Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The Book ♥ Tag

Hey Guys! So today, I have another book tag for you! I'm doing the Book ♥ Tag, which was created by YouTubers booksandquills and Jean Bookishthoughts. You can check out their original tag video here. Before we start, one thing you should know about me is that romance isn't a genre I read specifically from. I do enjoy some romance in my books though and that's what I'll be basing my answers on.

1. Who is your favorite literary couple?

For this one,I have to pick Alana and Marko from the Saga graphic novel series. Not only are they ready to face the wrath of the entire universe just to be together, but they also bring out the best out of each other. What I also really love about them is that they have full confidence in each other's strengths. Marko for example would die for Alana but he still lets her fight her battles because that's the best way he can show his love for her. They are portrayed very realistically and show that love doesn't have to be sugar-coated to still resonate strongly with readers.  

2. Your Top 3 fictional boyfriends (or girlfriends!)

Jem Carstairs
The first one just has to be Jem Castairs from the Infernal Devices Trilogy by Cassandra Clare. I know a lot of you actually prefer Will Herondale from that series but I'm on team Jem forever. He's kind, loyal, just the right amount of tragic and... he plays the violin! I mean, come on! 
Number two would be Mr. Rochester from Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë. Mr Rochester is the very definition of dark and brooding and while not big on physical demonstrations of affection, in the end he makes his actions count. And did I mention dark and brooding? 
Number three would be Gabriel Oak from Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy. He stays true to his love throughout the book, even choosing to let her go when it seems to be the best for her. Discover more about Gabriel and this story from my full review of this book here.

3. What's a romantic trope you wish people would stop using?

Ugh. It has to be that thing when the guy will pretend he no longer loves the girl because he's trying to make their separation less hard on her because for some reason being with him would be dangerous to her or something like that. New Moon anyone? Come on, how many of you actually bought it when Edward 'dumped' Bella? Frustratingly enough, this trope shows up in one of my favorites series as well (no, NOT Twilight). In the Mortal Instruments, again by Clare, something similar happens between Clary and Jace just when things seem to start going well for them. Frustrating much?!

4. Which literary couple are terrible for each other?

Tess and Angel from Tess of the d'Ubervilles by Thomas Hardy. The love Tess has for Angel is so obssessive it would make Bella's reaction to Edward's departure actually look sane. Without getting too much into the plot, Tess initially learns trust and love through Angel but eventually, her feelings for him end up taking over her life entirely, ultimately sealing her particularly tragic fate. Theirs was quite the cursed romance but the book is actually very good so I would totally recommend it. 

5. Best romance book to movie adaptation?

Like I said, I don't really read romance books so for this one, I'm going to pick a romantic relationship that translated well from the book to the screen. I'm going to pick Snape's love for Lily from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (part 2 for the movie). In the short screen time devoted to their relationship, I think the movie really managed to deliver all the feels you would expect from the book.

6. What is the best book to read to your boyfriend/girlfriend?

It would have to be something entertaining without being cluttered with too many action or violence. I would pick anything from Haruki Murakami. There's something really soothing with his writing which I think would be awesome for a book being read aloud. If I had to settle for one of his books, I would go with 1Q84. It's also a little bit weird, which would make for a great discussion afterwards.

7. Which book would you say is your favorite on a first date?

It would have to be a book that would have a bit of the things we both love. So it would have to be a book with is rather flexible in terms of its genre. I think Harry Potter would be the perfect choice. Plus it's fast paced and would be fun to buddy read as well. 

8. Best book to read after a break up?

I would pick Amy and Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson. This book shows how Amy slowly comes in terms with loss and grief while going on an unexpected road trip with family friend Roger. This book was really fun and beautiful and have all the elements to cheer someone up. To find more suggestions of books to read when you're in need of a cheer up, check out my post on 'Books for when you're feeling kind of meh'. 

9. What is your favourite same sex or queer couple in literature?

Magnus and Alec from the Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare. While Alec isn't quite my favorite character, Magnus is an awesome character, if not my favorite of the entire series. Plus, they have such a beautifully written relationship. 

I love how realistic their relationship is, even if their world is full of magic and demons. Like, they fight, struggle to understand each other and even hurt each other unintentionally but they also try very hard to stay true to each other and to their love. Their romance might actually even be more interesting than that of the main characters. 

10. Which book would you give to someone as a symbol of your affection? 

To show someone my affection, rather than give them one book I would give them my collection of Christopher Pike books. Many of you wouldn't recognize this author but he was among the pioneers of YA back in the 80s and remains my favorite author ever. Most of his books are today out of print and it was by pure luck that I found this Canadian girl who was selling her Pike books on eBay. I bought the whole lot of them and had to wait for three months to be able to hold them in my hands. Today, these books are the most precious elements to my book collection. To give them to someone would be my most symbolic way of showing my affection to that person.

So that's it for this tag. If you enjoyed it, feel free to do it on your blog as well. Just don't forget to link it back to my post :)

Also, as you can tell if you're a follower, my blog has recently gone through a little make-over. I'd genuinely love to hear your thoughts on my blog's new look. Do you like it? Do you hate it? What do you think of my post font? Share your thoughts in the comments or send me an email by clicking on the big envelope icon in the top right of the page. I'd really love to get your honest feedback :)

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Sunday, May 10, 2015

Books I wish existed... but which don't actually exist

Do you have books which you would love to read but which don't actually exist? It could be a new installment in a series that you loved but which has already ended or a completely new book which you believe would be awesome but which hasn't actually been written yet. Here are a few of those dream books of mine which I'm still hoping someone would actually write. 

A Harry Potter prequel... or sequel. 

Teddy Lupin and Victoire Weasley
Hell, I would even settle for a spin-off. Just take me back to Hogwarts please! I guess it would be cool to visit the world of Harry Potter set in modern times, that is, years after the events of the main series. The book wouldn't even have to be about Harry. It could be about any witch or wizard, so long we get to revisit the Harry Potter universe again. I mean, just imagine a book about Teddy Lupin and Victoire Weasley. How cool would that be? 

The final A Song of Ice and Fire book

Fan art for the last book's cover
Yes, this is something that's actually going to happen... eventually. But for the time being, with the penultimate book still not finished and a TV show that will soon overtake the books, that last ASOIAF book almost seems like a book nerd's fantasy. Right now in 2015, it kind of feels like this series is never going to end. Also, it's kind of depressing to know that eventually the TV will end up spoiling the series' ending. Although by the time we get there, we'll all probably be too excited to actually care... 

A good mermaid book

The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Andersen
I love mermaids. Always have. The Little Mermaid, written by Hans Christian Andersen, is in fact my favorite fairy tale ever. Also, Ariel from Disney's The Little Mermaid happens to be my favorite Disney Princess. Usually, when you like something, you also like to read books about it. Unfortunately, that's not the case with mermaids. I've never come across a good mermaid book. Most of them tend be be sappy romances bordering on downright stupidity. To be honest though, it's kind of difficult to write about mermaids without sounding completely silly. However, I'm still hoping that one day, someone will end up writing a book which will be as beautiful as Andersen's tale. 

A new Brontë book

There will never be a new book written by the Brontë sisters and that's kind of sad. I've yet to read all of their books but I've loved everything I've read by them so far. I'm almost afraid to get to all their books because I know at some point I'll be done with them and then there'll be no more walks in the moors, Gothic mansions and awesome governesses. That is, unless someone finds an unpublished manuscript tucked into a wall of the Brontë home or something.

A good Alice in Wonderland retelling

Puffin Chalk Edition
Those of you who read my Birthday Book Haul post probably already know that I'm a little obsessed with Alice in Wonderland. For my 22nd birthday I actually had a book-shaped caked done with a fan art of Alice and the Mad Hatter printed on the cover... Edible wishful thinking?! Anyway, recently there has been more and more fairy tale retellings, many of which are in fact quite good. I mean, have you read the Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer yet? That series is so good! It even has a retelling of The Little Mermaid in the form of a spin-off short story called The Little Android. Now I'm just waiting for Alice to get the retelling treatment and while I know books like that already exist, none has really struck me as particularly good. The good news is that Marissa Meyer is currently working on an Alice in Wonderland prequel centered on the Queen of Hearts, so there's that I guess.

So that's it for the books I wish existed. What books did you wish someone would write? Tell me in the comments below!

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Saturday, May 2, 2015

April Wrap-Up (9 Books!)

François Batet
April was a pretty good reading month for me. I read a total of 9 books and I loved every single one of them. Because of that, ranking them is going to be a bit tricky. So, if a book in this wrap-up is ranked low, it doesn't mean the book was bad. It just means that out of all the books I've loved, for some reason, I liked that one slightly less. 
Also, as you'll notice when reading this post, I've been reading a lot of classics lately. If you have suggestions based on those I've read so far, do leave them in the comments. You're also welcome to use the ones mentioned here as recommendations if you're interested in reading more classics.

9. The Tales of Beedle the Bard by J.K. Rowling - 4 stars

This is a collection of fairy tales set in the universe of Harry Potter. These are supposedly popular stories that all children of the wizard world are familiar with. Overall, I think this was quite a fun read. Aside from the stories, which are great, as are all the things that come from J.K. Rowling's pen, really, you also get little notes about the 'history' behind these stories by the author. If you're a fan of Harry Potter, do check this book out. Also, I read this in, like, 30 mins so it's great if you're looking for a quick read.

8. Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira - 4 stars

Lauren has recently lost her sister May, whom she loved and looked up too, and as she begins high school, she must both learn to cope with her sister's death and navigate life as a high school student. One day, in her English class, she gets an assignment which requires her to write a letter to a dead person of her choice. What originally starts as schoolwork soon becomes her new way of coping with the things in her life. She writes more and more letters to various celebrities who passed away, eventually keeping the letters to herself rather than turning them in to her teacher. And through her own words, she begins to see truths she hadn't realize she already knew. Reading this, I had the same feelings I had when reading the Perks of Being a Wallflower. So if you liked the Perks, you'll like this book as well.

7. Perfume: The story of a murderer by Patrick Suskind - 4 stars

This was the first classic I read in April and I absolutely loved it. It's rather dark and morbid for a classic, but it's also so beautifully written that you'll keep turning the pages despite how crazy things are becoming. This book is set in 18th century France and follows the story of Jean-Baptiste Grenouille, a man born with a superhuman sense of smell. He soon becomes obsessed with capturing the scents around him. One day, he catches the scent of a young woman and decides he has found the most delicious of all perfumes. He then sets himself a task both ambitious and grim: to create the ultimate perfume from the essence of the beautiful young virgin. If you're in for a book with a very unique story and beautiful descriptions, this one is for you. The author does an awesome job describing scents and perfumes, making Grenouille's rather unique sensory experience come to life through words.

6. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde - 4 stars 

This is another classic that quite fits the horror genre and which I really enjoyed. After his friend paints a remarkable portrait of him, young and beautiful Dorian Gray laments that while his portrait will forever remain beautiful, he will grow old and his beauty will eventually fade. He then swears that he would give anything to have his fate swapped with his portrait's. These seemingly harmless words somewhat come true and as the years pass, Dorian remains young while his portrait gradually grows older. The portrait however doesn't only reflect Dorian's age but also his sins and as the young man indulges into debauchery, his portrait begins to gradually change, becoming a shameful reflection of his soul.

5. The Time Machine by H.G. Wells - 4 stars

This is not only one of earliest sci-fi books, but it's also one of the first books ever written on time travel. It follows the story of a 19th century man who builds a time machine that takes him thousands of years into the future, well past our current century. Sci-fi is not a genre I read a lot from but I really enjoyed the story and concept. Also, at less than 120 pages, this was also a rather quick read.

4. Anya's Ghost by Vera Brosgol - 5 stars

This is a graphic novel and it's one of the best I've read so far. Originally from Russia, Anya and her family now live in the US. Anya struggles to fit in with the other kids of her school, is embarrassed by her family and is very self-conscious about her body. One day, after accidentally falling into a well, she makes a rather strange encounter. At the bottom of the well, Anya meets the ghost of a girl who died there a long time ago. While at first she's not too sure what to make of this rather unusual situation, Anya eventually befriends the ghost girl. After all, having a ghost for a friend is still better than having no friends at all, right? Oh, so Anya thinks... This graphic novel not only has a unique and very cool plot but its artwork is also really nice since it uses solely shades of purple and grey. I would totally recommend this to anyone who is looking for a really good graphic novel.

3. Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy - 5 stars 

After inheriting her late uncle's farm, Bathsheba Everdene comes to Weatherbury to take up her new role as mistress of the farm. Her great beauty and independent personality soon catches the attention of three different suitors: the loyal shepherd Gabriel Oak, the gentleman farmer Boldwood and the dashing and seductive Sergeant Troy. Subject to the love of these three men, Bathsheba is drawn to make a decision that ends up hurting more people she had accounted for. What initially started as a mere game of seduction then takes a dramatic turn, casting the shadow of tragedy over the fates of these four people. Check out my full review of this book here

2. The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly - 5 stars
If not for the book I'll be mentioning next, this would have been my favorite book of the month. This book was soooo good! I can't even express how much I loved it. Twelve year old David is mourning the loss of his mother. His father's remarriage to another woman and the birth of an unwelcome half-brother only makes things even worse for him. David's only solace are books, especially those about fairy tales. Soon, David begins to hear his books whispering to him. Before he can figure out what's happening, fiction and reality collide and David finds himself propelled into a fairy tale land. However, this strange world holds horrors and dangers David had never imagined he would one day have to face. Setting out to find the land's mysterious king's legendary Book of Lost Things, rumored to hold the key to all sorts of mysteries, David has to both survive and figure out a way to return to his world.

This book has a very fairy tale feel to it. Don't be fooled by the cover and blurb though. While this may sound like a middle-grade fantasy, this is NOT actually for children. It has very scary moments, including rather gory scenes. Think blood, guts and severed body parts. But while this book is meant for a more adult audience, it still retains a fairy tale narrating voice, which I believe adds to the beauty of the story. A must read for any adult who isn't afraid of the occasional dip back into childhood.  

1. Dubliners by James Joyce - 5 stars

This is a short story collection following the lives of various people who live in 20th century Dublin, hence the title. While each story is unique, together they depict a very realistic portrayal of 20th century Dublin. Some of you might be familiar with James Joyce's masterpiece, the kinda daunting Ulysses. Dubliners is quite the contrary because the writing style is very simple in comparison, making it very easy for readers to follow the story. As you read though, you will nevertheless pick up hidden meanings and complexities that may not be very apparent at a first glance for having instead been skillfully woven into the seemingly simple narrative. This makes for quite a rich and clever reading experience. Definitely something I would recommend to anyone who's in for a great short story collection.

So that's it for my wrap-up. If you've read or want to read any of the books I've mentioned here, do share your thoughts in the comments!

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