Top Ten Books That I Wish Were Taught In Schools


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

Hey, Gretchen here, and I have a confession. Due to the unconventional nature of my high school experience, I have no freaking idea what is actually on a general required reading list for anyone. So I decided to do the secondary topic this week, Top Ten Books That I Wish Were Taught in Schools. Again, I have absolutely no idea what SHOULD be on this list, so I came up with a bunch of my own for my own reasons. Cool? Cool. Here they are, in no particular order.

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Top Ten Books I Wish Could Have Had Sequels


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

So, for this TTT, I tried really hard to stick to stand alone books that I wanted more out of. I could have gone on and on about series that I wanted to continue, so this made this a little bit more challenging and–I think–a little more true to the spirit of the topic. So here we go, in no particular order!

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Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books That Were Totally Deceiving

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

“Totally Deceiving,” i.e., the covers or titles that don’t fit the book, books that were totally different from the summary, or books you thought were going to be fluff that turned out to be more serious etc etc

1. The Gathering Storm by Robin Bridges

I would like to first direct you to the cover. This book has EVERYTHING in it – vampires, fey, necromancy, zombies, you name it – but the cover has a girl in a snow storm. Yes, Katerina is the main character and all, but that’s all they could come up with? Also, I don’t feel like the blurb – either click the title for Goodreads or here for my review – covers the book at all.

2. Illuminate by Aimee Agresti

To be fair, the cover gives you more of a hint to what’s going on in this book than the book ever does for like 300 pages. However, I actually called out the blurb in my review because it promised us a fast paced, exhilarating ride that never, ever came until the last 30 pages. Of a 500-something page book.

3. Shattered Souls by Mary Lindsey

For the sake of everyone’s ears, I’ll try not to say too much about this book. I have already ranted so loudly about this book that someone linked to the post on their blog. But basically? Beautiful cover with a horrible, awful, toxic set of relationships in between.

4. The Help by Kathryn Stockett

I know, I know, this isn’t a YA novel! But I’m legitametly confused about this cover. Clearly it has deeper meaning that I don’t understand, but it’s so VERY bright yellow with … birds. Sure, this book screams HI HERE I AM on bookshelves in the bookstore, but otherwise leaves me befuddled. Also, on a purely design standpoint, I have never thought that yellow and purple should go next to each other like that. 😛 (In case anyone was curious, yes, I adored this book and yes, I adored the movie.)

5. Chain Reaction by Simone Elkeles

This cover really doesn’t cover this book. This IS a scene in the book, but it’s the epilogue and it doesn’t mean anything except for give you a closing scene. At least Perfect Chemistry tried to portray the book’s overall sweetness and Rules of Attraction used the biggest scene of the book. Chain Reaction? Not so much. Of all three of them, I also believe Chain Reaction was the least steamy, which the cover begs you to think isn’t true. I reviewed this book ages ago, so the minute details are slippery, but for certain this wasn’t the right cover for this book.

6. When It Happens by Susane Colasanti

Now, I understand that as a rule straight YA romance usually has cheesy covers, but I really didn’t get this one. There were several pivotal scenes in the book that could have captured the real message of this book that weren’t … this. It looks like an optical illusion picture gone wrong. Sure, it’s cute, but considering that the book tried to be real instead of cutesy, a cutesy cover image wasn’t the way to go.

7. City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

I am putting this one on here solely for the sake of a friend of mine, who won’t go near these books because there is a bare-chested man on the front. This is NOT a penny romance, person whose name I’m trying not to say. Every single one of Clare’s books are strictly PG-13 and most of that is for language. Plus, they’re as funny as all get out. Nevermind the bare-chested man!

8. Spell Bound by Rachel Hawkins

This one is basically here for kicks and giggles, because I need someone to answer a question for me: WHY is there a CAT on the cover? Did I miss this cat? Because I swear I don’t remember that cat, but it’s ON THE COVER. Anybody?

9. The entire reprint of The Song of the Lioness that was just released

As a Pierce megafan, these covers make me legitimately angry. These covers are just so wrong, especially The Woman Who Rides Like a Man. THAT’S A TWILIGHT MOVIE POSTER, not a cover for a Tamora Pierce book. Even Tamora doesn’t like them. 😛 Speaking of which…

10. Every Twilight book cover ever.

I’m not even going to put the pictures in – you know what they look like. There’s an apple and a ribbon and a chess set and a feather and none of it makes any sense. I understand that it’s supposed to have a deeper meaning, but not to me! I also didn’t like those books, so also that.

Books to Movies: Why We Always Hate the Casting

What with so many books being turned into movies these days, I figured now would be a good time to talk about this, since I don’t have NaNoWriMo or a book review to talk about for the first time in ages. Actually, I just finished The Help by Kathryn Stockett, too, and started foaming at the mouth to get ahold of that movie. I was watching the trailer–which I had done before reading the book, but this was my first time after–and I just thought…

Wow. This doesn’t look how I pictured it.

I was genuinely confused, too. I love the actors that The Help has in it (I love you, Emma Stone!), and upon first hearing about the movie and seeing the cast, I was pretty convinced that they had picked exactly the right people to play in the movie. So what had changed?

The problem is, we readers will NEVER be happy with who is cast to play in books-to-movies. There will always be something about the person that is just…off. We don’t know what would make the right person to play our favorite character, but we do know that whoever they’ve picked is just wrong. We can feel it the second we take a glance at them.

When we read, we make the characters into ideals. Whether we visualize the characters or not, we KNOW who these characters to the point that we don’t need to picture them. Characters are not pictures too us–there are no pictures in books besides what our minds create. They are emotions, they are ideals, they are symbols. Asking a mortal person to be all that is, when you think about it, really just too much.

When you think about it further, this extends to even physical qualities as well. I never really visualize the characters in books too deeply. I keep my imaginings of characters to the forms of the soul, if you will. But even I had an extremely negative reaction when I heard that Jamie Campbell Bower had been cast as Jace in the movie they’re making of City of Bones, the first book in Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments series.

This, by the way, is a picture of him AS Jace. (Notice the gold eyes? Thank you!)

“You are not Jace,” I told his picture. At the time, I couldn’t tell you why, I just knew. JCB is not my Jace. Later I would say that it’s because he looks too young, the hair is all wrong and he’s just not freaking hot enough. But you know what the biggest problem was? The movie had put a face to a soul that I had made into an idealistic god in my imagination. (I mean, if you’ve read the books you’ve done this. It’s JACE.) I’m not sure I would have been happy with ANY actor they had picked, because I had such an image-that-is-not-an-image of my Jace. Who knows, maybe JCB is your Jace. That’s another problem with casting. Casting departments have the loathsome task of trying to match millions of images of different readers’ Jaces. Yikes.

That said, I am more than willing to give Jaime Campbell Bower the benefit of the doubt. I have to put my faith in the idea that the casting departments know the real secret. They know that they will never make everyone happy with the look of their casting choices, so look can only be half of the equation. They have to test the actors and find the person that FEELS most like Jace. Of course, this feel is different for everyone, which is why there are casting TEAMS. Hopefully they all have read the books or at least have an idea to know what they’re looking for. It’s a lot of faith to rest in a bunch of strangers, I know, but let’s face it. They know the wrath of unhappy throngs of fan girls and boys. They don’t want to be tarred and feathered. I will forgive JCB for his face if he manages a convincing Jace swagger and smile. I will probably melt and squeal.

Well, not probably. Definitely.