We owe it to each other to tell stories - Neil Gaiman

Friday, 8 March 2013

My Favourite Things - The March Edition

"Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens. Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens. Brown paper packages tied up with string. These are a few of my favourite things" Julie Andrews

I thought that since this month is my birthday month, I would talk about some of my favourite things, and maybe, just maybe it would result in extra bookish gifts... just maybe.

There are many things that I enjoy, so I have many favourite things. Be prepared for a rather lengthy post, as I gush about my favourite things.

I'll start with the obvious...

Books

I have a great many favourite books, those who know me won't be suprised when I cite Jeffrey Eugenides and J.D. Salinger as being among my favourite authors. A Perfect Day for Bananafish is my favourite short story, the first time I read it my jaw literally dropped, and well as story that can elicit that kind of response from me is gold in my books. The Virgin Suicides has enthralled me for more than a decade - the mystery of the Lisbon sisters is one I still cannot get over. Middlesex still lives rather vividly in my mind - this modern Odyssey so marvellously crafted.

As far as the Classics go, I count The Great Gatsby, The Colour Purple, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Romeo and Juliet, Rebecca and The Catcher in the Rye as among my favourites. My all time favourite though remains Gone with the Wind. I expect that my list of favourite classics shall expand as I proceed with my journey reading the Classics.

But, as you know, I am not only a reader of serious books, some of my favourite YA books are Fated and Echo by Alyson Noel, The Archived by Victoria Schwab, Ten things we did (but probably shouldn't have) Cinder by Marissa Meyer, The Mara Dyer Series,The Trylle Trilogy by Amanda Hocking... I could go on for a while. One of my all time favourites though: The Harry Potter books - it's like Roald Dahl's awesomeness updated.

I also love Cozy Mysteries, and I have to say that Lorna Barrett and her Booktown Mystery Series is my favourite - cozy mystery + books = epic win!! And don't get me started on my favourite autobiographies and memoirs! You just need to look back at my February That's Life post to see my favourites!

From the Screen

I adore many films and series such as Mrs Henderson Presents, Moulin Rouge, Seabiscuit, Domino, The Little Mermaid, The Harry Potter movies, The Virgin Suicides, The Sound of Music, Grease, Ferris Beular's Day Off... There are so many more but these are at the top for me. Oh and Snakes on a Plane - it's so funny!! Don't get me started on my love for Downton Abbey, Absolutely Fabulous and Blackadder. British Comedies are in my mind the best of the best - Fawlty Towers, The Thin Blue Line, My Family... it doesn't get better than that. This does not mean I dismiss the comedy of the Americans - I do so adore Parks and Recreation, Frasier, Will and Grace, Greek and an old favourite - Everybody Loves Raymond. I also absolutely adore Boston Legal. And Fringe - I LOVE Fringe - John Noble and Joshua Jackson make the show! So it is no wonder that they and Fringe are some of my favourite things! Of the more serious variety - Revenge, Mad Men and the Good Wife are among my favourites. Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, George Clooney, Steve Buscemi, Maggie Smith, Judie Dench, John Cleese, Joanna Lumley, Jennifer Saunders, John Cusack, Rob Lowe, Nicole Kidman - these are some of my favourite actors.

Some other favourites
  • getting postcards
  • gelatto
  • red velvet cake
  • pumpkin loaf
  • cherries
  • prawns
  • cats
  • penguins
  • orchids
  • Knysna
  • Freddie Mercury and Queen
These are a few of my favourite things, and now for some reviews of my current favourite books...

The Archived - Victoria Schwab

Title: The Archived

Author: Victoria Schwab

Publisher: Hyperion

Pages: 328

Source: pre-ordered from Amazon

Genre: Supernatural Thriller

The Synopsis

 IMAGINE A PLACE WHERE THE DEAD REST ON SHELVES LIKE BOOKS.

Each body has a story to tell, a life seen in pictures that only Librarians can read. The dead are called Histories, and the vast realm in which they rest is the Archive.
        Da first brought Mackenzie Bishop here four years ago, when she was twelve years old, frightened but determined to prove herself. Now Da is dead, and Mac has grown into what he once was: a ruthless Keeper, tasked with stopping often violent Histories from waking up and getting out. Because of her job, she lies to the people she loves, and she knows fear for what it is: a useful tool for staying alive.
        Being a Keeper isn't just dangerous - it's a constant reminder of those Mac has lost. Da's death was hard enough, but now that her little brother is gone too, Mac starts to wonder about the boundary between living and dying, sleeping and waking. In the Archivem the dead must never be disturbed. And yet, someone is deliberately altering Histories, erasing essential chapters. Unless Mac can piece together what remains, the Archive itself may crumble and all. In this haunting, richly imagined novel, Victoria Schwab reveals the thin lines between past and present, love and pain,  trust and deceit, unbearable loss and hard-won redemption.                                                    FROM THE BOOK JACKET.

The Review

I cannot put into words how difficult it is to write a review of The Archived, because it is just so amazing. The idea of the dead being shelved as Histories is a very *novel* idea. Wonderfully written, with the past interwoven so effortlessly with the present - this is a wonderful sophomore offering from the lovely Victoria Schwab. The way we learn about Mackenzie and her Da and how she came to be a keeper in little snippets of memory is very clever.

I love the way that we learn the secrets of the Archive with Mackenzie, as opposed to her knowing all. I absolutely adore Roland, and well, I really like Wes. I'll not elaborate for fear of spoilers. The Archived presents us with a lovely mystery that will leave you angst ridden and rooting for Mackenzie and the others to get to the bottom of the disruptions in the Archive.

The Archived is one of those books that you can get lost in. I cannot wait for the next installment, The Unbound.

More to look out for by Victoria Schwab

The Near Witch

 "The Near Witch is only an old story told to frighten children. "
"If the wind calls at night, you must not listen. The wind is lonely, and always looking for company. "
"And there are no strangers in the town of Near." 
These are the truths that Lexi has heard all her life. 
But when an actual stranger--a boy who seems to fade like smoke--appears outside her home on the moor at night, she knows that at least one of these sayings is no longer true. 
The next night, the children of Near start disappearing from their beds, and the mysterious boy falls under suspicion. Still, he insists on helping Lexi search for them. Something tells her she can trust him. 
As the hunt for the children intensifies, so does Lexi's need to know--about the witch that just might be more than a bedtime story, about the wind that seems to speak through the walls at night, and about the history of this nameless boy. 
Part fairy tale, part love story, Victoria Schwab's debut novel is entirely original yet achingly familiar: a song you heard long ago, a whisper carried by the wind, and a dream you won't soon forget.


Ash Born Boy

Before he came to Near... 
Before he met Lexi... 
Before they faced the witch... 
Who was the boy named Cole? 

Follow us to Dale, a city on a hill, where in a matter of days fire will devour everything. Meet the Lord and Lady, and their son, the boy destined to inherit all...until everything turns to ash. Last summer, Mackenzie Bishop, a Keeper tasked with stopping violent Histories from escaping the Archive, almost lost her life to one. Now, as she starts her junior year at Hyde School, she's struggling to get her life back. But moving on isn't easy -- not when her dreams are haunted by what happened. She knows the past is past, knows it cannot hurt her, but it feels so real, and when her nightmares begin to creep into her waking hours, she starts to wonder if she's really safe. 

Meanwhile, people are vanishing without a trace, and the only thing they seem to have in common is Mackenzie. She's sure the Archive knows more than they are letting on, but before she can prove it, she becomes the prime suspect. And unless Mac can track down the real culprit, she'll lose everything, not only her role as Keeper, but her memories, and even her life. Can Mackenzie untangle the mystery before she herself unravels?

With stunning prose and a captivating mixture of action, romance, and horror, The Unbound delves into a richly imagined world where no choice is easy and love and loss feel like two sides of the same coin.

It's time to learn the truth behind the stranger's story.

Vicious


 A masterful, twisted tale of ambition, jealousy, betrayal, and
superpowers, set in a near-future world.

Victor and Eli started out as college roommates—brilliant, arrogant, lonely boys who recognized the same sharpness and ambition in each other. In their senior year, a shared research interest in adrenaline, near-death experiences, and seemingly supernatural events reveals an intriguing possibility: that under the right conditions, someone could develop extraordinary abilities. But when their thesis moves from the academic to the experimental, things go horribly wrong.

Ten years later, Victor breaks out of prison, determined to catch up to his old friend (now foe), aided by a young girl whose reserved nature obscures a stunning ability. Meanwhile, Eli is on a mission to eradicate every other super-powered person that he can find—aside from his sidekick, an enigmatic woman with an unbreakable will. 

Armed with terrible power on both sides, driven by the memory of betrayal and loss, the archnemeses have set a course for revenge—but who will be left alive at the end?


The Unbound

Last summer, Mackenzie Bishop, a Keeper tasked with stopping violent Histories from escaping the Archive, almost lost her life to one. Now, as she starts her junior year at Hyde School, she's struggling to get her life back. But moving on isn't easy -- not when her dreams are haunted by what happened. She knows the past is past, knows it cannot hurt her, but it feels so real, and when her nightmares begin to creep into her waking hours, she starts to wonder if she's really safe. 

Meanwhile, people are vanishing without a trace, and the only thing they seem to have in common is Mackenzie. She's sure the Archive knows more than they are letting on, but before she can prove it, she becomes the prime suspect. And unless Mac can track down the real culprit, she'll lose everything, not only her role as Keeper, but her memories, and even her life. Can Mackenzie untangle the mystery before she herself unravels?

With stunning prose and a captivating mixture of action, romance, and horror, The Unbound delves into a richly imagined world where no choice is easy and love and loss feel like two sides of the same coin.

Echo - Alyson Noel

Title: Echo

Author: Alyson Noel

Pages: 396

Publisher: MacMillan

Source: Received from PanMacMillan South Africa

The Synopsis

Daire Santos has saved her grandmother's life - and her soul. But the cost has been great: the Richter family is now loose in the Lowerworld. Daire and her boyfriend Dace must find the Richters before the balance between good and evil is destroyed.

As their relationship deepens, Dace's evil brother Cade grows stronger, building his power and forcing Daire and Dace to confront the horrifying prophecy that has brought them all together. It will force Daire to claim her true destiny as Seeker - but first she must make an unthinkable sacrifice.

The Review

Alyson Noel has me on tenterhooks with her Soul Seekers Series. I adored Fated, and absolutely loved Echo. Daire's quest continues, and becomes more intense as we go along and see the absolute destruction caused by Cade and the Richters in the Lowerworld. The way he has corrupted the worlds is just terrible, and he revels in the destruction he is causing.

I love how Echo starts much like Fated with a run down of various Spirit Animals, and the way that Alyson elaborates on the culture of Daire's Abuela and how we learn about Daire's many abilities with her. The pace was a lot faster in Echo than in Fated, as we know a lot more and don't have to be caught up on all the different levels. I liked that Daire is more assertive, and is no longer challenging the role that she has to play. She still acts and works according to the beat of her heart instead of the logic that everyone else seems to insist she should follow to make her quest easier.

I flew through Echo, and I cannot wait for Mystic to be released in May!

Next from Alyson Noel

Mystic


Since arriving in Enchantment, New Mexico, everything in Daire Santos life has changed. And not all for the better. While she’s come to accept and embrace her new powers as a Soul Seeker, Daire struggles with the responsibility she holds navigating between the worlds of the living and the dead. And with the fate of her boyfriend Dace in the balance, Daire must put aside her personal feelings and focus on defeating Cade, whose evil plans threaten everyone she loves and the world as she knows it.

Available from May 2013