Top Ten Tuesday: Anti-Valentine’s Day Books

Top Ten Tuesday is a tag created by The Broke and The Bookish! Each week there is a new topic for book bloggers to discuss that features a variety of books.

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This week’s topic surrounds Valentine’s Day!  I chose to recommend 10 books that I consider to be Anti-Valentine’s Day Reads, and they go into a few different categories.

These first set of books are ones that are not anti-love, they just have a plot that surrounds something other than romance and really don’t dive into any relationship nonsense!

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Next up, are books that have a love story that is central to its plot, but because of the nature of the love story or how things play out, the reader is in no hurry to dive into a relationship!

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Finally, are the books that teach the reader about the strength of independence and friendship, rather than the importance of a romantic relationship.  I guess you could call these the Galentine’s Day Recommendations 🙂

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Review: Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman

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Challenger Deep

by Neal Shusterman

Rating: 3/5 Stars

    Challenger Deep is a truly unique story depicting Caden Bosch and his struggle with mental illness.  Half of the novel takes place aboard a ship that is headed towards Challenger Deep, the deepest part of the ocean.  On this ship Caden is struggling to determine who is his ally and who is using him in order to put forth their own agenda.

     The chapters alternating between those on the ship show Caden’s experiences at school and home, where the people closest to him are starting to notice his odd behavior.  In order to cope with their questions and the threatening looks he is getting from strangers, Caden begins walking for hours everyday after school.

Review:  Shusterman depicts mental illness in such a unique but very personal way within Challenger Deep.  I have never been able to better understand the confusion, fear, fogginess, and frustration, that someone dealing with mental illness experiences than when I was reading this book.  When I was reading about how Caden felt when he was on medication everything became clearer about why someone may not want to take medication despite the fact that it could help them.

Parts of the novel were really confusing, and I had to push to get through them.  But this wasn’t due to poor writing, it was because Caden felt just as confused by his experiences.  This confusion as a reader began to clear up as Caden’s experiences on the ship began to match up with his experiences in the hospital.  Despite half of the novel taking place on a ship in Caden’s mind, this book is a very realistic depiction of mental illness, and makes me appreciate the struggle people experience to overcome this difficulty so much more.

Review: The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon

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The Bone Season

by Samantha Shannon

Rating: 3/5 Stars

     Set in an alternative future London, The Bone Season follows Paige Mahoney who works for a street lord named Jaxon by discovering other people’s secrets.  Discretion is Paige’s biggest ally, not only for the sake of her job, but also because she commits treason just by existing.  Paige is a clairvoyant, who is able to see into people’s dreams to gain information.  In this world, the government hunts these people down and they disappear from society.  At the start of the novel, Paige is captured and taken to an abandoned part of the city, where she is assigned a Warden.  The Wardens are an alien race who control the human government and enslave those with extra abilities.  Paige must use her training and instinct to learn as much as she can about these people so that she can make her escape.

Review: So I picked up this book when I was participating in TBR Takedown 3.0 and trying to complete my reading outside my comfort zone challenge.  The Bone Season definitely fit into this category.  I’m not even sure what genre this novel fits into, it seems part dystopian, part sci-fi, part something else altogether.  Needless to say, I was very wary, going into it.

That being said, I was pleasantly surprised.  While at times I might have gotten lost in the specialized language, for the most part I was engaged and excited to see what happened to Paige next.  Because this book fits into so many different genres for me, it also brought several different experiences to the reader.  There is the mystery of discovering who this alien race is and what their purpose is.  There is a very slow-burning romance that kept my interest when other parts dragged.  The reader gets to see the inner workings of how Paige’s powers work, which was really interesting.

Because it was out of my comfort zone, this was an entertaining read but I don’t feel the need to rush out and read the sequel.  Overall, I do want to keep reading this series, but its one that I will probably read over several years, when I’m looking to read something different than my norm.

Waiting on Wednesday: My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows

Waiting on Wednesday is a topic hosted by Breaking the Spine, where bloggers post about books that they are looking forward to being published in the near future 🙂

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This is a fictionalized accounting of Lady Jane Grey’s life as she is about to be married and take the throne.  This sounds like it is going to be an awesome light hearted read about a time in history that has been retold hundreds of times.  I am very interesting to get this altered, spoof, version of the events.  The description states that it is perfect for fans of The Princess Bride, which is right up my alley!

My Lady Jane comes out June 7th, and is published by Harper Teen.

Top Ten Tuesday: Historical Settings I Love Reading About

Top Ten Tuesday is a tag created by The Broke and The Bookish! Each week there is a new topic for book bloggers to discuss that features a variety of books.

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I love historical fiction so this was a topic that I am really excited about!!!

Medieval Times- I love reading anything about the Medieval Times, from the political intricacies to the activities of average people during this time. It is just so other from what I am used to that I can’t learn enough about it.

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The Victorian Era- Austen is probably my favorite classics author to read, so it makes sense that I love reading any kind of historical fiction also taking place during this time period.  The rigidity of society is so complex and stifling.  I love reading about Main characters breaking through these barriers to accomplish their goals.

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1940s/WWII Era- this was such a tumultuous time that caused such shifting in history, I’m convinced there are an endless amount of history/historical fiction books that can be written set during this time

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Trail-walking/Journey-This isn’t historical necessarily, but too many of my favorite books fit into this category that I couldn’t resist throwing it into the mix.  I love when characters decide to test their physical strength and mental fortitude by embarking on a long journey!

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The US Frontier-Probably because my favorite series as a kid was Little House, but I can always appreciate a story about settlement in the west.

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Middle Eastern/Persian- I can read these for the description alone! The art and culture of the Middle East is amazing and I love reading stories that are set their.

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Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda

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Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda

by Becky Albertalli

Rating: 5/5 Stars

     Simon Spier is a 16 year old boy living in Georgia, who has spent the last school year communicating online with someone from his school whom he has never met.  Simon and Blue stumbled across one another on the internet and began confiding in each other after discovering that they are both gay and have yet to come out to their family and friends.  While they give each other the emotional support needed to take this step and Simon begins to realize that he is falling in love with Blue, Simon makes the mistake of not logging out of his e-mail on a school computer.  This classmate has discovered and printed all of Blue and Simon’s correspondence and uses it as blackmail against Simon.  Now, regardless of Simon’s comfortability with coming out, he is now on a timetable to tell everyone.

Review: I loved so many aspects of this story.  I think it is a unique premise, that is also very realistic.  Simon vs. the Homo Sapien Agenda is hilarious and heartwarming at the same time.  Simon and Blue’s e-mails are funny and the reader can easily see why they get along so well.  Albertalli did a great job of writing interesting side characters.  All of Simon’s friends were unique and distinguishable, but again, very realistic.  I never felt like I was reading a character from a story  who was acting a certain way in order to portray the author’s message.  I can definitely understand why this novel is a Morris Award winner, and can’t wait to see what Albertalli cooks up next.  According to rumors, it is going to be a companion novel to Simon. 🙂

Waiting on Wednesday: Paper and Fire by Rachel Caine

Waiting on Wednesday is a topic hosted by Breaking the Spine, where bloggers post about books that they are looking forward to being published in the near future 🙂

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Paper and Fire is the second installment of the Great Library Series, that imagines a world where the Library of Alexandria has survived and now rules the world.  In the first of of this fantasy world, we were introduced to Jess whose excitement about the opportunity to work for the  Great Library was erased after seeing the inner turmoil and corruption.  Paper and Fire continues telling his story, in which he is not just trying to save those he is close to from the Great Library but he is also fighting time as the Welsh army comes to invade his home.

I loved Ink and Bone! I thought is was creative and unexpected, and I can’t wait to see what comes next for Jess and the allies he has made along the way.

Paper and Fire comes out July 5th, 2016, and is published by NAL.

Waiting on Wednesday: The Crown’s Game by Evelyn Skye

Waiting on Wednesday is a topic hosted by Breaking the Spine, where bloggers post about books that they are looking forward to being published in the near future 🙂

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The Crown’s Game is a YA novel that takes place in Russia, and surrounds a competition between a young man and woman who are vying for the right to be the Tsar’s Imperial Enchanter and Advisor.  However, complications begin when a love triangle arises between the competitors and the heir to the throne.  While the principal players are working through the competition and these new relationships, the empire continues to be threatened, and is in jeopardy of crumbling.

So this is a novel I am being very hopefully optimistic about.  On one hand, I read a review on Goodreads that said this book reminded them of a cross between Anastasia and The Night Circus.  Which makes me think I will probably burn through this book in two seconds flat.  However, I am a little wary of the love triangle aspect of this story.  I’m hoping that plenty of attention will still be given to the setting and magical aspects of this novel.  Regardless, I cannot wait for May to get here so that I can finally get a chance to experience The Crown’s Game for myself 🙂

The Crown’s Game is published by Balzer and Bray, and comes out on May 17th, 2016.

YALSA books added to my TBR

Last week I was able to watch the 2016 YALSA Awards and although I was familiar with a couple of them, there are many that I added to my To-Read pile once they were mentioned.  In my post today I’m just going to mention the ones that really sparked my interest 🙂


Alex Awards:  Given to books written for adults that appeal to young adult readers age 12-18.

Screen Shot 2016-01-15 at 2.19.40 PMBetween the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates:  Coates wrote this book to his son about the struggles he will face as a result of being black in America.

Screen Shot 2016-01-15 at 2.22.49 PM Girl at War by Sara Novic: As a college student discovering herself, Ana begins to examine her war torn childhood living through the Balkan Wars in 1991.

Edwards Award: Recognizes an author whose work helps teens understand their role in society and in relationships towards others.

This year the award was given to David Levithan.  Of his work I am most interested in reading:

Screen Shot 2016-01-15 at 2.28.47 PM Two Boys KissingThis story is about Harry and Craig, two boys who hope to set a new record by entering a 32 hour kissing marathon. What makes this story so unique and intriguing though is that it is narrated and commented on by a previous generation of gay men who were lost to AIDS.

Morris Award: celebrates a debut Young Adult Author and their work.

Screen Shot 2016-01-15 at 2.33.24 PM Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli: This was the 2016 Morris Award winner.  Simon is on the verge of coming out, when a classmate begins blackmailing him about his sexual identity and the online relationship he has with a peer.

Screen Shot 2016-01-15 at 2.37.16 PM The Weight of Feathers by Anna-Marie McLemore: This was a nominee that I have had my eyes on for awhile.  This is a Romeo and Juliet themed story about two families of traveling performers.  Amidst the circus setting there also a magical aspect to this story that has me very intrigued.

There were many other awards and books mentioned in the awards that I hope to get to in the future, but these were the ones that caught my interest right away!

Waiting on Wednesday: Devil and the Bluebird by Jennifer Mason-Black

Waiting on Wednesday is a topic hosted by Breaking the Spine, where bloggers post about books that they are looking forward to being published in the near future 🙂

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Devil and the Bluebird is described as a YA take on the “Deal with the Devil” folklore.  In this novel, Blue Riley has been struggling to come to terms with her mother’s loss to cancer.  Amidst this struggle she comes across a devil who she makes a deal with, in order to save her sister who has runaway.  After making this deal, Blue strikes out west with the bare necessities, a guitar, and a pair of magical shoes that she hopes will help her find her sister.

From the description and cover of this book I get a bit of an Americana/Appalachian vibe that I am very excited about.  I can’t wait to see how Moson-Black depicts this rare retelling!!

Devil and the Bluebird is published by Amulet Books, and comes out on May 17th, 2016.