Non Fiction – Self Help

I’m actually going to take it easy on myself and you guys this week, yay!!!

I have yet to read any of the books mentioned on this list and I will also be including a link to a Goodreads list that my female readers in their twenties, or anybody who really has no freaking clue what they’re doing with their life, might be able to relate too. If you’re not a female in her twenties, check it out anyway. If you use the recommendations and suggestions it can lead you to some interesting choices.

I don’t normally read non-fiction, it’s just not my thing. But, I fell down the self-help rabbit hole on Goodreads while I was on Christmas break this year. Anxiety that I never knew I had has cropped up ever since I started school and I am always on the lookout for ways to improve my mental health and my relationship with myself. You should always be your number one priority guys, because no one else cares as much about you as you do.

Anyways, in perusing this list I came across a few gems that I am kind of dying to pick up. Here are a few that I am looking forward to reading.

Leave Your Mark: Land Your Dream Job. Kill It in Your Career. Rock Social Media by Aliza Licht – Published May 5, 2015; 259 Pages.

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If I’m being honest, the cover is what drew me to this book. It’s gorgeous, striking, and memorable. Plus, as a Creative Communications student, anything that gives me advice on my industry is invaluable.

Aliza Licht is the senior vice president of global communications for Donna Karan International. It sounds like an awesome job, and from what I’ve read on Goodreads her tone is very light and conversational. I’m hoping it’ll be a speedy read that is clear, straightforward, and offers some insight into the industry.

I’m the type of person who likes to know what is expected, so I think that reading books like this will help me feel a little more comfortable and I’ll have an idea of what to expect and how to handle it. Social media is also a new beast in the industry and is ever changing, but having an understanding of where it’s at now and how it’s being used would make it easier to grow with it.

I just picked this up from the library last week and judging by the notes on the back I am super excited. Kelly Cutrone gave it a good review, and she has made girls cry on National TV, so that’s a great endorsement and a terrific reason to read the book. I also flipped through it casually and read a couple paragraphs and it’s looking really good.

I Am That Girl: How to Speak Your Truth, Discover Your Purpose, and #bethatgirl by Alexis Jones (Forward), Sophia Bush (Foreward) – Published March 18, 2014; 240 Pages.

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Discovering my purpose is probably the hardest thing I’ve come across so far in my life. Any advice that I can get on everything they mention in the title would really just make me feel a lot more comfortable in my life, my jobs, and my relationships. I’m hoping that this book will give me some insight into just how to feel a little more comfortable in my skin.

As I mentioned earlier, I’ve discovered that I have anxiety and the key to me managing that is being calm. And a way to be calm for me is to have a plan and concrete steps to go over. Well, life doesn’t provide you with that at all, so we kind of have to figure it out on our own. I feel like these books can at least give you a crude framework to build off of. If anything, it’s a place to start.

I’ve been thinking about it for a while and I will have to pick up more books like this and work them into my rotation. This’ll be where I start.

Just two books for me this week guys. I’m working on doing smaller posts, but we’ll see how it works out. If any of these interested you, or you are looking for something similar but a little bit different, check out this list of Non-Fiction for Women in their Twenties over on Goodreads, and as always please read responsibly.

Goodreads Links:

Leave Your Mark

I Am That Girl

Best Books 2015

Hey everybody, I hope everything is going well. I’m back in the full swing of things with school and life and everything. I’m handling it pretty well so far, so we’ll see where I am in April.

As promised, here is my Best read Books of 2015. Let’s dive right in.

A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab – Published February 24, 2015; 398 pages.

A Darker Shade final for IreneV.E. Schwab is featured a few times on this list, and I just recently started reading her. I have heard nothing but great things from Booktube about her books. She also writes as Victoria Schwab and has three other series of middle grade books out as well. Looking at her Goodreads page, the woman is a machine.

There was a lot of hype around this book and I couldn’t wait to pick it up. I will admit that it took me a little while to get into it, but I had that problem with a lot of books this last year. It had more to do with book burnout, I think, rather than the quality of the book most of the time. Sometimes the book just wasn’t that great, but in this case the book was awesome, I promise. I wouldn’t steer you wrong.

This book had a great story. Kell, our main character, is the last of the travelers-magicians who are able to travel between parallel London’s. There are four London’s that we know of: Grey London, Red London, White London, and Black London. They all have different characteristics and behaviors of magic. For example, Grey London reflects it’s name and is very drab and boring. Magic does not flourish there. White London is based on power, everyone fights to possess magic and the magic fights back, draining the city of it’s colour and leaving everything white. Red London is where magic is fairing the best and it is a prosperous country. No one talks about Black London. Black London is dead and lost to the worlds. Or is it?

Kell lives in Red London,and serves as the personal ambassador and the adopted Prince to the royal family. Officially he carries correspondence between the royals of each London every month, and on the side he smuggles artifacts from London to London for those willing to pay to see glimpses of parallel worlds. This hobby gets him into trouble and sets him off on a grand adventure through all the London’s where he meets Lila, a pickpocket from Grey London who thirsts for a life of adventure.

This book is definitely worth a look. It has action, suspense, adventure, and magic. What more could you want?

War of the Wives by Tamar Cohen – Published January 27, 2015; 384 pages.

22668925This one isn’t a typical read for me. It’s a contemporary read about two women who have lost their husband. The twist is that they were both married to the same man at the same time and had no idea that the other existed.

Selina was married to Simon Busfield for twenty-eight years and Lottie was married to him for seventeen. They are complete opposites who meet at their husband’s funeral. Talk about the most awkward thing that could ever occur at a funeral. The scene where they put two and two together is both funny and heart breaking.

The book follows Selina and Lottie as they and their respective families (Simon had three children with Selina and one with Lottie) figure out how to deal with the death of their father and husband and then they have to maneuver around this big secret and deal with finding out what kind of man they were actually living with.

It was an interesting story for sure. I felt it was a realistic portrayal of grief and betrayal. I enjoyed that these two women, who have every reason to hate each other and this book could have easily devolved into a snark fest between the two, went through the whole gamut of emotions as they managed to find common ground and help each other and their children through this tragedy.

Read this book, it is fantastic.

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell – Published February 26, 2013; 318 pages.

15745753This is another atypical read for me. I like to switch it up every now and then and read something realistic. When I have read a few too many fantasy books in a row it’s nice to come back to reality and read something that could 100% happen.

Rainbow Rowell is a master of tugging at heartstrings. All of her books have some type of angst or heartbreak in them, and this one is no exception.

In Eleanor and Park, we meet the two title characters who are both misfits in their own way and they fall in love. But not in the typical sappy, romance novel way. No, they fall in love slowly, this isn’t a whirlwind by any means. It’s also complicated. Eleanor’s home life isn’t the best and Park feels like a disappointment to his parents. It’s not exactly a recipe for romance, but that’s what makes it good.

It’s a story about two teens who are struggling to survive. Sometimes literally (there’s hints of domestic abuse) and figuratively (they are teenagers after all) and how they help each other grow up. It’s also set in the late ’80s so it’s a really interesting take on love for millennials to read. There are no cell phones, no texting, and no Facebook so Eleanor and Park have to talk and share things in person. It’s a mind boggling reminder of how far technology has come in such a short time, and how the dating landscape has changed so much in such a short period of time.

There’s a bittersweet ending to it all, and as much as I hate those sometimes, in this one I felt that it worked. One problem I have with Rainbow’s work is that I always want more. Not a lot more, usually just one more chapter, but she always leaves you wanting more. Eleanor and Park is no exception and even though it’s a bittersweet ending, it’s still well worth the read.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn – Published April 22, 2014; 422 pages.

19288043I hated this book so much! But it was so well done and well written that I couldn’t not include it on this list. When I was done with it I was ready to hurl it at the wall I was so angry. I think I took two whole days and didn’t read a word in mock protest. I must admit that it did it’s job, it got me thinking and was just a non-stop mind fuck the whole way through.

Gone Girl is a psychological thriller that really plays with your mind and makes you question everyone’s actions and decisions. I had trust issues after I finished it. It was ridiculous.

On Nick and Amy’s fifth wedding anniversary, Amy disappears and no one knows what happened to her. Suspicion immediately falls on Nick, as it normally does in these types of situations. He doesn’t help himself at all as he acts cagey throughout the entire investigation and is caught lying or embellishing the truth multiple times.

I can’t talk much about the plot without giving away the twist and what led to my rage against this book. My main take away is that these characters are despicable and they deserve each other. I feel bad for anyone who gets in their way and I pray that people like this only exist in fiction, because the thought of them being real scares me.

Vicious by V.E. Schwab – Published September 24, 2013; 364 pages.

13638125This book is similar to A Darker Shade of Magic in it’s tone and supernatural elements, but it can be best described as an origin story for a super villain. It follows two college roommates who are both brilliant, arrogant, and lonely.

Eli and Victor are both scientists and are working on their final theses for class. Eli decides to look into the affects of adrenaline and near death experiences, and whether or not this can result in a person acquiring special abilities. The project quickly moves from the world of theory to experimentation.

Ten years later, Victor breaks out of prison and is after Eli for revenge. Eli is on his own mission to wipe out every other super-powered person that he can find, and both men are working with sidekicks who have powers of their own. The only question is who will come out alive?

I read this after I read A Darker Shade of Magic and I was not disappointed. It’s a great story about the ‘love’ between two friends and how quickly noble intentions can turn deadly. It’s a great examination of what we perceive villains to be. Both characters can easily be classified in that category if you take a deeper look at their characters. It makes them very realistic and believable. They just happen to be living under and with extreme circumstances.

Lexicon by Max Barry – Published June 18, 2013; 390 pages.

16158596I read a lot of books, as you know, so I like words. I’m not obsessed with them or anything, but I understand that they do have a certain power to them (See my banner for this blog). This book takes that idea and amps it up to the extreme. It’s about an exclusive school in Virginia where the students are taught the art of persuasion. And not just how to sell you something, they are taught to use words to manipulate your mind and essentially take away your free will. They are trained to find the key words that will unlock your mind and you become their puppets.

There are two storylines in this book. One follows Emily, an orphan who is making a living tricking tourists on the streets of San Francisco. She is recruited to attend the school by one of the ‘poets’, a graduates who takes up the mantle of famous poets to protect their identities. The second follows a man named Wil Jamieson who is ambushed in an airport washroom and is pulled into a war between two factions of poets.

The story comes to a head in the burnt out town of Broken Hill, Australia where the two storylines come together and we understand the true power of language and what happened to lead our characters to this point.

This one took a little while for me to get into. It jumps around in time a lot so you really have to pay attention so you don’t get lost. Once you have settled into the non-linear storytelling it gets really good. I was freaked out by the premise of the story because when you stop to think about it, why couldn’t this happen? Why couldn’t there be ‘trigger words’ for each type of person that influences them to do things? I mean we already touch on a lot of these things in marketing and advertising, so it’s not that much of a stretch, and that’s what made it good.

It gave me the shivers, and there actually is a really sweet love story buried in their too. It’s not the main, main focus of the novel but it’s there and it’s lovely and refreshing.

The Wicked Will Rise (Dorothy Must Die #2) by Danielle Paige – Published March 31, 2015; 293 pages.

18602341As I’ve discussed a few times on this blog, I love re-tellings. I tend to prefer fairytale ones, but anything that has a really good story and idea behind it is intriguing.

The Dorothy Must Die series is a re-imagining of the Wizard of Oz. It follows Amy Gumm, a lonely girl from Kansas who lives in a trailer park and only knows about Oz from the movies and the books that are famous in her world. When her trailer is picked up in a tornado and she wakes up in an unfamiliar land, the last place Amy thought she could have ended up was Oz. She also didn’t think she would be recruited by the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked to kill Dorothy. Yes, THE Dorothy.

Dorothy has found her way back to Oz and the sweet, innocent farm girl we all know and love is nowhere in sight. She has seized power and it appears to have gone to her head. In this sequel, Amy has been training and spying with the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked for months. Her task to kill Dorothy has three parts: remove the Tin Woodman’s heart, steal the Scarecrow’s brain, and take the Lion’s courage. Then, Dorothy must die. Amy has accomplished one of the three tasks, and Dorothy is still alive.

The Revolutionary Order of the Wicked has virtually vanished after the coup at the Emerald City depleted their ranks. Amy is on her own and Princess Ozma, the half-crazy rightful heir to the Emerald throne, appears to be her only ally. Amy is just scratching the surface of Oz’s past and her mission to kill Dorothy. She discovers that Kansas is in danger and she is never sure who she can trust.

This book isn’t my favorite, but it more than lived up to my expectations and it’s a fun re-telling of a classic tale. I always love it when you turn something on it’s head. It’s particularly entertaining when you get to see a famously good character behaving badly and we get that from all sides in this book. We’re never really 100 per cent sure who the villain is. This book perfectly sets up Yellow Brick War, the third book in the series and ends with Amy having to make a devastating choice.

A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray – Published November 4, 2014; 368 pages.

17234658This book is right in my wheelhouse. It’s about a girl who is chasing her father’s murderer through multiple dimensions. That’s right, MULTIPLE DIMENSIONS.

Marguerite Caine’s physicist parents are esteemed scientists and inventors. Their newest invention, the Firebird, is a device that allows people to travel to parallel dimensions. It’s set to change science forever. Then Marguerite’s father is murdered by their assistant Paul who escapes with the Firebird before he can be brought to justice.

Marguerite goes after him with the second prototype and follows Paul through three different dimensions where she inhabits different versions of herself. She also meets alternate versions of her friends and family and Paul. She starts to question if he really did kill her father, but if he didn’t why did he run? As she continues to investigate and learn more about the other dimensions she learns that the circumstances of her father’s death may be more sinister than she originally thought.

If I’m being honest, I was attracted to the cover. I mean it’s gorgeous. The story is pretty standard, but the idea of an evil corporation (that was not mentioned above) and their reach over multiple dimensions is a cool, scary concept. And who doesn’t like the idea of multiple dimensions? Like somewhere where 9/11 never happened, or where the Hindenburg never exploded? The possibilities are endless and how different would the world be? I just like the idea, and anything that delivers that is cool in my book.

Libriomancer, Codex Born, & Unbound (Magic Ex Libris #1, #2, and #3) by Jim C. Hines – Published August 7, 2012; August 6, 2013 and January 6, 2015; 308 pages, 326 pages, and 340 pages.

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This is a great series that is about the secret world of Libriomancers, people who have the ability to physically pull objects out of books and use them in the real world. I.E. every nerd/fangirl/fanboy’s dream!

The series follows Isaac Vainio, a low-level Libriomancer who has been relegated to working as a librarian in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula because he went a little too hard and almost got himself and a whole team of Porters killed.

Porters are the elite Libriomancers who are like the FBI. They monitor, detect, and police the Libriomancers to ensure that their secret isn’t revealed to the world. They are also in charge of keeping tabs on any humanoid beings that survive the transition from books to reality and anyone that may be turned into something else from reaching into the books. Yes, I’m talking vampires. They exist and Libriomancers have to be careful when reaching into books because bites from book characters can still infect them. They are the main antagonists throughout the series. The books follow Isaac as he redeems himself with the Libriomancers. He does this along with his girlfriend/dryad Lena who was pulled from a book as an acorn that grew into a tree.

We learn a lot about the workings of the Libriomancers and their history throughout the series. It also features a realistic portrayal of depression and it doesn’t come off as heavy handed.

I read all three of these in a row and I cannot wait for the fourth book in the series, Revisionary, which is out in February 2016.

Falling for Hamlet by Michelle Ray – Published July 5, 2011; 348 pages.

9415959Another re-imagining. I don’t usually seek these out, I come across them when I’m browsing Goodreads and am looking for something new to read. This book is no exception. There is a ‘Readers Also Enjoyed’ section on the side of each page that shows you similar books to what you’re looking at. It comes in quite handy when you’re in a slump.

Falling for Hamlet re-imagines Hamlet by Shakespeare as a modern day celebrity. Complete with paparazzi, talk-shows, and reality TV.

The story follows Ophelia who, in the re-imagining, is a high school senior and not Hamlet’s cousin. She is also Hamlet’s girlfriend. She has to deal with Hamlet’s fame, because he’s still a Prince, his overbearing family, and the press who document and scrutinize their lives at every turn. It follows the same premise of the play, with Hamlet’s father being murdered and Hamlet slowly descending into madness. The twist and the difference to the play is that Ophelia doesn’t die, and she rides out the ordeals of the play. She then recounts her story on the book’s version of Oprah at the Queen’s insistence.

I really enjoyed this book. It was a light, breezy, easy read. Perfect for getting you out of those annoying book slumps. It delivered on what it promised and it was fun to see Hamlet from another character’s perspective. The Queen also takes a more active and villainous roll, which was interesting because in the play I don’t think the Queen is ever really mentioned. It’s also a commentary on celebrity and privacy but in a really accessible way.

If you’re interested in this type of thing, Michelle Ray has another book that is another re-imagining of Hamlet called Mac/Beth: The Price of Fame Shouldn’t Be Murder. It looks like it could be good. I may have to check it out.

That’s all for me this week guys, I hope you enjoy these epically long posts at least a little bit. Stay tuned next week for the conclusion to my Best read books of 2015. Thanks for sticking with me.

Let me know down in the comments what I should read next and what your best book of 2015 was, and as always, please read responsibly.

Stephanie

Goodreads Links:

A Darker Shade of Magic

War of the Wives

Eleanor and Park

Gone Girl

Vicious

Lexicon

The Wicked will Rise

A Thousand Pieces of You

Libriomancer

Codex Born

Unbound

Falling for Hamlet

 

Worst Books 2015 pt. 2

Hey everybody, I’m wrapping up my list of Worst Books of 2015 this week. I forgot to mention that you may see books that I’ve already talked about in previous blog posts on both lists. I try to explain why they made each list and just because I put it on my worst list doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a bad book. If anything strikes your fancy you should check it out.

No use blathering on about it, here is part two:

Ten Things We Did (and probably shouldn’t have) by Sarah Mlynowski – Published June 7, 2011; 368 pages.

9266810This book fell under the same category as the Medusa Girls series. I put it on my TBR a million years ago and finally got around to reading it. When I put it on my list I was super intrigued, but when I finally got around to reading it, not so much.

Once again a book fell into my standard trap of wrong place, wrong time. It’s a middle grade book, and, as I am now on the wrong side of 25, they don’t hold my attention like they used to. I did really like the story and it was a different take on a teen aged fantasy of living on your own.

In the book we follow our main character April who gets the opportunity to finish her senior year while living at her best friend’s house. April’s parents are divorced and have both made the decision to move. April pleads her case to stay and finish school because she doesn’t want to leave her boyfriend behind. She manages to convince her father that she is staying under the watchful eye of her best friend’s mom, who is actually a flighty actress and is performing in an out of town play for the majority of the school year.

Considering all the freedom the girls had I was actually quite surprised by the restraint the writer showed in the craziness that went down. I’ve read enough teen books that basically have the characters devolve into heathens who can’t take care of themselves. April and her friends do some crazy things, like buy a hot tub and host a few ragers, but nothing ever gets too out of hand and I actually found that the characters handled themselves quite well and were real human characters. Snaps for Sarah Mlynowski.

The Here and Now by Ann Brashares – Published April 8, 2014; 256 pages.

18242896I blame this one on nostalgia. I had finished the Traveling Pants series a few months prior and happened to notice it on the shelf at the library. I also blame it on lazy writing. Maybe my tastes have changed, but I was really surprised at the poor quality of writing in this book. I thought the dialogue was weak and the main character Prenna is so one dimensional it’s ridiculous.

The story sounded interesting enough, it’s about a group of travelers who have gone back in time to escape a mosquito-borne blood plague that has destroyed the human race. Super cool idea, but she had to go and ruin it with a forbidden love story.

Prenna is a good girl and follows all the rules that were set forth by the elders of the mission and always follows them to the letter. Until, of course, a boy takes interest and she starts to question everything she was ever taught. There also is some underlying storyline about how the groups goal is to prevent the mosquito war from happening, yet the first rule of time travel club is not to change anything, so I’m just annoyed at that bit.

I really do not recommend this read, it would be good for younger readers who are just starting to get interested in reading, but for the rest of us it leaves a lot to be desired.

The Rosie Project & The Rosie Effect (Don Tillman series #1 and #2) – Published October 1, 2013 & July 21, 2015; 304 pages & 368 pages.

Both of these books were featured early on in my blog, and don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed reading them, but at the end of the day I was frustrated with Rosie as a character and the relationship ended up pissing me off.

The series focuses on Don Tillman, a man who is most likely on the autism spectrum and may have some form of Asperger’s. He is an eccentric man who is ruled by routine and logic. In the first book he sets out to meet the perfect mate and goes about it in a typical Don fashion, using a very detailed and precise  questionnaire. Enter Rosie, who is on a search of her own and is the complete opposite of Don in pretty much every way.

They inevitably fall in love, but there wasn’t anything cliche about it and Rosie never tried to fix Don, who is well aware of his social awkwardness… most of the time, and he actively tries to correct his mistakes, usually in a hilariously inappropriate way. I really enjoyed the first book and thought it was a quirky little love story.

The sequel picks up right where we left off with Don and Rosie married and living in New York. Rosie is pregnant and Don being Don, he wants to have everything meticulously planned out and he wants to be prepared. Rosie, being the complete opposite and also being in the middle of writing her thesis for University, doesn’t take too kindly to Don quirks.

Throughout the whole book Rosie just comes off as a total bitch. I’m not sure if it’s because we see the world through Don’s eyes so we understand his motivations, or if she actually is just a bitch, but her behavior really pissed me off. She knew the man that she was marrying and yet she seems surprised when he acts in an odd way and she takes absolutely no time to think about how Don’s feeling about the whole pregnancy. She just seemed like she was trying to fix him and it really irked me.

In the end, the book has a fairly happy ending. I think the series came to a good close, but it wouldn’t surprise me if we got a third book entitled “The Baby Project” in the near future.

Paper Towns by John Green – Published October 16, 2008; 305 pages.

6442769John Green is like a nerd legend in book circles. Don’t ask me why, I have no idea. I’ve read a few of his books and while I enjoy them they’re not the best thing I’ve ever read. His characters can come off as kind of pretentious and he has also been know to over use the manic-pixie-dream-girl trope in his books.

I got into John Green because his book, The Fault in Our Stars, was being made into a movie and, obviously I had to read the book first. Paper Towns was  made into a movie as well, and that’s what peaked my curiosity. I still haven’t seen the movie, but I’ve heard good things about the adaptation, which is awesome. Anytime a movie does a book justice, I am all over it. Regardless of my feelings on the book.

In the book we follow Quentin as he pines for his next door neighbour Margo. they were friends when they were little but have drifted apart since. Margo has developed a reputation for doing wild and crazy things over the years and Quentin idolizes her for it. She appears in his window one night and enlists him to help her in a revenge plot against her friends and now ex-boyfriend (One guess as to what you think happened to spark that).

They spend the night completing wild pranks and breaking into Sea World. Quentin has never felt more alive and he’s convinced that this is the start of something between him and Margo. Except the next day, Margo has disappeared. She’s been known to run away in the past, so her parents are concerned, but not surprised. As the days and weeks slip by, Margo doesn’t come back, but Quentin discovers what he believes are clues left behind by Margo for him to find her.

The entirety of the book follows Quentin trying to figure out these clues to find Margo and culminates in the coolest road trip ever. I can’t wait to see it portrayed on screen. Quentin learns a lot about himself and learns that when you idolize someone, you sort of make them into who you want them to be and forget who they actually are.

The reason this book is on my worst list is because I did not like the ending and felt that the pacing was a little off. Yes, I am allowed to be shallow sometimes.

Dreamstrider by Lindsay Smith – Published October 6, 2015; 394 pages.

17973145This book was mentioned in my Most Anticipated Releases of 2015 post way back at the beginning of my blog. I finally got my hands on it and found some time to read it over winter break. It really wasn’t what I was expecting. I just felt it could have been better.

The concept and the world building were really well done and well thought out. I did feel that the ending was a little too perfect and we probably could have done with a little more death (I’m clearly in a writing class, because I get annoyed when characters don’t suffer enough).

We follow Livia, the only known dreamstrider who can possess people and not lose herself to the madness of Nightmare. She isn’t the government’s first choice and is still too inexperienced for their liking, but she comes into her own in the book. We get a glimpse into how the government of this world works, and it’s as screwed up as you’d think it would be as they can take over people’s bodies and possess them.

The book delivers on pretty much all the promises it made, I just thought it could have had a little more oomph.There is nothing I really hated about this book, but there’s nothing I really loved about it either.

I am really glad that it is a standalone novel, I hate it when publishers drag out a story over two or three books unnecessarily.

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard – Published February 10, 2015; 383 pages.

22328546This book was a highly anticipated YA release on Booktube so I had heard a lot about it before I put my name down at the library.

I’m thinking I may have to take a break from YA dystopian novels for a bit. They’re all starting to feel the same. The newest theme they’ve been sticking to is different types of blood that dictate were you fall on the social ladder or pecking order.

In Red Queen the people are divided by Red or Silver blood. The Reds are the common folk and the Silvers are the nobility and ruling class. Their silver blood is a marker for the superpowers that they possess. There are a few different powers, but they are pretty much element based (earth, air, fire, water that kind of thing).

The book follows Mare, a Red blooded commoner who discovers that she has Silver powers despite her red blood. The ruling Silver King freaks out and concocts a ruse to hide Mare in plain sight and try to pass her off as a long-lost Silver princess. The King also engages her to one of his sons as a way to keep an eye on her. Despite all this, Mare still starts working with the Red Guard, a terrorist group that is looking to upset the balance of power.

It’s a great premise and I really enjoyed the world building, but I just feel like I’ve read it before. Another reason why it might be a good time for a break. With all the hype this book got it really built up my expectations and so I was ultimately let down. Still a decent read and I will most likely finish the series one day.

Miss Mayhem (Rebel Belle #2) by Rachel Hawkins – Published April 7, 2015; 273 pages.

22465605I talked about this series during my Best read series blog post and while the series as a whole is very good I found the followup to be underwhelming when compared to the debut. I was rather disappointed when I finished it.

It’s quite a bit shorter than the first book, so that may have played a role in why I found it lackluster. In sequels characters need a little time to breath and with the book being as short as it was I don’t think they had the time to develop the characters into their new roles. It seemed like a rush to get to the last book.

I felt that it was the same story line as the first book. In the first book the climax occurs at cotillion and in this one the climax occurs at the Miss Pine Grove pageant, the similarities weren’t enough to keep me interested. While things happened that sort of moved the plot arc forward I didn’t really care where they were going.

It took me a lot longer to get through this book than it should have. Some of the great banter than came from David and Harper that made the first book so good was missing and that dynamic was a huge selling point for me.

The final book in the series has nearly 100 more pages than Miss Mayhem, so I have high hopes that Rachel Hawkins can end this story on as good a note as she started it.

Gathering Blue (The Giver Quartet #2) by Lois Lowry – Published September 25, 2000; 240 pages.

12936Who hasn’t read The Giver? Anybody? I’m pretty sure it was required reading in elementary school, but for those of you that haven’t, it is a book set in a “utopian” future where the human race has given up emotion and feeling in place of “sameness”. There are no wars, no poverty, and no public memory of what life was like before that time. The only person who carries the memories of the time before sameness is the Giver and in the novel he is training his new apprentice, Jonah, the receiver of memory.

The book basically asks the question of what we are willing to give up in order to feel safe and prevent war etc. The ending is rather ambiguous with Jonah escaping his town with a newborn baby. I always thought it was a weird way to end a book, but seeing as I was 10 when I first read the book, I let it go and moved on. I found out, years later, that it is actually part of a quartet.

There are four books, all set in the same universe, that explore different civilizations that, I’m assuming, cropped up after some big catastrophe and that all weave together. I obviously had to read them. I was on a book binge at the library and didn’t want to over do it so I only requested the second book.

This book follows Kira, an orphaned, deformed, girl who is shunned by her village due to her disability. She posses one gift that saves her from death, but that leads her to a whole other type of prison, when she is basically taken in as a ward of the state and works for the government.

It’s another dystopian world in the guise of a utopia. It’s so different from the Giver in how the village is set up, it’s very old world and archaic, whereas the world of Jonah and the Giver is more modern and civilized. This threw me off a bit and I didn’t see how it would all fit together.

This was in no way a bad book. It just really caught me off guard and wasn’t the type of sequel I was expecting. I have plans to finish the quartet this summer, so I may have a full review up later this year.

That’s all for me this week folks, I hope you enjoyed reading about my worst books of 2015. Next week we switch gears and talk about my favourites of the past year, so stay tuned for that.

A preview of what I have coming up this year on the blog are subscription boxes and book related merch, book to TV show adaptations, my most anticipated reads of 2016 (It’s short I promise, I only have so much time), and I go off the beaten path (for me anyway) and explore the world of self-help books. Should be an interesting year, thanks for spending it with me. Hope you guys have a great week, and as always, please read responsibly.

Stephanie

Goodreads Links:

Ten Things We Did

The Here and Now

The Rosie Project

The Rosie Effect

Paper Towns

Dreamstrider

Red Queen

Miss Mayhem

Gathering Blue

 

 

 

Worst Books 2015

Hey everybody, I hope you had a great Christmas season and a great break, if you had one. I am going to start with an apology, because I am going to kick off the new year with some long blog posts that will most likely be in multiple parts. So, sorry not sorry. 🙂

I read 45 books this past year. I’m kind of impressed with myself, not going to lie, seeing as I started Creative Communications this year. But, I had nine months to binge a bunch of books and I did, so that’s when these were read. I also grouped them by series, so there are only 15 entries, but 18 books represented this week. There is no real order.

In the upcoming blog posts I will be discussing the worst books of 2015 (that I read) and I have another set of posts in the works that is my best books of 2015.

Without further ado, here are my  15 worst books (and a few series that I read) of 2015.

The Heir (The Selection Series #4) by Kiera Cass – Published May 5, 2015; 342 pages.

22918050The Heir is a continuation of the Selection series by Kiera Cass. In it we follow the main characters from the original trilogy’s daughter as she goes through her own Selection process.

The war that was a focal point in the first series has long since ended, but there is still unrest in the kingdom while it adjusts to no longer having a caste system. Enter the King and Queen’s great idea to distract the public by parading their self centered daughter around in front of cameras and having the populace watch while she picks a husband.

While I have no problems  with this premise, it pretty much matches that of the original, I didn’t really like the main character. Her name is Eadlyn. Points for originality on that one America and Maxon (they’re the parents), and she’s just kind of mean. Her focus the entire book is herself and there is no thought put into the strife going on in her country. She’s a naive girl who’s in the process of growing up.

It wasn’t a terrible book, but it wasn’t a great book either. I’ve read books with similar plots before and with main characters that I related to a little better. All in all this was a meh book for me.

The series is wrapping up with one last book that’s due out this year in May, and, as is seemingly becoming the norm, a selection (see what I did there?) of novellas exist that have been released in bind ups that provide more backstory into the world and side characters.

I’m a sucker for a cheesy romance and I hate leaving things unfinished, so I will most likely be reading all of these at some point in the future, regardless of my feelings.

Rook by Sharon Cameron – Published April 28, 2015; 456 pages.

23399192Looking back I read a lot of standalones this year. I tend to read series over standalones, but I think that has more to do with the publishing industry and the genres that I read. It’s also a nice break for my brain to read something that begins and ends in one book.
Anyways, back to Rook.
The reason this book is on this list is primarily due to what I like to call book burnout. I had read so many books before this and I had a giant stack next to my bed still and it just didn’t grab my attention. It was a case of bad timing, otherwise I think I would have really enjoyed this book.
The premise is excellent. In a post apocalyptic future the world has been destroyed by meteors and the Sunken City (Paris) is essentially re-living the French Revolution. The Red Rook is both savior and vigilante who is saving the people who are sentenced to die by the blade of the guillotine and in doing so, breeding hope amongst the people.
In the book we follow Sophia Bellamy and her attempts to covertly save the inhabitants of the Sunken City and keep her family from ruin. It is a book full of political intrigue, cloak and dagger, and mysterious characters. I felt it dragged in places and sometimes I was confused as to where we were.Once it got going it kept my attention and I was able to finish it fairly quickly.
I did really enjoy the central relationship between Sophia and her arranged fiancé, René Hassard and all the little throwbacks to the past (our present). Hearing a Nintendo controller being described as a family heirloom that is worth millions is hilarious to me. And the characters disbelief in technology and how it works was a nice addition.

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart – Published May 13, 2014; 242 pages.

16143347This book was, interesting to say the least. It follows a group of teens who spend their summers together on their family’s private island.

They don’t really talk or hang out throughout the year and their only contact is on the island during summers. There is an interesting family dynamic because the patriarch has a tendency to pit his daughters against each other and they in turn use their children to butter up their father. A very sad set up for everyone involved.

Tragedy strikes or is alluded too all throughout the novel and we are told the story in a non-linear set up that is still fairly easy to follow.

I just did not like it, straight up, it was not my thing. The mystery was kind of dull and really easy to figure out if you were paying attention. I sort of drifted in and out while I read this.

It was an interesting examination of grief and mental illness. But all in all I would not recommend this book, unless you were looking to read and get familiar with unreliable narrators. Because then it would be really helpful.

Magonia by Maria Dahvana Headley – Published by April 28, 2015; 320 pages.

21393526I was really excited for this book. The premise was something I had never really come across before, and who doesn’t love sky pirates? Robert De Niro in Stardust anyone?

When I read it, I was a little disappointed, I felt that the story wasn’t as fleshed out as it could have been and I wasn’t very impressed with the world building either. Which is weird because it’s based on actual existing folklore.

The premise of Magonia is a girl named Aza who is suffering from a mysterious lung disease where she is essentially drowning in air. Aza’s on a lot of medication because the doctor’s don’t really know what’s wrong with her, so when she starts seeing ships in the sky everyone just brushes it off as a side effect of the drugs.

When she suffers an attack and basically dies and wakes up aboard a skyship, Aza doesn’t know what to think. What she does know is that she can breathe. For the first time in her life she takes a full deep breathe and doesn’t feel like she may pass out. Up in Magonia she is strong and capable.

The love story that’s present in the story is also a little corny and was one of the turn offs for me. I didn’t find it all that believable. For me it was all about the dialogue and I just did not feel like it was a strong part of the novel. It’s almost like it was added in as an after thought and wasn’t necessary to the plot of the book.

There is a second book in the series that is set to come out on early 2016 and I’m interested to see where they take it. This series will strictly be a library series for me from now on.

Sweet Shadows & Sweet Legacy (Medusa Girls series #2 and #3) – Published September 4, 2012 & September 3, 2013; 328 pages & 384 pages.

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Have you ever started reading a series when you were younger and you didn’t finish it and then you go on a library binge and try to clean up your TBR list? No, just me? Well that’s what I did when I read these books. I have over 300 books on my TBR and I decided to try and make a dent in it last year, which lead to me checking out the end of this series.

It’s a middle grade series about the descendants of the gorgon Medusa and how they were separated at birth and how they are destined to fight demons and other mythical Grecian creatures. It follows the three sisters as they get to know each other and how they all accept their destinies in different ways.

I think because this is a middle grade series I had just outgrown it by the time I got to finishing up the series. The insta-love and the relationships were sort of a problem for me and the book has a very happily ever after fell to it. Which can be fine, but as I’ve come to realize, it’s not always realistic or satisfying.

I’m going to chalk this one up to me not being in the target market for this kind of series anymore.

The Girl with All the Gifts by M.R. Carey – Published June 19, 2014; 460 pages.

17235026This book was a recommendation I got from a new booktuber I was watching named Regan. Her channel is called PeruseProject. She had nothing but good things to say about this book so I decided to give it a try.

It wasn’t something I would normally pick up but I’m always looking to break out of the vampire vortex I seem to get pulled into all the time.

I think this one was also a casualty of book burnout, as it is very well-written. The plot is semi-interesting and the twist is pretty easy to guess early on, but I like how in the synopsis they really don’t give anything away.

One bonus to this story is there are no unnecessary love triangles or relationships. Yay!! *happydance* As I’ve said before, I am a sucker for a good romance and I am a wee bit obsessed with shipping things but there is a time and a place for everything and after the apocalypse while you’re just trying to stay alive isn’t always the best time or place. So kudos to you Mr. Carey.

The 100 & Day 21 (The 100 series #1 and #2) – Published September 3, 2013 & September 16, 2014; 323 pages & 320 pages.

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I became obsessed with reading these books because there is a TV show (OMG it’s AMAZING and everyone needs to watch it. It’s called The 100 and it airs on the CW and it’s on Netflix) based of the books series. Like with movies, I like to read the books before I watch the show. That didn’t happen this time around. I’m kind of glad it didn’t, because the TV show is so much better. I’m finding that to be a theme. Some great TV has come from some mediocre books. Every time I went to the bookstore it was like these were calling to me and I had to stop myself from buying them a couple times.

The premise of this series is 100 youth prisoners from the failing Colony space shuttle are being sent back to Earth for the first time in centuries following a nuclear war to find out if it is livable for humans. Well that was a mouthful.

The book follows multiple POVs of key members of The 100 as they go about surviving on Earth after centuries of living up in space. They deal with all the standard survival stuff, like finding food, water, and shelter. They also have to deal with the animals and how they were affected by the nuclear war that took place and are they really the only humans on the planet?

Another big turn off for me was the insta-love and just the relationships in general that happened in the book. The main character (from the show, so naturally she stood out to me in the book) came off as kind of Mary-Sueish and I just was not as intrigued or captivated by the story as I was by the show.

So, watch the show and leave the books. You won’t see me make that suggestion very often.

 

That’s all for this weeks folks, it’s great to be back. Tune in next week for the conclusion of this list and as always, please read responsibly.

Stephanie

Goodreads Links:

The Heir

Rook

We Were Liars

Magonia

Sweet Shadows

Sweet Legacy

The Girl With all the Gifts

The 100

Day 21

“Like the stars to the night, And daytime is to light…”

Stephenie Meyer, you may know her as the author of the seminal classic Twilight. What you may not know, is that she wrote another book, and it’s good.

It didn’t sell as well as Twilight did and the movie was a blink and you’ll miss it affair. Don’t even get me started on book to movie adaptations. That is a topic for another blog post (keep your eyes peeled for that one) all you need to know about me is, the book is always better.

But that’s not what we’re talking about today. Today we are talking about The Host, Stephenie Meyer’s sci-fi romance novel.

The Host by Stephenie Meyer – Published May 6, 2008; 620 Pages.

The Host by Stephenie Meyer. Click to go to Goodreads.
The Host by Stephenie Meyer.
Click to go to Goodreads.

The Host is about the aftermath of an alien invasion. When the story starts the “Souls”, a parasitic alien race that are implanted into human hosts, are running the planet and tracking down the few rogue humans that are still managing to resist.

Melanie is one of those rogue humans who was recently caught and is about to be implanted. She is implanted with a Soul named Wanderer. In, what appears to be a rare twist, Melanie does not fade away from Wanderer’s consciousness. She fights, and she fights hard.

Over the course of the story Melanie and Wanderer get closer. Melanie shares memories of her life before Wanderer and it leads to them running away from the idyllic society that the Souls have set up and fleeing to try and find Melanie’s brother Jaime and her boyfriend Jared who, Melanie hopes, have found refuge with her Uncle Jeb. The bulk of the story is spent with Melanie and Wanderer trying to fit in with her Uncle Jeb and the other humans.

It’s definitely worth checking out and is just the right kind of different from Twilight that everybody can enjoy it.

Stephenie Meyer is a real tease when it comes to her writing. Around the time that the movie came out it was announced that Stephenie was planning on making this into a trilogy. The ending of this book is really open ended and it would have lent itself so well to a sequel. Like Midnight Sun though, it hasn’t happened yet. I have pretty much given up hope of ever reading the sequels to this book. It’s a real shame because all the characters are so likable and the struggle, though fantastical, is grounded in the human characters and is something we can all relate too.

One problem Stephenie has is that she doesn’t like killing her characters. Something that would definitely have to happen in an invasion novel. As a reader it really pisses me off that she won’t even try. Sadly it is a necessary thing that has to happen. I get fairly attached to characters, I don’t think anybody was the same after Dobby died in Harry Potter (Spoilers??? Sorry guys, but it’s been 9 years come on!) but it advanced the plot and put the war into a perspective we could understand.

Anyway, that is my rant about Stephenie Meyer and also a little bit of a plea to please write these sequels!!! I don’t think I will ever really 100% give up on them. I would love to learn more about Wanderer, Melanie and the world they inhabit.

Let me know down in the comments what book you wish had a sequel and as always, please read responsibly.

Stephanie

P.S.: She has time to write a gender swapped Twilight!! But she can’t be bothered to write a sequel to The Host? What is this!? Cut the shenanigans Meyer!

“Nothing has to be so perfect.” – Part 2

Here’s the second half of my Top 10 standalones from my Read shelf on Goodreads.

Check them out to build your library and receive customized recommendations. No this is not sponsored :P.

OK, here we go:

Number 5: Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden – Published September 27, 1997; 512 Pages.

Click to go to Goodreads.
Memoirs of a Geisha. Click to go to Goodreads.

The movie adaptation for this book was released in 2005. Being the type of person that I am, I actually get a lot of my book recommendations from upcoming movies. I know, I know, fore shame!!!  But I try my best to read the book before I see the movie. It actually exposes me to a bunch of books that I normally wouldn’t ever come across on my own.

This book is “historical fiction” if you will. It tells the story of a little girl who was sold into a geisha training school in pre World War 2 Japan. There she learns all the skills to entertain high powered men. The main character, Chiyo, soon becomes one of the most sought after geisha’s of the time. It takes us through her life and struggles to survive and even prosper in this crazy world.

I really enjoyed this book. I found it really interesting. One thing I took away that is really important is that Geisha’s are not prostitutes. Sex was never a requirement or an expectation when geisha’s entertained. The mizuage ceremony is the only instance where sex is on the table. It was considered a rite of passage for all geisha’s. It was also used to pay off their debts to the school’s for training them. It’s super fascinating to learn about all the tradition and artistry around this practice which is still around today. Albeit a more modernized version. Arthur Golden captures the essence of his characters well and it is presented as a memoir so as a reader you often forget that it is fiction.

Number 4: Faking Faith by Josie Bloss – Published November 8, 2011; 231 Pages.

Faking Faith. Click to go to Goodreads.
Faking Faith.
Click to go to Goodreads.

This is one of those books that you pick up and just have to try. It’s definitely different from what I usually read. I have periods where I just need something different. Most of my standalones come from these periods as well as the contemporaries. I can only take so many vampires.

This is a book about a girl, Dylan, who is weathering a sexting scandal and is being ostracized by her peers. In her loneliness she turns to the internet and begins following the blogs of homeschooled fundamentalist Christian girls. She becomes obsessed and begins blogging as her alter ego Faith, a girl who would fit in perfectly to this community.

As Faith, she meets Abigail, the unofficial leader of all the bloggers. Dylan ends up going to visit Abigail and her family for a few days. In pretending to be Faith she learns a lot about herself. Her real life soon becomes to hard to ignore and Dylan must make a choice between continuing the lie or growing up and taking responsibility for her actions.

Anybody who has felt alone and had questions about religion can relate to the character in this book. It’s a great look at how people of different religions interact. It never comes across as heavy handed either, which I really appreciate.

Number 3: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell – Published September 10, 2013; 445 Pages.

Fangirl. Click to go to to Goodreads.
Fangirl.
Click to go to to Goodreads.

Cath is me, and I am Cath.

Cather and her twin sister Wren (Cather and Wren, get it? I’ll wait… It’s Catherine!!! Yea I’m nerdy, but you knew that already and if you didn’t, where the hell have you been???) are Simon Snow fans. They’ve grown up with him and his book series and it has become their life. They are now going off to college and Wren is ready to move on. Cath isn’t quite ready for that yet, so college is a struggle for her. She does meet a few new people and has some new experiences and the book is all about her dealing with all the changes in her life while still being true to herself.

I really loved this book. I connected a lot with the main character. Sometimes she annoyed me, but overall I knew exactly where she was coming from and I understood the majority of her choices.

If you’ve ever identified as an introvert and a fangirl this book is the one for you. It explores what it means to step out of your comfort zone and how important it is to do that but to do it in your own way and on your own terms. Rainbow Rowell has a style all her own and she really portrays her characters well.

Number 2: Twenties Girl by Sophie Kinsella – Published July 21, 2009; 435 Pages.

Twenties Girl Click to go to Goodreads.
Twenties Girl
Click to go to Goodreads.

Sophie Kinsella is one of those authors that is hit or miss for me. I’ve read quite a bit of her stuff and her series, Confessions of a Shopaholic, actually annoys me. I have to read those ones in small doses. Her standalones, on the other hand, I consistently find enjoyable.

In Twenties Girl Lara Lington is sure she is seeing things. At her great-aunt Sadie‘s funeral Lara is startled by a ghost. The ghost of her great-aunt Sadie. Sadie cannot rest until she has found a necklace that has been in her possession for over 75 years and she won’t leave Lara alone until she helps her find it. Under duress, Lara agrees to help Sadie move on. It takes awhile, but eventually the aunt and niece find common ground and are able to help each other.

When I started this book I didn’t expect to like it. Once I got into it I polished it off in about two days. Sadie was super cool as a character. We sometimes forget that the elders in our life were young once. It’s really interesting to see them as something other than the old woman or man in your life. It’s a nice reminder that everybody has a story worth telling. Regardless of how many times they’ve been around the block.

Number 1: The Two Princesses of Bamarre by Gail Carson Levine – Published March 1, 2004; 304 Pages.

The Two Princesses of Bamarre. Click to go to Goodreads.
The Two Princesses of Bamarre.
Click to go to Goodreads.

I read this book for the first time a long time ago. I got it out of the library and years later went searching for it. Thank God for the internet or I would have been scouring the library shelves for who knows how long.

Princess Addie and her sister Meryl couldn’t be more different. Meryl is courageous and spends her days practicing her sword fighting in preparation for helping to rid Bamarre of all the monsters that plague it. Addie, in contrast, is afraid of even the smallest of beasts and perfects her embroidery in the safety of the castle. They do share a deep love and loyalty to one another.

When Meryl is struck by the Gray Death, a plague that took their mother from them, Addie is forced to step outside her comfort zone and save her sister. As she fights against time in search of the cure Addie must overcome all of her fears and battle gryphons, specters, dragons and even spiders. She finds the cure, but the Gray Death acts fast. Addie may not make it back in time.

There’s a nice little twist at the end of this book that really wraps the story up nicely. It’s a great tale about overcoming your fears and the importance of family. I highly recommend this book to anyone who’s looking for well fleshed out female characters that have strong relationships other than romantic ones.

Thanks for sticking with me these past two weeks, I hope you enjoyed all the books I talked about.

See you next week, and as always, please read responsibly.

Stephanie

“Nothing has to be so perfect” – Part 1

Hey guys,

I hope you enjoyed last weeks post.I might do something else like that again later on. We’ll see, it seemed to go over well. Now back to your regular scheduled programming:

We’re talking about stand alone books today! Stand alones are those special books that manage to squeeze an entire narrative into one book. They are lovely, rare and special, like a unicorn. That’s how rare they are on my list of read books.

I went through my list of read books (Thank you Goodreads) and picked out my Top 10. All these books are really different from each other and I read them at different points in my life so they aren’t really in any particular order. Here’s the first five and stay tuned for the last five next week!

Number 10: Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt – Published November 1, 1985; 144 Pages.

Tuck Everlasting. Click to go to Goodreads.
Tuck Everlasting.
Click to go to Goodreads.

This book scared me. It scared me so bad. I think I read it when I was about 11. I can’t even blame school for it because I read it for fun (Pleasure reading still exists!). It was the first time I’d been confronted with my own mortality. Which is heavy stuff for an 11 year old. I remember I finished reading it at my Aunt’s house and I cried. Not full on sobs but just quiet “Holy shit what did I just read” tears. I didn’t really talk to anybody for the rest of the night.

It’s about a little girl named Winnie who discovers something magical, in what she considers, her unremarkable town. This leads her to the Tuck family and they teach her valuable life lessons. There’s just enough mystery and action in there to keep you interested.

For such a short book at lot happens. Natalie Babbitt makes great use of the small number of pages. Her characters are well thought out and executed very well. The story is brilliant and turns something that we all wish we had, more time, into something we are glad we don’t have. Angus is a great father figure and does a great job of explaining the consequences of wanting to live forever.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book the first time I read it and I have re-read it a few time as I got older. I’ve enjoyed it every single time.

Number 9: Tangerine by Edward Bloor – Published September 1, 2006; 320 Pages.

Click to go to Goodreads
Tangerine. Click to go to Goodreads

Tangerine came into my life by way of the library, as so many books do. It was a good read. It’s about a boy who moves to a small town called Tagerine in California that has a lot of weird things happening. There’s a sinkhole that swallowed the school, there are underground fires that burn for years, and lightning that strikes at the same time every day.

The book is all about Paul (the main character) learning to fit in and gaining confidence in himself. It also gets a little dark when we find out how Paul ended up having to wear glasses. We also learn what role his football player brother has to do with it.

All in all a little weird and dark but well worth the read. I read this book a long time ago but I remember enjoying it. So much so that once I discovered Goodreads I did all I could to track this book down. I checked it out from the library last month and while it was still a good book it was a little different than I remember it.

Number 8:  Raspberry House Blues by Linda Holeman – Published September 1, 2000; 248 Pages.

Raspberry House Blues. Click to go to Goodreads.
Raspberry House Blues.
Click to go to Goodreads.

I was given this book for my birthday by my grandmother. She knows I like to read and she likes to broaden my interests. She gave me this one because it’s set in Winnipeg and written by a Winnipeg author.

As a kid it was super cool to have a book set where I was from. I actually recognized some of the places that Poppy (the main character) went to. Being the type of kid that I was, I often set the book on my street, so there was just another level of immersion in the story.

Poppy is an adopted child who doesn’t really feel wanted. Her adoptive mother has taken off to find herself and Poppy is living with her adoptive father and his new family.  To say she feels out of place is an understatement. Because of this Poppy decides to find her birth mother.

Her quest takes her to to a better understanding of herself. She meets a new friend in Becca her sickly adult neighbour, and also forges a closer bond with Calypso, her father’s wife.

I re-read this book a lot when I first got it. I also carried it around with me for a few months. Even though Poppy and I didn’t have anything in common, except for where we lived, I still really connected with her and really enjoyed living in the raspberry house with her.

Number 7: Dust by Arthur Slade – Published October 12, 2004 (Original Publishing date); 224 Pages.

Dust Click to go to Goodreads.
Dust
Click to go to Goodreads.

This is another grandma book. What I love about the books my grandma gets me is that they usually aren’t things that I would pick up on my own but I end up enjoying them greatly.

At first this one was a bit of a hard sell. It focuses on a small town in depression-era Saskatchewan and the main character is a little boy who’s brother has gone missing. As more kids go missing the townspeople seem to start to forget about them. This all happens around the same time that a man named Abram Harsich shows up and starts making promises to build a rain machine. Could the events be related?

Once I got into the meat of the book I got really invested. I loved the historical tone of the book but the otherworldly elements were what sold me on it. It’s a fantastical story that is grounded in reality.

Highly recommend.

Number 6: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern – Published September 13, 2011; 387 Pages.

The Night Circus. Click to go to Goodreads.
The Night Circus.
Click to go to Goodreads.

I read this not that long ago. I had heard lots of good things about it through Booktube (an online community of Youtubers that talk about books).

It’s a story about a fantastical circus that is only ever active at night. Behind the facade of the circus there is also an intense battle taking place between two magicians. The circus is just the stage on which this battle plays out. In a classic twist the two competitors, who were raised to compete practically since birth, fall in love. The nature of the competition only leaves room for one victor.

The circus soon takes on a life of it’s own and the fate of everyone involved gets wrapped up in the secret duel between the magicians. It all comes to a head at the climax of the book and there is a beautiful ending that wraps everything up in a bittersweet fashion.

I really enjoyed Erin Morgenstern’s style. The use of the flashbacks and time jumps were really well done. It’s a great story once you get into it.

That’s all I have for you guys today, join me next week for the final five books and let me know down in the comments what your favorite stand alone novel is. I might use your suggestions in future posts.

Thanks and please read responsibly.

Stephanie.