Words Like Silver

one girl's passion for books

Changes to the Blog

Hey y’all!

I’m writing to you from Canada. In case you haven’t noticed, there hasn’t been any new content on the blog for a few days. Why?

I’m currently in the process of transferring from wordpress.com to wordpress.org. The transition is trickier than I expected, but I’m hoping great things happen because of it! That means that my domain name (www.wordslikesilver.com) is currently switching servers. If you look at the URL above, it probably forwarded you to my temporary domain (www.wordslikesilver.wordpress.com). If you’re looking into self-hosting, I’m with GoDaddy and they’ve been so helpful throughout the entire process, so I highly recommend them!

I haven’t scheduled anything for this week or next, because I had blog posts ready to go but it’ll be pointless until I know when the domain will be set up.

Until then, I’m also on vacation so it’ll be a short week or two long hiatus. I’ll start up again at the beginning of August, and I have plenty of reviews, discussion posts, and fun for y’all. If you’re looking for some good blogs to read in the meantime, check out a few favorites below!

By the time school starts (middle of August for me), I’ll have brand new hosting and a gorgeous blog design courtesy of Squeesome Design Studio. I’m head-over-heels in love with their portfolio and can’t wait to see what they cook up for Words Like Silver.

There are big changes for the blog this summer, and I couldn’t be happier!

My Reading List

The Perpetual Page Turner

Anna Reads

Stacked Books

Vy’s Blog

Lit Up Review

Top Ten Blog Confessions

Hey y’all!

I’m here today to do Top Ten Tuesday, a weekly meme hosted by the lovely ladies over at The Broke and the Bookish. Each week they choose a different topic and bloggers pick ten reads related to the prompt. This week’s prompt? Top Ten Blog Confessions!

I’m going to have a lot of fun with this one. I’ve been blogging since April 2011 (three years so far), so I’ve built up a pretty solid list. Without further ado, here are some of my reading and blogging confessions!

1. I struggle with reviews.

Last year, I went through a major review slump. This year, it’s better but only because I’ve majorly changed my format and my length. While my reviews used to be 1500+ words, now they’re around 800-1000 words. I take notes while I’m reading certain books if I know I might struggle to articulate my thoughts later. I’m working on it, I swear!

2. I don’t review books I don’t like (although I’m completely honest about every book I review.)

In case you haven’t noticed, I don’t post negative reviews. I post mixed reviews, but I always try to find something positive to say about each book I review. For this reason, there are a few DNF reads and books I didn’t like that never find their way to the blog. I don’t understand the point of going on rants about books that just didn’t suit me; I’m sure somebody else loves them, and there’s no point in making an author or another reader feel bad if I bash them. If I negatively review something, it’ll only be something I can talk about articulately.

3. I don’t blog all the time.

Last week, I posted once because I didn’t have enough time to schedule more than one post while I was in Alabama on a mission trip. This year, I made it one of my blog goals to schedule in advance more often. Thankfully, that’s been going pretty well! I’m currently scheduled review-wise until the end of August, although I still have some other posts to fill in throughout the weeks. Once I have a structure of about three posts per week, I’d love to increase it to five.

4. I get pretty bummed out that I’m not a bigger blogger.

I understand it’s hard to boost my stats when I’m also balancing APs and lacrosse and all that, but I still wish my blog was more of a name. There are so many excellent, excellent bloggers out there and I’d love to still do more and be more. I’d love to go to BEA next year and have people recognize me.

5. I don’t tag or categorize nearly as often as I should.

This year, I had a bit of a revelation that I don’t tag or categorize that much. I’ve been trying, but it’s a bit overwhelming to search through all the posts and do it all now. It’s a work in progress!

6. I rarely ever request ARCs or review copies.

There are so many upcoming releases that I would love to get the chance to review ahead of time. But I never actually request them. Why? I’m never convinced that my blog is perfect, or that any publicist looking at it would approve me. I’ve had luck with the publishing houses that I’ve contacted and some steady mail from them, but I’m always scared to breach a new contact! A lot of my contacts from the past few years have changed houses or professions, which is why I’m having a bit of trouble reconnecting.

7. I reread books even when I have a stack of reviews to write.

I’m a mood reader. I have confessed this before, in a previous post. I love rereading old favorites, even when I know I have to write reviews for the upcoming releases.

8. I’m actually terrified to go to BEA next year (although insanely excited!)

I’m officially BEA 2015 bound! I’m pumped, and saving up for New York City expenses, and could not be happier to be going to such a magnificent conference. I’m scared though. BEA 2012 was amazing, but 2012 was also a spectacular book year. What if I’m not as excited about the books releasing? What if I haven’t reconnected with my other houses by then? What if my blogger friends don’t go and I don’t know anybody? What if I don’t have time to fully plan out my schedule or I miss something or I regret not doing something? AHHH. BEA is so much fun, and also so stressful! Even now, I love planning it. But I have a recurring nightmare in which I go to BEA last minute and have no idea what’s going on.

9. I wish I could vlog!

I have a secret wish to be a video blogger, or BookTuber, in addition to my regular blog. I think videos would add a little extra touch, and also give me some more presence. I don’t particularly have the camera skill or the ability to go five seconds without going “um” on camera. It may be a work-in-progress over the next year if I decide to try it!

1o. I’m really bad at working technology.

As told above, I’m hopeless with a camera. I’m really bad at coding HTML and it took ages for the Lit Up girls to teach me how to format well enough. I think I’ll take AP Computer Science next year which might help a bit with working programs. I’m pretty good at some, but I’d love to be a technological whiz!

Are you a blogger? What are your blogging and reading confessions?

 

 

 

 

 

Waiting on Wednesday (3)

Hey y’all!

It’s Grace here to do Waiting on Wednesday. Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill over at Breaking the Spine where bloggers and readers showcase upcoming books that they’re looking forward to reading! I’ve just recently decided to partake in it (partly due to the girls over at Lit Up Review, where I also blog) and I’ve discovered so many reads that I’m putting on my to-read list. Without further ado, here’s this week’s pick!

falling into place2 Novel: Falling into Place by Amy Zhang | Goodreads
 Release Date: September 9, 2014
 Publisher: Greenwillow Books

On the day Liz Emerson tries to die, they had reviewed Newton’s laws of motion in physics class. Then, after school, she put them into practice by running her Mercedes off the road.

Why? Why did Liz Emerson decide that the world would be better off without her? Why did she give up? Vividly told by an unexpected and surprising narrator, this heartbreaking and nonlinear novel pieces together the short and devastating life of Meridian High’s most popular junior girl. Mass, acceleration, momentum, force—Liz didn’t understand it in physics, and even as her Mercedes hurtles toward the tree, she doesn’t understand it now. How do we impact one another? How do our actions reverberate? What does it mean to be a friend? To love someone? To be a daughter? Or a mother? Is life truly more than cause and effect? Amy Zhang’s haunting and universal story will appeal to fans of Lauren Oliver, Gayle Forman, and Jay Asher.

At first I heard about this book and was interested, but not overtly so. After hearing that it’s one of Jamie’s (The Perpetual Page Turner) favorite reads of the year, I knew I had to read it! I looked into it a little more, and now I’m obsessed. While I was expecting it to be more like Love and Other Foreign Words by Erin McCahan (which I enjoyed – review coming soon!), I’ve heard it’s actually more like If I Stay or This Song Will Save Your Life.

I have a weakness for poignant books. Sometimes, I just need a tearjerker, or one that’s beautiful or sad or lovely in a strange way. I’ve heard it has a mixture of different aspects in each chapter, with snapshots and moments interspersed in a nonlinear fashion. I’m interested to see how Zhang would pull that off and still keep the story clear.

It sounds like one of those books that will softly impact you, the type that is distinctly sad and deals with some issues without being overtly heavy. Those are books that I tend to genuinely love, so I’m looking forward to it. In addition, I love intelligent main characters and coming up with science behind emotions like love or grief. I find it fascinating. The vivid look of it is appealing.

Open Road Summer by Emery Lord

open road summer Novel: Open Road Summer by Emery Lord | Goodreads
Release Date: April 15, 2014
Publisher: Walker (Bloomsbury)
Format: Hardcover
Source: Bought

After breaking up with her bad-news boyfriend, Reagan O’Neill is ready to leave her rebellious ways behind. . . and her best friend, country superstar Lilah Montgomery, is nursing a broken heart of her own. Fortunately, Lilah’s 24-city tour is about to kick off, offering a perfect opportunity for a girls-only summer of break-up ballads and healing hearts. But when Matt Finch joins the tour as its opening act, his boy-next-door charm proves difficult for Reagan to resist, despite her vow to live a drama-free existence. This summer, Reagan and Lilah will navigate the ups and downs of fame and friendship as they come to see that giving your heart to the right person is always a risk worth taking. A fresh new voice in contemporary romance, Emery Lord’s gorgeous writing hits all the right notes.

This addictive summer romp has everything it needs to top off your beach bag: surprisingly fiery romance, a feisty protagonist with plenty of wit, and a heartwarming relationship between two best friends. The fresh insight into the world of a country music superstar only adds to the allure; from meltdowns due to the paparazzi to the electrifying behind-the-scenes structure, it’s a fun read.

I love that Reagan was a full-blooded rebel, backing up that image with court-mandated therapy, questionable taste in boys, and struggles with vices such as smoking and drinking. Her personality- while seen before- was never cliche. I’d never realized before this book how many YA books use the “bad girl” archetype without actually having the action to back it up – we’ve been missing out! She both exemplified the classic archetype while still lending it her signature flair. She made mistakes but aggressively sought to fix them. She had a sharp tongue, a love for high heels, and a fiery temper.

I hadn’t realized how deeply Reagan’s stubborn streak went until some of her wilder antics ensued. Her clever solutions to things- namely arguments that she couldn’t stand to lose- led me to crack up. She was ferocious.

That ferocity made it even sweeter to read about her friendship and family issues. Her chemistry with Dee was nothing short of adorable. They could talk about surface level things and erupt into giggles over old jokes but they were quick to get each other’s backs and bail each other out from hard situations. That was a pretty darn cute friendship to read about especially as the pressures of their situations mounted and they were tested. It was absolutely precious.

However, I would have liked to see a little more of Dee’s personality, to be honest. Her music career largely defined who she was. Reagan claims in the book that Lilah Montgomery, country superstar, and Dee, best friend, were two different personas. Unfortunately, because the book focused on the tour, we didn’t particularly get to meet her or see where the two personalities diverged. She was kind and naïve and broken-hearted and cute, but I would have liked to connect with her more. Dee had her own issues going on throughout the book aside from Reagan’s, and I would have liked to see a little more exploration of those because there were some more potential threads!

Open Road Summer had about the same appraisal of fame that similar books offer: nothing extremely in-depth but still interesting to read because of the change in perspective. I would have liked a few more intimate details, but Lord still did a stellar job with smaller aspects of it, the paparazzi being a prime example.

Most of the publicity areas of the book dealt with the girls’ reactions to paparazzi. I found it interesting because to me, a lot of fame-focused books only focus on paparazzi as it exposes secrets. This related more to the day-to-day hurt that the reporters could cause the tour. Dee was the type of person who stalked her website comments and Googled her name to see what popped up. The effect that it had on Dee as her reputation fluxed between perfect and tarnished was realistic for sure. In addition, some related problems were wrapped up so smoothly. Some of the best scenes involved Dee and Reagan keeping cool under media pressure.

All these details and aspects of the book were lovely but the best part was the romance! The way that it was built was captivating. The bad girl and the lovable guy who’s too good for her. Classic, right? Yet another seen-before combination that Lord rocked.

Matt was a likable guy. He had all the sweet characteristics of the good guy but with a fresh feel that didn’t immediately degrade him to forgettable. Despite the sideways smile, the heartfelt lyrics, the act, he wasn’t obnoxious and he wasn’t a pushover either. He and Reagan worked well together and I couldn’t get enough of their relationship. Adorable, but with enough fire to keep it sizzling. It wasn’t inappropriate or anything but it’s blush-worthy simply because of the heat of their respective personalities.

The ending and the book itself were really predictable but that didn’t take away whatsoever from how much I enjoyed it. A few moments were on the verge of being cliche but Emery Lord pulled back just in time, which makes me even further interested in how she develops as a writer.

A cute debut with fierce characters and a swoon-worthy romance, this may just be the beach read you’ve been looking for.

Recommended for anybody who loves: The Museum of Intangible ThingsSpeechless; The Disenchantments

Calling Tampa Readers

YA Book Club - September-2

Hey y’all!

Today I’m here to talk to y’all about one of my most exciting developments. Recently, I got a call from my adorable local indie, asking if I could come in to talk about something. What about? Starting a young adult book club for teens around the area.

There are plenty of young readers around Tampa – I know, I talk to a lot of them on a daily basis – but so few opportunities to interact with other readers. I was lucky enough to stumble upon a few that I regularly swap books with and I love that – imagine if we could spread that and get a big group together.

On the second Monday of every month, we’ll camp out at Inkwood Books for an hour or two and talk the book of the month. There’ll be food, drinks, discussion, and even a few movie nights for those pesky book-to-movie adaptations. Between themed treats, author Skypes, and plenty of other surprises in store, I hope to see y’all there!

Everybody’s welcome – even if you think you won’t know anybody, it’ll be a fun chance to get to talk books! I’ll be hosting and moderating, with plenty of questions and a summary on the blog for those who missed. If you have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to email or contact me and I’ll be happy to answer.

As of now, the tentative age group’ll be 8th grade and above. Have kids that are interested, but are too young? Don’t worry, Inkwood’s also cooking up a middle grade book club that I’ll hopefully be helping out with as well!

Our Schedule:

AUGUST: The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey
SEPTEMBER: Every You, Every Me by David Levithan
OCTOBER: Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Our first book, The 5th Wave, is a thrilling sci-fi sure to appeal to kids still mourning the gradual descent of the dystopian trend. With strong characters, adrenaline-packed sequences, and plenty of suspense, it’s one that’ll keep you riveted. Despite its length, you won’t be able to put it down!

Hope to see y’all there!

The Beginning of Everything by Robin Schneider

beginning of everything Novel: The Beginning of Everything by Robin Schneider | Goodreads
 Release Date: August 27, 2013
 Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books (HarperCollins)
 Format: Hardcover
 Source: Borrowed

Golden boy Ezra Faulkner believes everyone has a tragedy waiting for them—a single encounter after which everything that really matters will happen. His particular tragedy waited until he was primed to lose it all: in one spectacular night, a reckless driver shatters Ezra’s knee, his athletic career, and his social life.

No longer a front-runner for Homecoming King, Ezra finds himself at the table of misfits, where he encounters new girl Cassidy Thorpe. Cassidy is unlike anyone Ezra’s ever met, achingly effortless, fiercely intelligent, and determined to bring Ezra along on her endless adventures.

But as Ezra dives into his new studies, new friendships, and new love, he learns that some people, like books, are easy to misread. And now he must consider: if one’s singular tragedy has already hit and everything after it has mattered quite a bit, what happens when more misfortune strikes?

Robyn Schneider’s The Beginning of Everything is a lyrical, witty, and heart-wrenching novel about how difficult it is to play the part that people expect, and how new beginnings can stem from abrupt and tragic endings.

This is quite a story. With vivid writing, clever characters, and a spirited plot, it’s a surprisingly tender coming-of-age with a resonance beyond the last page. Despite its laid back feel, it has a power beyond the puns and the tears and the humor. I loved it, whole-heartedly loved it.

First off, Ezra was the quintessential heartthrob. He had an intellectual demeanor, was social but not overtly so, and his Golden Boy perspective was delivered in a way that was appealing. In addition to his effortless charm, it was thoughtful and immediately propelled him to the ranks of narrators such as Miles from Looking for Alaska. It was almost conversational, but encompassed both poignant and dorky parts of the narrative with a refreshing grace.

I have a severe weakness for intelligence– if I can have an intelligent conversation with you, I’m yours. So reading a voice like that was surprisingly endearing, ensuring that I will definitely be ranking Ezra Faulkner among my favorite protagonists for years.

Cassidy herself was a bit of a Manic Pixie Dream Girl- screwed up and colorful, exciting and mysterious- but not to the point where it was obnoxious. In fact, her pretentiousness got on my nerves at some points but her character was still charming. She was confusing and bright and also complex enough to make me feel sorry for her major struggles.

Major respect goes out to Schneider for not having the romance be the driving force behind character development. Cassidy definitely contributed but they fought and they had their ups and downs, and Ezra’s change throughout the book was not entirely dependent on Cassidy.

Toby was a riot. All the supporting characters were, but him especially. His friendship with Ezra was fluid and funny. It had its ups and downs with grooves and intricacies of a real, years-old friendship. Even with the consideration that they were reconnecting as friends, it was well done.

Their friendship reminded me a lot of my brother’s group of friends. I’ve always envied their collective foundation of pop culture references intermixed with a constant hilarious banter. That same banter was what made Toby and Ezra’s friendship so ENTERTAINING to read. While still cinematic, laugh-out-loud witty, and thoughtful, the characters still felt like people I could run into on the street. His friend group had a nice diversity- not of ethnicities but of personalities- but not one character felt forced or out-of-place with them.

Despite how easy it was to slip in with the characters, it was never boring. They did wild things but it was never beyond possibility or something that made me roll my eyes.

So many parts and details that I just straight up appreciated: the dorky puns, the relationship with his parents, his dad’s phone, Cassidy’s decisions when it came to hooking up, author’s choice of the tennis team – rarely focused on as a sport as well as the debate team. I’d never really thought about debate or tennis, and they were so put-together. And Ezra with his dog! I loved that relationship.

Eastwood as a setting and a culture reminded me of where I’ve grown up. The community, the sense of being well-off but not being ostentatious or glitzy, in a way that was simply inexplicably part of their culture. The standards of education and the schools were excellent (which pleased me). They were members of country clubs, expected to be involved for college, grow up to be executives and lawyers and doctors. All that Ezra grew up with was simply a part of his life and not exaggerated to the point of annoyance that so many other books do nowadays.

One complaint: cliche popular group.

Despite that, Robyn Schneider’s depiction of teendom was pulled directly from reality. Wow. I found it difficult to believe that she’s not a teenager herself. Homecoming, phone usage, parties, and lunch table dynamics and all of that. Highest possible compliment I can give. It was also really refreshing to read about all the ambitions that the kids have. In my area, maybe one out of every four conversations is about college or extracurriculars to get into college. It seems a little ridiculous but it’s true. Ezra and the lot were just so relatable and I want to be friends with them now.

Respect to Robyn also goes for keeping the accident scene absent of melodrama. The resulting trauma and after effects were felt, but with mixed emotions and a subtlety that made it much more powerful. It felt honest. Ezra’s injuries became an immense part of his personality and his character through all the struggles he faced on a day-to-day basis, all the stares he got from his classmates.

The Gatsby references were excellent! Reinforcing the intelligent natures of the characters were these incredible conversations about philosophy and science and ideas. When those were put into place, they didn’t feel obvious or pretentious. It was interesting and connected well, serving the profound nature of the book in a way that was larger than life. Between Cooper and the lights and the overall story, it worked really well.

I can’t decide whether I liked the ending but I didn’t dislike it. It wrapped up some things up cleanly and others were more ambiguous- that felt real.

The Beginning of Everything captured the exhilaration, the strangeness, that head-over-heels love that excuses any flaws. It was an emotional roller coaster to read but still always enjoyable. It’s bewildering and smart and thrilling beyond everything else and made me laugh about every other page. Realistic but also undeniably cinematic, ensuring that this is one I’m definitely going to remember.

Recommended for anybody who loved: Paper Towns; When You Were Here; This Song Will Save Your Life

Complex Characters

Silver Linings

A recent thought of mine in relation to young adult books is characterization. Especially because I’ve been getting back into writing, I’ve been thinking a lot about characters and what makes a character complex vs. simple. I’ve looked at a lot of character worksheets and templates, listing things like texture of hands and scent and reaction to fear. But that led me to think about the widening gap we seem to have, between what passes for normal with a character and what passes for normal in a person.

  • Is character development spurred by a romantic relationship immediately passé?
  • Is a character who lets her boyfriend order dinner for her at a restaurant anti-feminist or simply shy?
  • Is a character with predictable actions automatically boring or simply realistic?

A lot of reviews condemn characters as boring and predictable, including my own. I’ve stereotyped a character on more than one occasion and called what they’d do next. But to be honest, I think we hold characters in fiction to a lot higher standards than anybody else.

People can be a lot simpler than we give them credit for. Taking my own personality into hand, I think it’d be pretty easy for somebody to write me off as predictable.

There’s a lot of emphasis on contradiction, on having a character go back and forth between decisions to show their “realistic” flux as a teenager. Granted, I think that’s important because we have a lot of that too. In addition, this is a vastly different topic than diversity in YA. But wouldn’t it be nice to simply read a book with a character who might be struggling with exactly the same things we are, without the unrealistic gestures or skills or languages that they learned because they just happened to be a mixture of many different things?

In retaliating against popular tropes as seen in fiction, so many people condemn the usage of a Manic Pixie Dream Girl character. I agree with it to a certain extent; we can’t always have the protagonist’s character development spurred by some quirky girl who quotes Vonnegut and tap dances in her spare time.

But take Augustus Waters from The Fault in Our Stars. The cigarette metaphor, the formal syntax, the over-the-top gestures of affection balanced with the calculated bewilderment. Part of me wants to roll my eyes and part of me wants to argue that John Green was making a statement about the ridiculous characterization of love interests in YA. I have so many different varying thoughts on the subject, but the main purpose of Augustus as a character was achieved: he’s memorable. Despite not being realistic, we view him as complex because of the varying personalities he displays throughout the book. The gas station scene where he wants to buy cigarettes? Vastly different from the Augustus who takes Hazel on a picnic earlier in the book.

A lot of nice characters that I read about – whom I most identify myself with – simply aren’t memorable. The emphasis on distinct narrators and explosive love interests is cinematic for certain but I can’t imagine stumbling upon a person like that in real life. The meaning of relatable seems to be lost within the spectrum of young adult – in getting characters that will pop when the book’s on the market.

But it never ceases to make me wonder when I read about a character so similar to myself and read a review that bemoans their simplicity or predictability. Some people act exactly the same throughout the time that you know them, but does that make them weak as a character? Or too simple?

What do y’all think makes a character complex?

Top Ten Skills I’ve Learned from Books

Hey y’all!

I’m currently out of the country for a week but I’ve scheduled a few posts to keep you company!

I’m here today to do Top Ten Tuesday, a weekly meme hosted by the lovely ladies over at The Broke and the Bookish. Each week they choose a different topic and bloggers pick ten reads related to the prompt. This week’s prompt was a freebie and so I decided to do a post I’ve been excited about for a while.

I pick up a lot of slightly useless skills from young adult books. From recipes to survival skills to random tricks, you can learn a lot just from character quirks. Granted, some of them are entirely useless but I’ve actually been able to put them to work in several situations. Without further ado, the top ten things I’ve learned from YA and MG books.

(Related: Maggie Stiefvater wrote an excellent post in response to the Slate article I talked about last week, discussing how stories make us smarter, not books. You can check it out here.)

united we spy 1. HOW TO START WORLD WAR III from United We Spy by Ally Carter | Goodreads

Starting it off with a bang. Ever want to know how to start World War III? Just read through this one and you’d have a pretty good idea. This information is scattered between spy maneuvers, flawless pacing, and contributes to an already incredible read. Bonus: how to stop World War III is also included.

ballad 2. HOW TO PLAY THE BAGPIPES from Ballad by Maggie Stiefvater | Goodreads

James, the main character in this one, is one of my favorite characters of all time. He’s a musical prodigy but he still has a pretty helpful description of how to play the bagpipes, his preferred instrument. Later, he also picks up piano although that comes pretty easily to him. This is one of my favorite – yet underrated – books.

also known as 3. HOW TO CRACK A SAFE from Also Known As by Robin Benway | Goodreads

The first chapter plunges you immediately into a situation where her safe-cracking skills are relevant; the reader gets a brief yet helpful page or so detailing how to crack a safe. While I’m not usually a huge fan of her books, this one was funny and intense in the vein of Rachel Hawkins’ books. Throughout the book, there are random clumps of useful tricks if you were ever in a situation like this. Spy, anyone?

 wanderlove4. HOW TO BACKPACK IN SOUTH AMERICA from Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard | Goodreads

Wanderlove actually has some really excellent tips about travel. Part of it’s because Kirsten Hubbard has traveled a lot, so she knows all the good things to do! First off, the wanderlust inspired by this book is ridiculous and I’d also like to read it if I ever decide to travel like this. Full of good information and lovely description!

every other day 5. HOW TO ACE EVERY MULTIPLE CHOICE TEST EVER from Every Other Day by Jennifer Lynn Barnes | Goodreads

I’m pretty sure quite a few of my passing test grades this year were due to this book. Despite the fast pace and summary about demon-hunting and monsters, this book is academically helpful. There’s a page or two dedicated to the subject and it’s something I’ve been able to keep in the back of my head since reading it. See, parents? I shouldn’t study; I should read this book instead.

luv ya bunches6. HOW TO STAY DRY IN THE RAIN from Luv Ya Bunches by Lauren Myracle | Goodreads

There’s a random trick tucked in these pages that I’ve been able to use every time it’s rained for the past three years or so. It’s actually raining now so it’s pretty helpful. The book itself is a relatively cute middle grade focused around the internet – I think her other books are better – but it’s a sweet read.

just listen 7. HOW MUSIC SOUNDS BETTER IN THE CAR WASH from Just Listen by Sarah Dessen | Goodreads

This is one of those quirky details that’s made such a mundane thing into an experience. Hands down my favorite part of this book was the description of this particular phenomenon – music sounds better in the carwash. Pick a song you hate, roll up the windows, and watch the wax dripping down the side of your car. I swear it’s one of the most relaxing experiences, which I l’ve loved ever since I read this book.

the boyfriend app8. HOW TO CREATE AN APP from The Boyfriend App by Katie Sise | Goodreads

While this book fell a little flat for me, it has some techy and interesting tips throughout because of the protagonist’s computer knowledge. The story centers around the creation of an app that determines the perfect pairing of people, a matchmaker app, and eventually can attract the opposite sex with the push of a button.  It was interesting to read about although the main character and plot didn’t do it for me.

impossible 9. HOW TO MAKE A SHIRT WITHOUT ANY SEAMS from Impossible by Nancy Werlin | Goodreads

This haunting story is centered entirely around the impossible deeds from the Scarborough Fair ballad. Conveyed in ethereal writing with a stunning mood, it contains clever solutions to the tasks outlined in the ballad. Definitely worth the read – it’s one that I reread much more often than I should.

the disreputable history10. HOW TO PULL OFF AN EPIC PRANK from The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart | Goodreads

When Frankie Landau-Banks gets fed up with the “secret society” at her boarding school, she decides to have a little fun with it and turn the snobbery of the members upside down. Her antics described throughout are hilarious, smart, and leave you rooting for her throughout the entire book, but never sacrifices the timeless feel.

What weird skills have y’all learned from books?

 

 

Inland by Kat Rosenfield

inland Novel: Inland by Kat Rosenfield | Goodreads
 Release Date: June 12, 2014
 Publisher: Dutton Juvenile (Penguin)
 Format: ARC
 Source: Publisher

The psychological labyrinth of a young woman’s insidious connection to the sea, from the Edgar Award nominated author of Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone.

Callie Morgan has long lived choked by the failure of her own lungs, the result of an elusive pulmonary illness that has plagued her since childhood. A childhood marked early by the drowning death of her mother—a death to which Callie was the sole witness. Her father has moved them inland, away from the memories of the California coast her mother loved so much and toward promises of recovery—and the escape of denial—in arid, landlocked air.

But after years of running away, the promise of a life-changing job for her father brings Callie and him back to the coast, to Florida, where Callie’s symptoms miraculously disappear. For once, life seems delightfully normal. But the ocean’s edge offers more than healing air … it holds a magnetic pull, drawing Callie closer and closer to the chilly, watery embrace that claimed her mother. Returned to the ocean, Callie comes of age and comes into a family destiny that holds generations of secrets and very few happy endings.

Inland is a dreamy sophomore novel swimming in intrigue and suspense. Kat Rosenfield has this gorgeous sense of exactly which words to plop into every sentence; it’s incredible. It has the unsteady horror of The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer with the sparse prose of Nova Ren Suma’s narratives. Kat Rosenfield’s writing is what makes this book come alive – it’s vivid and it pulls you in with every word.

First off, the main character was a bit strange at the beginning, although likable. She had a medical issue that kept her lungs almost drowning constantly: rattling breath, asthma attacks, trouble with even the most mundane activities. She was a little bitter at times but with good reason to be. She was interesting because she was just unstable enough to make you doubt everything she said, especially as the book continued and things spun slowly out of control. Not relatable by any means, but she had an otherworldly quality that added to the undercurrent mood throughout.

Callie’s relationship with her deceased mother was a huge part of the book. It falls into the absentee-parents trend of YA fiction but it works. Her relationship with her dad was lovable, but cold. Her medical issues and her dad’s line of work kept her from becoming close to him, especially because of her mother’s death by drowning. Callie flashed back to her mother and the ethereal quality she had for most of the book, tying into the rickety uncertainty of whether or not we could trust Callie as a narrator.

This book was gloriously creepy. It unsettled me right from the first sentence and never let go. It never actually comes out and says what the implied issue is; it lets you go back and forth in a magical-realism style plot. Especially because Callie and her father lived on a canal, it wasn’t a straight-up ocean story. It was more inventive than that. Towards the end of the book as Callie’s mental condition worsened, it got more cryptic and even more magnetic. I loved the mermaid vibe so much. It’s definitely a darker twist on the usual story.

The only thing I hesitate on – and I noticed this in Rosenfield’s debut – is that the pacing was a little slow towards the middle. It focused a lot on her health issues rather than the underlying reason. I would have liked that buildup of tension earlier, because towards the end it kept me constantly flipping pages. There’s a struggle between the sense of knowing what the conflict was vs. keeping a muddy, magical-realism feel to it.

Despite that, I loved the slow descent into complexity. Episodes of violence and fear were intermixed with genuine emotion and thought that added depth to the story. The surreal mood and absorbing words kept me submerged in the story – roiling and darkening beneath the surface in the same way as the ocean.

In addition, the raw story was cloaked with rich subplots. There were some subplots that kept me riveted despite the itch to know what was going on with Callie. There’s a sweet friendship-like romance that I really like, stories of woe from earlier schools, a little neighbor who knows more than she lets on. There’s plenty to feed the sense of something is not right here.

The ending wasn’t clear. It was fast and passionate and it got under my skin for sure, but in the most complimentary way possible. It was a bit ambiguous but I did feel like it worked for this kind of story. I would have liked to see it a little more fleshed out because I’m still longing to read more of the book despite having finished it twice, but it was a really good read.

In summation, Inland was an eerie exploration of an age-old story of the ocean, wrapped up in psychologically captivating characters. The plot was unpredictable, wavering between the newly sunny ventures of Callie’s life and the darker underside as she got closer to the sea. While I had doubts about the pacing and the ending was thoughtfully ambiguous, I was drawn into the story immediately due to the lovely writing as well as the sinister mood. It’s definitely one to watch for.

Recommended for anybody who loves: The Unbecoming of Mara DyerImaginary GirlsFrost; The Near Witch

Top Ten Books of 2014 So Far

Hey y’all!

I’m here today to do Top Ten Tuesday, a weekly meme hosted by the lovely ladies over at The Broke and the Bookish. Each week they choose a different topic and bloggers pick ten reads related to the prompt. This week’s prompt? Top ten books we’ve read this year so far!

This year is definitely contemporary so far! With a few exceptions, the best books I’ve read have been straight contemp, with splashes of history and magical realism. Want to point me towards a few new paranormal reads? Leave me a comment below! I’d love to see the reads that I’m missing.

since you 1. Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson | Goodreads

First up is Since You’ve Been Gone, a fun read reminiscent of the summer. Between the adorable romance, hilarious adventures, and plenty of heart, it’s a soulful read that I never wanted to end. If I could have a summer like the one detailed in Since You’ve Been Gone, I’d be set.

rebel belle

2. Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins | Goodreads

Hands down, the most solid paranormal read of the year for me. The protagonist was a feisty overachiever who stole my heart, the story was spot-on, and the Southern charm imbued every page. Rachel Hawkins brings so much to each and every book she writes, and I adore absolutely all of them.

code name 3. Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein | Goodreads

This book was one that I’ve tried to read a few times, with varying levels of success. When I finally sat down and read it all the way through, I was stunned. The heartwrenching historical narrative, intensity, and captivating characters ensured that I’ll never forget it. I don’t even have the words.

everything leads to you4. Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour | Goodreads

This book captures a vivid mood with an effortless beauty. With gorgeous details, vulnerable characters, and a sweet romance, it has everything that makes a book perfect for me. It’s lovely and quite honestly, my favorite of the year. This is the best.

pointe 5. Pointe by Brandy Colbert | Goodreads

A surprisingly gritty novel with a suspenseful twist, Pointe is a book that packs a punch. It’s a fast read but powerful, with a strong voice. An extra bonus is the passion for dance Theo has that is so vibrantly conveyed throughout the novel. It’ll definitely make you think.

extremely loud6. Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer | Goodreads

Despite the young narrator, the maturity and subtle story-telling in this one wove a seamless narrative. Set against the emotional backdrop of 9/11, poetic chapters and thoughtful characters ensured a memorable read. It’s dramatic and quirky and sad all at once.

let's pretend 7. Let’s Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir by Jenny Lawson | Goodreads

Startlingly honest and laugh-out-loud hilarious, Jenny Lawson’s signature spirit infused each page. Sprinkled with funny anecdotes and real life advice, Let’s Pretend This Never Happened made my day every time I sat down to read it. It’s awesome!

inland 8. Inland by Kat Rosenfield | Goodreads

This one’s the most successful magical realism plot I’ve read since Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma. The haunting protagonist and sinister motivations kept me captivated, with Kat Rosenfield’s stunning prose wove a story that I couldn’t escape from even if I wanted to. Wow!

just one year9. Just One Year by Gayle Forman | Goodreads

The moving other half of a story – the companion to Just One Day  - contained the thorough characterization and finesse that Gayle Forman so skillfully embodies, with absorbing descriptions of other countries that inspire wanderlust with every sentence. Definitely one to pick up!

how to love10. How to Love by Katie Cotugno | Goodreads

A soft read with a lovable backstory, How to Love was a meditative exploration of love and second chances. Between the lingering tensions of her past and the unsteady certainty of her future, the protag exuded a timeless grace that was a joy to read about.

What are y’all’s favorite reads of the year?