Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Recently Read: Uglies

Uglies by Scott Westerfeld was required reading for my children's lit class this semester. I had never read it before, in fact, I had tried to read it many years ago, I was a Freshman in high school maybe, and stopped about 100 pages in. I hadn't read a lot of sci-fi or dystopian literature at that point so I had a hard time getting into it. This time around, I really enjoyed the book and whizzed through it in a couple days and have already bought the sequel, Pretties.

If you aren't familiar, this book is set in a world where on your sixteenth birthday, everyone undergoes surgery to become a pretty, and before the surgery you are referred to  as an ugly. The surgery gives you perfect features and you then move to New Pretty Town to live a life of fun and partying. Tally, is about to turn sixteen and her best friend has already turned pretty so she is alone, until she meets Shay, another ugly with the same birthday as her and they become friends. But Shay is not so sure she wants to turn pretty, and of course, there is something fishy going on with the surgeries.

I love the cover update this series got a couple years ago
The white cover is the updated one.

I thought I would share my responses to this book that I made for my class discussion:

The characters in this book were relatable, and I’m sure they will continue to develop as the series continues. Tally was a good narrating character and it was nice to experience her journey throughout the story and see the themes of this novel develop as her thoughts and perceptions about the world around her developed. There were many instances of symbolism in this book, Tally’s pig mask she wears when she sneaks into New Pretty Town to see Peris, the name of Cleopatra Park, the name of the town Smoke, and the white tiger orchard flower and its ruthless and mindless takeover of everything in its path. The symbols contributed nicely to the plot and really helped deepen and cement the themes of this novel. Themes from this novel include: “Ugly” and “Pretty” being concepts defined by culture as opposed to the idea that they are something concrete and scientific, the concepts of pretty v. ugly, and loving yourself and being your true self, and bravery is telling the truth and doing the right thing, taking risks to save and help those you love. 

This book made many statements about our generation through the idea of the Rusties. Tally and the other Uglies viewed us as wasteful and harmful to nature, and were taught in school of the Rusties’ foolishness and that they had caused their own downfall with their dependence of oil. It’s interesting to imagine how future generations will feel about us, to think what they will learn about us in school and how foolish some of the events that occur or the ideas we believe in will look to future generations. This novel also speaks very loudly of the pressure our society places on appearance. The scene where Tally sees a fashion model in a magazine in the library and is disgusted by how thin she is really drives home this idea. Tally’s world has taken the idea that outer appearance reflects the inside to an extreme and Westerfeld’s novel is showing the world a possible future for a society obsessed with physical appearance that completely neglects developing the mind, personality, or moral integrity of its citizens.   

Friday, April 25, 2014

Recently Read: Obsidian and Onyx

I'm a little behind on reviews since I'm in my last few weeks of school and I have three major papers to write among other assignments, so I read Obsidian earlier in the month but haven't had a chance to write about it yet.

Obsidian by Jenifer L. Armentrout is the first book in the Lux series, which is about Katy who has moved to a new town and school in the middle of nowhere for her senior year of high school. Oh and btw she is also a book blogger. She moves in next door to siblings that are her age, Dee and Damion who just happen to be aliens.

I read this book really quickly. It was so additive and I couldn't put it down. It is diffidently a guilty pleasure read for me, since I usually go for heavier classics. The characters in this book are funny and likable and  the action is fast paced.

As soon as I finished Obsidian I moved straight on to the second book in the series Onyx. Which was just as entertaining and quick to read. The action and plot really picks up in this one, as well as the cute romance. I have already bought the third book Opal and have been itching to get to it, but sadly final papers have gotten in my way. I plan to finish up the series (Origin is the fourth one) after the semester is over because the final book, Opposition comes out in August of this year. I also heard the other day that the movie rights for Obsidian have been purchased, so we can possibly expect a movie rather soon.

This series is also the victim of a not-so-good cover change that will be taking place very soon.   

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Recently Purchased: April Book Haul

Surprise! I bought way too many books this month, and I put them in a very crooked pile.

From Top:
Great Expectations, Charles Dickens and Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte Great Illustrated Classics  These are little graphic novel/comic book adaptations of these classic novels which I found used at my local book store for a couple bucks each. I love Wuthering Heights and planned to reread it this year so this version is perfect for that, and I am eager to read Great Expectations before Cassandra  Clare's new shadowhunter series based on this novel comes out. 
Tess of the D'ubervilles, Thomas Hardy I have been wanting to pick this up for a while and I'm glad I waited because I love this edition from 1958 I found used for under five dollars.
Visions of Darkness This is a small collection of Poe stories in a beautiful little edition which I also picked up used.
For Darkness Shows the Stars, Diana Peterfreund YA sci-fy retelling of Jane Austen's Persuasion.
Airstotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, Benjamin Alire Saenz YA major award winning realistic fiction 
Uglies, Scott Westerfeld I have never read it and I now have to for my children's lit class. I am looking forward to it. 
Napoleon and Josephine, Gerald and Loretta Hauseman This has been haunting me at my local book store in the used section for months, when it was marked down 50% off I couldn't pass it up. 
These Broken Stars, Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner This was my Easter present and I have heard a lot about it and boy, is this a beautiful looking book! I have heard it is comparable to Titanic in space. I believe this is the first in a series, but I am not sure. 
The Assassin's Blade, Sarah J. Maas Gorgeous bind up of the Throne of Glass novellas. I haven't read this one yet, I am saving it to tide me over while waiting for the third novel in the series to be released.
Throne of Glass, Sarah J. Maas I have already read and loved this, my review is here.
Crown of Midnight, Sarah J. Maas I have also read and loved this one, my review of it is here.      

Friday, April 18, 2014

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Recently Read: Hopeless

Earlier this month I read Hopeless by Colleen Hoover. This was my first Colleen Hoover book. I bought this on my nook on a whim when I saw it for about four dollars. I was in a contemporary mood and read this book in like a day and a half.

This book is about Sky who is about to go to her first year of public school for her senior year after being home-schooled. She meets a boy with a reputation named Holder, and the story unfolds from there.

For some reason, I never expect much from contemporaries. I don't know why. I usually enjoy them once I pick them up and start them but I'm not as drawn to them as I used to be, or as much as I am drawn to other genres. I had no expectations going into this book at all. I had heard from a few people it was good and I just picked it up. I really enjoyed this book, it was hard to put down, funny at times and intense at other times. This book had a lot more depth than I expected it to have and was quite impactful (is that a word?). I enjoyed the two main characters of this book and found them to be very real. Holder is a swoon worthy love interest, and I found Sky to be well developed as well.

I know there is a companion novel entitled Loosing Hope which tells the story from Holder's preservative which I'm not sure if I will read or not, but it does intrigue me, as well as Colleen Hoover's other novels. Whether you usually go for contemporary or not, I do recommend this book.           

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Recently Read: The Metamorphosis - Quick Thoughts

Yesterday I went to the library to look for a book I needed for one of my classes, they didn't have it but for some reason I found myself leaving with The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka. 

The plot of this book is quite simple, in fact this book is actually a short novel or novella, coming in at about eighty pages. This book is much discussed and referenced so I wanted to experience it for myself. Translated from German, this is the story of Gregor Samsa who one day wakes up to find himself transformed into a giant bug.

After finishing the book I was unsure of my thoughts about it. I found it to be fairly entertaining, but I'm not sure what I feel beyond that. I think this book would be interesting to discuss. To me, the largest theme came from Gregor's family. Gregor looks like a monster but has a kind heart. His family all appear normal, but are monsters inside.

My verdict on this book is that its eh. It was a quick read and sparked some interesting thoughts about alienation and sympathy, but it wasn't all that it was cracked up to be. Perhaps the most interesting view of this novel is to put it into the Absurditst Fiction category, which is a very interesting concept to research if you are interested in literature.

Have you read this? What did you think?  

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Recently Read: Two Sequels

Sequels are difficult to write about and keep spoiler free, so I thought I would write some quick thoughts on the most recent books I finished which happen to be sequels of two different series. The thoughts are spoiler free for both the first and second books in their series.

Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas is the sequel to Throne of Glass which I talked about here. I read this book in two days and could not put it down. I really enjoyed Throne of Glass, and I enjoyed this one just as much if not possibly a little bit more. The characters continue to develop in this book and Celaena continues to kick major butt. This series is going to get really involved and the plot really started to take off in this book. There was a couple of things in this book that I didn't see coming. After reading Throne of Glass I was team Chaol, and after Crown of Midnight I must say I am still firmly team Chaol! The third book in this series Heir of Fire comes out in September of this year and I can't wait to get my hands on it. I'm also anxious to see the cover since these books all have beautiful covers. I'm saving the bind up of the novellas, The Assassin's Blade to read at a later date between now and the next book release so I will have something to read while I wait for the third book.


The next sequel I finished was The Madness Underneath by Maureen Johnson which is the sequel to The Name of the Star (review here and part of the Shades of London series. This book was rather short, at two hundred and eighteen pages. The mystery took a backseat in this book to the character development, which I was okay with because I find Rory to be extremely likable and funny. Now here comes the cryptic part of the discussion where I attempt to discuss my feelings without giving away any spoilers. Something I have been wanting to happen happens in this book, and then something very bad happens at the end. If you have read it then you know exactly what I mean. I'm still not sure how I feel about the event at the end, I think I will have to see how it plays out in the next book before I can decide if I can accept it or not. The third book is entitled, The Shadow Cabinet and is not set to release until March of 2015. That's a long time to wait!


Wednesday, April 2, 2014

April To be Read

I've got a lot of reading plans for April!

Today I plan on starting Crown on Midnight by Sarah J. Maas which is the sequel to Throne of Glass which I just finished last week and loved!

Then I would like to read the first classic from my list of classics I would like to read this year (which you can see here) The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde. I won't make you listen to me explain the amount of love I have for Oscar Wilde again (its a lot, by the way) but I will say I am excited to get to this book and to get working on my list of classics now that my school reading list has slowed down a little bit.  

Crown of Embers by Rae Carson the sequel to The Girl of Fire and Thorns is also on my list to read this month as well as Persuasion by Jane Austen. 

I hope I will have time to read more than what is on my list for this month, but these are the books I'm really hoping to get to. What are you reading this month?