Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Top 10 Bookish Dream Items

Top Ten Bookish Things (That Aren't Books)
That I'd Like To Own
 (Feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish)

Oh that I could afford all the bookish items I want.  Here are just a few...

1) A Wrinkle in Time T-Shirt
 
 2) Book Text Scarf

 3) Book Stairs!!!!!

 4) This Room in my house...

 5) A Literary Tattoo

 6) Tolkien phone case

 7) Narnia Lamp Post Pendant
8) LOTR Doormat
 
9) Diagon Alley Legos

 10) Alice in Wonderland Mad Hatter Mug



What's on your bookish item must-have list?



Monday, April 14, 2014

Boxers & Saints


Author: Gene Luen Yang
Info: First Second, copyright 2013, 325 pages, 170 pages
YALSA Great Graphic Novel

Hub Challenge Read - #hubchallenge

A review in 10 words (or thereabouts): The Boxer Rebellion through the eyes of a young warrior and saint.

Boxer: China, 1898. Bands of foreign missionaries and soldiers roam the countryside, bullying and robbing Chinese peasants.

Little Bao has had enough. Harnessing the powers of ancient Chinese gods, he recruits an army of Boxers--commoners trained in kung fu--who fight to free China from "foreign devils."

Against all odds, this grass-roots rebellion is violently successful. But nothing is simple. Little Bao is fighting for the glory of China, but at what cost? So many are dying, including thousands of "secondary devils"--Chinese citizens who have converted to Christianity.

Saints: China, 1898. An unwanted and unwelcome fourth daughter, Four-Girl isn't even given a proper name by her family when she's born. She finds friendship--and a name, Vibiana--in the most unlikely of places: Christianity. 

But China is a dangerous place for Christians. The Boxer Rebellion is in full swing, and bands of young men roam the countryside, murdering Westerners and Chinese Christians alike. Torn between her nation and her Christian friends, Vibiana will have to decide where her true loyalties lie...and whether she is willing to die for her faith.

~Goodreads Description~

I've been a fan of Gene Luen Yang for quite some time.  I was first introduced to his style of storytelling in American Born Chinese.  He introduces the reader to Chinese culture in an accessible way, telling history through beautiful artwork and folklore.

In Boxer, we see the rise of western religion in rural China with the introduction of missionaries into the countryside and the inevitable backlash from local resistance.  Then we also get to see the flip side, in Saints.  A young girl, a convert, is looking for a way to belong in late 19th century China, and she finds it with the ghost of a saint and the acceptance of a foreign faith.

I'm usually not a fan of historical fiction, but Gene Luen Yang manages to make it thrilling and engaging.  I know very little of Chinese history, but I might just have to read a little more on the Boxer Rebellion.




Friday, April 11, 2014

Cinder

Author: Marissa Meyer
Audiobook Narrator: Rebecca Soler
Info: Macmillan Young Listeners, copyright 2012, 8 CDs

A review in 10 words (or thereabouts): 

Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl. . . . 


Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.

~Goodreads Description~

Don't you hate it when you read a story you really like, but then you forget nearly all of it before the sequel comes out?  I've been wanting to finish this series, but knew I wouldn't have time for a Cinder re-read, so I decided to give the audiobook a shot.  Alas...no accented reader, but for once, that was just fine.  Rebecca Soler does an excellent job bringing Cinder to life.  The story, just as I remember it now, is creative, clever, and a lot of fun.  Aliens, cyborgs, magic, romance...it has it all.  And now I'm ready for Scarlet!  I think I'm going to have to continue with the audiobook now that the voice of Cinder is clear in my head.



Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Summer Prince

Author: Alaya Dawn Johnson
Info: Arthur A. Levine, copyright 2013, 289 pages

A review in 10 words (or thereabouts): Art speaks, traditions are questioned, and the future changes when a boy becomes a king.

The lush city of Palmares Três shimmers with tech and tradition, with screaming gossip casters and practiced politicians. In the midst of this vibrant metropolis, June Costa creates art that’s sure to make her legendary. But her dreams of fame become something more when she meets Enki, the bold new Summer King. The whole city falls in love with him (including June’s best friend, Gil). But June sees more to Enki than amber eyes and a lethal samba. She sees a fellow artist.

Together, June and Enki will stage explosive, dramatic projects that Palmares Três will never forget. They will add fuel to a growing rebellion against the government’s strict limits on new tech. And June will fall deeply, unfortunately in love with Enki. Because like all Summer Kings before him, Enki is destined to die.

~Goodreads Description~

This was a tough read, and to be honest, I'm still not quite sure how I feel about it.  It's clever and creative.  I know that.  It's a cautionary tale about power, politics, and technology.  I got that out of it.  And it's a love story about sacrifice, forgiveness, and revolution.  And that's about all I've got on this one.

The story was foreign to me, and I'm an avid reader of dystopian worlds and imaginary lands.  I just couldn't wrap my head around what was going on.  I couldn't visualize the people or the place.  It was happening, but it wasn't playing out in my head like most stories naturally do.  I couldn't see the art that played such a pivotal role in the story.  I couldn't picture Gil and his dancing, or Enki and his bare feet.  I couldn't picture futuristic Brazil.  This isn't to say that it wasn't well written.  The story picked up steam towards the middle, and I had to know how it ended.  I just didn't have a basis for comparison.  I don't know or understand Brazilian culture, so much of the language and description was lost on me.

One plot device I did really enjoy was Enki's letter to June throughout.  It added context to his story and strengthened the bond they had created over the course of the year.

Overall, a good read, just not one of my favorites of the year.  I think you should read it, so that we can talk it out.  So if you do, please come back and let me know!


Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Top 10 Most Unique Books I've Read

Top Ten Most Unique books I've Read
(Feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish)

This was a toughy of a list.  I almost stopped at five, but I powered through and realized that some of my favorites books are a bit different, unique.  What's on your list of unique titles?

1) The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo
I love books where the narrator talks directly to the reader.  This is one of my favorites.

2) The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde
Fforde takes classic literature and turns it on its head.  Awesome.

3) Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
War from a fighting female's perspective.  Not often done.

4) For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund
An Austin tale set in a dystopian future.  Quite clever.

5) The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
A book where a setting is as important as the characters.

6) The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
Told from the unique perspective of young man on the spectrum.

7) Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn
A tale that shows how difficult it would be to read without all 26 letters of the alphabet.

8) The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak
Death as a narrator.  Chapter foreshadowing. A heartfelt and breathtakingly good read.

9) Room by Emma Donoghue
Absolutely disturbing tale from a five year old's perspective.

10) Lemonade Mouth by Mark Peter Hughes
Written like a documentary, and another example of how books excel to movies.


Happy Reading!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Fangirl

Author: Rainbow Rowell
Info: St. Martin's Press, copyright 2013, 445 pages

A review in 10 words (or thereabouts): Sometimes it's hard to write your own story.

Cath is a Simon Snow fan.

But for Cath, being a fan is her life — and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.

Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.

Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words . . . And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

For Cath, the question is: Can she do this?  Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?

~Goodreads Description~

The Awesome
Rainbow Rowell has a way with words.  I mentioned this before in my Eleanor & Park review.  She's a poet really, weaving together descriptions and sentences that sometimes leave you speechless.  She is also excellent at dialogue.  In many ways it reminds me of John Green.  It's smart.  Fastpaced.  Witty.  And leaves me envious of the "Gilmore Girls-esque" quips that were both intelligent and entertaining.

Then there are her characters.  I loved Cath and her insecurities.  I maybe might have seen just a smidgen of myself in the nerdy, wallflower of a college student.  Levi.  Sigh. Levi is spectacular.  From the moment Cath walked into her dorm room and encountered Levi, I was smitten.  He's smart, awkward, and genuinely kind. Reagan might be a little rough-and-tumble, but her tough love saves Cath.

And that's the true awesome of the story.  The characters save each other.  Sometimes subtly, sometimes outright, but each, in their own way, find a way to help the other.  As coming of age stories go, there isn't anything epic in Fangirl.  It's  really just the story of a girl who finds out she is capable of so much more than she ever dreamed, and that change doesn't always have to be as terrifying as we allow ourselves to believe.

The Not So Awesome
Nothing really to report.  Wren drove me crazy.  She made me grateful that I don't have a twin, and especially a twin sister.  While she eventually comes around, there were moments I wanted to take her by the shoulders and scream at her until I was blue in the face.  Something tells me that's exactly what Rowell intended...and maybe how our parents felt about us growing up :)

I might be fangirl-ing a little over Ms. Rowell's newest novel.  She's a spectacular writer  And if you haven't picked up one of her books yet, you really should get on that as soon as possible.


Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Spring Break

I wish I could report that I'm lazing on a beach somewhere, listening to the waves crash against the coast, growling because someone has awkwardly positioned their blanket way too close to me on a the nearly deserted sand.

But I'm not.  I am, however, attempting to relax and trying desperately to complete some minor DIY home improvements.  There will be reading.  There will be movie watching.  There will be endless hours off playing catch with my lovely dog.

So I'll see you next week!  Hopefully, for my Indy folks, you've found some fun outdoor activities to celebrate the end of winter (knock on wood!)
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