Wednesday, August 29, 2012

RTW: Favorite Book in August

Well it is my first Wednesday as a Sophomore at college but that does not mean that I am going to forget about Road Trip Wednesday!  If you don't know what Road Trip Wednesday is, it is a weekly blog carnival hosted by YA Highway.  Every week a reading or writing related question is asked.  Bloggers answer and hop from response to response reading other's answers to the question.  This week's topic is:

What was the best book your read in August?

I have to tell you right now that this might by the first time this question is difficult for me, not because of too many books but because of the lack of books.  That is right, I really did not read that much this month.  I guess I was caught up in leaving for school and working my butt off in order to pinch those last few pennies into my bank account.  I know, I know, those aren't good enough excuses.  I mean I write a blog focusing on books for goodness sake.  *sighs*

Picture by Goodreads
Well, I can say that out of my (maybe) three books I read this past month Legend, by Marie Lu was my favorite.  I fell in love with the characters and felt connected to each one.  I also liked the fact that the story was told by each character.  Now, I don't usually like this, but I found that this book had me loving both points of view.  If you want to read my full review you can read it here.  

Hopefully this month will be full of books since last month was severely lacking.  Maybe you will all have some books for me to read on top of my college list.  I would love to hear what were your favorite  books this past month. 

Thursday, August 23, 2012

I Really Should be Packing...Not Reading

The title of this post says it all.  I leave for school on Saturday and I have yet to pack a single thing.  What am I doing instead you may ask?  Reading.  Yep, I am wasting away my last moments at home in a completely different world.  The worst part about this though?  I am reading through my pile of books for school.

I posted a little while ago about how excited I was to dig into the books for my two English classes and I have definitely dug in a little early.  That pile of books has been calling my name for weeks now but I have put it off saying that I would be reading them in a couple of weeks.  One particular book has been calling to me like a siren from its perch on the pile.  Last night I caved.

Picture by saffronskiesandwanderingminds
If you cannot read the title the book that has captured my attention is Hauntings and Other Fantastic Tales by Vernon Lee and edited by Catherine Maxwell and Patricia Pullham.  The title itself is captivating and had my attention the moment I saw it on my booklist.  I do not usually like contemporary horror but I do love old ghost stories and I must say that the first story in this book made my heart race.

The author sets the stories up with an incredibly well written introduction.  I even think I have found a new favorite classic author.  I usually do not read introductions but her writing style captured me from the first word.  There is an incredibly good mix of humor and suspense to keep you captivated.  I will definitely be finishing this book before the beginning of the semester.

The different stories have their own spin as well.  Many of the stories are told in the point of view of one character either in letters or in past tense.  There are many characters but each has their own diction and voice which makes every story new and different.  The part that I have found interesting is the ability to understand the character's background via the allusions they use.

I would definitely recommend these stories to anyone who wants a little bit of a thinking book and love classic writing.  I loved most of the books I read this summer, but I think my brain was ready for something more in depth.  Hauntings definitely allowed for me to get out of the summer slump of relaxation and back into an academic mindset.  I would highly suggest starting your reading list early. Not only will it help you keep up during the semester but it is a great way to preview the material before you begin classes.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

RTW: WiP Love List

Well its Road Trip Wednesday again.  I know I forgot last week but to be completely truthful I had no idea what to say about the topic.  I just do not read anything related to sports.  Anyway, if you don't know what Road Trip Wednesday is it is a blog carnival hosted by YA Highway.  Basically they ask a writing or reading related question and you can hop around to other blogs reading everyone's responses.  

This week's topic: What is your novel's "Love List"?

This was somewhat difficult because I have not written anything for my WiP in a long time.  It isn't that I don't want to write I just have ADD when it comes to ideas (something I addressed Monday here).  Hopefully this will make me get back to work on my WiP(s).  Before making this list I made sure I went ahead and read the post which inspired the question by Stephanie Perkins because I had no idea what a love list was.  It turns out that it is a very simple and fun activity that seems to ground your writing.  (Exactly what I need).

My WiP really does not have a title yet but I always make up titles in the end so that is fine.  It is set in a fantastic world where people can read minds.  Here is what I love about it.  
  • An independent girl with a hidden power
  • Mind reading
  • Beautiful landscapes
  • A sassy old woman healer who doesn't take "no" for an answer
  • Rooftop adventures
  • Dashing young lords with secret agendas
  • Underground societies
  • Fire
  • Mythical beasts 
  • Love
  • Kingdoms
  • A King you love to hate
  • Lavish clothing
  • Castles
This turned out to be so much fun!  Maybe I will do this more often.  I love how it gives you a way to show off what you have written without giving away your ideas.  I would love to see what everyone else has for a love list.  

Monday, August 20, 2012

The (Many) Budding Ideas

Photo by Me
Writing is a never ending process as I am sure many of you know.  There are always new ideas flowing in and out of my mind and onto that shiny computer screen.  The problem that I am often faced with is the influx of too many half developed ideas.  I will begin a story with a great idea but have no way of finishing the story.  In the end, I have found that I have a lot of great beginnings but not a lot of endings.  Needless to say my computer is littered with partially written chapters and short stories that have become lost in the brainstorming process.

Recently, though, I have been planning out a new story centered around a dream world and futuristic society.  I began writing a little bit of the beginning before realizing I had the perfect little bit of story hidden away on my old desktop.  So, the other day I fired that sucker up and transfered the word document into a more friendly google doc.  I vaguely remember writing this particular story a few years ago because I loved the beginning so much.  Overall I felt it was one of my greatest milestones in dialogue but in the end it lost steam.  It was one of those half thought out pieces with the perfect beginning but no middle or end.  With a little pasting and editing I was able to breath new life into the old story.

This experience made me wonder how many stories that are strewn throughout our lives that could be given a second chance.  While I was searching through my documents I came across so many other pieces of forgotten writing that fizzled out at one point or another.  It was fun to see the different things that came out of my mind all those years ago.  I got so many new ideas from looking over those pages  and this is why I think it is so important to give ourselves a break from writing.  Put something on the back burner and forget about it, when you come back new ideas with flow easier.  Who knows, maybe your story will take a completely different route?

Make today the day that you look through your archives and piece together strings of writing that were brilliant but unfinished.  No idea should go to waste.
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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Legend Review

I recently talked about buying this book but now that I have read it I have decided to give it a review, mostly because I loved it.  Legend, by Marie Lu, is set in a futuristic dystopian North America.  The book focuses on Los Angeles in what used to be the western United States.  The story is told in two narratives one being that of June, who is considered the prodigy of the country, and Day, the terrorist and most wanted criminal of the state.  Their two paths cross when Day is blamed for the murder of June's brother and June sets out for revenge.  She soon discovers that maybe her enemy is not Day but the country she has been trying so hard to protect.

First, I must say that I have been wanting to read this book for a while now.  It has continued to pop up on my recommendations lists all over Amazon and Goodreads.  Now that I have finished it I  understand why.  I loved the book.  There is a perfect amount of action mixed with romance and mystery. If you are looking for some more YA dystopian worlds where everything is not what it seems, Legend is the book for you.

I usually do not like books with multiple points of view because I find myself favoring one side over the other.  I felt differently while reading Legend.  I found that I was excited to read both June and Day's points of view equally.  I never became tired or annoyed by their characters.  This may be because they are both incredibly strong personalities driven by their emotions.

Their relationship is also subtle.  Never does it overshadow the storyline nor is it something that is so minuscule you long for more.  Overall, the characters fit together well and their relationship is believable.  It also adds feeling to an action filled novel.

The only thing that I wish had been included in the novel was discussion of the society itself.  Very little is explained fully and it is sometimes difficult to picture the society.  I guess what I am trying to say is that it is never explained why the society is like it is.  Hopefully this will be discussed further in the future novels.

Monday, August 13, 2012

School Books and Thank You's

Photo by me
Yes, that pile of books there is my reading pile for next semester!  I know exciting and scary, right?  For me, school will be starting in a few weeks leaving behind the leisurely days of summer and going back to the grind stone for some hard core brain exercise.

Of course I am a little sad because my free time will soon be lacking and my to read list will include books I have to read not want to read.  But I guess that is what comes with college.  I always make sure that I leave a little time on the weekends for reading or writing.  It might be at 2 in the morning but hey it gets done.

Anyway I am very excited this year because I will be taking two English classes, TWO English classes!  I am taking a Gothic novel class and a Shakespeare class.  The Gothic novel class includes some books I have read, including Frankenstein and others that seem irresistibly interesting.  A book all about hauntings?  I think yes!  The Shakespeare class is an introductory into the subject.  First semester of last year I had an amazing professor who seriously knew her Shakespeare, now I am getting another look into the subject, so you could say I have grown fond of that dear Elizabethan poet.  Again I will be rereading a lot of the works, such as Romeo and Juliet and Hamlet.

As you can probably see my excitement is spilling onto this page.  I love literature and I love writing essays analyzing literature.  Maybe that is why I have started writing this blog over the summer.  For me I need to write about writing and if I don't have a professor reading it then I need someone else.

So I guess this post has turned into more of a thank you than anything else.  I thank all of you readers for stopping by and listening to my rambling about books and words and random thoughts.  You have all been so lovely to me in the comments and I hope to continue through the year.

Here's to a great summer of writing and reading!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

RTW: Summer Playlist

It's Wednesday and that means it is time to answer Road Trip Wednesday's question of the week.  Road Trip Wednesday is a 'Blog Carnival' hosted by YA Highway where a reader or writing related question is posted and bloggers can hop from blog to blog reading each other's answers.

This weeks question is: What music has been on your summer soundtrack?

I love finding new music so this weeks question is especially exciting!  I have found some new music and listened to some old favorites.  Here is a list of some but definitely not all of them.

"Radioactive" by Imagine Dragons.  I actually started listening to this in the end of May but it continues to by on my favorite music list.

"Summertime Sadness" by Lana del Rey is a recent find but I have had this song stuck in my head for a week now.

Also I have been listening to a lot of The Jezebels.  One particular song, "Endless Summer",  is particularly fitting for summer.

Well, those are some of the songs that have been on my summer playlist.  I would love to hear what songs you are listening to. 

Monday, August 6, 2012

The Grimoire: Lichgates Review

The Grimoire: Lichgates is the first book in a trilogy and is set in a fantasy world much like the worlds of C.S. Lewis or Tolkien.  The main character, Kara, finds her way into Ourea through a Lichgate and slowly begins uncovering its secrets via a book called the Grimoire.  Overtime she learns that she is the new Vegabond and it is her duty to unite the warring beings which inhabit Ourea.  Now with the help of a few muses and Braeden, who has grown up in Ourea, she must find her way to help without getting herself killed in the process.

I stumbled upon this book while reading through random blogs.  The book review was written well, although sadly I cannot remember where it came from, and the synopsis intrigued me so I decided to give it a try.  I was not disappointed.

Despite the world of Ourea being similar to other epic fantasy Boyce has definitely created something unique.  She has filled her world with creatures both familiar and new which give her world a vast diversity.  It was refreshing to see these new creatures because so often I feel fantasy is repetitive.  Every book seems to have the same centaurs, griffins, elves that you get bored.  As an animal lover I was also quite jealous of the creatures popping from the pages and into Kara's arms.

Kara and Braeden's relationship was also great.  It certainly does not bog down the world surrounding them.  There are simply hints of a budding romance that make your heart flutter.  Overall their characters were well established although at points I felt that Kara could have been a little more accepting of the cultures and people around her.  I am sure that it is difficult to be shoved into an entirely different world, but still when in Rome do as the Romans do, right?  She may have gotten better reception had she been a bit more conforming.

Finally one word about the writing.  Most of it was great but there were points where I felt word choice was a little shaky.  I know this is a little nit picky but I have to point it out.  I would come across sentences that just did not feel right or a word that seemed wrong.  It is a small problem but things like this throw off my inner reader and bring out my annoying inner writer.

That is the only part that I felt was "wrong" with the entire book, though, and I urge you to give it a try if you are looking for some high fantasy to take your mind off your own world.  Overall I give this read 4 stars.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Delirium Review

Yesterday I told you that my favorite book during the month July was Delirium.  Today I think I will talk more about what made this book so interesting and great for me.

Delirium, by Lauren Oliver, is set in Portland, Maine in a time that seems similar to our own despite some minor socio-economic differences.  The main character, Lena, begins the book in excited to be cured of a disease that has run rampant throughout the country.  That disease is love.  However as the date for her cure approaches, Lena does the one thing that she was so against.  Lena falls in love.

As I have said before this book had me from the blurb on the back.  I have seen in posted on the sidebars of numerous blogs and was intrigued the moment I picked it up at the bookstore.  It took me two days to read the book and left me wanting more.

What I liked most about Delirium was the similarity between its world and our own.  These frightening similarities make it seem that much more real.  The fact that I live in Maine may also have a role to play.  I drive through Portland any time I want to leave Maine and it is a great shopping spot.  I could easily picture the scenes from the book in my mind while reading.

The part that I also loved was the entire premise of the book.  The fact that love is considered a taboo disease causes the world of Delirium to become somewhat lifeless.  The cured humans in the book are surviving but they are not living.  I think that an existence like this would be sad and robotic.  I would never want that life but everyone accepts it because of the fear of the disease.  This mass hysteria surrounding the disease is also reminiscent of our own hysteria over pandemics and makes the book all the more plausible.

Now there was not much that I did not like about the book but the one part that I was not sure about was Lena.  I just do not know how I feel about her as a character.  I really enjoyed reading about Alex and similarly liked Lena's best friend Hana but did not love Lena.  This follows the trend that I have found in many dystopian novels I have read.  In Divergent I was not impressed with Tris and in The Hunger Games I liked Katniss but got annoyed with her toward the end.  Maybe the stress gets to the main characters of these books or maybe I am just hard to please.  I don't know.

Overall, this book was a great read and made me think about life in general.  It gave me a perspective on a world that does not have love and how that world may seem stable on the surface but below it is just as messed up as our own.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

RTW: Best Book Read in July

Today's Road Trip Wednesday which is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question that begs to be answered. In the comments, you can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic.
This week's question is:  What is the best book you read during the month of July?

Well, this month I read many books including a self-published book, The Bridge of Deaths, I reviewed for the very sweet author, M.C.V Egan.  That being said it would have been difficult to answer this question had I not finished the book I was reading last night.  Delirium by Lauren Oliver was by far the best book I read during this month.  

This book was the perfect read and I was sucked in immediately.  The book is set in a dystopian society where love is deemed a disease.  This fact alone had me from the back cover blurb.  It is painful to imagine a world without love and seeing it written in a world so similar to our own is frightening.  I cannot wait to read the sequel, Pandemonium.  If you want a full review of this book I will probably be posting one on a later date so you can get a better picture.  

Anyway that is my favorite read this past month but I would love to hear what your's was.  I always look forward to seeing what other people are loving in the book world.