Randomosity on Fridays: Poetry Edition (Again)

Since it is still National Poetry Month, we thought we'd have another poetry post to see you through to the end of the month. Here's a poetry-themed Friday 5!

Ever since Lydia Kang and April Genevieve Tucholke poetry prompted each other to "atropine" last week and I joined in, we've been on a roll with the Twitter poetry prompts. We even had a few more people join in, namely Tere Kirkland and Erin Bowman. It's challenging and fun and a quick exercise for your literary muscles.

Lydia blogged about it at the Lucky 13s blog here: Three Notes on Poetry You can find us on Twitter under the hashtag #twtpoem. We'd love for your to join in!

The prompts so far: atropine, stitches, pulse, nicotine.

1) Here are our Twitter poems:

2) In other poetry news, this award-winning spoken word piece by Rachel Rostad has been floating around on the internet, and it's pretty badass. It's a good example of poetry as a platform for passion and discussion. Here's "To JK Rowling, from Cho Chang." (Disclaimer: I love the heck out of the Harry Potter series, but you gotta admit, Cho Chang kind of got shafted as a character, and for someone like me who was both surprised and pleased that for once an ASIAN GIRL was the hero's love interest, she ultimately was quite disappointing.)

And Rachel's thoughtful response to critiques of her piece. (In summary, she IS a Harry Potter fan and doesn't hate JK Rowling, but Harry Potter is a good place to start discussions of social justice because it's popular.)

3) Alz has shown herself to be quite the poet on the blog before. You can see her funny book haikus and rhymes if you click the "poetry" tag in the sidebar.

4) Last week, for Pocket Poetry Day, Elena did a really cool post at Novel Sounds pairing poetry with popular YA books.

5) My love for you is true. So here's more Tom Hiddleston reading poetry.

Tom Hiddleston - When You Are Old by W. B. Yeats

When you are old and grey and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;

How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true,
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face;

And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.

Leave a few #twtpoems for us on Twitter just by using the hashtag or leave some in the comments! We'd love to see them! OR do you have any thoughts on Rachel Rostad's spoken-word piece?

Happy weekend, lovelies!


Book Review: The Summer Prince by Alaya Dawn Johnson

This is a review a long time in coming, but it's one that had to be done because I think this book is surprising in how complex and ambitious it is - and how well it pulls it off! Lucky for you, it's been out since the beginning of March. Get reading!

THE SUMMER PRINCE by Alaya Dawn Johnson

Disclaimer: Received an e-ARC from publisher through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

PROS: Superb world-building; complex characters; deep themes

CONS: Plot pacing / set-up; meandering First Act

Intellectual Rating: 8 out of 10
Emotional Grade: A-

Book Blurb (from goodreads): A heart-stopping story of love, death, technology, and art set amid the tropics of a futuristic Brazil.

The lush city of Palmares Três shimmers with tech and tradition, with screaming gossip casters and practiced politicians. In the midst of this vibrant metropolis, June Costa creates art that’s sure to make her legendary. But her dreams of fame become something more when she meets Enki, the bold new Summer King. The whole city falls in love with him (including June’s best friend, Gil). But June sees more to Enki than amber eyes and a lethal samba. She sees a fellow artist.

Together, June and Enki will stage explosive, dramatic projects that Palmares Três will never forget. They will add fuel to a growing rebellion against the government’s strict limits on new tech. And June will fall deeply, unfortunately in love with Enki. Because like all Summer Kings before him, Enki is destined to die.

Pulsing with the beat of futuristic Brazil, burning with the passions of its characters, and overflowing with ideas, this fiery novel will leave you eager for more from Alaya Dawn Johnson.


It has been over a month since I finished reading this book and I’ve been trying to think of a way to coherently review it since. This book is ambitious, complex, and challenging and I find I’m still not up to the task of describing what exactly about this book made it leave such a strong impression on me.


The story is set in breathtaking post-apocalyptic, futuristic Brazil. June’s Palmares Três is a vibrant blend of future-tech, new government, and old tradition. It’s a study in contrasts: a shining city in a war-ravaged landscape; a progressive society where gender-identity and sexuality is fluid and women rule but where the status quo of the upper class is protected and tradition still holds importance; a once-utopia that was nevertheless built on blood sacrifice and maintains the separation of rich and poor in the city’s tiered structure. It was wonderful learning about Palmares Três through June’s eyes because it is a city she loves and one she begins to truly understand over the course of the book.

From the potent stench of the Verde to the blue of the sea to the little lights glowing under June’s skin, the descriptions are lush and vivid, completely immersing you in the world. The worldbuilding is logically threaded through the society and the characters. For example, Palmares Três is governed under a matriarchy and has been for centuries. As a result, gender roles are switched: June remarks that she never cries, but that it was okay for her male friend Gil to do so because that’s expected.


The characters are also complex, interesting beings. Our heroine June is hard to like but that’s because she’s a multifaceted teenager going through a huge transformation in her life. She’s artistic, talented, confident, ambitious, brave, selfish, judgmental, a bit of a loner, and it soon becomes clear (even to her) that she’s a little naive and immature. Her relationship with her mother was particularly interesting to me because the rift between them was so heartbreaking and frustrating, but you can see why both women can’t find a middle ground, that they are both grieving in their own ways. I also really liked June’s rival Bebel, who proves that first impressions are not always accurate. Enki, the titular Summer Prince, is mysterious and charismatic. He might even have been a little too inscrutable, but it played into the dynamic, catalyst-type character that he is, and it was appropriate because of what he stood for.


I’m a sucker for books that do a good job playing with and exploring their themes without being heavy-handed about it. The Summer Prince has themes in spades - not least of which is the struggle between the young and old, the price of progress, life and death, and the nature of love and art.

At its core, the book is about June’s coming of age and her dawning understanding of her place in the world and what she desires from her world. This character arc is all beautifully wrapped up in the exploration of art as a theme - art as self expression, emotion, transgression, propaganda, reflection, a vehicle for change. Through June and her art, we learn not just about her personal history but the history of her jeweled city, and through art, June discovers her own power to be influential and inspirational, her ability to see past her narrow, personal sphere.

The plot on all levels turns on acts of art, and these themes about life as art and art as this living, untamed thing are so deftly pulled through the narrative that the climax left me breathless. Though I had a few issues with the plot part of the book, this scene was still so incredibly powerful because it encapsulated so many of the themes the book built. It also perfectly bookends the opening and closing of the book and makes a poignant point about symbols and sacrifice. I’m getting fluttery just mentioning it.

Cons: Plot pacing & set-up

The only thing that kept me from rating this book higher is the pacing and set-up for the plot. I loved all the worldbuilding and character stuff, but for a good while in the beginning, it is unclear where exactly the book is going. Interesting and intriguing clues are dropped, but the thread could have been a little clearer. The major plot-conflict that comes into play could also have done with better set-up. It’s clear in the text that a conflict is brewing, but it was a surprise to me what subject the conflict actually sparked on. I also would have liked a little more fleshing out from some of the supporting characters, but this is a very small nitpick as the book is really focused on June and Enki.

Conclusion: In short, I think anyone looking for something a bit outside the mainstream YA offerings should pick this up. This is a book full of layers to peel back, a book that is both thoughtful and thought-provoking, and it is so emotionally rich. And the fact that it’s set in Brazil (why aren’t there more novels set in this gorgeous, intriguing place?) and stars a nuanced and diverse cast is a big plus. It’s a messy, beautiful book about a messy, beautiful world and the people in it.

Come back on Friday for some more POETRY celebration for National Poetry Month! (Hint: There's more Twitter poetry & we recruited a few more poets. You can join too!)


Randomosity on Fridays: Poetry Edition

[Edit: Our hearts go out to all the people experiencing craziness and tragedy this week, but especially to those in Boston where most of the crazy has been these last few days. Be safe and take care.]

April is National Poetry Month, which is nifty and totally something we should celebrate more. While poetry is a highly subjective genre (I think even more so than the way fiction is), I think it's a valuable subject of study for readers and especially writers. As writers, words are our tools of choice, and poetry can really make you realize the true power and potential in those tools.

With poetry, the focus is drawn down to the word-by-word level, where everything has to pull double if not triple duty because of the shorter (and sometimes strictly structured) form. So it can really be an exercise in precise diction and imagery, something all writing benefits from. Beyond that, poetry also takes into account the flow of words, the cadence of the lines as they're read, and sometimes even the look of the poem itself. It is a form that operates on multiple levels of comprehension and feeling, which is something we can try to bring to other forms of writing. It's like the literary equivalent of music.

Basically, I have a soft spot for poetry even though I never really studied it (or even read that much of it) from an academically rigorous standpoint. But it appeals to my sensibilities as a writer and reader, and I totally wanted to be a poet (in 6th grade) before I ever wanted to be a novelist.

So anyway, I thought I'd share a few poems to sort of lighten the tone of this dark week. First, you will find a brief medically-inspired Twitter poetry session between authors Lydia Kang and April Genevieve Tucholke, which eventually led to a line of my own.

And my little entry into this:

Here's something a little lighter on the poetry front. It's one of my favorite moments from the TV show Avatar: The Last Airbender even though it's sort of a filler episode. Sokka stumbles upon a haiku reading and proves to be rather good at it.

Lastly, since I love you all so much, here's my Brit actor crush Tom Hiddleston reading poetry. It's one of Alz's favorite poems. Beware, you might swoon.

Tom Hiddleston - He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven by William Yeats
Shared from sweating-like-a-cornered-nun using Embeddlr

"Had I the heavens’ embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams."

Q4U: What is your favorite poem? OR Share a line (or two) of atropine poetry!

Happy weekend!


Waiting on Wednesday (4)

Considering recent events, I think we're all in need of happy-making things. Since we're all readers and writers around these parts, there's nothing like anticipating books to brighten the day. Here are a few we're looking forward to.

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.


Blurb from Goodreads: Fifteen-year-old Raim lives in a world where you tie a knot for every promise that you make. Break that promise and you are scarred for life, and cast out into the desert.

Raim has worn a simple knot around his wrist for as long as he can remember. No one knows where it came from, and which promise of his it symbolises, but he barely thinks about it at all—not since becoming the most promising young fighter ever to train for the elite Yun guard. But on the most important day of his life, when he binds his life to his best friend (and future king) Khareh, the string bursts into flames and sears a dark mark into his skin.

Scarred now as an oath-breaker, Raim has two options: run, or be killed.

Fantasy is the genre of our heart, and this one sounds like it's going to be a good one. We love our girl MCs, but it's nice to get a male YA POV in there once in a while, and we're all for non-typical, non-European fantasy settings. This one is out in June, so the wait isn't too bad.

2) ROSE UNDER FIRE by Elizabeth Wein

Blurb from Goodreads: While flying an Allied fighter plane from Paris to England, American ATA pilot and amateur poet, Rose Justice, is captured by the Nazis and sent to Ravensbrück, the notorious women's concentration camp. Trapped in horrific circumstances, Rose finds hope in the impossible through the loyalty, bravery and friendship of her fellow prisoners. But will that be enough to endure the fate that’s in store for her?

Elizabeth Wein, author of the critically-acclaimed and best-selling Code Name Verity, delivers another stunning WWII thriller. The unforgettable story of Rose Justice is forged from heart-wrenching courage, resolve, and the slim, bright chance of survival.

Code Name Verity was my favorite YA book last year (only narrowly beat out for my favorite book overall of the year by The Song of Achilles), because it was so unexpectedly moving and powerful. I still can't get over how good it was, and I will review it one day when I finally have the coherent words to do so. Yes, I recommend it THAT MUCH. So it's a no-brainer that I freaked out when I heard Code Name Verity was getting a companion novel. I CANNOT WAIT for this one!

3) VICIOUS by Victoria Schwab

Blurb from Goodreads: Victor and Eli started out as college roommates—brilliant, arrogant, lonely boys who recognized the same sharpness and ambition in each other. In their senior year, a shared research interest in adrenaline, near-death experiences, and seemingly supernatural events reveals an intriguing possibility: that under the right conditions, someone could develop extraordinary abilities. But when their thesis moves from the academic to the experimental, things go horribly wrong.

Ten years later, Victor breaks out of prison, determined to catch up to his old friend (now foe), aided by a young girl whose reserved nature obscures a stunning ability. Meanwhile, Eli is on a mission to eradicate every other super-powered person that he can find—aside from his sidekick, an enigmatic woman with an unbreakable will.

Armed with terrible power on both sides, driven by the memory of betrayal and loss, the archnemeses have set a course for revenge—but who will be left alive at the end?

I was impressed by Victoria Schwab's beautiful, atmospheric writing in The Near Witch, so I was intrigued to hear that she was writing an adult novel. While the blurb is certainly attention-grabbing, it's the cover that I love. So gorgeous.

Q4U: What books are you waiting on?

And for an added dose of happy for all of this week, here's a gif of a puppy.


Randomosity on Fridays: Happy Things

Happy Friday, everyone!

We've got another wedding this weekend for another of our childhood friends. (Yep, another one. We truly are at the point when all our friends start getting married. Another good example of early 20s versus late 20s: The Sister is going to Coachella this weekend; we're going to a wedding.) Though neither of us is involved in the wedding party this time, it's still busy-busy.

And it's Friday, so here are two videos of fun things!

Firstly, we have a cool time-lapse video of the dance floor from the last wedding that the newlyweds recently posted.

Gennia and Scott Reception (condensed version) from Scott Rabideau on Vimeo.

Secondly, we have a video the Sister took of Loki earlier this week. It was a super windy day, and though Loki was a bit frightened by it, he was also really taken with the leaves that came fluttering by. Here's a vid of his floppy ears vs. the wind.

Have a great weekend, friends!


Name That Book Aww Yeah Answers

Awwwwww yeeeeah it's time for the answers to last week's Name That Book post!  This time around it was more challenging since 1) there were no book covers involved and 2) for many of them you had to have read the book or been more familiar with the details of the story to identify them.  Nonetheless, I was surprised by the many correct answers that popped up!

Let's see how you did:

1. The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle
"The unicorn lived in a lilac wood and she lived all alone."

The Last Unicorn


2. The Abhorsen Trilogy by Garth Nix
The seven bells of a necromancer, right to left:
Ranna, Mosrael, Kibeth, Dyrim, Belgaer, Saraneth, Astarael
Sleeper, Waker, Walker, Speaker, Thinker, Binder, Weeper

Sabriel (Abhorsen,  #1)Lirael (Abhorsen, #2)Abhorsen (Abhorsen, #3)


3. Unspoken by Sara Rees Brennan
A scene featuring our plucky heroine Kami Glass
and the mysterious boy Jared
and the bottom of a well at nighttime.

Unspoken (The Lynburn Legacy, #1)


4. I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen
"My hat is gone.
I want it back."

I Want My Hat Back


5. Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
Alina, the Darkling, and...I forget what they call it
but it's a magical white stag with magic antlers.

Shadow and Bone (The Grisha, #1)


So how did you do in this round of Name That Book?  Krispy got 'em all but she and I read and discuss practically everything together so she gets no brownie points.  Maybe the next round of Name That Book should be set toward stumping Krispy.  I haven't bullied her in a long time.

Q4U: If you've read any of the books above, are you excited for the sequels (if applicable)?

And for your perusal, past rounds of Name That Book:

Name That Book / Answers
Name That Book Again! / Answers
Name That Book: Stick Figure Edition! / Answers


Randomosity on Fridays: Ode to a Friend and A Wedding!

Looks like Alz's last Name that Book challenge was a bit harder than usual. So we're giving you the weekend to ponder on it and will have the answers up on Wednesday.

[Warning: Picture heavy post ahead!]

Today, we're going to reminisce about a recent wedding that was, in short, awesome. I may be biased though since it was the wedding of one of my best friends since childhood. Alz has known her since those hazy golden days too and was also in attendance. There were confetti cannons, high school reunions, and unintended celebrity run-ins, I kid you not.

Photo: Gennia
It was also ridiculously gorgeous thanks to the sunny weather of Palm Springs, the oasis-like setting of The Parker, and the fact that my friend is an accomplished artist, designer, and photographer (as is her hubs and therefore, they have a fine eye for style). In fact, I featured her on this blog a while back as part of our AAPI Month celebrations: Feature Friday with LA-based graphic designer & photographer Gennia.

Gennia is one of my nearest and dearest friends, the one who got me into like half the fandoms I've ever been in and had 2nd breakfast and Elevensies with me throughout high school. Foodies + media junkies for life! I'd wax more poetic, but she reads this blog sometimes and is so not into cheesiness. So I'm going to stop now before I bring out the cheese fountain. Just know that she is amazing, funny, and tall (grr!), and she and her hubs (who is undeniably one of us) made their Big Day one of the best weekends ever for all of us. I couldn't be happier for them.

So I think it's best to sum up my sentimental thoughts with this ode I wrote for laughs sometime in high school, and it's all still true!

Oh Gennia!
How you inspire me
with your sharp wit
and impeccable
How you can turn
the most idiotic of subjects
and make it sound
How you can find
the deepest of meanings
in words and phrases
that make no
Oh Gennia!
How irreplaceable you are
to not only our dinky town
but also the world at

Now, the wedding in pictures!

Getting ready & sitting pretty. We played our favorite songs and drank mimosas.
Bridesmaid gift. *hearts*
Me and the Maid of Honor.   Photo: Gennia
Wedding attire: shades of coral + gold heels. Getting dressed & ready for photos, then show time!
Photo: the Sister
Bride and her mother.
The ceremony: Their vows, guys, were enviably good: sweet, genuine, and funny without being cheesy. Not gonna lie, made me a little misty & others outright shed tears (of joy!).
Photo: N. Jin
Photo: M. Nelson
Bride with her dad.    Photo: T. Kiefer
Husband and wife.   Photo: M. Nelson
Cocktail hour: catching up with old friends (some high school friends we hadn't seen since HS were there. Plus, we hogged the polaroid camera & spammed the wedding guestbook.
Photo: the Sister
Me + Sister before stuffing our faces. Photo: the Sister
I should not at this point that during the "getting ready" part of the day, one of the girls and I went to the pool to get something from her bf. Little did we know that Cameron Diaz and her crew were chilling poolside that day. We didn't recognize her, but she asked us if we were part of a wedding. We answered, but we were in a hurry so we were probably a bit brusque. Sorry, Cameron D!

The reception: Gorgeous decorations + ridiculously good food. Like literally one of the best meals I have ever eaten. (Can you say lobster macaroni? Duck? Short rib?)
Hall of lights.     Photo: M. Nelson

Dancing: Lots and lots of dancing. I'm not one for dancing, but I partied like it was 1999!
The First Dance.    Photo: the Sister
Bridesmaid bride circle!   Photo: the Sister
One of the best moments of the night: the groom's knee-slide across
the dance floor to Footloose. It's because he resembles Kevin Bacon.

And I do believe I mentioned something about confetti cannons...
The whole confetti cannon thing literally started as a joke. The groom thought it'd be awesome to have confetti cannons going off at relevant points, and my Sister was the staunchest supporter of the whole confetti cannon idea. The rest of us thought it was hilarious, but we didn't think it was actually going to happen.

IT HAPPENED. BOOM! *mic drop*
Ending: The night ended with a special live performance from 2 of the bridesmaids. They sang Andrea Bocelli & Sarah Brightman's "Time to Say Goodbye" in the original Italian.

With interpretative dance too!
The next morning: Farewell Brunch. We took pics with our HS friends. (Alz is not in these photos because she's camera shy.)

"Act casual!"
We were re-enacting our HS prom photos.
Oh and I danced so much at the reception, I broke my shoe. Really. Now I know what the 12 dancing princesses felt like... That's also why I was in flip-flops in the brunch pics above.

Goodbye, flats! You've had a good run!
There was also a PHOTOBOOTH at the reception, and we took a lot of photos, so I'll save them for later. It was fun and ridiculous and there were lightsabers involved.

In the meantime, happy weekend, friends! And go see Jurassic Park in 3D or something because a T-REX coming at you would be all kinds of cool!

Sister's excellent lonely raptor impression.
Q4U: What is/would be a MUST-HAVE song on your wedding reception playlist? For us, it was I WANT IT THAT WAY by the Backstreet Boys. The second that song came on, practically all the young women in the room rushed the dance floor to dance and sing it at the top of our lungs. It was magical.