Before the ball drops in New York City (in 5 minutes!) and 2011 gets here on the East Coast, I just wanted to say, Happy New Year! Hope everyone had a fabulous 2010, and here’s to an even greater one. :)
I achieved my goal of reading 52 books this year. Huzzah! It's not much compared to some others, I know, but good enough for me. :D Here are my absolute favorites of this year that I would recommend to all:
Eastby Edith Pattou
A beautiful fairytale retelling with lyrical and soft language, lovely romance, engaging main characters, and a magnificent cover. While each retelling of the old Norse tale East of the Sun and West of the Moon were fabulous in their own way, I absolutely adored this one. :)
Sorcery and Cecelia by Patricia Wrede & Caroline Stevermer
Add a tablespoon of Jane Austen, another tablespoon of Harry Potter-style magic, and a heap load of humor and you'll get S & C. An enchanting story (told through letters) of two cousins and the wacky adventures and mischief that they get through in Regency England. It was just spectacular.
The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Perilous Journey by Trenton Lee Stewart
The last book in the MBS series! It has it all- exciting story, unsolvable riddles, endearing characters, and awesome chase sequences. It was a great ending to a delightful series.
The Miles Between by Mary E. Pearson
Like I said in my review, Mary Pearson wrote this realistic/contemporary story in a rather magical way. The characters were captivating; I loved the attachment between all of them, and how they grow together during their road trip. And the ending is so brilliant and lovely and magical and wonderful and all the other adjectives for the previous words. I really, really liked this one.
Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld
So...I raved about it a lot during the last couple of months. Need I say more? :P I guess I just really liked how it was a WWI retelling (that era is fascinating), and the characters were beyond awesome, and though I'm really not into all that technological machinery type of things, I liked reading about them too.
It just felt so refreshing, reading this book. It didn't have the main character fall in love with a Werewolf OR a Vampire, and she wasn't head over heels in love. Everything in this book felt so real. Loved the light-heartedness of it all, though the ending was really, really strange.
Heist Society by Ally Carter
I've loved fictional thieves or spies ever since I was little, and that's why Ally Carter's new book was perfect for me. It had everything a great heist story needs- a weird but loyal crew for the hero/heroine, a crazy villain, and a seemingly impossible heist that the crew needs to pull off by the end. It was riveting to the very end.
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
While I avoided Jane's book in freshmen year when I was supposed to, the story kept following me around, and I even promised Jane that I would read it one day (umm...I just felt guilty about putting it aside). And lo, that day came when I sprained my ankle one day and had to stay home. I don't think I need to say more about it since it's been out for about 200 years, but no wonder it's a classic and well-loved all around the world even today. The characters are hilarious and very relatable to. It's just timeless.
You Can't Take It With You by Moss Hart, George Kaufman
The characters are absolutely ridiculous, the predicaments they get into, hilarious. Loved this play when I saw it onstage, and loved it when I got the script and read it for myself.
The Crucible by Arthur Miller
This is probably the best story/play written about the Salem Witchtrials, and depressing, but
umm...bewitching nevertheless (ha ha). The character development was top notch, and it was a riot acting it out. :D
Frost/Nixon by Peter Morgan
I had to watch this movie for a project in US History, and was immediately enthralled by it. Sure, maybe the Frost/Nixon interviews were not as important as the play or movie make them out to be, and sure, maybe some of it was inaccurate, but it's a BRILLIANT script, and a BRILLIANT movie (acting-wise, script-wise, technically, etc). I'm interested in journalism, media and films, so being able to study and take apart the script that had it all was amazing. (And um...I love this movie poster to pieces ---->)
Honorable mentions: Paper Towns by John Green, Fablehaven by Brandon Mull, Secrets of My Hollywood Life by Jen Calonita, The Princess Bride by William Goldman, Mortal Engines by Phillip Reeve, Behemoth (Leviathan #2) by Scott Westerfeld, and Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
I have a two week break from school, I got all exams out of the way, and I finally got all my presents bought/made and wrapped, and put under our tree. Now, I can just drink some delicious hot chocolate and watch the snow fall gently on our lawn, whilst imagining how this year’s holiday food project for my French class, a Bouche de Noel, will turn out.
Fingers crossed that my log will look like this:
or, maybe like this (without all the ornaments):
I will have pictures posted soon, I promise. :D So, before I start to prepare my Bouche de Noel, I just wanted to drop by and wish everyone, Merry Christmas! Best Wishes to everyone everywhere. Hope everyone has a wonderful holiday, a great time with family, and lots and lots of merriment (and delicious food)! :)
(It's too bad there's no other words for Paranormals that start with the letter 'C'. It would've been an alliteration. :D)
Now, on with the show- There's been a lot of studying, French, snow, Christmas decorating, more brownies, and everything else lately, but I've managed to read three awe-inspiring books that I just need to write about here!
Howl's Moving Castle by Dianna Wynne Jones
It's a classic in a way that the Princess Bride is a classic. Both are not said by literary critics that they're classics or anything, but they just are. Almost everyone knows about the books, and mostly everyone has read them (or in PB's case, the author himself declared it a classic). I read the Princess Bride earlier this year, but I've already told my story with that in another post. This post (or this spot in this post) is all about Howl's Moving Castle. This is another book that I've never bothered to pick up despite everyone else doing so, and oh my goodness, I should really stop listening to myself when it comes to books!
Howl's Moving Castle is a completely charming and whimsical story. All characters are extremely likable and the situations they end up in are hysterical. I found that the Wizard Howl is a lot like Gen from the Queen's Thief series, which is not a bad thing at all. I have a soft spot for Gen and, let's just say that Howl came very close to replacing him. :P (Howl was a contestant in the final battle of the YA Fantasy Showdown-against Gen!-so I knew he was special. Hehe) The other characters- Sophie, Michael, Calcifer, Percival, Lettie, and the rest all had their own charm and wit like Howl. The romance was sweet, and the action enthralling. The beginning might be a bit slow for some (I admit that it was for me), but as soon as the story really starts (with Sophie getting turned into an old lady), it all became rollicking, good fun.
I adore this story so much that I don't even feel like watching the film version! It's shocking to me because I've never let my love for a book get in the way of watching a film. Hm.
The Crucible by Arthur Miller
It's a play, and a good one at that too. In fact, I would even go so far as to say that it's one of the best plays ever written, although I'm not one to judge as I'm not a particularly voracious script reader.
In fear of spoiling anything, I don't want to say too much about it, but I will say that The Crucible takes place during the Salem Witch Trials and it's intense. We had to read this- correction- act it out everyday in class, and that got quite interesting as we went on (and all our acting skills improved*). It was sort of like reading the Book Thief in that they were both painful to read (in a good way of course!), but whereas with the Book Thief, I started sobbing uncontrollably when I finished, with the Crucible, I just got angry and ended up ranting to my friends for a while (I'm sorry, guys!). I'm quite over the ending now, but it still makes me sad/mad whenever I think of it and how unfair it was to everyone else who were actually living in Salem during that time.
The play is fantastic and I recommend it to all. No doubt, it'll make mostly everyone unhappy or furious, but the dialogue and characters are great. Each person has a different motivation for their actions, and their motivations shape the whole story. The conflicts within every character is interesting to look at and the conflicts make the play a truly fascinating look into the Witch Trials. Miller did change several historical things, like the ages of characters, to fit the central conflict, but I believe that everything else is quite accurate. If you do read this, get some friends together and read this out loud or really act it out. It's so much more fun that way. :)
Quick note: Some themes might be too much for younger readers, so I would say that this play is strictly for readers and actors 13+.
Paranormalcy by Keirsten White
All the other reviewers wrote their reviews for this book that it's a fresh take on the paranormal genre, and it is! It's completely different from all the vampire/werewolf novels out there and reading it is like taking a breath of fresh air on a wonderful Spring day. Paranormalcy's not plot-heavy; it's a light and breezy book, though still very gripping. What I really enjoyed about it was the writing. Kiersten White's/Evie's voice felt very real to me and not at all contrived. It's hard to explain, but it was something I liked a lot about the book.
I know that my review for Paranormalcy is shorter than the other two reviews, but don't let that fool you! I loved it as much as I did the others. :)
Ahh. So my reviews are over. Hope you enjoyed them, and hope you check out the books/play I pointed out. Although none of you might need my opinion of Howl's Moving Castle or Paranormalcy (they're loved enough as it is), the Crucible is seriously worth reading. Anyway, this December look out for hopefully more recipes, more reviews, and oh hey...even maybe a audio review or two (or though that may start next year). :)
Also a very urgent question: Does anyone know the proper code to put snow on your blog?! I've been trying all day to find some codes, but none of them are working! Maybe blogger just hates me at the moment.
* But I learned that monologues are really not my thing.