Saturday, November 27, 2010

Reading List

So I saw this list over at A Book Adventure and couldn't resist posting it here.

The BBC posted this list, they believe most people will only have read 6 books from it. Gotta proove them wrong, right :) The one's I've read are in bold:

1 Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
4 Harry Potter series – JK Rowling

5 To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
6 The Bible
7 Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four – George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
11 Little Women – Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 – Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare
15 Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong – Sebastian Faulks
18 Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveller’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch – George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald
23 Bleak House – Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
26 Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield – Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis
34 Emma – Jane Austen
35 Persuasion – Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe – CS Lewis

37 The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis De Berniere
39 Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh – AA Milne
41 Animal Farm – George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney – John Irving
45 The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables – LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies – William Golding
50 Atonement – Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi – Yann Martel

52 Dune – Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities – Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck
62 Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History – Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas

66 On The Road – Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary – Helen Fielding
69 Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick – Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens
72 Dracula – Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island – Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses – James Joyce
76 The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath
77 Swallows and Amazons – Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal – Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession – AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple – Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte’s Web – EB White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven – Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection – Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince – Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks
94 Watership Down – Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice – Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet – William Shakespeare
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables – Victor Hugo

Which amounts to 26/100, and that's without counting the multiple books in the series mentioned (7 for HP, 3 for His Dark Materials, I think 7 for The Chronicles of Narnia..).
How about you? Read more than 6 of the list?

Sunday, November 21, 2010

2011 Debut Author Challenge!

Three things I LOVE:
- Reading challenges
- YA books
- Discovering new authors

They all come together in the wonderful:
2011 Debut Author Challenge
hosted by The Story Siren.
I'm SOO excited about this challenge!

The goal is to read at least 12 debut YA or MG novels published in 2011 between January 1st and December 31st 2011.

There are so many great books on the list, it's hard not to list them all, but here's what I'm hoping to read:

Queen of Glass by Sarah J. Maas (I'm so excited about this one coming out! I'm running to the store the moment it does)
Unearthly by Cynthia Hand
The False Princes by Eilis O'Neal
Vesper by Jeff Sampsen
Angelfire by Courtney Allison Moulton
Wake Unto Me by Lisa Cach
Entwined by Heather Dixon
The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab
A Beautiful Dark by Jocelyn Davies
The Water Wars by Cameron Stracher
Clarity by Kim Harrington
Wither by Lauren DeStefano
The Revenant by Sonia Gensler
Awaken by Katie Kacvinsky

Who's planning to participate as well?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Blog Tour: Fractured by Joanna Karaplis

Title/Author: Fractured: Happily Never After? by Joanna Karaplis
Publisher/Date published: November 1st 2010 by McKellar & Martin Publishing Group, Ltd.
How I got this book: the author sent it to me.
Why I read this book: I love fairytale retellings.

Goodreads summary: "Everyone knows a fairytale or two. They’re the kind of stories that seem to stick with you. Maybe it’s the magic. Maybe it’s the handsome prince. Or maybe they’re just the absolute perfect place to lose yourself for a little while.
But what would happen if Snow White were around today? Would Cinderella still need a fairy godmother? And would the Little Mermaid show up on YouTube?"

I've recently discovered I really like fairytale retellings, so I was excited when I heard about this book. It contains three stories, modern day retellings of 3 of fairytales I love the best (I've probably watched the Little Mermaid a thousand times). All three have highschool aged girls as their main character.

The Snow White retelling focuses on a girl who needs to learn to look past face value. The Seven Dwarves are seven boys who spend most of their time in the computer lab. The way she replaced the poison apple was genius!

The next one was a retelling of Cinderella, featuring a real-life show star as Prince Charming. This is written completely in chat-format or texting and because of that I found it harder to get into the storyline. I did think the 'fairy godmother' was pretty funny.

And last, but certainly not least: the retelling of the Little Mermaid. This was my favourite of the three. Our Mermaid is insecure about one part of her body and desperately wants to have it altered (and in her opinion improved) by a plastic surgeon. I think there's a very strong message here, there's a growing problem with people running to have surgery when they're not satisfied with something and there should be more attention for the darker side of this. Because it can all go horribly wrong.

Short stories aren't really my thing, I love connecting with characters and then follow them for a while and there's not enough room for that in a short story in my opinion. That said, I did enjoy this book, I thought Joanna Karaplis did a wonderful job in not only writing a good story, but also pointing out some things that are wrong with society right now. I thought her writing style was engaging, except for the Cinderella retelling, the chat-format wasn't for me.

My rating: 3 stars

Other stops on the blog tour:
Nov. 15:
Steph at Steph Su Reads
Jenn at Word bookstore

Nov. 16:
Stacey at Word of Mouse Book Reviews
Steph at Bella's Bookshelves

Nov. 17
Savannah at The Reading Girl

Nov. 18
Stacey at Page Turners
Tahleen at Tahleen's Mixed-Up Files

Nov. 19
Jami at YA Addict
Melissa at YA Book Shelf

Be sure to check them out!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Graceling by Kristin Cashore

Title/Author: Graceling by Kristin Cashore
Publisher/Date published: October 1st 2008 by Harcourt Children's Books
How I got this book: own it :)
Why I read this book: I'd heard really good things about it and finally decided to get to it.

Goodreads summary: "Katsa has been able to kill a man with her bare hands since she was eight — she’s a Graceling, one of the rare people in her land born with an extreme, and in her case horrifying, skill. As niece of the king, she should be able to live a life of privilege, but Graced as she is with killing, she is forced to work as the king’s thug. When she first meets Prince Po, Graced with combat skills, Katsa has no hint of how her life is about to change.
She never expects to become Po’s friend. She never expects to learn a new truth about her own Grace — or about a terrible secret that lies hidden far away... a secret that could destroy all seven kingdoms with words alone."

I LOVED this book! Katsa is such a great heroine and I thought the whole universe was refreshingly original. As was the concept of Gracelings.

Katsa is a girl who feels very strongly about things, she loves people with all her heart if she lets herself and believes in justice. Which is why she hates every minute of acting as her uncle's thug and hurting people for something she doesn't think is right. She doesn't put up with nonsense and is a real tomboy. I think this quote shows her character perfectly:

"I'm not going to wear a red dress," she (Katsa) said.
"It would look stunning, My Lady," she called.
She spoke to the bubbles gathered on the surface of the water. "If there's anyone I wish to stun at dinner, I'll hit him in the face."

I'm always happy when the heroine isn't a weepy female, but a strong yes-I-love-you-but-I-can-take-care-of-myself-and-kick-some-serious-butt kind of girl. Katsa is superskilled in fighting, and I appreciate the author sticking to this and not having her turn for help to the nearest male in a situation she can perfectly handle on her own.

When Katsa meets Po, it's a confusing time for her. Because she is Graced with fighting, a lot of people are afraid of her and she almost never lets anyone come close to her. She's also determined not to marry or have children of her own. Po manages to worm his way into her heart and at first she doesn't accept this.

Po is a wonderful character, he's a goodhearted and sensitive man. He takes Katsa for who she is and doesn't try to change her. He's willing to let her decide where their relationship will take them. He has some secrets of his own and fights for what he believes in. He's brave to a fault, but he's not too proud to let Katsa do the things he knows she's better at, like hunting for food.
I loved the interaction between them.

I thought the concept of Gracelings was really original, it's something you're born with and not all Seven Kingdoms accept Gracelings as easily. You're gifted, but can also be an outcast because of that. I also enjoyed that somewhere along the book Katsa tests the extend of her abilities and learns that even she has a limit (though it takes a lot to get to it). I also love that Po and Katsa both learn to see their abilities in a different light along the journey.

All in all, I really loved this book and I'm looking forward to reading Fire by the same author and I've heard there will be a sequel, so that'll go on my to-read list as well!

My rating: 5 stars

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Book Blogger Hop!

The Book Blogger Hop is a weekly meme hosted by Crazy-For-Books, hop on over and join in on the fun!

This week's question:
"If you find a book that looks interesting but is part of a series, do you always start with the first title?"

YES!! Oh my god, I can't imagine starting with the second or third book in the series! I like things orderly and always group together series I own in my bookcase in the right order. My brother just started reading Harry Potter at the seventh book, I was horrified. (and a little amused that a lot of it isn't making sense to him, shows I'm right :D)
It always annoys me that at the book sales here they only have the third book in a series and I can't buy it cause I haven't read the first two so it makes no sense to get it.

Anyway, that's just me, what are your opinions?

Friday, November 5, 2010

Cleopatra's Daughter by Michelle Moran

Title/Author: Cleopatra's Daughter by Michelle Moran
Publisher/Date published: Quercus Publishing Plc, July 2009
How I got this book: I own it.
Why I read this book: it sounded amazing and I used to be obsessed with anything to do with ancient Rome and Greece, this one fits that rather nicely.

Goodreads summary: "The marriage of Marc Antony and Kleopatra is one of the greatest love stories of all time, a tale of unbridled passion with earth-shaking political consequences. Feared and hunted by the powers in Rome, the lovers choose to die by their own hands as the triumphant armies of Antony’s revengeful rival, Octavian, sweep into Egypt. Their three orphaned children are taken in chains to Rome; only two – the ten-year-old twins Selene and Alexander – survive the journey. Delivered to the household of Octavian’s sister, the siblings cling to each other and to the hope that they will return one day to their rightful place on the throne of Egypt. As they come of age, they are buffeted by the personal ambitions of Octavian’s family and court, by the ever-present threat of slave rebellion, and by the longings and desires deep within their own hearts."

Kleopatra fascinates me more every time I read something about her, though I've never actually read a book that focuses solely on her. In this book she's described as an extremely strong woman, who rules her people fairly and loves passionately. In ancient Egypt women can be as powerful or more so than men, which is a winning point for that culture in my opinion.
We're thrown right into the action surrounding the defeat of Marc Antony by Octavian and as such don't get to see much of Kleopatra herself before she commits suicide, which I was a bit sad about.

Three of Kleopatra's children, Kleopatra Selene, Alexander Helios and Ptolemy (the twins' younger brother) are then transported by sea to Rome. Ptolemy dies on the way there and this leaves Selene and Antony, who also fear for their lives, especially after hearing two of their half brothers are killed by Octavian.
Octavian doesn't actually seem to want to cause them harm, as long as they're not a threat to him. He sends them to live with his sister and they go to school along with his daughter, nephew and the son of his wife. They're given the same privileges as the others and slowly adjust to life in Rome, Alexander faster than Selene.

Selene has a passion for sketching, architecture in particular and upon learning this, Octavia (Octavian's sister) persuades Vitruvius, the architect, to make her his apprentice.
Selene was a very likeable main character, she feels passionately about her birth country and is extremely loyal to her brother Alexander. She's smart and cares about other people and what she feels to be injustice. Though she can be quick to judge people, but she's only fifteen at the end of the book, so how much wisdom can you really expect? I felt for her in her unrequited love for Marcellus, Octavia's son. I half expected him to fall in love with her, but this didn't happen and I think she found a better match for her in the end.

I felt the ending was a bit rushed and I would have liked to see her realizing who was really right for her a bit more detailed and gradually, it seemed weird somehow now, even though I had been thinking she should end up with him for a while.

One thing that bothered me: in the title they spell Kleopatra with a C, and I don't get this, since in the book Selene mentions being annoyed at a woman getting it wrong and spelling it with a C instead of a K.

I was shocked at what happened near the end of the book and so sad! This is a book I couldn't put down, it was so wonderful, shockingly violent and anxiety-inducing! My obsession with Ancient Rome is renewed and I would love to learn more about Kleopatra as well.
This is one for the historical fiction lovers among us!

My rating: 5 stars.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Top Ten Books That Made You Cry

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the other blog I participate in: The Broke and the Bookish, check it out and join in on the fun, we'd love to see your list!

This Week's Top Ten:
Your Top Ten Books That Made You Cry

1. Almost ANY romance book: I cry at romance in books and I love it! If you haven't made me cry by the end of the book, I'm disappointed. And I'm pretty easy, if there's trouble, starcrossed lovers, people not understanding each ohter, I'll cry. Which makes it pretty embarassing to read in public.

2. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak: the ending was just so incredibly sad!

3. The Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling:
Why did she have to kill Sirius??? He's one of my favourite characters and I just stared at the page with tears in my eyes when Bellatrix killed him.. I kept wishing it wasn't true and he'd find some way to get back through the stupid portal.

4. The Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling:
What is it with Rowling and killing off my favourites? First Sirius and then Dumbledore.. I've been putting off rereading those books because of this.

5. The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman:
I SO wanted Lyra and Will to be happy together and then to be torn apart after finally realizing they loved each other.. And not just for a while, but FOREVER! That's just harsh. In my mind they find a way to be together after all.

6. Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett:
He killed Tom Builder! I loved Tom.

7. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins:
That moment when Rue died... I cried for that little girl.

8. The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks: I cried at the end, it was so sad and I felt for Noah in his hopelessness.

9. The Virgin Blue by Tracy Chevalier: the conclusion of this story was horrifying and it made me cry.

10. Komt Een Vrouw Bij de Dokter by Kluun: a Dutch book, which rougly translates as A Woman Goes to the Doctor. It's about a woman who's diagnosed with breast cancer, seen through the eyes of her husband. It was really sad.

Pff.. Can't believe I made it to 10! I struggled a bit this week, I don't cry a lot when horrible things happen in books. Which is weird, because with just a tiny bit of romance you'll have me sobbing immediately.

What are books that made you cry?