Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Most Memorable Secondary Characters

How many secondary characters are all that memorable? Often the most important secondary characters are love interests, or parents, but I deliberately didn't pick them, as I'm sure they'll be popular choices. I went through my 'read' list and chose best friends, sidekicks, and enemies. On to the list!

Top Ten Most Memorable Secondary Characters

1. Meghan, from the Ruby Oliver Quartet by E. Lockhart - Ruby's perception of her goes through a dramatic change. In The Boyfriend List, Meghan is just the boy-obsessed girl that drives Ruby to school, but they become closer in the following books and in Real Live Boyfriends Meghan is just awesome! I loved Meghan so much by the end of this series and when I next re-read it I will be paying much more attention to her character.

2. Scarlett, from Adorkable by Sarra Manning - Scarlett is the quiet, pretty, popular girl who (sort of) 'steals' Jeane's boyfriend. She's silly but funny and I quite liked her.

3. Felicity from the Gemma Doyle Trilogy by Libba Bray - Felicity isn't nice. In fact, a lot of the time she's quite horrible. But oh, she is interesting, and finding out her secrets and watching her develop is one of the best things about this trilogy.

4. Oona, from the Kiki Strike series by Kirsten Miller - Oona is a wonderfully cunning girl who runs a beauty salon where the staff all pretend they don't speak English in order to gather lucrative gossip about their patrons' husbands' business deals. I am looking forward to seeing more of her in the other books.

5. Grace, from Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry - Most people would probably choose Echo's best friend Lila, or Noah's friends Isaiah and Beth, and they all have their own books now. But I would love to find out more about Grace, the enemy of everything that dares to be unpopular, the girl who is so terrified of being tainted by Echo's outcast status that she refuses to look at her in public.

6. Marron, from Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi - For some reason, I was not expecting a character like Marron or a place like his enclave of technology to exist in this book. He was one of the highlights for me and I'm hoping we get to see more of him in the rest of the series,

8. Jo, from Night School by C. J. Daugherty - How could anyone forget Jo and her many troubles and dramas? At first she seems quite normal, with just a few family problems, but as Allie persues the truth about Cimmeria Academy Jo starts to lose control of herself.

9. Laney, from Saving June by Hannah Harrington - Laney, Harper's best friend and co-conspirator, was my favourite character in Saving June. Unfortunately as she wasn't a love interest she spent a lot of time off-scene. I would love for her to get her own novel.

10. Finnick, from Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins - Finnick first appears in Catching Fire, but it's not until Mockingjay that he really comes into his own as one of the most charismatic and tragic characters in the Hunger Games trilogy.

I'm sure half the blogosphere will pick Finnick but I'd love to know if anyone else really wants to find out more about Pushing the Limits' Grace! Do you agree with my choices, or would you have chosen other characters from these books?

As always, Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by its fabulous creators at The Broke and the Bookish. This is my twenty-sixth Top Ten Tuesday so please do check out the others if you enjoyed this one!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Monday Amusements 16

Happy Monday! If you're in the UK chances are you might be enjoying a bank holiday right now, just as I am. I'm going to be playing board games again, yay! If you have a job that requires you to work today, you have my sympathies, as my current job is the first job I've had that didn't count bank holidays as an ordinary day of work. Regardless of whether you're at work or play, I hope you enjoy my link selection.

First up is the trailer for the upcoming film adaptation of The Book Thief, which I do not like at all.

Maybe it's just the voiceovers, but it looks so cheesy. Yes, I said voiceovers. The man's voiceover at the end is bad but Liesel's introduction at the beginning is pretty corny too. Hopefully it's just this trailer and the actual film will be better!

Why Keep Books? I keep books for all of the reasons listed by Tasha Brandstatter at Book Riot, and also because I want to share them with friends. I like to lend books I loved to other people, so they can enjoy them too. I also lend books that I had mixed feelings about, because I want to know what the other person will think.

I'd love to visit Hay-on-Wye, but I think it will have to wait until I acquire a lot more bookshelves! If I do go, I want to visit The Bookshop Cafe, as reviewed by Anushka Tay. The food and the books look delicious.

I really enjoyed Raimy's thoughtful post about being an adult reader of children's books. I don't read many children's books, outside of the teen age category, but I absolutely loved those that I have read in the last few years.

A Guide to YA Novels with LGBTQ Characters (via @Caroni_Clarke) is a graphic guide that will help you find just the book to match your tastes! If you're looking for a feminist YA novel, Sophie at So Many Books, So Little Time has put together a short list of her favourites. On Twitter (@sophie_waters) she shared this fantastic piece about Sarah Dessen and her recent revelations about her past, which I totally agree with.

Jessi at Auntie Spinelli Reads posted the first review of The Bone Season, by Samantha Shannon, that I've seen, and made it sound so intriguing I must get my hands on a copy!

At Winged Reviews, Jack poses the question Do Authors Deserve a Second Chance? Personally, I am open-minded and will pick up a second book by an author if the reasons I didn't like it were relatively superficial. If I didn't like the protagonist or the ending then I'm happy to give them another go. But if the book was badly written, or if the author was pushing a point of view that made me feel uncomfortable, it's very unlikely that I'll try their work again.

Have you written or read a great post in the last two weeks that I've missed? Let me know in the comments, and check out the Monday Amusements archive if you want more to read!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Book Review: Persepolis, by Marjane Satrapi

I'd wanted to read Persepolis for quite some time, even before I saw the film. I had vague intentions of getting it out of the library, but my to-get-from-the-library list is about a mile long and has to compete for attention with all the books I own. Happily, I got given a copy as part of a Secret Santa, so it managed to jump the library queue. Yay!

Persepolis is a (slightly-fictionalised according to various sources) memoir in two parts, which were originally published in French. The edition I have from Vintage Books collects both parts in a trade paperback, but it is also available from Pantheon Books in a larger format. The first part, 'The Story of a Childhood', follows the author's childhood in Iran, following the Islamic Revolution and exploring how her everyday life was altered. She becomes more and more rebellious when she reaches her teens, and her parents decide that she will be safer and happier if she goes away to school in Austria, which is where the second part begins. 'The Story of a Return' is about her experiences in Austria, and her decision to return to Iran.

Successful memoirs feel honest, and Persepolis certainly does. Marjane Satrapi shows herself and the people she loves as flawed human beings, and therefore I found it easy to trust her impressions of people who treat her or other people badly. Persepolis balances the serious, unflinching depictions of wars and revolutions with humour and details about her family life - I cried a couple of times but I laughed a lot more.

I loved all the little snippets of Iran's history. The school curriculum in the UK treats British history as if it's the history of the whole world, while simultaneously leaving out most of the parts of British history that are actually important to world history, ie. all the unsavoury details about the British Empire. I feel like there is a shamefully huge gap in my knowledge and I actually really enjoy learning about history when it's not confined to the World Wars. What is great about Persepolis is that the historical details are interwoven with the author's life - they are things that she learnt about in childhood, or that she explains briefly to the reader so that the surrounding parts of the story make sense. It made me want to find out more.

I started reading Persepolis when I was ill - I was feeling dizzy and wanted something that would be easy to follow, and that would take my mind off of all the things that I was incapable of getting on with. It was the perfect choice, and has left me with a craving for more graphic memoirs. If you have any recommendations, please leave me a comment!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Things That Make My Life as a Reader/Blogger Easier

This is my twenty-fifth Top Ten Tuesday. As always, Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by its creators at The Broke and the Bookish.

This topic is a great idea but it took me a while to come up with a full list! Some of my choices are small things, others much bigger, but they're all extremely useful.

Top Ten Things That Make My Life as a Reader/Blogger Easier

1. Bookmarks - Imagine life without bookmarks. Struggling to remember page numbers or having to bend over the corners of pages. It'd be pretty horrible, right? And what about the other kind of bookmarks? I rely on web browser bookmarks to keep track of all the books I want to read.

2. Gimbles - I used to struggle to eat or do anything else while reading, but my Gimbles changed all that. I even use them now when I'm reading on my bed or the sofa, to give my hands and wrists a break.

3. Online library renewals and reservations - I can renew my library books and reserve future reads without leaving my house. It's amazing. Which brings me to...

4. My smartphone - When I'm in a charity shop and I find a interesting book, I use my phone to check that it's not in stock at the library.

5. Wikipedia and Fantastic Fiction - Both really useful resources for checking series orders and finding out the titles of other books by an author.

6. My Nook - It's unlikely that it'll replace paper books, but it is easier to fit in my handbag sometimes.

7. Goodreads - Being able to catalogue all my books on Goodreads is brilliant. It helps so much when I'm writing book list posts to be able to scroll through all the books I've read and jog my memory.

8. Twitter - For 'networking' with other bloggers. If I wasn't on Twitter I'd miss out on all the great blogs and posts than get retweeted and otherwise shared around.

9. My diary - I make notes about the books I'm reading, post ideas, and I even use it to draft my Top Ten Tuesday lists. I write the next topic on each week's note page, to help me to come up with ideas in advance.

10. My reading journal - Where I write all my thoughts about the books I've read. These notes form the basis for my reviews, though I usually don't include everything that I've written in the journal.

Are any of these on your list? 

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Books With A School Setting

This is my twenty-fifth Top Ten Tuesday. As always, Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by its creators at The Broke and the Bookish.

When I was choosing a setting for this week's topic, I looked back at my Top Ten Settings I'd Like To See More Of (Or At All) list for inspiration. The one word that pops up over and over again in that list is school. Most YA protagonists go to school, but many books are set outside the school year, during the holidays. As much as I enjoy reading about teenage roadtrips and summertime adventures, I really love books where school plays an important role.

I really did not like school. I'm pretty sure that at least 75% of the time I spent in school could have been better used had I been left to my own devices, preferably in a well-stocked library. However, schools are fantastic plot devices. Even if the school itself is just your standard suburbian comprehensive, the mere fact that the characters are forced to go there five or more days per week and spend time with each other can lead to all sorts of fictional trouble. And if it's a secret training ground for spies? Well...

Top Ten Books With A School Setting

1. The Boyfriend List, by E. Lockhart - Ruby Oliver is a scholarship student at Tate Prep, the odd one out who can't afford to spend all afternoon eating cake in the trendy cafe or choose the most glamourous school trip option. Although the teachers are fantastic, the Tate Universe is small and gossip is rife, and it's all too easy for Ruby to become a 'social leper'.

2. Girl Meets Cake, by Susie Day - Heidi is another outsider, the only day girl at a boarding school. Again, it's quirky and funny, and the intense school setting provides a lot of the drama.

3. Night School, by C. J. Daugherty - A thrilling mystery set in a luxurious boarding school - definitely the kind of school that I'd have loved to attend, if it wasn't for all the murder.

4. The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, by E. Lockhart - Another E. Lockhart book, I hear you cry. Keep reading, this is only number two of the three on this list, and E. Lockhart is brilliant at school settings, so there. Alabaster is an exclusive boarding school, and the home of the Basset Hounds, an all-boy secret society that Frankie plots to infiltrate.

5. A Great and Terrible Beauty, by Libba Bray - This is another boarding-school book, this time set in the Victorian era, with plenty of atmosphere. The school is really, really, creepy during the night-time scenes!

6. Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac, by Gabrielle Zevin - School is the place where Naomi, the teenage amnesiac of the title, figures out who she is and who she wants to be.

7. Fly on the Wall, by E Lockhart - This time, E Lockhart sets the story in an arts school, but again the protagonist is an outsider, Gretchen Yee, who can't get on with her teachers and is struggling to find a place amongst her peers. Then she gets turned into a fly on the wall of the boys' locker room.

8. Spellbound, by Cara Lynn Shultz - The school itself is just another private day school, but it makes a great setting for the action scenes, and it is where all of Emma's new relationships are forged.

9. I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have To Kill You, by Ally Carter - The Gallagher Academy is a training school for the spies of the future, and is full of secret passageways and gadgetry.

10. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, by J. K. Rowling - How could I not include one of the most famous boarding school books of all time? Hogwarts is a character in its own right.

Do you like books in which school plays a major role? Are you a fan of any of the books on my list?

Monday, August 12, 2013

Monday Amusements 15

Which of these books do you think I should read next? Leave me a comment and help me choose!

Fictional Scenes I Want to Live at So Many Books, So Little Time got me thinking. I'd also love to visit Hogwarts, be Edie for that scene in the Louvre, and go to all manner of 1920's parties.

I loved Eleanor Wood's guest post at Fluttering Butterflies - it's like she read my mind, I relate so much to her experience of being a teenager. I will have to read Gemini Rising.

I could have written most of this post myself: Things I’m Afraid To Tell You – A Book Blogger Confesses ALL! I am gradually reading and posting more but I'm never going to be one of those bloggers that posts a review every day, or even every other day. I have too many other interests and I love list posts! Reviews, though important, are less entertaining to write and promote.

Can you work out which books are featured in the YA Contemporary Covers Quiz?

Onto my favourite reviews! I have so many this week - thanks to some determined Feedly-reading - that I'm just going to list them.

Severed Heads, Broken Hearts, by Robyn Schneider, at So Many Books, So Little Time
Dangerous Girls, by Abigail Haas, at Writing from the Tub
The Beautiful and the Cursed, by Page Morgan, at Lunar Rainbows
The Savages, by Matt Whyman, at Wear the Old Coat
Burn Bright, by Marianne de Pierres, at The Pewter Wolf
Dead Jealous, by Sharon Jones, at Fluttering Butterflies
Ocean of Secrets, by Aimee Friedman, at Cicely Loves Books
Deception, by C.J. Redwine, at Auntie Spinelli Reads
Anatomy of a Boyfriend, by Daria Snadowsky, at Once Upon a Bookcase
Weirdos vs. Quimboids, by Natasha Desborough, at SisterSpooky
See You At Harry's, by Jo Knowles, at Readaraptor
OCD Love Story, by Corey Ann Haydu, at Rather Be Reading
The Distance Between Us, by Kasie West, at Quinn's Book Nook

Finally, 12 Onomatopoeias from Around the World - is it just me or is 'ghrutu ghrutu' a much better approximation of the noise a pig makes than 'oink oink'?

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Wish Had Sequels

Wow! It feels like it's been absolutely ages since the last time I wrote a Top Ten Tuesday post. I took a little break because I was busy and the topics didn't really appeal to me that strongly, but there's a whole load coming up now that are right up my street! My last Top Ten Tuesday was in May, and I've done 24 Top Ten Tuesdays in total. As always, Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by its creators at The Broke and the Bookish.

This topic was a tricky one. Lots of the books I love have sequels, and many of my favourite standalones have neat, tied-up endings and don't provide any material for a potential sequel. That's why I could only manage a Top Eight!

Top Eight Books I Wish Could Have Had Sequels

1. Dramarama, by E. Lockhart - I would love to know what Sadye did next! There are hints about the path she might take but I'd love to read about it in full.

2. The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, also by E. Lockhart - It's a brilliant standalone but I think it's impossible to love it without wanting, even just a little bit, to find out what Frankie does next. Even if only at university. Or in senior year of high school!

3. Journey to the River Sea, by Eva Ibbotson - Need more Miss Minton. That is all.

4. Janes in Love, by Cecil Castellucci and Jim Rugg - This is itself a sequel to The Plain Janes, and there was supposed to be a third in the series, Janes Go Summer, but it was cancelled when the imprint was closed. Oh, comics industry.

5. Everything Beautiful, by Simmone Howell - I just want to spend more time with all the characters! I wonder how things work out between Riley and Dylan, and Riley and her stepmother.

6. Notes from the Teenage Underground, also by Simmone Howell - What does Gem do next? Don't get me wrong, both these books are wonderful as they are, great standalones! I am just really curious.

7. Matilda, by Roald Dahl - wouldn't you just love to know what she's like when she's a bit older?

8. Diary of a Grace, by Sarra Manning - I know why this has no sequel, but the little bit of me that is still fifteen desperately wants to know whether she stays with Toph or gets back with Jack!

Do you share any of my choices? Isn't it completely annoying when sequels are cancelled? I know that happens fairly regularly with paranormal romance/urban fantasy series that don't do as well as the publisher and author hoped. Has it ever happened to a series you loved?


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