Top Ten Books That Will Make You Swoon

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Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the Broke and the Bookish!

Alright, folks, guess I got the Valentines themed one. This is amusing, because one blogger on this site is bitter about Valentines this year and one is not and GUESS WHO’S DOING THIS LIST! But no, actually, this list is still going to be really hard to put together. Gosh. Uh. Well, here’s some in no particular order!

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Stories That Shape Us: The Hobbit

This is my copy.  Smudged and paint-smeared, without its dust jacket, but still alive!

This is my copy. Smudged and paint-smeared, without its dust jacket, but still alive!

I was really torn when the Hobbit movie came out.  On the one hand, the Lord of the Rings was undeniably one of the best book-to-movie transitions I’ve ever seen, so I figured they would do well with the Hobbit.  (Although ask me sometime about my quibbles with the Hobbit movies.  We’ll have fun.)  I was worried that, having seen the movies, the images in my head when I read the book–images that have been in place since I was eight years old–would be replaced by the faces from the movie, and I’d never get my Bilbo and Thorin and Bard back again.

See, I read Lord of the Rings AFTER the movies came out.  I hadn’t seen them–I was determined not to see them until after reading the books, which is of course the proper bookworm behavior–but anybody with eyeballs had seen pictures.  Movie trailers, posters, calendars, prop replicas.  I had images in my head before I went into the books.  For the Hobbit, I had no such thing.  It’s all me.

I first read it when I was eight.  I don’t exactly remember the context under which I picked it up, although I feel like I can thank my mother for this one too.  Weirdly enough, I didn’t find it at all dense; I honestly enjoyed it.  (For an awkward few pages at the beginning I was convinced that a Hobbit was some sort of non-anthropomorphic hole-dwelling creature, possibly one that lived in a shell, since my copy had already been divested of its dust jacket and the only cover image I had to go on was this odd, wiggly-looking graphic

I have no idea what this wiggly thing is.

I have no idea what this wiggly thing is.

on the spine.)   I made up tunes to go with the songs.   I immediately started begging for copies of Lord of the Rings, although once I got them I got to the scene with Old Man Willow–the one where all of the main characters in existence at that point are nearly absorbed by a tree–and was terrified into stopping for several years.  (Yes, I was scared of a tree.  Not the black riders, or the ring.  Hey, it’s a scary tree.)

The Hobbit was my introduction to Middle Earth–benign enough to be a children’s story, but complex enough that it had something to offer in later rereads as well.  As the paint-smudged cover of my copy indicates, it has been well-loved.

I went to see the first movie with a great deal of trepidation, but the minute Bilbo and Gandalf started talking circles around ‘good morning’, I was so caught up in the utter, delighted nostalgia of seeing MY CHILDHOOD on the big screen in front of me that I completely forgot to worry.  Every single familiar line or iconic sight was greeted with delight.  The Riddles in the Dark scene, in particular, is one of my favorite things Hollywood has ever done: it looks JUST HOW I IMAGINED IT.  Well, except for a bunch of things that are different, but it’s close enough that it still feels like someone catching my childhood imagination on camera.

There were also a lot of stupid things about the first movie, but I was too busy being nostalgic to care.  (The second movie I’m more lukewarm about, although Smaug remains awesome.)  Afterwards, though, I started getting worried again.  What if I would only ever see Martin Freedman’s face when I picked up the book again, instead of the Bilbo I had imagined for most of my life?

I went home and reread the book, cover to cover, in an afternoon.

I shouldn’t have worried.  The images were exactly as they’ve always been.  They are–thank God–too deeply embedded in my childhood psyche to be shaken by three hours of screen time.  It’s good to know that even my brain, nonvisual though it usually is, will hang onto these images for me no matter what else I decide to stick in my head.   It’s good to know that no matter what, when I open the book again and decide to go back, the same sights and sounds and feelings–relics from child’s imagination, which everyone knows is better than a grown-up one–will be waiting for me.

Top Ten Books That Will Make You (Or At Least Me) Cry

Top Ten Tuesday is a feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

So, it’s actually really hard for books to make me cry.  And honestly, often I don’t read the kind of book that does.  I have to be in a very specific mood to intentionally put myself in the way of a thing that will make me THAT miserable.  So this is a very specific list of books that have made ME cry, instead of the more general ‘you’ mentioned in the meme.

1.  Code Name Verity, by Elizabeth Wein: seriously, how do you NOT cry when reading this book?  Verity is so beautiful and so brave and Maddie is so stubborn and courageous and FRIENDSHIP and TRAGEDY and EVERYTHING IS HARD OKAY.

2.  Rose Under Fire, also by Elizabeth Wein: in case Code Name Verity didn’t make me cry hard enough, the exact same author turned around and came out with a book that was even harder to read.

3.  The Poisonwood Bible, by Barbara Kingsolver: one of these days I’m going to get around to talking about why this is NOT the middle-aged mom book that everyone thinks it is, and why it was perfect for my fifteen-year-old angst-ridden self, and why I love it so dearly.  But in the meantime, know that her descriptions of grief and mourning, especially the numb few days after a death, are spot-on, and made me cry.

4.  Speakby Laurie Halse Anderson: this book broke my heart the first time I read it and I ended up crying in the backseat on the way home from the bookstore.  (The bookstore was an hour away, I had a while to read it.)  Then I read it again, a few years later, when I’d been much closer to similarly horrible events, and my heart broke all over again.

5.  Flowers for Algernon, by Daniel Keyes: did they make you read this one in school?  Apparently they do that, but I read it on my own.  Fun fact: losing my mental facilities is one of the deepest, most poignant fears I have.  Yeah.

6.  Shiver, by Maggie Stiefvater: okay, this one’s not quite fair, but I don’t read a lot of books that make me cry!  I read it after a breakup and the genuine sweetness of the romance in this book was beautiful and hopeful and incredibly hard to take.

7.  Linger, by Maggie Stiefvater: this one IS fair.  There is a scene in this book in which Grace is sick–maybe dying–and her parents, because they don’t like or trust her boyfriend, won’t let him see her.  Hospitals have a deep sort of horror for me–I’ve spent too much time in them, not as a patient but as a loved one–and the fear of not being able to be close to someone I love when they’re dying, to lose out on what could be their last moments, is something I absolutely would have had to face, if my parents hadn’t been so understanding about my desire to stay close.  Other people’s parents made it abundantly clear to me that they wouldn’t have let me stay, and that terrified and saddened me.  The utter powerlessness of a hospital is incredibly hard to take.

So yeah that scene made me cry.

8.  Last Night I Sang To The Monster, by Benjamin Alire Saenz: wow, it’s been forever since I’ve read this book.  I don’t know if it’s as good, or as sad, as I remember it being.  But it’s another book that had me crying on the way home from the bookstore.

9.  The Ocean at the End of the Lane, by Neil Gaiman: this one made me cry IN THE FIRST FREAKING CHAPTER.  SERIOUSLY THE THING WAS NOT OKAY.  …beautiful amazing book, though, please read it?

10.  The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint-Exupery: I reread this recently, after my boyfriend, who gets very literary when he’s tired, read some pieces of it to me in French.   I originally read it when I was extremely little, and although I didn’t remember much of it, the feeling of it stayed with me.

I have no idea why it made me cry, but it did.  Maybe it’s the clash of childhood and adulthood, maybe it’s the simple childlike sadness.  I know the themes of regret really do me in–and I know it wouldn’t hit me so hard if it didn’t carry associations from my very, very early days of reading, when I was too little to have a barrier between my feelings and the page.  But it’s as beautiful as I remember it being, more like a poem, really, than a story.

Waiting on Wednesday: The Fire Wish by Amber Lough

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Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine!

Fire WishTitle: The Fire Wish

Author: Amber Lough

ETA: July 22, 2014

Summary from GoodreadsA jinni. A princess. And the wish that changes everything. . . . 

Najwa is a jinni, training to be a spy in the war against the humans. Zayele is a human on her way to marry a prince of Baghdad—which she’ll do anything to avoid. So she captures Najwa and makes a wish. With a rush of smoke and fire, they fall apart and re-form—as each other. A jinni and a human, trading lives. Both girls must play their parts among enemies who would kill them if the deception were ever discovered—enemies including the young men Najwa and Zayele are just discovering they might love.

Why I’m Waiting: Remember how just last week I was talking about wanting more fantasy not based in Europe?  Well, I am ALL for Middle Eastern folklore and history as a basis for fantasy.  (Like, just the other day I was sitting in my Middle Eastern History class thinking, “This is awesome, I need to base some worldbuilding on THIS.”)  Also, Tammy Pierce blurbed it, which is always sure to get my attention.

Top Ten Characters I’d NEVER Want To Trade Places With

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Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and The Bookish!

So, even though I do read a lot of stuff with different worlds, I found that most of my answers for the top 10 worlds I’d never want to live in depended a lot on who I would be in that world. Given that, I decided to go with the second topic to make things a little easier on myself. So. Here we go!

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Review: “Harriet the Spy” by Louise Fitzhugh

Harriet the SpyHarriet the Spy (Harriet the Spy #1) by Louise Fitzhugh

Goodreads | Amazon

Meet Harriet M. Welsch — one of the most unforgettable, funniest characters in children’s literature. Harriet is a girl with only one ambition in life: to be a spy. She works hard at it — filling her secret notebook with observations about her parents, friends, and neighbors. But when her classmates find her notebook and read her mean comments about them, Harriet finds herself shunned by everyone. How can she put her spying talents to good use and make her friends like her again?

3 stars

So maybe I’m a sap. Maybe I’m a purist. Maybe I want to believe that children’s literature is meant to teach the child reading it something. I don’t know. What I do know is that Harriet the Spy was interesting, cute in parts and rather funny other times–but that the ending was one of the least satisfying things I’ve read in a while.

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Waiting on Wednesday: “Infinite” by Jodi Meadows

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Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine!

InfiniteTitle: Infinite (Newsoul #3)

Author: Jodi Meadows

ETA: January 28, 2014

About from GoodreadsDESTRUCTION
The Year of Souls begins with an earthquake—an alarming rumble from deep within the earth—and it’s only the first of greater dangers to come. The Range caldera is preparing to erupt. Ana knows that as Soul Night approaches, everything near Heart will be at risk.

FLIGHT
Ana’s exile is frightening, but it may also be fortuitous, especially if she can convince her friends to flee Heart and Range with her. They’ll go north, seeking answers and allies to stop Janan’s ascension. And with any luck, the newsouls will be safe from harm’s reach.

CHOICE
The oldsouls might have forgotten the choice they made to give themselves limitless lifetimes, but Ana knows the true cost of reincarnation. What she doesn’t know is whether she’ll have the chance to finish this one sweet life with Sam, especially if she returns to Heart to stop Janan once and for all.

With gorgeous romance and thrilling action, the final book in the Incarnate trilogy offers a brilliant conclusion to the compelling questions of this fascinating world, where one new girl is the key to the lives of millions.

Why?: If you missed my reviews of the first two books, Incarnate and Asunder, then you MISSED OUT. Jodi is writing one of the most gorgeous, real romances I’ve seen in a while and I cannot wait to see how the story ends!