Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books That Were Hard To Read

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

This Week's Topic:

Books That Were Hard For Me To Read

The Chaos Walking Trilogy by Patrick Ness - This series is mind-blowingly good but oh, my gosh, was it agonizing to read! So many times I had to put down the books because I could not take how stressful they were. Other times I had to put them down because I was fuming with Todd for some of his less brilliant moments. I think The Knife of Never Letting Go was the first book that I actually chucked across the room when I was finished because THAT CLIFFHANGER ENDING! Patrick Ness knows how to mess with his readers' emotions, that's for sure!

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling - For me, this may have been one of THE hardest Potter books to get through because of the amount of sheer stress and anger it put me through. First, we're faced with the fact that Harry may be expelled from Hogwarts. Then, we're questioning why Dumbledore is avoiding Harry, especially now, in a time when Harry most seems to need his guidance. And finally, there's her, the most despicable character of the whole series, the one whose mere name induces rage, the character that I hate even more than Voldemort: Dolores Umbridge. *shudders*

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins - Talk about being stressed out while reading! The only thing more shocking than Katniss being sent back to the Games was the book's ending.

Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer - As soon as I saw that Breaking Dawn had 200+ pages in Jacob's POV, I knew that reading this book (as a hardcore Team Edward girl) was going to be, well, brutal. If given a choice between the canon series' ender and some of the Breaking Dawn fanfics I read before the book was even released, I'd go fanfic all the way.

Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl - While I really enjoyed the first half of the book, the middle just lagged on and on. Eventually I got so tired of reading it that I ended up skimming through it to the end. I liked the overall story, though, and still want to give the rest of the series a shot.

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins - Confession time: It seems like I'm the only YA book blogger in the world who does not love Anna and the French Kiss. And the sad part is I really want to! Surely if so many people love it there's got to be something good about it, right? I just didn't like Anna. Her whole "ugh-I-can't-believe-my-famous-author-father-forced-me-to-go-to-Europe-poor-me" attitude turned me off from the start. I tried to push past it and enjoy the rest of the book, but I never became emotionally involved with any of the characters or the storyline. :/ Sorry, everybody.

So what are some books that were hard for you to read, either because they were stressful or didn't turn out the way you expected?

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

#taggedtuesdays {1}: Chocolate Book Tag

Much as I love The Broke and Bookish's Top Ten Tuesday, some weeks I just can't come up with enough ideas to fill a top ten list. So for the weeks when I'm feeling uninspired, I've decided to start Tagged Tuesdays! On Tagged Tuesdays, I'll do a book tag/survey and tag other book bloggers to join in (but of course, anyone is welcome to participate!).

This week's tag is the Chocolate Book tag (thanks, Stephanie, for tagging me!).

Dark chocolate {a book that covers a dark topic}: My current read, The Vanishing Season, is about two friends who live in a town where girls are, well, vanishing (and there's also a ghostly narrator). I'd say that's pretty dark! But, it's beautifully written and the characters are so realistic. It's a captivating book!

White chocolate {your favorite light-hearted, humorous read}: Okay, I'm going a little old school here, but I choose The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot. You guys seriously need to read it if you haven't already, and especially if you're only familiar with the Disney movie version, which, while great in its own right, is nothing like the book. Mia is so dramatic and hilarious and relatable; she's one of my all-time favorite YA heroines. Just please, do me and yourself a favor and read it. I also highly recommend checking out the audiobook read by Anne Hathaway. It's fantastic.

Milk chocolate {a book that has a lot of hype that you're dying to read}: Winterspell by Claire Legrand. I feel like I've been waiting for this book my whole life. When I was a little girl, I loved The Nutcracker ballet. I grew up with the Macauly Culkin/NYC Ballet movie version and watched the heck outta that VHS. I would listen to the music even when it wasn't Christmastime and put on costumes and dance along to it. I wanted so badly to be Clara so I could wear pretty dresses and go to Land of Sweets and dance with the Nutcracker prince. So when I heard that Claire Legrand was writing a book based on The Nutcracker, I freaked. I am so, so excited for this one and even though it comes out in just a couple of weeks, the wait is killing me!

Chocolate with a caramel center {name a book that made you feel all gooey in the middle while reading}: Twilight. It makes me slightly crazy to think this book is nearly ten years old, because to me it still feels like just yesterday that I was reading it for the first time. Apart from Harry Potter, no book series has stuck with me the way Twilight has, and no other couple makes me swoon like Edward and Bella. The first book will always be my favorite, and every time I read it, I fall in love all over again. It's a crazy, ridiculous, obsessive love and I'll never get over it.

Wafer-free Kit Kat {name a book that surprised you}: We Were Liars by E. Lockhart. I was not expecting to love this book as much as I did (nor was I expecting it to give me SO. MANY. FEELS.), but OH MY GOSH! I was completely shocked by the ending.

Snickers {a book you're going nuts about}: Heir of Fire! I haven't even read Crown of Midnight yet, but I am so, so happy to finally have this one on my shelf! The cover is gorgeous and Celaena looks so badass! AHHH! I love it!

Hot Chocolate with cream and marshmallows {What book would you turn to for a comfort read?}: Either Twilight or one of the Harry Potter books (although probably not any of the last four...too many deaths=not exactly comforting).

Box of chocolates {What series have you read that you feel has a wide variety and a little something for everyone?}: I've gotta go with good old HP for this one because I feel like it definitely appeals to the widest audience. There's magic, good versus evil, romance, school drama, laugh-out-loud moments, break-down-sobbing moments, lovable characters...I could go on and on.

Now it's time to tag some people! Mara {Book Marauder}, Kim {The Nomadic Book Hoarder}, Rachel {Rachel Writes Things}, Sana {Artsy Musings of a Bibliophile}, and Brittany {Book Addict's Guide}, you're it! If anyone else wants to do the tag, feel free! Link up in the comments so I can see your posts! :)

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Book Review: Conversion by Katherine Howe

Conversion by Katherine Howe
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
Pub. Date: July 2014
Genre: YA/Historical Fiction/Mystery
Source/Format: Own/Hardcover

Goodreads Summary: 
It’s senior year at St. Joan’s Academy, and school is a pressure cooker. College applications, the battle for valedictorian, deciphering boys’ texts: Through it all, Colleen Rowley and her friends are expected to keep it together. Until they can’t.

First it’s the school’s queen bee, Clara Rutherford, who suddenly falls into uncontrollable tics in the middle of class. Her mystery illness quickly spreads to her closest clique of friends, then more students and symptoms follow: seizures, hair loss, violent coughing fits. St. Joan’s buzzes with rumor; rumor blossoms into full-blown panic.

Soon the media descends on Danvers, Massachusetts, as everyone scrambles to find something, or someone, to blame. Pollution? Stress? Or are the girls faking? Only Colleen—who’s been reading The Crucible for extra credit—comes to realize what nobody else has: Danvers was once Salem Village, where another group of girls suffered from a similarly bizarre epidemic three centuries ago . . .

Inspired by true events—from seventeenth-century colonial life to the halls of a modern-day high school—Conversion casts a spell. With her signature wit and passion, New York Times bestselling author Katherine Howe delivers an exciting and suspenseful novel, a chilling mystery that raises the question, what’s really happening to the girls at St. Joan’s?

The Story 
It's hard to talk much about the plot of Conversion without giving something away, as so much of what drives the story is the mystery of what's really happening to the girls of St. Joan's. Is it a virus? The result of environmental pollution? A hoax? Or something more sinister? The story hops back and forth in time between 2012 Danvers, Massachussets, where high school senior Colleen Rowley witnesses her friends and classmates succumb to a "Mystery Illness," and late 17th century Salem, where thirteen-year-old Ann Putnam gets drawn into a witch hunt hysteria. While I preferred the present day story to Ann's, Ann's was still important because it mirrored the events happening in Colleen's time and provided one possible explanation: that the St. Joan's girls could all be perpetuating a hoax for attention, just like the girls in Salem claiming to be tortured by witches. And the farther along you get in the story, the more it all does seem like a hoax. When interviewed on national television, the girls' symptoms seem to disappear in front of the cameras, most notably in Clara, the first girl to fall victim to the illness, whose debilitating verbal tics are miraculously gone But then there's Colleen's friend, Anjali, whose own symptoms--coughing up tiny balls of pins-- still persist and cannot be so easily explained away. If there's one thing Howe is excellent at in this book, it's her ability to keep you guessing, because just when you think you've got it all figured out, she throws another curveball.

While the plot of Conversion was definitely intriguing and enough to keep me reading, one major drawback of the book for me was Colleen's voice. It didn't feel genuine to me and I felt more like I was reading a caricature of teenager--everything was very exaggerated and honestly, it kind of put me off. Another problem for me was this sense of disconnect I had with not only Colleen, but with pretty much all of the characters in the story. Although Colleen had all of these relationships in the story--with her friends, her siblings, her parents, and her boyfriend, Spence--I never came to care very strongly for any of them. They all felt like props, just filling up space in the story while you tried to figure out the mystery. 

Final Thoughts
 Buy | Borrow | Skip
Despite the downsides, Conversion kept me flipping the pages until the very end. I absolutely had to find out what was causing the "Mystery Illness" outbreak at St. Joan's, and whether or not it was all tied back to the Salem witch panic. If you're in the mood for a quick read with an intriguing mystery, you might want to put this one on your library request list.