Sunday, June 3, 2012

Daughter of Smoke and Bone

My favorite book of 2011 was Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor . Beautiful, lyrical prose. Fascinating plot. Interesting and inspiring characters that I really cared about. A kick-butt heroine who is fierce and fragile at the same time.  Perfect amount of magic. Incredible settings. Surprises and secrets. Imagery that made me feel like I was really there. Believable relationships. Strong female friendship (something I always look for in YA books). A heartbreaking romance. Character chemistry that gave me butterflies and made me go all tingly. The perfect blend of fantasy and real life. I could go on, and on, and on. I LOVE this book. I don't want to give anything away, the way Laini reveals bits here and there is part of the magic, so here is the official description.
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?
This awesome description doesn't even begin to do the book justice. It is all of that plus SO MUCH MORE. I love this book so much that on a recent business trip to Prague (one of the settings of the book) I dressed up as the main character Karou and took pictures pretending to be her. By myself. With a tripod and a camera remote. At 7:00am. I woke up early so I could do it before my conference and to avoid the crowds. I got pretty into it (action shots anyone?) and had a blast. I'm missing a beaded necklace and a few tattoos, but I did my best to "be" Karou. Here are some of the shots from that morning along with some of my favorite quotes from the book. If you've read the book maybe you can guess which scenes I had in mind- I don't want to give too many clues or spoilers for those who haven't had the pleasure of reading it yet. And yes- this is full fledged book obsession/geeking out. Proud of it. 

“She had been innocent once, a little girl playing with feathers on the floor of a devil's lair.” 
“Hope can be a powerful force. Maybe there's no actual magic in it, but when you know what you hope for most and hold it like a light within you, you can make things happen, almost like magic.” 

“Karou was mysterious. She had no apparent family, she never talked about herself, and she was expert at evading questions--for all that her friends knew of her background, she might have sprung whole from the head of Zeus. And she was endlessly surprising. Her pockets were always spilling out curious things: ancient bronze coins, teeth, tiny jade tigers no bigger than her thumbnail. She might reveal, while haggling for sunglasses with an African street vendor, that she spoke fluent Yoruba."
“She knocked and waited, because when the door was opened from within, it had the potential to lead someplace quite different.” 
“It's not like there's a law against flying."
"Yes there is. The law of gravity.” 
"If you want to see my palms, just ask"
*Thanks Jeni for getting me the beautiful hand hamsas from Turkey!

Karou wished she could be the kind of girl who was complete unto herself, comfortable in solitude, serene. But she wasn't. She was lonely, and she feared the missingness within her as if it might expand and...cancel her."
“The streets of Prague were a fantasia scarcely touched by the twenty-first century—or the twentieth or nineteenth, for that matter. It was a city of alchemists and dreamers, its medieval cobbles once trod by golems, mystics, invading armies. Tall houses glowed goldenrod and carmine and eggshell blue, embellished with Rococo plasterwork and capped in roofs of uniform red. Baroque cupolas were the soft green of antique copper, and Gothic steeples stood ready to impale fallen angels. 

Thank you, Laini Taylor, for creating such an amazing world and characters that I love so much!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Cliché for a reason

 KGT surprised me with beautiful gardenias and See's chocolate. A winning combination. Little things go a long way.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Live As Only You Can

Great advice from one of my favorite authors
Photo taken at sunrise on the appropriately named Sunrise Beach, Haad Rin, Koh Phangan, Thailand 

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Swing Swing

If you know me you may know I am terrified of falling. Not heights but of the actual act of falling. I'm ok with roller coasters (I'm strapped in, I'm ok!) and airplanes (statistically I'm fine) but put me on a 2-foot stepladder and I'm shaking so hard I will probably topple over (proving that you should have NEVER put me on that stepladder).

If you know me you also might know I really, really, really LOVE trees. Bamboo, Redwoods, Evergreens, Banyan Trees- I love them all. Further proof here and here. Trees even play a pretty big part in my WIP.

When I was in Chiang Mai this month my love for trees was put to the test. I had an opportunity to go zip-lining in the jungle of Northern Thailand.  I've been zip-lining before but you zip-line, land, walk to the next podium, zipline, land, repeat. This was something called "Flight of the Gibbons" and you literally zip-line from tree to tree.

I had to at least try it.

We started out with some warm-up lines not too far above the ground. I didn't enjoy it at all. My harness felt too loose and was chaffing and our instructors were goofing off. After the second trial run we landed on a tree that was shaking in the wind and I almost turned back.

But I didn't- and I'm so glad I stuck it out and conquered my fear of falling! At least for the day. I did every single zipline- even the ones where they connect it to your back and you free fall for a bit. It was AMAZING. The views were incredible and I got to see the jungle and the trees in a way I never would have been able to from the ground.

Tree love!

Ok, maybe I was still a little scared. Just of the landing though!

Couples zipline. Aww
Lesson- always better to do something because you love it instead of not doing something because you are scared.

Also. Trees are awesome.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Happy Year of the Dragon

Why hello there! It has been a while. Hope 2012 is off to a glorious start for you. Happy Year of the Dragon!

Last year was year of the Rabbit- which was my year. I thought it was meant to be a good year but apparently your own year is bad luck. 2011 was pretty fantastic so if it was supposed to be my "unlucky" year I can't wait to see what 2012 has in store for me!

I spent the Chinese New Year holiday in Hokkaido, Japan (which was absolutely MAGICAL- details to come) so missed most of the festivities and fireworks here in Hong Kong but did manage to check out some of the fun in the days leading up to the holiday.

KGT and I were exploring on a lazy Sunday and stumbled upon a charming little street market in Sheung Wan with lots of CNY goodies. KGT got me a cute handmade dragon ornament -I collect ornaments and love them to have a story to go with them. I also found some fantastic fluffy earmuffs for only 30 HKD (about 4 USD) for my Japan trip. They broke by the end of the trip but I'd say I got my money's worth.

Being the dragon (obviously)

And it wouldn't really feel like Chinese New Year in Hong Kong without a trip to the beautiful and somewhat tacky New Year's Flower Market in Victoria Park, CWB.  One side is all sorts of dragon related kitsch as well as a ridiculous amount of Angry Bird merchandise. This side is crowded with people trying to get you to buy whatever they are selling. The other side is remarkably tranquil and calm and full of beautiful flowers for the new year. I bought a lovely little cherry blossom bouquet that waited until I came back from Japan to bloom.


pinwheels to blow away bad fortune 

Dragons everywhere


Happy Year of the Dragon- best wishes for health, happiness, and good fortune! 

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


Stop American Censorship

Congress is about to pass internet censorship, even though the vast majority of Americans are opposed. We need to kill the bill - PIPA in the Senate and SOPA in the House - to protect our rights to free speech, privacy, and prosperity.
We believe in the open internet. Do you?
Watch the video, please!