Top Ten Tuesday: Books I’ve Read So Far In 2015

toptentuesday

Welcome back for another round of Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Learn more about Top Ten Tuesday and its previous topics here.

Up this week: Top Ten Books I’ve Read So Far In 2015

I’m at 35 books read so far this year, and I think that’s a good number to choose 10 from. I’m not going to go into detail like normal due to a busy week (meh), but know that these all come highly recommended by me for various reasons, including strong/intelligent/brave/hilarious women, brilliant worlds created, excellent take on history, made me cry, top-notch literary classic, powerful lesson/message, etc. In no particular order…

1. The Mime Order by Samantha Shannon

2. The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

3. Wild by Cheryl Strayed

4. Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay

5. Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

6. The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro

7. Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel

8. Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy

9. The Martian by Andy Weird

10. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

#FlashReadathon Weekend

Hi all! I’m back in America after my European adventure. I will be posting trip stories and pictures in the coming weeks, but for now I need to get back to the bookish side of life.

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I only read one book on vacation due to keeping busy and a general lack of motivation to read (shameful, I know). Because of this I have decided to participate in #flashreadathon this weekend. It’s a very laid back readathon with no rules or time limits – just read and have fun! Many thanks for Shaina Reads for getting this going.

I hope to work on Gone With the Wind for that reading event, and I’ll also get started on another 20 Books of Summer read as well. I’m still trying to catch up on life after being away for three weeks, and I have some early Father’s Day shenanigans tomorrow, so we’ll see how this goes. Either way, I’m excited to be reading again.

What are you reading this weekend?

Hiatus: Europe Edition

The time has come! I’m heading to Europe tonight for a couple weeks with my best friend. My itinerary is below, and I’ll write more about it all when I get back, but just know that I’m going to be fangirling at Harry Potter studios, the Doctor Who Exhibition, Versailles, Windsor, and many other exciting places. I also get to return to one of my favorite places, Bath. Oh, and my friend is looking forward to the One Direction concert. I’m not so much looking forward to that part, but I’m determined to be a trooper.

My Itinerary
June 1: Depart Minneapolis
June 2-5: London, England
June 5-6: Bath, England
June 6-7: Cardiff, Wales
June 7-11: Paris, France
June 11-14: Munich, Germany
June 14-16: Salzburg, Austria
June 16-17: Paris, France
June 17: Home!

I’ll be back in the blog world on June 18. Can’t wait to share some photos and stories with you all.

Cheers!

Ultimate Harry Potter Tag

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You know what is amazing? Harry Potter. And because my friends know that I’m obsessed, it’s only natural that they show me some amazing HP-related stuff. The lovely Corinne suggested that I kick off my new blog with this Ultimate Harry Potter Tag. I’m sure the original post dates back handfuls of blogs, but she came across the post here. Thanks to Corinne for sharing, and to Mina/Amelia for posting.

The questions and my answers are below. I never know who to tag in stuff specifically, but I hope some of you decide to participate on your own blog.

GENERAL
1. Favorite book?
I’ll shamefully admit that I haven’t read all of them all the way through in years so my opinion could be different, but for now I’m saying Half Blood Prince. The memory scenes and all the Snape stuff… perfection.

2. Least favorite book?
Chamber of Secrets. I don’t think I’ll ever be a huge fan of it, but I certainly don’t hate it either. Like all of the books, it has its moments.

3. Favorite movie?
This also changes the more I watch the movies, but currently I love the second Death Hallows movie best. I mean, really…

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4. Least favorite movie?
Again, Chamber of Secrets is at the bottom for me.

5. Favorite quote?
Here’s one good thing to come from Chamber of Secrets: “It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.” – Albus Dumbledore

CHARACTERS
6. Favorite Weasley?
Ginny, but only in the books. She wasn’t done justice in the movies.

7. Favorite female character?
I’m torn between Hermione and Luna. Okay, and Ginny. They’re all amazing.

8. Favorite villain?
Umbridge. She’s damn vicious.

9. Favorite male character?
Book: Sirius Black
Movie: Severus Snape… because Alan Rickman

10. Favorite professor?
I’m also torn on this one. I loved Lupin as a professor, but overall I’m going with McGonagall. Talk about a regular badass with a side of sass.

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WOULD YOU RATHER 
11. A. Wash Snape’s hair, or B. Spend a day listening to Lockhart rant about himself?
I would rather deal with Snape’s hair for some small number of minutes than listen to Lockhart all day. It would be gross, but at least it would be over quick.

12. Duel A. an elated Bellatrix, or B. an angry Molly?
Angry Molly is terrifying, so I’d duel an elated Belatrix.

13. Travel to Hogwarts via A. Hogwarts Express, or B. flying car?
Hogwarts Express. That car cannot be trusted.

14. A. Kiss Voldemort, or B. Give Umbridge a bubble bath?
Again, I’d go with the quicker option. I’d rather kiss Voldemort.

15. A. Ride a Hippogriff, or B. Ride a Firebolt?
Hippogriff. If you’re smart about it and not like idiot Draco Malfoy you have nothing to worry about.

BOOK TO MOVIE ADAPTATION 
16. Is there a character you felt differently about in the movies vs. the books?
GINNY! What were they thinking with the movies? By that, I mean the writing. Bonnie is lovely.

17. Is there a movie you preferred instead of the book?
Nope. Blasphemy.

18. Richard Harris or Michael Gambon as Dumbledore?
It still feels like a strange trick of fate that Dumbledore’s portrayal changed when it did. A softer and more grandfather sort of Dumbledore felt comforting to set the scene for the series and get Harry comfortable in his life as a wizard. As the story progresses and becomes darker, we see a more intense and even darker Dumbledore. I remember being upset over the change at first (and obviously upset over the death of Richard Harris), but in the end it’s hard to imagine the movies going any other way. Ramble aside, I’m going with Michael Gambon.

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19. The top thing (person or event) which wasn’t included in the movies that annoyed you the most.
I wanted to see more memory scenes in Half Blood Prince, particularly in relation to Voldemort’s ancestry. I think a large part of what Dumbledore worked to accomplish felt less intense due to these missing scenes.

20. If you could remake any of the Potter movies, which would it be?
It’s hard to imagine remaking any of the movies now that they are all out there and I’ve watched them all dozens of times. I forced myself to see the movies as something separate from the books in order to keep myself from getting upset about every little change and detail. If I have to pick one… Goblet of Fire.

HOGWARTS
21. Which house was your first gut feeling you’d be a part of?
Total Ravenclaw.

22. Which house were you actually sorted into on Pottermore (or another online sorting quiz)?
Ravenclaw, naturally.

23. Which class would be your favorite?
I’d enjoy Charms class the most.

24. Which spell do you think would be most useful to learn?
Accio. #lazy

25. Which character do you think at Hogwarts you’d instantly become best friends with?
I’d probably be in a little nerd club with Luna and Neville. Socially Awkward Penguins (SAPs) unite!

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MISCELLANEOUS 
26. If you could own one of the three Hallows, which would it be?
Invisibility Cloak. I’m not interested in bringing back the deceased, nor do I feel a need to go around being all powerful with people wanting me dead. I guess I’m just boring that way.

27. Is there any aspect of the books you’d want to change?
I don’t want to think about what could/should have happened in a serious that has such a massive impact on my life. Also, don’t mess with a masterpiece.

28. Favorite marauder?
Sirius Black.

29. If you could bring one character back to life, who would it be?
This goes against what I said about not wanting to change anything, but I’m going to answer this anyway by saying Fred Weasley. I saw the necessity in most of the deaths throughout the series, but Fred was completely unnecessary. Picturing George alone in the world without his twin makes me incredibly sad.

30. Hallows or horcruxes?
Hallows. No one wants Voldemort’s stinky soul objects.

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20 Books of Summer 2015

Welcome to the 20 Books of Summer reading event, hosted by Cathy of 746 Books. This event involves reading 20 books over the course of the summer. It starts on June 1st and runs through September 4th. My list includes a couple re-reads for the upcoming Austen in August event, and the rest are new books. Learn more about the event here.

The List

1. The Martian by Andy Weir
2. Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi
3. The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henriquez
4. Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson
5. Mr. and Mrs. Doctor by Julie Iromuanya
6. The Dream Lover by Elizabeth Berg
7. Lettres d’un Voyageur by George Sand
8. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
9. Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith
10. An Abundance of Katherines by John Green
11. Fragile Things by Neil Gaiman
12. Delicious Foods by James Hannaham
13. On Writing by Stephen King
14. A Short Autobiography by F. Scott Fitzgerald
15. On Such A Full Sea by Chang-Rae Lee
16. An Untamed State by Roxane Gay
17. The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli
18. Dubliners by James Joyce
19. Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
20. Persuasion by Jane Austen

Happy summer reading to all!

What are you looking forward to reading this summer?

JMill Wanders: A New Blogging Journey

Welcome to JMill Wanders! I’m excited to be starting a new blogging journey as the itch to write about more than books grows. I know I can write about anything I want no matter what my blog is called, but my old site felt a little limiting all the same. So, here we are. Thanks for joining me!

I have moved over about half of my posts from Lost Generation Reader. Everything else is sitting in a private setting either because it’s from my very first blog back in 2010 with some rather hideous content, or because it’s one of those posts for a reading event or bookish challenge that I failed to do anything with… you know, like I do.

I’ve answered a few questions below to give you and idea of what this blog will contain, what it won’t, etc. Please feel free to leave any questions or thoughts in the comment section.

What’s staying the same?
Books! I will still be writing about books, participating in challenges and readathons, and hosting giveaways. The following events and challenges will continue: Gone with the Wind Reading Event, TBR Pile Challenge, and Top Ten Tuesday. I will also keep up with The Classics Club, but…

What’s changing?
The Classics Club is getting a facelift! Anyone who read the old blog knows that I get behind on writing book reviews. While I have read a large amount of books from my Classics Club list, I don’t see myself going back to review them. Because of this, I’m making a new list with the goal of reviewing the book right after I read it… as it should be. We’ll see how this goes, but I figured a fresh start was necessary at this point.

I got rid of a couple projects from the earlier blog. I am no longer paying attention to the Rory Gilmore Reading List, and I’ve stopped my Hemingway project, mostly because I never really got started apart from reading some of his books. I’ll still read from Rory’s list, and I’ll forever love Hemingway, but I know I won’t do anything with them blog-wise, so I decided to let them go.

As previous stated, I wanted to have a blog where I can write about anything I want and have it still fit with my overall theme. JMill Wanders allows me to do that. You’ll also find posts about travel, writing, random shenanigans, and various thoughts that pop into my head. In short, this blog is an amalgam for wandering.

Who/What is JMill?
I am JMill! It’s a nickname that I got back in high school and has stuck with me ever since. It’s short for my real name, Jenna Miller. I answer to it more often than my real name, and most of my family and friends call me JMill.

What’s with all the wandering?
I don’t physically wander a lot unless I’m traveling. That being said, I’d like to think that when reading and writing we are wandering through different worlds. Our minds also wander constantly in general. The name of the blog brings together who I am with what I do. Yes, I’ve had a stable job with the same company for 7 years, and I’ve never moved away from the North Dakota/Minnesota border, but I’m still constantly wandering.

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite School Reads

toptentuesday

Welcome back for another round of Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Learn more about Top Ten Tuesday and its previous topics here.

Up this week: FREEBIE! (Favorite School Reads)

This week is a freebie. I was originally going to write about books that inspire travel since I will be heading to Europe on June 1st, but I couldn’t think of nearly enough books. My friend Alyssa mentioned her freebie is books read in school, so I’ve decided to copy that.

High School Reads

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1. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
I read many books in high school. I liked some, dislikes some, and a few I’ve completely forgotten about because so much time has passed. One of the books I remember most is The Great Gatsby. I grew to appreciate and love it better when I read it years later, but Fitzgerald’s writing (along with JK Rowling) was what encouraged me to be a writer. It’s a tragic yet beautiful story, and I always appreciate a little madness and chaos.

2. To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
I don’t recall thinking about prejudice and racism much until after reading To Kill A Mockingbird. This book opened my eyes to how much there was (and still is) a devastating amount of inequality in the world. Perhaps this is because I grew up in a very white city within a very white state (Fargo, North Dakota) at a time when the internet wasn’t this massive news and media outlet. There was also the issue of history classes making racism seem like much less of an issue than it really was. It was fluffy. I needed this book. It doesn’t even come close to some of the other atrocities throughout history, and I can think of other books that cover racism better, but it was a start when I needed it.

3. Le Petit Prince (The Little Prince) by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
I first read this book in French class, but also again in college for a Children’s Literature course. It’s one of those books that stays with you no matter what age you are. There are so many lessons about trust, loss, love, and determination that both inspire and caution readers. I can see a book like this being essential reading far into the future. You can bet it will be required reading for my children in the future… you know, when I actually have children.

College Reads

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4. Titus Andronicus by William Shakespeare
I read Romeo & Juliet and Julius Caesar back in high school. R&J was okay, and I’ve grown to dislike it more as time goes on. Caesar was a couple steps in a better direction. It wasn’t until I read Titus Andronicus in my Shakespeare class that I really came to appreciate the Bard. Perhaps it just takes the most violent work to get me to truly appreciate him. I do enjoy some of Shakespeare’s histories and comedies, but Titus will always have a special place in my heart as the best tragedy and best play overall.

5. Bleak House by Charles Dickens
I first met Dickens in my British Literature II course when reading Hard Times. It encouraged me to take a full capstone course on Dickens, which led to me not only falling in love with the Victorian writer, but also falling in love with Bleak House. Dickens uncovers some of the biggest atrocities during the Victorian era, and the massive and complex cast of characters provide a well-rounded presentation of England. I also love when Dickens pokes fun at horrible people by giving them awful names.

6. Sense & Sensibility by Jane Austen
My British Literature II course also introduced me to Austen. I think that professor deserves a medal for leading me to my current obsessions. Anyway, Sense and Sensibility was my first Austen. It isn’t my favorite of her work, but it was brilliant enough to encourage me to read everything. This book is also responsible for my participation in Austen in August, and for that I am thankful.

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7. Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys
I love Jane Eyre. It’s one of my favorite classics, and it’s not easy for me to pick favorites. That being said, I didn’t like how Rochester’s wife was treated as some insane woman in the attic. Her story is far too short. I understand why, of course, but I needed more. I was happy to be assigned Wide Sargasso Sea in an Irish-Carribean connection literature class. (Yes, that’s a real class, and it was amazing.) It’s a brilliant companion novel that brings Antoinette to life. The book doesn’t take anything away from Eyre, but it helps you look at the woman in the attic in a different light.

8. The Quiet American by Graham Greene
I thoroughly enjoy a good cynic! Or do I adore realists? Either way, Graham Greene knows how to write a damn fine novel. Many consider the book to be a slander against Americans or an anti-war novel, but I think the book did just what it was meant to do by giving a different perspective on war. And being American, I know that it’s good for us to be put in our place from time to time. I can’t help but enjoy this novel for the contrast between the two main characters alone, but so much more adds to its genius. It remains my favorite Greene novel.

9. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce
Oh, Joyce. What am I going to do with a man like Joyce? If, like me, you need to start somewhere with Joyce, this is the book to pick. You could also read his short stories (‘The Dead’ is perfection), but this book is where it’s at for a shorter introduction to the world of Joyce. There’s Greek mythology and struggle with religion and family, and that’s merely scratching the surface. If his larger work appears daunting, give this one a try. One of my favorite professors introduced me to Joyce as well as Greene and Rhys. She must have done something right.

10. The Taming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare
Surprise! Another Shakespeare. I just couldn’t leave this one out. If you haven’t read this genius play yet, get on it. It’s my favorite comedy from Shakespeare and well worth the praise. It’s hilarious with a solid take on female agency. (My professor would cry tears of joy seeing the word ‘agency’ in this post. He said it at least ten time per class session. We counted.) If you haven’t read this one yet but have seen and loved 10 Things I Hate About You, know that the film is an adaptation of this play which means you must read it.