Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Kimberly’s Top Ten Tuesday: Places Books Make Me Want to Visit

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is a freebie, which immediately sent me into a state of paralysis. But I have prevailed and picked a topic to discuss: top ten places books have made me want to visit. This topic was originally done on October 14, 2014, during that period of time when I had forgotten I was supposed to be guest blogging. It’s a great one, because books really do have the power to transport readers to places they have never visited, can’t visit because they are fictional, have visited and loved, or may not be brave enough to visit in person.


1) Australia - I have always wanted to visit Australia, but the expensive (and looong) plane flight makes it a dream for a wealthier future. Reading In a Sunburned Country, a hilarious travelogue written by Bill Bryson, only cemented my desire to one day make the trek across the Pacific. It seems like such a cheerful place, apart from the terrifying and deadly wildlife.

2) Egypt - One summer during college, my mom introduced me to the fantastic Amelia Peabody series, written by Elizabeth Peters. I was completely hooked. I would love to one day visit Egypt for myself and see everything referenced in those books, particularly the Great Pyramid at Giza. I imagine that is an inspiring sight indeed


3) England - On my first day visiting London, my friend, who had had been there before, took me straight from our hotel to the Tower of London. She said I needed to see something iconic to really feel like I was there. She was right. The Tower of London was just like I had seen in movies and on TV, and it was perfect. Basically every book I’ve ever read since then that was set in England has made me long to go back. There is so much I didn’t get to see! I could live there for a year, and still want to go back and explore.

4) Guernsey - I have always been fascinated by the idea of the Channel Islands, but it wasn’t until I read The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows that I actually wanted to visit them. A few years ago, my parents took a cruise around the British Isle that stopped for a shore day at Guernsey, one of the islands. From this book and their descriptions, it just sounds so charming.


5) Hogwarts & Diagon Alley - I’m still waiting for my Hogwarts letter...

6) Machu Picchu - I actually have mixed feelings about this one because I pretty much hate the outdoors, and I’m really not a hiker. In Justina Chen’s A Blind Spot for Boys, they actually do hike the entire way to Machu Picchu and, frankly? It sounds horrible. But Machu Picchu itself? Sounds like one of the most beautiful and peaceful places on Earth. I just need a different route there…


7) Middle-earth - Who wouldn’t want to visit Middle-earth after reading J.R.R. Tolkien’s tales? Obviously, I’d rather visit during a time of peace, but eating glorious meals in The Shire and finding rejuvenation in the Elven lands would make for a wonderful vacation.

8) Paris - When I first read Stephanie Perkin’s Anna and the French Kiss, I had never been to Paris. But, oh, did I want to hop on a plane and go! So when my parents (who were living in Italy at the time), gave me the option of flying over during their visit to Paris or their visit to Rome, I immediately picked Paris. I felt like I was walking through the book, that’s how realistic Perkin’s description of Paris was. She really makes the city come to life for me.


9) Prague - Until I read Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke & Bone, Prague had never crossed my mind as a destination point. After finishing the book and being swept away by the descriptions of the city, I immediately looked up photos of Prague and vacation information. It looks so beautiful and gothic. I want to go!

10) Scotland - On my one trip to the British Isles, I didn’t have time to visit Scotland. I just couldn’t work it in. I really wanted to visit Wales (see below), and I couldn’t figure out a way to spend a week in London and then make it to Wales and Scotland and Ireland. So Scotland was shelved until a later date. I’m almost glad about that now, because that trip was before I had read any of Susanna Kearsley’s novels, all of which are extremely atmospheric. Scotland almost feels like another character in her novels, and I think I will appreciate my visit more after having experienced the country in writing first.

Bonus:

I’m an incredibly visual person with a pretty average imagination. So often, seeing places on screen makes more of an impact for me than reading it in print. Hence, these bonus places I want to visit after seeing them on screen.

Hawaii - I’ve been rewatching Hawaii 5-0 (the reboot version) lately and, wow. It is gorgeous. (The eye candy on that show doesn’t hurt, either!) Please, let me go there and bask in the sunshine and bright, crisp colors.

Ireland - I know, I know. Leap Year is kind of a silly movie. But I enjoy it anyway, both for its silliness and for its beautiful scenery. When I finally made it to Ireland, the countryside was just as green and lovely as the movie had lead me to believe.

New Zealand - Over New Year’s Eve and Day, I rewatched all three extended editions of The Lord of the Rings movies. It was amazing (but tiring) and reminded me anew just how breathtaking New Zealand is in those movies. Like with Australia, if a flight weren’t so expensive and so very long, I would visit in a heartbeat.

Wales - Chalk this one up to too many seasons of Torchwood and Gavin & Stacey. After watching those shows (and being charmed by Welsh accents), I had to visit. It was lovely and the people were some of the nicest I might on my trip.

What have you read or watched lately that has inspired your wanderlust?

Photo Credits: Australia  / Egypt  / England  / Guernsey / Diagon Alley  / Machu Picchu  / Middle Earth  / Paris / Prague / Scotland 


Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Kimberly’s Top Ten Tuesday: 2014 Releases I Meant to Read

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is all about 2014 releases I meant to read...but then didn’t for one reason or another. This was actually a pretty easy topic for me because I always have such great intentions when it comes to reading new releases and ARCs. But I am very much an emotion-driven reader and sometimes I’m just not in the mood for a certain type of book. About halfway through last year, I suddenly found myself uninterested in reading YA, and reading only adult fiction. So when books I had been waiting to read for, in one case, two years, finally came out, I just couldn’t bring myself to pick them up. I really do want to read all of these novels, and probably will at some point, but it just didn’t happen in 2014.

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1) Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira - I love epistolary novels and, while this isn’t completely epistolary, it does have elements in it. I actually met Ava Dellaira at the TLA Annual Conference last April and she was so sweet. I think I just wasn’t in the mood for a potentially heartbreaking novel.

2) The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness - At 576 pages, this book is a tome. To be honest, I had so many problems with the first two books in this trilogy, that struggling through this one just didn’t appeal.

3) Open Road Summer by Emery Lord - After reading the synopsis and meeting the author at Teen Book Con last April, I was so excited to read this one. I really have no idea what my excuse is for not doing so.

4) Blood of My Blood by Barry Lyga - When Game came out in 2013, I didn’t read it because I had been told there were too many cliffhangers. So when this final book came out, and I still hadn’t read book two...

5) Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins - This is the book I mentioned above. I waited so long for this book and a big part of me was (and still is) afraid that it can’t possibly live up to my increasingly high expectations.

6) Bonfire Night by Deanna Raybourn - This is the last of the Lady Julia novellas and I didn’t even know it existed until a month after it was released. I’m actually ashamed to admit that. I think the reason why I haven’t read this one yet is because once I do, there will be no more Lady Julia stories. Sigh.

7) China Dolls by Lisa See - I read half of this book immediately after it was published, but I just wasn’t in the mood for the heaviness of it. I think I put it down in favor of something light-hearted and fluffy. Mood really does make a difference.

8) The Perilous Sea by Sherry Thomas - I loved The Burning Sky a lot more than I thought I would, but had to wait for the library’s copy of the sequel to come in. Which it just did last week. I can’t wait to read it!

9) Breakable by Tammara Webber - Easy was my first experience with New Adult and I loved it. But since this is basically a retelling of Easy from a different perspective, I wanted to wait awhile before revisiting the story again.

10) On the Fence by Kasie West - This is another contemporary YA novel I was really looking forward to, yet didn’t manage to read. I even had an ARC of it months before it came out! I have no excuse.

What 2014 releases did you miss out on reading?


Friday, January 9, 2015

Kimberly’s Favorite Books of 2014

I love end of year lists. I read them for everything: books, TV episodes, internet memes, fight scenes in movies, animal gifs. If there’s a list for it, I probably read it. So here is my humble contribution to the best of 2014 lists. It’s a little late, sure, but it still counts!

Last year, was a fairly strong reading year for me. I read 100 books, 10 of which were rereads. I read more broadly than I have in the past, spending more time browsing the adult fiction shelves and reading outside my comfort zone. I also spent a lot more time reading for me instead of reading because I felt I had to for work or a committee or a book club. It was liberating, and I hope to continue the trend in 2015.

Since I did read so much more adult fiction than I usually do, I have split my list in half. Without further ado, here are my top five favorite adult fiction titles and top five favorite YA fiction titles.

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Adult Fiction:

1) Written in Red and Murder of Crows by Anne Bishop - I have loved Bishop’s Black Jewels Trilogy for years, but put off reading this until December, when I finally caved to peer pressure. I’m glad I did because this is urban fantasy at its best.

2) Night Broken and Shifting Shadows by Patricia Briggs - The Mercy Thompson series continues to be one of my favorites, and 2014 brought two new additions: a novel and a book of short stories. I loved both, although Night Broken did break my heart a little. And, since Shifting Shadows came out on my birthday, it was the perfect gift to myself!

3) The Cuckoo’s Calling and The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith, aka J.K. Rowling - These were, by far, the best audiobooks I listened to in 2014. Robert Glenister’s narration is absolutely perfect and I repeatedly found myself so engrossed by the story that I would just lay in my bed, listening. I need more Cormoran Strike novels, now!

4) Maybe Someday by Colleen Hoover - My New Adult experience is pretty minimal, but surely this is one of the best out there. So many swoon-worthy moments in this book! And the soundtrack is definitely one of my favorite CDs from 2014.

5) Silence for the Dead by Simone St. James - The best Simone St. James novel so far. I was completely captivated from start to finish.

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Young Adult Fiction:

1) Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour - This was a beautiful novel about first love and new love. It was also a refreshing addition to the LGBTQ genre in that it didn’t focus on coming out, but on living.

2) Cinder and Scarlet by Marissa Meyer - I had been waiting to read these until the last book came out, but a book club I co-host read it in December. I never did make it through the plodding tome that is Cress, but these first two books are fantastic. The fairy tale aspect is well-written, the heroines are multi-faceted, and Prince Kai and Wolf are so dreamy.

3) For Darkness Shows the Stars and Across the Star-Swept Sea by Diana Peterfreund - Persuasion is my favorite Jane Austen novel, so I’m actually surprised I didn’t start this series sooner. Peterfreund’s world building in each novel is so startlingly unique and fascinating. I would give the edge to the first novel, but both are fantastic.

4) Winger by Andrew Smith - This book played with my emotions in a cruel, cruel way, but I loved it anyway.

5) The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas - I put off reading this one for a long while because I wasn’t in the mood for such a long book. (Sometimes, I’m a little lazy.) But it was so well-written, creative, and fast-paced that it hardly felt like it was long enough. I can’t wait to see what else Thomas does with this world she’s created.

Honorable Mentions:
Venetia by Georgette Heyer
The Truth About Alice by Jennifer Mathieu
Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson
Easy by Tammara Webber

Best Rereads:
Frost Burned by Patricia Briggs
Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier
Keeping the Castle by Patrice Kindl
The Giver by Lois Lowry
Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf