Wednesday, June 24, 2015

On My Shelf Tag (Part Two)

Hey guys! Today I'm back with Part Two of the On My Shelf Tag. In my previous post I talked a bit about this tag and how it works. I asked you guys to pick one random book out of my 10 shelves, the aim being to talk about the books you guys randomly picked for me in today's post. As you'll see in a few seconds, I've got totally diverse books here which I think is awesome 'cause to be fair, some of these are books I would have probably never talked about on my blog if not for this tag. If you want to check Part One of this post to know more about this little bookish game, click here

So you guys had to pick a shelf number and a book number. Here are the books you picked:

Shelf 5, book 15 - Vampire Knight vol. 15 by Matsuri Hino 

Yuki’s memories begin with a night of blood tainted snow, when she was five. Rescued from the fangs of a rabid vampire by Kaname Kuran, himself a pureblood vampire considered as royalty among his kind, Yuki was put under the care of Headmaster Cross, who raised her as his own daughter. Ten years later, Yuki is living and studying at the Cross Academy. Through a secret pact between the headmaster and Kaname Kuran to promote peace between humans and vampires, the academy is home to a special class attended exclusively by vampires known as the Night Class. To the regular Day Class students, the Night Class is nothing but an elite class and it is up to Yuki and her childhood friend Zero, who also grew up under the care of Headmaster Cross, to protect the academy's secret. This manga series follows the story of Yuki as she struggles through her duties as guardian of the academy while trying to uncover the secrets of her past. And through it all, Yuki has to face the special attention Kaname and Zero seem to have both developed for her. I was originally introduced to the anime adaptation of Vampire Knight by one of my best friends. The series grew on me and years later I ended up getting the complete box set of the manga. While not necessarily my favorite manga, or anime for that matter, it's definitely high up in my top 5 anime/manga series. Make that top 3 actually! 

Shelf 3, book 8 - Scavenger Hunt by Christopher Pike 

Christopher Pike is my favorite author of all time, so I'm really happy to talk about this one. In this YA fantasy/horror published back in 1989, a scavenger hunt is organized for the entire senior class. The students are to form small groups and follow cleverly hidden clues that will not only take them all over town but also far into the desert that stretches beyond town. As everyone sets out to find the promised prize, one guy, Carl, is led by a beautiful girl to wander off the normal path. Soon, the line between present and past, between the living and the dead, becomes blurred and dangerously so. As with all of Pike's books, there are twists in this story that you'll never expect and while at the beginning of the book you might think you know where the story is headed, by the time you reach the end you'll be left wondering about the unexpected twists Pike has woven into this seemingly normal YA. 

Shelf 7, book 7 - Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead

The Moroi, mortal vampires gifted with the ability to manipulate the four elements, have always been prey to the Strigoi, a ruthless and immortal breed of vampires. Though gifted with magic, the Moroi depend on the dhampirs, half-human and half-vampire hybrids, to fight off the Strigoi and keep them safe. Rose Hathaway is a dhampir and has sworn to always protect her best friend, the Moroi princess Lissa. Two years ago, Rose and Lissa ran away from St. Vladimir's Academy, where they had both been pursuing their studies, for reasons known only to them. Caught and forced to return to the Academy, the two best friends soon find themselves once again facing what they had tried to flee two years ago. With Lissa falling prey to strange abilities and Rose developing feelings for the one man she’s not supposed to feel that way about, things begin to unravel dangerously at the Academy. This book marks the beginning to a very well written and fast-paced YA fantasy series comprising of 6 books. If you haven’t read these books yet, I would suggest reading at least the two first books before judging the series because in my opinion, the first book, while being quite enjoyable, is not exactly the best of the six. This series is still totally worth a shot though!

Shelf 1, book 3 - The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton

Love has always been more of a curse than a blessing to the women of the Roux family. While each of these women has her own unique tale, none is as singular as that of Ava Lavender. Indeed, Ava is born with the wings of a bird. Ava’s story however remains foremost that of a young woman. A young woman who makes mistakes, falls in love and, just like everyone else, tries to find her place in a world which can be as cruel as it is beautiful. With its deliciously lyrical prose and elements of magical realism, this remains one of my favorite books and I would strongly recommend you check it out. 

Shelf 10, book 10 - Rose by Tatiana de Rosnay

This is just one of those sweet and poetic stories that read just like a love letter. It's the 1860's and in Paris, under the orders of the King, hundreds of houses are being razed to 'reshape' France into a more modern self. One woman though, Rose, refuses to abandon her house. As the buildings around her fall to dust one by one, Rose remains in her house, clinging to both memories and ghosts of her past. I read this book in its original French edition, in which it's called 'Rose'. Many of you might however be more familiar with its translation, which is titled 'The House I Loved' in English.

So, those were the books you guys picked for me. If you're one of those whose selection showed up here, was the book something you've read before? If not, do you feel like picking it up at some point? Comment down below and let me know!

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Art by Of Stacks and Cups via Pagemodo

Thursday, June 18, 2015

On My Shelf Tag (This one is interactive guys!) - Part One

Hey guys! Today I'm back with a book tag. This tag was created by the YouTuber Iain Broome. You can check out his original video here

As you can tell from the title, this one is actually interactive. Basically, I state the number of bookshelves I have and roughly give the number of books I have on each shelf. Then, you guys will choose a shelf number and a book number and will write it down in the comments below. 

I'll then go through your comments and pick 3-5 of your suggestions. Then, in a second post, I'll show you the books you guys picked for me. The goal? Well, in my next post I'll then talk about the books you guys randomly picked. Of course, you won't know which book you've picked until the Part Two of this post. The point is to showcase and talk about books I might not have otherwise mentioned on my blog. I guess it's a fun way to give some recognition to different books and authors. 

I have ten shelves and while some contain more books than the others, on an average, I have roughly 20 books on each shelf. So you can pick between 1 and 10 for the shelf number and between 1 and 20 for the book number. For example if you want to pick the twelfth book I have on my second shelf, you can write it as 2,12. Or you can simply just say something like 'shelf number 2 and book number 12'. Whichever you prefer :)

I can't wait to see the books you guys will pick for me! Part Two coming soon!

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Monday, June 15, 2015

I've been nominated for the Beautiful Blogger Award!

Hey guys! This morning I was looking through my comments and saw that I've been nominated for the Beautiful Blogger Award by both Ellie from EllesBelles Bookshelf and Anissa from The Bookworm Central. This is my very first award nomination, so thanks so much to these two awesome ladies for nominating me. So here are the official rules as per their blogs:

1. Link to the blogger who has nominated you
2. List 7 random facts about you
3. Nominate 7 creative, beautiful bloggers 
4. Nominate the people you nominated 

1. My main spoken language is French. 
2.When I was little I was convinced a giant snake lived in our toilet. I was an interesting kid...
3. I can't actually pronounce my own name. I have an Indian name, Soudha, but because I speak mainly French, I'm unable to pronounce the 'h' in my name. I go for 'Soo-dah' when it's actually pronounced 'Soo-duh-ha' in Hindi. So yep, I can't pronounce my own name! 
4. I suck at photography.
5. And cooking.
6. I live on an island in the middle of the Indian Ocean. I'm not even kidding.
7. I'm kinda obsessed with Disney (but you probably already knew that).

Ali @ Ali Caitrin
Charlene @ Bookish Whimsy 

Thanks again Ellie and Anissa for nominating me. Looking forward to reading the responses of the wonderful ladies nominated above!

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Thursday, June 11, 2015

My Favorite Stand Alones

Who doesn't love a good trilogy? Or an amazing series with several books' worth of the same beloved world and characters? Still, sometimes, it's also fun to discover a literary universe in its completion within the pages of a single book. Maybe you need something quick to read in between series? Or it could just be that you're in a mood for a complete story which can be read within only a few days. For days like these, stand alones are perfect. And so, today, I've compiled my 10 favorite stand alones, at least as of 2015 so far. These books are in no particular order and have all received either 4 or 5-stars ratings from me on Goodreads.

1. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Cath and her twin sister Wren used to be major fans of the Simon Snow fantasy book series when they were younger. More recently though, while Cath is still a huge fan and actually writes Simon Snow fanfic, her sister has outgrown the fandom and has moved to other things. When the twins go to college and Wren decides to get a different room from her sister's, Cath feels further alienated from her twin. Although writing is her passion and she loves her new classes, navigating college life without her sister is hard for Cath due to her being quite the hopeless introvert. Soon though, new people enter her life, some nice and others less so, and as the days go by, Cath begins to realize that it might be time for her to write her own story. 

2. Vicious by V.E. Schwab

Years ago, back in their student days, Eli and Victor bonded over their shared loneliness and high intellect and became best friends. Together they attempted a research project which was as daring as it was brilliant. Their aim was to develop supernatural abilities. Their final experience, though proving to be an unexpected success, took a turn for the worst, resulting in Victor being taken away to prison. Now ten years later, Victor breaks free from prison, hellbent on getting his hands on his best friend turned mortal enemy. Meanwhile, Eli has tasked himself with the mission of destroying every single person possessing superhuman abilities. I loved this book because of the superhero vibe it had. Eli and Victor can hardly be seen as heroes though, being better suited for the roles of antiheroes. 

3. Burial Rites by Hannah Kent 

Agnes, an Irish woman accused of murdering her master, is banished to an isolated farm where she will await her execution. The family living on the farm is initially horrified, and anxious too, to have a murderess in their midst. As her final verdict looms closer though, the family begins to learn more about Agnes and what really happened. Throughout the book readers will swing between hope and fear regarding Agnes's ultimate fate. This is a thrilling and beautifully written book that I would highly recommend. 

4. Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma

With their father gone from their lives and their mother turned alcoholic, it fell to Lochan and his sister Maya to assume the roles of parents and take care of their younger siblings. The hardships of their lives, lack of parental presence and the fact that no one understands them the way they understand each other have made best friends out of Lochan and Maya. Inheriting the roles of parents to their young siblings and finding support and understanding in no one but each other, Lochan and Maya inevitably end up falling in love. As they struggle through a relationship they know is not only wrong but also forbidden, Lochan and Maya's fates slowly begin to take a turn for the worse. I remember feeling rather weird and skeptical about the theme back when I hadn't yet read this book. This story then turned out to be so beautifully written and tactfully handled by the author that it ended up breaking my heart, becoming the first and only book which has ever made me cry. If the subject scares you, I suggest you go into this with an open mind because trust me, this book will surprise you. 

5. In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters

It's 1918. As WWI rages on and America is swept by the terrible Spanish Flu, 16 years old Mary Shelley is sent to live with her aunt. Fascinated by science unlike most ladies of her era, she doesn't believe in ghosts and the supernatural. Yet, more and more people all over the country seem to be turning to scéances and ghost photographers to gain comfort from the loved ones lost to the war and the Flu. When Mary Shelley's dead fiancé one day shows up in a photograph, the young woman embarks on a quest for answers that might completely change the way she sees life. This was one of the best books I've ever read. A must read if you want a well-crafted historical fiction with a spooky spin.

6. A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness and Siobhan Dowd

Conor's mother is dying and since a few nights he's been dreaming about a terrible monster. Things seem like they couldn't get any worse. Then, one night, a real life monster suddenly shows up. This monster is different from the one Conor has been seeing in his nightmares but is no less scary. He declares he want one thing from Conor: the truth. Which truth? Conor does not know. Or does he? This is a children book with a beautiful story and a rather poetic prose. It also has remarkable illustrations throughout, adding nicely to the reading experience. 

7. The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly

To mourn the death of his mother, 12 years old David finds solace in the imaginative universe of stories. When he is suddenly whisked off into the fantasy world of his stories, he finds himself confronted with a world far more violent and dangerous than he could have imagined. This is kind of like a fairytale book for adults. The book has a fairytale narrative voice, but the occasional gore and horror gears it to a more adult audience. Yet, despite all the horror elements, this remains a very poetic and beautiful story. Definitely a book like nothing I had ever read before. 

8. Amy and Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson

After her mother decides to move the family across the country, Amy is left to follow them on her own. Thing is, since the death of her father in a car accident, she hasn't been able to drive. She thus turns to family friend Roger to drive her several states away to her new home. Along the way, Amy and Roger decide to take an unexpected detour to discover places in America they had never seen before. And thus, over the course of their road trip, they slowly become friends. I can assure you that is is so not your typical clichéd contemporary where girl meets guy and falls for him within the next two pages. This book is firstly about healing and follows the journey of Amy as she slowly comes in terms with what happened with her father. I'm not someone who reads lots of contemporary but I loved this one so much it's definitely high on on my list of favorite books ever.

9. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Before I give a brief description of this book, note that it's best you jump right into it without knowing too much about it. Part of the magic of this very special book is to figure things out along with the characters. As children, Celia and Marco are each taken under the care of a  different magician. As they grow far from each other, they train in magic under the tutelage of their respective mentor with the aim of one day competing against other to settle once and for all whose magician's charge is the superior of the two. After Celia and Marco both become involved in the strange and fascinating Night Circus, the stage is finally set for their long awaited confrontation. This book was beautiful. The writing, the descriptions, the universe... It was all so well-written. Such a beautiful, beautiful book. 

10. The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton 

This is a magic realism book that follows the unique story of Ava Lavender, a girl born with a pair of wings. The first part of the book follows the stories of her female ancestors including her mother and grandmother, and the rest of the book is about Ava's coming of age journey as a young woman. This isn't quite a YA, although it would appeal to a wide age spectrum. This is again one of those books which are best read with as little info as possible. If you enjoy magic realism and are up for a quick and fast-paced read, do check this one out.

So these were some of my favorite stand alones. Do you have a special stand alone you want to share? Do let me know in the comments :)

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Tuesday, June 2, 2015

100 Followers Giveaway!

Hey guys! Today I have a really exciting post for you. I just recently reached 100 followers on Bloglovin' and I thought it would be nice to celebrate with you guys. Thank you all so much for all your support. I've only been blogging since February but so far everyone's been so lovely and supportive that it feels like I've been doing this for way longer than just 3 months or so. 

This giveway is opened internationally, so long the Book Depository ships to your country, and the winner gets to pick a book of his or her choice priced up to $12. To participate, just follow the instructions in the Rafflecopter form below. 

The winner will be picked randomly and will then be contacted by email. If you get picked, please make sure you get back to me within the following 48 hours. If you have any question, feel free to drop me a line by clicking on the envelope icon at the top right of the page.

Thank you all again and good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Art by Pagemodo

Monday, June 1, 2015

May Wrap-Up

This month I read a total of 7 books. Yep, that's a bit less than my usual monthly reads but I've been reading a lot of classics lately and while they do take quite a chunk out of my reading time, I've actually been really enjoying them. Without much delay, let's jump right into it!

7. Death of Wolverine by Charles Soule - 3 stars

This miniseries follows the concluding storyline of one of the most legendary X-Men, Wolverine, across 4 issues full of awesome writing and equally awesome artwork. I had never read an X-Men comic before and what I knew about the characters and the universe was based mostly on what I'd seen in the movies. The story was still pretty easy to follow though and you just can't help get attached to Wolverine/Logan. He's such an awesome character. I would have given one more star if not for the fourth and last issue which somewhat fell kind of flat. Overall though, this was a really good comic miniseries. 

6. The Woodlanders by Thomas Hardy - 3 stars

Yes, I've been reading quite my fair share of Thomas Hardy lately. Like many of his novels, this is a drama/romance story set in a small 19th century town. The book follows the interwoven stories of several people who each in their own way are struggling to get the object of their desire, may if be the love of another or a raise in societal status. With its backdrop of 19th century rural life, romance and lingering tragedy, this is one of Hardy's best works. I found myself really enjoying the first half of the book but around the midpoint, things somewhat started to slow down a bit, hence the 3-star rating. This however remains a very poetic and beautiful story about life, society and love and if you enjoy Thomas Hardy's novels, definitely pick this one up. 

5. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis - 3 stars

This installment, the third in the publication order, sees the return of Lucy and Edmund to Narnia. This time, their sullen cousin Eustace accompanies them, somewhat against his will. The two Pevensies are reunited with old friends, including Caspian, as they all embark on a sea journey towards lands both unknown and magical. This was a very satisfying addition to the series and might even have obtained a fourth star if not for the character of Eustace. I understand why it was important for readers to initially find him unsympathetic but in my case I think it worked a bit too well and after a few pages, I just got a bit frustrated with him. It could also be that I was just missing the two older Pevensies. 

4. Tess of the d'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy - 4 stars 

Yep, another Thomas Hardy book! I guess it means I have a new favorite author :) This is so far the most dramatic of the books I've read by him. It follows the story of Tess, a girl born to a peasant family and whose father learns he's of noble ancestry. For her parents' sake, Tess accepts to seek the rich branch of the family to claim kinship. Thus she meets her 'cousin' Alec and what then follows will forever change her life. Some might argue this book deserves 5 stars but Tess, while being a very human and relatable character, isn't quite as strong a female character as I like to read about. I however really enjoyed this book and would like to reread it at some point.

3. Silas Marner by George Eliot - 4 stars

Old and solitary Silas Marner's life is turned upside down when one day someone steals the treasure he'd been gathering and hiding for years. Silas soon afterwards finds an abandoned child in his home and ends up adopting her. Initially depressed by the loss of his treasure, Silas finds new joy in his unexpected fatherhood and thus his life slowly begins to change. If the plot sounds familiar it's because Gabrielle Zevin's novel 'The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry' is loosely based on this book. This was quite a short and quick read and within 200 pages or so, George Eliot manages to explore human nature with her always captivating and occasionally witty prose. This might not be the best book to start with if you're interested in discovering George Eliot's works but if you're already a fan of her books, you might not want to miss out on this one.

2. The Silver Chair by C.S. Lewis - 4 stars

This book follows the adventures of Eustace and his schoolmate Jill Pole as they unexpectedly find themselves carried into Narnia, where they are sent on a mission to find the King's long lost son, the Prince Rilian. Their adventures lead them to new friends and foes, and down into the eerie Underland where dark schemes are brewing. This is the first Narnia book without any of the Pevensie siblings but we do get a more mature and brave Eustace as well as lots of scenes with Aslan. Overall, this installment was very fun to read. 

1. Saga Vol. 4 by Brian K. Vaughan - 4 stars 

More space drama, action, sexiness and badass awesomeness. Need I say more? This graphic novel series just keeps getting better and better. There were issues that I enjoyed less than others but overall, this remains a volume that should greatly please fans. 

So that's it for my wrap-up. Is there anything here that you've read or want to read? Let me know in the comments!

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