Sunday, January 25, 2015

Steven's 2015 TBR

Remember that one time that I said I would post my TBR for 2015? You know, two weeks ago? Yeah I didn't. There's many things I can blame this tardiness on - homework, my childhood, Doctor Who - but I won't waste everyone's time by lying to you, so here's the real reason it's taken me so long: Jessica. That's right, it's Jessica's fault. I'm not sure how, but it just is, and she should feel very ashamed of herself.

Anywho, right now I'm supposed to be doing homework so naturally I've been quite productive with everything except homework, and this blog post is next on the list. In my 2015 reading resolutions blog post I said that I wanted to read 36 books, but the problem is I'm a very impulsive person who watches an entire season of a show on Netflix in one day then doesn't start the next season for three months. Therefore I won't write out all the books I'm planning to read because I know I'll end up substituting many of them and by April I'll have forgotten I have a list on Goodreads anyway.

But without further ado, here is Steven's 2015 TBR.

I Refuse by Per Petterson

Two men meet by accident on a bridge early one morning. Once they were best friends -- but Tommy and Jim haven't seen each other for 35 years. Back then, Tommy and his sister were abandoned by their mother and later by their abusive father, and Jim, who lived alone with his religious mother, went to high school and became a socialist. Then one winter, Jim started to doubt whether he was deserving of the friendship. Now Jim is standing on the bridge, fishing, when Tommy drives by in his expensive new Mercedes. "I Refuse" follows both men during the course of the fateful day that follows.

There's two reasons I want to read this book: the first reason is the author's name. It sounds like when Per Petterson was born the nurse's asked his mother for a name and she channeled her inner kitty and they stuck with Purrrrr. It's a fun name to say. The second reason I want to check out this book is because it sounds like an interesting story that spans a lifetime. Having read only the description above, I'm hoping the story shows how the men have changed over the years and how who they were as young men gets twisted and molded by the challenges of life. This interests me because who I thought I'd be when I was sixteen is already worlds away from who I am now: a prematurely balding twenty-three year old with an unhealthy addiction to pizza.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon

Although gifted with a superbly logical brain, for fifteen-year-old Christopher everyday interactions and admonishments have little meaning. He lives on patterns, rules, and a diagram kept in his pocket. Then one day, a neighbor's dog, Wellington, is killed and his carefully constructive universe is threatened. Christopher sets out to solve the murder in the style of his favorite (logical) detective, Sherlock Holmes. What follows makes for a novel that is deeply funny, poignant, and fascinating in its portrayal of a person whose curse and blessing are a mind that perceives the world entirely literally.

I don't know how this book made its way into my Goodreads list, but I'm glad it's there. This novel sounds quirky enough in its story-telling to keep my attention (which is comparable to a chipmunk on speed), and hopefully it's accurate in its portrayal of someone whose brain works entirely differently than mine. While Christopher plans everything, I can't even guarantee that I'll have clean underwear for tomorrow, so hopefully this will help me get to know someone who actually uses their left brain.

The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov

Mikhail Bulgakov's devastating satire of Soviet life was written during the darkest period of Stalin's regime. Combining two distinct yet interwoven parts—one set in ancient Jerusalem, one in contemporary Moscow—the novel veers from moods of wild theatricality with violent storms, vampire attacks, and a Satanic ball; to such somber scenes as the meeting of Pilate and Yeshua, and the murder of Judas in the moonlit garden of Gethsemane; to the substanceless, circus-like reality of Moscow. Though completed in 1940, "The Master and Margarita" wasn't published in Moscow until 1966, when the first part appeared in the magazine "Moskva." It was an immediate and enduring success: audiences responded with great enthusiasm to its expression of artistic and spiritual freedom.

Sometimes I search through the dark and scary catacombs of my phone and I'll find a random phrase written in my notepad app. Sometimes it's a song I've forgotten about, other times it's a mysterious clue about a password on a website I forgot I signed up for, and occasionally it's a detailed account of how pathetic my bimonthly workout routine is. I like to imagine there's a gnome that creeps into my room at night and writes these random messages in my phone because it's a secret code that will some day lead me to Half-Life 3 or a fountain of chocolate and puppies (which, come to think of it, is a very bad combination), and that eventually he'll write something that'll make me rich. That is the story of how I found out about The Master and Margarita. I peered into the depths of my phone and saw MASTER AND MARGARITA. How it got there I'll never know, but I've learned not to insult the gnome by ignoring his recommendations, even though he can be a bit eccentric at times and recommend movies like Battleship.

Blankets by Craig Thompson

Wrapped in the landscape of a blustery Wisconsin winter, Blankets explores the sibling rivalry of two brothers growing up in the isolated country, and the budding romance of two coming-of-age lovers. A tale of security and discovery, of playfulness and tragedy, of a fall from grace and the origins of faith.

This one is a two-fer. It's a graphic novel and it was recommended by Jessica, so by reading it I'll be knocking two resolutions out at once. If I had no self-respect I would say booya, but I don't want to seem too white on my own blog, so I'll say cowabunga instead. Now the random passer-by on this blog will say "Oh, he's not a loser, he's just a ninja turtle. I see." Jessica just told me that this will be a great book for me to read at this stage in my life, which really makes me wonder where she thinks my life is. I'm not in Wisconsin, Jess, and I've never had a brother. Get your head straight, dimbo Just kidding I love you Bigfoot please stop hitting me.

Food: A Love Story by Jim Gaffigan

What are my qualifications to write this book? None really. So why should you read it? Here’s why: I’m a little fat. If a thin guy were to write about a love of food and eating I’d highly recommend that you do not read his book.

I wasn't sure if I wanted to end my TBR post with this one, since there are other books that are probably better suited to this list, but let's be real: few things make me happier than food. There's my lovely girlfriend, the smell of rain on pavement, sweatpants, that instant where your windshield-wipers match up perfectly with your music, and pictures of Kim Jong Il looking at things, but that's pretty much it. Honestly, food might be tied at the top of that list with Bigfoot. I asked Jessica what she thinks makes me happiest and she said, "me and pizza," confirming my hypothesis. I love Jim Gaffigan's stand-up, so hopefully this will be great too.

----------

There's other books that I've planned on reading, such as The Martian by Andy Weir, the Chaos Walking series by Patrick Ness, and a couple classics by Vonnegut, Dickens, and John Green Orwell, but these are the ones I'm dead-set on reading.

Hopefully by this time next week I'll have my review of Stephen King's The Stand, but that might mean March, so who knows.

Feel free to comment below with some books you plan on reading this year!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Top 5 Wednesday - Series You Want to Start This Year

I thought it would be fun to participate in the Top 5 Wednesday posts in the online book community and you can find other blogs and Youtube channels that participate here. This week's topic is which series you would like to start this year. I absolutely love series and have a lot on my Goodreads to-read bookshelf, but here are my top 5!

1. The Sweet Trilogy by Wendy Higgins

"What if there were teens whose lives literally depended on being bad influences? This is the reality for sons and daughters of fallen angels.
Tenderhearted Southern girl Anna Whitt was born with the sixth sense to see and feel emotions of other people. She's aware of a struggle within herself, an inexplicable pull toward danger, but it isn't until she turns sixteen and meets the alluring Kaidan Rowe that she discovers her terrifying heritage and her willpower is put to the test. He's the boy your daddy warned you about. If only someone had warned Anna. Forced to face her destiny, will Anna embrace her halo or her horns?"

It has been a while since I've read a YA paranormal romance and I've heard a lot of great things about this series! The summary is kind of confusing so I'm not exactly sure what to expect, but it is definitely a series I want to try this year based off many glowing reviews. Plus, YA paranormal is my guilty pleasure.

2. Throne of Glass Series by Sarah J. Maas
"In a land without magic, where the king rules with an iron hand, an assassin is summoned to the castle. She comes not to kill the king, but to win her freedom. If she defeats twenty-three killers, thieves, and warriors in a competition, she is released from prison to serve as the king's champion. Her name is Celaena Sardothien. 
The Crown Prince will provoke her. The Captain of the Guard will protect her. But something evil dwells in the castle of glass--and it's there to kill. When her competitors start dying one by one, Celaena's fight for freedom becomes a fight for survival, and a desperate quest to root out the evil before it destroys her world."

A badass female main character? Count me in! There's literally nothing better than a strong female lead in YA. I've read countless rave reviews about this series and it's very popular among the online book community. This will be a series I'll definitely start sooner than later this year. There's three books in this series out right now and three more books to come.

3. Outlander Series by Diana Gabaldon

"The year is 1945. Claire Randall, a former combat nurse, is just back from the war and reunited with her husband on a second honeymoon when she walks through a standing stone in one of the ancient circles that dot the British Isles. Suddenly she is a Sassenach—an “outlander”—in a Scotland torn by war and raiding border clans in the year of Our Lord...1743.
Hurled back in time by forces she cannot understand, Claire is catapulted into the intrigues of lairds and spies that may threaten her life, and shatter her heart. For here James Fraser, a gallant young Scots warrior, shows her a love so absolute that Claire becomes a woman torn between fidelity and desire—and between two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives."

This historical fiction romance series is super popular and is a favorite of many. It has been recently been made into a TV show, which is how I heard about the series. The books are massive, which is kind of intimidating but at the same time I've always loved long books. I have this on my Nook right now ready to start reading!

4. Lux Series by Jennifer L. Armentrout
"Starting over sucks.
When we moved to West Virginia right before my senior year, I'd pretty much resigned myself to thick accents, dodgy internet access, and a whole lot of boring... until I spotted my hot neighbor, with his looming height and eerie green eyes. Things were looking up.
And then he opened his mouth.
Daemon is infuriating. Arrogant. Stab-worthy. We do not get along. At all. But when a stranger attacks me and Daemon literally freezes time with a wave of his hand, well, something... unexpected happens.
The hot alien living next door marks me.
You heard me. Alien. Turns out Daemon and his sister have a galaxy of enemies wanting to steal their abilities, and Daemon's touch has me lit up like the Vegas Strip. The only way I'm getting out of this alive is by sticking close to Daemon until my alien mojo fades.
If I don't kill him first, that is."

So the summary seems kind of cliche, but this series has such good ratings and I'm a fan of Jennifer L. Armentrout, so I'm sure I'll enjoy this series. Plus I need to up my YA paranormal romance game since I haven't read any in a while!

5. Daughter of Smoke and Bone Trilogy by Laini Taylor

"Around the world, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky. In a dark and dusty shop, a devil’s supply of human teeth grows dangerously low. And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherwordly war.
Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real, she’s prone to disappearing on mysterious "errands", she speaks many languages - not all of them human - and her bright blue hairactually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out.
When beautiful, haunted Akiva fixes fiery eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?"

I've had this book on my shelf for a while and haven't picked it up yet, but I plan on reading this trilogy this year since all the books are out and I can read them straight through. I hate waiting for new books in a series, so sometimes I'll purposely wait until they are all released so I don't have to wait and be stuck with cliffhangers for a year ;) I guess I'm really looking forward to YA paranormals this year! This is another favorite among the online book community so I'm excited to finally read it.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Steven's 2015 Reading Resolutions

Hello internet, this is Jessica's eye candy, Steven (Button). She's protesting that sentence right now, but it's staying. Anywho, in my classic way of handling responsibility, I decided that as we wrap up the first week of the new year I should probably make my resolutions. Apart from eating better (better pizza, that is), running again (as in running a Minecraft server), and forcing myself to stay optimistic about Star Wars Episode VII, I've worked up ten resolutions about reading and writing.

So here it is, 2015's reading/writing resolutions:

1) Read thirty-six books: Jessica read thirty-five books last year, and since we're in a healthy relationship I need to beat her. That came out wrong. I need to outdo her. Last year I think I read maybe four books, two of which are in the Song of Ice and Fire series, so I need to kick it into gear. Since I'm only taking four credits this semester and about twelve in the fall I have more time to read (provided I can find the strength to pry myself away from Skyrim).

2) Read a series: I've been blundering through A Song of Ice and Fire for the last two years, and one thing I love about reading a series is falling in love with the characters. I haven't really read a series since I finished Harry Potter, but what makes them so special is the utter sadness you feel when the saga comes to a close. That may sound weird, but when you fall in love with characters it's hard to leave them, even though the pain you feel when you say goodbye is part of life. As Kermit the Frog said in A Muppets Christmas Carol, "Life is made up of meetings and partings," and I really want to find a series that hurts to part with.

3) Find a new author: When people ask me who my favorite author is I always default to Stephen King for two reasons: A) He's a really great writer that I'd love to be like, and B) I don't read enough to know anyone else. I want to find an author that can make me forget the world while I read his/her story. With any luck it'll be a rather unknown author so I can be pretentious and brag about my obscure tastes while pushing my glasses up my nose.

4) Read an absolutely, amazingly, awe-inspiringly terrible book: Think about the worst book you ever tried to read. Now imagine if that book was written by that one punk in your middle school class that sat at the back of the room and flicked his boogers at people. Then imagine in addition to him being the author, it was edited by that one pretentious guy who sat in the front row of your college humanities course and argued with the professor every chance he got. And if that isn't all too much for you, throw in some of the worst stereotypes and cliches imaginable (half-naked jocks high-fiving, a loose cannon cop who doesn't play by the rules, anything involving guys in leather jackets, etc.). I want to read a book that's even worse than that. They say (whoever "they" are) that all writers should read a terrible book so they know what not to do, and I want to go all out.

5) Read a graphic novel: At first I wasn't going to include this on my list because I've read many graphic novels, but then I realized I've never read a graphic novel that didn't have A) Batman, B) Spiderman, or C) something so nerdy high school boys pretend they don't know what it is when girls are around. So, while I do love Peter Parker from the bottom of my heart, I figure I should branch out and check out a graphic novel that isn't about men in spandex superheroes.

6) Read some classics: There was a period of time when all I read were classics, and while the experience was enjoyable, it was also exhausting. I wasn't sure if I wanted to admit that on my book blog since I'm all about being condescending, but it's true. Reading too many classics all at once can be tiring if you aren't truly in love with older literature. Don't get me wrong, I really love my classics, but while some people enjoy nothing but books like Pride and Prejudice and Age of Innocence, I need a break every now and then. Still, if I'm going to write, I want to learn from writers much better than me.

7) Read a fan-fiction story: Brace yourself, kiddos, I've never read fan-fiction before. There's a really unfair stigma about fan-fiction that all of it is either written by people who can't write or who just really want to see Hermione and Luna get freaky while Moaning Myrtle cries in the corner. Personally, I think that's a stupid stereotype; fan-fiction is an awesome way for budding writers to branch out and practice their skills in the comfortable setting of a story they love. And I mean, let's be real, who hasn't thought about what Star Wars would be like if it was rated R?

8) Read A book Jessica recommends: Did you catch that, Jess? A book. A book. Not twenty, not fifteen, not even ten. Just A book. I write this because when I told her about this resolution she was munching on a cookie or something and held up ten fingers. No, Jess, not ten books. Still, I know what books she likes but the only ones I've read were The Fault in Our Stars and Delirium. So, being the star boyfriend I am, I've decided that I want to read ONE of her recommendations. Who knows, maybe I'll super-boyfriend after reading it and read another, but for now it's just the one.

9) Read a nonfiction book: I love stories. I love telling them, reading them, listening to people several beers under try to narrate them, they're something I'll never tire of. Therefore, I've always shied away from nonfiction as if it has super-cooties. When I think of nonfiction I think of a book heavier than most third-graders with a boring white cover and a picture of Abraham Lincoln looking at me condescendingly with big blue letters saying something like "DEFENDING THE NATION" or "THE MAN BEHIND THE BEARD." I know that isn't fair, and that I'm judging the nonfiction genre by its cover (pun-intended), so I want to give it a chance. I'd just rather not read about Abraham Lincoln. Not because I'm against him, heavens no, love the hat and all that jazz, but because I'm tired of the way he looks at me like he's disappointed I haven't filed my taxes yet or something.

10) Write a novel: Yep. Right now I have all these ideas in my head that I'd love to write about, but since I'm still so new to writing I'm afraid to put them onto paper. I keep thinking "Oooo! That idea will give me a million bucks! Better not write it until I don't suck!" But, to quote a redditor that called me out on this, I need to sacrifice my amazing ideas on the "alter of suckitude" before I can call myself a writer. I know he/she is right but it bugs me. I love my ideas, I love them so much I don't want to write them. Still, once they're written I'll probably realize that they weren't that great to begin with, and with some experience and a few more pizzas under my belt I can finally call myself an author once it's done. Also, if I write a book I can finally tell people at Thanksgiving that I actually did something with my life besides watching three seasons of Doctor Who in one day.

So internet, there it is. My ten reading/writing resolutions. Later in the week (if I can stop watching The Clone Wars on Netflix long enough) I'll post a TBR for this year.

That said, what are your reading/writing resolutions for this year?

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Jessica's Top Books of 2014

As we say goodbye to 2014, we of course have to celebrate the amazing books read in 2014! I didn't read too many books this year, but most of the ones I read were so good! From a YA series to a graphic novel, there are quite a range of books that are on my favorites list. Here are my top picks in no particular order.

Under the Never Sky Trilogy by Veronica Rossi
I have reviewed Under the Never Sky on my primary blog, which you can read here. It's basically a young adult dystopian book with adventure and romance, so it's got the whole package. You follow the journey of Aria, who grew up in a protected dome, but is forced out of the only place she has ever known and must survive in the dangerous outer lands. In her struggle she meets Perry, who has always lived outside of the dome, and their story begins from there. I tore through this series and definitely recommend it to anyone in a reading slump!

The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson
Laurie Halse Anderson is one of my favorite authors because she tackles tough subjects that aren't well represented in YA literature. I've read her novels Speak and Wintergirls, and The Impossible Knife of Memory did not disappoint. Hayley's father has PTSD, which causes her significant stress because she constantly worries about him and he is not a stable parental figure. He can't keep a job, drinks a lot, and has flashback episodes. She must deal with the consequences of the mental health of her father while handling the typical stresses of being in high school. Laurie Halse Anderson writes Hayley in such a realistic way and she gives a voice to people who are effected by mental illness. I applaud her for taking on a subject with so much stigma around it.

Wait for You by J. Lynn
This is a New Adult novel that follows Avery, who goes to a college far away from her hometown to try to escape her past. She's closed off, doesn't like to show her emotions, and keeps to herself. Everything changes when she meets Cameron in her astronomy class, who is gorgeous and is determined to go on a date with her. Avery has to learn to confront her past in order to open up her heart, which is a journey which is aided by Cameron and her friends. This book made me swoon! I loved the interactions between Avery and Cam! Avery's journey to heal from her past is so heart wrenching and very well written. I was very skeptical of this book because I have had mixed luck with New Adult books, but this story stole my heart!

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
I don't want to say too much about this book because it's better going into this novel by not knowing what it's about. To give you an idea of what it is about, it's about a girl, Cadence, who comes from a wealthy family and each summer the whole family gets together on their island. Cadence is trying to piece together what happened the previous summer, which is where the mystery begins. E. Lockhart has such a unique way of writing that it like prose; it was refreshing. I don't want to say anything else about the plot, just read it!
Maybe Someday by Colleen Hoover
Sydney is content with life, until she finds out her boyfriend is cheating on her with her roommate. Drama! Without anywhere to go she ends up staying in an apartment that happens to house the guy she watched play the guitar every night across from her balcony. Ridge and Sydney's story is very original (which I will not spoil how) but this book definitely stands out in the New Adult genre! This story is told from alternating point of views, which I usually do not like but it was well done in this novel. I loved the characters in this book and I enjoyed reading about each of them.
To All The Boys I've Loved Before
Lara Jean wrote a letter each time she fell in love with a boy, then sealed her heart as she sealed the letter, never to be sent. Issues arise when somehow these letters get sent to the boys she once loved. She must face these boys and Lara Jean also experiences some unexpected consequences. This YA contemporary book totally took my heart. I love novels that incorporate family and I could totally related to Lara Jean since she has two sisters. This book was just so much fun to read and I can't wait to read the sequel in 2015!

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer
Mara Dyer mysteriously survives a freak accident, which takes the life of her best friend, a new friend, and her boyfriend. Mara and her family moves far away from their home town to remove Mara from the setting of the accident. Mara doesn't remember what happened in the accident and suffers from PTSD, but she wants to piece together what happened that night. With bad boy Noah (a swoon-worthy love interest), both try to figure out what's really going on. This sets the scene for this young adult psychological thriller that is gripping and action packed. You won't know what's real and what's the result of the unreliable narrator since Mara is not mentally stable. I finished this book in a day and I am so excited to read the next two books this year. I think I'll need to reread this one too, it was that good.

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
After losing her job at the tea shop, Lou has to find a job to help support her family, which includes her grandfather, mother, father, sister, and nephew. She unexpectedly gets a job taking care of Will, who suffers severe health and physical complications from his motorcycle accident. Lou gets thrown into an entirely new situation and witnesses first hand Will's struggles, depression included. This is a highly popular adult fiction book and is being made into a movie in 2015, which influenced me to read it. I love Moyes' writing style and I completely fell into Lou's story; I couldn't stop reading it! The characters in this story were very well developed and there is nothing better than a story with characters that seem so real. This book takes on relevant and controversial topics that will keep you thinking about this story long after the last page.

Blankets by Craig Thompson
This is my first graphic novel and I was surprised how much I loved it. The illustrations are beautiful, depicting winter in Wisconsin. This story revolves around Craig's childhood and adolescence, with themes of questioning religion, first love, family, and questioning your place in the world. This is such a genuine and touching coming of age story and I would recommend this to ages 16 and up.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

New Year, New Blog

Welcome to Bigfoot and Button's Book Blog!

Hello! Steven and I wanted to start a project and we figured a book blog would be the perfect fit. I love reading and this year I want to make more time to read. In 2014 I was constantly busy with internships and school and I really miss sitting down with a good book at night. It is also just so fun to discuss books. Whenever I finish a book I am always dying to talk about it, but usually no one I know has read the book. Through this blog I want to talk about the books I read and hopefully inspire others to read too!

Steven is going back to school for creative writing this year so reading more books will help him with his studies and he of course loves reading too! Steven has a very different taste in books, but it will be interesting to have multiple perspectives. We want to read each other's favorites and see how our views differ, which will be fun!

Some of the posts we are planning include TBRs, reviews, tags, the book photo challenge, and bookish new year resolutions! Comment below if you have any specific posts you would like to see!

Here's to a great 2015 filled with lots of good reads!
-Bigfoot (Jessica)