Monday, August 20, 2012

east of the sun.

Listening To: Love Can Make You New by JJ Heller
Line Obsession: "That's the trouble with loving a wild thing: You're always left watching the door." - from East by Edith Pattou

Quick Edits: 1.) If you guys have a book recommending savvy, please head to the comments before you leave! Little Fairy is looking for a great read and she's asked for recommendations. (LF - I'm taking your criteria into account and will post a few more swankified suggestions tomorrow!)

2.) If you're a college student/grad student/student of life (...?) interested/majoring in media, writing, communications, or relationships (ha ;), then you should definitely check out the internships available at Love & Respect Now. I think most of the internships (if not all) are remote and I'm guessing the hours are flexy. I think Joy Eggerichs is hilarious and smart and super classy. I'm a major fan of her blog. I'm excited to see how that origination grows. Also, I hear all interns are schooled in the proper care and feeding of unicorns ... (The deadline for applying is the afternoon of August 21st. So if it interests you, maybe check it out pronto... :)

Carry on! 


So I stayed up way, way-to-the-too-late reading an amazing book. And I only caved to sleep because 1.) my eyelids were closing, despite my better efforts and 2.) because I wanted to save just a few chapters of the book for today.

I didn't want the book to end. 

I love books like that.

And even though I'm still in a story-spell over it, unable to concentrate on very basic things (..."How did my left shoe get on my right foot?"), I'm going to try to coherently tell you about this book.

First, let me tell you briefly how I came to read the book.

Do you remember my friend, Hannah? 

Hannah lives in a gorgeous old house in a town with a gorgeous name. Recently, Hannah and I pulled into her driveway and she smiled and pointed to her back yard where, I kid you not, bunnies were hopping and butterflies were fluttering. She's like a hipster Snow White.

While a deep adoration of literature is not a pre-requisite for solid friendship, I find booknerds tend to attract one another. Have you noticed this? As it happens, my closest friends all seriously love to read. And Hannah teaches middle school reading so she reads loads of middle grade and YA novels - two genres I adore. Gorgeous books are stacked all over her Hipster Snow White house. (Hannah also gets to read my fiction in it's early drafty days. And she's still my friend. #Miracle)

Because of Hannah's expertise, I sometimes call her and say stuff like: 

I'm in the mood for a fantasy; something way fantasy. Not so much magical realism but seriously gorgeous, dark, other-worldly fantasy. But maybe not too dark. But I'm all for heroes and trolls and monsters and a prince and stuff. Well-written. Not too frilly. 

Hannah always considers my highly academic descriptions seriously, and then she ponders the best book for my situation. I picture her walking through her beautiful old house, her crazy-high heels clicking steadily along the wood floors, as she considers the spine of every book stacked in every gorgeous room.

Recently, as usual, Hannah came through with an amazing book. 

Her most recent recommendation was a dark, lovely, other-worldly, well-written (but not frilly) fantasy. The kind of book that kept me up way-to-the-too-late reading.

She gave me Edith Pattou's East.

If you love Narnia, if you love Shannon Hale's books (especially her Bayern series), OhMyLanta, you have got to read East.

Have you ever heard of the fairy tale, East of the Sun, West of the Moon?

Admittedly ... I had not.

But that doesn't matter! In fact, it was kind of fun going into this book having no clue what to expect. This story is loosely based on that fairy-tale, but East actually reminded me of another fairy-tale I was way more familiar with. I don't want to give anything away by telling you what it is, but the story definitely has a familiar kind of comfort in the pages. Even though you don't know what to expect, you know how to steady your heart. Know what I mean?

This is why I don't do book reviews. Anyway!

East definitely worked its magic over me. Even though the book has a fairy-tale vibe, Rose (the main character) is no damsel in distress. She's a serious adventurer/artist/daydreamer. She's incredible and her journey, which is perilous and dangerous and wonderful, felt so unique. East is the kind of book you feel.

While there *cough cough* might be a slight love story that emerges along the way, I also loved reading a book that portrays a real, loving, working family relationship. Both of Rose's parents are still alive; both flawed but so loving and kind. Something about their family dynamic reminded me of the Weasleys a little bit. Rose is especially close to her older brother, Neddy. I adored him and the way he took care of her. Their relationship is perfectly written.

I also love that East is an accessible fantasy. The names aren't so crazy, and the places aren't so bizarre, that you stumble over the story just trying to figure out what the heck people are saying. The dialogue, though fantasy-flavored, is totally readable, lovely, and fitting. (And there are a few different POV's here - I usually don't like a dual narrative in a book but this is, like, quadruple narrative or something. And it works!!)

The crazy part, for me, is that the book is approximately 400something pages long ... but somehow, it's a quick read. East is a great example of a book where word count doesn't hinder momentum at all. I'm pretty sure I was on page 3 when I knew it would, eventually, keep me awake trying to finish it. East is a sweeping, lovely, sad, beautiful story of a girl's journey to save her family, to save *ahem* someone else she loves, and, eventually, to figure out what her unique destiny will be.

"Epic" is such an overused word now, but this story earns a description like that. Even though the book is (maybe?) considered young adult, I think older middle grade readers would love it just as much. Even if you're a bonafide adult reader (...whatever that means), the book won't feel too young.

Especially if you were once, and are forever, a Queen in Narnia.
(Or a daytripper to Middle Earth.
Or a girl who knows that there is, in fact, such a thing as a tesseract ... ; )

East is deserving of every award it received (and there were a bunch). While East reminded me of the books I loved when I was younger, the stories that made me fall in love with literature in the first place, it also piqued my creativity. East is the kind of book that challenges you to let your imagination carry you through a story; no matter how many wacky twists and turns it takes.

Stories are wild things. Maybe sometimes you shouldn't try so hard to tame them.

So there's my book recommendation for you fantasy readers: Edith Pattou's East.  If you get a chance to read it, please come back by and let me know what you thought of it! (Trivia Point: On Edith's website, she says "Pattou" rhymes with "Tattoo".)

Speaking of fairy-tale retellings, have you heard about Disney's Frozen? I thought it was a re-telling of The Snow Queen, but apparently it's doing its own thang. But I'm pretty sure it's still Snow Queen-ish. And I think Idina Menzel and Kristen Bell are doing the voices.  Which means, regardless of what it's about, I'll be there on opening weekend ... 

(Here's East on Goodreads, if you want to add it to your list. Be wary of spoilers in the comments...)

Question: What's the last book that worked a story-spell on you? The book you stayed up too late reading and then couldn't stop thinking about? 


  1. I have had 'East' on my TBR pile for AGES and've just made it shoot to the top of my list. :)

  2. I love how easy it is to love so many different kinds of books... thinking about books that read so fast and so intensely that you forget to go to bed makes me think also about books that are slow in story but so painfully beautiful that you can't stop reading them either (like Atonement, for example.) That variety is what makes books so magical, I think.

    However, when it comes to books that you can't put down and that follow you from room to room once you do, I don't think anything tops "The Historian" by Elizabeth Kostova. Natalie - have you read it? Every two pages in that book contain something that evokes an audible GASP. It's that awesome.

  3. I love reading your book descriptions! Even though I'm not a fantasy fan, you make me want to read it :) I don't get to read too much (for fun that is) because of school so I've been trying to make up for it this summer. The last book that kept me up was Finally and Forever by Robins Jones Gunn. It's the last one in one of my favorite series so I had to know how it all ended :) Currently I'm reading The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society. It's really really good, but not quite keep me up until 2 good.

  4. I think book nerds are drawn to other book nerds because we can't possibly understand people who don't read for fun. :)

    As the Narnia stories are my favorite books ever and I also adore Shannon Hale's stories, I just added this book to my to-read list.

    The last book that had me up late and that I couldn't stop reading was (ironically) Forest Born, the last of the Bayern series. It wasn't especially impressing me at first, but then all of a sudden it got amazing and Rin reminded me so much of me.

    But as much as I love to read, it is a very rare book indeed (like Deathly Hallows rare) that will keep me up much past bedtime. I am a grumpy girl when I don't get sleep. :)


  5. I will have to read this book. It sounds fantastical.
    I've been looking for something good to read lately. Sadly I haven't had a great book adventure in awhile. What was the last great book I read? Hmm...I can't remember. How sad is that? I am in a severe book slump. Any other suggestions? I really love fantasy and historical fiction but I also adore contemporary. And I read young adult and children's books because they are always the best. Seriously though, I'd love some book ideas from any of you commenters!

    1. The Peculiars by Maureen Doyle McQuerry // Waterfall by Lisa T. Bergren // Halflings by Heather Burch

      Those ^^ 3 books up there have bee my fave reads so far this year.

  6. I haven't read East-I want to, but I've read Jessica Day George's East of the Sun, West of the Moon and Sarah Beth Durst's Ice, both of which were good retellings of the same tale. I sadly haven't read anything recently that has really captured me. Several months ago I did read Grave Mercy all in one day and considering it's 500 pages, that's saying something! Also, Harry Potter always manages to sweep me away to another world. Same with Anne of Green Gables. Both books give me "reading fogs" :)

  7. Hannah house (heels included) sounds just like the reprieve from my future classroom that I have on pinterest.

    East is definitely now on the list, you never disappoint with your book suggestions, and the reviews albeit may not be the most technically sound are to die for and the genuine emotion behind them make the book all that more mysteriously dreamy. So I thank you. :)

    I'm re-reading Lois Lowry's The Giver (it's on the syllabus for my Children's Lit) and I love that I loved it in middle school and reading it again now I love it even more for all of the thought-provoking eloquently painted paragraphs that I didn't grasp back then. (How many times do you think someone can say "love" when describing a book and it doesn't waste the meaning?)

  8. Room by Emma Donoghue - I read it last year after I moved to Wisconsin. It's amazingly written and although a little sad (def a drama) I couldn't put it down!
    Nonfiction that really moved me was Same Kind of Different as Me.
    Also for Urbana 12, we've been studying the book of Luke and some of the passages with Jesus really have me thinking what it really looked like there.

  9. I have been wanting to read Insurgent by Veronica Roth ever since it came out. I loved Divergent and I am desperate to know what happens in Insurgent. Have you read it?

    East sounds magical! Definitely a fall read for me. :)

  10. Oh my, you should definitely check out Legacy and Allegiance by Cayla Kluver. The third book, Sacrifice, is set to come out in a couple of months. I wasn't expecting much from the first book, but I read it in the car on vacation and absolutely could not stop reading it. When we finally got to our hotel room, I stayed up by myself with one little lamp on while my parents slept so that I could continue reading. I just feel that you would really like these books :)

  11. Ignore my previous comment about The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society...the night after writing that comment, it kept me up much past my intended bedtime! the ending is so good :)

  12. Janette Oke books are my favorite!