Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Books Set Outside the US

Hello! I’m posting a suuuuper last-minute TTT because I forgot to queue something up last night. The prompt this week, provided as always by The Broke and the Bookish, is to list our favorite books set outside of the US. On one hand, this was hard because I live in the US and the book landscape is here is definitely US-centric. On the other hand, this could have been easy because we also read a lot of books by English authors. I tried to avoid including too many books from the UK.

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I would most like to highlight A Thousand Nights by E.K. Johnston and The Wrath and the Dawn duology by Renee Ahdieh. I’m not entirely sure in what current-day countries they take place (especially because they’re both fantasy, so they might not even be on “Earth,” in the strictest sense), but they’re both great takes on One Thousand and One Nights. Plus they’re the only books I’ve read recently that didn’t take place in a Western/English speaking setting (For the record, I also read Soundless, but I wasn’t crazy about it).

3. Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta: My queen is Australian. Saving Francesca is probably my favorite of her contemporary novels, but that statement makes me feel guilty. Everything Her Excellency writes is great and I have trouble choosing between her books.

4. Exit, Pursued by a Bear by E.K Johnston: This book takes place in Canada, which was cool because I don’t think I’ve read any YA that takes place in Canada. Or…anything, actually. I don’t think I’ve read anything Canadian at all. But anyways, I wanted to include this because I read it recently and really liked it.

5. A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray: This book was so interesting! I loved how it jumped settings! I loved the alternate version of Russia! Everyone should read this! I want a print of the cover art!

6. A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab: I did cave and include two books that take place in London on this list, but I feel like I can justify them. They were both a fantastical take on London, and the city was central to the feel of both stories. Like A Thousand Pieces of You, this involved alternate versions of London/the world.

7. Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman: This is obviously the other London book. I read this years ago, before I studied abroad in London, so I’ve been wanting to do a reread and see whether the story feels different now. In any case, I loved this when I read it in college.

8. On the Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta: I caved again. Here’s another book by Queen Marchetta, also set in Australia. Like all Marchetta, it makes me cry.

I feel like there were a lot of borderline books for this topic. I could have included Daughter of Smoke and Bone, which I love and takes place in Prague, but the series has another non-Earth setting that made me reluctant to include it.The biggest takeaway for me is that I need to read less US-centric/Western lit. I’ll definitely be checking other TTTs for recommendations this week.

Thanks for stopping by!

Best of 2015

January has been unbelievably hectic, so I’m still playing catch-up from the beginning of the month. My streak of lackluster blogging marches proudly into 2016! I wanted to do a post of the absolute best books I read in 2015. I’m sure they’ve been in plenty of GE posts, and will continue to make appearances, but I wanted a moment to celebrate how much I loved them. On we go!

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Top Ten Tuesday: Gift Me These

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the Broke and the Bookish. This week we’re discussing books we would like as gifts this holiday season. Usually when I ask for a specific book as a gift, it’s because I read it from the library and loved it, so now I need to own it. But for the sake of this TTT, I did five books I read and want to own, then five books I want but haven’t read.

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1. Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo: This book was great, but also it’s such a pretty book. Those black-edged pages slay me.

2.Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta: Can you believe I don’t own this? Can you believe there are any Marchetta books I don’t own? (To be honest, I read them all from the library so I only own about half of them)

3. The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart: One of my favorite reads of the year, and one I definitely need to own.

4. The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente: Do you ever have books you go back to when you’re feeling uninspired? This would be one of those books for me.

5. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern: Yeah, yeah. I’m always talking about the same books. Let’s move on.

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6. Ferragost by Melina Marchetta: Remember about seven months ago when I was like “Everybody loves Ferragost and I can buy the ebook for super cheap, so I’m just going to bite the bullet and buy it”? Yeah, I still haven’t done that.

7. Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith: My library doesn’t have this ebook yet. And seeing as I’ve basically stopped going there ever since I figured out how to borrow my library system’s ebooks from the comfort of my apartment, I’m not reading this unless they get the ebook or someone literally delivers it to my door.

8. Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor: People love this book and I’ve wanted to read it for ages, but my library database only carries this in audio-book form, which isn’t my style. My mind wanders too much for audio-books to be effective.

9. Radiance by Catherynne M. Valente: How great is this cover? How great is this woman?

10. Cress by Marissa Meyer: I’m on the wait-list to download this ebook, but I love this series so far and I would like to read this book now please.

 

Happy holidays, everyone!

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Book Recommendations of 2015

Do your blogs ever get cannibalized by Top Ten Tuesday? I love these weekly posts and reading other people’s takes on a theme, but sometimes I’m planning on writing a post only to see that it’s the TTT for next week.

So because I want to post a Top Ten Books of 2015 post later (once I’m done reading for the year), I thought I would tweak this topic. This week I’m doing my Top Book Recommendations of 2015 (which could also double as a gift-giving guide for your friends, you’re welcome).

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For your inner child: The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente
I will never stop recommending this silly, clever book. I’ve always joked that I don’t have an inner child, but my love for this book may prove otherwise.

For when you’ve run out of Gaiman to read: A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
This was so Gaiman-esque. It reminded me a lot of Coraline.

For the optimist: The Opposite of Loneliness by Marina Keegan
Sometimes we all need a life-affirming essay to get us feeling perked up again.

For the pessimist: The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly by Stephanie Oakes
It’s grim enough to appeal to any pessimist, but with a nice note of hope.

For the person complaining that Ocean’s Eleven needs more women/magic: Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
I would like for this to have started a heist trend. That should be the next big thing in YA, if you ask me.

For people who read a book for the character development: Looking for Alibrandi by Melina Marchetta
Josephine Alibrandi goes through such drastic changes. Queen Marchetta always comes through.

For people who read a book for the action: An Ember in the Ashes by Sahaa Tahir
A book with a cutthroat competition is always a solid bet if you’re looking to read something tense and aggressive.

For people who read a book for the description: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
Is there any other book I could possibly have suggested for this category? Sure. Was it reasonable to expect me to suggest a different book? No.

TTT is hosted as always by the Broke and the Bookish.

Top Ten Tuesday: Three 2016 Releases

I do this thing during pilot season where I don’t really watch new shows until everybody else has, and then I check out the ones that have good buzz. I do the same thing when it comes to books. I’m never on top of new releases, so I usually pick the ones I want to read by seeing what other people are excited about.

So for this Top Ten Tuesday (which is supposed to be focusing on 2016 debut authors), I’m just going to cover the three books releasing in 2016 about which I am most excited.

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Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard: I read Red Queen last month and I liked it. That is, until I discovered that the majority of the book took place in my (post-apocalyptic) hometown. After that I was super into it. Aveyard said in an interview that Mare would be returning to the Stilts some time during the next book, so I’m pretty excited about that.

Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo: There are some books that hit all your favorite tropes and Six of Crows was one of them. Heists, fantasy, moral ambiguity, found families, and teams with complementing skills. Yas, sounds amazing. I’ve grown really fond of Leigh Bardugo this year and I need her to write more books.

Shaming the Devil by Melina Marchetta: I would read anything of hers. Melina Marchetta could publish the most ridiculous book ever written and I would still respond like “Well I’ve never read a romance book about time-traveling ogres, but now seems like a good time to start!”

 

Let me know what books should be on my TBR for 2016. I’m sure you’re all much more knowledgeable about upcoming releases than I am!

Top Ten Tuesday: Quotes from the Past Year

Welcome back to Top Ten Tuesday (hosted by The Broke and the Bookish). This week we’re listing our favorite quotes from books we’ve read in the past year. This was both easy (because I’ve read so many good books in 2015) and hard (because I’ve read so many good books in 2015 that I had too many quotes to choose from). In no particular order:

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1. “Once, last year, I started going through my sins and Father Stephen said, “Oh, it’s you, Josie.” Can you believe it? He recognized me by my sins. I’m so boring that I can’t even change my sins from term to term.”

-Melina Marchetta, Looking for Alibrandi [Josie is an absolute queen and this quote was too funny to pass over.]

2. “What Frankie did that was unusual was to imagine herself in control… She asked herself: If I were in charge, how could I have done it better?”

-E. Lockhart, The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks [This moment defined the book for me. I love how unapologetically ambitious Frankie is.]

3. “Stories have a way of changing faces. They are unruly things, undisciplined, given to delinquency and the throwing of erasers. This is why we must close them up into thick, solid books, so they cannot get out and cause trouble.”

-Catherynne M. Valente, The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making [Honestly, there’s not a single page in this book without an amazing quote on it.]

4. “I was sad that summer was over. But I was happy that it was over for my enemies, too.”

– B.J. Novak, One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories [None of us will ever be one-tenth as funny as B.J. Novak.]

5. “I could recognize him by touch alone, by smell; I would know him blind, by the way his breaths came and his feet struck the earth. I would know him in death, at the end of the world.”

-Madeline Miller, The Song of Achilles [Had to include this because I’ve been in a relationship for a few years and being in love makes you soft.]

6. “The summer sun was not meant for boys like me. Boys like me belonged to the rain.”

-Benjamin Alire Saenz, Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe [I’m a girl, but I definitely belong to the rain. I was gleeful when it rained on my birthday this year.]

7. “I wish you the best that can be hoped for, and no worse than can be expected.”

-Catherynne M. Valente, The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making [This. Book. Though.]

8. “Good and evil are a great deal more complex than a princess and a dragon… Is not the dragon the hero of his own story?”

-Erin Morgenstern, The Night Circus [I loved this book but had a hard time finding good standalone quotes from it.]

9. “It is better to be alone, she figures, than to be with someone who can’t see who you are. It is better to lead than to follow. It is better to speak up than stay silent. It is better to open doors than to shut them on people. She will not be simple and sweet. She will not be what people tell her to be. That Bunny Rabbit is dead.”

-E. Lockhart, The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks [More Frankie. We all need more Frankie in our lives.]

10. “Blue was perfectly aware that it was possible to have a friendship that wasn’t all-encompassing, that wasn’t blinding, deafening, maddening, quickening. It was just that now that she’d had this kind, she didn’t want the other.”

-Maggie Stiefvater, Blue Lily, Lily Blue [I’m begrudgingly adding this quote because while I’m not a particular fan of Stiefvater or even this series, this was the quote that convinced me to read these books and I love love love it.]

A bonus quote from 2014 because it is probably my all-time favorite and I can’t help myself:

“It’s a weird smile, but it reaches his eyes and I bottle it. And I put it in my ammo pack that’s kept right next to my soul and Justine’s spirit and Siobhan’s hope and Tara’s passions. Because if I’m going to wake up one morning and not be able to get out of bed, I’m going to need everything I’ve got to fight this disease that could be sleeping inside of me.”

-Melina Marchetta, Saving Francesca [Sometimes I get this feeling like a moment is so happy and perfect that I need to squirrel the memory away, like when all of my best friends are in the same place at the same time, or when my parents are playing music and dancing around their kitchen. This quote reminds me of that.]


I love that two people can read the same book and have completely different bits speak to them. I’m so eager to see what quotes other people chose for their TTTs!

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Author Collaborations

Welcome back to Top Ten Tuesday. This week’s topic from The Broke and the Bookish is “Top Ten Author Collaborations.” While I don’t have anything against collaborative works, I don’t think I’m particularly drawn to them. It’s probably the control freak in me; I love to work alone. So I only came up with three collaborations, but I tried to make them good ones. Read on to see my ideas.

Melina Marchetta and JK Rowling: They’re both absolute queens with absurd amounts of talent, but I mostly lumped them together because they’re genre jumpers. They both went from YA and/or fantasy to mystery and I would be keen to read their collaborations in any genre. I’d love to read something with Marchetta’s amazing character development and Rowling’s eye for detail.

Erin Morgenstern and Catherynne M. Valente: Both of these authors have such rich description, anything they write together would be unbelievably lush. Their book would have such great atmosphere. Add in a bit of Morgenstern’s darkness and Valente’s whimsy and you have my ideal book.

Neil Gaiman and Clive Barker: These two have a ton in common already, but if they were to collaborate, I think they would push each other to new levels of creepy and unsettling. A really eery and clever children’s book between Gaiman and Barker would be amazing.

What do you think of my picks? I wanted to squeeze Leigh Bardugo in there somewhere, since I just finished a bunch of her books and I adore her, but I don’t think I’m good at this author matchmaking game. Be sure to share your TTTs with me in the comments!

Top Ten Tuesday: Book Recommendations

I’m having trouble describing this week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic, but it is essentially an “If you liked A, you would probably like B” situation. I love this topic, but I had the same idea a few months ago and was thinking about making it a regular series of posts on this blog. So instead of using up all of my recommendations in one go, I’m going to list nine reasons why fans of Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas should read the Lumatere series by Melina Marchetta. You’re all shocked, I’m sure.

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1. The women: How could we start with anything else? Fans love Celaena’s complexity (though I’m not her biggest fan) and the Lumatere books have complicated and fascinating women in spades. There are so many different types of woman, different manifestations of femininity, and great examples of women supporting women.

2. The men: Everyone seems to have their personal favorite ToG man, and I promise you there are plenty of amazing male characters in Lumatere. To provide a little anecdote: my friend was reading the series and texted me “Oh my god, who knew Froi was such a fox?” You will fall in love.

3. The plot twists: Neither series shies away from big reveals. What can I say? I love a good bit of drama.

4. The world: Skuldenore is rich with different countries, languages, cultures, and idiosyncrasies.

5. The characterization: I love when a writer can make me change my mind about a character. It means you’re writing them well. I grew to love several Lumatere characters that I hadn’t originally liked.

6. The relationships: I mentioned this in my Crossover Camaraderie post, but Celaena doesn’t have a great support system (as of the end of Crown of Midnight). I really enjoy seeing people support each other, complement each other, and work together.

7. The writing: I wouldn’t be obsessed with Melina Marchetta if she weren’t an amazing writer.

8. Grijio of Paladozza: Okay, so there’s no ToG equivalent to Grijio, but he’s my favorite minor character. Please read this series even if it’s just so you can meet Grij.

9. POC representation: ToG is sorely lacking in this department, but Lumatere has a pretty good grasp on it.

Anyone who liked Throne of Glass will enjoy the Lumatere Chronicles. They’re both unique approaches to fantasy. The characterization is amazing and there’s something for everyone. Go request it from the library right now. I’ll wait.

Crossover Camaraderie: Part Two

Welcome to the second installment of Crossover Camaraderie, where I find characters from two different books and play matchmaker. Just call me Emma Woodhouse. Or don’t, because she’s a terrible matchmaker. My next set of friends come from two YA fantasy series (and this pair is actually the reason I came up with the idea for Crossover Camaraderie).

Celaena from the Throne of Glass series and Froi from the Lumatere Chronicles.

0914For starters, they’re both assassins. Their situations are a little different, as Celaena is a professional with years of training and experience while Froi is basically in the amateur league. He can fight well, but he didn’t exactly major in Assassin Studies. More importantly, they’re both killers with hearts of gold. In Crown of Midnight, Celaena has more would-be victims than actual kills. In the same vein, Froi heads out to complete a mission and instead forms an emotional attachment to half the kingdom. They have no problem punishing the wicked, but they’re softies.

Furthermore, they’re both intelligent and musically talented. Celaena would definitely try to get Froi to sing along when she plays the pianoforte, even though he wouldn’t oblige. They’re both orphans who were taken under someone’s wing. Froi had much better luck in this area, considering who took in Celaena. But the biggest thing I think they would bond over is their sass. They’re both important figures in their respective stories, but I think it’s safe to say they’re rough around the edges. They’re temperamental, snarky, and irreverent. I’m entirely convinced that they make gross jokes together and poke fun at people.

My favorite thing about this friend pairing is how good they could be for one another. Celaena has a ton of blood on her hands, and I think she could benefit, particularly during Crown of Midnight, from having a friend who is like her in that respect. And Froi knows all about wanting to do good while dealing with your shady past.

Any thoughts on this pairing? Or, if you’ve got a Crossover Camaraderie pairing you’re dying to write about, leave me a link to your post! I would love to read it.

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books on my Fall TBR

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic from the Broke and the Bookish highlights Books on my Fall TBR. I was nervous about this post because I was worried it would be a complete repeat of my Top Ten Books on My Summer TBR post, but when I gave that post another look I realized I’ve actually read seven out of ten. What a productive summer! So my fall list is as follows:

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1. Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo: I have been entirely too excited about this book for months (it was on my summer TBR even though it wouldn’t even come out until September) and now I’m even more excited, if that’s possible. It’s finally September, thank goodness, plus I’ve started reading The Grisha Trilogy and been pretty impressed by Leigh Bardugo. Bring on the crows.

2. Ferragost by Melina Marchetta: How haven’t I read this? The digital version is super cheap and it’s my last Marchetta. I should have read this ages ago.

3. A Madness So Discreet by Mindy McGinnis: The cover is gorgeous and it involves an asylum. I can’t help myself.

4. Children’s Literature: A Reader’s History from Aesop to Harry Potter by Seth Lerer: Literary criticism is probably a boring choice for this list, but my boyfriend bought me this book for my birthday years ago (at my request) and I really just need to buckle down and read it.

5. The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness: I’ve always wondered what it would be like to be outside of the action during tumultuous events, so this book may have some things in common with a story I’m writing. I’m keen to see how the author approaches this concept.

6. The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood: I need more Margaret Atwood in my life. Enough said.

7. Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor: Yet another book people are always talking about.

8. Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch: The sequel’s coming out in October and that cover is giving me life.

9. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr: Everyone in the world has read this book by now, except for me.

10. The Young Elites by Marie Lu: I’ve heard good things and the concept is right up my alley. Yes, please.

I’m not at all strict about when I read books. I get to them when the spirit moves me. I’m sure I’ll have read some of these by the winter, but not all. What books are on your TBR list? Let me know in the comments.