Top Ten Tuesday: Books Recently Added to My TBR

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

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Oh, there are so many books I want to read. So many I hope to read this year and just want to read right now and it’s impossible to chose what to read next oh gosh. I have my reading plan, but it’s hard to stick to it sometimes! Here are the books I’ve added to my ever-growing list recently, and like always when I find new books to read, they’ve become priorities to books that have been on my list for years. Oh well… They just look too good!

1. Emmy & Oliver by Robin Benway

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2. The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness

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3. The Fifth Wave Trilogy by Rick Yancey 

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4. In A World Just Right by Jen Brooks

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5. A Straight Line To My Heart by Bill Condon 

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6. Pivot Point by Kasie West

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7. The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides 

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8. Anything Could Happen by Will Walton

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9. The Last Leaves Falling by Sarah Benwall

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10. Between the Notes by Sharon Huss Roat 

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Ask The Passengers by A. S King: Book Review

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I picked up A. S King’s Ask The Passengers on a whim at my local library and I’m very glad I did. The novel follows Astrid Jones’ as she struggles with falling in love with a girl and what that means for her family and her identity in a small town in which everyone knows everyone and everyone is trying to be perfect.

King’s exploration of sexual identity is nicely done. I liked it especially because the novel outlines something that a lot of people get wrong: being gay isn’t just about sex; t’s just people falling in love with people who happen to be the same gender. There’s an extremely comical and gross scene in the novel where Astrid’s sister comes out of the shower in a towel, sees Astrid, and sprints for her bedroom as though Astrid would have been aroused by her own sister’s naked body. Which, Astrid notes, is incredibly gross a number of times. The girl Astrid is falling in love with is a little forceful sexually, which also adds to the whole argument. She soon catches on herself and understands why Astrid doesn’t just want to get “hot and heavy” (quoting the book) straight away.

The responses of the town and of Astrid’s family to her connection with a gay club in Atlantis, to which her secretly gay best friends take her, show just how stupid people can be. There’s a lot of name-calling and back-stabbing bullying thrown at Astrid in her school. Which sucks. But I think the thing I found most annoying was the way her family responded, particularly Astrid’s mother, who disowns her more than she already had. There are lots of moments that are sad, as Astrid feels alienated from everyone for the majority of the novel, including from her best friend who betrayed her.

Surrounding Astrid’s slow self-analysis of her feelings is philosophical discussions on such philosophers as Socrates, Zeno of Elea and Plato. Astrid takes philosophy class and the way that her thoughts about theories such as paradoxes are used in the novel is really fascinating and clever.

Not only is this a very smart novel, but it’s also extremely funny. I found myself laughing out loud certain moments, such as Astrid’s observations of her stoner dad or her corrections of a particularly immature bullying remark written on her teacher’s office door.

The other significant part of the novel that I really liked is how Astrid spends time lying on the picnic table in her backyard and sending love up to the passengers in the airplanes. She does this because she doesn’t feel loved in real life. It’s quite sweet and something I think would be really relaxing and nice. There’s a strange connection between Astrid and the passengers, which I’m not sure worked, however. Throughout the novel there are snippets of the passenger’s thoughts thrown in. It was interesting, but sometimes it seemed to disrupt the flow of Astrid’s story a little.

In all, this was a lovely read. The writing was clean and witty. The characters were wonderful. The complex ideas and themes were used skilfully in the novel. It really reminded me again how much I wish everyone could be accepted for who they are and that equality is possible. An important LGBT novel, that’s for sure.

Harry Potter Moment of the Week

Hosted by Uncorked Thoughts 

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26/03/2015 – What would your Patronus be?

Once again a great question! Every Harry Potter fan has thought about what their patronus would be, that’s just a given. I’m also thinking there are probably also people like me who can’t make up their minds about what their patronus would be.  I’ve got a few ideas, based on Harry Potter quizzes, what my family have said, and how I feel myself. Here they are:

1) I enjoy quizzes if they’re done well and I’ve done a fair few What’s Your Patronus? quizzes in my time. I’m pretty sure I didn’t always get the same results, but most of the time I got the result of Rabbit/Hare, like Luna’s. Which is awesome because I love rabbits. They’re so cute!

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2) My family and I once had a discussion about what animals we look like. They couldn’t decide if I looked like a bear or an otter. Maybe a mixture of both? So it could be either of those.

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3) But, in my heart and despite those awesome options, I know what my patronus would really be. I wear an owl necklace every day and I desperately want an owl tattoo on my wrist to add to my ongoing obsession with getting more tattoos. I love owls, they’re so beautiful and wise and proud. They’re strong birds. They’re the kind of animal I’d like to be if I was an animal. Also, Hedwig is just the bestest. So, therefore, I strongly believe that my patronus would be the owl.

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There you have it! What would your patronus be?

Top 5 Wednesday: Worst series enders

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Top 5 Wednesday is a meme held here by Lainey on goodreads.

The topic this week was a hard one for me, because if I like a series I generally like the ending. Also, I really haven’t read enough series or finished enough series that I started. Therefore my choices are either Worst Series (meanings series I remember liking but now can’t see how I ever did) or just chosen because I didn’t love the ending as much as I could have. Oh, whatever. Here goes:

1. Breaking Dawn (Twilight Saga #4) by Stephanie Perkins

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There was a time when I liked the Twilight saga and consumed the books in mere days. At this point in my life I have no idea how I ever liked the series, but I do remember I didn’t like the last book. I can’t even remember how it ended, really, which means it probably wasn’t very memorable.

2. Beautiful Redemption (Caster Chronicles #4) by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

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I adored The Caster Chronicles when the came out and bought them all. I especially liked the first book and the last one was pretty good. But there are some things I still don’t like about the last book and the ending. I won’t give it away, of course, so I can’t explain that, but I don’t know. It was good, but it wasn’t as good as it could have been.

3. City of Heavenly Fire (The Mortal Instruments #6) by Cassandra Clare

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Another series I was obsessed with when it first came out. I remember reading and buying the first two books in a few days and waiting anxiously for the rest to come out. Of course, by the time the last book came out, I’d kind of grown out of the series. But I read it anyway and I liked the last book. Parts of it I even loved. Parts of the ending I hated. You know, I’m a bit confused as to whether I liked how it ended or not. At least it wasn’t predictable, I’ll give it that!

4. Afterlife (Evernight series #4) by Claudia Gray

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I’m simply putting this in the list because it’s a series I remember liking once, but looking back I have no idea why. Like with Twilight, I can’t even remember the ending of the last book, so it can’t have been that good.

5. Monsters of Men (Chaos Walking Series #3) by Patrick Ness

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First, don’t get me wrong. I love this series beyond words. Chaos Walking is one of my favourite series of all time. Patrick Ness is a genius. However, I have a love-hate relationship with the ending. One part of my loves an ending that’s not clearly resolved. Another part of me hates not knowing the outcome. The ending of Chaos Walking is one of those endings that made me hungry for more, but alas, there is no more! 😥

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde: Book Review

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Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray is the perfect tale of human vanity, pride and destruction. There’s no doubt in my wind why it is a classic piece of literature; it definitely deserves such a respected position in the literary world. Wilde’s writing style is beautiful and whimsical. There are so many wonderful sentence in the novel that are beyond original and highly creative. The language is also reminiscent of other literature of the era, for example the properness of dialogue. Sometimes that style annoys me, but it transported me to another world, something that I think is the greatest power of literature and stories.

I already knew the story of The Picture of Dorian Gray having watched a film adaptation years ago. So I knew what would happen and I knew how Dorian’s sin and self-destruction would come to its head. Even though I knew the story, the novel still surprised me. There are so many great moments and so many ideas explored in the novel that are complex insights into humanity. Of course, there were times I was slightly bored by the novel, as in the passages that detailed material things such as jewels and fabrics, such things that are no interest to me. But, mostly, this novel fascinated me. Like Dorian points out in the novel, that doesn’t mean necessarily that I liked it, rather that I can see its brilliance as a piece of literature well-worth analysing and enjoying for its pure enticement of the mind.

Top Ten Tuesday: Books From My Childhood & Teen Years That I’d Love To Revisit

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly event hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Join in!

The books I’ve chosen are books that were favourites of mine in my childhood and early teen years (and still are today). In some way I’d love to re-read (or re-re-read) all of them, whether it’s reading them to my children one day or simply reading them for myself.

1. The Magic City by E. Nesbit

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2. The King of Whatever by Kirsten Murphy

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3. A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket 

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4. Chinese Cinderella: The Secret Story of an Unwanted Daughter by Adeline Yen Mah

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5. The Magic Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton (and pretty much anything by Enid Blyton)

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6. Deadly and Wicked by Paul Jennings and Morris Gleitzman 

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7. Matilda by Roald Dahl (and pretty much any other Roal Dahl book)

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8. The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S Lewis

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9. The Tomorrow Series by John Marsden 

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10. Harry Potter by J. K Rowling 

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Vivian Apple #1 & #2 by Katie Coyle: Book Review

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The first book of Katie Coyle’s Vivian Apple series Vivian Versus the Apocalypse (or Vivian Apple At The End of the World depending on what edition you have) is a promising start to a short series about The Church of America conspiring against America in the wake of the Rapture as prophesied by Beaton Frick, some mad spokesperson of God who convinces America to split into two groups: Believers and Non-Believers. Vivian Apple, unlike her parents and the majority of adults, is a Non-Believer. When thousands of Believers are supposedly Raptured, along with her parents, Vivian sets off around America with her best friend Harp and Peter, a guy who swears they can trust him, in search of the truth.

I enjoyed the first Vivian Apple book well enough. It probably helped that I’m a Non-Believer like Vivian and her friends, though don’t get me wrong. Katie Coyle makes sure to point out that the books aren’t hitting at religious folks willy-nilly; the book is clear on the fact that not everything is black and white and not all Believers swept up in the Church of America’s conspiracy are bad people. Obviously.

However, the majority of the book does see Non-Believers versing Believers, as that’s just what happens in such Apocalypses, when food and safety is scarce and where Believers kill Non-Believers for such atrocious sins as homosexuality. The demise of American society was dealt with really well in the book and I also enjoyed the bringing together of the New Orphans, a group of parentless Non-Believers.

Of course, I sided with Vivian and her friends and Coyle does a great job making them likeable and making me care what happens to them. There were times Vivian annoyed me and times Harp annoyed me, but both girls are great characters. Peter was also a good character and the romance element of the first book was a good lead up to what happens in the second.

I enjoyed the second book Vivian Versus America probably more than the first, even if I did find it a little predictable and anti-climatic. Still, there were lots of great moments and great developments between the characters and for the characters themselves. I grew to like Harp a lot more in the second book, she was kick-ass. There were also a couple of characters who weren’t really present in the first novel that were great new additions.

In all, I think Vivian Apple was an interesting look at religion and American society in an apocalyptic landscape. There’s lots of good stuff about family, love, friendship, the truth, loyalty. Violence, warfare, moral justice. While a bit gimmicky and a bit predictable,  Vivian Apple was an exciting and entertaining read and I’d definitely recommend it for something both easy and suspenseful. This is a series that keeps you on your toes, but one that makes for relaxing afternoons of reading.