The Top 10 Things on my Bookish Bucket List

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Today’s topic is Top Ten Things On My Bookish Bucket List. According to the ladies of The Broke and the Bookish, this may include things like meeting authors, reading x many books per year, finishing a daunting book, etc. This week’s list is in no particular order.

1. Meet Marissa Meyer

marissa-meyerThere are several authors I like and would enjoy meeting. But since Marissa Meyer is really becoming my favorite “current” author, I’d have to say she’s the author I’d definitely geek out/fangirl over the most if I had the chance to meet her, and I really hope to have the opportunity some day!

2. Visit a Hunger Games filming location

HenryRiver4When my husband and I went to Asheville last year, I looked into tours that took you around the District 12 village that was set up for The Hunger Games movie. Unfortunately, it just wasn’t going to work out for that trip, but since both the Asheville area (where they shot the first movie) and Atlanta (where they shot a lot of Catching Fire) are both very attainable drives for us, I hope I can visit some of these set locations sometime.

3. Finish Les Miserables… preferably this year

les-miserables-bookI started reading Les Miserables at the beginning of the year with the intention of reading small snippets at a time, hopefully finishing it by the end of the year. Well, I am reading it, and I do think it’s very good, but it’s hard to for me to read too many chapters in one sitting because of the way it’s written. And let’s just say at my current pace I am not set to finish by the end of the year. But maybe I can pick things up. Or maybe I’ll finish next year…

4. Read Harry Potter

harry-potter-seriesYes, I know. We’ve already discussed this. Let’s move on.

5. Read Lord of the Rings

LOTR111I’m crazy intimidated by this classic trilogy, but I want to read it.

6. Become a Published Author

snoopy-writerMy ULTIMATE bookish goal!

7. Take an archery lesson so I can feel like Katniss for a day

katniss-archerI think this is self-explanatory.

8. Read ALL of C.S. Lewis’ books

cslewisbooksSo I’d like to consider C.S. Lewis my favorite author of all time, but can I do that without having read all his books? So far I’ve read all of The Chronicles of Narnia and Till We Have Faces cover to cover, and I’ve read snippets of The Screwtape Letters and several of his nonfiction books. I own The Screwtape Letters and Mere Christianity, and let’s not forget that Lewis also wrote a space trilogy. Needless to say, I have a long way to go, but everything I’ve read by him so far I have enjoyed.

9. Read to my future children

bedtime-story2This seems like a really simplistic thing to say, but I’m sure it’s harder to put into action. I would like to tuck my kids into bed every night possible, and again, whenever possible, I want to carve out the time to read to them/with them. I think instilling books into a child’s life is important, and of course it is a great way to spend quality time with your child. I hope I will put this into practice one day.

10. Read all 6 of Jane Austen’s novels

jane-austen-booksI’m already halfway through with this item, and plan to continue reading one Austen novel a year until I’m finished.

What’s on your bookish bucket list? 

Review: Cress

Warning: Lots of fangirling and some spoilers ahead!

RapunzelI want to apologize to Alice in Readerland, because I decided to write a review with Tangled and Star Wars GIFs before remembering she did this as well. But it’s hard to avoid! Hope you don’t mind the similarities, Alice! Now on to the review…

cress

I really enjoyed Cinder and Scarlet, but they were both 4 star books for me ultimately. I preferred Cinder to Scarlet because I connected with the characters and romance more, but knocked off a star for how crazy predictable it was. Well, Marissa Meyer has proven herself to be growing as a writer as she managed to surprise me multiple times throughout Cress. I do most of my reading at work during lunch and sometimes breaks, and I rarely react out loud to my reading, but at lunch one day while reading I actually said, “Oh no…!” out loud in complete shock that Dr. Erland is Cress’ father! What?! Did not see that coming! And that was just one of several surprising twists!

I wanted to focus largely on the characters, because really and truly, this is Meyer’s greatest strength. How in the world can all these characters be so perfectly unique from each other and well-rounded and likable?! OK, maybe it’s not too terribly unbelievable because I have seen it done before, but very rarely to this scale of a cast of characters or this well. Though I was one of the few who didn’t care for Wolf much in Scarlet (because I never fully trusted him), he really redeemed himself for me in Cress.

Scarlet doesn’t get a lot of  “screen time” in this book, which I can see would be frustrating for big fans of her, but I feel her part of the story was important and don’t feel any moments with her were wasted. Cinder continues to grow as she comes to accept more responsibilities, and I was always happy to see what Kai thought of his impending marriage and the whole situation. We are also introduced to Jacin, who is a little prickly but has some potential, and Winter, who seems a little whacked-out, but the fact that it’s because she’s not using her powers is very interesting to me.

Now let’s talk about Cress and Thorne.

So I loved Cress as a character. She’s a lot like Rapunzel in Tangled, which of course makes sense, and I loved seeing how her range of emotions was very similar to Rapunzel’s as she discovered the excitement and dangers of life on Earth.

tangled-bestdayever

tangled-hidingI thought it was so cute how she was quirky and had fantasies about how she and Thorne would fall in love at first sight and go on epic adventures together. She was also quirky enough for someone who had been cooped up in a satellite for so long but not so much that she was completely unrelatable.

And then the interactions with Cress and Thorne. SO CUTE. He really seized the opportunity to be just oh-so-Thorne around her, but he was also very mindful of how naive Cress was. Really, the two really needed each other in the desert and through everything they went through, because they could help each other in different ways. And of course they had some great exchanges.

“Captain?”
“Yeah?”
“Do you think it was destiny that brought us together?”
He squinted and, after a thoughtful moment, shook his head. “No. I’m pretty sure it was Cinder.”

tangled-fatedestinyhorseNow THORNE. I already loved Thorne from Scarlet, and I was thrilled by just how much of him we got in Cress! And of all the hardships I’ve seen characters go through, something about Meyer making Thorne go blind just really hit me. I just kept thinking, This is essential for his character growth. It’s perfect that he’s dealing with blindness. I think it teaches him to rely on others, as well as his instincts and other strengths. But I’m also really looking forward to his sight (hopefully) being restored so he can look Cress in the eyes again, with a whole new meaning. 🙂 All in all, Thorne is as charming as ever, but he also grows a lot.

hansolo-winkSide note: My husband and I just re-watched Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, and I literally laughed out loud while we were watching the catina scene, and explained to my husband it was because Han Solo was SO MUCH LIKE THORNE. Really, Thorne is…

tangled-flynnhi+

hansolo-smileI am definitely a member of the Thorne fan club.

cress-quoteBut let us not forget our other couples! Wolf proved to me in this book that he really does love Scarlet, as I alluded to before. And Cinder and Kai, finally! I really only have two complaints about this book, and one of them is why didn’t Cinder tell Kai who she was as soon as she entered his room?! She kept saying, “Trust me, trust me!” and then on the ship he had to drag it out of her. JUST TELL HIM YOU’RE PRINCESS SELENE! He didn’t seem to have a problem believing her, once he decided to believe that she was not using her powers on him, so she should have saved him from being tranquilized! And she really lucked out that Torin was as trusting and accommodating as he was.

My other minor complaint may have been a result of how I read it, though it happened more than once so I’m not sure, but I had a problem following the action sequences at times. I would be confused about what exactly was happening and where everyone was placed. But I do seem to struggle with this, so it might have been entirely my lack of comprehension. I was just reading so fast because I wanted to know what happened next!

Lastly, I feel I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Iko, who literally made me laugh out loud, once again in public, more than once. She is fabulous. And Dr. Erland! My heart hurt for him so much!

Meyer managed to craft a third book in a series that flowed seamlessly, never grew boring, and with an amazing cast of characters that I adore so much! I wish I could read Winter now! There’s nothing I could give this book other than…

5stars2Content Advisory: Some violence. Otherwise, squeaky clean! 

What was your favorite thing about Cress? Who’s your favorite character of the series so far?

Round-Up: Emma Approved, True Dystopia, and More

Round-Up is my very occasional feature where I share my favorite story and media related articles from the interwebs with you! 

Emma Approved

I am super excited about this! The same team that brought The Lizzie Bennet Diaries will soon be tackling Jane Austen’s Emma with Emma Approved! In this version of Emma, the title character is an entrepreneur and, of course, a self-proclaimed match-maker. I watched the first few episodes of Welcome to Sanditon, the Lizzie Bennet spin-off, but it ended up boring me, but I am expecting that Emma Approved will be great! 

Loving YA Books as a Grown-Up Adult

HarperCollins shared a great blog post from a member of the EpicReads team about why, as a grown-up adult, she loves young adult fiction and what she feels it has to offer adults. If you’re a fan of YA (as I know most of my blog readers are), then check it out!

Cress Cover

cress

Speaking of young adult, have you seen the new cover for the next installment of The Lunar Chronicles, Cress? The long hair! The red ribbon! (It seems red is a theme on these covers… hmmm…) Can’t wait! I haven’t read the first chapter yet, but it’s posted out there on the web. Google for it if you’re less lazy than me! I’ve heard great things about it!

The Abuse and True Meaning of Dystopia

As I mentioned in a recent post, the word dystopia gets tossed around a lot for stories that aren’t truly dystopic. And I understand, I’m guilty of it too, but I do think it’s important to recognize the true meaning of the word. Shanelle at The Tracery of Ink elaborated on the matter further, and I would encourage you to check her post out!

Blogging News

I mentioned in my mini-review of 1984 that I would be elaborating more on the final act of the book, where the main character is tortured, in a future post. Tentatively scheduled for Friday, I will be posting a comparison of the torture scenes in 1984 with the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode Chain of Command, Part II. It was only a matter of time before I did a post like this where I compared something in a book I read to Star Trek! But I’ll be bringing in some psychology as well, and yes it will be nerdy, but I am so excited and hope you guys will enjoy reading it.

Book Aquistions

leftofme-pivotpoint

I finally took advantage of the sale at Epic Reads for the Pivot Point e-book for $1.99, and will be buying What’s Left of Me pretty soon (as in, once it’s out in paperback later this month). I was going to pre-order it on Amazon yesterday but… long story. I’ve heard some good things about Pivot Point, and since parallel universes are on my mind thanks to a certain TV show I have been watching, I thought it was worth checking out. I’m going to be discussing What’s Left of Me with some fellow blogging friends online and am looking forward to reading a book about clones.

And I was excited a few weeks ago to find out I won four autographed books by one of my favorite authors, Jon Acuff! I already had two of the books (though one of them just as an e-book), but not the other two, and plus to have them autographed was exciting! I won them by filling out a survey on his blog, and was hoping to win the grand prize of a ticket to his upcoming conference, but I’m pretty happy with my “consolation prize.”

Looking forward to reading the two books I haven’t read yet! Stuff Christians Like looks absolutely hilarious.

Who else is excited about Emma Approved and Cress? What are your favorite true dystopia reads? What books have you acquired recently? 

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? 

Wednesday Round-Up: Marissa Meyer and TV Shows Galore

Marissa Meyer Blog Post (via Goodreads)

What I liked about this post, “Winter: The Beginning of the End,” is that Meyer talks a little bit about the process of writing and especially finishing out a series. She talks about all the different plot points and relationships and character arcs and all that which is going to have to find a way to wrap up in the end of The Lunar Chronicles. She says she wrote the first draft for Winter in 2011 when she first sold Cinder, because she did want to it to flow well with that story. Now, she has to rework it after having written two more books in-between, to see what still works and what doesn’t quite fit anymore. It made me realize that published authors don’t necessarily have an easy time with their rewriting or editing process (which I have lamented about). I appreciate how much thought she is putting into this, and it probably helps she already has a draft under her belt. Sometimes I find the end of a series disappointing and/or rushed-feeling, so I’m hoping Meyer finds that balance of tying up those loose ends and pacing herself until the last page.

Season Finales

As I have mentioned before, I am fan of the show Castle, and of course we got a cliffhanger for the end of season five! I am surprisingly not feeling too anxious though, I think largely because I have faith in the writers. I think they have the potential to make the end decision interesting and not as black and white as it appears. (*SPOILER* on the Castle Facebook page fans are posed which will she choose, ring or job? I don’t think it’s that simple though. It can be a lot more complex.) But we’ll have to wait and see how it all turns out!

?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

And if you’re like me, you’ve been wondering when the heck the “mother” of “How I Met Your Mother” was going to show up. (I was starting to think the show should really be called “How Everyone Found Love Except Me”)  And this is from someone who doesn’t watch the show, ever really (I’ve seen just a few episodes, mostly from the first season). Well, for the season 8 finale, which is the second to last season for the show, she is finally revealed – briefly! Even if you’ve only seen a couple episodes, you still might find the clip where she is revealed interesting:

Series Premiere!

I only watch about one or two TV shows at a time, and all I have now is Castle. Well this fall that’s going to change with the premiere of Josh Whedon’s new show, S.H.I.E.L.D., all about the intelligence agents behind The Avengers. And you know the guy I was missing so much in Iron Man 3?

He’s baaaaaack! Yay!

(Side note. My husband asked me, “Do you know why Joss Whedon brought Agent Coulson back?” I ask why and he replies, “So he can kill him again.” I hope not, but he makes a valid point!) At first I was kind of sad to see Coulson was the only familiar face, but was I seriously expecting someone from another show to be on the show, or Samuel L. Jackson to regularly appear? And I think Whedon is great at creating characters, so it’ll be great to meet new ones. And though I liked The Avengers, and Serenity, I think his true strength is in TV (OK, I base this off Firefly only as I have not seen his other shows, but Firefly was great!).

Anything TV related you’re excited about? The  American Idol finale is tomorrow… this is the first time since season six (when I first started watching) that I have not at least kept up with the contestants much at all (I did skipping watching one other season though, when Ellen was judging and Lee won), but apparently it’s a showdown of two girls!

Wednesday Round-Up: Cress, Audi Commercial, & Ender’s Game

Marissa Meyer just posted some news about the next installment of The Lunar Chronicles, Cress. The retelling of Rapunzel is set to release next February! I’ve just jumped on this bandwagon but I’m pretty excited! I’ll be even more excited when we get some cover art! For now, I’ll just post this perfect GIF from Tangled’s Rapunzel:

RapunzelFor all my fellow Trekkies out there, you have to watch this hilarious Audi commercial featuring old Spock and new Spock (AKA, Leonard Nimoy and Zachary Quinto). I laughed so hard:

And then last in my round-up today is the new trailer for the book-turned-to-movie Ender’s Game. I reviewed the book recently and I am looking forward to the movie, which looks pretty good, but I’m sure it won’t be quite as good as the book. Though the one to two second clip we get of Valentine (Abigail Breslin) hugging Ender brought on the feels for me. Check it out here:

Enders-Game-Poster1

I was originally going to post my Top 10 Light and Fun Movies  today, in honor of me skipping out on yesterday’s TTT due to lack of ideas, but be on the lookout for it on Friday instead.

Anyone else excited about Cress and the Ender’s Game movie? And please share your thoughts on the Audi commercial!

Review: Scarlet

scarlet

I was so excited about Scarlet about reading Cinder, though I wondered, Will I love Scarlet the character as much as I love Cinder the character? 

So I begin to read. And several chapters into it I was wondering when the action was going to happen. Though Cinder does not begin action-oriented, it was able to hold my interest right from the start. But Scarlet at the tavern… Cinder meeting Thorne and breaking out of jail… Scarlet at the fights… blahblahblah… it was all very slow and didn’t hold my interest as well as Cinder’s story at the beginning. I did like the part where Scarlet’s dad shows up at the farm searching for what his mother was hiding. But for a while, I was starting to seriously wonder about this sequel.

Things finally started to pick up after a while, and somewhere probably in the last third of the book, the action and plot really kicked up a few notches. This time, I didn’t see ALL the plot twists coming (like I did in Cinder) and so was a little bit more surprised. I wondered after Cinder how the story could continue to be stretched over three more books, but after reading Scarlet, I understand better, and the overarching story is becoming clearer. I like that we continue to get Cinder’s POV at times, Kai’s, and once even Queen Levena’s! I ended up not liking Scarlet nearly as much as Cinder, though this is more personal preference than anything, as she is a pretty strong character. Wolf was deeply complex, but he’s definitely no Kai. Not that he should be necessarily, but he doesn’t even compare on the charm factor. Thorne annoyed me at first, but I actually grew to like him better as the book went on. I feel Cinder probably felt the same way.

The story flows well, even with its growing complexity and multiple POVs (I think it really helps to have the third person POV when doing multiple characters’ POV (I’m looking at you, Aly Condie)), and I’m interested in seeing how the story continues in the next installment! I just wish I didn’t have to wait so long!

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

If you’ve read Scarlet, what were your thoughts?

P.S. And on a completely unrelated note…

may-the-fourth-yodaI should have prepared for this day better and tone a top 10 related to Star Wars. Maybe next year!

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?