Top Ten Tuesday: 10/21

Ten New Series I Want to Start

77473741. Mark my words, I will start the Lorien Legacies (I Am Number Four) this year! There are so many books in the series, which is exciting to me. I loved the movie, so hopefully I love the books more.

2. I recently stumbled across the Once Upon A Time Fairytales on Goodreads, which are essentially retellings of beloved, classic fairytales. There are several different retellings, including Cinderella, Rumpelstiltskin, The Little Mermaid, etc., which are written by different authors, so I have plenty to choose from!

3. The Elemental Trilogy looks phenomenal. The first two books are already released, and the third book is due to publish 2015. It’s a story of magic and destiny, which is right up my alley.

4. The Snow Like Ashes series looks fantastic, too. Orphans, warriors, magic, enemies, kingdoms…it has a fabulous rating on Goodreads, and the reviewers are raving about it.

5. For some reason, I’m typically drawn to fantasy books with female protagonists. However, after reading the description and reviews of the Prince of Fools (The Red Queen’s War series), I think I’ll definitely be picking it up.

6. I’m a little behind (or a lot since the first of this series was released 8ish years ago…) but I REALLY want to start the Mortal 256683Instruments Series by Cassandra Clare. I’ve seen the movie and LOVE it, I actually didn’t know there was a series until I read the details on the movie. Now, it’s definitely on my to-read list but I know that as soon as I start one, I’m going to want to read them all immediately after. Maybe Christmas break?

7. The Shades of London series by Maureen Johnson sounds like it is right up my alley. I follow Maureen on Twitter and she is HILARIOUS but I’ve never read any of her books! The whole Jack Ripper-reappearance is something I am super intrigued by. Definitely hoping to crack into these soon.

8. I’m a huge sucker for zombies – I live for The Walking Dead, World War Z, and pretty much anything else zombie-related (I even have zombie garden gnomes on my Christmas list…). It should come as no surprise then, that I desperately want to read The White Rabbit Chronicles by Gena Showalter. The books are about Alice (Ali) Bell finding a way to avenge her parents’ untimely death. The first 2 books in the series were released already, and the 3rd was just released last month.

172346589. The first book in the Firebird triology, A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray was just released and it gets amazing reviews on Goodreads. I can’t help but be drawn to it – a book that, according to the Goodreads summary, explores a reality where we witness the countless other lives we might lead in an amazingly intricate multiverse, and ask whether, amid infinite possibilities, one love can endure? Sign me up! Buying ASAP.

10. Again, it’s been a few years since the first in the Hourglass Series by Myra McEntire was released, but it sounds SO good too. Emerson Cole started having visions after her parents’ death but all she wants is to be normal, so her brother brings in a consultant from an organization called Hourglass to see if she can be cured. Enter a mysterious man that seems to know more than he lets on, and you’ve got the makings of a series that I just can’t resist.

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by the Broke & the Bookish. Check out more Top Ten features on their site. 

 

The Assassin’s Curse by Cassandra Rose Clarke

13533650I read this on vacation, lazily choosing it from my Nook library when I realized it had gone unnoticed for the past few months. Though a good story for an escape while nestled in the hotel sheets, it didn’t quite hit the mark for me.

At 188 pages, it was a quick read. It’s Clarke’s debut novel, for a debut, it really wasn’t bad. However, I didn’t quite feel the ‘wow factor’, either.

On one hand, the story was very imaginative and original. I’ve read my fair share of pirate and assassin books (respectively), but this was completely different than anything I’ve ever read.

The story begins with a runaway pirate bride on a camel. No joke. Her betrothed is angry, and his family sends an assassin after her—she ultimately saves the assassin’s life, which means he is forever indebted—or cursed—to protect her. She is unable to leave his side, which is obviously pretty frustrating. Together, they work to find a cure for the curse.

There is mystery and magic. Intrigue and an elaborately fabricated world. The two main characters are pretty complex, though I found myself grinding my teeth at Ananna’s uneducated pirate speak. If she used the word ‘ain’t’ in a sentence one more time, I thought I was going to flip.

In all, the book was decent, but it wasn’t spectacular. I’m not sure I’ll pick up the second book, but I don’t regret reading the first! I gave it 3/5 stars on Goodreads for being average.

Lauren11

Revenge Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger

16130307I bought this on impulse walking by a Bargain Books rack in my local Hastings…after all, is it really possible to walk past a Bargain Books rack and not purchase something? I digress.

This book was terrible. The first few chapters were about getting reacquainted with Andy, the protagonist from the Devil Wears Prada (one of my favorite books, I might add) and how much PTSD she still suffers 10 years later. I was down with that. It’s been years since I read the first, and though her “Miranda Priestly traumatized me” rants and flashbacks were a little bit obnoxious, I dealt.

I dealt with it for all 400 pages, actually. Why? Because I purchased a solid, hardback book. The first one in a very, very long time. It wasn’t just a measly digital copy on my Nook, purchased half-heartedly through Barnes & Noble—with those versions, it’s not personal. It’s easy to set down. With a hardback, paper-smelling book…it’s personal.

I rated this book 2/5 on Goodreads. Let’s get to why.

1. I read the whole thing. It wasn’t SO terrible that I had to put it down and never touch it again. I do enjoy Lauren Weisberger’s writing style, so that made it more bearable. That is the only reason it got two stars instead of one—her writing style.

2. Everything goes terribly wrong for Andy, but only because she is a negative beezy. She has the perfect guy, the perfect job—-but calamity! She finds out that her mother-in-law hates her, her then-fiance had a drink with his ex-girlfriend at his bachelor party, Andy finds out she is pregnant, Miranda Priestly offers to buy her business for millions (Andy doesn’t want to sell), and realizes she misses Alex, the poor soul she dumped in the first book.

3. Everyone is skinnier than Andy, with “coltish” legs. Andy is a size four, but everyone is skinnier than her—though she “doesn’t notice” or “isn’t jealous” or “doesn’t take offense”, it’s brought up every other page. Her best friend is thinner than her, and constantly makes jabs at Andy’s frumpy “fat rolls”. The celebrities Andy interviews always have “coltish legs”, which they are constantly “folding” under themselves. Andy can’t fit into her size small Spanx shorts after her pregnancy. She has to wear a maternity dress to a dinner and treats it like the end of the world. I miss Andy from the first book, who wore a six to eight, had terrible hair, zero fashion sense, and just wanted to be an international correspondence journalist.

4. The ending was the worst. Spoiler alert: Continue reading “Revenge Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger”

Throwback Thursday: Goddess of Yesterday by Caroline B. Cooney

226550I received my hardback copy of the Goddess of Yesterday during a summer reading program at my local library in 2004. To get our free book from the book cart, we had to read for five hours and turn our coupons in. I read five hours the first day of the summer program and pitched a fit when my mom wouldn’t take us back to the library the next day.

I chose this book from the book cart solely for its cover. I’ve been attracted to fantasy novels from a young age, and without reading the inside cover, I assumed this was a book about Medusa. I was wrong, as it is definitely more historical fiction, but I loved this book just the same. I’ve read it several times since choosing it from that cart, but lost it in a move several years ago.

Goddess of Yesterday is about Anaxandra, who is kidnapped by a king at a young age to be a companion to his young, crippled daughter. She adjusts to life in their culture, until it is sacked by pirates—and she’s the only one who escapes. She assumes the identity of the king’s crippled daughter, Princess Callisto, to survive, and is taken in by the King of Sparta. Helen, his wife, and Paris, her mister, do not believe she is Princess Callisto, and Anaxandra must stay out of the way of spoiled, witchy Helen of Troy to survive.

To this day, I still love the main character. She is extremely resourceful, strong, independent, and likable. She doesn’t need a man to save her, and she saves herself. She is complex and I found myself feeling for her—terrified, relieved, terrified again. Cooney does a fabulous job at shaping her other characters, too, and I also found myself hating Helen of Troy, who is extremely spoiled and terrible.

The story moves along quickly and wraps up well.

Lauren11

 

 

Top Ten Tuesday: 10/14

Ten Places Books Have Made Me Want to Visit

alnwick_castle
Alnwick Castle

1. One word: Hogwarts. But for real, I will visit Alnwick Castle before I die! I would also love to visit the train station and take the Harry Potter tour. We’ll be going to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando in December, but I want the real, English feel.

2. I know that New York is dirty, smelly, and busy—but I can’t help but want to visit after reading so many novels staged in New York. I’m a very career-oriented individual, and I can’t help but feel that the pulse and excitement of New York would vibe with me. I would love to live in a tiny studio apartment, visit tiny, busy coffeeshops, and have to walk everywhere.

3. Outlander seriously makes me want to visit Scotland—however, I can’t decide if I would prefer the present day version or 1743 version! Though the lack of deodorant, indoor plumbing, and respect for women makes the whole world sound pretty awful, Gabaldon does such a fabulous job of describing the world that I don’t think I’d mind much.

4. I read Amazing Grace my sophomore year of high school, and for some reason, I’ve wanted to visit Alaska ever since.

5. Ever since I read South of Superior, I’ve been obsessed with Michigan. If I could pack up and move to Michigan, I’d be happy! There’s something about the changing seasons, cold winters, and small-town feel to it that calls my name.

HOODCANALFRMTWALKER535
Western Washington

6. I am not a summer girl. I don’t like the heat or clothes I have to wear in order to not suffocate, and I definitely don’t like the constant sunshine. I love rainy days, the gloomy darkness that envelops everything. That’s what makes me happy. In The Things We Do For Love, Kristin Hannah describes Western Washington and the Washington Peninsula so perfectly that it makes me want to live there, with the near-constant rain and moss everywhere. Such a beautiful setting for a beautiful book.

7. In high school, I took 3 years of French but none of it stuck, I literally remember one phrase. Anna and the French Kiss makes me want to relearn the entire language and escape to Paris, eat croissants and watch old movies. The entire atmosphere of the book makes me feel like I experienced it all along with Anna and that makes the desire that much more fierce. It’s so beautiful and so different than the States. Someday, far down the line, I will go.

8. It probably doesn’t help that I am a wannabe Southern Belle, but Beautiful Creatures (and honestly any book that takes place in the South) makes it so much worse. I wish I could live there! South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, any of them. I think I romanticize it quite a bit, I’ve visited Louisiana a couple of times and it’s not all sweet tea and pecan pie. There are alligators, flying cockroaches and SO MUCH HUMIDITY. I will just keep visiting, for now.

9. I have never been one that has a huge need to travel to the outer reaches of the globe or to experience different cultures (I like to stay in my comfort zone, where I can speak English and not wonder what’s in the food). The descriptions in Daughter of Smoke and Bone make me want to do just that though. They don’t speak English in Prague, and I would have no idea what to do there, but I have this very bizarre desire to go there after reading this.

10. Right after I finished reading Eat, Pray, Love I turned to my husband and told him that we were selling all of our stuff, leaving the puppies with my mom and going to live in Bali. I know that logically, this is not a very good plan but I still want to do it! Leaving everything behind and starting new sounds like such a great idea until you really think about it…

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by the Broke & the Bookish. Check out more Top Ten features on their site. 

Read It, Watched It: Divergent

divergent-jpg_234142-550x309Books adapted into movies are rough—if you’ve read the book, you can’t help but compare the book to the movie. If you’ve seen the movie and then try to read the book, it can be difficult to finish because you already know the ending. I’m always nervous to watch the movie of a book I enjoy because it tends to ruin it.

This wasn’t the case with Divergent, though. Granted, I read Divergent last year, so perhaps I’m forgetting a few bits.

Casting is one part that can bother me when watching a book-turned-movie—either the characters are completely off, fall a little bit short, or are 100% spot on. While I don’t think I quite pictured Shailene Woodley as Tris, I think that Theo James is perfect as Four. Scratch that. Theo James would be perfect as anyone.

The movie stayed fairly close to the book, but the primary part that I was annoyed with was the lack of timeline and friendship with Christina. In the book, Tris has a pretty close-knit group of friends, the closest of whom being Christina. The reason it’s so difficult for Tris to kill Will is because he’s dating Christina—and Tris was good friends with Will. The boys that they cast as Dauntless initiates all looked the same, too, which would make it difficult for non-readers.

There was also a lack of timeline—it felt like everything happened within a matter of a few days, whereas it took months in the book. Because of this, everything felt sped up and forced, especially the relationship between Tris and Four.

I get that it’s difficult to turn a 300-page dystopian science fiction novel into a two-hour long movie, but I think it definitely could have been better.

I’ll still watch the sequel when it’s released, and this movie wasn’t terrible—I’d say 3/5 stars!

Lauren11

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed

12262741After slogging through this (much like the author trudged across the PCT), I was left with mixed feelings. Did I love it? Hate it? Neither. I would say that I occasionally enjoyed it, but really found myself squinting my eyes at another extremely long rant/paragraph about a topic the author had already talked about ten times.

A powerful, blazingly honest memoir: the story of an eleven-hundred-mile solo hike that broke down a young woman reeling from catastrophe—and built her back up again.

Cheryl Strayed hiked the Pacific Coast Trail solo at 22 after the death of her mother, cheating on her husband, and dabbling in drugs. The premise sounded interesting to me, as I loved Eat, Pray, Love and am all for female empowerment and self discovery.

Mostly, I couldn’t help but think Cheryl was a complete idiot for going off on a three-month long solo hike with zero backpacking experience. No, everything she knew about backpacking, she learned from the folk at REI and from her guidebook—which she didn’t read until she started the trail.

She is torn apart from her mother’s recent death, and essentially throws her life into oblivion. She goes on a sex-fueled rampage and cheats on her husband, Paul, whom she married at 18. He’s a pretty awesome guy and hasn’t done anything wrong but support her, so she divorces him to go find herself. He’s pretty cool with it and continues to support her through her hike, though they never get back together.

The last guy she cheated on her husband with was a dude named Joe, who introduced her to heroin. They did a bunch of heroin, she found out she was pregnant, got an abortion, and then decided to hike the PCT.

The entire book is riddled with multiple extremely long passages about these subjects. Just when you thought she was done discussing her two-week stint with heroin, she’s back at it, rambling again. I suspect this is because nothing too crazy happened on the trail, so it felt like filler content.

Sex, drugs, and cancer aside, I loved the bits of the book that talked about her actual journey—the people she met, the places she stopped, the lust for cheeseburgers, the hardships, the fear, the enlightenment—I love every word of it. In fact, despite how terrible the whole experience seemed, it made me want to go on a long hike.

I finally started to love the book about 2/3 in, until I read this passage and decided that yes, this woman is indeed batshit crazy:

When we’d finally laid down the tombstone and spread her ashes into the dirt,  I hadn’t spread them all. I’d kept a few of the largest chunks in my hand. I’d stood for a long while, not ready to release them to the earth. I didn’t release them. I never ever would.

I put her burnt bones into my mouth and swallowed them whole.

That’s literally it, and no further explanation is given. Is it literal? Metaphorical? Did she really just swallow her mother’s cremated remains? We will never know.

3/5 on Goodreads, probably wouldn’t recommend. I am interested in seeing the movie, though, to compare the two!

Lauren11

Gemini by Carol Cassella

17742914I’m going to get a little bit personal before I get into this review and just say this – working full time, going to school, blogging and trying to find time for everyone and everything? It’s HARD. A lot harder than I thought it would be. That being said, I want to give a huge shout out to Lauren for picking up my slack and making this blog what it is. She’s such a great friend, in real life and in blog life. Anyway, on to my review of Gemini by Carol Cassella…

First off, I had HIGH hopes for this book based on the tagline alone – “A stranger’s life hangs in the balance. What if you had the power to decide if she lives or dies?” I expected something a little different than what it actually is, but I was very pleased nonetheless. To me, it’s like two stories slowly becoming intertwined to show a much bigger picture.

When Jane Doe is involved in a hit and run, she is transferred to the hospital that Dr. Charlotte Reese works at, where she works harder than ever to keep Jane Doe alive and stable. When she remains unidentified, Charlotte brings up the subject with her science-journalist boyfriend, Eric. Together, they set out to unlock Jane’s secrets and find out exactly who she is.

Raney Remington lives in the poverty-stricken Olympic Peninsula town of Quentin with her grandfather. A boy named Bo comes to stay with his Aunt and Uncle there one summer, where he meets Raney and strikes up an unexpected friendship with her. The story continues to follow Raney through her life until present time, showing what she’s been through over the years leading up to Jane Doe’s accident.

Right off the bat, I got the feeling that somehow Raney and Bo were involved with either Charlotte or Jane Doe but it takes over half the book to find out exactly what that means. The writing is absolutely beautiful; Cassella does such an amazing job threading everything together. I kept trying to guess what each separate story had to do with the other, and I loved that. I do have to say that the ending held quite a few surprises! There’s an element of science that comes into play as well as the age old question of who gets to decide what happens to a patient in a coma and when. Definitely recommend reading this to anyone that likes a good drama with some mystery thrown in – I rated it 4/5 on Goodreads.

Kiesha

Throwback Thursday: Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer

1845I picked up this book during my senior year English class. We had to write a book report each quarter, and I picked this one because it was short. I didn’t choose the short book because I hated reading—I chose it so I could finish it in a few class periods and get on with the other books I actually wanted to read.

Well, newsflash: not all books on the book report reading list suck.

Within the first few chapters, I was hooked. I was so hooked that I finished it that night, and my English teacher shook her head at me and told me I would still need to read during class. An excuse to take a chunk of the school day to read? Yes.

Into the Wild details the fatal adventure of Chris McCandless. A trust fund rich kid, he decided to get rid of all of his belonging and live in the Alaska wilderness. It details his journey and his past, and ultimately, his fate. Krakauer is a phenomenal writer, and does a fabulous job at describing the scenery. I shuddered when he described the state of McCandless’ remains, his death a result of malnutrition and starvation. He died in an old school bus and he died alone.

The book is well written and researched, but I couldn’t help but dislike McCandless a little bit. He was selfish, naïve, and I felt that his demise was a little bit Darwinistic. This book ultimately made me want to pursue a career in journalism and writing, though, so I hold a little place in my heart for it. If you’re into adventure and the outdoors, this may be the book for you.

Lauren11

Top Ten Tuesday: 10/7

Ten Books for Readers Who Like Character Driven Novels

1. Luna Lovegood from the Harry Potter series is basically my spirit animal. She’s so unashamedly herself, quirks and all and I absolutely admire that. She’s brave, beautiful, and so smart.

2. Firefly Lane’s Tully Hart is another of my spirit animals. She’s afraid of absolutely nothing, she is independent and strong willed. She goes full throttle after what she wants and doesn’t let anyone, or anything, stand in her way. Plus, she’s funny! I’ve always wished I had a sense of humor like that, off the cuff remarks and all.

3. Last but not least, Tris/Beatrice from the Divergent trilogy. I LOVE all of the books and she is such a strong, amazing character. I love that even through her fear, she pushed through and followed her heart. She continuously fought for what she believed to be right and once again, didn’t let anyone stand in her way. I feel like the characters I always admire the most, and the ones that stick with me, are the ones that I am least like, and I am definitely nothing like Tris!

Kiesha

4. Alanna from the Song of the Lioness series is a total badass. I read the Song of the Lioness series for the first time when I was 14. Though a girl, Alanna decides she craves adventure and wants to be a knight. So, she switches places with her twin, Thom, and becomes a page at the King’s castle. Basically it’s full of sword-fighting, hiding her gender, kicking tail, and a very complex character profile. By the end of the series, I felt like I knew Alanna. I’ve read the series several times since then, just for the characters!

5. Though part of my love for Piper Kerman‘s character is from Netflix’s version of Orange is the New Black, I also love her character in the book (it’s more lovable than the show version). It’s a memoir of Kerman’s life in prison (which I suppose makes her a real life character?) but I found myself really enjoying her personality and story.

6. Would it be a post if I didn’t mention the Study Series? Yelena is convicted of murder and in exchange for her life is chosen to be the Commander’s food taster. Maria Snyder has painted a multifaceted character whom I felt instantly connected to (yet still wondered about her secrets and mysteries) in the first book. It’s Yelena’s character that makes the series as awesome as it is.

7. If I had a British alter-ego, it would be Bridget Jones. In fact, after reading Bridget Jones’s Diary for the first time, I caught myself occasionally using words like ‘loo’ and ‘lift’ and ‘bloody hell’. I sympathized with Bridget, laughed with Bridget, and read all of the sequels because of Bridget. Helen Fielding has a wonderful main character, but didn’t skimp on the secondary characters, either.

8. The Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas is extremely character driven—in fact, I almost put the first book down because I was having a difficult time getting it to it, but it was the way Maas constructed Celaena that kept me going. I’m definitely glad I did, because I fell in love with all of the characters.

9. I am a huge John Green fan, but Quentin and Margo from Paper Towns are my absolute favorites. I read this book when I was seventeen and really felt like I could identify with these quirky, different, but completely normal characters.

10. I really feel that the characters and relationships in Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin are what made the story as good as it was. Yes, the cheating with your best friend’s fiancé bit was interesting, but honestly, it’s the characters that move the story forward and kept me engaged. Darcy and Rachel are so different—you expect Rachel to be complex and Darcy to be shallow, but Giffin brings out a complexity to both of them that makes you want to finish the book in a sitting. You find yourself feeling for Rachel, but feeling for Darcy too. Rooting for Dex, but hating him for cheating.

 

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by the Broke & the Bookish. Check out more Top Ten features on their site.