Archive for December, 2014

2014 Wrap-Up

Before we set out in trying to somehow distil this year into five books, I’m going to say:

  • Each author can only appear once
  • It must be a novel (i.e. fiction, one story, mainly words)
  • One book per place

Now, without further ado, here’s my top five.

1. Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides – I kept going back and forth between this one and The Virgin Suicides, but in the end, this one won out. All I have to say is READ IT.

2. We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler – I didn’t expect the book to tear my heart out, but it did. Multiple times. I love the narrative style, and the concept, and the twist. Oh man, the twist.

3. Vicious by V.E. Schwab – I honestly did not know whether this book was going to live up to the hype or not, but it exceeded expectations, and I want a movie. Or a sequel. Or both.

4. We Were Liars by E. Lockhart – Another one with a lot of hype, and for a good reason. This story combines fairytales and messy, wealthy families and gorgeous prose and it is probably the best young adult fiction I have read this year.

5. The Hero of Ages by Brandon Sanderson – I could not exclude this amazing, spectacular, wonderful ending to a superb fantasy trilogy. I was so blown away by how well everything was wrapped up, and the bravery of the choices made in this series.

Unlike last year, I have quite a few honorary mentions.

In the non-fiction sphere, I fell in love with Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo, and I have not ceased to recommend this book to absolutely everyone.

In the graphic novels category, the winners are Blankets by Craig Thompson and The Arrival by Shaun Tan, which are both well worth your time. There were a lot of strong competitors in this round but I did my best to narrow it down to those two which have gorgeous art styles, really interesting themes, and brilliant choices in telling their stories.

Amongst the short story collections, I chose Nocturnes by Kazuo Ishiguro, which hit me hard in the heart. So hard, in fact, that I have a hard time rereading that collection because it makes me so damn emotional.

Hope you guys all had great reading years, and we will see you in 2015!

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Xmas BookTube-A-Thon 2014 Wrap-Up

No one is going to be surprised by how I did on this.

So basically I was a lot busier during the Friday to Sunday period than I thought, and I did about… no… reading…

So that was bad.

I decided to change this thing to the 18th, 22nd, and 23rd of December instead. Because then at least I’d have a chance. Which basically meant I cheated but hey, three days, around the Xmas season, still completed all the challenges – that’s not too bad, right?

So I twisted the rules a little. But that’s okay, we’re all friends here.

So what did I read?

1. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
I can’t remember how much of this I read on Thursday, so I’m going to say 100 pages. It was bloody good, let me tell you. I was on the verge of crying many, many times. I also do not accept that ending. It was great, but I’m pretending it didn’t happen. 5 shuriken stars.

2. The Hero of Ages by Brandon Sanderson
I finally completed this trilogy (which I’ve been meaning to do for FOREVER, so it completes one of the goals). I was already a bit of the way through so I read about 600 pages of this. Oh my god, it was amazing. Brandon Sanderson actually managed to wrap up all the loose ends, even ends that I didn’t realise were loose ends. 5 shuriken stars.

3. Fearsome Dreamer by Laure Eve
After I spent a good deal of time mourning the end of the Mistborn Trilogy, I picked this up, which fulfils my other two goals (read a book given to you and read a book with red and green on the cover, which is probably being a bit too lenient on the weird turquoisey and pinky-reddish colours, but I don’t care, I’m counting it). I think the series has a lot of potential, and I like the world, but there was not enough of anything yet for me really to decide. Either way, I’m intrigued. 4 shuriken stars.

4. The Alloy of Law by Brandon Sanderson
I read about 250 pages of this, for no reason other than missing the Mistborn world a hell of a lot. Now that I’ve finished those last 50 or so other pages, I can tell you that it’s (unsurprisingly) 5 shuriken stars.

Page count time!

I read about… 1300 pages! That’s a lot more than I expected actually, so I’m happy with that. Thanks, Brandon Sanderson, for writing massive books.

Happy Holidays Everyone!

We Were Liars – E. Lockhart

SPOILERS AHEAD (I mean I try to be vague but yeah SPOILERS)

When I finished this book (all the way back in July), I knew it was going to be one of my favourite books of the year.

It was that easy to tell.

Summary

Four teenagers meet every year on a beach. One year they try to do something really symbolic but are drunk off their asses and end up doing something really dumb instead.

Cons

That it is not popular enough. I know it is getting a lot of media attention, but more people need to read it. Everyone needs to read it, it is fantastic.

Pros

This book contains many of my favourite things: fairytales, beach holidays, excessively wealthy and corrupt families, foreshadowing, unreliable narrators, ambiguity, and lies.

I have a lot to say about this book but I don’t exactly know what it is yet. It also has been a really long time since I read it, but the book is so jam-packed full of interesting stuff that I want to discuss it with someone, anyone, so I can put my thoughts about it in order. So let’s try.

The Title

It is perfect for many reasons.

First, the use of the pronoun “We”. It cements the idea of these four teenagers being one, inseparable gang. Parts of a whole. As though their fates are tied together. We ride together, we die together kind of thing. We are not complete unless we are together.

“Were” is also perfect. Past tense. Very important.

And lastly, “Liars”, the most important word of all. Which I can barely even process without thinking of all those clever layers in the novel.

Lies & Liars

I don’t even know where to begin, and I’m definitely not going to cover everything, so let’s just keep this quick.

Cadence lies to herself. The kids all lie to each other. Their family is a big messy pile of lies, and their lifestyle itself is all convoluted and distorted by the lies. There are half-truths and brutal metaphors and twisty-turny narrative choices that all lead to this book being a wonderfully constructed thing full of lies and liars.

This subject could be an essay. But we don’t have time for that. Moving on!

In-Betweeny Bits

Did I mention that I love fairytale adaptations?

Those little snippets with Fairytale and Shakespearian influences were like nuggets of gold.

I loved them. Loved loved loved them.

The Writing

Freaking gorgeous.

That is all.

Cons

Yeah, I can’t think of any.

Quotes

  • “Be a little kinder than you have to.”
  • “If you want to live where people are not afraid of mice, you must give up living in palaces.”
  • “We are liars. We are beautiful and privileged. We are cracked and broken.”
  • “He was contemplation and enthusiasm. Ambition and strong coffee. I could have looked at him forever.”
  • “He was a person who couldn’t fake a smile but smiled often.”
  • “I’ll be fine, they tell me. I won’t die. It’ll just hurt a lot.”

Overall

In conclusion, this book is bloody brilliant. 5 shuriken stars.

Xmas BookTube-A-Thon 2014

We’re doing it again.

Not that we were particularly successful last time, and this seems like a dumb idea because I’m probably going to be pretty busy, but who cares! We’re doing it!

Info on this thing here

Now we’ve still got a couple of days before this thing starts, so this list isn’t set in stone, but here is my TBR for this thing to fill all the challenges.

1) Read a book with red and green on the cover!
The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flannagan – Yes, I know what you’re thinking. That is not a festive choice, and it will make you sad and cry for hours. I know. It’s also massive. I’m aware of that. Altogether not a good choice for a marathon. But dammit I really want to read this book.

2) Read a book you really wanted to read this year!
More Than This by Patrick Ness – I have no excuse for not having read this book yet other than I was waiting for the perfect time. And now I have the chance to sit down and read it all in one go, so I’d call that pretty perfect.

3) Read a book that was gifted to you!
Fearsome Dreamer by Laure Eve – Someone out there (and you know who you are) is going to kill me if I don’t read this. So here. Ha.

4) Read 3 books!
If I don’t finish these books in time I will probably read some graphic novels to put my book count up. But we’ll see what those are when we get there (most likely Maus, but who knows)

Anyway, hope you join in too, and I will see you in the Xmas BookTube-A-Thon! 🙂

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