Year End Review

As 2013 comes to an end I wanted to look back on the books I’ve blogged about this (my first year of book blogging!) year. This was a year of great highs (The Silent Wife –  If you’re in the mood for something not YA this is the book to read. It’s amazing.) And some major lows (Beautiful Creatures) and some disappointments (*cough Allegiant cough*.) But all in all it was a great year of reading. Here’s to 2014 and the all the new literary gems to be discovered!

What was great

Eleanor & Park, Rainbow Rowell EleanorPark_thumb
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

In my opinion, Eleanor & Park is one of the best YA novels of 2013. Perceptive, funny, sophisticated and touching, Rainbow Rowell’s charming misfit lovebirds melt your heart and make you yearn for the excitement and turmoil of first love.

Clockwork Princess, Cassandra Clare CP2_cover
Publisher: Simon & Schuster

The finale to Cassandra Clare’s prequel trilogy, The Infernal Devices, has been a bit polarizing amongst fans of the series. Personally I loved it. And that’s saying something because I wasn’t overly keen on the first two books. I didn’t mind them, I absolutely loved the steam punk elements and the Victorian England setting, but this last book had me finally falling in love with Tessa, Will and Jem. I truly loved the way Clare ended this story. I thought it was strikingly heartfelt and absolutely moving. Plus *spoiler alert* that whole thing with Tessa morphing into a giant angel was super cool.

World After, (Penryn and the End of Days #2), Susan Ee WorldAfter
Publisher: Skyscape

I have yet to finish my review of this book but I needed to put it on the list. Susan Ee is a bit of a phenomenon – having self published the first book in this series (Angelfall – awesome) only to see it become a massive success. This is her follow up and it lives up to the hype. Plus Penryn kind of puts to shame other major heroines (Katniss, Tris etc.) she doesn’t complain, she just gets on with it. Her sense of self preservation knows no bounds. Love it.

The 39 Deaths of Adam Strand, Gregory Galloway adamstrand
Publisher: Dutton Books (Penguin Group)

The 39 Deaths of Adam Strand is one of those little gems you weren’t looking for but have the good fortune to simply happen upon. After reading a review from the A.V. Club I knew I had to read it. Existential is the best way to describe Galloway’s novel. Adam Strand is so frustrated with life, so overwhelmed with  boredom he kills himself. Over and over again. As his frustration grows at his inability to make death stick Adam takes us on a journey through the mind of an insightful, self-absorbed, too smart for his own good teenager. Macabre, witty and shrewd The 39 Deaths of Adam Strand has to be the most unsung YA novel of 2013.

“Life is spectacular. Forget the dark things. Take a drink and let time wash them away to where ever time washes away to.”

“Life is spectacular. Forget the dark things. Take a drink and let time wash them away to where ever time washes away to.”

The Spectacular Now, Tim Tharp
Publisher: Knopf Books

Okay it wasn’t a new release but who cares? This book is amazing. Incidentally so is the movie – except for the ending. Don’t get me started on the ending. Regardless this is a book I highly recommend. Tharp’s Sutter Keely has to be the most likeable teenage-alcoholic-ne’er do well in literary history. The best part of The Spectacular Now? The ending. Which I won’t spoil, you should go read it. Like now.

Days-of-Blood-and-Starlight-HBDays of Blood and Starlight, (Daughter of Smoke and Bone Trilogy), Laini Taylor
Publisher: Little, Brown

I’m in love with Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone Trilogy. In Love. Like hardcore. Obsessed? Probably. But definitely in love. I couldn’t wait for this book and when it finally came out I devoured it – twice, back to back. Taylor’s poetic prose coupled with her knack for creating characters you can’t help but fall in love with (or hate with the passion of a thousand fiery suns – I’m looking at you Thiago) makes this series more than worthwhile. Plus the blistering, heart-breaking and overwhelmingly quiet burning passion between main characters Karou and Akiva is kind of everything.

What was meh

Allegiant, Divergent Trilogy, Veronica Roth Allegiant2
Publisher: HarperCollins

Possibly the biggest disappointment of the year, the last book in Veronica Roth’s thrilling Divergent trilogy came in with a bang and left with an astounding fizzle. I don’t despise this last book. But I can’t deny feeling a little shafted. It’s not the choices Roth made that bother me, those I respect. It’s how bloated, convoluted and downright ridiculous aspects of the book were. There was just too much going on, story lines were stretched so thin there was no authenticity anywhere. And for the first time in the series I found myself not caring about Tris and Four. And really – there’s no way Tris would have left her gun behind. Never.

13 Reasons Why, Jay Asher ThirteenReasonsWhy
Publisher: Razor Bill

I know – I know, a lot of people really love this book. And I respect that. I really loved the overall concept, I found the way the touchy subject of suicide is discussed was done in a sensitive and appropriate manner. I also couldn’t help but feel 12 of Hannah Baker’s 13 reason’s for ending her life were a bit superficial. And quite frankly, there’s really no reason that’s truly acceptable.

Dead Ever After, Charlaine Harris
Publisher: Penguin

Ugh.

“Do you sometimes wish you could fast-forward a week? You know something bad’s coming up, and you know you’ll get through it, but the prospect just makes you feel sick?” Yes. This book.

To truly understand my complete and utter disdain for this book is nearly impossible unless you’ve read it yourself. Charlaine Harris’ Southern Vampire Mysteries was never going to be one of the great literary feats of the 21 Century but when it began it was enjoyable entertainment. Sookie Stackhouse was a great, kooky, feisty and likeable heroine. Throw in some otherworldly-ness, smokin’ hot vampire love triangles and loads of shenanigans in small town Louisiana, this series was pleasantly thoughtless entertainment. But as the series progressed it became ridiculous and laborious. By the time the final instalment rolled around in the form of Dead Ever After I was reading the books out of sheer spite (and with some minor hope that they might redeem themselves in this final outing. Alas it was not to be so.)  Dead Ever After was the worst of the thirteen book series. THE WORST. And that’s saying something. Silly, boring, predictable and with the lamest copout ever it’s quite possible Harris herself had lost all interest in Sookie’s adventures in Bon Temps.

What I can’t wait for in 2014

Avalon, Mindee Arnett Avalon
Publisher: HarperCollins
On Sale: January 21, 2014

Science Fiction doesn’t get nearly the amount of respect it deserves. I’m hoping with the release of Mindee Arnett’s Avalon that might change. First described to me as Firefly but with teenagers this is the story of Jeth Seagrave and the group of teenage mercenaries he leads who travel the numerous star systems stealing metatech. Despite being a topnotch thief all Jeth cares about is earning enough money to buy back his family’s ship from his lethal boss and getting his younger sister Lizzie away from a life of crime.

Interstellar space travel, teenage mercenaries, criminal masterminds and mind control are just a few of the many elements that make up Avalon.

Dreams of Gods and MonstersLaini Taylor GodMonsters
Publisher: Little, Brown
On Sale: April 8, 2014

So we’re back to the Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy. This is the third and final instalment in the series and naturally as someone with an unhealthy obsession I’m obviously counting down the days (101!). Taylor’s Karou is one of the best female heroines out there, tough, witty, resourceful and vulnerable she’s a class act.

CityHeavenCity of Heavenly Fire, Cassandra Clare
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
On Sale: May 27, 2014

I love the Shadowhunter world Cassandra Clare has created. It’s inventive and fresh, and really how could you not love a world where the fabulous Magnus Bane resides? This is yet another series finale, this time for Clary Fray and the shadowhunters of the New York Institute. With (dreamy) Jace filled (literally) with heavenly fire and the sociopathic demon-angel hybrid Sebastian on the loose creating evil nephilim this is bound to be one doozy of a closer.

(Don’t You) Forget About Me, Kate Karyus Quinn
Publisher: Harper Teen Forget About Me
On Sale: June 14, 2014

Okay truth be told I’ve already read this, but it’s on my list because I want others to know how good it is. Kate Kurys Quinn weaves an intriguing, spellbinding tale of two sisters with extraordinary powers living in an extraordinary town filled with secrets. This is a story that’s both haunting and magical, unexpected and refreshing. It’s also so tightly wound that unravelling the many secrets within the books pages is a truly thrilling experience.

Despite having read and blogged about all four of John Green’s books I’ve left them off this list because let’s face it if I put in one I’d have to put in all of them. Much like the rest of the world I’m a little in love with Green. The Fault in Our Stars has become one of my all time favourite books and there are times when I wonder how any of us every lived without the witticisms and philosophical insight of Augustus Waters.

Early in the new year expect reviews for World AfterUntil YouThe Rosie Project and Hemlock.

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The Monthly Re-Read: Pride & Prejudice

pridenovel

With all the amazing books out there, sometimes it’s hard to justify re-reading a book. Unless that book is Pride & Prejudice, a novel that demands re-reading at least once a year (once a month if you’re a slight obsessive like myself.) But why? What makes P&P so worthy of this kind of loyalty? Here are 10 of the best reasons I can think of:

10. The overall story – it’s the quintessential story of opposites falling in love. It’s funny, clever and warm – it pretty much leaves you feeling all warm and tingly inside.

9. The wit. Jane Austen has to be one of the funniest writers ever which is saying something because making people laugh isn’t easy. Her prose is witty, sharp and astute. It’s flowery but with purpose, and easy to read. You get lost in it, but in a good way.

8. The social commentary. Along with all that witty prose are brilliant observations of the inequalities of the times, the absurdity of the expectations placed on young women in the Victorian era (that still hold true today) and the always complicated aspects of class relations. Basically ‘Mo money, ‘Mo problems.

7. Sisterly love. Who didn’t envy the bond between Elizabeth and Jane? As someone drowning in brothers with no sister in sight, every time I read P&P I can’t help but imagine what life must be like when you have a sister like Jane.

6. That opening line.

“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.”

It’s famous for a reason. It’s also one of the best lines to mutilate for your own personal needs.

5. The cult of Austen. Once you read P&P you’ve unwittingly joined the plethora of Austen committees in existence. Because let’s not lie, you finish Pride & Prejudice and you go on to read Emma followed swiftly by Sense and Sensibility, than Mansfield Park and before you know it you’re walking around with a frilly umbrella saying things like “Follies and nonsense, whims and inconsistencies do divert me, I own, and I laugh at them whenever I can.”

4. Mr. Collins, Wickham, Caroline, Mrs. Bennet, Lady Catherine de Bourgh. They’re all terrible in their own way. Some (Mr. Collins, Mrs. Bennet) have good intentions but are also clueless, others (Wickham, Caroline, Lady Catherine) are plotting, manipulative and self-serving. But all are vital to the story’s success. Each one, in their attempts to thwart Darcy or Elizabeth for their own reasons, inadvertently draws them closer together. For that we say salute them.

3. Mr. Bennet. Irreverent, sly, and totally unconcerned with his wife and her nerves Mr. Bennet is any daughters dream for a dad. He recognizes the shortcomings of his wife and children, and even those he, himself possesses yet laughs them away. His love for Elizabeth saves her from a life with Mr. Collins and really that’s reason enough to love him.

2. Elizabeth Bennet. She’s the ideal heroine. Smart, funny, whimsical but knowledgeable. Elizabeth is a thoroughly modern women in un-modern times. She wins Darcy’s heart not by batting her eyes and showing off her womanly wiles but by simply staying true to herself. She demonstrates a fearlessness in the face of the intimidating Lady Catherine de Bourgh and loyalty to her beloved sister by putting Darcy in his place when he confesses his love. Simply put Elizabeth Bennett is kind of badass.

1. Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy. If this wasn’t an obvious  first choice I don’t know what is. He’s just about the dreamiest, most swoon-worthy character ever (maybe tied with Augustus Waters…maybe?) Sure at first he comes off as the world’s biggest jerk, a snob of the most epic proportions – going so far as to demean poor Elizabeth, “She is tolerable, but not handsome enough to tempt me, and I am in no humour at present to give consequence to young ladies who are slighted by other men.” Burn!

Regardless, the beauty of Mr. Darcy is that he, much like Elizabeth Bennet, is ahead of his time. Really Darcy’s a bit of a feminist, he loves Elizabeth because she is unafraid of what others think of her, she’s unwilling to compromise her morals to satisfy others and she’s certainly not afraid to speak her mind. Plus he knows that she loves him not because of his money or his position but in spite of these things. The man pays off the guy who tried to steal his beloved sisters virtue in order to save the Bennet’s the shame of Lydia’s behaviour! If that’s not love I don’t know what is.

The Reading Queue – Upcoming Reads for September

the-reading-queue

As I was navigating my way around the Blogosphere I stopped by one of my personal faves Book Tasty, who along with Books: A True Story hosts the Reading Queue a monthly meme where you list the books you’ve read over the past month and those you’ve lined up to read for the upcoming month – pretty awesome. This is my first time taking part and I’m loving every second, what with my strange penchant for lists.

August Reads

Eleanor & Park, Rainbow Rowell

Looking for Alaska, John Green

Bully, Penelope Douglas

Paper Towns, John Green

The Monthly Re-Read: Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Laini Taylor

Like most avid readers my To Read list grows at a far more rapid pace than I read but I do always have a list in the ol’ noggin of what I’ll read next.  So without further ado my current lineup for September (subject to change as my daily whims see fit):

13 Reasons Why, Jay Asher

The DUFF: Designated Ugly Fat Friend, Kody Keplinger

Tampa, Alice Nutting

Me Before You, Jojo Moyes

Monthly Re-read: Watership Down, Richard Adams

And finally I have three ARCs lined up:

Discretion, David Balzarini 
Night of the Purple Moon, Scott Cramer 
The Devils Beat, R. Scott Vankirk

Of course in a perfect world I’d have nothing to do with my days but read, unfortunately the world is not perfect and those two pesky and seemingly eternal sidekicks – work and school – will most likely get in the way of me completing this list, but, there’s always October.

10 Literary Parents We Secretly Wish Were Real…and Our Own

10. Carlisle and Esme Cullen, Twilight

The whole being creatures of the night thing aside, Carlisle and Esme Cullen are pretty normal parents – they’re understanding, easy going (what with that whole everyone shacking up with everyone thing), non-judgemental and supportive, because it can’t be easy when your adopted vampire son brings home a girl who’s blood apparently smells like filet mignon and you know deep down inside you’d like to bite her. *Restraint. Keeping families together since 1774.

9.  Bob Cratchit, A Christmas Carol

He slaves away day and night for a dead beat employer without a complaint, goes without in order to take care of his family and does it all with a smile on his face. Though if he was smart he’d have listened to his wife and found himself another job, but hey, no one’s perfect.

8. Wendy Darling, Peter and Wendy  Wendy Peter Pan

Though at first she shows the same disdain for growing up as Peter while in Neverland Wendy’s loving nature has her acting as mother to the lost boys and her brothers even taking on some domestic duties (I know it’s a little sexist, it was written in 1904 okay?!) In the end she decides growing up isn’t so bad, goes on to marry and have a daughter of her own and when Peter comes back from Neverland Wendy allows her kid to run off with him too, trusting she’ll make the same choice her mother did. A parent who trusts their kid? Inconceivable.

7. Luke, The Mortal Instruments

There’s something to be said about a man who takes on another’s child as his own. Add to that the fact that Clary’s father happens to be his evil ex-best friend who tried to have him killed by a pack of werewolves, and then encouraged him to off himself after said werewolves infected him with lycanthropy and it’s fair enough to say that that man is pretty awesome. Also he’s crazy in love with her mom, a fierce protector and doesn’t get mad when her best friend eats all the pizza he’s just paid for. I’d say pretty top notch dad material.

6. Haymitch, The Hunger Games

So maybe he’s a bit of an alcoholic, and he might be a little on the rude side and he definitely does not know decorum or tact but he understands Katniss more than she realizes, and though he may seem like he doesn’t care he puts his life on the line to help fight against the Capitol. Even after the Games have finished and the rebellion is in full swing he remains a mentor to both of his tributes. Despite their often volatile relationship the bond between Haymitch and Katniss is one that’s both strong and honest.

5. Alfred J. Pennyworth, Batman Alfred

He’s more than just a butler – in a way he acts as Bruce’s conscience, he keeps all of his secrets, doesn’t laugh when his charge decides to dress up like a bat and become a notorious vigilante, he even takes responsibility for Bruce’s son Damien after Bruce apparently meets his untimely end. Stalwart to the end, Alfred always puts Master Wayne first.

4. Mr. Bennett, Pride and Prejudice 

PRIDE-AND-PREJUDICE-FILM--006

An unhappy alternative is before you, Elizabeth. From this day you must be a stranger to one of your parents. Your mother will never see you again if you do not marry Mr. Collins, and I will never see you again if you do.

It’s a good thing Elizabeth, Jane et al. had Mr. Bennett to counter their embarrassment of a mother or else they may have all turned out like the wayward Lydia. Mr. Bennett is the perfect counterbalance to Mrs. Bennett, quiet, clever, contemplative and witty, he treats his daughters as equals and though at times he may appear a little flippant in the end he’s not afraid to step in and rescue the day *cough Mr. Collins cough*

3. Cersei Lannister, A Song of Ice and Fire

Ok, hear me out on this one – Cersei Lannister is vile, there’s no doubt about this, that whole brother-lovin’ thing just ain’t cool. But, and this is a mighty big but – no one can say she wouldn’t do anything for her children. In fact she’s pretty damn fierce when it comes to her kids. Sure she doesn’t mind torturing and murdering other people’s children, in fact she probably, definitely delights in the misery of others. But only a mother could love Joffrey. An awful, terrible, despicable, villainous, sordid mother, but a mother nonetheless.

2. Molly and Arthur Weasley, Harry Potter

Sure they have too many kids and The Weasleysnot enough money but theirs has to be the most love filled house in the wizarding world. Despite being tight on cash they welcome both Harry and Hermione into their home with open arms, they become surrogate parents to Harry – worrying about him, fussing over him, listening to his concerns, dolling out advice. There’s also the fact that Mrs. Weasley’s a secret badass who ultimately achieves justice for Sirius when she blasts murderess Bellatrix Lestrange straight to you know where. Lesson: Don’t mess with Mama Weasley’s kids.

1. Atticus Finch, To Kill a Mockingbird

atticus-finch

Courage is when you know you’re licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what.

Because he’s Atticus Finch. Stoic, upstanding, heroic, progressive and honourable are only a few of the litany of adjectives that can be used to describe good old Atticus. From allowing his kids to call him by his first name, answering their questions honestly, standing up for what he knows is right despite the ridicule, disgust and anger bestowed on him by his neighbours – Atticus Finch is the dad any kid would be proud to call their own. Heck I’d take him as an uncle, or a friendly next-door-neighbour.

Literary Theme Songs

Below is a list of songs I think would make for great literary theme songs. I’ve been thinking about this for a while now, mostly because I spend a good deal of my time wishing I had my own theme song. This desire arose after watching a particularly inspiring episode of Family Guy where Peter wishes for and is granted his own theme music.

I had a brief moment of thinking I too could jump on the bandwagon, hopefully helping to create a new fad but I quickly gave up on it when I realized that:

1. I have limited musical talent and
2. Far from getting the reference, most people thought I was crazy like a fox.

But in my pursuit to give something a theme song I realized I could assign songs to books and allow them to act as each books personal theme song. Simples right? Not so. Not so at all. This activity was in fact a lot more difficult than I expected. But in the end I came up with a handful that I think are rather apropos.

Book: Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Laini Taylor
Song: Uninvited, Alanis Morissette

Stop it Nic Cage. Just stop it.

Stop it Nic Cage. Just stop it.

If we ignore the fact that this song was used in the awful Meg Ryan/Nicolas Cage vehicle that was City of Angels the song in and of itself encompasses perfectly the books main theme. DOSAB is all about forbidden love, unrequited love, heartache and jealousy, love gained and love lost, and it’s all so unexpected, and totally uninvited.

Choice Lyrics
Like any uncharted territory/I must seem greatly intriguing
You speak of my love like/You have experienced love like mine before
But this is not allowed/You’re uninvited/An unfortunate slight

Book: Doctor Faustus, Christopher Marlowe
Song: Sympathy for the Devil, The Rolling Stones

Technically it’s a play – but it still works, Marlowe’s controversial play about a man who sells his soul to the devil has had such an indelible impact on literature, from its orgins in German Legend to its reinterpretations by Goethe, Mann and even – yes people, even Ghost Rider, the Faustian protagonist is a very permanent and beloved character for any morality tale.

Choice Lyrics
Just call me Lucifer/Cause I’m in need of some restraint/
So if you meet me/Have some courtesy/
Have some sympathy/and some taste/
Use all your well-learned politesse/Or I’ll lay your soul to waste/

Book: Frankenstein, Mary Shelly
Song: The Monster Mash, Bobby “Boris” Pickett & The Crypt Kickers

I’m sorry. I know. Too easy.  Young-Frankenstein-3

Choice Lyrics
I was working in the lab/late one night
When my eyes beheld an eerie sight/
For my monster from his slab began to rise

Book: The Spectacular Now, Tim Tharp
Song: Time to Pretend, MGMT

Sutter Keely – loveable ne’er-do-well, slacker, alcoholic, rock star (in his own mind at least) he is the great pretender. Though his hearts always in the right place his unwillingness to take responsibility for his actions and own up to his own shortcomings leave him with two choices – prepare himself for the inevitable bleak future of life as a big fat loser, or drink himself into awesome oblivion.

Choice Lyrics
This is our decision to live fast and die young/
We’ve got the vision/Now let’s have some fun/
Yeah it’s overwhelming/but what else can we do?/
Get jobs in offices and wake up for the morning commute?

Book: The Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger
Song: I Don’t Wanna Grow Up, Tom Waits

Here’s the absolute truth about Holden Caulfield, he’s a whiny git who’s paralyzed with fear by what growing up encompasses. And, like most teenagers he rails against the system because he knows one day it’ll pull out the ‘phony’ in him. Yeah, I said it.

Choice Lyrics
Seems like folks turn into things/That they’d never want
The only thing to live for/Is today

Now enjoy this music video – because what in the world is Tom Waits doing?

Book: James and the Giant Peach, Roald Dahl
Song: Peaches, The Presidents of the United States of America

I do in fact realize that this is the second time within this list I’ve used the most obvious song choice possible, but come on! How can I not? Does it really matter that the song and the actual story share little in common but the central theme of peaches? I think not.

Peaches?

Peaches?

Peaches

Peaches or…

Choice Lyrics
I took a little nap where the roots all twist/
Squished a rotten peach in my fist/ And dreamed about you woman
I poked my finger down inside/makin’ a little room for an ant to hide/
Nature’s candy in my hand or can or a pie

(It really makes no sense but you can’t knock a group that got rich off a song about peaches.)

Book: We Need to Talk About Kevin, Lionel Shriver
Song: Pumped Up Kicks, Foster The People

The melody may be fun and catchy but the lyrics are serious and evoke the image of a kid who’s snapped – with seemingly no sense of the sanctity of life and no regard for the pain his actions will inflict on others – kind of perfectly sums up the probably sociopathic Kevin in Shriver’s novel.

Choice Lyrics
Robert’s got a quick hand/He’ll look around the room/He won’t tell you his plan/
He’s got a rolled cigarette/hanging out his mouth/He’s a cowboy kid

Book: An Abundance of Katherines, John Green
Song: The Ex-Factor, Lauren Hill

I really wanted to use either Danke Shoen by Wayne Newton or Ben Folds Five Song DumpedFor The Dumped but the former is maybe just a little too happy and the latter a little too angry, so I’ve gone with sad and mushy. Colin Singleton is obsessed with Katherines, but Katherines keep dumping him, after being dumped by Katherine XIX Colin attempts to win her back by achieving “genius” status through a mathematical equation that will predict who in a relationship will be the dumper and who will be the dumpee.

Choice Lyrics
Tell me who I have to be/To get some reciprocity/No one loves you more than me/
And no one ever will

Book: Nineteen Eighty Four, George Orwell
BigBrotherSong: Testify, Rage Against the Machine

Orwell’s dystopian novel about a world in perpetual war run by an elite group led by the omnipotent (and possibly non-existent) Big Brother is a bleak tale of the loss of individuality, thought police, ultimate control and historical revisionism. It’s only fitting that Rage Against the Machine – a group whose name itself demands rebellion – would provide the best possible choice for a theme song.

Choice Lyrics
Your voice it is so soothing/That cunning mantra of killing/
I need you my witness/To dress this up so bloodless/
To numb me and purge me now/Of thought of blaming you

Book: Eleanor & Park, Rainbow Rowell
Song: Anyone Else But You, The Mouldy Peaches

I’m currently in the process of re-reading this gem of a novel (after which I do in fact plan to write a review) but this story of two misfits who unexpectedly fall in love is kind of amazing.

Choice Lyrics
I kiss you on the brain in the shadow of the train/
Kiss you all starry-eyed/My body swingin’ from side to side/
I don’t see what anyone can see in anyone else but you.

If you’ve got any suggestions leave them in the comments!

The Monthly Re-Read: Daughter of Smoke and Bone

DaughterOfSmokeAndBone

Wishes are false. Hope is true. Hope makes its own magic.

Ten reasons re-reading Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone is totally worth it:

10. The unbelievable beauty of Karou and Akiva’s love story. Not to go all mushy here but my God, that’s one intense relationship.

9. The imagery – it’s visceral and vivid and makes you almost desperate to see the world through the eyes of Laini Taylor

8. Taylor’s prose – it’s borderline poetic, flowery (in the best way imaginable), mature and clever – your eyes just flow across the pages as your brain effortlessly absorbs the story.

7. It’s creative. At first glance the story seems totally out there, I mean who would have thought that a world that encompasses animal-people hybrids and oppressive angels could be so enthralling? But it is. Enthralling and original – unlike anything else out there.

6. Zuzana – quite possibly the ideal best friend.

5.  Teeth for wishes – where does this woman come up with this stuff? Furthermore, the uses Karou puts her wishes to (namely exacting revenge on an ex-boyfriend) priceless.

4. The mystery surrounding Karou – Taylor builds it so brilliantly, even if you’ve already read DOSAB  it’s still a shocker when the truth is revealed.

3. Brimstone – the Wishmonger is both fearsome and loveable. His life’s work is pain yet he always has hope. He’s wise and kind and puts his life at risk to give Karou a second chance. Basically, he’s amazing.

2. AKIVA! Do I really need to explain this? I mean I will, but come on. He’s described as having ungodly beauty, he’s all dark and tortured – but loyal and totally crazy for Karou. On a scale of 1 to 10 in swoon-worthability he’s a modest 80.

“Love is a luxury." "No. Love is an element." An element. Like air to breathe, earth to stand on.”

“Love is a luxury.”
“No. Love is an element.”
“An element. Like air to breathe, earth to stand on.”

1. Karou – she is one of the best modern-day heroines, beautiful, charming, smart and funny but tough, not just physically but mentally as well. She’s not afraid to show vulnerability or to kick your butt, and in the face of adversity she always perseveres.

Literary Love Triangles: The Good, The Bad and the WTF?

The love triangle – a common theme seen throughout literature, some of it good, some of it bad, some incredibly questionable…some so bad they’re good. So with this in mind I’ve made a list of just a few love triangles and taken it upon myself to rank them.

Ranking system:
The Good: All around swooning and mooneyes/Things get rough but love triumphs
The Bad: Things aren’t just rough, decisions are questionable, and loyalty means nothing
WTF: Self-explanatory

Will, Jem, Tessa
(The Infernal Devices, Cassandra Clare)

This triangle has caused a lot of strife for fans of Clare’s prequel series The Infernal Devices, with a clear divide between team Jessa and team Wessa (?). In one corner you have the sensitive, kind and dying James Carstairs in the other corner, the fiery, caustic, sensitive and misunderstood William Herondale. And in either corner you’ve got a guy whose calling in life is to slay demons of which you may be one. Oh and did I mention their best friends? Awkward.

*Spoiler*
In the end Clare cleverly works it out where Tessa gets her cake and eats it too. But she does so in a way that’s incredibly touching, thoughtful and respectful to those on either end of the opposing teams. I say kudos Ms. Clare, kudos indeed.

Rating: Good

Betty, Veronica, Archie
(Archie Comics)

Anyone who’s ever read any of the adventures of the Riverdale crew knows that there’s a heavy emphasis on the Betty vs. Veronica quandary poor Archie’s in the middle of. I mean who to choose? The lovely, sweet, kind, patient and fun Betty or the super rich but stuck up, vain and self-involved Veronica? Quite frankly I could never understand Archie’s dilemma. I mean wasn’t the right choice kind of crystal clear? Regardless Betty and Veronica, despite their BFF status were in a constant battle to win the affections of the world famous ginger.

I always found it rather apropos that despite having two hot chicks constantly fight over him in the end Archie’s always willing to dump both for the redheaded vixen Cheryl Blossom. Cheryl by the way was originally deemed too sexual for a children’s comic and removed for a two-year period. This is not surprising. Her name alone screams harlot. Blossom? BLOSSOM?! It’s so salacious. Think about it people. In the end Archie is your typical teenage guy, clearly Ms. Blossom is…a little freewheeling. YouKnowWhatIMean

Rating: Bad

Jean Grey, Cyclops, Wolverine
(The X-Men, Stan Lee & Jack Kirby)

Theirs is a complicated love story. Jean is either married to or dating Cyclops (depending on which story you follow) but clearly has feelings for Wolverine, who we know for a fact is absolutely nuts about her. Cyclops and Wolverine despise each other. Not to mention they’re mutants. Oh and Jean Grey also happens to be one of the most powerful mutants (Omega level guys) around and has a crazy split personality called The Dark Phoenix. In retrospect it’s not really that complicated.

Welcome to the Friendzone, population: 1, Name: Wolverine

Welcome to the Friendzone
Population: 1
Name: Wolverine

Despite their mutual attraction and obvious chemistry Wolverine never really acts on his feelings for JG, nor she for his, despite the fact that Cyclops marries a JG clone and has a “psychic affaire” with Emma Frost. Not cool man. Not cool. Plus you don’t mess with a chick with infinite super powers.

Rating: WTF (based on all the crazy mutant-ness, death, resurrections, adamantium skeletons, a guy with laser eyes. Etc.)

Sidney Carton, Lucie Manette, Charles Darney
(A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens)

Oh Sidney, try as you might the good in you never quite outweighed the bad everyone else saw.  His is a tale of unrequited love, regret and redemption. Making the ultimate sacrifice for the woman he would never have, I’ve often wondered if given the chance to do it over would he still think it was a “far, far better thing” to do?

Rating: Good

Tess, Alec, Angel
(Tess of the D’Urbervilles, Thomas Hardy)

Ah Tess, you always believe the best in people and they always turn out to be, well, wankers. Poor Tess is used and abused by manipulative libertine Alec D’Urbervilles and placed on a pedestal only to be callously thrown away by the ironically named Angel Clare when he learns of her past. The story is wrought with angst and despair, love gained and love lost and in the end no one really wins. It’s all so tragic. (Yet terribly entertaining, an 19th century soap opera of sorts.)

Rating: Good (in terms of its iconic status, Hardy’s overall themes especially that of the sexual double standards of the times and the fact that Tess is a survivor.) Bad (Alec and Angel are kind of d-bags.)

Bill, Eric, Sookie
(The Southern Vampire Mysteries, Charlaine Harris)

This triumvirate of supernatural love was always one of my favourite parts of Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse novels.  After years of being seen as the loveable but crazy Merlottes waitress this sassy telepath was able to find love with a handsome, southern gentleman. Albeit a dead one, but hey no one’s perfect. Fast track ahead a few books and things between Sookie and Vampire Bill come to a sad end and she eventually takes up with the super-hot Viking sheriff of Area 5 Eric Northman. But Bill was always in the background, consistently remaining a possibility.

There was always such great tension between Bill and Eric but their mutual love of Sookie time and again (and often begrudgingly) had them working together to keep her safe from harm. In the end it would seem that Harris couldn’t make a choice, and so instead she copped out and put Sookie with the one character she always refused to get with to begin with. I said it before and I’ll say it again, lame.

Rating: WTF

James, Lily, Snape
(Harry Potter, J.K. Rowling)

A well-kept secret this triangle was hinted at throughout the seven book series but never fully disclosed until the ghoulish and menacing Prof. Snape gives his memory’s to an embattled Harry just before he succumbs to the bite of He Who Shall Not Be Named’s pet snake Nagini. Though the full story lasted a single chapter the truth – that Snape was madly in love with Harry’s mother Lily and dedicated his life to protecting her son upon learning of her murder at the hands of Lord Voldemort was heartbreaking and beautiful. It also completely changed the way we looked at Severus Snape, an unsung hero who tried to do the right thing, all for love he would never have. *Swoon*

SnapeNew

Rating: Good

Edward, Bella, Jacob 
(Twilight, Stephenie Meyer)

I am not a Twilight hater, I truly believe like anything it has its place in the pantheon of teenage-supernatural love stories. Many a person has argued that the character of Bella is a bad role model for teenage girls, what with her whole willingness to give up her life for a guy, literally, but I’ve often felt people failed to recognize that death wishes aside Bella is the one who generally saves the day in this series, so she can’t be quite as meek and docile as people say.

Granted there’s also the argument that –ignoring the fact that Edward would very much like to eat his beloved, he’s also a bit of a creepster considering when he first falls in love with her she’s 17 and he’s about a billion (okay, okay he’s 107, but “frozen” physically at 17, regardless you get my point.)

And then there’s the fact that her other paramour Jacob turns into a massive, vampire killing wolf, and it just so happens that this particular form of wolfism is relatively sensitive and deeply tied to emotion so you know he could potentially wolf out on Ms. Swan if she doesn’t put her plate in the dishwasher the right way.

And don't forget the slobber factor.

And don’t forget the slobber factor.

Looking past these arguments, which are all debatable, the reason the Bella/Edward/Jacob threesome of all-enduring teenage angsty love gets the bad rating is due to the pestiferous (I’ve been waiting so long to use that word, which is just an obnoxious way of saying annoying) excuse used to put it to rest. Not to mention the overall extra creepiness of it. Bella chooses Edward, though she acknowledges if he’d never come into the picture she’d have stuck it out with Jacob. That’s gotta sting. Despite being her second choice Jacob leaves his pack to protect her and her unborn vampire-human hybrid baby only to then turn around and “imprint” on said vampire-human hybrid baby, thus breaking his apparently not undying love for Bella and instead making him willing to bide his time while he waits for the child of the girl he’s been in love with for a while now to grow old enough for him. Got it? Good. Now allow me to state the obvious: that is creepy. That’s beyond creepy. That’s not romantic. It’s not sweet. It’s weird and not cool and quite frankly I’d be telling him to stay the hell away from my hybrid baby.

imprinting

That’s right, I generated a meme for this exact purpose. That’s how much I disagree with imprinting.

Rating: WTF (not to mention gross, weird, unhealthy and icky)

Elena, Damon, Stephan
(The Vampire Diaries, L.J. Smith)

They’re brothers! Come on! Have a little decency, a little respect for brotherly love and affection. Plus don’t you find it a little suspect that both brothers happen to have fallen in love with you despite your uncanny resemblance to the vampire who initially came between them and oh made them vampires?

Rating: Bad

Elizabeth Bennett, Darcy, Wickham
(Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen)

I’ve always loved the strife and mayhem Wickham caused between Elizabeth and Darcy. Charming, clever, slimy and manipulative Wickham made for an enjoyable villain. Ingratiating himself to Elizabeth by telling tall-tales about the misunderstood Mr. Darcy, playing on her already affirmed prejudice towards him, the slippery Wickham worms his way into her affections whilst further enraging the man who’s kid sister he ran off to marry so he could get his hands on her wealth. The cad!

In the end the truth is revealed, Elizabeth and Darcy find their way to each other and Wickham gets his (in the form of the insanely insufferable Lydia Bennett). Huzzah!

Rating: Good

Great Movies That Would Make Even Greater Books

Recently while perusing various book blogs and such I’ve come across a lot of lists of the best book to film adaptations and it got me thinking. What about films that could potentially make great books? Am I the only person who thinks about this? Because quite frankly, I’ve been thinking about it a lot.

For instance there’s so much speculation over the film adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s incredible juggernaut Gone Girl– David Fincher’s name has been thrown around as a possible director (which makes sense to me because only someone as raw as the guy who gave us Fight Club – another book to film adaptation by the by – could potentially do the story of Amy and Nick Dunne justice.  Ben Affleck’s been confirmed as Nick (although this could still be a rumor, and I’m kind of hoping it is, because really, isn’t he a little old to be playing a 30 y/o? No? Just me?) But why hasn’t anyone become incredibly excited at the possibility of Spring Breakers being made into a novel? I mean the movie was well received, the story line is very Gossip Girl meets Natural Born Killers meets Ferris Bueller’s Day Off – it would make a great book.

So I’ve compiled a list of movies that I think should be made into books. And I’ve even taken it upon myself to suggest the perfect author. So in no particular order I present: The List of Movies that Should Be Books

*I have decided to ignore the fact that some of the authors I’ve suggested are dead, therefore you should too.

Usual-Suspects

Back when I was picking beans in Guatemala, we used to make fresh coffee, right off the trees I mean.

10. The Usual Suspects, written by Chuck Palahniuk

Social outcasts? Check. Incredible, cult-like figure? Check. Dark, moody, beyond exhilarating, The Usual Suspects has to be one of my favourite films of all time. The first time I watched it I was about 15, in the basement, all by myself – let’s just say after that ending I had nightmares of Keyser Soze for weeks. True one could argue Fight Club had more social grit what with all the anti-capitalism, damn the man undertones but regardless, Palahniuk is known for creating intense characters who feel and are marginalized, they are constantly on the outside looking in, they tread the line between civility and the outrageous. How could this not work? Palahniuk is also one of the best when it comes to first person narration, his Verbal Kint would have all the desperation, wit and sarcasm so beautifully executed by Kevin Spacey. I’d read it.

9. Amelie, written by Laini Taylor

Laini Taylor author of the amazing, unearthly and poetic Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy (two books down, one more to go) is the perfect choice to bring this whimsical, colourful and effervescent fantasy film to life. Sure Amelie is a lot lighter in tone than DOSMB but Taylor’s knack for creating strong, charismatic heroines who’s best strength is their vulnerability coupled with her amazing creativity – I mean the woman humanized crazy monster-like “Chimaera”, made us look past their exteriors and sympathize with their plight for freedom over the really, really attractive Seraphim rulers. That can’t be easy. Taylor’s poetic prose and great attention to detail would be the right touch for recreating Amelie’s story.

Other possible contenders: Audrey Niffenegger, John Green

8. In Bruges, written by J.D. Salinger

If you haven’t seen this little British gem of a film starring Irish actors Brendan Gleeson (Mad-Eye Moody) and Colin Farrell (whom I may or may not have had an ongoing schoolgirl crush on since I was a wee lass…) and written by Martin McDonagh you should finish reading this post and then go and watch it.

The tale of two Irish hit men hiding out in – you guessed it – Bruges, is everything you could possibly hope for in a dark comedy produced by the British. Witty, dry and even a little insightful, it’s ultimately a morality tale overflowing with dramatic irony. I can’t think of anyone more suited to writing this into a novel than J.D. Salinger – if for no other reason than Farrell’s character Ray and his unbelievable hatred for Bruges continuously reminded me of Holden Caulfield and his indignant teenage angst, sense of alienation and detachment.

1961-ferrari-rc

And then Cameron destroyed it…

7. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, written by Tim Tharp

It’s quite conceivable that the guy who gave us teenage alcoholic but all around loveable ne’er-do-well Sutter Keely could vividly and colourfully translate the awesomeness of Ferris Bueller (forever immortalized by the incomparable Matthew Broderick) on paper. In fact in many ways Ferris Bueller is almost a precursor to Sutter Keely. Intelligent, charming with a limited concern for authority Ferris was all about Carpe Diem – seizing the day, alongside his best friend Cameron and girlfriend Sloane. From convincing the straight edged Cameron to steal his father’s 1961 Ferrari GT California, to worming his way into an upscale restaurant for lunch and commandeering a parade float whilst lip synching to Wayne Newton’s Danke Shoen Ferris’s shenanigans are the stuff dreams are made of and how legends begin. Who better to immortalize this celebrated character than Tharp? And while recreating the genius of Ferris Bueller on paper Tharp would also be able to infuse a little more depth and emotion in to an amusing but fairly one-dimensional character.

6. Love Actually, written by Jane Austen

One of my favourite movies, it was actually a co-worker who suggested this as the possibility of a great book. Funny, heart-warming, sad and romantic – Love Actually has a bit of everything for everyone. It’s certainly not your run-of-the-mill chick flick. Exploring love of all kinds – romantic, friendship, unrequited, and the different relationships where love can bloom (brother and sister, father and son etc.) Who better than the Queen of light-hearted Victorian romance to weave the films many tales of love onto paper? Having helmed some of the most clever and enduring love stories and endearing characters of all time only an author of Austen’s caliber could truly do justice to a film that is literally all about love.

Spinal Tap Gif

Let’s crank this up to 11!

5. This is Spinal Tap, written by Christopher Moore

The Gran-Daddy of all mockumentary’s Rob Reiner’s This is Spinal Tap not only gave us Nigel Tufnel but it also gave us classic lines like this gem from David St. Hubbins: *I do not, for one, think that the problem was that the band was down. I think that the problem may have been that there was a Stonehenge monument on the stage that was in danger of being crushed by a dwarf. Alright? That tended to understate the hugeness of the object.* (Classic.) Considering most of the dialogue was actually improvised – to all kinds of hysterical new heights – I really can’t think of anyone more capable of transferring this definitive comedy into prose more so than Christopher Moore. The guy knows how to write humour, which really isn’t easy. In fact making people laugh is really, really hard. Making people laugh while reading a book on the subway so that all the other passengers quietly shuffle away from you because they think you’re nuts is even harder. And he does it exceptionally well.

Other possible contenders: Douglas Adams – because 42.

4. Dogma written by George Orwell

The second best Kevin Smith film of all time – Dogma is funny, insightful, scandalous, the bane of Catholics everywhere and strangely enough incredibly religious. The story of two fallen angels who find a loophole that will get them back into heaven – while destroying the universe at the same time is both charming and clever. It’s also an incredible indictment on organized religion.  It also has the main staple of an Orwellian classic – conspiracy. No doubt Orwell’s take would be slightly darker, much grimmer and mostly likely ending with the bad guys winning, it would still be an awesome read.

3. Pan’s Labyrinth written by J.K. Rowling

Do I really need to explain this one?

2. Willow written by Neil Gaiman

Okay you might be scratching your head on this one but one word: Stardust. Seriously. If that’s not enough to make you understand there’s really nothing I can say that will prove me right. Even though I am. Right that is. Totally.

Other possible contenders: J.R.R. Tolkien

#1. Easy Rider written by Jack Kerouac

It seems only fitting that the man who defined a generation would be the perfect choice to write the book for a film that did the same thing. The film as much an ode to the counterculture of the 1960s as it was a commentary of the social landscape of a changing America helped give rise to independent film much like Kerouac’s On the Road helped usher in the Beat Generation.

Not to mention Kerouac has the whole road trip thing down to a tee.

Some honourable mentions (well most, some are just questionable) – mostly thrown out by friends:

Event Horizon, Nicholas Christopher – yeah, this one had me scratching my head so I’m going to go ahead and allow my friend Linds to explain this choice:

Explain what? Event Horizon is a sweet ass space horror film, I love it! It would make a wicked book.

Heat , Michael Crichton

The Place Beyond the Pines, Cormac McCarthy (Though according to the friend who made this suggestion and I quote “McCarthy would never lower himself thus”)

Dr. Strangelove, Lewis Carroll

The Matrix, Kurt Vonnegut

Donnie Darko, Gillian Flynn (Not her normal genre but she’s so good at writing awful, bleak and intense characters, if she ever decides to go the Syfy route I imagine something like this.)

What do you think?