Thursday, August 28, 2014

Recently Read: Saints

Author: Gene Luen Yang
Genre: Young Adult/ Graphic Novel/ Historical Fiction
Year Published: 2013
Status: Companion novel to Boxers
Page Count: 170
Rating: 3.5/5

Also by Gene Luen Yang: Boxers

The first week of the semester is really kicking my butt. I have to get up extremely early Monday through Thursday, and I am not a morning person. A new semester also brings a new host of things to stress and worry about, so my reading has been non-existent this week. I read Saints last weekend, the day after I finished Boxers so I thought I would share a few quick thoughts on it.

Saints is the companion novel to Boxers and tells the story of Four-Girl, who ends up converting to Christianity. This books wraps up the story presented in Boxers and illustrates how these two stories overlap. 

I liked how these novels worked together. Saints is much shorter than Boxers, but it brings Bao and Four-Girl's stories together, and exposes the reader to the opposing side of the Boxer Rebellion. I liked how Four-Girl's story was paralleled with Joan of Arc's story, and how Four-Girl felt connected to Joan of Arc. I thought Joan of Arc was a great choice to use for this novel, as her story raises lots of questions about war, religion, and justice, just as these two graphic novels do. The two stories came together in a beautiful, yet tragic way, which was really well done.  

The art style in this book is the same as Boxers and I still really enjoyed the art. See the Boxers review for more on the art style. 

This novel covers most of Four-Girl's life. You are presented with her childhood and her reasons for converting to Christianity, and then you follow her on her journey as a Chinese Christian.  
Personally, I felt more empathy for Four-Girl than I did for Bao, but that might have been because we saw more of Four-Girl's childhood, and it wasn't a very great childhood. 

I would love to read more historical fiction graphic novels, so if you have any recommendations, let me know! 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books I Want to Read but Don't Own Yet

Today's Top Ten Tuesday is the top ten books I want to read but don't own yet. I keep a list of books that I want to buy on my phone so I can reference it when book shopping, but I usually end up buying books that aren't even on the list! So here's a sampling of the books I want to buy, like now! 


1. The Kiss of Deception, Mary E. Pearson
This is the start of a new young adult fantasy series, that was just released recently. I've heard great things about this one, and it has a great mystery element to it. Our main character is arranged to be married to a prince, but she runs away in order to avoid her fate. An assassin is then sent to kill her, and she meets two mysterious boys in her new village, one is the prince, the other the assassin, but because the main character doesn't know who is who, either does the reader.   

2. We Have Always Lived in the Castle, Shirley Jackson 
This has been on my list forever, especially this Deluxe edition from Penguin. This one is a little creepy, with an unreliable narrator. I will probably save this one for fall reading. 

3. Orlando, Virginia Woolf
I read and loved A Room of One's Own (thoughts part one and two) recently and I am eager to read more Woolf. I hear a lot of good things about this one so I would like to give it a go. 


4. Watership Down, Richard Adams 
This is a classic that I have never read, nor heard much about. This book has a very unique concept, as the narrator is a rabbit. That's all I really know about this book, and I would like to keep it that way and be surprised by it. 

5. The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Eva Lavender, Leslye Walton 
I have been eyeing this one for a while. I have heard a lot of great things about this one, and the cover is beautiful. This is a Young Adult book with magical realism, which I am always interested in, about a girl who is born with bird wings because of the tragic love stories in her family's past. 

6. The Lover's Dictionary, David Levithan 
Another one that has been on my list for a long time. I'm a fan of David Levithan, but I found I prefer the books he writes by himself to the books he writes with others. This book tells a love story, but it is set up like a dictionary. It looks very interesting and like it will be a quick read, Levithan writes great love stories. 


7.Born Wicked, Jessica Spotswood   
This is a Young Adult trilogy about witches, and is also a little bit historical fiction I believe. The third and final book was just released this past month, which reminded me that I want to pick this one up.  

8. Deep Blue, Jenifer Donnelly 
I have never read a mermaid book, but this one caught my eye. The cover is gorgeous, and the synopsis is a bit mysterious. I'm thinking this could be a good place to start with Mermaid books.   

9. Alias Hook, Lisa Jensen 
This one is a retelling/spin-off of Peter Pan, which you may know is my favorite book of all time. This book is about Captain Hook, a curse, and a grown women who finds herself in Neverland. I'm very intrigued.

10. Stolen, Lucy Christopher 
This is a past Printz Award runner up, and I would like to read all of the Printz winners and runners up someday, but this one I want to read sooner rather than later. This is about a teenage girl who is kidnapped at the airport, and this book is written as a letter to her captor. This book also deals with Stockholm Syndrome, which I find to be very interesting and a unique topic for young adult literature. 

What books are on your list, what should I add to my huge list of books to buy? 

Monday, August 25, 2014

Recently Read: Boxers

Author: Gene Luen Yang
Genre: Historical Fiction/ Graphic Novel
Year Published: 2013
Status: Has a companion novel titled Saints 
Page Count: 325
Rating: 3.5/5

Boxer by Gene Luen Yang is a really interesting concept. It is a historical fiction graphic novel covering the Boxer Rebellion in China. The Boxer rebellion occurred in the late 1800's and early 1900's. It was the rejection of Western influences including Christianity by the Chinese. Westerners were traveling in China and spreading, some may say pushing, their culture on the Chinese. This novel is from the perspective of a Boxer, and the companion novel Saints is from the perspective of the opposing force, the Christian Chinese. These graphic novels present both sides of the conflict, and the books match up together to make this awesome dual cover.

Bao is the youngest of three brothers, and is left out of most of his older brother's activities. As a child Bao witnesses the violence of the "Foreign Devils", Westerns that have traveled to China converting the population to Christianity and disrespecting Chinese culture, and "Secondary Devils", Chinese who have converted to Christianity. After someone he admires highly is killed by Foreign Devils, Bao gathers and leads an army to the capital city in order to wipe out the foreign influence. 

What's so great about this book is that you don't have to have a lot of previous knowledge on the Boxer Rebellion in order to read and enjoy this book. I don't have a lot of knowledge on the subject myself, but I enjoyed this book. I thought the book did a great job of weaving Chinese culture into the novel. Another thing I admired about this book is that it didn't shy away from the violence of war, this book is not gory by any means, but it doesn't ignore the fact that death and blood are companions to war. 

This book also covers a time range of six years, so the reader is able to see events leading up to the war and the progression of Bao's decision to fight and the violence in the country. 

The art style in this book is simple yet very beautiful. The pictures are made of simple lines, and the color pallet is very natural and earthy, with pops of bright colors that really stand out. There are a few full page illustrations in this novel that are quite beautiful and help to move the story forward and convey the emotions of the characters.

 I have read a handful of different graphic novels, and I have enjoyed them but I don't think they are my preferred medium of story telling. I often find myself underwhelmed when I finish one, or thinking that I would have enjoyed the story so much more as a novel, but I think a graphic novel was the perfect medium for this story, and I think reading the companion novel is going to bring this story full circle and tie everything together very nicely. I love the idea of seeing both sides of the war's justifications of the violence. These books really propose many tough questions about war. Which side was "the good side"? Is there a good side in a war? Is war ever justifiable? I think people tend to forget that innocent lives are lost on both sides of the battlefield during a war, and this book points that out.  

I'll be picking up Saints very soon, as well as Gene Luen Yang's Printz Award winning graphic novel American Born Chinese. Have you read any of these? What's your thoughts on graphic novels? 

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Stacking The Shelves: You Guessed It, More Used Books

I recently moved away from my local book store for college, and let me tell you, I'm really missing it. I was home recently and picked up a few used books.
Tynga's Reviews



Going Bovine by Libba Bray Printz Award winner, with a weird synopsis. I think this one is going to be rather touching and rather odd.
Unnatural Creatures Stories Selected by Neil Gaiman Just to clarify, Gaiman only wrote one story in this collection, but he collected all of them together for this book. Each story about an unnatural creature is accompanied by a beautiful illustration. Looking forward to reading this one in the fall.
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley  Classic Dystopian/Utopian novel I have heard lots of good things about.
The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton I loved Ethan Frome by Wharton and I am eager to read some of her longer works. This one sounds like it has a powerful female protagonist which is always great to see in books, especially classics.

Nook Update


How to be a Woman by Caitlin Moran I have heard lots of positive things about Moran from UK readers, so when this book was in the $2.99 or under section on Barnes and Noble I picked it up.
The Selection by Kiera Cass I finally caved and bought this one for $2.99 on my nook. I heard that Kiera Cass has been signed to write two more books and at least one more novella for the series, so it must be enjoyable!

Let me know what you think of these if you have read them, and let me know what you're stacking your shelves with this week.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Hot Authors

I've read a lot of books, mostly classics, without having a clue what the author looked like, and then when I looked them up, I was shocked. So today's post is full of eye candy for you. Here's some author's you may or may not have known were/are hot. Leave me more literary hotties in the comments below.

Hot Men of Literature:

Ernest Hemingway 

Jack Kerouac 

Jack London 

Hunter S. Thompson 

Rolad Dahl

C.S. Lewis 

Markus Zusak 
Hot Ladies of Literature

Daphne Du Maurier

Sylvia Plath

Dorthy Parker

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Recently Read: Grasshopper Jungle

Author: Andrew Smith
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction/Fantasy/ I don't really know how to classify this
Year Published: 2014
Status: Standalone
Page Count: 388
Rating: 4/5

Also by Andrew Smith: Winger

Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith is the weirdest book that I have ever read.

Austin and Robby are best friends. Robby is in love with Austin and Austin might be in love with him too, or he might be in love with his girlfriend Shann, he isn't sure. Robby and Austin accidentally bring the end of the world to Iowa, when they release a science experiment gone wrong from the past that turns people into giant praying mantises.

I told you it was weird.

Smith's writing is so natural and sarcastic. Even though the plot of this book is far out, his narrator and the supporting characters are so real and the writing just flows as if you really are in the head of Austin, a seventeen year old Polish boy who thinks about sex way too often and is confused about who he loves. I loved Austin and Robby, especially Robby, and for me, they are what carried the novel forward and kept me reading more so than the outrageous plot, even though that was quite entertaining as well.

Just like Winger this novel had great over-reaching themes that came together beautifully in the end. I loved the way that Smith weaved history into this novel: world history, Austin's family's history, Austin's history, and the science experiment's history. This novel also makes the reader ponder the process of recording history, why we record history, and what gets left out of the records. The poem Dulce Et Decorum Est by Wilfred Owen also makes a few appearances in this novel, which is one the most powerful poems I have ever read, and I really loved what the references added to the novel.  

Austin's confusion about his feelings for Robby and Shann was handled really well. Austin recognizes the love and attraction he has for both his best friend and his girlfriend, and never denies that those things are there. I loved his friendship with Robby, and I really loved how Austin handled his confusion in the end of the novel. Smith's novels seem to be full of wisdom and poignant one liners that portray his themes and represent his characters so well. I loved this line from Robby, "I don't care if you're queer. Queer is just a word. Like orange. I know who you are. There's no one word for that" (pg 120).         

I love how this book is put together, the eye catching cover is accompanied by lime green pages. There are no chapters in this book, but it is divided into small sections with hilarious tittles, and praying mantis arms are outlined on some of the pages. If you enjoyed Smith's other writings, check this one out. If you haven't read Smith I would recommend starting with Winger first, unless this sounds like your thing, then start here. But no matter where you start, read something by Andrew Smith!  

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books I've been Recommended

This week's topic is the top ten books you get recommended the most often. Some of these books are books my family has been trying to get me to read, for years, and some of these are just in general recommended reading from various sources.
Hosted by:The Broke and the Bookish


1. Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte Yeah, I know. I'm getting right on it and reading this one before the end of the year. I'm constantly seeing this book on favorite classics lists and being told how great it is.

2. Little Women, Louisa May Alcott I never read this as kid, but I'm still interested in reading it. A lot of people list it as one of their favorite books from their childhood.

3. 1984, George Orwell People talk about this one a lot too. I have heard multiple people say that this book majorly impacted them, and I am excited to read it soon.


4. Between Shades of Gray, Ruta Sepetys I hear this is great from fans of historical fiction. I have read Out of the Easy by Sepetys and really enjoyed her writing. This book sounds beautiful; it follows a young girl and her family under the Stalinist Repression who are separated and sent to work camps.

5. Vampire Academy, Rachelle Mead I put this series on my top ten books I'm on the fence about list last week, and lots of people told me to give it a go, and I just might!

5. Falling Kingdoms, Morgan Rhodes This has been talked about a lot lately, and recommended to fantasy fans.


6. The Ocean at the End of the Lane, Neil Gaiman  This book is everywhere and has been since its release late last year! I have read The Graveyard Book by Gaiman and I am interested in reading more of his works, but I think I'm going to read more of his middle grade fiction before moving on to his adult fiction.

7. The Sherlockian, Graham Moore This rec. comes from my mother, who is a huge Sherlock Holmes fan, She's the one who got me hooked on Sherlock, and she says I will love this book because both Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Oscar Wilde are in it. As soon as she mentioned Oscar, I knew I was going to have to read it.

8. The Wheel of Time Series, Robert Jordan This one comes from my dad. He is a huge epic fantasy reader and has read all thirteen of the books in this series, some multiple times and loves them! He talked me into reading the first two and I enjoyed them, but haven't continued on yet. He says they just keep getting better and better with every book.

9. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams This is my brother's recommendation. He loves this series, and has read them all. He talked me into reading the first one, and I thought it was okay, but I just don't think it's my thing. Regardless, he still tires to convince me to read them.

Leave me your recommendations and links down below!