Thursday, July 31, 2014

55 Book-Related Questions: Day 2

And so we continue.

12. What is your reading comfort zone?
Christian, older kids - APPROPRIATE adult, fantasy/sci-fi/historical/general... I like a little dash of romance in the books I read, but nothing much.

13. Can you read on the bus?
Yes. It hasn't happened to me on the bus yet, but I sometimes get car sick. That's the only thing that stops me from reading. ;)

14. Favourite place to read?
A comfy chair.

15. What's your policy on book lending?
No dog earing, no tearing or creasing of any sorts. If you're going to borrow a book from me, I want it back EXACTLY THE SAME WAY IT LOOKED WHEN YOU GOT IT. Understand?

16. Do you dogear your books?
What?! No!

17. Do you write notes in the margins of your books?
Who is writing these questions, a desecrator of books?

18. Do you break/crack the spines of your books?
I avoid it as much as possible. So I be extra careful with new books. However, once it's happened (or once I've got annoyed with not being able to hold out the book at any easy reading angle), I flatten the book out most of the way for ease of reading.

19. What is your favourite language to read?
Well, I only know English (I'm only just starting with French), so I suppose that. But Elvish is a beautiful language to look at.

20. What makes you love a book?
A good story. Action, but not so much that the whole story is being rushed. Good morals and characters learning lessons that teach them to be better people. Kindness of characters. Funny moments (and funny characters).

21. What will inspire you to recommend a book?
The above.

22. Favourite genre?

Monday, July 28, 2014

55 Book-Related Questions: Day 1

Since this is, essentially, the blog where I talk about books (and movies and TV shows and CDs, but shhh, we're going to ignore this fact for now), I thought I would do this fun tag. I'm going to split the tag up into 5 days. (I wanted to do two or three days, but then that wouldn't be an even split, would it?)
Feel free to join in by answering the questions in the comments or by making your own post - I'd love to hear your responses!

1. What was your favourite childhood book?
I can never stick with just one, but my favourite book ever since I was nine was and still is The Lord of the Rings. But that isn't really considered a child's book. ;) When I was young, I liked to read classics like Little Women and A Little Princess. I also loved mystery series like The Boxcar Children and The Hardy Boys (which I preferred to Nancy Drew).

2. What are you reading right now?
Ha ha ha... this is the question you should never ask me. Officially, it's Surrender the Heart by MaryLu Tyndall and Angels in the Dust by Zofia Kossak. Unofficially, I'm also reading a writing book, a Downton Abbey guide, and a book by a friend.

3. What books do you have on request at the library?
None - just two CDs that I'm probably not going to get until next year.

4. Bad book habit?
Starting many books and never finishing them...or at least, not for several months because I keep starting other books. Oh, and I also check out so many books at the library that some of them have to be returned before I've even had a chance to get to that book in my stack.

5. What do you currently have checked out at the library? 
Many books. But most of them are either craft or French books... so the actual "reading" books I have checked out are Surrender the Heart and two Doctor Who Adventures.

6. Do you have an e-reader?
Yes, my dad bought me a Kobo a few years ago. However, I don't use it a whole lot because I prefer reading from an actual book.

7. Do you have to prefer one book at a time, or several at once?
I prefer the former, but I always seem to end up doing the latter.

8. Have your reading habits changed since you started a blog?
Yes. Since I have a reviews blog, I need to have something to review on it. Therefore, I make more of an attempt to read in my free time instead of pointless browsing. (Ehhh, but I still do that, too. Can't give Pinterest up. ;0)

9. Least favourite book you read this year?
Isolde, Queen of the Western Isle

10. Favourite book you've read this year?
Tough question. Maybe The House of Hades.

11. How often do you read out of your comfort zone?
I read a lot of stuff... however, I usually go with adult Christian and some YA. I don't read a whole lot of classics and longer books nowadays. So not too often...maybe 10-20% of the time.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Beneath the Dover Sky ~ book review

The second book in the series (following Ashton Park) transports the reader back in time to 1924 as Sir William--recently named Lord Preston--celebrates his sixtieth birthday at the Danforth summer home in Dover. Although the ravages of World War I are in the past, new threats loom as a man named Adoph Hitler publishes a book called Mein Kampf. Is he a danger to Europe? And what of Lord Preston's growing friendship with an up and coming political leader named Winston Churchill?

On the home front, one of the Danforth daughters, the recently widowed Catherine, sells her home in Belfast to spend more time at Dover--where she finds herself annoyed at the impertinent German theologian her father has befriended. The entire Danforth family faces many changes as illness and tragedy strike. Young Edward finally makes his move into the political arena while Michael and Libby welcome a new family member.

I liked the second book in this trilogy much better than Ashton Park. One reason was that the whole book wasn't spent on the love dramas of every single Danforth child (mostly because almost all of the children are married at this point, but I am grateful for any reason). I liked that more time was spent on more important/interesting events, such as

- the point of view of a man who opposes Hitler living in post-WW2 Germany
- the subplot of a woman who learns to love the grandchild she didn't want
- a dying woman who unselfishly starts planning for her husband's future instead of thinking of herself


Finally, I liked that there was more points of view of the Danforth's servants, and that there wasn't yet another servant-and-noble-fall-in-love subplot (which quickly became boring in the first book).

Oh, and I like this cover better than the first book's cover, too.

Alyianna's rating: 9 out of 10

Monday, July 21, 2014

Head and Heart ~ album review

I love Christina Perri's voice. Her songs remind me of a mix between Regina Spektor and Enya (the songs like "Anywhere Is"). Therefore, I was very excited to listen to her latest album. I was disappointed by some of the album with its weaker, poppy songs, but I was impressed by most of the album (especially "Human", which is like a breath of fresh air among pop songs). The album is mostly fine, except for the song "One Night", which I find inappropriate. I think I prefer her first album "Lovestrong" better, but this album is still good. :)

I do find the album cover more than a little weird. But it's the songs that matter, right?

My Favourites from This Album
- "Be My Forever" (ft. Ed Sheeran)
- "Human"
- "I Don't Want to Break"
- "Sea of Lovers"
- "The Words"
- "I Believe"

Alyianna's rating: 9 out of 10

Sunday, July 20, 2014

If You Like Jane Austen...

Head over to Old-Fashioned Charm right now to enter this giveaway. Miss Lawrie is giving away five books, from Pride and Prejudice (my favourite Austen novel) to a beautiful treasury!

Friday, July 18, 2014

So Close to You ~ book review

I enjoyed this YA with a touch of sci-fi and historical fiction (more so of the latter). Lydia was a character I could relate to, a girl who doesn't care about partying and loves her family, enough to spend time with her grandfather when she'd rather go to the beach and put herself in a dangerous situation to find the answers to a secret that has been plaguing her grandfather for years. She's genuine and someone I would like to be friends with.  I like the story of Wes, the boy who follows Lydia after she goes back in time order to protect her. (Not going to mention his story in order to keep this review relatively spoiler-free, but it is pretty cool and sci-fi-ish.) One thing though - I did find that Lydia fell in love with Wes awful fast after distrusting him for a while. Also, I found the “love triangle” (aka the main character having TWO love interests at the same time” to be a little annoying because this appears in pretty much YA book ever. However, I did appreciate that Lydia discouraged the second love interest, a boy who lives in a different time period, when she realized that he was meant for someone else.

The plot works and is different from the other travelling-in-time-to-see-ancestors books I've read. The historical parts feel real, although I did find the emphasis on a whole bunch of terminology of the period that the reader is obviously not going to understand to be slightly annoying.

The book ended on such a cliffhanger that I had to reread the ending and I started to panic that this was really the end. But then I found that this is the first book of a trilogy. *phew* Now I just need to find the sequel at my local library!

Alyianna's rating: 9 out of 10

Monday, July 14, 2014

Merlin Series 2 ~ TV Show Review

The excitement and novelty of this TV show has died down a little bit for me, but there are still those episodes that surprise me (like with Doctor Who :D). I definitely still recommend this season just as much as the first season. While episodes like "Beauty and the Beast" made me think, "I don't want to look...! But I have to look to see what happens!", episodes like "The Lady of the Lake" were SO BEAUTIFUL.

My Top 5 Favourite Episodes

"The Lady of the Lake"

1. "The Lady of the Lake"
Merlin helps the beautiful druid girl Freya escape from a bounty hunter's cage. Merlin feels connected to Freya in a way he hasn't felt with anyone before.

2. "The Last Dragonlord"
When the Great Dragon attacks Camelot, Arthur and Merlin search for the last Dragonlord... who happens to be someone distinctly connected to Merlin.

3. "Sweet Dreams"
King Alined wants war and is prepared to do anything to make it happen - even magic. Arthur and a king's daughter, who used to hate each other, now are certain that they love each other because of this magic.

4. "The Once and Future Queen"
Merlin helps Arthur disguise his identity to enter a jousting tournament in order to prove his worth. But in the long wrong run, Arthur learns some lessons about humility.

5. "Sins of the Father"
A mysterious warrior challenging Arthur to a duel starts a devastating chain of events, one of which Arthur finds out the secret his father has been keeping from him since his birth.

"The Last Dragonlord"

 Alyianna's rating: 9 out of 10

Friday, July 11, 2014

The Clockwise Man ~ book review

In 1920s London the Doctor and Rose find themselves caught up in the hunt for a mysterious murderer. But not everything is what it seems. Secrets lie behind locked doors and inhuman killers roam the streets.

Who is the Painted Lady and why is she so interested in the Doctor? How can a cat return from the dead? Can anyone be trusted to tell - or even to know - the truth?

With the faceless killers closings in, the Doctor and Rose must solve the mystery of the Clockwise Man before London itself is destroyed...

This was my second Doctor Who: New Series Adventure book. While I didn't like this one quite as much my first read from this series (#38), this book was still quite good. The voices were perfect, I could easily imagine the Ninth Doctor and Rose in my mind with their dialogue and actions in the book. I had to admit that I was thinking of those Clockwork Robots as soon as I saw the title, and the creatures in this book actually did have some similarities to the latter creatures (though not exactly). The plot definitely kept me on my feet (in my mind).

Alyianna's rating: 8 out of 10

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

The House of Hades ~ book review

I finally got around to reading the "latest" book (it came out last year) from one of my favourite authors, Rick Riordan. I wasn't sure how I would enjoy the book because it had been so long since I read the last book that there were some events that I didn't remember (that I should to enjoy the book fully).

I absolutely loved The House of Hades. I quickly caught up with the little reminders Rick added in the beginning - those were VERY helpful, I had to say. I guess I understand now why authors put those usually annoying little backstory bits in their books that aren't the first in a series. The story, adventure, and friendships were great. There is a certain section involving my favourite character, Leo Valdez, that brought me to tears of happiness/pain. (And I usually don't cry at books. TV shows, yes. Books, usually not.)

However, there were a few things that gave me pause. I've never had too much problem with whole pagan-gods-and-goddesses theme of these books. I even found one sentence in a Percy Jackson book (I can't remember which one) that one could even read to as in hinting that there is a higher God above the (Greek) gods. However, House of Hades had a little bit of slamming on Christianity. Two of the characters hear about a temple of Diocletian being turned into a Christian church, which is looked on as negative. Another character has an atheistic philosophical quote. But I feel like I could give pass on these things because they're pretty minor.

It's the homosexual controversy in Chapter 36 that had me sitting there thinking, "Did that just happen?" I was shocked. And a little horrified that an author I trusted could do this to me.

Let me go into more details.

Two of the characters, Jason and Nico, are on a mini quest to get a scepter that will be very helpful to their main quest later on. I've never liked Nico. He's very brood-y and he seems to carry a grudge against everyone. During this scene, the two boys meet the god Favonius, who serves Cupid. Favonius tells Jason and Nico that he loved a male mortal, whom the male god Apollo also loved. I wasn't too perturbed by this, as I already know that the Greek and Roman gods were pretty degenerate. But then, in order, to stop Cupid from killing them, Nico reveals his dark secret - he, too had a crush on another of the male gender...who is no less than the main character of the series, Percy Jackson. Nico says he doesn't feel that way anymore, which also made me forgive him. However, Jason assures Nico that if their other five friends knew, they would support him.

I enjoyed the rest of the book immensely, but I still have this little bit of wariness with anything dealing with this character now. However, I feel like I could read the rest of the series comfortably because it's obvious to any reader of the series that Percy and his girlfriend are that close that they will get married someday. Also, so far, Nico appears to be living chastely and not giving in to his desires...which is what that the Church asks, right?

Alyianna's rating: 9 out of 10 (1 taking off for warning flags)

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Twice Promised ~ book review

Greta Olsen arrives in Central City, Colorado, as a mail-order bride, expecting to marry Jess Gifford, the man she's come to know through his tender letters. But when she meets Cora Johnson, she discovers she's not the only bride waiting at the train station for Jess.

Already shocked to find they must compete for Jess's affection, the young women can hardly believe it when not Jess but his brother Zach picks them up from the station--and reveals that Jess knows nothing about anymail-order bride, let alone two. Will either bride make the match she hopes for?

I was very excited to read this book after enjoying its prequel. The book starts out really well with a great prologue that draws the reader into the story. However, further into the book, I wasn't as impressed.

Greta and Cora, mail-order brides, get matched up with two brothers, Zach and Jess, respectively. The problem is, Greta loves Jess and Cora loves Zach (the feelings mutual). The girls do not get jealous of each other even with these strained relationships, and even become best friends. However, the romances with each other's fiancé's continues, making the story feel like a soap opera. I still rooted for the characters to sort things out, but I got deeply frustrated with the four adults.

While this book wasn't as enjoyable as some other reads, I still like it and I'm still interested in reading the third book in the trilogy to find out what happens to the third sister (maybe she'll have more sense). However, I don't think I'll read Twice Promised again.

Alyianna's rating: 7.5 out of 10

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

What I'm reading at the moment...

When it comes to reading, there is something that often happens with me. Let's call it Alyianna's Reading Syndrome. In the following disorder, the reader cannot stick with one book because what if the said book that he or she is reading is not in the room that he or she is in at the moment? Therefore, the reader needs to have a different book to read for different occasions or rooms. This leads to several books being read at once.

Therefore, I thought I would demonstrate this disorder by showing you the books I am reading at the moment... which will also show you some of the books that may show up on this reviews blog in the recent future.

I started re-reading one of my favourite books, I Thirst, a month ago. Then it ended upstairs in my bookshelf. I'm going to finish it at some point.

Then there's the book that my mom forced suggested that I read, Angels in the Dust (which I am about 20% through now, as it is a long book). It's not a bad read, but the problem is, I only have it on my Kobo. And I detest reading on ereaders. Give me a real book any day.

When I have brief moments in the day in between my French and playing with my sister, I'm reading The World of Downton Abbey (29% read). When I want to read something that will help with my writing, I'm reading 45 Master Characters. And, finally, I'm planning to start the sequel to Deeply Devoted, Twice Promised, very soon.

And because I don't like admitting this to the public, this is what I have on Goodreads: