Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Top Ten Tuesdays: The Best Books of 2017 So Far

This week's Top Ten Tuesday prompt is a list of the best books I've read in 2017 so far. It's kind of open-ended, so I'm going to list only books that were published in 2017. Here are my favorites! (They're in order of how I read them, not how I rate them.)

1. Wires and Nerve by Marissa Meyer: I was stoked when I learned Marissa Meyer was writing a graphic novel set in The Lunar Chronicles world. I was definitely not ready to say goodbye to these lovely characters. Thus, I'm glad I enjoyed reading it. It had the same humor, adorableness, and action-y awesomeness that the books have. I'm already looking forward to part two!

2. A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab: I inhaled the first two books in the Shades of Magic trilogy, so when A Conjuring of Light came out, I had to read it immediately. It was worth it. So worth it. Every page, every moment. I don't know if I've ever been so satisfied with a story's conclusion than this one. V.E. Schwab's writing is just magic.

3. King's Blood by Jill Williamson: I'm not always a huge fan of big books because they usually take forever to read, but in some cases, long books are good. King's Blood is gigantic, but it was definitely worth all those pages. The story that unfolds is intriguing and heart-felt. A lot happens, and it's wild. (Check out my review of it here.)

4. Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor: There are some authors that make me want to give up writing because there is no way I'll ever reach that level of amazing. Laini Taylor is this author. Strange the Dreamer goes above and beyond her other books, weaving a story with stellar world-building, fantastic characters, and gorgeous descriptions. Just go read it now! (If you're not convinced, check out my review here.)

5. Attack on Titan, Vol. 21 by Hajime Isayama: I don't normally include manga or long comic series volumes in my top books list because one volume can't always accurately capture the entire series. But Attack on Titan Vol. 21 is the exception. (Really, Attack on Titan is always the exception.) This volume revealed a lot, completely changing everything I thought I knew about this story. It's kind of incredible, and it definitely left me screaming.

6. The Dark Prophecy by Rick Riordan: Basically, Rick Riordan can do no wrong. Once more, he knocks it out of the park with his perfectly placed dialogue, his blending of mythology and modern day aspects, and his fantastic, wonderful, amazing characters. (That was for you, Apollo.) If you love Percy Jackson, Heroes of Olympus, or anything else Riordan has written, read Trials of Apollo. They're hilarious and well-written.

7. Spider-Gwen Vol. 2: Weapon of Choice by Jason Latour and Robbi Rodriguez: Spider-Gwen has easily become one of my favorite comic book series. There's just something more to her that I never quite caught with Peter Parker's Spider-man. Her relationship with her dad is definitely a high point, but I also admire Gwen's determination to do the right thing, no matter the cost.

8. Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia: This book surprised me because I expected it to fall into a typical YA formula, but it didn't. It had a lot to it--highlighting many important issues--and I loved the characters. I'm grateful for what Francesca Zappia has done with this novel. (Check out my full review here.)

9. Rebel Rising by Beth Revis: Like Eliza and Her Monsters, I was impressed by this book. I expected it to fall short of my expectations, but there were moments when I realized how important this book was, both for the YA genre and for the Star Wars universe. It made me appreciate Rogue One and Jyn's character more than I originally did. I think Beth Revis did a stellar job with her story.

10. The Evaporation of Sofi Snow by Mary Weber: This book was definitely one of my most anticipated reads at the beginning of the year, and it definitely had me hooked. While I'll never forgive the author for that cliffhanger ending (why must I wait until March for book two? Why?), I thoroughly enjoyed the story, the world-building, and the diverse cast of characters. If you're looking for a science-fiction, conspiracy story filled with aliens, action, and lots of romantic tension, read this book. (Or if you're not looking for that, read it anyways.)

What are your favorite books of 2017 so far?

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Top Ten Tuesdays: Series I've Been Meaning to Read But Haven't

This week's Top 10 Tuesdays (which is actually going to be posted on Tuesday!) is a list of series I've been meaning to read but haven't yet. Unfortunately, that list is longer than ten. With over 800 books on my Goodreads to-be read list, it's bound to be full of series I need to start. Here are ten I probably should read soon.

1. Chaos Walking by Patrick Ness: I've heard good things about this series for a long time. I even own the first book, which I plan to read soon-ish. In the next coming years, the series is getting a movie adaptation, so I definitely need to read them!!

2. A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin: I don't know how many times these books (or the TV show) have been recommended to me. I own the first four books, but I have yet to feel brave enough to pick up the hefty volume and read it. Maybe soon? Or... never?

3. Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas: Like ASOIAF, I've been told numerous times but numerous people to read Throne of Glass, but I haven't. I'm not sure why. Maybe it's because I've also been told it's not that good, or maybe I just focused on other (read: better) books that are out there?

4. Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard: This series is right there with Throne of Glass. I've been told to read it, but I've also heard it wasn't as good. I've been kind of back and forth about what to do, so maybe I should just try it out and decide for myself.

5. The Kingkiller Chronicle by Patrick Rothfuss: I've been told over and over by a few close friends that I need, need, need, need to read this series. But... the books are so long! I love a long story (I mean, I read Les Mis last year), but sometimes long books are so intimidating, especially when my TBR pile is overflowing. What to do... what to do...

6. Gentleman Bastard by Scott Lynch: Again, I've been told by multiple friends that I have to read these books. The first is on my short list to start soon, once I finish all the library books I currently have checked out. So we'll see.

7. The Broken Empire by Mark Lawrence: I was recommended the first book in this series during a writing workshop in order to help my own writing and world-building, but I haven't gotten around to reading it yet. I should probably put it on my short list and read it soon, right?

8. Space Trilogy by C.S. Lewis: I read Out of the Silent Planet forever ago, but I never finished the trilogy. I received a copy of all three books in one volume (which has a gorgeous cover) for my birthday several years ago, but... I still didn't finish. Do you see my problem?

9. The Dinosaur Lords by Victor Mil├ín: This series is about medieval knights that ride dinosaurs into battle. I mean, come on! Did somebody read my Christmas list or what? This sounds epic, and most of the reviews say it's good. Must. Read. Soon.

10. The Queen's Thief by Megan Whalen Turner: Okay, okay, I read The Thief a while ago, back in high school, and honestly, I forgot the rest of the series existed. (Oops.) But recently with the hype for the Thick as Thieves release, this series has caught my interest again. I'll probably have to re-read The Thief first, but hey, it's worth it!

Should I even bother with any of these? Any other series you'd recommend?

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Fantastic Fathers (and Where to Find Them) of Literature

A few years ago (and by a few, I mean forever), I did a post about my favorite mothers of literature. There weren't many at the time, and since then, I've probably found a few more I could add to the list. But since it's Father's Day today, I'm not going to talk about my favorite mothers of literature; instead, I'm going to talk about my favorite fathers of literature. So without further ado, in no particulate order, here are ten fantastic fathers (and where to find them).

1. Mr. Betarrini from the River of Time series: Mr. Betarrini (whose first name I think is Ben?) isn't in the River of Time books a whole lot. Mainly because he spends the first two dead. (Weird, right?) But when he finally does show up due to this awesome thing called time-travel, he's pretty cool. He can fight, he's smart, and he cares a lot about his daughters. I like him.

2. George Stacy from Spider-Gwen: One of my favorite aspects of the Spider-Gwen comics is Gwen's relationship with her father, George. He cares an awful lot about his daughter, but that doesn't automatically mean their relationship is perfect. They struggle a lot trying to understand each other, but their love for one another trumps any other confusion or feelings they might have. Their relationship is realistic and touching, and I am grateful it exists in the comic book vein.

3. Elrond from Lord of the Rings: Sometimes I feel Elrond gets a bad rap. He's the stone-faced elf that won't allow his daughter to marry her one true love, right? (Or is that just the movie version?) But I think his concern for his daughter is admirable; he doesn't want to leave her behind, to be alone, to be sad. He's old; he knows the world. He's heard of Beren and Luthien and other elves, and he understands what it means for an elf to stay behind. Plus, Elrond is super wise and knowledgeable. He deserves more credit as a father.

4. Mr. Murry from A Wrinkle in Time: After recently re-reading A Wrinkle in Time, I realized how much I adore Mr. Murry. Like George Stacy, he's not perfect and his relationship with his family isn't perfect. He may be smart, but he still makes mistakes. When Meg finally finds him, she expects everything to become better, to be magically fixed, but it doesn't. This portrayal shows a realistic side of parents that I think more books need to include. Plus, in the face of adversary, strife, and despair, Mr. Murry is always optimistic and hopeful, pointing toward the good that still exists. If that's not admirable, I don't know what is.

5. Mr. Bennet from Pride and Prejudice: Who doesn't love Mr. Bennet? Sure, he may seem to slip away from his family and ignore his wife's mutterings, but when they need him the most, he steps up. His most famous moment is when he tells Elizabeth she doesn't have to marry Mr. Collins. Secretly, I think it's because he doesn't want his daughter to end up like him: in a loveless marriage. Or maybe he just loves to give Elizabeth her way.

6. Pa Ingalls from the Little House books: Growing up, Charles Ingalls was like a second father to me. I spent hours reading the Little House books, traveling all across the Midwest with the Ingalls family. Charles is a hard-working, entertaining, and ornery father that raises Laura to be the same. From playing violin and singing songs to building log cabins and harvesting crops, Pa Ingalls is a honorable man, worthy to be recognized.

7. Hans Hubermann from The Book Thief: Hans Hubermann isn't Liesel's biological father, but he's definitely her papa. He's a quiet man, known for his kindness and accordion playing that cheers people up. It's no wonder he finds a way to warm Liesel's heart in The Book Thief. I get teary-eyed just thinking about their relationship and the way the story progresses. He's admirable for his actions, whether it was teaching Liesel to read or hiding Max from the Nazis or simply walking the street playing his music.

8. Matthew Cubert from Anne of Green Gables: Like Hans, Matthew Cubert isn't Anne Shirley's biological father, but he's the closest thing she has to a father. Matthew is quiet, does his work, and obeys his sister. But he also learns to open up, just a little, to the spunky red-haired girl that invades his life. It's Matthew that convinces Marilla to give Anne a chance, and it's Matthew that spoils Anne because he wants her to be happy. Matthew is a soft, kind soul, and I can't help but cry at how wonderful a father he is.

9. Jean Valjean from Les Mis: Jean Valjean is a complex character. He takes in Cosette simply because he made a promise to a woman he met once, maybe twice. But he cares for Cosette as if he were his own daughter, and so she becomes his own daughter. He wants to keep her safe, from his past and from others, and he will do whatever it takes to do that... even entering a barricade battle to save the life of the man she loves so they can be together. Now that's noble.

10. Theoden from Lord of the Rings: Theoden's son dies early on in The Two Towers, but Theoden is still a father to both Eomer and Eowyn, his nephew and niece. It's his relationship with Eowyn though that makes him a fantastic father. He cares for her, wanting to protect her from the darkness of the world. He forbids her to fight because he wants to keep her safe from the atrocities of battle. In the end, by she avenging his death, she learns the reality of war. In addition, Theoden has a great redemption story; he was under the influence of Grima and Saruman, completely lost to the world, but he was able to come back from that and become a better king--and father.

Bonus: Sirius, Remus, Dumbledore, etc. from Harry Potter: It'd be hard to have a list of fantastic fathers (and where to find them) without including all the father figures of Harry Potter. From James Potter, who is Harry's actual father, and his sacrifice to save his wife and child to everything Sirius, Remus, and Dumbledore to do help Harry along his journey, the Harry Potter books are filled with fantastic father figures. Even Arthur Weasley is a wonderful, loving father-figure to Harry, welcoming him into the Burrow and taking him on wild adventures to Quidditch games and the Ministry of Magic. if given the chance to spend more time with these father-figures, I think their influence on Harry's life would only grown stronger and for the better.

Who are you favorite fathers of literature?

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Beautiful People: June 2017

It feels like it's been forever since I participated in Beautiful People, but it's only been a few months. I skipped a few of the themed ones because I didn't have any characters that fit the prompts. But this month I'm linking up!

As I looked over the questions, a new-ish character came to mind. I have an inkling of an idea involving a girl and an airplane. I've always been enthralled by the era of airplanes, aviators and aviatrixes, Amelia Earhart, Bessie Coleman, Charles Lindbergh... all of it's just so intriguing. I've always wanted to write about something related. So meet Avis, the main character of a story involving zeppelins, airplanes, and a strong brother-sister bond.

Avis has been dreaming of piloting an airplane her whole life, but airplanes are considered dangerous and only men are allowed in the cockpit. Her brother, Jules, is a pilot and has taught her all about how airplanes work, fueling Avis' dream. So when her brother's airplane goes missing, Avis is determined to find him... even if it means stealing an airplane and taking to the skies by herself. 
It's sort of steampunk-y, sort of altered history, and I think it would make a great story and possibly a gorgeous graphic novel.

The Questions

1. What’s their favorite place they’ve ever visited?
Before they died, Avis' parents took her and Jules to the Grand Canyon one summer. It was the most glorious land she's ever seen, and she couldn't help but daydream about flying above the rocky cliffs and the thundering waters.

2. What’s one mistake they made that they learned from?
She knows better than to sit and wallow in self-pity about her life. She's had a tough life, and her dreams seem far-fetched and out of reach, but she doesn't let that hold her back. She's learned that complaining only gets her a punishment and being sad only makes life unbearable. Instead, she holds her chin up and moves past the pain to focus on what she wants out of life.

3. What was their favorite subject in school? Or favorite thing to learn about?
Her favorite thing to learn about is obviously airplanes, but often school won't talk about it because of how dangerous airplanes are thought to be. Instead, she soaks up history and math, using it to further her own research about airplanes.

4. What’s their favorite flower/growing thing?
If you ask her, she'll tell you the vines that grow along the dorm building of Miss Emma's School for Girls are her favorite because she can easily use them to climb in and out of her dorm room at night. Sentimentally though, she's always loved peonies because they remind her of her grandfather.

5. Have they ever made someone cry? What happened?
Tons of times. She liked to beat up the annoying boys at school and make them cry when she was younger. She'd get in trouble and receive a few raps on the hand with a ruler, but she always thought her punishment was mild compared to what she did to them.

6. Would you consider them a reliable or unreliable narrator?
I think she's reliable. She's truthful and honest, and she doesn't hesitate to speak her mind.

7. What do they dream about at night?
If it's a good dream, she's flying weightless--no airplane, no parachute, just weightless drifting through open skies. If it's a bad dream, she's plummeting from the sky.

8. They’ve gone out for a “special meal.” What would they eat?
The biggest, juiciest steak she can find. And potatoes. She loves potatoes. But she doesn't go out often; only when her brother steals her away from the School for the evening after his shift at the hangar.

9. Do they have any distinguishing or unique talents?
She has a good memory with a knack for remembering random details about things. She's an artist and poet and idles away her hours daydreaming of flying, drawing sketches of it, and writing snippets along her page. She also can climb in and out her dorm room in a matter of moments without making a sound.

10. What’s at least one thing they want to do before they die?
Fly an airplane solo.

Link-up with this month's Beautiful People and tell me about your characters!

All images were found on Pinterest.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Top Ten Tuesdays: June TBR Pile

I've heard about the bookish link-up "Top Ten Tuesdays" for a while, but I never took the step to participate until now. The gals at The Broke and the Bookish started this link-up to talk about books, and if there is anything I like to talk about, it's books! The prompt for this week is to discuss ten books of a specific genre you recently added to your TBR list. Instead of picking a specific genre, I'm just going to list the next ten books I plan to read, hopefully during the month of June!

In addition to books, I also have a ton of comics and manga to read. 

1. Starfall by Melissa Landers
I'm already reading this, and I hope to finish it soon. Based on reviews, I expected it to fall short of the first book, Starflight, but I like it so far. I'll share my thoughts on both Starflight and Starfall once I'm finished!

2. A Swiftly Tilting Planet by Madeleine L'Engle
Just like with Starfall, I've already started reading this. I read this book forever ago, but I can't remember any of it. It's definitely weird... but not any weirder than A Wrinkle in Time or A Wind in the Door, which were both fantastic.

3. The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart
I just started listening to the audiobook of this, and I'm already enjoying it. The descriptions are great, and it has just that slight hint of peculiarity that it's perfect. Plus, the narrator is superb.

4. Rebel Rising by Beth Revis
When I heard Beth Revis was writing a Star Wars book, I was stoked. I finally have it in my possession, and I'm excited to read. I'm looking forward to diving into Jyn Ero's backstory.

5. The Evaporation of Sofi Snow by Mary Weber
I heard about this book over a year ago, and I've been eagerly waiting to read it. Mary Weber is a gem, and I can't wait to read more of her books!

6. Our Dark Duet by Victoria Schwab
I read This Savage Song a month ago, and I couldn't put it done. I've just been completely starstruck with her stories, so I cannot wait to read this book. I need answers. And I need more August in my life!

7. Beren and Luthien by J.R.R. Tolkien
If it has Tolkien's name on it, I need it. Case closed.

8. When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon
I've heard a lot of good things about this book, and even though its contemporary, it sounds super cute.

9. The Sandcastle Empire by Kayla Olson
I haven't heard a whole lot about this yet, except its similar to Lost. But I have a high suspicion that I'm going to receive it in a book box later this month...

10. Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han
I inhaled the first two books in this series, and I need the next one! These books are just hilariously adorable and I can't get enough of them.

What books are on your TBR pile?