Top Ten Tuesday: Books Recently Added to My To-Read List

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Today’s Top Ten Tuesday (a book blogging meme created by The Broke and the Bookish) is themed: “Books Recently Added to My To-Read List.” I haven’t done one of these in a while (mostly because I’m lazy) but this one was easy enough!

1. The Paper Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg. This is the book club book for next month at school, so I’ve got to get this one read!

2. Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch. No less than three students flailed about this one, so I figure it’s worth reading.

3. Ru by Kim Thúy. This book won Canada Reads this year – and I’ve heard such good things!

4. Going After Cacciato by Tim O’Brien. I need this one for my reading challenge (Tim O’Brien shares my initials)!

5. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins. Gotta catch this one while it’s hot.

6. Smoke Gets In Your Eyes: And Other Lessons From the Crematory by Caitlin Doughty. It sounds weirdly intriguing.

7. Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas. Snagged this at a book sale! So it’s going on my physical to-read shelf.

8. Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke by Anne Blankman. The sequel to Prisoner of Night and Fog, which I already reviewed!

9. All the Rage by Courtney Summers. I just love Courtney Summers. That’s all.

10. The Swerve: How the World Became Modern by Stephen Greenblatt. Because the school library had this one on display and I immediately went “YES I NEED TO READ THIS.”

What books are y’all looking forward to reading in the near future (hopefully)?

Tara

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Top Ten Tuesday: 2014 Releases I Meant To Read But Didn’t Get To

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Today’s Top Ten Tuesday (a book blogging meme created by The Broke and the Bookish) is centered around books from 2014 that didn’t quite make the cut before January came back around. There are so many fabulous books that were released last year, and although I haven’t gotten to them yet, they’re all on my to-read list for this year.

1. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. Shakespeare AND the apocalypse! I started reading this one, and I meant to finish but just ran out of time. Hopefully I can circle back around to it in a bit.

2. All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. Pretty cover, pretty summary, heard good things about it = the triumviate of recommendations, basically.

3. The Martian by Andy Weir. A student recommended this to me, and I bought it two months ago, but it just hasn’t happened yet.

4. The Opposite of Loneliness: Essays and Stories by Marina Keegan. Picture me with grabby hands. That’s me right now about this book.

5. The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History by Elizabeth Kolbert. Cool nonfiction! About history! And humanity’s possible extinction! Count me in.

6. The Paying Guests by Sarah Walters. Recc’d to me by a fellow teacher who usually has good taste. Also has a nice cover, so I want to give it a shot.

7. Hollow City by Ransom Riggs. After reading the first Miss Peregrine’s, I couldn’t wait to read this one – but unfortunately, it got buried underneath the rest of the books in my to-read pile.

8. Panic by Lauren Oliver. I’ve heard mixed things, but I still wanted to check this one out.

9. Through the Woods by Emily Carroll. I’ve only flipped through this one so far, but it looks like a stunning graphic novel with everything I adore.

10. Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami. Oh, Haruki Murakami, my love. I can’t wait to get around to this one – as soon as I’m finally finished with 1Q84.

What books didn’t quite make your cut last year, even just because of time constraints? Let me know! And link me to your own TTT!

Tara

Top Ten Tuesday: Goals for 2015!

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Coming back from my hiatus for today’s Top Ten Tuesday, a book blogging meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s theme is “Top Ten Goals/Resolutions For 2015 – bookish, blogging, or otherwise!”

These weren’t too difficult for me to come up with.

1. Post at least two book reviews per month. That works out to one about every two weeks – and I think that’s doable. I might up the goal in the summer, just because I’ll have so much free time. But for now, this sounds good.

2. Read all the books on this checklist, which I found on tumblr! I think this will be a fun challenge, and it might lead me to some real gems.

3. Meet my Goodreads book goal for the year again. I think I’m going to up it to 125 this year instead of just 100!

4. Read more nonfiction, especially all the books I checked out at the library about the 1890s, which is going to be the basis for my historical fiction NaNoWriMo novel next year.

5. On that note… win NaNoWriMo again!

6. And on THAT note… manage to get the creative writing club started up at our school! Some of my students asked me to be the advisor, and we’re having a call-out meeting in January. My goal is for this club not to fail.

7. Similarly: keep the book club going at my school! I ran it solo for the first time at our last meeting, and I can only hope that the meetings will continue to go successfully and students will keep showing up, reading to pick and read great books.

Those are all my book/blogging goals, so moving on to LIFE goals:

8. Move out of my parents’ house and into my own apartment by the end of June.

9. Travel to Canada to visit my friends at least twice.

10. Try to always look on the bright side of life! Stay optimistic, try to be happy, and as one of my students told me in her farewell email at the end of last semester: “don’t let anyone dull [my] sparkle!!!!!!!!”

What are your goals for the next year? It’s quickly approaching, so THINK FAST.

Tara

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Book Characters Who Would Be Sitting At My Lunch Table

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Top Ten Tuesday is a book blogging meme that was created by The Broke and the Bookish.

School’s back in session! And with it, my teaching job – which is why I haven’t been posting as frequently. However, even though it’s a bit late in the day, I didn’t want to miss out on this week’s Top Ten Tuesday! The theme is to choose characters who would be sitting at your lunch table at school. Back in my high school days, the people I sat with all had the same qualities about them – they were quiet in class but genuinely eccentric, loyal and accepting, and all a bit socially inept. So the book characters who would best fit in with us, I think, would be:

1. Hermione from the Harry Potter series. Her unpopularity, general intelligence, and inability to be, uh, tactful? when making friends? would definitely count her among our ranks.

2. Laurel from Love Letters to the Dead. Her general personality and her intense connection to writing as a form of expression would match her nicely with my group of peers.

3. Adam from If I Stay. My friends, to be quiet honest, were a bit on the punk side. So if we kept Adam’s musicality and style but not his popularity, that’d be us.

4. Sarah from The ListLikewise, I think most of us were completely against the typical popular culture and did our best to stand out, even obnoxiously so. I hate my high school self in retrospect for this.

5. Ethan from The Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy. Again, mostly because he’s good-hearted but also inanely sarcastic and pretentious.

6. Craig from It’s Kind of a Funny StoryMostly because he is one of the most realistic characters I can think of who also dealt with mental illness. He’d fit right in with us.

7. Eleanor from Eleanor and Park. Eleanor is, again, a bit off-the-beaten-path in terms of how she dresses and acts, but she’s also very passionate about music and comics, and our lunch table had no lack of passion.

8. Scott from the Scott Pilgrim graphic novels. Scott is an awkward person. He’s also kind of an idiot, but a lovable one who does make mistakes and realizes it. He’d fit right in.

9. Holden from The Catcher in the Rye. Sarcastic, strange, a little bit crazy, as per the theme. Also, I’m putting him on here because I’d want to meet him and the idea of having lunch with him pleases me.

10. Charlie from The Perks of Being a WallflowerNo explanation necessary.

Even though I only ever ate with maybe five people maximum, I think this is a pretty solid list. We’d get along well, I think, and definitely be able to have enough things in common to keep a decent conversation going. Either that, or we’d be able to sit in companionable silence. I think most of these characters wold be the kind that would be okay with talking but also okay with just eating in good company – a wonderful trait.

Let me know what you think of my fictional lunch table and who would be at yours!

Tara

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I’d Give to Readers Who Have Never Read YA Futuristic Speculative Fiction

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Top Ten Tuesday is a book blogging meme that was created by The Broke and the Bookish.

The topic for today’s TTT is: “Top Ten Books I’d Give To Readers Who Have Never Read X (examples: New Adult novels, historical fiction, a certain author, books about a certain topic, etc).” I had a hard time deciding what genre I wanted to go with, so I chose speculative fiction, which I believed was fiction that speculated what could happen in the future. That makes sense, right? Well, apparently speculative fiction is a blanket term that covers most of science fiction, fantasy, and horror. I also didn’t just want to use “dystopian,” because not all of the books had futures that were horrible and, well, dystopian. Most of them aren’t great futures, but no world is perfect.

Therefore, I had to get a little more specific.

So without further ado – the top ten books I would give to readers who have never read young adult futuristic speculative fiction, or to people who think that’s not their cup of tea. If that sounds like you – do give these books a try.

1. Legend by Marie Lu. Part of the United States is now the Republic, at war with its neighbors. Main characters June and Day’s lives intertwine as they begin to unravel their government’s secrets. Great story, great characters, high intensity, fabulous.

2. The Program by Suzanne Young. In this future, teen suicide is a global epidemic, and the only solution is The Program, which cures depression but also erases memories. Slone has to keep her head down and her feelings secret if she wants to avoid that fate – but of course that doesn’t work out. This book paints a terrifying future that is thrilling to read about.

3. Uglies by Scott Westerfeld. When you turn sixteen, you undergo an operation that makes you pretty, and you receive access to a high-tech world of paradise and beautiful people. Tally is forced to go after her friend who runs away to avoid the operation, and she reaches alarming conclusions about their so-called perfect world. This is a spec fiction classic, in my opinion, and really shows what life could be like if our society continues to be so appearance-based.

4. Frozen by Robin Wasserman. Instead of dying in the car accident, Lia is saved by the Download – a program meant to solve the age-old problem of mortality. Her mind is downloaded into a new, computerized but life-like body – and she has to face the issue of being herself but not herself at all. I love the implications of the discussion about what really makes us human and what makes us ourselves. This book got me to think, while also being an engaging read.

5. Feed by M.T. Anderson. This one is another book about the dangers of a technology-reliant, consumeristic society. Titus and his friends run into a hacker who causes the feeds in their brains – which provide them constant communication, access to entertainment, etc, much like a smart phone but right in their heads – to malfunction. Then Titus meets Violet – a witty girl who wants to fight the feed. This book actually hits a little close to home – in terms of futuristic speculative fiction, it could happen tomorrow, which makes it even more impactful.

6. Salvage by Alexandra Duncan. Science fiction with a feminist twist – what happens when the earth has been transformed by climate change, when the ships that travel in space are conservative and male-dominated, when one girl takes her fate into her own hands? Read to find out. I reviewed this book earlier this year and adore it still.

7. A Girl Called Fearless by Catherine Linka. More feminist spec fiction! I can’t get enough. In this book, a synthetic hormone in beef killed millions of adult women in the United States, sparking the Paternalist Movement to protect the country’s young girls – who have now become a commodity, used to be sold in marriage to the highest bidder. Avie intends to flee from her quickly-approaching marriage to a controlling politician, but can she make it to Canada before her world falls apart? I reviewed this one as well and hope you give it a chance, because it is majorly thought-provoking.

8. Cinder by Marissa Meyer. A sci-fi take on Cinderella! A deadly plague hits the population of Earth, the Lunar people are just waiting to attack, and Cinder – a second-class Cyborg – is caught in the crossfire when her mysterious past begins to unravel. This book has hints of fantasy, more than any other book on this list, but I did still want to include it because it’s one of my favorite books of all time and I’ve become a bit evangelical about it, if we’re being honest.

9. The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan. In this futuristic world, Mary’s village is protected from the Forest of Hands and Teeth, where the Unconsecrated reside, relentless in their quest to breach the perimeter. Yes, this is a zombie novel, and one of the best I’ve ever read. I don’t know what else to say about this book except read it, because it’s a brilliant take on the genre. It left me extremely unsettled about the future, and wanting nothing more but to read the next book.

10. This is Not a Test by Courtney Summers. It’s the end of the world, and zombies are beating down on the doors of the high school, where six people are hoping to hold out and live – all except Sloane, who thinks that perhaps it would be better just to give up. I am in love with all of Summers’ books, and although this is another zombie apocalypse novel (yes, I know, I have a bit of a problem), it’s more human than almost anything I’ve ever read.

And finally, a bonus one: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. If all else fails to convince you how awesome this genre is, remember that technically The Hunger Games is YA futuristic speculative fiction! Ha.

Tara

Top Ten Tuesday: Characters I’d Want With Me on a Deserted Island

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Top Ten Tuesday is a book blogging meme that was created by The Broke and the Bookish.

THIS is a good one. Without any further ado, the top ten characters I would want with me on a deserted island are:

1. Harry Potter (Harry Potter). Reason: MAGIC.

2. Hermione Granger (Harry Potter). Reason: BETTER at magic.

3. Ronald Weasley (Harry Potter). Reason: Might as well have the whole trio.

4. Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles). Reason: She could team up with Hermione and between the two of them, they definitely have enough smarts to get us saved.

5. Cress (The Lunar Chronicles). Reason: Also ridiculously clever. And spending time with her on a deserted island would give me the chance to become best friends with her.

6. Nick Carroway (The Great Gatsby). Reason: I just think it would be funny to see him stranded on an island with Harry Potter.

7. Aziraphale (Good Omens). Reason: If magic can’t get us off the island, surely divine intervention can.

8. Crowley (Good Omens). Reason: Because you can’t have half of the pair without the other.

9. Thursday Next (The Eyre Affair). Reason: If magic, futuristic smarts, and divine intervention can’t get us out of our situation, Thursday can come up with some way to save us. I don’t know how. But she’d do it.

10. Hamlet (Hamlet). Reason: Because why not?

Well, that was fun. Who are your ten characters you’d want with you? Let me know in the comments, or link me to your own Top Ten Tuesday post!

Tara

Top Ten Tuesday: Blogging Confessions

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Top Ten Tuesday is a book blogging meme that was created by The Broke and the Bookish.

It’s a bit late in the evening, but I still wanted to participate in this week’s theme: top ten blogging confessions! I’m going to keep them short and sweet.

1. I change around the order of my queued reviews all the time, usually because I’ve written on my “Reviews” page that a certain book review will be posted first but I haven’t written it yet.

2. I have been trying not to post too many reviews in a row because seeing “Review: [Title]” in my right sidebar too many times annoys me.

3. When I go to the library, I immediately go to the “New Releases” shelf and typically check out everything that’s been released within the past two months, just so I have something to review, no matter what the book is about or if it looks interesting to me (and then usually I won’t read half of them, but at least I have the option).

4. I’ve been considering starting a new segment that highlights area bookstores but I’m afraid I’d run out after maybe three posts.

5. I follow a lot of book blogs and I try to read their reviews as often as possible, but if the first few words don’t catch my attention on my dashboard, I don’t bother.

6. Sometimes I’ll have a draft of a post open in a tab for weeks before I actually get around to finishing it.

7. Poor font choice kills me so I’m overly anxious about all of the fonts on my blog – all the time. Even covers with bad fonts make me want to pass up reviewing them because I don’t want the photo of the cover on my blog.

8. In reality, I have very few followers (just 59 right now) and I wish I had more, but I don’t know what I can do to increase traffic. Still, every time I remember that there’s the potential for 59 people to read one of my book reviews, it blows me away.

9. I want to write a post about my senior honors thesis but I’m worried it won’t be interesting to anyone but me.

10. I never thought I’d enjoy book blogging so much!

Feel free to share your own blogging confessions with me below! Or post your own Top Ten Tuesday (just remember to link back to The Broke and the Bookish).

Tara

Top Ten Tuesday: Book Cover Trends

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Top Ten Tuesday is a book blogging meme that was created by The Broke and the Bookish. I’ve noticed that a number of people I follow participate in TTT every week, and I wanted to join in on the fun. This week’s topic: top ten book cover trends I like or dislike!

I’ve linked each cover to the book’s Goodreads page, should any of them be eye-catching. And the books on the “dislike” numbers – I didn’t necessarily dislike the book! Or I won’t dislike it on principle! I just don’t like the cover.

1. Like: Unclear faces. So many covers feature characters with faces that aren’t detailed or distinguishable – which allows me to imagine the characters however I want to, mostly. I think this is a great advantage to these covers.

wewereliarscover  loveletterscover  howtomeetboyscover

2. Like: Backs of heads. Similar to unclear faces, though this is when a character is seen on the cover, but faces the opposite direction from the reader. I just think it’s funny that you can look at a bookshelf and see cover after cover of an indistinguishable backwards-facing person.

everythingleadscover  strangesweetsongcover  tlfcover

3. Like: Feet. (I’m sensing a trend here within these trends). When feet – or legs – play a vital part of the cover image. I like this trend simply because it’s not faces. Also, because the feet/footware usually (though not always) play an important role in the story somehow.

cindercover  lbccover  dkcover

4. Like: One-word titles. Short. Enticing. To the point.

salvagecover  pointecover  teasecover

5. Like: Item-based covers. Similar to my point about the feet – it’s fun to see what the cover-designer deemed most important as an item. These items usually play an important role in the story or have some sort of symbolism behind them.

exilecover  rbcover  artofsecretscover

6. Like: Script-based fonts. I’ve got no real reason for this except they’re SO PRETTY.

thcover  bfcover  sfscover

7. Like: Cartoons. They bring a touch of character, and they make books stand out on a shelf against a hundred books with actual humans on the covers.

thisonesummercover  loveforeigncover  guycover

8. Dislike: Shadowy couples. PLEASE. NO. STOP.

nowandforevercover  jodcover  witwtcover

9. Dislike: Girls in ball gowns. Like, ooooh, another girl in a ball gown. What does this tell me about the book? Absolutely nothing.

windupcover  onecover  threatscover

10. Dislike: Ugly fonts. This one’s not really a current trend – it’s an always trend. I just get really annoyed by poor font choice. And yes, I know “ugly” is severely objective.

sekretcover  deepbluecover  tiscover

What do you think? What are you favorite book cover trends? Which ones make you cringe?

Tara