Tag Archives: Tithe

Recommendations of Note (for the scrappy ladies)

(photo credit: martinak15 via photopin cc)

It has been pointed out to me of the double meaning of crafty—I did not mean anything by it, fabulous ladies. I just think of you of my crafty ladies, and today, you’ll be scrappy. =)

So my last post of recommendations focussed on book series, and today we’ll focus on individual books! (The harder task, since so many books today are part of series.)

The Fault in Our Stars (John Green, Penguin). This one can’t be ignored, especially since the movie is making women and their daughters everywhere sob out loud in cinemas. Two teenagers fall in love and they just happen to have cancer – a lovely, heartbreaking book that shows all the beautiful and ugly emotions associated with grief. Recommended for 14+

Saving Francesca and On the Jellicoe Road (Melina Marchetta, Penguin). Melina is definitely one of my favourite Australian authors; she captures the teenage soul so well. Saving Francesca is about a girl whose mother suddenly won’t get out of bed while trying to navigate her new school as part of the first class of girls in an all-boys school. The pop culture references are to die for (and are particularly relevant to me as this book was published when I was sixteen.) On the Jellicoe Road begins the day Hannah disappears. Taylor was left at the 7Eleven in Jellicoe by her mother when she was 11. Hannah, the woman who picked her up, is the closest thing she has to a mother–and one day she’s just gone. But Taylor doesn’t have time to be mad at Hannah (although she makes time)–the Cadets are arriving in Jellicoe and that means the territory wars are on again. I have so many emotions about these books that I could never do them justice in one or two sentences. Recommended for 13+

Everyday (David Levithan, Random House). I don’t read much David Levithan. I’m not entirely sure why, I should–I really like his work. I also really like that he’s a publisher at Scholastic and STILL has time to write meaningful books. Everyday is a book that should be on every single school’s senior curriculum. It challenges sexuality and gender in a very open, very real way, and that just makes the book all the more endearing. Recommended for 12+

Stardust (Neil Gaiman, Harper). A true modern-day fairytale. Stardust is beautifully written that makes the reader feel like they’re floating and softly landing in a magical land. It is nothing like the movie, so don’t expect the lightning pirates to turn up, sorry. Both movie and book are individually brilliant. I particularly like Stardust because it was written as if it’s meant to be read out loud. Start reading this at bedtime! Recommended for all ages.

Tithe and Doll Bones (Holly Black, Simon & Schuster). Tithe, as I’ve said many many times before, is the book that made me want to become an author–specifically a children’s and young adult author. Tithe follows Kaye as she discovers the fae world through the intriguing and slightly off-putting Roiben–the Unseelie Court’s knight. Doll Bones is Black’s latest children’s book and is seriously creeepy. Three kids on the brink of ‘growing up’ make one last ditch effort at being real kids playing with their dolls–only the queen of their dolls’ world (an antique piece made with real human hair) suddenly starts sending them messages trying to be buried with her bones. Tithe is recommended for 12+, Doll Bones is recommended for 8+

The Night Circus (Erin Morgenstern, Random House). Like Stardust, this is a gorgeously written book. It wants to be illustrated! The book follows the Night Circus and the character’s the interact with the moving exhibition. What the patrons and artists don’t know is that the Night Circus is a battle between two apprentices of frenemy magicians, and that their magic is the only thing holding it together. Recommended for 12+

Before I Fall (Lauren Oliver, Hachette). My favourite book in 2012, and probably the last great book I read until I found a bunch of fabulous ones in the last three months. The best way to describe this book is to let another review do it for me! (You can’t blame me, there are SO many books on this list.) Kat says: “This book is about a teenager, Sam, who is a Mean Girl who trips into Groundhog Day world and is set on a path to redemption.” Before I Fall shows just how much of an impact your actions can have on the world around you, and that you never ever want to be like Sam (you don’t even like her at the beginning of the book!). Recommended for 12+

Ice Station and Contest (Matthew Reilly, Pan Macmillan). I don’t know if there’s anything I can say about Matthew Reilly’s books that hasn’t already been said. Do you have reluctant readers around you? Start them on Ice Station–lots of action, a bunch of swearing. I read these books because my Dad (he’s a manual arts teacher) told me that the year ten boys at his school were studying Ice Station in English. Most of his books are page turners and I’m partial to the action-orientated ones. Yes, Ice Station is part of a series, but it stands alone. Contest was his first ever book that he self-published before being picked up by Pan Macmillan. Recommended for 14+

Attachments (Rainbow Rowell, Hachette). Better than any rom-com I’ve ever seen! (This is a slight exaggerations as I’ve seen a lot of rom-coms and I love a lot of them.) Lincoln is brought on as a security supervisor–what this really means is that he gets to read the company’s flagged emails and send warnings to their writers. Except, he never sends a warning to Beth and Jennifer, best friends who ignore the company’s email policy, and suddenly becomes utterly involved in their life story to the point of falling in love with one of them. Sounds creepy, but is actually pretty adorable. Recommended for 14+


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Life-changing books

Last week, my friend Nick (@nicktatorship) tweeted: “Good books change you. Great books change the world.””

Great books are often classics; in fact, in part of an university assignment I argued great books should not be synonymous with classics, as great books are entirely a personal indication of how much you loved a book. That assignment did not go down well.

In any case, I understand the sentiment. Nevertheless, it made me think: which books, that I’ve read throughout my life, have changed me?

Tithe by Holly Black (link)
More information available from these booksellers: Amazon and Book Depository UK (link coming soon) *
It’s hard to write about what Tithe means to me. It was the book that made me want to and decide to be a writer. It was gritty and grundy and completely urban fantasy. And it was exactly what was missing from the stories I was reading. Tithe opened up this whole new world that had never existed before. It was the gateway drug to all the New England Victorian-esque stories that have heavily influenced my own writing. Time and time again I will go back to Tithe just to remember why I am a writer, why I aspire to be a writer and what my writing can do for someone.

The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons (link)
More information available from these booksellers: Amazon (hardcopy or Kindle) and Book Depository UK (link coming soon) *
The Bronze Horseman was not Paullina Simons first novel. In fact, it’s not even written in her first language. Simons is Russian. English is her second language, yet all her books are written first and foremost in English. The novel changed my life in two ways; firstly, it will always intensify my desire to learn a second language. If someone can read, speak and write a second language so naturally, why can’t I? I want to be able to write a novel in French, translate my own novels to French and conduct interviews in French. I desperately want to become bilingual. Secondly, it is the most beautifully written novel I have ever read. It uses all the senses, touches the heart so you’re laughing and crying and cringing in pain with the characters. Tatiana and Alexander are fundamentally flawed (as are most of Simons’ characters), yet they do the things they do for each other and the love they are fighting for and never regret any of it. It’s a love story, a historical novel, an exercise in bilingualism, a truly rounded life changing book. Everyone I’ve recommended this book has loved it, bought their own copy (or copies in some cases) and now read it once a year. It’s the fall-back book like Harry Potter is the fall-back children’s novel; when out of things to read, you will read this. Even though I write young adult more often than not, this is the level of writing I want to obtain–an adult-level of language control that appeals to all audiences.

Those are the only two books that changed my life. Out of the hundreds of books I’ve read (or started reading), I have two that changed me. I’ve read other brilliant books–one such book is Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver (link)–but not many have lived up to the standard of Tithe and The Bronze Horseman. In all honesty, none live up to The Bronze Horseman.

(Interesting fact: I read both of these books when I was fifteen years old. Maybe I was just impressionable?)

That doesn’t mean I will stop reading. Of course it doesn’t. There are many wonderful and even good books out there. What I can hope for is that another book will come along and surprise me one day by changing my life. It may seem like a sad thing to say; I don’t mean for it to be like that. It’s entirely and forever exciting as I pick up a book and read with wonder: will this be a life-changing book?

* Please note, I am experimenting with affiliate programs. I do not plan to monetise the site overall, but as Lisa Dempster explains, it’s a fairly harmless way of making small, additional income. What’s more, most of the overseas affiliate programs do not pay in actual cash to international users, so really, you’ll just be helping me buy more books. (Currently, I am affiliated with Amazon, Book Depository UK  (link coming soon) and Smashwords. If you feel there are others I should affiliate with, let me know–I’m still looking for a good indie affiliate!)

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