Friday, February 28, 2014

Forest Born (Books of Bayern #4) - Shannon Hale

Forest Born (The Books of Bayern, #4) 


Goodreads:  Rin is sure that something is wrong with her…something really bad. Something that is keeping her from feeling at home in the Forest homestead where she’s lived all her life. Something that is keeping her from trusting herself with anyone at all. When her brother Razo returns from the city for a visit, she accompanies him to the palace, hoping that she can find peace away from home. But war has come to Bayern again, and Rin is compelled to join the queen and her closest allies—magical girls Rin thinks of as the Fire Sisters—as they venture into the Forest toward Kel, the land where someone seems to want them all dead. Many beloved Bayern characters reappear in this story, but it is Rin’s own journey of discovering how to balance the good and the bad in herself that drives this compelling adventure.


I thought this book was a perfect ending to the Books of Bayern quartet.  It addressed something that I thought was very important, but can't say what because of spoilers.  But I loved that Shannon Hale saw that something and decided to write a story around it, because I loved that.  Gah!  It's always so hard to talk about the books in this series because my favourite parts about them are always spoilers!

I really enjoyed Rin.  She's much more internalized than any of the other main characters in the series have been.  In that way she's very similar to Finn (who is one of my favourite side characters from the previous books).  Enna Burning also has a lot of internalized conflict, and this book contains a lot of the same darkness you find in Enna Burning, but this time the ensemble cast stops it from being overdone. 

As always, it was a delight to see our favourite cast of characters.  There's something so fun about reading a book from a different perspective, and a different set of priorities, but having main characters from other books become side characters, or make minor appearances throughout the book.  I'm sure there are more series that do this, but the only one I can think of is Jaclyn Moriarty's Ashbury/Brookfield series. 

This is the only book that doesn't have a main romance, but I really feel if there had been one it would have detracted from the story at hand.  And those of you who know what the spoiler bit I reference earlier probably know why I feel that way.  There wasn't a point in the story where I felt like it was lacking because of the absence of romance.  I wish there were more YA books out there like that!  Don't get me wrong, I'm all about the swoons, but sometimes it's nice to read a story without the instalove sexy times.


As I've mentioned before, Shannon Hale is one of those authors who should be on your TBR list if you haven't read her books before.  She's a standard to hold other authors by, a classic, and she writes a really diverse range of books.  As with all the other books I've read by her, this was a really great read and a wonderful ending to the Books of Bayern series.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Chicago Bound (Jake McGreevey #2) - Sean Vogel

Chicago Bound


GoodreadsJake’s plan for a carefree holiday at a musical performing arts camp in the Windy City hits a sour note when he stumbles upon a long-hidden message from his mother, art historian Karen McGreevy. She had traveled to Chicago thirteen years earlier on a dream assignment, never to return home. With his violin and his mother’s mysterious letter in hand, Jake, his best friend Julie, and new pals Ben and Natalie are heading west, where they will follow the clues and uncover the truth about a missing masterpiece, the meaning of friendship, and the enduring bond between a mother and her son.


Once again, my Netgalley mania struck!  Although this is the 2nd book in the series, I must have liked the title so much I requested it anyway (or I was dumb enough to not notice it was the second book.  It wouldn't be the first time).  And I am so glad I did!  There is just so much to enjoy about this book.  While some might find it too cutesy for their taste, I thought it was really heart warming.  And any time it skewed towards any suspicious looks from me, the author immediately put in a lot of details that really made a difference.  For example there's a scene in the book that plays out very much like Home Alone with all sorts of home made contraptions to stall the villains.  Just as I was about to roll my eyes out how naive and unlikely to succeed in the real world this plan was, Jake detailed an actually very plausible plan.  And it had all the fun you got from Home Alone! 

In general it was just so clear that the author had done his research.  And there's just so many interesting things in this book!  Jake and his friends are very tech savvy, Jake is well versed in architecture as his father is an architect and at least somewhat knowledgeable in art as his mother was...whatever you call an art verifier person.  It was never info dumped and never so much that you wanted to skip sections, just little snippets here and there that were plausible given the characters' backgrounds and I just loved seeing certain things referenced (particularly because it was set in Chicago), so it basically just felt like a lot of awesome shout outs for his readers who are interested in any of those subjects.  Even better?  Jake and most of his friends are musicians.  So this book was basically meant for me.  Musicians?  In Chicago?  I mean, there's a reason I requested this book despite it being the second in a series.  Oh speaking of - this is easy to read as a standalone.  The books are definitely separate novels that follow the same character, sort of the way mystery novels (like Nancy Drew) or adventure novels (James Bond, Dirk Pitt, etc.) can be.  But back to the music!  The author was clearly a musician (or if he wasn't I'd be shocked and very, very impressed at how well he portrays a lot of aspects about music that are glossed over or just plain wrong in books), although my guess is that he was a choral musician.  (But then that just might be me reading into things).  It's so great reading a book where the author clearly understands how it works!  The way rehearsals are run, that it's not just some magical talent - you become a musician with practice and hard work.

I'm just so excited that music was written in a realistic way!  I literally can not think of a SINGLE novel where the musicians weren't just magically talented or just lay about all day and acted bohemian or something.  I mean seriously.  Come on.

I also loved all the information about Chicago.  I mean, from the title this is no surprise.  But coming from a small town, I'm not used to getting to read about places I walk by all the time.  There's just something about that that makes me so excited.  Until this year I didn't even know that was a thing I cared about, but I love it.  So many references to a lot of the attractions downtown as well as some interesting things about the history of the architecture here, and some good mentions of the skyline.

 In case you didn't know, Chicago has the best skyline in the world.  You can show me skylines from New York, Hong Kong, and I'm sorry but they just don't compare.  I'm not usually one for non-nature settings, but this is one of the most beautiful things you will ever see.  ...sorry I really love it here haha

Vogel also makes a point to really include diversity, even amongst the main characters.  One of my favourite scenes is at a nursing home and Jake is addressing some of the military members there.  Among them were some of the first women in the army who were not nurses.  It really felt like the author made a conscious effort on this and some of the more PC sections, and while that's generally not my style, who am I to complain about something that I want to see in books? 

I know I primarily review YA books and that the characters in this book are fifteen, but I did want to say that it is definitely more of a MG book than YA fiction, just as a heads up for those of you are less inclined to read MG.  (Although I'd say this is a really fun book if you'd like to give MG fiction a shot!).  There's very little romance, although the attraction is there, and addressed.  Jake is a little level-headed about it in a nonteenagery way at times, but again it really didn't bother me.  It was clear the author took into account a lot of things about being a teenager, and I really appreciated that.  And you know what?  It's just really nice to read a book where romance isn't the main focus, or the next main focus.  This book is about Jake solving a mystery involving his mom and dealing with the fun, crazy messes he and his friends manage to get into.  It was refreshing, and very fun :)


Basically this is one of the best researched novels I've ever read, and at the same time SO FUN.  Usually super researched books get really dull (I'm looking at you Headlong).  I mean it just has everything in it - art, architecture, music, libraries, fancy tech stuff that I don't understand, gymnastics,'s fantastic!  If you like MG literature at all and are looking for a really fun read (most of my MG lit tends towards the dark and depressing, so this was a very nice change of pace), you should definitely check this out.  On the other hand, if cutesy isn't for you this probably isn't going to be your scene.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Top Ten Fictional Besties

Hosted by The Broke and Bookish

This week we got to pick any topic we wanted to, so like the innovative person I am...I scrolled down the past topics til I hit on one I thought looked fun haha

Ruby and Anya

All These Things I've Done (Birthright, #1)

I devoted like half a post on why these bff's are one of my favourite friendships of all time.

Unspoken (The Lynburn Legacy, #1)

I also devoted like half a post to why this is my other favourite friendship of all time

I've mentioned this manga a million times, but I don't think I've actually devoted a post to it (YET).  Kyoko and Kanae basically complete each other.  Kanae is a staunch supporter of Kyoko's (aka the girl with the lowest self esteem ever while still being badass and making the story line hilarious), whereas Kyoko softens all of Kanae's soft edges.  They would not be the people they are in the story line right now without  each other.

Harry, Hermione, and Ron (and Neville and Luna!!)

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (Harry Potter, #1)

Come on.  Does this really need an explanation?

 Lirael and Dog

Lirael (The Abhorsen Trilogy, #2)

Ahh one of my favourite stories of all time.  Without Dog, Lirael would have been just another melodramatic teenager.  And Dog...well, that would be spoilers ;)

Calvin and Hobbes

Calvin and Hobbes

 Calvin would basically be an evil master of universe if he didn't have Hobbes to take him down a peg when he needs it.  And besides, who else would Hobbes go on crazy adventures with?

Emily, Lydia, and Cassie

The Year of Secret Assignments (Ashbury/Brookfield, #2)

It's like a funnier Aussie version of Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.  Don't get me wrong, I love TSotTP (which also made this week's list), but this was my first love (and it's freaking hilarious). This has been on my list so many times you should just read it so you know what I'm talking about!

Samwise and Frodo (And Merry and Pippin)

The Fellowship of the Ring (The Lord of the Rings #1)

The ultimate bromance.  

Anne and Diana

Anne of Green Gables (Anne of Green Gables, #1)

Oh Anne, you would have only been a lonely girl with crazy flights of fantasy without Diana, and Diana your existence would have been so much more boring without Anne.  I adore the two of you!

Lena, Bridget, Tabby, and Carmen

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (Sisterhood, #1)

I grew wanting to be these girls, to have this sort of bond with other girls.  But I also grew up with quite a few guy friends, and ALL my friends hated each other, so that was never happening haha.  But seriously, what would this list be without this series?  It's like the definition of a book about fictional bffs.

And that's it for this week's TTT!  What topic did you choose?  Leave me a link in the comments below!  (Really leave a link or I won't be able to find your blog!)

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Allegiant (Divergent #3) - Veronica Roth

 Allegiant (Divergent, #3)


Goodreads:  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, by #1 New York Times best-selling author Veronica Roth, 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.


I am actually not a huge fan of the trilogy (I can hear my cousin shouting in dismay from across the country).  This isn't to say I disliked the books, just that I don't connect to them the way other people seem to.   I think this is a thing that has to do with first person, and overall the writing style didn't work for me.  In general I don't do well with first person because I find it very limiting and there are a lot of things that come off clumsily when trying to point out other people's motivations.  This isn't to say it can't be done, just that it has to be done really well or it doesn't work.  I didn't make a note of it, so this might not have been specifically the problem I had with the writing style, but I very, very rarely like first person books.  I will say that in this book I had a REALLY hard time with the alternating POV's which is something I usually do ok with.  I found Tris and Tobias's voices hard to distinguish, and I'd only remember each chapter was a different POV when I was a couple pages into each chapter and realized things weren't making sense, which kept jolting me out of the story line.

Despite everything negative I've been saying so far, it really is a fun, action packed read.  It was also a lot of fun for me because I realized early on that is was set in Chicago, so it was great discovering all these places I see regularly (or in the spring when I stop hibernating inside of my apartment).  I've discovered that I actually really enjoy reading/seeing places I recognize.  And since I've moved here I've discovered there are a TON of books that are set here!  But of course that doesn't really mean much to the rest of you as I assume the majority of you couldn't possibly live here, and therefore could care less that the trains the Dauntless ride are the El.

I have to say I actually quite liked the ending.  I knew there were pretty much only 3 options as to what it could be since there's only one thing that could make people so upset, so perhaps it helped that I had warning and it wasn't a sudden discovery.  Again, the execution didn't necessarily work for me, but it did feel like this was where the trilogy as a whole was building to.  I'm also a masochist, so the more a book hurts me, generally the more I like the book.  Because I am a crazy person haha


This trilogy wasn't my cup of tea, but I can certainly see why other people loved it.  I just didn't connect to the writing style and the characters in the way I needed to.  I don't regret reading the series, it was definitely a fun time, so if you like the dystopia/post-apocalyptic genre and haven't read this series yet, I would definitely recommend it.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Feature and Follow Friday (1) - The Last Book That Made Me Cry

Alison Can Read Feature & Follow

This is my very first Feature and Follow post!  After last month where I didn't really have much to say about the TTT topics, I've decided to add this meme on weeks when I'm not doing a TTT post (if I like the topic for this one).  I have really missed doing memes because quite honestly it's one of the best ways to meet people.  But I'm not going to force myself to do them if I don't have anything to say for the topic, so this is my way of compromising while still getting to meet new people.

On to the question - what was the last book that made me cry?  This one's a real winner, I'm sure many of you will agree:

The Book Thief

This book pretty much DESTROYED me!  I won't say much more on the subject, because I actually sort of reviewed it, but I have never ugly cried so hard in my life.  As I say in the review, I had to put the book down towards the end because I cried so hard I literally couldn't see the pages anymore!  I had a really, really intense reaction with the book that was wholly unexpected (I mean I knew it was sad, but I was NOT expecting such a visceral response).  I was a little late to the party on this one though, so I imagine most of your books are different.

So what was the last book that made you cry?  Leave me a link in the comments!  (No really, leave me a link or I won't be able to find your blog! Unless you have Disqus and have added the link to your blog in the profile)

Sunday, February 16, 2014

A Day in the Life (3)

1.  Some of you may have noticed I haven't been posting very much recently...and I promise there's a good reason for it!  Over the last two weeks, I've had not one, not two, but FIVE auditions!!!  And for those of you who don't understand the ridiculously large number that is it = insanity. On top of that I'm playing principal oboe on Verdi's Falstaff.  Again, to put this in perspective a 2 hour Mahler symphony is maybe 15 pages of music.  Yeah.  This is twice as much music.  And it is so freaking hard.  I'd say it's impossible, except that apparently other superhuman oboists can do it.

This has been my life for the past month.

2.  Speaking of auditions, last weekend I had a scary audition moment!  The train got stuck on the tracks for an entire HALF AN HOUR.  So instead of showing up early to my audition, I showed up 5 minutes after my audition started.  This wouldn't have been such a big deal as I called ahead to let them know, and it turns out that I had the last time...but the conductor had a flight directly afterwards that he had to catch, so I had to go in cold.  And when I say cold I mean that both literally and figuratively.  No warm up, I just launched straight into the Mozart Oboe Concerto, which for those of you who don't know (I imagine most of you) is basically the defining piece of our repertoire and is extremely difficult.  Starting it with no warm up is like sprinting across a tightrope.  Or so I would imagine as I neither run nor have any dealings with tightropes haha.  And my lips were literally freezing, so I couldn't even feel my reed!  But it went surprisingly well and he really liked my cadenza :D :D :D

Most musicians don't write their own cadenzas anymore, but I'm starting to because it gives the piece your own flair.  Sadly...I completely pooped all over my La Mer excerpt.  Who knows why, it was the last thing I got to (Ok I know why.  As soon as you start thinking "Oh this is going pretty well" things start going very, very wrong).  But who knows, maybe it's impressive enough that I played cold and my cadenza was nice?

3.  I swore I wasn't going to request anymore ARC's, because honestly even the thought of reading an ARC makes me slightly ill right now.  But I totally just got on Netgalley and requested more.  Agh!  No self control!  I feel guilty if I'm not reading my ARC's right now because I'm waaaaay behind on those.  So my solution has been to not read at all, which is typical of stressed out Elizabeth logic haha.  Lots of pokemon though...

 I'm basically the most badass pokemon ever, btw.  Just sayin.

4.  When I get stressed out I cope by doing NOTHING AT ALL.  It's terrible!  And the less I do, the more stressed I get, so the less I do.  It's a terrible cycle.  So although I've been crazy busy, I've managed to watch the better part of two seasons of Chuck, and I'm rewatching some Buffy.  (You know I think I'm going to turn into a Spike girl this time around, I think I've moved past the broody boy phase.  I did love Angel, but I'm just not getting the same sparks.  This could be because I skipped most of season 1 though)

5.  Speaking of Chuck...I realized something.  Something that bothers me a lot.  On the surface, there's some good diversity.  But I've noticed something specifically about black characters in this show.  They are always giant men, and they are always bullies.  They don't even get the distinction of being evil masterminds.  There are no well dressed black men, there are no normal sized black men, there are no smart black men.  They are dumb, bulked-up giants or fat and their only point in the show is to bully the skinny, smart, geeky men.  And I find that offensive.  I think the show overall is very entertaining, so hopefully this changes over the next 3 seasons

So my friends, that's where I have been for the past couple weeks!  Anything fun and crazy happen in yours?

Friday, February 14, 2014

Echo Prophecy (Echo Trilogy #1) - Lindsey Fairleigh

I received a copy of this book from the publishers.  This did not affect my opinion or the content of this review.

Echo Prophecy (Echo Trilogy, #1)


Goodreads:  Discover what's hidden--a powerful, mythic race, an ancient Egyptian prophecy, and a love strong enough to shatter the boundaries of time.

Alexandra Larson isn't human...but she doesn't know that. As far as Lex is concerned, she's simply an ambitious and independent archaeology grad student with a knack for deciphering ancient languages, especially the various forms of Egyptian. When she's recruited to work on her dream excavation, her translating skills uncover the secret entrance to an underground Egyptian temple concealed within Djeser-Djeseru--the famous mortuary temple of Queen Hatchepsut. Lex is beyond thrilled by her is the enigmatic and alluring excavation director, Marcus Bahur.

As the relationship between Lex and Marcus heats up, a series of shocking revelations leave the young archaeologist reeling. Once Lex discovers the truth of her ancient Egyptian roots--the truth of her more-than-human nature--the people she trusts most make one final, terrifying revelation: Lex is the central figure of a four-thousand-year-old prophecy. She is the only thing standing between the power to alter the very fabric of time and an evil megalomaniac...who also happens to be her father. As events set in motion over four millennia ago lead Lex and Marcus from Seattle to the heart of Egypt, the fate of mankind depends on one thing: the strength of Lex's love.

***Contains adult content.***


So I've come to realization that apparently I went absolutely mad on Netflix and requested everything (and I mean EVERYTHING), and for some reason they were all archived in January, because I an going though a whole shlew of books that I ordinarily wouldn't have picked up.  Clearly I was possessed because I have no recollection of requesting them, nor do I have a clue what made me think I'd want to.  That being said, it's kind of great!  I'm having good luck reading outside of my comfort zone, so yay!

This is the sort of book I'd ordinarily read for fun and wouldn't bother reviewing.  It's actually a lot like something I'd enjoy reading on fictionpress.  I'm not saying this to dismiss it, as I have high regard for a lot of the really fantastic authors on fictionpress.  Basically it's the kind of book that I don't mind for a quick, fun read.  I'm not reading it to engage my mind, and I just don't feel like picking it apart.  It was fun!  Did it have a lot of issues with the feminist side of me?  Yeah sometimes.  Was I confused as to whether Lex was a graduate student or doctoral student?  Yeah, and ok I probably would have liked that clarified.  I also would like the whole father thing clarified because I was SUPER confused *spoilers* I totally thought her biological father ended up being the same guy who raised her, but then half way through the book it wasn't him? I must have really missed something along the way *end spoilers*  I just don't have high standards if I'm reading a book specifically for romance.  Once I figured out that's what the book was, I turned my brain off and went along for the ride.  Which of course is not helping me figure out how to review this, particularly because I forgot to jot down any notes about the book when I finished.  So it's time for Elizabeth's lazy list time because

- Clearly there was some research done on Egyptian mythology and ancient culture, although I can't guarantee how thorough it was (and in the end it doesn't really bother me too much one way or the other).  I could just tell it had been done.  I do wish there had been a bit more world building, but then the only series I have to compare this with is Kushiel's Dart, as if I do read a romance, it's almost always historical.   Honestly the two are utterly incomparable.  I mean Kushiel's Dart is one of the best written series I've ever read and is SO MUCH MORE than a simple romance book (in fact mostly it's not one, at least in my mind).  The world building that is done is pretty cool though.
- When I'm about to roll my eyes, she often acknowledges it is an eye rolling worthy bit of writing, even if that didn't stop her from including it in the first place.  But the fact that it is acknowledged assuages me, so I'm not too worried
- Lex can come off as rather Mary-Sueish at times, or rather that the things that come easily to her are sometimes a bit convenient.


Do you want a romance novel?  Do you want paranormal/mythological tones to that romance novel?  By all means check this out because it's a really fun read!  Do you want a book with an infallible plot and characters that extremely fleshed out?  This book probably isn't for you.  So really, this book is mostly about what you want in your romance novels, and that will largely affect how much you enjoy this one.  Happy reading (and Happy Valentine's Day since my bloglovin feed has hinted that perhaps that's today)

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The Tale of Mally Biddle by M.L. LeGette

I received a copy of the book from the publisher.  This did not affect my opinion of the book or the content of this review.

The Tale of Mally Biddle 


GoodreadsWhen Mally Biddle agreed to spy upon the King of Lenzar and his overbearing knights she knew she was heading into danger. She didn’t know she’d find a family unlike any other.

Posing as a servant in Bosc Castle, Mally serves tea and restocks the fires for the most dangerous men in the kingdom. Her goal is to learn the truth of what happened sixteen years ago, when the infant princess met her death … a death that has more questions than answers.

Along her search for the truth, Mally meets the energized Lita Stump, the strict and matriarchal Meriyal Boyd, and the opinionated Archibald Diggleby. Then of course there are the knights: Sir Leon Gibbs who is slicker than a greased hog, Adrian Bayard, hot tempered and violent, and the worst of the lot: Sir Illius Molick, Captain of the Knights. And then there is Maud, a mysterious woman who just might know everything…

This is a republication of FOR THE KINGDOM by M.L. LeGette.


First of all can I say how beautiful I think this cover is?  I'm really not much of a cover enthusiast, but I honestly could not love this cover any more. (Although I have noticed since I started blogging that book covers DO matter to me more than they used, or more than I thought they did before.  I'm guessing it's in part every one else's cover love and that when you start reading in bulk judging by a cover starts becoming a survival technique).  It's just...perfect really.

But we're not here to talk about the cover, we're here to talk about the book itself.  Honestly this book was just such a delight to experience.  The writing was beautiful and had the level of description and finesse that I find common in the fantasy genre and have been missing as I've been reading more contemporary and sci-fi at the moment.  I will say that the passage of time in the beginning was quite confusing.  It's not really clear how much time has passed - I for some reason thought it was 5 years...but it's 16.  Once you get past the first couple chapters and realize this, it's smooth sailing for the rest of the book. I especially loved how the romance was handled.  I won't give spoilers, but it was subtly done and surprising, and definitely takes a backseat to the big parts of the story (which in my book is a good thing).  So if you are looking for swoons, you probably won't find many here.  There may have been a few things I wish more time had been spent on, like fleshing out the villain a bit more (why does he act the way he does??), and I would have liked more time on how she was going to figure out ruling the kingdom, but honestly the book was such a fun read that I just don't care that much. 


It was absolutely charming, fun, and addicting!  This is a good book to go for if you just want a really fun light read to get you through your day.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Top Ten Favourite Love Stories (that had Goodreads quotes easily accessible)

Hosted by The Broke and Bookish

This one's coming up a bit late, but I've been crazy busy and am currently procrastinating on real life which is the only reason this post is going up.  (Some of you may have noticed that I haven't posted in a week.  More on that another time!) 

Pride and Prejudice

 Pride and Prejudice will always be the ultimate love story for me.  

“In vain have I struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.”

The Amber Spyglass (His Dark Materials, #3) 

This book makes almost all of my TTT lists.  This should tell you something about how amazing it is.
“I will love you for ever, whatever happens. Till I die and after I die, and when I find my way out of the land of the dead I’ll drift about forever, all my atoms, till I find you again…”

The Republic of Thieves (Gentleman Bastard, #3)

This is my most recent read that I have fallen CRAZY head over heels with as far as ships go!  I'm not actually going to put the quote that makes my heart do back flips because it is crazy long, but if you head to my review, it quotes the whole beautiful thing there!

Memoirs of a Geisha (Random House Large Print)

This book is one of the most beautiful novels I have ever read.
“At the temple there is a poem called "Loss" carved into the stone. It has three words, but the poet has scratched them out. You cannot read loss, only feel it.”

Ella Enchanted

I grew up with this book.  It's barely holding it together, and while for me the book is more about Ella overcoming adversity, I will always love her with Char.

“But what I really long to know you do not tell either: what you feel, although I've given you hints by the score of my regard. You like me. You wouldn't waste time or paper on a being you didn't like. But I think I've loved you since we met at your mother's funeral. I want to be with you forever and beyond, but you write that you are too young to marry or too old or too short or too hungry---until I crumple your letters up in despair, only to smooth them out again for a twelfth reading, hunting for hidden meanings.” 

The God of Small Things

This writing style might not work for everyone, but just as with Memoirs of a Geisha, I think it is one of the most exquisitely written books I've ever had the pleasure of encountering.

“Being with him made her feel as though her soul had escaped from the narrow confines of her island country into the vast, extravagant spaces of his. He made her feel as though the world belonged to them- as though it lay before them like an opened frog on a dissecting table, begging to be examined.”  

Anne of Avonlea (Anne of Green Gables, #2)

Ok who here did not spend their childhood shipping Anne and Gilbert? And the movies totally count too!
“For a moment Anne's heart fluttered queerly and for the first time her eyes faltered under Gilbert's gaze and a rosy flush stained the paleness of her face. It was as if a veil that had hung before her inner consciousness had been lifted, giving to her view a revelation of unsuspected feelings and realities. Perhaps, after all, romance did not come into one's life with pomp and blare, like a gay knight riding down; perhaps it crept to one's side like an old friend through quiet ways; perhaps it revealed itself in seeming prose, until some sudden shaft of illumination flung athwart its pages betrayed the rhythm and the music, perhaps. . . perhaps. . .love unfolded naturally out of a beautiful friendship, as a golden-hearted rose slipping from its green sheath. ”  

Skip Beat!, Vol. 01

I have made no secret that I ship Ren and Kyoko as much as I shipped Darcy/Elizabeth (which is an insane amount, just so you know.  My heart starts racing every time I get to their confession scene even after a billion rereads!).  So it's obvious this makes the list, even if manga isn't particularly quotable.  If you are thinking about dabbling in manga, I honestly couldn't recommend this more for anyone regardless of whether shoujo is your thing or not.

Hana-Kimi, Vol. 1 (Hana-Kimi, #1)

I've also made no secret that I am madly in love with the gender bender trope.  Well, folks here go - this is gender bender at it's absolute best!  (Although Yoshiki Nakamura has another manga which features gender bender which is also awesome)

Ahhh this love story is so awesome!  Kanoko is just as oblivious to Tsubaki's attentions as Kyoko is to Ren's...BUT unlike Kyoko, Kanoko is sly and scheming and basically totally awesome.  (Not that Kyoko isn't awesome too!)

Ok, so this one isn't like a typical love story for me.  I'm not including it because I love Tiger Lily/Peter Pan...I'm including it because of how much I love all the relationships in this book - particularly family.  If you haven't read this, you are really, really missing out!

“I'm not myself," she offered, guiltily. She softened around Tik Tok, and when she did she was, for those rare moments, girlish.
He smiled. "You can never say that. You're just a piece of yourself right now that you don't like.” 

Wow, I have a surprisingly diverse audience selection in these books - I'm pretty much evenly divided between Adult, Young Adult, and Manga haha!  What about you?  Leave me a link to your list in the comments!

Monday, February 3, 2014

Top Ten Books That Will Make You Cry

I would like to preface this by saying I am the biggest baby ever.  So I cry pretty much any time I finish reading an amazing book. Seriously - this list was over 30 books long when I was brainstorming books.  (Why didn't I just stop when I thought of 10?  Because I wanted the best of the list.  And because I am quite possibly crazy.  Also I still didn't manage to narrow it down to only ten)

The Book Thief

Having read this quite recently, I can attest to the amount of sobbing this book induces.  I literally cried so hard I had to stop reading because I couldn't see the pages anymore...

Love You Forever

This flashed in my mind about a half second later after The Book Thief did.  This is the saddest picture book ever!!!

Bridge to Terabithia - Katherine Paterson

Bridge to Terabithia

Oh man.  This book really knocks you right in the feels.  Katherine Paterson does not pull punches for kids, that's for sure.

The Amber Spyglass (His Dark Materials #3) - Philip Pullman

The Amber Spyglass (His Dark Materials, #3)

This book pretty much changed my life.  For one, it gave vocalization to a lot of doubts I had with the church at that point (I grew up Catholic), and made me see that I could choose to believe in what worked for me.  But as far as tearjerkers go?  That ending!  I don't think I had ever *spoilers* actually felt that upset about a pairing being tragically separated.  At that point though, I'm not sure I had come across many books without happy endings as I was only 11 or 12, so this may have been the first one actually *end spoilers*

Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell

Island of the Blue Dolphins

If you didn't cry reading this you are a stone cold monster.  *spoilers* And I'm talking about when her dog died, not when her bratty brother did.  Although that was sad too.  Just not nearly as sad as the dog *spoilers* 

The Hunger Games trilogy - Suzanne Collins

The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games, #1)

This one shouldn't be a surprise.  I can't even count the number of people causes you have reason to cry about.

 The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams, Illustrated by William Nicholson

The Velveteen Rabbit

This story makes me tear up just thinking about it.  Child Elizabeth loved this story and bawled every time she encountered it.  If you haven't read it, it's really beautiful and poignant and it would only take 15 minutes to read.  Go read it!  You are missing part of your childhood, it's calling for you!

Martin the Warrior (Redwall #6) - Brian Jacques

Martin the Warrior (Redwall, #6)

I mentioned in one of my other TTT's that the Redwall series was a HUGE part of my childhood.  Actually, it pretty much was my childhood.  Martin the Warrior will ALWAYS be my favourite (although Mariel of Redwall is a close second.  Female protagonist?  Riddles?  WHAT'S NOT TO LOVE).  My brother prefers Redwall and Mattimeo, and they're great and all but he's just wrong.  This is my favourite and will always be my favourite and it is one of the few sad books in the series.  Also my cousins refuse to read these books and it makes me sad inside.

Feed (Newsflesh Trilogy #1) - Mira Grant

Feed (Newsflesh Trilogy, #1)

Meg, my AWESOME TBTB Secret Santa got me this whole trilogy and I am so glad that she did.  It probably would have taken me another couple years to get around to it otherwise, especially as zombies aren't always my thing (I don't do horror very well).  OH MY GOD GUYS THIS BOOK.  This whole trilogy!! I am hopefully going to get around to writing a review someday soon but this trilogy is by far my favourite thing that I have read this year (I know, I know we're only a month in but still).  And I was in serious denial when I got to the end of this book.  SERIOUS DENIAL.  You need to read this.  Trust me.  And Meg.

Charlotte's Web - E.B. White

Charlotte's Web

 I repeat Island of the Blue Dolphins:  If you did not cry when reading this, you are dead inside.

The Harry Potter Series - J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Harry Potter, #4)

Not so much the beginning, but from here on out expect to have your heart torn out of your chest and then put through a paper shredder.

The Giving Tree - Shel Silverstein

The Giving Tree

 I adore Shel Silverstein, and he convinced me poetry could actually be pretty cool at a time when I thought poetry was nonsense.  (Admittedly this sentiment has not completely died depending on what I'm reading).  This story is so bittersweet.  And lovely.  And upon reading Goodreads criticisms as I was picking up the picture for this, apparently I walked away with a completely different message than everyone else. 

Tuck Everlasting - Natalie Babbitt

Tuck Everlasting

I loved this book to bits when I was a kid.  I remember thinking everything about the book was perfect and that I loved the messages it sent.  I actually own the VHS version of this with Rory from Gilmore Girls, but it's still in the packaging since I don't trust it to be good.  Have any of you seen it?  Is it worth giving a try?

Flowers for Algernon - Daniel Keyes

Flowers for Algernon

My only adult book on the list (although I had Pat Conroy who I LOVE, but I needed this list to at least try and and keep to ten books.  I managed to stop at 15!), this book was totally heartbreaking :(

Walk Two Moons - Sharon Creech

Walk Two Moons

Honestly this entry could simply be titled "Any book written by Sharon Creech", but I think this one might be the most surprising and the saddest out of the lot.  And most importantly it was my very first Creech book :)

And that's it for my TTT!  Be sure to leave a link to your post so we can commiserate over all of the depressing books in the world...

Sunday, February 2, 2014

A Day in the Life (2)

 This week feels like it's Christmas all over again!  It's been GREAT (Despite the snow and the forecast saying that it feels like -28 outside when you get locked out of a building you are supposed to be playing a gig at)

1.  Last night we played Brahms Symphony 4 (which if you don't know is BEAUTIFUL) and I got to play principal oboe so it was pretty fantastic :) Also you should listen to the last movement while you read this because it is intense.  Also there are oboe solos.  And a crazy awesome flute one.

2.  Even better?  My mom came up to see me! She came up on Thursday, but she's leaving today :(  We still managed to have a lot of fun even if we didn't get to spend much time outside what with the snow and all.

Yay my mom visited!

And then there's the package part of Christmas!

3.  I'm SO EXCITED!!  So I really needed a new Physicians Formula mascara and for some ungodly reason they don't seem to sell it ANYWHERE in this gigantic city!  I mean come ON!  It's a drugstore (but fantastic) makeup brand.  It shouldn't be that hard.  But I found a really great deal on - you get $5 off on your first purchase, and if you spend $20 you get free shipping!  So I also got an eyeliner brush, which I've needed for ages, tea tree oil (my favourite brand!) which I have also needed for ages but haven't been willing to pay three times the price of the oil in shipping, two lipsticks, and Physicians Formula organic mascara....all for a grand total of $21!!

4.  Speaking of the lipsticks...they're E.L.F. Essentials and only cost $2 each (I think at Elf they might be $1, but I needed something to get me to $20 in shipping, so this is worth it since it was less than my shipping cost would have been).  And you know what?  They're fantastic!  They feel great and moisturizing, I love the colors I chose (Charming and Sociable), and when they wear off they look like lip stains (which I LOVE!)

 I'm wearing Sociable in this one.  It's actually a little brighter and pinker, it looks a bit dark and red in this.  This comes from being too lazy to replace my lightbulbs)

5.  I got the first two Hunger Games books from bookmooch in the mail today which was exciting!  I have the trilogy on the Kindle, but I always want hard copies of books I'm going to reread.

6.  AND THEN!!!!  I got my books from my partner on CG SwapsErin has been really fun to e-mail with (and also she has awesome taste in books).  Hopefully she'll get the books I sent her soon, but I'm betting that won't happen for another few days.  So!  The big reveal!

First of all, she packaged her books like this and it's adorable!

So the goals were:

#1.  A book you love: Daughter of Smoke & Bone - OH MY GOD I am so freaking crazy excited about this!!! It's been on my wishlist for ages and everyone keeps talking about it and I want to read it AND NOW I HAVE IT!!  I'm excited about all the books that I got, but I'm super excited about this one.  Just in case you couldn't tell.
#2.  A book you haven't read:  Delirium - I absolutely fell in love with Before I Fall, so when I saw the concept of this book I knew I needed to get my hands on it.  Yayyyyyy!
#3.  A book your partner wants:  The Darkest Minds - I have heard so many good things about this book!  Erin hasn't read it either, so hopefully we'll both love it and can fangirl over it together!

Did any of you do the CGSwaps?  Was your week as awesome as mine was?  (I hope so!)