Top Five Wednesday: Who’s Coming to my New Year’s Party?

I haven’t done one of these in a LONG time. Mostly because the girl who took over started with crap topics. Bleh. The topic is pretty easy to comprehend. Leggo.

Katniss Everdeen

She’s the Girl on Fire. I mean, come on.

Harry Bosch

I don’t drink alcohol. So I’d sit down with a bottle of water out away from the rest of the party and talk to Harry about everything. He’s insightful and I doubt anyone could match his stories from decades with LAPD. I’d also tell him his daughter would make an excellent detective.

Mark Watney

I just finished The Martian and have LOTS of thoughts on it, but for now I’d just like to tell Mark here that’s he’s hilarious. Stay tuned for a full review in the next day or two!

A

She’s the protagonist from Every Day and it would actually be cool to invite her every year to the New Year’s party just to see her in different bodies.

Guy Montag

This might seem like an odd choice when you consider the fact that I HATE this book. But I’d invite him because every other person invited to this particular party would love books. And this bastard burns them. I’d pretty much just tell him off. And perhaps create a mob in the process.

Those are the five characters I’d invite to my New Year’s party! Who would you invite to yours!?

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Top Five Wednesday: Favorite Mothers

Welcome back to the latest edition of Top Five Wednesday. Today’s topic is favorite mothers. And yes, I realize it’s Thursday. But I had some important business to tend to yesterday.

I’ll start with very easy choices who need no explanation.

Lily Potter

She wasn’t alive in any of the books and still had a huge impact on so many things. Most notably, doing everything possible to keep Harry alive.

Molly Weasley

Another one who doesn’t really need an explanation. She’s great. And funny when she’s upset.

Mrs. Everdeen

I’m just now realizing that her name is actually never mentioned in the books. I couldn’t remember off the top of my head and tried searching, but nope. My reasoning behind picking her is that she shapes Katniss into who she is in the years leading up to the Reaping in which Katniss volunteers to compete in the Games for her sister. We know immediately that she hasn’t been the best parent, and to me that’s part of what makes Katniss so strong.

Marjorie Lowe

She’s the mother of Harry Bosch. And like Lily above, she was never alive during any of the books in the series. She was killed when Harry was young, but her death shapes him into the no nonsense LAPD detective he becomes. Her death’s impact on his life simply cannot be understated.

Nana Mama

She’s Alex Cross’s grandma. She’s living with him as soon as we’re first introduced to the Cross family. She isn’t afraid to put him in his place when she disagrees with him, but also reminds him that he’s got an entire family counting on him just like he’s got a department and city counting on him. She’s witty, smart, and motherly. And you never forget that she loves every member of the Cross household.

That’s all I have for y’all today. Five great mothers from some of the series I’ve read. Who are YOUR favorite mothers from books?

The Best of 2014: Books I read

I began this series of posts yesterday by telling y’all about the best bloggers I know. Today we’re going to talk about the best books I read in 2014. Although not over yet, it’ll be my worst reading year since high school. I’ve only made it through seven books. Seven. Oh well. But there were some standouts among those seven that I do want to talk about. Remember these are NOT books released in 2014 but books I read in 2014.

#1 The Diary of a Young Girl – Anne Frank

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I read this book as part of my journey to read every book on Amazon’s 100 Books to Read in a Lifetime. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. This isn’t really a book. It’s her diary, as you well know. And maybe that’s why it really hit me like it did. She takes you through every emotion imaginable and she does so in such an eloquent manner that you can’t help but be impressed by her grasp of the written word. She’s able to take you back to one of the worst periods the world has ever known, and she does it while in hiding. It’s a remarkable work that everyone should read.

I currently have this book ranked #1 on my list of the best books I’ve ever read. There’s no doubt that it will stay there for some time. Here’s the post I wrote the day after finishing it.

#2 The Drop (Harry Bosch #15) – Michael Connelly

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Michael Connelly is right near the top of my favorite authors and I’ve never once been disappointed by one of his Bosch novels. The Drop is no exception. Bosch is working two cases at once. One is the death of a city councilman’s son and the other is a cold case. That’s all I’ll say. It’s vintage Bosch and I already have the next book in the series on my shelf.

I currently have this book ranked #13 on my list of the best books I’ve ever read. One spot ahead of the third and final book on the list.

#3 The Fault in Our Stars – John Green

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I don’t need to tell you anything about this book because you’ve probably already read it and made up your own mind about the story itself. This was the first time I’d read any YA title since Mockingjay in 2012. I really enjoyed this book. Yeah I thought Gus was too perfect and I thought the way he talked to Hazel was a little too much for a couple of teens, but those are pretty minor things. I loved them both as characters and John Green got millions of people to read about a tricky subject.

I currently have this book ranked #14 on my list of the best books I’ve ever read. Here’s the post I wrote about it earlier this year.

So that’s it! Those are the three best books I read this year! Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone just missed being included in the list. I won’t ask if you’ve read these titles because you’ve almost certainly read at least two of them, but I would like to know what your top reads of the year were. Tell me now.

The Perks of Being a Writer

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Photo Credit: Writer’s Digest

Okay guys, I’m certain that I could write a book about the so-called perks of being a writer. And hey, maybe some clueless soul might confuse the title with The Perks of Being a Wallflower and mistakenly buy it. I can dream, right?

Let’s get on topic here. For the sake of this post, let’s assume that you, the writer, earn enough money from your published titles for writing to be your one and only job. You’re not James Patterson but you’re also not John Guillen making zippo.

Make your own hours

This is one of those things that other professions just don’t have. I mean, I suppose a business owner could also set his or her own hours, but last I checked there are a lot more people in America who don’t own their own business than those who do. But as a writer you can write every other day or three hours a day or eight hours a day or on no set schedule at all. Tell me that isn’t the coolest thing. Sure I know that if you don’t write enough, then you could potentially miss deadlines and yada yada, but still. The hours a writer actually writes is solely dependent on the individual.

No commute

Plenty of professionals live a lengthy drive from their place of employment. And then you have others who may be able to walk to work each day if they live in an overpriced apartment in the middle of the city. But writers don’t have to deal with any kind of commute to and from work. If I want to only write at my desk at home, then I can. If I want to sit out back and write as the sun falls, then I can. If I have a favorite cafe that I frequent for my writing purposes, then I can go there whenever I feel the need to do so. A writer can literally work anywhere, others can’t.

No boss

I know what you’re thinking. A writer has a million people within their publisher who may or may not tell them what to do. But would you really put that in the same sentence as your boss at work who never leaves you alone about the dumbest things? “Get me coffee.” “Get off the internet.” “Where’s that report?” “Were you just taking a selfie?” I don’t think so. After all, this writer has a nice body of work and an agent who can always look for a better publishing situation. Writers are like every single aspect of a business in a single person.

No set salary

Again, I know what you’re thinking. This can also be a very bad thing, especially for a self-published author. But our writer for this post is not self-published and has several published books already. But let’s be real, every working person goes into their annual evaluation thinking they’ve done a good job over the past year and deserve a pay raise. And so many of these people are disappointed over and over again. But a writer doesn’t have to look at his or her work that way. They could write one book that someone likes and that someone could go back and buy the others that are available. A writer can always earn more. And that is not a bad thing.

Okay, I kept this list short because I wanted to hear from you all. What are your favorite perks of being a writer? I’m counting on you for some good ones I haven’t thought of yet!

And the Most Banned Book of 2013 is…

ImagePhoto Credit: AbeBooks

Actually, I’m not sure if this list is 2013 or 2014, but let’s just say 2013. Eh. Before we delve into the list let me first say that I see no point in banning books at all. Actually, I do have one exception. I apologize beforehand if you happen to be a fan of this author or her writing, but there’s an author on WordPress who writes a series of stories that follow a stepbrother and stepsister who are involved with each other. Sexually. Yeah, ban that. Ban it here. On Amazon. Everywhere. And the titles of the books are so horrible. Ugh. I’m leaving it alone. Other than that, I’d say most everything else is fair game.

10. Bone (series) by Jeff Smith

I honestly have never heard of this series of books. But the reasons listed for its placement on this list were political viewpoint, racism, and violence. I won’t comment because I simply am unaware. I will say that the cover shown in the article I’m referencing looks to be aimed at children. I think it would be understandable for a book aimed toward a younger audience to be included on this list if it has racism and violence.

9. Bless me Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya

Another book I’m unfamiliar with. The reasons given were Satanism, offensive language, religious viewpoint, and sexually explicit. Hmm. Okay.

8. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

I haven’t read the book, but I have seen the movie. I thought it was great. But I also find its placement on this understandable. I mean, this is geared toward teens, right? Well the nature and things discussed in the book are definitely serious in nature. The reasons given were drugs/alcohol/smoking, homosexuality, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group. Can’t say I disagree with any of those. Though this is a book I want to read at some point since I’ve seen the movie.

7. Looking for Alaska by John Green

Hasn’t John Green become something of a superstar recently? I’ve never read his books but I hear his name all the time and see blog posts about him just as often. I assume this is a YA book? The reasons given were drugs/alcohol/smoking, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group. And here I thought YA was all about vampires and paranormal romances. Guess not. But then again I have no earthly idea what this about.

6. A Bad Boy Can be Good for a Girl by Tanya Lee Stone

I’m starting to see a patten here. The reasons given were drugs/alcohol/smoking, nudity, explicit language, sexually explicit. Never read this. Never will. Moving on.

5. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

WHAAAAAAAATTTTTTTTT?! Last I checked Katniss isn’t running around having sex with everyone or drinking or smoking or anything besides trying to stay alive! This is stupid. Do I agree with this making the list? No. Do I understand it making the list? No. Do I want to find someone who helped come up with the list and punch them in the face? Yes. The reasons given were religious viewpoint and unsuited to age group. Shut up. Before I get angry.

4. Fifty Shades of Grey by EL James

I can honestly say that there was not single tidbit of surprise in me when I saw this book made the list. I mean, it doesn’t get any more self-explanatory than this, right? I’m not going to list the reasons given because you all know them already. If you don’t, good. Stay away from the internet!

3. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

Never read, Reasons given were drugs/alcohol/smoking, offensive language, racism, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group. I’m assuming that this is another YA book or geared toward even younger audiences because that seems to always be the case when you see “unsuited to age group.”

2. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

I thought Toni Morrison was one of those authors who everyone loves today? I’ve never read her books, but I swear I’ve read plenty about her. Hm. Reasons: offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, violence. What’s with all the sex and drugs in these books? I guess someone’s got to write about it all, right?

1. Captain Underpants (series) by Dav Pilkey

Ha. Seriously, this just tells me what a joke this list is. I mean, most of the books are so understandable that explanations aren’t necessary when you see the content you’re dealing with. But this? Really? I remember EVERYONE reading these books when I was in elementary school. I never read one, but everyone else did. Because they were pretty funny, I assume. Reasons: offensive language, unsuited to age group, violence. I’m done. This is no longer relevant. To find this book on the same list as some of the other titles. And I’m seeing here that it’s not the first time it’s made it. Oh well.

So there you have the most banned books of 2013. What do you think? If you’re anything like me, about a third of the list is a laughing stock.

You can read an article about the list on The Huffington Post here.

 

Literary Characters who Should Die

ImagePhoto Credit: A Book Lover’s Diary

I love books. You love books. We know that. But we’ve also all read characters in books who we just wanted to push off the side of a cliff for any number of reasons. Don’t shake your head. Yes you have. Liar.

Anyway, why don’t I just start listing off the characters I’ve disliked so much that I wanted to dedicate an entire post to them.

Draco Malfoy

I actually have a friend who loves Draco. We used to randomly discuss HP and it was before I’d read any of the books and she banned me from ever having an opinion on the series. So what do you think I did, I only talked about the one character I knew she adored, Draco. Ew. What was she thinking. I HATE Draco. Seriously. Yes, I’ve only read the first book in the series, but I already hate him even more than before! The worst part is that she loves Tom Felton too. Huh? But really, Draco should just die. Like right now. I don’t have anything more to say about him.

Keller

You know those books you’re looking forward to reading and you end up being utterly disappointed? That was me when I read Hit Man by Lawrence Block. If you’re unaware, Lawrence Block is a Grand Master with the Mystery Writers of America. He has a large body of work and he’s won eight Edgar Awards. He’s the real deal. So imagine me when I found his series revolving around an assassin by the name of Keller. I thought I’d found a new author and series to read for years to come. Wrong. The book was so bad. I did finish, but man was it awful. Keller would assassinate a random person pretty much every chapter. He wasn’t funny. Likeable. Or anything but boring. Suffice it to say that I won’t be buying another of Mr. Block’s books and definitely not in the Keller series.

Kinsey Millhone

Do not yell at me for this. I am well aware how popular the alphabet series by Sue Grafton is. And I know that Kinsey is Sue Grafton. There have been 23 books written in the series so far, I’ve read letters A-F and S in the series. There’s a book for every letter through W. I’ve always read such raving reviews about her attention to detail and how great Kinsey is as a character. I just don’t feel the same way. At all. I’ve had the book for G on my TBR shelf for years. Years! I’ve started and stopped it twice! To me, Kinsey is awkward and mediocre at her job as a private investigator. She’s not as funny as she thinks. And she drives, at least in the books I’ve read, a Volkswagon Beetle. I mean, no. Just no. But what do I know, right? Not like her books are consistently #1 NYT bestsellers or anything.

President Snow

All you THG fans better feel the same as I do about this guy. Seriously, look what he puts Katniss and Peeta through. Sure, they defied the capitol in their first Games, but EVERYONE loves them! And then to personally threaten her family before she begins her Victory Tour. No. President Snow, go in the arena and eat some poison berries or shoot a fireball at yourself. That’s about all you deserve. I think Donald Sutherland is great as Snow in the movies. To be fair.

Okay, now I’d LOVE to hear about some of the characters you’ve forced yourself to read who you thought were ugly and disgusting and just bad. Tell me!

Books You MUST Read

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Photo Credit

I’m sure you’ll recall that last week I wrote about several books that I would never read under any circumstances. If not, you can read that post here. Immediately after writing that post I thought it only fair that I write the opposite post. So now you guys get a few books that you absolutely positively must read. Ready? Off we go.

1. The Diary of a Young Girl

I was lying in bed trying to come up with a short list of books to include on this list and this one was a given. It took about eight seconds for me to come up with it. Any person over the age of probably 12 who has studied any bit of world history knows something about the story of Anne Frank. I learned about it in high school and I’d already known a bit about it before. The thing is that when you’re being taught about the happenings of her family in the middle of a curriculum that is already overloaded with information you get to spend so little time on specific topics. Which is why her diary is a must read. You get EVERYTHING. From her. Fear. Hope. Depression. Happiness. Everything. You should have read this by now. I wrote a post about this book as part of my journey to read the Amazon 100 books list that you can read here.

2. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

This needs little to no explanation. My reasoning for naming the first in the series is because I’d never recommend reading any series from a middle book, and especially not one as great as this. I’ve also written a post about this book for the same reason as Anne Frank that can be read here.

3. Dracula

This was another easy pick for me. I surely hope you’ve read it by now because this is definitely one of my favorite books that I somehow don’t own! But seriously, when I think vampire I think Dracula. When I think evil I think Dracula. When I think monster or man vs monster I think of this book. It makes no difference that it was published over a hundred years ago. This is one of those books that will remain for all time. At least I hope so.

4. The Hunger Games

You didn’t think I would write a post like this and leave my favorite series ever out of it, did you? No. I couldn’t do that. Honestly, I like Catching Fire just a bit more than the first in the trilogy but again, I can’t recommend that you begin a series with the middle book. That’s crazy. I stated in my post about my favorite series that Suzanne Collins had me crying within the first chapter of the first book of her series. The rest of the book was just as well written, paced, and truly fantastic as that opening chapter. If you don’t want to read this, fine, leave my slice of the blogging world. Leave now!

5. Divided Within

Did you catch what I did there? That’s MY book! Ha. No, I don’t think my book is anywhere near any of these others. BUT I would love for you guys to read it. It’s my baby. I’ll stop short of demanding that you buy it as soon as you read this post because, quite frankly, I’m not that worried about it at this point. If you’d like to read it thennnnn please go ahead. If not, I still like you. Okay, I like you a little less now. Can’t be helped.

A little note about this list. I only included books I’ve actually read. So I’m sure some of you guys will wonder how come none of the all-time greats are listed. That’s why. Because I haven’t read them. Remember, that’s the whole point of my tackling the Amazon list. One book that I almost included on this list was The Great Gatsby. But I read that book so long ago and so many since that I just don’t remember hardly any of it. And I haven’t read LOTR. Yet. So don’t yell at me that my list is flawed. It can always be updated.

What do you think of my little list here? Like? Dislike? Want to throw me out a window? Let me know!