Top 5 Tuesday

Top 5 Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by Shanah at the Bionic Book Worm. Each week, she gives a topic and participants get to answer. This week the theme is books starting with F-G-H-I-J!

F is for Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. I love stories about fans and online life, and I related hard with Cath and her world. Like Cath, I am a huge fangirl and got through college by writing fanfic. While I wasn’t as popular as she was, I had a strong following and had that same sense of obligation to get fic out. So, I loved reading Cath’s story and her life and really seeing myself in her.

G is for Good Night, Mr. Holmes by Carole Nelson Douglas. This book was formative for me. I discovered it either in high school or college when I was a huge Sherlock Holmes fan. I loved Irene in these books. She was dramatic, clever, a detective in her own right, independent, and stubborn. I also loved the narrator, Irene’s faithful friend Penelope, whom I saw myself in. I also appreciate that this is one of the few Irene Adler books that did not assume that her marriage with Godfrey was a shame or went bad quickly and all Irene really wanted to do was sleep with Sherlock Holmes. She was fascinated by him, but as a rival, not as a love interest, and that’s really refreshing.

H is for The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. I think I’ve told the story before of first reading this book (I was at Disney’s California Adventures, we’d taken a short break, I pulled out the book, and walked around with my nose in it until the lights went out for World of Color), but I love, love this book. I’ve frequently told my sister that what I want more than anything is to read this book again for the first time. It was so engrossing and compelling, and I’ve never quite found a book that replicated that feeling.

I is for Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. I almost didn’t finish this book. It was about a quarter of the way through and I didn’t know what was going on or who the characters were and was so confused. I was ready to give up, but everyone said it was so good and I wanted to like it. So, I went back into it and really paid attention to who was speaking or writing at any given time, and it was so worth it. This series is amazing. I love Kady and I love AIDAN to death. Seriously, I have never loved an AI as much as AIDAN, and I was Mary Sue married to Data for awhile. But AIDAN, I am obsessed with.

Just Ella by Margaret Peterson Haddix is a wonderful kid’s book about what happens to Cinderella after the ball. She has to go through training to be considered a proper princess and she can’t seem to find the right fit. I like Ella and how she tries to hard and yet can’t make things work. I like how she tries with the prince, who is terrible. And I love the ending and the choices she makes. It’s a great read.

This was so much easier now that I know how to organize my GoodReads list by alphabetical order! It’s so cool to see all the great books I’ve read listed out like that.

Have you read any of the books on my list? What did you think?

Top Five Tuesday

Top 5 Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by Shanah @Bionic Book Worm. Each week, she gives a topic and people are invited to post and participate. This month, the topic is the alphabet and this week’s letters are A, B, C, D, E.

AAurora Rising by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. This exciting sci-fi story is about a squad of misfits and the strange girl their commander Tyler Jones, rescued from cryo-sleep. On what they think is a routine and extremely dull mission, their lives turn on their heads when Aurora stows away and now some very powerful and very scary people want to get their hands on her. I loved this book so much and cannot wait to read the sequel.

B –Beauty by Robin McKinley. I’ve talked about this Beauty and the Beast retelling many, many times on my blog. It remains my favorite retelling after what feels like hundreds of years. It’s just magical.

C –A Curse so Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer. Another Beauty and the Beast retelling, I loved the strength of the characters, especially Harper. I adore it when characters do what’s right because it’s the right thing to do and do it without a second thought, and that’s what Harper does.

D- Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid. I have to admit, at first I was skeptical of this book because I’d heard it was told in an interview format, and I didn’t think I’d like that. But I’d loved The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, so I though I’d give it a try. I was thoroughly engrossed by the book and found it really easy to follow. I loved the characters and their struggles. The women were awesome. It was a great book and very well done. One day, I’m going to listen to the audio, too.

E-Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine. Okay, so this is another repeat from last week, but I don’t remember any other E books well enough to talk about them. I love this book so much. I love how strong Ella is and how rebellious. I love her and Char’s relationship and how it grows and matures throughout the book. I love the magic and her fairy godmother. And I love the ending. It’s just a great book.

All right, I made it! And I didn’t have to resort to putting a Sue Grafton novel, which I could have done for every letter except E. This was challenging, but a lot of fun. I can’t wait to see what books everyone chooses!

Top 5 Fantasy

Top 5 Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the Shanah @ Bionic Book Worm.Each week, she posts a new topic and gives us all a chance to respond.  This week’s theme is Top 5  Fantasy.

You had to know this was coming, right? I can’t talk about fantasy without talking about my favorite fairy tale retelling of all: Beauty by Robin McKinley. I never get tired of this story. I love the characters, I love the first line, I love the journey Beauty and the Beast take in falling in love with each other, and I just love it.

I read A Curse so Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer earlier this year and was totally bowled over. I love Harper so much. I love how she goes out of her way to do what’s right and to stand up for others. She’s amazing. I liked Rhen and how he realizes how he can’t just isolate himself due to his curse, he still has to rule. And I loved Grey with the passion of a thousand fiery suns. (So much so, that I’m wondering why I didn’t include him on my list last week). It’s just a wonderful story and I can’t wait for the sequel to come out.

Dragon Rose by Christine Pope is yet another Beauty and the Beast retelling. In this, the Dragon Lord comes every few years and selects a bride to come and live in his castle. Rhianne is a painter and I think she volunteers to be the bride. Once there, she begins to experience strange moods and finds that the curse goes deeper than just the Dragon being cursed. It doesn’t have great reviews on Goodreads, but I loved it to death.

Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine is my favorite Cinderella retelling ever. I love Ella’s personality and her strength. She’s cursed to obey every command given her, so she does whatever she can to subvert the curse. I adore her relationship with the prince. They letters they write to one another are adorable. I just think this book is fantastic.

The Forever King by Molly Cochran and Warren Murphy is a King Arthur reborn novel. Arthur has been reborn as a young boy named Arthur Blessing, who finds a strange cup that feels warm and reacts in ways science can’t explain. Unfortunately, a dangerous man is after the cup and soon Arthur and his aunt are on the run. Along the way, there paths cross with an ex-cop who is more than he seems. This book cemented my love for Arthur and Merlin as well as sparked a deep, abiding love for Galahad. It’s magical and beautiful, and I will always be so sad that the sequels failed to live up to the magic that this book created.

What are some of your favorite fantasy books? Have you read any on my list? Let me know in the comments below!

Top 5 “Main Males”

Top 5 Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the Shanah @ Bionic Book Worm. Each week, she posts a new topic and gives us all a chance to respond.  This week’s theme is Top 5 “Main Males”.

I’m going to be totally honest here: I’m not entirely sure what “main males” means. Does that mean favorite main characters that are male? Or top 5 favorite male characters? Whichever it means, I’m going with the latter because I tend to like the side male characters better than the main characters. So, here are my top 5 favorite male characters.

Talon Karrde from Star Wars: Heir to the Empire and other books by Timothy Zahn.

Timothy Zahn introduced a lot of wonderful characters to the Star Wars universe, but my favorite is probably Talon Karrde. A man who deals with information, he’s smart, witty, introspective, and noble. Although he tries desperately to stay neutral and play both sides, time and again he finds himself doing what it right and siding with the New Republic. In my head, he’s also very handsome (he looks almost exactly like Gary Oldman for some reason). He’s a smuggler and probably THE head of all smugglers five years after Jabba the Hutt’s demise, and I love the stark contrast between Jabba’s repulsive decadence and Karrde’s minimal elegance. I wish there was a whole novel about Talon Karrde and his organization, but now that the EU is defunct, I doubt I’ll ever get it.

Professor Randolph Lyall from The Parasol Protectorate by Gail Carriger

I love the power behind the throne, probably more than I love the power itself, so I was bound to love Professor Lyall from the moment he appears. He’s the Beta to the head of the Woosley pack and he deftly gathers information (sensing a theme?) and manages his Alpha with aplomb and dignity. I love how elegant he is, because werewolves seem to be more feral (I’m more of a vampire girl). I love that he’s either gay or bisexual (I don’t remember which right now) and when I realized who he was going to be paired with, I just about melted with happiness. It was just so perfect. He does have a novella focusing on his romance, which made me super happy, and I just love him.

Robin Hood from Outlaws of Sherwood by Robin McKinley

So, I like this Robin Hood the best because he’s so reluctant. He is perfectly willing to run off into the woods to save his life, but he doesn’t want others coming with him. He doesn’t want to put anyone else in danger. However, he is also extremely kind and can’t turn anyone away. He lets anyone who needs refuge into his camp, even going so far as to set up another camp for families. He allows women in his band and lets Alan and his wife stay even though they aren’t suited to outlaw life. And I love his relationship with Marian. It remains one of my favorite romances in fiction ever.

Toys (Alexander Chismer) from the Joe Leger series by Jonathan Maberry

Toys starts out as a bad guy. He’s the personal assistant (power behind the throne, check) to Sebastian Gault, one of the main baddies in Patient Zero and King of Plagues. He’s information hungry, reserved, driven, and a great assistant. He’s also a nasty piece of work until he gets a rather humbling slap in the face. From then on, he spends his life trying to atone and become a better person. And I love him so much. I loved him when he was bad, I love him when he’s trying to be good. He’s just so cool.

Severus Snape from Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling

Look. I know Snape is decisive, but I’ve loved him from the first book. And not because he’s played by the late, great Alan Rickman, because as much as I love him, I have really grown to dislike his Snape (blasphemy, I know). I just… despite all Snape’s flaws and the terrible way he treats people, there’s just something about him I love. I love his passion, both the good and the bad of it. I love his commitment to Dumbledore. I love that he does whatever it takes to protect Harry, even though he loathes him. And although I can find that loathing tedious at times, it makes his drive to protect Harry interesting. I like dutiful characters, even when they hate their duty. (And I also love dutiful characters that completely believe in their cause… but that’s another top 5 list). So, yeah, I love Snape and I love reading about him.

So those are my top five favorite male characters. Do we have any overlaps? Any characters that, based on this list, you’d think I’d love? Drop a comment below and let me know!

Top 10 All-Time Favorites

Top 5 Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the Shanah @ Bionic Book WormEach week, she posts a new topic and gives us all a chance to respond.   This week’s top 5 is actually a top 10: Top 10 All-time Favorites. Here are mine!

I’ve talked about Beauty by Robin McKinley many time before. After all these years, it’s still my favorite Beauty and the Beast retelling of all time. There’s just something so soothing and beautiful about this book. I love the characters and the plot and just everything about it.

Another book by Robin McKinley, Outlaws of Sherwood was my introduction to Robin Hood (outside of the Disney movie). I mean, Prince of Thieves came out around the same time I read the book, so I knew who Robin Hood was, but I didn’t see the movie until many years later. I guess, this was my literary introduction to Robin Hood, and it remains a favorite. It has everything I want: a noble hero with a bit of a temper, colorful side characters, my all-time favorite trope, and people who are in love with each other but don’t admit it out of a misguided sense of nobility. I love it.

Star Wars: Heir to the Empire is my all-time favorite Star Wars book. There’s nothing about this book I don’t love. The characterization of the movie-characters is spot-on. The villain is terrifying and brilliant and set the standard for all villains for me. The new characters, especially Mara Jade and Talon Karrde, are so interesting, I could read novels devoted to just them. It reawakened my love for Star Wars and got me creative in a way only a few books had ever done for me in before.

I have to confess: I saw the BBC miniseries of Pride and Prejudice before I read the book, but I just couldn’t get into it until I could properly visualize the characters. Once I had an idea of the language in my head, I was able to read it and I’ve loved the book ever since. I also have to confess that I’ve never been as in love with Darcy as the rest of the world is; to me, the book is all about Elizabeth Bennett and how awesome she is. Darcy is just the cherry on top of all that awesomeness.

Persuasion is one that sort of snuck up on me. I was in my twenties when I reread this, and I appreciated it so much more than I had originally. And when I got to Wentworth’s letter to Anne, I just melted and fell in love.

I only fell in love with Northanger Abbey a few years ago, but I love it so much, I had to include it. Catherine is just so funny and so real. I love how she’s romantic and dreamy, but when she’s tested, she’s able to get through hard times. I love her family and how supportive they are of her. And I love the sarcastic and charming Henry Tilney. It’s just a delightful book.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is my favorite book in the Harry Potter series. I liked Sorcerer’s Stone and Chamber of Secrets, but the expansion of the world in PoA just got to me. I loved the Marauders and the map. I loved Remus Lupin when he was introduced and his relationship with Harry. It was just a great book.

Lady of the Forest was a book I discovered in college at the library. I was about halfway through when I ran out and bought it for myself, because I loved it that much. It was a Marian-centric retelling of Robin Hood and I loved the Marian it gave me. I also loved Robin, who was suffering of PTSD after being a prisoner of war for many years. It was just so, so good.

I was very much into pirates and age of sail stories when I was a kid, so True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle felt like it was written for me. It’s not about pirates, but it is about a girl who finds herself on a ship where the crew is being oppressed by a cruel captain. She finds herself in the middle of the conflict and eventually must choose a side. I love Charlotte and wish Avi had written more of her adventures.

I got into Star Trek: The Next Generation in high school when I watched the same episode four times in one week and thought, “This is good. I should see another episode.” I was a huge superfan and spent hours and hours watching, reading, and writing about Star Trek. Peter David was my favorite author and Q was my favorite recurring character. This book is perfect. It is so good, I wish they had filmed it as the final episode instead of All Good Things (or, at least, in addition to). I’ve read it over twenty times and will probably read it another twenty in my lifetime. (Well, maybe not that much, but you get the idea).

So, those are my top 10 favorite books of all time. What are some of yours? Drop me a comment below and let me know!

Top 5 Debut Novels

Top 5 Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the Shanah @ Bionic Book WormEach week, she posts a new topic and gives us all a chance to respond.  This week’s topic is Top 5 Debut novels.

This was really hard for me, because generally I’m not aware what novels are the author’s debut. Once I started looking, though, it was hard because so many of the books I love are debut novels! But, I was able to whittle it down to my top five. And here they are!

Beauty by Robin McKinley is probably one of my favorite books of all time. I had no idea it was a debut until I started looking for books to write about! I talk about it all the time. Despite my initial rejection of the book ( I remember crouching down in my middle school library, scoffing at what I thought was a first person retelling of Sleeping Beauty), when I finally gave the book a chance, I loved it so, so much. There was just something about an unlovely, awkward, bookish Beauty that pinged me right in my awkward, bookish soul. Even though almost everyone who’s read both this and Rose Daughter prefers the latter, I’m all about the debut.

Count Anne of Green Gables as another book I didn’t realize was a debut. For some reason, I thought the Emily books or Story Girl came first; I’m not sure why. I was introduced to Anne via a friend in sixth grade. She had an Anne of Green Gables tea party for her birthday, and soon after, my family watched the miniseries. From there, I read the book and fell head over heels in love. It helped that I was an imaginative, talkative, fiery-tempered kid, although, to my great disappointment, I didn’t have red hair.

I feel I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Harry Potter. I was in high school when my mother, a substitute teacher, first brought it to my attention. She’d been in many classes where it was the read aloud and eventually bought the book so she could read the whole thing. Initially, I couldn’t get past the first chapter, but I finally got a chance to sit down and really give it my full attention. I loved it. I loved every moment of it, I loved Harry, I loved Snape, I loved the world, I loved everything. I became a lifelong Harry Potter fan and have never turned back.

I think I assumed Marissa Meyer was an established author when I first read Cinder. It’s just so well done and the world building is so complex. I’m so jealous of the imagination these author’s have, the ones that can build whole worlds and magic systems and create such complex characters. I love the characters and the plot in this book. Cinderella retellings are my second favorite fairy tail retellings and this one was done perfectly. Cyborgs, lost princesses, and plagues? Sign me up.

My sister recommended Legend by Marie Lu to me soon after it was published. She told me it was loosely based on Javert and Valjean from Les Miserables, only gender-flipped. How could I turn that down? I highly enjoyed the book. Day was a great hero of the downtrodden, and June was amazing as a military star whose world starts crumbling around her. I think it was a strong debut and although none of Marie Lu’s other books have lived up to this series, I think this one shows how talented she is.

Top 5 Summertime Reads

Tuesday has come around once more and it’s the last Tuesday of the month. It’s almost summer! I have eight more days of school before I’m free to lounge around and read as much as I want. I cannot wait.

Top 5 Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the Shanah @ Bionic Book Worm. Each week, she posts a new topic and gives us all a chance to respond.  This week’s topic is Top 5 Summertime Reads. I don’t actually have any summertime reads, so I’m changing this a bit to be the top 5 books I read every summer when I was a child. And, honestly, despite being many years away from childhood, these books still spark that summertime joy.

Boy-Crazy Stacey I was a huge Baby-sitter’s Club fan when I was a kid, and this and the super special where they went to Disney World were my favorites. It’s funny, because Stacey wasn’t even my favorite baby-sitter–Mary Anne was–but I loved this book. The idea of getting to go the the beach every day (and I already went once a week) without adults was just the best idea ever. I thought it sounded like heaven. Nowadays, I probably wouldn’t enjoy it (doesn’t help that I’ve moved to where the ocean is ice cold all year round), but as a kid, the idea was heaven.

Bummer Summer by Ann M. Martin was another favorite of mine. I loved stories about camp, because I never got to go to camp for longer than a week. I thought that staying at camp all summer sounded amazing, which is funny because I couldn’t last five days without getting homesick. I envied the freedom kids had in camp books, because at the camp I went to, we were watched all the time. I don’t remember much about this book except the main character’s father broke his toe, he had a new wife and a baby that didn’t have a name, and the girl didn’t like the outdoors or sports. Was this the book where she played volleyball and sprained her ankle, or was that another book? I read so many camp books, it’s hard to keep them straight.

Yours Till Niagara Falls, Abby by Jane O’Connor is another camp book. Once again, I don’t remember much about it. I think the main character, Abby, was supposed to go to camp with her best friend, but the friend ended up not being able to go. I vividly remember one scene where they go to the beach that has these stones shaped like chairs. The girls sat in them and got hit by the waves coming in from the ocean. I think there was also an obligatory poison-ivy scene, as well. I loved this book and read it over and over again. In fact, I’m pretty sure I still have a copy of it.

Tiger Eyes by Judy Blume isn’t really a summer book, but I read it every summer. Davey’s father, who managed a convenience story in Jersey City, is killed. Her mother falls into a deep depression and is unable to really function, so her sister-in-law and husband invite the family to come live with them in New Mexico. The book is all about grief and healing. It’s a bit of a heavy book for summer, but I loved it. I still do love it.

Who Stole the Wizard of Oz? by Avi is a huge summer time book of mine. As a kid, I tended to find books I liked and reread them to death, but I was having problems finding books to read one particular day and my mom suggested this one. I was resistant, because it was a mystery and mysteries scared me, but I ended up loving it. It follows Becky and Toby, twins living in a small town. Becky is accused of stealing the book The Wizard of Oz and four or five other books from the library sale. She and her brother investigate, trying to find who stole the books. In their course of investigation, they uncover a secret about the town and its inhabitants. It’s such a great book and I pull it out every once in awhile just to relive the magic.

So, those are my top 5 childhood summertime reads. What book say summer to you? Any childhood favorites? Let me know in the comments below!