Wine Book Tag

Let’s just act like I posted this in time for Valentine’s Day. I didn’t realize this would be great for V-day celebrations until after I started on it, though I hardly mention romantic reads in the post. Hmm… maybe it is fitting that I post it now. I was tagged by the Organ-utan Librarian back in January. Go check her out! 😀

Box Wine – a book that people will judge you for liking but you like it anyway!

Unteachable

That’s just about 90% of the books I own. I read a lot of middle-grade and young-adult fantasy novels and people judge me for that because I’m in my mid-ish 20s. Apparently, once you pass a certain age you HAVE to start reading certain books because it’s the “adult” thing to do.

But, if I have to choose a book, I’ll go with Unteachable by Leah Raeder. It’s a new-adult novel about a high-school girl who falls in love with her teacher. It’s been on my mind lately. I feel like rereading it.

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Book Haul #18: The Free and the Discount

Yea! A book haul! I love getting new books. I especially love to get new books for free or at least discounted. I’m glad that this haul is a mixture of free and discounts.

Barnes & Noble

bookhaul collage 11-1

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“The Rest of Us Just Live Here” by Patrick Ness

The Rest of Us Just Live Here2I believe this is my quickest read of the year for books. I basically read it in a day. I was so excited to get it — to finally try a Patrick Ness book — that I gobbled it up.

Quick summary:

Genre: YA fantasy

I read this a while ago so here’s what’s posted on Goodreads:

What if you aren’t the Chosen One? The one who’s supposed to fight the zombies, or the soul-eating ghosts, or whatever the heck this new thing is, with the blue lights and the death?

What if you’re like Mikey? Who just wants to graduate and go to prom and maybe finally work up the courage to ask Henna out before someone goes and blows up the high school. Again.

Because sometimes there are problems bigger than this week’s end of the world, and sometimes you just have to find the extraordinary in your ordinary life.

Even if your best friend is worshipped by mountain lions.

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“Me and Earl and the Dying Girl” by Jesse Andrews

Me and Earl and the Dying GirlI intended to see the movie. I really did. That’s why I went and bought the book. But then I forgot. At least there’s Netflix.

Quick summary:

From Goodreads:

Greg Gaines is the last master of high school espionage, able to disappear at will into any social environment. He has only one friend, Earl, and together they spend their time making movies, their own incomprehensible versions of Coppola and Herzog cult classics.

Until Greg’s mother forces him to rekindle his childhood friendship with Rachel.

Rachel has been diagnosed with leukemia—-cue extreme adolescent awkwardness—-but a parental mandate has been issued and must be obeyed. When Rachel stops treatment, Greg and Earl decide the thing to do is to make a film for her, which turns into the Worst Film Ever Made and becomes a turning point in each of their lives.

And all at once Greg must abandon invisibility and stand in the spotlight.

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“Snow Like Ashes” by Sara Raasch

Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch
Isn’t it beautiful? I wish my copy was this light.

I’ve wanted to read this book ever since I saw the cover of it in a booktube video. Is that a bad reason for wanting to read a book? I used to think so but I don’t anymore. I love the cover’s design, though I think it looks better on the computer than in my hands. On the computer, it looks lighter and brighter but in my hands it’s a little dark. After reading the story, I appreciated the design a little more because it includes a chakram, which the protagonist is known for, as well as elements of the story’s distinctive world.

Quick summary:

I usually summarize the story myself in this section. Often it’s a shoddy job. This time I decided to use the summary on Goodreads. Most times the summaries provided on Goodreads, Barnes & Noble, and other book-buying websites don’t give a good summary and you’re left still wondering what the story is about but this one does a good job.

A heartbroken girl. A fierce warrior. A hero in the making.

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“The Blood of Olympus” by Rick Riordan

This is the UK cover, which I like best. The heroes look like they mean business and Gaea is just lurking underground, waiting for their blood to spill. I also like that she takes up most of the cover.
This is the UK cover, which I like best. The heroes look like they mean business and Gaea is lurking underground, waiting for their blood to spill. I also like that she takes up most of the cover.

The long-awaited final installment of the Heroes of Olympus series was released on October 7th, 2014. I wasted no time in getting it. As soon as I was finished with TIME magazine’s issue on great empires, I grabbed The Blood of Olympus to read and boy was it worth it!

So we’re done with the House of Hades and the Doors of Death. The heroes are plagued by nightmares and monsters, as always, and now they have other worries: getting the Athena Parthenos back to Camp Half-Blood before Nico disappears into the shadows; avoiding Orion’s arrows; figuring out how to stop Gaea from waking and if/when she does, how to get rid of her; and defeating the giants gathered at the Parthenon. Our heroes have a lot on their plate, not to mention their constant anxiety over their companions’ safety as well as the preservation of their respective camps. We can’t help but wonder whether the heroes will accomplish all their tasks and save the world and whether they will need therapy after the events of this book.

As always with Riordan’s books, The Blood of Olympus is fast-paced; however, it has a more mellow moments throughout that the other books. The characters reflect on their actions and futures more and they are not as obsessed with their significant others. —Well, expect for Annabeth but we’ll excuse her since she went through hell with Percy.— I was glad to see that certain characters stepped up while others took a back seat. The most improved is Piper, who starts to kick some serious ass. She finds her strength, which is in her emotions and instincts, and she trusts in it to whip a giant’s butt while soothing Annabeth, who has an emotional breakdown. I think Piper is strongest in this installment. In the other books she is too focused on her relationship with Jason, which detracts from her strength and sense of purpose. Though she does care for Jason in this one, it does not consume her purpose.

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“Divergent” by Veronica Roth

The cover does make me think Hunger Games.
The cover makes me think of Hunger Games.

As with Vampire Academy and Beautiful Creatures, it’s the movie that sparked my interest in this book. I enjoyed watching the protagonist, Beatrice “Tris” Prior, develop from a shy, reserved girl into a confident, fearless young woman. I was drawn to the slow progression of her relationship with Four and, of course, I loved it when Four (played by actor Theo James) ripped his shirt off to show Tris his tattoo (…well, he didn’t exactly rip his shirt off but in my mind he did). Wanting to know how similar the novel is to the movie, I decided to purchase the book to find out.

Quick summary (spoilers):

The story is set in a post-apocalyptic Chicago, where all that remains are structural skeletons of our present society. The city is surrounded by a huge, electric fence that’s guarded by a security patrol. Something beyond the city threatens it and citizens are warned not to venture far beyond its limits.

Within this barricade is a society organized into five factions—Dauntless, for the brave; Erudite, for the intelligent; Candor, for the honest; Amity, for the harmonious; and Abnegation, for the selfless. Tris’ family belongs to Abnegation but Tris yearns to break from the restrictions of her faction. She doesn’t feel as if she fits in. Instead, she is attracted to the Dauntless and often wishes to run free with them but her loyalty to her family leaves her ashamed of such thoughts.

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“Eragon” by Christopher Paolini

EragonEach time we revisit a text, we approach it with a new perspective because we’re always changing. While some may see rereading as a waste of time, I enjoy revisiting texts to observe how much my views and enjoyment of it has changed. It’s highly unlikely that my reaction to the reread is the same as my initial read. My enjoyment of the text shifts either because I can better understand and appreciate the author’s craft and message; or because I am able to spot the faults in the story, which curdles my enjoyment. Sometimes my reaction to the text is altered by experiences that have changed my outlook on certain issues. Other times my involvement with people and other media influence me toward certain opinions that may affect how I interpret a story.

Since I reread A Game of Thrones a while back, I decided to reread Eragon as well. Actually, it was under the duress of being late for work that caused me to grab this book from my shelf. I did not have time to mull over a decision so I grabbed the first thing I thought would be pleasing. I enjoyed reading Eragon the first time so I’ll enjoy it as much this time, I thought.

Quick summary:

A fifteen-year-old boy name Eragon discovers a mysterious blue stone on one of his hunting trips into the forbidding mountains of the Spine. He carries it home to the farm where he lives with his uncle and cousin on the outskirts of a village, and tries to determine what type of stone it is. Stumped, he shows it to his uncle who determines that the stone must be of great value because of its peculiarity and decides they should trade it. However, because of the harsh conditions in the country (called Alagaesia) caused by urgal attacks, it’s impossible to trade the stone, which no one knows the value of.

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Favorite Harry Potter Book Covers

While laying in bed this morning contemplating what to write, the idea popped into my head to do a post on my favorite Harry Potter book covers. Yes, this is just an excuse to indulge in my Harry Potter fanaticism. I guess I will be rereading the seventh book soon as well. It’s about time too. The Harry Potter bug usually bites me once a year and infects me with a need to reread a Harry Potter novel, usually the first book. But for now I’ll focus on the covers.

Back in July, Bloomsbury announced that it will publish new covers for the UK edition of the Harry Potter books this September. Last year, Scholastic released new covers for the US edition of the books for its fifteenth anniversary. Here, I will compare the covers (the original vs. the most recent US and UK covers). I will highlight my favorites and will list the covers I like that were published in other countries.

When placed together, it’s easy to see the different elements the illustrators chose to emphasize. Kazu Kibuishi, who illustrated Scholastic’s 2013 covers (The illustration of Hogsmeade above is by Kibuishi.), always tries to place the focus on Harry, which makes sense because the story is about him. So Harry is always placed in the foreground sometimes as larger than the other characters or with a spotlight (glowing glasses). Jonny Duddle, the UK illustrator of Bloomsbury’s September 2014 books, emphasizes the obstacles Harry faces. Harry is usually drawn as a smaller figure in comparison to the other images in the scene to portray the enormity of the events he faces.

Mary Granpré, who designed the original US covers, maintains a cheerful/innocent tone that was probably perceived as more appealing to younger kids. Even as the book became more serious the covers still maintained a sense of innocence. The same goes for the original UK covers, which were designed by Thomas Taylor, Cliff Wright, Giles Greenfield, and Jason Cockcroft. Children’s literature has evolved much since the Harry Potter novels were first published and the evolution of the covers certainly show that. These days, it’s not surprising to see more serious, scary images on children’s book covers. So, without further ado…

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

Scholastic’s August 2013 cover by Kazu Kibuishi.

I feel guilty for liking Kibuishi’s cover more than Mary Grandpré’s original. I get a bit sentimental over books and hate seeing the covers change sometimes but I do find this cover more appealing than the first. I like that it features Diagon Alley because it’s the presence of Diagon Alley that convinces us that a secret, magical world is waiting to be explored. I also like that the illustration consists mostly of blue, which gives it a mystical feel, and that Harry is placed in a spotlight, which is formed by Hagrid’s size. Hagrid is so big that, along with the crowd of people, even the buildings seem to shuffle around to give him space. Plus, the color around Harry and Hagrid is lighter, like a halo. Hedwig, perched on Harry’s shoulder, also helps.

The original UK cover by Thomas Taylor.
The original US cover by Mary Grandpré.

Harry’s face seems to have the same expression on both the original US and UK covers. This cover will always be a favorite simply because it is the first.

Bloomsbury’s September 2014 cover by Jonny Duddle.

This is my second choice because of Harry’s expression. He looks a bit puckish here. (Click the newer versions for a larger image.) Continue reading “Favorite Harry Potter Book Covers”

“The Fault In Our Stars” by John Green

The Fault In Our Stars bookWhen my cousin told me he was reading The Fault In Our Stars I quickly copied him and did the same. I had avoided the book for a while though it’s blue cover beckoned at me from the shelves at Barnes & Noble. While I was curious to know what all the hype was about (it’s a bestseller and certain media outlets claim John Green knows what goes on in teenagers’ heads), I shied away from it because I was told the story is sad and I hate to cry (a silly reason). My cousin didn’t cry (so he says) but he enjoyed the story so I purchased the book.

Now, this is probably silly but I do love to smell and caress books. I guess that makes me a book-fondler or something. The Fault In Our Stars (TFIOS) has a smooth, thick jacket. I often rub and run my fingers across it while reading. My hands are sensitive to texture (which means I hate touching corduroy and velvet) so touching such a surface was all the more enjoyable. The pages are also thick, which I was a bit surprised to see since the paperbacks I’ve purchased are of a cheaper quality with thin leaves within that my highlighter sometimes bleed through. But TFIOS’s were of such great quality that I could easily cut myself on them. See, reading is dangerous. Anyways, on to the story.

TFIOS quote 3

I’ve tried many times to summarize this story but I’m unable to do so without falling short in some way. I think the best way to relay this story is to tell everything that happens. To simply state that it’s a story about a girl and a guy who both have cancer and falls in love but one dies is to fall short of the scope of it, the questions it raises, and the emotions it evokes. So instead of a summary (you can read one in one of the related articles below), I’ll jump right into my reflection.

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