Top Ten Tuesday: Bring on 2014!

toptentuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by the fine folks over at The Broke and the Bookish. They totally rock, so check them out!

This week’s topic? The top books I read in 2013. I read a lot of books (127) so I need to figure out which ones I liked the most, and why. This might take a while… As always, in no particular order.

Gone GirlShades of GreyThe Painted GirlsLife DisruptedWool

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn – I totally jumped on the bandwagon by reading this one, but I am glad I did. I loved it. It was a twisty-turny mystery, and I am enjoying other reads by her as well.

Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde – A truly original and imaginative (though believable) dystopian society, reminiscent of The Giver. I loved this book, even though ever time I told someone I was reading it, I had to say “No, not 50 Shades of Gray

The Painted Girls by Cathy Marie Buchanan – A Canadian author who took my breath away with her stunning historical fiction. I eagerly await more from Miss Buchanan and I think The Painted Girls will be a book I will re-read over and over again.

Life Disrupted by Laurie Edwards – A little more personal, and a non-fiction book to boot. My health has been horrible this year and this book has helped me deal. It is about being chronically ill in your 20’s and how that changes things. Because man, does it change things. I recommend this book to EVERYONE who is struggling with a chronic illness.

Wool, Omnibus Edition by Hugh Howey – Hands down the best dystopian I have read in a long time, and probably the best I will read in a long time. I have the second omnibus, and I am thinking it will be read soon.

Silver Metal LoverLooking for AlaskaJust One DayThe Girl Who CircumnavigatedLies of Locke Lamora

The Silver Metal Lover by Tanith Lee – I normally hate romance stories, because they don’t read true to me. No one writes about the fights, or the stupid little things. But Tanith Lee did. And it is about a romance between a girl and a robot, which is both super odd and really cool.

Looking for Alaska by John Green – While I haven’t read everything by Mr. Green, I have read this and his arguably more popular The Fault In Our Stars. While TFiOS hit me on a “I am sick and I get this” level, I just loved Looking For Alaska more for some reason. It gave me a book hangover. I had to step back and re-evaluate things in my life. I didn’t even cry at the end of TFiOS.

Just One Day by Gayle Forman – OK, while I was reading this, part of me was like “Who goes to Paris with someone she doesn’t even KNOW?!”. And then the other part of my brain bludgeoned the first part with a bat and was taken along for an enjoyable ride. Something in the writing? I don’t even know. All I know is I am desperate to read Just One Year.

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente – I kept trying to describe this book to people. It is hard. It is a kid’s book, but it isn’t. The prose is so achingly beautiful, I kept feeling like it would be lost on children. But then I thought maybe it was actually lost on adults.

The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch – Want a snarky hero who is about to step in it? This is the book for you! I loved this book on many levels, from how certain everyone is that Locke is going to screw up in a monumental way to the cast of characters. It is quite a ride, and while it isn’t without some flaws, I heartily recommend it for the fantasy lover who doesn’t mind profanity.

So, what books did you read this year that you just LOVED? Comment below or link me to your top ten!

Happy New Year!

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Some Musings About Feminism and Writing

In case you didn’t know, I am a feminist. The shortest possible explanation I can give of what that means is that I believe in equality for women. It doesn’t mean I don’t like men, it doesn’t mean I want to take their rights away. Feminism is so misunderstood, it is kind of sad.

Most feminists will know about the women-in-refrigerators trope. In case you aren’t familiar with it, I will give you a quick rundown. This trope indicates that a woman’s place in a narrative (literature, TV, movies) is for the sole purpose of having horrible things done to her. The other side of this is that a woman is more likely to have horrible things happen to her in a narrative simply because she is a woman. We see this with serial killer stories where the serial killer targets women. We see this with a male main character who falls in love only to have his love brutally raped and murdered, thus giving him the motive he needs to exact revenge, etc.

As I am reading the latest NetGalley selection I requested, I realized something. I am noticing a disturbing trend, especially when it comes to fantasy. If I were to name the trope, I would call it the constructed-patriarchy trope.

When you write, and especially when you write fantasy, you have the right to create whatever world you want. This is part of why I love writing, and a bigger part of why I write fantasy. I love not being constrained by the world as it is now. If you want to dispute that a patriarchy exists in the world today, I suggest you take a look around. Because it is there.

But, when you are writing, and especially when you are writing fantasy, you have the freedom to make your own rules.

So why, then, are writers pitting their female characters against a patriarchy of their own making? What is even more distressing to me, is that since I have registered that this is happening, I have noticed it is a lot of female authors that do it. Now, I am not just going to sit here and point fingers. I recognize there might be a few reasons for this… so I am willing to explore those a little more.

Reason 1: Art imitates life.
This is the simplest reason I can think of. Women are oppressed, and it comes out in their writing. They want to break free of the patriarchy, and writing is the easiest way to do that.

Reason 2: The authors want to inspire feminism.
This kind of ties into reason one. But perhaps authors are looking to inspire readers to fight their own patriarchal oppression through their characters’ actions.

Reason 3: The authors are trying to write strong female characters.
Unfortunately, with what our world looks like today, a strong female must fight against a patriarchy. This isn’t actually true, though. I have read many books where the female main character is awesome, and there is no detectable patriarchy in sight.

Reason 4: The author wants the book to be relate-able.
The author may fully recognize they are creating a patriarchy, and they may be doing it for the sake of relate-ability. There is a patriarchal problem in the world today, therefore having it reflected in literature makes the literature that much more believable.

Those are the four reasons I came up with. And honestly, while they are forgivable, none of them really justifies (in my mind, anyways) the creation of a patriarchy.

So. Is this a trend that you have noticed? Am I late to the party? What do you think about the creation of a patriarchy in fiction?

15 Day Book Blogger Challenge – Day 9

15-Day-ChallengeThis awesome challenge is being hosted by April over at Good Books and Good Wine. It seems like a great challenge, so I thought I would check it out! I am going to post one of these every two or three days, interspersed with book reviews. Enjoy, and feel free to join in!

Day 9: Why do you blog about books?

I thought this was going to be a long and convoluted answer, but it really isn’t. I started blogging about books because I want to be an author someday, and I thought that blogging about books and posting book reviews would be good for me in a few ways. One, it would help me identify what it is in other writing that I didn’t like so I could avoid those pitfalls in my own. Two, I hoped it would bring me into the fold of the publishing world a little more.

And then there is reason three, which is why I continue to blog about books. I just love to read and to share what I think about what I read. I don’t think my opinion is the be all and end all, and I love talking to people with differing opinions from mine. A conversation about books is always a good time, in my mind. I mean, come on. I tried to get my husband to read The Hobbit with me before we saw the movie so we could have our own little two-person book club!

So, what makes you blog about books?

15 Day Book Blogger Challenge – Day 8

15-Day-Challenge

This awesome challenge is being hosted by April over at Good Books and Good Wine. It seems like a great challenge, so I thought I would check it out! I am going to post one of these every two or three days, interspersed with book reviews. Enjoy, and feel free to join in!

Day 8: Quick! Write 15 bullet points of things that appeal to you on blogs!

  • Updated fairly frequently
  • Clean layout without too much clutter
  • Easy to navigate
  • Pictures of books being reviewed, and links to Goodreads so I can add it to my shelf if it interests me
  • Personable tone… I don’t like being talked down to about anything, least of all books
  • Includes places other than the US when doing a giveaway
  • Isn’t afraid to get personal now and then. I like to know about the bloggers on more than just a literature level
  • Communicates with people who leave comments

That is really all I can think of right now. I am pretty easy to get along with, but I will say that design and clutter are the two big things that tend to drive me away from a lot of book blogs.

How about you? What do you like in a blog, and what is a one way ticket out of there for you?

15 Day Book Blogger Challenge – Day 7

15-Day-Challenge

This awesome challenge is being hosted by April over at Good Books and Good Wine. It seems like a great challenge, so I thought I would check it out! I am going to post one of these every two or three days, interspersed with book reviews. Enjoy, and feel free to join in!

Day 7: Talk about your blogging quirks.

Ooh, quirks you say? I have many quirks, but I don’t know about any that pertain to blogging specifically. But let me think about this, and I am sure to come up with some entertaining tidbits for you.

  • I am very OCD about some things, especially layout. If the spacing is off, I tend to get a little freaked.
  • I agonize over the best time of day to post my content to get maximum readership from non-followers.
  • The fact that I can’t do custom design on my blog as it is drives me batty. It is pretty much the sole reason I want a self-hosted blog.
  • I feel like my reviews really need work. I am not happy with how they come out 9/10 times.
  • When I really love something and get excited about it, I pretty much go into fangirl mode and can’t form coherent sentences. But when I don’t like something, I have no problems tearing it apart piece by methodical piece.

That is all I can really think of. Do you notice any quirks of mine? How about your own?

You love my personal updates…

And if you don’t, then no one is making you read it. So there 😛

Last night when I posted Top Ten Tuesday, I realized I am really quite bad at 24-hour time. I meant to post it at 11pm, and I posted it at 9pm. Whoops.

My husband and I have been on vacation for just over a week, and we have been loving it. My health has still been very very poor thanks to a horrible Colitis flare, and I am back on high-dose steroids for the second time in two months, so taking some time off was just what I needed. I have been reading and gaming when I can get up the energy. I have also been eating ALL the food because of the meds.

My grandma is still in the hospital, still very touch-and-go. We got to see her again on the 21st, and it was really nice, even though she is in isolation and we had to be in masks and gowns.

So yeah… that is what has been going on with me! I have been trying to keep blog posts queued, but some days I just don’t have energy to write. So I apologize in advance for any slipping.

Love you all!