Top Ten Books of 2017 – Top Ten Tuesday

I’m going to cheat a little bit and do my top ten books of 2016/2017 because I’ve been gone for so long…so yeah, totally reasonable excuse….


1. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
I read The Book Thief in 2016 and it was the best book I read all year. Perhaps even the best book I’ve ever read (I gush more about it in my review). I loved it so much that it caused me to hit a huge reading slump where I felt like no other book would be as good.

2. Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk
Fight Club is the book that got me out of my Book Thief induced reading slump. I read it in the summer of 2017 and I loved it so much! Definitely my best book of 2017.

3. Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur
I finished reading Milk and Honey by the beginning of 2017 and at the time I really enjoyed it. The end of 2016 was my first real attempt to get into poetry and it was nice to bring in the new year of reading with something different.

4. Othello by William Shakespeare
I read Othello in Winter 2016 as required reading for an English class I took at university. I think it may be in my top five favorite Shakespeare plays now.

5. Seconds by Bryan Lee O’Malley
Seconds was a required text for my Intro to Sequential Arts class at uni in 2016 and I’m so glad it was! I read the entire book in a few hours because I couldn’t put it down. Bryan Lee O’Malley’s characters always feel so real and relatable regardless of the fantastical plots.

6. The Darkest Part of The Forrest by Holly Black
Before I read The Darkest Part of The Forrest in 2016 I had little interest in Holly Black and ZERO interest in ‘Fairy Books’ (I had a bad experience with one that turned me off to the subgenre). However I really enjoyed the world that Black created and the total uniqueness of it. Her writing is now very inspiring to me.

7. A Fierce and Subtle Poison by Samantha Mabry
I bought A Fierce and Subtle Poison in 2016 mainly because of the beautiful cover but the inside did not disappoint. I really enjoyed the use of magical realism in this book and would encourage anyone who hasn’t read it to give it a read.

8. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty by James Thurber
This short story was required reading for my “American Moderns” English class this past fall. I know it’s considered a classic among short stories and therefore might not interest everyone but it is a short read that is surprisingly relatable.

9. Paper Girls, Vol. 1 by Brian K. Vaughan
(Illustrated by Cliff Chiang and Matthew Wilson)
I read Paper Girls in winter 2016 and enjoyed 80s sci-fi elements as well as the girl group of characters. I would say the art and coloring stuck with me more than the plot but, it was a fun read regardless.

10. Wakefield by E.L. Doctorow
I happened upon “Wakefield” while on a road trip this summer. Actually, I happened upon the trailer for the movie adaptation. The trailer seemed so bizarre that I had to read the short story for myself and boy was it weird. Definitely not a story for everyone but the oddity of it really stuck with me.


I’d love to hear all about your Top Ten Tuesday (a bookish meme hosted every Tuesday by The Broke and The Bookish). Feel free to leave your TTT down in the comments and let me know what you thought about mine!

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The Prodigal Girl Returns (?) – Update

It’s starting to alarm me that this is maybe my third or fourth “I’m coming back to the blog” post…especially since I’ve been absent for about a year or two now?

What can I say, college get’s in the way of hobbies sometimes. And that is what this blog is: a hobby.

I’m going to cut the crap, I have no idea if I will be able to stick to a blogging schedule this time…which I why I might not try to? I’m not sure yet. I’m not sure if I can devote time to this as if I’m a professional, or even a wannabe professional.

What I do know is that I miss writing my thoughts about the books I’m reading. I miss talking about bookish things (there’s only so much my friends can handle).

So I’m back? Who knows how often and for how long…

– Queen Celine

Review of The Book Thief by Markus Zusak |Fiction Friday|

Synopsis

“It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will be busier still.

By her brother’s graveside, Liesel’s life is changed when she picks up a single object, partially hidden in the snow. It is The Gravedigger’s Handbook, left behind there by accident, and it is her first act of book thievery. So begins a love affair with books and words, as Liesel, with the help of her accordian-playing foster father, learns to read. Soon she is stealing books from Nazi book-burnings, the mayor’s wife’s library, wherever there are books to be found.

But these are dangerous times. When Liesel’s foster family hides a Jew in their basement, Liesel’s world is both opened up, and closed down.”(From Goodreads)

Rating: 5/5 Crowns
– Superb writing
– Interesting plot
– Great characters

Comparable Book(s): Number the Stars by Lois Lowry

*In depth review contains spoilers

Read More »

Review of Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng |Fiction Friday|

 

This review contains spoilers.


Synopsis

““Lydia is dead. But they don’t know this yet.” So begins this exquisite novel about a Chinese American family living in 1970s small-town Ohio. Lydia is the favorite child of Marilyn and James Lee, and her parents are determined that she will fulfill the dreams they were unable to pursue. But when Lydia’s body is found in the local lake, the delicate balancing act that has been keeping the Lee family together is destroyed, tumbling them into chaos. A profoundly moving story of family, secrets, and longing, Everything I Never Told You is both a gripping page-turner and a sensitive family portrait, uncovering the ways in which mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, and husbands and wives struggle, all their lives, to understand one another.”(From Goodreads)

Rating: 3.75/5 Crowns

Comparable Book(s): Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher, and Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira

The Review

 

Everyone has received some amount of pressure from their parents. I’m fortunate enough to have parents that allow me to choose to live my life how I see fit. They love me and want the best for me, much like how James and Marilyn loved and wanted the best for Lydia. However, the weight of their “love” drove Lydia to suicide.

Everything I Never Told You is about what pushed Lydia to kill herself and how that impacts her family. Lydia is the “favorite” child. The child that gets the goodnight kisses and the last slice of cake. The child that is mentioned first to co-workers and friend. The child who bears the crushing weight of her mother and father’s hopes and dreams. Marilyn and James were so desperate to finally get their life right the put the burden on Lydia.

History has a way of repeating itself and by avoiding our past we often run right into it. Marilyn hated the way her mother pressured her to find a husband. She had, what she considered to be, bigger and better dreams. Marilyn wanted to become a doctor. But life and love had other plans and she married James. Without understanding the full context of what she was doing, Marilyn pressures Lydia much in the same way she was pressured by her mother. Lydia is under constant stress to perform well in school so she can accomplish her mother’s dream of becoming a doctor. Marilyn is too blind to see that Lydia never wanted to be a doctor, she just wanted to make her mother happy.

James was never popular or liked when he was young, being the only Chinese American student in school. Children were cruel and racist, so he never had any friends. He never was able to “fit in”. However, when he had Lydia he was convinced that she could be popular. She could live the life he never had. He even gifts her a book on how to “make people like you”, which only causes her to feel like she’s not good enough.

Lydia’s siblings, Nath and Hannah are left to the wayside. Nath feels like he’s hated by his father and that his mother loves Lydia more than him. Hannah is quiet as a mouse and often forgotten by her family. The pressure from James and Marilyn cause tension and a divide between all three children.

Celeste Ng captures so many important real life topics so well – interracial couples, mixed race families, misguided parents and suicide. I’ve read a couple of different books about teen suicide (Thirteen Reasons Why, Love Letters To The Dead) but they never covered the entire families thoughts, stories and emotions. Everything I Never Told You is unique in it’s complete coverage.

And the title of the book is so appropriate, given how many times I wanted to strangle some of the characters. Communication is the key to any relationship but almost every character in this book just bottled what they were feeling until they snapped.

This book made me sad and frustrated, which is partially why I didn’t give it 4/5 Crowns. There were points when I thought I would never feel a catharsis. I almost gave up reading it because I was tired of the way the Lee family talked (or rather, how they didn’t – and it’s okay, everything does finally get resolved). I also had some trouble following the writing because of the way Ng shifted the point of view from one character to another, without much warning.

However, in the end I believe that this book is one that should be on everyone’s TBR. A perfect snapshot of an imperfect family.

Have you read Everything I Never Told You? If so, I’d love to know your thoughts and opinions.

– Queen Celine

Unpopular Opinions Tag |Fiction Friday|

Firstly, Merry Christmas!

Secondly, I love unpopular opinions because they start so much controversy. I just like knowing what makes people go against the “norm”.
1. A Popular Book or series that you didn’t like.

I tried reading City of Bones by Cassandra Clare and I only got 70 pages in before I suddenly stopped reading. I now realize it’s because I’m not an Urban Fantasy fan. I just prefer traditional Fantasy. 

2. A Popular Book or series that every one else seems to hate but you love.

A lot of the books I read for High School were hated by my classmates but I liked them. A Separate Peace by John Knowles and The Odyssey by Homer, are two that come to mind.

3. A Love Triangle where the main character ended up with the person you did NOT want them to end up with OR an OTP that you don’t like.

It was hard for me to pick an NOTP but  I guess I’m not huge on Wade and Art3mis from Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. I just didn’t feel any chemistry.

4. A popular book Genre that you hardly reach for.

Urban Fantasy.

5. A popular or beloved character that you do not like.

Superman (comics count as books!). He’s such a boyscout.

6. A popular author that you can’t seem to get into.

Cassandra Clare. I’ve heard a lot of negative things about her and I’m not a fan of her books.

7. A popular book trope that you’re tired of seeing.

Every single YA book being compared to Twilight, Harry Potter, Divergent, The Hunger Games, etc.

Female characters being badass only by virtue of being tough and cool – we should be supporting all kinds of women.

8. A popular series that you have no interest in reading.

Anything in the Shadowhunter universe. And the Shatter Me trilogy.

9. The saying goes “The book is always better than the movie”, but what movie or T.V. show adaptation do you prefer more than the book?

If I had to pick I guess I’d say Sherlock Holmes but I haven’t even read any Sherlock Holmes so I have no idea.

Original Tag: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NYfgq8HgDc0

Please let me know about all of your unpopular opinions in the comments!

– Queen Celine

Honey, I’m Home – Life Update

Hey everyone! I’m back home from my first quarter of college and I’m happy and sad and lonely and confused and proud and exhausted.

I’ve had so much growth over the past three months and I hope that will improve my blogging skills.

I’m going to try to get back onto a somewhat consistent posting schedule soon! Even if it means that I have to cut back and post less often. My main focus is to post quality bookish things on a regular basis.

Wish me luck – I’m gonna need it.

– Queen Celine

Oops I Did It Again – Quickie Life Update

Hey, remember how I made a post a month ago saying that I was going to do my best to keep up with this blog even though I’m currently working my butt off at college?

Remember that?

This marks the second time I’ve let this blog fall behind. It sucks and I’m sorry.

I could write down a hundred reasons why i’ve been M.I.A but it’s unnecessary. I’m in college, life is challenging and I’m trying to do my best.

I appreciate everyone who has ever liked, read or commented on any of my posts. Seriously, you guys rock. I wish I could be the perfect blogger, and I wish I could talk to all of you about books all the time but, like I said, life is challenging.

I didn’t get enough sleep last night so we’re just going to pretend that this post isn’t a hot mess. Sound good? Great.

– Queen Celine

Review of Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen |Fiction Friday|

This might be my favorite YA Contemporary book I’ve read this year. Also, 1000 points to anyone who counts how many times I use the word love 😉


 

Synopsis

“Peyton, Sydney’s charismatic older brother, has always been the star of the family, receiving the lion’s share of their parents’ attention and—lately—concern. When Peyton’s increasingly reckless behavior culminates in an accident, a drunk driving conviction, and a jail sentence, Sydney is cast adrift, searching for her place in the family and the world. When everyone else is so worried about Peyton, is she the only one concerned about the victim of the accident?

Enter the Chathams, a warm, chaotic family who run a pizza parlor, play bluegrass on weekends, and pitch in to care for their mother, who has multiple sclerosis. Here Sydney experiences unquestioning acceptance. And here she meets Mac, gentle, watchful, and protective, who makes Sydney feel seen, really seen, for the first time.

The uber-popular Sarah Dessen explores her signature themes of family, self-discovery, and change in her twelfth novel, sure to delight her legions of fans.”(From Goodreads)

Rating: 5/5 Crowns

Comparable Book(s): I couldn’t think of any

The Review

Did I mention that I loved this book? Because I loved this book. I hope that I can accurately portray how much I freaking loved reading Saint Anything but forgive me if it turns into fangirlish squeals.

Saint Anything is the first book by Sarah Dessen that I have ever read. That’s probably really surprising since she is such a well known YA author but I always thought that her books wouldn’t appeal to me. I have no idea why I thought this, but I just figured that they’d be really shallow or annoying to me. I was sorely mistaken.

One thing that I was blown away by was the writing! Why didn’t anyone ever tell me that Dessen’s writing was this great? In my opinion it’s hard to find light contemporary YA with good writing.(Not that Saint Anything very light, I’d say it’s in the middle.) Here are just a couple of gems found in the book.

“With shame, like horseshoes, proximity counts.”

 

“You really only fall apart in front of the people you know can piece you back together.”

 

“I’d done the right thing. I always did. It just would have been nice if someone would have noticed.”

I was also amazed that none of the characters felt flat to me. With any book there are characters that you love or hate but generally there are also characters that are boring and under developed. The only character that may have verged on the side of under developed would be Ames. I didn’t feel like I knew much about him but at the same time I didn’t want to know anything about him. What a creep.

It kind of scared me how much I related to Sydney in this book. I went in this book blind. I knew next to nothing of the plot or characters. I only knew that Saint Anything was a Young Adult Contemporary novel and that, according to the back blurb, it deals with “how we might suffer the misfortune of someone else’s bad choices”. I had no idea that I would find so much in common with Sydney.

I know what it’s like to feel invisible. I know what it’s like to have a trouble maker older brother. I know what it’s like to feel like a “second place child”. My parents love me, much like Sydney’s parents love her, but both of our older brothers demand so much more attention. We get left to the way side.

Until someone else comes along in our life as sees us. For Sydney, that’s the Chatham’s.

Which brings me to another point, I love the Chatham’s. I love each of their characteristics and quirks. I love their relationships with each other. It just made me so happy that they welcomed Sydney with open arms.

Layla was just a little firecracker. I absolutely loved her incredibly fierce loyalty. She is a “take no shit” kind of a girl when it comes to protecting her friends and that’s something I really admire about her.

I also really loved Mrs. Chatham! She had a strong contrast to Julie (Sydney’s) mom. I loved how all of her children took care of her and how they were such a tight knit family.

Something else that’s interesting, for me at least, is that for once I didn’t fall for the love with the main character’s romantic interest. I liked Mac and I loved his relationship with Sydney but I guess he’s not my type. That didn’t really affect the story or experience for me but I just thought it was interesting.

As I mentioned before I really related to Sydney and I think that’s why this book was so amazing for me. It had a huge impact on me and it made me think about how I feel about my relationship with my parents and brother. (Going to get real personal for a sec – I even fought with my mom tonight with how I feel neglected because she’s always handling my brother’s issues. Later we talked about it rationally and now we have a better relationship because of it.)

So maybe if you don’t have these kinds family issues this book won’t be as amazing for you. However, Saint Anything really resonated with me and will be with me forever. That sounds cheesy but I mean it.

Let me know your thoughts and opinions on Saint Anything.

– Queen Celine

Top Ten Books I Read In High School – Top Ten Tuesday

Am I the only person that enjoyed some of the assigned reading??? Probably. Anyway, this week’s Top Ten Tuesday was a free choice, so I decided to do this in honor of me starting my freshman year of college!


1. The Odyssey by Homer

Top Ten books I Read in High School - Top Ten Tuesday
I really love Greek and Roman Mythology so i was the only person in my class who was excited to read this behemoth.

2. Oedipus Rex by Sophocles

Top Ten books I Read in High School - Top Ten Tuesday
Probably the one of the weirdest books I read in high school. But it’s a Greek tragedy so that’s kind of expected.

3. Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis

Top Ten books I Read in High School - Top Ten Tuesday
Did I mention that I love Greek mythology? And Greece in General.

4. Macbeth by William Shakespeare

Top Ten books I Read in High School - Top Ten Tuesday
I’ve not read very many Shakespeare plays but this one is my favorite. Lady Macbeth is the best shakespeare character ever!

5. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Top Ten books I Read in High School - Top Ten Tuesday
Who doesn’t like The Great Gatsby?

6. A Street Car Named Desire by Tennessee Williams

Top Ten books I Read in High School - Top Ten Tuesday
Tennessee Williams is an amazing story teller. This is the best play I read in High School. It covers a lot of heavy topics but its amazing. And yes, I did read this edition with a shirtless Marlon Brando… I actually made a shirt for him by drawing over a notecard and taping it over the book cover lol.

7. Number the Stars by Lois Lowry

Top Ten books I Read in High School - Top Ten Tuesday
I read this book in 5th grade so technically it doesn’t count but shhhh.

8. Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe

Top Ten books I Read in High School - Top Ten Tuesday
I’m pretty sure that this is the only book that has ever made me cry.

9. I Never Had It Made by Jackie Robinson

Top Ten books I Read in High School - Top Ten Tuesday
I actually really like sports history, and I’d recommend it to anyone else who likes sports history, baseball, black history, or Jackie Robinson.

10. The Crucible by Arthur Miller

Top Ten books I Read in High School - Top Ten Tuesday
We had to read this my junior year and I thought I was going to hate it but my best friend said I would love it. She was right. Even if you have a hard time reading “olde english” type books the drama in The Crucible is very easy to see.

11. The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

Top Ten books I Read in High School - Top Ten Tuesday
Everyone knows that this is a really important piece of literature but it’s also really really good.

I’d love to hear all about your Top Ten Tuesday (a bookish meme hosted every Tuesday by The Broke and The Bookish). Feel free to leave your TTT down in the comments and let me know what you thought about mine!