Last Two Books I Read: The Storied Life of A.J.Fikry, The Circle

Friday, May 30, 2014

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin
3 stars
If I can describe this book, I'd say that it was, simply put, charming. It felt like it was written for book lovers as there were so many bookish elements added in the story. It's mostly set in a bookshop in a small town, the bookshop owner is the protagonist, and several popular books were even quoted and mentioned.  
I did sort of expect a bit more from it though, I felt like it was too quick and not as developed as I would have liked. Things happened too fast, I found myself even wondering multiple times if I skipped a few pages. I didn't feel like I got the chance to truly connect with the characters, and I felt like they were not necessarily as likable as they probably should be. Overall, it was an easy, quick read, and it was definitely charming, but it's not a book I would put on the very top of the must-read-now list. 

The Circle by Dave Eggers
3.5 stars
I read The Circle for about a week or two, taking and enjoying my time devouring it. The premise, first off, is highly intriguing. I had to pick it up ever since I have heard anything about it. The book deals with the terrifying idea of digital utopianism, where transparency is required, and when everything about us is out there for the world to see. Privacy is considered old-fashioned and almost criminal.
I took my time reading it, and I had an enjoyable time getting through it. 
Sure, I have to admit, the book could be a lot shorter than it is. It was a bit repetitive for me at times, and I was even tempted to skip a few parts just because I feel like I've heard it all before. I also have to say that I did not really care for the main character, and felt like there weren't any redeeming qualities about her for me to stay by her side and root for her. Maybe that's the point?
Overall, I would recommend this book if you are looking for an interesting, unique general fiction novel. 

Day 5: Young Adult Book Recommendations

Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Young Adult has always been a great genre to me, I have always read and loved it! I started with books like The Secret Garden, A Wrinkle in Time, The Harry Potter series, The Hobbit... and loved all the coming-of-age themes that come with it.
The YA genre nowadays have definitely boomed, and I think that whatever gets people to read more is a good thing! I do think though that the YA genre sometimes isn't for everyone, but I believe there's some specific titles that everyone will enjoy, love, and appreciate! Here are usually the books I recommend for all ages, whether you do typically read YA or you don't at all.

  • The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
    - narrated by Death, this is set in World War II about a girl who loved words. Beautiful and poignant book with wonderful writing and unique style! One of my all time favorite books. I will always recommend this book.
  • Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
    - Great science fiction with a young adult character. Do not judge the book by its movie. This book is a classic!
  • The Giver by Lois Lowry
    - Another classic that must be read. The original dystopian book, I think!
  • Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson
    - Beautifully told and painfully accurate story of a teenage girl suffering through self-esteem and self-image issues as well as an eating disorder.
  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
    - Heartfelt coming-of-age story. I read it in high school. Liked it. Reread it in college. Loved it. Saw the movie adaptation, fell in love even more. It's not a perfect book, but it's a must read!
  • The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian by Sherman Alexie - about a Native American boy who goes to an all white school. This is quite a profound, heartwarming and realistic story. 
Those are just some of the fool proof YA recommendations that I think everybody of all ages and tastes would appreciate! What are in some of your immediate YA recs list? 

Day 5: Topic of Your Choice: Strong Female Characters I Admire

Sometimes I feel like some female characters are solely written in a book for the male protagonist's purpose or growth, primarily as a tool to motivate him for his goals, dreams, etc.To be honest, I think that we need more female characters that aren't just written for the male protagonist. For me, I want to see more strong-willed, independent women in literature today, or at least, read books with a more accurate portrayal of different kinds of women. Badass females... they exist and they deserve more attention in my opinion.

Hermione Granger
Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
Hermione is Hermione. She is smart. Intelligent. Wise. Strong-willed. Brave. Courageous. And a very loyal friend. One of my favorite characters in general.

Jane Eyre
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Jane Eyre, first of all, is my favorite classic novel. I admire Jane Eyre as a female protagonist especially, because she was independent, and had her own dreams for herself. She never let her love for Rochester and their relationship with each other cloud her from her goals, and I think that's important. She wanted to be her own person, and she was never going to be happy with someone else if she wasn't happy with herself yet.

Daenerys Targaryen
A Song of Ice and Fire series by George R. R. Martin
My girl! She is not a perfect character that is for sure. She has many, many flaws but her core characteristics are great. She is a woman with a genuine and huge heart.She started off as an innocent, oppressed girl, but quickly, she learned to stand up for herself. She also continued to keep her genuine and huge heart that she has, consistently doing what she believes is right. She will fight for the oppressed, no matter what. She is also loyal to those she cares about. Sure, if she ruled our world today, she would probably be considered as an extreme liberal or a communist (sometimes), but in the world of Game of Thrones, she is definitely a queen in my eyes, both in the books and the movies. 

Luna Lovegood
Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
Love Luna! How could you not? In fact, I have to admit, I sort of wanted her to end up with Harry. 
Luna is awesome because is such a colorful and intriguing character! She doesn't care what other people think about her! She is such a happy, vibrant person and always finds the positive side in things, no matter what the situation. She understands Harry, and doesn't judge him. She is also quite a strong person and quite courageous, as she is not afraid to go to "battle" and help her friends. I admire that a lot about her.

Melanie Hamilton
Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
She is a woman of strength, honesty, purity, and integrity. She is kind-hearted and loving, and accepts people for who they are. She always sees the good in others and sticks by them, when the need arises. She is a loyal person, and is courageous -- never afraid to "head to battle and fight." She faces her fears, and never falters. Although I do love Scarlett O' Hara, there will always be a special place for Melanie Hamilton for me.

Jamie Sullivan
A Walk to Remember by Nicholas Sparks
 The epitome of a true sweetheart and a good person; kind-hearted, friendly, loving, honest, compassionate, understanding, forgiving, patient. She does not judge others, does not seek revenge on anyone, and never lets anger get the best of her. She lives her life as if its her last, and ultimately, sees wonder, happiness, and fulfillment everywhere she looks.

Claire Abshire
The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
I have mentioned this times and times before. I admire Claire Abshire. She is beautiful in her own way and quite independent. She is perfectly flawed but strong-willed, and is not afraid of failure. When she falls, she gets back up again. She tries and tries again. She is loving, patient, and understanding -- most especially to Henry and his time traveling. 

Want to add to the list? Who are some female characters that you admire? 

Day 4: Beyond the Borders + Giveaway!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

"A reader lives a thousand lives." This quote is so true, and it's been proven time and time again, given that there have been so many stories written that have transported me to countless worlds. From creative characters, settings, themes, plot lines, to the overall feel and atmosphere of a book... they all made me have the ability to step into somebody else's life, somebody else's world, somebody else's shoes.

Books That Transported Me Into A Different World/Culture
  • The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosselini - a familial story set during many periods from the fall of Afghanistan's monarchy all the way to the rise of the Taliban regime. 
  • Those Who Save Us by Jenna Blum - offers a different perspective of a realistic character about her life in Germany during World War II. 
  • A Diary of a Part Time Indian by Sherman Alexie - gorgeous writing about a Native American teenage boy growing up in an all white high school. 
A Book That Transported Me Into a Fantasy World
I can easily list the world of Harry Potter here as well as LOTR, but I won't because that's kind of a given. Instead, I want to mention a book that is fairly well-known, but also strangely underrated, and that is The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly. There is something seriously twisted and creepy about this book, and the world that the author portrayed is familiar (fairy tale retelling), yet such a foreign place at the same time. And how the author writes... fantastic and brilliant!

Latest Book That Made Me Step Into Someone Else's Shoes
There have been many books that made me see different perspectives and worldviews that it's a bit hard to come up with a list. I will name the last book though that made me experience the life of a different human being, and the book that gave me that opportunity was Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer. I absolutely love and appreciate the outdoors, and one of my favorite things to do when/if I get the chance is to explore different National Parks. But the man that this book is about is totally beyond me and any adventurous person I have ever known.
The non fiction book is written by a writer and mountaineer, primarily known for his stories about the outdoors, and covers Chris McCandless' venture alone to Alaska. Chris M. gave everything away and left everybody he knew, and went on an adventure, into the wild. I completely immersed myself in this book, even doing additional research on his life outside of this book. I will never truly understand the way this man thought, how his mind worked, and why he made certain decisions, but it was a very surreal and interesting experience to hear about his story.

Giveaway Time!
The prize is ONE book up to $20 of your choice from Book Depository! I believe this website ships internationally, so anyone is free to enter.
To win, all you have to do is leave a comment, recommending me a favorite book of yours that you think I will love! (I am open to any suggestions) Also, leave your email and link to your blog so I can contact you and visit you as well! Contest closes at the end of Armchair BEA, when I do my wrap up post on the 31st! Good luck!

Follow me on all kinds of spaces in the interwebs:

Day 1: Introductions and Literature

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Hi everyone! I am so excited to be part of this year's Armchair BEA. My name is Jillian, from Northern California, and I have been running this little blog for four years now, since January of 2010. If I can describe my blog in a sentence, it would be that it chronicles my life as an avid reader, an aspiring writer, and a lover of everything related to literature.

If I could only bring 3 books with me to a deserted island, I would bring Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, The Book Thief, and a tie between Jane Eyre and The Thirteenth Tale. 

As far as how I feel about literature, literature to me is something that is constant in my life. It is something I am very passionate about. It's been such a huge part of my life for years, ever since I was a child. I have always loved reading and writing, and adore words in general. I think that literature is something that is crucial to have in one's life. 

As far as genre goes, I've always liked fiction the best, and read anything in that genre. Mostly though, I love general, contemporary, and literary fiction, mostly geared towards adults, but I do enjoy a good Young Adult book as well. I do have a special place in my heart for historical fiction set in WWII. I think that's an important time in our history, and it's really the people's stories that are truly captivating.

Lately I've been getting into a lot more non fiction, specifically, memoirs and travelogues. My dream is to travel everywhere, but in the meantime, I try to live vicariously through these authors' stories.

Follow me on all kinds of spaces in the interwebs:
Instagram - I will be participating in the photo challenges for sure!

ever read a book that made you feel uncomfortable?

Monday, May 19, 2014

Recently, I purchased a copy of Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov. I have been wanting to read this book for a while, as I know it's a bit of a classic read. Everyone keeps telling me that it's good, that it's a must-read, and an experience for any reader. So I am currently reading it. And man, how uncomfortable I am with this book. There's something about the themes and subject matter that do not make this an easy read. I keep putting it down and picking it up again, trying to give it a chance. I am not sure though if I want to even keep going. 

Lolita is basically about a man who is quite obsessed with a nymphet. Enough said?

So my question to you is, have you read this book and should I continue with it despite the uncomfortable and uneasy feeling I have when I pick it up? Or should I just stop and not even bother? Also, have you read any books that made you feel this way? If so, what are those books? Let me know! 

My Book Shelf Tattoo: 7 Years in the Making

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Well, here we go. I finally got the tattoo I've been wanting for so long. I was in high school when I first thought about getting a book-related tattoo, and in 2010 - the same time I started this blog - I figured out a clear picture of what exactly I wanted. 

You all know by now what books mean to me. Ever since I was a kid, they have been such a huge part of my life. It's what I know best, and it's what been a constant significant part of my life. I've always known I was meant to work around the world of literature - as an English and writing teacher, a book blogger, and more than anything, as an aspiring published writer. 

This is my first, and most likely my last (possibly) tattoo, and they're right, tattoos are extremely painful! It was no joke, but the pain was so worth it! I would do it again. It only took my tattoo artist an hour to fully finish, and I got it from an awesome shop. If you are in the city of San Francisco, CA and you want a unique black ink tattoo, check them out by clicking here for all the yelp reviews.

Black and White photo

Colored Natural photo: no filter

What do you think? I love it so much.
So much.
Here's to doing things purely for myself.