Thursday, August 29, 2013

My Favorite Summer Reads - Summer 2013

Since the first week of school is coming to a close, I thought I'd look back over what my favorite books I read this summer were. This summer I read quite a few books and most of them were excellent! I wanted to mention 5 that I thought were my favorites from this summer (and maybe a couple of honorable mentions that I couldn't quite ignore)

1) The Night Circus - Erin Morgenstern
I love this book and even though it is a little dense it quickly pulled me in. It was intreiging and rather unique (at least I've never read anything like it before) I loved the element of illusion and the setting of a circus was fantastic. Even though a large chunk of this book was set in the winter months and in Europe rather than on the beach, I read this really quickly and thought it was a great book to read on vacation. My Full Review is Posted!

2) Anna Dressed in Blood - Kendare Blake 
This book was right up my ally because I love Supernatural the TV show. This is a fast paced adventurous story that is violent and dark but somehow still makes me laugh out loud.

3) Opal - Jennifer Armentrout
I love this series and the fourth book is on its way to my house as I write this! I cannot wait to see where the next book goes because this one ends on such a cliffhanger! I love Katy and Daemon's romance and I never put these books down because they are so fast paced!

4) The 5th Wave - Rick Yancey
Is there anyone out there that hasn't read this book this summer and loved it? I feel like everyone was pushing me to read it and I'm so glad I did! This book is fantastic and so thrilling. I read it on the beach over two days and loved every sun soaked second of it. Definitely Recommend!

5) My Life Next Door - Huntley Fitzpatrick
This is one of the cutest contemporary stories I've read in a long time. The characters are great and the story is so easy to relate to. This was another great book I read on the beach and this might by my favorite book of this summer! Watch for a review to follow soon!

Honorable Mention

Serephina - Rachel Hartman 
This book is fun and engaging. I thought it was very well developed and thought out. The world felt real and it had depth to the story. I loved this book and really enjoyed the writing as much as the story! My Review

Lola and the boy Next Door - Stephanie Perkins 

If you liked Anna and the French Kiss, I think you'll like this book too. I adored this story and it is full of cute moments just like the first one. I think I am one of the last people to read this, but I would recommend for sure! It is quick, easy and very sweet.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Review: Defiance

Defiance (Defiance, #1)

Defiance by C.J. Redwine

Published - August 2012
418 pages

Within the walls of Baalboden, beneath the shadow of the city’s brutal leader, Rachel Adams has a secret. While other girls sew dresses, host dinner parties, and obey their male Protectors, Rachel knows how to survive in the wilderness and deftly wield a sword. When her father, Jared, fails to return from a courier mission and is declared dead, the Commander assigns Rachel a new Protector, her father’s apprentice, Logan—the same boy Rachel declared her love for two years ago, and the same boy who handed her heart right back to her. Left with nothing but fierce belief in her father’s survival, Rachel decides to escape and find him herself. But treason against the Commander carries a heavy price, and what awaits her in the Wasteland could destroy her.
At nineteen, Logan McEntire is many things. Orphan. Outcast. Inventor. As apprentice to the city’s top courier, Logan is focused on learning his trade so he can escape the tyranny of Baalboden. But his plan never included being responsible for his mentor’s impulsive daughter. Logan is determined to protect her, but when his escape plan goes wrong and Rachel pays the price, he realizes he has more at stake than disappointing Jared.As Rachel and Logan battle their way through the Wasteland, stalked by a monster that can’t be killed and an army of assassins out for blood, they discover romance, heartbreak, and a truth that will incite a war decades in the making.

I was anticipating this novel for a while, like most of the book I read because I've had it for a bit. I had purchased it when it was on sale for Kindle and I was excited mostly because of cover appeal. I didn't know anyone who had read it and I didn't see any reviews from people I trust. I wasn't sure what to expect. What I got was meh? I was disappointed a little bit. 

While I enjoyed the storyline, I thought it could have been a little more developed. It was a little repetitive and I thought there was a lot of description about the world and the monster that had destroyed the society. It felt a little flat though and it lacked complexity. The author drops a lot of terms in about the society, but a lot of times I felt like I should already know what they were. Even when terms were first introduced they weren't really explained. This made me disconnected from the story and less interested in the traditions of the society. It didn't feel like the author had a solid picture of the society she was introducing me to. Instead it seemed like some things were made up as a means to an end for the plot of the story. 

I couldn't quite connect to the characters either. I liked Rachel and Logan, but again, I felt like I was thrown into the middle of the friendship/relationship rather than introduced to it. At the beginning of the story Rachel is assigned to someone to be her caretaker and by the way Logan and Rachel react I thought the two of them are next to strangers. Later I started to realize they were fairly close acquaintances, but their relationship seemed to be uneven throughout the book. One minute they are really awkward around one another and the next they seemed to be deeply in love with one another. Even so, I think their romance works. They complement each other in a lot of ways. One is a lot of the brains and the other is a lot of the brawn. (Their relationship dynamic reminds me a lot of Peeta and Katniss) I liked Logan's back story and how that drove him to protect Rachel. Overall I'd like to see where they go from here, and how they will adjust to the changes in their world that they helped bring at the end of this book.

Even though I had some issues with this story, I think I will be checking out the sequel. I really was intrigued about what happened to Rachel's father and by the end of the story I was invested in what will happen next. I'd like to see a little more world development and just better description of the society. That was what really lacked in this story for me. Even so, I thought the idea was good and it already has me hooked to see what will happen to Rachel and Logan.

Goodreads Rating: 3/5 Stars

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Mansfield Park Read Along Part 1

I just like to talk about books as much as I can manage and this month there is a read-along and discussion going on about Mansfield Park over at The Book Rat. These are some getting to know you questions.

1) Was Mansfield Park the first Austen book you read?
No. I do not think that is a bad thing either. It is, in fact, the last one I finished.

2) Is this the first time you've read Mansfield Park?
This is the third attempt and the first successful one. I started Mansfield Park in the middle of July because I anticipated being unable to finish this book or at least not being able to keep up with it. I did finish the book at the beginning of the month and I was very surprised. I'm not exactly reading along now but...I was meaning to. 

3) How many other Austen books have you read?
All of them except her unfinished work. Persuasion is my favorite.

4) Will you read more of them/reread them?
Last year I read Sense and Sensibility, Persuasion Northanger Abbey and Pride and Prejudice during Austen in August. Maybe I'll read Emma and Persuasion. I like to reread them. I learn something new every time and as I get older I realize more about the time period and empathize with the characters more.

5) Do you or will you read Austen adaptations?
I have and will read Austen adaptations. I think they are fun and also bring a fresh perspective to a classic story.

My responses to Mansfield Park

  • What were your initial impressions of the story? Not just the characters and their respective situations, but also the style and tone - if you've read Austen before, do you find Mansfield Park to be very different in any significant ways? I don't think the writing style is different than any of Austen's other novels. It has the same kind of format and same basic plot idea. Even so, it is much more difficult for me to stay interested in this story. 
  • Going more into the characters now, Mansfield Park's inhabitants are pretty universally considered Austen's hardest to love. What was your response to them through the first half of this story? Do you feel for any of them? Hate any of them with a vehemence beyond that which you normally reserve for fictional characters? And if you try to look at them objectively, do you have any more sympathy (or disgust) with their actions and behavior? Even though almost all the characters in this novel are some version of horrid, I don't hate all of them. I dislike Mrs. Norris, but I have a soft spot of Sir Thomas because he eventually tries to take Fanny under his wing a bit. I think the one that disgusts me the most is Mary Crawford. From very early on she knows Edmund is going to be a clergyman and is appalled by it. Yet, she continues to put herself in his path. She denounces his profession and I think if his characterization was stronger and he argued with her in a more spirited way it could be interesting. Instead I think Edmund comes off as a prude rather than someone who firmly believes in his frutue. Mary Crawford is the one I hate rather than Mrs. Norris. 
  • Fanny is often considered to be a very milquetoast, frustratingly passive heroine. Do you agree with this perception of her? Do you find yourself making excuses for her or holding things against her? Or do you feel that Fanny is underestimated as a character? Consider the scene in the Rushworth's park, as Fanny sits for hours, waiting to be noticed again, while everyone around her seeks their own amusement. Fanny is so frustrating to me because so much happens around her, but nothing happens to her (at least not at this point). I do make excuses for her because I wouldn't be very assertive either if Mrs. Norris was constantly picking on me. STILL I find her very frustrating and she just seems too passive to be the main character of a novel. I know I shouldn't try to hold her up against Austen's other heroines to compare her immediately but I kept thinking WWED? (What Would Elizabeth/Emma Do?) They just wouldn't have stood by to be forgotten quite as easily as Fanny does. Julia strikes off on her own to find everyone else as soon as she can while Fanny sits and is easily forgotten by everyone else while they explore Rushworth's property. 
  • "The Play" and preparation for it is one of the most telling and pivotal scenes in Mansfield Park - discuss your reaction to the entire Lover's Vows storyline: what it brings to light in the characters, what changes and ruptures it causes among them, things that amused or irritated you, etc. Did your feelings about any of the characters change as a result of The Play? How did you feel about Fanny during this whole incident? Would you have liked to see the play - and its aftermath - without the intrusion of the returning Lord Bertram? Fanny is incredibly dull, but she does stand by her principles as well as her disposition allows her. Even when Mrs. Norris heckles her she disagrees with the play and stays out of it as best she can. Obviously the Crawfords seem more devious after the play because of how Henry plays the sisters against one another and how Mary toys with Edmund. Rushworth is obviously worthless after he is hopeless during the rehearsals. During most of this part of the book I was actually bored because it just is a lot of bickering and improper behavior that just seems rude. This section actually ends on the most dramatic note, Sir Thomas' return! 
  • Many of the relationships we've been introduced to so far are very contentious: Maria and Julia, sometimes Tom and Edmund, Mrs Norris and everybody. And in fact, the story starts with a rift in the family. What do you make of the "friendships" and family dynamics in the story, and of the changes wrought by the entrance of the Crawfords? I think the friendships and family relationships seem fragile at the beginning of the story especially between Fanny and most of her family. She constantly worries she will do something to offend and will be sent away as a result. However, when the Crawfords join them, I think it makes all the relationships appear shallow and transparent. Maria's engagement seems even more about marrying for advantage, Edmund's friendship with Fanny is weaker and many of the other relationships are weakened by the entrance of the siblings. 
  • Is there anything else you'd like to talk about from Volume One? Can someone please explain why Henry Crawford was considered such an expert on landscaping? Did I miss this in the novel or is it weird to anyone else?

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Tag 3# - Completed Series

This tag is a lot of fun and really easy to do. You simply go through your shelves to see how many series you have completed! I've finished 15 series! Is that a lot? It feels like a lot. 

My Completed Series include: 

1) Harry Potter Series by JK Rowling (of course!)
2) Hunger Games Series by Suzanne Collings
3) The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare
4) The Infernal Devices Series by Cassandra Clare
5) Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan
6) Gemma Doyle Trilogy by Libba Bray
7) Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini
8) Luxe Series by Anna Godberson
9) Song of the Lioness Series by Tamora Pierce
10) Immortals Series by Tamora Pierce
11) Protector of the Small Series by Tamora Pierce
12) Circle of Magic by Tamora Pierce
13) The Circle Opens by Tamora Pierce
14) Trickster's Series by Tamora Pierce (Listed as the Daughter of the Lioness Series on Goodreads)
15) Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit by JRR Tolkien

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Book Haul - August!

These are the books I've bought since my last book haul back in April(?) There are a lot. I'm need to retrain myself or soon I'm going to buried under books that I haven't read. 

Books Shown -
1) Withering Heights - Emily Bronte
2) Divergent/Insurgent Box Set - Veronica Roth
3) For Darkness Shows the Stars - Diana Peterfreund
4) Chopsticks - Jessica Anthony
5) A Tale of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
6) Wolves, Boys and Other Things That Might Kill Me - Kristen Chandler
7) The Extraordinary Secrets of April, May and June - Robin Benway
8) Ripper - Stefan Petrucha
9) Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy: The Last Man in the World - Abigail Reynolds
10) The 5th Wave - Rick Yancey
11) My Life Next Door - Huntley Fitzpatrick
12) The Vicious Deep - Zoraida Cordova
13) Eleanor and Park - Rainbow Rowell
14) Mastiff - Tamora Pierce
15 & 16) Linger and Forever - Maggie Stefvater
17) Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children - Ransom Riggs
18) Days of Blood and Starlight - Lani Taylor

Happy Reading!

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books I Wish Could Have Had Sequels

*I had this all ready to go this past Tuesday but for some reason it was never posted. Oh well! I'll put it up anyway. Silly me!

Top Ten Tuesdays are created by: The Broke and the Bookish

This Top Ten Tuesday is all about books or series that are complete, but you could have read more about that character or that world. I love this idea because so often I want a story to keep going!

This is a rather short list because I have a lot of series that I haven't finished. Therefore, I want more of the story, but there is more story already promised.

1) Song of the Lioness Series by Tamora Pierce - I have always been interested in the years in between when the Song of the Lioness series left off and when Alanna and George have children. Alanna seems much older to me in the Immortals series, and I always wanted to know what happened in those years between the two series.
*Really I could read more about any of Tamora Pierce's worlds because they are some of my favorites. 

2) Harry Potter  by JK Rowling - I think everyone wants to know more about the wizarding world! Ever since I heard that Rowling has written a biography of Remus Lupin (unpublished) I am dying to read it. I've always wanted to know more about the world and see it from a different perspective than a young hero. I think it would have be really awesome to see more of Harry as an adult or any child's home who grew up as a witch or wizard would be awesome!

3) The Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini - At the end of this series I thought there was so little resolution and so little information about Eragon and what happened to him that I simply wanted more explanation about him and his life. (Overall I thought this series ended on a dumb note and I wanted a better ending for such a long series.)

4)  Persuasion - by Jane Austen - This is my favorite Jane Austen novel and when I read it I never want it to end because they always end as soon as the couple gets together.  In some ways I always want there to be more interaction between Wentworth and Anne at the end. I love them so much and I just want more lovely communication between them.

5)  My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick - I want more story because this story was SO good, and it was complete so in another way I don't want more of it. I can't wait to see what the author comes out with next.

6)  Hunger Games by Susan Collins - In a lot of ways I would have loved to see more of how Katniss recovered from what happened and more about her life after.

7) Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins - I just want another whole book about Anna and St. Clair because they are just so cute.