Monthly Archives: March 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Top 10 Books I recommend the Most

toptentuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a feature hosted by the Broke and the Bookish that I just found out about.  I also love lists so I thought I would try participating!  This week’s list is The Top 10 Books I Recommend the Most.  That’s a hard one for me – I have soooo many favourites. I will go by which ones I re-read the most (and therefore tell other people to read the most):

Pride and Prejudice anne of green gables cover a little princess The scarlet pimpernel Alanna

dealing with dragons charlie_and_the_chocolate_factory_book_cover.jpg dragonsong Ella Enchanted Harry_Potter_and_the_Philosopher's_Stone

1. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

This remains my favourite classic love story!

2. Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maude Montgomery

Every young person should read this!

3. A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett

A childhood favourite of mine, and a reminder to remain positive in the face of life’s challenges.  (Incidentally, I usually read Heidi by Johanna Spyri every time I read A Little Princess and I still love that one too).

4. The Scarlet Pimpernel  by Baroness Orczy

I will admit my Dad tried to convince me to read this one for years.  When I finally picked it up, I loved it!  It’s set during the French Revolution – the Daring Scarlet Pimpernel is a mysterious Englishman who is rescuing the French Nobility from heavy knife of the Guillotine.

5. Alanna by Tamora Pierce

I put this one down because it is the first of Tamora Pierce’s books, but I love all her works mostly equally.  Alanna is a young girl who ‘trades places’ with her twin brother in order to train as a knight.  She must masquerade as a boy – concealing her true identity and trying for her shield (with many adventures along the way – this is the first of a 4-book series).

6. Dealing with Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede

Meet Cimorene, a princess who seems a bit fed up with the whole Princess gig, and runs away to become a Dragon’s princess.  If only there weren’t so many pesky knights trying to rescue her, she could get some real work done!

7. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory  by Roald Dahl

Always a classic – I always go back to the book.  You can’t beat young Charlie Bucket and his glimpse inside the mysterious Chocolate factory.  I consider Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator to be just an extension of this book, which I also find quite amusing.

8. Dragonsong by Anne M. McCaffery

I think this was my introduction to the Pern series by Anne McCaffery.  Dragonsong, Dragonsinger, and Dragondrums go together (the Harper Hall series).  I like Dragonsong and Dragonsinger, which follow Menolly, a musically-inclined young girl born to a Fishing family who struggles to find her place in the world.

9. Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine

If you have seen the movie and haven’t read the book, please, please, please erase the movie from your mind because it was terrible and does not do justice to this amazing book.  I love Cinderella stories, and I think Ella Enchanted is the best re-telling of Cinderella I have ever read.  It’s fresh, funny, and captivating!

10. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J. K. Rowling

I have to include Harry Potter, because it was such a game-changer for the book world.   Obviously I would recommend the whole series.  The first, third, fourth, sixth, and seventh are my favourites.

I feel bad ending there.

There are so many other amazing books – and many that I have only stumbled across recently, but the above books are my solid have-been-favourites-for-years books.

Just for the fun of it, a few other often recommended books include:   The DaVinci Code (Dan Brown),  The Bean Tree (Sophie Kinsella), The Artemis Fowl Series (Eoin Colfer), The Xanth series (Piers Anthony; starts with A Spell for Chameleon), Mercedez Lackey’s 500 Kingdoms or Elemental Magic Series, Anything by Tamora Pierce, and The Borrowers (Mary Norton).  

Recent reads that I recommend have included Cinder and Scarlet (Marissa Meyer), The Hunger Games (Suzanne Collins), Divergent and Insurgent by Veronica Roth, The Leviathan (Scott Westerfeld), Tuesdays at the Castle or Dragon Slippers  (Jessica Day George), The Iron Butterfly (Chandra Hahn) ….

I’m getting carried away.  I can’t list all of my recommendations, so just rest assured that this is by no means and exhaustive list (and is mostly what I can see of my bookshelf that sparks a “wow, I have recommended that to someone recently or often” thought).

I’m off to Ottawa this weekend to visit some family, so I’m hoping to get some reading done on the train.  Hopefully I’ll find a few more books I can recommend as a consequence!

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The Steele Wolf

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Normally when I sit down to read, I try to give myself time to read it all in one go.  I started Steele Wolf on Wednesday, but have been so busy I haven’t had a chance to pick it up again until tonight.  It was hard to put it down – and even harder to WAIT to pick it up again!

This book was even better than the first (The Iron Butterfly).  I am now eagerly anticipating reading other books by Chanda Hahn.

The Steele Wolf picks up where The Iron Butterfly leaves off – with Thalia as she finds herself traveling home.  She must try to fit in with her clan, while struggling still with the loss of her memories.  Fitting in is not quite as easy as she could hope, and she finds herself facing off with some of the traditions of the Clan.

After a series of interesting events, Thalia then joins Joss (with Kael tagging along) in his search for his missing little sister, who seems to have been kidnapped by the Septori.

This book has enough romance (love triangle!) and enough action to satisfy me.   It’s a book I would describe as “juicy” but in a good way.  Thalia remains a feisty, strong female character.  I admire her stubborn tendencies and I appreciate how she still remains a strong character, despite her fears.  I like how she handles her fears – yes, she’s scared, but it doesn’t stop her from doing what she thinks is right.

My only complaint about this book, honestly, is that I now have to wait for the third.   This seems to be a rather alarming consequence of reading newer books – the series is not always finished yet!!  It is a problem for an impatient person.

I would give this book  4.5/5   Loved it!

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The Iron Butterfly

The iron butterfly

I’ve had this book on my kobo for a while and finally got around to reading it.  Frankly, I don’t even remember where/when I got it, but it seemed intriguing.  I actually started “Cloud Atlas” this morning but realized that it was too long for me to get through in a day, and it’s a library book so I have to return it in a few days.   So I decided to abandon “Cloud Atlas” (for now – I’ll borrow it again when I have more time) and try out the Iron Butterfly.  I was rewarded as it was SO GOOD!!!  Chandra Hahn has written several other books and I shall definitely look into them!

The story revolves around Thalia, a 17ish year old girl who has no memories of her past.  The opening of the story is admittedly not happy – Thalia is held captive by the mysterious Septori who appear to be experimenting on humans and a race called the Denai (human-like beings who seem to have special powers).  Thalia escapes with the reluctant help of another prisoner and ends up meeting some Denai who tend to her wounds and bring her to the Citadel.  The Citadel is a Denai stronghold and school.  There, Thalia struggles to figure out who she is, come to terms with her new power, and stay alive.  The Septori are determined to get her back, alive or dead.

I couldn’t put the book down – the story was fast and gripping.  Thalia had been through so much, but I admired her fiery personality and determination .

What I liked:

– Strong female character! (Yay!)

– Fast-paced

– Hint of romance

– The mystery of her past and of the Septori

– The Denai – I get the impression that they were kind of like angels, kicked out of heaven.

– It was super cheap through the Kobo store haha!

– There’s a sequel!

What I didn’t like:

– The implications of some really horrible torture

– I left with SO many questions!  (Upside:  there is a sequel out already.  Downside: the third book is not yet released.  Upside: Book #3 apparently comes out in 2013 so… at MOST 9 months to wait).

Overall though, I would definitely recommend it!! I rate this a 4/5!  I’m going to read the sequel as soon as I have time!

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The Princess and the Goblin / The Princess and Curdie

Hello again!

After reading so much new stuff, I thought I would try something old.  Or at least, sort of old.  I decided to try out “The Princess and the Goblin” by George MacDonald.

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I haven’t read the book before, but I’m certainly familiar with the old movie:

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My sisters and I loved this movie (maybe more my sisters than I), although I’ll fully admit it’s kind of a terrible movie.  We were young.  It had a princess.  And singing.  What more can I say?

Anyway, I decided to read the book out of a sense of nostalgia.  The film differs from the book in several key points – including the climax, from what I can remember of the movie.  The book is much less dramatic!  Apparently though, The Princess and the Goblin was first published in 1872.  When I found that out, the book made a whole lot more sense.  It’s a children’s book but it’s definitely written in an archaic style which tends to ramble.  I felt like it had many long sentences that didn’t really get you anywhere at all.  I have to forgive the writing style for being so old-fashioned though, since it IS a really old story!

The Princess and the Goblin follows Princess Irene, who is eight years old and lives in an old farmhouse/castle in the mountains in her father’s kingdom.  Her King-papa (as she calls him) is constantly traveling about the kingdom and so she is being raised at this tucked away house/castle.

Unfortunately for Irene, her home rests on a mountain inhabited by Goblins (or “cobs” as the locals call them).  There is a mine nearby, and the miners can sometimes hear the goblins going about their work.

Irene must trust in her many-times-great grandmother, (who appears to her at the top of a tower) and Curdie, a miner-boy she meets after accidentally staying out past sunset.  This Grandmother is clearly magic (example: Curdie can’t see her) and helps protect Irene from the evil Goblin’s plotting.

There is some singing and some fighting and the day is saved rather easily (in contrast to the movie).

I wouldn’t really recommend this book as a pleasure-read, but it’s certainly an interesting look at “Children’s literature” from a different style than our modern-day books.

I was curious enough by the concluding line (which has something to the effect of “but that’s a story for another book” that I looked it up and discovered that there is a sequel!

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So I decided to read The Princess and Curdie.  It’s very similar in style to the first book (no surprise there) but I felt like it was a little more … fanciful? Lofty? The language felt less down-to-earth and there was a great deal more moralizing in the book.  The book definitely showed immoral behaviour and made sure to punish it thoroughly.  In such, it was less believable (well, I guess not that the first one was really believable) than The Princess in the Goblin.  I guess more like a lecture and less like a story.

This sequel follows Curdie, as he meets Irene’s (many greats) old grandmother (the “old princess”) and is tasked with helping her out.  This leads him to the city of Gwyntystorm, where Irene has gone to live with her father.  He must help the King and Princess Irene out of the predicament they find themselves in (and thus save the kingdom!).  Curdie is assisted by gifts from the old princess, including a strange companion (some sort of beast-creature) and a special kind of “talent”.

Anyway, the climax was more satisfying, so that’s good.  I also had to laugh a little bit at the happily-ever-after-oh-wait-let’s-punish-bad-people-some-more ending.

I would probably give both books a 3/5.  Interesting reads, but definitely something that would be difficult for a kid to wade through.  (Also it’s a bit too moralizing for my taste!)

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Marissa Meyer

Yesterday I had the opportunity to go to a book signing for one of my new favourite authors: Marissa Meyer.  She was in town promoting her new book: “Scarlet.”  Scarlet is the second book in the Lunar Chronicles, following Marissa’s debut novel “Cinder.”   Marissa’s books are sci-fi fairy tale adaptations – bringing two things I secretly love together.  Cinder is roughly based on Cinderella, and Scarlet is roughly based on The Little Red Riding Hood.  There are two more books in the series which are yet-to-be published: Cress (Rapunzel) and Winter (Snow White).

I definitely loved both Cinder and Scarlet so it was really exciting to get to see Marissa Meyer in person!  I also LOVE that she loves Pride And Prejudice (including the Lizzie Bennet Diaries) AND Firefly.  I feel like if we actually knew each other, we couldn’t HELP being best friends. So fun!

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The Lizzie Bennet Diaries

It is a truth universally acknowledged … that I LOVE Pride and Prejudice.   I also love adaptations of Pride and Prejudice.  This includes movies (especially the one with Colin Firth and the one with Keira Knightley and Bridget Jones Diary) and books (including Pride Prejudice, and Zombies which I think is hilarious).

I recently came across The Lizzie Bennet Diaries (thanks to my amazing little sister!) – an online, modern adaptation of Pride and Prejudice done through short you-tube “vlogs” (video blogs).  It is AMAZING.  Seriously.  AMAZING.  I am simultaneously sad and glad that I discovered The Lizzie Bennet Diaries so close to their end (they update Mon and Thurs and the story is drawing to a close).  Sad because it’s almost over, and glad because I am not a very patient person haha.

Seriously though – go watch them.  If you have any love for Pride and Prejudice, you’ll love this!!!   You can find them on you-tube or through their website:  http://www.lizziebennet.com/

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March 10, 2013 · 4:52 pm

The Scorch Trials and The Death Cure

Hi again!

I finally got around to reading books #2 and #3 in the Maze Runner Series:  The Scorch Trials and The Death Cure, by James Dashner.  Both these books were action-packed!

First off, The Scorch Trails:

Scorch Trials

I found the Maze Runner to be intense, but the Scorch Trials (and The Death Cure) actually scared me – I literally couldn’t sleep because I kept picturing Cranks (crazy, Fare-Infected basically zombie-like people).  In the Scorch Trails, Thomas and his friends are sent on a mission to cross this crazy desert (the Scorch) and Crank-infested city in search of the “Safe Haven” on the other side of the Mountains to the North.  The Trials continue – the organization called “WICKED” is still trying to collect data by submitting groups of teenagers to some truly awful conditions.

This book was definitely different from the Maze Runner, and I appreciated that things about WICKED and the state of the world actually got explained (a bit) as the story goes along.  The story takes a few twists, which I actually expected.

Aside from the bad call of reading this right before bed, I did enjoy it overall.  It is NOT going to be on my re-read list, however.

Overall rating:  3/5

Death Cure

I immediately started The Death Cure after finishing the Scorch Trials.  This book just felt like an extension of the first two.  WICKED wants to restore the memories of the Gladers and Group B, and most of them decide to go along with it.  Thomas breaks free from WICKED, along with Minho and Newt, with the help of two new friends he met in the Scorch (Brenda & Jorge).   Thomas must struggle with his own inner conflicts as he tries to figure out what to do and who to trust.  Ultimately, this leads him to a final show-down with WICKED.

I was still scared by the Cranks (seriously, disturbing) but I liked this book better than the Scorch Trials.  Perhaps because there was (a little) less Cranks and more fighting WICKED.

I feel quite strongly that endings should leave you feeling hopeful and uplifted about the future of the characters and I am happy to say that this book delivered.  Despite the craziness, I liked the end.

So all in all, I would give this book a 3.5 / 5.

It was an interesting series.  Again, its not one that I will re-read, and I’m not sure I want to read the prequel book (The Kill Zone), but I’m glad I got through them all.

Cheers!

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