My Top 10 Books I Have Read So Far This Year

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic (hosted by The Broke and The Bookish) is the Top Ten Books I’ve Read So Far In 2013. Well, I’m an extremely lightweight book blogger, so I have read exactly 10 books so far this year (if you don’t count a couple of really short companion e-books). Though this isn’t much for some, this is actually pretty big for me as it means I am on par with my goal of reading at least 20 books this year (though I would love to pick up the pace and read a few more!), which will put me at reading more books this year than I have in a single year since… before high school. So there you have it.

Since I have read only 10 books this year, I thought I would rank each book from least favorite (which thankfully I still didn’t hate) to most favorite, and why I ranked them accordingly.

TTT

10. Reached by Allie Condie (2 Stars)

This book, as the end of a series, was fairly disappointing. The beginning of the book showed potential, with a plague outbreak caused by the Rising, who we had believed were supposed to be the good guys, but then it went downhill. For starters, since this was the first book of this trilogy I had read since reading The Giver, I suddenly realized that the Society in this series was a little too similar to that of The Giver. Also, I thought most of the characters felt out of place. I don’t want to re-review the book; you can see my thoughts on it by clicking on the the book title.

9. Across the Universe by Beth Revis (3 Stars)

I loved the concept of this one… a girl who is cryogenically frozen wakes too early on a spaceship still years from its destination. The execution of it… was just OK for me. It featured a really creepy mating season among humans on the ship, a lackluster romance, but some interesting twists. I plan to finish the series one day as I’ve heard it gets better, but let’s just say I wasn’t rushing to buy the second book after finishing this one.

8. The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis (3 Stars)

The Last Battle turned out to be neither my favorite nor least favorite in The Chronicles of Narnia, with a story that was part boring, part interesting, but wrapped up with a beautiful ending.

7. Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis (? Stars) 

I still haven’t figured out how to rate Till We Have Faces, because it left me with more questions than answers. Maybe it’s not a bad thing, as I know C.S. Lewis was much smarter than I am, but it left me feeling a little unsatisfied. Still, there was a certain captivating quality to it. Watch for my review to come soon.

7-10

6. Scarlet by Marissa Meyer (4 Stars)

This follow-up for Cinder did not do as much for me as the first book of The Lunar Chronicles, but I still found it enjoyable overall. I do love the characters and world Meyer has created, and I am looking forward to Cress!

5. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card (4 Stars)

Reading this book was me dipping my toe into science fiction waters. It’s an interesting story about a bright boy who is sent to train for a war when he is far too young, and the secrets kept from him. I enjoyed it overall, but there were parts that were slow and that did not enjoy as much. By the recommendation of a friend, I do plan to read at least one of the follow-up books, Ender’s Shadow. I’m also looking forward to the movie later this year!

4. Cinder by Marissa Meyer (4 Stars)

I absolutely adored this first book of The Lunar Chronicles, especially the friendship/blooming relationship between Cinder and Kai. Truly the most swoon-worthy romance (even though it was really a pre-romance) I’ve read this year! The only real reason I gave this book 4 stars instead of 5 was because it was just way too predictable. Still, this was a great debut by Meyer!

6-4

3. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (5 Stars)

A heartbreaking book filled with beautiful words. I’m not sure what else to say without writing another review.

2. Start by Jon Acuff (5 Stars)

If you’ve been on this blog long enough or read my About Me, you know I have been influenced by author and speaker Jon Acuff, who has this idea that anyone can work towards their dream, but it may not always happen the way you expect it. I can’t really do his words justice, though. But if you’ve had a dream banging around the back of your mind, if you’ve ever wondered what your next step in life should be, if you wake up every morning wishing you could quit your day job, read Quitter and Start. They are five star books for me because if you follow his advice, it’s life-changing. I’m still in the middle of the process of working on my dream, and starting this blog has played a role in that. 

1. Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand (5 Stars)

Unbroken, the true account of a WWII fighter pilot’s life before, during, and after his incarceration at multiple Japanese POW camps is simply a stunning tale. I don’t read much non-fiction, especially long historical books like this one, but it always kept my interest, and Louie’s story never ceased to amaze me. If you only read one book on this list, it should be this one. I would recommend it to EVERYONE.

3-1

What have been your favorite reads this year so far? 

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!

Weekend Book Find

I have to say, in the short, not-even-two months I have started this blog, I have already connected with several blogs/bloggers who enjoy books similar to my tastes and they have already made a major impact on my TBR list. Two months ago, I had never heard of Beth Revis’ Across the Universe, and now, it’s like I have to read it. So imagine my excitement when this weekend I spotted a copy of it at a book outlet for a great deal:

atubookphotoSo since it is now in my possession, it will probably be my next read after Ender’s Game unless the library e-book version of Through The Never Sky (which I also did not know anything about two months ago) that I put a reservation in for becomes available before then, but that seems a little unlikely. And then if I like this first book, I’ll worry about getting the next two books later. But I was excited because I love a good deal! Anybody else score a good book deal lately, or just finally got a book you’ve been wanting?