Top Ten Tuesday— REWIND

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke & The Bookish.

I keep forgetting to do these posts! I remember when I started my blog, I was so excited to be able to start my own lists, and I’ve only done one so far. I’m happy that this week is the Top Ten Tuesday Rewind, where you can pick to do a previous topic. I have chosen my Top Ten Childhood Favorites. This topic makes me happy, because I love to reminisce and get all sappy-book-nostalgic. So, here we go!

Top Ten Childhood Favorites

10. Beezus & Ramona by Beverly Cleary. 1450682
I remember being so conflicted, because I loved Ramona and her spunk, but as a big sister I was really able to relate to Beezus’s pain.

29724909. The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner
I remember reading these and wishing that I had more siblings and that we could go take care of one another, but then at the same time I would always realize how lucky my sister and I were to have a family and NOT have to take care of ourselves. I loved the whole series, but the first is the one that stands out the most after all these years.

 

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08. Meet Samantha by Susan S. Adler
I’ll never forget the Christmas when I opened up the box that contained my Samantha doll and the first book in her series. I absolutely adored Samantha. I read most of the other American Girl books, but as I was so obsessed with the early 1900’s it was clear Samantha would be my favorite. I still have my doll, even though she is not in tip-top shape anymore. I love her anyway.

130465107. Sweet Valley Twins by Francine Pascal
I was so jealous that I didn’t have a twin sister…

 

06. Sweet Valley Jr. High by Francine Pascal1476378
I moved on to these when I was in middle school, because they seemed a bit more modern and similar to my own school experience. I got made fun of once for reading these in seventh grade and I remember crying in the bathroom. Sad, but true. Reminder that middle school is not fun for anybody.

 

55839405. Babysitter’s Little Sister by Ann M. Martin
I was obsessed with Karen and her exploits. She was such a spunky little thing, and I remember always being jealous of all the interesting things that she had going on… even when they were mostly because of her overactive imagination. I loved all the books, but the first one, Karen’s Witch, I can still remember almost word for word. I read it a million times.

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04. Babysitter’s Club by Ann M.Martin
Well, obviously, if I was obsessed with the Little Sister series, I must have read the actualBSC. I feel that these books were a staple in many a young girl’s book collection growing up. I was even a member of the BSC club, where they would send me four books a month and other goodies. I remember having so many of these books that they circled the perimeter of my bedroom!

3998803. Matilda by Roald Dahl
Is there really anything to say about this one? I think we all relate a little bit to Matilda and her love of books. I think we all wish we could have the powers to punish the wrongdoers in our life. We all wanted a teacher like Ms. Honey. I am still trying to convince the fiance that we should name our daughter Matilda.

 


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02. Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh
Oh dear god, I wanted to BE Harriet. I was obsessed with her, and I started carrying around my own spy notebook and writing down everything about everyone; the kids on the school bus, the teachers, people in the grocery store. And I was much more careful with my spy notebook. Nobody ever read it.

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01. Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling
Yeah, I know. Shocking, right? What can I say? I wouldn’t be the person I am if it weren’t for the Harry Potter series. I love those books with all my heart and soul.

 

What are some of your favorite childhood books? Do we share any? Comment and let me know!

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The House at Riverton

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The House at Riverton by Kate Morton

Publisher: Washington Square Press

Pages: 473

Source & Format: gift; paperback

Amazon // The Book Depository

Synopsis from Goodreads: Grace Bradley was just a girl when she began working as a servant at Riverton House. For years, her life was inextricably tied up with the glamorous and eccentric Hartford family’s daughters, Hannah and Emmeline. Then, at a glittering society party in the summer of 1924, a young poet shot himself. The only witnesses were Hannah and Emmeline, and only they – and Grace – know the dark truth.

Many years later, when Grace is living out her last days in a nursing home, she receives a visit from a young director who is making a film about the events of that summer. The director takes Grace back to Riverton House and reawakens her memories of the last days of Edwardian aristocratic privilege, of the vibrant twenties and of a stunning secret that Grace kept all her life.

A vivid, page-turning tale of suspense and passion, The House at Rivertonis marked by indelible characters and a breathtaking ending that readers won’t soon forget.

Screen shot 2014-02-06 at 8.22.29 PMWhile it’s no secret that I am obsessed with Kate Morton, I had some reservations going into this one. Most reviews that I’ve read have stated that they didn’t quite like Morton’s first novel as much as her later ones. Now, maybe it was the fact that I had gone into this with some doubt, but I found this novel to be highly engaging, haunting, and very well written. Truth be told, I liked it more than The Forgotten Garden, and about the same as The Secret Keeper. I have still yet to read The Distant Hours, so it remains to be seen whether this may become my favorite of Morton’s works.

It tells the story of Grace, who is living out the rest of her days in a nursing home. She has lived a very full life, starting out as a servant girl at the tender age of fourteen at Riverton House, and then going on to school and becoming an esteemed archaeologist. When Grace receives a visit from a movie director who is making a movie about a terrible event that once occurred at Riverton, Grace finds herself reminiscing about her years there, her relationship with one of the young girls who lived there, and a secret that she has kept all her life.

My favorite novels always seem to be multigenerational and filled with family secrets. I just devour them, and Kate Morton seems to be the author I know I can count on to keep me gripped until the very last page. She definitely has a knack for storytelling that I envy. Her characters are well written and you are able to relate to each one of them. I found myself very much like young Grace, and drawn to Hannah. She was my favorite, this young girl who definitely lived in the wrong time. It was easy to put myself in her shoes and I understood her actions in almost every moment of this story. Needless to say, I loved her. I wanted everything to work out in her favor.

I really love the way that Morton is able to give the reader just enough foreshadowing throughout the story that you are able to figure quite a bit out, but still be surprised at the climax. I liked being able to figure out some of the little secrets on my own, but still gasping at the very end. Even now, a few days after reading it, I am still haunted by the ending.

My only qualm about this book, and it is a small one, is that I would very much have liked to learn a bit more about Grace. I wanted to know her life story in between her time at Riverton and her time at the nursing home. I understand that it wasn’t the point of this novel, but it was still rather frustrating as a reader to not know about her time at university, her archaeology career, and her relationships.

Screen shot 2014-02-06 at 8.21.55 PM“It hardly needs to be said: sooner or later secrets have a way of making themselves known.”  

“True love, it’s like an illness. I never understood it before. In books and plays. Poems. I never understood what drove otherwise intelligent, right-thinking people to do such extravagant, irrational things. Now I do. It’s an illness. You can catch it when you least expect. There’s no known cure. And sometimes, in its most extreme, it’s fatal.” 

“She doesn’t know I cry for the changing times. That just as I reread favourite books, some small part of me hoping for a different ending, I find myself hoping against hope that the war will never come. That this time, somehow, it will leave us be.” 

Screen shot 2014-02-06 at 8.22.37 PMIf you like historical fiction, mystery, and novels that leave you thinking about them long after you’ve turned the last page, you should definitely pick this one up. Kate Morton will not disappoint you. 

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Lichgates AKA the book you all need to read

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Lichgates by S.M. Boyce

Publisher: Caffeinated Books Publishing

Pages: 336

Source & Format: downloaded for free on Kindle, as the author very kindly offers the first book in this series for free

Amazon // FREE ebook copy

Synopsis from Goodreads: Fans of The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and Eragon will enjoy this contemporary remix of the classic epic fantasy genre.
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Kara Magari is about to discover a beautiful world full of terrifying things—Ourea.

Kara, a college student still reeling from her mother’s recent death, has no idea the hidden world of Ourea even exists until a freak storm traps her in a sunken library. With no way out, she opens an ancient book of magic called the Grimoire and unwittingly becomes its master, which means Kara now wields the cursed book’s untamed power. Discovered by Ourea’s royalty, she becomes an unwilling pawn in a generations-old conflict—a war intensified by her arrival. In this world of chilling creatures and betrayal, Kara shouldn’t trust anyone… but she’s being hunted and can’t survive on her own. She drops her guard when Braeden, a native soldier with a dark secret, vows to keep her safe. And though she doesn’t know it, her growing attraction to him may just be her undoing.

For twelve years, Braeden Drakonin has lived a lie. The Grimoire is his one chance at redemption, and it lands in his lap when Kara Magari comes into his life. Though he begins to care for this human girl, there is something he wants more. He wants the Grimoire.

Welcome to Ourea, where only the cunning survive 

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When Kara Magari discovers a previously unknown path while hiking one day, she could never being to imagine that it will change her life. Where this path leads her is a world she has never heard of and certainly never imagined. Is Kara going to be able to step up to her new role in the terrifying world of Ourea?

 

Before I even begin talking about this book, I feel I must warn you. I will not be reviewing, but rather GUSHING over the awesomeness that is Lichgates. This is a fantasy highly reminiscent of Narnia and Lord of the Rings, but definitely of its own merit. The similarity comes from the manner in which the fantasy plays out so spectacularly. I can’t even being to imagine what it would be like to enter Boyce’s imagination, because clearly it is filled with wonder. You can tell that she has really thought out her imagined world, which is very important in a fantasy. The reader needs to be able to suspend any disbelief and fully immerse themselves in the story, and this is my make-it-or-break it rule whenever I read these types of novels.

 

I also love well-written characters. The worst thing that can happen to a book is when the reader can’t have someone to root for or relate to. That’s not a problem in Lichgates. All the characters are equally engaging. I really enjoyed reading from Kara’s point of view, and I also thought that the scenes dealing with her grief were incredibly brilliant. As someone who has lost a parent, I found those parts very accurate and emotional. I can place myself in Kara’s shoes, and it made the reading experience even better for me.

Screen shot 2014-02-06 at 8.21.55 PM“Though it may sometimes seem as if life is decided for us, remember that in all actions before this, you made the choices which brought you here. You alone decide where to go next. There is always choice.”

“You’ve got a troubled past, well so do I. Most people do. We do things we’re not proud of, things we wish we could take back, but what’s done is done and all you can do is try to redeem yourself in the present.”

“To keep the dead in this life is selfish. You must believe that they are in a better place, no matter how soon they were called there. Those who are strong will live with the memory of their loved ones until they too may join them some distant day. Death is part of the ultimate balance. It’s to be left to nature’s command. Remember that grief is a necessary pain. It’s your only way to heal. To starve it will destroy you.”

 

Screen shot 2014-02-06 at 8.22.37 PMThis was a book I am so happy I stumbled across. I will be buying the rest of the series, because I NEED to know what is going to happen. I need to go back to Ourea. I hope that everyone who reads this review will decide to give it a chance. You will not regret it one bit.

 

 

Vampire Academy

6432838Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead

Publisher: Razorbill

Pages: 340

Source & Format: bought for Kindle

Amazon // The Book Depository

Synopsis from Goodreads: St. Vladimir’s Academy isn’t just any boarding school—it’s a hidden place where vampires are educated in the ways of magic and half-human teens train to protect them. Rose Hathaway is a Dhampir, a bodyguard for her best friend Lissa, a Moroi Vampire Princess. They’ve been on the run, but now they’re being dragged back to St. Vladimir’s—the very place where they’re most in danger…

Rose and Lissa become enmeshed in forbidden romance, the Academy’s ruthless social scene, and unspeakable nighttime rituals. But they must be careful lest the Strigoi—the world’s fiercest and most dangerous vampires—make Lissa one of them forever. 

Screen shot 2014-02-06 at 8.22.29 PMI definitely didn’t love this book, but I didn’t hate it either. I thought it was a decent story, and I probably would’ve been obsessed with it if I had read it while I was in high school. Now that I have been out of high school for about nine years (Wow, I’m old), it didn’t appeal to me quite so much. I had a really hard time NOT getting irritated at the petty drama surrounding the students, and the way so much was invested in their social standing. If it hadn’t been the kindle daily deal the other day, I probably wouldn’t have read it at all.

 

It tells the story of a school for young vampires. On the one side, we have the Moroi, who are the super special kids. On the other side, the dhampirs, who are just meant to give up their entire lives to be guardians for the Moroi. No, seriously. They spend their lives guarding them. This immediately confused me, because they are supposedly so much stronger than the Moroi. Why wouldn’t you just form an uprising and take your lives back? That’s what I would do.

Screen shot 2014-02-06 at 8.21.55 PM“I had a standing arrangement with God: I’d agree to believe in him—barely—so long as he let me sleep in on Sundays.” 

“She felt so much emotionally, she would say, that a physical outlet- physical pain- was the only way to make her internal pain go away. It was the only way she could control it.”

“The greatest and most powerful revolutions often start very quietly, hidden in the shadows. Remember that.”

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Anyway, putting that aside, I did like it. It had a good storyline that kept me intrigued, characters that I cared about, and a little bit of a mystery that kept me wanting more. I do plan to read the rest of the series at some point.

 

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“Hope is the real magic, child.”

10763598Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor

Publisher: Little Brown Books for Young Readers

Pages: 420

Source & Format: bought for Kindle

Amazon // The Book Depository

Synopsis from Goodreads: Around the world, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.

In a dark and dusty shop, a devil’s supply of human teeth grown dangerously low.

And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherwordly war.

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real, she’s prone to disappearing on mysterious “errands”, she speaks many languages – not all of them human – and her bright blue hairactually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out.

When beautiful, haunted Akiva fixes fiery eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?

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WOW. I am still reeling from the experience of reading this absolutely wonderful book. Somewhere around the halfway point of the story, I came to the conclusion that this is the story that I had been waiting for. I’m not sure quite how to explain what I mean with that, but it just is. It was utterly perfect, at least for me.

 

It tells the story of a seemingly normal girl, Karou, who lives and goes to school in Prague. When Karou is not working on her art, avoiding her ex boyfriend, or hanging out with her best friend Zuzanna, she is running errands for Brimstone, her otherworldly guardian. Even though Karou doesn’t quite understand the errands that she runs (collecting teeth), she continues doing so, because the only family she has ever known is with Brimstone. This all changes when she meets an angel by the name of Akiva. Even though they are from separate worlds and families, they are drawn to one another. Karou finds herself wanting to learn just where she came from before she happened to be with Brimstone, and Akiva just might have some of those answers she so desperately needs.

 

Now, hear me out here. I am rather particular with paranormal and urban fantasies. I like to feel that an author has really thought things through, and that they are prepared to take me on a journey somewhere that I certainly couldn’t go in my real and mundane life. Laini Taylor did that. I feel like the worldbuilding that took place in this novel was nothing short of amazing. You could just tell that she has left nothing to chance. Nothing annoys me more than when I feel that something was just thrown into a story without an actual thought, and that didn’t happen here. Every little thing made sense in the end. Also, the lyrical prose in which the author wrote! I was completely enamored with Taylor’s writing! It’s hard for me to describe what I mean by this, but it was obvious that she chose every word very carefully. There were times when I would reread certain passages just because I wanted to drink it in all over again.

Screen shot 2014-02-06 at 8.21.55 PM“I don’t know many rules to live by,” he’d said. “But here’s one. It’s simple. Don’t put anything unnecessary into yourself. No poisons or chemicals, no fumes or smoke or alcohol, no sharp objects, no inessential needles- drug or tattoo- and… no inessential penises, either.”

“I swear I hate more people every day. Everyone annoys me. If I’m like this now, what am I going to be like when I’m old?”

“Hope? Hope can be a powerful force. Maybe there’s no actual magic in it, but when you know what you hope for most and hold it like a light within you, you can make things happen, almost like magic.”

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I am going to be pushing this book on everybody I know, seriously. Like I said, this book was everything I have ever wanted in a story! I don’t even know how to properly capture my emotions right now, because I am still in absolute awe of what I just experienced. If you are in the mood for a completely original story that is going to take you places, please read this book =)

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