The Top 10 Words/Topics in Books That Interest Me

I wasn’t originally planning on doing today’s Top Ten Tuesday, but after reading a few lists, I decided to do one but modify it just slightly. The original topic is “Top Ten Words/Topics That Instantly Make Me Buy/Pick Up A Book,” but there are literally zero topics/words that will instantly make me buy a book without consideration of other factors. Probably most of my topics will propel me to pick up books that I otherwise know nothing about, presuming that I like the cover. Otherwise, I probably won’t look into it without several recommendations. In no particular order, here are some of topics/words that will catch my interest when I’m looking at books:

1. World War II

I have actually read very few books set during WWII (though I recently read the non-fiction WWII story Unbroken), but I definitely want to read more as I love learning about this time period! (Please let me know if you have any recommendations!)

2. Genetic Engineering

fordarknessshowsGenetic engineering is a topic that I randomly became interested in when I was in college. For this reason, For Darkness Shows the Stars is high on my TBR list, but I haven’t read it yet. Any other great reads about genetic engineering that you know (preferably fiction, or if non-fiction, then maybe a bit dumbed-down)?

3. Cloning

I almost feel wary to put this down, because I’ve seen this idea go wrong so many times before (primarily in movies). But this topic interests me as well, and I would love to read a good science fiction book about it.

4. Young Adult Dystopian & 5. “For Fans of The Hunger Games”

Dystopian-Collage

By the way, I have NOT read all these and I highly doubt I will.

These are basically the same, but I thought I would list them separately anyway. When I see one of these two plastered on a sign in Barnes and Noble, I will crane my neck to check out what they have. Same with if I see these labels online. And I have read a few books due to these words!

6. Psychological issues, mainly schizophrenia

finding-aliceI minored in psychology in college, and really, if I had not been concerned about scholarship money or graduating on time so I would not still be in school when I got married, I might would have double majored. On the whole, social psychology fascinates me most, but out of all the disorders I learned about, schizophrenia is the one that I love to learn more about. I’m a book fan of the movie A Beautiful Mind and of the book shown above, Finding Alice, both which focus on a character suffering from schizophrenia. I would definitely love recommendations for more book on the subject!

7. By Oscar Wilde

I was required to read two of Oscar Wilde’s works my senior year of high school, The Picture of Dorian Gray and The Importance of Being Earnest. The only other one I have read on my own is Lady Windermere’s Fan, but I found it clever just as I did his other works, and I’m sure I’ll read some of his others sometime. After reading and enjoying three of his books/plays, I feel I can trust his work enough to just pick up something he wrote.

8. Fantasy/Fairytale-esque but grounded in reality

Think Chronicles of Narnia, books that are grounded in our world or reality but have an element of fantasy interest me. Though I am not sure I have actually read many books like this outside of Narnia. I would love recommendations!

9. Writing

I have read a few books about the technique of writing, but I also often times enjoy characters who also enjoy to write and talk about it (like Jo March).

jo-reading

10. Clean content

This really is the most important factor I consider with books. Sometimes I don’t always know going into a book just how clean it will be, but I try to find out. Otherwise, I try to borrow it, so I won’t be concerned if I decide to set it aside. Call me a prude or old-fashioned if you wish, but I simply don’t find books with a lot of language or sexual content enjoyable. As long as these things are kept to a minimal, I’ll show more interest in what the book is about.

What words or topics attract you to a book?

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Revamping Stories

When we hear that Hollywood is releasing a “new” movie that is really a remake of something old, we all groan. Sometimes, this is for good reason:

the-earth-stood-still

I’ll admit I haven’t seen the original, but it HAS to be better than this.

But sometimes, it’s incredibly awesome:

the-dark-knight-trilogyIn my review for Cinder, I applauded the book’s unique and fresh retelling of a story we all know. When a retelling, a rebooting, or a revamping of something we’ve seen before is done right, it’s comfortable like being home, but also provides a new perspective like vacation. This has also been demonstrated well through the very successful (and rightfully so) Lizzie Bennett Diaries, the modern-day, vlog format retelling of Pride and Prejudice.

So I was quite excited when I was on Pinterest the other day and found this:

fakemovie-peanutswith the description that this was an idea for a fake Peanuts movie. I HAD to check the source for more details. Turns out the guy who created this collage has concocted a plot for a live-action movie with the Peanuts character in high school. Here is his idea: “Struggling to cope with the loss of his life-long friend and pet, Charlie Brown’s (Thieriot) high school experience has been as much of a downer as his childhood. His best friend, Linus (Lerman), is too busy obsessing over graduating early to get into the seminary to help Charlie with his problems; his sister, Sally (Osment), is boy-crazy and fundamentally worthless; his ex-girlfriend, Patty (Stone) is now an activist for whatever cause crosses her path; even his childhood pal, Marcy (Winstead), has abandoned her dorky past for pom-poms and now shuns her former friends. The only person left for him to turn to is his former enemy, Lucy (Fonseca), still hell-bent on becoming a psychiatrist. But maybe in this ocean of blackness, Charlie can find a glimmer of happiness before it’s too late.”

I am a big Peanuts fan, and I’ve always wanted to see the characters in a fresh, new way, but didn’t know how exactly… until I saw this! Granted, it could easily bomb and be terrible, but with the right writer and director I think it would be awesome!

linus

I mean, seriously.

Here’s another one from this guy’s blog:

fakemovie-101dalmations101 Dalmatians reboot with John Krasinski and Amy Adams? Um, yes please! Most adorable movie ever! (Though there is no mention of Cruella De Vil… I think Charlize Theron would be a great choice.)

And then one more:

fakemovie-modernlittlewomenA modern day adaptation of Little Women! I want this SO BAD! His idea for the cast is as follows: Lyndsy Fonseca as Margaret “Meg” March, Emma Watson as Josephine “Jo” March, Shailene Woodley as Elizabeth “Beth” March, Elle Fanning as Amy Curtis March, and Aaron Tveit as Theodore “Laurie” Laurence. Not shabby at all!  He didn’t include the modernized plot synopsis for this one, so I think I may have to indulge my creativity and create one and save it for another post on another day.

Here’s the link to the tumblr site if you want to see more of his lovely storyboard collages of new movie ideas or of movies/characters we already know and love.

What story do you want to see revamped in a great, new way?

Review: Cinder

Cinder

When I first heard about Cinder, it sounded interesting, but did not really appeal to me initially. Then I kept I hearing nothing but love for it, so I finally checked it out.

graphic-synopsisCinder is a cyborg mechanic who lives in New Beijing with her awful stepmother and two stepsisters (one also awful, one nice). Cinder does not remember life from before she was 11, when she was told she had reconstructive surgery after an accident, and with no real rights of her own, her future looks grim.

graphic-thoughtsCinder was one of those books that hooked me right from the beginning, and I am not even sure why. I don’t know anything about this world that Cinder lives in, I don’t know what it’s like to be a cyborg or a mechanic, and I don’t know what it’s like to have an android as a best friend and for your guardian to hate you, but I found Cinder so relatable and likable from the start. I believe that the way Meyer crafted the story was just so good that it made me understand Cinder right away and root for her.

It’s fun to see the parallels of this story and the Cinderella story we all know, but it’s even more fun to explore this completely different world that Cinder lives in. I love her interactions with her android Iko, her sister Peony, and of course with Prince Kai, who is instantly charming but not in a completely unrealistic way. We even occasionally get his POV, which I like, but it’s never too much, just enough to sympathize with him and what he is going through. I love watching how their friendship blossoms, how it starts off innocent and somewhat flirty instead of it being rushed into something serious or being “insta-love.”

The plot is good too, but a story can thrive or die because of its characters, and Cinder has strong characters. Even the characters you hate serve their purpose and serve it well, and you hate them because you’re supposed to, not because the author made them unintentionally stupid or annoying. The pacing of the story is also great; things move quickly enough for the action to flow, but not too fast.

My rating for this book would be 4.5 stars, and it loses half a star for two reasons:
1.) The “big reveals” are extremely predictable.
2.) There is no real resolution at the end, but that’s because it’s the first of a series. I don’t really fault it for this, but it’s hard to give a book 5 stars if you don’t know how the story actually ends.

Though I pointed out all the happy, fairy tale-esque moments of the book, but there are some heavy undertones with a threat of war and vicious plague killing thousands, and the end of the book leaves our protagonist in a darker place than where she started. But there is hope, and more books, so I look forward to seeing how the journey unfolds! I found Cinder to be a fast, enjoyable read.

graphic-quotable

“Imagine there was a cure, but finding it would cost you everything. It would completely ruin your life. What would you do?” – Prince Kai to Cinder

If you’ve read Cinder, what were your thoughts on it?

SciFi Review Double Feature: Across the Universe and Oblivion

Though the book Across the Universe by Beth Revis and the new blockbuster and Tom Cruise flick Oblivion have several differences, they also have several similarities. They are both science fiction. I greatly anticipated reading Across the Universe just as I greatly anticipated seeing Oblivion. They both involve characters who have been lied to about their way of life. They were both somewhat disappointing in some ways, but overall not bad.

acrosstheuniverse (1)The book ATU is told from dual POVs, alternating between Amy and Elder. Amy is a normal girl who is cryogenically frozen on a ship with her parents to travel 300 years through space to a new planet (for reasons that are never fully explained by the way… I hope to find out why in later books). Elder, hundreds of years later, is learning under the ship’s leader Eldest as to how he will take on the role one day. Their worlds collide Amy’s pod is unplugged and she is unfrozen before schedule, and she must adjust to life on the ship that feels like a foreign country to her.

The good: The overall premise. The intrigue of the secrets that are hidden and the lies that are told. Minor character Harley. Revis does a good job of painting the contrasts between Amy’s world and the world of the ship. Of course some of it is obvious because Amy undoubtedly does not live very far off in the future from us, but the way she even describes the different dialect in which the ship people speak is a nice detail I appreciated.

The OK: Amy and Elder. Sometimes I liked them, sometimes they bugged me a little. Elder had the potential to be great, but he could be weak at times and was a little too obsessed with Amy. I understand that he has been lied to his whole life, so of course his viewpoint is going to be hard to change, but it seems like he’s been questioning things for… a little while? It’s unclear how long Elder has been obsessed with wanting to know what real stars look like and has been tired of Eldest not teaching him things. I did think Amy’s emotional journey was well displayed, and I think most of the time she displayed a strength that I appreciated, but she had some moments were I was not in love with her either.

The bad: An actual science fiction feel to the story is lacking, which some people might like. I don’t even have a super duper great love for the genre (yes, I am a Trekkie, but I like the stories and characters more than the actual science fiction), but I felt like it had the potential to tell the type of story that only science fiction can tell. The technology was good, and the ship was fine, but this could have been an epic story about humanity. Well, I guess this was somewhat a story about humanity, but it fell a little flat and did not feel epic. Also, I will never understand why Amy agreed to be frozen when her Dad gave her the chance to walk away. (Mild spoiler) Was it because of what she learned about Jason and she didn’t want to face him again? (Mild spoiler over) Or is it that she really loved her Dad more than her life (or she loved him more than she has common sense)?  Maybe I have seen too many Star Trek episodes, but when you get frozen for a journey through space, things never go well. I would have running like heck in the other direction.

The ugly: THE SEASON. OMG. GROSS.GROSS.GROSS. I know that was kind of the point but YIKES, I don’t think we needed it to be so emphasized.

And then there is the end. A little bit of a spoiler here: They decide it’s OK to majorly impact/kill people because they’ve been mean to them. I don’t know, I just feel like the last few chapters should have gone through a major revision. The plot builds up to this big reveal of uncovered secrets and who has been unplugging people, and then it’s resolved in a way that is going to majorly impact things  and they sort of just shrug it off. Yes, those people were bad and needed to be dealt with but again… I don’t know. I just would have liked for it to have wrapped up a bit differently.

I plan to get around to the sequels eventually, but I’m willing to go through other books in my TBR pile first.

oblivion_tom_cruise_poster

Jack Harper’s job is to remain on post-nuke-war-with-aliens Earth for a time to maintain droids. The job of the droids to seek out the alien Scavs and eliminate them. Prior to this job, however, Jack says he was required to go through a memory wipe. Yet he has dreams that feel like memories, and finds himself wondering about and reveling in old, pre-war Earth. His partner (both romantically and professionally), Victoria, is not as interested. She is ready to finish their work and to head to Titan (Saturn’s largest moon, in case you need the reminder) where most of Earth’s inhabitants have gone.

Or so they’ve been told.

Like Elder in Across the Universe, Jack has been told things about his life, but he slowly discovers that things may not be as they seem. As things unravel, they get interesting, especially when we meet Julia, who Jack has seen in his dreams, and a man named Beech who wants to show Jack the truth. However, I felt confused and at the end of the movie I had more questions than answers. Thankfully, a conversation with my husband resolved most of them, but there were still many things left unclear, particular motives. And there are some plot holes that will just always leave some things feeling unfinished. I also did not appreciate how the villain in this movie is basically nameless, faceless, and the motive is completely unknown. It just makes the whole story not seem worthwhile. But the struggle and the backdrop are interesting, and I wanted to explore it all more. I feel it’s hard to say much more about the movie without giving too much away, and I think it’s a good movie to see “blind,” so I’ll leave it at that.

Both stories had a lot of potential and some interesting twists, but overall felt a little flat. But since the rides were mostly enjoyable, I give both the book ATU and the movie Oblivion 3 out of 5 stars.

By the way, there are reveals in both of these stories that are the same as well, but it would be a huge spoiler for both to reveal it, so I’ll just leave it at that.

So if you’ve read ATU or seen Oblivion, let me know what you thought!

The Top 10 Books That Surprised Me

This week’s Top 10 Tuesday topic (a meme by The Broke and the Bookish) is “Top Ten Books I Thought I’d Like MORE/LESS Than I Did.” I was originally going to pick 10 books in one camp or the other, but ultimately decided to do the Top 5 of each, ultimately comprising the top 10 books that surprised me most in regards to how I felt about them.

The Top 5 Books I Thought I’d Like Less Than I Did

#5. The Hunger Games Trilogy

hunger_games_trilogyThe Hunger Games sounded pretty rough (and it was), but I kept hearing such good things about it that I had to read it. I thought I might like it, but what I did not realize was how quickly I would devour not just the first book, but the entire trilogy, that basically launched me into obsession mode until the movie released (and maybe for a little while after).

#4. Cinder

Cinder

I JUST finished Cinder, and like The Hunger Games, it turned into a much quicker read than I anticipated. I had heard it was great, but I was still skeptical about a Cinderella retelling centered on a cyborg. But I trusted my new blogging friends enough to buy the Nook ebook for a great deal, and I’m SO glad I did! And now I’m looking forward to reading Scarlet!

#3: The Hobbit

the-hobbitWhen my 8th grade English teacher assigned for our class to read The Hobbit, I just KNEW I was going to hate it. Mostly because my classmate Chase loved it, and I just knew that I could not like something he did, because we had nothing in common, right? Well, I didn’t hate The Hobbit after all. I didn’t love it as much as Chase, and admittedly I have not read it since then (which is why I plan to reread it this year), but my younger self is so frustrated with my older self for admitting that Chase had pretty decent taste in literature after all. Sigh.

#2: The Picture of Dorian Gray

dorian grayI had a lot of bad experiences with required reading throughout high school. But The Picture of Dorian Gray was one of the few exceptions. I need to reread this one as well because unfortunately I have forgotten a lot of it, but I remember thinking Oscar Wilde was just brilliant. (Reading two of his plays after Dorian Gray confirmed this to be a fact.) If you haven’t read this classic, you should.

#1: Crime and Punishment

crime&punish

But the biggest shock to my system was how much I really, really liked Crime and Punishment when I had to read it for my AP English class senior year. A long, Russian novel about a guy commits murder, and somehow I managed to get wrapped up in his story, to the point that four years later I was voluntarily using it as the basis for my Honors College thesis project. But the human condition just rings so true throughout its pages. I could have done without the subplot involving his sister, however.

The Top 5 Books I Thought I’d Like More Than I Did

#5: Pride and Prejudice

pride&prejudice

Put away the pitchforks and hear me out! I LOVE the story of Pride and Prejudice. I love Elizabeth, Darcy, Jane, and Bingley. I have alluded to all this multiple times on this blog. What I did not love as much as I hoped was reading the actual book. You see, my first introduction to the story was the Kiera Knightley movie. I loved it so much I had to read the book. And it was hard. NOT because of the story! It was the same great story! But Austen’s writing style was just not at all what I was used to, it was even laborious for classic literature. I have read one other Austen novel since then, Northanger Abbey, which was a little easier for me, I think largely because I did not already know the story AND I knew what to expect in the writing style. I still gave P&P 4 stars on Goodreads and I still want to read more Austen. But the experience of reading it for the first time was not all that I hoped to be.

#4: And Then There Were None

and-then-there-were-none (1)I don’t know what prompted me to pick up this classic mystery, but I was expecting to really like it. But it fell a little flat for me. I did find it intriguing enough to keep moving through the story, but at the end I was very dissatisfied. Was it because I had no connection with the characters? Was it not as suspenseful as I had hoped? I’m not sure, but ultimately, it did not do much for me.

#3: The Maze Runner Series

mazerunnerI didn’t have super high hopes for The Maze Runner when my co-worker handed it to me to let me borrow it, but she liked it and thought I might, so I was up for trying it, and thought I might like it some. The first book bored me at first, but then it picked up and I started getting more interested in it, especially at the end of it, and especially with the bonus content of classified letters at the back of the book. The Scorch Trials started off interesting, and then just got strange. And The Death Cure was mostly interesting and good, but then I hated the very end. Then I held out one more hope for The Kill Order, but it was such a hard read, with just so much bad that kept going and going and that was seriously rivaling with Mockingjay on the depressing meter, and unfortunately had a less hopeful ending as a prequel. I gave most of the books decent ratings on Goodreads, but overall, The Maze Runner series disappointed the hopes and expectations that had grown towards the end of the first novel.

#2: Matched’s Sequels

matched-trilogyAs mentioned in my review of the trilogy, I really loved the first book. I was sucked right into the world and thought it was beautifully written. I should have known by the end of Matched that I was not going to be satisfied with the rest of the series, but I refused to believe that Cassia was so dumb. But I was wrong. After the love-sickness-infested-walk-through-the-desert-in-real-time Crossed and the starts-off-intriguing-but-then-gets-kinda-lame Reached, I was quite dissatisfied with the whole journey. A story that showed potential fell for the pitfalls of insta-love and contrived plot devices. Ugh.

#1: Delirium

delirumGuys, I wanted to love Delirium. I really did. It was interesting to me at first. Then I got a little bored but hung on. Then I got annoyed but hung on. But then I got bored again. And then, I just gave up. I got it as an e-book from the library and I returned it, only about half-read. Part of me almost wonders if I should give it another chance. But after reading so many negative reviews about the final book of the trilogy, I’m thinking I’m going to leave this one in the unfinished pile. It just doesn’t really seem worth it.

What books did you like more or less than you thought you would?

Babies Deserve Good Books Too

So I was browsing Books-A-Million today and saw these:

babylitAnd I was like…

lydiawhatAnd then I was like…

totesadorbsBut seriously…

This is a collection called Baby Lit Books, and they are board books designed for little ones that present classic literature for young audiences, such as the numbers of Pride and Prejudice (like 2 rich gentlemen), the opposites of Sense and Sensibility (Happy Willoughby, Sad Brandon), and the colors of Alice in Wonderland:

babylit-insidealiceI was extremely tempted to get one for my friend’s little girl, who will be turning one next Saturday (and I’m attending the b’day party), but I don’t know… $9.99 seems a little steep for one of these small books, no matter how adorable they are, especially since we have been encouraged to not bring gifts. They are available at Amazon for a dollar less, ha ha…

Anybody else seen these? What do you think about them? Should I get one for Baby R. anyway? 🙂

Analyzing Movie Trailers

There were three great trailers that came out this week that I wanted to talk about: Star Trek, Man of Steel, and last but certainly not least, Catching Fire.

Star Trek

I’m so interested in the villain in this movie. Apparently he is Star Fleet Intelligence gone terribly wrong. Benedict Cumberbatch looks so crazy intense in this movie. But then again, so does everything else. I’m excited about seeing it all unfold, whatever it is that is going on!

Star-Trek-Into-Darkness

Man of Steel

I’ve wanted to be excited about this movie, but I’ve had a hard time. With this trailer, I finally get the substance I’ve been looking for. First: Russell Crowe is Superman’s dad?! Awesome. Clark saves people from childhood. His Earth dad tells him about his origins, and young Clark pleads, “Can’t I just be your son?” And he tells him, “You are my son!” Um, *tear*

Then we have Amy Adams, playing Lois Lane. I guess she’s writing a story on him? BTW, I don’t see Clark Kent the reporter anywhere in this movie. It just seems like he’s a lost guy training to find his way. That seems interesting.

jake-sisko

“But I’m a reporter!” Shut up, Jake. You’re not Clark Kent.

But the end of the trailer… really? Sigh.

Catching Fire

There are so many feels in this trailer! But let’s start with Snow and Plutarch’s conversation. Obviously not part of the book, but HOLY CRAP! Plutarch sounds genuine when he plays along with Snow’s ideas to kill Katniss: “I agree she should die, but in the right way, at the right time. Katniss Everdeen is a symbol. We don’t have to destroy her, just her image. Show them that  she’s one of us now. Let them rally behind that. They’re going to hate her so much they just might kill her for you.” *Sinister laughter from Snow*

never-favor

Then Haymitch tells Katniss, “This trip doesn’t end when you get back home… from now on, your job is to be be a distraction so people forget what the real problems are.” More feelings!

Then cue Effie, and the Capitol party.

katniss-effie-peeta-catching-fireThen Gale! Riots! Prim, being way cooler than she was in the books! (Not that I disliked her in the books, but I like the initiative she’s showing in the trailer!)  The whipping. The Peacemaker drawing the gun. And then, Snow again: “Her entire species must be eradicated… the other victors… because of her, they all think they’re invincible.” Oh man, I get chills every time I hear him say that. And it all ends with the whistle. I think this movie shows so much amazing potential, I feel it’ll definitely be better than the first movie, but I’m also thinking: It could be better than the book. I know that sounds crazy! Maybe I’m wrong, but man, the trailer is powerful. And that’s probably only the first 30-45 minutes of the movie. We still haven’t seen the Quarter Quell. Or the marriage proposal. Or CINNA! Ah! Do I  really have to wait until November?!

Oblivion comes out tomorrow, which I’m also excited about! What movies are you anticipating?

My Top 10 Favorite Book Covers

Today’s Broke and Bookish Top Ten Tuesday topic is TTT Rewind: Pick a topic you have missed in the past or want to revisit. Well, I’ve missed a lot, so I had several to choose from. And though there were many great topics, I ultimately went with my Top 10 Favorite Book Covers, which I found appropriate considering my recent post on bad book covers. In order to not have every book in the world be a contender, but to also not limit myself too greatly, the standard I decided to go by was favorite covers of books I have either read OR plan to read. I didn’t want to choose a cover for a book I had zero interest in. Also, I found out that I’m a book cover snob. (I can hear my husband laughing now… he says I’m a snob about everything! :-P) I did include some special edition covers because a lot of times they are made to be especially awesome! Anyhow, here’s my Top 10…

#10: Les Miserables

les-miserables-book

I know what you’re thinking… it’s a picture from the 2012 movie! I get it! But it’s so haunting and beautiful. It’s a lot better than cartoon Cosette in my opinion. I must confess though, I don’t know if the “movie cover” matches the tone of the book or not since I have not read it yet.

#9: For Darkness Shows the Stars

fordarknessshows

Another one I have not yet read so admittedly, I do not know how well the cover matches the tone of the book. But I know it’s pretty!

#8: Matched Trilogy

matched trilogy

Part of me doesn’t love the bubble, but the symbolism of each cover is great. The colors also play an important role in the stories, so you can tell how well-thought out these covers were, which I appreciate.

#7: Pride and Prejudice

pride&prejudice

I didn’t read/don’t own the version with this cover, but I just love the artwork. It’s both fun and classic.

#6: Cinder

Cinder

This is such a clever cover for a retelling of Cinderella that centers on a Cyborg. Even without knowing the plot, I think one can derive a hint from the cover what the book might be like.

#5: Little Women

littlewomen

As if the cover isn’t pretty enough on first glance, notice the “little women” integrated into the letters!  Love it!

#4: Alice in Wonderland

Alice in Wonderland

Cute and covered in teapots!

#3: To Kill A Mockingbird

Mockingbird2

Seriously, how whimsy is this? I also love that it features the characters. So cute!

#2: The Selection and The Elite

Selection and Elite

Sometimes I wonder if the cover of The Selection is what drew me to read it because seriously, I have no interest in the show The Bachelor, so why would I want to read a book with a similar premise? But  if you look at a big, clear picture of it, especially of The Selection, and see all those amazing details on the dress, and in the reflection… well, you can just see it’s just a gorgeous cover, reflecting all the splendor America experiences in the palace.

#1: Fahrenheit 451

fahrenheit451bookcover

This is probably seriously the most creative book cover EVER. Unfortunately, I have not read this classic yet but I have been wanting to for a while. And I’m kind of tempted to buy buy this version of it. Because it’s awesome.

What book covers are your favorite?

Review: Ender’s Game

enders_game_yaI don’t know what suddenly drew me to Ender’s Game. I had been aware of it for some time, and I think when looking into books I might possibly want to read, it stuck out to me for some reason. I think this was around the same time I was kicking around a story idea I had that is slightly reminiscent of the movie Tron: Legacy, and I was wondering how Ender’s Game compared. Well, it turned out that it’s pretty different.

graphic-synopsisEnder is only six years old when he is picked up to attend Battle School, and he quickly moves up the ranks in the school, commanding his own army by the age of 9. From conversations we see at the beginning of each chapter, those in charge of Ender are determined that he is the only one who can annihilate the “buggers” (the aliens who have fought them in two wars now), which is why they accelerate him through the ranks. They do this, however, by isolating him, breaking him, and lying to him.

graphic-thoughtsI knew this book was about children, so I was very surprised by how dark and gritty the story actually was. There’s also some language in here; it probably wouldn’t bother most people, but I wouldn’t call it kid-friendly. As a story of science fiction, however, this story was very profound. Everyone in charge of the Battle School is xenophobic, they are willing to push a child to limits that would be difficult for an adult, and the child himself is capable of producing great damage that he tries to deny for quite some time. As all good science fiction does, I think the story does a great job of mirroring how we as people are, regardless of the time and setting of the story.

I did have a few small issues with the story. The pacing sometimes seemed strange while reading because the story covers such a long period of time, though once you’ve read the whole story you can understand why certain parts emphasized on and why certain parts were abbreviated. And though I understand why all the emphasis was on Ender, I would have liked to have seen more development of some of the minor characters, particularly Alai, Bean, and Petra.

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I also still have mixed feelings about the end of the story. I think I would have liked it better if the book had ended right after *SPOILER* Ender found the bugger queen’s cocoon *END SPOILER* instead of dragging things out a little bit longer to the years beyond. I am curious is Card was trying to wrap things up because he was unsure if he was writing more books, yet still leaving some mystery so that he could write more.

There is also a small subplot in which Ender’s brother Peter recruits their sister Valentine to help him try to infiltrate the Nets with the way people think. It’s both difficult and easy to believe at the same time, like a few other things in the story, but the part that bothers me most is how much credibility Peter still has once the war is over.

I would recommend this book for teens and adults. I think, like all good science fiction, it forces us to take a look at ourselves and what we are capable of and what we are willing to do. And it shows how what we do affects us; we see both Ender and Graff were affected greatly, but in different ways. I might read the sequels, but I don’t feel like I necessarily have to. I’m also interested in seeing the movie adaptation coming out this year and how it will compare to the book.

graphic-quotableAs he [Ender] thought of it, though, he could not imagine what “just living” might actually be. He had never done it in his life. But he wanted to do it anyway. 

If you’ve read Ender’s Game, what are your thoughts? What do you hope they will include in the movie? If you’re read the sequels, would you recommend them?

Review on GoodReads.

Outside My Comfort Zone

Today I am answering the Book Blogger Hop question presented by Coffee Addicted Writer, as well as the Let’s Talk question by Smash Attack Reads and A Book Obsession.

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“What was the last book you read from a genre you don’t normally read?”

What do I normally read? is the question I have to ask myself first. You see, ever since high school I have really dropped the ball on reading up until after college, really picking things up last year. Last year I read mostly young adult dystopia (and the year before was when I devoured The Hunger Games), and YA dystopia is also quickly filling up my TBR list this year. I did read a couple of non-fiction books last year as well, one which Amazon classifies as “Business” (very outside of my usual genre) and one about writing. I also read a couple of books I would consider classics.

All this considered, I think the last book I read from a genre I don’t normally read could very well be the last book I read, Ender’s Game (review coming soon, I promise!), which I think could be best classified as science fiction. And while I watch a good amount of science fiction, I don’t generally read it. I think Unbroken, which historical non-fiction, is another good example of a book outside my typical genre that I recently read.

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The Let’s Talk question: “Do you judge books by their covers? Why or why not?”

In all honesty, I find it extremely difficult to NOT judge a book by its cover. Seriously, would you want to pick up any of these books based on their covers?

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Boring, bad artwork, bad photography, bad Photoshopping, bad font choices…

Now, I could be wrong, but I’m pretty sure I’m not going to run across any of these books in Barnes and Noble or on Amazon’s best-seller lists. But here are some books I will find there…

bbc-bluebloodsThis isn’t awful, like the book covers above, but here we have a picture of a woman’s neck with marks, and then a city transposed on top of her. It seems… awkward. Without having read Blue Bloods, I can’t say I know the exact tone it needs, but a book cover that I feel does a great job of using photography and minimalism to create a haunting mood is the cover of Unremembered by Jessica Brody:

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Next is a simple cover with the terrible color scheme:

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I would probably actually really like to read this book. The subject matter interests me and I have heard good things about it. But why does it look like a cover from the the 90s? It’s 2013!

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A better color scheme, better font, and a simple image can make a world of a difference.

And then there’s the dreaded “way too much going on here” cover:

bbc-the-crown-of-embersThere is definitely a way to have a more detailed cover without going overboard, as I think the cover of Paper Valentine showcases beautifully:

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 Needless to say, there are certain books your eyes gravitate towards, and certain books your eyes repel against, all based on the cover. I’ll admit, I probably would have never picked up The Hunger Games based on its cover, but it’s not a terrible cover. You have to go with what you have heard is good. But if something just looks cheaply thrown together, it’s hard to get excited about the story inside, as you fear it might be the same way.

What about you? Do you judge books by their cover? And what’s a book you read recently that was outside your usual reading genre?