Saturday, October 24, 2020

Hit, Miss, Haven't Read #1

 

I thought it would be fun to make a new series of posts based on ‘popular books.’ Going forward this will be called "Hit, Miss, Haven't Read." I'm basing it off of this list of "Best Books Ever" on Goodreads, which has had over 200,000 voters decide the best books! For each book, list if it was a hit, a miss, or if you simply haven't read it. No explanations, just hot takes!


1. The Hunger Games

HIT



2. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

HIT

(But for unfortunate transphobic rhetoric, please consider reading from your local library instead of purchasing!)



3. To Kill a Mockingbird

MISS

4. Pride and Prejudice

HAVEN'T READ




5. Twilight

MISS




6. The Book Thief

HAVEN'T READ




7. Animal Farm

HAVEN'T READ




8. The Chronicles of Narnia (1-7)

HIT




9. J.R.R. Tolkien 4-Book Set (The Lord of the Rings + The Hobbit)

HIT and MISS

(I liked The Hobbit, but got really annoyed with how slow LotR was)



10. Gone with the Wind

HAVEN'T READ


What do you think about these hits and misses? 
Which ‘haven't reads’ should I add to my to-read list?


Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Top Ten Tuesday #10

 

10 Books I Read Because Someone Recommended Them to Me


This series was recommended to me by Erika, my friend and fellow moderator over at Addicted to YA. We actually met at camp many years ago and bonded over our shared love of reading. The Mortal Instruments was one of her favorite series of all time at the time of our meeting, and I quickly fell into this series. City of Fallen Angels kind of shook me off the series for awhile, but I actually just finished it this year! I have a copy of Clockwork Prince waiting for me to pick up as I type this post.




Percy Jackson was recommended to me in a less traditional sense. I was raised in Connecticut, where every year we had the Nutmeg Book Awards. Leading up to this award being given, all students were encouraged to read the nominees. These books were all over school reading lists and public libraries. If you read enough of the nominations, in April you got to vote on which book actually got the award. The Lightening Thief was a Nutmeg Nominee when I was in 4th grade and I fell in love! I almost always read all of the Nutmeg Nominee's, and definitely always enough to vote. The Lightning Thief was our winner that year!



This book was recommended to me by an ex-boyfriend (boyfriend at the time). He would make references to it a lot that would fly over my head and one day I picked it up and... was not impressed. There didn't seem to by any plot driving the narrative and without one the whole experience just felt kind of pointless. This was a total flop for me.







The Pendragon series was recommended to me by my friends Drew and Graham in 6th grade. While my friendships with them faded after we stopped being in the same classes, by love for this series only grew. It has fantastic world building and complex characters with compelling motives. I'd highly recommend it!








This recommendation came from my older cousin Kayla. I received this book, as well as several other Joan Lowery Nixon books from her has 'hand-me-downs.' Each one is a spooky murder mystery that I couldn't put down! This book and others by Nixon are so nostalgic for me and were some of my very first young adult mysteries. This was my graduation from Nancy Drew. 





This is, I think, many people's first introduction to manga. It's a great first-dive into the manga stylization, the way that you physically read a text, as well as an easy combination of slice-of-life narration that peaks into myth and dark secrets as you proceed through the series. When I entered high school, my mom said I had to join an after-school club and I joined anime club. Having never seen a single anime or read a single manga, this is what the club president Jordan recommended I start with.





This book was recommended to me the way a lot of books are: as required reading in school. I was in 10th or 11th grade, taking french, and this was my teacher's way of having us practice. She picked a relatively easy book for native french speakers, but it was a bit hard for my classes and there were several sections that required assistance to understand. Of course, there are english translations available as this work is world-famous, but translations never quite fully grasp the original intent of the author. This work was life and philosophy changing for me and I used a page for my senior yearbook quote. I would highly recommend this experience!



Unwind had already been on my to-read list, but I picked it up recently because it had been recommended in my undergraduate Creative Writing course in 2019. Shusterman creates an alternative reality where abortions have been banned. Life is inviolable from conception, but between the ages of 13 and 18 parents can choose to 'unwind' their child, meaning that all of their bodily parts would be taken apart and used for transplants. Even in 'death' their life would not technically end. It was a crazy read!




This book was actually gifted to me by an old boss of mine and I'm really grateful for it. For many, it can be really easy to see what we fail at and only focus on those failures. It can be really hard to focus on  what we do well, and this skills might even be hidden to us. So when we inevitably get asked in job interviews, "what are your strengths?" what do you say? This book came with a very comprehensive quiz as well as explanations of each strength as well as strategies  for applying them. This book highlighted for me things that I didn't even realize might be strengths and gave me new confidence in myself.



I took a Technology and Empire graduate course, a couple years back now, and this was on the syllabus. Language as power, language as technology was truly thought provoking. This is one of my favorite books of all time and it really challenged me to look at perspectives that I had previously seen as neutral. 

Sunday, October 18, 2020

Down the TBR Hole #5


Created by Lia @Lost in a Story

It works like this:
Go to your goodreads to-read shelf.
Order on ascending date added.
Take the first 5 (or 10 (or even more!) if youre feeling adventurous) books.
Read the synopses
 of the books
Decide: keep it or should it go?
My Goodreads TBR currently has 549 books on it, so I'm really looking forward to cleansing my list!

Throne Of Glass

Sarah J. Maas is an author that I haven't read yet (don't kill me!), so I feel like it's obligatory that I read this even if it's been almost 10 years since it came out. (Or should I give up a switch to a Court of Thorns and Roses? Are the series related in anyway? I literally know nothing >.< )




Decision: Keep



The Lost Prince 

After staring at this in befuddlement for awhile, I've finally come to a decision about this book/spin off series. I think my time for it's enjoyment has passed. I remember disliking the original book, and each sequel getting better and better as Meghan developed, but also as her love interests Puck and Ash developed. It's been so long that I hardly remember their story anymore, and Ethan was such a minor plot point that I almost don't even remember Megan having a brother. I'm just not sure what he would even have to say...

Decision: Go


The Host

This is a book that I have tried to read many times before, but it's so large and life is so busy that I never manage to get to the end. At one point I owned a copy, though I'm not actually sure where it wound up. It might still be in my old room at my parent's house! Most reviews are pretty strong for this book though, and I'm definitely interested in what Meyer can do outside of Twilight, so I'll try and track down that copy.


Decision: Keep



Yup, another Julie Kagawa series is on the list! This one is an unrelated story to  her Iron Fey stories and world, and  I'm very curious about Kagawa's interpretation of vampires. It doesn't hurt that this book has glowing reviews! 



Decision: Keep



Wow, I don't even remember adding this to my to-read list! This is such a throwback. The movie came out when I was little and the trailer always creeped me out. I'm kind of shocked I ever thought I was going to read this! I think it's safe to say that I never will...




Decision: Go




Did I make the right decisions?? Let me know in the comments!

Friday, February 28, 2020

Havenfall by Sara Holland




Havenfall
by Sara Holland 
Publication Date: March 3rd 2020
Publisher: Bloomsbury YA
Find This Book: Havenfall 
Rating: 4/5




I was given an ARC of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Can we take a second to stare in awe at this gorgeous cover??? Havenfall is an inn at the top of a mountain with tunnels deep under it that facilitate traveling between realms in relation to the cycles of the seasons (particularly equinox's). It's so gorgeous and also captures so much meaning in relation to the plot! I didn't even notice the face/neck/shoulders of a person until my 7th time looking at the cover!

Havenfall is about an inn that is the heart of all the realms, one of the realms being Earth where our main character Maddie is from. Maddie arrives for the summer to visit Havenfall, run by her uncle, which hosts an annual convention of inter-realm relations and trade. Hoping for a romantic summer with her childhood friend Brekkan, she instead walks into the political turmoil of the century!

I really enjoyed the fantasy world that Holland creates for us, and the way that the Havenfall inn must maintain impartiality towards each of the three realms. The role of Innkeeper is something Maddie hopes to step into one day, when her uncle wants to retire, but turmoil, violence, and betrayal leads to her unexpected ‘promotion’ before she’s been trained and prepared for it. Will she maintain order? Or are the worlds about to destroy all alliances?

I love love LOVE Maddie as a character. She’s got a Tragic Past™ that for once is actually used to create depth in not only herself but also in the narrative going forward. Her interactions with love interests are very cute, and this is the first time I’ve read about a character who was bisexual and comfortable with that knowledge. A lot of times, I feel like sexuality is portrayed as a struggle and an identity crisis, and while that can certainly be the case it felt so positive to see a model who’s already confident in who she is, even if she’s not confident in her new political Innkeeper role.

How the different realms interacted and the power dynamics of the different delegations (and all their magical powers) were so cool to read and felt really well thought-out as magical systems go. I can’t say too much without getting into spoiler territory but I’m so excited for the sequel already! I need more Taya in my life.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Top Ten Tuesday #9


The 10 Most Recent Additions to My Bookshelf


1. Open Fire by Amber Lough

(Read)









2.  Dictee by Theresa Has Kyung Cha

(To-Read)










(To-Read)









4.  Becoming Unbecoming by Una

(To-Read)









5.  Rebel by Marie Lu

(Read)









6. The Weight of Ink by Rachel Kadish 

(Read)











7. The Tyrant's Tomb by Rick Riordan

(Read)









8. The Weight of a Soul by Elizabeth Tammi 

(Read)









9. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

(Read)









10. Prophets of the Ghost Ants by Clark Thomas Carlton

(To-Read)

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Open Fire by Amber Lough




Open Fire
by Amber Lough
Publication Date: March 3rd 2020
Publisher: Carolrhoda Lab
Find This Book: Open Fire 
Rating: 3.5/5




I was given an ARC of this book from Netgalley in exchange for honest review.

I don’t know much about early female military groups, or even much about the Russian front in basically any wars because of how the US school system always frames history, so I jumped at the chance to read a YA book starring the first female Russian battalion. I loved getting to learn about Katya and her complex relationships, her family history gets teased out chapter by chapter as we learn about her mother, father, brother, and best friend Masha. Her disagreements and ultimate understanding with her brother was beautiful as they both navigate the consequences of war and current political upheaval. Weaving through Katya’s story is a beautiful bedtime story about Saint Olga, told to Katya by her father years before all of the events that take place. Characterizing her father and visualizing her attachment to this saint in particular was a great way to add layers and emotions to both Katya and her absentee father who is, during the events of the book, stationed indefinitely on Russia’s warfront. The writing was captivating and seemingly well researched. I certainly learned a lot, and was sitting on the edge of my seat when the battalion ends up on the front lines!

Some other reviews have mentioned that the book falls a bit flat, which I can understand from the perspective of a ‘climax’ but a believe that is essential, if not inherent, to a World War I novel. Yes, Katya trained extensively and didn’t accomplish much while on the battlefield; but that is what trench warfare was. It was a grueling, thankless, task of taking the opponent’s trenches that inevitably was lost again. It was an endless stalemate, and it’s hard to make trench warfare interesting. That all being said, I didn’t find this ending to necessarily be about the setting, and more about how Katya started off the book trying to figure out who she was and if she would be brave or a coward when facing down death, and she found her answer. I found the climax to be this sudden understanding of the self, and it was quite beautiful.

I couldn’t rate this a full 4 or 5 stars because it felt like too much was being squished into the story by adding Sergei as a character. I understand that historically a lot was going on with the start of the Bolshevik revolution during this time period, but I think this lost a bit of my focus. I’m  not sure if I would have enjoyed it more if the Bolsheviks had been cut, or if their presence had been more fully developed. 

Monday, November 11, 2019

Down the TBR Hole #4

Created by Lia @Lost in a Story

It works like this:
Go to your goodreads to-read shelf.
Order on ascending date added.
Take the first 5 (or 10 (or even more!) if youre feeling adventurous) books.
Read the synopses
 of the books
Decide: keep it or should it go?
My Goodreads TBR currently has 819 books on it, and this post is all books I added in 2012, so I'm really looking forward to cleansing my list!


The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle #1)

This is a huge series that I'm still hearing fantastic things about, so I will definite have to keep this on my tbr list. I'll get there eventually!!!





Decision: Keep


Ten

I honestly don't even remember adding this book to my list, but I read so few horror books that I can't bear to part with this one. Now that we're getting into the winter months I see myself settling down with a  cup of tea and reading this spooky book soon!




Decision: Keep


Tiger's Curse (The Tiger Saga #1)

This might be a bit controversial because I feel like everyone I know ever has read this series, and the cover is soooo gorgeous, but 2012 me was super into prophecies and spells and I'm trying to cut down a bit this overload of fantasy. I found myself not too curious about what curse had to be broken, and that's when I knew this book wasn't making the cut.



Decision: Go


Tiger Lily

Jodi Lynn Anderson wrote one of my all-time favorite books, Midnight at the Electric, and I am definitely reading her Peter Pan retelling before I die.






Decision: Keep


A Touch Mortal (The Sider Series #1)

Eden and Az form some sort of supernatural romance here that cringed reading about, but teen me would have adored this book I'm sure. I just have a quota of how many weird "unique" white people names I can handle and Az was too much for me to handle lol




Decision: Go

Unwind

I actually own this book and it's taken me year and years and years to get to, but one day I WILL read this. The world-building I've heard is amazing. Essentially, abortion is illegal  but between the ages of 13 and 18 a legal guardians can choose to have their child 'unwound' and reduced to organs to be donated. Wild, right?



Decision: Keep

Grave Mercy (His Fair Assassin #1)

While having never had this book (obviously) I've seen the cover so often is gives me warm fuzzy feelings for Bookstagram. The plot of leaving an arranged marriage for a pagan sisterhood intrigues me immensely, so it's definitely a keeper!




Decision: Keep




Uglies

I feel like this is yes another series every expect myself has read, and honestly I'm totally fine with things staying that way. I'm sure it's got some heartfelt body image discussions that some people truly need to hear, but by 2020 I personally feel that's kind of beating a dead horse.




Decision: Go


Stormdancer (The Lotus Wars #1)

The description (a child of the Fox clan sent on a quest to capture a Thunder Tiger) reminds me a bit of The Dragon Pearl by Yoon Ha Lee, with fox mythology. I'm ~always~ up for more mythology retellings!





Decision: Keep

I've finally made it to a book on my tbr that I added in 2013! It only took going through about 300 books to get through my 2012 tbr list >.<  This is the story of Alina who finds out she has magical powers and is going to be trained to be a member of the Grisha. The goodreads reviews are pretty strong, and this book still makes the rounds on Bookstagram occasionally, so I'll be keeping this one as well.

Decision: Keep




Did I make the right decisions?? Let me know in the comments!