Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Books Released in the Last 10 Years

Happy Tuesday!! This week’s Top Ten Tuesday theme (hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl) asks us to share our favorite books released in the last 10 years. As someone who tends to read older books and isn’t great at staying on top of new releases, I’m pretty intrigued to see how this list will go. I decided to make this list based on which books came out in which year, not on the year that I read them.

Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan

Throwback to those first years of me being a Nerdfighter! I’ve always marveled at how these two authors were able to seamlessly write this novel of intertwining stories chapter by chapter. This book is hilarious and heart-wrenching and thought-provoking all at the same time, in Green and Levithan’s usual way. Different from many YA books that I’ve read!

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

I remember reading this book around Christmastime one year and thinking: Wow, what perfect timing! This book is mysterious and magical and will leave you wanting more of the fantastical world Morgenstern has created. If you’re looking for romance, adventure, suspense, and beautiful writing, then this is definitely the book for you!

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

How could this not have been my favorite book of 2012? I was so excited for it to be released that I pre-ordered a signed first edition copy–and I rarely pre-order anything! I loved how John Green balanced tough topics with heartfelt, thought-provoking discussions of important life questions and funny, memorable scenes that I still think about from time to time.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

This little book is eerie, suspenseful, and told like a twisted fairy tale. Definitely a great read for a spooky fall day. I love Neil Gaiman’s lyrical writing in general, but this novel in particular has really stood out to me even all these years later. Whether or not you’re a Gaiman fan already, you will be after reading this!

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

This beautiful, heart-wrenching, emotional historical fiction novel blew me away when I read it as a senior in high school–so much so that I went out and bought a copy just to have it on my shelf, even though I had borrowed it from the library. If that’s not a testament to how much I enjoyed this book, then I don’t know what is!

A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

I remember this book being everywhere in the online book community for the longest time. It took me forever to finally get around to reading it, but when I did I could totally see what all the hype was about. The idea of so many different Londons is really interesting!

The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater

This series is just unlike any other that I have read! I really liked how it was 4 books instead of the usual three or longer–I feel like you rarely see quartets around. The entire premise is so creative and unique, and I couldn’t get enough of the idea of magical ley lines and forests snaking their way through a rural town.

Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders

Again, I have never read a book like this one. Written entirely in quotes that blend fact and fiction, Lincoln in the Bardo is a true masterpiece. Not only did this novel win the Man Booker Prize, but it is also Saunders’ first full length novel–wild! Definitely makes me want to read some of his short stories.

When the Curtain Falls by Carrie Hope Fletcher

I’ve been a fan of Carrie for years (both her videos on Youtube and her books), and I can confidently say that this is her best novel yet. I feel like Carrie really found her groove in writing this book because the setting, characters, and story all worked together so wonderfully. As with nearly all of Carrie’s books, I read this one in one sitting!

Unfortunately I haven’t read any books released in 2019 yet. Between finishing up the semester, writing my honors thesis, graduating from college, and dealing with some personal stuff that’s been happening lately, I just haven’t had any time to delve into any new releases. I’m really looking forward to finally having time to visit the library again and check out some new books. With that being said, let me know what 2019 releases you recommend!

What are your favorite releases of the past decade? What do you think of the books I’ve mentioned? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

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Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday: Books to Tackle that Reading Slump

Happy Tuesday!! This week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic (hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl) asks us to share books that pull us out of reading slumps. We’ve all been there: for some reason the mood just won’t strike us, and any book we open up inevitably seems off-putting. Reading slumps are a bibliophile’s worst nightmare, especially when your looming TBR pile is staring you in the face. Today I’d like to share a list of ten books that have helped me break through reading slumps in the past.

What books have gotten you out of a reading slump? What do you think of the books on my list? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Books, Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Love But Have Never Reread

Happy Tuesday!! Today’s Top Ten Tuesday topic (hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl) is supposed to be books I’ve loved but will never reread, but I’ve decided to scratch that and add a bit of a twist to it. Because I ADORE rereading books, there’s a likelihood that I’ll reread almost any book that I love. Instead, today I’ll be sharing ten books I love but for some reason have never gotten around to rereading. Fingers crossed that I’ll find time to reread them soon!

What favorite books have you never reread? Do you like rereading books in general? What are your thoughts on the books that I’ve mentioned? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday: A Break from Romance

Happy Tuesday!! Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, meaning it’s time for a Top Ten Tuesday love-themed freebie. Instead of talking about my favorite fictional relationships or how I hate love triangles when used as a major plot point, today I’d like to highlight ten books with little to no romance in them. It’s unsettling– though not very surprising– how challenging this list was to create. Why do writers feel as though every single story has to revolve around romance? Aren’t there other aspects of life that can create plots that are just as interesting, entertaining, and captivating? If you’re tired of the love bug this Valentine’s Day, here are some books to check out:

 What books do you like to read around Valentine’s Day? What are your favorite books with little to no romance? What do you think of the ones I’ve mentioned? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday: Unique Book Titles

Happy Tuesday!! This week for Top Ten Tuesday I’ll be sharing ten unique book titles of books that I’ve read. I really enjoyed making this list because it forced me to think about the books I’ve read a little more objectively in terms of merely what they’re labelled. It’s surprisingly how many book titles we accept unquestionably when in reality they’re actually a bit strange. Naming a book is a big decision, making lists like this one all the more interesting!

What are the most unusual titles out of the books you’ve read? What do you think of the books I’ve mentioned? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Bookish

5 Books to Read If You Like TWIN PEAKS

Recently I finished watching Twin Peaks, the American drama TV series that ran from 1990-91. Created by Mark Frost and David Lynch, Twin Peaks follows the mysterious events transpire in this small town after the murder of Laura Palmer, a local high school student. The best way I can describe this show is that it’s charmingly bizarre (meaning that it’s incredibly weird but in a good way). I loved this show (except for the horrible ending, which I just won’t talk about because AGH) and since I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it I thought I would turn my enthusiasm into a bookish post.

If you’re a fan of Twin Peaks, then you’ve come to the right place for some book recommendations! Here are five books I think you’ll enjoy if you like Twin Peaks (and vice versa):

Far Far Away by Tom McNeal

If it’s the unexpectedly bizarre parts of Twin Peaks that you enjoyed most, then Far Far Away is the book for you. What’s more weird than a protagonist named Jeremy Johnson Johnson who can hear more voices than the average person, a talking ghost of Jacob Grimm, and a suspicious baker? It’s safe to say that I’ve never read anything quite like this entertaining, slightly twisted fairy tale retelling.

The Shining by Stephen King

I don’t think it’ll be a surprise to anyone that I’ve decided to include a Stephen King book in this list of recommendations. Not only are his books suspenseful and creepy like Twin Peaks, but they also tend to have a supernatural twist to them. It’s difficult to explain the kind of “otherworldly” elements in both Twin Peaks and The Shining (Is Jack Torrance being possessed by the hotel or is he just going insane?) which makes them a perfect pair.

The Woods by Harlan Coben

This murder mystery shares many parallels with Twin Peaks: the murders of teenagers, a woodsy setting, a protagonist called Cope (similar to Agent Cooper?), and a tangled web of characters that all have secrets of their own to look after. I read this while on a camping trip a few summers ago after my mom read it and absolutely loved it (on second thought, maybe a camping trip wasn’t the best place to read a murder mystery called The Woods…)

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

Although this young adult fantasy book might seem out-of-place on this list at a first glance, in actuality it is more similar to Twin Peaks than it seems on the surface. Like Twin Peaks, The Raven Boys takes place in a small town where most people know each other, involves people with “otherworldly” powers, and focuses on the stories of both high schoolers and adults. (Also, Ronan sort of reminds me of the moody James who always rides a motorcycle on Twin Peaks, although I definitely like Ronan more.)

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

When I think about how I often describe Twin Peaks as being “charmingly bizarre,” the first book that comes to mind is Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane. Everything in this short novel is incredibly unexpected and told in a way that will keep you entranced until the very last page has been turned, similar to the captivating suspense of Twin Peaks.

I hope these recommendations are helpful! Are you a fan of Twin Peaks? What are your thoughts on the books I’ve mentioned? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Books

Book Review: NEVERWHERE

Neverwhere by Neil GaimanAuthor: Neil Gaiman

Number of Pages: 370

Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks

Release Date: September 2, 2003

“Under the streets of London there’s a place most people could never even dream of. A city of monsters and saints, murderers and angels, knights in armour and pale girls in black velvet. This is the city of the people who have fallen between the cracks.

Richard Mayhew, a young businessman, is going to find out more than enough about this other London. A single act of kindness catapults him out of his workday existence and into a world that is at once eerily familiar and utterly bizarre. And a strange destiny awaits him down here, beneath his native city: Neverwhere.”

Goodreads.com

There’s something so special about authors narrating their own books. They’ve created these characters and worlds out of their own imaginations, weaved together these words to make the phrases and passages that we relish and read over and over again. Not all authors possess the vocal performance skills that professionals do, but that’s beside the point. Authors know their stories better than anyone else; they know the core of it, what it looked and sounded like in its fledgling stage before it left the editing nest. They’re familiar with the nuances of each character’s personality, with the tone in which they would say each piece of dialogue.

My appreciation for authors who narrate their own audio books has soared since listening to Neil Gaiman read his stories, and his novel Neverwhere has certainly contributed to this adoration of mine. I listened to the audio book version of Neverwhere and Gaiman’s narration is flawless. He has such a great reading voice (the accent surely helps!) and he does very different voices for all of the characters. His enthusiasm for and connection with the story as its writer is apparent in his performance, convincing me that more authors should try narrating their own books.

Although quite dark and twisted, Neverwhere nevertheless has Gaiman’s signature charm. Richard Mayhew is a main character who is easy to relate to and difficult not to support. He’s an average, practical man simply trying to live a normal life, yet Gaiman manages to transform his world into something beyond his wildest imagination. London Below is such a terrifyingly mysteriously, savage place and is brilliantly reflected in the characters found there. Croup and Vandemar are ridiculous and creepy at the same time, providing as much fright as genuine entertainment. I absolutely loved the voices that Gaiman uses for the two of them, and consequently they are on probably my favorite characters. Are they horrible people? Definitely! But they are so outrageous that you can’t help but look forward to their next scene. However, these two madmen are not outliers- each character is well worth meeting and spending time with, because you never know what they’ll say or do next.

In addition to the delightful characters, the setting of this story is also quite remarkable. London Below is a bizarre place filled with unexpected creatures, sights, and sounds. It sent a shiver down my spine on a number of occasions, and caused me to wonder how on Earth Gaiman creates such an odd world! The plot also reflects the rather random, haphazard design of London Below. Throughout this story I earnestly tried to predict the ending, but my efforts were proven futile. The actual conclusion surprised me in the best way, as did many of the plot twists earlier on.

Overall, Neverwhere is a twisted yet strangely charming story oozing with British quirkiness, cleverness, and wit. While I do feel as though I enjoyed The Ocean at the End of the Lane more, this novel is still an excellent example of Gaiman’s talent for storytelling. It’ll make you laugh, voraciously flip the pages, and check under your bed twice before turning off the lights at night. What more could you want?

My Rating: :0) :0) :0) :0) 4 out of 5 smileys

Would I recommend it to a friend? Yes! Especially if they are a fan of the fantasy genre, British humor, or stories set in London, England.

Have you read this book before? What did you think of it? What other books by Neil Gaiman would you recommend? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Quotes

QUOTE: The Ocean at the End of the Lane

“Adults follow paths. Children explore. Adults are content to walk the same way, hundreds of times, or thousands; perhaps it never occurs to adults to step off the paths, to creep beneath rhododendrons, to find the spaces between fences.” ~The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman, page 56

To see my review to this great novel, click here.

Yours,

HOLLY

Books

Book Review: THE OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE

the ocean at the end of the laneAuthor: Neil Gaiman

Number of Pages: 181

Publisher: William Morrow Books

Release Date: June 18, 2013

“Sussex, England. A middle-aged man returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral. Although the house he lived in is long gone, he is drawn to the farm at the end of the road, where, when he was seven, he encountered a most remarkable girl, Lettie Hempstock, and her mother and grandmother. He hasn’t thought of Lettie in decades, and yet as he sits by the pond (a pond that she’d claimed was an ocean) behind the ramshackle old farmhouse, the unremembered past comes flooding back. And it is a past too strange, too frightening, too dangerous to have happened to anyone, let alone a small boy.

Forty years earlier, a man committed suicide in a stolen car at this farm at the end of the road. Like a fuse on a firework, his death lit a touchpaper and resonated in unimaginable ways. The darkness was unleashed, something scary and thoroughly incomprehensible to a little boy. And Lettie—magical, comforting, wise beyond her years—promised to protect him, no matter what.”

– Goodreads.com

My relationship with Mr. Gaiman is a relatively meager one. The only other book of his that I have read is Stardust, and that was several years ago. Needless to say I wasn’t very sure what to expect from this very short adult fantasy novel. It’s quite different from the genre that I normally read, but the intriguing description convinced me that it was a book that I had to at least try to read.

The charming setting in the English countryside and the sweet narrative voice of the main character’s younger perspective immediately swept me into the story.  It’s not often that a book written for adults is narrated by a seven-year-old boy, but it’s really a brilliant idea. Everyone was a child, and everyone was at one point in their lives at least a bit naive and innocent. We have all been enchanted by fairy tales, frightened by ghastly nightmares, and fascinated by the larger world around us. Having a child narrate the story creates a common ground that nearly all readers can connect with and relate to, if not fully than at least to a small extent. The friendship between the main character and Lettie also fostered this vast opportunity for connections, because haven’t we all admired or looked up to someone at least once in our lives? The countless connections I felt with this book was one of the major reasons why I enjoyed it so much.

There were many other positive aspects of this book as well: Neil Gaiman’s writing style, the uniqueness of the fantasy elements that were involved, the character development, the way both the past and present life of the main character were included in different perspectives, etc. But despite its great qualities, there were also some negatives aspects that I feel deserve to be mentioned. Some of the elements of fantasy, particularly the creatures and the various forms they took on, were very difficult to picture in my mind. I felt as though the descriptions were lacking in regard to their appearance, which made it more challenging to really feel absorbed into the story. There were parts that were quite confusing, too, and at times there were little details that I had a hard time making sense of.

Overall, The Ocean at the End of the Lane was a great book, and it has definitely made me want to read more books written by Neil Gaiman. The clarity issues did not hinder the characters or the plot in any way, and the story itself was engaging and kept me interested the entire way through. This book is so action packed and has so much depth that it seems impossible that it’s only 181 pages long. I’m so glad that I decided to give this book a chance!

My Rating: :0) :0) :0) :0) 4 out of 5 smileys.

Would I recommend it to a friend?: Yes!

Have you read this book before? What are your thoughts on it? Do you have any suggestions for other Neil Gaiman books that I should read? Please let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY