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Top Ten Tuesday – books recently added to TBR

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TTT brought to you by The Broke and the Bookish.

Just a quick distinction: I put books that I want to read, but don’t own, in a ‘wish-list’ shelf on Goodreads, whereas books I own but haven’t read yet go on the ‘to-read’ shelf. With that in mind, I’m pulling from my ‘wish-list’ shelf for this TTT. :)

Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen

If you’ve read any of my Dessen reviews, you’ll know how I have mixed feelings about her books. That said, I still want to keep reading them. Initially I was attracted to the cover of this one (for shame) but it doesn’t seem to reflect the blurb… Anyway. I like the sound of this one, I’m looking forward to it. May 2015

Emmy and Oliver by Robin Benway

Again, the blurb (and cover) really drew me to this one. I love the idea of best friends being separated (under awful circumstances!) to then come back together and try and pick up from where they left off? It’s guaranteed to be awks. June 2015

Hello, I Love You by Katie M. Stout

K-pop. It’s a book.. with k-pop in it. I’m already sold. I think it’s a bit of a gamble, but I’m more than willing to play. I really hope this one proves to be everything I want it to be! June 2015

Inspire by Cora Carmack

I like a Carmack book. There’s something easy and reliable about sinking into the romance and the story. I think this books is following the ‘supernatural NA’ trend that has been popping up, but I’m still gonna read the heck out of it! Out now

Things We Know By Heart by Jessi Kirby

Wow. Seriously, click over to Goodreads to check this one out because man alive. I kinda wish I had thought of it! It’s a real quirky concept, one that’s bound to be full of drama, and also sweeter moments, I feel. I’m really psyched about this one. April 2015

Even in Paradise by Chelsey Philpot

I like the sense of mystery and drama and romance and glitz and party.. all rolled into one. I imagine it like a tamer version of Dangerous Girls (because hell, that book was wild!) Out now

99 Days by Katie Cotugno

Oooh. Man. The blurb for this? Ooh. It makes me cringe in the best possible way! This is gonna be awkward and terrible and fantastic. I can just feel it. April 2015

One of the Guys by Lisa Aldin

This book had me at ‘tomboy’. I was a bit of a tomboy when I was younger so I like seeing a character owning that side of their personality too. Out now

Rites of Passage by Joy N. Hensley

I really liked the sense of a good, gritty challenge when I read the blurb. I’m going to potentially list it on my bibliography for my MA project because of the setting and scenario. Out now

Kill Kiss Vanish by Jessica Martinez

I do enjoy a mystery/thriller. I’m a little underwhelmed by the description, but there is something, nevertheless drawing me towards this book. That cover though?

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What have you recently added? Tell me, tell me! I’m always on the hunt for new books to add!

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Meeting Maria V Snyder at Mira Ink (PART ONE)

A Bit of Back Story

It’s one of those moments that I never imagined would happen.

So for this post at least, indulge me, let me back track a bit:

Poison Study was the book that I picked up on a whim. I liked the cover (yep, covers count for a lot in this house) and the blurb was interesting.

I hadn’t really been reading much, at all, and I hadn’t bought many books, at all. But this one spoke to me.

And it spoke good. I started reading it and just KNEW it was going to be the perfect ‘book-to-reader’ match.

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Yelena Zaltana is on kick ass heroine. She’s not perfect, but that’s what makes her so. You know? And I’m gonna make a confession here: Valek was my first, and only, book boyfriend! I’ve had some other characters in other books come close.. but none have had the same effect Valek had, and still does!

Needless to say, I have since gobbled up every other book Maria Snyder has written. I’m still one book away from finishing the ‘Healer’ series, and then I’ll be all caught up! Fo sho! (I’m kinda savouring it… Stretching out the anticipation! HA!)

How Come You Were In London?

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I know, I know. This country bumpkin got an invite from Mira Ink and got her sorry little Devon self on a train.

Maria is currently touring her newest title Shadow Study in the UK.

See now, I thought Yelena and Valek’s story was finished. But we, the stalwart obsessive psycho fans, kept asking for more, and the love of her, she delivered!

Shadow Study picks up after the Glass series has finished, with cameos and special mentions of other beloved characters including Kade and Opal et al. Janco even gets his own POV, which is pretty boss. Click here to read my review of Shadow Study.

The Journey

Hang on, hang on. I’ll get to the bits I know you REALLY came to read in a minute.

I was totally psyched about the trip. I was reading at an event the night before and got in quite late, but I was still awake long before my alarm went off. I was too excited!

After a mad dash to the supermarket with my dad, I set off in my car. It takes roughly 45 minutes to drive to the station… and then I had a meltdown.

I’m not one that gets ruffled easily. But after driving around the station’s THREE car parks and finding no spaces, I was starting to lose my cool. In fact, I was on the phone to my dad, wound up like a coil, cursing the train company, the car park, the poor car owners. The pigeons. No one was safe from my ire.

My dad tried directing me to a car park just up the road, but like hell could I find it.

Luckily, as I pulled back into the station, I spotted someone leaving. PHEW!

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The train – 3 hours. No delays. In fact, it arrived at Paddington a little earlier than planned… because it forgot to stop at Slough. Ooops! Also, I nearly finished the book I was reading (see pic) and decided to stop, worried I’d have nothing to read later.

The tube – I could have got a connecting train from Reading to Richmond but there wasn’t one that left late enough for me to get home, so Paddington and the Underground it was. I LOVE the Underground. I keep waiting for the novelty to wear off, but it doesn’t. I think it’s because I drive EVERYWHERE at home, I have to. So just hopping on and off a train is great! And ticket scanners… So much fun! (It’s the little things in life, eh?)

Mira Ink offices – I’d not been to Richmond before, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Thank goodness there was a McDonalds.. not to eat.. but for the loo! I couldn’t find the loo in Paddington station (I have since.. duh. So obvious!) and I was desperate!

Mira Ink itself was easy to find. I spied a couple of lost looking bloggers while I was quickly phoning home, to say I got there ok. I feel a bit bad for not calling out.. but then, if you guys weren’t bloggers.. you’d think I was crazy. Soz. Xx

Oh man, the office itself. THE OFFICE! I’ve never been inside a publisher’s office so I was excited on a whole new level..

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So, I’d arrived. I had my name badge. I was smiling like the awkward dork that I am at the other people (trying not to make it obvious as I squint at their name badges because I am TERRIBLE with names).

And then the lovely Cara takes us upstairs…

To be continued, because I’m gonna need a whole post to talk about how wonderful Maria was, and all the blogger peebles I met.

 

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Which book would you give to someone new to YA?

So someone in my class at uni asked me which YA book I would recommend them. And, since they haven’t read any YA before to pick a title that would encapsulate YA.

A book that signifies everything that is everything about YA.

Pick a favourite.

Pick something I feel is the epitome of YAL.

 

Holy hell. Ladies, gentlemen, cats and dogs. How does one even begin to answer that?

It got me thinking about YA though (never a bad thing) and it has made me appreciate just how BIG it is. I mean, we all say ‘YA’ like it’s a genre, when really, it’s just a target age group.

That said, I think it is its own genre, with its own conventions and expectations.

I don’t think I CAN pick just one. That’s the problem. There are so many different styles and nuances and themes, you can’t simply hold one book up and say ‘THIS! THIS IS WHAT YA IS!’

If, however, I were to create a ‘pathway’ of reads, this is how it might look:

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I mean, in no way is it representative of all the wonders YA fiction has to offer. I just went with what books I enjoyed and which I would pass along to a friend, for one reason or another. So working through this chart you’d end up having read 4 books with lots more to go on to read if you chose to.

Which books would you recommend to someone new to YA?

 

 

 

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Review: Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen

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Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen (reissue, 2012, Speak) bought with my Xmas book tokens! :D

Up all night.

Nights have always been Auden’s time, her chance to escape everything that’s going on around her.

Then she meets Eli, a fellow insomniac, and he becomes her nocturnal tour guide.

Now, with an endless supply of summer nights between them, almost anything can happen…

I’m still not completely convinced that I’m a Dessen fan. I can’t place my finger on it, and maybe it just comes down to the fact that her books aren’t a good ‘fit’ for me.

That said, I want to keep reading her titles. And I can devour one of her books in a day. They’re light, easy to read and compelling. But still, there’s just something… Let’s see if I can muddle through how I feel.

What worked for me?

Auden – I definitely connected with the protagonist this time (I read ‘The Moon and More’ previously and had didn’t quite ‘gel’ with the main character). I like her. I felt like there was much about her that I could relate to in both personality and in her actions to situations and people.

Relationships – This is something I think Dessen does wonderfully. The way she portrays relationships between families and friends and love interests.. it’s so tangible. It’s real. It’s messy. It’s complicated. Just like life. There’s drama, but it’s logically illogical, as it often is in RL.

Eli – Actually, without Eli I think I would have had less of an interest in this book. He really shines on the page because he’s so well rounded. And I find his back story engaging. I suppose my only hesitation is that I felt like he came across a lot older than he was supposed to be. I mean, I don’t mind, it was just something I felt after finishing the book, that Eli in my mind was years older than he was supposed to be.

What didn’t work for me?

Goal – I think I’ve found one of the things holding me back from being a full-on Dessen fangirl. When I read her books I struggle a little to keep focus because I don’t feel like the protagonist has a goal. I ask myself ‘where are they going? What do they want? How will they get there?’ but I can never find a concrete answer. I know a character’s goal can change throughout a story, but I never feel like Dessen’s characters have a goal in the first place. Things happen, people change, the story keeps moving along, but where to? It’s like we’re floating in a narrative bubble. Hm. I don’t think I’m explaining myself very well, what do you think?

Bikes – You lost me there. All the technical descriptions and tricks and whizzes.. I had no idea how to imagine that. To be fair, I got the gist, but I just couldn’t imagine the finer detail that was being described.

‘Really.’ – I spot this in each of Dessen’s books. I think it might be an Americanism? But I can’t help my hand itching for a pen to add a ‘?’. The word falls flat without one. It clangs. Maybe it’s my British ears. It doesn’t really bother me too much, it’s just something I notice, jarring me out of the story.

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I like Dessen’s books well enough. And I think of the three I’ve read this is definitely my favourite. The way the theme of family is explored is really great and fully realised. It’s a sweet read, light and easy but not lacking in real emotion.

 

I gave it a happy 4 out of 5. But I’m still waiting for ‘the one’ when it comes to Dessen’s books. Please leave me recs!!

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The Gift Guide Tag

I saw this over at It’s All About Books and it looked like fun! Originally started at Crazy for YA as a Christmas thing.. but there’s never a bad time of year to gift a book!

The rules are:

1) Pick at least one book/series for each category

2) Tag at least 3 bloggers

3) Add your link to the original post

So let’s get gifting! Here’s what I’d wrap up for you, if you were:

the Contemporary lover: 

Fangirl: It’s a safe, wholesome bet. I think this book makes the perfect gift for the ‘dabbler’, the kind of reader that dips in and out but isn’t so sure about what to read or if they even like YA. You can’t go wrong with Rowell, you know?

Anna and the French Kiss: Because Etienne. That’s why. A sweet, addictive kind of read that I think is a must read for any Contemporary fan. It’s a freakin’ staple!

I feel like both of these look pretty too, like they might make people smile just seeing them when tearing open the paper. :)

the Fantasy lover:

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Stolen Songbird:

This book totally blind sided me. It started off a little shaky but then it slammed into me from nowhere and I was hooked! I can’t help but feel excited looking at the cover now. It takes a lot of very traditional fantasy elements, fairy tale elements, I suppose, and makes it fresh. Love it. And I want others to love it too.

 

 

10194157 (1)Shadow and Bone:

It was so hard to choose just two for this category, but this is partly why I have limited myself, because in this category alone I could list dozens! Leigh Bardugo’s writing style is beautiful and memorable. This book is so YES and I’d gift it to anyone, but especially Fantasy fans.

the Romance lover:

Isla and the Happily Ever After: So I had ‘Anna’ in Contemporary; I think there’s a kind of blurred line between Contemporary and Romance. I know it doesn’t always have to be that way, but my favourite Contemporary books usually have a romantic element to them. ANYWAY. I picked Isla because I think the romance develops in a much more achy-breaky way than in Anna. It’s a bit messy. It’s beautiful. It’s fun.

Just One Day: This book has such a compelling concept. I think any Romance fan needs this book, even if it’s to incite some wanderlust! My favourite Forman book so far.

the Mystery/Thriller Lover:

So much love for these. I’d give two copies of each, just so they could pass a copy on to someone else!

What do you reckon? Would you be happy to receive these as a gift? I TAG YOU! xD

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Review: I Was Here by Gayle Forman

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Huh. Not what I was expecting. Somehow the blurb led me to think something different about this book, but still, not a bad surprise.

I was a little wary about picking up this book. I really liked Just One Day, but was let down by Just One Year. So, I’m not really sure how I feel about Forman’s writing as a ‘fit’ for me. (I’ve talked about this with other authors)

The thing that really held me back with I Was Here was how little empathy I felt for Cody. I just didn’t connect with her, at all. And I was conflicted over how I felt about her friendship with Meg. I didn’t like Cody’s attitude towards others, and I felt like her and Meg’s haughtiness made it hard for me to really let go and enjoy the story.

I did enjoy the movement of the book, both literally and more psychologically. As in, we get a lot of movement, in a physical sense. Cody goes back and forth from her hometown, to Meg’s college town, then half way across country to try and find some sort of closure (because that’s the easiest way to describe it). And I liked how as a reader I could see the character development, how Cody moves from being in one mindset, to another.

The character that captivated me, and who kept me turning the pages, was Ben. He’s got a compelling shade to him, if that makes sense? And I was really interested in his origins and also in what he might do next. I liked reading how Ben changed and evolved as a character too.

I admire how Forman talks about death in this narrative. I think she takes what most of us have thought, that ‘if I were to do it…’, and manages to put it across without either glorifying it or condemning it. It’s a careful balancing act, methinks.

I think it’s a brave book, but somewhere the characters get lost in the philosophy. I really liked the ending and I gave it a solid 3.5 out of 5.