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Tuesday, April 17, 2018

TMST: Series or Stand Alone Books?

Last week I found a fun weekly discussion series called Tell Me Something Tuesday hosted by Rainy Day Ramblings, and I thought it tied in so well with what I wanted to do for my Top Ten Tuesday that I absolutely had to do it this week. Of course, I'm laughing that the two weekly lists/posts that I want to do are both on Tuesdays...but we'll see how that works out.

This week's question: Do you prefer series or stand alone?

When I first saw this question, I paused - which did I like better? I thought it was maybe stand alone books, but I thought about how much I loved series such as Harry Potter, The Infernal Devices, and many others and hesitated.

When I really think about it though, I definitely prefer stand alone novels rather than getting involved in a series. I often find that with a series, especially in the case of a trilogy, there is a book that is essentially a filler, which, although useful to push the plot forward, isn't really a great read on its own. With a single novel, although there may be filler sections, they are shorter than a full book and therefore the read is overall more enjoyable. The one downside is that the plots and universes are rarely as fully developed and intricate (of course there are always exceptions to some degree, such as The Count of Monte Cristo).

I think it really depends on the genre, and subject matter though. A fantasy series such as A Song of Ice and Fire or Harry Potter wouldn't be anywhere near as effective if they were a single book. The character development and world building would be extremely different as we don't get to see large ranges of time or content. Each year in Harry Potter shows a different side and evolution of each character. Where character-driven books are concerned, a full series rarely works. Imagine The Perks of Being a Wallflower as a trilogy, or a sequel to Wuthering Heights - it just wouldn't work. It would be too much.

Top Ten Series That Should Have Ended Earlier

What an exciting week! That Artsy Reader Girl has given us a super fun topic for our Top Ten Tuesday - it's whatever we want! This was at first exciting, then daunting, and then a delight. I had several ideas swimming through my head, so it took a bit before I settled on this one, however as it was a post I had been wanting to do for some time, I figured this was the perfect opportunity. Heads up, this post will definitely contain mild spoilers for the books mentioned. So, here are ten series that I think would have been more more effective if they had ended earlier:

1) Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants by Ann Brashares
Where and Why: It should have ended at book three. Book one was fantastic, enjoyed books two and three as well, but book four to me felt like we had lost the essence of all of our characters. Everyone needed a boyfriend, or to have sex, and instead of the girls deciding that they didn't need the pants anymore and packing them away, they actually lose them? I thought that was a horrible ending.

2) The Giver by Lois Lowry
Where and Why: Book two. I can accept Messenger, it's technically fine, but it doesn't have the same magic or depth to me as The Giver and Gathering Blue, and I sort of dislike that the ambiguous ending (of a sort) from The Giver is taken away because everything feels explained and resolved in Messenger. The fourth book Son, however, I can't stand. I thought the writing felt childish and the story was too far from anything that made sense in these worlds to me. I would have enjoyed the overall concept much more if it was original and not tied in Jonas and Kira's stories.

3) Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
Where and Why: Book three. I loved the first book, Outlander, because it took place in Scotland during a fascinating time period, and had so many things going for it. Book two took a downturn because we moved to France (nothing wrong with France, but I picked up the series because of Scotland), however we go back to Scotland again later. Book three takes place in Scotland and Jamaica, but it's still a cool storyline. Then we get to book four, Drums of Autumn, which I feel like I have been reading for a decade because it is so slow. It takes place in America, and honestly I could hardly care less about it.

4) The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare
Where and Why: Book four. Gasps and ahs I'm sure from you all, but I think the series would have been much more effective if it was about four books long. I think the last two books, although the content was overall interesting, didn't need to be anywhere near as long as they were. I drastically slowed down at this point and nearly stopped reading them (except that I wanted to know how they concluded). I really feel that these last two books could either have been combined together, or that the last three books could have been smushed into two. Each had some good points, but the whole thing felt like a stretch.

5) Divergent by Veronica Roth
Where and Why: Book two. In all honesty, this probably should have ended at book one, but I'm trying to be generous. Book one was a cool concept and well-done, book two was okay, and book three was a struggle to get through. I actually knew the major plot spoiler ending from page one. I'm not exaggerating, the actual first page. The rest of the book just didn't capture my interest like the first two, and I really just finished it because I figured I should.

Friday, April 13, 2018

The Lobster


What It's About:

After his wife leaves him, David enters The Hotel in order to find a new mate. It is here that he must do three things - choose an animal, choose a compatible mate, and hunt down single people to bring them to The Hotel. If within forty-five days David does not find, and fall in love with, a suitable partner, he will converted into his chosen animal and sent into the wilderness to try and find love again. As the days tick by, David must decide the lesser of the evils - becoming a lobster, or pretending to fall in love. Or is there another option?

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Favourite Stories I Will Likely Never Read

Sorry guys, throwing this one together this week! I decided last minute to do this one (but twisted up again), so I'm scrambling to finish it before I drop from exhaustion. Merci beaucoup That Artsy Reader Girl for this topic (even though I am not exactly using it once again haha). This week's topic was Books I Liked But Will Never Re-read, but since I am unlikely to for sure not read them again (or at least skim through them heavily), I decided to do books where I love the stories (whether from knowing abridged versions, movies, etc.) but think it is highly unlikely I will actually read the source material.

1) Les Misérables - Victor Hugo
Why? Great musical, super long book

2) Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
I've tried reading Dickens, and I start falling asleep.

3) Shogun - James Clavell
Fantastic look at 1600s Japan that was made into a mini-series...but it is over 1000 pages

4) War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
Okay, this is a maybe. I recently got introduced to the actual  storyline and not my perception of it from the teensy bits I heard. Anyway, I watched the 2016 mini-series and fell in love with it. So, if I feel really adventurous, it will happen, otherwise...not.

5) The Last of the Mohicans - James Fenimore Cooper
Watch the 1992 movie. The music is some of the best you will hear in a movie, ever. And Daniel Day-Lewis looks absolutely beautiful here. Trust me.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Characters I Hated in Books I Loved

Happy April! Another week, another Top Ten Tuesday from That Artsy Reader Girl. I'm reversing the topic for this week, so instead of "Characters I liked That Were In Non-Favorite/Disliked Books," I've gone with characters I highly disliked in books I really liked. Even in an otherwise perfect book, there can often be a character that you just can't stand, so here are some of the ones who I really didn't like in great books:

  1. Dolores Umbridge - Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
    I know, I know...she's going to be on an insane amount of lists this week (if other people flip the topic), but I couldn't not include her.
  2. The Mechanicals - A Midsummer Night's Dream
    This is a bit of a cheat because there are not only several characters here, but this is also a play. In truth they all bother me so I couldn't pick just one. They are definitely my least favourite part of this beloved play.
  3. Mrs. Norris - Mansfield Park
    No, not Mrs. Norris from Harry Potter! This Mrs. Norris is 100% human, 0% feline.
  4. Amy March - Little Women
    I have never been able to stand Amy. I know that she "improves" by the end, and we are supposed to feel better about her...but I've never been particularly good at doing what I was supposed to.
  5. Merlin - I Am Mordred
    Merlin is a terrifying and nasty sorcerer in this novel, and you don't really get why unless you have more familiarity with other Arthurian tales (more than just Mordred's fate), so he just seems to be nasty to Mordred for no good reason.

Friday, March 30, 2018

March 2018 Update!

What a month this has been! I don't know about anyone else, but I felt like March went by in the blink of an eye. So, in these last few days I want to go over some of the cool things I watched this month with you guys, and what I'm hoping to achieve over the next little while.

Started Watching:

This is one of those series that I meant to watch while it was actually on TV *cough* more than 6 years ago *cough*, but I just sort of kept forgetting about it. I started trolling around on Netflix to find something, and decided that this might be a fun one to start. I'm only about halfway through season 1, but I like it so far. I don't know if I will make it through all five seasons, but so far so good.

Finished Watching:

Scarlet Heart: Ryeo
My life is over. I will never be the same again. This was so amazing that right after finishing it, I wanted to re-watch it. Absolutely devastating though. What a fantastic introduction to K-dramas for me.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Bookish Pet Peeves

Everyone has something that drives them absolutely nuts when they pick up a book or series. Some of them are so irritating that they cause you to stop a book mid-way, refuse to continue a series, or avoid even starting the book in the first place. Here I want to share a few of those "hair-ripping out moments" of mine with you.

...no. Just no.

A Bad First Sentence
It is my belief that if you can't bother to have a good first sentence in your book, then you probably didn't take enough care with the rest of the piece for it to be worth my time.

Stereotypical Character Descriptions
Male has curly black hair and eyes like the ocean, is six feet tall with a broad chest and plays either piano or guitar.
Girl is plain, with mousy brown hair that never does what she wants it to, and the boy is instantly in love with her and thinks she is the most beautiful girl ever.
Just no.

The Last Pages are a Preview
I'm sorry, but I thought I had 30 pages of this book left and it just ended. I was not ready. I have been jolted out of a few books this way, and it was horrifying every time. I don't mind those short/few page previews after, or if the pages are a different colour on the side so that it is clear it is not part of the original book, but otherwise I often hate it.