Friday, May 30, 2014

Five Setting's I'd Like To Live In

Ever since I did the top ten Tuesday post several weeks back that asked me to list ten settings I wouldn't want to live in, I've been wanting to do the flipside of that coin. So, today I am going to list five settings that I would want to live in. (Each of these selections automatically assumes that I would be in the same place as the heroes of the story - given abilities if they are common.)

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Review: The Treachery of Beautiful Things by Ruth Frances Long

The Treachery of Beautiful Things by Ruth Frances Long
Series: N/A
Published by Penguin Group
Pages: 363
Genre: Romance/Urban Fantasy (YA)
Add on Goodreads

Jenny's brother vanished seven years ago. Ever since then, she's been an outcast, shuffled from one psychiatrist to the next and nearly ignored by her parents. You see, the night Tom vanished, Jenny was there. She saw everything. The tree's took him. Of course, no one believes her - after all, trees can't kidnap fourteen year old boys. They can't. And they certainly can't turn into tree monsters that stalk the forest and kidnap fourteen year old boys that stray too close to the boarder. Although, if they can't, why is that exactly what Jenny saw seven years ago?

Because she knew that feeling - like being broken inside - and she'd wanted to…to fix him, even if she couldn't fix herself.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

When I'm Not Reading...

You probably don't know - as I now realize I've never really mentioned them - but I have some pets. And generally speaking, if I'm not spending money on books, I'm probably spending money on them.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Top Ten Words/Topics That Make Me (Not) Pick Up A Book

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. This feature was created because we are particularly fond of lists here at The Broke and the Bookish. We'd love to share our lists with other bookish folks and would LOVE to see your top ten lists!

As it was a freebie week over at The Broke and The Bookish, I spent a couple of days going through the old prompts, seeing if one caught my attention. Actually, more than one did - but I chose to combine two for this week and do five words/topics that make me not pick up a book and five words/topics that make me pick up a book. Do bear in mind that these are just generalities and I'm sure I have/will, at least once, find a book that contradicts each of these. Now, without further ado...

Friday, May 23, 2014

Book One In What Series?

Okay, it's like this. I read a lot of books that are in a series. In fact, I probably read more of those than I do stand alone novels. I like series. As long as they don't continue endlessly, but that's a post for another time. But I've been wondering something a lot lately.

Throne of Glass - Book One in the Throne of Glass Series
The Emperor's Edge - Book One in the Emperor's Edge Series
Falling Kingdoms - Book One in the Falling Kingdoms Series
The Green Rider - Book One in The Green Rider Series

What do all these books have in common? (Many more do as well, I just stopped there.)

All these books have the same title for their series as the first book in the series.

Once I started thinking about that I started wondering, why do so many books do that?

The first idea that came to my mind was the extremely uncharitable 'they can't think of anything else to call the series'. Then I started wondering if, maybe, the author/publisher didn't know the book was going to spawn a series and when it did, they just went with the obvious. Maybe, and this is probably the nicest of my ideas, it was decided that having the first book and the series bear the same title would make it easier to remember.

Oddly, there is one series that was really odd in how it handled this. Book three of the series (The Magnificent Devices) had the same title as the series. The two books before that and the, so far, four books after that had a different name. This lead me to believe this series was only supposed to be a trilogy.

Anyhow, what do you think? Any odd series/book title correlations you'd like to mention?

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Review: Graceling by Kristin Cashore

Graceling by Kristin Cashore
Series: Graceling Realm #1
Published by Graphia
Pages: 471
Genre: Romance/Fantasy (YA)
Add on Goodreads

Katsa is the king's niece. Instead of spending her days at leisure, preparing for the next ball or dinner he has to attend, she spends her days being the king's enforcer. If someone betrays the king in any way, Katsa is sent out to make an example of them. Because, you see, Katsa is Graced with killing. She's never met anyone she couldn't best in a fight. She can kill with one blow from her bare hands - as she learnt when she was eight years old.

But when Katsa meets Prince Po, she had no idea how her world would change. Now she's discovering more about her Grace than she ever thought possible, and uncovering a secret that might spell the doom of the world.

There's no shame to crawl when one can't walk.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Afternoon Tea #1 (assassins and snowballs)

So, I'm about halfway through The Way of Shadows by Brent Weeks and I must say, it's actually pretty good. I was a little taken aback at first when Azoth, who I was thinking (before starting the book) was the main character, turned out to be eleven. Within the first two hundred and fifty or so pages, he does age to 'about' twenty though, which was closer to the age I was expecting him to be. This certainly explains why some people insist on calling it a young adult novel, when I really don't think it is. I mostly say this because it doesn't have the YA structure - thankfully enough. You see, it's been quite awhile since I got by to my roots, as it were, and read a gritty, fantasy novel that wasn't bogged own on romance.

This book is certainly showing signs of being pretty awesome, if a little wordy at times, but still - it's fantasy, so I can forgive that.

The oddest thing for me is while a couple of the characters are essentially assassins, they do not use that term. There are assassins in this world, but the characters that we get to deal with that kill people for a living are - are you ready for it? - wetboys. Okay, I'm not sure what it says about me that I find this term for peerless assassins incredibly funny. Not even the quote early on saying that, essentially, wetboys are assassins the same way a tiger is a kitten. Well, that gives you a pretty good idea what they are, but it isn't explained until later why they don't have a 'target' but, instead, a 'deader'. (This just doesn't sound like proper English to me...)

No matter my light teasing, the book's not bad so far - good enough, even to almost make me forget the very sexist slur one of the men thought. Though, considering that he was a sixteen year old boy - and rather creepy anyway - might have something to do with my ability to forgive.

So far, I think I did moderately well with the book - but it doesn't seem to be anything grand or earth shaking.

And now, I've not even touched it for six days and will probably not finish it. One too many curse words, gratuitous gore scenes and a healthy dose of misogyny. Thought I'd finish it, but barely made it past the halfway mark and will probably never read any more.

With my book I chose to brew myself up a cup of one of my favorite teas. It's brand is Good Earth and it is called 'Original Sweet & Spicy'. It is an herbal tea blend and the one I drink is caffeine free. It's basically a chai tea (love chai tea!) made from Red Rooibos with plenty of herbs added to it. Good Earth has some wonderful teas and many that I like.

I knew I wanted chai tea, and that I would have to chose the perfect cookies to go along with it. I think I did with my Snowball Cookies. The nutty sweetness of these cookies went perfectly with the tea and, even better, the cookies were entirely sugar free - with none of those questionable chemical sweeteners. (Course, your opinion of the sweeteners I did use might vary, as some people say they're no good either. However, the recipe can be easily adapted back to sugar and the recipe can also be adapted for those unable to do gluten.) These cookies really took me back to my childhood when I used to make them with my mom.

Curious about my Snowball Cookies?

Click here for the recipe.

Well, I hope you enjoyed my little chat about books and food (and I sincerely hope I've made you hungry - that's what always happens to me when I read recipes on the internet).

Have you read this book? What did you think of it? Chai tea; yay or nay? Ever had the Good Earth teas? How about Snowball Cookies? Ever had them? Like them?

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Ten Books About Friendship

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. This feature was created because we are particularly fond of lists here at The Broke and the Bookish. We'd love to share our lists with other bookish folks and would LOVE to see your top ten lists!

As soon as I saw the prompt for this week, I knew I was going to have a blast with this. I've always loved books with a strong friendship in them. In fact, I'd generally choose friendship over romance in my books. Now, I wouldn't actually say that any of these books are about the friendship (I don't think I've ever read a book whose main plot was the friendship...) - but friendship plays a large part in the story and it is very important. Anyways, I cannot wait to see what's on everyone else's lists.

Ten Books About Friendship

Monday, May 19, 2014

Announcing: Afternoon Tea

Oh, I'm so excited that I finally get to unveil my new monthly feature. This has been in the works ever since I started this blog but now, I get to introduce it!

Ladies and gents, if you turn your attention this way, you will see Pages of Starlight's newest feature (cough cough* only original feature so far): Afternoon Tea!

Each month, tentatively slated for the third Wednesday of the month, I, you're host, will talk briefly about a book I'm either reading or have recently finished - one that I probably won't review - and pair it with the perfect afternoon tea and accompaniment. This will include talk about the tea itself, as well as a recipe (most months, anyway) for the food that is being eaten. This will mostly be sweets, perhaps a few light snacks as well.

Afternoon tea is a traditional repast, usually served between four and six pm as a sort of 'stopgap' for the afternoon doldrums that set in between lunch and dinner. While afternoon tea was popular with the upper-class, High Tea - served between five and seven pm - was usually the actual dinner of the working class

Afternoon tea was usually a social time, with people dropping in on friends, neighbors and acquaintances and snacking and chatting with the hostess. While there were usually more women at afternoon tea, it was not uncommon for the man of the house to be present. Of course, sometimes other men would visit as well, but it seems safe to say that women usually outnumbered men at these events. (Lest if my - admittedly fuzzy - historical knowledge is anything to go by.)

The proper order to eat the treats offered was traditionally: the savories (which were usually more food and less sweets, such as bite-sized sandwiches) then the scones (which I love and are slightly similar to American biscuits) and, finally, the sweets (often cakes and tarts, which are like miniature pies). Now, as I'm only a one person blog - and making all that on even a monthly basis would make me gain weight instead of loosing it like I'm supposed to be, I will unfortunately be choosing only one snack to make with each tea.

So, there you go, a quick and not so short overview of my new feature. I hope to see you again on Wednesday to share my first afternoon tea with.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Discussion: Junk Food Books

I originally got this idea from hearing several people talk about their 'guilty pleasure' reads. Now, this is a foreign concept to me, because I just don't understand feeling guilty about books I read. Sure, there are some books I don't tell my family that I read - but that's more to keep out of the interrogation as to how I could read that than any shame I have over reading certain books.

That being said, I have what I commonly refer to as 'Junk Food Books'. I suppose you could call them 'comfort food books' as well, but I prefer my term (makes me think of gummy bears and jelly beans and soft caramels). These are books that I read to enjoy. If they were movies, they would be 'popcorn movies' - and occasionally 'B' movies. These are books I don't expect to learn anything from, nor do I expect these books to actually give me thoughtful storylines or anything to chew on long after the book is over.

In short, they are fun reads.

Books I consider 'Junk Food':

Pretty much any romance I read, but especially my all-time favorites: Gothic Romance Mysteries. Authors like Barbara Michaels, Phyllis Whitney, Victoria Holt. Pretty much any book that pictures a wide-eyed woman wearing a dress escaping from a gloomy looking manor. Or any book that should have that cover.

Gail Carriger's Parasol Protectorate series. While this series is steampunk and urban fantasy at their finest, it owes most of its life to the bodice rippers. I remember calling the first book in this series a popcorn chick-flick when I first read it. Honestly, that does it some injustice, but is a fairly apt description.

Honestly, even though they are usually few and far between, pretty much any romance novel that I read that doesn't have a controlling, obsessive, creepy, possessive 'alpha' as the love interest (I won't even go into how much I hate those guys) and isn't a gothic mystery, I would be willing to consider 'Junk Food'. The ones with those so called 'alphas' are nothing but 'flame bait' to me.

I'm also currently putting all Middle Grade novels I've read on this list. While I do only have a handful that I've actually read, they've all been fun, light reads.

Honestly, all my reading is a little on the light side, but these stick out as some of the less groundbreaking books for a reader that seldom reads grounbreaking books.

So, how about you? Do you have any Junk Food books? Do you prefer a different term?

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Review: Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge
Series: N/A
Published by Balzer+Bray
Pages: 342
Genre: Romance/Fantasy (YA)
Add on Goodreads

Since birth, Nyx has been trained to defeat the Gentle Lord - a demon that ripped the land of Arcadia from the world nine hundred years ago. Since then the Gentle Lord has ruled over the people from his ruined tower, making cruel deals and bargains and loosing his demons on the unsuspecting. Nyx's duty is to destroy him, even if it costs her her life.

But when Nyx is wedded to Ignifex and taken inside his castle, neither him nor his house was at all what she expected. Can a girl taught to hate learn to love? Or is it already too late for both of them?

I had been the bride of the Gentle Lord for half a day already, and there had been strikingly little torment. And I was not grateful; I was disturbed. What could he be planning?

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

When I'm Not Reading...

So, this little feature I started last month didn't really take off. That's mostly my fault, because I was supposed to post twice and I only made once. In fact, I didn't really get much at all posted last month. Anyways, I'm giving it another go.

There's several things I can be found doing when I'm not reading or working on my blog. (Or finding new books to read.) One of those things is...

Playing Video/Computer Games

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Ten Books I Almost Put Down But Didn't

Ten Books I Almost Put Down But Didn't

Honestly, when I almost put down a book, I find myself wishing I had because they seldom seem to improve. I tried to keep this to just the books that I was glad that I finished (and that I read in the past sixteen or so months) but then I realized that I would have two books on this list. This list has actually been very helpful and interesting for me to look at and see truly how few books improve after my first bad impression of them. This has already helped me to drop a couple of books that I was going to try finishing and hopefully being able to look at something like this will cause me to stop reading more books that are not going well.

Monday, May 12, 2014

SYNC Free Audio Books

This summer, from the of May 15th (this Thursday) until August 20th, SYNC is offer two free audio books a week - one YA and one Classic! I've been wanting to get some audio books, and some of their offerings sound really good. Now, each book will only be up for one week but after you download it, it is yours to keep. I've indicated by 'bold' the few - very few - books on this list that I've read. I don't actually have any of these on my list to read currently, but several sound interesting, and those I've dropped 'italic' over. I'm sure I'll be downloading some of these - but not all as there are some that I'm sure I won't care for. For more information, and to visit their website, click here.


May 15 – May 21
WARP: THE RELUCTANT ASSASSIN by Eoin Colfer, Narrated by Maxwell Caulfield (Listening Library)
THE TIME MACHINE by H.G. Wells, Narrated by Derek Jacobi (Listening Library)
May 22 – May 28
CRUEL BEAUTY by Rosamund Hodge, Narrated by Elizabeth Knowelden (Harper Audio)
OEDIPUS THE KING by Sophocles, Performed by Michael Sheen and a full cast (Naxos AudioBooks)
May 29 – June 4
CONFESSIONS OF A MURDER SUSPECT by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro, Narrated by Emma Galvin (Hachette Audio)
THE MURDER AT THE VICARAGE by Agatha Christie, Narrated by Richard E. Grant (Harper Audio)
June 5 – June 11
ALL OUR YESTERDAYS by Cristin Terrill, Narrated by Meredith Mitchell (Tantor Audio)
JULIUS CAESAR by William Shakespeare, Performed by Richard Dreyfuss, JoBeth Williams, Stacy Keach, Kelsey Grammer, and a full cast (L.A. Theatre Works)
June 12 – June 18
CODE NAME VERITY by Elizabeth Wein, Narrated by Morven Christie and Lucy Gaskell (Bolinda Audio)
THE HIDING PLACE by Corrie Ten Boom, John Sherrill, Elizabeth Sherrill, Narrated by Bernadette Dunne (christianaudio)
June 19 – June 25
I’D TELL YOU I LOVE YOU, BUT THEN I’D HAVE TO KILL YOU by Ally Carter, Narrated by Renée Raudman (Brilliance Audio)
ANNE OF GREEN GABLES by L.M. Montgomery, Narrated by Colleen Winton (Post Hypnotic Press)
June 26 – July 2
FORGIVE ME, LEONARD PEACOCK by Matthew Quick, Narrated by Noah Galvin (Hachette Audio)
OCTOBER MOURNING: A Song for Matthew Shepard by Lesléa Newman, Narrated by Emily Beresford, Luke Daniels, Tom Parks, Nick Podehl, Kate Rudd, Christina Traister (Brilliance Audio)
July 3 – July 9
TORN FROM TROY by Patrick Bowman, Narrated by Gerard Doyle (Post Hypnotic Press)
PETER AND THE STARCATCHERS by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson, Narrated by Jim Dale (Brilliance Audio)
July 10 – July 16
CLAUDETTE COLVIN: Twice Toward Justice by Phillip Hoose, Narrated by Channie Waites (Brilliance Audio)
WHILE THE WORLD WATCHED by Carolyn Maull McKinstry with Denise George, Narrated by Felicia Bullock (Oasis Audio)
July 17 – July 23
THE CASE OF THE CRYPTIC CRINOLINE by Nancy Springer, Narrated by Katherine Kellgren (Recorded Books)
THE ADVENTURES OF SHERLOCK HOLMES II by Arthur Conan Doyle, Narrated by David Timson (Naxos AudioBooks)
July 24 – July 30
HEADSTRONG by Patrick Link, Performed by Deidrie Henry, Ernie Hudson, Ntare Guma Mbaho Mwine and Scott Wolf (L.A. Theatre Works)
THE STRANGE CASE OF DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE by Robert Louis Stevenson, Narrated by Scott Brick (Tantor Audio)
July 31 – August 6
DIVIDED WE FALL by Trent Reedy, Narrated by Andrew Eiden (Scholastic Audio)
THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE by Stephen Crane, Narrated by Frank Muller (Recorded Books)
August 7 – August 13
LIVING A LIFE THAT MATTERS by Ben Lesser, Narrated by Jonathan Silverman and Ben Lesser (Remembrance Publishing)
THE SHAWL by Cynthia Ozick, Narrated by Yelena Shmulenson (HighBridge Audio)

Friday, May 9, 2014

Discussion: POV

Okay, this has been on my mind for quite a while. The point of view (known colloquially as POV) in books actually influences if I buy them or not. You see, I've never liked the first person POV ('I did this' or 'I did that') and, honestly, the older I get the less I like it. I say that this POV tells you more than you ever wanted to know about the main character and absolutely nothing about anyone else. (I also seldom buy/read these books unless they sound spectacular.) I much prefer the third person limited (with several narration characters) as a storytelling mode.

(I won't get any deeper into my preferences, as that has little to do with my discussion question.)

My question is thus: Why do so many books, especially those in the young adult genre, use the first person POV?

I do understand that some people prefer this POV, but it seems like the YA market it completely overrun by this perspective - even more so than any other genre that I've read. (The only one that would be close is the Mystery genre, I believe. But at least that one has a pretty strong reason for not using a huge cast of characters as narrators.)

Now, I don't know if the first person POV detractors are just more vocal than its fans, but I have heard people say (essentially) 'less first person POV, please' and have never heard someone say how much they love this POV.

So, what's your take?

About the only idea I've got for this, is that the teen girls that YA is directed towards are supposed to be able to insert themselves as the main character and someone, somewhere, thought this would be easier in first person POV. It sounds absolutely silly, even to me, but that's the limit of me being able to explain this in any rational way.

My question is mostly based on the YA genre, but if you've got input from other genre's as well, I'd love to hear it because I'm really curious about this phenomenon.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Review: The Inventor's Secret by Chad Morris

The Inventor's Secret by Chad Morris
Series: Cragbridge Hall #1
Published by Shadow Mountain
Pages: 336
Genre: Sci-Fi (MG)
Add on Goodreads

The year is 2074. School has changed drastically: zoology is taught by becoming one with the animals through use of an avatar, history is a truly visual class, events of history playing out as though you are there. All these advancements are thanks to Oscar Cragbridge - founder of the school, Cragbridge Hall. However when he and his son and daughter-in-law mysteriously go missing, it is up to two young students, his grandchildren, to save the day. And possibly the world as they know it.

The history classroom looked normal - except for the full-sized pirate ship emerging from the front wall.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

May Schedule

I actually wanted to get this out on Monday but electricity was off, so no internet. (Don't ask...) Anyway, I'm going to start trying to post a month long schedule at the beginning of each month. I'm mostly doing this in the hopes that I will then be encouraged to actually post when I'm supposed to. (Also, please note two things: First: I'm not trying to post every day. It doesn't work for me and I have no internet over the weekends, so all those posts have to be scheduled in advance and then checked Monday morning. Not gonna happen. Second: Monday's are mostly left vacant. I'm doing this both to give myself a 'back-to-work' day as well as a free day that if there's something I just have to post (maybe another review) I can get it out then.)

Thursday - May 1st - Review: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling
Tuesday - May 6th - Top Ten Book Cover's I'd Frame as Pieces Art
Wednesday - May 7th - May Monthly Schedule (This post ;))
Thursday - May 8th - Review: The Inventor's Secret by Chad Morris
Friday - May 9th - Discussion on POV in Books
Monday - May 12th - Free (May post something; may not)
Tuesday - May 13th - Top Ten Books I Almost Quit
Wednesday - May 14th - What I do when I'm not blogging - Games!
Thursday - May 15th - Review: Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge
Friday - May 16th - Discussion on 'Junk Food' Books
Monday - May 19th - Announcing a new monthly feature! (So exciting)
Tuesday - May 20th - Top Ten Books About Friendship
Wednesday - May 21st - New Monthly Feature (I've not seen it on any blog before)
Thursday - May 22nd - Review: TBA
Friday - May 23rd - Discussion on Series Titles
Monday - May 26th - Memorial Day (I'll not be posting anything today)
Tuesday - May 27th - Top Ten Tuesday - Blogger's Choice
Wednesday - May 28th - What I do when I'm not blogging - Pets!
Thursday - May 29th - Review: TBA
Friday - May 30th - Discussion on settings I'd like to live in

So, there you go - a quick overview on upcoming posts. I'm really looking forward to my new monthly feature and I hope it's as much fun as it sounds like

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Top Ten Book Covers I'd Frame As Pieces of Art

Top Ten Book Covers I'd Frame As Pieces of Art

Ooh, I love this prompt. I will say, sometimes book covers are just so lovely. And, shame on me, I am one of those people that likes to judge a book by it's cover. Seriously, a cover is one of the first things you notice about a book, so it's gotta be eye-catching. Anyway, let's get started.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Review: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling
Series: Harry Potter #1
Published by Scholastic
Pages: 309
Genre: Fantasy/Urban Fantasy (YA)
Add on Goodreads

Harry Potter has never played a sport while flying on a broomstick. He's never worn a Cloak of Invisibility, befriended a giant, or helped hatch a dragon. All Harry knows is a miserable life with the Dursleys, his horrible aunt and uncle, and their abominable son, Dudley. Harry's room is a tiny cupboard under the stairs, and he hasn't had a birthday party in ten years.

But all that is about to change when a mysterious letter arrives by owl messenger: a letter with an invitation to a wonderful place he never dreamed existed. There he finds not only friends, aerial sports, and magic around every corner, but a great destiny that's been waiting for him... if Harry can survive the encounter. (from Goodreads)

There are some things you can't share without ending up liking each other, and knocking out a twelve-foot mountain troll is one of them.