Happy New Year!! I hope 2015 was awesome and that 2016 will be even better!
Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.
This week’s prompt is Top Ten Books That Would Be On Your Syllabus If You Taught X 101. Up until about half an hour ago, I was fully prepared to write “YA URBAN FANTASY 101”, but then I thought about how much I love the UK and books that take place in the UK and, well, here we are.
A couple of these are technically middle grade, but they work as transitional pieces.
Required reading (in no particular order):
1) Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll (London; Oxford to be precise); read my review here!
2) Harry Potter series – J.K. Rowling (London and some magical place in Scotland)
3) Gemma Doyle trilogy – Libba Bray (Victorian London); read my review of book 1 here!
4) Stardust – Neil Gaiman (“rural England”; though technically “adult”, I’ve seen it on YA lists)
5) Lockwood & Co series – Jonathan Stroud (alternate England full of ghosts!!!!) (also highly recommend his other series, The Bartimaeus Sequence); read my review of book 2 here!
6) Mad Miss Mimic – Sarah Henstra (Victorian London); read my review here!
7) Sorcery and Cecelia – Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer (Victorian London)
8) Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children – Ransom Riggs (Wales); read my review for books 1 and 2!
9) The Secret of Platform 13 – Eva Ibbotson (London)
10) Sally Lockhart series – Philip Pullman (Victorian London)
Every Word – Ellie Marney (takes places mostly in London, but you have to read the FANTASTIC first book, Every Breath, before tackling this one)
Artemis Fowl series – Eoin Colfer (I know Ireland isn’t actually part of the UK, but it’s close)
I really enjoy Victorian England, if you haven’t noticed. I can’t think of any YA or MG books that take place in Scotland (though technically Hogwarts is in Scotland). Does anyone have any suggestions/recommendations? What other UK-based books have I missed?
Here are some books I finished over the past week and a bit (I’m currently unemployed, so I’ve had time to read). As always, please click the link for a full review!
- Speaking From Among the Bones – Alan Bradley: “Part of this book felt like filler, but since spending any amount of time with Flavia is always a delight, it wasn’t a chore to read. It just wasn’t very memorable.”
- A Great and Terrible Beauty (re-read) – Libba Bray: “I was still hooked by the first few paragraphs, the writing was just as evocative as I remembered, and there were even a couple of creepy moments that sent a small shiver up my spine.”
- The Rearranged Life (ARC) – Annika Sharma: “This book read like a cross between Bend it Like Beckham and My Big Fat Greek Wedding, and it was definitely interesting to read the descriptions and think about the differences between cultures…a cute summer read.” *includes a giveaway!**
- Endless Nights – Neil Gaiman: “This is both a good and a bad way to be introduced to the world of the Sandman. On the one hand, you get a story starring each Endless sibling, which gives you an idea about them […] On the other hand […], I had no idea what to expect.”
- Nimona – Noelle Stevenson: “I highly recommend this one for anyone looking for a strong, badass female villain/shapeshifter […] whose default form is a “pudgy” girl.”
And I’m also helping to host a giveaway!
- Spelled giveaway!!
Last week, I read a new adult ARC and was sorely disappointed:
- Sing for Me – Gracie Madison: “I have complicated feelings about this book. It wasn’t bad per se, I just didn’t really enjoy it. I read the whole thing, though admittedly I started skimming at about 30%.”
Also, I got an Indigo giftcard so I bought some books I’ve been meaning to buy for a while, and it’s all terribly exciting.
Obviously, I’ve already finished Nimona, but I’ll have reviews for the other three at some point, hopefully this month or next.
What have you read this week?
A Great and Terrible Beauty – Libba Bray
It’s 1895, and after the suicide of her mother, 16-year-old Gemma Doyle is shipped off from the life she knows in India to Spence, a proper boarding school in England. Lonely, guilt-ridden, and prone to visions of the future that have an uncomfortable habit of coming true, Gemma’s reception there is a chilly one. To make things worse, she’s been followed by a mysterious young Indian man, a man sent to watch her. But why? What is her destiny? And what will her entanglement with Spence’s most powerful girls—and their foray into the spiritual world—lead to?
That summary’s not identical to the jacket copy on my hardcover, but whatever. I don’t want to spoil too much of this book for you!
Libba Bray is one of my favourite authors. She’s funny and cool and I genuinely like her style (writing and otherwise). And while I knew I loved her Gemma Doyle trilogy, I actually couldn’t remember very many details, which is why I’ve been (slowly but surely) re-reading them at night.
Of course, re-reading it, some parts starting coming back to me: mostly the characters and their personalities (sidenote: I stole the name Pippa from these books when I started writing my first novel). This can be awkward because sometimes I forget how much Gemma does/doesn’t know (i.e. as of the beginning of book two, Rebel Angels, she has not figured out who Sarah Rees Brennan/Circe is. But I know, and it’s SHOCKING).
I think the characters are the best part of this series. Some people may find them annoying or silly or whatever, but they’ve always intrigued me. The four girls – Gemma, Felicity, Pippa, and Ann – are a lot a like, and yet totally different at the same time.
“Shall I tell you a story? A new and terrible one? A ghost story? Are you ready? Shall I begin? Once upon a time there were four girls. One was pretty. One was clever. One charming, and one…one was mysterious. But they were all damaged, you see. Something not right about the lot of them. Bad blood. Big dreams […] They were all dreamers, these girls.
I also remember Kartik as being totally swoon-worthy, and while he hasn’t really done anything swoony yet, I remain hopeful. I can’t have made that up, right? Otherwise I wouldn’t have been so devastated by the thing I know happens at the end of the third book, The Sweet Far Thing.
One thing I noticed, though: it starts off with a bang, but then there’s quite a lag (i.e. lots of exposition) before stuff really starts to happen. And if I was reading it for the first time, I might be bored, or at least have a hard time getting through it. But since I know for a fact that I love this series and I know that it picks up, the slow pace doesn’t bother me as much as it might have, had I been newly introduced to Libba Bray (if that makes sense).
All in all, I was still hooked by the first few paragraphs, the writing was just as evocative as I remembered, and there were even a couple of creepy moments that sent a small shiver up my spine.