BOOK TALK: Old Favourites, Part Three

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Hey, y’all… I don’t want to alarm anyone, but it is almost MAY. Did you know that? MAY. Sweet pineapples, where has the year gone?

April, May, and June are the release months of some new books I am MOST excited about in 2015. In fact, The Girl At Midnight comes out tonight…at midnight! Look how that works out. I have been YEARNING to get my grabby hands this book since I heard about it last year, and now it’s tomorrow! YAY.

(Yes. I am the girl who marks book release dates in her calendar and makes countdowns and follows an author’s works for years beforehand. Is that weird? Abnormal? I thought I’d made it clear that I am both of those things.)

Because I’ve been bouncing with anticipation all day, I thought I’d channel my book energy into another post about some books from my “All-Time Favourite” shelf.


DOSABDaughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor

Genre: YA Fantasy  Published: September 2011

Amazon | GoodReads

Shan’s Stars: 5 STARS

About The Book: Around the world, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky. In a dark and dusty shop, a devil’s supply of human teeth grown dangerously low. And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherwordly war.

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real; she’s prone to disappearing on mysterious “errands”; she speaks many languages–not all of them human; and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out.

When one of the strangers–beautiful, haunted Akiva–fixes his fire-colored eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?”

While writing this review, I tried to find words to pinpoint why exactly I love this book so much- it’s not just because the main character has blue hair, I swear! Though, if there was a way to make MY hair permanently blue, I would definitely do it, make no mistake.

This book is beautiful and poignant and surprising, kind of like meeting an child with an old soul, or someone who is wise beyond their years. There may be other books out there that have this specific story and flavor, but if there are, I haven’t found them yet. And after reading Daughter… I’m not sure I want to look. This book has what I need. I LOVE stories that take well-worn tropes or oft-beaten horses and turn them inside out. It’s kinda of a thing of mine.

The rules of Taylor’s world are so fresh. Maybe even unexpected? The folklore she explores and the twists she uses and the characters she writes are all so wild- all of those thrown together make for a compelling story that is difficult to read in small doses. Plan for a book hangover with this one.

Karou is lovely and smart (which I adore) and the author doesn’t shy away from EXPLAINING the fantasy world or the rules, which is also a huge plus for me. I’ve said it a million times before and I won’t stop- vagueness for the sake of looking clever drives me craaaaazy.

All in all- Daughter is the gorgeous beginning to a deep story, and while “An Angel and a Devil fell in love” may seem like a story that has been told many times over, the author found a way to make each part of her story aching and new and irresistible. Taylor leaves no character’s arc or past untouched, so this is definitely not your “run-of-the-mill” fantasy story where the reader is only supposed to care about the main character and their narrow point of view.

Gold Mine: This may not count for book one of a trilogy, but I’m saying it anyway- I am obsessed with Karou’s relationship with her best friend. It’s fun and real and kind and ridiculous. So many fantasy stories have main characters with friends and family left out of the loop or dropped from the character’s life once the story begins but not in this book. So often, we are asked to care about a character’s emotion for their people without knowing the people in the book and I think that is so boring. I though that was what was going to happen in this story, but then it didn’t and having Karou’s awesome best friend, Zuzana, be a part of the journey thrilled me to no end.

For Fans Of: folklore, magic, BLUE HAIRS, Once Upon a Time, and anyone with wanderlust in their soul.

cold tangerinesCold Tangerines by Shauna Niequist

Genre: Memoir/Inspirational Published: October 2007

Amazon | GoodReads

Shan’s Stars: 5 to Shauna, always.

About the book: “Cold Tangerines is a collection of stories that celebrate the extraordinary moments hidden in our everyday lives. It is about God, and about life, and about the thousands of daily ways in which an awareness of God changes and infuses everything. It is about spiritual life, and about all the things that we have called nonspiritual life that might be spiritual after all. It is the snapshots of a young woman making peace with herself and her life, and trying to craft a life that captures the energy and exuberance we long for in the midst of the fear and regret and envy we all carry with us. It is both a voice of challenge and song of comfort, calling us upward to the best possible life, and giving us room to breathe, to rest, to break down and break through. Cold Tangerines offers bright and varied glimpses of hope and redemption, in and among the heartbreak And boredom and broken glass.”

I can’t say much about this book without weeping or laughing or telling you too many personal stories in a row, so I’ll just leave you with a couple quotes from the book, because that is the only true way to let you feel what this book is, and also this one thing: I have been teased my entire life for being SO different and unique and crazy and unexpected… this book helped me OWN that trait and love it. I don’t shy away from the “Shannon” of it all anymore, because who I am is crazy and loud and colorful and sparkly and wild and I SO do not meet society’s criteria for “Adult” and I do not apologize for that anymore- I embrace it and dare anyone to tell me I’m wrong.

I don’t really care much or meet most of society’s criteria for “Christian” either. I am a wildly loving and inclusive Christian in a world that keeps trying to tell me to follow the RULES and how those RULES should dictate my heart. Nope, no thank you. MY rule is this: love and kindness and serving and creating a safe-haven for those who need it.

If you have a heart like that and search for beauty, daily, in an ugly world- this book is totally for you. I love it. In fact, it has been too long since I’ve read it. Lately, I’ve been weighed down with stress and bills and hard choices, so I’m off to reread it and take new inspiration from my old favourite.

From the book:

“I want a life that sizzles and pops and makes me laugh out loud. And I don’t want to get to the end, or to tomorrow, even, and realize that my life is a collection of meetings and pop cans and errands and receipts and dirty dishes. I want to eat cold tangerines and sing out loud in the car with the windows open and wear pink shoes and stay up all night laughing and paint my walls the exact color of the sky right now. I want to sleep hard on clean white sheets and throw parties and eat ripe tomatoes and read books so good they make me jump up and down, and I want my everyday to make God belly laugh, glad that he gave life to someone who loves the gift.” -Shauna Niequist, emphasis mine

“Celebration when your plan is working? Anyone can do that. But when you realize that the story of your life could be told a thousand different ways, that you could tell it over and over as a tragedy, but you choose to call it an epic, that’s when you start to learn what celebration is. When what you see in front of you is so far outside of what you dreamed, but you have the belief, the boldness, the courage to call it beautiful instead of calling it wrong, that’s celebration.” -Shauna Niequist, emphasis mine

Gold Mine: This book is beautiful because it told me, at a time when I REALLY needed to hear it, that life doesn’t have to stop being fun and crazy and spontaneous and colorful when you “grow up.” Dreams and crayons and pure joy aren’t only for children, if only we can see the loveliness and the joy to be had, daily, because such beauty is EVERYWHERE. One last quote, for the artists and creators who are stuck or needing a push:

“To all the secret writers, late-night painters, would-be singers, lapsed and scared artists of every stripe, dig out your paintbrush, or your flute, or your dancing shoes. Pull out your camera or your computer or your pottery wheel. Today, tonight, after the kids are in bed or when your homework is done, or instead of one more video game or magazine, create something, anything. Pick up a needle and thread, and stitch together something particular and honest and beautiful, because we need it. I need it.”- Shauna Niequist, emphasis mine

For Fans Of: Anne Lamott, Carry On, Warrior, soul connections, people who think real life is full of stories just waiting to be told, baking or cooking, Jen Hatmaker, and, of course, the delight of a cold and juicy tangerine.

Here is to a life full of color and joy, not because it is what you are given, but because it is what you have MADE. Cheers!