Tag Archives: reading

The Book Chat {Vol 11}

Standard

Thursdays, as always, are Book Chat days hosted by Jessica over at Sweet Green Tangerine. Head over and link up!

Today’s question: Who are your favorite male characters? Least favorites? 

In my last few book reviews, I’ve mentioned how important male characters are to me. Especially in YA (I say especially because I realize that they’re catering to younger people) I look for strong male characters that have real depth to them- not just really good looks.

In fact, most of my favorite male characters recently have been the ones that are more than just those really gorgeous characters that the less-than-perfect girls fall for and win over. I don’t think I could ever narrow it down to just ONE. To be honest even narrowing it down at all seems tough. I’ve loved quite a few of male characters… But here are a few that have stood out for me over time:

1) Max from The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (See also: Hans Hubermann)

When I first started reading The Book Thief I just wasn’t sure what to make of it. The characters, the POV and the overall story started off by confusing me. The minute Max was introduced to the story, though, I truly began to fall in love with this book. He is one of my favorite parts of the whole novel. Him and Hans are two of the most memorable male characters in all my reading history, to be honest. But Max? I have a special place in my heart for that character.

2) Augustus Waters from The Fault in Our Stars by John Green 

See also: Miles, Colin and Quentin from various John Green novels (Alaska/Katherines/Paper Towns)

John Green is one of my favorite authors, so it’s really no surprise that just about ALL his male characters are in my favorites. This may sound somewhat biased, but the reason I really love his writing is because his lead male characters (most of his books are from their point of view) have so many fun quirks and I just love discovering more about them throughout their stories.

Augustus Waters is definitely his most unique character. I loved meeting and learning about him. I must say though that runner up is  Colin from Abundance of Katherine’s. That character doesn’t get nearly enough love and he is SO damn awesome. Love his anagram skills!

3) Kai from Cinder by Marissa Meyer

The entire time I was reading Cinder I couldn’t believe how awesome Kai was. I can’t stress how much I love this book enough, and he is a huge reason why. He not only sounds freaking adorable, but there is SO much to his character that makes me wish he was a real person so we could meet.

4) Thomas from The Maze Runner trilogy by James Dashner  (& his crew!) 

I really need to re-read these books because I don’t remember Thomas nearly well enough. But considering the entire trilogy is told from his perspective AND he’s got the whole memory-loss thing, he’s a very well thought out male character. You learn so much about him throughout the three books, I grew extremely fond of him by the end. Don’t even get me started on Minho, Frypan, Newt and the rest of the guys in these books!

5) Etienne St. Clair from Anna & The French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

St. Clair makes it on the list because I was basically in love with him during this book. Is that weird? Oh well. At first I was all “Ummm St.Clair you’ve got a girlfriend, chill out” but then his mysterious act is all unveiled and it was love. YAY Anna! I’m such a sucker for good stories like this one.

Honorable mentions: Ed Kennedy from I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak, Harry/Ron/Weasley twins from Harry Potter by JK Rowling (these deserve more than an honorable mention to me but since I always talk HP I tried to keep it to a minimum here), and Marcus Flutie from the Jessica Darling series by Megan McCafferty.

Least favorites are a bit tougher because I generally won’t even finish a book if I’m not enjoying it (AKA not even KIND OF relating to characters). Plus, I feel kind of mean dissing authors’ writing with least favorites. Basically I’ll be nice & just leave you with all the male characters I’ve loved most. There are several more, but these are definitely the ones that have stood out the most to me, especially in recent years.

Who are your favorite and least favorite male characters? 

Advertisements

Summer & Being Happy

Standard

Since finishing school (and getting grades back, I’m officially FREE!) I’m trying to live more in the moment. Right now. I’m teaching myself that everything I do should make me happy, rather than stressed or guilty or worse, bored.

So far, this has been working fantastically. The best part is that I haven’t even had to remind myself that this is the goal; I’m just living it. I’ll stop every once in a while and realize that I am doing something that makes me happy and stress free, and that makes me even MORE happy. I want to keep track of all these happy summer days so that I can look back on them, and today was definitely one of them (and by today, I mean yesterday, because this post was written & scheduled ahead of time of course!)

The last 3 or 4 days have been BEAUTIFUL here in Montreal. I mean, warm enough to sit outside and get some sun. Summer isn’t far now, and it’s really starting to show. Before writing this post, I decided that I wanted to do one of my absolute favorite things- lay out in the sun with some good music, a book, and just relax. I haven’t been able to do that since last summer, and honestly it was just the loveliest thing. My reading always picks up around this time of year simply because I am SO HAPPY to sit outside with a couple hours to kill, guilt-free. I put on the radio on my iPhone, brought out ‘Truth About Forever’ by Sarah Dessen, and just enjoyed some of the beautiful temperatures before heading off to work.

In an effort to remind myself of everything I love about this time of the year, I wanted to write a little bit about the simple things that I just love about this time of year, and that I was reminded of today while I was outside.

– When it gets too hot in the sun, I love cutting up a fruit and eating it in the shade, just before heading back out for a little while longer.

– While the sun is hot & I’m reading, I love when a really great song comes on & I have to put my book down for three minutes, close my eyes and just enjoy the music. Especially those really great songs that remind me of summer time! 

– Going to sleep knowing that I have the next day off and it’s going to be gorgeous outside. I love deciding that I’m taking a ‘me’ day with the sun to just relax, or making plans to do something fun in the nice weather.

– When I get scheduled a little bit later in the day, like today, and I can enjoy a couple really great hours in the day before heading to work! 

Maybe it’s because the weather here is only this gorgeous for a few months out of the year, but I have this extreme appreciation for summer, and it only grows every single year. I mean, of course there are those suffocatingly hot days when I’d prefer working in the air conditioning than being anywhere near the sun, and I curse my mother for being a non-believer in air conditioning for our home. But overall? It’s kind of like the sun reminds me just how happy I am to live in this city, especially at this time of the year.

I really just love the endless possibilities that comes with this season. Don’t you?

Socialpunk Blog Tour

Standard

Today I have a special guest on the blog! The lovely and talented author Monica Leonelle has just released the first book in her Socialpunk trilogy. I’m so excited to be a part of her blog tour because her novel sounds very interesting and RIGHT up my alley, as it reminds me so much of a bunch of my other favorite dystopian reads. Below you’ll find out more about Monica and much more about her novel, Social Punk! 

First, Monica took some time to answer a few questions in an interview with me about her series, her inspirations, and her career as a writer. Check it out!

1. Why did you start writing, and what inspired you to write the Socialpunk trilogy?

I started a Gen Y blog in 2007 called Twenty Set. It actually gained quite a bit of steam early on, but eventually I moved away from Gen Y topics. The reason I started that blog, though, is because I couldn’t clear my mind! I literally just needed to get things out of my system. So I wrote that blog 4-5 times a week for about six months until my ideas stop churning so quickly. My love for writing as an adult grew out of that experience.

Socialpunk is inspired by Chicago winters, technology and digital media, and the Terminator series.

2. Do you ever use real-life people or moments in your novels? Why/why not?

Almost everything I write is inspired from my personal experiences, so I use a lot of real-life people and moments. You just have to be smart and disguise them, and then never admit to it even if someone questions you 🙂

3. What are some of your favorite books both current and classic?

I love Jane Austen books. And CS Lewis. Favorite books right now are the Hunger Games series. Sometimes I think Socialpunk may be one of my favorite books, but I’ve technically never read it.

4. Which authors inspire you in your writing, and particularly in your book series?

CS Lewis inspired my other book series (the first one, Silver Smoke, is available now). He’s also inspiring my next series, which I hope is a serialized fiction series. James Cameron was my biggest inspiration for Socialpunk, mostly because of the Terminator. Silicon City, with bionics, would have the same color treatments as Avatar if I were to make a movie about it.

5. What is the most important piece of advice you would give to other writers?

Patience! Also, writers should inject their marketing directly into their manuscripts. Writers often think of marketing as this separate thing from writing, but it’s not at all. 80-90% of books are sold through word-of-mouth and most of the marketability of a book is right there in the manuscript. So even if you are going the traditional route, if you are serious about getting published you should hire an editor to go through your book and see how marketable it is. Traditional publishers are looking for marketable books. It’s a business and they need to make money.

Then, you launch your book by asking people to read it. If it’s any good you’ll start getting word-of-mouth for your book. My goal is to give away one thousand copies of the book during its launch. I’m maybe a fifth of the way there so far? It’s a lot of work, more than most people realize. I write about this stuff constantly on my Prose on Fire newsletter, so if these concepts interest you, you can check it out here:proseonfire.com/free-writer-toolkit

6. As a blogger AND a writer, what are some of your must-read blogs?

Penelope Trunk (blog.penelopetrunk.com). We’ve worked together a lot though, so I feel like it’s different because I know her.

7. And finally, what is a day in the life of Monica-the-writer like?

I’m a “burst of energy” type of person rather than a “little every day” type of person. So I will write a whole book in a week or two, then go back and edit it all in a week or two. And then I won’t write as much for the next few weeks. On an average day I probably write a couple thousand words, during a book writing session I write closer to 5000 words a day.

On the breaks, I do a lot of marketing. I work almost every day, unless I’m on vacation. I just prefer it that way.

Here’s what the story is about: 

Ima would give anything to escape The Dome and learn what’s beyond its barriers, but the Chicago government has kept all its citizens on lockdown ever since the Scorched Years left most of the world a desert wasteland. When a mysterious group of hooded figures enters the city unexpectedly, Ima uncovers a plot to destroy The Dome and is given the choice between escaping to a new, dangerous city or staying behind and fighting a battle she can never win.”

You can buy Socialpunk on Amazon or Barnes & Noble

Intrigued, but not sure if you want to buy the book yet? Read the excerpt below from the prologue. Not only is it extremely mysterious, but it made ME want to read the book and find out what happens. Which I fully plan on doing, but, you know, school and things have prevented me from doing it so far.  

—–

After playing God for six years with the world he created, he couldn’t control any of his subjects, none at all. Over the years, he had watched them evolve and become the sum of their own choices rather than the sum of his; and for that, he regretted ever giving them life.

A small, blinking red light from just inside his eyelid reminded him of the news they sent him earlier that morning. The company had cancelled his funding and would shut down his project within three months. According to them, the project cost too much and took up too much space, and the inconclusive results couldn’t be published reputably, now or in the future.

Six years of his work, tens of thousands of lives at stake—and he could do nothing to save any of it. He bowed his head, letting his chin rest on the rim of his breakfast smoothie. The smoothie reeked of powder—crushed pills—but he supposed he had better get used to it. He wouldn’t be able to afford the luxury of real food after they canned him.

He closed his eyes and called up the camera view of one of his favorites, number 3281. She fascinated him; he couldn’t deny it. When he had designed her, her pre-teen rebelliousness lit fire in her eyes. A survivor, he’d thought. He’d meant for her to have it all—to grow up, to get married to the love of her life, and to have a beautiful family of her own someday.

But he had only given her sadness so far. Instead of creating a strict father, he had given her an abusive one. Instead of creating a loving boyfriend, he had given her a friend who could never love her. And instead of creating a strong, proud mother, he had given her a meek one, who watched the whole thing unfold and did nothing about it.”

—–

Thanks for taking the time to read about this new, fun series of books. I hope you’ll consider picking up a copy of Socialpunk today, and checking out Monica’s personal blog, Prose on Fire.

*Stay tuned for a review of this book in the near future!

Recent Reads [worth sharing]

Standard

*First I’d just like to direct you to my nav bar which now has a lovely new tab… My blog roll!You can click on it & find out more about a bunch of really great bloggers. You’ll also notice that the whole nav bar has been tweaked [hopefully for the better] so have fun looking around at all the fun stuff I’ve added! 

I feel like recently I haven’t really been writing enough about the books I’ve been reading or giving reviews- which I love to do- so I though I would take the opportunity today to share some books I’ve read lately & my thoughts!

1. My Name is Memory by Ann Brashares

I LOVED this book. Ann Brashares had a little rough writing patch for a while when she wrote ‘Summer of You & Me’ and ‘3 Willows’ but she is back with a vengeance. This story is based on the life of Daniel, a boy who has “the memory”. He remembers his past lives as he is re-born again into his new ones. In his current life, he’s an older teenager who has fallen in love with a girl named Lucy who he calls Sophia. He has fallen in love with the same soul over and over again in each of his lives & must always face challenges in order to be with her.

This story was not only beautifully written and told from the perspective of an amazing character, but it’s a great love story and it was the most perfect read while I was at the beach in Greece.

I gave this book: 5 stars

2. Blink by Malcolm Gladwell 

One of my 101 Goals was to read three books on well-being and I ended up spontaneously reading this one as my final book for that goal. I wasn’t sure what to expect from it because I didn’t know a whole lot about it, but it was actually REALLY interesting.

It’s basically all about intuition- the power of subconscious thinking and how it affects your every day decisions, even the ones you’re not aware of. Gladwell uses a lot of really interesting examples to illustrate the facts that he’s trying to prove. I thought that some of his points fell a little short, but I was all in all really intrigued and was constantly thinking about what I read after putting the book down.

I gave this book: 4 stars

3. The Giver by Lois Lowry 

I read this in early high school I believe and remembered really loving the story and wanting to re-read it. After picking up a copy of it at a used bookstore this summer I sat down and re-read it in under two days. A very short novel, it follows young Jonas who lives in a world where everyone is assigned their jobs at a ceremony on their twelfth birthday. Jonas is given the job of “memory keeper” which is said to be the most special in the whole community, however he learns that there are many difficult things that go along with this job & he learns a lot of lessons about real life on the way.

I don’t think I enjoyed it as much the second time, which is never a fun thing to admit. Dystopian novels are so popular right now and I wanted to re-read one of the very first ones that made it on the shelves all those years ago. It’s a newberry medal winner and though I guess I can see why, I definitely felt too old to be reading this book again. That being said, for the age that it’s targeted for it was a perfect read and a really interesting introduction to the world of fantasy.

I gave this book: 4 stars

4. Sisterhood Everlasting by Ann Brashares

I went on a bit of an Ann Brashares reading spree this summer – I read all her books except the two I mentioned above- and I loved ALL the books I read.

This one was no different, but it took me a long time to come to terms with the story. I’m not going to give any spoilers, but after growing up with the Sisterhood & getting excited for my trip to Greece, I was not expecting a story HALF as sad as the one I got. I was devastated at first, and literally had to come to terms with the events of the novel. At first I hated that Brashares had dared write this book, but slowly I tried to see past my frustration and fell in love with everything else about the story.

I think this was one of the most beautifully written novels I’ve read this year, which is saying a lot. If you read the other Sisterhood books, this is a MUST read.

I gave this book: 5 stars

That’s all I’ve got for now! My reading has slowed down and unfortunately I read a couple books that aren’t really worth mentioning. These four really stuck with me this summer though and if you get the chance I highly recommend them all.

Happy reading! 

Growing up with books

Standard

Ever since I can remember, I have absolutely loved reading. When my grandmother used to babysit me at 3 years old, she would sit on her couch and read for hours in the afternoon, and I would sit next to her and pretend to do the same thing. I just loved the idea of it, even when I couldn’t read.

Growing up, I was one of those kids who anxiously waited for the Scholastic flyers at school. Once a month I would sit at home and look at every single book in the catalogue that was sent home with me, trying to figure out what books I wanted to read next. I still have a bunch of those books now, and the ones that I gave away I regret terribly.

Photo Credits

At my work, I deal with parents and their kids every day trying to find the right book. And the really sad thing is that there are a LOT of kids that are being forced into reading these days. Parents come in looking for that “right fit” of a story that will make their child fall in love with reading, and a lot of other parents are dragging their kids and teenagers around the store just begging them to try something new. Luckily a lot of my customers have loved my recommendations in reading and have fallen in love with books because of it. And of course a huge number of people come in and just can’t get ENOUGH books. I love those people.

I was never the person that you’d have to force to read a book. A lot of my childhood favorites were books I even had to read for school: Silverwing by Kenneth Oppel and The Giver by Lois Lowry are the first two that come to mind. But there were so many other series of books that marked me growing up. Every kid who loves books has the ones that will stick in your mind forever and remind you of growing up, summers with best friends, Scholastic flyers at school, or even those days that you would lock yourself up in your room for an entire day to finish a REALLY good story (Harry Potter had that effect on me).

But besides Harry Potter, there were a few more series of books as well as various authors that remind me of growing up, that taught me important lessons in those years were I felt like no one understood me (ah, the moody teenager syndrome!). Some of my younger favorites included The Babysitter’s Club, Goosebumps, Amazing Days of Abby Hayes, California Diaries & Fear Street. Yup, I was an R.L Stine/Ann M. Martin kinda girl. I remember the days when my mom would give me 2 dollars and send me off to the dollar store to buy the latest edition of The Babysitter’s Club, and I would sit in my room for the few hours that it took me to read through it. Remember those hilarious 90’s covers? Nothing beats them:

As a teenager, no series of books were more important to me (besides Harry Potter, again, you just can’t beat them) than The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. That series of 4 books was the reason I understood being a teenager. I grew up with Lena, Tibby, Carmen and Bridget, I laughed with them and I cried with them. When the movies came out I went to see them with my 3 best friends and we laughed and cried some more.

I recently started re-reading this series of books, and it had me reminiscing about all the good times I had growing up, reading these books that have stayed with me over the last 2 decades of my life. It’s one of those passions that will never go away- reading is the reason that I fell in love with writing, it’s the reason that I hope to one day work in publishing.

There’s a moral to this story- if or when you have kids, make sure to show them how amazing the world of books can be. There are are so SO many great ones out there, for all ages. Even today, I am amazed at the sheer number of fantastic novels that I have read in each and every single age category.

“Anyone who says they have only one life to live must not know how to read a book.”  ~Author Unknown