Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Most Frustrating Characters Ever

Time to let out the rage! My enthusiasm for this topic is such that I've made it one point per book, so I can get 12 characters in. I'm sneaky like that. I have tried to put the list in order going from least frustrating to most frustrating, but it was quite difficult, and it's not perfect.

This is my fifteenth Top Ten Tuesday post! Top Ten Tuesday was created and is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Be warned: minor swear words ahoy!

This cat represents how I feel about Bella Swan. Yeah, I went to the Flickr Creative Commons page and searched for 'angry cat'. What of it. Photo by Captain Pancakes, who also has a blog.

Top Ten Most Frustrating Characters Ever

1. Kim Yamamoto from The Boyfriend List, by E. Lockhart - Why would you start dating your best friend's ex-boyfriend days after they broke up and decide she has to be okay with it because he's your "soulmate"? Facepalms all round...

2. Dylan Kowalski from the Diary of a Crush trilogy, by Sarra Manning - This one is a good kind of frustrating. If Dylan wasn't frustrating, there would be no plot. But my god, is that boy frustrating‽ He only gets more frustrating in each book. I love it.

3. Mr Sheridan from Nobody's Family Is Going To Change, by Louise Fitzhugh - Some more necessary frustration. The point of the whole book is that he stubbornly refuses to consider what would actually make his children happy.

4. Mr Bennet from Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen - Most people seem to think that Mr Bennet should be in the 'Top Ten Best Dads in Literature' list, but they are wrong. He belongs on this list! His wife and all his daughters will become homeless when he dies unless at least some of them get married, and does he give the tiniest shit about it? Does he do anything to try to prevent this? I'm not saying he should be obsessed about it like his wife, but some concern would be, well, parental...

5. Meghan Chase from The Iron Fey, by Julie Kagawa - Oh, Meghan. Why do you keep running into dangerous situations without asking for more information about them?

6. Dolores Umbridge and Ron Weasley from the Harry Potter series, by J. K. Rowling - Musical interlude! This Harry and the Potters song says it all re: Umbridge. Though Imelda Staunton does not look like a frog.

Now, Ron, why are you so jealous that Harry has to risk his life over and over? And why do you keep pretending that you're not madly in love with Hermione? Oh well, he does grow and change and I love him.

7. Stephen from We Had It So Good, by Linda Grant - He just goes along with life and never seems to actually make a decision or take action for himself.

8. Sephy and Jude from Noughts & Crosses, by Malorie Blackman - I really only mean child-Sephy, because she doesn't have the imagination to understand why Callum and the other Noughts find some things she says offensive. I like her once she grows up, whereas Jude turns out to be horrible. He doesn't seem to care about anything at all, not even the cause he's supposedly fighting for. I think he just enjoys it all.

9. Bella Swan from Twilight, by Stephenie Meyer - So you start at a new school, and almost everyone is nice and welcoming. Are you a) nice back or do you b) not give a crap, only being interested in the pale people who sit together in a boring little clique? Think about it for approximately two seconds and you'll agree, Bella is a dickhead. And don't get me started on how she suddenly becomes really clumsy in chapter six, or whatever it is. Based on the film and reviews, I think she only gets more frustrating in New Moon, but I won't be reading it, because she was barely sufferable in Twilight.

10. Amy March from Little Women, by Louisa M. Alcott - She burnt Jo's manuscript. If someone burnt my only copy of the novel that I had been working on for years, they would be dead to me. Of course she does actually almost die, which leads Jo to forgive her, but that just goes to show how wonderful Jo is. Amy's still a bumface.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Settings I'd Like To See More Of (Or At All)

In which I share many novel ideas that you should probably use. This is my fourteenth Top Ten Tuesday post, but yet again it's Wednesday as it took me a while to finish the list! Top Ten Tuesday was created and is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

Top Ten Settings I'd Like To See More Of (Or At All)
  1. British Boarding Schools - I eat boarding school stories up, well, like Girl Meets Cake. (See also: Night School)

  2. London - I live in London, but that doesn't stop me loving stories set here. From Sarra Manning's Pretty Things/Adorkable to Luisa Plaja's Extreme Kissing to Libba Bray's Gemma Doyle trilogy - if the characters spend time in London, I'm having fun.

  3. Subcultures - I really enjoyed Jo Brand's It's Different For Girls, and won't somebody who was around at the time write a book set during the heyday of goth? Pretty please with a black eyeliner pencil on top?

  4. Spaceships - specifically, I'd like to read more YA about girls who live on spaceships. I'm brewing up a novel like this myself but there's plenty of room at this party - come on in, the space water's lovely.

  5. British secondary schools - I haven't read many great UKYA books largely set at school and this is a shame, because there is so much potential there to be explored.

  6. Arts schools - E. Lockhart has covered performing arts with Dramarama and visual arts with Fly on the Wall, while Sophie Flack's Bunheads reminded me how much I loved ballet stories as a kid, but I want more!

  7. Paris - To be fair, there are probably loads of YA books set in Paris, but only Diary of a Crush:French Kiss and Nobody's Girl spring to my mind immediately. Sarra Manning just makes Paris sound so good, I have to be careful not to read any of her books in the same week that I watch an episode of Rachel Khoo's The Little Paris Kitchen or I'll find myself packing my bags and grabbing my passport.

  8. Less well-known countries - Admittedly, there are scores of popular YA books set in the US, UK, Canada, Australia, and all the most tourist-doused European countries. Even India gets a fair bit of teen-literary attention, though almost always with an American or British protagonist. I would like to read more stories about teens in other countries that are actually growing up in those countries.

  9. Universities - Young Adult or New Adult or literary fiction, I'd like to read more books set in universities. Especially if those universities are NOT Oxbridge.

  10. Libraries - because they're not just for sitting in and reading or collecting books from!
Have you read any books with these settings that you'd recommend to me?

Monday, January 21, 2013

Monday Amusements 7

Welcome to my first Monday Amusements post of 2013, bringing you some of my favourite bookish articles and blog posts from the last few weeks and beyond!

Simon from the Big Green Bookshop wrote about how Andrew Kaufman's All My Friends Are Superheroes saved his camping holiday. All My Friends Are Superheroes was one of the earliest books I reviewed on this blog, and it really is lovely. You should go read it, now. My review is here.

Keris Stainton, author of Della Says: OMG!, is running a online course about writing for teenagers.

Clover, of Fluttering Butterflies, shares her top tips for beating reading slumps, and they must be effective, as I'm sure she's one of book blogging's biggest readers.

Tanya at Girlxoxo responds to the proliferation of top book cover lists that only feature white models by sharing three great covers featuring people of varied ethnicities.

Amanda from the Strange Chemistry blog wonders 'So When Will YA Sci-Fi Finally Arrive?'. I think this is an excellent question because I really love sci-fi with teen characters. More please!

I was excited to read about the Bristol Women's Literature Festival, though I can't actually go myself.

C. J. Daugherty, author of Night School, listed her top 10 secret society books for The Guardian. The sequel to Night School, Night School: Legacy, is out now but I haven't received a review copy so I can't read it til both my no-buy and the Double Dog Dare TBR Challenge is over. Argh! I really need to know what happens next!

Casey at Literary Escapism suggests methods to help you conquer your TBR mountain.

Most book bloggers know about In My Mailbox/Letterbox Love and Top Ten Tuesday, but have you heard of Nail Your Books, a meme in which you match your nail varnish to the cover of the book you're reading? I only found out about it when I saw a retweet of Mist's Under the Never Sky Nail Your Books post on Twitter. I've been meaning to do a cross-blog feature in which I show an outfit that matches my current book cover for ages, but just fingernails would be much less work...hmm...

Charlotte Rogan, author of The Lifeboat, wrote a really interesting essay about the lack of female anti-heroes for the Virago blog.

I think that 'Why online book discovery is broken (and how to fix it)' is a really interesting post. I agree that Amazon and other bookstore sites are next-to-useless for finding new books. Tat's why I got into book blogging in the first place, and this post suggests that book bloggers could become the online equivalent of booksellers, which is a fascinating idea.

Finally, The Flaneur is seeking photographs of bookshelves for an art project.

This year I am planning to do a Monday Amusements post at least every other Monday, so do subscribe if you enjoy my link selections. There is also an archive for you to explore.

Thursday, January 03, 2013

Reading Challenges 2013

After my less than stellar performance in my 2011 reading challenges, I decided to cut back in 2012 and only chose three. I did create my own 'Magazine Reading Challenge' that I pretty much ignored, but I plan to try it again this year, and will update the post shortly.

But the three I signed up for? I completed all of them easily. When setting myself the reading challenges last year, I think I lost sight of the operative word.


It strikes me that maybe it wasn't so bad that I tried and failed three challenges in 2011. I completed 2012's challenges almost effortlessly - they weren't really challenges at all.

With this in mind, I am signing up for a few more challenges this year. I'm not going overboard - I've decided to focus on getting my TBR pile down above all else - but I want to have more fun with my reading.

As usual, I found all the challenges through the A Novel Challenge directory.

Books read for this challenge so far:
7. Milk, Sulphate, and Alby Starvation, by Martin Millar (review forthcoming)
8. The New Girl, by Emily Perkins (review forthcoming)
9. Speak, by Laurie Halse Anderson (review forthcoming)

I'm signing up for Mt. Vancouver - and aiming to read 36 books. That's three more books than I read in total this year! Will I make this goal? WHO KNOWS. But I'm going to try.

And to that end, I'm also signing up for...

I read for this challenge:

I'm giving myself one exception - long-awaited review copies - but otherwise, this is it. I'm only allowed to read books that I owned before January 1st 2013, until April Fool's Day. GULP.

Bookmark To Blog

Books read for this challenge so far:

I have quite a few non-fiction books on my TBR that I was really excited about getting when I bought them or got them from the library, but have yet to get around to reading. I'm aiming for the lowest level, 'Geek', as I can't see myself managing more than four non-fiction books! Even two would be more than I've managed for the last few years!

2013 Outdo Yourself Reading Challenge hosted by The Book Vixen

Books read for this challenge so far:
2. Small Change, by Miriam Nash (poetry, by a friend, not sure I can review, link goes to publisher instead)
3. Vampire Kisses: Blood Relatives, Vol 1, by Ellen Schreiber (tiny manga, don't feel like reviewing it)
11. Milk, Sulphate, and Alby Starvation, by Martin Millar (review forthcoming)
12. The New Girl, by Emily Perkins (review forthcoming)
13. Speak, by Laurie Halse Anderson (review forthcoming)

This year I only read 33 books. Which is an improvement on last year. But still. I want to read more. Many more. I'm going for the top level - I’m on fire! - which means that I need to read at least 49 books.

Artwork used (with permission) for this button is Anglerfish by Vlad Gerasimov.

Books read for this challenge so far:
 1. I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have To Kill You, by Ally Carter
2. Spellbound, by Cara Lynn Shultz
3. Pushing the Limits, by Katie McGarry
4. The Secret of Ella and Micha, by Jessica Sorensen
5. St Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves, by Karen Russell
7. Persepolis, by Marjane Satrapi
8. The New Girl, by Emily Perkins (review forthcoming)
9. Speak, by Laurie Halse Anderson (review forthcoming)

This is my third go at the New Author Challenge. It's a pretty low-pressure challenge, there's only one link-up for the whole year. I'm only going to pick 15 new authors as my basic goal, though I might change it later on. This is because I want to read lots of sequels this year! Which brings me to...

Books read for this challenge so far:

I'm aiming to read ten sequels. This is definitely going to be a challenge! I hardly ever seem to get around to reading them, though I did manage five last year.

And apart from the Magazine Reading Challenge, that's it! It seems like a lot, but I'm hopeful. Have you signed up for any reading challenges this year? How do you feel about them in general?

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Resolve To Read in 2013

This is my fourteenth Top Ten Tuesday post, though again it's Wednesday! Top Ten Tuesday was created and is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

My TBR pile has nearly reached 200 so I've decided that it is time to cut it back and dedicate some serious time to reading the books I've already bought, been sent for review, or borrowed from the library. To spur me on I will be doing the TBR Double Dog Dare challenge, and definitely avoiding bookshops and the library until I'm done. With this in mind, I decided to include only books from my current TBR. There are loads of other books that I would like to read in 2013, but these |(and the remaining books from my Top Ten Unread Books On My Bookshelf) are current priorities that I am allowed to read before April! :)

Top Ten Books I Resolve To Read in 2013

1. The Sweet Far Thing, by Libba Bray - I got Rebel Angels last Christmas and read it in September, so I had to ask for The Sweet Far Thing this year. I hope to get it read ASAP so that I can read The Diviners soon! It is a massive book so it's going to take quite a while, though I'm sure I'll be addicted once I get started.

2. Kiki Strike: Inside the Shadow City, by Kirsten Miller - This series sounds really cool. Delinquent Girl Scouts? As a former Girl Guide (the British equivalent), how can I resist much longer?

3. The Diviners, by Libba Bray - I got a review copy last year and I was thrilled. It sounds fantastic and I love anything set in the 1920s.

4. God Save the Queen, by Kate Locke - Queen Victoria as a vampire, still ruling in 2012? It's had mixed reviews but I love the premise.

5. White Cat, by Holly Black - I finished the Modern Faerie Tale trilogy in 2011 and I've had White Cat on my TBR for a while now.

6. Attack of the Theater People, by Marc Acito - I wanted to re-read How I Paid For College and review it before reading its sequel, but Attack of the Theater People has sat for so long on my TBR that maybe I should just review How I Paid For College from memory and get on with it. I do remember HIPFC quite well, after all.

7. Soulless, by Gail Carriger - I did pick this up this year and read a couple of pages but I had to abandon it for review copies I wanted to read.

8. 172 Hours on the Moon, by Johan Harstad - the Atom team raved about this but I haven't seen many reviews! I must read my copy pronto.

9. The Classic Annotated Fairy Tales, by Maria Tatar - I love fairy tales! I bought this years ago! That's all!

10. The New Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, by Betty Edwards -  This is the odd one out on this list. I always wanted to be able to draw but was terrible at it. I've had this book from the library for ages but have yet to open it and give drawing another go.

Have you read any of these? Which should I start first?


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