Books to Read Sans Synopsis

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Top 5 Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Thoughts on Tomes and created by Lainey @ Ginger Reads Lainey. You can check out the group’s Goodreads page for this month’s topics!

This week’s theme is books that it’s best to go into blindly. Those few titles you want to recommend without spoiling anything, and just end up describing as vaguely as possible. “No trust me, don’t google it – just read it! You’ll love it, I swear.” These books are usually fantastic if you can read them unspoiled, but even their own back covers can sometimes mar the story within. (How do publishers let that happen?)

Here are five books that I think you should read without a synopsis. Either they spoil the content a little too much or they misrepresent the story enough to make you unhappy with it. Just trust me.

Everything I Never Told You, by Celeste Ng

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Girl with a Pearl Earring, by Tracy Chevalier

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Cathy’s Book, by Jordan Wiseman

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Genesis, by Bernard Beckett

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Deathless, By Catherynne M. Valente

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There you have it! Some of these are genre fiction, and some are not. I’ll not be telling you which is which, because that would spoil the whole point of this post. Have you read any of my choices? Do they coincide with the books you would recommend someone read without a synopsis?

Let me know in the comments below!

Books for Hufflepuffs

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Top 5 Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Thoughts on Tomes and created by Lainey @ Ginger Reads Lainey. You can check out the group’s Goodreads page for this month’s topics!

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This week’s topic is books that represent your Hogwarts house – for me, that’s Hufflepuff. Though I admittedly look awful in yellow, I’m a proud badger! The listed choices for this week are in no particular order.

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Watership Down
As a kid I couldn’t get enough of this harrowing tale of friendship and survival. As an adult, I try to re-read it once every few years. This book shook me to my core the first time I read it. The rabbits keep on keeping on, despite all odds. What’s more Hufflepuff than that?

AsterixAsterix

That’s right, this is on the list. I grew up reading these (je suis franco-ontarienne) and love them to this day. These BD’s about a small village’s refusal of the Roman occupation is still laugh out loud funny – especially all those name puns. Asterix and Obelix have an exceptional friendship, and the resistance of their village to being conquered is earmarked by stubbornness and good humour that is characteristic of Hufflepuffs. Plus, they love a good feast!

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The Southern Vampire Mysteries

I loved these books. I sped through them faster than you’d believe (and no, I haven’t seen the show). They’re on the list because Sookie is for sure a Hufflepuff. She’s just trying to live her life and all this bizarre stuff is happening around her. What does she do? Takes it in stride, ’cause that’s life. Also, she’s a romantic who really does not react well to betrayal. Why? Because she’s a hella loyal badger.

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Maresi

A simple story told in a fairy-tale style, I really enjoyed this book. The first in a series, it follows the burgeoning friendship of two girls, Maresi and Jai. They live in the Red Abbey, a haven for females as it is forbidden for men to set food on the island. It’s a story of loyalty, community, magic, and sacrifice. Hufflepuffs can be brave, clever, and sneaky when they have to but the driving factors are always loyalty and friendship. This story has that in spades. redwall.jpg

Redwall Series

Literally all of these books capture what it means to be a Hufflepuff. The peaceful beasts of Redwall abbey extend aid to all those who ask, and live quiet lives of plenty. They live as a community with shared values and goals, and when threatened they’ll take up arms to defend their lives, though they mostly abhor violence. In far away Salamandastron there live warrior badgers who are capable of entering berserker rages and decimating throngs of vermin foes – but who live as benevolent overseers of the hares of the long patrol unless absolutely necessary. That is about as Hufflepuff as anything could ever be. Also, there are feasts. Because again, we’re ‘Puffs.

That’s all for T5W this week! Have you checked out any of the books on my list? Do you have other suggestions for Hufflepuff reads, or for books that suit your Hogwarts House? Let me know in the comments below!

 

 

 

 

 

 

T5W: Books to Re-Read

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It’s Wednesday, and you know what that means – time for another Top 5 Wednesday! T5W is a weekly book meme created by Gingerreadslainey, and hosted here if you’re interested in participating!

This week we’re talking about books that we want to re-read! A topic that’s certainly near and dear to me, as I re-read books fairly consistently. While reading a book once is very rewarding, reading it again can bring so much more to the story. With each re-read, I believe a deeper understanding of the text can be achieved – of the characters, their motives, the subtle nuances the author worked in – and even of error and offenses that you never noticed the first time around.

Plus, it’s always wonderful to return to a world and characters that you love. Like sinking into a warm bath, or under soft flannel sheets, it’s a feeling of comfort that warms you.

So what are my top five books to re-read? In no particular order, lets begin!

Watership Down

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I first read this when I was fairly young – maybe about 11 or 12 years old. While I loved it as a kid, I’m sure there are things that I never quite understood about it. I think I’ll definitely benefit from reading it again as an adult. Plus, I’ve since learned that it was the author’s least favourite of his own works which is interesting and may lend a more critical eye during the re-read.

Inheritance Cycle

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A series that I loved as a teen, I nevertheless recognised at the time that the writing in the first few books was a rather poor emulation of fantasy novels that had come before. Despite that, I enjoyed the fast pacing and characterisations set in this new-ish fantasy setting. I’m curious to see if I’ll like these less in a re-read as an adult, considering that I used to do fast re-reads of them and would skip the parts I enjoyed less.

Amos Daragon

The only French titles on the list, these were favourites of mine as a kid. I’m fairly sure you can also get them in English (the series title would be ‘The Mask Wearer’) but a beautiful omnibus set came into my work in the original French and I’m making sure to snatch it up quickly. Amos Daragon’s adventures were thrilling, and the cast of characters were super interesting and included a young gorgon and a kid who could turn into a bear. Honestly, I think I’ll love these even more with a re-read, and they’ll help me become more comfortable with my French again.

The Fionavar Tapestry

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These books changed my life. They changed my perspective of fantasy, of the concept of alternate universes, and of how complex characters could be. I read them when I was about 14, and I’m far overdue on a re-read. Kay is a singularly gifted author. His beautiful prose builds his worlds with an effortless grace that I believe to be honestly unmatched by anyone else. (My love of this series only increased when I met Guy Gavriel Kay and he was kind enough to take a picture with me.)

The Gemma Doyle Trilogy

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I really enjoyed these books as a teen. Portraying a magical world that was more insidious than most I had previously encountered, I found them very compelling. Even as a teen though, I wasn’t a fan of the romance in these books. However, the mysterious nature of the settings, and many of the characters kept me guessing and wanting more. I also found the tragedies of some characters pretty unique among a whole lot of ‘feel good happy ending’ stories at the time. I’m eager to see how these books hold up on a re-read.

So there you have it! Five books (or series) that I’m eager to re-read.

Are any of these on your to-read list? Have you read any of them before? Did you love them, hate them, or forget about them? What are you planning on re-reading? Let me know in the comments below!

T5W: Publishers That Fill My Shelves

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It’s been ages since I’ve participated in a Top 5 Wednesday, and this week’s topic is a cool one. Top 5 Wednesday is a book meme created by Gingerreadslainey, and hosted here if you’re interested in participating!

This week we were urged to check out what we have on our shelves in order to determine our favourite publishers.

Determining favourite publishers is also insanely difficult because when I looked them up, they’re all basically imprints of the ‘Big Five’ – publishing companies that have a huge monopoly on the market. So figuring out how to divide this list was ridiculous. All the different imprints are essentially divided by genre so I didn’t learn anything about my preferences that I didn’t already know. I like fantasy, sci-fi, YA, and the occasional historical fiction or classic.

So with that disclaimer, here are the publishers I seem to have the most of.

1)HarperCollins

Largely because of my love of YA, my shelves are filled with HarperTeen and HarperCollins titles. They tend to stick with easily readable books in quartets or trilogies that all seem to sell very well – including some classics. Some of my favourites are the Wicked Lovely series by Melissa Marr, Kenneth Oppel’s Silverwing series, and my beautiful Chronicles of Narnia boxset.

2)Simon & Schuster

Another high-scoring publisher on my shelf purely due to YA titles, I have quite a few Simon Pulse books. Again, easily digestible titles, these tend to have eye-catching covers. According to their website they publish books “with a focus on high-concept commercial fiction”. Favourites include Tamora Pierce’s Tortall books, the Night World series, and The Nine Lives of Chloe King.

3)ChiZine Publications

The first (and only) publisher on the list not an imprint of the ‘Big Five’, this is a local Toronto enterprise that publishes some weird and wonderful stuff. Deliberately publishing the dark and the strange, their tagline ‘Embrace the Odd’ is apt for each of their titles that I’ve read. Some of my favourites are Katja from the Punk Band, The Inner City, and Chasing the Dragon.

4)Ace

Next on the list is Ace, who are now an imprint of Penguin Random House. They’re a science fiction/fantasy publisher that has put out very influential books since their inception, such as Phillip K. Dick, the Dune series, and Robert Heinlein. My favourites include the Sookie Stackhouse books, and Sharon Shinn’s Samaria books.

5)Tor Books

Last, but certainly not least, is Tor. Now owned by one of the ‘Big Five’, Holtzbrinck, Tor is known for publishing science fiction and fantasy, and also for their excellent online sci-fi magazine Tor.com. It’s virtually impossible to look at a shelf containing those genres and not find a book published by Tor. Some of my favourite authors they publish include Charles De Lint, Jeff VanderMeer, and Catherynne M. Valente.

While those were the publishers and imprints that held the most of the books that I currently own, I found it impossible not to notice that lots of smaller imprints and independent publishers had a few titles on my shelves as well. It’s virtually impossible to escape the ‘Big Five’, nor will I seek to do so as I think that quality reading material can be found pretty much everywhere if you’re willing to look.

What were your top 5 publishers? Are there smaller presses or imprints that you’d like to recommend? Please so in the comments below!

T5W: Books It Took Me Longest to Read

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Top 5 Wednesday is a book meme created by Gingerreadslainey, and hosted here if you’re interested in participating! This week’s theme was a little difficult. I couldn’t decide if I should include both books I liked and didn’t like on the list. Eventually I decided I would.

I usually finish a book within two days to a week of starting it. Sometimes, circumstance prevents me from finishing a book in that time span. I haven’t included those.

The books on this list were the ones that just couldn’t hold my attention. Some I enjoyed despite that, and some I really did not.

snow-child-coverThe Snow Child (Eowyn Ivey)

I read this book at the wrong time. It’s definitely a character-driven book, with little plot. The story is interesting and the writing absolutely beautiful. I don’t know why it took me ages to read it. It literally took me more than four months to finish. I just kept putting it aside for other things. When I finally managed to finish it, I decided that I may try to re-read it during the winter. Despite the long read time, I did enjoy the story.

Monsters of Men (Patrick Ness)

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I enjoyed the first book of this series enormously, and powered through it very quickly. The world building was really interesting as were the two main characters. The second book had more shortcomings but I was still invested in the series. And then I got to this book. Wow. Such disappointment. It took me weeks to get even halfway through… and I didn’t even read the whole thing. I gave up on it.

witchs-daughterThe Witch’s Daughter (Paula Brackston)

I’m a big fan of witches, so when I got a Kobo gift card shortly after receiving an e-reader I snapped this up. It took me a while. I wasn’t a fan of how witches were portrayed in this book (especially as I was dabbling in the Pagan community at the time). The characters were either good or evil, with no ambiguity at all – and so they were pretty dull. A slow read because I just didn’t like the content of the book.

The Hobbit (J.R.R Tolkien)the-hobbit-cover

As a kid, I picked up a copy of The Hobbit at a book jumble sale. When I tried to read it I just wasn’t into it. The writing style didn’t appeal to 14 year old me, and even as an adult it took me two weeks to get through. I admire Tolkien greatly, and have enjoyed some of his other works, but though I can see the value in The Hobbit it isn’t one of my favourites.

girl-on-the-train-coverThe Girl on the Train (Paula Hawkins)

I picked this up when I was lost in the PATH (story of my life), and it had just come out. I had asked the friendly woman behind the counter what she would recommend for a great read – and this was her choice. I jumped into it eagerly, and stalled pretty quickly. It was just too slow paced to hold my attention at the time, and I stopped after about three chapters. Now that its being made into a movie I’ll have to give it another shot.

What books took you the longest to read? Care to defend any of my DNF’s or slow reads? Do we have any slow reads in common?

T5W: Characters I Don’t Want To Trade Places With

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Wednesday is here again, and with it time for another Top 5! Top Five Wednesday was created by Gingerreadslainey on Youtube, and you can find the group with topics and participants here. This week the topic is characters that I wouldn’t want to switch places with. It took some thinking, but I’m satisfied with my choices.

#1 – Harry Potter

Though it would be amazing to find out I was a witch, I would never swap places with Harry. In addition to being orphaned and growing up in an abusive household, Harry must deal with fickle fame and friendships, life threatening situations, a frankly absurd prophecy, and a psychopath’s bizarre vendetta against him. Thanks but no thanks.

#2 – Clariel (The Old Kingdom)

Clariel is a young woman with simple desires. She wants not love, or fame, or the pleasures of the flesh. She simply wants to be left alone. Her heart lies with the forest and there she wishes to stay. Sadly, her wish is impeded by the machinations of those who would use her as a pawn on either side of their political conflict. Considering her journey, I would never want to take her place.

#3 – Misao Harada (Black Bird)

Cursed to live a life surrounded by malicious beings unseen to others, and later to either be eaten by them or wed to one, Misao doesn’t have a life that I envy. Certainly she thinks she has a chance at love, but would it be at the cost of her family, her friends, her life, or even her mortality? Her fate isn’t one that I would wish on anyone.

(Disclaimer: I haven’t yet finished reading the series, please no Black Bird spoilers!)

#4 – Murtagh (The Inheritance Cycle)

Enslaved and forced to fight for a terrible cause, Murtagh was born to a father who scarred him for life. Tormented by his insidious upbringing, he never becomes the principled man he used to wish he would, instead making hard choices that bring pain to himself and others. Murtagh has a hard life that I certainly wouldn’t want to be dropped into – despite the dragon companion that I would gain.

#5 – Anyone in The Hunger Games

Dystopia, anyone? Yeah, no.

What do you think of my choices? Are there other characters you wouldn’t want to trade places with?