ABC Challenge – B

I saw this over at Thrice Read.

Previous posts: A


Remarkable Book

I’m a little torn between The Book Thief by Markus Zusak and The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie. They’re very very different books and I love them for different reasons, so it’s hard to pick. As such, I think I will call it a tie and go with both.

Book on TBR

This is going to be another tie. One of the books is Before They Are Hanged by Joe Abercrombie, which is the sequel to The Blade Itself and which I actually own, so hopefully I will get to soon. The second book is Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater. I don’t own this one yet, but I really enjoyed the first to books and I want to continue with this series.

 

The Book Mashup Tag

This is a really cool tag that I saw on The Book Prophet’s Blog. It was originally created by Lia@ Lost in a Story

Rules

Pick 10 (I picked 8) books and divide them into two groups.

Then randomly select a book from each group and mash the two books together. The world’s your oyster here really.

Write a synopsis paragraph of your mashup book.


Round 1: Throne of Glass and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince. Prince Dorian offers her her freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin.

Celaena is Adarlan’s most infamous assassin, she has seen and done them all. But when the Crown Prince hands her a strangely glowing hair brush, she finds herself thrust into a strange world where children face unspeakable horrors armed with nothing but small sticks and strange words, all to win a mysterious cup. 

Will she learn to navigate this strange world in time to win the competition and her freedom?

Round 2: The Oathbreaker’s Shadow and Artemis Fowl

Raim is fifteen. He lives in a world where each promise is sealed with a knot and breaking a promise means a life cast out in the desert.

Artemis Fowl is twelve. He’s a genius, a millionaire, and most importantly, a criminal mastermind.

 Raim has worn a simple knot around his wrist for as long as he can remember. No one knows where it came from, and which promise of his it symbolises, but he barely thinks about it at all—not since becoming the most promising young fighter ever to train for the elite Yun guard. But on the most important day of his life, when he binds his life to his best friend (and future king) Khareh, the string bursts into flames and sears a dark mark into his skin.

Scarred now as an oath-breaker, Raim has two options: run, or be killed. But when one of Artemis’ plots goes a little bit wrong, the two boys meet in the heart of the desert and realise that perhaps they could help each other. 

Round 3: City of Bones and The Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared

(This one should be interesting)

It all starts on the one-hundredth birthday of Allan Karlsson. Sitting quietly in his room in an old people’s home, he is waiting for the party he-never-wanted-anyway to begin. The Mayor is going to be there. The press is going to be there. But, as it turns out, Allan is not… Slowly but surely Allan climbs out of his bedroom window, into the flowerbed (in his slippers) and makes his getaway.

And so begins his picaresque and unlikely journey involving a bunch of angsty warrior children (too angsty, truth told, for a man of Allan’s age), a stolen cup (Allan can’t really understand what the fuss is, the cup doesn’t even contain vodka), some demons (when you’ve lived as long as Allan, nothing is surprising, really) and the strained relationship between a father and his children (Allan never liked his own father much either, so he has the deepest sympathy for the youngings).

Round 4: Nevernight and The Book Thief

(Oh boy. How do I even. This is going to be so dark.)

So, my idea for a mashup for this was to have Liesel read Mia’s story and then decided she wants revenge for all the crap in her life and follows Mia’s example. But I just can’t bring myself to spoil the beautiful story that The Book Thief is, with something like that. It’s just… wrong. Or the alternative would be to have Mia somehow end up in Nazi Germany, meet Liesel and decide that the Nazis need some killing.

But I can’t think of any way to bring Mia into Liesel’s world without a massacre ensuing and stay true to their characters and I can’t bring myself to ruin The Book Thief any more than I have just by thinking what I just thought. So I’m not going to write a synopsis for this.

Year in Review 2016

I’m a bit late with this, but better late than never, right? Besides, it’s a perfect opportunity for me to abuse gifs.

2016… not my best reading year. Massive reading slump for the first half or so of the year. Didn’t manage to finish my reading challenge. However, I did read some amazing books this year, so it wasn’t all bad. First, let’s get the stats out of the way. I read 74 books in 2016 (80-ish, if you include re-reads) out of my goal of 100. I’ll just leave a link to that nifty year in books thing GR offers if you want more details. Now, let’s get on to the reading.

Let’s see… I think the crown has to go to ACOMAF. I mean, I’ve read the book three times, THREE TIMES, in less than a year. That book just adsjhfk. And still, I have not managed to write a proper review of it. I wiiiiillll, I promise. third time’s the charm. As soon as I catch up with all my other reviews. It’s just that… how do I convey my love for this book in words?

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SIX OF CROWS! Six of Crows is right on its heels. Aaahhh, that series killed me! (I have reviews for both of them.)

Six of Crows
Crooked Kingdom

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Then, I read some painfully beautiful books such as The Book Thief, The Nightingale and The Giver.

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2016 was also the year I was introduced to V. E. Schwab and found myself a new favourite author. A Darker Shade of Magic and A Gathering of Shadows have left me wanting more, more MORE of Schwab’s writing in general and that series in particular.

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And last, but most certainly not least, 2016 is the year I took my first steps (and then marathoned through the whole damn thing) into the rich and magical world of the Kingkiller Chronicle. Ahh, yes… The Name of the Wind, my newest obsession. Despite the sheer size of if, it only took me about a week to finish The Wise Man’s Fear, and now I am left waiting… waiting… waiting…

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Unfortunately, there have also been a few books that I hated. Not as many as those that I loved, but alas, still a few. The crown for the absolute most infuriating book I have read this year goes to Glass Sword. This book pushed all my buttons and invented a few more buttons just so it could push them.

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Eldest comes right after it. I just could not wait to finish this book. Goodness, I have read many books over the years, but few have managed to annoy me quite so much.

Another vast disappointment was The Sin Eater’s Daughter. I had expectations for this, but it was just… no.

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The Game by Terri Schott was probably my only DNF of the year. I just could not be bothered to finish it.

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Okay, just one more absolutely cringe-worthy book. I am not even sure why I read it… it was just so bad it was funny. I’m talking about Touch a Dark Wolf by Jennifer St. Giles. I don’t even… this book was just ridiculous.

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So, there you have it. The best and the worst of 2016. How was your 2016?

Top 10 Tuesday – Top 10 Standalone Fiction Books

Top 10 Tuesday – Top 10 Standalone Fiction Books

I finally return to Top 10 Tuesday after a few weeks of absence. Because I didn’t like the topics. Top 10 Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is “Top 10 all time favourite books from X genre”. What? What do you mean “standalone” is not a genre. Of course it’s a genre.

The truth is, I read a lot of series and I read a lot of fantasy. So I’m obviously not going to be able to pick my favourite from those genres. But I also don’t know if I read enough of other genres that I can pick 10 all time favourites from any individual one. So this is my workaround. I added in “fiction” as a genre. Are you pacified? Okay, let’s begin, then.


1. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

the book thief

I love this book for so many reasons. It’s so beautiful and also unique. You should read it. Everyone should read it. I have a review of it here.

2. The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

nightingale

I love WWII books. Both fiction and nonfiction. Because I think that it’s a part of history that everyone should be familiar with. And it’s also a very recent part of history. In any case, The Nightingale is a beautiful WWII book and even though it is fiction, it’s inspired by real events. I recommend this book to everyone.

3. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

Count of monte cristo

This is one of my favourite classics. If you love stories of revenge and daring prison escapes and love and swashbuckling adventures (but mostly revenge), then this is the book for you. I think I’ve read it 3 times,even though it’s a fairly large book, but I just love it.

4. And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

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One of my favourite mysteries and certainly my favourite Agatha Christie mystery. It just always kept me guessing and it was so neat. Great book.

5. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

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One of my favourite romances. I am obsessed with this story like so many people, for some unfathomable reason. I honestly couldn’t tell you exactly what it is that appeals to me so much about it, but I just love it.

6. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

the-girl-on-the-train

Another great mystery. I listened to this on audiobook and I really loved it. It created so much suspense and the narration was great and I think that’s why I enjoyed it as much as I did. I have a review of it here.

7.  The Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Dissapeared by Jonas Jonasson

hundred year old man

If you enjoy Nordic humour, this book is amazing. I honestly laughed out loud on so many occasions. The absurdity of some of the things that happen is genius. I have a review of this one as well.

8. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

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Among my favourite contemporary books that I’ve read. I loved the characters and the story and the slap of reality that this book was. Also, it was really funny. John Green has a talent for that.

9. The Schwarzschild Radius by Gustavo Florentin

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This book freaked me out. It was a really good thriller, but it was messed up. Seriously messed up. I couldn’t put it down.

10. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

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I love Charles Dickens. And this is my favourite of his books that I’ve read. If you don’t know this story, then I don’t know what you’ve been doing all your life.

So, this is my list of top 10 fiction standalones. To be honest, if you asked me next week, I’d probably give a different answer. But I’m just really terrible at picking favourites.

 

 

Book Recommendations Based on the Seven Virtues

A while ago I made a post recommending books based on the Seven Deadly Sins. You can check that out here if you missed it. So today, I thought I would turn that idea on its head and recommend books based on the Seven Virtues.


1. Chastity

pride-and-prejudice_bnPride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. I love this book. I love the story and I love the characters and it takes place in Victorian England, so it’s pretty chaste. This is one of my favourite love stories and if you haven’t read it, or at least watched the film (the Kiera Knightley one!), then what are you doing?

Book Depository | Goodreads

2. Temperance

darker shade of magicA Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab. Kell is probably the most level headed and tempered character I’ve come across in a while. This book and this series is absolutely amazing, I loved it! I literally cannot wait until the next one comes out! I love the world and the characters that Victoria has created and I can’t wait to read more of her books. She’s awesome! (Pst, I also have reviews for both books in the series. Here and here.)

Book Depository | Goodreads

3. Charity

nightingaleThe Nightingale by Kristin Hannah. This book was so beautiful and if any book portrays charity, it’s this one. The girls both sacrificed so much for other people and they gave so much in a time when there was scarcely anything to give but one’s life. I wholeheartedly recommend this book to everyone.

Book Depository | Goodreads

4. Diligence

the-raven-boys-maggie-stiefvaterThe Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater. Gansey’s diligence when it comes to his search for Glendower is remarkable. This is a YA paranormal book. I’ve only read this one in the series and I really enjoyed it, but I hear the rest are even better. I have a review of the book here.

Book Depository | Goodreads

5. Patience

acotarA Court of Thorns and Roses By Sarah J. Maas. I chose this series for two reasons. One, because there are quite a few characters who patiently bid their time, waiting for the perfect opportunity. And since the characters in this series have quite the long lifespan, they were really, really patient. The second is that patience is the virtue I need to exhibit while waiting for the next one and it’s proving to be problematic. I love Sarah J. Maas! I recommended her other series in the deadly sins post, so it seemed fitting to put this one here. Also, did I mention I will be meeting her in less than a month? *squee*

Book Depository | Goodreads

6. Kindness

the book thiefThe Book Thief by Markus Zusak. Definitely a book about kindness and the power of words. Another one that I universally recommend. There are just some books that everyone should read and this is one of them. I have a review of it here if you would like to hear more of my thoughts on it.

Book Depository | Goodreads

7. Humility

the-ascendance-trilogy-the-false-prince-35473004-935-475The Ascendance Trilogy by Jennifer A. Nielsen. I’ve talked about this series before, although I haven’t really seen or heard much about it around the community, which is a shame because I really loved it. And Sage, the main character is probably one of the most genuinely humble characters. In the sense that he puts everyone else before himself and he genuinely does not believe himself to be better than they are, not in the sense that he is self deprecating.

Book Depository | Goodreads

These are my recommendations based on the seven virtues. Do you agree? What books would you choose?

Top 10 Tuesday -Ten books that take place outside the US

Top 10 Tuesday -Ten books that take place outside the US

Top 10 Tuesday is a weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is Books that take place outside the US. If you want to see my answers to last week’s topic, click here.

I read a lot of high-fantasy so nearly every book I read happens somewhere other than the US. But for this post, I will limit myself to books that actually happen in this world, just not in the US.

1. The Infernal Devices series by Cassandra Clare

inferanalThis takes place in London and occasionally other parts of the UK. It’s also one of my favourite series ever.

 

 

2. The Artemis Fowl Series by Eoin Colfer

artemis_fowl_first_edition_coverThis is an amazing series that is severely underrated in my opinion. It takes place pretty much all over the world, but the main character is Irish, so every book  takes place in Ireland at least some of the time. But really, there’s a lot of travelling involved in the series and it takes place everywhere from the Arctic Circle to the bottom of the ocean, it’s awesome!

 

3. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

f763e993641761bb9a97f3f18bf6824eThis one takes place in Nazi Germany. It’s an amazing, powerful book that I recommend to everyone and anyone. Even people who aren’t avid readers should read this one in my opinion, because it’s just so beautiful and powerful. You can read my review of it here.

 

 

4. The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

51d2bgdqhrkl-_sx328_bo1204203200_Another World War II book, this one set in France. Not as poetic as The Book Thief, but this is another book that I recommend to everyone and anyone. It was beautiful and I loved it so much. It had such a big impact. You can see my review of it here.

 

 

5. Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

me-before-you-book-coverI love this book so much. It broke my heart. Maybe broke me a little too. It takes place in the UK and there is some travelling involved to some exotic beaches. Definitely reccomend it, especially if you like contemporary. But really, if you’re a human being with a heart (even if it’s Grinch-sized like mine), this book will probably going to move you. Read my review of it here.

 

6. The Daughter of Smoke and Bone Series by Laini Taylor

ukdsbhcMoving on from books that make you cry, this is a beautifully written fantasy series that takes place in Prague. Some of the time. Also in some other places of the world and sometimes in another world altogether. But it’s really beautiful and the setting always feels so magical. Lovers of fantasy will probably enjoy this very much.

 

 

6. Just One Damned Thing After Another by Jodi Taylor

25876872-_uy200_This is a really funny book that takes place in the UK and in the past and in some other places (like a jungle full of dinosaurs). I really loved it, it was so funny, but it was also dark. It’s an adult series, I think. Or NA at the very least. I’ve only read this book in the series, but I do intend to read the rest of it eventually, because it was great.

 

 

7. The Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson

13486632This is a dark humor book that takes place in Sweden and around the world, everywhere from China, to Iran to Spain. If you enjoy Nordic humor, you’re going to enjoy this. I’m about halfway through it at the moment and I’m really enjoying it.

 

 

8. The Lunar Chronicles Series by Marissa Meyer

2016-07-01-23-57-27.jpgThis takes lace in the future, in a place called New Beijing. I’m assuming New Beijing is geographically related to the old Beijing, so it takes place in China. At least the first book does. The other ones, I’m not sure exactly because I haven’t read them yet, but I think some might even happen on the Moon.

 

9. A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab

23403402-_uy200_This one happens in London. Sometimes, it’s even our London. I really, really love this series. It’s one of my newest finds and I am a little bit obsessed with it at the moment. I wish I could get the third one already. But yeah, definitely not the US. The US doesn’t even exist in most of the worlds this takes place in. You can read my review of it here and also my review of its sequel here.

10. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

7126Finally, I thought I’d finish off with a classic. This is one of my favourite classics and it takes place in France and Italy and sometimes more exotic places, and obviously, Monte Cristo. It’s a story about revenge and love and badassery.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak – Book Review

f763e993641761bb9a97f3f18bf6824eRating: 5/5

Genre: YA historical fiction

First Published: 2005

Author: Markus Zusak

Synopsis: The Book Thief follows the story of Liesel Memminger, a German girl living in Nazi Germany. After witnessing her brother’s death, Liesel’s life is changed when she steals her first book: The Gravedigger’s Handbook. With the help of her foster father, Liesel learns how to read and begins her career as a book thief. In a world where Death is busier than ever, Liesel learns the secret power of words.

Book Depository | Goodreads


I was first introduced to the story of Liesel a few years ago when the film came out and I fell in love with it. I knew then, that I was going to read the book. Of course, true to my unpredictable reading habits, it took me several years until I actually got to it. Finally, I read it this year and I loved it every bit as much as the first time and then some.

This is one of those books that takes time to read. At least for me. I couldn’t just read it in one day. It’s the kind of book that needs to be digested, that demands you think about it and you have to give it its due. And that’s exactly what I did.

If you go into this book expecting a grand plot, a grand story about extraordinary people, you will be disappointed. This is a story of ordinary people trying to live in a time of extraordinary evil. With Death as a narrator, you can imagine though, that it is far from being an ordinary book. It has this strange and beautiful way of looking at the human condition – through inhuman eyes. What it reveals is that we contain multitudes – as Walt Whitman said.

One of my favourite things about The Book Thief is that it is narrated by Death. He’s such an inhuman narrator – obviously. But I’m so used to reading books narrated from an implicitly human perspective. One that strives to live, one that sees death as the final destination and that wants to take the longest detour possible before arriving. But for Death, death is a chore. It’s a job. This was incredibly refreshing and entering a mindset that is so fundamentally different from my own has allowed me to look with fresh eyes at what it is to be human.

Another thing I absolutely loved was the style and format of the writing. For example, take the beginning.

First the colours.

Then the humans.

That’s usually how I see things.

Or at least, how I try.

~Here is a small fact~

You are going to die. 

I am in all truthfulness attempting to be cheerful about this whole topic, though most people find themselves hindered in believing me, no matter my protestations. Please, trust me. I most definitely can be cheerful. I can be amiable. Agreeable. Affable. And that’s only the As. Just don’t ask me to be nice. Nice has nothing to do with me.

The reason I typed this up is because I have no idea how to explain it. It’s this strange and beautiful style that I’ve never seen before and I can’t even do it justice with the formatting options on WordPress. It draws you in and it entices you to read. It’s amazing.

I haven’t even started talking about the story itself. And to be honest, I find it very difficult to put my thoughts about it into words. One of the things I took away from it is the importance of small things. A book found in the snow, an accordion, a piece of bread and words. It all comes down to words. but just because it’s a book about small things, don’t think it’s a small book. No, it’s a book that uses small things to build a big picture.

Honestly, I am struggling to find things to tell you. Not because there isn’t anything to say, but because there is too much. I’d have to write my own book trying to describe The Book Thief to you. So I’m just going to share some of the quotes that stayed with me and then encourage you to go and read it for yourself.

“I just wish I was like Jesse Owens, Papa.”

This time, Mr Steiner placed his hand on Rudy’s head and explained, “I know son – but you’ve got beautiful blond hair and big, safe blue eyes. You should be happy with that, is that clear?”

But nothing was clear.

It would inspire Hans Huberman to come up with a plan to help the jewish fist-fighter. And it would show me once again that one opportunity leads directly to another, jut as risk leads to more risk, life to more life, and death to more death.

Like most misery, it started with apparent happiness.

I guess humans like to see a little destruction. Sandcastles, houses of cards, that’s where they begin. Their great skill is their capacity to escalate.

She was a girl.

In Nazi Germany.

How fitting that she was discovering the power of words.

And last, but not least.

I wanted to tell the book thief many things, about beauty and brutality. But what could I tell her about those things she didn’t already know? I wanted to explain to her that I’m constantly overestimating and underestimating the human race – that rarely do I ever simply estimate it. I wanted to ask her how the same thing could be so ugly and so glorious, and its words so damning and brilliant.

There are many, many others, but I’m hoping that this will suffice to convince you to go read it.