Let them have Books (or Cake)

Yay! My first book meme! I got tagged by Kate over at The Magic Violinist, who opened it up to her entire readership. If you haven't checked her blog out already, then you must.

A book that was a little slow to start off with, but really picked up as it went along.

Hmmm. I'm going to go with The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, although it didn't necessarily pick up as much as it ran away at breakneck pace the moment death had finished his prologue and Liesel took to the stage. I know some people struggled to get into this one - me included - but I made myself get through the philosophy and I'm so glad I did!

Just in case anyone's wondering, this book is about a young girl, Liesel, living in Germany in 1939, just at the start of the Nazi occupation. Things get ugly, especially when it comes to Rudy, her neighbour, and the Nazi ideals her foster family don't agree with, but she's also in love with books. Watching (sorry, reading) her steal them was one of the most bittersweet things I have ever done: I wanted her to succeed, but IT'S WRONG TO STEAL BOOKS! My inner bookworm had to be silenced a little so I could do the right thing and actually support Liesel . . .

There's also a quite recent film of this book that's supposed to be really good, but I haven't seen it yet.

A book with a rich, great plot.

The unfortunate thing about this book is that you really need to have read the rest of the Alex Rider series so that the marvellous twist at the end - there is one, that's all I'm saying - packs the intended punch. It twists and turns like a corkscrew, and I certainly couldn't have predicted the ending. An added bonus is that the premise is really interesting: in the rest of the series, Yassen Gregorovitch is one of many villains, a cold-blooded killer, but here, we get to read his story. After growing up in a small Russian village, Yassen's life changed forever. This is how he went from being a boy to a killer.

(While I'm here, I would like to point out that the Stormbreaker movie doesn't do the Alex Rider series justice. If you've didn't enjoy it and usually like action stuff, I'd still give the books a try. :-D)

A book you thought was going to be bad but actually turned out quite enjoyable.

It has to be I, Coriander by Sally Gardner. The main character is a girl named Coriander Hobie, who lives in London at the time when the King had been overthrown, and England was being ruled by the highly religious Oliver Cromwell. Coriander's problem is that her family don't fit the mould: her father was a high-profile supporter of King Charles II and her mother is a healer - some people believe her to be a witch. As the book goes on, Coriander realises that there might be some truth to that statement, and there are definitely more worlds than just our own. . . 

I only picked this book up because our English teacher told us to read something in a genre we wouldn't normally try, and I spent the entire first section telling most people I know that it was pretentious drivel. But that's unfair to the author. I actually enjoyed it, and although there were a couple of plot points that I would have changed, that's just my personal opinion. Coriander was a very well fleshed-out character, and the supernatural elements are quite well-done. My only warning is that it's definitely more Middle Grade than YA. Sure, Coriander grows up a bit towards the end, but her internal thoughts read younger, in my opinion. 

A sugary, sweet book.

Fun! My all-time favourite girly read is Star Crazy Me by Jean Ure. It's about Carmen, a feisty girl with a big singing voice, who finds her route to stardom (or the Year 8 talent show) blocked by Marigold Johnson and her cronies - body fascists who tease her mercilessly about the way she looks. I know it sounds really superficial when I describe it, but I promise you it's a lot better than most music-related books, and more grown-up, too. The characters are beautifully un-stereotypical, and you can probably finish it in under two hours, if you read at about my speed. Perfect!

A book that covers every single element you enjoy about a book (funny moments, action moments, sad moments, etc.).

I don't usually identify with teenage male protagonists, but An Abundance of Katherines by John Green was absolutely brilliant. Colin, a maths geek and child genius - sorry, prodigy - has a strange 'type' when it comes to girls. Every girl he has ever dated was called Katherine, with a K, and they've all dumped him. But when one crazy road trip gives Colin the idea for 'The Theorem', a formula which would allow him to predict the outcome of any relationship, he has to ask himself: does he want to rule his present using his future?

I loved Katherines because it just has . . . everything. Comedy, a down-on-his luck protagonist and good old boy meets girl romance (though not from the usual perspective) all team together to make a coming-of-age story that kicks some butt. I've heard some people online say they didn't like the anagrams and formulas, and if you don't like maths then you might not enjoy that part, but for me, those elements were funny and a definite plus. Don't give up on this just because of the numbers!

A book series you can kind of turn back to for a little pick-me-up when you're feeling down.

Yes, yes, I know it's predictable. I'm really sorry. But there's something about the Harry Potter series (by J.K Rowling, also known as the queen of everything) that makes it the perfect re-read for any situation. Are you in need of some laughs? Try Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Do you want to be scared? Prisoner of Askaban. I could go on, but the point is that there's a Harry Potter book for every emotion, from Philosopher's / Sorcerer's Stone to The Tales of Beedle the Bard. They are, and will always be, my own personal literary hug.

(If you haven't tried Harry Potter, then you've probably been living under a rock for a decade or two. Pull yourself out, and READ!)

The cherry on top
Your favourite book this year so far.

I found this one difficult to choose not because I had too much choice, but because, for some reason, I haven't read many books this year. However, as soon as I realised I hadn't picked The Jewel by Amy Ewing for any of the other categories, there was only one possible course of action. This is easily one of the best books I've ever read.

Violet Lasting has been raised all her life as a surrogate: a quirk in her genetic code means that she, a worthless girl from the poorest of her city's four circles, is vital to the royalty, who can't have children on their own. She's known this since she was twelve, but now it is time for her to be sold. Violet will never experience love or have a family of her own - unless she has anything to do with it. 

I can't do this book justice even with that paragraph-long summary, because Violet is amazing. Miss Ewing handled her protagonist's lack of knowledge in her surroundings really well, and although this could easily be just another YA dystopian, it's so much more than that. Although I usually enjoy a good love triangle, I'm so glad there wasn't one here - Ash and Violet's struggle was complicated enough without adding another person to the mix.

In short, this is a gorgeous, unique debut novel, and I can't wait for the sequel. If you want The Hunger Games crossed with Angel, then this is for you.

A little extra . . . Burnt Bits
A brilliant book that you managed to ruin for yourself. Like, seriously ruin. How did it happen?

Getting a book - or even worse, a series - ruined for yourself is the worst. Thing. Ever. It usually happens if a friend tells you the ending, or if you accidentally read a spoiler review on Amazon (those things seriously bug me) but what I did was even worse.

I read The Hunger Games and loved it, but then I accidentally read Mockingjay next. I was thoroughly confused, got through six chapters and managed to completely ruin Catching Fire for myself, then had to go back and read it so I would understand what happened next, knowing how it ended. That is one epic fail. ;-)

What about you? Because I don't know many people in the blogosphere, you're tagged! If you don't have a blog, then you can either ignore this; share your Burnt Bits (or a book you think would fit any other category) in the comments, or start one. It's really fun!

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  1. Ooh, there are a lot of books on here I haven't heard of. :) I haven't gotten to Katherines yet, but I did read and enjoy Paper Towns. Obviously The Fault In Our Stars is a favorite of mine, so I'm curious to see what else he has in store. Looking For Alaska seems to be popular with his fandom. Have you read it?

    1. I haven't read Alaska or Paper Towns yet, but I love, love LOVED Fault in our Stars . . . maybe I should give them a try. And you should SO check out Katherines! :-D

  2. (Oh, and thanks for the shout out!)

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