Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Tell Me Tuesday (#1)



So a few months ago I did a Getting to Know You Bloghop (hosted by the lovely ladies down at Cuddlebuggery) and it successfully introduced me to some pretty awesome bloggers.  One of those bloggers is La La, who is just all around pretty fantastic and does all sorts of fun and creative stuff on her blog which guys should all go check out like immediately.  She does this awesome feature (which I am doing...right now. You are reading the feature I am talking about as you get to these words lol) where you basically just talk about what you've been reading. It's super chill, - you just put it up whenever you have something to put up, and that's it!  It works perfectly for me right now as I'm being a lot more selective about TTT posts and it gives me a way to put up my general thoughts about books, particularly ones I'm not going to review. Which, let's face it, is like all books since I don't really do reviews anymore lol!



So, let's get to what I've been reading.  And what I've been reading mostly....

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...is picture books.  I've mentioned before (or at least I think I have) that I nanny two boys - a 7 year old and a 4 year old.  When it comes to dinner time, we'll read a book while they eat - if they stop eating, I stop reading.  IT'S SO GREAT!  I'm going to be out there every night this week...so expect your Goodreads feeds to be absolutely bombarded with picture books (sorry!).

(Also speaking of the boys, we usually read a chapter book, but we've got a hitch. The 7 year old really wanted to read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.  Turns out it freaking TERRIFIES the 4 year old...I guess talks about being kidnapped by witches can totally do that, so we've put that on halt. I had originally planned to bring in Series of Unfortunate Events because I think the 7 year old would LOVE that...but on second thought I think that's a terrible, terrible idea for the 4 year old.  The 7 year old reads wayyyyy above his grade level - he's read half of the Odyssey. And like a crap load of classics.  So I need something that won't bore/terrify the 4 year old, but will entertain the 7 year old. I think we're finally getting bored of only reading Magic Treehouse, so any suggestions would be super welcome! I think I'm going to see if I can grab Edward Eager's Tales of Magic and see if that might be a good place to start for this week)


In reading these picture books, I'm rereading a bunch of ones I read as a kid and have come to some conclusions.

1. Dr. Seuss is overrated.  Yes, his good books are really good. Green Eggs and Ham? The best.  The other ones run between downright offensive (If I Ran the Zoo), to painful (I think my mouth went numb after Fox in Socks. I don't care how much the 4 year old loves it, NEVER AGAIN), to just kind of...dumb. Shel Silverstein does rhymes too, but they're pretty clever. I'll probably change my tune about this, but I've had a run of bad Dr. Seuss the past two weeks.

2. I like Berenstain Bears about as much as I did as a kid - they were ok but nothing too exciting.  But now I've discovered they've got religious ones, and...no. Just no.  I'm sorry, but your kite did not fly because of faith. It flew because of SCIENCE.  I'm not against religious picture books, but I do think they need to use better examples. And in general the bears get their solutions/resolutions in dreams WAY too often.

3. That being said, I've been introduced to absolute gems like Ella and The Day the Crayons Quit, which I've never read before and are now instant favourites of mine.






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On the novel side of things, I've been listening to Tamora Pierce's Beka Cooper series in the car. I finished Terrier last week...and I think it is probably my favourite first book in any of her series (of which she has many). It's by far the most ambitious - and I think the longest at 584 pages.  How did I put it on Goodreads?  "It's got the epic story line of In the Hands of the Goddess, and the unflinching grit you get in Lady Knight, plus some new magic we haven't seen before, a la the Immortal series." (Yes I did just quote myself. I CAN DO THAT. BECAUSE I SAID SO.)  So basically I loved it even though I wasn't sure in the beginning. (Beka comes off quite cocky in the opening).  Also I LOVE that this is about one of George's ancestors and how did I not figure that out just from the title?  It's about a COOPER. Who else would it be about!?  I'm listening to Bloodhound right now, and it's shaping up to be just as good as Terrier.  I'm a little nervous because I heard a lot of people didn't like the conclusion to the trilogy very much (also I'm not positive my library has the third book on audiobook...) but hopefully whatever it is about the third book won't bother me!

In novel form I've been reading Outlander, which is taking me WAY LONGER than I thought it would!  Like I know 627 pages isn't anything to sneeze at, but considering how much reading I can get done at work, I wouldn't have expected this to take me all week.  I'm technically not finished yet, but I imagine by the time this posts I will be. Some of this may just be big book fatigue - I stupidly started reading this right after A Clash of Kings....so that's a lot of big books in a row. (I think I was subconsciously trying to make up for all the picture books haha).  It's also not what I was expecting at all. I think I was expecting more time travel (and there are like 7 more books to go, so I am fully expecting that to happen), and CLEARLY my prediction is not going to happen (god I'm so bad at those!). I certainly was not expecting so many sexy times, or for SPOILERS Jamie and Claire to get together in the first half of the book. It's 8 books long! I wasn't even expecting it to happen for the first entire book! I was totally expecting more of a slow burn romance, and while I'm not disappointed by this turn of events... I think I was really looking forward to that slow burn. END SPOILERS.  And having unexpected sexy times in your book while at your work is not necessarily a very pleasant surprise haha.  So I don't know. I don't dislike it, but I'm not really loving it either.  A family friend gave me the first 7 books though, so I'm definitely going to keep reading and hopefully I'll change my mind on it all.  But definitely a break from big books for me for a while!

And that's what's been going on in my bookish life!  Anything fun in yours?  And while you're at it, don't forget to check out La La's blog, and maybe join in on the fun next week!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

The SUPER late TBTB Secret Santa Edition! (A Day in the Life)


Guys, this month has been TOTALLY CRAZY.  I basically flew home from California, was here for a week, and then made the 8 hour drive to my mom's place all to pick up this guy:


That would be Tristan.  The cat who is so scared of everything that he has taken to tunneling under the blankets (something he has NEVER shown an interest in...but it is pretty cute), and creating gravity defying feats to get behind our washer and dryer.  He's 18 pounds. I DON'T UNDERSTAND HOW HE DOES THIS.  Now some of you might be thinking...wait a minute. I thought you had a cat, and she didn't look like that at all!  You would be right.


Look at her...doesn't she look so sweet and gentle-natured?  Well, you would be WRONG. Let's just say that there's been a lot of hissing at the door (we're keeping them separated) when she hears Tristan near it. And general growling.  Meanwhile, Tristan misses his old home and the cat he lived with there, so there's been a lot of nonstop meowing ALL NIGHT LONG while he looks for that cat. Which of course makes Lily do her yowling...and well, let's just say I haven't been getting much sleep.

Anyway, here's hoping things slow down for a bit (and that Lily doesn't hate Tristan's guts forever. Tristan is very interested in being friends with Lily, so at least I'm halfway there?).





And now to the important bit of the post I've been meaning to get to for a week or so now!  I finally got to open my TBTB Secret Santa package!!  And I had some seriously awesome swag, but first...the books!



They were wrapped in super cute wrapping paper (The abominable snowman from the 1964 Rudolph movie has always been one of my favourites for some reason), and holy freaking cow I was so excited when I saw what she sent me!


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Dark Currents - I am so excited about this!!! I've mentioned Jacqueline Carey on the blog before like a million times. Her Kushiel series is hands down one of the best things I've ever read. I haven't been able to read this new series she's got going because it isn't at my library, but now I can get started!
Ascendant - Killer unicorns? Badass unicorn slayers (who are women)?   Umm, yeah. Sign me up. The first book in this series was AWESOME, so I'm super excited I'm going to get to read the sequel!
Under the Never Sky - Everyone and their mother has read this series, so it's about time I start reading it! I've picked it up a few times, but I've never actually had time to read it. So now that I own it, I don't have to worry about it expiring and going back to the library!
Hyperion - I've been meaning to read more sci-fi, and Hyperion has been recommended to me like a billion times. I think this might have also been a book that (surprisingly) is not at the library, so this is perfect!


And the goodies she sent me were equally as awesome:




 
These are some spectacularly festive Mardi Gras beads!  I've been lazy about decorating, or I'd have a picture up with where I've decided to hang them...but then I might not have a post up about this for another month haha! I'm rehanging stuff on a wall and this will fit in perfectly with what I'm imagining on it. Now if only I could imagine everything hung up and it actually magically decorated itself...



If you guys are looking at this picture and thinking...wow that looks an awful lot like an alligator foot...ding ding ding! You would be correct!  For those of you not in the know, alligator feet are used for luck in hoodoo (oh Supernatural, the knowledge you drop on me).  I'm not sure if she knew that I actually soooort of collect dead things (in the non-creepiest way possible) or not, but it's pretty much perfect for me!  Currently said alligator foot is hanging from LuLu's (my cow skull) horn as Lily showed an inordinate amount of interest in it and I'd rather not have her eat it haha.



And...here's where I admit something kind of embarrassing....so when I unwrapped the box, it was trash day so I went ahead and took it out with all the boxes...and then I discovered that there wasn't a letter in the box and the trash had already gone so...I don't actually know who my Secret Santa is. I'M SO SORRY!!!  I'm hoping you see this and let me know who you are (and see if my assumption that you are in fact from New Orleans is right) because I feel super guilty that I can't actually thank you properly!  And I'm not sure whether Jamie will still be checking TBTB santa mail...

So with that all properly (almost) wrapped up, here's what's been around the interwebs!


Bookish News

Blogging
Feelings On The State of The Book Blogging Community - I can understand this. I've been lucky enough that for the most part I've only had wonderful interactions with book bloggers, and I've met some awesome people. That being said...there's a reason that for the most part I stay off twitter.

Authors
Shannon Hale: The nitty gritty on authors, signings, and filthy lucre - As an artist, I totally, totally understand this. It's how bands that go on tour end up losing money.
The Pop Quiz at the End of the Universe: Robin McKinley  - Oh Robin, you and your footnotes hahaha! It's a good thing I regularly read her blog so I can follow how she writes easily enough. (Although it makes me wonder how she manages to write books without them)
Stacey Jay, Veronica Mars, and The Kickstarter Controversy - Most of you have already heard of this by now, so I'm a little late to the party. I am a firm believer that Stacey Jay had every right to ask for the amount she did to use it for living expenses, and that the outcry for all of this is just horrifying. My heart and my thoughts go out to Stacey Jay.
Margaret Atwood Talks Her 2114 Novel and Coping with Real and Fictional Dystopias in Her Reddit AMA - Man, Margaret Atwood is so awesome!
Interview with Sarah Rees Brennan [Part 1/3]: On Heroism and Fantasy Tropes - Yash did an AMAZING interview with SRB! Go read it!! You can also read Part 2 here, and Part 3 here.  It is well worth the read - Yash asks some really thought provoking questions, and SRB has some great, insightful answers.



Nonbookish News

What's your bending element? - This quiz is AWESOME.  It's a 50 question long quiz, and even though I'm unsurprised by the result (water bender all the way, yo) I'm addicted to these things, and the more in-depth, the better. What type of bender are you?
Creator of Legend of Korra on that ending - ...are you starting to guess I maaaay have spent all last week watching the end of LoK...
On Korra, Her Relationships With Women, And That Epic Series Finale  - *sobs* guyyysss there's not going to be anymore shows in the Avatar universe whyyyyyy.  This show is so freaking good and that ending and aghhh I want more! (And also a kiss. I WANT A KISS. I mean I get why it didn't happen, I really do. It doesn't stop me from wanting it though. 
May the Box Office Be Ever in Your Favor: How Divergent and The Hunger Games Avoid Race and Gender Violence - This doesn't change my great respect for THG and how much I absolutely LOVED Catching Fire as a film, but this article is absolutely spot on.  Take a gander at this - it'll definitely make you think.
Fantasy, Dystopia and Shoes - OH MY GOD I WANT THESE SHOES!! I want the dragon shoes, and the shoes that say "This will destroy you" are so freaking badass. Even Tamora Pierce thinks so!
The Things You Say - A personal essay about what transgenders often have to go through when it comes dating
Women Like Marvel’s Agent Carter Were a Very Real Part of History - This is totally awesome, and I didn't have a clue about most of this! Very touching.
I'm Not a Tart: The Feminist Subtext of Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men - Wow. I had no idea Leighton Meester was this eloquent! This was really well thought out and very thought provoking. Definitely worth a read!
5 Year Old Paleontologist - This youtube clip is BEYOND adorable!!
Toys Are People, Too -  Yeah, this hits home for me haha



And we've made it to the end of this very super long post!  I leave you with Viktoria Modesta, the world’s first amputee pop artist. Make sure you stick around for the amazing spike dance at the end.

Trust me, and just watch this. It's SO. AWESOME.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Top 5 Most Influential Books



Harry Potter Series - J.K. Rowling

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The Harry Potter series is the probably the most obvious series to put on this list, and at the same time to most widespread to everyone else who would make a list like this.  This doesn't make it any less important and essential to this list.  How many of us grew up with Harry Potter?  I'm constantly reminded how lucky I am that it came out when it did, because my childhood in many ways was shaped by Harry Potter.  As I came into my own, so did the characters in Harry Potter, so it honestly feels like we actually grew up together, as weird as that may sound.  And having Hermione to look up to as I grew up was really fantastic.  While for the most part being known as a bookworm didn't bother me, it wasn't particularly comfortable either.  It meant that people made judgements about who I was..simply because I actually read books.  It also meant a lot of teasing, although I'll make no claims to being bullied - almost all the teasing was well-meaning.  I think I probably would have been a little more sensitive to it if I didn't have a character like Hermione around - she was a total bookworm, and she was AWESOME.




The Amber Spyglass - Philip Pullman

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I can't remember the first time I read this series, but I generally place finishing the third book in my middle school years, because my brain was like...whaaaaaat?!  Don't get me wrong - I absolutely adore The Golden Compass.  It sets up some truly amazing world building, and the characters are just *sighs happily*.  The Subtle Knife feels too much like a middle book for me to easily separate it from the first or third, I often muddle what happens in which book.   But the third book...the third book was a life changer for me as far as life philosophies.

SPOILERS ENSUE. Sort of?

I've always had issues with the Catholic church (the church I was raised in), but it wasn't until probably middle school that I really started questioning things.  As a kid I was mostly just pretty bored (as I imagine most kids are anywhere they have to sit for an hour quietly lol).  When I read the third book my world turned upside down.  God could be a phoney?  It was ok to think there was no such thing as God?  I'd always thought people just passively went to church and said they were Christians, whether they were faithful to the idea or not.  Or if not Christianity, some other religion.  That it was acceptable to think otherwise was incredible to me.  I can understand why the Church feels threatened by this series - I am kind of a perfect example of why they'd hate the series.  That being said, it's not like I suddenly became an atheist after reading this (and I'm not an atheist now).  I did a lot of questioning, and then decided I'd still try things with the Church.  I don't credit this series from taking me away from being a Catholic - I think I'd have gotten there on my own any way - but I do credit this series as the one that opened me to questioning not only religion, but a lot of basic beliefs I've held - even now.

Plus, this book features my favourite doomed couple ever.  And it was beautiful, and it broke my heart.





Song of the Lioness - Tamora Pierce

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This series was the start of a life long obsession love for Tamora Pierce.  Beyond that, this series pretty much defines the way I see the whole world.  My introduction to Alanna was pretty much my introduction to how I view feminism.  Alanna is badass, strong, but she is more than all that.  She embodies all that it means to be a woman - and that includes being badass and strong, but it doesn't exclude things usually considered more feminine, like caring about how you look or being nurturing. (Not that I think those things are feminine, it's just generally viewed that way by society as far as I can tell).  And it doesn't mean having to be all those things either.  Women don't have to be super heroes.  While Kel has the patience of an angel, the same can not be said of Alanna.  All the characters here are treated like people, not a stereotype of gender identity, sexuality orientation, race, or class.  Really every single one of Tamora Pierce's books fall on this list, Song of the Lioness was just the first series I discovered by her.  This also features a heroine who has multiple sexual partners, and it's shown as a positive not shameful thing.  Which is SO, SO important to read when you are growing up! 





Deerskin - Robin McKinley

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I love all of Robin McKinley's works (really guys, this can't possibly be a surprise!), but Deerskin stands out from all of her other works for a very specific reason that has little to do with the book itself and more to do with me.  This is the book that taught me how much children (and people) can self censor when reading.  This is the book that I think of any time someone wants to talk about censoring books.  The first time I read this, and maybe even the second, there's a fairly big SOMETHING that happens that just went right over my head.  I had a totally different explanation for what happened, and it's really frelling clear what happens in the book - I guess my brain just decided that nope, that's not what it wanted to interpret.  And I was definitely old enough to know what had happened, I just wasn't ready to understand it, I guess.

Spoilers. Like for real. Really, really.

This book is based off the fairy tale "Donkeyskin".  If you don't know it, it's about a father becoming obsessed with his daughter and raping her.  In the Robin McKinley book, I understood that her father was attracted to her.  But when it comes to the rape scene, I thought he ended up just beating her up, but that she escaped without being raped.  So when it comes to the scene in the forest where she miscarries, I was a bit confused why having what was apparently a super bad period warranted so much attention, but I just went with it.  I'm pretty sure I was in high school when I read this, possibly junior high school? Either way, that's old enough (definitely high school!) to know what's going, especially since the book really. isn't. vague.  I reread this in undergrad and when I got to those points I was like...what??? How on EARTH did I think that's what happened? Like I seriously can not understand how I came up with the scenario I did!  I was pretty stunned.  And that's when I began to take self-censoring as a legit 100% real thing...and started wondering what else I'd misinterpreted.





Going Bovine - Libba Bray

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All the other books on this list are books I grew up with, books that I own and have reread so many times they're falling apart, so to have a book I only read a couple months ago take a spot there were many, many other books that I had expected to put here should tell you just how much impact it had on me.  It's also the only book on this list that I listened to instead of read. (I'm quickly becoming to believe that I actually absorb way more everything when I listen to books)  It has made me think really hard about what I believe life and reality to mean.  And...it's one of two books that I just don't want to talk about, which is really strange for me. (The other is The Book Thief)  I have mentioned this so many times on the blog since I read it...but I've never really talked about it. I think it's just that my reaction to what was written was so personal, and hard to describe (much like the book itself).  So much of this book was totally revolutionary for me. And I never thought I'd be so attached to a garden gnome.


Bonus:

I would definitely consider both of these books worthy of huge sections of this list. Luckily I've already written pages about them :)

I've spoken on the blog before on how Madeline L'Engle opened my eyes to the way spirituality and science can meld perfectly, and how specifically her book A Ring of Endless Light has always comforted me when my life has gotten out of control and confusing.  I wouldn't consider myself religious or spiritual now, but it gives me hope that someday I might find something that works for me on that front.

I also recently talked about how Fire helped me start dealing with my anxiety and fear after I had harassment issues.


Saturday, January 10, 2015

Best of 2014


Better late than never, right? A big thank you to Jamie at Perpetual Page Turner for doing this again!  She also did all the pretty designing things too :)


reading-stats-2014



Number Of Books You Read: 151 (including picture books, but not rereads)
Number of Re-Reads:  28
Genre You Read The Most From: Unsurprisingly, I read twice as much fantasy as any other genres (which were surprisingly pretty evenly split between the other genres).  Fantasy comes in at 39, and my highest subgenre was (also unsurprisingly) High Fantasy.  My audience was split at probably close to half YA, and then the other half was split between adult, children, and MG.



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Best Book You Read In 2014?

Contemporary: 
Going Bovine by Libba Bray
Anatomy of a Boyfriend by Daria Snadowsky

 Fantasy:           
Froi of the Exiles by Melina Marchetta
Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Science Fiction: 
The Newsflesh Trilogy by Mira Grant
Forest of Hands & Teeth by Carrie Ryan



Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?

Hands down this goes to Diane Setterfield's Bellman & Black. I have been anxiously awaiting another book from her since I read her debut novel, The Thirteenth Tale - which remains one of my favourite books ever, EIGHT YEARS ago. And you the worst of it? The book didn't make me angry...it made me sad! I just felt so bad because there was so much pressure on her after her debut novel had so much success...and then she didn't write for 8 years and this book seriously tanked. And it made me feel bad that I disliked it so much :(



Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read in 2014?  

Good Way:  Tyger Tyger by Kerstin Hamilton - I totally did not see that book having nearly as much substance as I did, and it flipped around some instalove tropes on me (which I LOVED and otherwise I don't think I would have shaped the main couple) and totally took me by surprise.

Bad Way:  Mansfield Park by Jane Austen - WHY JANE. JUST WHY.




Best series you started in 2014? Best Sequel of 2014?
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The best series I read was hands down (well ok only hands down because the only series that gave it a run for it's money I'm putting in the second part of this question) was Mira Grant's Newsflesh Trilogy. I have been craving a reread of it like every month since I read it, and until this trilogy I thought that even if I loved books as an adult, I wouldn't need them like I do the big books I grew up with (a la anything by Tamora Pierce or Robin McKinley).

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On the flip side, Froi of the Exiles may be the most perfect, amazing second book I've ever come across. It is seriously SO. GOOD. Finnikin of the Rock is totally up my alley - I mean high fantasy is my thing, but it didn't really stand apart from the crowd for me. But when this book came along? Oh yeah. I fell, and I fell HARD.



Favorite new author you discovered in 2014?

Unsurprisingly, I honestly can't choose between above authors Mira Grant and Melina Marchetta.



Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?

I'm really not much of a contemporary reader, but Daria Snadowsky's Anatomy of a Boyfriend was just one of the funniest most honest things I've ever read. And I really, really wish I'd found it when I first started getting serious with my boyfriend - it would have reassured me that all the awkwardness a lot sooner than I got comfortable with it on my own.  Dom is seriously like a twin to my 18 year-old self.



Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?

Guys, I have completely refused to read The Vampire Academy series forever. Mostly because the covers feature what appears to be an Angelina Jolie look alike. And because the title says vampire.  I WAS WRONG. I bow down to the collective wisdom of everyone who has repeatedly told me I was wrong!  I had a freaking meltdown when I had to wait to get that fourth book, so the award to this question definitely goes to Shadow Kiss.




Book You Read In 2014 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?

Well I've answered this one already - The Newsflesh Trilogy.



Favorite cover of a book you read in 2014?

Man, the covers this year were just top notch. The Night Circus and The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender came really close, but this took the cake for me:

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Most memorable character of 2014?

Aaaand once again I need to remind myself that Celaena Sardothien is not the answer to everything.  I'd have to go with Saphronia from Etiquette & Espionage because she's brilliant and manipulative and a little selfish (and we all know I love these things in my heroines)



Most beautifully written book read in 2014?

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, although The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton is definitely a close second.  Also Daughter of Smoke and Bone which I've only just now remembered I even read last year! I read it in like February so it feels forever ago.



Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2014?

Going Bovine by Libba Bray. I didn't even have to consider any other books for this question. I read this book almost 2 months ago, and I rarely go a full week without thinking about it.  I can't really say the same of any other book unless I'm getting a craving for a reread. And I don't think I'll ever be up to a reread of this - as much as it's constantly in my thoughts, a reread would completely wreck me. 



Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2014 to finally read? 

...The Vampire Academy series. I feel dumb.



Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2014?

 
- Unmade by Sarah Rees Brennan

I may admire Kami's spunk and tenacity, and wish I had Angela's hardness, but I'm Holly through and through.  Especially in this last book, a lot of what Holly said/did/felt just really resonated with me.



Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2013?

Kushiel's Scion comes out on top with a whopping 944 pages, and Little Miss Shy wins the shortest at 14 pages.



Book That Shocked You The Most

Going Bovine. I thought I had the ending pegged right from the start, and I just totally didn't see it going that way!



OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!)

Adam/Ronan from Maggie Stiefvater's Raven Cycle.  Because I can't pick Celaena/Chaol every year haha (and I NEED Adam/Ronan to happen!)



Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year

Harbour Lights by compoundbreadd

Definitely Rowan/Celaena from Heir of Fire.  There's some serious chemistry there, and they clearly belong together. But when I say that, I mean as like...soul besties.



Favorite Book You Read in 2014 From An Author You’ve Read Previously

Heir of Fire/The Assassin's Blade by Sarah J. Maas. She only made this list once this year!! I'm so proud of myself - I showed restraint! Oh wait I just did Heir of Fire. Twice! I only mentioned it twice!



Best Book You Read In 2014 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure:

The Vampire Academy series...because of like everyone ever. Although a shout out to Shannon who was FREAKING AWESOME and therefore got me to read a book I hadn't even heard of yet (The Kiss of Deception which I LOVED even though I haven't mentioned it on the blog really) and a book I hadn't been able to get to yet (Blue Lily, Lily Blue) by actually giving them to me to read hahahaha.



Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2014?

Nikolai Lantsov/Sturmhond because HELLO Prince/Pirate Captain?! Loveable rogue? It's like he was written for me. I never shipped him with Alina, but I'd take him quite happily!



Best 2014 debut you read?

 The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern



Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. I seriously loved the setting of this probably most about the book, which is not something I usually care a whole lot about. Even weirder? It wasn't a fantasy setting!  But seriously, the descriptions in this book were just so beautiful and so vivid!  Daughter of Smoke and Bone is definitely a very close second though. The descriptions of the chimaera are what really stood out for me in that book, hence The Night Circus winning this question.



Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?

Etiquette & Espionage is just entirely made of fun! Steampunk assassin/spy-in-training boarding school?! YES.



Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2014?

Ummm...I cry about like every book. I'm entirely overly emotional about reading: I cry because it's over, I cry because someone died, I cry because the ending was so good, I cry because I'm scared, I cry because I loved it so much....I mean need I go on?




Hidden Gem Of The Year?

The Drowned Cities by Paolo Bacigalupi. This man just does not get the word of mouth that he deserves. I only discovered him last year because I randomly picked up a book of his at the library, and his dystopias are the scariest most realistic settings I've ever read.



Book That Crushed Your Soul?

Going Bovine. Not even a question. From the start I knew there were two ways the book could go, and I would have been sad but ok with either of those endings. I did NOT see that third option that Libba Bray chose that combines both option A and B in the most intense way ever. I was a wreck (who am I kidding I'm still a wreck! That book completely shocked me out of nowhere. Like being hit by a lightning bolt).



Most Unique Book You Read In 2014?

Going Bovine. Like...I can't even explain this book. Or really choose a genre for it. It's weird (in a wonderful but completely genre-defying way)



Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?

1Q84 by Haruki Murakami.  Ok, technically I still haven't finished it, but some of you have seen my status updates on it, and can understand my frustration. Between this and Mansfield Park (and The Scarlet Pimpernel which I didn't hate but had expected to love) it was not a good year for classics.





book-blogging
  Favorite review that you wrote in 2014?

This year I moved away from writing traditional reviews for the most part.  And it all started with my somewhat review, but mostly discussion of a standout character/book Gabrielle Zevin's Birthright trilogy.  I'll link all three below, because well...why not?



Best discussion post you had on your blog?

Monday Musings: LGBT in Books - I get spectacularly ranty on this one so it was a lot of fun.  Speaking of fun...RrraaAAWWrrrr (Or: Why Zombies?) may have been my most fun (and scarring. Don't look up animal zombies on google image. It's horrifying.)



Best non-bookish post you had on your blog?

I only had two, so I'll just put both shall I?

K-Dramas 101 - For real guys, I need more K-drama buddies in my life. So if any of you like them (or want to try them) I would love to have a K-drama watching buddy right now!
I'm drunk and watching North and South, so let's talk about SHIPS!!! - Oh the ships, the many, many ships. And the wine.  I need some of that...



Post You Wished Got A Little More Love?

Yet Another Ode to Tamora Pierce: Keladry of Mindelan - Kel really doesn't get the love Alanna and Daine do, and I think that's a damn shame. I was still surprised that I didn't get many hits on the post or any comments, but I KNOW there are other Kel lovers out there. Somewhere. (...they're probably just all on Tumblr lol)




looking-ahead-books-2015


One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2014 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2015?

I'd hoped to read all of Jane Austen's books by the end of 2014, but I still have to finish Emma and read Northanger Abbey. So really I only read one Jane Austen book last year haha (but hey, I need to savor the rest of them. You only get to read these the first time once, right?)



Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2015 (non-debut)?

A Court of Thorns and Roses (Beauty and the Beast retelling?! SARAH J. MAAS?? Could this speak to me any more? Also THAT COVER. *Swoons*)  



  Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2015?

Sequel: The next Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas, obviously.
Ending: The last book in the Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater.



And that's it folks!  Phew that was long.  Any recommendations for the new year? Do a year wrap up post? Leave me a link below and I'll check it out!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

A Day in the Life (28) - In which Elizabeth has blogging questions and a note to her TBTB Secret Santa!



First and foremost: To whoever my lovely TBTB Secret Santa is, the reason I don't know who you are and why you haven't seen a post where I show off all my awesome swag....is that I don't have the package haha.  It arrived the day after I left for the west coast, and my friend is currently holding the package hostage and refuses to open it for me and send pics/tell me what's in it.  *Scowls*  I'll be back home in January, so expect a super thankful, joyous post sometime in the second week of January (assuming I'm able to supply whatever ransom my friend is going to be holding it for lol!)

And for all you blogger users, I have some questions you may (or may not) be able to answer:

1. If I change my url name, am I going to lose all my bloglovin/e-mail/GFC followers? Or do any/all of those transfer over?  I'm assuming the answer is yes, but I'm not sure the protocol for such things.
2.  After my lovely, wonderful brother went down the coding rabbit hole with me for a couple hours (aka he did all the work), we ended up having an AWFUL looking drop down menu. I'd really, really want a dropdown menu...but there so far doesn't appear to be a way to keep my current formatting...but with a drop down menu.  Any ideas?
3. Is the GFC widget only for blogger?  Because of above questions, I am considering just moving to a whole new platform altogether.  Especially if I'm going to make a big change with my url - I need to either commit to staying here, or moving since that would be the time to do a big move like that. I know I DON'T want Wordpress though (I know, I know I'm weird. But I tried figuring out how to format things there for free, and it didn't go well haha)
4. That being said, my GFC followers might just be pretty ornaments - I'm not sure if any of you actually come to the blog through the GFC feed. So that might be a moot point, really.  (And if you do, let me know so I know that it isn't one!)


It's been an absolute madhouse of Christmas frenzy for the past week (as per usual with my family) so I'm honestly so exhausted by it all that I can't bring myself to write anymore.  Also why there haven't been any content posts lately - I always overestimate my ability to manage time when I'm out here with the family haha!  But I WOULD like to wish all of you a Merry Christmas (or happy whatever holiday you celebrate)!   I'm out until the New Year (probably), but I'll be back and hopefully rested up with loads of sunshine and pictures from our annual trip to Mexico!  In the meantime, happy holidays and see you in the new year!



Bookish News
Discussion

Books: Art or Commodities - Another thought provoking post by Nafiza
P.S. I Love Fanfiction - I'm determined to post everything about fanfic I read, because if I do, the rest of you will start to at least understand...right? RIGHT?  Meg gets it for sure, so go read this. Shoo.
Fatness and Diversity in YA - Personally, I would love some diversity on this front because I'd love more perspective on how it's ok to talk about!  As someone who is skinny, I'm constantly afraid of making a misstep on this one because well...I haven't ever had someone show me the ropes, sadly.
When Your Favorite Writer Lets You Down  - On Kurt Vonnegut and rape culture.
A Message From John Sargent - A look at expectations for e-books (financially) over the next few years in light of the Apple court case

Roundup: Books That Pass the Bechdel Test - I have been extraordinarily...lax when it has come to updating my Bechdel Test part of the blog. (Aka I haven't...at all...)  At least I know where to start with these books!
What about a Graphic Novel?: The Bum Rap of the Graphic Novel - A look at the stigmas that stop people from reading graphic novels today.
Ship Shape: Banter, Bicker, Bang- Aka, my favourite type of ship


Specific Books and Authors

YA Characters and Their Fave Reality TV Shows - Bahaha these are perfect!
Hello, I Love You Cover Reveal Celebration and Interview - I am SO EXCITED FOR THIS BOOK!! I rarely pay attention to debuts or books that are coming up unless they're the next in a series/by an author I really, really love. I just don't, for whatever reason.  But this book? This book speaks to me.  As a white girl dating a Korean, as a lover of K-dramas AND K-pop, and most especially because Katie's favourite band is also CNBlue and she pictured Jung Yong-hwa (swoon! Go watch Heartstrings and You're Beautiful NOWWW) as her male lead here. For whatever reason, I'm stoked for this book...when it finally comes out!
Re-reading Narnia: 'The Horse and His Boy'- Katherine always has some of the most in depth, well thought out reviews. I don't generally read reviews, but I never miss hers when she does them!
The Harry Potter Reread: The Goblet of Fire, Chapters 7 and 8 - This talks about the Veela, and really nails down my issues with them.  Male Veela ftw!
Felicia Day Announces the Perfect Memoir, You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) - Guys, I freaking adore Felicia Day. I don't read nonfiction often, but this will definitely be on my TBR pile when it comes out!
 The Pop Quiz at the End of the Universe: Marissa Meyer - I love these pop quizzes, you always find out some entertaining things about the authors!


Blogging

How blogging changed my life - Mel talks about all the great things blogging has helped her with
28 Literary Accessories All Book Lovers Must Have - I want ALL. THE. THINGS.


Nonbookish News

Young Princess Bride Fan Devises Excellent Dread Pirate Roberts Headcanon - Why didn't I think of this?!? It's brilliant!
Bill Gates Gives Redditor Her Christmas Wish - Bill Gates does reddit secret santa?! This is awesome! 
Getting Into Into the Woods - Ahhhh I'm so excited!! I'm going to see this with my godmother I believe right after Christmas!
"Something Terrible Has Happened Here": The Crazy Story Of How "Clue" Went From Forgotten Flop To Cult Triumph - I finally watched all of this about a month ago! I'd never seen the whole film before.
Australians Just Showed the World Exactly How to Respond to Terrorism With #IllRideWithYou - Mic - This definitely helped me regain faith in humanity. I only wish we saw more of this over here in the States.


And that's it for the year! (Probably)  Until next year, I bid you adieu!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Top Fifteen Books I Read In 2014

Hosted by: The Broke and Bookish


This year was definitely the year of new authors for me. If you stopped by last week, you'll definitely notice a lot of the same books that I posted then. But that's ok because they deserve a double dosing of recognition :) ...but because I'm lazy, if you stopped by last week and think some of my thoughts sound oddly familiar...they are...



Going Bovine - Libba Bray

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God, this book was nothing like I expected, and so much better.  I can't even begin to describe what it's like. It's definitely not for everyone, but if you're ok with things going pretty surreal you should give this a try. And that's all I'm going to say about this because you just really need to experience it for yourself.




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I'm definitely a black sheep on this one. Most of the reviews for this were pretty lackluster (I don't think I know ANYONE who loved it!), so I was not expecting to totally love this the way I did. That audiobook was pure magic and man...the descriptions are super steamy sometimes (without being explicit) which an art all in and of itself!




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I don't know what it was about zombies this year, but it was pretty much my zombie awakening, and I'm so glad that this series got to be a part of that.


The Night Circus - Erin Morgenstern

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God this book is just such a work of art! (Speaking of, look at that cover! I want to put it on my wall.)  I've mentioned before that I'm a total sucker for beautiful prose, and this just really nailed it for me.


Etiquette & Espionage - Gail Carriger

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This was my very first audiobook, (that I completed) and I couldn't recommend a better audiobook for newbies!  The narrator is perfect and the story is just SO freaking fun, and totally absorbing.  I haven't got my hands on the third book, but hopefully I won't have to wait years for that to happen! (Also she has an awesome retro fashion blog and is involved in steampunk. And apparently loves Tamora Pierce and Robin McKinley, aka my two favourite authors/heroes/rulers of my life.  What's not to love here?)



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Umm, is an explanation even needed for this?! Celaena Sardothien. Queen Sarah J. Maas. Expect to see her books on every list I ever make for TTT for the next four years. (But let's be real, probably for all of time)



Anatomy of a Boyfriend - Daria Snadowsky

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This is probably the book I'd consider Important Book of the year. I wish, wish, WISH that someone had put this book in my hands as a teen/before I had sex.  If you know anyone - boy or girl (although I don't have much faith in boys reading this, but they should) who is at the age where they're curious/thinking about sex, this book is amazing.  It is so open - Dom (the MC) has some supremely awkward sex moments (and trust me, all of us who have gotten to that point have had it!), and the relationship isn't a magic fix it all.  It's basically the book that would have reassured me that everything I was going through was ok and normal, and definitely would have answered some questions I didn't have someone to ask.  (And I have a REALLY open relationship with my parents - but there are lines. I was lucky I could ask them anything I was comfortable asking, but I know a lot of people don't have that. GIVE THEM THIS BOOK. Added bonus? It talks about safe sex in this book in a way that isn't preachy, but still gives a lot of thought.)


Froi of the Exiles - Melina Marchetta

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I know Froi is the second book in the trilogy, but I just need to reiterate for the millionth time that this book is like...the book of my soul.  Finnickin of the Rock is amazing, and I loved it...but this book? This is the book that made the trilogy for me and made it stand out from the billions of fantasy novels I read any given year.  Also it's probably the shippiest ship ever for me this year. (Well ok other than Heir of Fire. Because Chaolena forever. Although Rowan almost rocked that boat for me...but I just want him in Celaena's life in anyway, not necessarily as the love interest. Wait, what was I talking about?)


The Drowned Cities - Paolo Bacigalupa

The Drowned Cities (Ship Breaker, #2)

Man, I wish Paolo Bacigalupi had more buzz in the YA book community. I know a few people irl who know his adult books, but I don't hear about his YA books very often.  And let me tell you - if you like dystopias, this is like...the dystopiest dystopia you'll come by.  And the kicker? It also feels like the most realistic of all the dystopias I've ever read, because the core of what's happening in these books? It's happening now.  Look to your third world countries.  Look at the child soldiers and children living in extreme poverty.  Yeah.  So no, you aren't going to be finding much in the way of swoons in these books, but man you are going to find a lot to think over.





So remember how I was a sucker for prose? This book might have taken the cake on that. Magic realism always seems to have the most gorgeous prose! Also that cover might be one of my favourite covers ever. I still can't really articulate the atmosphere and emotions that this book evokes...but it's just all so gorgeous.



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So here's another author you should expect to see on all my best of the year TTT's for pretty much the rest of EVER.




Daughter of Smoke & Bone (Daughter of Smoke & Bone, #1)

Recurring theme of this list? If you write pretty words I heart you.


Fangirl - Rainbow Rowell

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So most of you have probably read Rainbow Rowell at this point, so I don't even need to explain why I love her books.  I actually haven't read any of the other for some reason (it doesn't matter how much I love a contemporary work/author, they just don't call to me the way fantasy does, so I usually have to actively remind myself to grab a copy), but all her books are definitely on my TBR pile!


Newsflesh Trilogy - Mira Grant

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Ahh, the series that started it all.  I can't thank Meg enough for introducing me this series. It's really a toss up whether Melina Marchetta's trilogy or this one is my favourite of the year. I legit can't decide because they are so amazing, and even if you think zombies aren't your thing? You should totally check this out anyway. It might change your mind.


Dragonsong/Dragonsinger - Anne McCaffrey

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It's no secret that I love Anne McCaffrey's books, particularly her Pern ones. (I think I might have got rid of the space ship ones by accident when I moved *sobs*)  For me, the first two books in her Harper Hall trilogy are golden, and are right up with there with her first Pern book


Honorable Mentions: (I had to cut the list off somewhere, right?) The Kiss of Deception, The Truth About Alice I wouldn't call these flawless books, but they are probably the most innovative books I read this year as far as formatting the narrative is involved, and I thought both of them did that very, very well.

Monday, December 15, 2014

A Day in the Life (27)


Sooo....new plan. Let's just not talk about my last two weeks. Clearly I have learned from my first world problem complaining: don't do it because then the gods think you need something to real to complain about. 

I'll show you how my recent weeks went. Interpret as you will (But I refuse to confirm or deny. You will never, never know mwahahahahah)











(Just kidding. I just think this is awesome and I can't stop watching it. I want one! It is Christmas soon you know...)

Good news: For those of you who saw I was stranded in the middle of the city: I have a working car again.  Also I survived being broken down in a-let's-never-stop-there-again part of Baltimore.  And we're just not going to talk about it.  I am just going to pretend that those two weeks happened in an alternate reality.

Moving on!


Bookish News
Discussions

Socioeconomic Class in Contemporary YA Lit: Where Are The Poor Teens? - Man, Stacked posts are always the most thought provoking awesome things.
The YA Divide - This is totally a thing! There's definitely a younger/older audience thing that goes on here that is often impossible to tell before you start reading the book.
Classic Lit And Teen Flicks: Why It Works - I always just assumed it was because I loved retellings, but 10 Things I Hate About You and Clueless have always been favourites of mine. WANT. MOAR. NOW.
I Sacrifice, Therefore I Am Good: Young Adult Fiction Heroines and Self-Destruction - Wow. There is definitely a lot to chew in this article.  I don't agree with some of what is implied (censoring "bad things" like self harm or that glorifying it makes people do it), but there is definitely a lot of content here that resonates with me.
Love Triangles: [Insert That Overused Line From A Robert Frost Poem] - Probably one of the best posts I've seen on love triangles. It's not a "I don't like love triangles" rant.  It's a "these are what I don't like about certain love triangles, and here are some examples of ones that are done well" and it's a good read!
The Genre That Is Called Gaslamp Fantasy - So I totally didn't know that this had a name, but I actually really, really love this genre. And it has a pretty freaking awesome name too!
Sci-Fi Month 2014: Blogger Panel #4 - Favourite Alien - YES!! "I'm just a sweet transvestite
From Transexual, Transylvania" ...I really wanted to sneak this into my gym playlist but thought it might not fly in my super bro-y gym I work at. I did at least put in Time Warp. And Rent. I WILL make you bros listen to K-Pop, Latino music, and musicals. YOU CAN'T STOP ME!!
Someone should write a book where the MC falls in love with the reader - I'd seen this idea before, but it's fleshed out here. And it's beautiful.


Specific Books and Authors

What to Read Next if You Never Stopped Loving Robin McKinley’s The Hero and the Crown - Yes! To all these books! God I love Robin McKinley's books.
Peter Pan’s “Greatest Pretend” is Heroism - You know, I think this says a lot on why I don't actually like Peter Pan. 
Mira Grant Talks Tapeworms in a Lively Reddit AMA! - My newest favourite author!


Blogging

You Know You're a Book Blogger When... - Umm...yeah pretty much all these things. Particularly #3 haha!
Kat Kennedy gives a clear, helpful guide on how to name your blog. - Kat being hilarious as per usual haha


OH MY GOD SEND ME HERE PLEASE NOW K THX


Non-bookish News

Homelessness - Although the streetwise guy on my corner wasn't homeless, it was definitely a struggle and I know he was homeless at one point.  And he's definitely one of the coolest dudes I knew in Chicago.
On Being a Black Male, Six Feet Four Inches Tall, in America in 2014 - This just sucks all around.  As a woman...I can't say that I wouldn't have acted that way. Which is both parts I think understandable (If not ok? I am uncertain on my feelings here), and sad for everyone involved because it just keeps self perpetuating itself.
Full Grown Black Rage - "Because it’s not that you should fear me, it’s that you deserve to."
Questlove: Trayvon Martin and I Ain’t Shit - More on the same issues.
Composer Stereotypes As Described By Cats -  Oh my god I died laughing when I saw this haha
Princess Bubblegum’s Rule by Science - On the dark side of Princess Bubblegum.
The Pomplamoose Problem: Artists Can't Survive as Saints and Martyrs - Definitely something that's important to me, but can be applied to writers and artists in general as well.
Evil Couture, Inc. — The Best Fashionable Villains! - Villains seriously have the best wardrobe. And seriously, no evil wardrobe list is complete without Regina. I seriously need like all of her evil queen clothes. NEED.



So..I think I've finally jumped on the Taylor Swift train. I've been more or less indifferent to her for like the last...god how old was she when she started making music?!  Anyway, I heard Blank Space come on at the gym maybe a month ago now (the one where I don't control the music *scowls*) and I was like man, this song is great! (Not a normal reaction to songs I hear on the radio. Also why working at that gym is like 6 hours of torture.)  And then I found out it was a Taylor Swift song and I was like...whaaaa?  I hadn't thought about her new album really though until this week and now I've been watching the youtube videos on like...repeat. (I blame Kirsty. You've turned me into a convert!) 



I don't understand how people can hate someone who is clearly having so much fun simultaneously being awesome (and showcasing some really fantastic performers) while really, truly making fun of herself.  Also she writes her own music. That automatically demands my respect.