Top Ten Tuesday. Confessions of a terrible blogger and book nerd.

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Top Ten Tuesday is my favorite (and only) weekly meme hosted by the beautiful bloggers over at The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s theme is Top Ten Blogging confessions. Even though I was raised as a good little Lutheran girl theres nothing I like more than a good old fashioned confession!!! So without further adu ima bust out my forbidden rosary and dive on in.

Blog Confessions

Confession #1: I love this topic because I didn’t have to go hunting all over the internet for book covers. Seriously, that stuff takes me something like eternity and I STILL never manage to make them look good in my lists.

Confession #2: I am jealous of all the blogs I follow/read regularly because they all make these listy things look gorgeous…always. I’m not kidding. If you are a blogger and we have had any sort of interaction I am probably all swoony and green with envy over your lovely blog. I’m sorry!! I mean that very nicely I swear!

Confession #3: I’m too gosh darned lazy to do anything about it! “Gee… I wonder how people make those pretty book cover collages or change the size & color of their font?? Hmm, I suppose I could google it? Nah!! I’ll just stick with what I’ve got…” Yep, thats me.

Confession #4: I’m a TERRIBLE book “reviewer”. I know this. Sometimes I even feel bad about it because I like reading other bloggers legit book reviews. But the truth is, I’d much rather have a long rambley discussion about the things a book made me think about than it’s plot. I know this is probably only entertaining if you’ve read the book I’m talking about so I’ve been working on trying to find a happy medium. Let me know if you have any thoughts or suggestions!!!!

Confession #5: I have no schedule. Ever. In my head I’d like to do one review/discussion and TTT every week….. that just doesn’t happen. Actually, the more I try to be organized the more likely I am to fall off the bloggy wagon all together. But I’ve decided to forgive myself and let it go. I’m about to start medical school at the end of this month and I truly have no idea what that will mean for my reading life. So I’ll consider it a blessing when I have a chance to read a few good books and blog about them. I hope you’ll forgive me if I disappear for a bit while I figure out how to not fail out of med school! 🙂

 

Book Nerd Confessions

Confession #1: I re-read CONSTANTLY. So, so, so, sooooooo much re-reading goes on in my life. If every book I read was a book I had never read before I would be like a freaking literary genius or something. As it is, I definitely have a comfort zone.  Once a book has fallen into my hands and proved itself awesome chances are I’ll revisit it at least once…or twice…or once a year for the past 15 years  as has been the case with Harry Potter. Sometimes I feel guilty about this habit… So MANY lovely books and SO little time. But.. much like blogging at the end of the day, reading is something I do for me and the joy I get from diving into a well loved world is worth the guilt.

Confession #2: I collect books… Who doesn’t right?? Well, here’s the thing…I tend to “accidentally” collect multiple copies and editions of the same book. I mean obviously if you happen to be an obsessive re-reader you need to have your favorite books in Kindle AND hardcover but you probably don’t need the hardcover AND paperback editions… BUT I DO!!!! I NEED them. I need all the books (in triplicate). I’m well aware that this isn’t a particularly fiscally responsible habit… But HEY I’m supporting authors right?? In my defense I also give books away whenever I know I have someone’s soulmate book on my shelf.

Confession #3: Even though I collect books I’m not remotely organized about it. We have four floor to ceiling bookshelves in our house and the books on them are not in any particular order. The only exception is that most of the series books I have are all together.. oh, and the Harry Potter shelf… cuz I HAD to have a Harry Potter shelf. Also, a lot of my books are in a sorry state (due to all that re-reading) I know that’s like sacrilege to some book people *hangs head in shame*.

Confession#4: I have become a bit addicted to the book community on Twitter. Ick!! I kinda hate Twitter but alas it’s sucked away a bit of my soul. In many, many ways it’s actually a great place to follow other blogs and read interesting articles but sometimes the “drama” (like that one article) sucks me in. I hate that. I’m too old for that junk! The other ugly thing about social media is that sometimes authors you have/had great respect for disappoint you. I know it’s not fair but I want my favorite authors to be just as wise as the beautiful characters they create… So if they’re whining about the person who sat next to them at Starbucks (seriously, text your BFF about that shit) or saying accidentally ignorant things about readers I’m not super impressed… Like I said, I KNOW that’s not fair but I’m just as human as they are.

Confession #5: I am secretly terrified that I will actually fail out of school because of my book addiction. I’m fairly certain this won’t happen but I’m not entirely joking either…

 

So there you have it!!! Confession over. Time to go say a few hail Mary’s and pray for my bookish soul!

What was on your list this week?? Feel free to leave me your link so I can check it out! From what I’ve seen so far Blog guilt seems to be a thing.

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Top Ten Tuesday. My Childhood Classics

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the lovely bloggers over at The Broke and the Bookish.  This weeks theme is Top Ten Classics I want to read/have read.

Okeedokee so here’s the thing, I’ve been thinking a lot about children’s books lately. And while I’ve read a plenty of classic classics which are often gloriously FREE or very cheap on kindle (The Bronte sisters, Austin, Dracula, Portrait of Dorian Grey and A shit ton of Shakespeare are among my favorites). There are infinitely more on my TBR list (20 Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, War and Peace, Anna Karenina, Fahrenheit 451…honestly this list goes on forever.). Yet when I started contemplating this week’s topic I couldn’t help but think about all the classics from my childhood.. or at least all the books I consider my own “classics”.

Because really, why do we read the classics?? To me the answer is simply; they teach us something about life and literature, remind us where we’ve been and help us figure out where to go next. That being said I can’t think of a better way to fill this list than with all the books that have done that for me.

PICTURE BOOKS

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Eloise: Kay Thompson “An egg cup makes a very good hat” I just love this book (still) because Eloise is  full of life and mischief and imagination. She may be a bit of a brat but she’s an extraordinary one.

Miss Rumphius: Barbara Cooney “You must do something to make the world more beautiful.”  That’s the message in this gorgeously illustrated book. Sweet and simple but it’s a lesson I think of often as I forge ahead into my adult life.

Grandfather Twilight: Barbara BergerGrandfather Twilight lives among the trees.” Basically this book is just plain beautiful. Stunning imagery that gets more and more gorgeous as the story unfurls.

The Big Orange Splot: Daniel Pinkwater “My house is me and I am it. My house is where I like to be and it looks like all my dreams.” To this day this book remains my mother’s all time favorite story and life motto. And while the story is pretty outrageous what it boils down to is nothing more or less than “Be yourself.” Pretty classic life lesson if you ask me.

Where the Wild Things Are: Maurice Sendak “Let the wild rumpus start!” Ummm isn’t this on your childhood classic list?? Who wasn’t a bit like Max from time to time?

NEWBERRYS (Apparently I was a pretentious child.)

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Island of the Blue Dolphins: Scott O’Dell This is the first book I became truly obsessed with. I ran around for months in my backyard trying to make clothes out of nature and pretending I was all alone in the world. I even tried to make my own bow and arrows…fortunately for the local wildlife, I was unsuccessful. I still have my original copy, which is an actual ORIGIONAL copy that I inherited from a library book sale. I think I will love this one forever.

A Wrinkle in Time: Madeline L’Engle I’ve mentioned this one before but I just couldn’t leave it off this list. A Wrinkle in Time had a HUGE and far reaching impact on my life. It ignited my imagination and encouraged my to ask extraordinary questions and believe in impossible answers.

Bridge to Terabithia: Katherine Paeterson. This was the first book that ever broke my heart. While it’s full of endless summers and rich imagination it’s probably the reason I STILL can’t face books like The Fault in our Stars.

The Witch of Blackbird Pond: Elizabeth George Speare This one found me at a time when I really needed to hear exactly this story (Somewhere in middle-school where I was the quintessential social outcast). Books have a way of doing that ya know? It’s why I never assume someone is joking when they say a book saved their life.

The Egypt Game: Zilpha Keatley Snyder Are you noticing a theme here?? I was kinda a fan of imaginary worlds and playing pretend… This is a gorgeous book, rich in imagination and plenty of tough questions. Every time I read this book (which I still do regularly) I am blown away by it’s amazing brilliance.

 

Well there you have it… I know I might have cheated a weeeeee bit but that’s my list. If you were going to make a list of your childhood classics what would they be???

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Guardian.

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A few months ago I read Proxy after it was recommended to me by my fellow fangirl and blogging buddy Nath over at One Woman’s Opinions. I was stunned. Blown away. Emotionally ravaged and pretty much all round thrilled by the gorgeousness of story telling perfection. Proxy was just… beautiful. *Sigh*

Fair warning: This discussion contains Proxy spoilers so if you haven’t read it already.. which, WHY HAVENT YOU READ IT??? be warned. And if you missed my subtle suggestion to go buy Proxy immediately or you’re still on the fence you can check out my thoughts on it here.

Now y’all KNOW I love a series but I confess, I wasn’t sure how one writes a sequel to something as complete as Proxy. In truth, the story felt told. Sure, there were a few unanswered questions in my nit-picky little head and I definitely wanted Syd to have a real first kiss! But after closing the book and emerging from my state of stunned silence I experienced a rare sense of satisfaction. The symmetry of Knox’s sacrifice just left me all weak in the knees and singing songs of love and adoration to London and the gods of storytelling and whatnot.  So it’s safe to say I approached Guardian with equal amounts trepidation and excitement.

If Proxy was a story of brotherhood, sacrifice and debt exploration; Guardian, was at it’s core, a love story seasoned with lessons in forgiveness and the dangers of ideology.  I don’t know if that’s what London set out to write but that’s what I experienced. And for me, that was more than ok. It still made me think, ask questions and feel things. That being said, a good love story never hurts…

Lawd have mercy on my soul, cuz ima bout to get all swoony here.

Part of what kept me up ALL NIGHT reading (and zombified the next day) was watching the cautious and confusing relationship develop between Liam and Syd. The way they grew into each other in this story felt so authentic and, lets be honest completely freaking adorable that it had me literally, physically engaged. Seriously, at one point my husband caught me perched up on the back of my reading chair with my hand pressed to my heart making swoony noises at the book and he was all ‘Are you CRYING?’ and I was all ‘NO you heartless toad I’m SIGHING. There’s a difference. Now go back to painting your mini’s and leave me alone to drown in this ocean of feelings.‘ (We are pretty much both crazy..it’s kinda why our marriage works.)

Anyway, Syd and Liam’s love story had all the sweetness and painful awkwardness of any first love. Well, any post-apocolyptic, humanity is on the precipice of total decimation first love…cuz you know you’ve got to be willing to let some things go in those circumstances. So your boyfriend is a ruthless assassin?? Hmm. Well thats probably a pretty useful apocalypse skill!

Speaking of LIAM….

About 3 minutes after I met Liam he was shipped off to my personal island of  book boyfriends. Oh yes, there’s an island. (they are OBVIOUSLY all aged up to at LEAST 27 on my island…that part of the magic and yes…. I’m aware Liam is not swinging in my direction but unrealisitc book boyfriends are equal opportunity when it comes to unrequited love.) What can I say? I guess I’m a sucker for love and undying devotion swathed in badassery. There was also that soul crushing bit of loneliness that makes people like me shout things like “I want to know your story Liam!!!” at their books (really, I’m a very interactive reader).

While there were moments in the beginning when I was uncomfortable with Liam’s zelous obsession with Syd or more specifically Yovel. Liam’s journey from devoted protector (dare I say… Guardian?)  to valued partner was at the heart of what I loved about this book. His character arc was beautiful and if we dig into our collective psyche pretty darn relatable (minus the assassin thing).  Truth is, we live in a world that makes it outrageously easy to idolize your favorite author/actor/musician/artist/stupid hot soccer player….you get my point…  And while celebrating art and achievement (and even obsessing a bit) is wonderful it’s easy to create some sort of mythical deity out of those we admire.

Throughout the course of Guardian Liam, who is (not so secretly) a Yovel disciple, must face the reality of Syd, who is by no means happy playing savior. While Syd remains the strong and subtly wise character we (and everyone else) fell for in Proxy he is also a little broken and, understandably, riddled with guilt. (KNOXXXXX!! What? I’m not over it. And neither is Syd.) As a result, Liam was forced to dissect his feelings for Syd and separate the mythology from the person. Turns out that on the other side of obsession were the seeds of a lovely honest relationship. Something about learning to love and value someone even when they disappoint you seems like an ideal life lesson. Though perhaps more importantly Liam, begins to learn how to value himself . *Dies of happiness*

So the other character that just filled my soul with joy was Marie. I’ll admit, Marie was the loose end for me in Proxy.  Perhaps because I really saw myself in her (and not in the most flattering way). Marie had all the right intentions and none of the wisdom needed to step back and assess her crusade. It can be painful to realize that righteous indignation with a dollop of crusading has a way of turning you into exactly the type of close minded, frustrating, ideologist you thought you were fighting against. Marie is the epitome of that character. Throughout Proxy and well into Guardian she is fighting a war against injustice while failing to see the cracks it is leaving in her own humanity. Fortunately, this time Marie is faced with a set of circumstances so personal she simply can’t ignore the flaws in her beliefs. Thus she is set down a path of self discovery that ultimately leads to growth, forgiveness and hopefully a bit of grace. I guess there’s hope for us soap-boxy types after all! Whew! And can I get an AMEN?!

Basically there was a lot of growth and forgiveness to go around in this book. Syd had to face his future, Liam his past and Marie the reality of the present. Not to mention the hard learned lesson that there are no easy fixes. Of course there was also plenty of action and adventure to balance out all this very important thinky stuff. Oh, and one heck of a frightening villain as my sister put it: “He’s the bad guy you know you’ve met. The one who lives in your nightmares.” Umm yes. Also, the med student in me was pretty thrilled with the biogenetic consequences of turning off the machine. Yay, science!

So about the end: At first I was all  WHAT??!!! Wait, NO! THERE HAS TO BE MORE. And then I took a breath or two, uncurled myself from my new perch on the counter and thought about it for a bit. The more I thought, the more I realized that I was perfectly happy to create my own (sickeningly wonderful, happily ever-after where absolutely no one dies) version of this story’s after life in my head. Sometimes it’s nice when an artist sets their work free into the world and allows the audience to take it into their own hearts and imagine the ending that they need to hear.

That being said, a nice little novella where we finally hear Liam’s story wouldn’t go unappreciated.

So all in all, the Proxy/Guardian deuology turned out to be a pretty fantastic reading experience. For me it’s impossible not to love a book that launched a two day discussion with my mom and sis over morning coffee in the mountains of NC and even lead to a bit of soul searching (see Marie paragraph). I will certainly be curious to read more from London in the future! (Actually, I might  have purchased one of his middle grade books; We are not Eaten by Yaks because how can you NOT buy a book with that title?)

So, have you read Proxy, Guardian or We are not Eaten by Yacks yet? If so I’d love, love, love to chat!!! Also, when you read do you find yourself mysteriously propelled all over the house and carrying on one way conversations with your books… or is that just me?

Side Note:

So I didn’t actually intend to post this over pride weekend it just happened that way. BUT while we’re at it: Here’s are a two other pretty awesome books with LGBT characters I’ve read recently & shall discuss shortly.

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz: Holy gorgeousness batman!! This. Book. Was. Stunning. Go read it. The end. (Actually, I accidentally ended up with 3 copies so I’ll be doing a giveaway shortly. You should enter! :))

Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith: Ummmmmmm. Shit. This is pretty much one of the most insane apocolypse books I’ve ever read. It was phenomenal! I can’t even tell you how much I enjoyed it! And yes, there really were giant Grasshopper/Praying Mantis creatures in it. Score!

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It’s true. Sometimes I AM a little embarrassed.

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Ok. Don’t jump down my throat… hear me out yeah? I’m trying to dig deep here. This is hard for me because my default setting is pretty much cheerful sarcasm.

So I read that article. Probably you know the one… And if you don’t GREAT glad you missed it. It was completely absurd.

And even though I rolled my eyes and thought “Well this chick, sorry mature adult woman knows how to get a rise out of the internet.” it hit a little close to home, waaaayyyy deep in that bit of my soul that’s still wounded from being bullied in middle school and doesn’t want to be judged. Or something.

Maybe it’s partly that last sunday I pretty much turned “officially old” and that article felt like it was aimed at me. Actually it WAS aimed at me… Me and the legions of other well past 18year old YA readers out there who are responsible for a significant enough to write an ignorant opinion piece about us portion of book sales. And lets be honest, occasionally obsessive fandom.

But enough with the snark, I’m not saying anything thousands of other people haven’t already said far more eloquently. What I’m here to do is confess. So grab the holy water and send in the YA priest. (Is that John Green??)

So here it is… *Deep breath*

Sometimes I am embarrassed.

Embarrassed that many of my all time favorite books and certainly everything I have read and loved this past year  feature characters that are a decade or more younger than me.

Embarrassed that my heart flutters and I fangirl squeal right along with the teenagers I teach over the likes of Marie Lu, Alex London, V. Roth, JKR. (the list is pretty much endless so I’m gonna stop there.)

Embarrassed that I swoon over book boyfriends I might have babysat.

Embarrassed that if I could magically reincarnate it would be as Hermione, Ginny, June, Katniss, Tris, Deuce, Valentine (Hell, I might even come back as Harry, Syd, Day or Ender!! I’m not about to get picky about sex here if it means I get to be a world saving bad ass!) and not as a fully fledged adult character.

Embarrassed that I currently have no desire whatsoever to read any of the books that grumpy woman said I should (and  I’m not sure I ever will) and that my floor to ceiling TBR has maybe two “Adult” novels in it right now.

Sometimes I’m even embarrassed of this blog.

And you know what? When it comes down to it what I’m truly ashamed of is my embarrassment. Yep, that’s right I am straight up ashamed that I would ever consider hiding my books on the bus or that I feel like I should explain my reading choices even if the person I’m recommending my new favorite book to didn’t give me any reason to be defensive. I’m ashamed that I ever feel embarrassed of any kind of reading at all!

The funny thing is I am not ashamed or embarrassed that I married a man who plays D&D, paints legions of mini’s and writes horror, fantasy and science fiction. I don’t think twice about the fact that we see every super hero movie that comes out or occasionally go on comic book buying sprees. And I LOVE  that we go to the renaissance faire every single year where I wear a flower crown in my hair and we wander the stalls drinking cider and fantasizing about being lords and ladies.

So why the hell would I be ashamed of the beautiful, intelligent, thought provoking YA books I love? (Ok… they aren’t ALL extraordinary books…sometimes they are mediocre or fluffy but thats not the point! And maybe what I thought was so-so set your imagination on fire so it’s absurd to say that anyway!) The thing is, I really don’t know why I’m embarrassed but the ugly truth is that I suspect I’m not alone. The outcry from fellow YA loving adults in response to that holier than thou piece of drabble was fast and furious. It was filled with justifiable anger and endless lists of celebrated “classical” literature written about children and young adults. For hours my twitter was full of author responses and empowering comments which was WONDERFUL but I can’t help but wonder if buried deep in that totally relevant fury was the nagging fear that maybe that old “fuddy duddy” (her words) was right.

So for one second I’d like to take this opportunity to examine my “shame”.

Sometimes I glance at my bookshelves and wonder if all those freaking awesome sixteen year old protagonists I love so much really represent my own immaturity…maybe they do… It’s not that I particularly want to be sixteen again or go back to high-school (and I SURE AS HELL wouldn’t want to do middle school again!) but when I was a teenager there was an exciting rawness about everything accompanied by a feeling that the problems of the world were actually pretty manageable if only the world leaders would just sit down over coffee and be open, honest and respectful of each other. (Which seems completely stupid to me now but maybe that’s exactly the problem). And I confess I miss that side of myself… the girl who believed in the inherent goodness of people and thought she could make a difference.

So maybe I do occasionally read for “nostalgia” and maybe I AM afraid of this aging thing… (Because we are pretty seriously having that “lets have a baby” conversation in my house and OMG sometimes I forget to feed myself!! How can I be expected to keep a child alive and warm and happy??! And what if I fuck it all up??). And while I’m at it I’ll admit it’s absolutely true that I’d rather read a book full of characters fighting to make the world better, learning from their mistakes and trying to be good to each other than stories of how we tear ourselves apart and ruin our relationships.

Perhaps I wonder if  it’s unhealthy that the grown woman I’ve become misses the little girl who had endless magical worlds in her head and spent hours playing dress up in her backyard.

Maybe I AM an idealist or an escapist?

Personally, I think it’s clear via my last four or five book reviews that I’m not particularly looking for neatly packaged happily ever afters. But that doesn’t mean that I believe there is anything wrong with happily ever after either! Maybe happily ever after is growing old with people you love and weathering life with joy and humor to temper the sorrow and dying in a rocking chair with Harry Potter in your lap?? I don’t know but that sounds good to me.

I don’t know if these are things to be embarrassed of…? I suppose I’m inclined to think that they represent both my strengths and weaknesses. Here’s what I DO know however.

Good books are good books and literature does not begin and end in the adult psyche.

In fact I would argue the opposite… I believe that the mind of a child is a precious thing and a young adult is at a place in their lives where they are still able to access the imagination and clarity of thought that children posses but they are old enough to join conversations and truly have a voice in shaping the future of their world. Hell, this amazing NPR article about the power of the “Book Girls” pretty much proves that. So why wouldn’t writers want to tap into that amazing combination of intuition and intelligence and why wouldn’t their peers (ME because I’m the same age as many of those writers) want to read and find value in their work?

My mother (who is pretty much the equivalent of a sage) taught us to value the wisdom of children and she encouraged us to read books that treated children with respect. To this day my mother collects children’s books and my sisters and I still treasure the lessons we learned from the likes of Miss Rumphius, Grandfather Twilight, The Big Orange Splot and Meanwhile back at the Ranch. In fact I myself have a bookshelf dedicated to picture books and children’s stories in addition to the shelves filled with YA, Fantasy and Science Fiction.  To me it often seems that children’s books and YA  function as parables and if you hadn’t already guessed, it’s the lessons that draw me time and again to their pages.

And this is where I’m gonna be mean because, really?!? What did she (the well read writer lady) learn from all that highbrow literature? Apparently it wasn’t the value of exploring the heart and soul of the world’s youth or lessons in acceptance, diversity and individuality, you know all those things YA writers are constantly examining in their books and promoting in real life. I’m sure that’s not the fault of the books she’s reading, probably there are a lot of amazing pieces of wisdom in her favorite novels. Believe it or not I have also read my fair share of adult fiction (and even NON fiction *gasp*) and I can attest to it’s worth (though of course there’s fluff in every genre). Probably that woman was just grumpy or she really, really wanted to have her fifteen minutes of fame and took a cheap shot she knew would set her twitter ablaze. I don’t know… I’m kinda tempted to send her a copy of Miss Rumphius (which is all about having your adventures but making the world more beautiful) and put her in the time out corner to think about it.

So this is why ultimately I am ashamed of ever hiding my love of children’s and young adult literature and why I felt the need to confess my shame to you and perhaps open the door for a conversation.  Because I am someone who truly, truly believes that books and mostly books that find their homes on the YA shelves saved my life and shaped me into the adult I am today. A woman who I’m not always be proud of and who fails frequently and occasionally embarrasses herself but who strives to live up to the lessons she learns from the stories she treasures. (And of course the ones she learned from her mother.)

 

Whew, confession over. That was actually even harder than I thought.

Now I’d be truly honored to hear from you… YA lovers young and old, I want to know how this article (and the shaming of YA in general) made you feel. I wan’t to know what you thought even if it was ugly… And if like me, you had a moment of self examination maybe you’ll share??

 

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Ender’s Game (In which LJ rambles. Mostly about the book)

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Confession time: Ender’s Game is a book that floated on the periphery of my literary awareness for ages but I’m ashamed to admit that I passed on it for a long, long time because the old cover was completely unappealing to me (I know, I know, I KNOW!!! I should stop making these stupid cover judgments! There are so many fantastic books on my “Thank heavens I read that” pile that I almost didn’t read because of the cover… It’s like that “Don’t judge a book by it’s cover” adage was RIGHT or something!)

Anyway, one magical day the stars aligned and not only did I see a rather appealing trailer for the movie but someone mentioned to me (again) just how awesome the book was. Next thing I knew, Ender’s Game had hopped right off the bookstore shelf into my hands and I was half way through it before dinner. Actually, I’m pretty certain I forgot to eat dinner that night I was so thoroughly engrossed.

First of all this book was hands down one of the most heartbreaking stories I have ever read. The curious thing however is that I didn’t even notice I was having my heart torn out, tossed around and chopped up into bits until after I had closed the book and wanted nothing more than to drown my sorrows in a glass of wine, stare out the window and contemplate the tragedy of Ender’s broken childhood. But I’m getting ahead of myself here.

Let’s start with the genre. I have read quite a bit of science fiction and while Ender’s Game isn’t particularly dense or “scientifically progressive” it instantly rocketed right to the top of my list of all time favorites. (I’m SORRY Asimov! You know I love you!!). The way I see it, the job of science fiction is to reach into the ever shifting well of possible futures and draw out bits and pieces of knowledge and wisdom in the hope of expanding our collective mind, preaching caution and perhaps guiding us into a better world. While many MANY works of science fiction are chalk full of hard science and have been incredibly important in the creation and evolution of  science “fiction” into everyday science “fact” Ender’s Game really isn’t one of them. Rather, Ender’s story is a fairly simple and beautifully subtle philosophical exploration of childhood, the abuse of power and the meaning of life (not yours and mine per se but Life and what defines it. A consciousness? A soul?). You know, fluffy stuff. Really though, the philosophy in this book is pretty understated when you consider that it was written as a predecessor to Speaker for the Dead which is overflowing with theology and all such seriousness.

So what was it that made this one so special?? (Fair warning y’all spoilers ahead!)

Well, for me it has absolutely everything to do with Andrew Wiggin or rathar Ender (a decidedly prophetic nickname) and his inconceivable brilliance, utter brutality, innocence (and the total destruction of that innocence) and most of all his overwhelming compassion. People, this kid stole my heart the way he stole the hearts of every other character in the story, except maybe Peter… and Bonzo…and that other kid he killed…. Ok, Ender is also a little scary.

Even before he is shipped off to battle school Ender is a force to be reckoned with. Hell, in the first freaking chapter we witness him tactically analyze and implement the destruction of his childhood bully effectively putting an end to the possibility of being bullied by anyone. Ever. (It turns out this is actually kinda Ender’s thing. Foreshadowing Whhhhhhaaat?) Oh and did I mention he’s only six years old?

Actually, it took me a while to reconcile myself to the ages of the children in this book.  Once I made the mental adjustments however, the stark contrast between their chronological age and mind numbing genius set the stage for what would turn into me trying to drown myself in the wine. There was just an unrelenting loneliness attached to all that brilliance. And no one was lonelier or carried a heavier burden than Ender…I seriously doubt he would have let me but the big sister/future mother in me very, VERY much wanted to reach into the pages and scoop that child into my arms…oh and then smack the HELL out of the stupid military asshats who sent these kids off to war.

Ender’s isolation is really a driving theme in this book. First of all he is a “third”. (In a world with a two child limit, thirds are sanctioned only to be given to the elite military for training.) Then of course from the moment he steps into battle school he is singled out as the “most brilliant” by the adults with the express intention of segregating him from his peers. In fact every single milestone in Ender’s journey is marked by another soul crushing level of isolation, most of it manufactured in order to see if he has what it takes to fend for himself and manipulate his circumstances to win the respect and devotion of those he must lead.

And of course he does.

Dear readers, there is a REASON I chose Ender to be the leader of my Zombie apocalypse survival crew. (no clue what I’m talking about? Here’s the post) Even with the likes of June & Day on team apocalypse I am still convinced that Ender’s unique ability to intimately understand what motivates everyone (friends and foes alike) will be the deciding factor in our survival. (OMG I sound like Graff… quick where’d that wine go?!) Anyway, I could try to describe this to you all day but I think I’ll employ the power of a good old fashioned quote instead:

“In the moment when I truly understand my enemy, understand him well enough to defeat him, then in that very moment I also love him.  And then, in that very moment when I love them – I destroy them.” 

Yep. That about sums it up. Total destruction is not just what is Ender is capable of it’s what’s expected of him and ultimately what he accomplishes. And THAT my friends is what destroyed me… Because Ender is not a cold blooded killer (even when he is) he is a child with an extraordinary capacity for empathy and at the end of the book when he has successfully reduced an entire planet to ash and annihilated a race of sentient beings (albiet under the impression that he was playing a “game”) only Ender understands the tragedy of his victory. Well, Ender and perhaps Valentine.

Speaking of Valentine, I would be remiss if I failed to mention the other Wiggin children in this discussion because in many ways they exist in the story to help the reader fully understand Ender. Despite being equally as brilliant as their baby brother the elder Wiggin prodigies were rejected for battle school because of their temperaments. Valentine is far to pacific and empathetic for war and Peter, to quote the text, “has the soul of a jackal” which is a rather poetic way of saying he is a  manipulative psychopath (kills small animals and everything).  Ender it turns out, is a perfectly balanced blend of his brother and sister which apparently makes him the ideal “savior” for the human race.

It is clear that if Valentine is Ender’s conscious Peter is the Id and the deeper he is sucked into the military the more he fears that side of himself. For me, one of the most fascinating parts of this book was watching Ender delve deeper and deeper into his psyche and face off against his inner Peter in the mind game (BTW in Speaker for the Dead we learn that the mind game was in fact far more significant than it seemed!).

While it’s true that Peter and Valentine serve to provide insight into the heart and soul of their little brother they are still fascinating characters who have a truly unique and thought provoking story of their own. The sociopolitical commentary the author makes through the medium of Demosthenes & Locke is not only impressively advanced for a book technically categorized under “children’s lit” (proving once again that one should NEVER EVER presume to talk down to children or be so ignorant as to think that adults could not learn from stories written for them.) the way in which these two kids are able to essentially lay the foundation for world domination via the “nets” (which was in it’s infancy at the time this book was written *high five SciFi!!*) is incredibly relevant today. I love when that happens!!

So I know this chat has been full of long ass sentences and even more “discussion” than usual….But if you’ve made it with me this far I want you to know that there are many things beyond the soul searching and philosophy; like the relationships Ender builds with the other children in battle school (Bean, Ali, Dink and Petra) not to mention the awesomeness that is Mazer Rackham and ALL of the battle school battles (Really, I seriously want to try that ZeroG thing) that made this book wonderful.. But when I’m honest with myself one thing made this one of the best books I have read this year (and I know you’re all ‘But LJ you love every book’ I don’t. I just skip discussing the ones I don’t like).

It moved me.

When the story was over and Ender had shouldered the full weight of the xenocide he was “responsible” for I sat there staring into that glass of dark red wine and my heart was actually broken for Ender Wiggin as if he was a real child who had become a part of my soul. I felt this way for days… So I did what any rational adult would do….I called my mother and launched an Epic conversation on life the universe and everything (42 by the way) and still I felt a little empty… and that’s when I knew that Ender’s Game is one of those books I will read over and over forever. I have already read it out-loud to my husband (because I do that) and passed it on to anyone who will listen to me ramble (I can be very persuasive…though my sis might call it demanding). I will save it for my children and accidentally slip it into their backpacks and right now I will tell you, if you haven’t already, to go wander by your local bookstore and see if it accidentally jumps into your hands. You won’t be sorry.

Of course if you have read it… I would love NOTHING more than to know what YOU thought!!! Did you explore your feelings and your wine cellar (I don’t actually have one of those) too??

And if you haven’t and by some miracle you’re still reading and would like to read an actual, well organized REVIEW go check out this excellent post by Nath over at One Woman’s Opinions (she’s so much better at talking plot!) 🙂 

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Top Ten Tuesday. Beach Bag Books.

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Why hello there Top Ten Tuesday!!! I haven’t seen you in a minute! (I was informed last night that if you say that in Memphis is means ‘Its been a while’ or ‘You sucked at blogging last month’... Maybe not exactly). Anyway this week on TTT (Which is a weekly meme hosted by the ladies over at The Broke and the Bookish) it’s time to break out that beach bag and do what any self respecting book-a-holic would do, ie: pack it FULL of books and forget the sunscreen/water/beach towel etc. you know, the non-essentials.

So, I don’t know about you but when I think of beach books I tend to think of things a little on the ‘lighter side’ (ok… I think of straight up trash a’la 50 shades of grey but I don’t read read much of the pure romance stuff) so I’m gonna pull from my ‘not so dark and dreary’ shelf. Although, quite frankly I grew up in a beach town and we spent more time on the beach at night (because crispy tourists who brought all their books but forgot the sunscreen are actually kinda grumpy) so I think it’s reasonable if some of these are more like ‘Midnight on the Beach’ books right?!

What I recommend for your beach bag? (other than sunscreen)

Under the Never Sky: Veronica Rossi

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I really enjoyed every book in this series which includes:  Under the Never Sky, Through the Ever Night and Into the Still Blue. While it DOES take place in a sort-of post-apocolyptic dystopia there is a certain Science Fantasy with a dash of romance (Ok not a “dash” there’s a lot of romance and that was my secret favorite part of the book) that makes it a perfect beachy read. Oh, and Roar. OMG Roar… *Swoon* This thing belongs on your summer list because of Roar alone. The end.

Guardian: Alex London. 

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I just finished this one last Thursday. Coincidentally I also started it on Thursday, which is a part of what makes it a great beach read. (although best to be bringing that sunscreen because it’s very difficult to put down and you may not notice you’ve begun to blister.) Guardian for all it’s seriousness and intensity was also a pretty heart-melting love story which somehow makes it just the teeniest tiniest bit “lighter” than it’s predecessor Proxy. BTW did you read Proxy? If NOT you SHOULD!!! it’s also AH-mazing.

The False Prince: Jennifer Nielsen

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What I actually mean by The False Prince is The Ascendance Series which includes The Runaway King and The Shadow Throne. (yeah I know this list of 5 is already up to 8). Anyway, these are pure fantasy and they’re smart, fast reads with great characters and a fantastic story. I had so much fun with this series (which isn’t something I say a lot) which  makes it truly perfect reading for a hot summer day. (preferably with a bottle of Summer Shandy Mmmmmmmmm)

The Beekeepers Apprentice:

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OK… so I’ve done the “romance” here’s the “mystery” because you’ve got to have  a  mystery in your beach bag, it’s like, pretty much a law. This one is FANTASTIC because it’s a freaking brilliant and unique take on Sherlock Holmes, or more specifically his “retirement” with his whip smart apprentice Mary Russell. Guys, I love this series. It’s a mystery series sure, but it’s definitely not fluff… If you’re a Sherlock fan (but maybe not a purist) you should read it.

Daughter of the Forest: Juliet Marillier

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I love fairy tales retold and celtic mythology and Daughter of the Forest has both. It also has SO MUCH family love (okokok and romance too…this IS my beach list!). This one definitely captured my imagination and stole my heart (it’s also part of a rathar long series but fortunatly it stands alone as well).

What’s in my beach bag. (Probably not sunscreen because even though I’m a FL native I forgot.)

Hands of Forest and Teeth: Carrie Ryan

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The premis of this one just seems awesome. I mean,  YA? Zombies? What’s not to love?? Plus I’ve got to admit the title is pretty fantastic. Hey BTW has anyone actually READ this book? I know almost zippo about it but it’s peaked my interest… so you know…if you’ve read it I’d love to know what you thought!

The Demon King: Cinda Williams Chima

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I don’t know much about this series except that it was recommended to me by Tina over at The Book Landers and I’ve enjoyed everything else she’s tossed on my TBR pile.

A Discovery of Witches: Deborah Harkens

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Speaking of recommendations, I read this review over at Wine Goes Best with a Good Book last week and for whatever reason felt compelled to download A Discovery of Witches immediately to my Ipad. I’m not completely sure why but it seemed like an entertaining change of pace from what I’ve been reading lately.

The Fault in our Stars: John Green 

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Geez, I know, I know… I might be one of the last YA readers out there who hasn’t read this book. I’ve heard it’s amazing, gorgeous, thoughtful, funny and oh yeah… heartbreaking. I think it’s that last one that gets me… I love to think when I read but I don’t always love collapsing in a LilaJune puddle on the floor. Sometimes real feelings are terrifying. Anyway, I plan to bite the bullet and face this one (Hell, if the Tris girl could be Dauntless enough to play Hazel I can be Dauntless enough to read about it!).

The Queen’s Thief: Megan Whalen Turner

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This is another recommendation from a fellow blogger  over at The Book Case Diaries (FYI you guys are drowning me in a bottomless well of TBR awesomeness). And I’ve heard it’s amazing… Like A.M.A.Z.I.N.G I don’t know about you but when I hear/read a fellow booklover speak so passionately about a particular book (the way I might about The Legend series or Harry Potter) it’s nearly impossible for me NOT to give it a go!

OkeeDokee so that’s my list! (Although mine definitely leans in a midnight at the beach direction) Anything in it you absolutely loved, or think I should avoid?  What was on yours? Oh and hey, if you’re in the mood for more recs check out my bloggy buddy’s list!

 

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Unwind.

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I really had to think about this one. A lot.

And then somewhere in the midst of all that thinking I read six or seven or maybe twelve other books and then my poor sad little laptop threatened to give up the ghost and I had to send her to the mac hospital and then I got sucked into the vortex of my TBR list (which OMG why why WHY!!!?? does it not even look like I made a DENT in that thing!) while she was gone and basically sucked at blogging… so yeah…thinking.

But we’re back now and I’m committed to putting my best foot forward here. I’ve even made a pact with a bloggy buddy, (check out her Unwind review here.) so that I don’t fall off the wagon again!

Ok so first let me just say WOW.Wow. wow. wow. wowowwow. wow. wow. woW. WOW. (How did you like that texty Wow art btw?? pretty creative huh? I came up with that allllllll on my own. This is when I start to think I should maybe go outside on long weekends.)

So next I gotta go with Ugh! Oh! Ehghghghghghgghhh… Squuuuuuuuuuirmmm. Because that was what this book did to me. It was so very, very disturbing. It might be one of the most disturbing books I have ever read which considering how much I adore Dean Koontz, Stephen King & Hannibal (Which is a show but it’s a really freaking disturbing one) is saying a lot.

I know plenty of people who are pretty much over the dystopian genre at this point, and while it’s true the market is somewhat super-saturated I personally am still engaged. When you wake up every morning to some new unspeakable tragedy it’s nearly impossible not to wonder what the hell is wrong with us (age old question right?).  For me dystopia is a way of exploring our failures and asking “What if?”

And let me tell you…this particular “What if” was a doozy.

Unwind is based on the horrifying concept that at some point in the not particularly distant future the political war on abortion will become a literal war and the “solution” will be to make abortion illegal opting instead to have unwanted children unwound… Which is a rather gentle way of saying harvesting them for tissue & organs.

So now you’re all like Whhhaaaaaattt?? What’s the difference between terminating the life of an unwanted baby and having that child unwound?

Well…In the world of the book the powers that be have decreed that abortion is tantamount to murder and thus immoral. However, medical science has reached the point where all human tissue, every last bit, is able to be harvested from a donor and repurposed.  Thus, the argument is made that since the tissue never dies neither does the person, life does not end and so it cannot be considered murder. Therefore rather than abort a baby and never give it life a parent can have an unwanted child unwound after the age of thirteen.

Ok… so. This one’s tough yeah? Because of course abortion is an hot button (like molten lava) issue and even to blog about this book in depth requires a certain amount of sensitivity. I for one don’t think topics like this are ever black and white the way political talking heads would like us to believe. Most of us don’t right? A woman having the “right to choose” does not mean it’s a choice every woman would make, no matter the circumstances… Or that it would ever be an easy choice. There are so many factors to consider many of them philosophically mind bending. The crux of the debate internal and external often boils down to What is life? When does it begin and at what point does it end? Now the scientist in me could spit out the biological description (not definition because the truth is we don’t have one) of life.

But we all know that what we’re really asking and what lies at the center of all these debates and a book like Unwind is; What is the soul, the conscious, the thing that defines us as human.. (Not that there isn’t room for discussion about whether or not a Soul is synonymous with humanity but I’ll save that for another book… maybe Enders Game or These Broken Stars). And that my friends is what made this book so fascinating and damn uncomfortable. At one point we see through the eyes of a character who is being unwound and my heart was literally racing as I read… it was just…unimaginable. Guys, if you can stomach this truly difficult concept and dive into this book, you should. At the very least Unwind is a truly unique and utterly thought provoking concept.

Fortunately the horror of the story is both softened and made more poignant by Connor, Lev and Risa three unwinds who have gone AWOL (not all by choice) and are running for their lives. The beauty of these kids is that they are kids and while their tale of adventure and redemption is catalyzed by just about the most insane set of circumstances ever conceived, their all too typical adolescent struggles provide that touch  innocence this book so desperately needs.

Connor, I must admit, had the story that truly broke my heart. (Although I feel terrible saying that because ALL of the stories, even the kinda evil kid’s left me emotionally ravaged) But the truth is I related the most to Connor..  I don’t know about you but when I was a kid I was T.R.O.U.B.L.E capitol T and all that jazz. Really, I was quite the challenge (For serious y’a’ll my parents had a book called “Dealing with your Difficult Child”). And that’s who Connor was. He was difficult. But unlike me he didn’t have parents who saw that our greatest gifts and our greatest faults are often one and the same. Rather, he had shithead parents who decided that it would be better for everyone to have him unwound. And that was what killed me about Connor’s story this idea that parents who may have at one time loved him just… gave up… thought he could be put to better use in bits than as “Connor”…Gah!! Which is too bad because Connor was pretty awesome. Indeed he was hot tempered and stubborn as hell but he had that heart of gold that made him impossible not to love. Even when he was doing stupid things and making terrible decisions… he was a good guy and a worthy “hero”.

Risa on the other hand was an example of a perfectly lovely child (and a smart, tough caring and all-round great character) who simply had the misfortune of being a ward of the state. See in the world of the book abortion is illegal but a practice called “Storking” (Which is exactly what it sounds like ie: leaving an unwanted baby on a doorstep) is perfectly acceptable. The unsuspecting families who get “storked”can choose to keep the baby or they can turn the child into a state home. Which is where we find Risa, an unwanted teenager who’s only hope at remaining whole is to be the BEST at something…anything… Well it turns out Rise is a freaking amazing piano player but she’s not the best and so it’s decided that rathar than continue to feed and clothe her, those lovely piano playing hands deserve a chance to live a better life on someone elses body…

And then there’s Lev…. Lev was a supreamly uncomfortable character but he also underwent the greatest transformation (and y’all KNOW I love character development). So Lev it turns out is a “Tithe.” (The 10% that super religious families gift to god which is usually money but in this case was a child). Tithes in this world are unique in that they have always known that they would be unwound and unlike the children who are deemed “not good enough” or “troubled” they are not ashamed of their fates… Lev in fact is horrified to find himself  “rescued” and on the run. In the first half of the book he is fighting madly to make his way back to “Happy Jack Camp”and fulfill his destiny. However… the longer Lev is on his own and the more he experiences the more he questions his role in the world and the value of life (his and those of all the unwinds). Lev goes on a journey separate from Connor and Risa that shapes him and leads him to make decisions that ultimately play a role in the fate of all the characters.

So, while Unwind is an incredibly exciting and gloriously thought provoking read if I had one complaint I’d say that amidst the action, adventure and philosophy there was a decisive lack of in depth character development. Connor and Risa, were worthy heroes sure, they fought for each other and the lives of those around them and when push came to shove they tried to do the right thing. But somewhere amidst all the dramatics of running for your life and maybe changing the world along the way something about them felt a little flat (and not just because their love story was underdeveloped). And while Lev seemed to have a little more substance I wanted more from him, from all of them. Interestingly enough some of the side characters like CyFi (a kid who lives with a portion of an unwind’s brain and subsequently his personality) and the Admiral (one of the few adults in this book who’s motivations are a source of tension) seem to have more fully developed personalities.

That being said though, this book haunted me… its’s still haunting me. Sometimes when I get into a reading frenzy and devour one book right after another I have a hard time pulling apart some of the plot points and characters in my brain later. (that might be why I have a tendency to re read so regularly) Not this book.. this one stands alone in my mind and I’ve caught myself thinking about it over and over again in the weeks since I finished.

I may not have loved all the feelings I had while reading Unwind; anger, terror, disgust, sadness and just enough joy to make it all worthwhile but I truly, truly appreciated that it made me feel them. Like so many of us I read to escape from the world.. but I also read to examine it. I want the books I read to be a classroom that functions to teach me about life and challenges me to ask the tough questions that may never have satisfying resolutions.

The news these days is full…full of darkness and what a book like Unwind reminds us is that there is never a “simple” answer. No one crusade will save us. Sometimes the best we can do is simply to keep asking questions.

 

So tell me what you think? Do you still read dystopia (or have you jumped off that bandwagon?) if so why?? 

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Top Ten Tuesday: Characters who I want with me in a Zombie Apocalypse.

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. This weeks theme is: Top Ten Characters who (fill in the blank). At first I couldn’t think of anything and I had almost decided to skip this one when is hit me ZOMBIES!! Obviously I want to talk about zombies!

The thing about me is that I am married to a guy who writes horror stories, loves zombies and is an all round SUPER GEEK. As a result we spend an inordinate amount of time formulating our zombie apocalypse survival plan…. While the apocalypse is never ideal I think survival is all about teaming up with the right people with the right skill set. So I’ve decided  to take this Top Ten Tuesday opportunity to compile the best Zombie survival posse EVER 🙂

 

The Warriors.

Katniss: The Hunger Games. I don’t even need to explain why right?? This chick is zombie apocalypse GOLD, she’s got mad skills with that bow (and as we all know from The Walking Dead a bow and arrow is the best way to kill zombies and hunt food since it’s quiet), she understands the wilderness, she knows her plants and she is one hell of a survivor….  If I only got to pick one person on this list to face the zombia apocolypse with it would be Katniss (if she would have me… which she probably wouldn’t). She may not be the most brilliant or the absolute deadliest but I feel like she is the perfect mix of skills and honorable intentions (plus she isn’t super duper attached to a love interest) and I intimately understand the motivations that drive her.

Perry: Under the Never Sky. He makes the list for almost all the same reasons Katniss does, he is magic with a bow and he can survive in the wilderness. Then of course he’s got those “senses” I’m not totally sure how the Scire thing will help (maybe preemptively knowing when all the strong personalities on this list are going to come to blows??)  but the “Seer” sight will be hella useful for spotting the undead!

Roar:Under the Never Sky. Ok… maybe this is cheating to have him too BUT I LOVE ROAR and his skills are a little different from Perry’s. First of all he is deadly in so many ways (*swoons*)but most relevantly with knives (which again, is a very good way to kill zombies without attracting other zombies), and his “Aud” sense will be exceptionally useful (he would be able to tell if there were walkers moving around in that creepy abandoned house we need to get into for some random reason). The other thing that Roar has going for him is a sense of humor!! Morale is crazy important in an apocalypse and Roar is possibly the least serious character on this list. Plus he sings! He and Katniss can perform duets!! *Katniss glares at me*

June & Day: Legend. You knew I’d squeeze them in didn’t you!!! Seriously though how could I leave them off this list? Speaking of which, I put them together for two reasons: 1. Because you can’t separate them again!!! And 2. Because together they are a perfect zombie apocalypse team. June is brilliant and skilled at strategy and combat (when it’s time to defend our compound she’s our girl) and Day is resourceful as hell and impossible to catch (unless you’re June) he wouldn’t need to fight the zombies on the ground to get into a hospital for antibiotics  or a warehouse for supplies, he would just parkour his ass right on in there and get us what we need easy as pie.

Ender: Enders Game. Ender is the commander of all commanders he was literally bread to be THE leader. We. Will. Need. Him.  The issue with this group is that almost everyone so far is a leader… Ender will intuitively know how to properly use them all to their best advantage so that our survival crew can operate without drama. While Ender has zero wilderness skills he is just as ruthless as he is empathetic and that will serve him well, you had better believe he won’t be getting eaten any time soon!! The other thing Ender’s got going for him is his innate ability to understand and annihilate the enemy. Eventually we are going to need to figure out how to kill all the zombies and save our planet…this happens to be exactly what Ender does best!

The Rebuilders.

Peeta: The Hunger Games. I know, I know why does Peeta make it but I didn’t even give Gale the time of day?? Well, Perry had Gale’s skills but with useful additions so he made the list instead, (times are tough in the zombie apocalypse … you’ve got to make hard choices) Plus I wasn’t gonna deal with love triangle drama. ANYWAY, so Peeta makes the list because he is strong enough to survive (so long as some mean author doesn’t run him into a force field) the initial apocalypse but he has skills we will need to rebuild our lives. That fresh bread and knowledge of grains is going to be a huge commodity once we get wherever it is we are going!

Cara: Insurgent. We will need scientists… Ideally we would have had someone with Jeannine Matthews research/lab skills but there was NO WAY IN HELL she was gonna make the cut! She probably caused the zombie apocalypse!!! So Cara was the next best thing, she’s a sciency Erudite with lab experience and she’s tough enough to survive.

Chubs: The Darkest Minds. If you are unfortunate enough to be bitten by a zombie there’s not much we can do for you… maybe Perry or Roar would chop off an arm or a leg if they can get to you fast enough…but other than that you’re pretty much dunzo…. However not all injuries are fatal, at least not if they are properly treated and that’s why we will be needing Chubs. This kids got skillz with disinfectant wipes and sutures, if there is no doctor to be found (and I couldn’t come up with one) he’s a pretty decent substitute! He’s also obsessively organized and always willing to provide a nice little dose of realism to all the idealists in our crew. Oh yeah and he’s got that whole telekinetic blue team power going! But most importantly he’s got us covered for books! (WE STILL NEED OUR BOOKS!!!).

 

The Bait

Bella: Guys, I don’t know if you read Twilight or if you dodged the bullet and missed that train all together. But Bella’s super power is pretty much being a supernatural magnet with absolutely ZERO instincts for self preservation. She is also amazingly good at being saved and offering herself as bait…  I mean HELLO!!! She was essentially born to play the role of Zombie bait! I imagine she would be more than happy to stand in a clearing and wait for a horde of zombies to smell (or whatever zombies do) her delicious blood while the warriors wait in the trees to take them down!

 

So I know this isn’t my most diverse TTT list ever (I just couldn’t get those apocalypsish books I’ve been reading out of my head) and I think I’m missing some pretty important characters… Like a real doctor or a few more scientists for example…I thought about adding an Amity to farm buuuuutttt Eh…Peeta will just have to figure that one out!

Do you have a zombie apocalypse survival plan? Who would YOU add to this list?

 

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The Liebster Blog Award

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The Liebster Blog Award is typically given to blogs that have fewer than 300 followers and is an opportunity for people to learn a little bit more about these blogs. I was recently nominated by two other fantastic bloggers for this award  Amanda’s Nose in a Book & Wine goes best with a good book. (sorry it took me SO LONG to post…Procrastination should be added to the deadly sins…or is that part of sloth?). I know some blogs are award free and I totally get/respect that but I have followed a bunch of cool blogs through some of these awards so I’m game!  And I very much appreciate the ladies who thought of me! 🙂

Here are the rules:

  • List 11 facts about yourself.
  • Answer the 11 questions asked by whoever nominated you.
  • Ask 11 new questions to 9 bloggers with less than 200 followers. You cannot re-nominate the blog that nominated you.
  • Go to their blog and tell them that they have been nominated!

11 Facts about me:

1. I’m in my late twenties but I read a lot of YA because I think the stories are often more hopeful/fun than a lot of adult fiction. The world is already serious enough I’d much rather read about young people saving it than adults making it worse.

2. I’m married to a writer who is even more geeky than I am. It’s pretty fantastic because there is no judging in our house and we  bounce all our geeky ideas off of each other and our bookshelves are full of amazingness.

3. I have a BFA in Theatre but I’ll be going to medical school in the fall.

4. At this point I’m most interested in pediatric emergency medicine but we’ll see how that plays out in 4 years.

5. I will be a D.O don’t know what that is??? Check out this link. 🙂

6. I grew up on a beautiful little Island in Florida.

7. But….I moved to Chicago for college and never left. (I think this makes me crazy)

8. I love running (cuz it’s free) and I’ve run marathons and half marathons…they aren’t really fun to do but they are lots of fun to finish.

9. In my theatre days I may or may not have had an alter ego who was a burlesque dancer.

10. I was a competitive figure skater when I was a kid. (In FL…yep)

11. I have two little sisters (also in their twenties) and they are my best friends.

These are the questions from Amanda’s Nose in a Book (such a great blog!!!)

1.Why did you start blogging? Honestly? Because my sister was not keeping up with all the books I kept trying to force her to read and I really, really NEEDED to talk to someone about them. I was afraid she might stop speaking to me if I didn’t find another outlet for all the book chatter going on in my head.

2.What is the first book you can honestly say that you fell in love with? Island of the Blue Dolphins. I spent weeks upon weeks in my backyard pretending to be Karana. (I even tried to make my own clothing out of nature…yeah.)

3.Other than reading and blogging, what are your hobbies? Running. And I have recently started writing more but I have no story of my own to tell just lots of scenes and characters that flit through my head.

4.What are your guilty pleasures (books/tv shows/movies)? Things with vampires. Yeah….. I know.

5.If you could switch places with any fictional character, who would you choose? Oh geez. Probably Hermione and here’s why: She’s brilliant, she can do magic for heavens sake! (Brilliantly) And really, who doesn’t want to go to Hogwarts??

6.Do you have any other blogs? If so, what do you blog about? If not, What would you blog about if you had another one? Nope. I am almost too technologically challenged for this one (guys seriously…how do I make it prettier?) If I had another it would probably be about school and medicine. It would be sadder and more intense and a lot less fun…I’ll stick with book blogging for now.

7.What are your top 3 favorite television shows of all time? Hmmmm…What about my top 3 right now?

The Walking Dead.

Game of Thrones

American Horror Story

8.If you won a free vacation to any place of your choosing, where would you go? Scotland for a Scotch tour.

 9.If you could only bring 3 books with you on that vacation, which ones would you choose? Unwholly, Seraphina, Dreams of Gods and Monsters 

10.Who is your favorite band or singer? Currently? Mumford and Sons , Imagine Dragons and Florence and the Machine.

11.Why do you think they want us to ask an odd number of questions?

11 is a kickass number!! Here are some very cool facts about the number 11. 

 

And THESE are the questions from Caroline over at Wine goes best with a good book (also amazing)!

1. What encouraged you to start blogging, and what is the message you are trying to send? Started blogging for my sis 🙂 I don’t know if I have a message but I really love DISCUSSING books… I want to tall you about the things I learn from the books I read and I’m curious to know if others thought what I did…

 

2. Most influential book? Probably all of the Harry Potters because they fed my imagination in a way no other story ever has… and I think they saved my life for realz y’all once or twice.

3. What is your go to activity on a rainy day? Umm Reading… isn’t that everyones??

4 . How has your career/school interest helped you with your blog? Oh geez.. I use this as escapism so not much crossover… I suppose being a theatre major round one of school taught me to get into the minds and hearts of characters.

5. What character do you think represents you the best? I really WISH it was June Iparis from Legend or Katniss from HG or Hermione from (If I have to tell you that we can’t be friends) But… I think it’s Chubs from The Darkest Minds or Zu from Daughter of Smoke and Bone or perhaps John in Legend (I guess I’m a secondary character in my head).

6. Book or e-reader? BOTH if a book is great I MUST own it in BOTH!!!!

7. How have your travels helped you with your writing? Wish I had traveled 😦

8. What’s the one piece of advise you’d give your younger self (you can tell I’m reaching here)? CHILL chickadee… Is allll gonna be ok. Even when it’s not, it is. You will survive and you will learn.

9. How do you feel about your career, is your blog a way for you to escape that and do something that truly interests you? Well… my career will be school soon right now I just have a job… but yes the blog/reading is an escape 🙂

10. Where do you go to blog/write? My reading chair.

11. What is the most beneficial thing you think will come from this award? Hopefully I will find new people who want to chat about books with me… Guys, I LOVE TALKING ABOUT BOOKS!! *Crazy grin*

And NOW I nominate all these awesome people who’s blogs keep me entertained  on a daily basis.

Geeky Musings From a Nerdy Girl  

Caught Read Handed

My Life in Books

The BibliOH!phile

The Resurgent Bookworm 

Mhairi Reads 

Geekandbooknerds’s Blog

Strawberry Blonde Books

A Letter for Justin Alcala (Full disclosure this is my husband… but his blog is really great!)

And HERE are my questions for YOU 🙂

1.Why did you start blogging?

2. If you were going to recommend one book to everyone what would it be?

3.Do you have a soundtrack for the books you read?

4. What are your guilty pleasure reads?

5. Did you grow up in a reading family or discover a love of reading on your own?

6. What books have most influenced your life?

7. What are your top 3 favorite books right now?

8. Do you have a story to tell? Have you already started writing it?

9.What is your favorite classic ?

10. Are you a bit of a book geek or fangirl (boy) ?? Do you have a deep dark geek secret/story to share?

11. It’s the Zombie apocolypse!!! AHHHHHHH!!!  Whats your survival plan?

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The False Prince.

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Book blogging has been an interesting experience for me so far. I had no idea for example that my TBR list would suddenly increase by a factor of 1000, I also didn’t realize that I would now have less time to actually READ all those amazing books because I was busy trying to come up with clever things to say about the books I had managed to read. (to be fair it’s not just the blog…I’ve roped myself into a few other writing projects lately…I may confess to those at some future point, or I may not…it’s a mystery!)

On the other hand blogging has also done exactly what I had hoped it would and  connected me with other amazing bookish people. Who have coincidentally introduced me to many, many kickass books that I would not otherwise have read. I suppose it’s not that coincidental since lots of book nerds seem to share my desperate need to pass on the latest phenomenal book they just finished. (Hence my now bottomless well of TBR books).

The other side effect of blogging that I’ve noticed is that writing about all these books has provided me with a better understanding of  what makes a story sing to my soul. I love a lot of different genre’s but it turns out that many of the books I hold closest to my heart, read over and over and slip into unsuspecting people’s purses share certain traits

One of those qualities is a sassy character. Lord have mercy on my soul, but I do so love a mouthy character with a heart of gold. I am fairly certain that someday I will wake up to discover that I am the mother of a teenager who is soaked in sarcasm and dipped in snark and when that happens I shall rue the day I typed these words…. but until then I will continue to relish in characters who solve as many problems as they cause (lots) with clever witticisms. (In my defense the heart of gold part is pretty important too… and I hope that I can find it in myself to raise childrem with that aspect as well.)

Which brings me to the book…yeah, I was always gonna get there eventually.

The main character in this trilogy ‘Sage’ is just about the most brazen, smart-mouthed character I have ever met. I LOVED him…  There was a smirk on my face for the whole four days I spent reading the series. Unfortunately I think that characters like Sage encourage my own dry sarcasm to spring forth from it’s safe place in my head right on out into the world.  And it’s possible that while reading this book I may have tried to parkour myself around the office whilst explaining to one of my bosses what that is (it was a loooooong week last week.) So, the moral of my story here is that sometimes books are a bad, albeit very entertaining, influence on me. I’m probably WAY too old for that but….Eh.

Right then. So Sage is clever and sassy with great personal development and story arc. And it has to be said that the author deserves credit and a cookie for some very carefully crafted storytelling when it comes to Sage’s backstory. More on that later (I promise to warn you before I get all spoilery). While initially this book may seem like a pretty standard Robin Hood meets The Artful Dodger with a pinch of Anastasia (you know totally standard) fantasy I assure you it is not.

In truth, The False Prince is a somewhat lighthearted fantasy novel (excellent break from Unwind which I read right before) but it is still brilliantly written and smart as hell! It did not take long at all to fall right into this well told story of an orphan boy rejected by his family and left to fend for himself who gets roped (literally) into a wildly treasonous plot to steal the crown. Of course, since the main character is made entirely of self serving (or so you think) sarcasm and mischief that makes Loki look like a freaking amateur things do not go particularly well for Connor who is the self righteous mastermind behind the plot. Cue awesomeness!

This was one of those books that you read in one sitting and then look around at the world and wonder what happened to your day. “Oops! Were you talking to me? What do you mean we need to eat dinner?” or better yet, “Holy hell!! how did it get to be 3am?? I have to be at WORK in a few hours…Oh well thats what espresso shots are for!” Guys, I think my husband is a pretty cool guy for putting up with the ipad glow most nights not to mention the fact that I have a tendency to talk OUT LOUD to my books (you do that too right??).  Anyway once things got going, which was almost immediately all three of the books were very, very, very hard to put down.

And then there was the plot twist…. WARNING.WARNING.WARNING semi-spoilers (although I’m still being careful) and all such nonsense.

So the truth is I had the twistyness pretty much figured out… I think after you’ve read a certain number of books it’s pretty hard to hide things like that especially from readers like me who LOVE to look for nuances and read between the lines. (Also my Mother’s  family are all obsessive readers and one of the genre’s that gets passed around the most are murder mysteries…I’ve literally read hundreds of them so it’s habitual to look for clues and hints that things are not as they seem) But here’s the thing, just because I thought I knew what was coming didn’t mean I was confident in my diagnosis…I wasn’t. Nielsen was SO incredibly clever about the way she wrote the main character’s life history. In fact I HIGHLY recommend going back and rereading the first book once you finish the series just to experience all the double meanings beneath every single thing Sage says… It’s pretty darn brilliant!

I lovelovelove smart books, the Erudite in me just gets all weak in the knees and stuff.

And while we are talking about smart books and things that make me fluttery I’d just like to take this opportunity to provide further proof that I am a little crazy and confess that this book was recommended to me by a whole group of fellow readers who share my obsession with the Legend Trilogy…. I KNOW…I KNOW it’s like the 5th time I’ve mentioned that book in another review….I can’t help it!! I still haven’t found it’s equal. Anyway… I think these ladies are single handedly responsible for about 75% of my now infinite TBR list….but that’s ok because many of those books like this one share a certain charm (or a bold as brass street smart character) with that other book that I can’t quite seem to get over. (BTW let’s just take a sec to sell that one again… Hey bloggy friends! Have you read Legend yet?? It’s really good… here’s what I thought Of Legend, Prodigy and Champion in case you missed it! Have a lovely day!!! *Grins like a crazy person* )

Ok…I’m done 🙂 Back to The False Prince. The only issue I had with the book was that other than Sage I wasn’t super, super attached to the secondary characters…Especially the love interests, did Imogen even count as a love interest in this book?? I’m not sure… Anyway, by The Runaway King (book 2) I was more invested in Mott, Tobias, Roden & Imogen (Book 2 might have been my favorite) and that was helpful. That aside this was a truly, truly fantastic story… you should read it!!! And if by chance you HAVE you should chat with me about it!!

Buuuutttt ….If you haven’t picked it up yet and I haven’t managed to convince you of it’s amazingness here are the links to the False Prince reviews by the bloggers (and fellow Legend fangirls) who sold me. Check them out! Their blogs are awesome and I think they do a MUCH better job than I did at talking about the actual book! Loving the Language of Literacy & The Book Landers.

And now I shall leave you with 2 questions:

1. Is there a character type or plot device that just steals your heart and makes you fall instantly in love with a book?

2.How do you do that nifty thing where you hide spoilers with a link or something?? Id really love to figure that one out…..

 

Have a glorious day!!!

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