Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday, What I'm reading and last week's Feature & Follow

Top Ten Books You'd Pair With A "Required Reading"

Warm bodies is an interesting twist on the tragic romance, not to mention an interesting twist on zombie novels.

Admittedly, thematically, these two books are not discussing the same things, but the setting is similar, and I think they would work as a reading pair for a lovely compare/contrast.

Both books focus on a group of children abandon on an island.
In Lord of the Flies, they are shipwrecked and left to their own devices... in which the societal structure they create degrades rapidly.
In Battle Royale, the children are forced onto the island to play a terrible game of kill or be killed... a game run by their government to keep the masses in check.

I think it would be interesting to look at the differences and similarities between these two books... to question why the boys in Lord of the Flies and the kids in Battle Royale ended up in similarly murderous situations. What was William Golding saying about his society? What was Koushun Takami saying about his?

Two ladies, outcasts in their communities because they have done something that is socially taboo.
It's not really that hard to draw the parallels here.

Again, not hard to draw the parallels between these two.
Both books are coming of age stories, both dealing with life as a teenager, that odd stage between childhood and adulthood,
and touching on the social awkwardness of the teenage thought process as it struggles to fit into an adult world.

Two orphan tales, in which the orphans leave behind abusive, cruel lives in exchange for something more wonderful and magical.
It would be immensely fun to compare and contrast these two English novels.

An oppressed, carefully controlled society in which truths are hidden and fear is the weapon used to keep the masses in check... the fact that that could be describing either of these books, I think, would make for an interesting compare/contrast.  Or maybe I'm just hooked on slipping zombie novels into this week's top ten since it's coming up on October -_-

 Both of these deal with societies where everything about the people living in them is controlled, where everyone is being lied to... and in which there is one person who retains all the knowledge of the past, uncensored.

Bridget Jones's Diary IS Pride and Prejudice with a contemporary spin.
It was a riot to read, and made me like the classic even more than I already did.
It did a beautiful job of making what are now the strange and awkward social customs of Jane Austen's time into things we can understand, like family holiday gatherings and office parties.

Or The Iliad, or the Odyssey... really, I just want to pair Riordan's Percy Jackson series with all the stories of the mythological characters that show up in them. I LOVE books that make kids want to learn, and Riordan's series has sparked an interest in the old Greek and Roman mythologies... so I think it would be a fantastic way to introduce kids to the original stories.

Ok, this is a pair that most likely won't happen... because the dream discussion on these two would be about varying opinions on religion, and various takes on belief, and what those beliefs might actually represent... but boy would it be fun to discuss what each of these authors was saying about religion.

For the record... I love this top ten question.

 This week I'm reading

The Apothecary
by Maile Meloy

Why did I choose this book:
It was one of Schuler Books Staff Picks.

Schuler Books & Music is our local book store,
with 3 locations here in Michigan.

I have yet to go wrong choosing one of their YA section staff recommendations.

Does anyone else have a non-chain bookstore that they love to frequent, and trust the staff picks from there?

So far this book is interesting, action packed and adorable.
It features an American heroine in England... something I don't run across often.


Just as a side note...
I don't know why I do this...
I read all of the time, but am constantly forgetting to share it here on the blog as a review.
Example: I recently read all 4 books in The Uglies series by Scott Westerfeld... but have I made a single review of them? Nope.
This blog's main purpose is for me to keep track of what I've read, and the details of that book...
so GAH! What the heck is wrong with me!!

Do any of you guys do this when it comes to your blog?
Not keep up with things they way you'd like to?


Something I find interesting:
Last week I decided to participate in 

in which my book selection was

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell
by Susanna Clarke

This book came out 9 years ago, in 2004...
and I have to admit, I was a bit shocked to see that *most*
of the replies to my F&F post were something along the lines of,
"Wow, I've never heard of this before!"

The book won at least 6 awards
and was nominated for several more
(not small awards either, but some of the top in the industry)
and is currently being made into a BBC miniseries.

This really led me to wonder about the bloggers who populate
the Feature and Follow Friday.

Quite a lot of them listed a Harry Potter book as their choice,
the last one having come out in 2007,
only 3 years after Susanna Clarke's book...

I have to believe that most of them were reading at least the later Harry Potter books as they came out... which puts them on the literary scene during Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell's time.

So have they truly never heard of this highly acclaimed, much talked about book?
Is it simply because they weren't blogging at the time?

I had one comment saying
"I haven't heard too much about it review-wise"
and that just made me wonder...

How many of you follow blogs that pretty much only review current YA novels?

How do you choose the books you read?
Just by the reviews you read on other blogs?

How long have you been blogging, and has it affected how you choose books?

How did you choose the books you read BEFORE you got sucked into the world of book blogging?

When you start following a new book blogger,
do you ever look back through their reviews to see what they've read before?

How do you select book bloggers to follow in the first place?
Is it simply through hops, or do you research what the blogger likes to read and write about, and follow them based on common interests? 

I'm not criticizing the people who responded to the F&F by saying they'd never heard of the book...
there are plenty of amazing books I've never heard of.

I really am just curious about how people go about selecting books these days... 
and the turn-over rate of book bloggers and/or
the rate at which new book bloggers are hitting the scene.


  1. The combinations are endless. It will be interesting to see what everybody comes up with. kelley—the road goes ever ever on Nice list today.

    1. HAH, I love how you're just going through and copying and pasting this same response to everyone... did you even read our combinations? Sheeeesh.

  2. I love that you paired Narnia and Dark Materials. I loved that Philip Pullman wrote it as a "response" to C.S. Lewis. If I'd read them together in class I would have loved it.

    1. I know! Sometimes it's unfortunate that religion is so taboo... it would be nice if people could discuss it rationally.

  3. I absolutely love your combinations and I can definitely see some of them actually being implemented in schools.

    Now, as far as your questions go...

    I follow a lot of blogs. Some review current YA, some review YA for years ago, some review adults, some indie, some a combination of the above. My favorites are the ones that review a mix of everything and that's what I try to do myself.

    If I read a synopsis and it sounds good, I'll add it to my TBR pile. If the reviews from people I trust are great, I'll keep it and maybe add it to the "to buy" pile. If there mixed, I'll keep it on, but if they're getting nothing buy DNFs, 1 or 2 stars, I may reevaluate if I really want to read it or not. Sometimes books get deleted off because of numerous poor reviews, sometimes they don't.

    I'm not really sure how I picked books to read before blogging, lol. I've personally been blogging since October 2012, but I know I followed a couple blogs before that and I got them that way. Other than that, word a mouth I guess.

    I do a skim of the review archive when a follow a new blog out of curiosity and I'm kind of picky about which blogs I do follow. I participate in the F&F, but do a little research before I actually follow a new blog to see if our tastes would be the same. Then, they go through sort of a "trial period." If our tastes end up completely opposite or I know we aren't going to mesh well, I will unfollow them.

    So... that's my take on it. But I like when blogs do what you did. So what if the book is unknown/not as popular? It allows me to find books that I may not have found otherwise :)

    ~​​Andrea @ ​Beauty but a Funny Girl

    1. Yeah, I follow everything via RSS and I do the same thing, if I see a book blog popping up too often with either books I have no interest in reading, or reviews that are just too poorly done (such as, "OMG it was awesome and the guy was like, totally hot!") I drop em.

      I do keep following blogs that don't agree with my opinion on a book though... especially if they're interesting and diversely read... but I keep following them because I really enjoy reading why people disliked a book I might have loved. :)

  4. OOh nice picks! Think I like number 1 the best!

    Here's my Tuesday Post

    Have a GREAT day!

    Old Follower :)

    1. Yeah, that would be a fun one to have kids work through... as long as *I* can stand to read Romeo and Juliet again.. blah. Admittedly, I like the story just fine... but I've been required to read it about 7 times in school... just from bad luck timing when moving as a kid... and I just am not ready to read it again yet, LOL!

  5. Romeo & Juliet + Warm Bodies sounds like an interesting combo! The Scarlett Letter + Speak seem very complimentary. I could definitely see that being done.

    Great list! Thanks for stopping by my TTT post earlier! Have a great day :)

  6. This is such a great list! I love your first choice - we don't get any fantasy in our required reading! It's such a HUGE genre it seems a bit like a snub to not include the father of modern fantasy. And your last choice mirrors my last choice - although I think I like your combo much better!

    1. That SUCKS!!! I read The Hobbit in school, as well as The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe.

      Yeah, Narnia and Dark Materials are related in quite a few ways... it would be really interesting to go through it with a fine-tooth comb!!

  7. For some bizarre reason, your last blog post never showed on my dashboard (it's how I keep up with most blogs). I have to say, I have seen Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell around but haven't picked it up yet. I tend to steer clear of any critically acclaimed books. The ones I've tried that fall into this category in the past have always turned out not to be my cup of tea. But I might see if I can grab an excerpt from this book and see if I like the writing style enough. I tend to judge whether I purchase/read a book within the first three paragraphs of the first page. If an author hasn't snagged my interest by then, then it's not likely going to happen.

    I love that you paired Romeo and Juliet with Warm Bodies. I've not read Warm Bodies but I've read enough about it to find it amusing. Haven't they released a movie titled this?

    I haven't read Across the Universe yet but I did read a short story based in the same world recently and it piqued my interest. The Giver was interesting. I was debating getting the follow up novel to that but haven't got around to it yet. Unearthed (in my book clean up on the weekend) a bunch of books I had purchased but never got around to reading so for now I have a current to read book list again.

    I sometimes let my blog fall by the wayside. Still don't know how I would go with a book review blog. All the ones I've read sound pretty professional in terms of the review. I feel a tad intimidated!

    I choose books based on their blurb and their first three paragraphs as mentioned above. I also do read book reviews and if the reviewer seems like they read similar material to me, then I do take their review into consideration when deciding whether to read or not.

    Initially, I tend to follow book bloggers that I know. And then I tend to follow links on their blogs to other book bloggers (if they have them). But generally it is a matter of whether we have similar interests or not.

    I read the Uglies series a while ago. I love Westerfeld. He has some creative ideas and worlds. I do admit that I am drawn to dystopian. Those worlds could very well turn out to be how our world progresses in the future.

    1. It's ok, I've been a slacker and haven't done a book review yet.

      Am I reading? Yes... just being lame and forgetting the reviewing part. -_-

      I envy your ability to pick out a writing style you'll dislike so quickly... it takes me several chapters to figure that out... LOL.

      I have to admit... I didn't want to read Warm Bodies at all. I would never have picked it up and read it... mostly because I'm a total nerd for classic zombies and I didn't expect it to be anything more than a mediocre teen romance novel.

      I was wrong.
      I apologize. XD

      First off, I hadn't noticed it was written by a man. I think this really helped. There was no obsessive focusing on how hot the guy was. Heck, there wasn't even too much focusing on how hot the girl was. It was all about the main character's inner monologue (which is often hilarious) and the awkwardness of being undead.

      It's well written and interesting... and the Bonies scared the crap outta me.

      There is a movie too, and it's pretty good... although I really wish they'd kept up his inner monologue, which was great... but they kind of throw it by the wayside (and redo the end of the story a bit).

      What books did you unearth??
      As for the sequel to The Giver... eeeeeh.... I don't think I'll ever read it. I think The Giver is a supurb stand alone book. I think the way it ended, with the unknown, is perfect... I imagine that reading any further books might only ruin it.

      Across the Universe is a pretty solid Sci-Fi book... which impressed me... most YA Sci-Fi books these days are... well... non -existent pretty much... fantasy is everywhere, and steam punk is everywhere, but a good, solid Sci-Fi? Not as much. I haven't read any of the other books in the series, but the first one was interesting.

      Yeah, I let my book blog fall by the wayside sometimes... as in, I just keep on readin' and forget to share. I hate it too, because I started this thing to keep track of characters in books and such, and the further it gets from when I read the book, the less I remember.

      *nod* Once you find a trusted reviewer, stick with them! (Or keeping track of a reviewer with the opposite opinion from you is helpful too, LOL).

      I LOVE Westerfeld too... but what I love the most are the Behemoth books. LOVELOVELOVELOVE those. I'm drawn to dystopian as well!

      If you like zombie stories at all, Charlie Higson's series is awesome (The Enemy, etc) as is a book called Ashes by Ilsa J. Bick (I haven't read the other two in this series yet, but I found the first one interesting).

      I'm just assuming you've read The Hunger Games and Divergent? Maybe?

      When it comes to Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell... I'm not quite sure if you'd enjoy it or not... it's very setting detailed... like Lord of the Rings or The Great Gatsby... things are always happening, but it's long and well described.

    2. I haven't read Warm Bodies yet myself. I don't read much zombie novels to be honest. Maybe because at one point, everyone was doing zombie stories and I got tired of it (much like after Twilight, the market was so saturated with vampire novels).

      I unearthed (I have way too many books and bookshelves) Leviathan by Westerfeld, Wicked and Son of a Witch by Gregory Macguire, Blue Girl by Charles de Lint, Stranger Things Happen and Magic for Beginners by Kelly Link.

      I write a lot of short stories and a friend of mine suggested I pick up the two Kelly Link books as she said my stories and writing reminded her a bit of Kelly Link's work. I had never heard of this author before so I purchased her books but have never got around to reading it.

      First though, I have to finish Hellhole.

      I'll have to put Across the Universe on my Amazon purchase list. I am waiting for a few books to be released before I do a bulk order from there. Isn't the author finished writing the whole series now?

      Yep, read Hunger Games and Divergent. Am counting down the days until the last Divergent book is out. I found both very interesting. I found the Hunger Games movie good but not as good as the books.

      I also read the Lauren Oliver books, Delirium and its sequels. Still not sure how I feel about those books. I know a lot of people were upset over the ending to the series but I felt that it was appropriate and for me, the ending was a good conclusion to the story.

      I do tend to get frustrated with books that waffle on for five pages of description. I often feel that it stops the story from moving forward. My husband likes detailed descriptions though and I am the total opposite. I can imagine the scene fine with very few lines but my husband likes the details so that he can draw a full picture in his head.

  8. I've always thought that if I were an English teacher (particularly for high school), I would want to assign a project where students read a classic work and then a modern work, so I love this topic too! I'd always thought of focusing on a classic and then a YA retelling of that classic, but you have a lot of good suggestions for other books here. I would love to pair The Chronicles of Narnia and His Dark Materials.

    1. Yeah, it might be time we redefine "classics" in lit, LOL... I think The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, as well as some other fantastic books from around the 50s and such, should be included in there.

  9. Our lists do have a lot in common! I'm definitely going to have to add "David Copperfield" to my TBR read pile.

    I discovered book bloggers and started blogging in early 2012. Before that I seriously picked a lot of books based on covers and then reading the back. Thank God for blogging!

    I think there's definitely a large contingent of YA bloggers and while I love YA, I also love mysteries, women's lit, some non fiction, and much, much, more. I try to follow bloggers who: Have similar feelings about books I feel strongly about, who review a range of material, and who don't rate everything a 7-9 on a scale to 10.

    That said I had never heard of "Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell" either. There are just so many books and not enough time :)

    1. I love Dickens... looooove him. His books have a humor in them that has withstood the sands of time.

      I agree... there are always ample book reviews on the latest thing in YA literature... but I find less for adult lit, which is sad... it always leaves me in a sort of sea of confusion over what to pick.

      If you have any good recommendations, I'd love to hear them!

  10. Great pairings! I especially like the Warm Bodies/Romeo & Juliet combo. I read the book and saw the film of Warm Bodies, but I never made that connection. At least it's got a happier ending!

    Stephanie @ Inspiring Insomnia

    1. Hahaha, well, it depends, the book or the movie? The movie has a happier ending for sure... but the book, man, the book is still pretty dark at the end XD

  11. I really love your pairings. This might sound weird, but I feel like so many so many bloggers picked so many "girl" books and I know it's just a funny thing to do and I'm probably taking it too seriously, but I just kept thinking about all the poor boys reading these romances (which boys should totally like too, I don't mean to stereotype, but I think I'm just being realistic).

    1. I agree, as I was going through I saw a lot of books that were romances... and I thought, "Hmmm, wonder how much the guys are going to love reading, "omg, he's soooo dreamy" over and over again... and some of the girls too for that matter" (would have pissed me off as a kid) haha!

      I included a few books... like The Scarlett Letter and Speak... but we all had to read The Scarlett Letter in school, and while I hated it, it doesn't mean I don't see or understand it's educational merits.

      XD But yeah... more gender neutral books, for sure!

  12. I was very encouraged to find this site. I wanted to thank you for this special read. I definitely savored every little bit of it and I have bookmarked you to check out new stuff you post.

  13. Hi there! Thanks for the follow - returning the favor.

    I love your book pairs! Catcher in the Rye and Perks would be my favorite duo out of your list. So dang good.

    And add me to the long list of peeps who have never heard of Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. Maybe I need to check this out.

    Happy Reading!
    Brooke @ http://www.pokiedot.blogspot.com/

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