Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: 5 Star Reads

1. Illustrated Man

The Illustrated Man is one of my all time favorite books. Bradbury has such a unique writing style and masters the creepy factor. This book is full of sub stories all encompassed in the tale of The Illustrated Man. If you have read Something Wicked this Way Comes, you will recognize the name of this character but this story follows a very different story line. 

2.The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

We all know the story, but if you haven't actually read the book, you need to. Twain is hilarious and clever. This tale is so much more than a book. Huck and Tom will be your family by the end. 

3. Les Miserables

Les Miserables is by no means a light read. Your heart will break repeatedly as you read this tale. But you will be glad to have it broken. There is a love in this book you won't find anywhere else. Your definitions of love, Christianity and morality will all be questioned. If you are looking for something deep and life changing, this is your book. 

4. The Five People You Meet in Heaven

This is a sad but sweet tale of redemption. Albom is great when it comes to evoking empathy and imagination. You will feel in this book. 

5. The Giver

I know I've already talked about The Giver, but it was one of the first books that really had an impact on me as a child and I still hold it very dear to my heart. 

6. The Things They Carried

This is a classic work of American Literature about a very controversial time: The Vietnam War. If I could trade talents with anyone, it would be Tim O'Brien. I would give my right arm to be able to manipulate words the way he does. He makes you taste the gun powder and feel the weight of the soldier's pack. This is a beautiful work of literature.  

7. The Last Battle

So...maybe it specifically says on the cover that it is a story for children. But you are never too old for Narnia. 

8. The Phantom of the Opera

Love the musical, love the play and love the book. 

9. The Lord of the Rings

Yes, I know big shock! The nerdy librarian likes Lord of the Rings. But seriously, so much of my love for books came from the world Tolkein created. 

10. Dracula

I read Dracula every October. I argue it is one of the best horror books of all time. No movie adaptation that I have seen has ever come close to the book. 

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Sunday, March 27, 2016

In the End

In the End (In the After, #2)In the End by Demitria Lunetta
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The sequel was equally entertaining as the first book. We follow Amy after her escape from New Hope. Amy is doing her best in The After when she discovers something that shakes her to her very core: Dr. Reynolds has Baby.

Amy then battles Floraes, criminals, crushes and of course, Dr. Reynolds, until Baby is safe.

It's a pretty entertaining, easy read. However, it is definitely run of the mill plot with cliche characters. It isn't the best book you'll ever read, but it would be fun for a road trip!

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Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: Five Books I Really Love But Feel Like I Haven't Talked About Enough

1. Something Wicked This Way Comes

I read this book just about every October. It is truly one of my all time favorites. It has everything necessary for a good novel: beautiful prose, mystique, strong themes and an evil circus. If you have never read Ray Bradbury, read this book. If you have read Ray Bradbury, still read this book. If you have read all of his books including this one, read this book again. It is different from all of his other stories (although they are also wonderful). 

Is it OK for your kids to read? Maybe not right before they go to bed... ;) 

2. The Art of Racing in the Rain

Stein is a writer unlike any I have read before. He masters the dog "voice" just as London does in Call of the Wild, but Stein does it in a way that helps you understand the modern man and his relationship with his dog. But this book is also about so much more. It's about family, tragedy, loyalty, temptation... etc. There is some strong language but honestly, coming from Enzo (the dog) the profanity is pretty ironic and hilarious. I highly recommend this book, but not if you are easily offended by profanity. There is some sexual content but not graphic. 

3. All the Light We Cannot See

Okay, so I have already reviewed this book and I tell pretty much everyone I come in contact with about it, but I just always want to talk about it because it's awesome. How do you not fall in love with a story about a blind French girl and a genius German boy whose every decision and action lead up to but a few quick moments together? The two children battle questions of morality and the evils of Nazism. It is a great read. Though it is genuinely heart breaking. 

4. The Princess Bride

We all know the movie is hilarious. But guess what, the book is even better! It is funny, adventurous and clever. It's also a quick read. Great for spring break or summer reading! 

5. The Hound of the Baskervilles

If you say mystery is one of your favorite genres and you have never read anything by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, then you are wrong. He practically invented mystery. Everyone knows Sherlock Holmes has been done and redone in media, but this is the original. This is the real Sherlock, even better than...dare I say it... Benedict Cumberbatch. 

For more Top Ten Lists, visit brokeandbookish.com. 

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: Five Books On My Spring TBR

1. The Enchanted

By: Renee Denfield

I am very excited to read this book. It has pretty good reviews and the premise sounds very enticing. Imagine the dark world of death row intertwined with fantasy and magic. Which is reality? 

2. The Red Tent

By: Anita Diamant

I absolutely loved her other book, The Boston Girl! I loved Diamant's writing style and hope The Red Tent  is just as great. 

3. Everyone Brave is Forgiven

By: Chris Cleave

So I have this thing with historical fiction and WWII. I love it. It is so tragic and difficult for me to fathom in terms of numbers of lives that were effected, but reading one person's story (even if it isn't real) helps me understand the depth of the war. I am really looking forward to this one.

4. Everything I Never Told You

By: Celeste Ng

I have heard from quite a few reliable sources that this is a good book about what it means to be a family. It's about a Chinese American family living in Ohio in the 1970s who is dealing with a tragic death. This sounds like a tale that would open my eyes to new experiences. 

5. Why not me? 

By: Mindy Kaling

Mindy Kaling is hilarious. I love her in The Office. I love her in Is Everyone Hanging out Without Me and so I am sure I will love this book. However, if it is anything like her other book, it doesn't really follow any type of structure. It's just a book you pick up and read for a while when you need a laugh. 

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Friday, March 11, 2016

Station Eleven

Station ElevenStation Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When I first saw this book, I thought, "Great. Another apocalypse novel." But, I am so glad I gave it a chance. Mandel's writing is both poetically beautiful and thrilling. It had all the elements of a thrilling world gone to ruins juxtaposed with modern society and art. Two things really set this book apart.

First, the writing style. Mandel has great character development which is impressive since the audience follows so many characters. In addition to the character development, Mandel writes like a 21st century Fitzgerald. Her style causes the reader to really think about what they just read. A good book should cause the reader to think.

Second, its uniqueness. This was not an apocalyptic novel about teenagers fighting zombies or brilliant but attractive scientists trying to beat the impending plague. It was about a group of actors who perform classical music and Shakespeare. This may sound weird, but it's actually very interesting.

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Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: Five Characters Everyone Loves But I Just Don't Get

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1. Tyler Durden

Fight Club creeps me out. It made me feel uncomfortable in a way that I did not enjoy. I have had people tell me I didn't get it because I'm not a man. Sure, I can see why maybe Tyler Durden appeals to men more than women, but I'm concerned about the men who connect with Tyler Durden. Maybe you guys didn't read the book, but he is crazy. 

Freud would say we are all Tyler Durden, we just don't give into our unconscious mind. Sure, I have had desires that go against my every day norm, but I never have murderous- cult creating desires. 

2. Triss 

Divergent filled the void left in readers' hearts by The Hunger Games. But Triss is no Katniss Everdeen. Katniss was special because everything she did, she did for those she loved. Triss is special because she was born different. I don't feel the chemistry between her and Four and she cries a lot.

There is nothing truly terrible about Triss. I just didn't feel a connection with her. I don't get the hype. She lacks in comparison to other heroines. 

First, I must be honest. I did not like this series. There are a myriad of reasons why I didn't like it, but one big one was America. Her character is completely unrealistic. Why would the prince like her? Her personality drove me crazy. She is hot headed, falls in love easily and didn't want to be a part of The Selection in the first place. She is only there for the money. 

She has a few redeeming moments, she makes a political stand, comes clean about her secret love and cares for her family. However, she regrets every political stand she takes, lies to the prince for most of their relationship and lies to her family. 

4. Gale

I love The Hunger Games. I was one of those weird people who bought a Mockingjay pin and read the books multiple times. At first, I loved Gale. He was the masculine figure who didn't know how to show his feelings. But throughout the series, he became increasingly more whiny and less endearing.

What really killed me was how petty he became. He was jealous of Peeta so he took dangerous measures with Katniss. And, of course, he fought like a coward without ethics. In the end, it was his plan that killed those children. There is no coming back from that.

5. Elizabeth Bennett

I love classics. I love the way writing used to be so eloquent and I wish I could emulate that style. However, Pride and Prejudice was boring. Elizabeth Bennett was prejudiced and Darcy was proud. Clever title, boring book, boring characters. I remember at one point in the book exclaiming out loud, "If one more person proposes...I'm throwing this book." 

The banter between Elizabeth and Darcy is cute at best but frustrating to a girl who was hoping for stronger themes such as the true value of womanhood and humility. But instead, I listed to Elizabeth's stubborn remarks and jokes about manners. No thank you, Elizabeth Bennett. 

Top Ten Tuesday: Five Characters I LOVE But Others Seem To Dislike

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1. Boromir

Boromir was a valiant  warrior of Gondor. He was known for his bravery and strength. Beloved by all, including his younger brother, Faramir. As the eldest son of the Steward of Gondor, he was selected to go to the Council of Elrond. Now where people tend to be turned off by Boromir, is how easily he succumbs to the temptations of the ring. But I would argue that he does not "succumb" to the ring but rather longs for something, anything to help save his people. 

He was not tempted by the ring, but tempted by the opportunity to provide safety and security to Gondor. Yes, he tries to take it from Frodo and for but a moment, maybe he intended to cause Frodo harm. But he was unsuccessful and in seeing his faults, he was stricken with guilt and grief. So much so, that he sacrificed himself to save Merry and Pippin. Boromir only ever had good intentions and I must argue that his intentions justify his actions. Had he really known the evil of the ring, he would not have played with its fire. 

2. Javert

Javert is probably the embodiment of anti-hero. He is diligent and obsessed in his profession which is his main flaw. This obsession blinds his heart so that he cannot have compassion. To him, one cannot break the law and be a good person. No means justifies the ends. He looks at the consequences of the action rather than the intent. But this is an honorable characteristic for an officer of the law. Even good people do bad things sometimes, but a precedent for all people must be set. 

When his eyes are open to the possibility of a good criminal, he is so shaken that he is driven to suicide. All he knew and believed had been tossed in the dirt. Javert is harsh but as the reader, I pity him. His devotion to the law has driven him to madness and cruelty. Val Jean and Javert pray to the same God, but who is the more righteous? 

3. Rabbit

Everyone loves Tigger, Winnie the Pooh, Eeyore and Piglet. But how many people say that Rabbit is their favorite? Rabbit gets a bad rap because he is a little OCD, controlling and doesn't always want to engage in the fun. But those descriptors also describe me perfectly. I like things a very specific way and I would rather stay home and read than partake in social gatherings. 

These aren't necessarily bad traits. It's good to have a mature person in the group who will take charge in the face of fear. It is good to have someone level headed who loves the goofiness of the others but can gently lead them in the right direction when necessary. 

Rabbit may not be the most funny or endearing character, but he just might steal your heart if you let him.

4. Hester Prynne

Scarlet Letter  is not exactly a page turning thriller or a passionate romance. It is a story about sin, coping with sin and the penalty of ostracism. I have heard the argument that Hester is a bland character because she doesn't stand up for herself or her child. But I think she is simply doing the best she can with the circumstances laid before her. 

She is not exactly my favorite but I believe she is one of the most important feminine characters in literature up to that time. The issues she dealt with are ones women continue to deal with. When a teenage girl gets pregnant and she has to deal with whispers and jokes in the hallway. She carries herself with grace and that is something admirable.

5. Bella Swan

When Twilight first came out, it was a big deal. People seriously liked this book. In fact, I liked this book. But now, saying you like Twilight is condemn-able. 

That being said, I like Bella. I think she is a realistic character in a completely unrealistic book. She is flawed. She is clumsy, awkward and only moderately pretty. For a girl who is all of those things, I really related to her. Sure, she was kind of annoying...what girl isn't? I'm just saying, let's not throw our hate on Bella when we really just kind of hate ourselves for being so into a vampire novel. 

Thursday, March 3, 2016

The Girl on the Train

The Girl on the TrainThe Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Have you ever questioned everything you knew? That is the premise for The Girl on the Train. I picked this book up after reading Gone Girl, still longing for suspense and thrill. It did not disappoint. Granted there was some language and dark themes that I didn't love. Our protagonist is not the average heroine. She is a drunk, she is lonely, she is depressed and she is desperate. It is all of these flaws that make her the perfect hero for this story.

Hawkins made me question my hasty judgments and shed light on a world I had never known: alcoholism.

The twist at the end of this book was strategic and subtle. You always suspect, but never know for sure.

If you are looking for an intense novel that will take you for a ride, check it out. If you are looking for an uplifting literary read, this is not for you.

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Tuesday, March 1, 2016

In the After

In the After (In the After, #1)In the After by Demitria Lunetta
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

In the After is your stereotypical alien/zombie invasion story. As per the norm in YA novels, a young and endearing teenager, Amy, is one of the few humans to have been spared by the aliens. What sets this story apart from the rest are two things: the silence and Baby.

The aliens can hear everything, even the most quiet footstep or a gasp of breath. Because of this, our protagonist lives a life of utter silence. Within the safety of her home, she allows for some electronic noise from appliances but other than that, nothing. This is an interesting characteristic because it forced Lunetta to write in a very unique style tat heightens the reader's senses.

Amy finds Baby in the street and chooses to risk her life for her. Their bond becomes inseparable as they forge a relationship first based on survival and then on love.

The big plot twist to this book is extremely predictable. I would definitely recommend this to anyone looking to fill an apocalyptic void.

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