Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Kimberly’s Bookish Bucket List

Top Ten Tuesday is the weekly meme hosted by the excellent blog The Broke and the Bookish. I wasn’t planning on doing this week’s post, because I couldn’t really think of anything. But I was inspired by some of the things other people mentioned in their lists. So here goes!

1)  Have a home library. I’m not talking about a set of bookshelves in the living room. I want an entire room dedicated to books. As a child, we had books in every single room of the house, but imagine how awesome it would be if all those books were in one cozy room. (And if it looked like the library in Beauty and the Beast, well, I wouldn’t complain!)

2)   Visit The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. I’ve wanted to visit this place since it opened, but now I think I’ll wait until the new sections of the park are finished. I hope Ollivander saves a wand for me!

3)  Read all the Newbery Medal winning books. At one point during college, I had read all but a handful of the Newbery Medal winning books. Now I’m behind and want to get caught up again.

4)  Read all the Caldecott Medal winning books. My progress at this is the complete opposite of my Newbery progress in that I’ve read the current winners but never gone back and read the classic winners.

5)  Read all the books on my Spring TBR list (last week’s Top Ten Tuesday). I put these lists together, but then usually ignore them completely. I would like to actually complete a list, for once. I’ve read one book, so far (Princess Labelmaker to the Rescue), and I’ve started another (The Taming of the Tights). Progress!

6)  Go on a literary trip. A few years ago, I visited England with a friend, and spent a day in Bath. It was glorious! We drank the waters, wandered the Royal Crescent, went to the Jane Austen Centre and had a great time pretending we were in Regency England. I want to do more things like that. (Need to win the lotto first!)

7)  Visit all the Presidential Libraries & Museums. This is only tangentially related to books because the museums are really what are open to the public, but I’m counting it anyway. So far, I have visited the three in Texas (Bush 41, Bush 43 and LBJ), and they were all really fascinating in their own way. Ten more to go!

8)  Review books for publication. This would be amazing! My only fear is that I am verbose and reviews for publication tend to have strict word limits. My Shelfari reviews (a goal I started this year) are helping me be more succinct, though, so this might actually be possible.

9)  Write a Young Adult novel. Someday…

10)  Have more fun reading! This is something I have been trying really hard to do this year. In the past, I have spent all my time reading for book clubs or felt compelled to read all the latest YA novels, even if they aren’t my style or prevent me from reading something that really interests me. No more of that! I want to look forward to reading again.

That should be enough for a lifetime, right?

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Kimberly’s Spring TBR List

Top Ten Tuesday is the weekly meme hosted by the excellent blog The Broke and the Bookish. Last week, Rebecca took Top Ten Tuesday duty (thanks!), but now I’m back with ten books on my Spring TBR List.  I may or may not actually read these in the next few months, but they are the ones most on my mind at the moment.

1) The Geography of You & Me by Jennifer E. Smith – This book sounds so good! I’m saving it for when I need a pick me up.

2) Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple – This book actually came out in 2012, but it’s been slowly catching steam around my place of employ. That wasn’t really enough to make me want to read it, but then someone told me it was epistolary and I was done. I have so much love for epistolary novels, guys. It’s ridiculous.

3) City of Jasmine by Deanna Raybourn – I was hesitant about reading this book after I hated her last title (a companion novel to this one), but the novella prequel sold me on it. Now I just need to find the time to actually pick it up…

4) Princess Labelmaker to the Rescue by Tom Angleberger – Confession #1: I don’t actually like Star Wars. Confession #2: I love the Origami Yoga series anyway.

5) A Natural History of Dragons: A Memoir by Lady Trent by Marie Brennan – This author is one I just recently heard about and couldn’t resist. Her books were described to me as Jane Austen meets Elizabeth Peters. Sounds perfect!

6) Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson – I just finished reading Steelheart (which I loved) and The Rithmatist (which I loved even more), and now my brother, who is a huge Sanderson fan, tells me I should give his non-YA titles a try. This series seems less daunting than the others.

7) On the Fence by Kasie West – I read The Distance Between Us, her previous contemporary YA novel earlier this year and loved it. This book doesn’t come out for a couple of months, but I have a beautiful eBook galley of it that I can’t wait to read!

8) Silence for the Dead by Simone St. James – I’ve had a galley of this on my Kindle for a few months now, but keep forgetting about it.

9) No One Else Can Have You by Kathleen Hale – I read about this book on someone’s Top Ten Tuesday post from a few weeks ago about 2014 debuts. It sounded intriguing, so I’m definitely going to give it a read. (The cover is also fantastic, and I’m hopeless against a good cover.)

10) The Taming of the Tights by Louise Rennison – This is one I’ve had checked out from the library for, well, a long time. I just keep checking it out, renewing it, and returning it, only to check it out again. I loved the first two books in the series, but I never seem to be in the mood for another.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Review: 'Tune, Book 1: Vanishing Point' by Derek Kirk Kim

With only a year left before finishing his art degree, Andy Go quits school sure that it will be "a matter of days" before he lands a fantastic job with a publishing house or magazine.  Six months after quitting school, Andy still hasn't found an art job and is feeling pressure from his parent to find some kind of employment. Which is when things get weird.

Liberally sprinkled with funny illustrations and hysterical dialog, Tune, Book 1: Vanishing Point is sure to be a hit with older teen readers. Teens will identify with Andy's job hunting frustrations as well as the parental pressure he is under.  Andy is, in many ways, a lost soul; he thought that his talent would easily land him a career as an artist/illustrator, he's got a major crush on one of his female friends, and he has no idea what to do with his life. Any reader can relate to those issues.

The humor in this graphic novel is phenomenal and, quite frankly, why I kept reading when the plot seemed to stall. Here's an example of the type of dialog that had me snickering under my breath at the reference desk:
Andy's Father: Son, there comes a time in every man's life when he realizes that he is not destined for great things; that he is not a genius; that he is not special...that he will grovel and passively allow himself to be spat upon for a meager pension at the end of his meaningless "profession". Soon spiritual burdens such as hope, dreams, and ambition are freely bled from his weary soul...Then, and only then, under a self-induced trance of mindless complacency, will he know true peace of mind. Then, and only then, does he truly become...a man!  Welcome, grasshopper. Welcome.
Andy: Thank you, Father. Thank you for opening my eyes.
Andy's Father: There is no need for thanks, my son. You need only to pass this fundamental knowledge to your own son when he is ready. Remember, "the chain must never be broken!"
Andy: You can count on me, Dad! Listen, I'm gonna go down to the hardware store for some rope to hang myself. You want anything?
Andy's Father: Pick me up a Frosty at Wendy's, willya?

Older readers looking for an fun, quirky read will enjoy this one.

Reviewer: Rebecca
Book Source: Local Library

Recommended for Ages: 16+, college-age humor and activities
Recommended for Readers of:

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Rebecca's Favorite Fantasy Books

Top Ten Tuesday is the weekly meme hosted by the excellent blog The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is top ten favorite books in the fantasy genre.  This week I'm taking the Top Ten Tuesday post since my genre of choice is fantasy! Choosing a single book from a series is too hard, so I'm listing series I love in this list as well.- Rebecca

This list is in no particular order and contains both YA & Adult titles:

Written in Red by Anne Bishop: I've enjoyed most of Bishop's novels but Written in Red just blew me away. The world building is unique and detailed and the characters are fascinating.  The sequel Murder of Crows just released and completely held up to the standard of Bishop's first Others book. <insert gushing praise here> See what I did there? I put two books in one slot!

Kate Daniels novels by Ilona Andrews: Snark, action, magic and the perfect dash of romance have made this series one of my I've-had-a-bad-day-and-need-a-good-book reads. What really makes these novels stand out are the characters and their relationships. I love these guys and care when they are hurt, or sad, or pissed as all get out and charging a demon horde.

Dresden Files by Jim Butcher: This is one that my grad school roommate's boyfriend loaned me one day when I was looking for a good book to read before bed time. And thus the love for Harry, Bob and the rest of the gang was born. Harry's been through a lot and Butcher's writing just keeps getting better and better. Can't wait for the next book!

Arrows of the Queen by Mercedes Lackey: (Also, pretty much ALL of her Valdemar novels.) A girl, a horse that is more than a horse and magic. What more could a girl ask for? Again, a very complex world liberally sprinkled with unique characters.

Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce: (And all the Tortall novels.) This one was smuggled home to my 5th grade self by one of my best friends who was a year ahead of me and had access to the middle school's library. In many ways, Pierce's novel jump-started my love of reading; it was the first time I'd read a book that I LOVED. Couldn't get enough and still can't - I re-read many of her novels several times a year.

The Hobbit & The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien: My father read these to me several times growing up, Bilbo's adventures and Frodo's quest are some of my earliest book-associated memories. I still have trouble with the way the movie version of Gollum sounds since he doesn't sound anything like my dad's version!

Oddkins: A Fable for All Ages by Dean Koontz: This book is out of print, but does seem to be available via Kindle. The illustrations in this book are fantastic and the plot, good vs. evil told via toys, is universal.

Snugglepot and Cuddlepie by May Gibbs: Not a lot of people know about these books that chronicle the adventures of two Bush fairies. My dad is Australian, so he was aware of May Gibbs's books and made sure to read them to me as a child. Perhaps this is where my surety that flora fairies exist began?

ElfQuest by Wendy & Richard Pini: Sometime in middle school I stumbled across the first full-color graphic novel of the ElfQuest adventure while browsing in Half Price Books. This was my first experience with graphic novels and I became entranced. The characters were so complex and the story so riveting that even now I go back and read through the entire series. (And yes, I am lucky enough to own all the graphic novels!)

Harry Potter novels by J.K. Rowling: My senior high English teacher assigned Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone telling the class that this book was going to be "big". Little did I know!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Review: 'Spell Checkers, Volume 1' by Jamie S. Rich, Nicholas Hitori De & Joelle Jones

This graphic novel features three mean girls who are the Queen Bees of the school and who augment their power (abuse of the student body) with magic.

It is rare that I find a book with so little to praise.

Plot: Three mean girls find themselves divided and accusing each other when graffiti and rumors about each of them start to spread. There is nothing original here.

Characters: Jesse, Kimmie, and Cynthia are awful human beings to each other as well as to everyone around them. They are, frankly, stupid, ignorant and hateful. I know "mean girl" books are popular but please - this is ridiculous. Secondary characters have no depth, mostly because the story if room the witches' incredibly shallow point of view.

Language: The spell words are ridiculous. The witches' constantly slut-shame and insult each other. Other characters are equally insulting and derogatory.

Art: Illustration is about the only thing this graphic novel has going for it. The lines are clean, faces expressive and the characters drawn with enough individuality to allow of easy visual distinction.

Unfortunately, Spell Checkers has nothing else to offer. I can't recommend this one to any reader.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Popular Books Kimberly Has Never Read

Top Ten Tuesday is the weekly meme hosted by the excellent blog The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is, technically, popular authors I’ve never read. However, that seemed too broad, so I’m narrowing my list to popular books I’ve never read. This list is all about honesty, right? So in the name of honesty, here’s my confession: There are number of these books that I routinely tell people I have read, simply to keep from hearing the lecture. So no shaming, okay guys?

1) The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins – When this one first came out, an author I don’t respect

endorsed it on a blog post. I couldn't get past that endorsement, so kept putting off reading the book. Then the request list was too long. Then I got dystopia burnout. Then people wouldn't stop talking about it. By the time I was ready to dip my toe back in the dystopia waters, I was so sure the book wouldn't live up to the hype, and now it’s been years and I just don’t care anymore. This one, though? I lie about reading ALL THE TIME to avoid a lecture from strangers.
Rebecca read the first novel, but never felt compelled to read the rest in the trilogy. Shhhh! Don't tell!

2) The Fault in Our Stars by John Green – My only foray into John Green’s novels (Looking for Alaska) didn't go so well and I’m resistant to trying again. I’m sure John Green is a lovely person and I’m sure this novel is heart wrenching and beautiful. But he writes a lot of Manic Pixie Dream Girls, and I really can’t stand that trope.
Rebecca also hasn't read. For similar reasons.

3) The Help by Kathryn Stockett – At the height of this book’s popularity, when every book club under the sun was reading it, and the movie was raking in awards left and right, I told every stranger who asked that it was a wonderful book. I still haven’t read it, nor have I seen the movie.

4) Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer – I made it about 100 pages into this book and gave up. I just couldn’t handle it. It was so horrible and I felt like reading it was killing my brain cells. I also never saw the last two movies in the Saga. Apparently a relationship with Breaking Dawn just wasn’t meant to be. Rebecca would like to add that she's never made it through a Stephenie Meyer novel. She tried. Just couldn't do it.

5) The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis – Technically, I have read two of these books, but I hated them. There is no finesse in these books. Lewis practically beats you over the head with the symbolism bat, and even as a kid I didn’t like it.

6) The Book Thief by Markus Zusak – I actually do mean to read this one, but it never seems to happen.
I just never seem to be in the mood for a novel I know will be depressing. Maybe someday…

7) Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn – Another novel popular with the book club circuit that I decided I wasn’t in the mood to read. I might actually pick this one up before the movie comes out… or I might just skip it all together.

8) Song of Ice & Fire series by George R.R. Martin – Listen. I watch Game of Thrones religiously. I LOVE that show. I even have posters on my wall, t-shirts in my closet, and all those adorable Funko POP! figures. But I think the TV show is exactly why I haven’t yet read the books. I like to be surprised by the twists and turns and deaths and intrigues on the show, and if I read the books, I won’t experience it the same way. I do plan on reading the books, but I might wait until the series finally ends.
Rebecca seconds Kimberly's reasoning and plans to read novels after show is completed.

9) The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson – I tried to read this trilogy while waiting in an airport a few years ago, but found the first 50 pages so excruciatingly boring, that I gave up and haven’t tried again. From all that I’ve heard about the trilogy (and the movie), I honestly don’t think they’re for me.

10) Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand – If I had a penny for every person who told me I simply had to read this book, well, I wouldn’t be rich, but I could take myself out for a nice meal. Unfortunately for them, I pretty much exclusively read fiction. Perhaps this is a failing of mine, but it’s one that probably won’t change.

I hope I’m not the only one who has skipped out on some of these popular titles! 
Come join me in my secret shame.