Discussion Post: I Miss Reading YA The Way I Used To

Every once in a while, I’d do a discussion-type post about something bookish that wasn’t a book review.  It’s been ages since I’ve done one, and I’m in a mood to talk about why I’m not as into YA as I used to be.

Reading wise, this hasn’t been a great year for me.  I haven’t been reading as much as I normally do, especially in comparison to previous years.  I am re-reading more, at least that I can recall, though this year is the first time I’m actually tracking what I’m re-reading, but for this year, a good chunk of what I’ve read has been re-reads. I’ve been crocheting a lot this year, and while audio books are great to listen to when I’m crocheting, I’ve found myself turning to Netflix or podcasts instead of audio books, and I’ve been turning away from books more than in previous years.

I’ve been thinking a lot about how little I’m reading this year, but there’s something in particular I’ve been thinking about a lot: how I don’t love YA the way I used to.

When I first started blogging, a majority of what I was reading was YA.  I loved it, and I couldn’t get enough of it. It was exciting and new and shiny, and everything was amazing and hit me right in the feels and I fangirled and said squee a lot.  There was a lot of jumping up and down in excitement and a lot of arm waving and it was something that really spoke to me.

But after 5+ years?  I’m not as in love with YA as I used to be.  It really bothered me for a while and while I still read it a lot, I’m not as excited about it as I used to be.  It still bothers me a little bit, because it’s something I really loved, and I want those feelings back.

I think maybe I’m a little burnt out on it.

I’ve read a lot of YA over the years, and I’m really starting to notice that a lot of books are really similar. Granted, I think YA’s always been like this- vampires and fairies and dystopia and…I could go on and on with the different trends.  Part of me feels like I really have to make an effort to read different genres, and to make sure I don’t read any genre back to back.  I notice tropes a lot more, and I’m reminded of similar books I’ve read, and how they compare to each other.

I feel like I’m reading the same story over and over, so I’m probably not mixing things up as much as I thought I was. That or most of what I’m picking up is in the same genre…probably a combination of both, knowing me. I’ve always been the kind of reader that just picks stuff up without really paying attention to the summary on the back of the cover.

Yes, the more I read, the more reference points I have for when I’m reviewing books.  And I’m a lot better at talking about books now then I was when I first started blogging.  I’m going to notice similarities more because I’m better at picking up on those things.  I’m a lot more critical now than I was in 2010.  It’s going to be harder for me to get excited about books the way I used to, because it takes a lot more for me to get to that point.

But I’ve noticed that over the last couple of years, my taste in books have started to change.

I’ve made more of an effort to read more diverse books- I’m reading more books that feature characters who are LGBT and characters who are people of color.  I’ve read a few translated books and books that set in different countries.  A lot of it is YA but a lot of isn’t, and I’m a lot more willing to get out of my reading comfort zone.  I always come back to YA, but I’m also not as willing to read one thing exclusively anymore.  Books are a powerful way to read about the experiences of those who are different from us, and everyone should have the chance to tell their story.

What I read is going to change over time- in middle school and high school, I used to love Stephen King, Anne Rice and Danielle Steel.  I didn’t read a lot in college, unless it was for a class, and then I fell in love with YA in my mid-twenties.  I’m going to like different things at different points in my life, and as I start reading a wider variety of books, I’ll probably start to find my new favorite book thing, whatever it may be.  Who knows, maybe I’ll still find that I love YA, and just need the book version of a palate cleanser.  Maybe I’ll read whatever I want, but still primarily read one thing.

I wonder if part of it is me getting older.

When I first starting blogging, I was 24.  I’m 31 now, and even though I feel like I haven’t changed that much…maybe I’ve changed more than I thought I have.  I still love YA, but maybe, as I’m getting older, the stories that speak to me are going to be different.  Maybe the stories I need to read have changed a little bit.  It’s not that YA doesn’t appeal to me anymore, because it still does.  Maybe, for now, I need something a little different.  It would be so much easier if I knew what that was, but if I keep reading different things, I could find it.

While this isn’t specific to YA, I’ve noticed that in general, I just haven’t been excited about reading this year. I’ve read and blogged pretty consistently since 2010 and while I’ve had a few (short) breaks and slumps, it’s never been the slump I’ve experienced this year.  If I’m going to be honest, it’s been nice to have a break.  I think it’s something I’ve really needed.  Re-reading has been nice- and really helpful, actually- because I’m reading, and not worrying about finding the motivation to review anything.

While the point of this really long post hasn’t been to come up with a conclusion for my disinterest in YA, it has been really helpful to talk about why I’m not as interested in reading it.  Even writing this, I’m starting to feel better about reading, and I’m starting to feel excited about reading…especially YA.  For some reason, I’m in the mood to read some really cute, sappy YA contemporary.  I (very sincerely) hope this is a turning point in my reading!

If anyone else has experienced this, how did you get through it?  Did your reading habits change completely, or did you take a break by reading something else?  Let me know what you think in the comments!

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Book Review: Now I Rise by Kiersten White

Book: Now I Rise by Kiersten White

Published June 2017 by Delacorte Press|496 Pages

Where I Got It: I own the hardcover

Series: The Conqueror’s Saga #2

Genre: YA Fantasy/Historical Fiction

Lada Dracul has no allies. No throne. All she has is what she’s always had: herself. After failing to secure the Wallachian throne, Lada is out to punish anyone who dares to cross her blood-strewn path. Filled with a white-hot rage, she storms the countryside with her men, accompanied by her childhood friend Bogdan, terrorizing the land. But brute force isn’t getting Lada what she wants. And thinking of Mehmed brings little comfort to her thorny heart. There’s no time to wonder whether he still thinks about her, even loves her. She left him before he could leave her.

What Lada needs is her younger brother Radu’s subtlety and skill. But Mehmed has sent him to Constantinople—and it’s no diplomatic mission. Mehmed wants control of the city, and Radu has earned an unwanted place as a double-crossing spy behind enemy lines. Radu longs for his sister’s fierce confidence—but for the first time in his life, he rejects her unexpected plea for help. Torn between loyalties to faith, to the Ottomans, and to Mehmed, he knows he owes Lada nothing. If she dies, he could never forgive himself—but if he fails in Constantinople, will Mehmed ever forgive him?

As nations fall around them, the Dracul siblings must decide: what will they sacrifice to fulfill their destinies? Empires will topple, thrones will be won . . . and souls will be lost.

I’ve been so excited about this book and I absolutely loved it!  I was worried it would suffer from middle book syndrome, and that it would feel like it was a bridge between the first book and the third book.  This wasn’t the case at all, and it really added to the series because it felt like it added to the story.  It does set some things up for the next book, of course, but overall, it stood on its own pretty well.

I loved Lada in this book.  She is very resilient, and determined to get Wallachia back and make it into the country she believes it should be.  Lada is so determined to find her own allies, and there is something cold and unlikeable about her.  But I can’t help but love her as a character.  She is bloodthirsty and cruel and sympathetic and determined, and it’s hard not to love her.  I hate that the boyars see her as someone who’s easy to manipulate because of her gender, and yet it’s not that surprising.  Lada works so hard to show that she is deserving of her title, and I hate that she had to fight so hard for it.  I think she appreciates it a lot more because of it, and certainly more than Radu would have.

Her brother Radu is also interesting.  He does have a political savvy that Lada does not, and it would have been interesting to see how things would have gone for Lada in Wallachia if she had her brother by her side.  There is something about Radu that is more soft, but perhaps that’s because in comparison to Lada, almost anyone would seem soft and delicate.  Together, they would make an interesting but formidable team, but that is not this story.

As for Mehmed…if there’s one character I hate with a fiery, burning passion, it is Mehmed.  I didn’t have strong feelings either way in And I Darken, but he was okay in that book.  In this one, however?  He used both Radu and Lada.  He, in this book, seemed to be fully aware of Radu’s feelings for him, or at least aware enough to get Radu to do anything he said because there was no way Radu was going to say no.  And he definitely took advantage of Lada’s desire to do anything to take Wallachia for herself, using her to make sure things went a certain way.

I think that is the main difference between Lada and Radu- Lada was completely disgusted by the fact that Mehmed used her, and became more determined to get what she wanted, while Radu didn’t seem to care that Mehmed capitalized on Radu’s feelings for him.  You see two very different sides of Mehmed, and as much as I didn’t care for Mehmed, I do appreciate that he isn’t clear-cut.

I attended a book signing for Now I Rise, and something White mentioned was trying to find a middle ground.  I thought she went above and beyond that, and she really did show how things aren’t black and white, and that there is always a grey area.

I also especially liked that she took great care with how she portrayed both Christianity and Islam, and even though we don’t see prayers or anything like that, religion is still very present and something that is important to many of the characters.

And that ending!  I ABSOLUTELY LOVED the last three or so chapters.  I’m really rooting for Lada, and I’m completely on her side, because as far as I’m considered, Mehmed and Radu are somehow less deserving.

5 stars.  I loved this book, and the characters really felt like living, breathing people.  I didn’t think it was possible for this series to get better, but it did, and I can’t wait to read the next book.

Currently Obsessed With: June 2017

Currently Obsessed With is a once-a-month feature where I talking about my favorite things from the last month.

I can’t believe it’s July already!  Where has the year gone?  It feels like it was January just yesterday!

Books:

I bought a few books this month- I bought Now I Rise by Kiersten White, Glitter by Aprilynne Pike, Escape Velocity by Jason Hough, and Love Real Food by Katheryne Taylor in print.  I also bought On The Edge Of Gone and Otherbound by Corinne Duyvis, Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova, and the Nook version of And I Darken by Kiersten White, all of which are e-books.  I haven’t settled on my audible pick- nothing’s jumping out at me, but maybe something will later on.

I’ve also been getting audio books from Audio Book Sync, but the choices this year aren’t as appealing as the picks from previous years.  I’ll give them a try, though, because maybe I’ll end liking some of them.

Crochet:

I haven’t been crocheting a lot- the blanket is officially on hold until it’s cool enough to work on it again, but I haven’t picked up anything else.  I think last month I mentioned ordering an embroidery kit, which finally arrived in the mail, but has been sitting in my yarn basket since getting it.  I might pick it up, but I might go with something else. I haven’t been in much of a crocheting mood, but at least I have a few projects in mind for when I do pick up my yarn and hooks.

T.V./Movies:

I haven’t seen any movies, and I haven’t watched a lot of t.v. either.  I did watch The Keepers on Netflix, which I really liked.  It was more about the abuse that some girls at Keough High School experienced, and the lasting effects that it had, rather than the murder of Sister Catherine Cesnik.  Her murder is still unsolved, but it was horrifying to see what some of the students had to go through, and how nothing was done.  My question is this, though: why Cesnik?  It sounds like a lot of the teachers knew what was happening, so why her?  It could have been any one of the teachers.  Anyway, it was still interesting to watch.  I’m not sure what to watch next, since I have been in much of a mood to watch anything.  I have a shortlist, but I can’t decide, since I’m not in the mood for anything right now.

Around The Internet: 

June Things:

I went to the launch party for Now I Rise by Kiersten White!  It was a lot of fun, and it made me really excited to read it.  I’m not done with the book yet, but I really love Lada.  She’s willing to do whatever she can to help Wallachia, and she really cares about her country.  You know how with trilogies, the middle book feels like a bridge between the 1st and 3rd book?  You don’t get that with this book at all, which is really nice and completely awesome.

I loved hearing her talk about some of her upcoming projects, and writing this series (and writing in general).  I really need to take notes or something during author events because there are so many things I want to talk about, and then I don’t because I forget the really interesting stuff.  I did like what she said about how she likes to explore questions, and that she might not have written some of her earlier books now, because it was something she needed to explore at that time.

I got a new job!  It’s with the same company, but a different position.  I wasn’t expecting to get it, but I’m glad I did.  I didn’t realize how much I needed to change positions until I actually did, and I’ll be glad once they hire someone for my old job so I can focus on the new one.

July:

July Fourth is almost here, and I have no plans.  Maybe I’ll go see some fireworks, but then again, by the time that comes around, I might be too lazy to leave the house.  July looks like it’ll be pretty uneventful, at least at this point.

Music/Podcasts:

I’ve been on a trying-to-catch-up-on-podcasts kick lately, so no music choices for today.  If anyone has any music recommendations, I am completely willing to check out it.  I make no promises about actually liking it, but there’s no harm in trying, right?  I also have no new podcast recommendations, because I’m pretty sure I’ve shared all of the ones I would have talked about, but maybe next month I’ll have something.

Have a great week, and for those in the U.S., I hope tomorrow is full of fun and food!

Happy 20th Anniversary, Harry Potter!

I feel like I’m a little late in the celebratory Harry Potter has been around for 20 years posts, but I just really wanted to talk about it!

 

Because Harry Potter, obviously.  How can I not talk about Harry Potter?  If you need to know two things about me, it’s that I like Harry Potter and yarn.  Yarn is a completely different post, but Harry Potter…that’s why we’re here today.  I’m almost positive I’ve mentioned some of this before, but it’s worth talking about again…because this is Harry Potter we’re talking about here.

I can’t believe Sorcerer’s Stone has been around for 20 years!  I’ve spent most of my life reading and obsessing over Harry Potter, and I can’t imagine life without it.  I started reading Harry Potter when I was in high school, and I honestly have a hard time remembering what life was like before Harry Potter.

I have a lot of memories of Harry Potter, and it’s had such a big impact on my life.  I’m totally taking a trip down memory lane here:

  • I remember hearing about the books, and thinking they sounded a little stupid.  It wasn’t until I saw Sorcerer’s Stone on DVD one weekend that I checked out the first 4 books from the library and read them.  That DVD I saw?  A rental from Blockbuster…I can’t believe Harry Potter’s been around long enough that Blockbuster used to be a thing.
  • I only went to the midnight release parties for Deathly Hallows and Cursed Child.  Deathly Hallows…it was the first midnight release party I could go to, since I had no way to get to the ones for Order Of The Phoenix and Half-Blood Prince.  I honestly thought it would be the only one I’d ever go to, until Cursed Child came out.
  • I remember for Deathly Hallows, I went to the Barnes And Noble by my house, in a costume I threw together at the last minute, and then getting the book and staying up all night to read it.  I went into work that day tired, but glad I had done it, knowing it would be my last time staying up all night reading Harry Potter.  For a few weeks, everyone was reading it during their lunch break, and it was really hard waiting for them to finish so I could actually talk about it.
  • And when the Cursed Child script was released, I found myself at Mysterious Galaxy, dressed up as Fleur Delacour, and feeling like the magic was back, even if it was a script for a play I’d never see.  I don’t think I ever did a review on the script, and I haven’t picked it up since then, but still, the magic of Harry Potter was back for a night.
  • All of the time reading Mugglenet, and wondering what would happen next.  Also: all of the time I spent on fanfiction.net, and all of the fanfics I read.  Not to mention when I starting writing my own fanfiction.  Which I still do, and it’s the one thing I keep coming back to, at least for writing.  When in doubt, write Harry Potter fanfic!
  • That time I was obsessed with A Very Potter Musical.  I saw that one, and the sequel, but I never saw the third one I know is out there…
  • Really identifying as a Hufflepuff.  I always thought I was a Ravenclaw, since I LOVE reading.  But then I was sorted into Pottermore, and I was like, nope, I am not a Ravenclaw, I am a Hufflepuff, I have found my people.
  • I will always remember waiting anxiously for the next book to come out, and all of time spent reading theories and discussions.  In a way, all of the people who are reading Harry Potter for the first time are really lucky, because they don’t have to wait for each book to come out…but I don’t think I’d want to give up all of the title hoaxes and JKR’s interactive website with clues and all of the hype surrounding each book.
  • Being able to crochet some of the really cool things mentioned in the series.  I made the Luna Lovegood scarf, I have a Hufflepuff scarf, and I crocheted the hat and capelet I wore when I dressed up as Fleur Delacour.  There are so many other things I want to make, and one of these days, I will have to make more HP-themed things.

I do think a big reason why I really got into writing was my desire to write my own take on the series.  Would I still on gone on to write my stories?  Maybe, but I’ll never know for sure.  14-year-old me wasn’t very confident in her ability to write a story, but writing HP fanfic helped me believe in myself and feel more confident that I could write.

The Luna Lovegood Scarf

As evidenced by this list of Harry Potter podcasts, this post about reading Harry Potter with a sibling, a post wondering what would happen if Hermione had more female friends, Harry Potter tattoos, a wonderful post about reading Harry Potter as the series came out, and lessons we’ve learned from Harry Potter, a lot of people have been influenced by the series.  I know all of those links come from one blog, but…a lot of people have had their own experiences with HP, and I love that there’s such a range of thoughts and discussions, and things we’ve learned because of one series.

The Fleur Delacour Capelet (Left) and The Beauxbatons Hat (Right)

There’s something very special about Harry Potter, and it means so much to me.  I have a lot of really good memories associated with Harry Potter, and it’s something I’ll be re-reading for years to come.  My life would not be the same without Harry Potter.

ARC Book Review: Gilded Cage by Vic James

Book: Gilded Cage by Vic James

Published February 2017 by Del Ray|368 Pages

Where I Got It: I received an e-ARC from netgalley.com in exchange for a fair and honest review

Series: Dark Gifts #1

Genre: YA Alternate History/Fantasy

A darkly fantastical debut set in a modern England where magically gifted aristocrats rule, and commoners are doomed to serve—for readers of Victoria Aveyard and Susanna Clarke

NOT ALL ARE FREE.
NOT ALL ARE EQUAL.
NOT ALL WILL BE SAVED.

Our world belongs to the Equals—aristocrats with magical gifts—and all commoners must serve them for ten years.

But behind the gates of England’s grandest estate lies a power that could break the world.

A girl thirsts for love and knowledge.

Abi is a servant to England’s most powerful family, but her spirit is free. So when she falls for one of their noble-born sons, Abi faces a terrible choice. Uncovering the family’s secrets might win her liberty—but will her heart pay the price?

A boy dreams of revolution.

Abi’s brother, Luke, is enslaved in a brutal factory town. Far from his family and cruelly oppressed, he makes friends whose ideals could cost him everything. Now Luke has discovered there may be a power even greater than magic: revolution.

And an aristocrat will remake the world with his dark gifts.

He is a shadow in the glittering world of the Equals, with mysterious powers no one else understands. But will he liberate—or destroy?

I remember hearing about this book and being so excited about it.  It’s an alternate London, where commoners are basically slaves for 10 years to those in power.  It seemed up my alley, but I didn’t like it as much as I thought I would.  And for some reason, I never got around to reviewing this book, and since I was looking forward to it, I did want to talk about it.

It was really hard for me to get into, and I don’t know that I’m interested enough to keep going with the series. The origin of slave days seemed really confusing, and not explained very well.  It’s the same with the origin of those with skill, and for the life of me, I cannot remember how it started.  It just didn’t seem like the world was explained- you were immersed in the world, which was different, but I found myself wondering what the history was, and I hate that whatever was explained isn’t sticking.

I do wonder when it’s supposed to take place- there were times when it felt like the technology was modern enough, but at the same time, it felt like an alternate Victorian London.  I did like that, the alternate Victorian London feel, and now that I think about it, it is sort of a steampunk London, which worked pretty well with the concept of a slaveday.

Still, I feel like this book is another book in the wave of books where the upper class has powers that the lower class doesn’t have (or isn’t supposed to have, but does).  Maybe I’m just jaded about this type of book already, but for me, there are better books in this genre to read.  Maybe if I had read this book before some of the other similar books out there, I would have felt differently.  Or maybe it’s just not my cup of tea.  Either way, it’s not for me, but maybe you’ll like it.

2 stars.  For me, this one was okay, and I don’t know if I’ll be continuing the series.

Book Review: The Sleeping Prince by Melinda Salisbury

Book: The Sleeping Prince by Melinda Salisbury

Published May 2016 by Scholastic Press|336 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: The Sin Eater’s Daughter #2

Genre: YA Fantasy

Return to the darkly beautiful world of The Sin Eater’s Daughter with a sequel that will leave you awed, terrified . . . and desperate for more.

Ever since her brother Lief disappeared, Errin’s life has gone from bad to worse. Not only must she care for her sick mother, she has to scrape together rent money by selling illegal herbal cures. But none of that compares to the threat of the vengeful Sleeping Prince whom the Queen just awoke from his enchanted sleep.

When her village is evacuated as part of the war against the Sleeping Prince, Errin is left desperate and homeless. The only person she can turn to is the mysterious Silas, a young man who buys deadly poisons from Errin, but won’t reveal why he needs them. Silas promises to help her, but when he vanishes, Errin must journey across a kingdom on the brink of war to seek another way to save her mother and herself. But what she finds shatters everything she believed about her world, and with the Sleeping Prince drawing nearer, Errin must make a heartbreaking choice that could affect the whole kingdom.

I randomly picked this one up from the library, having remembered that I read (and liked) the first one.  I wish I had re-read the first one, because I didn’t know these characters, and I couldn’t figure out why.  It took awhile before I realized it focused on different characters.  We do see the characters from the first book, but not in a way I expected, and I remember wondering how they got to the point we saw them in this book.  Re-reading the first book probably would have helped a lot.

I was a lot more bored reading this book, and I’m honestly not sure why I kept reading.  Probably to see what happened.  I did like the world, though, since we get to see a different part of it in this book.  I liked the use of magic, and how it has consequences.  I feel like that doesn’t come up a lot in fantasy- magic having consequences.  It would have been easy to go with the no consequences route, but other than the world building, I don’t remember much of anything about this book.

Part of me wonders if I would have liked the book more if I had re-read the first book.  I doubt I’ll re-read the first one anytime soon, but if I do, maybe I’ll give this one another try.  And while this book wasn’t memorable (and also a little bit boring), I do want to read the next book to see how things go.

2 stars.  It was okay, and while I didn’t love it, I do want to read the next book to see what happens.  I wish I had more to say about The Sleeping Prince, but I don’t.

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Favorite Releases Of 2017 (So Far)

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the lovely folks over at The Broke And The Bookish.  Every week, bloggers share their own bookish top ten lists based on the topic of the week.  You can check out Ten Tuesdays here.

Top Ten Favorite Books Of 2017 (So Far)

This list turned out to be a lot easier than I thought it would be.  I’ve read a lot less this year than I have in previous years, and what I have read…I’ve been less than enthused.  These books are definitely the stand-outs, and I had no problem picking a list of 10 favorites!  All links go to Goodreads!

  1. If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo.  I really liked If I Was Your Girl.  Amanda is an amazing character, and it was hard to stop reading it.
  2. Wild by Cheryl Strayed.  I’m not going to lie, part of why I read this book was because it was mentioned on the Gilmore Girls revival.  I really liked seeing the journey she took, and how much hiking changed her.
  3. The Underground Railroad by Coulson Whitehead.  Don’t let the Oprah sticker fool you, this book is really good!  You felt what it was like to be a runaway slave, and how terrifying the Underground Railroad really was.
  4. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas.  This is easily my favorite book I’ve read all year.  I thought it was completely amazing, and if you pick up one book this year, this is one I’d recommend in a heartbeat.
  5. The March Series by John Lewis.  This is right up there with The Hate U Give- I’m having a hard time picking a favorite between the two.  This series is one of my favorites because John Lewis shows how hard he- and countless others- fought so that everyone could be equal.
  6. A Court Of Wings And Ruin by Sarah J. Maas.  I didn’t like this one the way I liked ACOTAR or ACOMAF, but it’s still one of my favorite books from this year because I liked seeing where things went.
  7. The Wrath And The Dawn by Renee Ahdieh.  I loved the audio, which I really recommend if you’re considering reading this book.  I felt very immersed i the world, and loved the take on 1001 nights.
  8. Legion by Julie Kagawa.  I was not expecting the book to start or end the way it did, and it’s my favorite book in this series so far.  Which is interesting/funny because I wasn’t a big fan of the series at first.
  9. Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova.  I thought Los Lagos was really vivid, and it had an Alice In Wonderland feel to it, which I really liked.  The magic and traditions really made the book come to life.
  10. City Of Saints And Thieves by Natalie Anderson.  One of my favorite things about this book is how detailed and well-researched it seemed.  The author worked with refugees, and that really came through.  I also liked the rules of being a thief that we saw scattered throughout the book.

Book Review: A Thousand Boy Wishes by Tillie Cole

Book: A Thousand Boy Wishes by Tillie Cole

Self-Published March 2016|316 pages

Where I Got It: I own the e-book

Series: None

Genre: YA Contemporary

One kiss lasts a moment. But a thousand kisses can last a lifetime.One boy. One girl. A bond that is forged in an instant and cherished for a decade. A bond that neither time nor distance can break. A bond that will last forever. Or so they believe.When seventeen-year-old Rune Kristiansen returns from his native Norway to the sleepy town of Blossom Grove, Georgia, where he befriended Poppy Litchfield as a child, he has just one thing on his mind. Why did the girl who was one half of his soul, who promised to wait faithfully for his return, cut him off without a word of explanation?Rune’s heart was broken two years ago when Poppy fell silent. When he discovers the truth, he finds that the greatest heartache is yet to come.A stand-alone young adult tearjerker romance, recommended for ages fourteen and up.

I’ve heard a lot about this book, and I was in the mood for some cute and sweet and something that would probably result in me sobbing my heart out because it had been ripped to shreds.  I sort of it with this book. but not really.

The crying happened, so it did get me emotionally, but it wasn’t cute and sweet, and it was…blah.  That is really the best way to describe this book.  I wanted to love it, I really did.  Maybe I don’t have a soul or something, because I’m clearly in the minority here.  I do drink my coffee black (at least when I make coffee at home or at work, but Starbucks and various other coffee shops are a different story), maybe that goes with my apparently black soul.

There will be spoilers, just in case anyone is wondering.  You might want to stop reading here, if you don’t want spoilers.

Anyway, back to the book.  Their friendship/romantic relationship was so weird.  It was one-sided to the point of no one else seemed to exist for them.  Rune seemed friendless, and while Poppy seemed to have a few friends, she seemed to keep them at a distance.  Literally, no one else existed for them.  Their families seemed to fade in the background as well.

When she stopped talking to him, I literally thought she was pregnant at first, but that wouldn’t have explained why Poppy and her family moved away for a couple of years.  Her dying of cancer was cliche and boring, and it sort of felt like I was reading a Lurlene McDaniel book.  I’m not sure if anyone else remembers them, but they’re those YA books that focus on sick kids?  Something about A Thousand Boy Wishes reminded me of those books.  It felt sort of tired, and maybe I’m over the whole girl-dying-of-cancer thing.  Maybe if I hadn’t read other books (like The Fault In Our Stars or If I Stay), I would have liked it a little more.  It’s like a mix of Nicholas Sparks, The Fault In Our Stars with a dash of Lurlene McDaniel.  I’m not kidding.

Poppy and Rune were really wooden/cardboard, at least for me.  The fact that they liked music (Poppy) and photography (Rune), could have been an interesting aspect to the book, but it was boring and uninteresting and just sort of there.  There seemed to be very little character development, and it felt like they were just going through the motions.

Also, Rune being from Norway?  I swear, it’s sole existence was for him to seem like this mysterious, exotic bad boy. Exotic seems like a weird word to use, because for some reason, I don’t associate it with Norway, of all places.  But it made him different and appealing to all of the girls.  He is literally the manic pixie dream boy, and it was irritating. Poppy, not so much, but it was there.  And Rune being Norwegian- it was pretty much there to get him away from Poppy, so she wouldn’t have to face him once she got sick.  Makes it easier to not talk to him when HE’S IN A COMPLETELY DIFFERENT COUNTRY.  Him moving was there so he could turn into this horrible, soul of darkness person that hated everyone and everything, because she clearly would not have stopped talking to him if he were still in Georgia.

And don’t even get me started on epilogue, which was a complete and total cop-out in my opinion.  I know it wrapped things up and gave him some closure, because HE DIED AND END UP IN HEAVEN WITH HIS POPPY.

ARE YOU KIDDING ME WITH THAT EPILOGUE?

I’d rather read the HP epilogue.  Admittedly, that’s grown on me over the years, but the one at the end of this book? Seriously?  I did not need to read that.  He randomly dies 10 years later?  That’s it?  That is not the happy ending I thought I’d get, considering this book is described as romance.  I wanted him to move on, find some happiness in a world where Poppy isn’t living, but that never seemed to happen for him in the fast forward we get.  Yes, there’s closure, and Poppy was his entire world, but…I would have been fine had the epilogue not been included.

I did like the concept of a thousand kisses, and writing down your memories of the really good/meaningful ones. And the cover is really pretty.  I’d frame that and hang it on my wall, it’s that pretty to look at.

3 stars.  I know I spent pretty much this whole post ranting about this book, but I really can’t bring myself to give it a lower rating.  I get why people love this book so much, and it was well-written enough, even though it was full of cliches that didn’t appeal to me.  It’s cute enough, and I did like it, even though it doesn’t seem like it. I don’t even know why I like it, but I do.

Book Review: A Court Of Wings And Ruin by Sarah J. Maas

Book: A Court Of Wings And Ruin by Sarah J Maas

Published May 2017 by Bloomsbury USA Children’s|597 pages

Where I Got It: I own the e-book

Series: A Court Of Thorns And Roses #3

Genre: NA Fantasy

Looming war threatens all Feyre holds dear in the third volume of the #1 New York Times bestselling A Court of Thorns and Roses series.

Feyre has returned to the Spring Court, determined to gather information on Tamlin’s maneuverings and the invading king threatening to bring Prythian to its knees. But to do so she must play a deadly game of deceit-and one slip may spell doom not only for Feyre, but for her world as well.

As war bears down upon them all, Feyre must decide who to trust amongst the dazzling and lethal High Lords-and hunt for allies in unexpected places.

In this thrilling third book in the #1 New York Times bestselling series from Sarah J. Maas, the earth will be painted red as mighty armies grapple for power over the one thing that could destroy them all.

I really liked ACOMAF!  I was really looking forward to reading this one, and it was one of my most anticipated books for this year.  I really enjoyed the first two, and after the way ACOMAF ended, I knew it was going to be a long wait until I got to read this one.

I really wanted more with Tamlin- I found that part of the book to be disappointing.  I thought it would be a bigger deal than it turned out to be.  I’m not sure how I thought that would go, but it wasn’t what actually happened in the book.  We do, eventually, see Tamlin’s reaction, and as much as I don’t like him, I wanted more from his point of view, especially with Feyre and Rhys.  Maybe I expected her to have to be more…romantically involved with Tamlin? Or that things would somehow go back to the way it was before she went to the Night Court.  I remember feeling like, what on earth is Feyre getting herself into?  There was such a sense of disbelief at the end of the previous book, and…I don’t know where I’m going with this, but I was let down by what happened.  Let’s just go with that.

I am also curious about the rest of the series.  Things are pretty resolved in this book, and I’m wondering if new problems are going to pop up, or if things aren’t as resolved as they seem.  Another thing I’m wondering about is if this series is set in the same world as her Throne Of Glass series.  Because there’s a similar feel to both series, and for some reason, it feels like it’s set in the same world.  If they’re not, that’s cool, but I am curious, so if anyone knows for sure, I’d really like to know.

I feel like I don’t have a lot to say about this installment in the series.  And I’m not as obsessed with this book as I am with the previous two.  I did re-read her Throne Of Glass series right before picking up this book, so maybe I was feeling a little burned out.  There was enough of a gap, that I shouldn’t have felt that way, but maybe there wasn’t enough time after all.  For whatever reason, I don’t feel the same way about this one that I did with the previous two books.

4 stars.  I’m hesitant to give it 4 stars, because I feel like I struggled a little bit to get through this more than I did the rest of the series.  But it did pick up, and even though it’s more 3.5, I figured I’d round up.

Book Review: Zahrah The Windseeker by Nnedi Okorafor

Book: Zahrah The Windseeker by Nnedi Okorafor

Published September 2005 by HMH Books For Young Readers|308 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: None

Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy

In the northern Ooni Kingdom, fear of the unknown runs deep, and children born dada are rumored to have special powers. Thirteen-year-old Zahrah Tsami feels like a normal girl — she grows her own flora computer, has mirrors sewn onto her clothes, and stays clear of the Forbidden Greeny Jungle. But unlike other kids in the village of Kirki, Zahrah was born with the telling dadalocks. Only her best friend, Dari, isn’t afraid of her, even when something unusual begins happening — something that definitely makes Zahrah different. The two friends investigate, edging closer and closer to danger. When Dari’s life is threatened. Zahrah must face her worst fears alone, including the very thing that makes her different.

In this exciting debut novel by Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu, things aren’t always what they seem — monkeys tell fortunes, plants offer wisdom, and a teenage girl is the only one who stands a chance at saving her best friend’s life.

I’ve read a couple of Okorafor’s books, and thought I’d read this one.  It’s not my favorite book of hers, but I still liked it a lot.  Zahrah The Windseeker is this really cool middle grade that’s about learning how to accept yourself and overcoming your fears and overcoming fear of the unknown.  I really liked that about the book.

I also really liked how there’s this interesting blend of past and present- there’s something about Zahrah that feels really old, and yet there’s something very modern, especially where technology is concerned.  I think that’s something she does really well.  If you liked Akata Witch, this is a really good book to pick up.  Even if you haven’t, it’s still a really good read.

I loved the setting, especially the market and the jungle.  I thought the jungle was very vivid, and I could picture everything very clearly.  I really felt like I was with Zahrah in the jungle.  I really liked the market as well, but it didn’t have the life and vividness that the jungle had.

I also really liked that she came across another windseeker, and I wish we saw more of their relationship.  Even though Zahrah needs to take her own journey, and the other windseeker isn’t supposed to have a huge role in the book, I still wonder what sort of relationship they have once the book ends.  I thought her friendship with Dari was great, and how she kept going, even though she was scared, because she wanted to help him.  She really was willing to help him, no matter what.

I am curious about the ending.  I liked it, and it wrapped things up really well, but at the same time, I thought it left things open for a potential sequel.  As far as I can tell, it’s a stand-alone, which is fine, because it works really well on its own.  But there is part of me that wants to know how things turn out with Zahrah.

3 stars.  I liked it, and there are some things that I really liked (and even loved) about the book, but I didn’t love it the way I’ve loved her other books.