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: The Last Boy and Girl in the World by Siobhan Vivian

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 🙂

New WoW

This week’s WoW book is The Last Boy and Girl in the World!

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After disaster strikes, Keeley Hewitt seizes the opportunity to finally take the risk on the boy she has always liked.

When a massive storm decimates Keeley’s town, everyone she knows is getting ready to start over far away from each other.  With nothing left to lose, Keeley feels a sense of bravery and decides to finally approach her longtime crush, knowing their will be almost no social blowback or heartbreak with her leaving town so soon.  With so much up in the air already, is adding more uncertainty to her life really what Keeley should be doing though?  Would it be better to just cut all ties with the town, and start anew somewhere else?

This novel reminds me a lot of We All Looked Up, the idea that social embarrassment and rules are negligible when faced with your own mortality and sense of physical security.  It will be interesting to see if Keeley’s bravery will pan out or if it will make any difference with her and the boy she likes having to relocate.  I also wonder if this will be a story where Keeley’s social concerns get pushed aside or put in perspective, with all the destruction caused by the storm.

The Last Boy and Girl in the World comes out April 26th 2016, and is published by Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers.

Waiting on Wednesday: Stone Field by Christy Lenzi

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 🙂

New WoW

This week’s WoW book is Stone Field by Christy Lenzi!

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Stone Field is a historical fiction retelling of Wuthering Heights. Set right before the Civil War, it is a love story about Catrina and Stonefield.  They first meet when Catrina stumbles upon a man with no memory of who he is or what he was doing before they met each other.

Despite the war, the town’s opinion, or Stonefield’s amnesia, the two fall in love and want nothing more than to live by themselves and shut out the horrors that come with war.  However, the past doesn’t disappear, and with war approaching, events are set in motion that are out of Catrina and Stonefield’s hands.

This book seems to capture the spooky mystery of Wuthering Heights really well, and I can’t wait to see what has been adapted and imagined to make Stone Field it’s own intriguing read.

Stone Field comes out March 29th 2016, and is published by Roaring Books Press.

Top 10 Books of 2015

The books I listed as my Top 10 are just some of many amazing books that I read this year.  The books I selected for my Top 10 are the ones that I am most likely to recommend to someone, or re-read myself in the future.  I tried to get a solid mix of genres into this list as well.

These aren’t listed in any kind of particular order:

The Winner’s Curse

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I loved Rutkoski’s The Winner’s Curse and can’t wait to continue reading this serious.  Kestrel is a wonderful and unique female protagonist.  I love that her weaknesses are often the strengths of protagonists in similar books.  The antagonistic relationship between Kestrel and Arin is not only super entertaining to read about, but it also is a great way to personalize the larger political unrest that is occurring throughout the book.

You can read my full review here.

None of the Above

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None of the Above is a novel that had me embarrassingly weeping in front of my family while I was on vacation.  It is such a heart-wrenching and necessary book.  Kristin’s tumultuous feelings after discovering she is intersex and the additional loss of control she faces when this information is shared with the community by someone other than herself, is written in a way that is intimate and immediately makes the reader sympathize with Kristin.  I applaud Gregorio on her handling of the facts, and the lack of embellishment or confusion in the story.  She manages this, while also boldly displaying the prejudice and discrimination that can occur to someone who is already trying to work through a very difficult issue.  If you like contemporary and haven’t read this yet, I highly recommend it.

The Game of Love and Death

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The personification of Love and Death in an epic never-ending challenge was what initially drew me to this story.  In this way, it is really similar to The Night Circus, which is one of my favorite novels.  The scenes when Love and Death interacted with each other were some of my favorite and helped tie a much larger story to the brief one depicted in Brockenbrough’s novel.  I feel like this is a book that didn’t get much attention this year, and I wish more people would read it.

You can read my full review here

Falling Kingdoms

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I am so glad I picked up this series after hearing about it from Lainey over at Gingerreadslainey Booktube channel! It is a great starter series for someone whose looking to begin reading fantasy.  Falling Kingdoms was a fantastic opener to this six book series.  Although I am excited to find out what happens next, I am definitely taking my time to get through these books because the fourth book has only just been released.

You can read my full review here.

Second Chance Summer

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This was another recommendation I found on Booktube. Shannon from Leaning Lights did a video about her favorite family depictions in YA literature and couldn’t get through this recommendation without tearing up.  I’m a bit of a sucker for a good tear jerker, and Second Chance Summer did not disappoint.  Although there is a romantic aspect to this book, you really read it for the family.  This one I managed to read right towards the end of the year and it was a great way to round things out.

Legacy of Kings

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I really appreciate when an author takes the time to research and really understand the world they are writing about, and Eleanor Herman excelled at this in Legacy of Kings.  The attention to detail was astounding in this book about Alexander the Great.  I am very ready to read the next installment from this series, that is set to be published in the Fall of 2016.

You can read my full review here.

Name of the Wind

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What a wonderful but super chunky book!  Although my copy of this book is upwards of 800 pages, it never felt bogged down and I was always caught up in Kvothe’s story.  I loved the storyteller narration in this novel, and appreciated the lyrical style of some of Rothfuss’ passages.  Like Falling Kingdoms, this is another unfinished series, so while I am very excited to dive back into Kvothe’s world, I’m taking my time getting to The Wise Man’s Fear.

Saint Anything

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Saint Anything really snuck up and surprised me.  I didn’t expect to like it as much as I did, because the only other Dessen book I had read before this was This Lullaby and for some reason it didn’t grab me as much as it seems to other people.  But Holy Smokes! I loved this story! I loved the attention Dessen gives to all of the characters, and the plot is something that had my attention from the beginning.  I don’t often reread stories, but this is definitely one I want to pick up again.

You can read my full review here.

Six of Crows

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I would re-read this book again just for the awesome quotes!! The banter Bardugo creates between the characters is my favorite I read all year.  I loved the way the six lead characters fit together in this awkward amalgamated clan that should never really work together but manage to through Kaz’s leadership.  Everyone in this story has a really murky, gray characterization that made it difficult for me to decide how I felt about them, but there is no doubt that I am going to be continuing this series to find out what happens next.

A Step Toward Falling

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I will read anything that Cammie McGovern writes and A Step Toward Falling only solidified that claim.  This was a powerful contemporary, that has some breathtaking quotes. I loved how McGovern depicted and did justice for all of her characters, especially those shown with disabilities.  She didn’t shy away from portraying reality, but remained respectful in each scene.  This book provides great insight into a population that is just beginning to be featured more in YA fiction, and I can’t wait to see what McGovern writes next.

 

#RockMyTBR Book Tag

Rock my TBR

Last Week I talked about the books I hope to read in 2016 that I already own through the #RockMyTBR reading challenge!  This week I am completing the book tag to go along with this! It was a lot of fun, a bit nostalgic, and helped me focus on the books I really want to make sure I get to next year.

“Smells Like Teen Spirit” (Nirvana) A contemporary I want to read

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I received What We Saw by Aaron Hartzler earlier this month, and am excited to get to it early next year!

“Shut Up and Dance” (Walk to the Moon) Most anticipated book I have

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Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin has intrigued me since I first read about its publication.  An alternate version of history where a girl sets out to kill the victorious Hitler…? This is one I definitely have high on my TBR list!

“Centuries” (Remix) (Fall Out Boy)  A Twist on a Classic or Fairytale

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Strands of Bronze and Gold is a twist on the BlueBeard myths, which is a retelling I have never come across before.  It’s one I purchased off Book Outlet after the synopsis caught my attention.

“Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robot” (The Flaming Lips) a science fiction book or a book set in the future

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Midwinterblood is one that time hops and involves some other than human characters.  I got a really strong Cloud Atlas vibe when I bought it a few years ago.  It will be nice to finally have this off my TBR!

“She Looks So Perfect” (5 Seconds of Summer) a book with a girl on the cover

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I fully anticipate needing some tissues for this one!  The Summer of Letting Go follows a girl work through her grief and guilt after the death of her younger sibling.

“Africa” (Toto) a book set in a foreign country

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Jellicoe Road is about a group of boarding school students set in Australia.  Although I have heard people say that they really like this book, I don’t know too much about it other than that 🙂

“Another One Bites the Dust” (Queen) a book or books that will complete a series

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After reading Never Fade I went a bit lukewarm with this series. Hopefully my excitement picks back up as I read the last book in the Darkest Minds Trilogy.

“Someone New” (Hozier) a book by an author you haven’t read yet

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I picked up The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides at a used book store in the early part of last year.  I feel like this is something of a YA classic that I should have gotten to by now.

“Hello” (Adele) a book DNF or weren’t in the m old for at the time

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I tried reading The Kingdom of Little Wounds right after finishing Queen of the Tearling which I think was my big mistake!  Hopefully I’ll be able to get more invested in this, now that I haven’t read anything like it in a few months.

“Love at First Sight” (Kylie Minogue) a book you bought because of the cover

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This is a book I stumbled across while I was browsing Book Outlet. I barely read the synopsis before adding it to my cart and checking out. 🙂

So there it is! I challenge anyone else who is doing the #RockMyTBR reading challenge to do this book tag!

#RockMyTBR 2016 Reading Challenge

Rock my TBR

Like many readers, I have a problem where there are simply not enough hours in a day to read all of the books I plan too! As a result, I have acquired quite a pile of unread books that have been lying around…for years in some cases.  That is why I LOVE the #RockMyTBR challenge that Sarah over at The YA Book Traveler has created!  Here are the books that I’ve added to my shelves over the last couple of years that I  hope to read in 2016:

Sabriel – Garth Nix

Illusionarium – Heather Dixon

Furies of Calderon – Jim Butcher

Under the Banner of Heaven – Jon Krakauer

Assassin’s Aprrentice – Robin Hobb

In the Afterlight – Alexander Bracken

Assassin’s Curse Duology – Cassandra Rose Clarke

Jellicoe Road – Melina Marchetta

Some Boys – Patty Blount

First Fifteen Lives of Harry August – Clare North

All the Light We Cannot See – Anthony Doerr

The Bone Season – Samantha Shannon

Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone – Kat Rosenfield

Kingdom of Little Wounds – Susann Cokal

Virgin Suicides – Jeffrey Eugenides

Bossy Pants – Tina Fey

March – Geraldine Brooks

Midwinterblood – Markus Sedgwick

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landou-Banks – E. Lockhart

Girl in the Woods – Aspen Mathis

Wolf by Wolf – Ryan Gaudin

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea

This Star Won’t Go Out – Esther Earl

The Wise Man’s Fear – Patrick Rothfuss

Mistborn – Brandon Sanderson

Me, Earl, and the Dying Girl – Jesse Andrews

Rebel Spring – Morgan Rhodes

So hopefully, I’ll be able to knock 2-3 of these out a month (give or take) and by this time next year my TBR should look a bit thinner 🙂

If any of these are on your list and you want to do a buddy read, let me know!

Waiting on Wednesday: A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro

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 🙂

New WoW

This week’s WoW book is A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro!

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As someone who spent most of their 7th grade English class reading Sherlock Holmes novels, the idea of a contemporary Holmes themed novel is too intriguing to pass up.  In this book, Sherlock Holmes and John Watson’s descendants meet at a Connecticut prep school but lack the chemistry their forefathers’ had.

Jamie Watson enters Sherringford Prep School intrigued by Charlotte Holmes.  He quickly realizes though, that with her great-great-grandfather’s odd quirks, Charlotte is very hard to get along with.  Despite their antagonistic relationship, they are forced to work together to clear their name when a student is found dead and Holmes and Watson are the prime suspects in the suspicious death.

This sounds like a really fun take on an old classic.  With the prep school setting I can’t wait for a setting the will have a ring of the old Holmes stories with an injection of contemporary YA characters and technology.

 

A Study in Charlotte comes out on March 1st 2016, and is published by Katherine Tegen Books.

Review: Made You Up by Francesca Zappia

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Made You Up

by Francesca Zappia

Rating: 2.5-3/5 stars

After being run out of her previous school, Alex is determined not to let anyone realize she has a secret at her new school.  Alex has schizophrenia and in order to keep track of who is actually in front of her, she constantly takes pictures to review.  However, she is not sure if her precautions will be enough once she meets Miles, a boy who reminds her of one of her childhood delusions.  Or at least she thought he wasn’t real, but now she can’t be sure.  All Alex wants is to graduate high school, go to college, and beat back her disorder long enough to accomplish these goals, but trying to navigate the uncertainty of high school is hard enough, factor in having to discover who is real or not makes it seem impossible.

Review: Zappia does a great job of writing to make the reader really feel Alex’s confusion and frustration.  I could not imagine having to second guess what I am seeing all the time, and it is easy to see why Alex is paranoid about many things.  However, I did have some issues with the plot.  For the first half of the book, things were really slow and it didn’t seem like much was happening.  I wasn’t really fired up to pick this book up each time I went to read it.

Once the plot did start to move, Alex becomes involved in something much bigger than she anticipated.  This plot twist and mystery that Alex became involved in was a huge leap for me, and pretty unbelievable.  It had to do with the school principal being kind of crazy and having an inappropriate relationship with a student.  I know part of that was to make the reader doubt whether the events were actually happening of if it was all in Alex’s mind.  But it was just really out there, and I find it hard to believe that no one was suspicious of the school principal in the years leading up to Alex’s attendance.

For me this book was really enlightening and informative, but I wasn’t super entertained.