Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Words/Topics that'll make me pick up/buy a book

hosted by: The Broke and the Bookish.

1. Thief/Convict: Anytime I know that a thief is involved in a story, I know I'm pretty much going to be hooked.

2. Witch/Wizard: If there's magic involved, I know I'll at least try it out.

3. Fairy tale re-tellings: I love a good fairy tale, in whatever incarnation it comes.

4. Boarding school: I've always wondered what it would be like to go to a boarding school, and since that is no longer an option for my life, I like to read about them and pretend.

5. Mystery/Thriller: I like to try and figure out what's going to happen in these kind of books before we are told, although more often than not, I'm wrong.

6. Music:  I love music, so anything that has to do with music intrigues me.  I went through a period of time in middle school where I'd only read books if there was music involved. so, yeah.

7. New York:  After living there for 6 months, I desperately want to go back.  Until then, these books are my friends.  Also, I love being able to say I've been to the places that are mentioned in the books.

8. Dystopia:  I'm not ashamed.  I love "alternate" futures where the government may or may not be corrupt.  I am fascinated by the creativity and the honesty that are poured into dystopian books.

9. Movie Adaptations: I'm one of those people that has to read the book first.  When I find out a movie is based on a book, it 1) makes me want to see the movie even more and 2) makes me want to read the book.

10. Classics: I love classics; probably because it makes me feel cultured when I read them, but also because the writing is so beautiful.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Notable Quotable: Harper Lee (#8)

"You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view."
     --To Kill A Mockingbird

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Island of the Blue Dolphins

by Scott O'Dell
Published: Yearling
pages: 184

Karana lived on an island her tribe named for the blue dolphins that circle it.  She lived in happy seclusion from the rest of the world until one day some Russian hunters came for otter pelts.  She suddenly finds herself alone on this island, waiting for someone to find her and take her away from the loneliness.  In that time, she learns the ins and out of the island she's called home and discovers what it means to be herself.

The writing in this book is very well done.  The narrator starts as a 12 year old, and grows as she tells her story.  The writing grows with her.  It's as though we are actually in the mind of this girl.  Even though we don't understand her language, we get her thoughts as though we did.  She describes some animals and people in her language, which is cool because as the reader we have to decipher what exactly she is talking about.

This book is very well written and it gets into the mind of a young girl growing up on her own.  However, the story itself didn't keep my attention for very long.  I didn't read more than 20 pages each time I sat down to read.  This book took me a lot long than it should have given the length.

I do appreciate that there was a section in the back of the book that explained where the story came from.  I was surprised to find out that that this story was a recreation of actual events.  Even though there is very little information about the actual woman that lived on an island by herself for 18 years, her story is intriguing.  Had I known this was based on a true story, I might have enjoyed the book more.

Stars: 2/5


"A haunting and unusual story."
     --Library Journal, Starred

"Strange and beautiful, revealing courage, serenity, and greatness of spirit."
     --The Horn Book Magazine

"Island of the Blue Dolphins has the timeless enduring quality of a classic."
     --Chicago Tribune

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Sequels I'm dying to read

hosted by the Brook and the Bookish.

Here's my rewind, since I did this weeks topic last week.
This is particularly fitting because I've just read a bunch of books that I've been putting off for a while and now the sequels have come out.  So here's that list.

1. Scarlett by Marissa Meyer
2. Prodigy by Marie Lu

3. Beautiful Darkness by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
4. The Madness Underneath by Maureen Johnson

5. Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins (Not technically a sequel but it counts)
6. This is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith (Also, not technically a sequel.)

7. Insurgent by Veronica Roth (I haven't technically read Divergent yet, but I have been guaranteed that I will like it, so the sequels going on this list.)
8. The Wise Man's Fear by Patrick Rothfuss

9. Forge by Laurie Halse Anderson
10. Speaker for the Dead by Orson Scott Card

There are a lot of technicalities in this list.  Ah well.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Thursday, April 18, 2013


by Marie Lu
Published: G.P. Putnam Juvenile
Pages: 305

In what used to be known as the United States, the Republic has taken root and become perpetually at war with it's enemy, the Colonies.  Within the walls of this hierarchy,  two 15-year-olds become very important to the nation.  June is a perfect score government prodigy and Day is the country's most wanted criminal. When their paths cross unexpectedly, it becomes a battle of strength, will, and truth.  It's up to them to decipher what is real and what is a lie; who they trust and who will be right: June or Day.

The thing I found most unique and engaging about this story is the two different perspectives: Day and June.  We see the challenges from these two very different places in this society and gather different sets of information from both characters.  We also get to see each character develop together throughout the story, we see the weight of their own struggles.

I especially enjoy the character development of June and the degree to which she slowly changes, grows into her own.  Even though she's a prodigy, she is imperfect in other ways.  She learns this about herself in startling circumstances.  The further she digs into the mysteries of the Republic, the more she finds out about herself as a person.  

Marie Lu is great at world building.  Even though the book is set in a futuristic LA, the visual of the outer-bank slum areas with flooded buildings and ruined high rises are vivid, especially in contrast with the electric, modern strongholds of the rich government areas.  The obvious differences add to the characters' differences but also provides more impact when they begin to interact.

I was so captivated by this book, I cannot wait to read the sequel!

Stars: 5/5


"A romantic thriller set in a post-apocalyptic world where nothing is what it seems - Legend is impossible to put down and even harder to forget."
      --Kami Garci, New York Times Bestselling Co-Author of Beautiful Creatures

"A dripping thriller in dystopic future Los Angeles...this is no didactic near-future warning of present evils, but a cinematic adventure featuring endearing, compelling heroes."
     --Kirkus Reviews, starred review

This is an Eclectic Reader 2013 Challenge book!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I thought I'd liked more/less

hosted by: The Broke and the Bookish.

Oops.  I skipped a week.  I'll rewind next week.

Books I didn't like as much as I expected:

Twilight by Stephanie Meyer.  I was told that this series was the next Harry Potter.  And well, it definitely wasn't. Now I have reservations whenever people relate a book to Harry Potter.

The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling. It's not that I didn't like this book, I just had very high expectations of it, including that it was secretly a Harry Potter sequel in disguise.  It was very different from her last series, and it was quite heavy.

Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children by Randsom Riggs.  This book was getting a lot of hype when I decided to read it and I thought the use of pictures in this story was a really creative idea.  However, the story itself fell a little flat for me.  I'm not sure I liked it, and I definitely didn't like it as much as I wanted to.  Maybe a second read will change my mind.

Eragon by Christopher Poalini.  I wanted this to be the next Lord of the Rings, but it just was not.  I was so irritated by the main character when I read it that I almost didn't finish the book.  But, surprisingly, I did enjoy the movie.  That must say something about the story.

Lord of the Flies by William Golding.  This book is a classic for a reason, but I could have done without reading this one.  It was disturbing to me, but maybe because I could see some truth in it.

Books I liked more than I expected:

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.  I thought I would enjoy this series, but I didn't know that I would love this series.

Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion.  This was my first zombie book, so I didn't really have any expectation other than I hoped that I would like it.  Needless to say, I really enjoyed it and cannot wait for my next zombie book.

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins. Aside from the title being extremely hokey, I knew I should give this a chance because everyone said so many good things about it. They were right.  I really liked the two main characters and the mixed signals they give each other.

The Fault In Our Stars by John Green.  I knew I would love this book solely because it was a John Green book, but I didn't expect to shed so many tears while I was reading it.  The characters in this book are so real, and I identified with them so much.

The Thief Lord by Cornelia Funke.  This book is magical and creative and witty and beautiful.  Who knew a group of kids could capture my attention so fully.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Notable Quotables: J.K. Rowling (#6)

"There are all kinds of courage. It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends."
--Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

Friday, April 12, 2013

How I Live Now

by Meg Rosoff
published: Wendy Lamb Books, 2004
pages: 194

15-year-old Daisy is sent off to England to live with her cousins, when war breaks out.  London is targeted with bombs and Daisy and her cousins try to survive without power and parent supervision.  She and her cousins form an ironclad bond that may help them survive in a world under attack.

I really enjoy the voice of the story.  It is told from the Daisy's point of view, which is intriguing that the story of a third world war would be told from a teenager's point of view. Most war novels I've read have been told from a soldier's or adult's point of view, so seeing this war in the eyes of a teenager is compelling, especially because of what she has to say about it.

The way Daisy describes the war really caught my attention while reading.  She already has so much going on in her head, the war doesn't seem real, especially because she and her cousins lived in a utopia of sorts while the rest of England was fighting what seemed an unbeatable enemy.  They know it's going on but it doesn't seem real to them because they haven't seen any repercussions other than the power going out.  This sounds like the kind of obliviousness some parts of the world live in during wars. When the chaos going on outside crashes into their little world, they have to fend for themselves.

Daisy is one of the most compelling characters, we get to know her quite well because of the stream of conscious style writing.  We are aware that she has some issue, big issues, when she arrives in England, but we don't know for sure everything because they are just hinted at.  As the story continues there is a subtle change in the writing, as Daisy's head becomes a little clearer the writing becomes simpler, more directed, whereas in the beginning of the story, the writing is all over the place because that's where she was in her life.
All of these little details make this book a great read.

Meg Rosoff's gets inside the mind of a teenage girl with issues and explores the meaning of survival, friendship and love.  She left me satisfied and wanting to read everything else she has written.

Stars: 4/5


"A daring, wise, and sensitive look at the complexities of being young in a world teetering on chaos, Rosoff's poignant exploration of perseverance in the face of the unknown is a timely lesson for us all."
     --People Magazine

"That rare, rare thing, a first novel with a sustained, magical and utterly faultless voice.  After five pages, I knew she could persuade me to believe anything."
     --Mark Haddon, author of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

"This riveting first novel paints a frighteningly realistic picture of a world war breaking out in the 21st century...Readers will emerge from the rubble much shaken, a little wiser, and with perhaps a greater sense of humanity."
     --Publishers Weekly, Starred

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I read before I was a blogger

hosted by: The Broke and the Bookish.

1. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini - I read this in high school and though it took me the better part of the summer, I really enjoyed it.

2. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith - I read this freshman year of college and it basically took me all year because I was so busy, but the main character is one of my favorite characters.  Her observations are so thought-provoking for being a young girl.  I love it!

3. To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee - This is one of my all-time favorites.  When I had to read it in school, people thought I was crazy for already having read it several times.

4. Holes by Louis Sachar - I read this in elementary school and liked it so much that I pick it up every couple of year to reread it.

5. Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer - This is a series that our entire family got hooked on, so we'd listen to it on tape and sometimes read it out loud together.  But we'd always have a discussion after finishing one of the books.

6. Beginner's Luck by Laura Pederson - I found this book because of a book list that I started reading from sophomore year of high school.  I knew nothing about it, but quickly decided I loved the quirky and intelligent main character.

7. The Blue Girl by Charles de Lint - I liked this fantasy novel so much that I made a movie trailer for it in my high school film class.

8. Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card - This book is one of the books that made me very aware that I really enjoyed sci-fi novels.  I think it's creative and Ender is a compelling character.

9. The Giver by Lois Lowry - This story is one that makes me think every time I read it.  It's haunting nature makes me think about how a world could move toward that kind of living.  I really like how Jonas develops over the course of the book.

10. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote - I read this on a teacher recommendation in high school.  The story flowed so smoothly that there were times I forgot this was a true story, which is slightly frightening.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Notable Quotable: Khaled Hosseini (#5)

"That's the thing about people who mean everything they say. They think everyone else does too."
     --The Kite Runner

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Tuesdays with Morrie

by Mitch Albom
published: Broadway Books, 1997
pages: 199

Mitch Albom graduated from college and began his successful career as a sports writer and columnist.  His life began to change, however, when he saw his favorite, and long forgotten, college professor on an episode of Nightline with Ted Koppel talking about his terminal illness.  Mitch decided that it was time to visit his old "coach" and possibly say goodbye for the last time.  What Mitch didn't know was that Morrie would once again teach him more than he thought possible.

I knew nothing about this book, and how surprised I was to learn that this was a memoir of a dying man.  When I started it, I almost didn't want to continue but I am glad I did.  I didn't know that I would get attached to a man that had died almost 15 years ago, someone that I had never met.  Now, I wish I had.

Morrie's life at the surface seemed ordinary, but this books sheds light on the man Morrie really was, a professor, a coach, a friend, and a loved one.  Mitch Albom elegantly shares Morrie's life in conversation and short flashbacks.  The little bit we get of Morrie's past shows a great deal about his character.

Dealing with Lou Gehrig's disease is no small feet, and even though it had me in tears by the end, I am glad I read this book.  It made me think about how I am living my life and what I need/want to change about it to live to the fullest, the way Morrie had.

Stars: 4/5


"As sweet and nourishing as fresh summer corn...the book begs to be read aloud."
     --USA Today

"A wonderful book, a story of the heart told by a writer with soul."
     --Los Angeles Times

"One of those books that kind of sneaked up and grabbed people's hearts over time."
     --Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

This is an Eclectic Reader 2013 Challenge book.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Fictional Crushes

hosted by: The Broke and the Bookish.

1. Legolas (Lord of the Rings) - I thought (think) anyone with a bow and arrow was awesome.  I had a huge crush on him when I read these books, and then the movie came out and those eyes got me.

2. Fitzwilliam Darcy (Pride and Prejudice) - Every time I read this book I fall more and more in love with Mr. Darcy.  He can be a real prick, and slightly awkward, but he does some of the most romantic things.

3. Will Wagner (Avalon High) - I love that people think he is the typical jock, but in reality he is so much more, even more than he knows.

4. Ethan Wate (Beautiful Creatures) - Who can resist good Southern charm?  He is kind to the new girl when everyone else is ruthless.

5. Finnick Odair (Catching Fire) - The way he loves Annie gets me every time.  He might have a flirtatious  could care less attitude but when it comes to people he loves he is furiously loyal.

6. Ron Weasley (Harry Potter) - I love that he is funny and sort of clueless at times, but he is brave and loyal to the core.  I've had a crush on him since the beginning, when Hermione came in a pointed out that he had some dirt on his nose.

7. Neville Longbottom (Harry Potter) - He is such an under appreciated character.  I love that he is willing to do what is right, even in the hardest of times.  His honesty and true friendship is something that I really like about him.

I came up with seven.  I know there are more but I can't think of them right now.