October 2016 Wrap Up

I am in love with this video for several reasons. The first is that October was a seriously weird reading month, so the books I read are all over the place and only like one of them was good. I think it was so good that it leeched all the potential for the rest of the month. Also, it’s the first time I’ve DNFed something in a really long time. Then there is the fact that I begin to slowly lose my mind as the video goes along. Anyways. Uh. Enjoy?

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Top Ten Books Written In The Past 10 Years That I Hope People Are Still Reading In 30 Years

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

This one is a hard one! Let’s see if I can get to 10, shall we? (Any links go to my reviews.)

1. Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

OHMYGOD GUYS. If you haven’t read this yet, what in the world is wroooong with you? Just plan on it sometime. 😛 This, as Rae Carson said over Twitter, is rather “as YA as my coffee table” beside the fact that it has teenage narrators, but it is just so amazing. I laughed. I cried. I cried some more. And loved it so much.

2. The Last Song by Nicholas Sparks

Not one of his books has touched me in such a way as this one. I was literally bawling my eyes out towards the end, but I COULDN’T STOP READING. I just had so much love for this story.

3. Annie John by Jamaica Kinkaid

This is one of the few classics I have ever really liked, and the only one from my readings for school this year that I think should have been kept in the cirriculum. The teenage angst in this book is almost picture perfect, pulsing off the page. (Like my alliteration? Yeah, I’m using big words!)

4. Countess Below Stars by Eva Ibbotson

Another classic I enjoy for being a classic. I love Eva Ibbotson books in general, but this one has always been my favorite.

5. The Divergent series by Veronica Roth

Few dystopians feel, to me, like classics. This would be numero uno. Plus, they are just freaking amazing, and that alone should require much reading in the next 30 years.

6. The Harry Potter series by JK Rowling

Yeah, yeah, I know, this is probably on EVERY list you’ve stopped by today. I don’t care, because that’s how true it is!

7. Any and all books by Cassandra Clare

What? If, 30 years from now, they don’t know how to have fun, then they are really screwed up. No set of books makes me laugh as hard as EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THESE.

8. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

If someone can manage to capture falling in love, being in love, the troubles of love, etc, so perfectly, they should at least be honored with a really long shelf life for their work!

9. Nefertiti and The Heretic Queen by Michelle Moran

Classic historical fiction right here, which really takes a new view into the lives of two of the most memorable queens in Egyptian history. Any lover of historical fiction at any time should read these.

10. Dear John by Nicholas Sparks

What? I’m a Sparks fanatic. You can’t tell me this isn’t a powerful novel in its own right about a very real thing in American culture. So READ IT, FUTURE.

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books to Read in a Day

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

Alright, now, total disclaimer here: books that I can read in a day are … everything. Seriously. I finished Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows in one day. I am a speed-reader like nobody’s business. I’m going to try to slow it down here as best I can and not add something like War and Peace to this list. 😛 (All title links go to Goodreads)

1. The First Test by Tamora Pierce

Now, seriously, I’ll let you in on something. When I read this one (the first book in Pierce’s Protector of the Small series) or, say, the first book in her Song of the Lioness series or – erm, really, any of her books up til the Beka Cooper series, I just read the entire series in one shot. As I see it, I own them all – why not? Every single one is a funny, exciting ride that brings back so many memories for me, so that’s just kind of become a tradition with me.

2. A Countess Below Stairs by Eva Ibbotson

Yet another blast from the past, I know, but a book I just adore. Don’t ask me WHY I own so many Ibbotson books, because after a while they all look very much the same, but A Countess Below Stairs has always been my favorite. Eva Ibbotson is classic and this book is cute. Enough said.

3. The Heretic Queen by Michelle Moran

My favorite of all Moran’s books (so far) is also, sadly, the shortest. Still, rereads happen FREQUENTLY. Nefertari is a very active character I wish was my best friend, and the genuine love story that develops between her and Rameses never gets old. This is also by far my favorite overall cast of characters when up against Nefertiti and Cleopatra’s Daughter.

4. Wings of the Wicked by Courtney Allison Moulton

If you’ve read my review of this book, then you know I squealed in it (and have squealed multiple times since) that this book and it’s predecessor Angelfire read like rapid fire shot guns. It’s AMAZING. These books ARE big, but you just HAVE to read them in a day because EVERYTHING just keeps HAPPENING. It kept me up til wee hours of the morning because there is just no way I could put it down.

5. Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles

The next two books in this series might have been a lot like repeats of this one, but there is a reason for that: this book was pretty good! It’s one of my guilty pleasure books when I’m in the mood for YA romance.

6. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

As much as I try, I don’t think I will ever make any kind of favorites list without mentioning this book. I’m really sorry, guys, but again: HAVE YOU SEEN MY REVIEW? There is more CAPS than I ever care to write with. I just adore this book til the moon and back, and I just can’t seem to stop rereading it. Ever. It still makes me laugh so hard I cry. Speaking of which…

7. Demonglass by Rachel Hawkins

Again, I believe we’ve been over this too. Several times. But GUYS. The ENTIRE Hex Hall series. (No matter what I said about Spell Bound!) I love these books. I want Sophie to be my best friend. I want Archer to be my boyfriend. (SHH, don’t tell my real boyfriend!) I want Jenna to be my best friend. I LOVE THESE BOOKS.

8. The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson

I think it’s bad that I live for the end of this book. Nothing gives me more glee than to watch this love triangle set up, knowing what’s coming. I think that’s a sign that I need to either stop reading books with love triangles in them or get therapy. Or, you know, both. But seriously. Check out my book review! And read this if you want a fresh take on a love triangle!

9. Incarnate by Jodi Meadows

TIME FOR MORE CAPS. Why? Because why not! I adore this book and I’m not ashamed to say it! (Seriously, have you SEEN my book review?) Anyways. This book is for people who want a fresh new world to explore, people who want to see some interesting characters AND people who want some real romance. It’s like you can’t lose!

10. City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

Seriously? Did you think you could get out of one of my lists without a Cassandra Clare book? Because you can’t. Ever. READ THESE BOOKS. Okay, so, her Infernal Devices series is said to be better than this Mortal Instruments series, but these were the first ones I read and therefore closest to my heart.

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Historical Fiction Books

Over at the lovely The Broke and the Bookish blog, they run a feature called “Top Ten Tuesday.” Because I have been meaning to get in on this for AGES, I finally managed to set down and get myself to DO it. I decided to take the prompt and do my Top Ten Historical Fiction books, because I just recently found myself back on this kick. It should be noted that I read mostly Egyptian and Tudor England books, hence the lack of variety on the list. 😛 (All links will go to the book’s Goodreads page so you can read more about them.)

1. The Heretic Queen by Michelle Moran

If you enjoy Egyptian historical fiction and have NOT read this book, there is something seriously wrong with you. Not kidding. This one deals with Nefertari, the beloved queen of Ramses the Great. It also postulates a few things that could have been possible to make the history more interesting, which will only make sense to you if you read…

2. Nefertiti by Michelle Moran

Self explanatory as to which Pharaoh and Queen this one deals with. This was Moran’s first book, and the one that really got me interested in the Armana period in the first place. Gorgeously done, as always.

3. The Queen’s Governess by Karen Harper

I’ll admit, I was tentative about going into a book narrated by Queen Elizabeth’s governess Kat Ashley, but this was a surprise find I was very happy with.

4. Cleopatra’s Daughter by Michelle Moran

Okay, yeah, I kind of hero-worship Moran. This one was her last Egyptian novel in a while, sadly, but it opened my eyes to a whole new story I had never realized existed: the story of Cleopatra’s daughter, Cleopatra Selene, and the rest of Cleopatra’s kids. I don’t know why this was a group of figures I never looked into before, because these poor kids were the only people left to deal with the fallout of their parents death and the Roman’s anger. Seriously. Read it.

5. The King’s Rose by Alisa M. Libby

I had never really been a fan of Catherine Howard, and in fact she was my least favorite of Henry VIII’s 6 wives. However, this book was done really well, and I actually started connecting with her. As always–and probably truthfully–she is depicted as vain and vapid, but she had other characteristics in this book that make her into a real, young girl who was placed in a powerful, dangerous situation.

6. Mistress of Rome by Kate Quinn

To this day, I have no idea why I picked up this book, since I usually avoid Roman history, but I’m glad I did. Not only was this a different kind of story, but it was also a historical with a real STORY hidden beneath all the layers. Some historicals read like a history book, especially when dealing with well written characters, so this was a refreshing read with a new story for me.

7. The Red Queen’s Daughter by Jaqueline Kolosov

Mostly recommended for young readers, this was another story I had never thought to look into. Catherine Parr’s young daughter with Thomas Seymour is thought to have died around the age of three or so, but this imagines what if she didn’t. PLUS, it adds in some elements of witchcraft and magic, which was equally awesome.

8. Cleopatra’s Moon by Vicky Alvear Shecter (this link goes to my review)

This is another retelling of the story of Cleopatra’s daughter Cleopatra Selene, which I found to be quite different from Moran’s version. This version of Selene is even more kick butt, and–since the facts surrounding her and her brothers are so few–Shecter was able to imagine a whole new story plotline that was engaging even though I’d read Cleopatra’s Daughter before.

9. Innocent Traitor by Alison Weir

I’ve never been a fan of Weir’s writing style for the most part, or really cared about Jane Grey, but this book just had me feeling everything for the “Nine Day Queen.” I had never really thought about what she thought, or what she went through, but this book really connected me.

10. The Queen’s Fool by Philippa Gregory

I’m usually a sucker for Gregory’s books, but the Queen’s Fool is definitely one of my favorites. Few people are ever really sympathetic to Mary Tudor, so I found that really interesting. Also, usually Gregory goes from the point of view of a well-known historical figure, but this time she uses the POV of a made up girl with the power of Sight (seeing the future) which made it doubly interesting. Gregory connected the story to Mary and Elizabeth, but also let the main character tell her own.

So now you know MY top 10 – what are yours, and do you have any recommendations for me?

Review: Cleopatra’s Moon by Vicky Alvear Shecter

Cleopatra’s Moon by Vicky Alvear Shecter

4 stars

“The Luxe” meets the ancient world in the extraordinary story of Cleopatra’s daughter.
Selene has grown up in a palace on the Nile with her parents, Cleopatra & Mark Antony–the most brilliant, powerful rulers on earth. But the jealous Roman Emperor Octavianus wants Egypt for himself, & when war finally comes, Selene faces the loss of all she’s ever loved. Forced to build a new life in Octavianus’s household in Rome, she finds herself torn between two young men and two possible destinies–until she reaches out to claim her own.
This stunning novel brings to life the personalities & passions of one of the greatest dramas in history, & offers a wonderful new heroine in Selene.

As a historical fiction enthusiast, I’m always excited to see historical fiction on the shelves. More and more lately, I’ve been excited to see some of this coming to young adult shelves, especially since it’s some of my favorite stuff. I’m a huge fan of Egyptian history, specifically the Michelle Moran books for example. When I saw Cleopatra’s Moon on the shelves of the Teen section, I was instantly curious. Michelle Moran had already covered the topic of Cleopatra’s daughter Cleopatra Selene very well, but I was interested to see what the young adult take on her would be. The results were actually quite interesting.

The beginning of the book was very similar to Moran’s, to the point that I was almost bored. Honestly, this isn’t Shecter’s fault: historical fiction is historical fiction. My interest began to rise, however, as Shecter began to make the different decisions, like letting both of Selene’s brothers live when they were at Rome. A few other plot twists and differences developed, and I was ecstatic. It really morphed into a different take on who Selene was, while keeping her likeable and relatable.

Perhaps the most amusing difference between Moran and Shecter’s books is dictated by the shelves I found them on, adult and teen respectively. Though Cleopatra’s Moon was on the teen shelf, Shecter’s Selene actually makes more adult-ish decisions than Moran’s. Whether its witnessing her father’s death or planning to seduce a Roman man just like her mother did, this Selene is far more headstrong. Here is how Shecter gets Selene to transcend time and fit in on the teen shelf. She doesn’t hold back. Selene becomes a fighter, a girl determined to retake her homeland at any cost while asserting her pride in her female identity.

Don’t get me wrong, I adore both books. Cleopatra’s Moon is going to go into a slot right next to my Michelle Moran books. This is what I so enjoy about historical fiction, these different views on the life of one person, and how they interacted with the other historical figures of their time. I certainly recommend Cleopatra’s Moon for all lovers of Egyptian historical fiction, teen or adult. Unlike Moran’s books, however, which were much more steeped in fact and historical story, I also recommend this book to readers curious but perhaps not entirely into historical fiction. (Moran’s books can also be read by non-history lovers, but I believe they’re more enjoyable when you have the background.) Whether you like history or not, the Selene of Cleopatra’s Moon is a feisty female heroine that every teen girl can relate to and take courage from.