Monthly Archives: July 2013

Top Ten Tuesday – July 30: Top Ten Favourite Beginnings/Endings In Books

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and The Bookish over here.  This week: Top Ten Favourite Beginnings/Endings In Books (talk about books that started or ended just perfectly or with a bang OR you could do specific opening lines or last lines — however you want to do it!)

Favourite Beginnings:

1. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Pride and Prejudice

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of good fortune, must be in want of a wife.

2. Dealing with Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede

dealing with dragons

Linderwall was a large kingdom, just east of the Mountains of Morning, where philosophers were highly respected and the number five was fashionable. The climate was unremarkable. The knights kept their armor brightly polished mainly for show – it had been centuries since a dragon had come east. There were the usual periodic problems with royal children and un-invited fairy godmothers, but they were always the sort of thing that could be cleared up by finding the proper prince or princess to marry the unfortunate child a few years later. All in all, Linderwall was a very prosperous and pleasant place.

Cimorene hated it.

3. The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy

The Scarlet Pimpernel

A surging, seething, murmuring crowd, of beings that are human only in name, for to the eye and ear they seem naught but savage creatures, animated by vile passions and by the lust of vengeance and of hate. The hour, some little time before sunset, and the place, the West Barricade, at the very spot where, a decade later, a proud tyrant raised an undying monument to the nation’s glory and his own vanity.

4. Feeling Sorry for Celia by Jaclyn Moriarty

Feeling Sorry for Celia

Dear Ms. Clarry,

It has come to our attention that you are incredibly bad at being a teenager.

5. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkein

The Hobbit

In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.

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

Harry_Potter_and_the_Philosopher's_Stone

Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.

7. The Princess Bride by William Goldman

The Princess Bride

This is my favourite book in all the world, although I have never read it.

8. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

The Night Circus

The circus arrives without warning.

Favourite Endings:

9. The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch

The Paper Bag Princess

“Ronald,” said Elizabeth, “your clothes are really pretty and your hair is very neat.  You look like a real prince, but you are a bum.”

They didn’t get married after all.

I love all happy endings, so to finish of the list I thought I would choose a representative quote:

10. Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine.

Ella Enchanted

And so, with laughter and love, we lived happily ever after.

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A True Princess

A True Princess

Another book by Diane Zahler, A True Princess is inspired by the tale of The Princess and the Pea.  Like The Thirteenth Princess, this one is short and snappy.  Despite being a super quick read, its a fun adaptation geared toward a younger audience.

Lilia, age twelve, runs away from home and her horrid stepmother Ylva, in order to seek her true family in the North.  Her friends / siblings Kai and Karina accompany her on her journey, along with their dog, Ove.  The three travel through Bitra Forest and encounter the Elf King.  Not heeding the warnings, Kai looks upon the Elf King’s daughter and is enchanted. Lilia makes a bargain with the Elf King, in order to save her friend.  She and Karina hurry to the Palace, hoping to find what they need to complete the bargain and rescue Kai.  In the process, Lilia finds more than what she was looking for!

This is a fun, simple story.  I liked the twist on the fairy tale!  Lilia may be a terrible servant, but she’s a strong female role model who stands up for her friends and isn’t afraid.

4 / 5

P.S. I object very strenuously to the hint of a romantic relationship between Lilia and Kai – they grew up together! She’s pretty much his sister! Ew!! She’s also twelve, so I’m hoping that it goes nowhere once she grows up a bit.

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Top Ten Tuesday – July 23: Top Ten Words/Topics That Will Make You NOT pick up a book

(Better late than never …. So pretend it’s still yesterday, okay?)

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Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish (over here).  This week’s topic is the Top Ten Words/Topics That Will Make You NOT pick up a book.  I don’t have particular key words, really, but I definitely have topics that I typically don’t gravitate towards:

  1. Books that dwell on tragedy. (I avoid Nicholas Sparks and Jodi Picoult like the PLAGUE).
  2. Nonfiction.  Often I really want to like nonfiction in general, but usually don’t make it through.
  3. Horror / Scary stuff.  I usually avoid this quite fastidiously, but I have read some Dean Koontz that was gripping and mostly enjoyable.  Though I haven’t brought myself to pick up anything else by him, so perhaps that is telling.
  4. Vampires / supernatural (I like the True Blood series but generally I’m not very interested in these undead creatures. However, I LOVED the Soulless series so maybe I’m changing my mind.  Also this does not include fantasy or fantastical creatures, which I view as entirely different).
  5. Foolish / irresponsible life choices (especially when it seems doubtful that lessons are really learned.  I’m thinking the Shopaholic books here).
  6. Some historical fiction.  (It’s funny because I LOVE some historical fiction, but hate other historical fiction.  I’m not even sure if I’m consistent on which eras that I enjoy.  It might depend on having other redeeming factors).
  7. War.
  8. Erotica.  I won’t be reading Fifty Shades of Grey thank-you very much.
  9. Books where there are either no lead female characters, or all female characters are weak / shallow /stupid / just waiting for a man.
  10. SAD BOOKS.

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Room

And now for something COMPLETELY different…

Room

Not YA at all… after the story about the three women found in Cleveland broke, I decided it was finally time to get around to reading Room by Emma Donoghue.  My father-in-law had previously recommended it but I hesitated and procrastinated.  Finally I borrowed a copy from a friend a work and it has languished on my shelf for nearly two months (oops).  Well, with all my library books done (for now) I picked it up (promising to myself not to rent any more library books until I’ve gotten through the STACK of books beside my bed).

Room is the story of five-year-old Jack and his Ma, as told from Jack’s perspective.  I think that unique, funny, childish voice makes the story both readable and enjoyable (despite the difficult circumstances).  Jack and Ma live in Room, an 11 x 11 space.  Jack has never known anything else, and is (generally) happy with his imagination-filled world.  He loves Rug and Bed, and Wardrobe (where he hides at night from Old Nick). Jack is getting older and Ma becomes desperate to escape.  Jack is not so sure that Outside is real – or that he’ll like it if/when they get there.

Jack is an innocent, sweet and smart little guy (already reading!) who allows this heart-wrenching tale to unfold with enough humour to make it an enjoyable read.  I was expecting something terrible and depressing but the story is not depressing.  The circumstances are hard, but the love for a mother and her son – and a son and his mother – pulls the narrative together into something that is ultimately hopeful.

I would definitely recommend this book!  5 / 5!

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The Thirteenth Princess

The Thirteenth Princess

In this book by Diane Zahler, Zita is the thirteenth princess, banned from her father the King’s side when her mother dies in childbirth.  Zita longs to belong with her twelve elder sisters, but she is content with her place as a palace servant, spending secret moments with her sisters when able.

The princesses are struck by a mysterious illness, and Zita seeks to find out what has happened to them.  Luckily, Zita and her friend, Breckin the stable boy,  stumble across Babette the witch, who helps them as she is able. Zita and Breckin discover that the Princesses are not really ill but enchanted, doomed to spend their nights dancing in an enchanted land and fading fast from exhaustion. Zita and Breckin enlist the help of Breckin’s brother, Milek, to try to rescue the princesses from their cursed fate.

Another adaptation of the Twelve Dancing Princesses story!!  This was was short (very short!) and sweet.  I liked the addition of a thirteenth princess, Zita, a fiery redhead.  The story was pretty predictable, generally, though the discovery of the “bad guy” was not (to me) immediately obvious.  It’s a cute retelling with no big surprises or twists, but fun nonetheless.

This was a pleasant, straightforward tale, earning a 4 / 5.

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Top Ten Tuesday: July 16: Top Ten Authors Who Deserve More Recognition

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I’m back on the bandwagon!  At least for this week!

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created over at The Broke and the Bookish.

This week is the Top Ten Authors Who Deserve More Recognition.

Here we go!  I’ve decided to interpret this by listing not necessarily authors who aren’t well known in some circles but those who I feel like could be better known because they are in fact great. I wish that they were more well-known generally and appreciated by all, not just in their niche genre.  In no particular order (and with links to their websites because I couldn’t be bothered with pictures today):

MastiffThe iron butterflyFeeling Sorry for CeliaGraceling

Ella EnchantedCinderPluggedThe Blue SwordDragon Slippers

  1. Tamora Pierce – YA Fantasy with STRONG female Characters!  I love everything she does!  She just keeps getting better and better, from Alanna to Mastiff.
  2. Chanda Hahn – Author of The Iron Butterfly.  Loved that series!  Can’t wait to read more by her!
  3. Gail Carriger – Soulless, Etiquette and Espionage – need I say more?  Steampunk YA goodness!
  4. Jaclyn Moriarty – Feeling Sorry for Celia, etc., this YA Australian author rocks!
  5. Kristin Cashore – Graceling is definitely one of my new favourites! 
  6. Gail Carson Levine – Adaptations of fairy tales are the best, and Ella Enchanted is one of my favourite!
  7. Marissa Meyer – Cinder and Scarlet are fantastic YA fairy tale twists – with Cyborg and space flavours!
  8. Eoin Colfer – Artemis Fowl is brilliant, and I have thus far really enjoyed all of his other stand-alones, including Airman and Plugged.
  9. Robin McKinley – The Blue Sword and The Hero and the Crown remain some of my favourites 🙂
  10. Jessica Day George – I loved the Dragon Slippers books, in particular! Fun (more tween-targeted) author!

Hmm… this looks mightily like a list of some of my favourite authors.  With a few missing, I guess!

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Just Listen

Just Listen

I had to laugh, because I just finished The Merchant’s Daughter (featuring Annabel as the main character) and Just Listen also features an Annabel – although in  MUCH different context and story.

Annabel, a high school student, has a life that looked perfect on the outside.  She was popular and went to lots of parties, she models, she lives in a “glass house” … but things are not always what they seem.  Annabel’s life changed dramatically over the summer, so as she starts the school year everything seems different.  Her former-best-friend, Sophie, now scorns Annabel, and she finds herself friendless and alone at school.  In addition, family life has become complicated as Annabel’s sister deals with an eating disorder.  Annabel is the kind of person who just wants to make everyone happy – to avoid conflict and avoid upsetting her family.  This involves a lot of white lies – all done to protect people she cares about from harsh honesty.

Owen is the kid at school with anger issues – the one who is always listening to music and who, like Annabel, has no one to sit with at lunch.  As Annabel gets to know Owen, she discovers that he is always honest – unlike herself.

Annabel must learn to Just listen – before she can start being honest with herself and with others.

This story, like the other Sarah Dessen books I’ve read (Keeping the Moon and Lock and Key) is about personal growth – a theme that I really enjoy.  It also tackled some really difficult issues including mental health and sexual assault.  Annabel does not start out as a strong character, but she finishes a stronger person than she started.  Sometimes reaching for help is the first step.

I cried – big, ugly crocodile tears – while Annabel dealt with some of the tough stuff.  I am one of those people who get very emotionally invested in books, but be warned that this (in my opinion) is no light and fluffy beach read. (Or at least the last half of it definitely is not).

Despite my tears, I give this a 4 / 5.  I think Sarah Dessen does a great job of treating sensitive topics with grace and honesty.

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