As some of you may know, I will be travelling to Egypt to conduct field work. It just so happens that I will be there over the holidays. As a result, my fiance and I are celebrating Christmas early. I will, therefore, have my Christmas book haul (my first one as a blogger) up sometime this weekend! I'm so excited to see all of the books that I received this Christmas.
What books were on your Christmas/holiday list this season?
For 2011, I challenged myself to seven reading challenges. Below I will list the challenge and my progress so far.
50 Books in 2011- This challenge is complete as of September 2011! I managed to read 50 books. I'm not stopping yet, though. I am going to continue reading to see how many I can read.
Debut Author Challenge (12)- This challenge is not complete. In fact, I haven't been keeping up with this one all that well. I know that I've read at least 2 debut novels possibly more.
To Be Read Challenge (4)- This challenge is complete. My four TBR books were: The Sweer Far Thing, Pretties, Uglies, and The Lightening Thief.
Classics Challenge (5)- This challenge is not complete. I have read one book and started one.
Shakespeare Challenge (6)- This challenge is not complete. I have read no books toward it.
Dystopian Challenge (15)- This challenge is almost complete. I have read 14 of the 15 books toward it. My reviews of them may be found by searching for the label Dystopian or 2011 Reading Challenge.
Sequel Challenge (6)- This challenge is complete. Toward it I read: The Uglies series (4), the Gemma Doyle Trilogy (2), the Percy Jackson series (5), The Hunger Games (3), Harry Potter (7).
Overall, I completed four of my seven challenges. With the end of the year closing in quickly and the increasing pressure of school and work I don't anticipate finishing the other challenges completely.
Look out in the next few days for my post on the 2012 reading challenges. I don't think that I will be quite as ambitious in the number I join but I would like to try for 100 books in 2012.
Title: Divergent Author: Veronica Roth Publisher: HarperCollins Publication: 2011 Summary: In Beatrice Prior's dystopian Chicago, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can't have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself. During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles to determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes infuriating boy fits into the life she's chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she's kept hidden from everyone because she's been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers a growing conflict that threatens to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her. Debut author Veronica Roth bursts onto the literary scene with the first book in the Divergent series—dystopian thrillers filled with electrifying decisions, heartbreaking betrayals, stunning consequences, and unexpected romance.
Let me start my saying that I have been on such a dystopian kick this year! The majority of the novels that I have read for my 2011 challenges have been in the genre of dystopia. With that being said, this review is going to be a little different in terms of format compared to my other ones. One of the things that I really enjoyed about this novel, other than the amazing plot and characters, was the language. Everything that Roth wrote I wanted to have as a tattoo or put on my walls. Therefore, my review will consist of both my thoughts and some of my favorite quotes. Without further ado, my review of Divergent.
Divergent is both a novel and a work of art. Veronica Roth is able to create such beautiful and vivid imagery which is an ideal writing technique for dystopian because so much of the world is unimaginable for the twenty first century reader. Likewise, her imagery really sets the mood for the novel. Roth uses the environment and the character's surroundings as a vehicle for her message. I also really like the way that she built suspense especially through the use of one-liners.
"My mother was dauntless."
Roth really put an emphasis on building her world. I loved how caricatured the factions were because when they are that extreme it is easier to see their ideals and processes. Within that, I enjoy the use of the initiation as a vehicle for plot and character development. As the characters go through their initiation, we are learning about them.
"I believe in ordinary acts of bravery, in the courage that causes one person to stand up for another."
"Somewhere inside of me is a merciful girl who tries to understand what people are going through, who accepts that people do evil things...you coward."
What's more is that the novel really stresses the need for personal diversity and temperance. People are not one-sided! That is what is beautiful about our own society and what Tris is hoping to get out of hers.
"I feel like some one breathed new air into my lungs. I am not Abnegation. I am not Dauntless. I am Divergent."
When I encounter a series after all of the books have been published, I try to read the novels one right after the other. With the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, however, this was not the case. I purchased the first novel, The Lightening Thief, in January of 2010 for my fiancé because he really enjoyed the movie. It sat on my shelf for months-my fiancé is really not a reader. One day in January of 2011, a year later, the book called to me from the shelf. I felt bad that it had been sitting on my shelf all by itself so I picked it up and started reading it. Now, almost a year later, I’ve finished the entire series. In July 2011, I read book two and then books three through five I read in September. Without further ado, ladies and gentlemen, I present my review of the Percy Jackson and the Olympians Series!
The Lightening Thief: The first installment was a great opening novel. I loved the way Riordian introduced us to the world of the demigods and gods. He put a lot of thought into how he could bring the ancient myths to a modern audience and it shows in the creative and unique ways he connects the past and the present. I also really enjoyed the characters, especially the main three: Percy, Annabeth, and Grover. They had great depth and personality even though it was the first novel. Riordian has given us a really great first novel and I’m really looking forward to the sequel.
The Sea of Monsters: Following the first novel, it took me awhile to finally pick the sequel up. The characters remain enjoyable but I didn’t really like the plot as I was reading it. It felt like the story line was just an unnecessary filler used to bridge the first and third book. I still enjoyed it as a stand alone but it was my least favorite of the series. Now that I’ve read the rest of the books, though, I see that the story was definitely needed as it introduced some very crucial plot points- the rest of the series simply could not have happened without this one. So overall I enjoyed the story and there was some great humor and I saw its necessity but it was far from my favorite.
The Titan’s Curse: This novel was my very favorite of the entire series! The story of Thalia and Artemis and the Hunters really revived the story for me. I really enjoyed the fast pace and the constant action because it moved the story and the series along nicely. I also liked the increasing interaction with the gods. In this installment, we really learn a lot more Greek backstory. Another aspect I enjoyed was the character growth. Each of the characters is learning about their world and themselves and in reaction to it-growing. Above all, I am enjoying watching Percy grow as a character. This is definitely a must read!
The Battle of the Labyrinth: The Battle of the Labyrinth was a very enjoyable read. What I enjoyed most was the fact that many of the subplots from the first novel were finally resolved, which really is important for penultimate books because it allows the final book time to focus on the important, main storyline. Another aspect that I enjoyed was the character growth. The characters are continuing to grow up and we as readers get to experience that. Percy is really changing and developing who he is. I also really liked how Riordian used the setting of the labyrinth to advance the plot. Through the twists and turns of the labyrinth we find out a great deal of expository information. Finally, I thought this was the first novel where you really encounter the reality of the novel. In it, we get the first glimpse of the loses and sacrifices of life that happen during war. For me, its reminiscent of the fifth book of Harry Potter in its tone and voice yet Riordian is still able to keep the humor that he is so well known for. All in all, a thoroughly enjoyable read.
The Last Olympian: The final book was the perfect ending to a great series! I won’t say too much because I don’t want to give away anything but the novel wrapped up everything very nicely and still left the option of continuing the story.
I recommend checking this series out. Also, Rick Riordian has continued the story of Percy and all of his friends in a brand new series. Let me know what you thought of the series, if you've read it, and whether or not you like the follow up books.
At the end of last month, I set out with big plans for my October reading list. I was really excited to spend the entire month lost in creepy, eerie, and spooky books. I love being scared around Halloween and I think that books can really get you into the holiday mood. I took to the interwebs and begged for suggestions from my subscribers/followers and managed to get together a list of 10 books that were perfect for the month and, for the most part, that I already learned. For the last few days of September, I could barely contain myself and not start my list early. Yet, as soon as October arrived, I suddenly had no time or energy to read. My October Spooktacular List has not one title checked off, which is really disappointing because I put a lot of thought in picking out the books. I still haven't announced my winners from the Kick-Off October giveaway, either. Plus, I have two scheduled posts (that are already written) waiting to go up on the blog. One is a series review of Percy Jacjson and the Olympians and the other is my review of Divergent. Hopefully these will be up tomorrow. So, what happened in this month that prevented me from accomplishing my goals? To start, the beginning week of October was the last week of school before Fall Break so I was swamped with last minute work. Certainly not a situation conducive to reading. The second week of October, which was Fall Break, wasn't a very good reading week either because I spent the entire week picking up overtime at work so I could officially start the Theresadan Wedding Fund. Then this last week, when there was finally nothing standing in the way of me and my TBR list, I got sick. I don't get sick very often and on the rare occasion that I do get sick it's usually nothing bad, just a small head cold or something like this. This time, however, I got really sick. I was simultaneously fighting a double-ear infection, five-day migraine, and the flu. I can't remember a time that I felt so bad. I ended up missing half of my classes and suffering through work. My throat was swollen so much that I couldn't eat and I ended losing ten pounds, at last count. Thankfully, I seem to be getting better. My throat isn't as sore and my headache is completely gone. For the rest of the month, therefore, I will be playing catch up. I still have my plans set to finish my list from the beginning of the month in the next eight days. Eight days to read my books, and review them! I think that I probably won't accomplish this but I like to set my goals high. With that said, I'd like to list out my reading goals for the rest of the month:
Dracula (for the readalong at A Literary Odyssey)
The Dead Tossed Waves
Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter
30 Days of Night
Grimm Brothers, select stories
Edgar Allen Poe, select stories
Frankenstein ( I'm about half-way through this one)
I'd also list to get up my reviews for Percy Jackson and Divergent.
Oh, boy! I do have quite the week ahead of me. Wish me luck!
Title: The Maze Runner
Author: James Dashner
Summary: Thomas is the newest arrival to the Glade in this Truman-meets-Lord of the Flies tale. A motley crew of half a dozen kids is all he has to guide him in this strange world. As soon as he arrives, unusual things begin to happen, and the others grow suspicious of him. Though the Maze seems somehow familiar to Thomas, he's unable to make sense of the place, despite his extraordinary abilities as a Runner. What is this place, and does Thomas hold the key to finding a way out?
This book was the perfect hybrid of dystopia and mystery. There was just the right amount of suspense to keep me going. I literally had to keep reading because I needed to know what was going to happen. If you're looking for a page-turner, this is a novel I highly recommend. I've been on a dystopia kick this past year and of the many dystopia novels I've read, this one is definitely up there in terms of favorites. The plot is amazing and is always moving, the characters are versatile and fairly well devloped, and the setting is frickin' awesome. The characters and the Glade were definitely the best part of this book. Also, the mystery surrounding the whole plot keeps the book moving along nicely. I can't wait to read the sequel, The Scorch Trials, and the conclusion to the trilogy, The Death Cure, which is out next month. This is definitely one to pick up!
Title: The Bar Code Tattoo
Author: Suzanne Weyn
Individuality vs. Conformity
Identity vs. Access
Freedom vs. Control
The bar code tattoo. Everybody's getting it. It will make your life easier, they say. It will hook you in. It will become your identity.
But what if you say no? What if you don't want to become a code? For Kayla, this one choice changes everything. She becomes an outcast in her high school. Dangerous things happen to her family. There's no option but to run...for her life.
I actually really enjoyed this book and the style in which it was written. It had a vague similarity to XVI by Julia Carr and my feelings for the two novels are alike. The premise was interesting but in some parts the execution feel thorugh. For me, the biggest issues I had were the idea of showing versus telling and last minute plot developments. Throughout the beginning hlad of the novel, Weyn relied more on telling us about the world she invented rather than slowly revealing it to us throughout. At times, this was distracting because I was more worried about what the slang words meant than the development of the plot. Weyn also throws in rather large plot points that should take the whole novel in a few paragraphs. Even with the fact that there's a sequel some of the points are too much for one novel. A little suspense could have taken the book farther.
This is a great dystopia novel for the younger half of the young adult reading group. There's not much violence, no bad language, and no thematic elements. It still has the dystopia themes but its packaged in a lighter form.
Author: April Lindner
Publication Date: October 2010
Summary: Forced to drop out of an esteemed East Coast college after the sudden death of her parents, Jane Moore takes a nanny job at Thornfield Park, the estate of Nico Rathburn, a world-famous rock star on the brink of a huge comeback. Practical and independent, Jane reluctantly becomes entranced by her magnetic and brooding employer and finds herself in the midst of a forbidden romance. But there's a mystery at Thornfield, and Jane's much-envied relationship with Nico is soon tested by an agonizing secret from his past. Torn between her feelings for Nico and his fateful secret, Jane must decide: Does being true to herself mean giving up on true love? An irresistible romance interwoven with a darkly engrossing mystery, this contemporary retelling of the beloved classic Jane Eyre promises to enchant a new generation of readers.
When I read modernizations or retellings of fairy tales or classic stories, I try to go into them thinkthat they are different, unique tales. That is, I don't compare them to the stories on which they are based. First, its unfair to both the original and the retelling. More importatly, however, it is unfair to me. In doing that, I close myself off to experiencing a novel. For these two reasons, I try not to compare retellings with the originals. With that in mind, I went into Jane viewing it as its own novel not as a retelling of Jane Eyre. In this case, however, it was very difficult to separate the novels because they were so similar. Lindner really stayed true to Jane for the most part. Jane stays true to the tone of Jane Eyre. The gothic nature, the beautiful prose, and the sweeping romances of Jane and Nico were all exactly the same. Sometimes, however, the similarity was to a fault. At times I felt like Jane was just the paraphrased Jane Eyre. There were whole conversations that were almost verbatim.
In all, I enjoyed the book as a stand alone when not comparing it to the original. Plus, if you've wanted to read the classic version but are afraid or intimidated, this version is much more accessible.
For this week, the wonderful ladies at The Broke and the Bookish have dedicated the Top Ten Tuesday meme to those books that we read because of other bloggers.This topic was fairly easy for me because I have looked to some of my favorite blogs for recommendations often this year.
Book Nooks: With the recent announcement of the closing of Borders, my TBR list has grown tremendously with the number of purchases I've been making. The following is a list of the books I bought from Borders:
1-5. The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod- Heather Brewer
6-8. The Immortals Series (#1-3)- Alyson Noel
9. The City of Spark- Jeanne DuPrau
10. The Diamond of Darkhold- Jeanne DuPrau
11. Revolution- Jennifer Donnelly
12. Jane- April Linder
13. Virals- Kathy Reichs
14. The Last Olympian- Rick Riordian
15. The Van Allen Legacy- Melissa de la Cruz
16. Forgotten- Cat Patrick
17. Divergent- Veronica Roth
18. Dune- Frank Herbert
20. Jane Eyre- Charlotte Bronte
"Imagining the future is a kind of nostalgia. You spend your whole life stuck in the labyrinth, thinking about how you'll escape it one day, and how awesome it will be, and imagining that future keeps you going, but you never do it. You just use the future to escape the present."
There is some genius in the way that John Green is able to perfectly capture and describe the human condition. In every word, he is able to illustrate in ink the hopes and fears of people in their most basic sense. It is a remarkable gift. He wields his pen and digs it deep into your heart and your brain. You don't walk away from a John Green work feeling content and accomplished. You don't feel like you've mastered the text and anaylzed the themes. You don't feel like you fully comprehend the novel. No, you put the book down and think, "Fuck!" Then, you mull over the words for hours, days, maybe even weeks and the themes and concepts start to sink in and you find yourself sitting at work and critically reviewing the novel.
"You don't remember what happened. What you remember becomes what happened."
This quote is the epitome of all that is John Green. It's simple, only eleven words spread over two sentences. Yet, the meaning behind those words so perfectly capture how we, as people, really think and feel.
This novel did nothing to abate my fierce desire to just get on a plan and drain my bank account on an expedition throughout Europe. How awesome would it be to have an aunt like Peg who funded a cross-country trip to help you discover who you are? I think that the idea of setting a novel in a distant country was handled superbly. By placing Ginny in an unfamiliar area, the character development was highlighted and as the reader, you could watch the growth.
I think the sequel was well worth the years it took.
It's Maureen Johnson. I don't think it even needs a recommendation.
This novel was really quick and easy to read but it had a powerful message that stayed with me long after turning the last page. An overall simple yet poignant story of self-discovery that tells the tale of how to find who you are and how to stay true to who that is.
I'll admit that I have never really been interested in werewolves or shape shifters or anything of that sort. It was never a concept that really intrigued me. I didn't see the allure. So, when I received Shiver for my birthday I wasn't all that excited to read. I put it on my TBR list and moved on. However, it did not sit on my TBR pile for long. Something in the book really drew me to it; I'm not sure if it was the awesome color coordination betwen the title, cover art, and text or the cover art itself. Whatever it was, I picked up Shiver and didn't put it down again until it was finished.
Overall, I really enjoyed it. My favorite thing about it was the writing style. I loved the inclusion of lyrics (Sam in general was a very nice addition) and I liked the flow of the novel.
Definitely looking forward to picking up the sequels.
Few things have intrigued me the way that fallen angels do. The concept that a being that was created in the image of purity and faith could fall so far from that and corrupt in the antithesis of its very existence is interesting beyond words. With that said, I have had very little literary contact with the idea of fallen angels. Other than one novel that I read in grade school, What Happened to Lani Garver by Caroline Plum-Ucci, I have never encountered angels in written word.
Since I've started blogging and watching videos on YouTube, I've been introduced to some amazing books that I don't think I would have read otherwise. Hush, Hush and Crescendo are two of those books. The first two in a trilogy (Silence is due out in October 2011), both HH and C chronicle the lives of Patch, a fallen angel, and his love interest Nora. One of the most poignant moments of the novels is indeed the love story that emerges between the two. It was really powerful to see the lengths that Patch went, at least intially, to get love. It was also a commentary on how love can create but also destroy.
These novels are certainly recommended. I can't wait for the final novel!
As an Egyptologist, I tend to read literature on Egypt from a purely academic standpoint. Therefore, it was a treat to see the myths of Egypt woven in a fictional way. I absolutely enjoyed both The Red Pyramid and The Throne of Fire and I was surprised at how historically accurate they were. Throughout both novels, there was only one "error" that I found. In the novel, the Kane siblings pronounce the sky goddess Nut, like a peanut. It's more commonly pronounced Nut, like moot or boot. Other than that, the factual basis was solid. I also really liked the fact that the novel was written like a transcript of a recording.
I'm looking forward to the third and final novel in this trilogy. It is still in the beginning process but sure to be a great read.
Things Fall Apart is a dynamic novel that features pre-colonial Africa at the turn of the nineteenth century. As an anthropologists, its always interesting for me to see a culture represented by one of its people. We look at other cultures through the lense of our own and we often compare the culture rather than immersing ourselves in it. When we analyze a culture it is often in relation to our own. How they do things is criticized because it is not the way "we" do it. Being able to explore a culture as though you are a member is truly an amazing thing. Achebe really captures what it was like for African tribesmen during the turn of the nineteenth century when British colonizers were beginning to take over the area and convert the people to Christianity. It really puts our world and our lifestyle in perspective.
This is definitely an enriching read and will not disappoint.
Anna and the French Kiss was the first light, realistic fiction novel that I read in quite some time. After being in a "heavy" book mood, AFK was the perfect book. It was adorable, filled with awesome characters, and was genuinely funny. I also really enjoyed the culture of the book, from old movies to Parisan landmarks, this book definitely felt real.
I cannot wait for the companion novel, Lola and the Boy Next Door, which is available starting September 29, 2011.
It's August! I cannot believe how quickly this summer is passing.
Let's talk. I devoured so many books in the months of May and June but I was not so great at reviewing those books. As it stands, I have over a dozen reviews that need to be written. The bad thing is that I feel so overwhelmed with the amount of reviews that I can't read anymore. I don't want to keep burying myself in more books. So, I will be instituting the quickie. The quickie will be a very quick review that just overviews the major points that I liked about the book. I'll probably only use a couple of words. I do feel bad that some books won't get the full recognition they deserve, but I miss reading.
It is with great pleasure that I present to you (the Book Nooks) the newly released movie poster for The Hunger Games movie. Click here to view it.
Now that that's done, let's discuss.
What I love about this poster:
The poster, while being for the movie, truly pays homage to the books. To start, the easily recognizable mockingjay pin that Katniss wears throughout the series is the focal point of the entire poster. Next, that pin slowly erupts into flames, literally symbolizing Katniss' transformation into the mockingjay while at the same time her place as the girl who was on fire. Finally, Lionsgate took that already awesome poster and took it one step further with the tagline: "May the odds be ever in your favor." Seriously, there is not a way that I could think to improve this poster. It has reignited my love of the series and sparked more impatience for the movie.
What do you guys think of the movie poster? Are you excited for the movie? What is your opinion on the casting?
Author: Lauren DeStefano
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: March 2011
Summary: When scientists engineered genetically perfect children, everyone thought it would ensure the future of the human race. Though the first generation is nearly immortal, a virus causes all successive generations to die early: age 20 for women, 25 for men. Now, girls are kidnapped for brothels or polygamous marriages to breed children. Rhine is taken from her hardscrabble life and sold with two other girls to Linden Ashby. Though they live in a palatial Florida home surrounded by gardens and treated like royalty, the girls are sequestered from the outside world, and Rhine longs to escape. Her growing affection for her sister wives, her pity for Linden, and her fear of Housemaster Vaughn, Linden's manipulative father, keep her uncomfortably docile, until she falls for servant Gabriel.
Wither is a blend of 1984 and A Handmaid's Tale. Considering that these are two of my favorite books I was thouroughly excited to read this novel. Overall, the story was very good. The plot was interesting and unusual with the right amount of suspension and mystery. Likewise, the message was powerful and poignant and was definitely a social commentary on the exploitation of women. However, when I finished the novel I felt the end was anti-climactic. I am looking forward to the second novel to revive the series for me.
For this week, the wonderful ladies at The Broke and the Bookish have dedicated the Top Ten Tuesday meme to authors that we'd die to meet. The following is my list.
1. William Shakespeare- Prolific and profound, the works of Shakespeare are relevant even now hundreds of years after they were written. However, there has always been the controversarial undertone. Did he really write every play by himself?
2. Libba Bray- She is hilarious. Oh, and her books are amazing.
3. Jane Austen- I'm interested in how she would view women and society in the modern day.
Title: Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side
Author: Beth Fantaskey
Publisher: Harcourt Childrens
Publication Date: February 2009
Summary: Jessica Packwood is a normal teen attending Woodrow Wilson High School. Her mathematical nature has even given her a slightly geeky reputation, which is about to change with the arrival of Lucius Vladescu, who seems to be stalking her. She tells her mother about him and learns that she is really a Romanian vampire princess who has been betrothed to Lucius at birth. She knew she was adopted, but this revelation comes as a shock. It is this agreement that has kept rival vampire clans, the Dragomirs and the Vladescus, at an uneasy peace. If the marriage does not take place, war will ensue and threaten the ultimate destruction of Jessica's vampire family. To say that this is a lot for the teen to take in is an understatement. Lucius is gorgeous, old world, tender as well as arrogant, and very overprotective of her. However, she chooses to date Jake, a handsome but rather dull boy. But not all is as it seems in the vampire world, and as the story progresses, circumstances force Jessica and Lucius to take matters into their own hands; in doing so, they examine their true feelings about themselves, family, and duty.
Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side brings equal parts paranormal and ordinary together to create an amazing piece of literature. What I really enjoyed, other than the unique take on vampires, was the development of Jessica and Lucius and of their relationship. In a lot of novels, the main characters fall in love almost instantly which make the story and the romance seem a little unbelievable. I really enjoyed that they started out, more so on Jessica’s part, having no romantic attachment and you really got to fall in love with Lucius as Jessica does and experience the gradual growth of affection. I also really enjoyed that Jessica wasn’t a helpless heroine who needed to be saved, although she allowed herself to be. She knew what she wanted and she went after it. She is certainly the kind of character that sets a positive model of independence and self-determination. It was inspiring to see such a strong heroine.
Likewise, the vampires in the novel were so alive despite being “undead.” I loved that they could feel physical and emotional pain (in a non-sadistic way, of course!), and that they were wracked with internal struggles between doing what’s right for them and what is expected of them. They were so human! I definitely recommend this book.
EXCITING ANNOUNCEMENT! Beth Fantaskey has agreed to be interviewed right here on The Book Nook! For the next week, I will be taking questions (leave them in the comment) and then submitting them to Beth for her answers. If you have any questions, please let me know and look forward to the interview within the month.
Book Nooks! It has been far too long since I have written and oh how I have missed it. I am back, however, and will be dedicating the following days to catching up on my reviews. While I might not have been writing, I have defintiely been reading. Therefore, I have a lot of reviews to write and post. Because of the large amount that I need to get out, I will keep them short and sweet but hopefully still provide enough information for ya'll to decide if the book is something in which you are interested. I also have some memes to catch up on and a few read-a-long posts to write.
Alright, Book Nooks! I am off to start on my list.
For the months of May and June, I will be participating in a readalong of The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoevsky. This readalong is hosted by Allie from A Literary Odyssey and I am very excited to reread this novel. Dostoevsky is my favorite author of the nineteenth century and The Idiot is tied with Notes from Underground as my favorite novels, ever. While the readalong chose the edition of the novel translated by the team of Pevear and Vokholansky (probably the best modern version), I really enjoy the Constance Garnett version so that's the version from which I am reading. The books are divided in the same way so I don't think this will pose a problem with the posting schedule.
One of the aspects of The Idiot that I enjoy most is the structure, or lack there of. The novel was released in four parts over a few years and was written forward not backward. That is to say, Dostoevsky let the story tell itself and had no predetermined plot in mind. He didn't know what was going to happen beforehand. This is apparent from section to section because there are some things that seem to be huge conflicts (Myshkin and Ganya, for example) in one part but don't show up in the rest of the novel. The Idiot is an open-structured novel and is intriguing because it progresses like life- one does not know what is going to happen ahead of time.
I also really enjoy the choices of names for the characters. Each name, whether intentionally or not, translates some characteristic of the character. For example, Lev Myshkin literally translates as Lion, Mouse which shows Myshkin's personality. Also, Nastashya Filippovna's name is related to lamb, resurrection, and evokes the image of Old Testament lamb sacrifices. Dostoevsky's notes on this novel reference a union between Myshkin and Nastashya as being a "resurrection," which might explain some of the meaning of the name.
Finally, the last thing about Part I that intrigued me was the representation of Myshkin as a Holy Fool. The Holy Fool is a concept that appears often in Russian Literature. The Holy Fool is characterized by a simple-minded, almost saintlike, person who becomes the center of attention or scandal. They often act as a test for other characters in their interactions. A person's true character is revealed in how they treat the Holy Fool. I think it will be interesting to see if Myshkin remains so like the archetypal Holy Fool.
Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. Go check out their blog because it is awesome! There you will find many great reviews and some pretty cool people.
Let the list begin!
Part I: 2011 Reading Challenge
1. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
2. Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side by Beth Fantaskey
3. Nevermore by Kelly Creagh
4. Delirium by Lauren Oliver
5. The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan
Part II: Past Reads
6. Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov (this one was technically already made but I'd like a new one)
7. The Artemis Fowl Series by Eoin Colfer (one of my favorite MG series)
8. The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoevsky (Same situation as number 6)
9. 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson
10. The Pendragon Series by D.J. McHale
Title: The Lost Symbol
Author: Dan Brown
Publisher: Double Day Synopsis: Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon is summoned to give a lecture at the United States Capitol, with the invitation apparently from his mentor, a 33rd degreeMason named Peter Solomon, who is the head of the Smithsonian Institution. Solomon has also asked him to bring a small, sealed package which he had entrusted to Langdon years earlier. When Langdon arrives at the Capitol, however, he learns that the invitation he received was not from Solomon, but from Solomon's kidnapper, Mal'akh, who has left Solomon's severed right hand in the middle of the Capitol Rotunda in a recreation of the Hand of Mysteries. Mal'akh then contacts Langdon, charging him with finding both the Mason's Pyramid, which Masons believe is hidden somewhere underground in Washington D.C., and the Lost Word, lest Solomon be executed.
Like many other Archaeology majors, I have a condition called Indian Jones Syndrome (IJS). I was first afflicted at the age of ten when, after visiting the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology (The Museum), I taught myself to read hieroglyphics in the event that I found myself on an adventure in which I needed to decode ancient texts to find the lost artifact before some great calamity befell the earth. Since then, I have calmed down a bit and began focusing more seriously on my studies so that I can do legitimate research on the lost cities of our past. But, every once in a while, I skip over the more academic works on archaeology/anthropology and pick up a good 'ol thriller where an Indianesque lead goes on a secret quest and needs to uncover the truth. This is the book I chose when I was overcome with a recent bout of IJS.
Robert Langdon is back, and if I may say, as crushworthy as ever. In The Lost Symbol, he must decode an ancient Masonic text to save his long time mentor. I must say that I really enjoyed this novel. It was exactly what I needed to get me out of my reading rut. It is fast paced and full of actions. Plus, it is a really quick read because the chapters are really short. Normally, this annoys me. But it really works with the action pact storyline. The chapters propel the story along and each one leaves the reader with a thrilling final line that promotes a book-long desire to keep reading. As usual, the writing is awesome and the storyline as intriguing as ever. I also liked how Dan Brown uses his characters as vessel through which to provide information but I felt sometimes it seemed that the characters were reading verbatim from an encyclopedia. If you're a fan of his other works, you won't be dissappointed. If you've never read his work, this is a great one with which to start. The previous two novels that feature Robert Langdon are companion novels, so you won't miss anything by reading them out of order.
Look out for a book haul in the coming days!
Thanks for reading and welcome to my new followers!
The Book Nook
Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. Go check out their blog because it is awesome! There you will find many great reviews and some pretty cool people.
1. Stickers- Especially the ones that don't come off or leave behind adhesive residue.
2. Long paragraphs- I'm talking about the ones that sometimes go on for pages.
3. Unresolved sub-plots- I'm often peeved when an author starts to explore something in the book but never finishes it.
4. Obvious ending/plots- If I can guess where the story is going, I'm more like to get bored with it.
5. New books with used looks- I don't mind for my books to have wear and tear, if they're used or I've read them multiple times. But if I buy a book new, I would for it to look new for a little while.
6. Cover changes- I hate when a series gets a cover change, especially when it's in the middle of the series. I like to have an entire series with the same cover or cover theme.
7. Long series- I'm not a fan of series that are too long because I usually lose interest in them. But I feel obligated to finish the series and usually end up reading books that I wouldn't have otherwise.
8. Trite story lines- This ties in with number four. If the story line is overused, I won't enjoy the story.
9. (Too) Short series- I am not a fan of too short series. I strongly dislike finishing a book but feeling like it was unresolved.
This post is on part one (the first 330 pages) of Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged and is for a readalong I am doing. The readalong is hosted by A Literary Odyssey, an amazing book review site based on 250 of the classics. You should definitely check out that site for some interesting insights into the classics. On to my thoughts on the first part of Atlas Shrugged!
With the state of the economy in the past two years being as dismal as it is, it is not hard to imagine the world that Ayn Rand created. Failing businesses, unemployed workers, and people struggling to afford essential items isn't fictional, it's something that I see everyday. People are losing hope in our world, as in Rand's and some are plagued with thoughts that they will not be able to survive. (See the constant remarks as to "Who is John Galt?"). Because of this, I felt a lot more connected to the background of the story and could really relate to the setting. Even though it is a dystopian world, it was something that I could see happening in the future if the economy does not correct itself. With that being said, there is definitely a disconnect between me and the characters.
Atlas Shrugged, for me, has been more like reading Ayn Rand's manifesto than a novel. Throughout part one, I've basically seen her use the characters as symbols or caricatures for ideas that see whats to express. Dagny, my favorite character so far, is an exaggerated view of capitalism and bases her choices on facts and what will yield the best results. As such, she isn't afraid to take a risk on an otherwise unknown company if research shows that it has the best product. Her brother, on the other hand, represents socialist views of doing things for the good of the whole community and helping out the "little guy." With the characters being so exaggerated to fit the type, it was difficult at times to relate to them.
Despite this, I am looking forward to continuing the novel and seeing where it will go. I am also intrigued with the hint of something greater underlying the events that we've seen thus far. Something big is definitley going on, and I am looking forward to finding out more about what it might be.
To find out more about this readalong and others, visit A Literary Odyssey.
The Book Nook
Author: Ellen Hopkins
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Synopsis: Five teenagers from different parts of the country. Three girls. Two guys. Four straight. One gay. Some rich. Some poor. Some from great families. Some with no one at all. All living their lives as best they can, but all searching for freedom, safety, community, family, love. What they don’t expect, though, is all that can happen when those powerful little words, “I love you,” are said for all the wrong reasons.
To say I enjoyed this novel,
would be weird. And somewhat
wrong. It is not a novel that a
person enjoys or has fun while
reading.Nevertheless, it is a poignant tale
that is worth reading.
The story begins with five separate tales.
Five teens from different areas, socioeconomic
status, and values. Their stories are slowly
and artfully woven together until they become
one larger story, a tapestry of sadness and desp-
Each person details their life and what
led them to the worst time of it- living
on the streets of Las Vegas, turning
tricks to subsist. It is more than that
however, because they also detail
their redemption and salvation.
This novel is a heart-wrenching tale
of what happens when we lose con-
trol of our own bodies and how to
begin to gain it back.
I highly recommend this moving story
and hope that if you find yourself in
this situation, you have the chance to
There's my attempt at free verse writing. This will be my last review for a while because this is the last novel I finished. I am a quarter of the way through Frankenstein and will have a review for that as soon as I finish it.
Title: The Forest of Hands and Teeth
Author: Carrie Ryan
Publisher: Delacorte Books
Synopsis: In Mary's world, there are simple truths. The Sisterhood always knows best. The Guardians will protect and serve. The Unconsecrated will never relent. And you must always mind the fence that surrounds the village. The fence that protects the village from the Forest of Hands and Teeth. But slowly, Mary's truths are failing her. She's learning things she never wanted to know about the Sisterhood and its secrets, and the Guardians and their power. And, when the fence is breached and her world is thrown into chaos, about the Unconsecrated and their relentlessness. Now she must choose between her village and her future, between the one she loves and the one who loves her. And she must face the truth about the Forest of Hands and Teeth. Could there be life outside a world surrounded by so much death?
Since a very young age, I have been fascinated with the living dead. Corpses reanimated through various means; such as, a mad scientist or a viral infection received from a hungry sewer rat. Zombies, in short, are amazing. So, when I learned that there was an entire YA series set in the world post-zombie apocalypse, I quickly added it to my wishlist. I've just finished the first in the series and I LOVED IT! From the first line, the book took hold of me. I found every excuse to read and put off important stuff so that I could curl up with the Forest of Hands and Teeth. Carrie Ryan has done a wonderful job crafting a great novel that introduces us to what I'm sure will be an amazing series. She writes with a power and control over her words usually seen in the works of veteran authors and her ability to manipulate prose astounds me. The story she created is both action packed and filled with the tribulations of first love. Her description of the budding romance between Mary and Travis is truly beautiful. The story is very unique and lays a path for more novels in the future without leaving the reader with a cliffhanger. Most action in the first book is resolved, but the greater theme of surviving in a world with the Unconsecrated remains present at the close of TFHT. My favorite aspect, aside from the style, was the characterization. Mary and Travis, along with the other characters, are relatable even though they live in a village surrounded by the undead. Their questions, longings, thoughts, and fears are relevant to people living in 2011. This was another one of my favorite reads of the year, so far. I am looking forward to picking up The Dead-Tossed Waves. Now, I will leave you with some examples of Ryan's amazing writing style-my favorite quotes from TFHT:
"Travis's hand slips away from mine. I feel its absence the way it must feel to lose a limb. Desperate, the ghost of its presence still taunting me."
"I am filled with emptiness as I nod my head because I cannot bare to tell him the truth. Even as he reads my mind, as he proves to me how well he knows me. Even though he already knows my answer. Because I am still hoping that he can fill the emptiness and longing and that tomorrow morning I can wake up in his arms and it will be enough
I don't own those words, though I wish I did. They are the genius of Carrie Ryan.
This is my official post stating that I am participating in the Dystopian Challenge hosted at Bookish Ardour. I am committing to the Contagion level, which is 15 books, but I have a feeling that I will eventually jump to the next level. My most anticipated read in Dystopian this year is Wither by Lauren DeStefano.
Keep checking back for reveiws!
The Book Nook
Author: Julia Karr
Synopsis: Nina Oberon's life is pretty normal: she hangs out with her best friend, Sandy, and their crew, goes to school, plays with her little sister, Dee. But Nina is 15. And like all girls she'll receive a Governing Council–ordered tattoo on her 16th birthday. XVI. Those three letters will be branded on her wrist, announcing to all the world–even the most predatory of men–that she is ready for sex. Considered easy prey by some, portrayed by the Media as sluts who ask for attacks, becoming a "sex-teen" is Nina’s worst fear. That is, until right before her birthday, when Nina’s mom is brutally attacked. With her dying breaths, she reveals to Nina a shocking truth about her past–one that destroys everything Nina thought she knew. Now, alone but for her sister, Nina must try to discover who she really is, all the while staying one step ahead of her mother's killer.
In Nina's world, innocence expires at sixteen. After that, you receive a government issue tattoo, XVI on your wrist, that adverises to the world that you are legally able to consent to sex. The government commercializes the "sex-teens" in the media, making the concept out to be cool. Nina dreads her sixteenth birthday, especially after her mother reveals something very important to her before she dies. Nina must use all he strength to protext herself, her sister, and uncover her mother's murderer.
Going into the book, I was apprehensive because I've read mixed reviews on the novel. They were certainly misplaced, however, because I really enjoyed this novel. I do see where some of the critique comes from. If you are thinking this novel is solely about the "sex-teens," you'll be disappointed. It is more of a murder mystery set within a dystopian society with the "sex-teen" being more of a sub-plot. With the misleading synopsis aside, I really enjoyed this novel. Julia Karr put a lot of thought into her setting and thought of a great deal of interesting aspects of her world. Also, the characters of Lena and Sal are intriguing. However, I think that Wei is my favorite character because she is the archetype of the rebel in this novel. The murder mystery really added to the story as a whole and was by far the driving action. The ending left the reader with quite a cliffhanger and set up the possibility of sequels. I'm really looking forward to continuing this series.
Title: Delirium Author: Lauren Oliver Publisher: Haper Teen Synopsis: Ninety-five days, and then I'll be safe. I wonder whether the procedure will hurt. I want to get it over with. It's hard to be patient. It's hard not to be afraid while I'm still uncured, though so far the deliria hasn't touched me yet. Still, I worry. They say that in the old days, love drove people to madness. The deadliest of all deadly things: It kills you both when you have it and when you don't.
Love has been the driving force behind some of the greatest artistic endeavors of the world. Men and women have constructed grand temples, written literary masterpieces, and sacrificed their very lives for the salvation of their loved one. It is a concept so present in our lives that many people base their existence on attaining the greatest love of all. Many books feature love as a central theme, motif, or symbol. Despite its permanence in our world, Lauren Oliver was able to craft a novel centered on love that is so original and thought-provoking.
Delirium tells the story of Lena, an almost 18 year-old girl living in Maine in the near future. In her society, the government has declared love a disease (aptly named amor deliria nervosa) and made it illegal, punishable by death or worse. On their 18th birthday, each person receives the cure. Lena, having suffered greatly because of the disease, anxiously awaits her own procedure and the cure. That is until 95 days before she is scheduled for it, when she falls in love.
Lauren Oliver has written a very unique, creative, and touching story. Her writing style nicely complements the plot and is very descriptive. Oliver shows you (with her words) Lena’s world, feelings, and thoughts. I had trouble with this at first because I read this immediately following the first Percy Jackson novel, which has a very different style to it. I was so busy reading the descriptions, I couldn’t get into the story. If you feel this way, read on! Once I became accustomed to Oliver’s style, I couldn’t put the book down. The writing that once held me back propelled me into the story.
In turn with the writing, I love the characters that she has created. Not only are they relatable and accessible, but they actually remind me of myself. I could really relate to Lena and the things through which she was going.
Plus the action was ever present in the novel. I was turning the pages throughout the novel. Likewise, the ending did not disappoint and left me dying for the sequel, Pandemonium. This is one of my favorite books of the year!
Title: Bad Girls Don't Die Author: Katie Alender Publisher: Disney Hyperion Synopsis: When Alexis’s little sister Kasey becomes obsessed with an antique doll, Alexis thinks nothing of it. Kasey is a weird kid. Period. Alexis is considered weird, too, by the kids in her high school, by her parents, even by her own Goth friends. Things get weirder, though, when the old house they live in starts changing. Doors open and close by themselves; water boils on the unlit stove; and an unplugged air conditioner turns the house cold enough to see their breath in. Kasey is changing, too. Her blue eyes go green and she speaks in old-fashioned language, then forgets chunks of time. Most disturbing of all is the dangerous new chip on Kasey’s shoulder. The formerly gentle, doll-loving child is gone, and the new Kasey is angry. Alexis is the only one who can stop her sister — but what if that green-eyed girl isn’t even Kasey anymore?
Katie Alender’s, Bad Girls Don’t Die, was the first novel of its kind that I have ever read. As a horror novel, I expected to be scared reading it. I, however, was pleasantly surprised. Alender’s tale is creepy in some points, although they don’t last long. It is more a story of thrills than horror and the power one person can hold in overcoming difficulties. I really enjoyed the characters in this book. They were relatable, accessible, and had morals. The story itself was fun and had an air of intrigue to it. The mystery of the novel seems to resolve itself only to reveal that there is more to the story than what is visible on the surface. This book is a quick read and an enjoyable one at that!
This is the first book in a series of ghost stories for young adults. The sequel, From Bad to Cursed, comes out on June 14, 2011.
Mix one part blonde cheerleader with equal parts paranormal dreamland, deep, thoughful goth, and just a sprinkling of Poe and you've got one hell of a book. Which is exactly what Kelly Creagh brought us in her debut novel, Nevermore. Published in August of 2010 by Atheneum, Nevermore will keep you turning all 560 pages.
Synopsis: Isobel and Varen come from opposite ends of the high school social order: Isobel is a popular, blond cheerleader; Varen is a goth loner. Paired for a project on Edgar Allen Poe, their bare tolerance for each other turns to grudging respect after Isobel dumps her possessive, violent boyfriend. But as she spends more time with Varen and learns about the life and works of Poe, gruesome creatures start to stalk and threaten her. Poe's horror stories originated from his trips into the realm of dreams, and Varen's own dreams and writings have led him there, too. Now Varen is being held prisoner, and only Isobel can rescue him from his nightmares and keep the supernatural creatures from overrunning the real world.
I had extremely high hopes for this novel. Poe is one of my favorite authors thanks to all his stories my American Lit teacher made me read (like anyone has to force me to read =]). Let me just say that my hopes were not disappointed. What starts as a seemingly trite retelling of the same cliche about the paranormal (I mean a cheerleader falling in love with the goth loner, shocking!), Nevermore quickly developed into an amazing patchwork of subplots woven together with the thread of the budding relationship between Isobel and Varen. Who, by the way, are two amazing character and are not only not cliche but also deeply original. My two favorite aspects of this novel were the characters and the plot. Varen's character development was truly amazing and I actually wished that I could be in Isobel's place and receive all of his attention. This story was tragically beautiful and I am (not so) patiently awaiting the sequel. I urge you to go read this book! Kelly Creagh is an amazing writer!