Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Top 10 Most Read Books in the World

From GalleyCat:

Out of all the infographics we featured this year, one literary graphic was by far the most popular (and controversial) among our readers. Follow this link to see a larger image.

Designer Jared Fanning created a simple infographic comparing the Top 10 Most Read Books in the World, using a list compiled by freelance writer James Chapman–based on the number of copies each book sold over the last 50 years.

Check it out: “I have compiled this list of the 10 Most Read Books In The World after completing a long project of research to establish exactly which are the most read books in the world … You will find in this list a varied array of subject matter, covering a considerable number of years of some truly talented author’s work. Some of the authors are no longer with us, but the majority are still producing their masterpieces for our ongoing delight.”

Simply encouraging to see that the Bible is still the most widely read book in the world! It's also fun to know that I've read approximately 7 out of the 10 books listed there ("approximate" because I couldn't bear to put myself through the torture that is Twilight).

How many of these Top Ten books have you read?

Review: Looking for Alaska

Title: Looking for Alaska
Author: John Green
Part of a series? Nope
Publisher: Dutton Juvenile
Release Date: January 1st, 2005
Length: 221 pgs (hardcover)
Genre: YA contemporary
Source: Library e-book

Before. Miles "Pudge" Halter's whole existence has been one big nonevent, and his obsession with famous last words has only made him crave the "Great Perhaps" (François Rabelais, poet) even more. Then he heads off to the sometimes crazy, possibly unstable, and anything-but-boring world of Culver Creek Boarding School, and his life becomes the opposite of safe. Because down the hall is Alaska Young. The gorgeous, clever, funny, sexy, self-destructive, screwed-up, and utterly fascinating Alaska Young, who is an event unto herself. She pulls Pudge into her world, launches him into the Great Perhaps, and steals his heart. After. Nothing is ever the same.

Opening Line:

The week before I left my family and Florida and the rest of my minor life to go to boarding school in Alabama, my mother insisted on throwing me a going-away party. 

Now, while that isn't an especially thrilling/exciting first sentence, it certainly says a lot about the narrator, Pudge, and the kind of guy he is. And since the book revolves around Pudge and his experiences, I'd say that's a pretty spot-on statement!

SQUEE-worthy: Alaska. Alaska, Alaska, Alaska. No, not the place, the PERSON. She's no literary character; the way Green has portrayed her, she's like a living, breathing human being. And what a girl! No wonder Pudge is hopelessly in love with her! But it's not just Alaska either. From Pudge to Takumi, the whole cast of characters in Looking for Alaska throbs with life! Their relationships, their conversations with each other, their wants and dreams and woes--Green has captured and distilled the very essence of teenagehood (teenagedom?) and even what it means to be alive. And subsequently what it means to be dead.

"Meh" Moments: It's not so much a "meh" moment as it is a tiny twinge of disappointment. My expectations for this book were stacked high--like, SKY high--before reading it, and to be fair, Looking for Alaska had won a lot of awards, including the Printz and the ALA Teens' Top Ten. But alas, it fell short for me. I mean, everything was great in the beginning; there was so much tension, and it was building, building, building. BUT THEN, the "After" portion of the book struck--the pivotal moment I've been waiting for as the reader--and after a few minutes of initial exhilaration as my eyes whizzed through the page... the tension died. Literally just flat-lined. Honestly, the second half was rather disappointing. I mean, it's probably my fault for going into a book with such high expectations, but I expected more: more mystery, more tragedy, more twists and turns and all that good stuff, just... more. Instead, I just kept thinking, "Okay. That was a good book. But it wasn't that GREAT." And that, my friends, is a reaction no writer wants to evoke.

For fans of: Stephen Chbosky's The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Ned Vizzini's It's Kind of a Funny Story.

Buy or Borrow? Definitely read it. Green's insights on life and death alone are worth a read. But unless the ENTIRE story really resounds with you, I'd say it's a solid Borrow.

Let's Chat!

What do you think of Looking for Alaska? YA masterpiece or so-so story?

Saturday, December 22, 2012

The World Didn't End! But For These Book Characters It Did...

It's December 22nd, 2012... and we're all still here! No nuclear holocaust. No insta-pandemic. No rogue meteorite. No Transformers-esque technological breakdown. And certainly no Son of Man coming in the clouds (seriously, Matthew 24:36, people. Read it. Better yet, read the whole book; you won't regret it.)

So the world didn't end yesterday, but for those wondering "what if?" I give you... post-apocalyptic novels that you can live vicariously through!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Tattle Thursday: Snow White & the Huntsman producer to adapt Daughter of Smoke & Bone!

From GalleyCat:
Universal Pictures has acquired the film rights to Laini Taylor‘s young adult novel and National Book Award finalist, Daughter of Smoke & Bone.

Oz: The Great and Powerful executive producer Palak Patel will serve as an executive producer. Snow White & the Huntsman producer Joe Roth has signed on as a producer.

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers released this book in 2011. Days of Blood & Starlight, the sequel, came out in November 2012. Taylor plans to conclude her series with a not-yet-titled third book.

OMGOSH OMGOSH OMGOSH!!! How exciting is this?? It's finally happening! The production wheels are turning! This is gonna TOP The Hunger Games for me. I can already feel it. Can't wait to see Prague! Lovely, lovely Prague! Karou with her ultramarine hair! Brimstone and the chimaeras in all their glory!

Oh, and here's a short little letter I'm gonna send out soon:

Dear Casting Producers,

Please, please, please cast Kellan Lutz as Akiva. Kthx.


What are you most looking forward to about the on-screen adaptation of Daughter of Smoke and Bone? And since we're on the topic *ahem*... any thoughts on who should play Akiva a.k.a. the Hottest Archangel of All-Time?

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Road Trip Wednesday #161: What's In A Name?


Road Trip Wednesdays is a "blog carnival" where the contributors at YA Highway put up a reading- or writing-related question and bloggers all around the world answer it!

This Week's Topic is: 

The list of top baby names in 2012 had us talking about naming characters. How do you decide on names? Would you ever name a character after a friend/family member/ex?

Fact: I'm a super indecisive person. On my current work-in-progress, I've changed my main character's name FIVE times. No joke: Lavinia, Violet, Evelyn, Vivienne, and now Ava. (Obviously I'm slightly obsessed with the letter "v.") Regardless, I mainly decide based on feel. Now that might sound slightly strange, but different names have a different "feel" to me--either derived from various people I know, how the name sounds, or the meaning of the name--and I try to match up that "feel" with how my main character is. For instance, the name "Ava" connotes a simple elegance and symmetry to me, perfect for an unassuming girl in post-Edwardian times who's finding her true worth. As for the foil character's name, "Seraphina," that was decided purely on meaning (FYI, Seraphina came from the biblical word "seraphim" and means "the fiery ones"). Speaking of the meaning behind names, here are a couple of sites I've found tremendously useful: Behind the Name, Baby Names, and Behind the Surname.

Lastly, while I would never name a character after an ex (why? just... why?), I'm of the opinion that friends' or family members' names are totally up for grabs.

So, there you go! That's how I play the name game!

And now... tag! You're it! How do you decide on names?

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Top Ten Books I Read In 2012

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by the folks over at The Broke and the Bookish. The idea is to put up a top ten list and share it with other bloggers. This week's list topic is:

Top Ten Books I Read in 2012

(in no particular order)

1. Divergent by Veronica Roth - A must-read for anyone who's a fan of high-velocity action-adventure. This is dystopia on a whole new level.

2. Insurgent by Veronica Roth - Lots of second books in a trilogy tend to drag or are just not up to par with the first installment. Not so for Roth. Insurgent does what a second book is supposed to do: make the reader fall in love with the characters and the overarching storyline even more.

3. The Distant Hours by Kate Morton - Beautifully told and richly woven, this is story-telling at its best. Plus, the end is a real shocker, too!

4. Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor - The way this woman strings words... I don't know how she does it. Karou and her story was so beautiful, it hurt.

5. Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo - An epic fantasy set in an AU Tsarist Russia? Yes, please!! SO creative, and I love love LOVE Alina. She was a spunky yet likable heroine.

6. Graceling by Kristin Cashore - Another spunky heroine! Katsa is DA BOMB--no, literally, she can probably kill as many people as a bomb can.

7. Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen - I love Sarah Dessen. I do. Somehow, her books have never, ever failed to make me cry. This book in particular has got so much heart; Auden is truly the most socially awkward yet incredibly sympathetic heroine.

8. Mini Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella - For those who will dismiss this as mere "fluff," think again. The Shopaholic novels never ever fail to keep me up late into the night solely on the basis of voice. Becky Bloomwood's voice to be exact. She's the friend you want to have, and sometimes the girl you hate to love, but I don't know how Kinsella does it--Becky and her problems suck you in from start to finish.

9. Bumped by Megan McCafferty - Two words: Jessica Darling. Jess Darling (and Marcus Flutie) from the Sloppy Firsts series won me over. I must've read those books like fifteen times EACH; they were that good. Unlike Sarah Dessen, another awesome contemporary YA writer, McCafferty's writing has bite, and it's precisely this snarky voice that makes Bumped an enticing read. Oh, and the unique premise helps, too, of course--imagine Atwood's Handmaid's Tale (one of my fave books of all time) for teens!

10. The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson - This book was not what I expected at all. I mean that in the best way possible. I'd expected an epic fantasy about a girl who's Chosen One status takes her on an adventure to save her people. Which it was. But ooohhh... it was also SO much more. The way Carson depicts faith and prayer in this book is simply marvelous; it's true and poignant without being preachy and also incredibly heartening at the same time.

Your turn! What are some of your top picks for 2012?

Friday, December 14, 2012

A Moment of Reflection

In lieu of a #TGIF entry, I just wanted to express my deepest condolences to those families affected by the senseless tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School. My heart and prayers are with the victims and survivors of this incident. In moments like these, it becomes unbearably clear just how broken and depraved we are as human beings.

Please take a moment to pray for those who are suffering, not just in this country, but all around the world. Thank you.

(Also, to all those who are turning this into a political debate about gun control, while I empathize with your concern, guns are not the real danger here, but people. Earlier today, another man stabbed 22 children in an elementary school in China. Different weapons, same depravity. Guns are only part of the problem, not the root of it.)

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Road Trip Wednesday #160: How Many Books Do You Read?


Road Trip Wednesdays is a "blog carnival" where the contributors at YA Highway put up a reading- or writing-related question and bloggers all around the world answer it!

This Week's Topic is

About how many books do you read in a year? Do you want to read more? Or, less?

I'm not a fast reader. I like to take it slow, linger over particularly poignant imagery, marvel at an unusual turn of words. That said, Goodreads tells me that since July of this year, I've read 13 books. So about 2 books a month if I'm going by that rate, which is not too shabby considering what a slowpoke I am! I'm definitely looking to read more, though, maybe a book a week if I'm lucky. Imagine that--52 books a year!

How about you? How many books do you read in a year? Are you a lightning-fast reader or a slow-and-steady turtle like me?

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday: 10 New-to-Me Authors

So I was lurking around some awesome blogs (*ahem-ahem*) when I stumbled onto this:

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by the folks over at The Broke and the Bookish. The idea is to put up a top ten list and share it with other bloggers. This week's list topic is:
Top Ten New-to-Me Authors I Read in 2012

(in no particular order)

  1. Veronica Roth. One word: Divergent. I couldn't put it down. The plot and pacing sucked me in from the very beginning. A masterful debut for such a sweet, down-to-earth young author!

  2. Kate Morton. I can't believe I only discovered Ms. Morton now. The Distant Hours is hands-down the most beautifully crafted book I've ever read. Why do I say "crafted"? Because not only is Ms. Morton a wonderful writer (her descriptions are so vivid, I could taste them), but there are so many twists and turns in that book, my head was spinning by the time I was done with it--in a GOOD way.

  3. Laini Taylor. Ms. Taylor is a testament to all readers and writers everywhere that YA books can feature top-notch writing. Daughter of Smoke and Bone took my breath away: from the striking characters, to the stunning backdrop of Prague, to the heart-wrenching romance, Karou's story is forever emblazoned in my heart.

  4. Rae Carson. Elisa from The Girl of Fire and Thorns, Ms. Carson's debut novel, won me over completely; her transformation was incredible, and most of all, believable. I also loved that Carson wasn't afraid to portray faith in all its fullness, especially Elisa's reliance on God through heartfelt prayer.

  5. Marissa Meyer. Oh, she of the innovative ideas! From the cyborg Cinderella to the unique choice of setting (futuristic Beijing, anyone?), Cinder blew my imagination out the water.

  6. Leigh Bardugo. Three cheers for fantasy stories that do NOT take place in medieval European kingdoms! Shadow and Bone took place in a distinctly Russian setting and was all the more rich and vibrant for it. The villain in this book is also extremely superb.

  7. Kristin Cashore. When I found out Ms. Cashore wrote her stories by hand (by HAND, people!) and then transcribed them onto her computer via voice recognition software, my jaw dropped. Literally, dropped. For one thing, that just shows her dedication to her craft. And for another, Graceling, her debut fantasy, was such an intricately woven story that I can't even fathom the amount of thought and work that went behind it. God bless this woman. Seriously.

  8. Susan Dennard. I first stumbled upon Ms. Dennard from NaNoWriMo; she was one of the published authors who was participating in the event. Not only did she answer people's questions with a thoughtfulness that I found refreshing, but her writing was RIDIKKULUS GOOD. (Yes, it's so good, it warranted slang-spelling). After all, very few authors would attempt something as insane(ly awesome) as mixing steampunk and zombies.

  9. G.K. Chesterton. The man who contributed to C.S. Lewis's conversion to Christianity. I really wasn't expecting him to have a sense of humor, but Chesterton is HILARIOUS. Before you make up your mind about Jesus or even after your mind's been made up, go read The Everlasting Man. You can thank me later.

  10. John Green. I know. I've been living under a rock. But better late than never, right?

Who are some authors you've discovered this year?

Holiday Gift Idea: Popular YA New Releases

Wondering what to get your bookworm bestie for Christmas? Or that angsty teenager in your house?

Never fear, Tess is here! (Brownie points for the rhyme? No?)

Instead of a book review, I thought it would be more fitting to showcase some of the YA new releases, just in time for holiday gift shopping. So without further ado, I give you... popular YA new releases from the months of November and December!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Industry Highlights from Dec. 3-10

Below are industry highlights from the past week, especially those pertaining to the Young Adult genre. These are what I found to be relevant, but feel free to check out sites like GalleyCat and Publishers Weekly for more publishing news and insights!

  • The BBC is working on a television adaptation of J.K. Rowling's new book, The Casual Vacancy. The project is slated for a 2014 release. Click here to learn more.

  • The Association of American Publishers (AAP) have reported that children's and YA e-book revenues are up 196% in the month of August. Take a look at the actual numbers.

  • The Goodreads Choice Award Winners are up! In the YA category, John Green won Best YA Fiction for The Fault in Our Stars and Veronica Roth won Best YA Fantasy for Insurgent. Check out the winning books!

  • The New York Times is creating separate bestsellers lists for Middle Grade and YA books! (You can almost hear the thunderous cheer of ecstatic YA authors everywhere.) Both lists will account for both eBook and print book sales. For more information, click here.
  • New York City's Diocesan House of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine has been declared a Literary Landmark, in honor of famed children's author Madeleine L'Engle association with its library. Read the article.

  • Coveting a piece of jewelry worn by your favorite YA heroine? Well, wish no more! features some pretty awesome YA-inspired jewelry (BTW, I'm totally in love with that Shadow and Bone-inspired antler necklace). Click here for a peek!

(Sources: GalleyCat, MediaBistro, Publishers Weekly, HuffPost Books)

Friday, December 7, 2012

#TGIF Video: DIY Tote Bag!

If you're a frequent library-goer like me and is prone to borrowing a bajillion books at a time, then this is the perfect DIY idea for you!

No sewing, no messing around with hot glue! Just fabric + stapler + duct tape... and VOILA! Instant tote bag for all those lovely books you're bringing home from the library!

Check out Ingrid's (missglamorazzi) channel on YouTube for more fun DIY ideas and make-up tutorials. 

Saturday, October 20, 2012

A Cross-Underer: An Equal Opportunity Reader

It all started back in fifth grade when I brought a Danielle Steel book to class. Having perused nearly all the age-appropriate books in my classroom's Reading Corner, I brought in my older sister's pretty copy of Steel's Palomino for silent reading time.

The result: I almost had to dial 911, so severe was my teacher's apoplectic fit.

Suffice it to say, I didn't bring any more "adult" books to class after that--but it didn't mean I stopped reading beyond my grade level. By seventh grade, I'd read classics by Fitzgerald and Hawthorne, as well as "chick lit" by Cabot and Kinsella. The chick lit was my sister's influence; the classics entirely my own pet project. I thought of myself as an equal opportunity reader, able to devour Harry Potter with my peers yet mull over the intricacies of race relations in Mitchell's Gone with the Wind  at the same time.

Now, a decade later, my reading habits have carried over into adulthood. I'm still an avid fan of YA books, regardless of the fact that high school is far behind me (thank goodness) and I can legally order drinks at a bar. For me, a good story is a good story, no matter what age the characters are. I mean, hello, what makes a better story than teen angst, awkward insecurity, and crippling uncertainty of the future? And when you throw in a couple of vampires/chimaeras/mermaids in there, and/or plop the characters in some grim post-apocalyptic setting, I think it just makes the story THAT much better.

What about you? Are you a fan of YA, forever lurking in the Teen section of Barnes and Noble? Or are you a staunch believer in age-appropriate literature?

Peter Pan-ly yours,

Wonder where I got the term "cross-under"? Check out this article to determine what kind of book reader YOU are.