To Read or Not to Read?

Bibliophile: An Illustrated Miscellany by Jane Mount

Bibliophile is, as the title suggests, a book for book lovers. It features illustrations of all sorts of book spines along with fun little facts about authors, books, bookshops, and libraries. There would be an image featuring a stack of books in a certain genre, followed by a page with some facts about the titles or authors of those titles. And that was fun at first when the genres were ones I was interested in.

There were also sections of book recommendations that were made by various members of the bookish community, either bookshop owners or bloggers, etc. And while it was kind of neat to see what other books bookish people like, I really didn’t find more than one book that I ended up adding to my TBR list because of the recommendation I found in Bibliophile.

And while I enjoyed flipping through the pages and learning some of the facts, especially the sections about writers and their personal writing spaces, by the end of it I was starting to fade a bit. (And it’s not like I was reading it all at once, I took my time.) All of the fun facts about fiction were more or less towards the beginning which kept me interested because I’m a big fiction fan. But then all the back passages were about different types of non-fiction and I’m not a huge non-fiction fan so most of the titles or authors were ones I either had never heard of or ones that I’d heard of and just was not interested in knowing more about.

Overall, it wasn’t a bad read. It was fun to look through and learn new things about my favorite books and authors, I’m just not sure that it needed to be turned into a book.

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To Read or Not to Read?

Stranger Things: Worlds Turned Upside Down by Gina McIntyre

When I really like a TV show or a book series I like to really immerse myself into the world. I’ll often read fanfiction and author interviews and I also like to look up trivia for TV shows on IMDB and other sites. And since I really, really like to read it made sense to look into the book Stranger Things: Worlds Turned Upside Down: The Official Behind-the Scenes-Companion, all about the Netflix original show Stranger Things which I’ve been obsessed with since season one came out in 2016. (Since then I have binged season one in 2016, season two in 2018 and then waited just a few months and rewatched all of both seasons back to back.)

It was a fun and cleverly crafted look at the series so far. There were exclusive interviews with all of the stars, the younger cast and the older ones. And even better they were themed to fit in with the show! There were Dungeons and Dragons character sheets for the younger cast, yearbook entries for the slightly older teens, and then classified laboratory write-ups for Eleven, Joyce, and Hopper.

I also enjoyed the sections about set design and how they decided to style the houses, etc. to fit not only the time period but each family within the story, matching things up based on implied family income and so on. It was neat so see how much thought went into the entire process.

Overall, I enjoyed the book quite a lot and would recommend it to anyone else who fangirls over the series.

 

To Read or Not to Read?

Disappointing Christmas Reads

As I do every year, and as I think I’ve mentioned on this blog countless times, I like to partake in holiday themed and seasonal reading. So horror books in October and lovey dovey romances in February and what-not. That means I’ve been making my way through winter/Christmassy books for the last few weeks. And so far it has been particularly disappointing.

Let’s look a bit more closely at my December reads thus far.

  • Icefall by Matthew Kirby:
    • Not necessarily a holiday read but it was set in winter which is I way I chose it for my teen book club.
    • ┬áIt was a story of Vikings and storytelling and being trapped in a hidden fortress while surrounded by ice and mountains. And while the children of the Viking king are stuck they realized that there is also a traitor stuck in the fortress with them.
    • The story was somewhat interesting and well-written but it was kind of slow? There were short backstory entries that were supposed to show the main character’s past and her ability to tell stories and talk about the possible traitors but it just didn’t add much to the story and felt out of place.
    • Overall I liked it but I felt like there could have been much more to the book.
  • The Twelve Days of Dash and Lily by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
    • I really, really liked Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares which was a book lover’s homage to books so I was pretty excited to read this sequel. Until I started it and realized what was going on.
    • I understand that the holidays can be depressing for people, especially if there have been a lot of changes in the family and health scares in the family but I really don’t want my holiday reads to be books about depressed, selfish, annoying teenagers and that’s all this book was.
    • This was the type of book where we see inside the characters heads and so we know their thoughts but they don’t say them out loud and the miscommunication leads to upset and anger and fighting that could be avoided if they’d just said what was on their damn minds. So frustrating.
    • I’m glad it was just over 100 pages. If it had been longer I would have tossed it out the window.
  • The Trouble With Christmas by Debbie Mason
    • This was a book that was turned into a Hallmark movie and it read like it. A businesswomen gets called grinchy because of a business deal she doesn’t want to make and then has to go to the quaint little town to fix the problem.
    • Very unrealistic and silly and tons of adults not acting their ages.
    • So many tropes! And of course there was a ridiculous twist at the end!
  • Christmas Wishes and Mistletoe Kisses by Jenny Hale
    • Another Hallmark style book with a poor girl getting a job where she has to work for a rich man around the holidays and of course feelings start to develop.
    • It did end up being very cute and I liked how the rich guy was kind of clueless but he wasn’t all that bad. I see a lot of stories like this where the wealthy guy is actually an ass but he still ends up with the poor girl.

I have a few more Christmassy reads on my list and am hoping something gets better because these books have been pretty disappointing.

Literary Musings · To Read or Not to Read?

My 10 Favorite Authors Right Now

And to keep the lists of ten going, up next is a list of my ten current favorite authors.

  1. Robin McKinley- Robin McKinley is the author of a whole slew of fantasy books, many of which are fairy tale retellings. Some of my favorites are Spindle’s End and Rose Daughter. I just love her lyrical writing and the many details she puts into her stories to create lush, magical realms. Also, she almost always has kick ass female characters.
  2. J.K. Rowling- I’ve been a huge Harry Potter fan pretty much ever since the books came out. I literally grew up with Harry and have so many copies of the books and so much merchandise. Unfortunately, I’ve tried some of the adult books she’s written since and I just don’t like them. It’s like she almost tries too hard to set them apart from her Harry Potter days and the writing comes off rough and inelegant.
  3. Jane Austen- I first read Pride and Prejudice back when I was in eighth grade, just for the fun of it. I loved it. Since then I’ve read quite a few of her other works and I just enjoy her female characters. Most of them are a touch annoying but they are witty and all around pretty awesome.
  4. Amie Kaufman- I stumbled upon Kaufman’s work via a NetGalley request for a science fiction love story called These Broken Stars which she cowrote with Meagan Spooner. I voraciously read that series and have since also greatly enjoyed Unearthed, which she also wrote with Spooner, and The Illuminae Files which she wrote with Jay Kristoff. All of the books are so well detailed and the characters are fantastic.
  5. Kara Thomas- In the past couple of years I’ve read what I’m pretty sure are all three of Thomas’ mystery novels and every single one has been fantastic. The characters have depth and the mysteries do as well. She is a great mystery author because all of her books had surprise reveals but they all made sense instead of being unbelievable.
  6. Sarah Addison Allen- Allen writes these books that are just beautifully written, most your normal everyday fiction stories but with just the slightest touch of magic.
  7. Rainbow Rowell- Some writers have certain types and genres that they excel at but Rowell is a talented author that doesn’t just have one type. I’ve read and enjoyed the emotional but contemporary Young Adult novels as well as her adult novels, one of which has a touch of magic. And I enjoyed them all.
  8. Laini Taylor- I haven’t really read a lot of Taylor but I’m adding her to the list because I absolutely loved the Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy that she wrote earlier this decade. It was gorgeous and so beautifully written. I currently have the start of her newest series and hope to get to it soon as well because I think those are going to be four and five star reads as well.
  9. Darynda Jones- Darynda Jones writes the Charley Davidson series about a Grim Reaper/god who is addicted to coffee and the sexiest demon ever. It sounds ridiculous and it kind of is but it’s also supremely funny and downright sexy. I’ll be curious to see what Jones does after the series is over.
  10. Sarah J. Maas- Just this year I started making my way through the Throne of Glass series and while it’s kind of contrived and predictable I also really like it? But I’m kind of glad I held off so long on starting it because that means I didn’t have to wait too long for the last book in the series which came out yesterday!! So excuse me while I get started reading…
Literary Musings · To Read or Not to Read?

10 Books From My Past

  1. The Poky Little Puppy by Janette Sebring Lowry: I remember that this was one of my favorite Little Golden Books back in the day though looking over the description of the plot is making me laugh a bit because I don’t remember anything of the plot. I remembered that the puppy got into trouble a lot but not that stealing desserts was the whole gist. I’m guessing I just liked the cute puppies and maybe being an only child I liked the idea of the puppy having so many siblings?
  2. Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister: I remember Rainbow Fish being this beautiful book that I enjoyed reading and then I reread it to a group of kids for storytime and I found it so problematic. Yes, the message about sharing is a good one but it goes too far with the Rainbow Fish being made to feel bad because he’s special and then sharing so much of himself that he doesn’t really have anything special left.
  3. The Baby-Sitters Club by Ann M. Martin: Even though I didn’t start babysitting until I was seventeen I started reading the series about pre-teen and teen babysitters way before that. I just enjoyed the group friend dynamics and how each girl had different personalities and interests and yet were still the best of friends. I read a whole bunch of them and still remember crazy details about this series.
  4. Sweet Valley High by Francine Pascal: I read a lot of Sweet Valley High back in the day but honestly all I remember is that the series starred twins Elizabeth and Jessica and that I always identified more with Elizabeth.
  5. Goosebumps by R.L. Stine: I had a brief flirtation with the “scary” stories that were the Goosebumps series, probably because the TV show was on one of the few channels that my family’s television actually got. But I remember finding the Goosebumps series more gross than scary. Except for Slappy. Ventriloquist dummies are always terrifying.
  6. Fear Street by R.L. Stine: So it wasn’t very long until I aged up to the Fear Street books which I ended up enjoying a lot more. I loved the historical ones and the modern ones and especially liked the cheerleader series. I thought they were creepy in just the right way. And Stine has started up the series again, a couple of times actually. The last iteration was a no go for me. (Were these books always so cheesy and predictable?) And I have yet to start the most recent reboot though I have it checked out from the library.
  7. Animorphs by K.A. Applegate: I vaguely remember reading some of these books and there may have been a short lived television series? Honestly, the thing I remember the most is the holographic book covers.
  8. American Girl series: Though I never had an American Girl doll (mom did get me a Bitty Baby…I think because she was a little cheaper and had less cool accessories) I still read some of the books. I liked Samantha’s stories but always thought I was more of a Molly.
  9. Dear America books: I read so many Dear America books and then I reread them again and again. Not sure why. I just liked learning about different time periods and liked the diary formats.
  10. The Belgariad by David Eddings: I’m pretty sure I was still in elementary school when, thanks to my cousin, I stumbled upon this book series about a boy with a secret, magical past. I devoured the whole series even though I distinctly remember giggling my way through any kissy kissy scenes. And actual I wonder if this was a precursor to my love of Harry Potter? There’s actually quite a few similarities now that I think on it. I definitely plan on rereading someday.
Literary Musings · To Read or Not to Read?

10 Favorite Books of 2018

The best books I’ve read this year but which may not have been published this year.

  1. Slasher Girls & Monster Boys: A Young Adult horror anthology featuring stories from a collection of YA authors, most of whom I were already familiar with. Overall a great, spine-tingling read.
  2. The Cheerleaders by Kara Thomas: A fun mystery featuring accidents and murder that I raced through back in August because the characters were so well-written and I just needed to know all of the answers.
  3. Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas: The fifth book in the very YA tropey Throne of Glass series that I really enjoyed. Though it was a bit over the top at some points (holy sex scenes Maas!) I really loved how the author interwove all of the moving parts of the series and the characters.
  4. Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo: The first book in the Grisha Verse trilogy, Leigh introduced us to an interesting villain and a fun world with different types of magic.
  5. Obsidio by Amie Kaufman: The last book in The Illuminae Files trilogy, a fun series with the most unique format I’d ever witnessed, really brought everyone together in just the best way possible. And I read/looked over the book as I listened to the audiobook which actually made it even better because the audiobooks for this series are just the best.
  6. One by Sarah Crossan: A very emotional, quick read of a book told in verse about conjoined twins who have to face an impossible choice.
  7. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: The Illustrated Edition: I’ve always liked that Rowling had these little fun books that are set in the world of Harry Potter and the illustrated edition is just beautiful.
  8. The Assassin’s Blade by Sarah J. Maas: A collection of short story prequels set in the world of her Throne of Glass series. It was a great introduction to the character, ended up helping quite a bit with things mentioned in her later books, and really showed how the main character changed.
  9. Saga, Vol. 3 by Brian K. Vaughan: Over the past two years I’ve been slowly making my way through the Saga graphic novel series and volume three was my favorite.
  10. Macbeth by William Shakespeare: After so many years I finally got around to reading Macbeth and I loved it. I like how even Shakespeare’s tragedies have just random ridiculous scenes even though they are also full of angst.
To Read or Not to Read?

Because You Love to Hate Me: An Anthology

Because You Love to Hate Me is a YA anthology book all about the villains of literature and pop culture. And it was a pretty good anthology. Unfortunately I was also reading it at the same time as I was reading Slasher Girls & Monster Boys which is a similarly themed anthology with considerably stronger entries. (Special Note: these short stories appear to be responses to prompts posed by Booktubers and what not.)

Here’s what I thought of the entries in Because:

  • The Blood of Imuriv by Renee Ahdieh
    • A little science fiction tale of sibling rivalry and with mentions of past family mental disorders.
    • It was somewhat interesting and I liked seeing into the mind of the narrator who is a male who has been passed over for the throne because their society is ran by females. But even though there was a mention of violence being in the family the ending seemed sudden.
    • Very rough around the edges and the science fiction elements seemed out of place.
  • Jack by Ameriie
    • What if Jack from Jack and the Beanstalk made his way up into the castle in the clouds because of a lonely giantess? What if they became friends? Can they become friends?
    • The build up in this story was very nice and the ending was so very creepy.
  • Gwen and Art and Lance by Soman Chainani
    • King Arthur and the whole love triangle set in a modern high school which isn’t the worst idea but it was told only through emails and text messages and I just didn’t like it.
  • Shirley & Jim by Susan Dennard
    • A modern day boarding school with a female Sherlock Holmes and Watson and a male Moriarty. While hanging out in the library Shirley Holmes makes friends with Moriarty and so begins a tangled web of lies and deceit and manipulation.
    • It felt rather weird and like the feelings Shirley ended up with were rather abrupt as was Jim’s actions at the end.
  • The Blessing of Little Wants by Sarah Enni
    • Witches trying to save magic because it’s dying.
    • It was kind of weird and confusing at the end with hallucinations/projections or something. Not enough was explained!
  • The Sea Witch by Marissa Meyer
    • I’ve recently read another retelling of Ursula’s story called The Sea Witch. This story of a little mermaid who just wanted to belong was so much better. It had some dark elements and betrayal and I would have been pleased for this to take up far more space int he anthology.
  • Beautiful Venom by Cindy Pon
    • Medusa retelling where the villain isn’t who you might think.
    • Warning: it does contain a rape and a discussion of rape culture with one character thinking another got what she deserved for leading on a man/god. But Medusa had the exact right response.
  • Death Knell by Victoria Schwab
    • Oh, this was a good one. A boy is Death and attempts to take a girl down the well with him and she tries to fight back only to have a great twist ending.
  • Marigold by Samantha Shannon
    • The Fae queen takes little girls in nineteenth-century London. It sounds like she’s the villain here but then we hear back from Marigold, one of the girls who was taken.
    • Good discussion of gender politics in the time period.
  • You, You, It’s All About You by Adam Silvera
    • Teenage crime lord and drugs with weird effects. Personally I didn’t like it.
  • Julian Breaks Every Rule by Andrew Smith
    • I actually really liked this one. It’s about a boy named Julian who never gets in trouble for anything even when he tries. Oh, and whenever he wishes someone would die they end up dying in some strange, crazy way. Except for in the case of one guy.
    • It was kind of fun to see this character deal with life and wondering why he can’t get rid of someone he really wants to get rid of. It was funny and interesting more than creepy.
  • Indigo and Shade by April Genevieve Tucholke
    • What if Beauty is the Beast? And what if the Gaston character isn’t the villain we all made him out to be?
    • Very well down and interesting.
  • Sera by Nicola Yoon
    • Creepy children are super creepy. And then they grow up to be creepy adults.
    • Interesting and well written with fun flashbacks explaining the character.