As the new year has rolled around, and we got plenty of new books for Christmas, it was about time to re-evaluate some of the books on our shelves, and which ones were itching to find new homes via our local charity shop. We wanted to go through some of the reasons we decided to get rid of these books, and questions we’ll now ask ourselves when considering whether a book is worth keeping or not! Continue reading “Our First Book Unhaul!”
Blogmas wouldn’t be Blogmas without a few Winter/ Christmas recommendations! Just like in previous years, the list contains a few Christmassy books and a few that are perfect to read in the cold season! This year’s list is probably the most diverse we’ve compiled, so let’s get to it!
Here are this year’s picks:
Orbiting Jupiter by Gary D. Schmidt
This book shares the same cross between middle grade and adult fiction that Wonder by R. J. Palacio has. It’s a book that everyone can enjoy! It’s the story of miscreant by who’s taken in by a family that live on a farm and their compassion is what helps this boy reconnect his past. It deals with some heavy issues, like teenage pregnancy, in an incredibly sensitive manner. It’s one of those books that you don’t think much of when you begin, but once you get dragged into the story you won’t be able to stop thinking about it! Bad weather and frozen lakes play a big part in the story making it a perfect book for the season.
Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
Maddie and I started the year by watching the first episode of the TV, then we found out Outlander was going to be one of the books we had to read for university. So, we halted watching the show and decided to read the book first! This series is one to sink your teeth into, it has the perfect mix of character and plot driven arcs and the romantic scenes are interspersed with politics and fighting. We loved the intrigue and the historical setting, and adore how level-headed Claire is, even in a completely new situation. The TV show has run it’s second season, and I do believe more is in the works, so if you like to watch adaptations along with reading the main text, this is an incredible series to begin over he Christmas holidays. Also, the book series is still on going and all of the books are extremely long, so if you love Outlander, there’s still so much more to read!
Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige
Without fail, The Wizard of Oz is always on at Christmas. So is Oliver Twist, but until a YA adaptation of that is written, I can only recommend this marvellously unique retelling where Dorothy is a witch with a capital B and must be taken down at all costs, otherwise Oz will be corrupt forever and ever. This isn’t the Oz you know and put up with because your granddad refuses to change the channel (not speaking from experience or anything.) It’s feisty and gritty and the Wicked Witch of the West isn’t the only evil lurking around. Although I think the blurb lures you in under the false pretences of an epic quest, there are still lots of epic things going on that are worthy of your attention! If you like Percy Jackson, retellings or villains, this is your perfect Christmas in book form.
I’ll Be Home For Christmas, a UKYA anthology
We reviewed this on Day 2 of Blogmas and it’s the perfect read for anyone wanted to boost the number of UKYA authors they’ve read in 2016. It’s also a great introduction to authors you may not have heard of, or a juicy extra from one of your favourites. There’s something in here for everyone, including a ghost story, a refugee, astronauts, LGBT+ visibility and plenty of Christmas romance. A bonus for this book is the £1 of every sale goes to the Crisis charity that helps the homeless over the holiday season, so by investing in some great stories, you’re doing a good dead as well!
Twelve Days of Dash & Lily by R. Cohn and D. Levithan
This list wouldn’t be complete without a contemporary centred around our favourite time of year. Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares made it to a previous list, and the sequel earns its spot as another jovial and unexpectedly quirky story of the Christmas couple, a year later. David Leviathan and Rachel Cohn have done it again, crafting a story around hilarious situations and drama that is guaranteed to keep you occupied until Christmas dinner is on the table. Note: this book can also be appreciated as a stand alone, even if you haven’t read the first book! It’s never too late to get on board Dash and Lily’s romance, huzzah!
If you want to look at our recommendations from previous years just click the dates!
Another perfect contemporary read! I loved the characters and thought the relationship was so cute! Kasie West tried to deal with some more intense issues but I thought they were pushed to the way-side with the main focus being on Charlie and Braden’s relationship. I fell in love with Charlie’s family, but I much prefer having one twin sister to the thought of four older brothers!
At the beginning of this year, I decided to start reading ‘The Princess Diaries’ series by Meg Cabot. I felt like by not reading it when I was 14, I was really missing out on a great series, and since there’s going to be a new book added to the already massive 10 books, all about Mia’s wedding, that I’m super interested in reading, now seemed the perfect time to pick them up!
Most of the books are only small, under 300 pages and all told, obviously, in a diary format. I love this way of writing! Some of my favourite books are written in the journal style, like ‘The Raspberry Rules’, but it’s pretty much a style that’s isolated to the middle grade genre. (Unless we’re counting ‘Shatter Me’ by Tahereh Mafi as a ‘journal style’ thing!)
The Princess Diaries has inspired me to keep up my own diary too! I’ve tried to do it in the past, but it’s all day-to-day stuff that doesn’t mean much to me now. Mia writes about the day-to-day (albeit more exciting than mine because she’s a princess) but she also writes about her feelings. I think Meg Cabot does a great job of portraying a teenager’s anxieties, even if I think Mia’s slightly too obsessed with her body image and gets panicked over things that really don’t need to be panicked about.
They’re the kind of book I wish I’d read when I was younger, because they deal with hard hitting stuff in such a light hearted manner. And it’s not like just because they’re meant to be a teenage girl’s diary, they’re vapid and nonsense filled. Mia writes things like “it was Lily’s own prerogative…” and uses words I certainly don’t!
I’m currently reading book five, ‘Princess in Pink’. Has anyone else read and enjoyed this series? I’m liking it so far, but I think Mia’s problems are slightly repetitive. Props to Meg Cabot for writing 10 books, and all, but 250 pages of Mia worrying and whining over something I know will be resolved in the last 20 pages can get a little old.
Still, I think the series has been a valuable reading experience and I’m loving it so far! (Anything to put off reading ‘Heir of Fire’…those 600 pages are freaking me out!)
‘Character Development’ is a phrase that we throw around a lot at Heart Full Of Books, because the phrase ‘good character development’ (or something along the same lines but with a far more exited tone) is the accolade of all accolades in a review!
Everyone has an idea on what character development is, but when we talk about it in our reviews we don’t mean the act of creating a character, we mean the process of putting a character through situations that change the way the character thinks or feels. Character development can sometimes be pinpointed to an exact moment, other times it’s a series of events that the protagonist reacts to in small ways, but by the end of the novel their outlook may have changed, resulting in a happy ending.
Truthfully, it’s a hard thing to define, and sometimes it can be a hard thing to notice. The more you read the easier it is to assess characters against one another. As readers we create our own scales of character development that relate to characters we know have had some pretty excellent CD. Personally, I look at Morgan Matson’s novels. Emily from Since You’ve Been Gone, being a perfect example, when I read a contemporary I think, “did this character change as much as Emily did?” but I should probably clarify that even if characters don’t change in the same ways, doesn’t mean there wasn’t a change! I can’t compare Emily to Yelena from Poison Study because they’re in different worlds and genres. What’s character development from Emily’s caterpillar to butterfly metamorphosis in regards to confidence, isn’t the same as Yelena’s fight against the patriarchy and her coming to terms with her magical abilities. But most importantly both character went though a palpable change! Character development is simply overcoming flaws and weaknesses – or at least coming to terms with them *cough* self acceptance *cough*
In our opinion, what makes character development go from ‘good’ to ‘excellent’ is if the character’s CD makes the reader think about themselves. If a novel makes me think about who I am as a ‘character’ and if I change as a result of the protagonist’s CD then that’s even better! I love being able to come away from a story and apply what the character has learned to my own life, it’s pretty excellent.
We like to mention and comment on character development as much as we can in our reviews, and hope to emulate our favourite authors ways of including CD in our own writing. Let’s just say if we say ‘excellent’ and character development in the same sentence that book has made it to the favourite list.
There are so many amazing books that we would like to read this year, and prioritizing what we want to read has never been a strong point of ours! But we thought we would come up with a list of our 15 most anticipated reads, because, who knows, maybe a few of them will make it to our Top 15 of 2015 video at the end of the year!
- Bloodlines by Richelle Mead
- Winter by Marissa Meyer
- Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor
- The Evolution of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin
- Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo
- Geek Girl: All That Glitters by Holly Smale
- The Elite by Kiera Cass
- Shadow Study by Maria V. Synder
- The Sword of Summer by Rick Riordan
- Split Second by Kasie West
- Emerald Green by Kerstin Gier
- The Last Ever After by Soman Chainani
- Salt & Stone by Victoria Scott
- Through The Ever Night by Veronica Rossi
- Talon by Julie Kagawa
Thank you to Sarah for inspiring this post. We’re so excited to read these books, even though some of them are yet to be released!
Over the last couple of months, Bee and I have really been trying to widen our reading pattern, and experience some of the great literature out there that wasn’t published in this century. We’ve had to do some reading for school, of course, but we’ve also been doing a lot of reading for our book club and just in general. I am in no way an expert on these classics, but I thought I’d give a few tips if you’re interested in trying out something new (even though the books are old!)
1. Read small books. This may seem like a cop out, but it is the perfect way to widen your reading without committing yourself to 800 pages of Charles Dickens. You really feel enriched afterwards, even if it’s only taken you three hours to read! Try: The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson (who also wrote Treasure Island?!) or Animal Farm by George Orwell.
2. Read books that you know something about. Everyone is familiar with certain classic tales, even if it is the watered-down version presented in the media. Try: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley or Dracula by Bram Stoker.
3. Read the books that have lots of adaptations. This can really help to bring a story to life with costumes, setting and lively dialogue! If you’re finding the content of the novel hard, as well, then an adaptation can really help to firm up your understanding of the text. Try: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen or Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte.
4. Don’t limit yourself to only the genre of novels. In order to really read widely, why not trying reading plays or poetry instead? This can be much quicker than reading a novel, but equally as enjoyable. Try: Any Shakespeare play (although I’d recommend the comedies!) or the poetry of the Romantic era, like John Keats.
5. Finally, read classics with others. There’s nothing better to talk about than books, and to actually discuss the classic that you’ve chosen to read will further your understanding of the text to an even greater extent. Listening to what others think of the novel could possibly influence your opinion of it. Share recommendations and enthusiasm!
I hope this inspired you to go and try out classics, remember, they’re not as scary as they look!