Top Ten Books On My Spring TBR List

top ten tuesday

 Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. Every week, they post a new Top Ten topic and other bloggers respond with their own lists. I take part in this meme when I have something to say for the topic and I remember what day it is.

I am notoriously awful at sticking to TBR lists, so I try to avoid posts about them. However, I’m on spring break this week, and there are a lot of books that I’d love to read in this blessed escape from school.

Because of this, I’m sticking to books I already physically own. Of course, there are tons of books coming out this spring that I am dying to read…but let’s focus on all the books that came out already.

1. Firebug by Lish McBride

cover firebug

I’m absolutely in love with the concept of this book! Fire magic, arson, a fantasy mob–I’m in.

2. Enchanted by Alethea Kontis

cover enchanted

I bought this book forever ago but was never in the mood to read it. In the spirit of actually accomplishing any of my reading challenges for 2015, I decided this princess and the frog retelling would be fun for the Fairytale Retelling challenge.

3. Salt and Storm by Kendall Kulper

cover salt and storm

I love the concept of this book. It seems lightly fantasy-y without going overboard, with a good amount of romance. From the description, the characters sound interesting, and who doesn’t want to read a book set in a town that hunts whales? Hopefully the plot ends up being as unique as it sounds like it could be.

4. The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas

cover the burning sku

My sister read this book recently and absolutely loved it. From what she’s said about it, it sounds unique and exciting.

5. Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas

cover dangerous girls 1

Again, my sister read this book a few months ago and has been begging me to read it as well. I haven’t wanted to read such a dramatic book when I have school that I need to focus on, but with a break to dedicate some time to just reading, this book would be fun to finally read.

6. Half a King by Joe Abercrombie

cover half a king

I love the premise of this book. I’m fascinated by the protagonist just from reading the dusk jacket.

7. When the Sea is Rising Red by Cat Hellisen

cover when the sea is rising red

Honestly, this is a classic case of I love the plot laid out on the dusk jacket, but when I think about actually reading it, I realize I probably won’t enjoy it very much. It has a love triangle, vampires, and a possible revolution–all plot elements that I’m getting tired of. Hopefully it is done well enough that I’ll enjoy it.

8. Elantris by Brandon Sanderson

cover elantris

I love Brandon Sanderson, and I’d love to see what he did with his debut fantasy novel.

9. Ink by Amanda Sun

cover ink

Look at that cover! How could you not want to read this book? (Also, the plot sounds interesting…bonus!)

10. The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

cover the unbecoming of mara dyer

This book has been on my radar for a while and I’m interested to finally read it and see what everyone has been talking about.

Reading Update

These last few weeks haven’t been good for me in the reading department. I don’t think I’m in a reading slump, but something isn’t clicking for me right now. Which means I haven’t had a book review on this blog for a while. Instead of sucking it up and finishing the book I’m reading, I thought I would give you guys a snapshot of where I am in the reading world right now.

I read the last two books in Robin LaFever’s His Fair Assassin trilogy a few weeks ago but never reviewed them. They were great, but I waited too long after I finished the books to sit down and write a review, and I realized that I couldn’t really remember what I wanted to say about them. Writing book reviews is something that I love doing half the time, and can’t bring myself to do the other half of the time. Right now, I’m stuck in the unproductive half of the cycle.

I’m signed up for the Fairytale Retelling Reading Challenge, so I picked up Winterspell by Claire LeGrand. My sister read it a few months ago and recommended it highly. The first 100 pages were awful, but my sister promised that the book got better, and it did. The world building is done really well and I like the premise of a Nutcracker retelling a lot, but the main character annoys me–a lot. I don’t want to give up on this book–especially when I DNF-ed Splintered recently–but this means that I haven’t used my free time to read, so after close to two weeks of reading Winterspell, I’m still only halfway through.

cover winterspell

In school, we started reading To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. I’m enjoying it, though we haven’t gotten to the trial yet, which is reportedly when the plot gets really good. I love the characters and am excited to see what happens–this is one of the only books we read this year for school that I don’t have any idea what happens in the plot (as opposed to something like Oedipus or Romeo and Juliet, whose plots are well known).

cover to kill a mockingbird

For my Nonfiction Reading Challenge, I started reading The Discovery of the Tomb of Tutankhamen by Howard Carter and A.C. Mace. It is the volume that the two Egyptologists wrote right after they discovered in famous boy king’s tomb. When I was in elementary school, I was flat out obsessed with ancient Egypt, and I still have all the books I bought on the subject during that time. When I was younger, I basically just looked at the pictures–though I did read a lot of material about the subject and watched a lot of Discovery Channel programs (back when that channel was still reputable). Now, I’m trying to get back to the subject, and I thought that this book would be a good place to start. (When school started actually taking up time, my obsession was put on a back burner.)

cover king tut

I’m on spring break this week, so I’m really planning to get a lot of reading done. First off, I have to finish Winterspell. Tomorrow’s Top Ten Tuesday will lay out the books I’m going to choose from to read next. Hopefully I’m not actually in a reading slump, and the next book I read will be enjoyable and remind me why I love reading.

Poetry: Rain, Like Tears

She stares out the window

And thinks about the fact

That rain can be poetic:

The climax of a romance

Life for the next season’s flowers

Cleansing, rebirth

A natural symphony

 

Or rain can be sorrow:

Cold, relentless, destructive

Ripping down posters

Ruining clothes and hairdos and freshly washed cars

A prison guard keeping kids inside

A chorus of “no”s pounding against the world

 

Depends on where you’re standing, I guess

Depends on what you’re thinking.

(Depends on what you’re crying about.)

Poetry: Innocent Ladders

click for photo credit
click for photo credit

Do you believe in luck?
Good or bad?

Is it talent?

Or fate?

Was it meant to be?

Or one in a million?

 

Can you discount luck

By learning statistics?

Is that all there really is?

(It’s my least favorite

Part of math, anyway)

 

Are you superstitious?

It’s the thirteenth, you know…

Did you buy a lottery ticket?

Or do you dodge innocent ladders

That are just trying to help society

Anyway they can?

Isn’t it pragmatic to open an umbrella indoors

Before the rain hits you?

 

What’s your lucky charm?

Did it make you win that game?

 

And if you believe in good luck

Doesn’t that admit the existence

Of bad luck?

 

Is that a trade you’re willing to make?

The Coffee Book Tag

I found this on Todd Medici’s blog a while back and loved the idea. I wanted to do a fun bookish post this week and decided that this would be a fun tag to try.

I don’t know who originally began the tag–sorry. Since I wasn’t tagged (I just decided it would be fun) I’m not tagging anyone specific.

Hope you enjoy!

coffee

1. Black: Name a series that’s tough to get into but has hardcore fans.

I’d say Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson. It is an amazing series, but it is sooooo long. Everyone I’ve seen who has read it is obsessed, which is a given because the books are crazy amazing.

2. Peppermint mocha: Name a book that gets more popular during the winter or a festive time of year.

I don’t really read holiday themed books, but I will say that I have a finals week tradition (finals week is the week before my winter break) of rereading the Gallagher Girl series by Ally Carter. It’s light-hearted and ridiculous enough to distract me after I finish stressful finals.

3. Hot chocolate: What is your favorite children’s book?

It’s so hard to choose! I loved the Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket, the Sister’s Grimm series by Michael Buckley, and Time Cat by Lloyd Alexander.

4. Double shot of espresso: Name a book that kept you on the edge of your seat from start to finish.

Blackbirds by Chuck Wendig and The Sweet Far Thing by Libba Bray (Gemma Doyle #3). Blackbirds is creepy, dark, and intense, with just enough humor to keep you from needing to put it down. The Sweet Far Thing is the ultimate conclusion of a trilogy, and even though it is really freaking long, it had so much conflict, romance, and tension that I can’t remember it ever dragging.

5. Starbucks: Name a book you see everywhere.

Anything by Rick Riordan. Honestly, I read his first Percy Jackson series in fourth grade, liked it enough, and then got annoyed when he just kept writing the same premise over and over again. I haven’t read them but apparently everyone else has (mini rant over, sorry). Also The Fault in Our Stars (another book I haven’t read–yet).

6. That hipster coffee shop: Give a book by an indie author a shoutout.

I don’t read books by indie authors, so I can’t really answer this question…

7. Oops! I accidentally got decaf: Name a book you were expecting more from.

Burn for Burn by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian. I loved the premise but there were too many characters and plot lines and it got confusing. It took a paranormal turn at the end, which annoyed me, because I thought it was going to be straight-up contemporary. I can’t decide if it is worth picking back up to finish the series.

8. The perfect blend: Name a book or series that was both bitter and sweet but ultimately satisfying.

Going Underground by Susan Vaught. This book had the potential to be bitter and sad–and it is–but in the end, it is perfectly sweet and uplifting (without being cheesy).

Short Story: Desert Gods

I wrote this for Chuck Wendig’s Flash Fiction Contest this week (Ten Random Sentences). I chose this sentence for inspiration:

The river stole the gods.

It’s just around 900 words. Hope you enjoy!

click to see this cloak on my sister's sewing blog :)
click to see this cloak on my sister’s sewing blog 🙂

Their land was a desert, so they prayed to their gods to bring water, for plants to grow, for animals to come out of hiding places between rocks so that they could spear them and eat. One more meal, one more oasis, one more night watching the stars and trying not to freeze.

That was all they asked.

Ada knew that it had not always been like this. The land used to be fertile, so many generations before her own that even the stories that told of it were eroding from the wear and tear of being passed down. There were old gods, old in the way that their people had lived enough years without needing their assistance that they forgotten how to call their names.

When Ada was younger, she would sulk in the shadows cast by the elders’ fire. One night she had heard them saying names she’d never heard them say when the rest of the tribe was around. It was only years later, when she understood that the springs had been rising past their normal levels and that the water tasted unfamiliar, that Ada understood that they were names of old gods, whose knowledge and guidance couldn’t be provided by their current deities.

The world was changing, away from the stories and gods Ada’s tribe currently held and prayed to, and if you hear the right whispers, toward the older times, and the older gods.

But as long as the change happened slowly, and the whispers were quiet, the only person who noticed was the girl who grew up learning to dance invisibly in the shadows while the rest of her generation danced like fire.

* * *

Desert people pray for water and consider their prayers answered with sudden summer rainstorms and shady oases after long days of travel.

When their gods’ answer is floods, new gods and new prayers are needed to survive.

The storm clouds came and everyone expected them to give a day of rain before they burned off in the summer heat. That second day saw rain was unusual.

On the third day their tents’ simple waterproofing with animal fat was not enough to hold off the storm. By the end of the first week, the tribe’s tents sat on the bank of a river, and by the end of the month Ada forgot what it was like for her skin to be anything but wet. And still it rained, and the river next to the camp widened, threatening to swallow them whole.

The river stole the gods.

A month and a half into the storm, one of the elders came out of his tent wearing a black robe no one had seen—no one’s grandparent’s had seen—and spoke of gods that could save their people.

The elders brought back the old gods and tossed aside their current deities. They were the leaders of the tribe and it was their job to save their people, and you pray to the god who will deliver you from harm, not the one that brings harm.

It was war. Some people would not abandon the gods that had watched over them, that had brought them safety and love and shelter. Others blamed their neighbor’s piety for the continuing storm: you do not pray to the god of water when your world is flooding.

After two months, the rain stopped. Summer’s heat had faded and the sun did not have the strength to suck dry the ground the way it once could. The river had stolen soil from other lands and brought it to Ada’s tribe. The sand of their homeland was now soil.

Green, bright fertile green—a color as foreign as another language to the desert people—appeared. Grasses, flowers, bushes with berries. Stories of the forgotten times from before the desert became their only hope of survival. Which plants are edible, which ones are poisonous?

And still it was war. For if the rain has stopped, then the people who were praying for water were clearly kneeling at the wrong altar. But never before had their been a concept of a “wrong altar,” or that their could be right gods and wrong gods. Difference of religion appeared in a world that had never before considered religion to be anything but a fact.

Hiding in the shadows, Ada heard the whispers, of war between dueling gods and humans as chess pieces. Of right and wrong on a cosmic scale. Of dying to be right or killing those who are wrong.

And she couldn’t help but wonder if the conflict was completely imaginary, made up by a scared and confused people whose world had changed without giving them a warning or a solution. Years ago the land had dried up, and some gods faded and others came to the forefront, and the elders did not pass on a fear of the old gods in the face of new ones. Surely the chance was not a sign of disrespect or betrayal, but simple necessity. Maybe the gods knew that the world would change without them, and that some of them would be needed while others weren’t.

Probably, Ada was wrong. The rest of the children always said Ada was too nice, too quiet. She’d spent too much time in the shadows to know how the real world worked.

And anyway, the war was still going on.

 

Top Ten Books For People Who Like Magical Worlds

top ten tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. Every week, they post a new Top Ten topic and other bloggers respond with their own lists. I take part in this meme when I have something to say for the topic and I remember what day it is.

I am an absolute fangirl over unique magic in stories. Here are some of the books whose magical worlds have stuck with me–and that I would do anything to be a part of. Some of them are fantasy, others are paranormal.

1. The setting of the Mistborn trilogy by Brandon Sanderson

When the series starts out, you think you are in for a simple, if unique, fantasy element. Something to do with metal, with a side of telekinesis. By the end of the trilogy, Sanderson has created the most complex magical world I have ever read. I might want to be a Mistborn more than I want to be a Hogwarts student (*gasp*).

2. The Realms in the Gemma Doyle trilogy by Libba Bray

Again, the realms start out peaceful and kind of fairytale, but by the end of the trilogy they are down right creepy. I love the magic of them, the mythic elements, and the play of good-verses-evil Bray portrayed with her magical world.

3. Hogwarts in the Harry Potter series by JK Rowling

This is a given, of course. Who doesn’t want to be a Hogwarts student? I played Hogwarts inspired games all through elementary school and had the time of my life. The only thing better? For the spells to actually work. I am a lazy person, so Accio is basically my dream spell.

4. The Circus in The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

The circus is amazing. Absolutely unique. It is childhood whims brought to life. The tent with the jars in it (I think it is Bailey’s but it might be his sister’s) is probably my favorite, but every tent Morgenstern introduced took my breath away. If the circus was real, I’d probably never leave.

5. The Seven Kingdoms in Graceling and Bitterblue by Kristen Cashore

Though these books are distinctly dark and creepy, the world they are set in actually seems really cool. The idea of being a Graceling (minus the forced servitude to a king) is unique and would be fun.

6. Beyond the Seven Kingdoms in Fire by Kristen Cashore

In this world, there are monster versions of every animal which are bloodthirsty and dangerous. Still, the idea of a monster kitten is just too cute, and monster raptors seem really pretty (as long as I was safe in a house so they couldn’t eat me).

7. Coldtown in The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black

I loved Black’s take on vampires and the Coldtown was just creepy enough to work with the paranormal vibe. It felt believable in this era of reality TV and the character conflicts it created really worked.

8. Cabeswater in The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater

I love the vaguely fairytale feeling of this place. Though it isn’t the main setting of the book, the scenes spent in these woods were some of my favorites, exemplifying the mythic feeling of the Raven Cycle.

9. Arras in Crewel by Gennifer Albin

I didn’t love the book itself, but the premise of being able to literally weave reality struck me as amazingly unique and creative.

10. Hex Hall in the Hex Hall trilogy by Rachel Hawkins

It isn’t terribly original, but it captured the awkward boarding school dynamic perfectly, and I loved it.