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Top Ten Tuesday – Series Review

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday is about series I want to start reading that have come out in the last year or two. I literally have no answers for this week. I could maybe come up with one or two if I really tried, but not enough for a full post. So, instead, I’m going to talk about series in general. Some I like. Some I think are overrated. Some I’ve recommended. Some I started and then stopped.

 

Overrated/Didn’t Finish – These are series that people seem to adore. They rave about them and insist everyone reads them. I did not think they lived up to the hype.

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The Mortal Instruments Series by Cassandra Clare

I actually started this series before it got all hyped up. I like the titles and the covers. There were only three books out. I thought that was the whole thing. It seemed worth it. I actually got them as a gift and I was excited to start them. I enjoyed the first book but I wasn’t blown away by it. It was entertaining enough to read the next one, but they were starting to feel really formulaic and a little more juvenile than I was looking for. I read the third book anyway. When the fourth book came out, it had been a while since I’d read the first three and I’d kind of forgotten why I hadn’t loved them. I decided to read it and quickly remembered. I didn’t bother with the rest of the series or with the movie. Continue reading

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Nobody is Ever Missing by Catherine Lacey (@_catherinelacey)

Can you ever escape yourself? That’s the question behind Catherine Lacey’s debut novel. I suppose the answer is a fairly obvious no, but Lacey gives it to us in the most depressing way possible. I found this book through a Joss Whedon tweet, second time this has happened, and much like his first recommendation, this book is expertly written. I wish I’d read this book before the Top Ten Tuesday post on October 7th. This is a great character driven novel. There’s almost nothing in this book except character. There is very little action. You’re not constantly waiting to see what happens next. Instead, you’re waiting to see if the protagonist ever figures out her shit. That’s what makes this book relatable, but not necessarily enjoyable. If you’ve ever had someone in your life who suffers from depression, you’ll immediately recognize Elyria’s actions and see how she got to where she is.

I’m not sure I can say that I liked this book. I enjoyed the ideas. I liked the writing – to a point. But man, this book was bleak. Depressing. Depressing. Depressing. The short story – Elyria, a twenty-eight year old woman finds herself in a loveless marriage and decides that she doesn’t want to be in it anymore. Instead of divorcing him, she drops off the grid, takes a one way flight to New Zealand, and ends up at the home of a man she met once. One of the things I really liked about this book is that Elyria’s life isn’t all doom and gloom. She’s not trying to escape a life full of one terrible event after another. Everything isn’t going wrong. Sure, she’s suffered, but who hasn’t. And she’s not just bored and trying to find adventure. Instead, she’s just a person who isn’t sure how her life got to where it is. Continue reading

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Top Ten Tuesday – Places Books Make Me Want to Go

Travelling is one of those things I wish I did more often. But it’s expensive and I only have so many vacation days from work. For those people like me, who want to travel but can’t, we use our books to escape to places we might never otherwise get to – sometimes because they’re fictional and believing we’d actually visited there would be the sign of some kind of disorder. There were a few of these places that came to mind immediately (the first three on the list), but the others, I ended up going through my Goodreads list to find. If I couldn’t remember where a book took place, I probably wasn’t that inspired by the setting. Also, I’ve been reading a lot of dystopian fiction over the last couple years. Mostly, I don’t want to go to those places. But let’s get to the meat of this week’s top ten Tuesday – Places Books Have Made Me Want to Visit

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Hogwarts/ Luna’s House – Harry Potter Series

I’m sure this will make a few lists but it was my immediate thought when I read the topic. Who doesn’t want to go to Hogwarts? Man, I would love to be a teacher there. Best job ever. No tiring commute. House elves providing food whenever you want it. Getting to teach teens cool ass shit. Yeah, there’s the occasional attack or random weirdness, but Harry’s gone now, so that’s bound to happen less. Is it cheating to pick two places from the same book? Nope. It is not. I want to go to Luna’s house. I love that strange little place. Also, maybe the Burrows. Bah, let’s just say I want to go pretty much everywhere in the Potter books.

Continue reading

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Black Apples Edited by Camilla Bruce and Liv Lingborn

I’ve mentioned several times that I don’t love short stories. I usually don’t gravitate towards them in stand alone or collection form. The one exception is fairy tales. They are, by their nature, short stories. And they are typically sold in collection form. And this brings us to Black Apples – a collection of 18 modern fairy tales. Many of these stories borrow from historic tropes or pull classic stories into modern settings. I received this novel from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. And honestly, I’m pretty down with this book – and it’s pretty, pretty cover! This book will most likely find its way into some stocking this Christmas.

These aren’t your Disney fairytales. These are much more in line with the original tradition of fairy tales. Dark and Grimm (see what I did there – yup). There are no pretty princesses being saved by dashing princes. There are no singing crabs or rabbits with waistcoats. Original fairy tales were often folklore and cautionary tales for citizens within certain communities. While there were many similar stories, they morphed with specific values and culture of a given community. Fairy tales were not necessarily meant for children – especially not in the way we think of children now. This book – probably not for your kids. Unless you’re awesome. There’s research out there about how children who are read the original Grimm’s tales develop better rational decision making skills. How credible are these studies? I don’t know, but I can see the logic. You raise a kid to only believe that someone else will always pop up to save them and that everything has a happy ending, it’s probably going to take them longer to realize that that’s not how this whole real world thing works. Teach them early that sometimes things take a turn for the dark and twisty and they might be able to apply these ideas to situations they find themselves in. However, you may also want to cushion these stories with – cutting out the heart of someone who is prettier than you is probably not your best problem solving path. Anyway, I’m finding myself falling down the rabbit hole of not relevant. Continue reading

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Top Ten Tuesday – Character Driven Novels

Today’s top ten Tuesday pick from The Broke and The Bookish is character driven novels. That means novels where the action is driven by the characters and their decisions rather than the plot or the action within the book. There are some new characterizations being suggested to change the categorization to decision-based and action-based novels. Is that a good move? Maybe. Maybe not. It’s too much for me to think about right now. You might be saying to yourself, aren’t all novels driven by the characters decisions? Nope. Not true. Often the plot drives the characters decisions. Or the characters suffer as a result of the need to be twisty and surprising and whatnot.

Also, a lot of character driven novels revolve around personal choice, growth, and development. They may not result in big impact outcomes. If you belong to that group of people who refer to character driven novels as ‘boring novels’, you probably won’t love this week’s list. I think that concept is wrong but I will admit – character driven novels can tend towards the uber depressing.

I don’t have a buttload of time for today’s post, so I’m just giving you the books. If I have more time later, I might come back and explain why I’ve chosen these ones.
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Mercy Among the Children by David Adams Richards

“When twelve-year-old Sidney Henderson pushes his friend Connie off the roof of a local church in a moment of anger, he makes a silent vow: Let Connie live and I will never harm another soul. At that very moment, Connie stands, laughs, and walks away. Sidney keeps his promise through adulthood despite the fact that his insular, rural community uses his pacifism to exploit him. Sidney’s son Lyle, however, assumes an increasingly aggressive stance in defense of his family. When a small boy is killed in a tragic accident and Sidney is blamed, Lyle takes matters into his own hands. In his effort to protect the people he loves — his beautiful and fragile mother, Elly; his gifted sister, Autumn; and his innocent brother, Percy — it is Lyle who will determine his family’s legacy.”

Depressing as fuck. Continue reading