Tuesday Top Ten

gateway

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the Broke and the Bookish. Book bloggers create their own lists based on the chosen topics and post links to our lists. It’s a way of all sharing our thoughts and our love of books.  And who doesn’t love lists??

So this week’s challenge was to list the top ten books and/or authors that were gateways in my reading journey, ones that introduced me to a new genre, reinvigorated my interest in reading, somehow changed or affected my reading journey.

  1. Dystopian Books – The Giver by Lois Lowry – My first foray into dystopian novels, The Giver will always be my first and my favorite!
  2. Young Adult – Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson – It wasn’t my first YA book, but the first one that dealt so directly with difficult issues that matter to young adults, the first time I realized what great literature exists for teens.
  3. Stories told in a series of books – Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling –  They’re everywhere!  Prior to this series, I don’t ever remember reading books where you needed to wait until the series was complete to be able to finish the story! I do love many of these series, I just have taken a vow not to start one until all of the books are released so I don’t have to wait so long between pieces of the story!
  4. Historical Non-Fiction – Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power by Jon Meacham – Historical non-fiction has never really been my thing – I don’t want to read the equivalent of a high school social studies textbook – but this book proved that there was historical fiction out there that would tell me a story while teaching me about the past.
  5. Current Non-Fiction – Born to Run by Christopher McDougall – Too much of current non-fiction is just someone trying to turn their opinions into fact or someone trying to catch the wave of popularity associated with the issue or personality of the day.  But this story grabbed my interest and held it, teaching me about the past and the present.
  6. Mysteries – Nancy Drew series by Carolyn Keene – Giving credit where credit is due, Nancy and the gang were my first introduction to the mystery genre, one that I still love today.
  7. Cozy Mysteries – Kinsey Milhone series by Sue Grafton – My first cozy mystery series, there are still a number that I regularly read and enjoy – they are always a fun, quick escape!
  8. Detective Stories – Moe Prager series by Reed Farrel Coleman – Another part of the progression, the jump to grittier detective stories, this series continues to be a favorite.  It will be bittersweet when the last book comes out next month.
  9. Historical Fiction – A Good American by Alex George – I had not read historical fiction in a long time, didn’t really consider it a genre that I liked that well, until I read this and now I find myself reading all kinds of historical fiction!
  10. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak – The book the reinvigorated and affirmed my love for the written word.  The funny thing?  I walked by it in the bookstore for months, picked it up and put it back down, before I finally decided to give it a try – and it is my favorite book.
Advertisements

Allegiant

AllegiantAllegiant is the final book in the Divergent trilogy by Veronica Roth. The trilogy focuses on a dystopian society which is divided into different factions, each holding a human trait – selflessness, knowledge, honesty, bravery, kindness – as core to their values and their existence.  The books focus mainly on Tris, who has left Abnegation, where she was raised, to join Dauntless where she meets Tobias (aka Four).  Tris discovers that she is Divergent, having no singular trait which defines her.  Throw in the factionless, outcasts who live on the edges of society, power hungry leaders trying to destroy the Divergents, betrayal, mind control serums, battles, death, and the inevitable romance between Tris and Tobias, and things get interesting…

Don’t get me wrong, this is pure guilty pleasure reading, fast-paced, romantic, just plain fun.  It may not be great literature, but pleasure reading doesn’t always need to be, and this was an enjoyable trilogy.  I loved the first book in the series, Divergent, and the second book, Insurgent, was better than I expected, leaving both my daughter and I anxiously awaiting the release of Allegiant.  Were we disappointed?  Ultimately, I don’t think so – we both still love the trilogy – but there were moments…

Tris, Four and their friends are ready to head out of the city to see what lies beyond the gates.  Once they make it out it seems a bit like an M. Night Shymalan movie for a while – everything you thought you knew (and that the characters thought they knew) turns upside down and inside out.  There is secrecy and betrayal and revolution.  There are genetic experiments and societal experiments gone awry.  In the middle of all of this, Tris and Four are discovering new truths about themselves, their pasts, and their families as they try to figure out who they are and where they belong.

There is no way to review this book while ignoring how the trilogy ends, especially since it has been the focus of so much discussion.  So while I will attempt to avoid giving away all of the gritty details, consider yourself warned…

So, ultimately, the biggest hurdle to liking this book is the ending.  I had heard rumblings in the bookish world, so I was not completely surprised.  When I walked in on my daughter one morning, tears streaming down her face while she held the book in her hands, I knew that she had not seen it coming.   First impressions on reading it, from both of us, was that the death seemed pointless, done simply for shock value without any real meaning.  Given some time away from it, and a chance to chat about it with my daughter, I do believe that there was meaning there, we just didn’t like it!  But ultimately, it was about love and sacrifice, bravery and selflessness.

There are so many ways to be brave in this world. Sometimes bravery involves laying down your life for something bigger than yourself, or for someone else. Sometimes it involves giving up everything you have ever known, or everyone you have ever loved, for the sake of something greater.

But sometimes it doesn’t.

Sometimes it is nothing more than gritting your teeth through pain, and the work of every day, the slow walk toward a better life.

That is the sort of bravery I must have now.”

Title: Allegiant
Author: Veronica Roth
Genre: Fiction, Young Adult
Pages: 544
Publication:
Katherine Tegen Books, October 2013

Invisibility

invisibility

Having just finished A Constellation of Vital Phenomena it was definitely time for me to find an easy read, something light and fun, and Invisibility fit the bill.

Stephen is invisible, he was born invisible due to a curse that was put on his mother, and he has always been invisible.  His dad couldn’t take it and left and his mother has died, leaving Stephen to walk the streets of NYC alone and unseen.

Elizabeth is moving to NYC with her brother Laurie and her mom.  They are starting a new life, minus dad, after a horrific event occurred in their old life in Minnesota.  Elizabeth is angry and bitter and wants nothing more than to disappear into the anonymity of the city.

Everything changes for them both on the day Elizabeth moves into Stephen’s apartment building and actually sees him, even though he remains invisible to everyone else.  Of course they fall in love, and he has to eventually explain to Elizabeth why no one else can see him.  Turns out that his grandfather is a cursecaster, an evil guy who curses people for fun, including his own daughter, Stephen’s mom.  And wouldn’t you know it?  Elizabeth is a spellseeker, destined to help control cursecasters and able to see curses placed on others.  With the help of another spellseeker, Millie, Elizabeth begins to learn about her powers on a quest to help Stephen.

Will they be able to find Stephen’s grandfather and reverse the curse?  Will Stephen become visible to others?  Will Elizabeth’s powers get strong enough in time?

The ending was not as predictable as I thought it might be, and there are many out there clamoring for a sequel and it has not been ruled out by the authors, but I say leave it as it is – not everything needs to get tied up in a neat package at the end of every book.

OK- Elizabeth can be a little annoying and well, dull, at times and there were moments when I wanted to strangle Stephen into being more engaged in the fight for his own well-being, but overall I enjoyed the story and the characters.  I loved Laurie and would’ve liked to see even more of him – he brings great humor and humanity into the story.  Overall, a fun quick read to throw into your beach-read pile of books!

“Every fight for survival is really a fight to return to the inconsequential concerns of the mundane.” 

Title:  Invisibility
Author: Andrea Cremer and David Levithan
Genre: Fiction, Young Adult
Pages: 320
Publication: Philomel, May 2013

Clockwork Princess

clockworkThe Clockwork Princess is the final book in The Infernal Devices trilogy which was written as a prequel series to Mortal Instruments series.

For those who have not read The Infernal Devices trilogy, let me give you a brief overview.  The books are set in Victorian England and the story starts with Tessa Grey heading to London from America to search for her missing brother.  She soon finds herself part of a world that she did not know existed – a world full of Nephilim, warlocks, werewolves, demons, automatons, etc.  As she stays at the Institute, the home for Shadowhunters, Nephilim who fight demons in order to protect us mere humans, she searches for the truth of her own identity, battles demons, and falls in love – of course there’s a love triangle – isn’t there always?  I thoroughly enjoyed this book in spite of becoming tired of love triangles (this one does have a uniqueness), and the books are filled with so much more – adventure, battles, death, triumph, magic, technology, demons, warlocks, politics, family feuds, …  making the series fast and fun – a great way to kill a rainy weekend.

For those who have read the first two books and are eagerly awaiting a chance to read the final piece of the story, the final book does not disappoint.  Maybe things are a little too tidily wrapped up, but hey –this is fiction – why not?  There are epic battles, lives will be ended and changed, new loves will be found, and hearts will be broken.  Will or James?  I’m not telling!  😉

Title: Clockwork Princess
Author: Cassandra Clare
Genre: Young Adult Fiction
Pages: 592
Publication: Margaret K. McElderry Books, March 2013

Requiem

requiemThis is the conclusion to one of those trilogies that I’m always complaining about.  I LOVED the first book, Delirum, which I read shortly before the second book came out.  I couldn’t wait to read Pandemonium when it came out, and I have to admit to being a little disappointed with it.  It suffered from the “middle-book syndrome” and I was disappointed in having to wait another year for it to get better and to come to a conclusion.  I have read numerous reviews complaining about the ending of the trilogy, whether it was because someone had a preference in the love triangle that didn’t come to fruition or because there were too many issues left unresolved.  I did feel like the ending was a bit rushed, but overall I liked the ending, I though the unresolved issues were appropriate, displaying that life isn’t simple and events don’t always lead to a tidy ending, we don’t always have control, we certainly don’t control others, the future is unknown, but we keep on going.  And I guess it leaves room for another book???

“They couldn’t have known that even this was a lie – that we never really choose, not entirely.  We are always being pushed and squeezed down one road or another.  We have no choice but to step forward, and the step forward again, and then step forward again; suddenly we find ourselves on a road we haven’t chosen at all.  But maybe happiness isn’t in the choosing.  Maybe it’s in the fiction, in the pretending” that wherever we have ended up is where we intended to be all along.”

Title: Requiem
Author: Lauren Oliver
Genre: Young Adult Fiction
Pages: 432
Publication: Harper Collins, March 2013