Unpopular Opinions Book Tag

A new dream cast post should be appearing soon, but until then, here are a few unpopular bookish opinions. Please feel free to share your responses to these questions too!

  1. A popular book or series that you didn’t like. 

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson (see my thoughts here) and Code Name Verity by Elizabeth E. Wein. I’m all for World War II stories, but I did not understand this book at all. I was so lost about what was going on and eventually decided to give up on it. (Here are a few more popular books I didn’t care for.)

  1. A popular book or series that everyone else seems to hate but you love.

Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake was one of my favorite books of 2016, but when I looked on Goodreads, there were a lot of negative comments.

  1. A love triangle where the main character ended up with the person you did NOT want them to end up with (warn people for spoilers) OR an OTP (One True Pairing) that you don’t like.
  • Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jami Ford – because if he loved her so much and did so much for her and her family, why didn’t he wait for her?…
  • How about Harry and Ginny? Who really believed in that match?!
  1. A popular book genre that you hardly reach for.
  • Biographies
  • Memoirs
  • Short stories
  1. A popular or beloved character that you do not like.

I didn’t make a connection with Anne Shirley from the Anne of Green Gables series. My first name is Anne, and my aunt gifted me the Anne of Green Gables books when I was younger and I just remember being soooo bored. I know Anne is experiencing a resurgence of popularity with an audio-book read by Rachel McAdams and a Netflix series, but I’m not interested.

  1. A popular author that you can’t seem to get into.

Hm, maybe Rick Riordan of Percy Jackson fame. I tried reading the first Percy Jackson book, The Lightning Thief, but I gave up after a few chapters. It just didn’t hook me. This is possibly because I had seen the movie previously and it just wasn’t something I cared for, despite enjoying mythology. I’m also not much of a John Green fan (see here).

  1. A popular book trope that you’re tired of seeing. (examples “lost princess”, corrupt ruler, love triangles, etc.)

I’m getting tired of the “girl-falls-for-the-guy-who-is-mean-to-her” trope. It just feels like we can be doing better than perpetuating the idea of boys treating girls badly because they secretly like them. I’m all for a bad boy or a mysterious boy with a secretive past, but why must they mistreat girls and the girls put up with it?   

  1. A popular series that you have no interest in reading.

Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James. I haven’t read the books or seen the movies. Instead, while everyone was freaking out about Christian Grey, I was reading the epic romance of Tatiana and Alexander in Paullina Simons’ The Bronze Horseman trilogy.   

  1. The saying goes “The book is always better than the movie,” but what movie or T.V. show adaptation do you prefer more than the book?

There are actually several movies I enjoyed more than their books – and I think it’s because I saw the films before reading the books (read my post about those book/film duos here). I didn’t have an allegiance to the books or notice that I was missing out on anything. One such film is Stardust, which was based on the book with the same name by Neil Gaiman. To me, the film added conflict and entertainment to a book that was too sweet.

Share your opinions in the comment section below, or post about them on your own blog and link back here so I can check out your answers. This isn’t a new tag, so if you’ve already responded to it, I’m still curious to know your thoughts!

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Reconstructing Amelia: A Mother’s Hunt for the Truth

reconstructingameliapostA rule-following, intelligent teenager dies when she falls from the roof of her affluent New York City high school. At first, her lawyer mother accepts the police’s ruling that the horrific death was a suicide. As a single parent, she blames herself for not being around enough for her daughter, Amelia. However, an anonymous text message declaring that her daughter didn’t jump shocks her out of her grief and she starts asking questions and looking for answers. As she digs deeper into the weeks leading up to her daughter’s death, she learns that Amelia was hiding many secrets. Alternating chapters fill readers in on Amelia’s life, which includes secret school clubs, hazing, a mysterious friend she only knows via text message, a hunt for her father’s identity, skipping school, encounters with her principal and English teacher, and a budding relationship with a girl. The mother starts to wonder if her daughter really did commit suicide – perhaps life was just becoming too much for her. Readers will eagerly turn the pages of Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight as they try to find out the truth, too.

This book had been on my TBR list for a long time, as it was on a 2013 Buzzfeed list of 14 books to read before they become movies. All of the other books on the list (Divergent, The Fault in our Stars, Ender’s Game, The Maze Runner, Gone Girl, just to name a few) did become movies…except for Reconstructing Amelia. IMDB still lists the project as “in development” and the only name attached to it is Nicole Kidman. So I’m not sure that this project will ever move forward, but it would make a pretty great movie or TV miniseries. The book touches on a lot of important issues like bullying, unhealthy friendships, how much parents and schools should monitor and be involved with what young people do online, and strengthening the relationship between educators and parents, as they both have an important place in the care and raising of our young people.

I went into this book cautiously. I figured that a book with a lot of hype and a possible movie deal could lead to disappointment (Serena by Ron Rash was also on the Buzzfeed list, and you can read my thoughts about that one here). However, the more I read, the more I became hooked. I wanted to find out what had happened in Amelia’s life and how all of the texts and emails would look afterwards to her mother. So many different pieces were woven together to create a compelling snapshot of the lives of Amelia and her mother. I stayed up late to finish reading this book and it was worth it. I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves a good thriller, especially teachers, parents of teens, and mature teenagers. Reconstructing Amelia turned out to be one of my favorite reads of 2016, and I’m hoping you will enjoy this one as much as I did.

31 Favorite Books to Celebrate my 31st Birthday

31stbirthday

So, I cheated a bit with this list by counting some series and trilogies as one, but I think that’s fair because it’s my birthday and I get to make up the rules! As these are my favorites, I’ve posted about many of these titles. The links below will take you to my posts related to the books or authors.

My 31 Favorite YA and Adult Books:31favorites

  1. The China Garden by Liz Berry
  2. Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
  3. Graceling by Kristin Cashore
  4. The Eight by Katherine Neville
  5. Every Day by David Levithan
  6. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
  7. The Martian by Andy Weir
  8. The Face on the Milk Carton by Caroline B. Cooney
  9. The Giver by Lois Lowry
  10. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
  11. The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
  12. The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons
  13. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
  14. Divergent by Veronica Roth
  15. Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins
  16. Cotton Malone series by Steve Berry
  17. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
  18. Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden
  19. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
  20. Chaos Walking trilogy by Patrick Ness
  21. I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson
  22. All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
  23. Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake – link coming soon!
  24. Voyager from the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon
  25. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
  26. Under the Never Sky trilogy by Veronica Rossi  
  27. Uprooted by Naomi Novik
  28. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
  29. Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
  30. Wonder by R.J. Palacio
  31. Deadline by Chris Crutcher

How many of these have you read? Do you consider them favorites as well?

Five Star Books of 2016

fivestarbooksof2016Once again, I was pretty tough on the books I read this year. While I read many books that were good, good wasn’t enough to earn a coveted five star rating! Like I said last year, I reserve the five star rating on Goodreads for books I truly loved. Books that hooked me and I couldn’t put down. Books I had a connection with, characters I loved or enjoyed, and plots that were unexpected. These are books I’d read again. These are books I’d recommend to others (and then feel heartbroken if that person didn’t love the book as much as I did). This year, I marked nine books (out of 61 total) worthy of five stars. It’s interesting to note that two of the books were ones that I read over Christmas break – I was lucky to finish the year with such great books. I plan to write more about Reconstructing Amelia and Three Dark Crowns later. For now, just consider adding them to your TBR list! 

  1. Most of the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
  2. All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
  3. Uprooted by Naomi Novik
  4. Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight
  5. Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

fivestar2016

Honorable Mentions:

  • Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel
  • I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson
  • The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson
  • Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
  • The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh  

What were your most favorite reads of 2016?

Five Star Books of 2015

imageI reserve the five star rating on Goodreads for books I truly loved. Books that hooked me and I couldn’t put down. Books I had a connection with, characters I loved or enjoyed, and plots that were unexpected. These are books I’d read again. These are books I’d recommend to others (and then feel heartbroken if that person didn’t love the book as much as I did!).

This year, I marked seven books (out of 54 total) worthy of five stars. Here they are, listed in no particular order:

1. Graceling by Kristin Cashore (a re-read)
2. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
3. The Martian by Andy Weir
4. Every Day by David Levithan (a re-read)
5. Monsters of Men by Patrick Ness
6. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
7. Voyager by Diana Gabaldon

imageIf you have been on the fence about any of these titles, I would highly recommend reading them. Especially The Martian. And Every Day. And The Night Circus. And Graceling. And Fangirl. And…you get the picture. They’re all marvelous.

What were your favorite books to read this year?

Quite Possibly My Favorite Book of the Year

martianThis may come as a surprise after the way I raved about the Chaos Walking series by Patrick Ness, but I think I just read my favorite book of the year. There are still four months left, of course, and I’ve read some really great books this year (like Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell), but this latest book is easily the best adult book I’ve read. So what book is it? It’s a New York Times bestseller that actually lived up to its hype: The Martian by Andy Weir.

Goodreads Book Blurb:

Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars. Now, he’s sure he’ll be the first person to die there. After a dust storm nearly kills him & forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded & completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive—& even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive. Chances are, though, he won’t have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment or plain-old “human error” are much more likely to kill him first. But Mark isn’t ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills—& a relentless, dogged refusal to quit—he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. Will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?

Here’s what I loved about it:

1. It’s sci-fi, but believable.

There weren’t any aliens, or a time-space continuum, a meteor on an Earth-destroying path, or epic space battles. This was just a straight up mission to Mars where the astronauts were all scheduled to do some experiments, collect rock and soil samples, and return home. Easy-peasy. Or at least, that was the plan…

2. The main character had a great sense of humor.

Mark Watney could have crumbled under the despair of being abandoned on Mars. But he doesn’t. He’s calm and clever and keeps it light. Most people wouldn’t be able to do this, but he’s an astronaut. They train for the unexpected, plus they’re just cooler than the average human, right?

An example of his humor: when Mark tries using a laptop outside of his main hub, the extreme cold of Mars causes the laptop to instantly die. He teases, “Maybe I’ll post a consumer review. “Brought product to surface of Mars. It stopped working. 0/10.”‘

3. The suspense kept me racing to find out what would happen next.

This may be sci-fi, but it’s really a survival story. We’ve all heard about the robots and missions where one miscalculation has led to million dollar failures. With one problem after another, will Mark survive on Mars? Will he ever make it back to Earth? How could one astronaut survive the odds?

4. The math and science-heavy parts were oddly satisfying.

I am terrible at math. My brain just doesn’t do well with numbers and complex problem solving. But I admire Watney’s ability to do those things. Math and science really do save his life. His MacGyvering skills would be useless (and a bit unbelievable) if he didn’t have the calculations to back up his plans. Also, I can appreciate the work the author put in to achieve the book’s thoroughness. The author really knew his stuff.

5. The story of how this book became a bestseller is a writer’s dream.

In the back of the e-book version of The Martian, there is a short essay by the author explaining how a nerdy idea became a bestselling novel. Just for fun, the author decided to plan out a manned mission to Mars, complete with software to calculate the crew’s trip. From there, he started thinking about all the things that could go wrong. So he wrote The Martian and posted chapters on his website. His readers asked him to make the book available on Amazon, so he formatted it into an e-book, and set the price at the lowest available: 99 cents. Lo and behold, it became an Amazon bestseller. Publishers wanted the book and so did movie studios. The book was republished and became a New York Times bestseller. In October, the movie version starring Matt Damon will hit theaters. Not too bad for a self-proclaimed nerd, eh?!

Have you read this book? What did you think? Will you see the movie?

Below is the trailer for the film. Caution: if you plan on reading the novel, I would steer clear of the trailer. It reveals a lot of the book’s content.

Casting Chaos Walking

As is the way with fantastic YA novels, Patrick Ness’s Chaos Walking series may be getting the film treatment. According to an article posted in October 2011, Lionsgate acquired the rights for the Chaos Walking trilogy. I hadn’t realized the series was that old! Turns out the first book was published in 2008 and the third book was published in 2010. I can’t believe it took me so long to stumble upon these books. A more recent update (if you can call August 2014 recent! – See newer updates down below) notes that the project will have a new screenplay written by Jamie Linden. Robert Zemeckis will direct (Back to the Future and Forrest Gump are among his notable films). We’ll see if this movie ever comes to fruition. Until then, here are a few casting suggestions I came up with.

chaos_castingAfter reading the novels, who would star in your dream cast?

~ Interested in Chaos Walking? Read about my gushing review of the series here and read about its awesome villain here.


Update on movie news according to IMDB and ComingSoon.net:chaos_update

Daisy Ridley from Star Wars: The Force Awakens will play the lead role in the film. Tom Holland, who we will soon be seeing a lot of based on his IMDB page, will play Todd Hewitt. As I mentioned above, I thought that a movie version would cast both Viola and Todd older than they are in the book – but I’m a bit worried at just how much older these actors are. Ridley is twenty-four years old and Holland is twenty years old. In the book, the characters are only thirteen or fourteen years old. Ridley and Holland are supposed to be love interests in the books, but they don’t look the same age to me in real life. It’s also interesting to note that IMDB lists the title of the movie as Chaos Walking. Does this mean the movie will merge all three books together instead of creating a trilogy of films? Also, I’m realizing now that my casting is super white! I hope the actual movie will be more culturally diverse than what I originally came up with. Because really, if this is in a future when the earth is so troubled that people are being sent to colonize other planets, the people would most likely be quite diverse. (Updated 1/3/17)

Have you read any of Patrick Ness’s books yet? What did you think?