Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday: Women Writers I’d Love to Meet

Happy Tuesday!! This week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic (hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl) asks us to share a list of ten authors we would love to meet. In the past, I’ve found that the lists I’ve made like this tend to be fairly male-dominated; instead, this week I’d like to focus on ten women writers that I would love to have a conversation with.

What women writers would you love to meet? What do you think of the writers on my list? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

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Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday: Fictional Women Leaders

Happy Tuesday!! This week’s Top Ten Tuesday theme is one that I think is incredibly important: leadership in fiction. While being a fun source of entertainment, literature is also immensely valuable in providing role models for readers. In particular, I think it is incredibly important for literature to provide readers with women and girls that they can look up to in a society that is still dominated by masculine leadership. Today I’ll be sharing ten notable women leaders in fiction: 

Who are your favorite fictional women leaders? What do you think of the characters and books I’ve mentioned? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday: FREEDOM!!

Happy Tuesday!! The lovely bloggers over at The Broke and the Bookish are taking a brief hiatus from hosting Top Ten Tuesday this summer, which means that I’ve decided to create some of my own TTT themes. Since today is Independence Day in the United States, I thought it would be fun to talk about books revolving around freedom. Though we might initially think of freedom as escaping from physical imprisonment or captivity, there are countless ways that freedom can be manifested. In no particular order, here are my Top Ten Books About Freedom:

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass by Frederick Douglass

This autobiography discusses one of the most important kinds of freedom, in my opinion: freedom from slavery. Douglass was a slave who escaped from bondage, traveled to New England, and became one of the most successful and influential African American orators of his time. His life story and his writing are as fascinating as they are inspirational.

The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster

I think we can all relate to the feeling of being trapped in a monotonous, dull routine. The Phantom Tollbooth offers young Milo a respite from this gloomy boredom and helps him realize that there is fun, adventure, and excitement to be found in everyday life. (It also features the most adorable dog!!)

Wild by Cheryl Strayed

As she hikes the grueling Pacific Crest Trail, Strayed is simultaneously on a journey to free herself from the regrets, mistakes, and sorrows of her past. What she finds is an illuminating sense of self, life, and purpose. This empowering emotional and spiritual freedom is incredibly inspiring to read about.

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

Atwood has created a brilliant, expertly crafted novel of what it feels like to live under an oppressive government that does not recognize the rights of women to their own bodies and lives. Offred, the protagonist, seeks freedom from the societal chains she is forced to bear. Not only is this simply a captivating story, but it contains an important message that we should remember in our own society today.

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

Though very different in many ways, Huck and Jim are both searching for the same thing as they journey along the river: freedom from the restrictive, controlling civilization they are forced to live in. This is a classic case of nature vs. civilization, making the raft a kind of liminal space where the normal rules of society are bent.

1984 by George Orwell

In this classic dystopian novel, Orwell shows how difficult it can be to maintain individuality and assert one’s free will in the face of an all-knowing, omnipotent government. Though freedom from observance is sought, such efforts ultimately prove futile. This is one of the most unsettling, startling, eye-opening books I’ve ever read!

Beloved by Toni Morrison

Haunted by the ghosts of her past as a slave, Sethe is nearly driven to madness as her memories become more and more real. This raw, unsettling, captivating novel captures the struggle of trying to break free from the past, especially when remnants of it still surround you.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

Sometimes adolescence can feel like one big cage built by society, arbitrary rules of “popularity,” the desire to conform and be liked, high expectations of adults, and all of the questions you wish you had answers for. Fortunately, Charlie finds some freedom from this cage through the help of some unlikely friends.

Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer

Krakauer tells the true story of a man named Chris McCandless who traveled across the United States all the way to Alaska where he unfortunately passed away in the middle of the wilderness. Though people wonder exactly what Chris wanted to get out of his journey, I personally feel as though he was searching for the freedom to live the life he wanted to live without feeling restricted by society.

1776 by David McCullough

How could I create a list about freedom without including a book about America’s independence from Great Britain? McCullough is a masterful historian and storyteller, as shown through his ability to tell this inspirational and engaging historical account.

 

What books remind you of freedom? What do you think of the books on my list? Do you have any fun Fourth of July traditions? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday: Unique Books

Happy Tuesday!! Today’s Top Ten Tuesday theme is certainly an interesting one: I’ll be sharing the top ten unique books that I’ve read. I didn’t really have any criteria in my mind while making this list; rather, I chose the first ten books that popped into my head as being remarkably different for one reason or another. Some of these books are unique for their plots and characters, whereas others stand out due to their writing styles or overarching themes. Get ready for an eclectic list!

Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley

A supposedly extinct Lazarus woodpecker. A small town in Arkansas obsessed with said species of woodpecker. A young missionary whose story intertwines with that of the main character’s missing younger brother as these young people endeavor to figure out what in the world they’re supposed to be doing with their lives.

The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster

A literal watchdog named Tock. A trip to the Kingdom of Wisdom, which you can only reach via tollbooth. Princesses called Rhyme and Reason. Places with names like the Valley of Sound, Mountains of Ignorance, and the Island of Conclusions. SO. MANY. CLEVER. PUNS.

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl by Ryan North & Erica Henderson

A superhero with the power of both girl and squirrel, who also happens to be a college student studying computer science. A talking squirrel named Tippy-Toe that acts as both sidekick and best friend to Squirrel Girl. The inclusion of online chats, hilarious footnotes in the smallest font possible, and references to countless other heroes and villains in the Marvel universe.

Vicious by V.E. Schwab

Two college roommates turn into morally ambiguous mad scientists with a plot to develop superhuman powers. A main character who is an anti-hero that you can’t help but root for– and who is aided by a young girl he finds on the road. (I know this book sounds strange, but I swear that it’s fantastic!)

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

The sprawling narrative of this novel is unlike anything else I have ever read. It is almost as though the chapters are irrelevant; instead, the story barrels straight on through without any pauses or hesitation. Elements of magical realism add an intriguing unpredictability to the narrative that keeps the audience on their toes at all times.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

One of the strangest combinations of childhood nostalgia, fantastical elements, and thrilling suspense… but somehow it ends up creating a short but striking novel characteristic of Neil Gaiman’s remarkably unique imagination.

Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut

An impressively interwoven blend of historical and science fiction that will both confuse and enlighten the reader (the confusion is definitely worth it!). A thin tightrope between reality and memory, spanning across that gray area that everyone dips their toes into at some point. Also, this novel has the best quirky (and meaningful) repeated mantra: So it goes. 

The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner

An incredibly confusing (yet surprisingly captivating) narrative structure. Four distinct perspectives. Characters with the same names. A plot like a puzzle that has to be pieced together– though there will always be at least one piece missing.

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

An unsettling dystopian world centered around the reproductive roles of women in society. A story that is completely and disturbingly relevant in today’s world, especially regarding recent feminist movements and questions surrounding the relationship between politics, sex, and gender.

More Than This by Patrick Ness

Waking up in a strange place, completely alone and with no idea of what happened to anyone else. A scary figure on a mission to harm you in some way, though you can’t even imagine how so. This book is so unique that I don’t even want to describe it further for fear of spoiling anything!

Have you read any of these books? What are some unique books that you’ve read? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday: Writers I Would Love to Meet

Happy Tuesday!! This week’s Top Ten Tuesday theme is one that I could talk about forever. After all, who doesn’t want to meet all of their favorite authors? As per usual, I’ve done the difficult job of narrowing it down to just ten writers. In no particular order, they are:

What writers would you love to meet? What authors have you met? What do you think of the authors on my list? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday: Books You’ve Read Because of Recommendations

foodie-facts-about-me-2

Happy Tuesday! This week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic is about one of the greatest things about being part of a bookish community: recommendations. Whether you’ve been recommended books by friends, family, or even other bloggers, it’s always exciting to dive into a story that you know someone else has loved. Today I’m going to share Ten Books I’ve Read Because of Recommendations that I recommend to all of YOU!

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3109The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan

My friend recommended this book to me after I heard about it in my Introduction to Anthropology class last semester. In fact, she was nice enough to loan me her copy of it to read over the summer. This book will definitely make you think twice about the food you eat!

497118The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster

This book was recommended to me by one of my closest friends (and now roommate!). I read it over the summer and was completely blown away by how cleverness, creativity, and uniqueness of this little gem. Though it may be categorized as a children’s novel, I would highly recommend it to everyone!

lock and key coverLock and Key by Sarah Dessen

I would venture to say that this is one of the very first books a friend ever recommended to me back in middle school. I had never heard of Sarah Dessen before, so this book definitely marks the beginning of my Dessen/YA romance phase.

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All the Light We Cannot SeeAll the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

You’re all probably sick and tired of me saying how much I love this novel, but I’m going to say it again: I LOVE THIS BOOK SO MUCH. It was recommended to me by my high school librarian when I was a senior, solidifying the fact that she has impeccable taste in books.

7597One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez

My Spanish professor recommended this classic novel to us numerous times last year, so over the summer I finally decided to read it. I’m so happy to say that this is one of the best books I have ever read.

more than this coverMore Than This by Patrick Ness

During my last two years of high school I worked at my local public library, which meant that I got really close to plenty of librarians who always recommended excellent books to me. As per usual, Patrick Ness did not disappoint with this suspenseful, gripping novel!

the handmaid's tale coverThe Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

This novel was another amazing recommendation from my high school librarian. I had never read anything by Margaret Atwood before, but now I feel like I need to read everything she’s ever written. If you have any recommendations on what I should read next, I’d greatly appreciate it!

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18405Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

This tome was highly recommended to me by the lovely Jillianwith good reason: it’s FANTASTIC. It was much darker and different from what I initially expected, but that made it all the more interesting to read. It’s about so much more than a love story: Mitchell expertly handles topics such as politics, gender roles, and class conflicts.

the raven boysThe Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

I couldn’t even count the number of bloggers who recommended this captivating, beautifully written series to me! I had read a few of Stiefvater’s novels before diving into this series, but in my opinion these books are definitely among her best.

we were liars coverWe Were Liars by E. Lockhart

Again, I can’t pinpoint exactly who recommended this book to me because the buzz surrounding it in the online bookish community was ENORMOUS. This is certainly a case of the “hype monster,” but in this scenario it worked out to my advantage– I loved this book!

I highly recommend all of these books, so be sure to check them out!

What do you think of the books I’ve mentioned? What great books have you read because of recommendations? Do you have any recommendations for me? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Quotes

QUOTE: Margaret Atwood

Margaret Atwood
Margaret Atwood

“But I keep going on with this sad and hungry and sordid, this limping and mutilated story, because after all I want you to hear it, as I will hear yours too if I ever get the chance, if I meet you or if you escape, in the future or in heaven or in prison or underground, some other place. What they have in common is that they’re not here. By telling you anything at all I’m at least believing in you, I believe you’re there, I believe you into being. Because I’m telling you this story I will your existence. I tell, therefore you are.”   ~ page 268 of The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

This quote is an example of the incredible strength of Margaret Atwood’s characters. In the story, Offred speaks directly to the reader, often addressing him or her as “you”. I felt like I was listening to Offred as I would listen to a friend, and it was such a cool experience. If you haven’t read The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, I highly recommend it!

Yours,

HOLLY

Books

Book Review: THE HANDMAID’S TALE

the handmaid's tale coverAuthor: Margaret Atwood

Number of Pages: 311

Publisher: Anchor Books

Release Date: 1985

“Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. She may leave the home of the Commander and his wife once a day to walk to food markets whose signs are now pictures instead of words because women are no longer allowed to read. She must lie on her back once a month and pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, because in an age of declining births, Offred and the other Handmaids are valued only if their ovaries are viable. Offred can remember the years before, when she lived and made love with her husband, Luke; when she played with and protected her daughter; when she had a job, money of her own, and access to knowledge. But all of that is gone now…”

– Goodreads.com

I read this book on a whim, purely because I had recently read some reviews praising Margaret Atwood’s writing. This seemed like an interesting story to start with, so I decided to just go for it and give it a try. Never did I think I would love this novel as much as I do! It’s hard to organize my abundant thoughts of adoration and mold them into a coherent review, but I’ll do my best.

One aspect of The Handmaid’s Tale that really stands out to me is the narration. The story is narrated by Offred, a handmaid who is struggling with accepting her new position in life. Before society was altered she was married and had a young daughter, but now she has no idea whether or not her loved ones are even still alive. Her voice is authentic, honest, genuine, and clear. As a reader, you’re able to really understand the conflicting emotions she experiences, the fear that resides within her, and the intense longing she feels to return to the past. Offred’s personality in the narration has a humanizing quality, and I couldn’t help but root for her the entire time I was reading. If this novel had been written in a perspective other than first person I don’t think it would have been nearly as effective in delivering the overarching message of the story.

I can honestly say that I was never bored while reading this novel. There is constantly something going on, even when Offred is simply doing errands or sitting on the edge of her bed, remembering. There is always a lingering fear that she will be caught, that more restrictions will be enforced, or that circumstances will change yet again. This society is extremely different from the one we live in today (at least, in most ways) so immediately you want to know what is going on. Atwood does an excellent job of slowly leaking out vital information bit by bit- it’s enough to satisfy your thirst for the time being, but not enough to quench it entirely. The ending of the book really surprised me- it’s rare that an ending exceeds my expectations, because most of them never seem to quite fit the feel of the book as a whole. But the conclusion of this book was incredibly clever and brilliant. I don’t want to spoil anything, but trust me- it made me love this book even more!

The general idea of this novel- the regimented society, the endless restrictions, the strict hierarchy of social classes and the absolute order of it all- raises several important and fascinating questions that are undoubtedly relevant in modern society. For example: What is freedom? Do we have as much of it as we believe we do? Can love be forced or manufactured, and how necessary is it in society and humanity as a whole? These themes are explored through Offred’s experiences as a vital role in the world of Gilead, and I found myself pondering many more questions long after I had finished reading the book. I think that’s a sign of a really good book- when your mind just can’t stop thinking about it.

Overall, The Handmaid’s Tale is one of the best books I read in 2014. I will most likely read it again sometime, and I’ll definitely be exploring Margaret Atwood’s other books.

My Rating: :0) :0) :0) :0) :0) 5 out of 5 smileys.

Would I recommend it to a friend?: Absolutely! Especially if they like books like George Orwell’s 1984. This reminds me of that book a lot, only with more emphasis on the role of women in society.

Have you ever read this book? What are your thoughts on it? Are there any other books by Margaret Atwood that you would recommend? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Top Ten Tuesday

top ten tuesday: books I wouldn’t mind Santa bringing this year

top ten tuesdayHo, ho, ho! It’s time for another holiday themed edition of Top Ten Tuesday, the weekly meme hosted by the lovely blog The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is a great one: Top Ten Books I Wouldn’t Mind Santa Bringing This Year. And boy, do I have a list! It’s hard only picking ten- anyone else have this book-buying problem?- but here are the books I would be most excited about receiving from jolly ol’ Saint Nick.

jane eyre cover

1. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

wuthering heights cover

2. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

great expectations cover

3. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

pride and prejudice cover 2

4. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

dreams of empire cover

5. Dreams of Empire by Justin Richards

the handmaid's tale cover

6. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood (I’ve already read it, but isn’t this edition gorgeous? I’d love to own it!)

brave new world cover

7. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

the luminaries cover

8. The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton

ed sheeran a visual journey cover

9. Ed Sheeran: A Visual Journey  by Ed Sheeran & Phillip Butah

chasers of the light cover

10. Chasers of the Light by Tyler Knott Gregson

As you can probably tell, I have a bit of an infatuation with the Penguin English Library collection. They’re just so beautiful!

What books would you like Santa to bring you? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

 

WWW Wednesdays

WWW Wednesdays: December 17th

WWW WednesdaysWWW Wednesdays is a meme hosted by Should Be Reading that asks three questions:

What are you currently reading???

At the moment I am nearly half way through 1776 by David McCullough, and so far I’m really enjoying it. This time in American history never ceases to fascinate me, and McCullough does a great job at telling the story of what transpired.

With my AP English class I am reading the play Antigone by Sophocles, which is in the same “series” as Oedipus Rex. Normally plays aren’t really my thing, but these I’m actually really liking these ones!

And I’m still reading Harry Potter y la cámara secreta by J.K. Rowling, (which is the Spanish translation of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets) and listening to Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn.

What did you recently finish reading???

This past week I read Oedipus Rex by Sophocles with my AP English class, as well as one of the best books I have read all year: The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. Oh. My. Goodness. This book was SO amazing! It was chilling and thought-provoking and incredibly well written. I can’t wait to write a review!

What do you think you’ll read next???

No idea! I plan to finish all of the books I’m currently reading before moving on to any others, so I might just stick with these for a while.

What are your answers to these questions? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY