Tag Archives: Literature

Guest Post: Judge a Book by its Cover!

22 Nov

When I first got accepted into HerCampus (after months of waiting and an assumption that I didn’t get in), I didn’t realize just how awesome this blog community was. Through HerCampus, I virtually met Kayla from Caught Between the Pages, and smiled with giddyness because in the midst of all of the fashion, beauty, future mother, newlywed, college party life blogs, I felt like I finally found another blogger who understood my love for books! Kayla thought of an absolutely brilliant idea for a creative bookworm blog post. She suggested that we share some of our favorite books with each other, and out of the ones that the other hadn’t read, we would look at their book covers and try to guess what the book was about.

Kayla picked some awesome books, or I assume they’re awesome because I haven’t read them yet, and I hadn’t ever heard of any of them either, but the book covers look pretty intriguing. We had to go against the old adage of “don’t judge a book by its cover,” and make assumptions about each of the books purely based on their covers. Here are the books that Kayla chose and my predictions of each of the books’ plots.

The Fifth Wave by Rick Yancey
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The cover shows a young girl with a backpack on walking out of the forest and toward the city. Maybe the name of the book is a play on the fifth generation of a kind of people. These people have lived in the forest for years, and this particular generation is eager to live in the real world with other people, particularly in the city. Read the actual synopsis of the book here.


Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
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The review on the cover says “Unlike anything I’ve ever read,” which really doesn’t help me. Since there is a castle on the front, I’m thinking maybe it’s a Snow White-esque story. Maybe there is a jealous step-parent or aunt or uncle who is jealous of their younger family member, and they want to rule the kingdom. Since there are thorns and branches, maybe this is symbolic of the “forest” that the younger family member is ostracized to. Read the actual synopsis of the book here.

Nicholas St. North and the Battle of the Nightmare King by William Joyce
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This is a very elaborate book cover. I could go anywhere with this. The white creatures in the back are obviously evil, and the guy holding the gold thing (probably Nicholas St. North) is the protector of the younger girl, possibly her father, and possibly the ruler of a kingdom. Maybe the white creatures are followers of the Nightmare King mentioned in the title, and they were sent to bring down Nicholas St. North. Nicholas is forewarned of their coming, and has to find the gold thing in order to defeat the Nightmare King. Read the actual synopsis of the book here.

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell
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This looks like it would be a typical teen love story. Since they’re both wearing headphones, I’m going to assume that they are brought together by music. It’s a really cute cover! I feel like I would enjoy this book, just by the look of the cover. Read the actual synopsis of the book here.

Tyger Tyger by Kersten Hamilton
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It looks like this is part of a series called The Goblin Wars, and at the bottom, a review says “Ancient Irish myths and legends mix and mingle with the modern world in this fast-paced fantasy.” So I’m assuming that it has to do with a war involving goblins. It looks like the figures are about the size of flowers in the forest, so maybe these goblins live in the forest undetected by humans who assume that their presence is just a myth. Read the actual synopsis of the book here.

Every Day by David Levithan
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On the front, it says “Every day a different life. Every day a different body. Every day in love with the same girl.” Since both the guy and the girl are flying around, I’m going to assume that this is symbolic of a soul. Maybe the guy travels into a different body every day. The words make it seem like he lives a different life every day. Somehow he always seems to be attracted to this one girl, and maybe the book is a focus on how he can figure out how to stay in one body in order to be together with the girl. Read the actual synopsis of the book here.

Girl of Nightmares by Kendare Blake
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The cover of this book is kind of eerie. Maybe the girl has some sort of magic power. Maybe she can travel into people’s dreams and often causes them nightmares. The front has the word “Spellbinding” in it, so I’m definitely thinking that she’s some sort of witch or something. Read the actual synopsis of the book here.

Deadline by Chris Crutcher
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Well, on the front, it says “What if you only had one year to live…and you knew it?” So I’m guessing it’s about a guy (since it’s a guy on the front) who has been diagnosed with some sort of terminal disease that is going to cause him to die in a year (or it could be about a guy who committed a crime and he’s sentenced to the death penalty in a year, but he’s in the sunshine, so we’re going to go with the former). I’m thinking he’s in high school, because the guy in the picture looks kind of younger. So I’m sure it’s just about him trying to fit in a bucket list of things to do in the next year before he dies. Read the actual synopsis of the book here.

It was a lot of fun guessing the plots of these books even though I was definitely way off on almost all of them (apart from Every Day and Deadline. Kinda). Be sure to look at Kayla’s prediction on my blog

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Neverland by Joe Brusha

8 Aug

Neverland

Grimm Fairy Tales Presents

author : Joe Brusha

pages : [hardcover] 230

summary :

The creators of Grimm Fairy Tales and Return to Wonderland bring you a dark new addition to the Grimm Universe. Pan never wanted to grow up and now he’s found the key to immortality and a way to rule the realm of Neverland forever. All he needs is a steady supply of children to complete his sinister plans. Once a magical paradise, Pan has reshaped Neverland into the ultimate nightmare for any child unlucky enough to visit. Only one child has ever been able to escape. Now as an adult, Hook may be the only person who can put a stop to Pan’s madness.

review :

I’ve always loved the story of Peter Pan and lately I’ve been trying to get my hands on every retelling out there. I thought that this would would be a nice twist to the already altered story because this is a graphic novel instead of a regular story. The summary was more than enough to gather my interest though I think the overall execution of the idea was nothing short of disappointing.

What the weak plot couldn’t make me forget was the hyper sexualized images of every single female introduced into the story. Completely unnecessary, of course, and almost enough to make me put this down without finishing it. Knowing that the library I picked this up from had this in the YA section made it worse, too, because of the grossly disproportionate female bodies, accompanied by as little clothing as possible. It was disgusting. What makes it worse is knowing I like this comic book format but won’t be able to enjoy it because of the way girls in general are portrayed. When Wendy is fighting for her life, the author even goes so far as to explain that the only reason she’s effective is because she needs to save her kids. No explanations needed for the men who’ve never been in fights before, of course.

I really didn’t like this book. Even getting over the images the plot was nothing unique. I’ve read evil Pan stories before and this one was more predictable than scary. At least in other tales where he feeds on the youth of children there are better characters and action, even if the plot is basically the same. Before reading this I considered getting other books, companions to this in the Grimm Fairy Tales Presents series, but I think I’ll leave this art and this writing alone and try to find something much more enjoyable to spend my time on.

2/5 stars

Snow White, Blood Red edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling

22 Jul

Snow White, Blood Red

editors : ellen datlow & terri windling

pages : [hardcover] 367

summary :

Once upon a time, fairy tales
were for children . . . But no longer.

You hold in your hands a volume of wonders — magical tales of trolls and ogres, of bewitched princesses and kingdoms accursed, penned by some of the most acclaimed fantasists of our day. But these are not bedtime stories designed to usher an innocent child gently into a realm of dreams. These are stories that bite — lush and erotic, often dark and disturbing mystical journeys through a phantasmagoric landscape of distinctly adult sensibilities . . . where there is no such thing as “happily ever after.”

review :

I really wanted to read this book because it was a collection of retold and twisted fairy tales and I’m obsessed with books like that! I felt like that would be no different, that I’d love the stories in this book, but I ended up feeling like most of them were mediocre at best.

I did like how some of the stories focused on the less well-known fairy tales, so even if I didn’t know the specifics of those stories I could always see the fairy tale feel of the writing. Yet a lot of it didn’t click for me. I felt like most of the tales were supposed to have a darker feel than what actually came off for me and that didn’t really sit well with me. I wanted more, something that most of the writing in this anthology didn’t give me. Some of the parts that were intended to be shocking thus ended up being bland.

One distraction that I had during this book were the amount of mistakes and typos in it! Several times in each story I noticed misspellings or bad punctuation. In a finished copy of a book like this, when it isn’t even the first edition published, shouldn’t have that many errors.

I think that if you’re looking for good fairy tale retellings, even of the darker sort, you can skip this anthology and look elsewhere for something better and more worth your time. I do think that people would enjoy some of the books in this collection so perhaps that might draw more people to this anthology even if all of the stories didn’t meet my expectations.

1/5 stars

If you like this book, you might also like Steampunk! or Teeth: Vampire Tales

Jane Austen’s World by Maggie Lane

21 Jun

 

Jane Austen’s World: The Life and Times of England’s Most Popular Author

author : maggie lane

pages : [hardcover] 144

summary :

It is a truth universally acknowledged that Jane Austen is one of the world’s most popular novelists, a sharp and witty writer whose stories enchant on their own and in numerous film and TV adaptations. Jane Austen’s World takes a look at the woman behind the literature, revealing her private life and examining the world she inhabited—a time when England was developing into a colonial power, the Napoleonic Wars raged, and the Regency took hold. No other book truly captures Austen’s spirit as well.

review :

I was so excited to read this book! First of all, Jane Austen is a fantastic author and I’ve been trying to read more of her work. Now I’ll be able to read the rest of her novels with all of this background information about her life and the time period that she was living in. I think that this is an important read for any Jane Austen fan or just someone who wants to understand her writing better. Maybe you could read one of her books, read this, and then see what new information you pick up after during a reread of your favorite of her novels.

There’s so much in here that I never really thought about but realize, maybe belatedly, was exceptionally important to the people in that time and thus to the characters she was writing. While of course people enjoy her writing as it is because she still has fans everywhere, there’s so much history and information in Jane Austen’s World that I think it’d be a disservice to her work not to at least be a little informed about how she might have thought before you try to judge her books.

If you’re interested in history, literature, the context in which these books were written in, you most definitely need to look into picking up a copy of this book. It’s an easy but informative read and the layout is just beautiful as well. Filled with wonderful pictures and the only known drawing of Jane Austen, this will look great on your bookshelf and you won’t regret taking a look at this great book!

5/5 stars

Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut

28 Apr

 

Breakfast of Champion

author : kurt vonnegut

pages : [paperback] 302

summary:

In Breakfast of Champions, one of Kurt Vonnegut’s most beloved characters, the aging writer Kilgore Trout, finds to his horror that a Midwest car dealer is taking his fiction as truth. What follows is murderously funny satire, as Vonnegut looks at war, sex, racism, success, politics, and pollution in America and reminds us how to see the truth.

review :

 

Breakfast of Champions is the second book that I’ve read by Kurt Vonnegut and I have to say that I enjoyed it much more than the first. I think that I was initially turned off to his writing style because of how early I was introduced to his work and the confusing manner in which my teacher attempted to approach the novel. Breakfast of Champions was much more enjoyable, as I could actually begin to understand the intended meaning behind it all and could appreciate the absurdity as well as the criticism embedded within the narrative.

That being said, I still didn’t really enjoy this book and I don’t think that Vonnegut is the author for me. He can be witty and funny, yes, but there is something about his writing style that just doesn’t grab me and really turns me away from his novels. I know that plenty of people love and revere his work and I can see the potential greatness within it, but I know that it’s for other people to find and won’t be for me, ever.

I’d recommend Breakfast of Champions to Kurt Vonnegut fans, people looking for something absurd to read, or people who have nothing better to read. I don’t think I’ll ever pick up a Vonnegut novel on my own.

Best Books of 2012

1 Jan

I reached my goal of reading 100 books in 2012! While I’m really proud of that accomplishment, that just makes choosing my favorites even harder! After all, I read so many that I’ve been looking forward to for ages and found so many new favorites! Stand alone books, starts to series . . complete series in one year! So much has been happening and I’m thankful great books to entertain myself with and to expand my way of perspective.

Best Zombie Novel Read : Warm Bodies (And I really, really can’t wait for the movie in February!!)

Book that Surprised Me Most with How Much I Loved It : The Name of the Star & Beta I expected them both to be okay reads and they each are now in my all-time favorites!

Best Series Starter : Shatter Me & The Immortal Rules

Book That Made Me Cry : The Fault in Our Stars

Best New Take on a Fairytale : Sisters Red

Best Book I Received for Review: Quaranteen

Best Additions to Series I Already Love : Ashen Winter & A Conspiracy of Kings


Series I Started and Finished : Anna Dressed in Blood & Girl of Nightmares

Best Stand Alone : Every Day

Book that Gives Me All the Feels: Daughter of Smoke and Bone

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

26 Oct

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

Author: J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter #1
Book 2: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

pages : [paperback] 310

memorable quote: “To the well-organized mind, death is but the next great adventure.”

favorite characters : hermione & dumbeldore

summary:

Harry Potter thinks he is an ordinary boy – until he is rescued by an owl, taken to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, learns to play Quidditch and does battle in a deadly duel. The Reason …

HARRY POTTER IS A WIZARD!

review:

No, this isn’t the first time I read this! But as I needed to reread the series for a class I’m taking based entirely on Harry Potter, I realized I never reviewed one of my all-time favorite book series. Here we go!

I love this book! It’s the one that really got me into reading especially because I could never predict how it was going to go in the end. The characters were awesome and I love to hate the Dursleys. They’ve always been able to make me laugh, despite how horrible they really are. And who can say that they’ve never wished they could go to Hogwarts? Though I could do without being raised by that horrible family.

I also love the original of this book. Owls that carry the mail . . the castle of Hogwarts . . all of the different spells and tricks that they learn! Even the teachers are interesting. There’s a little bit of everything in here for everyone. Well, except for Voldemort, but no one likes Voldemort.

I don’t really think that I need to tell you to go out and read this. But if you haven’t by some chance read this . . Go out and read this!

5/5 stars

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

28 Mar

Pride and Prejudice

Author: Jane Austen

Pages [paperback] : 375

memorable quote:
Laugh as much as you choose, but you will not laugh me out of my opinion.

favorite characters: mr. bennet & mr. darcy

summary:

‘It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.’ Thus memorably begins Jane Austen‘s Pride and Prejudice, one of the world’s most popular novels. Pride and Prejudice—Austen’s own ‘darling child’—tells the story of fiercely independent Elizabeth Bennet, one of five sisters who must marry rich, as she confounds the arrogant, wealthy Mr. Darcy. What ensues is one of the most delightful and engrossingly readable courtships known to literature, written by a precocious Austen when she was just twenty-one years old.

Humorous and profound, and filled with highly entertaining dialogue, this witty comedy of manners dips and turns through drawing-rooms and plots to reach an immensely satisfying finale. In the words of Eudora Welty, Pride and Prejudice is as ‘irresistible and as nearly flawless as any fiction could be.’

review:

 I’ve been meaning to read this book for years and when I finally went and bought myself a copy I knew I’d have to buckle down and get to it. Sometimes trudging through the sentence structures and word usage of a book like this can intimidate a person enough to make them put it down immediately. But I suppose if school’s been good for anything it’s taught me at least that things as daunting as this can get better as time goes on. So I persisted, and so I loved it. And came to love the wonderful, quirky word choices as well.

The first part of the book as well as the last went by in gigantic chunks taken all at once for me. I was incredibly interested by the introduction of the characters, as I immediately found most of them hilarious. From Mr. Bennet, laughing at the expense of his own family, to Mrs. Bennet, outrageously silly and ignorant, to all of the sisters and their exaggerated personalities, to Mr. Darcy himself. I didn’t know much about the entire novel, or the premise, or how it was supposed to end . . . Only that for some reason many people are obsessed with this Darcy fellow. As a result, I spent the majority of my time wondering what on earth everyone and their mother saw in him that was so wonderful. Then I finished the novel, and well, okay, I might love him a little bit, now.

The middle was the hardest to pull through, consisting of a lot of nothing. I knew some of it was important, though the rest seemed just like a dull waste of time. Until some sentence or other would pull me back in again. I still can’t get over reading about someone staying over at someone’s house for only 10 days and how ‘short a stay it would be’! Um. Ten days is not very short. I understand carriage rides aren’t exactly the same as driving along in nice comfortable cars, but that doesn’t mean I want all of my relatives to come live with me for months on end.

I can see why this book has been recommended to me by friends, teachers, and enemies. (Alright, maybe that was a lie, but I’m assuming they’d like it, too.) Yes, I did like the entire romance aspect of it. (What girl can resist that? Seriously? Seriously.) I could perfectly picture all of the settings, and the strict social rules as well as the ideals of each social class.

This book made me laugh so much! The little insights on everything were delightful. Many of them were still relevent to today, and I could easily see connections to people like Elizabeth and Darcy to those living now. One of my favorite quotes from the book has to be, “As soon as they were gone, Elizabeth walked out to recover her spirits; or, in other words, to dwell without interruption on those subjects that must deaden them more.” Okay, so who doesn’t do that? I know that I do, and most of the people I know do this as well. See? Still relevent! And people say they can get nothing out of classic literature. By ‘people, I here mean my fellow classmates.

If you’ve been tentatively considering reading this, or been intimidated by it, give it a go! You might just enjoy it as much as I did. (:

TIMELESS. 4/5 stars

December 2011 Wrap Up

1 Jan

December was fantastic! Although it was much warmer than usual, with no snow and hardly any feel of winter, it was an odd month. But it was the wonderful kind, and I got some good reading in:

In the Forests of the Night-Kersten Hamilton

Paintings from the Cave-Gary Paulsen

Shift-Jeri-Smith Ready

A Matter of Perception-Tahlia Newland

Can You Survive? Sherlock Holmes-Ryan Jacobsen

Ashfall-Mike Mullen

My Beating Teenage Heart-C.K. Kelly Martin

Every Which Way but Dead-Kim Harrison

Perfect-Ellen Hopkins

Nightspell-Leah Cypress

Books I purchased: 0
Won in Contest: 1
Borrowed from friend: 1
Checked out from library: 2
Review books: 6
Pages read: 3248

Challenge Status:

Show Me the Free: 2/12
2011 Debut Author Challenge: 1/12
Edgar Awards Reading Challenge: 1/5
2011 Book Blogger Recommendation Challenge: 11/15
Retold Fairy Tales: 9/6
Nicholas Sparks Reading Challenge: 2/4

So many new favorites, all in one month! And now there’s an entire new year before me. I wonder what will come next!

How was your December? Have any New Year’s resolutions?

The Candidates by Inara Scott

3 Aug

The Candidates

Author: Inara Scott

Pages: [hardcover] 293

Delcroix Academy #1

Memorable Quote: I blinked and tried to focus on what he had just said. My heart slowed abruptly. Apparently he hadn’t pulled me aside to ask me to be his one true love.

Favorite Characters:
Hennie & Jack

Summary:

Dancia Lewis is far from popular. And that’s not just because of her average grades or her less-than-glamorous wardrobe. In fact, Dancia’s mediocrity is a welcome cover for her secret: whenever she sees a person threatening someone she cares about, things just…happen. Cars skid. Structures collapse. Usually someone gets hurt. So Dancia does everything possible to avoid getting close to anyone, believing this way she can suppress her powers and keep them hidden.

But when recruiters from the prestigious Delcroix Academy show up in her living room to offer her a full scholarship, Dancia’s days of living under the radar may be over. Only, Delcroix is a school for diplomats’ kids and child geniuses–not B students with uncontrollable telekinetic tendencies. So why are they treating Dancia like she’s special? Even the hottest guy on campus seems to be going out of his way to make Dancia feel welcome.

And then there’s her mysterious new friend Jack, who can’t stay out of trouble. He suspects something dangerous is going on at the Academy and wants Dancia to help him figure out what. But Dancia isn’t convinced. She hopes that maybe the recruiters know more about her “gift” than they’re letting on. Maybe they can help her understand how to use it…But not even Dancia could have imagined what awaits her behind the gates of Delcroix Academy.

Review:

I’ve heard mixed reviews about this book, ranging from gushing recommendations to people telling me to never pick it up. Of course I had to read it and decide for myself, although I was marginally disappointed. It was an alright read, though not as good as the summary and amazing cover made it seem like it would be.

Dancia was an okay character, who was easily overshadowed by more minor roles. Her two friends, Ester and Hennie, each have something interesting about them that really drew my attention, whereas Dancia really only has her powers to set her apart, and nothing more definitely than that. Jack had to be my favorite character, because I loved seeing his reactions to everything throughout the book, seeing how he changed with what was happening. He really held it together for me.

The plot was generally pleasing, with enough mysteriousness to keep me hooked and I wanted to know how different things were going to turn out. It did lag a bit in parts, and I’m just hoping that in the sequel, now that most of the things I’ve been looking forward to have been cleared up, there can be more action, more interest. The last few scenes in the book were some of the best, I think. Hopefully that means the next will be a continuation of that.

I give The Candidates 3.5/5 stars. It was an okay read that I probably won’t pick up again, but I’ll continue with the series to see how it will go. Hopefully I’ll start to like it more, but only time will tell.

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