Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Top 10 Tuesday: YA Heroines

Hosted by The Broke and the Bookish
I'm coming out straight away and saying that in no way will this list be comprehensive. It's just not possible. There are too many great YA heroines out there for many, many reasons. It might be because I connected with them on a personal level. They're amazing strength-wise. They're amazing mentally. They're amazing in emotional strength. They could have gone through something that I applaud them for. Or that I just simply loved them as a person/character. I have too many so I'm going to list the ones that immediately come to mind.


Hermoine Granger from Harry Potter
Everyone can go home now. ALL BOW DOWN TO THE QUEEN. So she's not a queen in Harry Potter, but she's British and should be the goal of all women. I could really write a whole appreciation post about her. 
  • She's unabashedly smart. 
  • She kicks butt, but knows that she can still dress up. 
  • She has enough patience to deal with Harry and Ron's idiotic ways and thinking. 
  • She is all-around amazing. I could go on FOREVER. Too many moments to mention. 


She becomes a knight, fools everyone into thinking she's a guy, and becomes a leader in her own right. What else is there? 

Celaena Saradothin from Throne of Glass
If anyone can kick butt, it is definitely and absolutely Celaena. But what's even greater is that while she's an assassin, she's also very "girly" with her dresses and balls. Showing the world that you don't have to be one or the other. 

Nyx from Cruel Beauty
She's taking her role in this retelling of Beauty and the Beast in a whole different light.

Katsa from Graceling
Another assassin!

Girl has gone through some serious trauma. I loved her so much. 


Katniss from The Hunger Games
I honestly debated if I should just leave her off this list because this is an automatic and resounding DUH. I'd guarantee she'll be on most everybody's lists. She deserves bullet points too.
  • She volunteered for her sister and connected with tiny Rue. 
  • Everyone in the book might think she's heartless, but we all know she has more heart than almost everyone. Maybe too much, really.
  • She outmaneuvered the Gamemakers and the Capitol. 
  • She fought in the freakin' Games TWICE. 
  • But most importantly, in my opinion, she had to deal with the aftermath of the Games and all the trauma brought down on her head. She was fighting some serious PTSD during the war in Mockingjay and then had to deal with even crappier trauma after that. Do not lessen her situations to me.  


Seraphina Dombegh from Seraphina 
Let's be honest, I really have to reread this since the sequel is finally coming out. But I do remember that once I got into it, I loved Seraphina. I can't wait to reconnect with her again.

Kestrel from The Winner's Curse
She is incredible at outhinking people. Plus, she bought Arin so that's another point in her favor.

D.J. Schwenk from Dairy Queen
She's essentially the reason why her family was able to keep their farm, she plays football, and she tries to get in touch with her feminine side.

Scarlet from Scarlet
Another girl in disguise book who rocked it. She became even better in the next two books too. Prepare to have Scarlet steal your heart. 


Honestly, she didn't blow me away for the reasons that most people might list. Yeah, I admire her for fighting cancer and for everything with Augustus. But she was hilarious in her narrative. I know it's Green writing, but Hazel made me laugh.


Ella from Ella Enchanted
Non-conformity! 

Cammie Morgan (and the rest) from The Gallagher Girls
You can't mention one without mentioning the others even though it does say heroine and not secondary characters too. But Cammie is my girl. She's a spy, a girl with boy problems, and a girl who went through some seriously twisted stuff in the last couple of books.


She might have her issues and may annoy me to no end, but I am her #1 fan. I constantly feel the need to have the latest book in my hands right now or I will die. Keel over right here and now.


Ismae from Grave Mercy
Another assassin! And she lived in a nunnery. Even cooler.

Beauty from Beauty
All girls in Beauty and the Beast retellings deserve to be on this list. 

Cath from Fangirl
She is me. I am her. 

Like I said, in no way is this list comprehensive. I have listed 18 books and they are only the ones that I instantly thought of and put down. If you gave me a little more time, I could probably come up with 18 more and 18 more after that easily. With this list, I think I mainly thought of the "strong" characters first. The ones who are applauded for being physically strong and kick butt. This is because those characters stand out more and demand attention. I'm not saying they're better than the ones that I connect to on a personal level, but logically, they're the ones I'll remember first. So there you have it. 

What are your favorite YA heroines? Why?

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Review: THE START OF ME AND YOU by Emery Lord

Title: The Start of Me and You
Author: Emery Lord
Publication date: March 31, 2015
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Source: an ARC provided by the publisher for an honest review

Following her pitch-perfect debut Open Road Summer, Emery Lord pens another gorgeous story of best friends, new love, & second chances.

Brimming with heartfelt relationships and authentic high-school dynamicsThe Start of Me and You proves that it’s never too late for second chances.

It’s been a year since it happened—when Paige Hancock’s first boyfriend died in an accident. After shutting out the world for two years, Paige is finally ready for a second chance at high school . . . and she has a plan. First: Get her old crush, Ryan Chase, to date her—the perfect way to convince everyone she’s back to normal. Next: Join a club—simple, it’s high school after all. But when Ryan’s sweet, nerdy cousin, Max, moves to town and recruits Paige for the Quiz Bowl team (of all things!) her perfect plan is thrown for a serious loop. Will Paige be able to face her fears and finally open herself up to the life she was meant to live?
 

I gobbled this up in November last year when I was home for the weekend and to semi-binge on this was a very smart decision for me. There are a lot of things going for this book (besides the fact that Emery Lord, one of the great contemporary queens in my mind, wrote it and that Bloomsbury has a stamp of approval on it), making it be on your spring break (or just spring, if you're out of school) to-do list. 

1. It deals with the tough subject of death and grief, but in a different way. As a contemporary lover, I've read my fair share of "issue" or tragedy books. But this one felt different and I think it's mostly because of who died and what Paige is actually dealing with in the book. Her short-term boyfriend died in an accident. Note: I said short-term. They hadn't been dating for four years, they weren't engaged, they didn't have this enormous history together. They had been dating for a few months. I'm not lessening their affection because I certainly know people can get close during that time (heck, I know people who married after two months or less). While she was struggling with the fact that he died and the grief that comes with it, this book isn't necessarily about his death and her grief. It's about her regaining her life after two years and pushing away the title that her community gave her. She's the Girl Who's Boyfriend Died. She didn't have much of a life after he died and now two years later, she wants to "start living again" and be open for new love and new experiences (hopefully with her old crush). To me, this was refreshing.

2. It's not really a love triangle. I was afraid that we would go into love triangle territory after seeing that her old crush is Ryan, but the end of the synopsis makes Max out to be the future boyfriend. While I won't give anything away, you don't have anything to worry about.


I couldn't resist.
3. It involved a Quiz Bowl! Fun fact, if you didn't read the interview I had with Emery Lord, is that I was actually a part of a quiz team. Ours wasn't the stereotypical quiz bowl where it deals with different categories, but Paige's experience very closely represented mine. The nervousness, the anticipating of answering a question after buzzing in, everything; it all mirrored my past experience, which I enjoyed.

4. All the fun cuteness and great things I love in contemporaries. She makes a list (I love lists), her family is whole and supportive, her friends are also very supportive, Max is adorable, and the narrative is entertaining. Emery Lord brings the charm and engaging narrative to this story, but that's no surprise after reading Open Road Summer

5. Paige was on a journey and at the risk of sounding cheesy, I was on it with her. I have never had to deal with what Paige had to deal with. I've had loved ones die, but never a significant other. I've never been labeled because of someone's death. I've never had to essentially rebuild myself after two years. But I experienced that through Paige (and Lord's writing). And it was fun. It was entertaining and made me forget about everything else that was going on around me. For me, that's a major goal in reading. 

So do I recommend this? 



To read my interview with Emery Lord, click here.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Top 10 Wednesday: Bookish Problems I Have

Hosted by The Broke and the Bookish
This list of 10 bookish problems I have is probably not the top 10 and definitely isn't in any particular order. They were mostly ones I thought of first and listed. I also am doing Top 10 Tuesday on a Wednesday because school likes to disrupt my life things happen. 

Because they're all about books.
1. Chapter numbers. So here's the thing. Unless I'm in a pressing situation or know that I'll need to stop at a random time, I always stop on chapters that end with five or zero (5, 10, 15, etc.) The five multiples feel like "even" numbers to me even though I know in mathematics they aren't. It feels like a clean stopping place. Downside: when I say "I'll stop at chapter 15" and then don't realize I've gone to chapter 16...so I keep going.


2. "One more chapter..." Every bookish person has had this problem, guaranteed. You keep saying "one more chapter," and would you look at that, it's now 2am! Funny how that works. (This is also related to #1 for me.)

3. I can be picky. Everyone has their tastes and disliking a genre is not picky in my books. But I tend to snub on superficial reasons. I haven't had the best luck with main characters being male (excluding the dual POVs) or male authors writing about female characters. I read Harry Potter and loved it so I'm breaking out.

4. Bookish boyfriends won't be my boyfriends. Unfortunately, they will stay fictitious and I'll be in reality. Without them.

5. Money and time are plotting against me. Of course, this also includes school. As a college kid, I feel like I'm stretched thin with time and money when there are a lot of books I just have to read. It's every reader's problem.


6. I want to be part of that world (sometimes). Actually, this is more about the fact that I get so sucked into that book's world that I'm a tad disoriented when I have to go back into reality. And it's disappointing. It's all about the author's narrative. I'll appreciate from afar if it's a world like Panem though because there's no way I want to be a part of that (but even then, Collins does a great job in describing it).

7. Waiting forever. Series just bring torture in general. You usually have to wait at least a year for the next book and then you're left with impatience. It's just all the waiting. I can't wait.

8. Controlling myself when books turn into movies. I love it when books make that transition onto the screen. I do. But as a reader, there's also this conflict of being on edge in the theatre, wanting everything to be just. like. the book. It's hard. Even harder when you hear a ignorant fool person who obviously hasn't read the book either talk about how they're the most excited for the movie (great! You're excited! But you didn't read the book, so...no) or they make stupid comments throughout because they don't realize what comes next or what it all means.

9. Throwback Tuesday Wednesday to that list of romance pet peeves. Remember when I said the things I liked and disliked about romance in books? Well, those dislikes are some of my bookish problems.


10. Book hangovers and loss of words. I feel like these two go really hand-in-hand. Book hangovers are amazing, they really are. But then you try to get over the book afterwards and move on to another and it's hard. Then, even worse, you try to write a review and all you want to do is write flashing letters that say READ THIS, the end. Too many feelings.

What are problems you have?

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Valentine's Day Tips (for the bookish soul)

I couldn't resist the creepy gif.
Happy Valentine's Day! If you find yourself alone today and wanting something to do or feeling like you have to "celebrate" somehow, I give you the the following recommendations. Because February 14th is a great excuse to do a lot of things.

Binge on books with romantic elements. 
Recommendations include: 
  • The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot - for the one who likes a coming-of-age story and 10 books to read
  • Graceling by Kristin Cashore for the one who likes action, girl power, and morals throughout
  • Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi - for the one who likes great platonic friendships as well
  • Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge- for the one who likes fairy-tales
  • If I Stay by Gayle Forman - for the one who likes to cry
  • Dairy Queen by Catherine Gilbert Murdock - for the one who likes contemporary and tomboys
  • Rites of Passage by Joy N. Hensley - for the one who likes angst (and action!) 
  • Say What You Will by Cammie McGovern - for the one who likes it unconventional 
  • Open Road Summer by Emery Lord - for the one who likes to have fun
  • These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner - for the one who likes sci-fi craziness
Go out with the [single] girls.
Basically, do anything and go anywhere. Movies, FOOD, bowling, FOOD, shopping, FOOD...whatever you all like doing. Eating is really fun though.

Way back in middle school (I think), a group of us went over to our friend's house. She was the friend who had everything. You know, the one who had the big house and lots of cool ideas. I don't remember all that we did, but I do remember the best strawberry cake and a trampoline was involved. I might be in college, but I'd do it again in a heartbeat.


Binge on YOUR favorite books.
If I'm in a funk or a picky type of mood, I'll reread a favorite of mine. So if you're feeling down (or just bored), go read an oldie (or several, hence the binging). 

Be stereotypical.
Tonight I will actually be at a friend's house watching romantic movies and eating Ben & Jerry's (while using her washer and dryer to do my laundry). It's always joked that people who are alone will be in a puddle of tears while gorging on ice cream. I actually like being alone if this is the plan, minus the tears. YAY ICE CREAM! 


But really, if you're sad that you're "alone" on this "holiday," I give you the following reminder:
  1. You're not alone. You most likely have family and friends. You have billions of strangers around the world to interact with. You have many, many friends to meet in your books. You're not alone. 
  2. Valentine's Day is a holiday observed on February 14th, honoring one or more Christian martyrs (saints) named Valentinus. It was first associated with romantic love in the early 19th century England. People sent handwritten greeting cards, which we all know has now evolved into gifts and more. But more importantly, it's a day to spend time and appreciate one another. I choose to believe that while it's heavily focused on romantic love, we should celebrate other kinds of love as well. 

Now go read your books or go out with your significant other. And even if you're not single today, you should still treat yourself to some ice cream and a great book. 

What are you doing for Valentine's Day?

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Romance Trends

Hosted by The Broke and the Bookish
Today's topic is all about romance. What do you like/dislike when it comes to romance in books? What do you want to see more of? What do you wish to never see again? This is such an unbelievably hard topic for me since I think about these things ALL. THE. TIME. but then I go blank when someone actually asks me to list them. So let's hope I don't want to edit it tons after it's published. 

the DON'TS:
1. Insta-love - Instant attraction is a thing, instant love is not. I don't want to step on anybody's toes that believe in "love at first sight," but I want to roll my eyes every time I hear that.

2. Love triangles - First of all, how is this girl (usually it's the girl facing a decision) able to snag two guys' undeniable attention, making them wait and pursue her? HOW? Second, I have so many other problems with this trope, I don't know where to begin. Mostly, just go check out Lauren's blog. 

3. Abuse/manipulation - Come on, as girls, we're told that bad boys are actually good. Some authors actually succeed in this, but when it goes to abuse or manipulation or just downright jerky/bad, count me out. That's just wrong. (Looking at you, 50 Shades) 


4. All about that bass - One of them is lusting after the other and describing them constantly. And yes, I said lust. You can be attracted to someone, but when you're only focusing on their looks so many times I lose count, that's lust in my opinion. 
  • Special looks - The girl is prettier (and has a way different name, if you can imagine) than the other girls. Even though she's Miss Special, she's single and a loser. 
  • Special snowflake - This person can do no wrong! They suddenly realize they're the savior for the whole world! They realize they have powers! So their "love interest" is captivated by them. I'm just wondering, do you know what their favorite color is? If they're a breakfast or "just coffee" person in the morning? Sometimes I would just like to see characters caring about the person's personality and if they can actually live together in the long run. 
5. The safe, hypocritical zone - So many times, the girl stays with her safe boyfriend even though she's attracted to another. Sometimes she finally gets the chance with her lifetime crush and holds on to that even though suddenly the other guy is more attractive to her. Although this "let's stay safe" trope gets on my nerves, what makes it worse is when they go to forms of cheating. Hate. Cheating. Flirting, emotional bondage, a form of a date, etc. I bet you that if your significant other or even just that crush did it to you, you'd dump him real quick. 
 
the DO'S: 

1. Slow burn - On the other end of insta-love is the slow burn. The romantic tension KILLS. Of course, if this happens too much, it'd become like any other trope, but I do wish that it happens more and in a well-written way.

2. Brains being appreciated - I don't want to read about a Romeo & Juliet story where it ends up in a double suicide. Your romance, especially if it just happened, is not an end-all and be-all kind of situation. Think.
3. Friendship first - I appreciate a romance a whole lot more when there was a level of friendship first. This friendship doesn't necessarily have to happen before we meet them on the page, but I like friends who become a couple. 
  • Best friends - That whole "best friends turned lovers" trope is a favorite of mine. I can't deny.
  • The disguise - If a girl disguises herself as a boy and they become friends first before he realizes she's a girl and now he's attracted to her — if this happens, I will be very, very happy (if done right). 
4. Social class differences - Typically in a dystopian society where one is higher up in the ranks. I'm a fan. 

5. Wit - There needs to be humor in the situation! I'm a big, big fan of witty conversations and an author will win me over if there's banter. 

Based on these personal preferences, do you have any suggestions? Do you share these sentiments?

Sunday, February 8, 2015

DNFs: Disconnected with contemporary

I've always been a huge fan with contemporaries and can find success relatively easy in this genre. But the big downfall for any book I may read and DNF is disconnection with the book and/or the characters. For review or not, reading is supposed to be enjoyable so sometimes you just have to cut the cord on a current book and move on.

Title: Let's Get Lost
Author: Adi Alsaid
Publication date: July 29, 2014
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Source: an e-galley provided by the publisher for an honest review

Five strangers. Countless adventures. One epic way to get lost. 

Four teens across the country have only one thing in common: a girl named LEILA. She crashes into their lives in her absurdly red car at the moment they need someone the most. 

There's HUDSON, a small-town mechanic who is willing to throw away his dreams for true love. And BREE, a runaway who seizes every Tuesday—and a few stolen goods along the way. ELLIOT believes in happy endings…until his own life goes off-script. And SONIA worries that when she lost her boyfriend, she also lost the ability to love. 

Hudson, Bree, Elliot and Sonia find a friend in Leila. And when Leila leaves them, their lives are forever changed. But it is during Leila's own 4,268-mile journey that she discovers the most important truth— sometimes, what you need most is right where you started. And maybe the only way to find what you're looking for is to get lost along the way.


For months now, I've gone back and forth with this one, deciding on if I should try to go back to this. I finally looked at Goodreads and realized that my problems with this aren't going to go away.

If only Hudson could be cut out of this and most of my issues would be resolved. I didn't like him, didn't connect, and was annoyed by his narrative. He was very woe is me, but my main no-no was the fact that insta-love is involved. 


Anyone who knows me knows that I don't do insta-love. I don't like love triangles, but insta-love is way worse. I knew something felt weird about the Hudson/Leila thing (I refuse to call it romance) besides the insta-love, but wasn't sure what. Then I read other reviews and realized it was MDPG (Manic Pixie Dream Girl), which sounds awful. 

I actually liked what I read of Bree's narrative, but boredom and frustration already settled in and I knew I couldn't continue if I had to keep reading about the wonderful Leila and read Hudson's narrative. I really looked forward to this one so it's disappointing that it ended so quickly and badly.


Title: Cut Me Free
Author: J. R. Johansson
Publication date: January 27, 2015
Publisher: Farrar, Strauss, & Giroux
Source: an e-galley provided by the publisher for an honest review

Seventeen-year-old Charlotte barely escaped from her abusive parents. Her little brother, Sam, wasn't as lucky. Now she's trying to begin the new life she always dreamed of for them, but never thought she'd have to experience alone. She's hired a techie-genius with a knack for forgery to remove the last ties to her old life. But while she can erase her former identity, she can’t rid herself of the memories. And her troubled history won’t let her ignore the little girl she sees one day in the park. The girl with the bruises and burn marks.

That’s when Charlotte begins to receive the messages. Threatening notes left in her apartment--without a trace of entry. And they’re addressed to Piper, her old name. As the messages grow in frequency, she doesn’t just need to uncover who is leaving them; she needs to stop whoever it is before anyone else she loves ends up dead.
 


Like Let's Get Lost, the "romance" in this fell flat. It felt forced and uncomfortable throughout the narrative. The story was interesting at first and I cared for Charlotte. But suddenly, and not too far in, the connection stopped. I couldn't understand why Cam was pursuing Charlotte, who hired him to make her disappear. Being distant, closed-off, and a stranger is attractive and a signal to pursue? The story and the romance fell flat for me, with any intrigue falling away. Charlotte wasn't dislikable, per se, but if I had liked or connected with her more, I feel like I could've stuck with this. 

Instead, another DNF appeared. Life is short. We have to seize the day with our reading. 

Why do you usually DNF? 

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Belated Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Can't Believe I Haven't Read

Hosted by The Broke and the Bookish
This Top Ten Tuesday Wednesday focuses on the books in three genres I can't believe I haven't read. Either because they have such great reviews or they've been in my line of sight forever. For whatever reason, I haven't joined the fan club for these books and THAT NEEDS TO CHANGE NOW.

Fantasy: 

Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder
Although I've heard the title before, I don't think I've actually seen it on many blogs before. But I have seen the great reviews on Goodreads and it sounds like my type of book so I need to read it asap.

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
I MET HER! I have the second book signed, she just released the title for the fourth book, and I saw many people break on Twitter when they read the third book. To top it off: I read the first couple of chapters of The Raven Boys when waiting at the book festival and really enjoyed it. It was my sister's copy so I never got to continue. BUT IT WILL HAPPEN.

The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordian
I've seen so much fan art (I'm looking at you, Gillian) and fangirling for this one. That much fangirling is like a bone to a dog. Gimme, gimme.

Dystopian: 

Matched by Ally Condie
More mixed reviews for this one, but I really like how the covers transition with each book and I can't resist these kind of dystopians.

The Maze Runner by James Dashner
I heard the movie differs (obviously) and while I haven't watched the movie yet, I've heard great things and I can't just watch the movie without reading the book. That's a big book blogger sin.

The 5th Wave by Rick Yancy
I met him too and got the book signed (although I think I gave it away later...?), but I still haven't read it. That needs to change, yes?

Contemporary:

Paper Towns by John Green
While I loved The Fault in Our Stars, I haven't actually read any other John Green books. I tried one, but could never finish it. Since this is turning into a movie, I have more of an incentive with this one.

The Sky Is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson
This seems to pop up on a Top Ten Tuesday all the time so that means I have to read it.

Jellicoe Road by Melissa Marchetta
THIS BOOK. Oh my gosh, this book. Everyone and their mother loves this book and Marchetta so I need to read it. I tried listening to it, but had to stop the audiobook. So I'll start again with a physical copy and hope that I'm not the black sheep.

The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen
I'm not much of a Sarah Dessen fan anymore, but since I've read her other books, I should read this one too, I think.

Which one these books am I really missing out on?