Tuesday, February 24, 2015

To-Read Tuesday

The other day my best friend and I were discussing how ridiculous it is that we love reading so much that we decided to be English majors, but now that we are actually majoring in English in college, we have no time for recreational reading. Does this make any sense at all? Not to me.

I see all sorts of books that I would love to read, but I just have no time! Between attempting to understand Shakespeare for one class, writing 12 page papers about Reader Response Theory in another, writing 25 page persuasive research papers for another, and reading Samuel Shem's House of God for a fourth class, it seems like my days of reading for fun have been left behind in high school. 

I make time to read for fun sometimes, and it seems like the Young Adult releases for 2015 are going to be very exciting. I have already read Red Queen, which was the book I was most looking forward to reading, but here are some more releases I can't wait to read this year:

A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab
Pub. Date: 24 February 2015
Kell is one of the last Travelers—rare magicians who choose a parallel universe to visit. 

Grey London is dirty, boring, lacks magic, ruled by mad King George. Red London is where life and magic are revered, and the Maresh Dynasty presides over a flourishing empire. White London is ruled by whoever has murdered their way to the throne. People fight to control magic, and the magic fights back, draining the city to its very bones. Once there was Black London - but no one speaks of that now.

Officially, Kell is the Red Traveler, personal ambassador and adopted Prince of Red London, carrying the monthly correspondences between royals of each London. Unofficially, Kell smuggles for those willing to pay for even a glimpse of a world they’ll never see. This dangerous hobby sets him up for accidental treason. Fleeing into Grey London, Kell runs afoul of Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She robs him, saves him from a dangerous enemy, then forces him to another world for her 'proper adventure'.

But perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, Kell and Lila will first need to stay alive — trickier than they hoped

Shadow Study by Maria V. Snyder
Pub. Date: 24 February 2015
Once, only her own life hung in the balance.

Oddly enough, when Yelena was a poison taster, her life was simpler. But she'd survived to become a vital part of the balance of power between rival countries Ixia and Sitia. Now she uses her magic to keep the peace in both lands and protect her relationship with Valek.

Suddenly, though, they are beset on all sides by those vying for power through politics and intrigue. Valek's job - and his life - are in danger. As Yelena tries to uncover the scope of these plots, she faces a new challenge: her magic is blocked. She must keep that a secret - or her enemies will discover just how vulnerable she really is - while searching for who or what is responsible for neutralizing her powers.

Yes, the days of tasting poisons were much simpler. And certainly not as dangerous

My Heart and Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga
Pub. Date: 10 February 2015
Sixteen-year-old physics nerd Aysel is obsessed with plotting her own death. With a mother who can barely look at her without wincing, classmates who whisper behind her back, and a father whose violent crime rocked her small town, Aysel is ready to turn her potential energy into nothingness.

There’s only one problem: she’s not sure she has the courage to do it alone. But once she discovers a website with a section called Suicide Partners, Aysel’s convinced she’s found her solution: a teen boy with the username FrozenRobot (aka Roman) who’s haunted by a family tragedy is looking for a partner. 

Even though Aysel and Roman have nothing in common, they slowly start to fill in each other’s broken lives. But as their suicide pact becomes more concrete, Aysel begins to question whether she really wants to go through with it. Ultimately, she must choose between wanting to die or trying to convince Roman to live so they can discover the potential of their energy together. Except that Roman may not be so easy to convince.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Review: Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

Title: Red Queen
Author: Victoria Aveyard
Series: Red Queen Trilogy
Release Date: 10 February 2015
Pages: 388
My Rating: 4.5 Stars

The poverty stricken Reds are commoners, living under the rule of the Silvers, elite warriors with god-like powers.

To Mare Barrow, a 17-year-old Red girl from The Stilts, it looks like nothing will ever change.

Mare finds herself working in the Silver Palace, at the centre of those she hates the most. She quickly discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy Silver control.

But power is a dangerous game. And in this world divided by blood, who will win?

Wow, Red Queen. First of all, I try not to buy books at their full price, because, even though I like to support the author, I can't frivolously spend between $18 and $25 for a new hardcover book. That being said, I had seen previews for Red Queen and I was so excited to read it, so I treated myself to it (on Valentine's Day…Happy Valentine's Day to me). In between classes, studying, and reading for school, I snuck in time to read to Red Queen and I was not disappointed. If you like Hunger Games, Divergent, and other dystopian novels, read this one.

Although I had seen from other reviews that the premise is similar to Red Rising by Pierce Brown (now on my to-be-read list) and although I have read quite a few dystopian young adult books, I was still blown away by the originality. While I will admit that the original plot points are mixed in with parts that are not so original- such as people having powers, forcing people to watch violence in order to keep them from rebelling, and other themes- I found the plot original enough to be shocked and enthralled. The author, Victoria Aveyard, is also a screenwriter, and I could visualize the story as a movie the entire time. I am sure that it will be a movie soon enough, joining Divergent, the Hunger Games, and Harry Potter on the big screen.

As readers, we have grown used to the "Love Triangle" of the guy she should be with, the guy everyone wants her to be with, and the guy she wants to be with (two of these labels being attached to one of the two boys in the triangle). However, is Red Queen it was like a Love Rectangle and I couldn't keep track of my emotions. One minute I loved Cal, the perfect prince and future King. The next minute I adored his younger brother, Prince Maven, the shadow behind his "perfect" brother. And then I would find myself drawn back to Kilorn, the Gale to Katniss, the Mare had known forever and secretly saw herself growing old with. I won't spoil the book for anyone, but CRAZIEST PLOT TWIST EVER.

I thought the ending would be predictable- the typical good guy wins over bad with the love of their life. Boy, was I wrong. The plot twist was so shocking, I'm still shocked. It was almost a "Jace is Clary's brother" revelation and I couldn't help myself from gasping (thankfully not loud enough to wake my roommate). I thought I would explode and then I thought it must be a joke, a trick, that it was all just a misunderstanding.

Obviously, I can't wait for the second book to see what happens next. Sadly, it only came out last week, so I have a long time to wait. This book was not only a fantastic read that kept me on my feet, but it by seeing how young the author is, I was shocked into thinking that maybe I could be a writer.
I definitely recommend reading it! But seeing that it has already reached #1 on the Young Adult New York Times bestsellers list, I have a feeling that people don't need me to tell them to buy it.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

100 Books To Read Before I Die

As an English major, I have often found myself thinking "I really should have read that book already"…with a twinge of guilt. This happens especially when I stroll awkwardly past the Classics display in the bookstore, trying to ignore the glares I feel from the Charles Dickens and Shakespeare covers on my way to the bright and shiny Young Adult section. So, in an attempt to dissipate my guilt and become more "worldly" I suppose, I am going to make it my mission to read more of these books.

About a year ago, Amazon released a list of the "100 Books To Read In A Lifetime". Amazon's editors voted and chiseled down the list to just 100 books, ranging from Where the Wild Things Are to 1984 to Pride and Prejudice. I was pretty pleased with myself because I have read 20 off the top hundred, but I want to make it my mission to read all of them.

I have listed the books under a "100 Books To Read" tab and cross them off as I go. I also wanted read the list of books Rory Gilmore read in the TV show Gilmore Girls, but I don't think I can read all 339 of them any time soon.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Review: If I Stay by Gayle Forman

Title: If I Stay
Author: Gayle Forman
Release Date: April 6th, 2010
Pages: 259

On a day that started like any other, Mia had everything: a loving family, a gorgeous, admiring boyfriend, and a bright future full of music and full of choices. In an instant, almost all of that is taken from her. Caught between life and death, between a happy past and an unknowable future, Mia spends one critical day contemplating the only decision she has left. It is the most important decision she'll ever make.

Simultaneously tragic and hopeful, this is a romantic, riveting, and ultimately uplifting story about memory, music, living, dying, loving.

I got If I Stay as a Christmas present from my best friend, without having seen the movie. I trust her taste completely, so I decided to read it wrapped in a blanket by the fire on a cold January day….annnd finished it the next cold January day, by the same fire and under the same blanket.

Mia's family was not the normal family, with a dad who was a rocker-turned-teacher and a mum who was a groupie-turned-mother, but her connection to them and love for them reminded me of my own.
Although there were things that did not allow me to connect with the story as well as I would have liked, I was taken aback by how in detail and real it felt, for a story about a ghostly figure.

Mia is in a car accident that kills her mother, father, and brother, and leaves her as an outsider of her own body. She tells the story from her perspective during an out-of-body experience, as she watches doctors and her loved ones attempt to keep her alive. Although it was supposed to be mainly focused around her romance with her boyfriend, I felt that I was more intrigued by the rest of the book and the questions that it raised for me: how would I react if this happened to me, does this really happen to people, do people who are injured actually have an influence in whether or not they keep living?

The most important part for me was the effect Mia's accident had on other people. Just like John Green's The Fault in Our Stars, Mia's grenade went off and the people around her were affected. But that doesn't mean that just in case we might lost someone, we should block ourselves off from love and friendship. My favorite part of the book was the feeling that it left me with, knowing that although Mia had lost her immediate family, she still had a family of a mixture of blood relatives and people she had collected along the way through friendships.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

New URL and New Name!


I am excited to share that I now have my own domain, under a new name. Although the content and look of my blog will remain the same, I have changed the name of the site to Eliza Reads! 

The new domain is elizareads.com, which is a lot easier to remember than ramblingsofeliza.blogspot.com… too long. Anyway, if you type in either you will still end up at the same place, but I think the new URL is a lot more snappy!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Review: The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith


Title: The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight
Author: Jennifer E. Smith
Release Date: January 2, 2012

Who would have guessed that four minutes could change everything?

Today should be one of the worst days of seventeen-year-old Hadley Sullivan's life. Having missed her flight, she's stuck at JFK airport and late to her father's second wedding, which is taking place in London and involves a soon-to-be stepmother Hadley's never even met. Then she meets the perfect boy in the airport's cramped waiting area. His name is Oliver, he's British, and he's sitting in her row.

A long night on the plane passes in the blink of an eye, and Hadley and Oliver lose track of each other in the airport chaos upon arrival. Can fate intervene to bring them together once more?

Quirks of timing play out in this romantic and cinematic novel about family connections, second chances, and first loves. Set over a twenty-four-hour-period, Hadley and Oliver's story will make you believe that true love finds you when you're least expecting it. (From Amazon)

Every teenage girl has a dream of sitting next to a cute guy on a plane and falling in love before you land, right? I know that every time I get on a plane, I'm hoping for a good looking boy my age instead of a crusty old man who sneezes the entire flight or a person who really should have bought your seat too, because they keep spilling over…The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight is that dream on paper. 

I wasn't expecting anything too literary when I picked this book up. I thought it would just be a fun and silly read that I could use to stop thinking about my school work over the weekend, but I surprised myself when I couldn't put it down. I started reading it in the bookstore when I picked it up as part of a 3 for 2 deal, the other two being books I desperately wanted, and this as the "looks cute and it's free" pick, and by the time I left the bookstore I was sixty pages into it with no drive to stop reading other than my stomach yelling at me to put food in it.

Hadley, the main character, is a 16 year old girl who could come off as annoying because she complains about missing her flight to London, complains about how her dad left her mum, complains about her dad getting remarried to someone she has never met…but, I didn't find her annoying, I actually found her very relatable and real as a character. She wasn't gracious about the negative changes in her life and she wasn't overly dramatic about how much she hated them. I found her to be a refreshing character who seemed very real in her emotions and her personality.

I loved the boy that she met in the airport after reading the second sentence about him. It didn't take long at all to picture Oliver and swoon (on the inside) at the cute or funny things he said. Although I did find myself slightly annoyed by his jokes and attempts to be mysterious at times (like his pretend research projects), overall I thought he was pretty great.

I have thankfully never dealt with parents getting divorced, and hopefully never will, but I did find Jennifer E. Smith's portrayal of Hadley's family to be believable. Hadley's rift from her parents was well written, and it added an interesting layer to a story that would have just been cheesy if it ended with two teenagers meeting on a plane and falling in love at first sight.

One thing that I didn't like, but I understood as part of a story that was supposed to be a whirlwind adventure, was that the majority of the book happened on one day. The story felt rushed and like it ended too quickly for my liking. Instead of ending the story with the end of Hadley's trip to London, the story ends on her first day there, the same day that she was on the plane. To be more believable and satisfying, I would have liked the story to end with the plane ride home. 

Overall, I found The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight to be cute and an easy read for a cold January afternoon. I would recommend it to anyone who wanted to relax and curl up with a book that didn't require much thought and was easy to get through. I would give the book 3.5 stars. 

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Back From My Hiatus!

Happy New Year! And hopefully, Happy Back-To-Blogging for me… 

I am back from a hiatus, and although I can't promise that I will be blogging too much, I plan to post once a week. The demands of learning how to balance university work, a job, and a social life have left my poor books and blog in the dust. However, with the New Year, I have started to plan how to manage my time better and to make more time for my beloved books.

I hope everyone had a great holiday season!

A few updates on me:
  1. I am now a junior at a university in Florida (although it's only my second year, I brought credits with me from high school). 
  2. I work at a cute little bakery, which I love. I can't say that I am any better at baking for it, but my mum trusted my skills enough to let me frost the cupcakes for a Christmas party a few weeks ago, so I'm pretty pleased with that.
  3. I'm hoping to go into a career based around books and reading- whether it be the writing or the editing side.

Here are a few of the blogs that I have been following while I've been away: