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?

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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?

One of the Best (or Worst?) Literary Villains

chaos_villains

Voldemort.

King Leck.

The White Witch.

Queen Levana.

Young Adult literature has more than a few great villains. Villains who use their power to terrify, control, and even murder others. Today, I want to talk about a villain you might not be familiar with yet: Mayor Prentiss. He is the villain of Patrick Ness’s Chaos Walking series, and he is a master manipulator.

Although the character appears minimally in the first book of the series, The Knife of Never Letting Go, his presence is enough to keep Todd on the run. However, in the following two books, The Ask and the Answer and Monsters of Men, we as readers begin to see how vile and corrupt the mayor is. In a land where all men broadcast their thoughts, feelings, intentions, and memories through a never ending cacophony of noise, the mayor is silent. This makes it hard to figure out whether he is trustworthy or not. Todd struggles with this in chapter 19 of Monsters of Men, “I also know he ain’t redeemed. I know he ain’t redeemable. (Ain’t he?) But he’s been acting like it.” Is Todd’s goodness rubbing off on the mayor, or is it all a ploy to get what he’s really after: complete control. As his abilities to control those around him improve, you’ll wonder how- and if- he can be stopped. The mayor always seems to be a step ahead of everyone else. You’ll have to read Patrick Ness’s Chaos Walking series to find out more about this awesomely wicked villain.

Who are some of your favorite literary villains? 

~ Read more about Chaos Walking in my gushing review of the series here.

The Next Must Read Series

chaos_postoneWow, readers. I just finished a series that was unlike anything I’ve ever read. It was thought-provoking, action-packed, suspenseful, and invigorating. It was so special that I’m going to focus three blog posts on this particular series. What series would deserve so much attention? The Chaos Walking series, made up of three novels and three short stories (one short story is at the end of each ebook). The series starts with The Knife of Never Letting Go, whose dramatic cliffhanger ending leads you right into The Ask and the Answer, and culminates with Monsters of Men. It’s a Young Adult series, but the content is pretty mature, so I would recommend it for readers over 13. Intrigued?

Have you ever wished that you knew what someone was thinking? Well, in Patrick Ness’s Chaos Walking series, you can hear what everyone is thinking. All. The. Time. All of their most secret and mundane thoughts, hopes, dreams, and memories are broadcast as “noise” to everyone around them. Oh, and everyone can hear what YOU are thinking too. Now maybe that doesn’t sound so cool. Got a crush on someone? Everyone would know. Don’t know how to do something? Everyone would know. Tell a little white lie? Don’t even bother, because everyone would know. The animals all have noise too, so it’s practically impossible to find some peace and quiet. But wait. Are you female? Then you don’t have noise. Lucky you! Only the men have noise, which means they are jealous and mistrustful of you and all your silence. How is such a thing possible? Well, this series takes place on a new planet where settlers have landed to get away from the problems of “Old World.” When the settlers arrive, the noise is like a disease they catch. So not only are they working hard to survive and build new communities, but they are also struggling to adapt to this strange phenomenon. Communities choose to deal with this issue in different ways.

The Knife of Never Letting Go follows the story of Todd, a young boy who is about to reach the age of manhood. His community- which is the only one he believes exists- no longer has any women. It’s just a town of angry, frustrated, depressed, and noisy men. One day, Todd is out gathering apples when he comes across a pocket of silence. This silence starts a chain of events that sends Todd running from his community in fear for his life. Along the way, he discovers the truth behind his community’s history, what it means to be a man, and how love can be a powerful force. I’m going to leave it at that because I don’t want to spoil the story for you. You should know that the book may be a little strange and difficult to get into at first, but keep reading–it’s worth it!

This series has the potential to become the next big thing. Like The Hunger Games, the series is violent and brutal, and not for the easily offended. As in The Maze Runner series, the main character is a boy, instead of a girl like a lot of popular teen stories (Katniss, Katsa, Cassia, Bella, etc). Despite the heaviness of some of the events of the series, there is also a theme of tolerance, respect for the planet, and the courage to do what is right even in the toughest of times.

So what are you waiting for? Pick up The Knife of Never Letting Go at your local library, bookstore, or online outlet. I can’t wait to hear your thoughts on this wonderful series.


Read more about the Chaos Walking series on Goodreads:

Book 1: The Knife of Never Letting Go          + Short story “The New World”

Book 2: The Ask and the Answer                  + Short story “The Wide, Wide Sea”

Book 3: Monsters of Men                             + Short story “Snowscape”