2015 Favorites Roundup Part 2

In continuation from Part 1, these are the books that I loved reading last year but were published pre-2015. While I did manage to read some new books, mostly I read whatever caught my fancy at garage sales or wonderful library book sales (a whole BAG OF BOOKS for $1!). These are my three favorite “old” books that I read in 2015–okay, I cheated on the last one because it’s actually a series, but what are you going to do about it?


A Tale for the Time BeingA Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki is about a Canadian writer named Ruth finding a washed up diary in a lunchbox (from the 2011 tsunami) of Nao–a 16-year-old girl from Tokyo. Through Ruth’s reading of the diary, we learn about Nao’s disturbingly cruel classmates, her resolve to commit suicide, and most importantly (in Nao’s mind), her Buddhist nun great-grandmother.

I listened to the audiobook read by the author. I cannot praise her performance enough–it was fantastic to experience Ozeki’s knowledge of Japanese language and culture. The novel itself is fantastically meta, weaving the past with the present and writing, thoughts, and dreams. Nao’s sections of this book were wonderfully weird. Full of aching beauty and thoughtfulness, this is easily one of my favorites for the year. Get ready for some pervy stuff, though. If that’s not your thing, you might want read something else. More

2015 Favorites Roundup Part 1

I read the most books I’ve EVER read in one calendar year in 2015 (133 books!). Although I read a lot of older books, I did manage to catch some that were fresh off the press.

These were my top three favorite books published in 2015.


The Invasion of the Tearling (The Queen of the Tearling, #2)The Invasion of the Tearling by Erika Johansen is the sequel to The Queen of the Tearling–a post-apocalyptic fantasy about the descendants of a group of people that travelled from American to England.

Queen Kelsea is now dealing with the effects of breaking the treaty with Tear’s neighbor, Mortmesne. Johansen steps up her game in the sequel by adding a second point of view, told through Kelsea’s visions of a woman (Lily Mayhew) dealing with pre-Crossing troubles in America. She also excels at conveying a wealth of truth in how young women actually think. Kelsea becomes such a beautifully, refreshingly real woman. I highly recommend this series. More

Grand Returns

I realized the other day how long it had been since I’d written a review when I got turned down for an ARC of a book. On Netgalley, that has never been the case before and they suggested updating my blog.

After getting a new job, moving, and trying to settle in to a new routine, reading had been the last thing on my mind. But now that I’m settled… I’ve jumped into the “start a million new books” phase. I just started reading The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling, Authority by Jeff VanderMeer, which is the excellent sequel to AnnihilationThe Way of Kings by a favorite of mine–Brandon Sanderson, and I’ve about finished Revelation Space by Alastair Reynolds which rides on the blazing space cowboy trail left by Firefly. 

Devoting time to reading has been so refreshing… Damn, I just love a good book. Here’s to many more in both of our futures.

 

Another Year

I have been falling terribly behind in my reviews (from 2014)! But I am still reading diligently. I probably won’t be reviewing all the books I read this year, but I will go back and review a few of them. (The Martian by Andy Weir is coming up soon.)

In 2014, I surpassed my reading goal of 60 books by 26. That’s right, I read 86 books last year! Okay, a few of them were graphic novels–no regrets. I devoured the Sandman series–10 graphic novels written by Neil Gaiman and illustrated by many fine artists. I loved the series and the Sandman himself. Gaiman blew my mind with a lot of the clever meta narrative and the entire Dream landscape was just fantastic.

I also read the Saga series (only four volumes out right now) by Brian K Vaughan and Fiona Staples. It’s a sort of Romeo and Juliet in space/the future. Very cool.

One quick series I read in 2014 was the Uglies by Scott Westerfeld. Set in the future, it’s about a society of people who have been turned “pretty” by the government. Their bodies are adjusted to be average and pretty when you turn 16, but it’s not just people’s bodies–it’s also their minds. This was a great social commentary on perceptions of beauty and worth. It’s a four book trilogy (strange, I know) and is a strong representation of excellent YA.

I attended a convention (my first) called CONvergence in the summer of 2014, and it was absolutely amazing. I got my book, The Lives of Taosigned by Wesley Chu and picked up its sequel, The Deaths of Tao. These books are about an alien species that crash land on Earth and inhabit human and animal bodies to fuel their epic war. It’s sort of like The Host with a martial aspect. I hope to read the sequel sometime this year.

In 2014, I also graduated from college and got a job. SO we shall see how much reading time in I have in 2015 once I start working 8-5 every day. My goal for this year is 72 books. I have a few books I’d like to read… but if you have any suggestions, I would love to hear what you’ll be reading or what I should be reading this year.

I am excited to read some new stuff and look forward to a year in reading!

 

Mini Reviews – British Novels Part 2

This is the second part to my reviews from the 20th Century British Novels class I took this semester. Here’s part 1. I read a lot of books for class this semester and really fell behind on reviewing them. Considering it has been a while since I read most of these books, I thought I would just do some mini reviews to round out the semester.

All books chosen were either Man Booker Prize winners or shortlisters. More

Summer Reading

This summer (starting early May), a few friends and I plan to devour a long list of books. While we all have a few we’re not going to read, a few extras we plan to read, and therefore have an individual list, we will mostly read the same books. We’ll be tweeting about the books (#BookedIt / #bookclub), possibly adding some Youtube videos to the Booktube section, etc.

And of course, I’ll be reviewing a good majority of the books. So I thought I would throw out an invitation to join us. If you would like to join in the reading of the books, they will be updated regularly on my “Currently Contemplating” widgets and posts. I’ve already read some of these, but I’ll either be rereading them or just participating in discussion.

The list is made up of some YA, fantasy, sci-fi, etc. I’ll definitely be reading Republic of Thieves early on, because I’m going to CONvergence in MN in July, and Scott Lynch will be there! I also may reread something by Emma Newman, or continue her series, The Split Worlds, in hope that she’ll be there, too.  Here’s the list:

  1. Infinite Jest* by David Foster Wallace
  2. Exodus 2022 by Kenneth G. Bennett
  3. Will Not Attend: Lively Stories of Detachment and Isolation by Adam Resnick
  4. The Fault in our Stars by John Green
  5. The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch
  6. The Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch
  7. Between Two Thorns/Any Other Name by Emma Newman
  8. Nothing But Flowers: Tales of Post-Apocalyptic Love edited by Jodi Cleghorn, with a story by Emma Newman
  9. American Gods by Neil Gaiman
  10. London Falling by Paul Cornell
  11. Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin (My goal is to finish the last 200 pages, which I got stuck on a year or two ago)
  12. Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
  13. The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
  14. Legend by Maria Lu
  15. Good Omens by Neil Gaiman
  16. His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman
  17. The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker
  18. The Maze Runner by James Dashner
  19. Among Others by Jo Walton
  20. The Black Prism by Brent Weeks
  21. Wool by Hugh Howey
  22. The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón
  23. The Eyes of the Dragon by Stephen King
  24. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
  25. Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson
  26. Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers
  27. Cinder by Marissa Meyer
  28. Midnight Riot by Ben Aaronovitch
  29. Light Boxes by Shane Jones
  30. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
  31. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
  32. The Wind-Up Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi
  33. On Such a Full Sea by Chang-Rae Lee
  34. Everything Bad is Good for You by Steven Johnson
  35. Y: The Last Man by Brian K Vaughan and Pia Guerra
  36. Green Rider by Kristen Britain

*To be read ~ 15-20 pages a day due to massive length and intellectual demands.

We are constantly updating the list, so this is just a temporary one. I will probably add a new post each month updating the order/number of books for the projected month. If you want to read any of these books to join in on the discussion, you are more than welcome!

31 Day Book List Roundup

I would like to finish off my list of favorites and whatnot that I started last year, because I got super busy with friends and family at the end of December and never had a chance to think about this or update my blog. Feel free to comment with your own favorites, or adapt the list for a month of your own favorites!

Day 15 – Favorite male character: Kvothe from The Kingkiller Chronicles (Patrick Rothfuss). He is a tragic, musically talented, mystical dude who rocks.

Day 16 – Favorite female character: Vin from the Mistborn series (Brandon Sanderson). She starts off with extreme issues of self-doubt and poverty and whatnot, and ends up a kickass character who I loved to read about.

Day 17 – Favorite quote from your favorite book:
“Then I played the song that hides in the center of me. That wordless music that moves through the secret places in my heart. I played it carefully, strumming it slow and low into the dark stillness of the night. I would like to say it is a happy song, that it is sweet and bright, but it is not.” It is from The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss; the quote encapsulates everything I think Kvothe represents. I love it.

Day 18 – A book that disappointed you: City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare. I really enjoyed every one of her books until I read that one. It disheartened me.

Day 19 – Favorite book turned into a movie: Probably Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer. It’s actually the reason I bought and read the novel. The movie was really moving, and Elijah Wood did a great job as JSF.

Day 20 – Favorite romance book: I don’t really read romance novels… I guess Memoirs of a Geisha was sort of a romance? That one was really good.

Day 21 – Favorite book from your childhood: Shel Silverstein’s poetry books. I have them all and love them dearly.

Day 22 – Favorite book you own: Everything is Illuminated (Jonathan Safran Foer), just for the fun cover and language.

Day 23 – A book you wanted to read for a long time but still haven’t: Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

Day 24 – A book that you wish more people have read: Any books from the Abhorsen trilogy. I have found very few people who have read it. Which to me is odd, because it is one of my favorite series ever. I suppose if I had to pick one book from it, I would pick Sabriel, because that’s sort of the starting point in the series.

Day 25 – A character who you can relate to the most: Lirael (Lirael by Garth Nix). She was who I empathized with when I was younger. Quiet, self-reliant, felt like an outcast, felt unskilled where others excelled. She worked in the Library and her best friend was a talking dog. She was everything I needed in a fictional character for a long time.

Day 26 – A book that changed your opinion about something: Hero of Ages (Brandon Sanderson). It gave me hope and made me stop being such a nihilist.

Day 27 – The most surprising plot twist or ending: Because I feel I shouldn’t go with Fight Club, I will pick The Lottery (Shirley Jackson). Admittedly, it is only a short story, but the ending was haunting when paired with the apparently serene small-town vibe the beginning of the story puts off.

Day 28 – Favorite title: The Perks of Being A Wallflower. It just appeals to me.

Day 29 – Favorite book cover: Doodling by Jonathon Gould. The cover is dark and bright at the same time, and it really drew me to the novella.

Day 30 – A book everyone hated but you liked: Perhaps Woman on the Edge of Time by Marge Piercy. I read this for a women’s lit. class and really enjoyed it. I ended up doing my final project on it… and I don’t know how much my classmates enjoyed it, but it definitely wasn’t nearly as much as I did.

Day 31 – Your favorite book of all time: This is a really, really, really hard choice. It changes every time I read a new book. What I’m reading is usually my favorite. I can’t pick just one! I literally cannot pick a book. I might have to say The Warded Man by Peter V. Brett, because I just finished it and it was brilliant. If you want to learn about the book, check out the goodreads description, at least until I put my review up!

 

31 Day Book List: Week 2

This wraps up the second week of looking back at books I’ve read… The hardest thing for me to do is pick a generic favorite of anything. I have favorite authors of genres, favorite books of genres, but favorite authors and favorite books? It is almost impossible for me to choose, and the choices I make change every month.

Day 8 – Most overrated book: I suppose I would have to say Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. I thought I was really going to enjoy this book, but it turned out to be pretty dry, in my opinion. The only part I enjoyed was when Frankenstein’s monster talked about the family that he spied on and tried to communicate with.

Day 9 – A book you thought you wouldn’t like but ended up loving: A Woman on the Edge of Time by Marge Piercy. I read this for a women’s lit. course, and honestly I thought I wouldn’t like any of those books. I liked the majority of them. This one was futuristic and pro-sustainability; it was fascinating, and I ended up doing my final project/paper on it.

Day 10 – Favorite classic book: If I have to go with something other than a sci-fi classic (1984), I would probably pick A Separate Peace. I don’t know exactly what it was about that book, but after I read it, everything felt different. It is a quiet, haunting book, and I enjoyed every minute of it.

Day 11 – A book you hated: Quantum Leap: Novel. I tried to read this in high school; tried and failed. I get that it was based off a television show, but I don’t think that gives it an excuse to be SO horribly written. I honestly could not get past the terrible excuse for writing that was the first chapter.

Day 12 – A book you used to love but don’t anymore: I actually have to go with a series here. The Artemis Fowl series used to be my favorite, but something just got lost as I aged… Maybe there were just too many new books in the series; I’m not sure. Anywho, the first few books in the series were excellent.

Day 13 – Your favorite writer: Although I’ve only read two books by him, I might have to say Patrick Rothfuss. The writing in his books is amazing, I get caught up in his incredible prose, and I am over-eagerly awaiting his third novel.

Day 14 – Favorite book of your favorite writer: The Wise Man’s Fear; I just can’t get over how awesome this book was… Content and style were both the pinnacle of what I want in a book.

Book Buying

Recently, I went to the Goodwill in Cedar Falls and had a shopping spree… in the book section. I was just glancing through titles when I came upon the third book in the Wheel of Time series (Robert Jordan) in a hardback. I was excited, but a little sad that they didn’t have the second book, as I already purchased the first from amazon. To my delight… I found the second, fourth, and fifth in paperback. Not far from there, I found a few others in the series as well! After I finish the few books I have going right now — Clash of Kings, The Once and Future King, A Raisin in the Sun, Meditations (Aurelius) — I plan to start reading the Wheel of Time series. I’ve only heard good things, and due to the new book is coming out soon, I have a few friends (and see other blogs) doing read-throughs or rereads of the series that I plan to join.

Along with the many Wheel of Time books I bought, I also bought a couple Dean Koontz books (The House of Thunder, Tick Tock), Michael Crichton books (Congo and Jurassic Park — I have Lost World, but not Jurassic Park?! No more!)  The Inferno, which I have read parts of but never in its entirety, and a couple books for my three-year-old niece (a Clifford book, a good beginner Star Wars book and The Last Airbender: Aang’s Destiny, again, a beginner book).

While looking through the books, I had a thought… It’s sad to see so many books being let go to a Goodwill, where they aren’t loved anymore. BUT then I think about how I got 14 books for under $4, and then I don’t feel so bad. Do you get books at stores like Goodwill? I also enjoy looking through garage sale books, though most of them in my town are religious books, and I really don’t care to read those.

One of my favorite things about buying books secondhand are the things people leave in the books as bookmarks or what have you. In one book, there was a little laminated card about a religious golf club thing called Ascend which was interesting; in one book, there was a graduation party invitation; who knows what else I will find when I read through the Wheel of Time books I bought!

I hear it’s a new year…

I don’t make new year’s resolutions, because I know I will falter and I don’t want to feel bad about not caring about some lame thing I was supposed to work on. I DO however make a new list of the books I’ve recently bought and try my best to read a few of them before I buy even more.

Here are some of the things you can expect in the following months:

There are many more books I hope to get to, and of course, there are so many video games I got for myself and my brother for Christmas that I will be spending time on as well. If you are into that sort of thing… I got Left 4 Dead, Enchanted Arms, Dead Rising, and The Darkness. I got him Army of Two (we played 40th Day first…), a Splinter Cell game, and Prince of Persia. He also lent me Wolverine: Origins…. which I’ve already beat, Lost Odyssey, which I’m 11 hours into, and Assassin’s Creed which I plan to start soonish.

It’s going to be a busy year, and I hope I have plenty of time to read some good books.

Book Shopping

Although I love shopping at Barnes and Noble and I can’t recall the last time I left without at least one or two new books, I also love buying used books. Waverly, IA has some great little stores if you want to pick up a bunch of books for a really low price. I just went to Trinkets and Togs and Half Off Stuff with my friend and perused the books for a nice long while. I walked away with over 20 books for under $6.

Some of the titles (for myself) include: The Brothers Karamazov (Dostoyevsky), Shinju (Rowland), The Silmarillion (Tolkien), Shan (Lustbader) — this is actually a sequel, so I’ll have to find the first book, and a cute book titled, Dog (Pennac). When books are so cheap, I can’t help myself.

Shinju (Sano Ichiro, #1)The Silmarillion: The Epic History of the Elves in The Lord of the RingsShan (China Maroc, #2)Dog (Works in Translation)

Wish Christmas right around the corner, I just couldn’t resist buying my 2.5-year-old niece even more books than I bought myself. This includes 3 Clifford the Big Red Dog books, a book about the possible existence of alien life, a book about the changing seasons, four little golden books (originals! None of those flimsy new ones), a book of words, and a pop-up of the classic Three Little Pigs story.

I love buying ridiculous amounts of books for ridiculously low prices. Garage sales with books are like heaven for me. I also plan to look into the Goodwill in town after the holiday break from school.

My only question is, why do people get rid of books?! Even if I have a book I don’t particularly like, I will either keep it anyway or give it to someone I think might enjoy it. Is it just me that thinks it is strange to give away books? I suppose you can look at it as a smart donation. What do you think?