Top Ten Tuesday – Auto-Buy Authors

I love lists, so I’m excited to dip my toes in the listy fun that is Top Ten Tuesday. This meme is run by The Broke and the Bookish and each week they post a new list for us to complete and share.

Just post your own list, link back to The Broke and the Bookish, and add your link to the linky tool to participate!

Top Ten Authors I’d Put on My Auto-Buy List:

These are the authors whose books I would buy or read, no matter what. I won’t say it doesn’t matter which genre, because even I can by finicky, but for the most part, these are authors who have proven to write books I consistently like, and who I trust to tell a great story (whether it’s fiction or not).

1. James Rollins 

 Though I mostly stick with his Sigma Force series, I’ve liked everything I’ve read by James Rollins.

2. A.J. Jacobs 

 I already own everything he’s ever written, and A.J. Jacobs is the only absolute “auto-buy” author I truly have. No questions asked, I will purchase anything he writes. Ever. His approachable, self-effacing style perfectly complements his journalistic eye for truths beyond face value.

3. Diana Gabaldon

 (Obvs.)

4. Jen Lancaster

 Jen Lancaster is another humorous nonfiction author whose books I buy regardless of topic. Although her style can at times be over the top, she never fails to make me literally guffaw with laughter. 

5. Cassandra Clare

 Though I have yet to even start this spinoff series, I’ve already preordered book 3. Enough said.

6. Mary Roach

 Mary Roach’s books are so well researched on such taboo topics that I can’t resist her. Dead bodies, ghosts, sex, space flight, and digestion – if you like the weird or hard to stomach, you’ve found your woman.

7. Patricia Briggs

 Mercy Thompson is one of the best shifter characters ever created. Patricia Briggs gets the series book just right – the characters never feel stale or stuck in perpetual loops of similar scenarios. 

8. William Shakespeare

 Is this cheating? I’ve never read the full canon, but I know that I will, and I would never hesitate to see or read a new adaptation.

9. Rita Mae Brown

 I initially got hooked on the Sneaky Pie mysteries, but she now writes two other series (I’ve only gotten through one so far), and has a hefty collection of well-regarded literary fiction under her belt as well. I hope to read it all eventually.

10. Lisa T. Bergren

After reading the River of Time series, I’ll read anything Lisa Bergren puts out there.

Who are your auto-buy authors?

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Book Blogger Confessions: Reading Genres

Book Blogger Confessions is a meme run by Midnyte Reader and For What It’s Worth. Every first and third Monday participants post and discuss common frustrations to book bloggers. Link up your post on either blog and hop around to listen to and learn from your fellow bloggers!

This week’s question is:

How has blogging and reviewing changed your reading habits? Do you read a genre now that you wouldn’t have tried prior? Or have you been turned off by a genre you used to love?

I read a lot more romance/erotica novels because of blogging. I think there can be a stigma toward the genre, and seeing how many people in the blogosphere enthusiastically discussed it made me feel like I was missing out on something or not giving it a fair chance. I mean, anyone who likes Outlander as much as I do should feel fairly confident they’ll like romance stories! 

I think I read more epic fantasy these days too. Book bloggers have exposed me to so many different types of genres and different recommendations within those genres that I’m giving more fantasy a chance where I wasn’t as into it before. Patrick Rothfuss’ The Name of the Wind is not something I would have considered until I saw so many bloggers raving about it. I’m so glad I listened to them, since I loved that book!

I do find that focusing too much of my reading based on genre can lead to slumps, and blogging plays a role in that. Because my blog focuses mostly on YA books, I feel pressured to read more of them, and sometimes I just want to read a spy thriller. I’ve gotten better about reading in different genres to mix it up a bit more, and even joined some challenges this year to that end.

 

 

Throwback Thursday – Watership Down

Throwback Thursday is a weekly meme hosted by The Housework Can Wait and Never Too Fond of Books. This meme is dedicated to shining a light on books or book-related media that aren’t just the shiny new releases. Post about anything bookish that was released five or more years ago, and link up to hop around and see what other oldies-but-goodies deserve a little more attention.

Movie: Watership Down
Written and Directed by: Martin Rosen
Based on the Novel by: Richard Adams
Released: 1978
Book summary from Goodreads: One of the most beloved novels of our time, Richard Adams’s Watership Down takes us to a world we have never truly seen: to the remarkable life that teems in the fields, forests and riverbanks far beyond our cities and towns. 

It is a powerful saga of courage, leadership and survival; an epic tale of a hardy band of adventurers forced to flee the destruction of their fragile community . . . and their trials and triumphs in the face of extraordinary adversity as they pursue a glorious dream called “home.” 

Watership Down is a remarkable tale of exile and survival, of heroism and leadership . . . the epic novel of a group of adventurers who desert their doomed city, and venture forth against all odds on a quest for a new home, a sturdier future.

I watched the movie version of Watership Down several times growing up, and I fell in love with the story of these rabbits and their journey to escape developers and find a new, safe warren. The animation is of the 2D variety that most of us grew up with, but it gets really interesting during the mythology parts. The imagery of this movie has really stuck with me throughout the years, and I recommend it if you’ve never seen it. It holds a soft spot in my heart.

 

 

 

Beautiful Creatures Reading a Deux Week 4

 
 

It’s week four of my Reading à Deux adventure with Ruby at Ruby’s Reads. We’re reading Beautiful Creatures in anticipation of the movie release! We divided the book into four sections, and each Tuesday we’re trading off asking each other questions about each section. Today I’m responding to Ruby’s questions in a post on her blog, so click the button above to read the post and join in the conversation. Come back next week for my wrap-up and movie review!

Missed our other posts? Catch up on Week 1, Week 2, and Week 3.

 

 

 

Review: Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

Book: Between Shades of Gray
Author: Ruta Sepetys
Publisher: Philomel Books
Release date: March 22, 2011
Source: Borrowed from library

  

Summary from Goodreads:

Lina is just like any other fifteen-year-old Lithuanian girl in 1941. She paints, she draws, she gets crushes on boys. Until one night when Soviet officers barge into her home, tearing her family from the comfortable life they’ve known. Separated from her father, forced onto a crowded and dirty train car, Lina, her mother, and her young brother slowly make their way north, crossing the Arctic Circle, to a work camp in the coldest reaches of Siberia. Here they are forced, under Stalin’s orders, to dig for beets and fight for their lives under the cruelest of conditions.

Lina finds solace in her art, meticulously–and at great risk–documenting events by drawing, hoping these messages will make their way to her father’s prison camp to let him know they are still alive. It is a long and harrowing journey, spanning years and covering 6,500 miles, but it is through incredible strength, love, and hope that Lina ultimately survives. Between Shades of Gray is a novel that will steal your breath and capture your heart.

From the very first sentence, this book grips you by the throat and doesn’t let go. I devoured this book in two sittings, staying up late into the night, furiously wiping away tears so I could finish. I was so thoroughly invested in Lina’s story that I had a hard time letting go.

Lina, along with her mother and brother, is ripped from her Lithuanian home by Soviet secret police late on a June evening in 1941. They are given 20 minutes to pack a bag before they are whisked away on trucks and herded onto train cars bound for Russia. From there, we follow Lina’s harrowing journey of survival by train to Russian and Siberian forced labor camps.

The book moves quickly thanks to short chapters, often punctuated by Lina’s memories of moments from a better time. These snippets give us a glimpse into the girl she was before she was taken. They serve as a jarring juxtaposition against her situation in the camps – starving, worked near to death, fighting disease and failing health. Her memories are those of any girl, and reminds us of her humanity and innocence.

Lina meets a number of people on the train and in the camps, and they all captivated me in different ways. Ruta Sepetys, who researched this book by visiting Lithuania and hearing survivors’ experiences, created such vivid characters despite their dire circumstances. I felt for each of them in different ways, much like the way they each process their situation. No one person reacted the same way to what was happening – we saw denial, fear, shock, outrage, defiance, and defeat. Nothing can prepare you for the gamut of emotions that Sepetys paints onto each page.

This is a gorgeous, haunting, and incredibly moving book. I highly recommend it, but be sure to keep some tissues handy.

Rating: 5/5 stars

Click the stars for a description of my rating system

 
 
 

Double Review: Hidden and Breathless by Sophie Jordan

Book: Hidden
Author: Sophie Jordan
Publisher: HarperTEEN
Release date: September 11, 2012
Source: Borrowed ebook from library
Series: Firelight #3

 

Summary from Goodreads:

Jacinda was supposed to bond with Cassian, the “prince” of their pride. But she resisted long before she fell in love with Will, a human and, worse, a hunter. When she ran away with Will, it ended in disaster, with Cassian’s sister, Miram, captured. Weighed down by guilt, Jacinda knows she must rescue her to set things right. Yet to do so she will have to venture deep into the heart of enemy territory.

The only way Jacinda can reach Miram is by posing as a prisoner herself, though once she assumes that disguise, things quickly spiral out of her control. As she learns more about her captors, she realizes that even if Will and Cassian can carry out their part of the plan, there’s no guarantee they’ll all make it out alive. But what Jacinda never could have foreseen is that escaping would be only the beginning….

Loyalties are tested and sacrifices made in the explosive conclusion to Sophie Jordan’s Firelight trilogy.

Sophie Jordan is not one to recap. As with the last book, Vanish, this book picks up immediately where the last one left off. This is a great series to read back-to-back if you’ve not yet entered the world of the draki. Needless to say, there are some series spoilers ahead.

Most of the reason I love this series is simply my love for the draki. A secret race of shifters that can become a dragon/human hybrid capable of flight and varying types of powers? Oh man, I am so on board. In this book, we see much more of Jacinda and the gang in draki form, beginning with Jacinda’s entrance into the enemy camp to infiltrate their hostages and rescue Cassian’s sister, Miram.

From there, the adventure never lets up. Jacinda, Will, Cassian, Miram, Tamra, and a few new (and incredibly awesome) characters are on the run from the evil enkros and their hunters. Jacinda is simultaneously trying to track down what happened to her parents and balance her family interests against her need to run away with Will. 

I found this to be a very satisfying conclusion to the series. It was full of excitement and action, and everyone got an ending they deserved. I’ll miss Jacinda and the rest of the draki immensely. 

Luckily, there’s a new novella…

Book: Breathless
Author: Sophie Jordan
Publisher: HarperTEEN
Release date: December 4, 2012
Source: Borrowed ebook from library
Series: Firelight #3.5

 

Summary from Goodreads:

Sophie Jordan’s breathtaking digital original novella set in the world of Firelight.

For Az, it’s supposed to be a fun summer vacation with her family. Nothing complicated. Just a quick trip to test the waters as she prepares for a year on her own. That all changes when she rescues a drowning girl and meets Tate – the most gorgeous human boy she’s ever seen. Tate throws her heart, her plans, and her life into upheaval, but the closer she gets to him, the harder it is to hide the secret of what she is. With no hope for a future together, the last thing that can ever happen . . . is love.

This stand-alone digital original is perfect for those new to the Firelight series as well as veteran fans.

Jacinda may be a bad-ass fire-breather, but I loved diving into Az’s experiences as a water draki. (That’s right. I made a swimming pun.) This story takes place during Az’s family vacation, where she meets a cute boy and struggles with whether to pursue things with him given her draki nature.

At around 100 pages, it’s a short and sweet visit to the Firelight world. I loved Az – her shy personality was an interesting counterpoint to Jacinda’s bold character. It was also nice to see the draki trying to deal with real world problems again. What do you do when you fall for a boy, and those passions threaten to unveil your draki self every time you kiss? It brought back all of the good stuff I loved about Firelight.

Rating for both: 4/5 stars

Click the stars for a description of my rating system

 
  
 

Beautiful Creatures Reading a Deux Week 3

 

With the impending release of the Beautiful Creatures movie, Ruby at Ruby’s Reads asked if anyone was up for a read-along of the book. I hadn’t read it yet, and I’m always down for reading a book before seeing the movie, so I said yes please!

We divided the book into four sections, and each Tuesday we’re trading off asking each other questions about each section. Today I’m presenting the third set of questions, and Ruby’s responses. Next week you can visit Ruby’s Reads to see the last set of answers I have for Ruby!

 
 
Well let’s get to it!
 
1) During Thanksgiving dinner, we get some pretty shocking information about who Lena is up against. This makes an already sucky situation even worse, and adds to the feelings of betrayal and helplessness Lena’s experiencing. Have you ever faced a situation where you had to oppose a loved one?
 
Not really. I mean, we’ve all been in those kinds of situations in a minor way but (knock on wood), I’ve never had to seriously oppose a loved one in a serious way. I don’t know what else to say about this, except that I feel so fortunate to have my family, to be close to them, and to not be in constant conflict.
 
2) In the library, we get to see the end of Genevieve’s story play out. The Book of Moons giveth, and it taketh away. Does the bargain she struck seem worth it? 
 
Well, no! But if there’s anything reading paranormal fiction has taught me, it’s that such bargains arenever worth striking.
 
3) No teen outcast story can be complete without a prom-gone-awry sequence. What did you make of their decision to go, given how little they’ve been involved with school? How did you feel about how everything played out at the dance?
 
Well, I knew going to the dance wasn’t going to be all that and a bag of chips, even if Lena didn’t. And I don’t think she made it any easier on herself by the way she dressed. I realize that Gatlin’s small-mindedness isn’t Lena’s fault, but wearing crescent moons and not expecting hostilities? She was dreaming. As for the dance itself, well, shades of Carrie was pretty much what I was expecting, and I was also just waiting for Ridley to make her reappearance.
 
4) At the end of this section, Ethan finally breaks into his dad’s study, and he learns some important things about his parents. Did this change how you feel about his dad? Do you think Ethan’s mom is going to figure into this story more?
 
Learning more about Ethan’s dad did not change how I felt about them. Parents who neglect their children out of grief for a lost spouse are probably my least favorite YA stereotype, after just plain dead parents. I’m hoping to see some functional parent/child relationships in YA one of these days. As for Ethan’s mom, well, once we knew Marian was involved, it didn’t take a genius to figure out she must’ve known something as well.
 
Thanks for the great responses Ruby! Don’t forget to come back next Tuesday, and please chime in with your own responses in the comments!

 

 

 

Review: Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Book: Cinder
Author: Marissa Meyer
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends
Release date: January 3, 2012
Source: Borrowed from library
Series: Lunar Chronicles #1

 

Summary from Goodreads:

Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl. . . . 

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.

If you couldn’t tell from the summary, Cinder is a loose retelling of the Cinderella story. Cinder is a cyborg who was adopted as a child by her father, who soon after died and left her in the care of her nasty stepmother. As a mechanic, she is responsible for the mechanical upkeep of her stepmother’s household machines. In her spare time, she dreams of escaping to a life of freedom on her own.

What could have been a somewhat interesting tale about a cyborg who wants to be treated as an equal quickly became a story so much deeper than that. There is a dangerous plague spreading rapidly through New Beijing, and when one of Cinder’s stepsisters becomes infected, Cinder is signed over to the kingdom’s scientists for medical testing. She discovers hard truths about the feared population living on the moon – the Lunars – and the price Earth must pay to keep them from taking over the planet. 

The politics of Earth’s negotiations with and history of the Lunars was so fascinating to me. I loved the mystery of the Lunars and their eerie mind-control abilities. The threat of their takeover raised the stakes of the underlying Cinderella story, and added a layer of nuance to Cinder’s exploration of her status as a cyborg and as a member of New Beijing society. Marissa Meyer built an incredibly rich world that was both believable and fantastic. I wanted to stay immersed in the story forever, just to keep walking the streets of town and interacting with its characters.

You may think you know the tale of Cinderella, but this book keeps you guessing. Although I found the twist at the end to be obvious from the beginning (so perhaps it’s supposed to be?), I still enjoyed the journey. I cannot wait to continue on with this series, and I’ll definitely be purchasing a copy for my shelves as well. This is a beautifully imagined and written book by a bright new star in young adult fiction.

Rating: 5/5 stars

Click the stars for a description of my rating system