Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Liked Less/More Than I Thought I Would

This is my nineteenth Top Ten Tuesday post. Top Ten Tuesday was created and is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. I've been looking forward to this week's topic, as I get to talk about both books I that I think are wonderful and some guilty pleasures, as well as some of the books that I just didn't get on with as well as I thought I would. Here we go!

Top Ten Books I Liked Less/More Than I Thought I Would

Part One: More

1. The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins - I was sure before reading this that it wouldn't live up to the hype. After all, so many people raved about Twilight and I thought that was enormously dull (see below). It was awesome.

2. Pushing the Limits, by Katie McGarry - The tagline on the cover of my copy reads 'A bad boy. A lost girl. An unforgettable love', which made me roll my eyes. I am not into bad boy/good girl romances, mainly because I don't find violence attractive. But Pushing the Limits is not corny at all, in fact, I thought it was utterly amazing. I was hooked from the start and it just kept getting better and better! I am more than a little bit in awe of Katie McGarry now.

3. Spellbound, by Cara Lynn Shultz - I was expecting this to be a shallow, frivolous story based on the 'Gossip Girl with witches' description from the publishers and the Cinderella-like setup, but I quite liked it in the end. The action scenes had my heart racing!

4. Valiant, by Holly Black - I had a few issues with Tithe, the first in the Modern Faerie Tale series, and I was expecting similar from Valiant, but I thought it was great.

5. The Boyfriend List, by E. Lockhart - I expected this to just be fun, lighthearted teen fiction. I had no idea that it would change my life and the way I see things.

6. Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen - I thought this was just a romance. I was not expecting the snark, which I loved.

7. The Wee Free Men, by Terry Pratchett - I put off reading any of the Discworld books for years and only picked this up because a tutor recommended it. It was totally hilarious and I loved it.

Part Two: Less

8. Diving In, by Kate Cann - I really loved reading some of Kate Cann's books, including the Hard Cash/Moving trilogy and several of her standalone novels, but although I enjoyed the Coll and Art books, I wasn't as captivated, and I got a bit bored because they're so intensely focused on the relationship. It's a popular trilogy that's been reprinted several times, so don't let me put you off.

9. The Queen of Everything, by Deb Caletti - I'd heard good things about Deb Caletti's more recent novels, so when I saw a copy of  The Queen of Everything, her debut, I decided to give it a try. Unfortuntely, although the central idea was interesting, I really didn't like the protagonist or the love interest. It's rare that I have such a negative reaction to the main characters, and I decided that I couldn't review it fairly, though I still intend to read more books by this author.

10. Twilight, by Stephenie Meyer - I didn't think I'd enjoy it very much but was prepared for it to be a guilty pleasure. It wasn't even that. Zzzzz.

Have you read any of these books? What did you think?

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Favourite Places to Read

This is my nineteenth Top Ten Tuesday post. Top Ten Tuesday was created and is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week is a Top Ten Tuesday Rewind, which means we can pick any of the topics from the past that we missed. I've chosen:

 Photo by Sharon Mollerus

Top Ten Favourite Places To Read

1. On/in my bed - I love reading whilst stretching out on my own comfy bed, wrapped in my duvet or lying on my pillows, or even sitting up against the headboard cushion my mum made me from a broken memory foam mattress topper. It's probably my favourite place to read - especially if no-one's in so I'm surrounded by peace and quiet!

2. On a train - I pass the time on public transport by getting a book out and slipping into another world. Whole tube lines pass by in what feels like the blink of an eye and sometimes I'm a little disappointed to reach my stop and have to put the book away.

3. At the library - I always think it feels kind of magical to be reading a book whilst surrounded by hundreds more books, and some of my local libraries have really comfy seats.

4. Outside the Tate Modern in the summer - I'm terrified of buzzing stinging things so there's pretty much only one place in the entire world where I can read outside - the Tate Modern. There are no flowers, just grass and trees, so the wasps and bees stay away. I do need to stay in the shade though to avoid sunburn!

5. In a windowseat - I've only done this a couple of times in my life, but sitting in a windowseat whilst reading makes me feel like a character in a historical novel!

6. On the floor in a big pile of cushions - when I was a kid I used to like throwing all the cushions in my living room onto the floor, and then lying on top of them to read. I can't imagine that my mum was best pleased.

7. In the bath - when I have a bath, I like to take at least two books into the bathroom with me, plus notebook and pens, and I keep towels handy so that I don't risk touching a book with wet fingers.

8. In a queue - whilst everyone else looks bored and frustrated, I take the time to get some reading done, and become the most chilled out person in the queue.

9. At work on a lunch break - reading on a lunch break is so refreshing, helping me relax and also reinvigorating my mind for the afternooon ahead.

10. In a café - I love the whole experience - reading in a comfy chair at a little table, with tea or hot chocolate, soup, sandwich or cake, occasionally glancing up to people-watch or listen to the conversations around me.

What are your favourite places to read?

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Read Before I Was A Blogger

This week's theme seems appropriate for my mood. I'm coming to the end of the little blog hiatus that I took while preparing to redecorate my bedroom for redecoration, and I've been thinking a lot about what I want to do with this blog in the future. Ideas include: inventing a meme of my own (it's what Virginia Woolf would have wanted, am I right?), reviewing more obscure, forgotten, 90s and early 00s YA (I do love it so) and maybe making some videos!   However, as well as planning ahead, I'm also taking the opportunity to look back at my reading history, as I prepare to read a lot more books than I have been for the past few months, and that's where this theme comes in!

This is my eighteenth Top Ten Tuesday post. Top Ten Tuesday was created and is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

Top Ten Books I Read Before I Was A Blogger

1. Ghostwritten, by David Mitchell
This book blew my mind when I first read it. At first it seems like the chapters are short stories with tenuous connections, but the deeper you go, the more interwoven the lives of the characters become. I loved this book, and the slightly more straightforward follow-up, number9dream, but have I read any more of his work? NO. I need to do that.

2. The Forestwife, by Teresa Tomlinson
This book, and the rest of the Forestwife trilogy, is so much fun. I picked it up in my school library without knowing anything about it, and loved it so much that I bought the collected edition of the trilogy the instant that I saw it for sale in a shop several years later. It's the story of Mary, a privileged young woman brought up by her uncle and milk-nurse and intended for marriage to a much older man. She decides yeah, that won't be happening, and runs off into the forest, having no experience of life outside her wealthy uncle's home. Happily, Agnes, her milk-nurse, who planned for them both to run off all along, comes after Mary, to teach her how to survive. They go to find the Forestwife, a witch feared by peasant and lord alike, in the hopes that she can provide them with shelter. If you further convincing to go read this now, the trilogy is a retelling of the Robin Hood legend from the point of view of the women involved, and features romance, witchcraft, awesome nuns, and rebellion! Seriously, the nuns are fabulous...

3. Ash: A Secret History, by Mary Gentle - Woman mercenary leader hears voices in her head telling her how to win battles. Mysteries, war, politics. Sex, violence, and lots of swearing. Vast quantities of swearing. If you don't tolerate swear words well, it's probably best that you don't read this. If you love swear words, get it now. 

4. Harriet the Spy, by Louise Fitzhugh - This one I have actually reviewed, and it is one of my most popular reviews ever! Harriet is a girl with an unusual hobby - spying on her friends, family, and neighbours, and writing notes about them down in a notebook. This was one of my favourite books as a child simply because Harriet is such an unusual girl protagonist - belligerent and stubborn, loveable and easy to dislike at the same time.

5. The Artist's Way, by Julia Cameron - I read this shortly before I started blogging properly, and it changed my life enormously. If you feel that you've never really managed to get your creative act together, I recommend that you give it a try. Don't be put off by the word 'spiritual' in the description - although the author considers it vital, you can ignore all the god stuff if you want, or interpret it in your own way.

6. The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories, by Angela Carter - I always loved fairytales, so when, during a course about short stories at university, I discovered the world of retellings, I was thrilled. I've read many since but Angela Carter's are among the best. I'm planning to write a proper review soon.

7. Let's Get Lost, by Sarra Manning - Another unusual girl protagonist (I do love those) - Isabel is mean and bossy, ruling her friendship group with an iron fist, refusing to become sweet, even after her mother dies. You can read a mini-review in another Top Ten Tuesday list, Books I'd Recommend To Somebody Who Doesn't Read British YA.

8. Dragonsong, by Anne McCaffrey - When I was a teenager I was obsessed with the Dragonriders of Pern series, set on a planet in which humans bond with dragons in order to fight Thread, spores which fall from the sky and eat their way through everything they touch. Except rock. I don't think they go through rock. Anyway, it's been a while since I read any of these books because as I got older I got a bit disenchanted with the series (why is the society so sexist despite the books being set in the future?) but I re-read the Harper Hall trilogy most recently. Dragonsong is mostly about a girl called Menolly who lives in a fishing Hold but wants to make music. Her family doesn't understand her interest or talent and it made me cry!

9. Vile Bodies, by Evelyn Waugh - If you haven't heard of this book, you might have heard of the film adaptation, Bright Young Things. It's a satire about the fashionable teens and twentysomethings of 1920s London, the children of aristocrats or recently-wealthy businessmen, and all the fabulous parties they threw. Far too many parties. They were wonderful and irresponsible and the book takes an increasingly dark tone, which I love - the contrast between the glamour and the grim results.

10. Last Chance, by Sarah Dessen - I read this because it came free with J-17 magazine, a consolation prize as the Diary of a Crush column ended. Socially awkward and often bullied Colie, daughter of a fitness guru goes to stay with her eccentric aunt and gets a job in a cafe for the summer. As a teen I could relate to Colie's journey towards confidence and I enjoyed it again when I re-read it a few years ago.


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