This awesome post by Here There Be Books on Diana Wynne Jones Month which has me wanting to read all her books too!
For more Friday Finds, click here.
This awesome post by Here There Be Books on Diana Wynne Jones Month which has me wanting to read all her books too!
For more Friday Finds, click here.
Top Ten Tuesday is an awesome bookish meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.
I know I’m a day late but I’ve been in a serious blogging slump and have barely been posting since I got back from traveling to India. I was online today catching up on my blog feed and saw tons of cool posts from yesterday’s Top Ten Tuesday. So I decided to join in since I thought it’d be fun and I do want to have some content on my blog and keep things going until my motivation returns.
So, without further ado, here are 10 authors I’ve never read:
1. James Patterson: I’ve heard he doesn’t even write his own books anymore but he’s so massively popular that I kind of want to check him out at some point. At one point I did check out Along Came a Spider, one of his earlier books, from the library but never got around to reading it. I’ve also heard his YA series Maxmum Ride is pretty awesome.
2. John Green: Another super popular author but I’ve never read anything by him and, to be honest, I don’t really have a desire to. One part of me wants to join in the conversation and at least see what his books are like, the other just doesn’t feel compelled by any of the plots of his books.
3. John Grisham: Another author who is super popular and widely prolific yet I’ve managed to never pick up a book by him. It’s probably because he writes in a genre that I’m not that interested in, but maybe one day I’ll check one of his famous books out.
4. Donna Tartt: I’ve heard so many great things about all her books, but they’re soooo long and I feel a little intimidated by them.
5. Markus Zusak: I’ve had The Book Thief on my TBR for some time but haven’t yet picked it up.
6. Orson Scott Card: The only book I really want to read by him is Ender’s Game but I’ve yet to read it despite so many rave reviews. I’ll get to it eventually.
7. Jojo Moyes: Her books are super popular at the moment and I really do want to try something of hers. I do have Me Before You on my Kindle but haven’t started it.
8. Malcolm Gladwell: His non-fiction books are so popular and often cited or recommended. I’ve been meaning to read Outliers for some time but never seem to get to it.
9. Georgette Heyer: I’ve been seeing her books in various blogs I follow for some time now. They sound really good and she’s written so prolifically but I’ve yet to pick one up.
10. Terry Pratchett: Yes, I will get to Discworld eventually!
Which authors haven’t you read yet? What’s stopping you? Have you read any of mine? Which author/book is so awesome I should shuffle it up to the top of my TBR?
I don’t think I’ve done a Booking Through Thursday at all this year and, because I’m in a bit of a reading/blogging slump right now yet want to keep my blog going, I thought it’d be the perfect post for today. Here’s this week’s question:
BTT asked: What do you think of fanfiction? In general—do you think it’s a fun thing or a trespass on an author/producer’s world? And of course, obviously specific authors have very firm and very differing opinions about this, yet it’s getting more popular and more mainstream all the time. Do you ever read or write it yourself?
My answer: To be perfectly honest I don’t know that much about fanfiction so the overall impression I have is somewhat negative. When I heard the word fanfiction I think of people so obsessed with a work of fiction that they spend all their time thinking about the characters and the world, then writing tons of stories involving said characters. So there is that sense that these people don’t really have a life and would prefer to live in an imaginary world.
Now, I know that’s not necessarily the truth of it or it may be a very small minority. But, because I don’t read fanfiction or really know anyone who can explain it to me, that’s the impression I have.
On the other hand, I do know what it’s like to get totally sucked into a book (or series of books), TV show, movie, or just become obsessed with certain things or people to the extent that you just want to live in that world and you go through withdrawal every time you have to close the book/turn off the TV. So I can definitely relate to people who want to keep the magic going by writing fanfiction.
When I was younger I was super obsessed with figure skating and used to write little stories about the skaters. So I guess that counts as fanfiction. But I haven’t done that in ages and I haven’t read any fanfiction either. I don’t think I ever would unless I got super obsessed. But I’m somewhat of a purist and only want to read what the author has put on the page, nothing else.
As far as it being a trespass on the author or producer’s work, I don’t think it really is. If a book is published then it’s open to the public to read, discuss, and interpret in any way they like. In fact, I think it’s a complement to the author because it shows how much they captured the hearts of the readers and made them get so immersed in the world and inspired to write more.
Ultimately, I do have somewhat of an understanding of fanfiction. But at the same time I don’t fully get the appeal of reading it. If you read or write fanfiction, I’d love to hear your perspectives on it. To see more answers to this week’s Booking Through Thursday, click here.
From a review by Book’d Out
The Little Old Lady Who Broke All the Rules by Catharina Ingleman-Sundberg (reminds me a lot of The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson)
Have you read any of these? Which awesome books did you encounter in the past few weeks? To see more Friday Finds, check out Should Be Reading, the host of this feature.
Go: A Kidd’s Guide to Graphic Design by Chip Kidd (2013)
Goodreads Summary: Kids love to express themselves, and are designers by nature whether making posters for school, deciding what to hang in their rooms, or creating personalized notebook covers. Go, by the award-winning graphic designer Chip Kidd, is a stunning introduction to the ways in which a designer communicates his or her ideas to the world. It s written and designed just for those curious kids, not to mention their savvy parents, who want to learn the secret of how to make things dynamic and interesting.
Chip Kidd is the closest thing to a rock star in the design world (USA Today), and in Go he explains not just the elements of design, including form, line, color, scale, typography, and more, but most important, how to use those elements in creative ways. Like putting the word go on a stop sign, Go is all about shaking things up and kids will love its playful spirit and belief that the world looks better when you look at it differently. He writes about scale: When a picture looks good small, don t stop there see how it looks when it s really small. Or really big. He explains the difference between vertical lines and horizontal lines. The effect of cropping a picture to make it beautiful or, cropping it even more to make it mysterious and compelling. How different colors signify different moods. The art of typography, including serifs and sans serifs, kerning and leading.
The book ends with ten projects, including an invitation to share your designs at GoTheBook.com.
I saw this book mentioned on Books on the Nightstand and it sounded like a really fun read. I love art and graphic design so this was the perfect book for me. It says it’s for children and also plays on the author’s name but I think this book is for older children or adults.
The book details the history of graphic design and then breaks it down into easy to understand components. There are lots of great examples, including the covers of many books which Kidd designed. There’s also a really cool section on fonts and little bit of the history behind them. I never realized so many fonts took years to create!
By far my favorite part were the 10 projects at the end to get you creating new designs on your own. I really want to put them together and start creating art again. I used to do all kinds of stuff like that when I was younger but lately haven’t made the time for it. So this book was really inspiring and also educational. Highly recommended for anyone who likes art, especially graphic design, or just beautiful illustrations and cool book covers to peruse.
My Rating: 4/5
Witches of East End by Melissa de la Cruz (2011)
Series: The Beauchamp Family #1
Goodreads Summary: The three Beauchamp women–Joanna and her daughters Freya and Ingrid–live in North Hampton, out on the tip of Long Island. Their beautiful, mist-shrouded town seems almost stuck in time, and all three women lead seemingly quiet, uneventful existences. But they are harboring a mighty secret–they are powerful witches banned from using their magic. Joanna can resurrect people from the dead and heal the most serious of injuries. Ingrid, her bookish daughter, has the ability to predict the future and weave knots that can solve anything from infertility to infidelity. And finally, there’s Freya, the wild child, who has a charm or a potion that can cure most any heartache.
For centuries, all three women have been forced to suppress their abilities. But then Freya, who is about to get married to the wealthy and mysterious Bran Gardiner, finds that her increasingly complicated romantic life makes it more difficult than ever to hide her secret. Soon Ingrid and Joanna confront similar dilemmas, and the Beauchamp women realize they can no longer conceal their true selves. They unearth their wands from the attic, dust off their broomsticks, and begin casting spells on the townspeople. It all seems like a bit of good-natured, innocent magic, but then mysterious, violent attacks begin to plague the town. When a young girl disappears over the Fourth of July weekend, they realize it’s time to uncover who and what dark forces are working against them.
I picked up this book after I started watching the TV series. I’d heard people talk about how much they loved the show and at first I didn’t know it was based on a book. I decided to give it a try and really enjoyed it. So when I got through all 10 episodes of the first season and was craving more, I ended up grabbing the book.
While reading comments on a forum about the show, one viewer said they read all three books in 3 days and really loved them. So I was expecting to really like them too. The first book is quite short and I did finish it in 2 days. It has a very light writing style and is very easy to read quickly. However, I have to say I still really like the show more than the book.
The plot of the book didn’t draw me in at all. If I hadn’t seen the show, I doubt I would have ever picked it up. Plus the writing I felt was very dry and boring. It was simple, but it just didn’t pack any excitement for me. And the characters were really hard to connect with. I didn’t really care about any of them and couldn’t really feel what they felt or put myself in their shoes. Plus I found the story really confusing, not suspenseful at all, and it didn’t really make me want to keep reading to find out what happens next.
There are also a lot of differences between the show and the book. For starters, the character of Wendy is totally absent. She’s one of my favorite parts of the show and I don’t know if she shows up in later books or not. There were other changes, like the mother looking older than she does in the show, and Freya was a blonde instead of dark haired. I didn’t mind those at all, but I felt like all the magic and atmosphere of the show just was gone. The book felt very black and white to me, not in a moral sense, but in a lacking color way. It felt very drab and just didn’t pack a punch.
So I doubt I’ll be continuing on with the series unless I hear they get better as they go along. Even the cliffhanger ending wasn’t enough to draw me in. So we’ll see…maybe if I’m in withdrawal after season 2 I’ll pick up book 2 to tide me over. At least the books did give me something to do after watching season 1 and now I don’t crave the show or feel like I can’t wait for it to start again. So, yeah, read the books if you want to slowly transition out of your Witches of East End the TV show addiction. Otherwise, I’d say pass on them.
My Rating: 3/5 stars
In the world of The Machine it is possible to have painful memories erased from your mind. In the book this often leaves people completely destroyed, only a shell of their former self. There are also people in the book who are religious and feel strongly that memories are connected to a person’s soul and that shouldn’t be messed with.
Allegiant also deals with memory because one of the factions has a memory serum that can cause people to forget things. The memory serum comes into play later in the book in a bigger way and some characters are conflicted about using it. So the question arises, if you lose your memories, how much of you is really left?
What do you think? Are memories connected to your soul? Do you cease to be yourself if you can no longer remember important things about yourself or your life?
Perhaps the situation in The Machine is a bit extreme. Many people who have amnesia may not remember certain things, but they are hardly as damaged as the people in the book were. Then again, maybe their memory loss was from more natural, accidental damage to the brain, versus damage done deliberately using a machine.
And should one ever knowingly erase a person’s memories? Is this acceptable if the person is a criminal, for example, and doing so would rehabilitate them instantly? What if someone is suffering from incredibly painful memories that negatively affect their quality of life? Would you ever want to forget something bad that happened to you?
Then there’s also the topic of fear. This mainly came up in the Divergent series when people went through fear landscapes. All their fears would come up in a simulation and they were forced to confront them. In the book Tobias is known as Four because he only has four fears.
Would you want an opportunity to face all your fears? Do you even know how many fears you have? Would you want to know? Do you think experiencing something similar to a fear landscape would be beneficial? Would facing fears in a simulation resolve them so they would no longer trigger you in real life?
What are your thoughts on fear and memory? Do you face the fears or just erase your memory and forget about them? How do you feel about this topic? Is there any situation where you would want to experience either of these?
There were tons of great books from 2013 that I never read. So I’m purposing to go back and pick up a few that made it on the Best of 2013 lists that sound appealing. I decided to select at least 10 from this list with a few alternates thrown in.
1. Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
2. Want Not by Jonathan Miles
3. The Universe Versus Alex Woods by Gavin Extence
4. Burial Rites by Hannah Kent
5. Alif the Unseen by G. Willow Wilson
6. Someday, Someday Maybe by Lauren Graham
7. The Dinner by Herman Koch
8. The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker
9. The Son by Philipp Meyer
10. The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri
11. The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
12. The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer
13. Tenth of December by George Saunders
Have you read any of these? Which ones should I start with? Any that you feel didn’t live up to the hype? Which books are you looking forward to that you didn’t get around to reading in 2013?
Allegiant by Veronica Roth (2013)
Series: Divergent #3
Goodreads Summary: The faction-based society that Tris Prior once believed in is shattered—fractured by violence and power struggles and scarred by loss and betrayal. So when offered a chance to explore the world past the limits she’s known, Tris is ready. Perhaps beyond the fence, she and Tobias will find a simple new life together, free from complicated lies, tangled loyalties, and painful memories.
But Tris’s new reality is even more alarming than the one she left behind. Old discoveries are quickly rendered meaningless. Explosive new truths change the hearts of those she loves. And once again, Tris must battle to comprehend the complexities of human nature—and of herself—while facing impossible choices about courage, allegiance, sacrifice, and love.
Told from a riveting dual perspective, Allegiant brings the Divergent series to a powerful conclusion while revealing the secrets of the dystopian world that has captivated millions of readers in Divergent and Insurgent.
This is the third and final book in the Divergent series. When I read the first two, I couldn’t wait to get to the next book. It’d been so long since I read Insurgent that I forgot a lot about what happened. But after a quick summary from Wikipedia, I jumped into this book.
A lot of people talked about the different perspectives which not everyone liked. The first two books were told exclusively from Tris’ point of view. This book alternated between Tris and Four which was somewhat confusing at first because I had to keep reminding myself who was who. I didn’t feel like there was a huge difference in their voices but by the end of the book it became obvious why this tactic was used.
I was really glad they explored the outside world and finally explained a lot of things. I felt like there was a cliffhanger at the end of the first book and I don’t remember the second really addressing it satisfactorily. The explanation was really fascinating and I was surprised about how much thought went into it.
Additionally, I felt like there was a much deeper message the author was trying to convey. The first book definitely had some great points but I was so surprised at how much more there was. In the first book there is division between factions. In this book there was even more division between two groups of people which I felt was commentary on differences between nations, races, or even sexes. It was said that this certain group of “people are technically–legally–equal to genetically pure people, but only on paper, so to speak. In reality they’re poorer, more likely to be convicted of crimes, less likely to be hired for good jobs…you name it, it’s a problem, and has been since the Purity War, over a century ago.”
And just the mention of a Purity War reminded me of the holocaust which was supposed to purify a certain race. Even the people helping the cause were called sympathizers, a term that means the same thing in our world.
The book also raised the question of obedience, government authority, and trusting experts over yourself. In one scene, Christina and Tris are talking about whether the scientists are right or if they’ve been mislead: ”I don’t know why I’m arguing with you when I’d really like for you to be right,” Christina says, laughing. ”But don’t you think a bunch of smart people like these Bureau scientists could figure out the cause of bad behavior?” “Sure,” I say. “But I think that no matter how smart, people usually see what they’re already looking for, that’s all.”
And then later, “You don’t believe things because they make your life better, you believe them because they’re true,” she points out. “But”–I speak slowly as I mull that over–”isn’t looking at the result of a belief a good way of evaluating if it’s true?” So it seems the author is saying you shouldn’t just accept things as facts because scientists or even the government present them as truths.
There were many other things that jumped out at me as having multiple meanings and interpretations. As I read I thought that Veronica Roth is really clever in that she created a series for young adults that is entertaining and fun to read but also thought-provoking and addresses very real issues. Even if this wasn’t her original intention, I think it was very well done and will make this series remain popular and well-read for a long time.
There was one other quote that really struck me and it is when Tris says, “Listen, I…I used to think about giving my life for things, but I didn’t understand what ‘giving your life’ really was until it was right there, about to be taken from me.”
For some reason when I read that it just really hit me what it means to truly give your life for something. I’ve had the feeling that I would die for certain things I feel to be right and true, but it was really just an idea for me. If I were really faced with a situation where I could do something to get out of it and not die, would I feel the same? I thought it really brought some weight to the book and made me examine my own feelings.
All in all a fun, entertaining, page-turner but with a lot of depth that made me think and get to know myself better. What more can you ask for of a book? I really loved it and would recommend it (and the rest of the series) to everyone regardless of age.
My Rating: 4/5 stars
The Machine by James Smythe (2013) 328 pages Goodreads Summary: Haunting memories defined him. The machine took them away. She vowed to rebuild him. From the author of The Testimony comes a Frankenstein for the twenty-first century. Beth lives alone on a desolate housing estate near the sea. She came here to rebuild her life following her husband’s return from the war. His memories haunted him but a machine promised salvation. It could record memories, preserving a life that existed before the nightmares. Now the machines are gone. The government declared them too controversial, the side-effects too harmful. But within Beth’s flat is an ever-whirring black box. She knows that memories can be put back, that she can rebuild her husband piece by piece.
I recently read The Explorer by this author and really liked it. But before I read that, I’d come across this book and have been wanting to read it for some time. Looking back, I’m glad I read his other book more because I did like it better and The Machine wasn’t at all what I was expecting.
Based on the cover and it being touted as a modern Frankenstein, I thought it would focus primarily on the man who was affected by the machine. Instead, the main character is Beth, his wife. The story is written entirely from her perspective and, well, I just didn’t really like her that much. I had a hard time caring about her and what she was going through. The first part of the book sets up the story, who she is, where she lives, and why she’s doing what she’s doing.
She lives on the Isle of Wight although I’m pretty sure this wasn’t revealed or made clear until the end of the book. I was sure it was somewhere in Europe but didn’t know for sure. She’s a schoolteacher and the town used to be beautiful and attract a lot of tourists.
Now things have happened (again, it’s not clear what) but the temperatures are high, there was some flooding, parts of the shore have been washed away, etc. And there are mostly poor people left and many children don’t show up at school and are aggressive toward her when she’s out in public. I felt like this first part went on and on. I wanted to get to more interesting parts as I felt like the atmosphere and who she was as a person had been established long ago.
I felt the last part of the book was somewhat rushed and wasn’t worth the build-up. After she puts her husband’s memories back, things don’t go exactly as she’d expected. I won’t say any more to avoid spoilers, but I didn’t really see a lot of Frankenstein connections other than a machine being used to build a person
There was a secondary character who questioned the use of the machine, spoke of religion and how it’s wrong to take a person’s memories and, in doing so, it might damage the soul.
So it did raise some interesting questions, but I felt like the overall idea could have been made much more fascinating and developed a bit more. If the book had been much longer (and I hadn’t been reading it during a readathon), I might have given up on it, I just wasn’t as engaged as I’d expected to be. That being said I still love James Smythe and look forward to reading his other books. He is definitely a unique writer and has great ideas. Unfortunately this book just didn’t work as well for me or grab me as much as I’d anticipated.
My Rating: 3/5 stars