Tag Archives: Books

Lucky I’ve read enough

So far in 2015 I have read a total number of 28 books. Thank god this week’s Top Ten Tuesday By the Broke and the Bookish: Top Ten books I’ve read so far in 2015, was this year and not any other year before when I would have only read 10 books so far. Seriously how do serious readers get anything done?

So here is the top ten books I’ve read this year that you should all get on board with if you haven’t already.

  1. Daughter of Smoke and Bonedaughter of smoke and bone

If ever there was a book as well deserving on the number one spot it is this. Northern Lights meets

This book catapulted up my list of favourite books of all time within the first few chapters. Excellently written, intrigue for day, and characters of absolute greatness. Please oh please never be made into a movie. However I lved the whole series – which is three books. Therefore 1-3 of this list is taken up by Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Days of Blood and Starlight, and Dreams of Gods and Monsters. Hey it’s not like I have a big list to play with here.

  1. Night CircusNight Circus

It’s like someone captured Tim Burton and put him in literature. The imagery and mystery in the book was so beautifully uncanny that I had to revaluate my life. I didn’t know who I was until I read this book. Now I still don’t but I have a weird obsession with monochrome.

  1. The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets

The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets came highly recommended on WordPress. So I was meaning to get around to it for a while. It’s really rare to come across a period piece set in the 50’s (weird year), but holy shit am I glad they did. Drama and class come to a head.

  1. Wintergirlswintergirls

You only have to read this book to understand the meaning of an unreliable narrator. Laurie Halse Anderson wrote from the perspective of a girl with anorexia, and did an impressive job of insight. Give the lady an award. And a burger.

  1. Fangirl

Fangirl was a delicious insight into the mind of a girl who most readers can relate to. A girl who wouldfangirl (2) rather live inside a good book. It was spectacularly told, and I was excited for her imaginary success the whole time. I almost wish the story was real just so I could follow her blog purely out of readerly support.

  1. Masquerade

Masquerade caught me a bit by surprise. I read most of it with a ‘feel-good’ mood that cute little stories often provide. Then Bam. Shock ending that confuses everyone and leaves all the strings loose. Just rude. But still a great story.

  1. The Bone seasonthe bone season

The Bone Season was a particularly epic science fiction that I didn’t think I was going to get into. I don’t know why but I always feel that way about books that are given to me for free. I really ought to know better.  I read the Bone season, and the sequel ‘The Mime Order’ in quick succession and I probably won’t get to read the next one until I’m old enough to have forgotten what the first two were about. First world problems.

  1. The Ruby Circle

It was a sign from the heavens when Ruby circle came out on my birthday. To misquote Phil Dunphy, It’s like God and [Richelle Mead] got together to say, “we love you [Amy]”.  I mean  it all ended a little too rosily, but at least no one died. You hear that Rowling?! She would have kept Fred!

Now I’m going to have a stalk through all of your TTT’s to get the list of books I’ll read for the next half of the year. Any suggestions?

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‘Fangirl’ by Rainbow Rowell

★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

I’m glad I didn’t give up on Rainbow Rowell. But I still think it’s a stupid name. Some of you may remember my absolute horror at reading ‘Landline’ earlier this year. This was Rowell’s first attempt (and I use that word with heavy sarcasm) at writing adult fiction. It won Goodreads book of 2014. I read only good reviews. I read it. Hated it. Boring, adulty, nonsense. GOD ADULTS ARE BORING. And I am one myself. Mostly.

Then I read ‘Fangirl’, and the Rainbow Rowell fanclub made a lot more sense. Rowell has captured the epic reader’s life in 460 pages. In my version of the book anyway. In a nutshell: life is just something that happens around books. Sometimes it can appear to be dull and grey and frankly messy. But life in your perfect little book is just that. Perfect. I have never related to a character so perfectly as I did with Cather and Wren. The utter obsession with a book, the desire to live in it’s pages, the disdain for people who like the Great Outside.

Our protagonist Cather, is an antisocial fanfic writer. She’s a nobody in the real world, but online? Bitch is famous. I can’t imagine the pressure of having thousands of people read your posts every day. When I make a spelling mistake, chances are no one mean enough to point out my spelling mistake is going to tell me before I get the chance to fix it myself. And even I sweat it out seeing the little “beep beep boop” that says your post is live. Still isn’t enough to make me read over what I’ve written before I post it though. Such effort am I right?

I stopped reading for about a month and sunk into the depressive state of: real job – five days a week, eat, sleep, bang head against a wall, repeat. It happens often. It happens when I stop reading. Then, on an accidental burst of internet through my crappy phone, I discovered I was two whole weeks behind schedule of my 50 books a year goal. And I had read in advance just in case! Enter the panicked Amy reading five books in two weeks. I read and I read and I didn’t blog because INTERNET, also because CBF M8.

I wandered aimlessly around Dymocks trying to catch a title that would pique my interest. It’s sort of hard when you have no internet and no subsequent internet friends to rely on for reviews. Current-boyfriend-Peychaud was no help with advice – handing me ‘One Direction’ colouring books and Japanese phrase books. Then I thought: I’m just going to have to read Fangirl and be fucking done with it aren’t I. If it doesn’t work out, at least I have Japanese for Dummies to fall back on.

Thank god. Because Fangirl did what the other books (even some seriously great ones) couldn’t. It spurred me to write again. Mostly out of the necessity to reassure Rainbow that she wasn’t a total waste of space. I know it’s been keeping her up at night.

Despite your stupid name…Rainbow, I think you’re alright. Now go and get some rest. Four months of thinking some nameless internet-hoe (that’s me) doesn’t like you, has got to be exhausting. And I’ll post this as soon as I get even a fraction of internet. I promise.

So thanks to all the internet-humans out there for making me read Fangirl. I guess I’ll give Eleanor and Park a go now.

★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Romance is for saps. And other things I dislike about lit love.

Tuesday, Tuesday, Tuesday, the day for lit list lovers. This week’s theme on The Broke and the Bookish is the Top Ten things we dislike in literature when it comes to romance. Now I could be all judgmental and begin with the obvious – ‘falling in love because he buys you pasta’ is just not realistic. But that’s too easy – and I think Twilight has been picked on enough. So here is the top ten irritating things about love and love interests in my books.

  1. When they get Honour and Stupidity mixed up

For example: “Ill protect you!” – runs straight into a scene where the far more capable and intelligent heroine has everything planned and he fucks it up trying to save her. Pretty much everything Chaol (from Throne of Glass) does. Every time. Eugh I hate that guy.

  1. When he has long hair

Please tell me I am not alone in finding the windswept shoulder length hair the least dimitrisexy thing ever? Tied at the nape of his neck? Thick braids? Tucked behind your ears? Are you a female? Why are you making me question whose hair is bowing in the wind in every scene when the two of you are together?  I don’t care how many muscles you have. Cut your damn hair son! <waves cane at uncouth youth>

  1. When they make you mad! IBXBUETU!

This is different from them being stupid. They have a good reason but you can’t help but think – surely there is a better way of addressing the issue. Now I loved Will Herondale, but in Clockwork Angel when he tore up Tessa’s heart to make her hate him I was back to square one. I remember thinking at the time – ‘I know you’re going to have a good reason for this, but I don’t want to f*cking hear it! I really must find that scene to see if it was as dreadful as I remember.

  1. When they are both awful people

frankly my dearAaaand they don’t even end up together. I got all the way through ‘Gone with the Wind’. It was no small feat. I thought it was all going to be worth it, when SPOILER Rhett and Scarlett broke up. They were both awful, tacky, mean spirited, bastards individually and I thought at least they have each other and they can love each other in spite of the wretched flaws they both possess. Some physical violence ensued, I’m pretty sure Rhett pushes her down the stairs, she wants him to stay, he’s says: no fucks given… COME ON! This is not a romance for the ages.

  1. When they initially loved someone else to breaking point

You know how you know when you’re reading a romance novel? Because the main character has found their soul mate. Its romance, it is meant to exist. So it just shits me beyond belief when one of the characters has multiples. The biggest example of this is in Romeo and Juliette. At the beginning Romeo is head over heels, suicidal for Rosaline. How fickle is this lad? Did he really love Juliette or was he going to go die for any old girl off the street?

  1. When the sex scenes are so vague you don’t realise it even happened

When the author wants to handle the deed so delicately so as not to offend anyone – girl witheither that or they think their parents will read it and judge them… Then they will reference it later in the book and you’re all – wait one moment sir! That never happened. But yes. All those metaphors and beautiful dancing, or twister, or piercing someone’s ear was the sex. Wow. Why even bother.

  1. When sensual descriptions rub you the wrong way

I don’t know if I’m alone on this or not but irks me beyond belief when something is described poorly or in a way that gives you the complete opposite effect. ‘Sensual, sculptured lips’ – on a man. Now I’m picturing him with lips that look like he has been through a bee attack. ‘Creamy brown hair’? Now I feel like his hair is made of cream. I’m not attracted to this sensual-cream man. Is this a Cadbury ad?

  1. When they spend more time apart

jace hugI know it is all part of the suspense and they have to go on their own journeys to prove they love each other – or whatever the hell it is they do. It’s just so frustrating when someone is held captive for three books, when they have been magicked to forget love, or when they think they are brother and sister…

  1. When someone is immortal

You can’t help but calculate how long before shit starts to get really awkward. And it will obviously end sadly – with one immortal person roaming the earth alone forever, heart broken, never dying.

  1. When they leave them to die anyway…

There is one thing I really don’t understand in supposed YA love, and that’s when someone sacrifices themselves (usually stupidly) and the other will spot them dying/being captured/etc and then run. RUN! Do you even love that person?! Isn’t love when you care about someone more than yourself? Jeez…

‘Paper Towns’ by John Green

★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

paper towns

Photo by Peychaud

I had roughly 300 words of a review written on The Bane Chronicles when I gave up. It was excellent. I don’t have much else to say about it, so you should all be impressed that I could bullshit those 3 words into 300. Point is, I read it because I was leftover sad from reading ‘Winter Girls’. Then I accidentally read a book and a half before I did a review. So we are skipping The Bane Chronicles obvious excellent review, and moving straight on to Paper Towns.

Paper Towns was pretty cool. It wasn’t incredibly insightful or subtle like a lot of young adult novels. However this meant that there wasn’t all those literature techniques getting in the way of a good old fashioned plot. Honestly a plot can be so overshadowed when really it’s the only thing you need to get published. A perfect example is Home and Away. For all of those non-Australians or people that have better things to do at 7pm, or 7:30 (I don’t know, I’m a part of the latter group) Home and Away is a terrible Australian soap. It has no foreshadowing, no metaphors, no symbolism, nothing really relatable or logical. However – they have a plot – and they have been on air longer than I have been alive. Probably. I’m not going to do a lot of research here. Let’s not start expecting too much scholarly work here.

100 words later, I was just trying to say. Awesome plot.

So just to make my ramblings seem worth it here is the actual plot. Q has a slight obsession (mistaken as love) for the girl next door, Margo. Margo is not your girl-next-door girl. She’s rather self-obsessed, her parents are kind of mean, and she likes to play along with paper people in a paper town. That’s what she calls her friends and family. She likens them to 2 dimensional objects. Then one day she runs away, hinting to Q that she is going to commit suicide, and leaving all the obscure clues to rekindle his obsession. Bitch. Of course this is all written as a love story instead. (I’m just reading it like I read everything – with hatred and skeptisism and a desire to find something to obsess over). It’s nothing as heart wrenching as The Fault in Our Stars. I still haven’t drunk enough water to replace all the tears I shed through that bad boy.

This is only the second John Green book I have read and I feel like they are both fairly excellent in depicting teens. I wouldn’t go recommending them into the reading curriculum of high schools – but maybe just for the few that will do personal reading. Still better than ‘Looking for Alibrandi’.

paper townsAlso fun fact – Paper Towns is currently being made into a movie. With Cara Delevingne as Margo. Margo isn’t actually the star, as many articles seem to imply or state outright.  She is sort of the villain. Sorry.

Not sorry. She’s totally the villain.

On another note, as cool as Cara is, I don’t think she is a Margo. I like Cara, I’m not fussed about Margo. That really isn’t another note. This is the same note in a different paragraph. Also so weird that her name is Margo. If her name is actually Margaret why would you go for Margo, as opposed to say Maggie, or Meg, or Peggy, or anything but Margo. Let’s just go ahead and finish the rest of her name. Margo. Roth. Spiegelman. Roth. Roth. Spiegelman. John Green the man with – lets face it – the dullest name since John Smith, has a fondness for gross sounding names. Gus. Margo. Hazel. The other one. Also the same 4 people are playing the same 4 teenagers that are being played in all YA-book-to-YA-movies. WHY IS THIS! HAS THE UNIVERSE STOPPED MAKING YOUNG SOULFUL LOOKING PEOPLE!

‘Wintergirls’ by Laurie Halse Anderson

★ ★ ★ ☆☆

wintergirls

Photo by Peychaud

Technically there is a lot to love about this book. Original writing style, strong and scary themes, magical realism, relatable characters. It’s great really. Only now I am so hungry. And rather sad. I hate it when books make me feel like this – though I guess that’s when you know it is a good book. I found this book very hard to rate. It was amazing truly. But I wouldn’t read it again. It’s too sad. A little too dark and real for my tastes. It deserves 4 stars – and if I were an impartial robot, I would give it just that – but this is my personal blog space and I can do whatever the hell I like. So that’s why I gave it 3.

Far be it from me to actually give a scholarly review or even give a summary of the book – I’m just not that kind of girl – but I suppose I could give you my version of it.

Lia is a wintergirl. For anyone wondering what the title of the book has to do with anorexia – it doesn’t really. It’s just Laurie’s made up word to describe the girls like Cassie and Lia, girls who are essentially dying of starvation. Lia she sees food in numbers (calories), she loves most of her family, though doesn’t appreciate much they do for her. She doesn’t have a job, or go to school too much, plays no sports, has no friends, and only ever pretends to read books. I can only assume because she doesn’t actually possess the strength to do any of this. It makes me shudder to think of how weak and crumbly she probably is. Laurie does an excellent job of Lia. She is completely real to me. I feel like I went to school with her. It leaves a bad taste in your mouth, it really does. Anyway, plot goes: Cassie dies, Lia is already suffering some serious mental problems and can’t seem to cope with the grief on top of that. She fights her family and pretends she is trying to get better, when really she is doing the opposite. There isn’t really a big climax, just rises and falls throughout the story. I read it in a night.

One problem I foresee for ‘Wintergirls’ is the unbelievable accuracy of the inside look at the mind of a girl suffering from anorexia. I’ll be the last person to blame an author for the way people read into their books – but I was sort of disgusted in the way Lia thinks. I just know some teenage idiot is going to use this book for thinspiration. It makes me annoyed when people use my precious literature to further their own delusions. I feel like the struggle of the family and the helplessness they feel is shadowed by Lia’s own mental state, that unless you recognise that Lia is actually cray, you wont be able to see the effect she is having on everyone around her.

Id cry if I could, I really would.

‘Landline’ by Rainbow Rowell

★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Might I start by saying – I cannot believe this is the book who won Good Reads Book of 2014.

landline

Photo by Peychaud

I guess my age is showing when I say I did not particularly enjoy this book. It’s a tale of a middle aged woman who is having some boring marital troubles. I should have listened to my gut instinct when it told be ‘anyone with a name like Rainbow Rowell will not be capable of writing anything that isn’t cutesy.’  What a waste of my third book of the year.

There is wishy washy love triangle between Seth, Georgie, and Neal (ugliest name ever) and it was just awful. I didn’t ship Seth, the long term best friend who loved her for yours, I didn’t ship her husband whom she had two children with. I was rooting for her to go back to her job and accelerate her career. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate love, or think of it as a second class citizen, I just really don’t care for Georgie’s love life. She’s been married to this fellow for what 15 years? 20 years? Congratulations on making up with your husband after a fight – but it’s nothing to write home about. Or in my case, write online about. Except it is because I am. But only for your sake. You need the truth. The internet is lying to you about Landline.

Georgie spent the book telling us how obsessed she was with work, then proceeded to turn up late every day, not work at all when she went, and leave early. Then at the end SPOILER, ignore her work and dream job entirely to do an 80’s rom-com dash to the airport. Will someone hold my hair back while I throw up the averageness of this book? She is the funniest woman in the world everybody lies(apparently) yet I didn’t laugh once. She doesn’t get enough sleep, yet sleeps till 12 every day. Her last name is McCool yet she is so VERY FAR FROOM COOL. Everything I was lead to believe was the opposite.

I rarely write a review of a book I didn’t enjoy, but after all the hype and all the drama of landline online, and the clearly falsified Goodreads stance, I felt I should probably let you, dear reader, know the truth. It’s fairly shit. Maybe if you have two children, and a mopey husband you will find this relatable and heartening, but it made me feel murderous and consider actually murdering someone just so I know my life will never turn into this.

I need to be consolidated. I need angry chocolate. And I need angry TV.

‘The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets’ by Eva Rice

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

I am so very jealous of everyone who hasn’t read this book – because it means they get to read it. the-lost-art-of-keeping-secretsI’m not a giant fan of romance books – nor of 50’s fan girls, but this book was so excellently written that I forgave that. Long after I finished the book I kept feeing like I wanted to watch another episode. Occasionally I’ll forget whether it was a book or a show I was watching.

The lost art of keeping secrets is full of sage advice and “RIGHT!” moments. The things that tip a four star book to a five. I tried to keep a list of all the excellent moments in this book, but it would have taken me twice as long to read, and then I wouldn’t be able to keep up with my 50-books-this-year-resolution. And my, oh my, what excellent cover art – nothing I despise more than seeing some strangers face on the character I have in my mind. On the other hand, I do like seeing what they are wearing. Decent publishers will recognise decent books and can obviously hire decent photographers/graphic designers etc. There is logic behind judging a book by its cover.

Speaking of appearances, it was the major theme in this book. Unlike secrets, as the title would lead you to believe. It seems that upper class young adults in the 50’s were as obsessed about it as are the selfie-gens that dominate now. I think if the narcissists of the world were readers (which they clearly are not) this book would speak to them, and maybe help them cope with the reality of the world as it is – and as it was.

I worried for half a minute that I should have worn better shoes, then realized everyone else was too concerned with his or her own appearance to bother about mine.

Penelope Wallace, p. 100

AND

Charlotte read my mind. “Beware of good lighting,” she warned, as full of wise advice as I expected her to be. “It’s almost as dangerous as alcohol.”

Penelope Wallace, p. 100.

It’s strange of romantics never seem to romanticise. They never really fit their own genre. Yet all of the characters have serious flaws and annoyances that make you hate them at the same time. Harry and Penelope with their obsessions, Marina and Talitha with their narcissism, Charlotte and Inigo with their naivety. It infuriating and endearing at the same time.

For a whole month we met every night – but I never once saw her during the day. Well, it never seemed strange to me at the time, but it was, of course. You have to see your lover during the day at some point, don’t you? Otherwise the whole thing remains a dream. Perhaps that’s what she wanted.

Harry Delancy, p. 71

Oh Harry. You’re a sausage. Like most romances this book was heavily character – and dialogue driven, which made for a fast read. Also handy considering how little time I seem to have on my hands. I think I will be reading this again, maybe I missed something the first time.