Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Picked Up on a Whim

I am typically very meticulous about the books I buy. No book makes it onto my wishlist without being thoroughly researched on Goodreads. However, I've been known to make exceptions. Below are ten books that I picked up on a whim.

1) Queen of Dragons (Drakon #3) by Shana Abe
Queen of Dragons (Drakon, #3)

I saw Queen of Dragons in a used bookstore and with a title like that, I just had to buy it. It wasn't until later I found out that it was part of a series so I hunted down those books as well. I am so fortunate to have stumbled across this book because Shana Abe is now one of my all-time favorite authors!

2) Shadow and Bone (The Grisha #1) by Leigh Bardugo
Shadow and Bone (The Grisha, #1)

I had kind of heard of Shadow and Bone before I saw it at a Chapters. After seeing that beautiful cover in person and reading the book's description, I just knew I had to take it home.

3) A Natural History of Dragons (Memoir by Lady Trent #1) by Marie Brennan
A Natural History of Dragons (Memoir by Lady Trent, #1)

I saw this book's cover on a book blog and ordered it about five minutes later. Although it still remains unread on my shelf, I've gone on to collect the other books in the series as they've come out.

4) The Yiddish Policeman's Union by Michael Chabon
The Yiddish Policemen's Union

Again, this was a cover buy. But I have read it and was absolutely blown away by the writing.

5) Introverts in Love: The Quiet Way to Happily Ever After by Sophia Dembling
Introverts in Love: The Quiet Way to Happily Ever After

I saw this on Book Outlet and decided to pick it up because I consider myself an introvert - and the cover is super adorable.

6) Bestial by Ray Garton

The cover and title of this book initially grabbed me and then I discovered it was about werewolves. So naturally, I took it home to live with me.

7) Chasing the Dragon by Nicholas Kaufmann
Chasing the Dragon

Do you notice a trend here? Any book with 'dragon' in the title and I will usually buy it, no questions asked.

8) Stormdancer (The Lotus War #1) by Jay Kristoff
Stormdancer (The Lotus War, #1)

This is another book where I kind of knew about it but I mostly picked it up because of the gorgeous cover. (But I've heard it's a really good series!)

9) Monster, 1959 by David Maine
Monster, 1959

I think the cover and the title pretty much explain why I bought this book.

10) Wolf Bride (Lust in the Tudor Court #1) by Elizabeth Moss
Wolf Bride (Lust in the Tudor Court, #1)

Okay, okay don't judge me - I saw this at Chapters and noticed the 'Fifty Shades of Tudor Sex' blurb almost immediately. I flipped through it, scanning for the naughty bits and after reading a couple of sex scenes, I took it straight up to the counter. AND I AM NOT ASHAMED!

Tell me what books you've picked up on a whim in the comments!

Top Ten Tuesday is an original bookish meme created by The Broke and the Bookish

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Suicide Reviews: The Glittering Court (The Glittering Court #1) by Richelle Mead

The Glittering Court (The Glittering Court, #1)

 Summary: Big and sweeping, spanning from the refined palaces of Osfrid to the gold dust and untamed forests of Adoria, The Glittering Court tells the story of Adelaide, an Osfridian countess who poses as her servant to escape an arranged marriage and start a new life in Adoria, the New World. But to do that, she must join the Glittering Court.
     Both a school and  a business venture, the Glittering Court is designed to transform impoverished girls into upper-class ladies who appear destined for powerful and wealthy marriages in the New World. Adelaide naturally excels in her training, and even makes a few friends: the fiery former laundress Tamsin and the beautiful Sirminican refugee Mira. She manages to keep her true identity hidden from all but one: the intriguing Cedric Thorn, son of the wealthy proprietor of the Glittering Court.
     When Adelaide discovers that Cedric is hiding a dangerous secret of his own, together they hatch a scheme to make the best of Adelaide's deception. Complications soon arise - first as they cross the treacherous seas from Osfrid to Adoria, and then when Adelaide catches the attention of a powerful governor.
     But no complication will prove quite as daunting as the potent attraction simmering between Adelaide and Cedric. An attraction that, if acted on, would scandalize the Glittering Court and make them both outcasts in wild, vastly uncharted lands...

Date Published: April 5, 2016
Published By: Razorbill
Number of Pages: 400
Rating: 3/5

It's nice to see Richelle Mead, author of the Vampire Academy and Bloodlines series, try her hand at writing a completely different kind of fantasy. You won't find any sexy vampires in The Glittering Court. The only thing that really makes it fantasy instead of historical fiction is that Mead assigned different names to all the countries and the established religion is slightly different. While it was interesting to see the parallels between the world of the book and established historical fact, I would have loved to see a bit more inventiveness when Mead created her fantasy world. 

The main characters are likable enough but I had trouble connecting with them. The romance between Adelaide and Cedric was a bit predictable and I couldn't really sense a lot of romantic tension between them. Their relationship seemed to develop too quickly. 

There is a sense of incompleteness to this novel - which is understandable seeing as the next two books in the series will tell the story from the POVs of two other characters. I could tell that there was something else going on behind the scenes - it was intriguing but also a little bit frustrating. 

The ending is a bit of a mess. It seemed to be all over the place and with those missing POVs, there was no sense that all of the loose ends were tied up neatly. I realize she can't give everything away and has to maintain a sense of mystery for the future installments but it just left me feeling disappointed. 

Here's what I liked: Mead continues to evolve as a writer and her descriptions are so vivid that I found the story playing like a movie in my head. There were some sentences in here that dazzled me. I also liked the feminist aspect of the book. I loved how the friendship between the three girls was portrayed in the first half of the book even though that aspect kind of got shoved aside in the second half.

I feel Richelle Mead is experimenting a little bit with this series and I applaud her for taking risks. However, there is room for improvement in the series and I'm looking forward to seeing what she does in the next two installments. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Websites I Love that Aren't About Books


I didn't realize how many book-related websites I visited until I tried to come up with this list! Almost every website I visit is book-themed. Still, I managed to scrape together a list of websites I love that have nothing to do with books.

A wonderful humor website I visit every single day - Jeff Wysaski posts funny pictures, videos, tumblr posts, etc. Some of the stuff he posts are hit-and-miss but overall he manages to tickle my funny bone. What's even more unintentionally hilarious is the comments section where people take things WAY TOO SERIOUSLY!


The website that is indispensable for movie buffs - I go on here to watch trailers, see what's headed to theaters, and find out just who that guy is in that movie I'm watching. 

The perfect website for geeks with money to burn - this blog showcases all the new geeky things you can buy, from Funko Pops to Harry Potter watches.

7) Etsy

Who doesn't love all the cool handmade stuff you can find on Etsy? From candles to t-shirts to jewelry, you can find it all. Of course, most of the stuff I look at it book-related in some way..but not all of it!

This is the place I go to find out what's going on in the world of horror - it's mostly film related, although people post bookish stuff from time to time. Most of the people in the forum are super-friendly and helpful so if you're looking for the title of an obscure horror film you watched six years ago, this is the place to go.

5) PinkCherry

It's a sex-toy website. Enough said.

4) BuzzFeed

Ah, good ole' time-wasting BuzzFeed. Sure it's click-baity but sometimes I just have to know which Hogwarts professor would definitely hate me. 

3) Society6

A great website if you're looking for unique, affordable artwork. Not just prints, but phone cases, t-shirts, mugs, and clocks. And a buttload of other stuff.

2) YouTube

Yes, I look at a lot of book-related stuff on Youtube - but it's also great for watching cat videos and Inside Amy Schumer sketches.

1) Bustle

A great website for women - they post articles on everything from entertainment to politics to feminism. (And they post about books too.)

Top Ten Tuesday is an original bookish meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Suicide Reviews: Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

 Me Before You (Me Before You, #1) 

Summary: Louisa Clark is an ordinary girl living an exceedingly ordinary life - steady boyfriend, close family - who has barely been farther afield than her tiny village. She takes a badly needed job working for ex-Master of the the Universe Will Traynor, who is wheelchair-bound after an accident. Will has always lived a huge life - big deals, extreme sports, worldwide travel - and he is not interested in exploring a new one. 

Will is acerbic, moody, bossy - but Lou refuses to treat him with kid gloves, and soon his happiness means more to her than she expected. When she learns that Will has shocking plans of his own, Lou sets out to show him that life is still worth living. 

Me Before You brings to life two people who couldn't have less in common - a heartbreakingly romantic novel that asks, What do you do when making the person you love happy also means breaking your own heart?

Date Published: January 5, 2012
Published By: Penguin Books
Number of Pages: 369
Rating: 4/5

I wasn't entirely sure what to expect when I first started reading Me Before You. All I knew was that people called it 'heartbreaking' and compared it to The Fault in Our Stars a lot. After reading it, I can definitely say that it surprised me in a lot of ways - sometimes pleasantly, sometimes not so much.

Louisa Clark is such a great character. I related to her so much, it was kind of scary. I just loved how average she was - not particularly ambitious, content to work at a cafe and not do much with her life. I'm all for female characters that are ferocious and strong but it's nice to see someone who is normal and timid and just sort of...lost. Thankfully, Louisa does grow throughout the novel and it all kicks off when she meets Will Traynor.

I thought the relationship between Will and Louisa developed quite naturally. It never felt rushed or forced - it felt like how two different people would get to know each other in real life. While I was reading it, I sort of hoped that they would get together a bit sooner but once I read the ending, I understood why the author chose to write their relationship the way she did.

The ending will definitely not please everyone but I thought it was a fitting one and it will make readers ask themselves some tough questions - how would they handle the situation Louisa found herself in? Would they be able to do what she did? Personally, the ending didn't leave me sobbing on the floor or anything - but then again, it's a rare book that can wrench that sort of reaction from me. It's still a memorable ending, one that will stay with me for awhile. 

I did have a couple of issues with the book - I found some parts to be a little cliched. Louisa has a traumatic experience from her past that keeps her from taking chances and I thought it seemed kind of...tacked on. Like it didn't really fit the story. It was as if Jojo Moyes decided that her character needed a tragic back story and just picked the most obvious one. 

Another point that makes me a little apprehensive is the whole 'a-disabled-person-changed-my-life' cliche. Thanks to Will Traynor, Louisa decides to make something of her life and live it to the fullest. To be fair, I think the author is fully aware of this trope and did her best to subvert it. Will seems like a fully-realized character, not a Life Lesson masquerading as one. Still, there were some parts that seemed a bit too 'Lifetime movie' for my taste. 

Having had my little rant, I did enjoy Me Before You overall. I will definitely be seeing the film version when it comes out next month. And I'll be sure to bring a box of tissues. 

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Suicide Reviews: How to Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran

 How to Be a Woman 

Synopsis: Though they have the vote and the Pill and haven't been burned as witches since 1727, life isn't exactly a stroll down the catwalk for modern women. They are beset by uncertainties and questions: Why are they supposed to get Brazilians? Why do bras hurt? Why the incessant talk about babies? And do men secretly hate them?

Caitlin Moran interweaves provocative observations on women's lives with laugh-out-loud funny scenes from her own, from the riot of adolescence to her development as a writer, wife, and mother. With rapier wit, Moran slices right to the truth - whether it's about the workplace, strip clubs, love, fat, abortion, popular entertainment, or children - to jump-start a new conversation about feminism. With humor, insight, and verve, How to Be a Woman lays bare the reasons why female rights and empowerment are essential issues not only for women today but also for society itself. 

Date Published: June 16, 2011
Published By: Ebury Press
Number of Pages: 312
Rating: 5/5

I have discovered a new feminist heroine in Caitlin Moran. In How to Be a Woman she examines and completely eviscerates all of the societal expectations that women are beholden to. She burns the patriarchy to the ground with a knowing smirk. And she invites everyone (women and men) to join her.

This book didn't just make me laugh - it made me shriek with laughter so often that I'm sure the neighbours thought I was keeping a hyena in my basement. Moran is so adept at painting absurd scenes that you can't help but get the giggles. And everything she writes is just so true. Whether she's pointing out the torturous lengths women go to in order to look 'stylish' or waxing lyrical about the wonders of having pubic hair, I find myself nodding along because I too have had these thoughts - but not been able to give voice to them. So I am eternally grateful for Moran's voice - one that is hilarious, insightful, and irreverent

 This book makes me want to kick down doors, smash the patriarchy, and just get out and do shit. I want to run wild and free and not be held back just because I have a vagina. Hopefully, if enough people read Moran's book, we can create a world where those born with vaginas aren't held back anymore. Maybe, just maybe, we can stop being treated like women - and start being treated like the human beings we actually are. 

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: Childhood Characters I'd Love to Revisit as Adults

Apparently I didn't have much of a childhood because I can only think of a handful of characters for this particular list. Or maybe I just can't remember that many books I read when I was a kid because I didn't have Goodreads back then to help me keep track. Anyway, here's my abbreviated Top Ten Childhood Characters I'd Love to Revisit:

5) Julie from Julie of the Wolves
Julie of the Wolves (Julie of the Wolves, #1)

I read this book numerous times when I was younger - it's definitely one of the reasons I love wolves so much. I like to think that Julie would go on to be an animal activist of some kind, particularly one whose main focus is protecting the wolves she loves so much.

4) Matilda from Matilda

I like to think Matilda would grow up to be an awesome teacher or librarian and still uses her magic to help children.

3) Stuart Little from Stuart Little
Stuart Little

Anyone else wonder what became of the little talking mouse? Did he ever find Margalo? Or is he still traveling the world searching for her?

2) Charlie from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (Charlie Bucket, #1)

One of two things happened to Charlie Bucket: either he got super fat and had to undergo gastric bypass surgery or he became a health nut and now follows a strict sugar-free diet. There is no in between. 

1) Harry Potter from the Harry Potter series
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (Harry Potter, #1)

Of course, we Harry Potter fans are going to get a glimpse of what Harry is like as an adult with the upcoming Potter play, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child but I personally would love to see a book series (or at least a short story) about Harry's career as an Auror. 

Top Ten Tuesday is an original bookish meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.