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.)