Tags · Uncategorized

The Book Courtship Tag

After I do this tag, I’ll probably only have 90 more tags to do..No big deal..

But out of the ones I’m tagged in, for some reason, I just felt like doing this tag today. I was tagged by Charley @Bookandbakes1 and of course, Summer @xingsings. Thank you tagging me! =)

Phase 1 – Initial Attraction: A book that you bought because of the cover?

I love, love, love the cover of The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber which I got at a library sale. I think it’s very simple but mysterious at the same time. I love the gold constellation detailing which makes it easier for the reader to know right off the bat that hello this is scifi. I think I just have a thing for constellation and stars on covers because despite having people on the color, I also really liked the cover of These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Megan Spooner.

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Phase 2 – First Impressions: A book that you got because of the summary?

I have yet to find a book retelling of Pride and Prejudice that I like but when I read the summary of Eligible by Curtis Sittenfield reimagining Pride and Prejudice in contemporary times with Elizabeth as a magazine writer and Darcy as a doctor, I was like give me that right now.

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Phase 3 – Sweet Talk: A book with great writing?

The Child Thief by Brom. I love how he so seamlessly combines elements of suspenseful, eerie writing found in horror books but also combines the mysterious, abstract writing of fairytales into one book.

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Phase 4 – First Date: A first book of a series which made you want to pick up the rest of the series?

I recently read Lumberjanes by Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, and Brooke Allen which is LITERALLY like a cartoon network show. Even the art style reminds me a lot of the art in Adventure Time. Each volume feels like a different episode so even though there was no cliffhanger, I immediately wanted to pick up the next volume.

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Phase 5 – Late Night Phone Calls: A book that kept you up all night

I literally did not sleep till 4am reading The Winner’s Kiss by Marie Rutkoski. My roommate wonders how I can stay up that late reading of all things. If it’s the winner’s trilogy, I’d gladly stay up all night reading (too bad I can’t pull allnighters). I don’t know people do it.

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Phase 6 – Always on my mind: A book you could not stop thinking about?

Psycho by Robert Bloch. I could not stop thinking about the character’s deceptions and the really scary motel that they own and the twist was so mindblowingly insane. INSANE I TELL YOU. Fun fact, this was the book that inspired the Alfred Hitchcock movie and the tv series, Bates Motel.

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Phase 7 – Getting Physical: A book which you love the way it feels?

Chew Omnivore Edition 1. As much as I buy hardcover books with flaps, I actually love hardbound books, this one is so sturdy and just the right size where it’s not too heavy but not too small where you can’t enjoy every detail of the artwork. It’s the kind of book that you read when you’re sprawled on the floor, with your feet up and elbows on the floor.

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*Not my picture

Phase 8 – Meeting the parents: A book which you would recommend to your family and friends?

I always recommend YA contemporary to my friends because it’s quick and easy to read. I’ve recommended Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson multiple times. I also like to recommend graphic novels like Saga by Brian K Vaughn because there are pictures and people are more interested in that I guess if they don’t read a lot. But I kind of shouldn’t recommend that considering I don’t know how comfortable people are with explicit content. As you can see, I am really bad at recommending stuff. I’m always worried they won’t like it.

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Phase 9 – Thinking about the future: A book or series you know you will re read many times in the future?

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. A sweeping coming of age story about obsession and grief. It’s a massive book and I probably missed a lot of details but it was such an immersive ride. And the next time I read it, I can savor it more than just focusing on what’s going to happen next.

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Phase 10 – Share the love: Who do you tag?

I think I’m quite possibly the last person on the book blogging community to do this tag so I tag anyone who hasn’t done this yet. I also would like to tag some people I want to get to know more =)

Jorelene @ PageChronicles

Aldana @ perfectioinbooks

Meg @ maginibooks

It was actually kind of hard thinking of one book to answer these questions because there’s so many that could fit each one. Let me know what your answers would be for these questions! =)

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Tags · Uncategorized

Burn Reread Rewrite Tag

Thank you to Analee @BookSnacks for tagging me! Also thanks for teaching me about the randomize option on Goodreads. I did not even know that existed and I’ve been Goodreads for like almost a year now? I’m so smart..

The Rules:

-Randomly choose 3 books. (I used the ‘Random’ option on my Goodreads read shelf.)

-For each group, decide which book to burn, which one to rewrite, and which to reread. (A lot like Kiss, Marry, Kill.)

-Repeat until you completed three rounds (I’m doing 6)

 

Reread: The Lies of Locke Lamora because it’s one of my favorite fantasy series of all time and it’s seriously so amazing. I particularly love the witty banter between the characters. I literally cannot praise it enough. Like I would sell my soul to Scott Lynch. Without a second thought. No, really.

Rewrite: Probably The Child Thief. I want more Wendy and Tiger Lily! And some parts felt a little unnecessary and dragged the book down.

Burn: Soulless. I love fantasy but for some reason, I have so much trouble getting into Urban Fantasy. I just thought this was just alright. I think it tried way too hard to be charming and witty when it wasn’t..

2. 

Reread: Unteachable remains, to this day, my highest rated (4.5/5) romance book I’ve read. It’s also my most highly rated New Adult book. And a romance book impressing me is like me trying to impress Gordon Ramsay with my cooking. It’s hard. Also, it wins another award for best NA cover ever.

Rewrite: Crash Into You. Dear Ms. McGarry, Fix that melodramatic ending and that cover. Otherwise, it was a cute book.

Burn: To be honest, Crash Into You and Cuckoo Song are interchangeable for these two categories. I could burn or rewrite either. Cuckoo Song had such an eerie, creepy, suspenseful beginning with talking dolls and leaves falling mysteriously out of people’s hair. But then the plot just stopped in the middle and it dragged so much until the end.

3. 

Ugh this is so difficult.

Reread: Airborn. This is actually one of more underrated middle grade adventure books I’ve come across. It’s so fun and so entertaining. It has flying pirate ships, the classic underdog, a cute romance. I mean, what more can you want.

Rewrite: The Name of the Wind. Write more female characters! Also, the ending subplot just was so unnecessary to the story. Some of the plot tropes are really cliche too and some of the lore and history could have been better integrated.

Burn: Alif the Unseen. The premise is interesting and one of the few Middle Eastern fantasies I’ve read that is so devoid of Western perspective, but the characters and the plot do not really live up to it.

4. 

Reread: The Wrath and the Dawn; I actually should read this again since there is a short story coming out with the events of the first book from Khalid’s perspective!! ❤

Rewrite: An Ember in the Ashes. I need more worldbuilding. Less love triangles. Less sexual-assault-as-a-way-to-make-a-character-appear more-evil trope.

Burn: Monkey High. I will burn this and then buy myself another copy 😉 but seriously, this book subverts a romance trope that I had been waiting for. The main male character who is normally the goofy sidekick ends up with the girl (who is more of like your alpha male type character)?? Yes, please.

5. 

Reread: Strange and Ever After. This isn’t really a testament to how good the book is. It’s more of the fact that I didn’t like the other two books. But SaEA does have its moments.

ReWrite: The Martian should have been retitled How to Survive on Mars 101. Give me more character development, more of Mars itself!

Burn: The Spook’s Revenge. Worst series ending ever. If you read this series, just pretend like this book doesn’t exist.

6. 

 

Burn: Code Name Verity. It just lacked a sense of urgency and pacing for me.

Reread: The Well of Ascension. This is actually my second favorite Mistborn novel. Sooo good. I love all the political maneuvering in thsi one.

Rewrite: Nailbiter. All it needs is a little more character development.

As always, I tag anyone who would like to do this. It was really fun, but really hard at the same time.

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Uncategorized · wrap up

December 2015 Wrap Up

This is 6 days late but you know what, deal with it!!! (jk) Anyways, here is what I read in December..

4/5
4/5

The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid– I think this book was disorientingly more relevant than it has ever been. A honest exploration about the US’s relationship with the Middle East before and after 9/11 in a fictional account of a Pakistani man reflecting on the injustices of American thought to an actual American. I’m still thinking about the ambiguous ending. An important story.

The Amazing Book is Not on Fire by Dan Howell and Phil Lester– Ah, reading a book from my favorite youtubers. How do I rate this? Well, obviously, I’m extremely biased so if you like them read it, if you don’t like them, don’t read it. I do have to compliment it for not resorting to the usual memoir style, instead it’s written half like a yearbook, half like a textual conversation between Dan and Phil. It made me laugh and smile.

4/5
3/5

The Child Thief by Brom– This ended up on my favorites list of 2015 and I also have a full review on it so I think enough good things have been said about it.

The Sun also Rises by Ernest Hemingway-My first Hemingway book. After reading Dickens, reading Hemingway was almost jarring. He writes such blunt and direct prose which is probably why his books are all so short. His writing is very symbolic and has a penchant for dialogue. He explores apathy of the generation after WWI and the pointlessness of their lives. I must admit the themes of masculinity mostly flew over my head. All in all, a smooth foray into Hemingway but I don’t think he’s an author for me.

3.5/5
3/5

Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge– It’s kind of a shame that there are so few Beauty and the Beast retellings out there because after this one I just want to read all of them. The main part of this book that I loved was the romance. It was captivating and intense from the very beginning. This was the romance that I was looking for in A Court of Thorns and Roses but wasn’t there. The worldbuilding is not the best though

Everybody Loves Bacon– A cute fun story about charismatic bacon with a rather morbid ending that I did not see coming.

4/5
4/5

White Oleander by Janet Fitch-For the most part, I really liked this story. It’s about a young girl whose mother goes to jail and it documents her story as she moves from one foster home to another. At times, the story felt a bit forced, a bit contrived. But overall, I think the character arc was really interesting.

The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski (Reread)-I simultaneously liked it and disliked it than when I first read it. This time around, I didn’t really mind the lack of physical worldbuilding. I think she makes up for it in building the world culturally. I also liked the interactions between Arin and Kestrel even more than I did the first time. However, I thought the pacing was really off and I thought the side characters besides her dad were just alright.

Bridge of Snow by Marie Rutkoski– This short story can be read before or after The Winner’s Curse. It’s about Arin as a child. Absolutely stunning. It just feels so magical. There was really nothing more I could have wanted in a short story.

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Best Books · Uncategorized

My Best Books of 2015 Part 1

I don’t think you realize how I excited I am every year to talk about my favorite books. It showcases the best of the best and it only comes around once a year.

Before I begin, I just wanted to put in a few disclaimers. First of all, rating is not necessarily the determining factor. I have a lot of books that got higher ratings than my favorite books but that does not mean they’ll be in my favorites. Second of all, I know it says top books but I had to include 4 short stories because they were that good. I’m gong to include them all in one category though and it will only take up one number. And lastly, a favorite book to me has to 1) leave a lasting impression on me 2) has to have a rereadability factor 3) has to surprise and challenge me (I read a lot of books; the books that surprise me are special).

If you’re interested, I’m linking my list of favorite books from last year. Part One, Part Two

I also wanted to list some honorable mentions. Not quite a favorite but pretty damn close.

  1. Firefight by Brandon Sanderson
  2. Cleopatra in Space by Mike Haidack
  3. Everyday Sexism by Laura Bates
  4. The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh
  5. An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
  6. Monster Vol. 1 by Naoki Urasawa
  7. Alex and Ada Vol. 1 by Jonathan Luna
  8. Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
  9. North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell

I’m going in reverse order so you’ll see #5-1 tomorrow.

So grab a snack and let me introduce you to my top books of 2015. All synopses came from Goodreads.

Coming in at number 9 is..

9. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. She may leave the home of the Commander and his wife once a day to walk to food markets whose signs are now pictures instead of words because women are no longer allowed to read. She must lie on her back once a month and pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, because in an age of declining births, Offred and the other Handmaids are valued only if their ovaries are viable. Offred can remember the years before, when she lived and made love with her husband, Luke; when she played with and protected her daughter; when she had a job, money of her own, and access to knowledge. But all of that is gone now…

I’ve only read 3 of Margaret Atwood’s books this year including this one but this is my favorite by leagues. Atwood’s prose is so detailed and refreshing to read. This dystopia that Atwood has created still stands the test of time and to me, the best dystopias are the ones that feel so unrealistic so that we think it’ll never happen but at the same time reflect the greatest injustices and flaws of our present society in subtle but effective ways. I think Atwood does an amazing job at satirizing society’s view of women as reproductive vessels but also providing a main character (Offred) that feels very raw and real.

The number 8 spot goes to:

The Child Thief by Brom

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Peter is quick, daring, and full of mischief—and like all boys, he loves to play, though his games often end in blood. His eyes are sparkling gold, and when he graces you with his smile you are his friend for life, but his promised land is not Neverland.

Fourteen-year-old Nick would have been murdered by the drug dealers preying on his family had Peter not saved him. Now the irresistibly charismatic wild boy wants Nick to follow him to a secret place of great adventure, where magic is alive and you never grow old. Even though he is wary of Peter’s crazy talk of faeries and monsters, Nick agrees. After all, New York City is no longer safe for him, and what more could he possibly lose?

There is always more to lose.

Accompanying Peter to a gray and ravished island that was once a lush, enchanted paradise, Nick finds himself unwittingly recruited for a war that has raged for centuries—one where he must learn to fight or die among the “Devils,” Peter’s savage tribe of lost and stolen children.

There, Peter’s dark past is revealed: left to wolves as an infant, despised and hunted, Peter moves restlessly between the worlds of faerie and man. The Child Thief is a leader of bloodthirsty children, a brave friend, and a creature driven to do whatever he must to stop the “Flesh-eaters” and save the last, wild magic in this dying land.

It’s very easy for Peter Pan retellings to become cliched. It’s also very easy to remember the Disney version as canon. But The Child Thief subverts all that we know about Peter Pan and presents it in a whole new light. Albeit a very dark and twisted light. (There’s no such thing as a twisted light is there…what are words..). I loved the effortless fusion of old Scottish folklore. I also really like the exploration of Pan’s character as a not-so-heroic character. And the prose provides such an eerie but mystical atmosphere.

7. March Vol. 1 by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell

17346698Congressman John Lewis (GA-5) is an American icon, one of the key figures of the civil rights movement. His commitment to justice and nonviolence has taken him from an Alabama sharecropper’s farm to the halls of Congress, from a segregated schoolroom to the 1963 March on Washington, and from receiving beatings from state troopers to receiving the Medal of Freedom from the first African-American president.

Now, to share his remarkable story with new generations, Lewis presents March, a graphic novel trilogy, in collaboration with co-writer Andrew Aydin and New York Times best-selling artist Nate Powell (winner of the Eisner Award and LA Times Book Prize finalist for Swallow Me Whole).

March is a vivid first-hand account of John Lewis’ lifelong struggle for civil and human rights, meditating in the modern age on the distance traveled since the days of Jim Crow and segregation. Rooted in Lewis’ personal story, it also reflects on the highs and lows of the broader civil rights movement.

Book One spans John Lewis’ youth in rural Alabama, his life-changing meeting with Martin Luther King, Jr., the birth of the Nashville Student Movement, and their battle to tear down segregation through nonviolent lunch counter sit-ins, building to a stunning climax on the steps of City Hall.

We all know of the 1960’s civil rights movement but I think what makes this graphic memoir stand out is that it adds such an intimate perspective from a person that has personally witnessed this so closely for himself. It surprised me how well the author was able to create the feeling of unrest and frustration that was present during this time. I usually don’t even like black and white graphic novels but I think this one was exceptional and even more powerful with the black and white color scheme.

Here is where I cheat a little by including 4 short stories into the number 6 spot. The first one is 86 pages. The rest are short stories, less than 20 pages. I had to include these because they were just that good.

6.The Death of Ivan Ilych by Leo Tolstoy

18386Hailed as one of the world’s supreme masterpieces on the subject of death and dying, The Death of Ivan Ilyich is the story of a worldly careerist, a high court judge who has never given the inevitability of his dying so much as a passing thought. But one day, death announces itself to him, and to his shocked surprise, he is brought face to face with his own mortality.

How, Tolstoy asks, does an unreflective man confront his one and only moment of truth?

This short novel was an artistic culmination of a profound spiritual crisis in Tolstoy’s life, a nine-year period following the publication of Anna Karenina during which he wrote not a word of fiction.
A thoroughly absorbing and, at times, terrifying glimpse into the abyss of death, it is also a strong testament to the possibility of finding spiritual salvation.

It’s funny how Tolstoy can so vividly describe a man’s thoughts when he is almost dying when Tolstoy himself wasn’t dying (or maybe he was). I felt like I was dying which says something about his writing. Very depressing but so, so good.

The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Gilman

A woman’s harrowing descent into madness.

Like Tolstoy, Gilman knows how to weave inner dialogue to present a sense of unease and desperation, of being trapped in your own paranoia, in your own mental prison. A haunting story that’s not very long but still has had such a lasting impact on me.

The Fisher Queen by Alyssa Wong

 MY MOTHER WAS A FISH. That’s why I can swim so well, according to my father, who is a plain fisherman with a fisherman’s plain logic, but uncanny flair for the dramatic. And while it’s true that I can cut through the water like a minnow, or a hand dipped over the edge of a speedboat, I personally think it’s because no one can grow up along the Mekong without learning two things: how to swim, and how to avoid the mermaids.

2014 Nebula Awards nominee for Best Short Story.

I still can’t quite wrap my mind around how weird this story is. But the prose is gorgeous and the story was definitely not what I expected.

Bridge of Snow (The Winner’s Trilogy #0.5) by Marie Rutkoski

20345368Ignore the stirrings of war. Let the carriage to a royal ball wait. There is a story to be told: of a starless night, a mother and her sick son, and a mortal who falls in love with the snow god, and will do anything to have her…

Mrs. Rutkoski, you get to join the ranks of Mr. Sanderson and Mr. Lynch with the honor of having your name on my favorites list twice. In the time it took me to read this short story (around 20 minutes), I smiled, laughed and I almost wanted to cry. It reminded me of old stories told by the fireplace, of magic and lyrical prose. But it ALSO tied in the things I knew about Arin and his future self and made me love him even more and I thought that wasn’t possible but I was oh so wrong.

Well that’s it for now! Stay tuned tomorrow for numbers 1-5 on my best books of 2015.

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book review · Uncategorized

Book Review: The Child Thief by Brom

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Title: The Child Thief

Author: Brom

Pages: 476

Genre: Urban Fantasy, fairy tale retelling

Rating: tealstartealstartealstartealstar (4.25)

Goodreads


 

There are some books where you can pinpoint exactly when you started falling in love with it.

I fell in love with this book at the end of the prologue, with the line that sent chills down my spine:

If the girl could only have spoken to the other boys and girls, the ones that had followed the golden-eyed boy before her, she would have known that there is always something left to lose.

The words are nothing short of haunting but then again, this is a haunting sort of book. And you go into this book knowing that but I didn’t know it would have such a whimsical feeling to it reminiscent of traditional fairy tales that we’re use to reading. So it was kind of like reading a crossover between Lord of the Flies and The Chronicles of Narnia all wrapped into one.

The funny thing about the child thief is that Brom really knew the story of Peter Pan. He knew that if he wanted to write a dark, violent, and scary book (this book has all of that) about a boy who never grew up; he didn’t have to make it up. Because if you think about it, the original story of Peter Pan is actually kind of scary. It’s not about a fun-loving and harmless boy who just doesn’t want to grow up. It’s about a fun-loving, jaded boy who seduces lonely and damaged children from modern day to follow him into this strange land. Our main character, Nick, is escaping ruthless bullies and a loveless home. It’s no wonder that he follows Peter into the land with no grownups.

The band of Lost Boys mindlessly follow Peter yet you feel for them as you learn about their pasts and how they’d rather die than go back to the brutal histories they’ve escaped. But what I loved about TCT is that this dark brutality does not take away from the feeling of wonder that you get when you read a fairy tale fantasy. The land Peter takes the Lost children to is filled with magic and whimsical but equally scary  creatures. It seamlessly weaves together old Scottish folklore  and legends and the way Brom writes it makes it feel like you’re reading an old legend.

The plot itself is about saving the lady of Avalon who’s life spirit essentially keeps this land alive. It isn’t a slow-moving book; it moves like our character Peter, in spurts and bursts of action  with very dark under tones and with jarring violence but is also charismatic begging the reader to question whether Peter is a hero, an antihero, or just a villain.

Of course, I still have some gripes as I always do. I wish some of the characters that appeared prominently in the third act of the book were introduced early so it wouldn’t seem contrived. I also wish Brom had done more with the girls in the book. I wish I got to see Wendy and Tiger Lily (although I think the equivalent of Tiger Lily is actually one of the characters).

This story feels different that a lot of fairytale retellings I’ve read and that’s a feat unto itself.

Side note: If you haven’t already, check out my post for a Week in Favorites event I’m planning to do this month. I would greatly appreciate your opinion! 🙂

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TBR

October 2015 TBR

I actually make a point never to do TBR’s because I’m such a big mood reader but I broke my own rule..woops.. #yolo. But I have been planning a horror themed October where I read all the scary/horror/creepy books and I never feel like reading horror until October so here’s my chance..

I’m definitely not going to get to all of these and this is a very tentative TBR but here are all the books I hope to get to.

From left to right:

  1. American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis
  2. The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
  3. Tales of Horror by HP Lovecraft
  4. Nos4a2 by Joe Hill
  5. Let Me in by John Lindqvist
  6. The Shining by Stephen King
  7. Locke and Key (graphic novel) by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez
  8. This Monstrous Thing by Mackenzie Lee
  9. The Child Thief by Brom
  10. The Omen by David Seltze
  11. Horrostor by Grady Hendrix

If you have any recommendations for horror especially more recent ones or ones written by female authors, I would love to hear about it! I’m so excited to be sharing my October themed posts as well! 🙂 Happy October reading!

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