Tag Archives: 30 Day book challenge

30 Day Book Challenge: Day 1

Day 1: Your favourite book

So we’re finally here, at the end of this 30 day challenge – and it’s taken me more than 30 days!

This has actually been a very interesting challenge for to do, and I loved the experience of having to delve further into why I like this book and not another. What makes a favourite scene? A favourite title? I think that my answers say a lot about me, and sometime I’m going to have to look over them again, and find out just what that is! Until then though… here’s the answer to the last challenge.

Heart’s Blood by Juliet Marillier

Heart’s Blood was published at the end of 2009, and I’ve already read it at least three times. I am the first acknowledge that it wouldn’t be the best book out of every one that has been published. But ever since I first finished it, Heart’s Blood has been my favourite.

It is the book that feels in every way as if it was written just for me, with amazing characters and a storyline that kept me entertained the whole way through. Of course, it’s a Juliet Marillier novel, and I love her writing. The way she writes can leave me feeling as if I am in the story, walking alongside the main characters as they face trials, and learn about themselves, and each other.

This is such a hard book to describe. Though Marillier herself does pretty well on her website:

Heart’s Blood is a love story, a ghost story, a family saga, a story about people overcoming their difficulties, and a little slice of Irish history, as well as a homage to a favourite fairy tale.

And that’s just scraping the surface!

Heart’s Blood focuses on Caitrin, an orphaned young woman who is fleeing her own dark past when she comes upon the mysterious Whistling Tor. The locals talk of madness, a haunted forest, and a cursed castle. They tell Caitrin of Anluan, their deformed and incompetent leader, locked away in the castle on the hill, and they warn her to stay away. But when a job is offered, Caitrin makes her way up to Whistling Tor and finds herself immersed in secrets. Surrounded by the strange household and the temperamental Anluan, Caitrin embarks on a journey to discover the secret behind the curse on the castle, and the strange host hiding within the forest.

Caitrin is a fantastic character, vastly independent and yet insecure at the same time. Strong, but no so strong as to dominate the story and the other characters. Again, (and naturally!) Juliet Marillier describes Caitrin brilliantly as

“a character who starts her journey with a lot of uncertainty and learns not only to appreciate her own good qualities but also to show several other characters that despite their mistakes they are fine people, worthy of love.”

This is a fantastic story, from every viewpoint, and one that I will happily re-read again and again. I know it’s not the kind of story that everyone would enjoy, but would definitely recommend Heart’s Blood to anyone who likes fairy tales, mystery romance, historical fiction or fantasy! This is an adventure not to be missed!

 

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30 Day Book Challenge: Day 3

Day 3: Book that makes you laugh out loud

The easy answer to this challenge, is: most of my favourite YA novels. (At least the fantasy ones, the realistic YA I tend to read is generally pretty far from funny! :P)

Particularly, this applies to my Harry Potter books, and my Tortall novels. Both J.K. Rowling and Tamora Pierce know how to write a funny, fantasy-adventure story. And that is why I keep going back, reading them again and again.

And then I thought about it all a bit more… I never really like things to be all that easy. So, the roundabout (kinda cheating answer) is:

FAN-FICTION!

S.P.E.W. Does Not Approve by makani

I have read a lot of (almost exclusively Harry Potter) fan-fiction in my days… Ever since I was first introduced to it way back in 2004. Well, I say ‘read’. What I mean is that I’ve devoured it. In fact, I used to read so much fan-fiction that my dad actually firewalled fanfiction.net on our home network… What did I do? I downloaded stories while at school, copied them into Word documents, and read them on my laptop. I even got some stories professionally printed. I wrote fansfiction (we won’t go there!). Basically, for quite a few years, a lot of my reading was done online.

Why was I so insane about it? Basically, fan-fiction can be terrible, horrendous, bad on a level that is stomach-churning. But it can also be brilliantly written, thought-out and developed. I have read some fan-fiction stories that I could honestly say were just as good as the published works that inspired them. Some very, very talented authors have their beginnings in fan-fiction, I’m sure.

Also, though, fan-fiction can be damned funny! And this was the main reason I decided to go with fan-fiction to answer this question. Sure, Rowling and Pierce and many other published authors have made me laugh, some have even made me laugh out loud (I’m hard to please!), but the stories that have truly made me laugh out loud, made me guffaw and all the rest, have been fan-fiction.

To illustrate my point, follow on for some fanart!

aplaceformorethoughts

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30 Day Book Challenge: Day 5

Day 5: Book you wish you could live in

I thought long and hard about this one. There are so many stories that I have loved over the years, so many worlds and times that part of me would love to live in. And then I realised that a lot of bad things happen in those worlds. My favourite characters are almost always faced with trials, horrors and pain… I find it hard enough toread about these, let alone actually live in them for myself! So I chose the lesser of many dark, painful worlds, that kind of works out okay in the end.

(P.S. I’m assuming I get to live wherever, right? Because if I end up in the poor sector, I’m going back home!)

The Spoils of Time series by Penny Vincenzi

The three books that make up the Spoils of Time series are set predominately in London, but also in France and America, and they span the period from the end of the 19th century, to around the 1960s. But the setting of the novel itself is not why I would want to live there, though it does help. Beginning with No Angel, the series focuses on the Lytton family, and particularly its matriarch, Lady Celia. When the series begins, Celia is about 19 years old, pregnant, and marrying Oliver Lytton against the firm wishes of her mother who believes the match is beneath her. Celia is a fantastic character, filled with passion, determination and courage – but, like all of my favourite characters, she makes her fair share of mistakes.

Much of the series takes place around Lytton’s, the family publishing house run by Oliver, and in which Celia is determined to work, despite the fact that upper-class women in the early 20th century were not expected to work. The novels touch on life during two World Wars, and the depression and we see the family (ever extending) as they go through intense struggles, happiness, and test the strength of their relationships.

This is a fantastic series! The characters are strong and relatable and utterly three-dimensional. As well as Celia and Oliver, there are so many characters whom I enjoy reading about: Barty Miller, Venetia Lytton, Izzy Brooke, Jay Lytton, Kit Lytton, Elspeth Lytton… The list goes on and on. I also really enjoy the historical aspect of the series, so much 20th century history is covered in this series, and done well! And then there’s the fact that it’s set in a publishing house. I would jump at the chance to be in a London publishing house during the early to mid-20th century! Sounds fantastic!

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30 Day Book Challenge: Day 6

Day 6: Favourite young adult book

I had trouble decided on a single young adult book to choose for this challenge. And the YA novels I read are so diverse that it didn’t make my choice any easier. I’ll go from dark, realistic YA, to paranormal, to fantasy, to fairy tale retellings. Really, I’ll read just about any YA novel, so long as it gets some good reviews. 🙂

So, I’ve chosen two favourite YA books, with two runner-ups, just for fun.

For realistic YA, the runner-up was The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. Seriously, read it! Number one was:

Dreamland by Sarah Dessen

I guess that the eventual reason I chose this book is that I first read it over nine years ago, and it still stays with me today. Mostly in a good way. This is one of the more realistic YA books I’ve read and I love the way Dessen handles teenage relationships, and particularly the abusive one that the main character, Cailtin ends up in. Life isn’t easy for Caitlin, she doesn’t get the whirlwind fantastic relationship you would expect, but she does find the strength in herself to get out and move on and become herself. I found this book quite inspirational, and I think it would be a great book for any young adult (mostly girl) to read. Particularly because of the insight it provides into how abusive relationships can happen, and why women can find it so hard to leave.

 

For YA fantasy, the runner-up was Lady Knight by Tamora Pierce. A great conclusion to a fantastic series! And the winner was:

Cybele’s Secret by Juliet Marillier

This is a great YA fantasy adventure novel, with a fantastic female protagonist who is strong, brave and determined. Paula is a great character, and probably the main reason I prefer Cybele’s Secret to its predecessor, Wildwood Dancing. Additionally, she is accompanied on her adventure by two great, handsome, noble and cheeky men who make the adventure all the more worth reliving! But what I most love about Paula is that she isn’t without flaws. Yes, she gets herself in a bit of a love triangle and has to make some tough choices. And I love that she stuffs it up. Paula is only seventeen, she is young and confused enough to make mistakes, and Marillier lets her make them. Having made enough of my own teenager (and twenty-something!) mistakes, I love that Paula is a strong, resilient character who makes her mistakes and sets about living with them. All and all, a fantastic YA fantasy book! (And I sort of just wanted another Juliet Marillier book in here – though there are more to come!!!)

 

P.S. This challenge kind of made me realise that nearly all of the YA books I read are geared toward girls. Must explore the other side!

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30 Day Book Challenge: Day 7

Day 7: Book that you can quote/recite.

First off, I have reaf far too many books over the years to be able to quote and recite any single one. While I’ve re-read several of my favourites over the years, I am no where near being able to recite them! My good friend is able to recite whole passages from pretty much every Terry Pratchett novel… but I just don’t have that much dedication.

Having said that though… I can think of a few books that have particular lines/passages that I love and can recite if need be.

From Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier:

“…it matters not if you are here, or there, for I see you before me every moment. I see you in the light on the water, in the swaying of the young trees in the spring wind. I see you in the shadows of the great oaks, I hear your voice in the cry of the owl at night. You are the blood in my veins, and the beating of my heart. You are my first waking thought, and my last sigh before sleeping. You are – you are bone of my bone, and breath of my breath.”

 

From Cybele’s Secret by Juliet Marillier:

“If a man truly loves… He gives no heed to what others may think. His heart has no room for that, for it is filled to the brim with
the unutterable truth of his feelings.”

 

  Several scenes from assorted Harry Potter books, particularly the earlier ones. (Quite a few, really!)

Mostly I remember some of the amazing one liners from the books. For instance, Hermione claiming she can’t make a fire without wood in the first book. To which Ron promptly responds: “Are you a witch or aren’t you?”
Also, Ron refering to the first years in Order of the Phoenix as ‘midgets’, and – after being told off by Hermione – replying with “What? They’re titchy.” Gold. Always gold.
Ooh! And Fred and George in the first book, saying that they don’t know why their mother bothers putting their initals on their jumpers, as “We know our names are Gred and Forge.” So many great moments and one liners in those books! I’ll stop now, as otherwise I’ll just keep going! 😛

 

And this gem from Page by Tamora Pierce:

“What was that about?” Neal demanded.
Kel turned. All of her friends were arrayed at her back. “He says he’s changed.”
“I suppose he could have changed,” Neal said dryly. “I myself have noticed my growing resemblance to a daffodil.” The other pages snorted.
Kel eyed her friend. “You do look yellow around the edges,” she told him, her face quite serious. “I hadn’t wanted to bring it up.”
“We daffodils like to have things brought up,” Neal said, slinging an arm around her shoulders. “It reminds us of spring.”
“Does dung remind you of spring, too, Princess Flower?” Cleon demanded irritably.

 

Really, makes me laugh every time! I’m certain that there are many more that I am forgetting, but these are the ones that come immediately to mind. And I did catch myself reciting the scene from Page just the other day. More soon!

 

 

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30 Day Book Challenge: Day 8

Day 8: Book that scares you

Another one that I really didn’t need to think about, because seriously, who wouldn’t be terrified by this book?

The Exorcist – William Peter Blatty

Though, I have never actually read The Exorcist. I tried. A few years ago I was enrolled in a Popular Literature subject and we read some amazing books. Books that I never would have thought twice about reading, and then absolutely loved (Fahrenheit 451, And then there were none, Casino Royale, Psycho, The Princess Bride, etc.).The Exorcist was on that list of books to read, and – having enjoyed all of the other books in the subject – I did really want to read it, even borrowed it from a friend.

And I just couldn’t do it. Hardly even got past the first page. Truth is, I’m a scaredy cat. I’m the kind of girl who will go to the movies to see a horror film with friends and promptly close my eyes for the next two hours. Naturally, I know roughly what The Exorcist is about, I’ve seen stills and even scenes from the film. The friend who I borrowed the book off had even warned me not to read it in the middle of the night. All of this seems, to me at least, to be a pretty good reason not to read something.

But none of those reasons are what stopped me from reading The Exorcist.

This was:

Youcannot tell me that isn’t terrifying!

Yes, I tried to read a horror book, and I couldn’t get past the cover. It’s just too… horrifying!

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30 Day Book Challenge: Day 9

Day 9: The book that makes you feel sick

Wow, this challenge is very different from the last! From a book that changed my life (in a happy way!) to a book that makes me feel just a little bit queasy to think about….

Kushiel’s Avatar – Jacqueline Carey

I was contemplating this challenge, and really struggling to think of a book that actually makes me feel sick. And then my thoughts wandered to this one, and I found myself reflexively clutching my stomach. … The Kushiel’s Legacy series is amazing, and Phedre no Delauney is one of my favourite characters (I dressed up as her for my 21st birthday party), and yet the thought of re-reading this book is close to horrifying.

First and foremost, Phedre is a courtesan. But not just any courtesan. For she has been chosen by Kushiel (one of the main ‘gods’ in the series), selected to find pleasure in pain. Basically, Phedre is a masochist, and this makes for some very entertaining and breathtaking scenes. I will happily re-read this series, for it is truly fantastic, but some parts – and in particular some of the scenes in Kushiel’s Avatar are just that little bit too confronting.

Part of this is because Carey’s writing is so enthralling, so engaging. But also it is because Phedre is such a fantastic character. I just don’t want her to go through what happens in that book again – and I guess I sort of believe that if I don’t read it, she won’t. So there you have it, this book makes me feel sick. And yet, I would recommend this series to anyone who loves high fantasy, mixed with adventure, romance, sex and political intrigue. Though, if you’re a bit squeamish then the Naamah books might be more to your taste!

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