Category: Lists

Books: Summer Wrap-Up [2012 edition]

Posted 3 September, 2012 by Lianne in Lists / 0 Comments

Well, here we are at the end of another summer season. I hope everyone had a wonderful one! Reading-wise I read a ton of interesting books, got through a number of books on my to-read pile (and also added a whole slew to it). I did this last year but here’s a list of my top five six favourite reads this summer (assessing this from the books I read between June and first weekend of September):

  • The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen (review) — Sarah Addison Allen’s books are always a light, fun read and this book did not disappoint. It was actually the last from her books that I had not read yet and it was wonderful, unique and magical.
  • The Kalevala (review) — I finally got around to reading this Finnish epic that influenced some of J.R.R. Tolkien’s works. It’s quite an adventurous read with twists and turns, featuring universal themes that modern readers can relate to and intriguing, flawed characters. Definitely worth checking out if you’re into epic tales, it’s a whirlwind of a read.
  • The Girl Who Circumnavigated Through Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne Valente (review) — Valente’s unique imagination and perspective really shines in this volume, reflecting some of the worldly wisdom you often find in fairy tales but at the same time taking those familiar fairy tale tropes and putting a spin to them. I had a lot of fun reading this novel.
  • The Prisoner of Heaven by Carlos Ruiz Zafon (review) — I’ve enjoyed reading The Shadow of the Wind (commentary) and The Angel’s Game (commentary) so it was great fun to re-visit the Cemetery of Forgotten Books in this volume. Granted, this volume feels more like a set-up to the final volume in the cycle but it was still a great read because you find out more about certain characters in the series.
  • The Ladies of Grace Adieu by Susanna Clarke — If you’ve enjoyed reading Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell (review), this book is something that you must check out. This volume contains a number of short stories, one directly related to Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell and the others set in the same world. It’s magical and intriguing and it’s just a great revisit into that alternate version of Regency England.
  • Nada by Carmen Laforet (review) — I just read this book late last week and absolutely loved it, it was just a tour de force of emotions and themes. Set in 1940s Barcelona, it was fascinating to watch Andrea as she treads through her volatile family, various social situations (friendship, love) and just growing up. I wish her other books had been translated into English, I really enjoyed reading this novel.

And of course, honourable mentions (a little short if only because I did a bit of re-reading this summer as well):

  • Headhunters by Jo Nesbo (review)
  • Deathless by Catherynne Valente (review)
  • The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux (review)
  • Portrait of a Spy by Daniel Silva
  • The Orchardist by Amanda Choplin (review)

And that’s my list for summer 2012! My to-read pile is constantly growing and shrinking but let’s see if I can get it back under control this autumn ^_~

Books: List of Books That Left Me Misty-Eyed

Posted 6 August, 2012 by Lianne in Lists / 0 Comments

Haha, nice title, eh? Anyways, this discussion was floating around a bit on my Twitter today so I thought to put a list of my own of which books left me close to (if not) ;_; while reading.

Before I proceed, super MASSIVE spoilers if you haven’t read the book. If you’re reading this on my LJ, I will put spoiler tags so that you won’t be spoiled if you haven’t read it. If you’re reading this here on my website…well, how about I use the white font and you highlight over it, yeah? Maybe that will work ^_~ Edit: I’ve installed a spoiler plugin recently so it’s all hidden now 😉

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Books: Lianne’s List of Books that Never Get Old

Posted 1 July, 2012 by Lianne in Lists / 4 Comments

I was reading this article from the Atlantic Wire the other day and was inspired to put together a list of books that I can read over and over and it would never get old in my eyes =)

I should note that growing up I used to re-read a lot; as I got older and could go to the bookstore on my own at any time, I’ve re-read less frequently (though I’m trying to get back to that now). So yes, which books made it on my list?

The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien — I used to read this book every year since the age of 15 (right before I went out to watch the first movie) though I haven’t done so in a while now. What’s absolutely amazing about The Lord of the Rings is that it’s rich in history and lore, the scope of the story and the number of characters who play a role in it. As a result, reading this book can be a different experience every time: though you may know the story inside out, there’s always something new that you might pick up on, whether it be a poem that one of the characters recites or the way that a particular friendship runs it course or a character action/behaviour/motive that you did not pick up the first time around. Added to the timelessness of the story itself just overall makes the overall reading experience a unique one every single time =)

Persuasion by Jane Austen — Of course, nothing will ever beat the first time I read this book back in first year undergrad (right before the ITV adaptations came out); I just could not put the book down until I found out whether Anne and Wentworth would reconcile or not. It was absolutely gripping and I was 110% invested into the characters–primarily Anne–and whether everything would work out in the end. Certain feelings have remained every other time that I’ve read it since (i.e. my indignation over the way in which Anne’s family treats her) but re-reading it (every year since!) has enabled me to pick up on subtleties that I otherwise would not have noticed the first time around (mainly behavioural; some of my observations actually made it to the article that I wrote for the September/October 2011 issue of Femnista). Plus, you know, when you get around to the letter, it’s just <3 😉

Atonement by Ian McEwan (review) — This is a hefty novel in many ways ranging from the themes explored to the character development to the outcome of the overall plot. Heck, it’s downright devastating, a word that I continually use to associate with this novel because of the way that everything works out. The first time I read the novel (perhaps during a bad time–why do I always read the interesting books right before a major exam?), it just left me wondering for days. It left quite an impression on me. Personally this is my favourite work by McEwan in terms of narration (his use of words is just perfect) and story, there’s just something about it that never gets boring no matter how many times I’ve read it. Not to mention I also pick up on things that I didn’t the first time around (seems to be a running theme here, hehe); I mentioned in my review that I never realised just how close Cecilia and Leon were until a second read. Even though I know what happens at the end the ending still gets me. Every single time.

A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin (review) — I must’ve mentioned this story a bajillion times on the internet already but for those who don’t know: I’ve known about Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire a good long time before HBO considered adapting it to a television series. I had just started my foray well into the fantasy genre and a lot of people were recommending this series. So I picked up the first novel and read it. It was fast-paced, the characters were interesting. Okay, so it was a lot darker and a lot more violent than previous fantasy novels that I’d read up to that point but okay, I can deal with it. Then bam! Main character dies. I was scarred enough to not pick up the rest of the series until a good five years later when I caught wind that HBO was adapting it and decided to get around to re-reading the book again and reading the rest of the series. Like Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, A Game of Thrones is a rich start to a very complex and detailed series; re-reading it can be a lot of fun especially when you’re theorising about how everything will work out or trying to pick up the little pieces that foreshadow events. Of course, no matter how many times I read it or how I see it on-screen, said main character’s end always shocks me. Maybe I’m still scarred =P

Sabriel by Garth Nix (review) — Ever read a book where you find yourself thinking “Oh wow, I wish I had thought this up!” Well, one of these moments came when I read this book, the first in the Abhorsen trilogy (if you haven’t read it I strongly recommend that you do, it’s utterly fantastic). Nix does such a wonderful job of blending magic and old lore with technology and other modern concepts like a standing army and a boarding school for young women. Come to think of it, with the mesh of familiar technological contraptions it seems as though Nix was already working with elements of steampunk before the sub-genre because quite popular! But I digress…the concept of an Abhorsen putting the dead down rather than raising them up was pretty interesting and the tools she uses, the bells, was also pretty unique. I haven’t re-read the series in a while but I guess I find myself awe-struck every single time I read it because I enjoy the story so much. Oh, and Sabriel is such a kick-butt heroine, she’s pretty cool-headed and collected even when dead things are about to overrun her.

A Room With a View by E.M. Forster (review) — This is another classic that I’ve read a number of times and I always find myself picking up something new or re-considering an event or decision made by one of the characters; this was definitely the case when I re-read the book earlier this year for an article I wrote for the March/April 2012 issue of Femnista. It’s pretty amusing in this case because the novel is very slim but Forster manages to jam so many ideas and themes into the story that until now I don’t think I’ve fully grasped all of the themes that he expressed (I make a note of it in the review). Nonetheless it’s a delightful read, following Lucy as she travels around Italy restless and in search for something bigger than herself and contrasting it with her life back in England and never really gets old in my eyes.


And that’s pretty much all the books that came to my mind when thinking of books that I’d never get sick of re-reading. There are plenty of other books that came to mind as well–Zafon’s The Shadow of the Wind for example–but I either had not re-read them yet or have not re-read them enough times to warrant adding them to the list for now (Gaskell’s North and South fell under the latter list). What do you guys think of the list, have you read any of them? Which books would’ve made your list?

On a semi-related note, what do you guys think of me posting up lists every now and then? Of course I’m still participating in Top Ten Tuesdays every so often but I’m actually enjoying putting together my own lists where I’m a bit more flexible on topic and number of books featured (and when to post them lol). Plus, I guess it’s also a fun way of recommending books without going into too much on the review/analysis side of things ^_~ Anyways, let me know what you think! =)

Books: Summer Wrap-Up [2011 edition]

Posted 12 September, 2011 by Lianne in Lists / 0 Comments

So here we are, at the end of another summer. I’m actually a little late this year; I started to think about this entry two weeks ago but then never continued because I was busy finishing up my graduate thesis (which I submitted last week—hurray! \o/). But now I have a bit more time so here I am finishing up this entry. I read a number of interesting books over the summer, including a number of books that have been sitting for ages on my shelf for a long time and have been meaning to read for ages.

In no particular order, here are my top five six favourite reads of the summer:

  • Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy — I don’t know why it took me over three-four years to get around to reading it; this book was just fascinating on all levels: the romance, the social issues, the psychology of the characters. Once again he really shows his understanding of the way that his society worked and the capacity to really slip under the skin of his characters and bring out the issues that concerned them the most.
  • Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky — This is the second novel I’ve read by her but by far the best. Had she lived to complete and edit it, it would’ve been an instant classic. She really portrayed the lives of regular Parisiens during the Occupation with such humanity. It also astounded me that this was an unedited copy of the novel and yet you can see the brilliancy in her prose.
  • Leviathan Wakes by James S.A. Corey — It’s exciting, thoughful and filled with interesting characters you want to root for (which is especially good given I was a little disappointed by the character development of Peter Hamilton’s Commonwealth Saga, which I read this summer as well). The world that this story takes place is equally fascinating; it’s basically my kind of space opera =)
  • Before I Go To Sleep by S.J. Watson — An excellent psychological thriller. I read this book in a day and a bit because I just could not put it down! It really had you guessing up to the very end.
  • The Flanders Panel by Arturo Perez-Reverte — Probably my favourite novel by Perez-Reverte. It reminds me of Steve Berry’s early standalones mixed with Daniel Silva’s intrigue and break-neck speed. It’s clever, intriguing with equally interesting characters.
  • George VI by Sarah Bradford — The only non-fiction book on this list but I put it ahead of the other great books I read this year because Bradford did a spectacular job in presenting George VI’s life and tenure as King of Great Britain and the British Empire. I really connected with George’s life and struggles and was very sad when it came to the end.

Notable mentions of other novels I enjoyed this year:

  • The Tenth Justice by Brad Meltzer
  • Singularity Sky by Charles Stross
  • Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay
  • Distant Hours by Kate Morton
  • Illustrado by Miguel Syjuco
  • The King’s Speech by Mark Logue (N)

And that’s it for my summer edition! I’m hoping to read through the larger novels that are sitting on my shelf by the end of this year but we’ll see since the next few months are going to be…strange, to say the least xD

List: Summer 2010 TBR List

Posted 4 June, 2010 by Lianne in Lists / 0 Comments

Okay, so since I got back home for the summer, I’ve been slowly trying to get through the to-be-read pile that I left over the course of eight months. Unfortunately, as I get through them and shorten the list, the more I add! For example, this morning I left the house with about 11 books on my TBR list (a nice, not-so-alarming number); when I got home, my TBR list burst back up to 16 again. Not to mention there’s a couple of books on my brother’s shelf that I want to read (i.e. the remaining volumes of Dante’s Divine Comedy and Lian Hearn’s Tales of the Otori) and there’s a few books I want to re-read from my shelf this summer (i.e. Marquez’s Love in the Time of Cholera, Pasternak’s Doctor Zhivago). Ahhhh, it’s fluxuating as badly as my weight! (*blushes* I thought that was a nice analogy, but anyways…)

Anyways, so here’s what I’ve got at the moment:

  • Paul Lima’s How To Write a Non-Fiction Book in 60 Days
  • Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell
  • Charles Dickens’s Little Dorrit
  • Alexander Pushkin’s Eugene Onegin
  • Charles Dickens’s Bleak House
  • Guy Gavriel Kay’s Tigana
  • Louis de Bernieres’s Birds Without Wings
  • Irene Nemirovsky’s Suite Francaise
  • Ian McEwan’s Enduring Love
  • Wilkie Collins’s The Moonstone
  • Kate Morton’s The Forgotten Garden
  • Jonathan Safran Foer’s Everything Is Illuminated
  • Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited
  • Arturo Perez-Reverte’s The Fencing Master
  • Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children
  • Fyodor Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov

In the words of Becky Bloomwood from the Shopaholic series or Douglas Adams’s Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (depending on which you’ve read/which you prefer): “Don’t Panic” =P