Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The Reading Room (37)

The Reading Room is a weekly update on books I'm reading or planning to read, posted on Tuesdays.

This past week, I went to a summer writer's workshop at Susquehanna University (it was amazing in every way), and on the last day, the professor teaching my class took us down to a used book store in town. He actually bought two or three books for each of us, then let us browse for whatever else we wanted to get ourselves. I came back with...well, quite a haul. And all for less than twenty dollars!

From top to bottom:

1. The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan (because I've wanted to read it forever)

2. The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara (because my roommate said it was fantastic and I love historical fiction.)

3. The Liar's Club by Mary Karr (one of the books Tom, the writing professor, bought for me.)

4. The Lost World and Other Stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (I feel as though this one doesn't need any explanations. I will say, however, that my friend Helen found this for me and I was so grateful that I gave her the last copy the store had of No Country for Old Men, which I'd been planning to buy.)

5. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini (Another one of Tom's recommendations.)

6. The Beautiful and the Damned by F. Scott Fitzgerald (It was Fitzgerald for two dollars, all because someone underlined a few passages. No way to pass up that.)

7. Tales of the Jazz Age by F. Scott Fitzgerald (This one was a little more expensive, but it was the most beautiful edition I've ever seen of this book.)

8. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy (I've wanted to read this one for awhile, too.)

9. Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard (The other book Tom bought)

10. The Black Tulip by Alexandre Dumas ("Hey, isn't this book by the guy who wrote The Count of Monte Cristo?" someone said, and those words are basically how you summon me. I had to buy it.)


Tuesday, July 2, 2013

The Reading Room (36)

The Reading Room is a weekly update on books I'm reading and planning to read, and was inspired by On MyShelf at the blog All By Myshelf.

So on Friday I got up at the revoltingly early hour of quarter to six in the morning in order to drive two and a half hours for a college open house that started at nine thirty. But it ended up being worth it in the end, not just because I enjoyed the visit, but because we stopped in the town's bookstore before driving home, and I picked up three new books.

An Abundance of Katherines by John Green was on display on the front counter, and I grabbed it without hesitation. I finished it yesterday, and it was absolutely fantastic, which I suppose is a given, considering that it's John Green. I also grabbed City of Bones by Cassandra Clare, the first book in the Mortal Instruments series; I loved The Infernal Devices and have been wanting to start this series for awhile now, especially with the movie coming out in August, but I have not been able to find a copy of the first book at any library anywhere for months. So when I saw it, I couldn't pass it up.

And finally, I bought Sarah Dessen's newest book, The Moon and More - another obvious purchase. One of my friends introduced me to Sarah Dessen several years ago by recommending Just Listen and Lock and Key, both of which I loved. I now own most of her books and have read all of them - except the new one, which I've been dying to get my hands on. I can't wait to start reading it. Sarah Dessen's novels are always perfect summer reads.


Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The Reading Room (35)

The Reading Room is a weekly update on books I'm reading and planning to read, and is posted on Tuesdays.

Let this be a warning to all you bookworms out there: don't be like me and volunteer at a library, even if it seems like a good idea for your required project/volunteer hours for school. Why? Because you spend a whole lot of time putting other people's books away and helping other people find things and entertaining small children and not a lot of time finding and reading books for yourself.

Still, I managed to make a trip down on Friday and pick up a few books. The first thing that caught my eye was Spilling Ink by Anne Mazer and Ellen Potter, which I'm partway through and is one of the best and most inspiring books about fiction writing that I've ever read. I also grabbed Stealing Air by Trent Reedy, which I finished Sunday and was a good way to spend the afternoon, though not the best book I've ever read, and The Innocents, by Lili Peloquin, which I started tonight and can't put down. (Really - I had to pry myself away just to write this blog post.)

Other than that, not much bookish news; I have some birthday money that's just begging to be spent on a Barnes & Noble order, though, so hopefully I'll have some more updates next week. I'll also probably have started on the summer reading list for AP English by then, so be prepared for either gushing or complaining about The Catcher in the Rye. 


Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. A new topic is posted each week, and bloggers post their top ten in the category.

Top Ten Books I've Read So Far in 2013

10. My Antonia
By Willa Cather

We read this book for English class during the middle of the year, and I really enjoyed it. The image and description were beautiful - the setting was described with such detail, and it really brought the book to life and made you feel like you were right there with the characters.

9. The Eternal Ones
By Kirsten Miller

I love everything Kirsten Miller does, and this book was no exception. It was beautifully written, haunting, strange, thrilling, and dangerous. I can't wait to read the next book in the series, and I would definitely recommend this one. 

8. The Beekeeper's Apprentice
By Laurie R. King

As a devoted [i.e., obsessed] fan of Sherlock Holmes, I'm always eager to check out an adaptation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's stories, but I also spend a lot of time comparing it to the originals - except in this case, where I was too swept up in the story to be critical. It was a flawless version of the well-known detective and a fantastic read. 

7. Clockwork Princess
By Cassandra Clare

I had been waiting for this book ever since I finished Clockwork Prince back in January of 2012, and it did not disappoint. This book was emotional, suspenseful, superbly written and impossible to put down. I bought it a few days after it came out and carried it everywhere with me until I had finished it. It was just so good.

6. The Curiosities
By Maggie Stiefvater, Tessa Gratton, and Brenna Yovanoff

The best and most unique and creative collection of short stories I've read in a long time - possibly ever. Every single page was filled with the wonderful and strange, as well as the author's hilarious and insightful comments. If you haven't read it, you need to. 

5. The Help
By Kathryn Stockett

This is not one of those books that you read only to find out it doesn't live up to all the hype. It's one of those books you read and then go out and recommend to everyone you know because it's so powerful and there's so much truth in it. 

4. It's Kind of a Funny Story
By Ned Vizzini

Funny, sad, and heartwarming all at once. It makes you think, it makes you laugh, it makes you cry - all of which is pretty impressive for a novel that takes place over such a short period of time, and in a mental hospital. Every sentence is insightful and perfectly paced, and it comes together to make one fantastic story.

3. The Great Gatsby
By F. Scott Fitzgerald

Another one we read for English class that I completely and wholeheartedly fell in love with. The language, the characters, the symbols, the setting - it all blew me away. Much like To Kill a Mockingbird, this is one of those books that I could reread and analyze for the rest of my life, and I can't really remember what my life was like before I read it.

2. The Fault in Our Stars
By John Green

Because with the wise and hilarious John Green (http://www.youtube.com/user/vlogbrothers) creating lines like "You gave me forever within the numbered days," and "What a slut time is. She screws everybody" and "It would be a privilege to have my heart broken by you"...well, how could it not be at least number 2?

1. Code Name Verity
By Elizabeth Wein 

Any attempt to describe this book would spoil the ending, make me cry, and still would not do it justice. I'll just toss out a friendly reminder that it beat The Fault in Our Stars and leave it at that. 


Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday

 Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. A new topic is posted each week, and bloggers share their top ten in the category.

Top Ten Books Featuring Travel

10. Across the Universe
By Beth Revis

You can't travel much farther than an entirely new world. Though this book didn't quite live up to me expectations for it, I still really enjoyed it. The complex difficulties of life on an isolated ship on a journey that spans hundreds of years were fascinating to read about, and I loved the characters. 

9. Uncommon Criminals
By Ally Carter

The second book in the Heist Society series was just as amazing as the first and had the characters traveling to interesting locations all over the globe. 

8. 13 Treasures
By Michele Harrison

Tania's grandmother's house is the kind of place I'd want to visit every summer - old, beautiful, mysterious, and filled with fairies and magic. I usually reread these books over the summer, because they provide a fantastic escape from normal life. 

7. Pegasus
By Robin McKinley

Sylvaniiel's journey into the Pegasus country was one of the most well-written, beautifully described, magical stories I have ever read. I loved the whole new world she was exposed to and the wonders she experienced.

6. The Tiger's Wife
By Tea Obreht

I loved all the different settings in this book. The entire world was so lifelike, and the journeys described in it were both fantastic and relatable. It remains one of my favorite books, and the way you feel as if you're traveling through the story with the characters is one of the main reasons. 

5. The Thief
By Megan Whalen Turner

There's not much to say about this book other than the fact that I just really loved it. The journey, the myths, the stories - it was all so fun to read about, and perfectly paced. 

4. Along for the Ride
By Sarah Dessen

This is still my favorite of Sarah Dessen's books and the perfect summer read. Auden is exposed to not only a new location but new experiences, new people, and a new way of thinking and living her life, and all of it contributes equally to the changes she goes through. If it weren't for the travel in this book, it wouldn't be nearly as compelling or lovable. 

3. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
By Douglas Adams

I feel that I don't gush about this book nearly enough compared to other things I gush about (i.e., Maggie Stiefvater, Sherlock Holmes, The Book Thief.) It's a hilarious whirlwind of adventure, and all you can do is hang on tight, enjoy the ride, try not to think too much about what's actually going on and make sure you know where your towel is. 

2. Code Name Verity
By Elizabeth Wein

This book! I cannot even find the words to describe this book. Maddie and Queenie's journey into enemy territory and the incredible way they handle being stranded far from home is remarkable, and their friendship more remarkable still. I would try to say more, but it wouldn't do the book justice. You'll just have to read it yourself. 

1. The Hobbit
By J.R.R. Tolkien

Obvious choice for number one on the list is obvious. The Hobbit contains one of the most iconic journeys of all time, and it's probably one of my favorite stories in existence. I've reread it at least four times, and am able to recall the plot with significant detail purely from memory. It's a fantastic book, and it would take a lot to knock it out of the number one spot. 


Thursday, May 30, 2013

I do still exist!

No, the giant pile of homework and crazy end-of-the-year stuff didn't eat me alive, though at times it felt like it was going to. I'm terribly sorry to anyone who follows me for the lack of blog posts and the general decrease in the quality of my blog. It's something I definitely want to fix, so I'll get back to my regular posting schedule soon, and hopefully try to add in some extra posts to make up for it. If you have any suggestions for how I could improve my blog, be sure to let me know. I welcome any and all suggestions!


Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The Reading Room (34)

The Reading Room is a weekly update on books I'm reading or planning to read. It was inspired by the feature On Myshelf at the blog All By Myshelf, and is posted on Tuesdays.

I ended up with quite a significant book haul this week, and I can't wait to read them all. Yesterday I was still off school for Easter break, so I made a trip to the bookstore, hoping to find Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare, which I've been dying to read for months. I saw it and immediately snatched it up, barely managing not to explode from excitement. I cannot wait to find out what happens and how it ends - the suspense has been driving me insane. While I was there, I also came across Wildwood by Colin Meloy. It had an awesome cover, the synopsis intrigued me, and it was only eight dollars, so I picked that up, too. Both books are sitting happily on my bookshelves, which I reorganized on Sunday.

Then, my mom made a trip to the library in search of something by Jane Austen (she's going through a bit of a phase) and to pick up The Help for my grandmother. Of course, I couldn't resist checking out a few books. I hadn't been there in awhile, so after looking over some of the new titles, I finally settled on The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan, Confessions of a Murder Suspect by James Patterson, and Close to Famous by Joan Bauer. All of them look really good. I'm pretty well-supplied with books for the next week, so hopefully some reviews will be showing up on the blog.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. A new topic is posted each week, and bloggers share their top ten in the category.

Top Ten Characters I Would Crush On If I Were Also A Fictional Character

I had way too much fun with this topic. I mean, we all know that book boys are just better. My list was really lengthy, and it was extremely difficult to cut down - I felt so bad whenever I had to remove someone from the list. (Finnick, Kishan, Sam, and St. Clair: I'm sorry. I love you guys too.) Anyway, here are my top ten literary loves. 

10. Richard Gansey
The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

I knew going into The Raven Boys that all four of the guys were going to be swoon-worthy, and I wasn't disappointed. I loved Gansey - he was such an interesting and complex character. I mean, he's attractive, and he's rich, and he has a really fantastic car. But there's a lot more to him than that, and that's what really makes you fall in love with him.

9. W.W. Hale 
Heist Society by Ally Carter

Hale is basically perfect. I love his name, I love the way he cares for Kat and his loyalty to her and her family. He's such a great character in the books - his perfection would be so annoying if it weren't so...well, perfect.

8. Astley
Need by Carrie Jones

I see no issues with being pixie-kissed by this guy. He's so different from all the other pixies - much less frightening, much nicer. Much cuter...sorry, digressing. I haven't read Endure, yet, so I'm not sure what goes down with the whole Zara-Astley-Nick situation (it's not going to be pretty, I can tell you that), but I don't think it would change my adoration for Astley. This isn't about who I think would be best with Zara, this is about Astley being irresistible.

7. Gale Hawthorne
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Let me start by saying that I love Peeta. Really, I do. I just...happen to love Gale slightly more. I loved him as a character from the very beginning of the book, and he just got better and better throughout Catching Fire. (We're not going to talk about the travesty that was Mockingjay.) He's willing to do whatever it takes to protect his family, and Katniss and her family; he's ready to stand up for what he believes in. He's not afraid to fight for what he wants. He uses a bow and arrow and hunts. I mean, it's not really fair to make Peeta compete against someone who is basically a walking embodiment of things I find attractive.

6. Jay Gatsby
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

I think the best way to describe my love for Gatsby is this: my English teacher said that he was a 'sad' and 'pathetic' character, and I spent the rest of the class fuming. Tragic, maybe, but Gatsby is a dreamer, a romantic, and a beautiful character. 

5. Jem Carstairs
The Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare

Tessa Gray may just be the luckiest girl in the world. Jem is sweet, caring, kind, and overall just a lovely person. I fell in love with Jem as soon as he was introduced in Clockwork Prince. Plus, he plays the violin. That sealed my crush right there. String instruments (and guys who play them) are automatically attractive. 

4. Adam
The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

Yes, I loved Gansey. I loved all of the Raven Boys. But Adam, 100% without question, is the one I loved the most. When I was making this list, there was no way he wasn't going to be on it. I can't even describe why I love him so much - he's just such an amazing character. Like I said, I loved Gansey, but anyone who would choose him over Adam is clearly insane. 

3. Giddon
Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore

It's been a long time since I've read Graceling, so I'll admit I don't remember Giddon's character a lot in that book. In Bitterblue, however, he was absolutely perfect all of the time. There was not a single scene where I didn't love what he was saying, or doing, or just enjoy reading about him. He and Bitterblue definitely had some chemistry, too - I say this because if I can't have Giddon because I'm not fictional, someone who is fictional should have a shot. 

2. Will Herondale
The Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare

I've mentioned once or twice before on this blog that it's impossible for me to choose between Jem and Will. In the context of the story, that's true - I don't want either one of them to have to give up Tessa, or be sad for even a second. Still, from my point of view, Will - with his wicked sarcasm and constant references to literature - is more up my alley than Jem, if not by much. 

1. Aramis
The Three Musketeers from Alexandre Dumas

The first book-guy I really, truly, fell in love with, and no one has topped him since. Nearly everything he did in The Three Musketeers made me sigh longingly. He's brave, loyal, intelligent... if you had asked me before I read a single word of The Three Musketeers to describe the perfect guy, I would have ended up with someone a lot like Aramis. 


Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Reading Room is a weekly update on books I'm reading and planning to read, posted on Tuesdays. It was inspired by the feature On Myshelf at the blog All by Myshelf.

Starting this post off with a slightly off-topic (but still related) subject: every year, the public library hosts an auction to raise money. They put on a dinner, take donations, and then whatever people pay for the items goes to the library. It's a really great event, and this year, since I'm volunteering at the library for my graduation project, I was there to help out - which mostly consisted of folding 130 napkins and setting 130 place settings the night before and then hovering around incase anyone needed anything that night.

Anyway, here's the part that ties into my reading update: as I was helping to set up some things for the silent auction, I came across this lovely box that someone had put together and donated, filled with a blanket, snacks, a book, a candle, and several other things. During the auction I put in a bid, luckily won, and came home with, among other things, my own copy of The Help. My aunt (a fellow book nerd) told me that it's a fantastic read. I can't wait to start it.

I also added two books from the school library to my reading pile this week: The Curiosities by Maggie Stiefvater, Tessa Gratton, and Brenna Yovanoff, and The Dragon Heir by Cinda Williams Chima. I've already started The Curiosities and absolutely love it - it's so unique, and of course, Maggie Stiefvater is involved, so it's guaranteed to be fantastic. I haven't started The Dragon Heir, but I can't wait to find out what happens next - The Wizard Heir left a lot of questions unanswered.

That's it for this week. Spring break soon, though, which means even more time for reading.


Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. A new topic is posted each week, and blogger share their top ten in the category.

Top Ten Books I Recommend The Most

"Sometimes, you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal. And you become convinced that that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all living humans read the book."

10. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
By Douglas Adams

9. The Demon King
By Cinda Williams Chima

8. Clockwork Angel
By Cassandra Clare

7. To Kill A Mockingbird
By Harper Lee

6. The Alchemyst
Michael Scott

5. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
By Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

4. 1984
By George Orwell

3. The Hobbit
By J.R.R. Tolkien

2. The Book Thief
By Markus Zusak

1. The Scorpio Races
By Maggie Stiefvater


Monday, March 18, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. A new topic is posted each week, and bloggers share their top ten in the category.

Top Ten Books I Just HAD to Buy...but are still sitting on my shelf unread

Only a top five this week, which I consider quite an accomplishment - then again, there are far more books than that sitting unread on my shelf, but most of them have been gifts, not something I've been overwhelmed with the desire to buy. 

5. Trickster's Choice & Trickster's Queen
Tamora Pierce

It was Tamora Pierce. There was absolutely no good excuse for passing up two books by Tamora Pierce. And there's even less of an excuse for having not read them yet. I've owned them for over a year now, and just been so distracted by other books (not all of which have been as good as I know these will be) that I haven't gotten around to them yet. 

4. Grimm's Fairy Tales

It was on sale at Barnes & Noble for some really ridiculous price - around five dollars if my memory is correct. And sure, while most of the stories I'm probably familiar with already, I've never read the original versions of all of them - which completely defeats the purpose of owning this book. 

3. Here There Be Dragons
James A. Owen

Like Tamora Pierce's Trickster books, this was a story that looked incredibly promising, a book I've owned for over a year. And again, I have no valid excuse. 

2. Night and Day
Virginia Woolf

College bookstores are wonderful places, filled with every piece of classic or well-known literature you could imagine (although sometimes overpriced.) It was in just such a place that I picked up this book, choosing it at random because a friend assured me that "anything by Viriginia Woolf would be fantastic." Then I started reading the introduction, which did nothing but talk about how this was one of the worst novels Woolf had written. I've been putting off reading it ever since, even though I can't imagine that it's anything other than wonderful. 

1. Pathfinder
Orson Scott Card

In 2011, I was willing to risk overweight luggage in order to buy this book in a Key West bookstore and bring it home. I ended up buying it later, but this book was one I was absolutely dying to get my hands on - and I still haven't read it. That's a big problem. 

Feeling completely guilted into reading these books at the first available opportunity,

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Reading Room (32)

The Reading Room is a weekly update on books I'm reading and planning to read, posted on Tuesdays. It was inspired by the feature On Myshelf at the blog All By Myshelf.

I'm in the middle of several books at the moment, which is of course when I'm at my happiest. We've been reading The Great Gatsby for English class, and so far, I absolutely love it. There's so much detail and description, without it being overwhelming or impossible to understand, like some other books we've read for that class. [Insert awkward-cough-House-of-the-Seven-Gables-cough here. I'm also partway through Things Not Seen by Andrew Clements, which is on our Reading Competition list for the spring competition and has been pleasantly surprising so far. 
Finally, because no week is complete without a trip to the library for non-obligatory reading, I checked out The Last Dragonslayer by Jasper Fforde and The Brides of Rollrock Island by Margo Lanagan on Monday. I started The Last Dragonslayer that same day and already I love it; I haven't started The Brides of Rollrock Island, but it looks really good, so I can't wait to.                                                  And that's my reading update for this week! If only there was more time to read all these amazing books (school has been exploding into business lately, but it should wind down soon.)

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.  A new topic is posted each week, and bloggers share their top ten in the category.

Top Ten Authors I'd Put On My Auto-Buy List

10. Ally Carter

The first book of hers I encountered was Heist Society, which I fell head-over-heels in love with from the very first page. In addition to this, she's also written the incredible Gallagher Girls series, which is incredible for so many reasons. Her books are fantastic in ways I can't even describe, and I would eagerly devour almost anything she wrote. 

9. Cassandra Clare

Let's just say this: anyone who can make me fall in love with every single character in a book as quickly as Cassandra Clare did in Clockwork Prince deserves a spot on this list. She's an incredible author and truly a master of her craft. 

8. Kirsten Miller

At first, I was content just to read the books in her Kiki Strike series, but then I started following her blog, and was intrigued by the other things she's written. I received The Eternal Ones for Christmas, won an advanced copy of The Darkness Dwellers in a giveaway on the blog, and can't wait to get my hands on a copy of How to Lead a Life of Crime. Absolutely anything she writes is guaranteed to be thrilling and dangerous.

7. Tamora Pierce

I've read almost all of her books without being disappointed yet. I love the worlds she creates, her storytelling style, and her characters. She's just a great author who I can count on for quality stories, and I value that a lot, so of course I'll snatch up her next book as soon as it's released. 

6. Sarah Dessen

It was really nice right after one of my friends (over at http://hellosimpleme.blogspot.com/) had introduced me to Sarah Dessen and recommended her book Just Listen. Why? Because I had discovered my love for Sarah Dessen and had all the books she'd ever written to keep me entertained. Now I've read all of her books and own most of them, and so all I can do is wait eagerly for a new release and pounce on it the second it's available. 

5. Cornelia Funke

Cornelia Funke was basically my inspiration for life when I was younger. I wanted to write books like hers, and reading Dragon Rider and the Inkheart trilogy played a big role in developing my love of fantasy. I still love her books and can barely handle my anticipation anytime I hear rumors that she might be releasing a new one. 

4. Markus Zusak

The author of The Book Thief, who I rave about on a fairly regular basis, was obviously going to earn a spot on this list. I've only read two of his books, The Book Thief and I Am The Messenger, but both were too incredible for words. He really is a genius, a literary artist, a master. While there are a lot of fantastic authors, I have yet to read one whose images are as powerful as the ones Markus Zusak creates. 

3. Cinda Williams Chima

I've gushed a lot about her Seven Realms Series (The Demon King, The Exiled Queen, The Gray Wolf Throne, and The Crimson Crown) on here; I've mentioned, but gushed slightly less about, her Heir series, which I'm in the process of reading right now and love. Clearly, I have to buy any new book she writes the moment it's released - otherwise, I'd run out of things to gush about. 

2. Sarah Addison Allen

Of course, there's always Sarah Addison Allen, whose work I discovered over the summer when I read Garden Spells. As with Sarah Dessen, I quickly devoured everything she'd already written and am now waiting anxiously for a new release. 

1. Maggie Stiefvater

Much like deeming Holmes & Watson the best literary duo, this was a really predictable first choice, but I really had no other option. She is one of the most incredible authors I have ever read - ever - and I literally have nothing bad to say about her. She could write a user's manual for a car, and I would read it.


Friday, February 8, 2013

Tuned In To (11)

Tuned In To is a weekly feature discussing albums I've been listening to, songs that have been stuck in my head, or artists that I've discovered, and is posted on Fridays.

So there are two really amazing songs I've encountered this week. The first is "The Devil Wears a Suit" by Kate Miller-Heidke, which I came across on Tumblr, and it simply blew me away. I love the instrumentals and the way she sings it, and the lyrics are incredible. Just - listen to it, and I guarantee you'll be as awed as I was.


The second one I came across today - as is usually the case in Physics class, my lab partner and I had no motivation to start on homework that wasn't due until Tuesday, so she started doodling song lyrics to Florence & the Machine's "Drumming Song." I listened to it on her iPod in the locker room before gym class, and it is an INCREDIBLE song. (Not really a surprise, considering it's Florence and the Machine.) I'm obsessed with it now, and you will be too.

Other than that, I've mostly been listening to "No Light, No Light", also by Florence & the Machine, which I'm singing for the school's Open Mic Night.


Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. A new topic is posted each week, and bloggers share their top ten in the category.

Top Ten Best Bookish Memories

10. Finishing The Scorpio Races

I can still remember every detail of this event. It was both ordinary and extremely out-of-the-ordinary at the same time. We were on our way back home from a trip to a city about two hours away; we stopped for dinner; I read on my nook until the food came, and then in the car for the remainder of the trip. But the dinner was at a restaurant that overlooked a lake, and we sat by the window; the atmosphere was very similar to the book, so I really felt like I was in the story. And when I finished the book, I was listening to Swallowed in the Sea by Coldplay on my iPod, a song that fits the ending really well. It was just one of those moments where everything comes together in absolute perfection. 

9. Reading The Reptile Room

The second book in Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events is memorable because of where I read it: I'm pretty sure I read the entire thing while sitting in a tree. It was a fairly comfortable place to sit if you went about it right, and I'd just discovered a perfect notch to balance a book on while I climbed up and down.

8. Key West: Bookstores

Our week-long vacation to Key West two years ago was so delightfully bookish that three events from it earned a spot on this list, the first being the bookstores I discovered. I stumbled upon one while bicycling around town the first day; I don't remember the name, but I do remember it was absolutely overflowing with new and used books, a creaky wood floor, and was the place where I bought both of the Lemony Snicket books I own and my copy of The Book Thief. The second was named something that had to do with Voltaire and was more modern and most importantly, air-conditioned, making it the perfect place to seek relief from the 90-some-degree days. I bought Cornelia Funke's book Reckless there, and would have bought more had my mom not reminded me that I did have to fit all of my purchases into my suitcase for the plane ride home.

7. Writing Magic

I got this fantastic book for my twelfth birthday, and it has been the equivalent of my writing bible ever since. I spent that entire summer typing away on our old desktop in the computer room, trying out all the exercises and stories. It definitely shaped me as a writer, and I have a lot of fond memories associated with it.

6. Buying You Have to Stop This

You Have to Stop This is the final book in The Secret Series by Pseudonymous Bosch, a series that my best friend and I have been obsessed with ever since I recommended the first book, The Name of This Book is Secret to her. We were at an outdoor Christmas festival and stepped into the bookstore to get warm when we discovered this book. I'm pretty sure we actually screamed. I convinced my parents it was a good early Christmas present, and both of us had read within the next week.

5. Meeting Erin Hunter

Erin Hunter, for those of you who don't know, is the author of the Warriors series, which I was obsessed with when I was younger. She visited Toronto one year in May, and my family made the four-hour drive to see her - well, Vicky Holmes, 1/3 of the writing team that creates the books under a single pseudonym. I've since outgrown the series and the writing style, but it was still one of the coolest things I've ever done. I have two of my Warriors books signed by her and the watercolor of Tigerstar that I gave her got a mention on her blog. 

4. The Lord of the Rings

I can't even think of this book without bringing up dozens of memories. This was a massive undertaking for me at the time I read it, and it took me an entire summer and into the fall to complete it, reading other books along the way. Whenever I go back and look through it again, I can remember all the places I was when I read it - on our porch, in a hotel room, in the car, in my grandmother's backyard. I have really specific, detailed memories associated with this book, which is probably part of the reason I'm so attached to it. 

3. Touring Ernest Hemingway's House

Ernest Hemingway was really fond of Key West. So fond of it, that he lived there. And I got to see his house. And it was awesome. That was my second bookish adventure: just casually wandering around the Hemingway house, very discreetly running my hand over Hemingway's furniture and poking my head into roped-off rooms and not-so-discreetly fawning over the resident six-toed cats. Since then, Hemingway has become one of my favorite authors. Four of his books now have prime spots on my shelves, and they were all purchased at the gift shop after the tour. 

2. Winning Kiki Strike: The Darkness Dwellers

I won an advanced copy of this book on Kirsten Miller's blog a few months ago, and I was beyond thrilled. In November, I was reading a book that wasn't supposed to be released until the end of January. Not only that, but Kirsten Miller had written 'Stay Dangerous' on the inside. I love the Kiki Strike books and had been waiting for the third one for years. (Not exaggerating.) Having this book was one of the coolest things ever. Of course, not as cool at the last memory on my list...

1. Being in the same restaurant as Judy Blume AND Meg Cabot. 

My final and most exciting Key West adventure. Apparently Ernest Hemingway wasn't the only author who was fond of the Florida Keys. Turns out Judy Blume and Meg Cabot like it there too. So if you're there on vacation and are at the restaurant Sarabeth's, you might find yourself sitting at a table next to a group that includes a woman talking about things she's written and visiting the set of a movie. And you might just be eavesdropping on their conversation. And then, after the group gets up and leaves, the owner/host of the restaurant might come over to your table and note that he saw you reading at the table earlier, and so he thinks there's something about the people who were sitting at the next table that you might want to know. And then you might just find out that you were eavesdropping on JUDY FREAKING BLUME. 

And then, because your mind is not sufficiently blown, he'll just casually mention that Meg Cabot - yes, author of the Princess Diaries, that Meg Cabot - was sitting in another part of the restaurant. 

I didn't sleep much that night. 

(My signed copy of Firestar's Quest. According to Vicky Holmes, I'm a number one fan.)

(Signed Advanced Copy of The Darkness Dwellers. Probably the coolest/most kick-butt book I own.) 

 (This is Hemingway's bed. That's one of the six-toed cats chilling on Hemingway's pillow.)

(This was the view from his balcony. How can you NOT be inspired?)

(This was the restaurant we saw Judy Blume. We sat underneath the umbrella, right in the front there.)

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Reading Room (31)

The Reading Room is a weekly update on books I'm reading and planning to read, and was inspired by the feature On Myshelf at the blog All By Myshelf.

I have been fairly bombarded with books lately, which is never a bad thing and not that unusual if you're me. What's surprising is that most of them are for school. I and the other book nerds on the Reading Competition team are working out way through the list of books for the spring competition. The one I grabbed at our meeting on Thursday was A Time for Miracles by Anne-Laure Bondoux, and I'm loving it so far.

Then there's My Antonia, which we're reading for english class. My feelings about the teacher and most of my classmates aside, I love the book. There's so much imagery and description, and it's set against such a beautiful backdrop of the Nebraska countryside. We're also going to start reading a book for history class - Night by Elie Wiesel. It looks interesting so far.

Even with all this reading material basically falling from the sky, and a decent stack remaining from Christmas, I still felt the need to stop by the school library and grab a few more. I checked out The Wizard Heir, the second book in Cinda Williams Chima's Heir series, and It's Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini, which I've wanted to read for awhile now and looks fantastic. I can't wait to start it.