Category Archives: Discussion

The Best-Friend-Turned-Boyfriend Romance | Part 2

It was actually just about two years ago that I first posted the original “Best-Friend-Turned-Boyfriend Romance” post after watching an episode of New Girl that sort of inspired the whole thing. Immediately it set my feelings in tizzy because I LOVE best friends falling for each other and I felt inspired to write a post about it because it’s also one of my favorite tropes in literature.

In two years, I’ve done a LOT of reading (over two hundred more books and holy cow, when you put it that way, that number sounds crazy) so I thought it was time to update this post with a “PART 2”. I’ve read quite a few more “falling for the best friend” stories that I just HAVE to share with you if you haven’t read them! So open up Goodreads, get your TBRs ready — these are some books you HAVE to read!

BEST-FRIEND-TURNED-BOYFRIEND ROMANCE: PART 2

THE BOY NEXT-DOOR

ON THE FENCE BY KASIE WEST

ON THE FENCE had so many things that I love in a book — a tomboy, a great family dynamic, and a story about a girl and the boy next door. YES. Charlie (short for Charlotte) and Braden are best friends and next-door neighbors and I loved watching their friendship start to develop into something more. I absolutely LOVED them and this entire book from Kasie West! I highly recommend it for a fun and heart-fluttering read!
REVIEW: On the Fence – Kasie West


ALTHEA & OLIVER BY CRISTINA MORACHO

ALTHEA & OLIVER is a bit grittier of a novel, set in the 1990s. Althea has a bit of a rebellious streak and Oliver has a rare sleeping disorder that puts him out of commission for up to weeks at a time… But the two are best friends and stick together through thick and thin. Oliver is not RIGHT next door but he’s the boy down the street and that’s close enough for me! I really loved their friendship and it’s so intense seeing those romantic feelings develop after knowing someone for so long and so well.
REVIEW: Althea & Oliver – Cristina Moracho


LAST YEAR’S MISTAKE BY GINA CIOCCA

LAST YEAR’S MISTAKE actually doesn’t come out until May, but I immediately picked up because of the romantic best friend possibility! It’s definitely an emotionally-charged book with feelings flying all over the place when Kelsey’s ex-best friend (and neighbor boy) David shows back up in her life. I was definitely on the edge of my seat trying to see what would happen to these two and even what DID happen to these two through the flashbacks throughout the book. Keep your eyes peeled for this one!


THE LONG TIME BEST FRIEND

BETTER OFF FRIENDS BY ELIZABETH EULBERG

What I really loved about BETTER OFF FRIENDS was how much time we got to see these two characters — Macallan and Levi — as best friends before things started to happen. I LOVE witnessing that friendship portion and even though the book started out a bit younger (going from junior high through high school), I never felt like the characters were too young for me to relate. I also had a male best friend who lived next door (though I think Levi lived in the neighborhood and not really next door? But still.) and grew up with so it’s always something I really connect with! It’s always interesting when things start to escalate and then then characters have to reassess their feels. THE BUTTERFLIES I GET.
REVIEW: Better Off Friends – Elizabeth Eulberg


THE GRISHA TRILOGY BY LEIGH BARDUGO

What’s interesting about this romance is that well A) it’s a fantasy trilogy so there’s a WHOLE LOT MORE than just a romance going on and B) it’s a three-book series so it develops over time instead of a single book. We meet Mal and Alina who have grown up together, who are best friends, and who would walk through hell for each other and it’s so incredibly interesting and touching to witness how their friendship evolves as the series progresses. At first I didn’t like them romantic feelings there — I know, with my affinity for this trope, how could I not? — but the more things developed, the more I loved the two together. It’s really fascinating to see this play out in a fantasy trilogy too!
REVIEWS: The Witch of Duva (Grisha Trilogy#0.5) – Leigh Bardugo // Shadow and Bone (Grisha Trilogy #1) – Leigh Bardugo // Re-Read Review: Shadow and Bone // The Taylor (Grisha Trilogy #1.5) – Leigh Bardugo // Siege and Storm (Grisha Trilogy #2) – Leigh Bardugo // Re-Read Review: Siege and Storm // The Too-Clever Fox (Grisha Trilogy #2.5) – Leigh Bardugo // Ruin and Rising (Grisha Trilogy #3) – Leigh Bardugo


ASK AGAIN LATER BY LIZ CZUKAS

Prom is a real struggle for Heart (yes, that’s her real name) as she tries to decide whether to go to the dance with her brother’s friend or with her group of friends… but all the while we see this THING start to develop between her and one of her best friends… and it is magical. I loved how everything unfolded and just thinking about everything that transpires gives me all the little feelings again! This was definitely a fun novel overall and I really fell in love with it.
REVIEW: Ask Again Later – Liz Czukas


THE BEST FRIEND… BUT IT’S STILL FORBIDDEN

NANTUCKET BLUE BY LEILA HOWLAND

I absolutely loved NANTUCKET BLUE. I just really related to Cricket overall but I also loved the romance in this book. It develops slowly but surely and it’s a teensy bit on the forbidden side due to who the boy is. It’s a friend but definitely someone she shouldn’t be falling for… so that kind of made me love it even more. I suppose you might be able to guess who it is once you start reading BUT I didn’t know going in how the story would unfold so you’ll just have to read it yourself to find out!
REVIEW: Nantucket Blue (Nantucket #1) – Leila Howland


WHEN JOSS MET MATT BY ELLIE CAHILL

Ellie Cahill is actually the pseudonym for author Liz Czukas for her new adult novels so if that name looks familiar, it’s because I just mentioned ALSO KNOWN AS above! WHEN JOSS MET MATT was absolutely perfection in my eyes. I loved every bit of it and it has an amazing friendship that of course turns into a jumble of feelings when friend Joss and Matt begin a sort of “friends with benefits” plan after a relationship gone very, very bad. I really just loved both characters and the friendship was fantastic so if you’re into new adult or looking to get into it, this one should be on your list!
REVIEW: When Joss Met Matt – Ellie Cahill


THE RAVEN CYCLE BY MAGGIE STIEFVATER

Well, the series isn’t over yet but it’s already broken my heart a few times (or really just set my feelings on edge). This is such a tight knit group of characters and it’s just so amazing to watch ALL of them interact. My feelings have sort of been all over the place but I think I’ve finally settled on a permanent space for them… that is, until the final book comes out this fall and everything could just totally break me. Anyway, if you haven’t read the series, there’s a major premise that if Blue (the main female character) kisses her true love, he will die. Naturally, that sets us up for all kinds of heartache and just THINKING about the scenes in the third book… Gah. WAY too many feelings. Soooo, if you like your feelings being messed with (in a good way?)DEFINTELY go read this series. You can binge read it this year. You’re welcome.
REVIEWS: The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle #1) – Maggie Stiefvater // The Dream Thieves (The Raven Boys #2) – Maggie Stiefvater // Blue Lily, Lily Blue (The Raven Cycle #3) – Maggie Stiefvater


 So that’s my new list of favorite best-friend-to-more books! Which of these have you read? Are there any more out there I’m missing? (I know there are… and I want them all!)

Discussion: On Changing Ratings

discussion

I realized I hadn’t done a discussion in a while — not for lack of desire but when things get hectic, I usually have less time to sit down and THINK about things and write them up — so after mentioning this on Twitter, Estelle happened to comment and ask for my thoughts on her review of I Was Here by Gayle Forman, which was both related and unrelated all at the same time. She thought our opinions differed a little bit and wanted to see my reaction about her thoughts, and after reading Estelle’s post (and general reflection on my feelings about the book once again), I decided to change my rating.

Now this isn’t something I normally do. Usually my feelings are best assessed immediately upon finishing a book. Everything is fresh in my mind — both feelings and plot — and so I can make a very informed and confident decision. But there are some books that need a little more time before I can put my final rating on it and I Was Here was one of them. I actually DID wait to write my review (and not just because I was lazy — because I was actually unsure of how I felt) and when I finally did post it, it was much longer than I anticipated… But going back to what I wrote really felt like I was justifying my rating instead of simply relaying my thoughts on the book. Why??? Yes, it’s true that I made this decision after I read reviews from other people and yes, it’s true that they pointed out things that I maybe hadn’t noticed BUT that’s not the reason I’m changing my rating. They were all only saying things that I already felt but almost tried to cover up and convince myself weren’t a big deal.

You see, I’m a HUGE Gayle Forman fan. Her If I Stay and Just One Day duologies are some of my ALL-TIME FAVORITE BOOKS EVER. I was afraid with Just One Day that I wasn’t going to love it as much as If I Stay and Where She Went and I really felt the pressure to fall in love with a new book from my favorite author. I felt a teensy bit unsure when I finished because Just One Day was different in its own ways and yet I KNOW that I fell in love with the characters, with the setting, with the plot, and all of the book’s little nuances, so when I finished I Was Here, I was sure that it was the same situation. That little sliver of doubt was just the fact that the book was different, I told myself. It was more plot-heavy than character-driven and that’s why it felt so different. Well yes, that’s true, but REALLY looking back on the book? I didn’t love it. I still liked it plenty and Gayle’s writing is always impressive, but I really and truly was missing those personal connections to the characters — both the personality connection with the main character and the swooning connection with the love interest. They were both there but not quite enough for me to totally fall in love. Deep down, I really did know it but I just didn’t want to admit that I didn’t LOVE a book by one of my all-time favorite authors. I Was Here is still pre-ordered and I will still treasure my copy, but I can tell that it does need a bit of a rating adjustment.

So how do I need to know if I should change my rating? It’s not something I take lightly because I don’t want to believe I was influenced by someone else or something else other than my level of enjoyment as I was reading and how I felt afterwards. Here are a few questions I’ve started to ask myself as I’m gathering my thoughts to write my review:

DID I HAVE EXPECTATIONS?

I mean, of course before I start ANY book, I have expectations but were they high? Were they low? Did this book fail to live up to what I thought it was going to be and therefore rated too harshly? Or did I rate it higher because I WANTED it to live up to those expectations? Or was I MORE impressed because it surpassed my expectations?
RATING CHANGED FOR: I Was Here (bumped down from 4.5 stars to 4 stars)

DID I GET CAUGHT UP IN THE HYPE?

Let’s face it. Being a book blogger sometimes means reading hugely anticipated titles before or right around the release day. Any books that are by favorite authors or sounds unique or exciting automatically get hyped, even without the readers meaning to do so. That means that any of these big titles can get quite intimidating and I feel the pressure to agree with all of the amazing reviews and opinions floating around.
Sometimes if I read a book that was seriously hyped, I feel like I SHOULD have loved it, even if I didn’t. It’s stupid, right? I don’t need to fluff up my rating just to agree with the masses. I think, “Oh, I really did enjoy that. YOU’RE RIGHT” and I ended up giving a half star more than I might, here or there. Even looking back now, I really did enjoy The Winner’s Curse and even looking back on The Winner’s Crime… I really, really enjoy CRIME but the fact that I didn’t love CURSE still hung over my head. I stuck with my 4-star ratings on CURSE, but I think I’m bumping my rating down for CRIME. I bumped it up a quarter star due to the ending but the ending can’t save the book every time!
RATING CHANGED FOR: The Winner’s Crime (bumped down from 4.5 stars to 4.25 stars)

DO I FEEL THE URGE TO RE-READ THE BOOK?

This more applies to the higher ratings than anything, but actually anywhere between 3.75 and 4.5 stars are the hardest ratings for me to pick and the ones that tend to get changed the most! If I rate it two or three stars, chances are there are very solid reasons why and that rating isn’t going anywhere. My rating scale varies from the “traditional” scale so anything above a 4 means there’s a chance I’ll re-read and 4.5 to 5  is definite re-read material. Do I REALLY want to re-read I Was Here? Maybe someday but it’s not an immediate pull that I’ve had with other books so that tells me it should be more of a 4.25 rating than a 4.5.
RATING SOLIDIFIED: The Start of Me and You (4 stars)


So what are your thoughts, friends? Do you ever change ratings? If you have, what are the reasons why you decided to make the change? Were they any of the same thoughts I had here? I’d love to hear your feedback! What prompts you to re-assess your feelings on a book?

On the Same Page: Snow White and Rose Red by Patricia C. Wrede

OtSPcirclebanner

     ON THE SAME PAGE: SNOW WHITE AND ROSE RED by Patricia C. Wrede
A very visual fairy tale

For December, On the Same Page read Alyssa’s favorite, Snow White and Rose Red by Patricia C. Wrede. I had a lot of fun reading this one which I actually didn’t expect when I first started (was hesitant about the fairy tale (sometimes they just don’t work for me) and the Elizabethan language) but I actually easily slipped into the book. Patricia C. Wrede’s adaptation of this fairy tale was so much fun. The characters were absolutely fantastic and one of my favorite parts but the other was her imagery. I really felt like I could picture the story as I was reading it and it was very visually striking! So today for our On the Same Page post, I’m sharing a few of my favorite images with you that I would include on my SNOW WHITE, ROSE RED Pinterest board! !


12

I just love this gorgeous artwork of Snow White, Rose Red, and the bear! These pictures are absolutely stunning and I LOVE the first picture because that’s almost exactly how I pictured their cottage too!


5 3

4

I just LOVED the feel of the cottage. I mean, it wasn’t like that was even a focus but I could just really picture it in my head! Smash all three of these pictures together and that’s about what I could see in my mind!


  7  9  6

I also loved picturing the woods and the transition into Fairie! I’m not exactly sure what Fairie would look like but I’m guessing a bit more ethereal, maybe more stunning, maybe more distracting, maybe all of the above! These were some gorgeous forest pictures that made me feel like I was about to cross the border into Faerie!


546ecfaaa4c8decf2136ccb18b8a02ee  0457f9c4c8f40f8d8cb8725972603f93

So I was just searching images and Pinterest trying to find something that would relate to Edward Kelly and John Dee and… they are ACTUAL people!

I didn’t know that! (Am I bad history student or is this not common knowledge? I thought it was neat!) John Dee was an actual advisor to Queen Elizabeth I in the late 1500s/early 1600s. He was a mathematician, astrologer, and philosopher. He took Edward Kelly under his wing in 1582 and the two began to delve into “supernatural pursuits”. They came up with the Enochian language which was said to have been given to them by the angels.


Hope you had fun checking out Snow White and Rose Red today! Don’t forget to check out Alyssa’s and Amy’s posts about Snow White and Rose Red today too!
Alyssa (Books Take You Places)
Amy (Tripping Over Books)

On the Same Page: Sunshine by Robin McKinley

OtSPcirclebanner

ON THE SAME PAGE: SUNSHINE by Robin McKinley
Relationships with a Vampire

Some might say the vampire trend is dying out — maybe some people are sick of the fad, others were never crazy about it in the first place, or it’s just been overdone — but reading SUNSHINE this month with my gals from On the Same Page reminded me what’s so fun about vampires and urban fantasy! One thing that really sticks out to me friendship that Sunshine and Constantine formed. I really loved their interactions and I definitely felt a combination of both suspense and that sense of attraction as well  — something about the combination of this and how their relationship came to be just clicked for me. I can already heard the immediate groans just THINKING about other vampire relationships/romances (*cough*Twilight*cough*) and fair enough! So it got me thinking exactly what DOES work when reading about romancing the undead (at least for me) and I had a lot of fun with that!

SUNSHINE + CONSTANTINE: SUNSHINE

Sunshine and Constantine had a… symbiotic relationship. Yes, they had a bit of an attraction to each other but they really ended up depending on each other to survive and avoid/defeat Constantine’s rival vampire gang and I really felt like Sunshine’s attraction to Con was also in part due to her fascination of him. He was a vampire and the one anomaly that seemed to actually see humans AS humans. He tried to treat Sunshine with respect and on more than one occasion had her remind him of her humanity so he wouldn’t be tempted to… er… destroy her. Relationships are partnerships and I think especially hard to start up a paranormal-with-human relationship because — sorry, human… you’re just not doing much except for being vulnerable and looking pretty. Sunshine and Constantine just made a good team and their abilities really complemented each other. Obviously there was a sexual tension there (Constantine’s quiet strength. Eep.) but I really felt like they worked best when they were more friends and partners in crime than looking to start a romantic or sexual relationship. They worked together and were able to see eye-to-eye on some major things BUT I mean, it’s hard to get over that whole vampire thing unless you are a vampire, am I right? Anyway. I really loved their relationship (friendship… whatever you want to call it) and how they worked together. It was really fun to see everything play out and their interactions (especially with Sunshine’s inner monologue) kind of cracked me up!

Would they last?
Romantically? Hard to say, but I thought they made a great team, romance aside. THAT is something I could see lasting.

BELLA + EDWARD: TWILIGHT

Yes, yes, I hear your groans… But I grew up (well, not grew up. I was in college when I read these) loving Twilight. I even re-read them multiple times! But looking back NOW? I’m not sure if I could. I’ve read far too many books with kickass heroines who not only stand up for themselves but really DO something for their love interests or are on the same level. Bella and Edward are just so not. She really just gets in the way a lot and not only jeopardizes her life AND Edward’s but also his family AND the wolves… and she has nothing really to contribute (I guess until she has her own powers in the final book). Anyway. She’s just a bit too damsel-y at times so after reading so many take-charge gals, I’m gonna say this vampire-human relationship doesn’t quite work!

Would they last?
Pre-vampire Bella? Not likely. Post-vampire Bella? They’re stuck for eternity.

TANA + GAVRIEL: THE COLDEST GIRL IN COLDTOWN

Another vampire-human relationship. Well… I think the same thing goes with the Twilight concept. Hard for a vampire and a human to stay in a relationship. Let’s just say that I liked Tana but she also put herself in jeopardy a few too many times without any real skills or abilities to help her out of a compromising position. Oh, and of course there’s the whole vampire-may-want-to-snack-on-you thing, no matter how much he actually cares or is attracted! I enjoyed their relationship but I’m not quite sure how well that would go.

Would they last?
Possibly.

LISSA + CHRISTIAN: VAMPIRE ACADEMY

A vampire-vampire relationship! Oh ho! I actually really liked the two of them together. The interesting thing about VA for me was that their relationship wasn’t scandalous because one was or was not a vampire but rather because of the standing of their families. And really normal human main characters were almost non-existent with the majority being dhampirs or Moroi. The Moroi-dhampir relationship is actually more scandalous and I think it’s basically unsaid (or is it said somewhere) that a Moroi-human relationship is nearly unheard of except for producing dhampirs. (Although that would have been a really cool spin-off too…)

Would they last?
Probably!


There are a LOT more vampire books that I’m sure you guys have feedback on, so let me hear it! Dracula. Anne Rice’s books. Even tell me your thoughts on Twilight! There are so many vampire books I haven’t read and I’d love to hear your thoughts and theories on what work and why other romances tend to be irritating or fall apart!


Don’t forget to check out Alyssa’s and Amy’s posts about Sunshine today too!
Alyssa (Books Take You Places)
Amy (Tripping Over Books)

On the Same Page: The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale

OtSPcirclebanner

ON THE SAME PAGE: THE GOOSE GIRL by SHANNON HALE
On pin-pointing why some books click and others don’t

It wasn’t until I started writing my review for THE GOOSE GIRL — originally intending to use that as my post for On the Same Page this month — that I finally came up with a good topic to really dig deeper into my experience with the book. THE GOOSE GIRL is one of Amy’s favorite books and with Alyssa and I never having read it, we chose it as one of our group reads. Honestly, before we chose to include THE GOOSE GIRL as one of our On the Same Page books, it wasn’t even on my radar. I actually thought it was a middle grade book (it has a sort of middle grade feel at times, I think, but the age range of characters is more young adult) and there was just something about it that I couldn’t quite pinpoint that just didn’t jump out at me, begging to be added to my TBR.

When I started the book, I started feeling that dread creeping in. The feel of the book was pretty much what I had anticipated (or did it come off that way BECAUSE that’s what I was anticipating? Self-fulfilling prophecy? Hard to say) and I was so upset that no matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t get into the book. It was one of Amy’s favorites!!! I was seriously in fear that she would disown me if I didn’t like it and I didn’t even give it a rating on Goodreads when I finished because I didn’t want her to see and know my true feelings. I really worked hard to get into it, but I just wasn’t connecting and the overall feel just wasn’t clicking with me. (Alyssa started the book after I had finished and told me, “Oh, yeah, I can see why you didn’t’ like this.” She just knows my tastes haha.)

It dawned on me once I started to try and write my review for the book… Why didn’t I enjoy THE GOOSE GIRL? I enjoy many, many, many other fairy tale adaptations/retellings. Hell, The Lunar Chronicles is one of my favorite series of all time! So what’s the deal? I took a quick look at what I loved about The Lunar Chronicles and saw that aside from characters and plot and all of those easy-to-analyze things about a book, the series just has a completely different feel and the feel that makes the big difference for me is the setting. I would say the majority of the fairy tale retellings and adaptations I’ve read are either set in the present day or have a futuristic feel while books like THE GOOSE GIRL tell the story in a more traditional setting. Its original story is by the Brothers Grimm and it was originally published in 1815 and the book definitely takes after that sort of feel — I’m no fairy tale expert so forgive me for sound uneducated on this little section, but I feel like so many of the traditional and original fairy tales are difficult for me to connect with because that’s just not a time period I connect with. I’m guessing that if these fairy tales — when first penned — weren’t written as if they were in the present day, then they referred to times even before that time period, pushing the setting of the fairy tale even further back into history. From the historical fiction I’ve read, I’ve found that I’m extremely picky about what time periods work and what don’t for me and I think the general feel of the time period in THE GOOSE GIRL was one that just wasn’t clicking for me.

Seems unfair, right? It totally is. I don’t know why only certain historical settings/feelings work for me and some don’t. I loved the His Fair Assassin trilogy even though it was set in the 1400s — a time period I would never have expected to enjoy — and I really enjoy several high fantasy settings like in A Game of Thrones, Graceling, and Throne of Glass.  Then on the other hand, I didn’t really enjoy the feel of Cruel Beauty and that was a retelling as well. So what’s the difference between these? The only possible explanation I can come up with is the tone. Yes, all of these are fairly serious books with heavy subjects, meanwhile with dashes levity to keep the book from getting too dark… But I feel like there’s an overall feeling that I got from THE GOOSE GIRL and CRUEL BEAUTY that I didn’t get from the others that somehow had me feeling like something was missing.

Every way I try to describe what didn’t work for me, it just comes back to that feeling. For THE GOOSE GIRL, I was hoping to connect to the book in spite of the feel that I was anticipating but I was either searching for it and found it, or just failed to connect to the characters and plot despite it. I can’t help but wonder if it was the exact same story but told a bit more modern or set in a different time period or added a few more light moments, could that have changed the whole book for me?

I feel like the more we read, the more we realize what we won’t connect with and tend to avoid it, whether the specific reasoning as to why that feeling is there is apparent or not. It’s been two and a half years (at this point) since I’ve started my blog and I’ve tried many different age ranges, genres, topics, and characters and even still I’m never sure if a book will work for me or not but I think that more often than not, as readers we start to learn to trust our gut! I’m still glad I read THE GOOSE GIRL even if I didn’t enjoy it as much as Amy and Alyssa because it was a reading experience that helped me understand a little bit more about myself as a reader. I wish I had connected more (and Amy said she won’t disown me) but it was definitely an interesting experience to analyze after finishing!

Don’t forget to check out Alyssa’s and Amy’s posts about The Goose Girl today too!

Alyssa (Books Take You Places)
Amy (Tripping Over Books)

The Book Addict’s GUIDE… to Male POVs

Recommendations for YA books with a male POV

I know that with my wedding coming up, taking on a time consuming project such as making a new guide/infographic is probably the last thing I should do… But lately feeling like I have so much to do has made me feel like I need to be productive and somehow reading just wasn’t do that for me so I took on a blog project instead! I have a ton of fun sharing my recommendations and making these graphics so a new “guide” seemed like the perfect project for a time like this!

I almost forgot that I wanted to make a “guide” to male POVs. I’ve actually touched on the topic a couple times on my blog with the Top Ten Tuesday topic “Top Ten Books I’d Recommend to Male Readers” as well as picking it for My Latest Bookish Addiction, but I thought it was time to finally put it into a nice, formal graphic for easy viewing!

Without further ado, here are my favorite YA books from a male POV (and then some)!

Guide_to_Male_POV1

 

BOOKS MENTIONED

  1. The Beginning of Everything by Robyn Schneider // Review
  2. Something Like Normal by Trish Doller // Review
  3. Fault Line by Christa Desir // Review
  4. Where She Went by Gayle Forman // Review
  5. Just One Year by Gayle Forman // Review
  6. An Abundance of Katherines by John Green // Review
  7. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling // Review
  8. The Giver by Lois Lowry // Amazon
  9. The Maze Runner by James Dashner // Amazon
  10. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky // Amazon
  11. Stardust by Neil Gaiman // Review
  12. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline // Review
  13. Insignia by S.J. Kincaid // Review
  14. Undercurrent by Paul Blackwell // Review
  15. The Rule of Three by Eric Waters // Review
  16. Monument 14 by Emmy Laybourne // Review
  17. How to Lead a Life of Crime by Kirsten Miller // Review
  18. White Cat by Holly Black // Review
  19. Lies Beneath by Anne Greenwood Brown // Review
  20. This Dark Endeavor by Kenneth Oppel // Review
  21. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman // Review
  22. The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness // Review
  23. Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi // Review
  24. Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor // Review
  25. Nil by Lynne Matson // Review
  26. Of Poseidon by Anna Banks // Review
  27. The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey // Review
  28. The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater // Review
  29. The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski // Review
  30. Let the Sky Fall by Shannon Messenger // Review
  31. Legend by Marie Lu // Review
  32. Althea & Oliver by Cristina Moracho // Review
  33. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell // Review
  34. Better Off Friends by Elizabeth Eulberg // Review
  35. Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry // Review
  36. The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay // Review
  37. The Truth About Alice by Jennifer Mathieu // Review
  38. Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas // Review
  39. The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson // Review
  40. The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater // Review
  41. The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch // Review
  42. Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson // Review
  43. Gameboard of the Gods by Richelle Mead // Review
  44. A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin // Review
  45. Vicious by Victoria Schwab // Review
  46. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern // Review

Looking for more reading recommendations? Here are some more posts to check out!

On the Same Page: Burial Rites by Hannah Kent

OtSPcirclebanner

ON THE SAME PAGE: BURIAL RITES by HANNAH KENT
  A new kind of historical fiction for me

I’m not usually a big historical fiction reader, but after hearing so many good things about BURIAL RITES and still having copies of the book from BEA last year, Alyssa, Amy, and I decided to make it one of our designated group reads for On the Same Page.

I think the thing that was the most different for me is that it was a totally different type of historical fiction than I usually read. Most of the historical fiction I’ve read and enjoyed has been a completely fictional story with completely fictional characters taking place during a real time and place. I think the deepest I’ve gotten into historical fiction with some accuracy has been the His Fair Assassin novels by Robin LaFevers with the set of three books taking place during a specific time period and even involving some actual historical figures. I’m not sure why but I just don’t always connect to historical fiction when true facts are involved — possibly because it feels too much like school? I really can’t pinpoint why — and I’ve found I’m fairly picky about what time periods I’ll connect to.

What fascinated me the most about BURIAL RITES was that I wasn’t 100% aware when I started exactly how historically accurate this book was. Hannah Kent details the story of Agnes Magnusdottir and the time right after she was found guilty of murder. I’m so used to reading fiction that I was assuming the book was more like the historical fiction I’ve read in the past — a historical time period and real place, but fictional characters and plot — but BURIAL RITES is a real story. All of the major plot points that occur in this book really did happen and Agnes Magnusdottir — along with most of the characters in the book — were actual people. Hannah Kent did a lot of research to put this book together and of course the fictional part involves the dialogue and minor plot points of the book, sort of filling in the gaps where no information was available (and a bit of embellishment as well). I don’t think I really realized all of this until the very end of the book when things were finally wrapping up and the impending finality of the book was near. All of the emotions just hit me knowing that this all really happened and Agnes was real and the ending was just a very emotional part of the book for me.

I also loved that with all of this being entirely based off of true events, I was able to go see everything after I finished. There’s a fantastic post on Picador that’s a photo essay from Hannah Kent herself, sharing various spots where the book takes place (of course as well as where the events in the book actually happened) and I almost wish I had seen this before I started because they’re such great visuals, and not even just inspiration. These are the actual places and you can picture the entire book taking place here (although I have to say, Hannah Kent does a great job with the setting so my own visuals weren’t too far off).

This is a book I feel like I need to go back and flip through again or re-read in the future. I had a bit of trouble connecting with it in the beginning because it took me a while to connect to the characters and really ground myself in the setting since I’m not used to historical fiction as much, but having the knowledge that I do now, I really want to revisit this book at some point in time. I suppose there IS an adaptation in the works with Jennifer Lawrence already locked in to play Agnes and I’m sure the movie will solidify this story for me even more. (She’s actually a little YOUNG for the part — isn’t it usually the other way around?? — but I think she’ll do a fantastic job.)

Don’t forget to check out Alyssa’s and Amy’s posts about Burial Rites today too!

Alyssa (Books Take You Places) //  Amy (Tripping Over Books)

Book Blogging: Balancing Dual Lives

discussion

On book blogging and balancing “dual lives”…

I wouldn’t trade being a book blogger for anything. Every day I’m so grateful that I found a hobby that I love so much, has presented me with so many opportunities, and has allowed me to meet so many wonderful people… But it’s also a tricky hobby at times because it IS so public.

BLOGGING + HOME: I’ve never been a really outgoing person. In my group of friends — from elementary school all the way through college and even adult life — I’ve never really been the outgoing one or the risk-taker or the one to put myself out there. When I started a book blog a little over two years ago, part of the reason I did it was because it was essentially anonymous. The only person who knew I was starting a blog was my one friend who enjoyed reading as much as I did and honestly that was it. I didn’t tell my family until after I had started blogging for a while and it started to become a bigger part of my life and I definitely didn’t tell my extended family or my friends because… well, it just felt WEIRD. It’s not like I was saying anything in my blog that I wouldn’t say to my family or friends but there’s a little sense of security putting your thoughts out there knowing that most of the people who are reading it will never meet you in person and you get to distance yourself from it a little bit. (Granted two major things have changed over the years since I latched onto that idea and one is that I have made such good friends with so many book people and HAVE met them in person and do in fact know them really well now and two that I actually do share some personal things on my blog from time to time (like now?) although it’s not as often.)

I’ve finally gotten to a point where some of my closer friends know about my blog and my family definitely does… My mom still brags about it to people like my aunts and cousins and I still get embarrassed (even though they say they’re impressed haha). I definitely still have a distinct separation there, but not really so much with my “regular” home life. Obviously my fiancé knows how involved I am with book blogging and supports me with it and he’s really proud of me too. I TRY not to let blogging activities interfere too much when we’re at home spending time together (reading, tweeting, blogging) and do that when we both have time to sit down and do our hobbies. Sometimes I have to reel myself in when I’m doing too many blogging things and not really paying attention to Shane because it’s just so easy to get addicted and glued to my phone or computer when I’m getting blog comments or tweets or Instagram likes but I have to remember that while those things are very rewarding and as much as Shane does support me, I don’t want to neglect him because of those things.

MEETING BOOKISH PEOPLE FACE-TO-FACE: I think the other thing that people don’t normally think about as far as “balancing dual lives” is the face-to-face interaction when I DO attend book events and I DO see other bookish people in person. I’m not the best conversationalist. I enjoy writing blog posts because I get to take my time, formulate my thoughts, and figure out exactly how I want to word things. I can interact well with people via email and Twitter and blog comments because they’re quick interactions and I don’t feel the pressure to keep the conversation going or make sure I say exactly the right thing in exactly the right way. When I first started going to events, I was just a nobody so I didn’t even bother trying to interact with people because, well… I didn’t know anyone! I was happy to keep to myself and just enjoy the event.

Maintaining a blog can be a lot of work but for me, that’s the easy part. The hard part for me comes the time where I meet people face to face — especially people I’ve been interacting with via the internet for weeks or months or even years — and then I feel the pressure to come off just as smooth and eloquent as I feel like I’ve made myself during internet exchanges and that’s really not an easy thing for me. Even after knowing some of my local bookish friends for a year or more now, I still find myself uneasy and not knowing what to say when I see them again at book events and sometimes we don’t even sit together because I’m just too awkward to put myself out there and invite myself to sit down. I’m afraid I’m that girl who talks too fast and says weird things. It’s easy to sit in front of a computer screen and feel confident about what I’m saying and how I’m projecting myself but I just feel so much more pressure to do those things in person and sometimes I DO feel like I’m two different people when I’m talking to book people in the flesh.

BEA 2014 was somehow “worse” than 2013. BEA 2013 was my first year attending so I was more focused on meeting Alyssa for the first time and not being a total weirdo with her (thankfully this was an interaction that was totally natural once we were together and things just flowed so smoothly!) and then I had to navigate the conference for the first time so I was more focused on where to be and how to get there and what books to grab. 2014 was a very different BEA for me because it was so much more social than the previous year. Yes, I did meet a lot of bloggers for the first time in 2013, but I felt like I had established much better relationships by 2014 and I even had a few publisher contacts who I was really nervous to meet in person as well! I really do love all of my blogger friends but it was so overwhelming to see SO many people that I knew but still hadn’t actually MET in person and I easily freaked myself out about what to say and how long to stop and say hi to people and who would recognize me and who even WANTED to talk to me so … I did the awkward thing and avoided people. Again. I mean, I didn’t intentionally AVOID people, but if I spotted someone from across the room, I didn’t go the extra mile to go say hi because I was so nervous about what to say and how to say it, what to talk about, how to say goodbye, when to leave. I know I was overanalyzing things, but it’s overwhelming to meet so many people for the first time! I tried to do my best to act natural and just like myself because obviously that’s who I am when I email and tweet and comment, but I just get easily flustered in new situations and tend to stick to myself or cling like GLUE to my roomies in social situations even though I felt totally confident wandering the floor and even walking the 25 minutes from my hotel to the bar by myself in a city I’ve never navigated before for a blogger party because I couldn’t catch a cab. Sometimes the social situations really are the hardest things for me.

To anyone who was a victim of my awkwardness and shyness, I apologize and I hope you understand! I’m constantly making a fool of myself in front of the super exciting but super scary people like authors and publishing contacts (which I’m sure I did at BEA too) but I’m never sure how much enthusiasm is endearing and exciting and how much is actually creepy and overboard! If you’ve ever felt my awkwardness, please know I don’t mean it personally! I surely did not mean to brush you off or avoid you or talk your ear off when you wanted me to leave you alone! Sometimes I feel like meeting book bloggers and industry professionals is like being around your crush. I just have a massive book-crush on you all and I never know what to say or do to make sure I come off as best as I possibly can! 😉

I know I’m not the only person who feels this way! Do you ever feel like you’re balancing two different lives being a book blogger? Do you find it more difficult to balance at home? Do you  have difficulty with the social aspect like I do? What’s the best way to balance your blogging life?

 

Discussion: Diversifying Reading vs Being a Diverse Reader

discussion

There’s been a lot of talk everywhere about diversity + the book/reading/book blogging communities… This post isn’t so much about diversity in the market so much as my personal reading tastes and how they’ve evolved to become more diverse than they used to be and the tricky business of stepping outside of my comfort zones.

My reading tastes used to be very narrow. First, I read Harry Potter. Then I re-read Harry Potter many, many, many times until my sister started recommending the books she was reading. Then I accepted a recommendation from my friend Alison and started reading Twilight which lead to reading those books and then re-reading those books. I read a bit of adult contemporary (almost all recommendations) and then I started picking up cozy mysteries and read mysteries almost exclusively. Then my friend Lisa recommended The Hunger Games and after falling in love with that series (and binge reading it), I finally started to seek out books on my own, which is how I found all of the amazing young adult fiction that I read today!

I feel like I’ve branched out with my reading a lot in just a few years and yet even still, I find myself falling back into my old comfort zones. I found a series and then stuck to it (Harry Potter, Twilight, The Hunger Games). Then an author and stuck to them (Meg Cabot, Sophie Kinsella). Then genres and stuck to them (adult contemporary, mysteries, dystopians). And now I think I’m the most diverse in my reading that I’ve been so far with all of the different genres I enjoy, but I’m still mainly stuck in YA and rarely branch out to adult or middle grade now (though I’ve made progress with that as well, lately). Although… I wouldn’t really say that’s an issue…

If you’re coming from a diversity aspect, sure. I’m not the most diverse reader out there. I could really dip into a lot more issues or perspectives or backgrounds, but I’ve always been a reader who has stuck to what I love and what I know I love. I’ve slowly branched out from only reading fantasy when it was Harry Potter to thoroughly enjoying fantasy and now it’s one of my favorite genres to read… But even when I first started reading fantasy, I thought I hated it.  I didn’t know where to start as far as fantasy was concerned so I was just trying things other people liked with no clue as to what I would enjoy. Sometimes it worked out amazingly (Graceling) and other times, I just couldn’t get into it (Lord of the Rings). It took a long time of picking books and trying them before I finally started to realize what kinds of things I appreciated in fantasy and what things I really didn’t have interest in, and really that’s the same with every genre.

As far as this post goes, I’m not talking about diversity meaning race or religion or sexual preference. I don’t really choose books based on any of those (unless it’s something like Christian fiction because I already know that’s something I don’t personally connect with). I’m talking about diversity in my reading meaning picking up different genres, male vs female POVs, trying to pick books based on what sounds interesting and not caring whether that means YA or Adult or MG. When I look at where I started as a reader and where I am now, I never could have predicted all of the different genres and subject matters and types of characters that I read — and yes, race and religion and sexual preference fall in with that too. I never really chose books with the express purpose of avoiding one thing or the other but I always fell back into my reading comfort zone. I do dip out of it from time to time, but I also like staying within that comfort zone because that’s when I find the books that I expect to love and in fact do fall in love with — because I know those are the books I will identify with the most. I don’t always have to identify with a book to fall in love with it, but that’s usually a really good way for me to get hooked so often times those are the books I seek out.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that I’m making progress! I feel like I’ve come a long way already in the books that I pick out and the books I end up enjoying. Even within a genre or a topic that I expect to love, I find books that just don’t live up to my expectations. Other times I’ve picked up books I think I’d enjoy and find out that I really just don’t enjoy books set in a certain time period or a certain setting or characters who have certain personality traits. Some things vary from book to book and some things, I find out, really do end up falling under a generalization of things I do or don’t enjoy, but I’m able to make that generalization because I’ve tried so many books with those elements and truly don’t enjoy them.

While I’m trying to step out of my comfort zone, I think it’s important for me to edge out slowly… test the waters… pick something in between something I love and something that’s totally different. When I tried diving into fantasy, for example, I tried FULL OUT FANTASY with worlds and creatures and terminology and I was utterly overwhelmed, and I think that can be true with any reader. If you step too far outside of your comfort zone, it can easily be scary and overwhelming. So far, I’m enjoying expanding my reading tastes little by little and pulling those new and exciting topics or genres into my bubble of familiarity. Some people can make big leaps like that but that usually doesn’t work for me. I’m really enjoying growing as a reader at my own pace because that’s really what’s working so well. When I try to force things because other people are reading them or because they’re all the rage or because they’re a hot topic, sometimes I’m just not ready for that yet.

I think it’s important for readers to try new things and expand their reading horizons because it’s true — you don’t know what you’re missing out on if you don’t try — but also remember that you’re reading because you love to read. You’re doing what you love and it’s something that makes you feel passionate. It’s always okay to stick within your comfort zone when you want to/need to because those are the things that make you love what you love!

How do YOU define being a diverse reader? Do you think that pertains to stepping out of your comfort zone little by little as well having a variety of genres and topics to choose from?

Do you think you’ve developed your reading repertoire over the years and have expanded your reading horizons? Do you tend to just read what you love or take the plunge and dive into something totally different than what you usually read?

 

My Latest Bookish Addiction [12] – Re-Reading

MLBA

In keeping with the theme of my blog, I decided to start bringing you updates of the newest and greatest bookish addictions in my life so I can share with you some awesomely bookish things or discuss if maybe we share the same bookish loves. It seemed like a great way to get a little discussion going in a very relaxed way.

This Edition’s Bookish Addiction? Re-Reading

I’ve been re-reading a lot of books lately. Before I was a blogger, I re-read books ALL THE TIME. Literally. Those were all of my reads. I was constantly re-reading Harry Potter and sometimes the Twilight saga. I never really paid attention to new books other than what my sister was reading and what my friends were reading from time to time and I barely had half a shelf full of books that I actually owned and kept and those were my re-reads.

Since I became a blogger, I obviously haven’t had as much time for re-reads, but I also don’t want to forget all of the books that made me fall in love with reading. Recently I’ve been doing a lot of re-reads, most of them via audio (I even made a previous My Latest Bookish Addiction post on my love of audiobooks!) and I’ve been finding that’s a great way to experience my favorite books in a new way to experience them for a second time.

Re-reads have always been really important to me and I’ve been in a few reading slumps lately… Nothing big but sometimes I just end up not feeling my current book and for some reason… it’s been happening a lot lately. What to do, what to do? Pick up a re-read!

It all started a while ago when I felt the need to re-read Harry Potter again. It’s probably been… well, YEARS since my last re-read and those books need to be read way more often than that. I had heard good things about the audio so I decided to try them and just love them! I’ve been making my way though the series (Order of the Phoenix up next!) and ever since then I’ve been picking up a LOT more books to re-read (mostly via audio) as well.

In the last year, I’ve re-read quite a few books and it’s SUCH a good feeling. It’s so nice to remember what I loved about these books and how they made me feel. It’s so fantastic to spend time with them again and to see different things in them that I didn’t recognize the first time around because I was focused on a different aspect of the book when I first read it. Even re-reading Harry Potter for the umpteenth time, I find something different in each book each time I read them. How I read a book and what I see not only changes because I already know some of the basics and don’t have to focus as much on them, but also my reading styles and interpretations change with age.

I’ve read quite a few books for the second (or third… or fourth… or more) time recently and honestly with each re-read, I appreciate the book a little bit more. I might not be as amazed and astonished as I was the first time around but I learn different things about the book that I might not have seen before and I get to spend more time with the characters that I love and the worlds I wish I could experience even more!

So tell me! Do you find yourself wanting to re-read some of your favorites? Do time and dedication to other books hold you back? Or do you make the time to spend some time with your favorite books?

MY RECENT RE-READS: