Leviathan — Book Review // 4 of 5 stars

  

(check out my new page: What is The Fandom Café?)

Leviathan written by Scott Westerfeld.

Genre: young adult steampunk alternate history.

Premise: Prince Aleksander, would-be heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, is on the run. His own people have turned on him. His title is worthless. All he has is a battletorn war machine and a loyal crew of men.

Deryn Sharp is a commoner, disguised as a boy in the British Air Service. She’s a brilliant airman. But her secret is in constant danger of being discovered.
With World War I brewing, Alek and Deryn’s paths cross in the most unexpected way…taking them on a fantastical, around-the-world adventure that will change both their lives forever.
My Thoughts:

Plot: There were plenty of unexpected moments and twists to keep me guessing. For me the World Wars are a fascinating time period, so reading a book about the first War set in an alternate history, steampunk world was extra fun.

Worldbuilding: Brilliant, very well thought-out and written. I like a book where the world is so fresh you can see what’s happening, feel the essence of it, and know what everything looks, tastes, and smells like as if you were really there. Even though the slang Deryn speaks is often crude, it perfectly fits the world Westerfeld created. I’ve caught myself saying “barking spiders” several times. Also, Deryn’s rides on the Huxley are so real they were making me giddy. 

Characters: Ahhh… the characters. ^_^ Alek captured my heart at once — charries with tragedy do that to me. He’s such a sweet, brave, lonely little boy. By the time he realizes he has no clue how to pretend he is a commoner I was rooting for him completely. Deryn is a fiesty, clever-boots, determined girl who took a bit longer to worm her way into my affections (more on that later) but I love her to pieces now. Of the two Alek is my favorite. His character arc throughout Leviathan is fascinating to watch, from a little boy playing a strategy game with his toys to a responsible young man. 

I like everything about the Count, particularly his dry snark and when he talks politics with Alek — which is almost always. (Can I just say how much I loved the addition of politics in this book. Lots of books leave that element out of their worldbuilding, or only touch on it briefly, and I love that Leviathan wasn’t like that.) The “boffin” doctor is another favorite with her quick mind, clever dialogue, and enigmatic way of behaving. Diplomat much? I like how she keeps Deryn on her toes, but I felt badly for how easily she tripped up Alek in verbal sparring. Poor chap. He has a lot to learn. 



My dislikes:

Firstly, the evolutionism. One side of the War — mainly the Brits — are called Darwinists because they have evolved species of animals to make them more useful and spliced together genes to create various creatures that are combinations, e.g. dogs with spiders legs or a weird mixture of tiger, lion, and I don’t remember what else. It’s uncomfortable to read about because it’s so clearly against the laws of God, nature, and scientific logic. 

The other thing is Deryn’s attitude towards being a girl. It’s one thing to disguise yourself as a boy so you can be a midshipman, it’s quite another to do it with a hearty disgust about everything feminine. One of the saddest effects of feminism is girls who are taught to be uncomfortable as womanly women. 

Despite those two points I enjoyed Leviathan very much, and I’m dying to pick up Behemoth and see what happens next. 

In conclusion: Leviathan is an engrossing read with some unfortunate elements, but with stellar worldbuilding, a captivating plot, and lovable characters. 

–> The Fandom Café: now serving spoilers <–

GUYS. If those eggs don’t turn out to be dragons I will be barking furious. I will REND ALL THE THINGS. (kudos if you get that reference.) Also, I know they’re still children practically but I ship Alek and Deryn. so. hard. I need this to be a thing. And I’m dying of curiousity: has anyone else shipped the Count and Dr. Barlow together? Because there would be so much snark and adorableness. I WILL GO DOWN WITH THIS SHIP. 

And can we just talk about the Huxley rides for a moment? Did they make anyone else feel dizzy? Heights are not my Favorite, BUT the moment when Deryn uses the whole set-up like a zip-line was EPIC. And I was freaking out when Dr. Barlow asked Deryn about her razor. I wonder how long it’ll take her to realize that she’s a girl? 

Oh, my stars. O.O How will Alek react?!! *hyperventilates* 

–> Exit the Fandom Café <–


I am interviewed by a Fellow Scribbler

  
(via pinterest.)

Recently the lovely Heidi asked me if I would like to do an author interview with her on her writing website. Of course, I was highly honored and delighted to do so. She sent me her thoughtful, in-depth questions, and the rest is history! 

1. (Heidi) Some differences and similarities you see between the three major forms of storytelling—literature, music, and film? 

(Annie) Oh, goodness, this question is fascinating and surprisingly difficult to answer. Some obvious similarities between film vrs. literature would be they both involve characters, emotion, and some semblance of a plot. But simultaneously they tell their stories in very different ways. A book drops you inside the minds and thoughts of its characters. Reading requires imagination and…. read more.

What Makes The Perfect Autumn TBR?

 

(image via pinterest. words are my own.)

Autumn. The nip of chilly air. Trees blushing rosy red. Dead leaves rustling like paper in the wind. The scent of bonfires and ripe, sweet apples. 

Something about the Fall season always makes my bones tingle with the longing to read, read, read — more so than usual, even.

Autumn is when I dig out mysteries and cozy novels and books that tend to run more than 400 pages long. Something about the season’s air is perfect for curling up in your warmest flannel with a novel that makes you deliciously frightened. Or sprawling out on your (quilted, soft) bedcovers with a book that keeps you breathless with laughter. And autumn breathes the feel of poetry, which means well-loved — and new — poets are in demand.

Annie’s Autumn TBR: 

The Phantom of the Opera (first read)

The Silver Branch (first read)

Behemoth (first read)

Jane of Lantern Hill (re-read)

A Tale of Two Cities (re-read)

The Wrath and the Dawn (first read)

-A few Shakespeare plays

Flights and Chimes and Mysterious Times (first read)

Rebecca (first read)

Rooftoppers (first read)

Pilgrim’s Inn (first read)

-A Scarlet Pimpernel book

Fly Away Home (re-read)

Halo: Fall of Reach (re-read)

Ivanhoe (re-read)

Winter (first read)

I also plan on reading a goodish amount of Wodehouse and Agatha Christie (pretend I haven’t been doing that already). Plus G.K. Chesterton’s Father Brown, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and C.S. Lewis, and various poets. 

And since this post fits the prompt, I’m linking up to the Broke and the Bookish.

Tell me all! What makes the perfect Fall TBR for You? What books/genres will you be digging into this season? Your Go To autumnal Read? And (this is important) do you drink cider whilst reading? Eat pumpkin pie? (Aimee and Amanda, I know you two don’t. We’re still friends, though. *gives you apple pie*)

I am Juliette sneak peek // the 7/7/7 challenge 

  
The sweet Victoria and the inspiring Nicole both tagged me for what is called the 7/7/7 challenge. 

In a nutshell, I trot over to the seventh page of my manuscript, count seven lines down, and share the seven lines below that. LET US DO THIS.

Quick synopsis: I am Juliette is a light science fiction re-telling of Beauty and the Beast. A girl wakes up from hibernation on a starship with no idea how she got there or why. The ship appears to be deserted other than a few quirky robotic birds, but then she discovers a mad prisoner trapped in a containment cell. 

And many feels go down. *fangirls/cries inside*

The seven lines:

“A hospital?”

“Negative,” POND I chirped.

I tapped my lip, and looked the hall over once more. My gaze fell on the wall-sized image of a night sky, bright with stars. A planet shone in the remote background.

Holographic wallpaper, maybe. And is that supposed to be Earth?

//

And I shall tag…… Joy @ Fullness of Joy | Schuyler @ My Lady Bibliophile | Emily @ The Herosinger | Carmel @ CARMEL | Mirriam @ Wishful Thinking | Hanne-col @ Ain’t We Got Fun | Elisabeth @ The Second Sentence | and anyone else who wishes to participate! Don’t be shy, ladies and gentlemen. 

Ten Books I Am Eager To Read In The Near Future

  
(image via Pinterest. words are my own.) 

This week for Top Ten Tuesday we all basically get to do our own thing. Did anyone else besides me panic momentarily? 

Hence: 

Ten Books I am dying to read soonish (probably during the months of ice-and-frozen-fingers-and-hibernating-in-a-nest-of-blankets-and-drinking-all-the-hot-chocolate).

  

  
1. The Phantom of the Opera.

This book has been described as epic and glorious and beautiful and heartbreaking and I can’t wait to get my icy fingers on it! I actually have a read-along planned with two friends for this October so I’m stoked about that. *flails*

  
2. Macbeth.

Let’s take a minute to swoon over that cover, shall we?

Now then. Much of the classic lit I’ve read has little nods to this particular Shakespeare play, and I want to know what it is all about. Every tiny snippet I’ve caught of it on-line is gorgeous. 

Plus, it’s a tragedy which means all the feels. 

Let’s do this. 

  
3. Red Rising.

Aimee read this and it sounds just my cup of tea (despite the fact, I’ll have to read it with white-out in hand). I love books that tear my emotions apart, and are rich with story, and moral conflict that makes me think. 
  

4. The Wrath and the Dawn.

Alright, I haven’t the faintest idea if this is clean or rubbish (any of you know?) but, it’s a re-telling of one of the most fascinating Arabian Nights stories, and I want to read it in the worst way.

  
5. Flights and Chimes and Mysterious Times.

Steampunk! Metal fairies! Clockwork dragons! Time-travel! Villainesses! More steampunk! 

I NEED IT.

  
6. Shirley.

In a nutshell, after the heart-wrenching, rich beauty that was Jane Eyre I desperately want more of Charlotte Brontë’s writing.

  
7. Seraphina.

Mathematical dragons in an alternate-medieval world? 

YES PLEASE.

  
8. Pendragon’s Heir.

Because I’ve never read an Arthurian legend book and a friend of mine wrote it and it sounds all around epic.

  
9. The Book Thief.

This sounds like one of those unforgettable reads that is about as close to perfection as one can get. We need to become acquainted, this book and I. 

  

10. Show Your Work!

I blame Schuyler for my eagerness to devour this. That and Steal like an Artist being such an inspiring read. 

Have YOU read any of these books? Thoughts? Which ones intrigue you the most? What books are YOU dying to get your hands on? 

Flash fiction — Her (part two)

Oh, goodness, thank you all so, so much for your positive response to Her!! Everything you said was so encouraging, inspirational, and just so overwhelmingly nice! *group hugs* Have a cupcake, and a bag of chocolate chips. (find Part One here.)

Her [part two]

Light.

Crouching on the ground, your eyes closed, even then it’s blinding.

Your head spins.

Teleportation three times in half an hour will do that to a person.

The first time you are too much in shock to take the child’s mother with you.

You remember the child.

So you went back for the stick woman with the sky-eyes.

Finding her dead was another shock.

It makes sense (you think now). Without her child, what reason was there to live?

Finding her limp body, the strong spirit fled like a falling star…

You open your eyes.

The sight of freshly piled dirt floods your vision.

Taking lives and burying those already gone.

Will you never be done with death?

A soft sound filters into your awareness and you look up.

The child shifts in her bundle of blankets. She watches you curiously with her blue eyes. Blue eyes that are too bright.

Too trustful.

You look away and stand up straight.

With a flick of your hand, the child floats up to shoulder-level. She lets out an excited squeal and tries to squirm around so she can see you.

You ignore her and look down at the grave at your feet. A cool breeze wafts past, smelling of pine and cold water and mountain air.

How do you say goodbye to someone you hurt? To someone who should have lived?

You never learned how.

In the end, you say nothing.

Words are empty.

So you turn and walk away from the mound of already drying earth.

Away from the woman with the eyes of sky and fire.

Her child floats along behind you. You resist the urge to turn your head when she squeaks, and walk steadily on, moving aside branches without bothering to touch them.

And so you make your way across the pine-clad slopes without the child receiving a scratch.

Meadows are good for hiding in. You don’t need to hide, but it makes you feel safer.

You never feel safe really.

A twitch of your fingers and the child drifts down to rest in a jumbled heap among the long, tangled grass.

She is asleep.

You move a few feet from her and sit cross-legged. The grasses stand taller than you. Sound is muted here. The whole world shut out and far away.

You look down at your gloved hands.

One heartbeat and your mind pours out a nightmare. Fractured images. Color. Sound.

A moving picture of every person you destroyed.

Automatically you begin to count backwards from a hundred.

Anything to keep away the memories.

You’ve rescued people since. 

You look away from your hands.

The hands that killed.

Faces of Men in Red flash before you.

That still kill.

In the end, do the lives saved even matter?

You can’t breathe.

“Take care of her.”

How?

How?

For the first time you look at the child (the baby). Really look at her.

She is tiny. Tiny and helpless.

You can’t remember what it’s like to be so innocent.

“Take care of her.”

It shouldn’t be you.

Not you who lost all innocence years ago when a victim’s blood spilled on the dirt.

Not you who broke the bones of a woman with eyes like the sky.

The bones of her mother.

Not you who are broken yourself.

(you want to be fixed.)

I can’t do it, you think.

Protecting a child? Being a father?

You can’t do it.

You want to. 

Getting attached to people only hurts.

You want the pain.

Losing her could break you.

You are broken already.

You don’t know how to be caring.

You want to remember.

Please, you want to remember.

Fists clutched, fragmented words tumbling through your brain — you almost don’t hear the faint, mewling cry.

You stiffen and lift your head.

The child (baby) looks at you — eyes like the sky — and yawns.

The walls built around your soul crack.

You take a deep breath.

Carefully, you tug off your black gloves, one finger at a time. Your veins show blue through your pale skin.

Without the gloves you feel vulnerable somehow.

The baby blinks at you sleepily.

You lift your hands. They tremble.

How long has it been since you touched another human?

You lean forward and gently, slowly, you scoop the baby up.

She is tiny. Light as a cloud and warm with life.

You hold her close, shifting her into the crook of your arm, and it feels natural and unfamiliar all at once.

For the first time in years your heart stumbles from something other than fear or anger.

Your eyes burn and you taste salt water on your lips.

The baby looks up at you and yawns again.

“Hey, there,” you whisper.

“Fourteen”

Fourteen years ago I was a six year old little girl. 

Fourteen years ago the world as I knew it changed forever. 

  
I still remember that day as if it was yesterday.

I remember Dad renting a TV so we could watch as the atrocity unfolded.

I remember sitting in front of it on the hard, wooden boards of our floor, my siblings clustered around me. 

I remember the confusion I felt.

I remember my mother crying as she tried to grasp what was happening (how could this possibly be happening). I remember her crying when she explained to me.

I remember the fear. (so little, and taut with vague fear and dread, even though I’m with Mummy and Daddy.)

I remember the horror as I began to realize that people were dying. (so many people).

I remember watching people jump from the towers in desperation. I remember clutching my fists, unable to believe my eyes. 

I remember turning to Mummy with one simple word: “why?” (Mummy always made everything better.)

I remember being too stunned to even cry.

I remember Mummy holding me and my two younger sisters close as if –thousands of miles away from NY — something could happen to us.

I remember people streaming to churches. 

I remember praying numbly myself, and in my six year old mind not even knowing exactly what to pray.

I remember the stories of heroism and humanity and patriotism that finally made me cry when I couldn’t before.

I remember wanting to donate blood, but not knowing exactly what it meant.

I remember being fiercely proud of my people, my nation, as we banded together and bound up each other’s wounds.

This was my first encounter with horrific tragedy. 

Six years old.

Someone, I can’t remember who, told a story with tears streaming down her face about not remembering to give her Dad a hug that morning. He died two hours later.

For more than ten years after that I hugged my Dad goodbye every morning without fail.

My parents taught me to be thankful, to live life treasuring each moment, savoring every breath.

9/11 drove that lesson home.

May we never, never forget those who died, those who gave their lives to save others, and the thousands who are still affected by September 11th. 

“…. That we here highly resolve that these dead have not died in vain: that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom, and that the government of the people, by the people, and for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” — Abraham Lincoln, the Gettysburg address.

“…. I will not say, do not weep, for not all tears are an evil.” — J.R.R. Tolkien