T5W: Characters I wouldn’t want to trade places with

I’m sure we’ve all imagined what it would be like to learn magic and go on adventures at Hogwarts like Harry, Ron & Hermione in the Harry Potter series, or to have an epic romance like Lizzie Bennet in Pride & Prejudice. But there are also a lot of literary characters that have absolutely terrible lives, and this week’s Top 5 Wednesday is for them; the five characters whose lives I’d least like to live. Also, there are a lot of obvious choices for this topic (i.e. every character in every dystopian novel ever written), but I’m going to try to make my list a little more diverse than that. So, without further ado:

5) Todd Hewitt (from the Chaos Walking trilogy by Patrick Ness)

Patrick Ness//The Knife of Never Letting GoThere’s a pretty massive war in the Chaos Walking books, so – as you’d expect – nobody really manages to reach the end of the series unscathed, but I have to admit that the main reason I decided to put Todd on the list is because of the Noise. How humiliating would it be to be constantly, uncontrollably broadcasting all your thoughts for everyone to hear? 😳

4) Hazel Grace Lancaster (from The Fault in Our Stars by John Green)

John Green//The Fault in Our StarsHazel actually has a lot of great things in her life: a supportive family, great friends, hobbies that she’s really enthusiastic about, and (spoilers? 😉 ) a boyfriend who is – to all appearances – madly in love with her. But… cancer. And so much cancer. The Fault in Our Stars wasn’t the huge sob-fest for me that I know it was for a lot of people, but the knowledge that you, and so many of the people you care about, are likely to have their lives cut short cancels out most of the positives of her situation.

3) Sirius Black (from the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling)

J.K. Rowling//Harry Potter & the Prisoner of AzkabanUnlike Hazel, Sirius does not come from a supportive family; in fact, the vast majority of them seem to despise him simply because he was sorted into a different house at Hogwarts, and doesn’t believe in pureblood supremacy. And then, of course, he had to put up with Azkaban for twelve years, when he hadn’t even done anything wrong. Harry and the Marauders were some of the only good things Sirius had in his life, and he ended up losing them all. 😦

2) Sansa Stark (from the A Song of Ice & Fire series by George R.R. Martin)

George R.R. Martin//A Game of ThronesMost of the tragedy of Sansa’s situation is that the downward spiral began with something that she really, really wanted (to be Joffrey’s queen) without knowing what it would really mean, so in addition to all the obvious things she deal with – the beatings, the humiliation, the ruin of her whole family – she also suffers with the loss of her own dreams, and the belief that it all could have been avoided if not for her. I’m way behind on the TV series, but from what I’ve already been spoiled for so far, it’s looking like she might have been given an even worse lot in that version of the story.

1) Quintana of Charyn (from The Lumatere Chronicles by Melina Marchetta)

Melina Marchetta//Quintana of Charyn

Quintana is at the top of this list partly because I’ve just finished this series, so she’s the freshest in my mind, but also because the things that she goes through over the course of the book are truly horrific: blamed for the curse on her kingdom, in turns scorned, abused or dismissed by the people she’s tried so hard to protect, and burdened with the knowledge that even if she does manage to break the curse, it will only stave off her execution for a few more months. So many of the characters in The Lumatere Chronicles have suffered unimaginably, but Quintana’s situation really takes the (mouldy) cake.

[Top 5 Wednesday was created by gingerreadslainey, and is run by Sam from ThoughtsOnTomes. To find out more or join in, check out the Goodreads group.]

Advertisements

Thematic Recs: Wintery Books

Winter seems to have finally set in, and in true winter style, it’s dark by the time I finish work, and my whole family have come down with nasty colds. 😦 In celebration of the season, however, I thought I’d put together a list of some of my favourite Wintery reads. Which is to say, not necessarily books that are set during winter, but books that have that chilly, shivery quality to them, that makes you want to stay inside and huddle up by a warm fire, and just keep reading~! 😀

C.S. Lewis//The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe1) The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis. A winter classic! In this story, when the Pevensie children first visit Narnia, they find that it’s been cursed by the White Witch, so that it’s always winter, but never Christmas! Naturally, this is something that needs to be rectified. 😛

Maggie Stiefvater//Shiver2) The Wolves of Mercy Falls series by Maggie Stiefvater. An unusual werewolf story, where, instead of transforming on the full moon, Sam – one of the two main characters – and his pack become wolves whenever the weather gets too cold.

Paullina Simons//The Bronze Horseman3) The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons. For those of you who want something a bit more adult, I’d definitely recommend the first book in this amazing trilogy, which follows the life of a young Russian girl, Tatiana, and her lover Alexander, through the years of World War II, and, in particular, the Siege of Leningrad. This book mostly gave me the shivers because it’s so emotional and powerfully written, but a significant part of the book is also set during a very bleak winter.

Keith Austin//Snow, White4) Snow, White by Keith Austin. This book follows a young boy – John – who’s living in London when it’s hit by a freak snowstorm, and a pack of mysterious wolves is creeping steadily closer. A really great, atmospheric book, for slightly younger readers.

John Green, Lauren Myracle & Maureen Johnson//Let It Snow5) Let It Snow by John Green, Maureen Johnson & Lauren Myracle. And last up is something a bit more cheerful than the rest of the books on this list! Let It Snow is a collection of three (connected) short stories, all set in (and around) the same small town. My personal favourite was the last of the three (The Patron Saint of Pigs by Lauren Myracle), but they’re all really cute, and come together in the best possible way.

The Bookish Alphabet Tag

This tag was created by Mariana at fireheartbooks, and I was tagged by the wonderful Loreva from La Book Dreamer, whose blog you should all definitely check out! The goal is to pick out a book for every letter of the alphabet, and the only rule is that you need to own (or to have previously owned and read) every book on the list. You also don’t need to include articles, e.g. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess would count for “C” rather than “A”.

So, without further ado:

MY BOOKISH ALPHABET

The Amulet of Samarkand by Jonathan Stroud

Brightly Woven by Alexandra Bracken

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

Daughter of Storms by Louise Cooper

Emma by Jane Austen

Fire by Kristin Cashore

The Girl at Midnight by Melissa Grey

Half Wild by Sally Green

The Iron Trial by Holly Black & Cassandra Clare

Just Listen by Sarah Dessen

The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness

Let It Snow by John Green, Lauren Myracle & Maureen Johnson

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews

Night Owls by Jenn Bennett

Obsidian by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder

Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas

River Daughter by Jane Hardstaff

A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin

A Traveller in Time by Alison Uttley

Unravel Me by Tahereh Mafi

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis

Wild Magic by Tamora Pierce

xxxHolic by CLAMP

Young Blood by Meg Cabot

Zombie-Loan by Peach-Pit

Phew. That was a lot of books! ^^’ But I’m pleased to say that I have read all of these books, and I still own them all except for Unravel Me, which I gave to one of my cousins, and River Daughter, which I donated (it was a good book, I just couldn’t imagine myself reading it again). And I did have to break out my manga collection for “X” and “Z” – something I’d been hoping I wouldn’t have to do – but I regret nothing. 😎

I tag:

 

December Wrap Up

This month I managed to get through thirteen books! Or rather, ten novels, two short stories, and one art-book. Certainly not my best reading month, but then again, December never is (there’s always so much to do!), so I’m pretty satisfied with this. Anyway, here’s what I thought of it all:

Rae Carson//The Bitter KingdomThe Bitter Kingdom by Rae Carson. A really satisfying conclusion to the trilogy (which seems to be rare these days). All the different threads of the story were wrapped up nicely, and it was lovely to see Cosmé, Alodia and Ximena again (however briefly). The pacing of the book was pretty fast, and though I didn’t feel that it was necessary for Hector to have his own POV chapters, I found myself liking them anyway. What struck me most about this final instalment, however, was the humour – which is not to say that the book was a particularly funny one, but Rae Carson had a great way of diffusing the tension whenever it got too thick (particularly towards the end), and some of my favourite moments were the little character interactions that made me chuckle (i.e. Red being introduced to Rosario; Storm and Waterfall talking about the Joyans; & so many more…).5 starsSally Green//Half LiesHalf Lies by Sally Green. A short story set in the Half Life universe, that I only discovered by accident when I stumbled upon it on Amazon… It’s written in diary form, and told from the perspective of a young Black Witch called Michèle – Gabriel’s younger sister. The story itself was very simple: It fleshed out the world a little, and introduced some more bits of Black Witch culture, which was interesting (and was also something that  was really hoping for after reading Half Bad), and it also explained how Gabriel became a fain, but at its heart it’s really a love story, between Michèle and a boy called Sam. It’s a little sad, but there’s some humour, too (and of course Gabriel is the type of guy who’d read his sister’s diary 😉 ). I’m a little curious about Caitlin’s motivations, and I hope that it might be touched on in the rest of the series, though I’m not sure how it would come into the story…4 stars

Cassandra Clare//City of BonesCity of Bones by Cassandra Clare. I realise that I probably should have read this before reading the Infernal Devices trilogy, but I have no regrets – and (as an interesting but not particularly important aside) having read Clockwork Princess certainly gave me a different perspective of Brother Jeremiah than I probably would have had otherwise… I enjoyed the book a lot, despite the fact that I’ve heard that it’s the weakest in the series, and it was different enough from the film (which I saw a couple of months ago) that I didn’t feel that I already knew the story. In terms of the main characters: I liked Clary and Isabelle well enough, and I really liked Alec, but I thought Simon was a little bland, and Jace somewhat too… snarky for my tastes. Overall, it was good fun, though, and I’m looking forward to reading the sequel.4 starsThe Gernsback Continuum by William Gibson (from The Time Traveller’s Almanac). A short story that is less about actually travelling through time, and more about seeing through time (or perhaps into another world). A little on the trippy side, but enjoyable all the same, and Gibson has a very fluid writing style, which makes things easy to picture.3 starsTahereh Mafi//Shatter MeShatter Me by Tahereh Mafi. A dystopian superpower book, about a girl with a lethal touch. I liked it a lot, though I felt that the first-person perspective held it back a little, at least in terms of world-building (which I would like to have seen more of), and it bothered me to a surprising degree that Juliette’s powers haven’t yet been explained. I enjoyed Juliette’s voice, though, and the disjointed writing style really brought out the fragility of her mind – in a way, it was almost like reading a journal, with all the crossed-out passages… Romance-wise, I’ve already been spoiled for this series’ endgame, but I’m enjoying the way that Juliette interacts with both Adam and Warner; character-wise, I like basically everyone so far (and even Warner is interesting, if not pleasant), and I’m looking forward to reading more.2 starsKatie McGarry//Breaking the RulesBreaking the Rules by Katie McGarry. The last book in the Pushing the Limits series, set between the first two books, and following Noah and Echo, the main couple in the first book. It was definitely great to see Noah and Echo again (they’re my favourites), and how they interact now that they’ve been a couple for a little while longer. I didn’t enjoy it quite as much as either Pushing the Limits or Crash Into You, but it’s earned a pretty solid bronze medal, and it was a close call. Noah and Echo’s relationship development was very realistic, and the story addressed some of their issues that weren’t tackled in the first book. I also really enjoyed the interaction between Echo and Beth, which took me a little by surprise, as I’ve never liked Beth very much in any of the previous books…4 stars17378508Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater. I really enjoyed this book, but for some reason I didn’t enjoy it quite as much as I did the previous two… In the beginning, especially, I loved the scenes with Blue and Gansey (I wish there’d been more of them), and I also find myself growing more attached to Ronan after the events of The Dream Thieves. Malory’s part in the book was hilarious (and the Dog!), and I really liked Jesse Dittley (the part where he met Malory was one of my favourite quotes in the book). I think, however, then the book would have benefitted from a stronger antagonist: In the first book there was Whelk; in the second there was Mr. Gray and Kavinsky; in the third there was Greenmantle, but he seemed a little lackluster, and except for Adam and Ronan, none of the characters seemed to be particularly concerned about him… There was a lot of good build-up for the last book, though, so I’m definitely excited about that. 🙂4 starsAlexandra Bracken//Brightly WovenBrightly Woven by Alexandra Bracken. This book was surprisingly fast-paced for a high fantasy novel, and I feel that that held it back somewhat – the world-building was lacking, the characters moved from place to place too quickly, and the story’s climax came out of nowhere and was over in what seemed like a flash. Despite its flaws, though, it was an interesting story, with likeable characters and a sweet (if predictable) romance, and it plays to its strengths well, with the writing focusing more on Sydelle and North’s relationship than on the plot. It reads a little like High Fantasy-Lite, but it was definitely enjoyable all the same.3 starsStudio Ghibli Layout Designs: Understanding the Secrets of Takahata and Miyazaki Animation by the Hong Kong Jockey Club. A catalogue (I think) from the Hong Kong exhibition of the same name. The written parts of the book were a little technical for my taste, but would probably be more interesting to somebody who’s hoping to get into animation as a hobby or profession… The main highlight for me was (naturally) the art, though, and there was a lot of it in here, and it was all absolutely beautiful. Some of the pictures I even almost preferred as rough sketches (there was a before-and-after section in the book). A wonderful, wonderful book. (There are so many Ghibli films that I still need to see!)5 starsWendy Higgins//See MeSee Me by Wendy Higgins. A romance novel about an arranged marriage between a human girl and a leprechaun. The premise was interesting, I thought, but I found the story and characters rather lacklustre, and everything about the romance was far too convenient – despite not having communicated in any way for their entire seventeen-year engagement, they fall in love almost immediately… Insta-love isn’t something that I always have a problem with in romance books, but in this one I thought that it felt very contrived. The plot, however, was what I had the biggest problem with: It basically consisted of a tug-of-war between two uninteresting girls, over an equally uninteresting boy… It wasn’t the worst book I’d ever read, but…1 starAnders Nilsen//Rage of PoseidonRage of Poseidon by Anders Nilsen. A graphic novel portraying the god Poseidon (and several other divine figures) in the modern world. This is actually a collection of several different stories with the same theme, which I wasn’t expecting, but I really enjoyed all of them. My favourites were probably Rage of Poseidon and Leda and the Swan, but the final (one-page) story – Jesus and Aphrodite – was hilarious, and Nilsen’s art style really suited the story and subject matter. Altogether, a humourous but thought-provoking take on religion, old and new(/current).5 starsBryan Lee O'Malley//SecondsSeconds by Bryan Lee O’Malley. A standalone comic about a woman who stumbles across a way to erase her past mistakes, and goes a little crazy trying to make her life perfect, with increasingly disastrous results. The art was beautiful, and I really loved O’Malley’s writing style (this book has several particularly funny “dialogues” between the narrator and the main character, Katie). The story was both humourous and touching, and the characters (especially Hazel!) were great!5 starsJohn Green, Lauren Myracle & Maureen Johnson//Let It SnowLet It Snow by Maureen Johnson, John Green & Lauren Myracle. A set of three interconnected short Christmas romances, and a really enjoyable, uplifting read. I started reading this book on Christmas Eve, and it really got me into the right mindset for Christmas! 😀 Of the three stories, I think I liked Lauren Myracle’s the best, but mainly because it was the last, and I really loved the way she managed to weave the three stories together at the end. Super-cute!5 stars