lover’s Dictionary has constructed the story of his relationship as a dictionary. Through these short entries, he provides an intimate window into the great events and quotidian trifles of being within a couple, giving us an indelible and deeply moving portrait of love in our time.

I read the Kindle sample of this book and I was drawn in by how it was written. When I heard the story of how he wrote it from the Amazon.com exclusive Q&A, I was sold:

Two years ago, I hit February 1st and I hadn’t started writing my Valentine’s Day story. I had a few ideas, but none were kicking in. I sat down at my desk to thing something up, and right by an elbow was a book I’d recently recovered from my parents’ basement–a book of “words you need to know” that I’d been given as a gift (probably for my high school graduation). I thought it might be interesting to take random words from that book, in alphabetical order, and tell the story of a relationship through those words, in dictionary form. I didn’t plan any of it out–I let the words tell the story. And two weeks later, I had the story version of The Lover’s Dictionary.

How creative is that? This feels like just the kind of book I’d read. I also love the Lover’s Dictionary twitter, where the tweets aren’t really from the book but based from it. I think this is one book that is fit for people who love words. :)

It’s kind of a good thing I didn’t find a copy of this last night while perusing the shelves of Fully Booked. Heh. As much as I want this, I don’t think I’ll be able to read it immediately. Maybe someday…preferably during a sale. Or, I could just order it from Book Depository, since it’s cheaper there. :D

10 for 2010: Favorite Reads

And here is the final 10 for 2010 list for this year, and the hardest one at that. There has just been too many good books in this year that it’s so hard to pick just ten. But I have to choose ten…but that doesn’t mean I can’t have runner ups and honorable mentions. ;) It’s my list, I can do anything I want to. :P

So, the last 10 for 2010, here are 10 of my Favorite Reads in no particular order…and then some. :)

1. Persuasion by Jane Austen – How much do I love this book? I am very glad that I chose this book as my first classic read for this year. I love Anne Elliot, and I want to be her. I don’t have much point of comparison over other Austen books, but this one is really, really good, even better than P&P. :) I cannot recommend this one enough. :)

2. Magic Strikes by Ilona Andrews – I fell in love with the Kate Daniels series this year (thanks again to Chachic and Michelle for pushing!), but among the four books out in the series, Magic Strikes is the best one so far. It’s got action, tension and all the yummy hotness of Kate and Curran in all of it. Plus the ending had me all smiling and giggly and that is always very, very good. :)

2. Feed by Mira Grant – This book wasn’t the one that got me started on zombies this year, but it was the zombie book I loved the most. :) This book had me from the cover, and then with the story. I loved how geeky this book is and how emotional it is at the end. I loved the characters, and I loved the theme of the story…and I just really loved every bit of this book! This is one of the books that I got in Kindle, then got in print because I want to have my own copy. I gave a copy away, then I gave one as a gift, and now I’m (sort of) giving this away, too. I love this book that much.

3. Happyface by Stephen Emond – This is one of the impulse buys that I never regretted. I wasn’t a fan of hardcovers, but I am glad I got this one the moment I saw it because there are no copies of this one here. This is one of my favorite contemporary YA reads of the year. Happyface is such a darling character, and you just can’t help but fall in love with him. The plot is simple, but it’s very surprising and heartwarming at the end. I wish there were more copies of Happyface here so more people can read it…but that’s why I’m giving one away, right? ;) Oh, and I still think I look like Gretchen. ;)

4. North of Beautiful by Justina Chen Headley – This was another impulse buy, but I’ve been seeing this one way before I got it. I am glad I got it, too, because it has such a beautiful story. The story may sound a bit cheesy with all the beauty talk, but it doesn’t only just talk about inner beauty and self-esteem, but also complications of a family and dreams that never came true. Terra’s transformation was very inspiring, and the ending left me feeling very good about myself, and very beautiful. :) Truly a gem.

6. Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver – I wasn’t planning to read this, and I stopped reading the start for a couple of times, but after I finished the first chapter, I got hooked. Before I Fall is a surprisingly good and powerful novel about life, death, friendship and the choices we make and how they affect people. I finished this book with a wistful smile on my face and tears in my eyes, thankful that I finally gave in and read it.

7. The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness – This is one of the book that I know I would love, only because the people whose book tastes I trust loved this one, too. After reeling from The Hunger Games, Catching Fire and Mockingjay, I needed more dystopia to keep the high going, so I finally read this one. And I loved every bit of it. I know it gets better with the next two books, and I am very excited to read them. :D Soon.

8. Five Flavors of Dumb by Antony John – This book wouldn’t have made the list if I didn’t read it on time. If I read it in 2011, this would probably have made it in my 2011 list. :P I love the cover, and the story is just as good as the book. It’s not often you read a YA novel about a band, and it’s even rarer that you read a heroine who was deaf. It’s got diverse characters, a great story and a very rocking ending. :) A book that makes me reconsider my Top 10 is a book that deserves more attention. :D

9. Fairy Tale Fail by Mina V. Esguerra – You know you really love a book when you re-read it and it still gives you the same feeling it did on the first read. You know you love a book when you actually re-read it in the first place, and within the same year, to boot! I re-read Fairy Tale Fail after I finished reading The Maze Runner, and I really needed a pick-me-up after. It definitely picked me up, and it made me wish to have my own Lucas all over again. :)

10. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins – And like every Best of 2010 books out there, I must not forget about Anna and the French Kiss! This book was an absolutely fun read. After a series of not-so-stellar books, this one just kind of blew my mind. :) I realized a lot of things in this book, particularly: I still love contemporary YA the best, and you can tell a completely ordinary story in an extraordinary way. This is also one of the books that I got on Kindle first, then the hardcover when I found out it’s already available here. That much love, people. That much love. :)

Runners-Up:

  • Paper Towns by John Green – I finished the John Green trifecta this year, and out of all books, I have decided that I liked Paper Towns best. While An Abundance of Katherines was the funniest and happiest, I thought Paper Towns had the better plot and would fare better for a re-read. :) Plus Radar + Ben and the road trip? Priceless.
  • Tall Story by Candy Gourlay – I wouldn’t have heard of this one if not for Pao and Chachic, and I am glad I got this one. Tall Story is a charming story about siblings, Filipino folklore and magic. This is a very heartwarming story, and I am glad this book is available internationally so more people can read it. If you haven’t read it, do include it in your 2011 reading list. You won’t regret it. :)
  • Unwind by Neal Shusterman – I wouldn’t have picked this book up if I hadn’t heard good things about it from my Goodreads friends. Perhaps my reaction to this was a bit similar to The Knife of Never Letting Go – I plunged into it ready to love it, and I did. It’s not a very cheerful book being dystopia, but it’s very good and it has a lot of potential for a re-read. :)
  • Once Was Lost by Sara Zarr – I read two of Sara Zarr’s books last year and I loved them, so when I saw she had a new book, I knew I had to read it. Once Was Lost was just as beautiful as her other books, but I think I like this one more because it tackled faith. I loved how simple Zarr’s prose was, and how she tackled sensitive issues with grace. If I may quote my review: “Once Was Lost makes you think, makes you ask, and in the end, makes you believe that no matter what the tragedy is, no matter how hard things are, there will always, always be hope.
  • Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan – I read this one fairly recently, and I really liked it. I don’t know if my moods influenced how much I liked it though…but like I said before: any book that has me smiling like an idiot at the last page deserves a recognition. :)

Honorable Mentions:

See, I told you it was too hard. I’m sorry if I overwhelmed you with too many books in this list! It’s just very, very hard to choose. Maybe next year I’ll be more critical, but I’m glad I read so many good books this year. Looking forward to what 2011 had to offer. :)

Now it’s your turn. What’s your top reads in 2010? :)

Check out my other 10 for 2010 posts!
10 Favorite Male Characters
10 Favorite Female Characters
10 Favorite Couples
10 Favorite Authors
10 Most Anticipated for 2011
10 Blogging and Reading Highlights

I’m giving away some of my favorite books in 2010 in my Anniversary Giveaway! Get to know the awesomeness that is Feed by Mira Grant, the first book in the Newsflesh trilogy! Every comment you leave is one entry — the more comments you leave, the more entries you get! :) Click the image for the mechanics and the list of prizes!

10 for 2010: Favorite Couples

I am a sucker for a good romance. Not a love triangle, mind you, but an honest to goodness believable romance. I was never a fan of the love at first sight thing, nor those romances where the two characters barely know each other and fall in love. I like my romances developed over time, and I like good friendships that serve as a foundation for those romances. Did that make sense?

So today’s 10 for 2010 are the couples that made my toes curl, made my heart beat faster and made me sigh with happiness as I closed the last page of their book (or the latest book, in case it was a series). Here are my Top 10 Couples for 2010.

1. Anne Elliot and Captain Wentworth (Persuasion by Jane Austen) – Do I really even have to explain this? :P Austen really knows her couples and even if the language is old or there aren’t many breathtaking moments in her stories. There always seems to be an ultimate breathtaking moment in the story. I mean, how can Anne Elliot say no to a letter that tells her, “You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope. Tell me not that I am too late, that such precious feelings are gone for ever. I offer myself to you again with a heart even more your own than when you almost broke it, eight years and a half ago.” It’s no wonder so many people love Austen.

2. Anna and Etienne (Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins) – Probably my favorite couple of the year. :) These two deserve all the recognition they get because their relationship is one of the most realistic relationships I have ever read about. I like their friendship, I like their witty banter and I like how imperfectly perfect their relationship was. I know the road to getting to the end for the two of them is difficult and often painful, but I wouldn’t mind going through that if it meant having my own Etienne. :)

3. Fire and Brigan (Fire by Kristin Cashore) – Fire and Brigan are like Anna and Etienne in a fantasy world, and then some. Fire was apprehensive of Brigan, and we had no idea what was going on in Brigan’s mind. And then the two started talking. And talking. There’s a certain sweetness in how their relationship developed that makes me smile.

4. Lissa and Kaz (It’s All About Us # 6: The Chic Shall Inherit the Earth by Shelley Adina) – This was one of the couples I squee’d over at the start of the year. I love Shelley’s series, and I love that she ended the series with a full circle, going back to Lissa and how different she is from the first book. And I love how she wrapped up Lissa’s love life here — Kaz is simply perfect for her. Remembering them still gives me the tingles. :) It’s you. It’s me. It’s us. *sigh*

5. Kate and Curran (Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews) – This couple is just…well, hot. The sexual tension between them was sizzling from the moment they met! I love how Curran cared for Kate even while they beat each other up. I love how Kate denied that she liked Curran for a long time until finally giving in and admitting to herself that she’s interested (hmm, reminds me of someone!). I love how the authors take their time in building their relationship. I cannot wait to see what happens next. :)

6. Ellie and Lucas (Fairy Tale Fail by Mina V. Esguerra) – What’s not to love about this relationship? I like how they started out as friends, and how Lucas wasn’t a rebound guy for Ellie. I like how uncomplicated things are for them. I love that they’re both okay with themselves before they got together, and this goes to show that you need to be your own person before being with someone else.

7. Elle and Heath (Love Starts with Elle by Rachel Hauck) – These are two truly broken people: one grieving for the loss of his wife, the other hurt from a broken engagement. I love how these two became a part of each other’s healing and eventually fall in love. These two people are the most prayerful couple I’ve read this year, and even if it’s fiction, their love story has a lot of lessons. :)

8. Ally and Jake (She’s So Dead to Us by Kieran Scott) – This couple is fun. Snarky, and fun and cute. I want them to be together, and it was really good that the author gave us a chance to see both sides of the story. Their love story is cute and fun, and I look forward to the next installment of this series.

9. Eddie and Jane (Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde) – They are the probably the oddest couple in my list, true to Jasper Fforde’s quirky style. They’re not particularly sweet, but I love their team-up and I love how their relationship developed. :) That final twist at the end of Shades of Grey was awesome, even if it seemed like the two are going to go against all odds. Too bad the next book won’t be out anytime soon.

10. Dash and Lily (Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan) – These two almost didn’t make the list only because it took me a while to finish it. But I’m glad I did. They’re not as hot as Anna and Etienne, and their relationship seems highly unbelievable, but they’re such a cute couple that I cannot not include them. There is something so sweet, so fresh, so…innocent about these two that made me love them. And their book has so many quotable quotes that I think I dog-eared so many of it (and incidentally, that’s how Dash’s mom does it too). Super cute. :)

Check out my other 10 for 2010 posts!
10 Favorite Male Characters
10 Favorite Female Characters

Oh, and you do know I’m giving away some of my favorite books in 2010 in my Anniversary Giveaway, right? See why Anna and Etienne are such a lovable couple in Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins. Every comment you leave is one entry — the more comments you leave, the more entries you get! :) Click the image for the mechanics and the list of prizes!