Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday - Top Ten Books On My Winter TBR List

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted at The Broke and the Bookish.

This week's topic is Top Ten Books On My Winter TBR List. You know, it seems kind of silly to make a list like this, since I didn't get through all the books on my Fall TBR list... or my Summer TBR list.  I either need to stop getting sidetracked by reading other stuff, or I need to read faster so I can cross more of these books off my list!  Or I need to stop filling up my TBR list with new books.  Yeah... that last one is probably what I should do...

And We Stay by Jenny Hubbard - I'm a sucker for novels in verse.  This one's subject matter looks heavy, but it looks like it might be a good story, too.

Black Ice by Becca Fitzpatrick - Sounds like a suitable book for winter, does it not?  I thought Hush, Hush was okay, but the narrator was kind of stupid.  I've heard this book is better in that regard.

A Dream of Lights by Kerry Drewery - This looks cold and bleak, but also kind of fascinating.  Young adult novels set in North Korea are not exactly common!

The Ex Games by Jennifer Echols - Snowboarding... winter... yeah.  I don't think I want to read a book like this in the summer, do I?

Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers - I've heard (mostly) good things about this book and its sequel, and people are already talking about the third book, so I really should start this series before I end up encountering spoilers.

The Lord of Opium by Nancy Farmer - I don't think I've read a book by this author I haven't liked.  Maybe I'll read this one if I find myself needing to take the bad taste of another book out of my mouth!

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo - I don't know a lot about this series, but I don't think I've heard anything bad about it.  The synopsis does sound interesting (and I know I'm way behind on this series; I need to get to it... yesterday)!

Stolen Songbird by Danielle L. Jensen - I've been meaning to get to this one for a while.  I should just read it already!

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas - Yeah, I know.  Why haven't I read this one yet?  To be frank, I'm a bit leery of this one because it's had so much hype.  I have had bad luck with over-hyped books lately.  But I do kind of want to see what all the fuss is about.

The Winter Witch by Paula Brackston - What other time of year am I going to read a book about a winter witch?  Summer?

What's on your TBR list this winter?

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Liebster Award


Thank you to Amanda of Of Spectacles and Books for nominating me for this award!  The Liebster Award is for bloggers with fewer than 200 followers, and its purpose is so that we in the blogging world can get to know each other better.

As part of receiving the award, you are provided 11 questions by the one who nominated you. Here are my answers to Amanda's questions:

1. What do you do outside of blogging?  Some of my other hobbies include creating custom content for my favourite computer game, The Sims 2; tracing my family tree; and reading (both fiction and non-fiction).

2. How much of the people outside the Internet realm know you blog?  My mother knows I blog.  That's about it!

3. What is your top five favorite reads of all time?  It's difficult to pick just five... and I'll probably second-guess myself afterwards.  Oh, well.  I guess I'd have to say: I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith; Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver; A Certain Slant of Light by Laura Whitcomb; Fire & Hemlock by Diana Wynne Jones; and Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion.

4. If you could meet three people in real life (living or dead) who would they be?  This is another tough question.  I think I'd like to meet Shirley Temple Black (because she had such an interesting life), Leonardo da Vinci (because he had such an interesting mind), and one of my distant ancestors (because it would be awesome to hear family stories from the people who actually lived them).

5. What is the longest book you've ever read?  I had to check Goodreads for this one.  I figured it was either Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer or Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J. K. Rowling.  At first glance, the latter is longer... but then I realized I read the Canadian edition, which (like the UK edition) is over 100 pages shorter.  So Breaking Dawn wins.  How embarrassing.

6. In your opinion, what is the best book to film adaptation?  This is a tough one.  I'm generally not that enamoured with recent book-to-film adaptations.  Some of the best ones seem to be from classic books.  I think I'm going to go with Much Ado About Nothing (1993) because it's a fairly faithful adaptation.  Plus, it's really beautiful to look at.

7. Is there a movie that you can quote from beginning to end? What is it?  At one time, I could do that with the 1993 version of The Secret Garden.  I'm not sure if I could quote the whole thing anymore (I haven't watched it in a while).

8. If you could do anything in the world, no matter how much it cost, what would you do?  I'd probably travel... but I'd also like to have a nice, comfy house to come home to.

9. What is your biggest fear and greatest dream?  My biggest fear is getting to the end of my life and not having lived any of my dreams.  My greatest dream is to be satisfied with the life I've lived.

10. How long have you been blogging?  I've had a book blog since 2009.  But I blogged for a few years on Xanga before that, and I had a website or two through sites like Geocities.  One of those websites even helped me land a job!

11. What is the best thing about the blogging community to you?  I like the fact that, through blogging, we get to meet a diverse range of people that we might not otherwise encounter.

Now I get to nominate people who have to answer my questions!  *evil laugh*  Don't worry... I'll try to make them fun.

I nominate:

Molly of Woven Magic Books
Lina of Every Book a World

Here are my 11 questions for you:

1. Are you a writer as well as a reader?  If so, do you write just for fun, or do you hope to publish one day?
2. Is there a book or series that lots of people loved, but that you hated?  What about a book or series that lots of people hated, but that you loved?
3. Have you ever written, contemplated writing, or read fan fiction?  If so, for which book/series?
4. What were your favourite books as a child?  Were they picture books or novels?
5. Name five book characters that you wish were real so you could hang out with them.
6. Do you do anything else while you're reading (listen to music, eat, watch TV, etc.)?  Or do you need complete silence so you can concentrate?
7. What was your favourite subject in school?  Does it still interest you now?
8. Do you have a favourite reading genre?  What is it?  Do you ever read books in other genres?
9. You're going to throw a party with a theme based on your favourite book.  What games would you play?  What food and drink would you serve?  How would you decorate?
10. Would you ever name one of your children after a book character?
11. What genre of music would dominate the playlist for your life?  Or would there be a mix?

Have fun answering these questions!  I can't wait to see your answers!

Weekly Recap - November 16-22, 2014

Here's what I blogged about over the last seven days:

Monday - I reviewed The Fault in Our Stars by John Green and gave it 1.29 ladybugs.

Tuesday - I participated in the Top Ten Tuesday meme.  This week's topic was sequels we can't wait to get.

Thursday - I participated in the Booking Through Thursday meme.  This week we talked about which book's ending we'd like to change... and how we'd change it.

Saturday - I shared the new books I got this week in New to the TBR Pile.

How was your week?

Saturday, November 22, 2014

New to the TBR Pile (10)

Bought from Amazon.ca:
My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century (My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century #1)
by Rachel Harris

On the precipice of her sixteenth birthday, the last thing lone wolf Cat Crawford wants is an extravagant gala thrown by her bubbly stepmother and well-meaning father. So even though Cat knows the family’s trip to Florence, Italy, is a peace offering, she embraces the magical city and all it offers. But when her curiosity leads her to an unusual gypsy tent, she exits... right into Renaissance Firenze.

Thrust into the sixteenth century armed with only a backpack full of contraband future items, Cat joins up with her ancestors, the sweet Alessandra and protective Cipriano, and soon falls for the gorgeous aspiring artist Lorenzo. But when the much-older Niccolo starts sniffing around, Cat realizes that an unwanted birthday party is nothing compared to an unwanted suitor full of creeptastic amore. Can she find her way back to modern times before her Italian adventure turns into an Italian forever?

A Tale of Two Centuries (My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century #2)
by Rachel Harris

Alessandra D’Angeli is in need of an adventure. Tired of her sixteenth-century life in Italy and homesick for her time-traveling cousin, Cat, who visited her for a magical week and dazzled her with tales of the future, Alessandra is lost. Until the stars hear her plea.

One mystical spell later, Alessandra appears on Cat’s Beverly Hills doorstep five hundred years in the future. Surrounded by confusing gadgets, scary transportation, and scandalous clothing, Less is hesitant to live the life of a twenty-first century teen…until she meets the infuriating—and infuriatingly handsome—surfer Austin Michaels. Austin challenges everything she believes in…and introduces her to a world filled with possibility.

With the clock ticking, Less knows she must live every moment of her modern life while she still can. But how will she return to the drab life of her past when the future is what holds everything she’s come to love?

What's new to your TBR pile this week?  Let me know in the comments!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Booking Through Thursday (39)

Booking Through Thursday asks:

If you could change the ending of any book you’ve read, which would it be and how would you change it?

Ooh... this is a fun one.  Okay, let's see.  Heh... I have just the book:

Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer

In my rewrite, the Volturi would come to Forks and kill all the vampires because they went ahead and made a baby vampire.  No, wait... we'll have to back up, because there shouldn't even have been a baby vampire, based on the rules that Meyer laid out earlier.

Edward is supposedly like marble... so the story really should have ended on their wedding night.  Bella dies from massive hemorrhaging after having sex with the equivalent of a well-hung stone statue.  Oh, wait... vampires don't have blood flowing through their veins, so sex wouldn't even be possible in the first place.

Darn it, Meyer!  Why'd you have to make this so hard?

Okay, let's back up even further.

At the end of Twilight, Edward would realize that his presence in Bella's life only serves to put her in danger, so he gallantly bows out of the equation, leaving Bella free to fall in love with Jacob, who, without Renesmee in the picture, believes for the rest of his life that it's actually Bella he loves and imprints upon... and not just her ovary.  They end up living happily ever after, eventually marrying and having a litter of babies who all tend to smell like wet dog (because it's the Pacific Northwest and it's always wet and raining, according to Arizona-based Meyer).

Oh, wait.  If Jacob was in love with Bella's ovary, that means he might imprint on his own kid!  Darn it...

Okay.  James kills Bella in the ballet studio.  The end.  (Sorry... but that's the only logical conclusion to this series.)

What book's ending would you like to change?  Tell me in the comments!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday - Top Ten Sequels I Can't Wait To Get

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted at The Broke and the Bookish.

This week's topic is Top Ten Sequels I Can't Wait To Get.  I'm kind of having more luck with stand-alone titles at the moment; series just aren't doing it for me.  So I'm not sure I can come up with ten.  Or maybe I can...  Let's see:

End of Days by Susan Ee - Book three in the Penryn & the End of Days series!  Eek!  I have rolled my eyes through much of the first two books, and yet... I need to keep reading.  There's something about these silly angel books that's just so addicting.

The Fox Inheritance by Mary E. Pearson - The Adoration of Jenna Fox is one of the most highly rated books on my blog... and yet, I still haven't sought out the sequels.  Maybe it's time to change that.

Hollow City by Ransom Riggs - If this book is anything like Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, it should be really good.  I can't wait to read more about those unique children and their adventures.

The New Hunger by Isaac Marion - This is actually the prequel to Warm Bodies, but it was written after.  It would be interesting to get some backstory on how R and Julie's world ended up the way we see it in Warm Bodies.

untitled Warm Bodies sequel by Isaac Marion - Once I've read the prequel, I'll be all set to read this sequel, whenever it comes out.

Night of Cake & Puppets by Laini Taylor - I loved the three main books of the Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy... and yet I haven't read this companion novella yet.  Why haven't I?  Why?!

Quest by Aaron Becker - Journey has gotten my highest rating so far this year... and it's a wordless picture book!  I really want to "read" this sequel.

Scarlet by Marissa Meyer - I wasn't all that impressed with Cinder, but I've heard that Scarlet is actually better... so I might give it a try.  I like the premise of the whole series; I just wasn't sold on the characters and world-building in the first book.

Under the Light by Laura Whitcomb - A Certain Slant of Light is one of my favourite YA titles.  I've been meaning to read the sequel for ages, but I just can't bring myself to pay full price for the book (and the library doesn't have it... boo!).

The Untimely Deaths of Alex Wayfare by M. G. Buehrlen - The 57 Lives of Alex Wayfare is a weird book for me.  I did enjoy it (though not as much as my rating reflects; it's one of the reasons I changed my rating system a bit), but that ending really made me keep thinking about the characters and story, and the book has actually grown on me since I finished it.  I'm really looking forward to the sequel now; I must know what happens!

What are some sequels that you're looking forward to?

Monday, November 17, 2014

Review - The Fault in Our Stars

The Fault in Our Stars
by John Green
Date: 2012
Publisher: Dutton Books
Reading level: YA
Book type: prose novel
Pages: 318
Format: e-book
Source: library

Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel's story is about to be completely rewritten.

Insightful, bold, irreverent, and raw, The Fault in Our Stars is award-winning author John Green's most ambitious and heartbreaking work yet, brilliantly exploring the funny, thrilling, and tragic business of being alive and in love.

(synopsis from Goodreads)

Thanks to John Green, I don't even have to write a review of this book.  It's right there in the text, thrust into the mouth of Augustus Waters by his own creator:

Tell me my copy is missing the last twenty pages or something.

... tell me I have not reached the end of this book.


Thank you, Gus.  That about sums it up.

This must be one of the most infuriating, tiresome, exhausting, utterly pretentious pile of pages I have ever had the displeasure of reading.  Ever.  Unlike the vast majority of people who read this book, I did not enjoy it.  I did not cry, either, despite reading about the tear-jerkiness factor in other reviews.  In fact, my first reaction upon finishing TFIOS was to heave a huge sigh of relief (while simultaneously thinking, "Seriously? That's it?") and then break out in a huge smile because I had finally (finally!!!) finished.

To be fair, the story itself isn't completely awful.  Unfortunately, I hated pretty much everything else.  I've never read anything by John Green before, and I think it's safe so say that I never will again.  In fact, I'll probably go out of my way to avoid his books if this is how he writes, like someone "who says fancy things to get attention like a really precocious eleven-year-old and I feel super bad for [him]".  (Sorry... I couldn't resist.  But, really, I wasn't kidding when I said earlier that John Green basically wrote this review for me.)

Because of the writing, I pretty much hated all the characters.  Augustus Waters is a Manic Pixie Dream Boy who is way too close to a masculine version of Hazel... only a lot nicer and supposedly hot (which makes it okay for him to stare at Hazel like a stalker when they first meet; if he was ugly, I guess she would've called 911 or something).  Hazel's parents seem placed into the story only to provide a bit of conflict at the oddest moments.  Hazel's friend Kaitlyn is conspicuously absent for most of the book, appearing in only a few scenes, acting like a total poseur and being nothing more than a... actually, I'm not really sure what the point of Kaitlyn was.  Isaac, Gus's friend, is probably the only character in the whole book who didn't make me either roll my eyes, scratch my head in bewilderment, or want to scream, but he played such a relatively small role that even he couldn't salvage the book for me.  And then there's Hazel, which leads me to my main problem with this book: I absolutely hated the main character (and main character-hatred is a really difficult thing for a book to overcome).  She's rude, selfish, nihilistic, depressing, and mean (even though Gus says she isn't... but I heartily disagree; you don't tell a blind guy that it wasn't "nice" of him to have his eyes cut out of his head and retain your "not mean" status).  But the worst thing about Hazel is that she is so annoyingly pretentious.  This whole book is pretentious, continually veering off into philosophical ramblings that seem to be vomited from the characters' mouths... just because.  If I wanted to read about philosophers, I'd pick up Sophie's World again (which somehow manages to entertainingly incorporate philosophy and fiction without being so maddeningly pretentious).

I made so many notes as I was reading this book, but I'm too worn out to post them all or even try to incorporate them into this review.  Maybe I'm just too old, maybe I'm jaded, or maybe I just can't relate to a book about teenagers who speak as if they're all vying for the Nobel Prize in Really Depressing Insights on the Universe.  This book didn't elicit the sorts of emotions in me that it seems to elicit in everyone else; instead of a tear-jerker of a beautiful story, The Fault in Our Stars was, for me, just an exercise in endurance.

Now I can say I've read it.  But I can't say I'd really recommend it.

Quotable moment:

Look, let me just say it: He was hot. A nonhot boy stares at you relentlessly and it is, at best, awkward and, at worst, a form of assault. But a hot boy... well.

Recommended to: fans of pretentious teen characters who all sound like wannabe philosophers

Plot: 1/5
Characters: 1/5
Pace: 2/5
Writing & Editing: 2/5
Originality: 1/5

Enjoyment: 1/5

Overall Rating: 1.29 out of 5 ladybugs