Top Ten Tuesday: (Character Driven Novels) October 7, 2014

What’s better than a good character?  Really, good characters are what make us love (or even care) about the plot.  And, God forbid, you encounter an interesting story with lame character development (Twilight, I’m looking at you).  So here, without any ado-

Ten Character Driven Novels (in no particular order)

  • The Host, by Stephanie Meyer
    Since this novel happens largely in the head /thoughts of two independent but sharing a body characters, it could be nothing but character driven.  The whole story is told in a reactionary first person stance that embeds the reader into the action like a war-correspondent.
  • The Tale of the Three Brothers in The Tales of Beedle the Bard by J.K.Rowling
    While not technically a novel, the legend of the three brothers is so heavily dependent on the characterizations of the four main players, that they literally become a sub-cultures fairy tale, invoking the story with just their names.
  • The Book Theif by Markus Zusak
    Not trying to spoil it, so sorry- but driven largely by the action and reaction of two characters this book is nothing if not about the hearts and minds of two “people.”
  • The Fault In Our Stars by John Green
    Life is a live action, one take play with human souls on the main stage, and John Green’s latest book reminds us of that fact.  These are the hearts and minds that we wish we could be- with the bodies we never want.
  • The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet by Bernie Su and Katie Rorick
    Reminiscent of a stage production, largely because of it’s creation story, Lizzie strings the reader along with her point of view and throws us into a full on *feels* tizzy every third page.  Without her, it’d (and I’d) be nothing.
  • The Help by Katherine Stockett
    Again, what better than a bunch of women with no better plot than life.  This mega story with a million and a half characters is reminiscent of my real life interactions with women in the world, but wildly funny to make up for the realism.
  • Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan
    An examination of characterization, and what makes individuals, well, individual.  Two characters, living with one name accidentally encounter one another and go full on teen-aged introspection.
  • The Death and Life of Charlie St.Cloud by Ben Sherwood
    Who are we if not what we leave behind?  Charlie St.Cloud imagines what is left when things go wrong and we must strive for life once more.
  • Where the Wild Things are by Maurice Sendak
    Max is everyone you ever wanted to be.  And if you say that’s not true- I’m calling you a liar.
  • The Curious Case of Benjamin Button by F.Scott Fitzgerald
    Faced with an impossible life situation: aging in reverse, this novel is a morality tale about living life to the fullest, using the title character as “living” testimony.

This regular feature here at A MaeDay Life is a part of The Broke and the Bookish’s Top Ten Tuesday’s.  This week’s theme was “Top Ten Character Driven Novels

Top Ten Tuesday: (LOVE/HATE Book Cover Trends) June 24, 2014

The thing I love most about my Kindle is that I don’t have to tote around horribly embarrassing covers.  You know the ones where people actually wrinkle their fore heads at?  I’m not a cover lover really, but that’s mostly because I spent my life either not having a choice, or choosing based on price.  That said, here’s my

Top Ten Cover Trends

  1. HATE IT Praying Blond Girl who looks just like my ex’s little sister.  First of all 90% of these books have nothing to do with the girl who looks like she’s praying (or smelling flowers oddly).  Also as much as I love my ex’s sisters it is a little odd to carry them around with me for a week while I read a book.
  2. HATE IT Shirtless Guy. Why exactly do so few men own clothing in literature?  I mean, I get how romance is supposed to be romantic, but I’ve never run into sexy accountant shirtless at work.  And isn’t part of the allure the taking off of the clothes? Put some clothes on boys!
  3. HATE IT The Title-Less.  Dear publishers of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  We get it, cash was tight, printing technology was, well not very technologically advanced, and people didnt own the roughly 300,000 books I do.  But still- a little indication of what the book on the shelf is would be helpful.
  4. HATE IT The Praise Only Back Side.  Does someone want to explain what this book is about, because it sure as heck doesn’t want to tell me itself.  Though the authors cousin sure did like it.
  5. HATE IT Authors Name Bigger than the Title.  Now I follow many authors, and buy up their works as soon as they reach Amazon preorder status, but the point of the book shouldn’t be the author, and the point of the cover should be the point of the book.  I’m pretty sure I thought Anne McCaffrey was a chacter before I read the Dragonriders of Pern series.
  6. LOVE IT Pictures Matching the Subject.  A good, simple photograph can really put into context your book long before someone picks it up to read all that praise on the back.
  7. LOVE IT.  The Subtle Graphic Nod to the Past.  Okay, I know you guys know this, but I really really love the Penguin Cloth Bound editions that are out at the moment.  These are the books I’m buying just to put on display (and pass onto the grandchildren who’s parents I don’t yet have)
  8. LOVE IT The Cohesive Series.  Tying it all together on my shelf not only helps me figure out where a book is when I’m looking for it, but also that those books are actually a series.  The Harry Potter publishers of the world did a really lovely job with their cover collections.

  9. LOVE IT.  The “Original” Cover.  Also known as the one I remember from the high school book room (where books go to die in sets of 35).  These are forever the covers associates with the books and the moments I threw them across the room at a friend.
  10. LOVE IT.  The Candid Biography Shot.  To be honest this is largely to do with the fact I hate those biography covers where the persons head is so big it’s bigger than life.  I prefer to see pictures of people who are actually engaged in something.  It’s sort of the same reason I hate school pictures, but surround myself with snap shots of my family.


This regular feature here at A MaeDay Life is a part of The Broke and the Bookish’s Top Ten Tuesday’s.  This week’s theme was “Ten Book Cover Trends (or just elements of covers) I Like/Dislike {can stick to one or the other or both!}

Top Ten Tuesday: (Should Be Summer TBR) June 17, 2014

Since I did my Summer TBR earlier this month (check it out here) I thought I would bring a little twist to the list this week… the top ten books I should be reading this summer (and probably wont) because you all know you have both those lists in your head.  I’m just freely admitting it.

This picture has nothing to do with anything, but its made entirely of living plants, so that's cool.  Found in the Belliago Gardens c) SMLennox 2014

This picture has nothing to do with anything, but its made entirely of living plants, so that’s cool. Found in the Bellagio Gardens, in Las Vegas (c) SMLennox 2014

Top Ten Books That Should Be on My Summer TBR List

  1. Ulysses by James Joyce
    I collect beautiful editions of this book, in the hopes that the old pages and stitched bindings will draw me into reading it… and yet it just seems so hard.  
  2. Palo Alto by James Franco
    Everyone in my life who has read this has suggested it to me- and I mean everyone.  Including our substitute mail carrier.  The hype, combined with the famous-actor-author have just turned me off.
  3. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
    Generally I am a book before adaptation kind of girl.  I will power through a book just to see the movie guilt free.  But I’ve been devouring the Autobiography of Jane Eyre YouTube web-series and have half halfheartedly pulled my old copy off the shelf.  I’ve read it before, and I’ll probably read it again, but this summer I suspect it will sit on my desk collecting dust while I opt for the flasher newfangled version.
  4. Code Name Verity by Elizabeth E. Wein
    This is not for lack of enthusiasm… I really do want to read this book, but I feel like it deserves more attention than my summer crammed- too-full-of-baseball-concessions-and-my-real-job-trying-to-have-a-life brain can handle at the moment.  The end of August and September have some promising empty time, so maybe then. **sigh**
  5. S by J.J. Abrams
    Again, I know better than trying to read something interesting and complex with this current schedule I’m on.  In fact Green Eggs and Ham might just throw me for a loop, so lets not take on a book with actual moving parts.
  6. Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman
    I loved this movie before I knew it was a book.  And as soon as I found out it was a book, I added it to my Amazon wish list.  Back in college.  I graduated in 2009.  I need to get on that.  Next summer.
  7. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
    I have long been fascinated by the story behind this story, and really all that’s stopping me is the lack of time and the fact I don’t have a copy.  If someone wants to get on either of those I’ll happily work on reading it. (yes, you can call me lazy now- it’s summer for fracks sake!)
  8. A Song of Fire and Ice (Game of Thrones, Book 1) by George R.R. Martin
    I love this series, but I can’t focus enough to keep a hold of so many characters at once.  I have it downloaded on my phone as an Audible audio book (how I get most of my reading done these days) so there’s hope- but the narrator doesn’t have enough voices, and he sort of puts me to sleep, which is dangerous for my fellow commuters.
  9. The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
    Again, this is just a case of lazy.  I have the book, and the audio book, but it’s literately 40+ hours long, which is more than two weeks worth of commuting (and with that math, I’ll spend less time reading and more job searching for a shorter commute.  Seriously I could read that thing in less than a month.  I have a cracker jack commute).
  10. Vampire Academy (Book whatever I’m on) by Rachelle Mead
    I was enjoying these books in the way that one enjoys the Bravo Housewives of Everywhere, but then I lost momentum by reading something serious, and just havent gotten back to them.  The story is dramatic and dynamic, but it doesnt have a big enough draw to make me put down brilliant books and plots that I’m deeply invested in.

This regular feature here at A MaeDay Life is a part of The Broke and the Bookish’s Top Ten Tuesday’s.  This week’s theme was “Top Ten Books On My Summer TBR list

Top Ten Tuesday: (2014 Years) June 10, 2014

Here we are, dear readers, at the half way point in the year.  Which, if I were a good bookish blogger would mean I would be on book number 24 at this point.  I am not on book number 24 at this point.  That’s life folks.  Of the books I’ve read (or are actively reading at this moment) here is a list of the best.

Top Ten Books of 2014 (thus far)

  1. Burning for Revenge (Tomorrow Series #5) by John Marsden
    First of all, I have been loving this series in the first place, but the fifth book is perhaps the most intense plot line and action / adventure so far (I’m halfway through the sixth at the moment).  This is really the opportunity for the main characters to come into their own, being welcomed into the war by proper authorities gives them a sort of agency in the fight for Australia, and ultimately makes them adults and soliders in their own right.
  2. Insurgent (Divergent Series #2) by Veronica Roth
    I haven’t completed the final installment yet, but I found this novel to be sprisingly good.  Generally the second novel in a trilliogy can be filler- perpetuating the plot but not really enriching the story.  Insurgent was an exception to this rule, giving us a lovely independant plot, full of rich characterizations, real emotions and the harsh realities of a heronie not getting what she wants.
  3. Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo (reading-in-progress)
    The idea of a story set in the poorest slums of Mumbai may not be a great beach read, but Katherine Boo has turned this tragic story into one where elegant prose illuminates the small rays of hope and dignity found within a landfill town.  The story itself reminds us that life’s little details are futility precious.
  4. The Fault in our Stars by John Green
    Okay, last years NYT Best Seller is probably on everyone’s 2014 list because of the movie, but I re-read on a sleepless night a few months ago (before the hoopla for the movie got so intense) and cried a bucket of tears.  Heartwrenching and honest, and a reminder of the life behind the diagnosis- this is the book Green will be remembered for.
  5. My Story by Elizabeth Smart and Chris Stewart
    An early memoir, I was expecting Mormon propaganda, but instead got a straight to the facts no fluff, filler, or sugarcoating account of the worst year of a young girls life.  Smart (with Stewarts help) narrates her time in captivity in a way that reminds us not only of the horrors of her captors, but also of the inadequate nature of the response system.
  6. Twilight by Stephanie Meyer
    Okay, truth is its c**p from a literary point of view, but I still turn to it like Lays Origional potato chips.  (Read my actual review here).
  7. The Butler by Wil Haygood
    The origination of the Lee Daniels / Oprah Winfrey film this fast book is a more journalistic approach to the story of one man who went from a field slave to watching the first black President elected in the US in his lifetime, all while standing by watching history unfold every day.  This book is a great reminder that domestic work is not forgone, or forgotten.
  8. Growing Up Duggar by Jill, Jana, Jinger, and Jessa Duggar
    An enlightening memoir / instructional on the highly Evangelical beliefs and teachings in the Duggar Family (of 19 Kids and Counting Fame).  I picked this up in part because of my interest in the subculture of Extreme Christianity in the US, but kept with it largely because once you remove the biblical passages, they open a lively and important discussion about the way we choose to interact with the opposite sex.  I dont always agree with them, but they are some of the few people in the world even bothering to discuss this topic.
  9. Cinder (Lunar Chronicles #1) by Marissa Meyer (book-in-progress)
    Half science fiction, half woe-is-me teen lit this book is far from high literature, but it never claims to be anything other than one big game of “what if.”  What if Cinderella lived in the future?  What if cyborgs existed?  What if there was an epidemic?  What if Cinderella could actually offer something to the prince, more than a pretty face and a dance in the woods?  What if this re-imagining ignites the love of fairy tales for a whole new generation of cell phone carrying, internet using tweens?
  10. Tuna fish on Banana bread with extra Mustard and Sauerkraut” by me
    Okay that’s not a book.  But I wildly amuse myself, and I’ve started telling people that instead of “I dont know.”  My favorite part is most people at work walk and talk and so they never notice, or they make it all the way down the hall before turning back and asking.


This regular feature here at A MaeDay Life is a part of The Broke and the Bookish’s Top Ten Tuesday’s.  This week’s theme was “Top Ten Books I’ve Read So Far This Year

Top Ten Tuesday: (Summer TBR) June 3, 2014

Oh the summer… days spent in the yard, book in hand, pretending you don’t hear the call of chores from the house while you devour novel after novel.  The time of the year when you are allowed, as an adult, to be seen with a book filled with something other than literary merit and best seller status.  So here, dear friend, are the ones I plan on being lost in this summer.

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  1. The Other Side of Dawn (Tomorrow Series Book 6) by John Marsden
    The war begins to draw to a close, and Ellie and the crew dig in for one last novel battle.  This is their last chance to stay alive, stay together, and stay Australian.
  2. Allegiant (Divergent Book 3) (Divergent Book 3) by Veronica Roth
    Will Tris change everything like Katness did?  Or will this become another sad disappointment in the long chain of girl power trilogy conclusions?  And just who are these allies?  [yes this was on my Spring TBR Top 10]
  3. Behind the Beautiful Forever’s by Katherine Boo
    The Nerdfighter Book Club Summer Selection.  While the subject of poverty and social class is heavy, Boo’s writing has delicate and rings so personal I almost feel like I am personally being told this story.  {clearly I’ve already started it}
  4. Wicked Designs by Lauren Smith
    It’s all in the Amazon description “Warning: This novel includes a lady who refuses to stay kidnapped, a devilish duke with a dark past, and an assortment of charming rogues who have no idea what they’ve gotten themselves into.”  [yes this was on my Spring TBR Top 10]
  5. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
    I don’t really know what this book is, or why it is already purchased and on my kindle… but there it is, staring at me every time I reach for something else, and it seems like it should be read.  [yes this was on my Spring TBR Top 10]
  6. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K.Rowling
    Harry and the Gang try to solve a Scooby Mystery.  This is my slowest HP Book, largely because it just doesnt move at the pace I would like it to.  There’s a lot of world building, which is great… later… when I have the details for all the exciting stuff.
  7. Frankenstein by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelly
    After Pemberley Digital’s announcement about their new project, Frankenstein M.D. I’m ready to turn back to an old favorite.  The doctor, the monster, the gothic horror- it’s a better fall read, I think, but I want to be ready to see what the Lizzie Bennett Diaries crew has in store for me!
  8. The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet by Bernie Su and Kate Rorick
    Speaking of Pemberley Digital and adaptations… Pride and Prejudice was adapted into The Lizzie Bennet Diaries which has been adapted into this book.  Christina at A Reader of Fictions gave it a lovely review.  And it has Darcy’s letter.  Ladies and Gentlemen pre-order now.
  9. The Last Little Blue Envelope by Maureen Johnson
    I accepted the conclusion of 13 Little Blue Envelopes with little complaint, though I always wanted to know what was in that last envelope… and now I’m gonna sit down, power through and find out!
  10. Please Ignore Vera Diez by A.S. King
    This just came in my Book Riot Quarterly Box, and I’m excited to dive into it, though I don’t really know what it’s about.  Apparently it’s got flow charts, and I love a good flow chart.

This regular feature here at A MaeDay Life is a part of The Broke and the Bookish’s Top Ten Tuesday’s.  This week’s theme was “Top Ten Books That Should Be In Your Beach Bag or Ten Books

Top Ten Tuesday: (Books I Kept Reading) May 13, 2014

Sometimes, it can be hard to stick with a not so amazing book.  You know the ones, they start slow, or they get slow, or worse yet, they are just slow.  Or they have language you dislike, characters you hate, a setting sun that wont just freaking set already.  Sorry, was that angry?  Sometimes you abandon them… if youre smart, and there’s no credit on the line, and you dont have a real reason to finish it, you can do that.  But then, every once in a while, when you stick with it and you get it done, you end up really glad you do.  Without further ado, my short list (to keep from depressing you, and me).

My Top Ten Five Books I Nearly Put Down, But Am Glad I Didn’t

  1. The Hobbit by J.R. Tolkin
    To be honest, the only reason I even picked this book up was because my Dad bought the box set in a rare moment of over exuberance after I simply touched the table it was on at Barnes and Nobel.  The pacing too hard, the world too complex (I was probably too young for Tolkin in all reality), the language too made-up.  But Dad was freaking excited that I was reading it, and I stuck with it.  The Hobbit is not my favorite book, I don’t even think it’s a masterpiece, but it does add to my geek cred, so I appreciate it.
  2. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
    I will fully admit I picked this book up when it was an Oprah Book Club choice.  It looked easy (it was Oprah after all), and my classmates were reading something lame at the time so I decided to go with the crowd.  It took me forever.  I am not a Russian Literature aficionado, and this book reiterated that, but it is a beautiful story.
  3. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
    Don’t tell the four professors in University who required this reading, but I never did it.  It’s not for lack of trying, I promise… I just can’t get past page 77.  But I wont give up- largely because I love Dickens generally… I went through a phase in high school and read devoured most of his major works.  I haven’t finished it yet, but I will one day!
  4. Cujo by Steven King
    I was entirely too young when I read this… but I kept trucking along because I wanted to prove bookish girls could be a little bada** too… which I did.  It was really the only good thing to come out of the weeks worth of homework like reading, but the legend still lives 🙂
  5. The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer
    I am not one for Old or Middle English stories where we get nowhere really slowly.  But Canterbury tales was assigned reading, and I could not escape the professor, so I sucked it up and did it.  It was brilliant in the end- a lovely examination of pilgrimage and early road tripping.

This regular feature here at A MaeDay Life is a part of The Broke and the Bookish’s Top Ten Tuesday’s.  This week’s theme was “Ten Books I Almost Put Down But Didn’t

Top Ten Tuesday: (Cover Lovers) May 6, 2014

So I’m not really a cover art kind of girl.  Sure I appreciate a nice cover, the special editions, the series that make a single scene when laid together, or the spines that create some grand graphic.  And it drives me nuts when my series don’t match (really, my HP Book 6 is the Canadian “adult” cover because it was a gift, and I regularly glare glance at it when I pass the shelf).  I will choose the original cover over the film cover when give the option- but if the movie version is cheaper, that’s what I’m going home with.  So all that being said, I dont know that I could come up with 10 covers I would put on my walls.  I’m just not paying that much attention.  So instead today, I present to you my 10 favorite Cover Lovers… you know the bloggers I found who do care, and have curated a lovely collection for this week’s challenge.  As they are all fabulous- I am presenting them in alphabetical order.

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Stiff, my favorite cover art of all time.

My Top Ten Cover Lovers (and their Top 10 Cover Lists)

  • By Singing Light
    Maureen chose covers which all speak to the human element that is contained in the story.  These covers all include a figure (or the representation of a figure in the case of the pram) which allow us to guess exactly what kind of story involved without actually reading the dust jacket (admit it- sometimes you buy things on the fly like that too!).  My favorite part of the collection is that these images can be so haunting, without being dark, twisted, or in particularly strong or offensive colours.
  • Hardcovers and Heroines
    Alison’s collection is very clean, with an almost paper layer look that reminds me of the art that self published and art department authors might choose.  Many of these covers are so iconic and linked to their novels that removing the typography would do little to hide the title- and are already used as art in many classrooms and homes.  These selections stand to remind us that book covers are perhaps some of the most accessible art of our times.
  • I’m Going to the Library
    Finley Jane’s choices are largely images of a single person, very close to the face, with distinguishing features.  Because the subject is so “close” to the viewer, an intimacy is built between the cover and reader- which draws the eyes into the images detail, and can be offsetting in the case of images with unexpected quirks that are outside of our norm (face art, for example).  This eschewing nature speaks to our understanding of the content- something inside may be a little bit different- which results in drawing a true reader in.  Brilliant, really.
  • The Novel Hermit
    Cee’s selections remind me of the film posters of the golden era- remember then, when films were about stories, and not the actors in them?  The art lends itself to the essence of the story, with simple colour schemes and bold typography making the real star the title- which can be both striking as art and useful when one is looking for a book.
  • Pretty Little Reader
    Kelly’s picks are all euphorial and gentle in composition, with rich tones with just enough use of contrast to make them not only eye drawing, but also not so much to assault the senses.  Just add a string quartet and tall glass of champagne and you might have one heck of an evening.  If these are her book cover choices, I’d like to see the art on her actual walls- I’m guessing Van Gogh’s Starry Night might just be one of the pieces she loves.
  • No Money For Books
    The self proclaimed cash poor blogger certainly doesn’t have poor taste.  This group of covers is fixed on striking contrasts in their images, in colour and content.  In many instances, this was the first time I’d seen some of these covers, and I’m intrigued by the artists ability to overlap images to create multilayer illustrations.  This is especially true when the layers interlock creating a dynamic version of the old lady- young girl illusion depending on how you shift your eyes allowing for two separate by tied images to function as a cover.
  • A Reader of Fictions
    Christina chose a great collection of covers that, while broken into categories in her own post, really speak together with a few unifying themes.  Clearly she (and I) are in love with the simple illustration- no elaborate convoluted picture to distract from the idea or title of the book.  I also love that they use really strong statement colours that are in bold shades, with few “baby” colours to be seen the covers are able to be illustrative without being childish.
  • Reading with ABC
    Arianne has pulled together a strong statement with bold typography over strong iconic images like the Golden Gate Bridge and silhouettes against the fading sky.  The contrast in colour between these elements assures the reader is able to shift focus between the layers, allowing for each to operate autonomously, and cohesively, while both elements remain in line with the tone and subject of the novel.
  • Stealing Pages
    Erin is young, but her choices of strong graphic and typographic images is far from immature.  What I love most about her collection is the cohesion between the words and the other artistic elements, making them a part of the visual story the cover is trying to tell.  It is not typography as a statement, it is typography as a part of art- making the bare bones boring part of a cover into a dynamic addition to the art.
  • Thoughts and Afterthoughts
    Joey, who is one of my go-to standout guy book bloggers, chose a collection that lacks the harsh elements you may expect from the only guy on the list.  His picks are full of gentle colour gradient and out-of-focus shots, which gives the collection the chance to call attention to the title, but also present an idea of the scene rather than a simple image or figure. For some reason, and I don’t know why, they all make me want to lean in, examining the hidden details, and to learn more about them (and the books behind them).

This regular feature here at A MaeDay Life is a part of The Broke and the Bookish’s Top Ten Tuesday’s.  This week’s theme was “Top Ten Book Covers I’d Frame As Pieces of Art