Friday, September 30, 2011

Getting My Wizard On

Oh, pardon me if I'm a little MIA, I'm just going to WIZARDING WORLD OF HARRY POTTER. No big deal or anything. Except that it is.

I'm heading off to Universal with my big sister. Last time we went was TWENTY YEARS AGO, when we looked like this:

Expect a full recap on Monday. Please be prepared for some very detailed descriptions of what butterbeer tastes like. Also note that if I get sorted into Slytherin, I'm gonna cry.

Anna Reads young adult book blog

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Ruby Oliver Books by E. Lockhart Review

Source: Library, my Kindle, Ginger

E. Lockhart’s spot-on dialogue and descriptions of painfully but hilariously relatable situations make this young adult novel an addictive read.

Fifteen-year-old Ruby has had a rough ten days. During that time she:

* lost her boyfriend (#13 on the list) 

* lost her best friend (Kim) 
* lost all her other friends (Nora, Cricket) 
* did something suspicious with a boy (#10)
* did something advanced with a boy (#15)
* had an argument with a boy (#14)
* had a panic attack
* lost a lacrosse game (she's the goalie)
* failed a math test (she'll make it up)
* hurt Meghan's feelings (even though they aren't really friends)
* became a social outcast (no one to sit with at lunch)
* had graffiti written about her in the girls' bathroom (who knows what was in the boys'!?!)

But don't worry—Ruby lives to tell the tale. And make more lists.

-- description for The Boyfriend List, Book 1

Oh Ruby, you hilarious fool you.

She’s the type of girl you laugh with, you root for. But secretly at the same time you’re all: “Darling child, you are making bad decisions! Do you not see the train wreck that is your life?!”

Clearly not. I mean, she IS a teenager, what do you expect?

These books took me back to a time when my life was all friends, frenemies, flirtation and FREAKING OUT. If you cannot relate to these books…you were clearly popular. And had very gorgeous, clear skin and boyfriends galore who treated you like a princess and friends who weren’t bitches behind your back. And I hate you.

For those of us who SUFFERED as teenagers (aka 99.9% of the population), these books are the best ever. Do you remember having random crushes on boys just because they looked at you once in the hallway? I do, and I called him Smile Boy because I didn’t know his name but he SMILED AT ME and that mattered and I thought about him constantly. Along with about 10 other boys. If you had hormones, you probably had a “boyfriend” list.

So, teenagers current and teenagers of years past, read these books. You’ll laugh, you’ll get a little mad, and you’ll get right to the heart of what it means to be a young, painfully-almost-but-not-quite adult.

Anna Reads young adult book blog

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Just Friends? Not in YA Fiction

WARNING: Basic "who gets with whom" spoilers throughout.

I believe it's absolutely possible for guys and girls to be 100% platonic friends. But why isn’t that ever portrayed in young adult literature?

Don’t get me wrong: I LOVE the storyline of longtime best friends falling in love. I just read two books this week that fit into this category: The Sweetest Thing by Christina Mandelski and Don’t Stop Now by Julie Halpern. So adorable! And the childhood friends/neighbor boys in Lola & the Boy Next Door or Endless Summer? So dreamy!

But, truly, where are the non-swoony, long-term boy friends? Nowhere. Let’s review the evidence:

Bella & Jacob (Twilight)? Disgusting. But that happened. Proof of my theory.

Violet & Jay (The Body Finder)? V & J, sittin’ in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G…

Clary & Simon (The Mortal Instruments)? He wished.

Katniss & Peeta (The Hunger Games)? Got it on in a cave.

Katniss & Gale (Also The Hunger Games)? MEANINGFUL GLANCES.

Percy & Annabeth (Percy Jackson & the Lightning Thief)? They were in denial about this from the get-go.

Ron & Hermione (Harry Potter)? Life-threatening situations are prime breeding grounds for romance.

Hermione & Harry (Also Harry Potter)? HAHA you fangirls wish. But they sort of implied it, at least in the movies, no?

Anna & Matt (Twenty Boy Summer)? CAKE FIGHT! Okay, so that didn’t end well, but it was still adorable in flashbacks.

Belly & Conrad (The Summer I Turned Pretty)? COUCH SCENE FOR THE WIN!

Belly & Jeremiah (Also The Summer I Turned Pretty)? Ugh. But yeah, that happened too.

Eddie & Milo (Fall for Anything)? He’s supportive, but it’s killing him to watch her drift away from him. Oh, the emo pain. I love it.

I could go on. It's cute, but still odd, no? I can’t think of any examples of platonic guy-girl friendship being portrayed unless the guy is dating one of the girl’s best female friends or if one of them is gay.

Help me out here, people: Can you think of any examples that were 100% platonic? It’s driving me crazy!

Anna Reads young adult book blog

PS: Thank you to my Twitter friends who gave me a lot of recommendations of "best friends fall in love"-type books to pass on:

White Cat by Holly Black
Becoming by Raine Thomas
Sophie & Carter by Chelsea Fine
Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr
The Key to the Golden Firebird by Maureen Johnson
Overdue by Richie Cusick
Fixing Delilah by Sarah Ockler
Something Like Fate by Susane Colasanti
Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Top 10 Books I Want to Reread

It's Top 10 Tuesday (hosted at The Broke and the Bookish) and the topic is
Top 10 Books I Want to Reread

First of all, you think I could stop at 10? HA! I have a rereading problem. Here are some of the books I’ve deemed WORTHY of a reread, a very high honor in my mind…

Pride and Prejudice book cover

For Whenever I’m in a Bad Mood: 
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (the movie/miniseries will suffice in a crunch)

Vampire Academy book cover Richelle MeadHunger Games book cover Suzanne CollinsShiver book cover Maggie Stiefvater
Sloppy Firsts book cover Megan McCaffertyHarry Potter book cover J.K. RowlingCity of Bones book cover Cassandra Clare

Series I’ve Reread from Start to Finish and Will Reread Again & Again: 
Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead
Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins
Shiver series by Maggie Stiefvater
Jessica Darling series by Megan McCafferty
Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling (confession: I more often rewatch the movies instead)
Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare

Ten Things We Did book cover Sarah MlynowskiOne Night That Changes Everything Lauren Barnholdt book coverStealing Heaven Elizabeth Scott book coverGoing Too Far Jennifer Echols book coverForget You Jennifer Echols book coverEndless Summer Jennifer Echols book coverMostly Good Girls Leila Sales book coverMostly Good Girls Leila Sales book coverThe Boyfriend List E Lockhart book coverAmy and Roger's Epic Detour Morgan Matson book coverLola and the Boy Next Door Stephanie Perkins book cover

The Contemps I Can’t Get Enough Of (Or, Books I Feel Could Be Described as “Anna-licious”): 
Ten Things We Did (And Probably Shouldn’t Have) by Sarah Mlynowski
One Night That Changes Everything by Lauren Barnholdt
Stealing Heaven by Elizabeth Scott
Going Too Far by Jennifer Echols
Forget You by Jennifer Echols
Endless Summerby Elizabeth Scott
Mostly Good Girls by Leila Sales
Not That Kind of Girl by Siobhan Vivian
The Boyfriend List by E. Lockhart
Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson
Lola & The Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight Jennifer E Smith book coverDivergent Veronica Roth book coverDelirium Lauren Oliver book coverShatter Me Tahereh Mafi book cover

Recently Read But Already Want to Reread: 
Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith
Divergent by Veronica Roth
Delirium by Lauren Oliver
Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

Anna Reads young adult book blog

Monday, September 26, 2011

Saving June by Hannah Harrington Review

Saving June
By Hannah Harrington

Nov. 22, 2011
Harlequin, 336 pages
Source: Publisher

Harper Scott, trying to come to terms with her perfect older sister June's suicide, takes a road trip and finds love with a mysterious boy who had a connection to June-- and may know more about her sister's life and death than he's telling.

— description

I may or may not have been walking around my house singing "THIS BOOK IS SOOOO GOOOOOD!" in my Oprah voice.*

Road trips! Introspectiveness! KISSING! Oh, what is there not to love? Fans of Amy & Roger's Epic Detour and The Sky Is Everywhere will eat this one up.

Harper's older sister June kills herself without warning. To celebrate her sister's memory, Harper takes her best friend and one of June's good friends on a road trip to scatter June's ashes in California. Did I mention that "good friend" was a boy? Who plays guitar and works in a record shop? I love this stuff. Saving June is a lovely mix of grief and hope, anger and silliness.

There's a quote from the book about a Clapton song that really rings true here: "It rips your heart out. It is the best kind of devastating there is. He took his pain and he turned it into something beautiful."

Anna Reads young adult book blog

*You get really good at the Oprah voice when it's basically part of your job description to watch two hours of her show a day for three years.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Dark Souls by Paula Morris Review

Dark Souls
By Paula Morris

Aug. 1, 2011
Point, 304 pages
Source: Review copy

Welcome to York, England. Mist lingers in the streets. Narrow buildings cast long shadows. This is the most haunted city in the world. . . .

Miranda Tennant arrives in York with a terrible, tragic secret. She is eager to lose herself amid the quaint cobblestones, hoping she won’t run into the countless ghosts who supposedly roam the city. . . .

Then she meets Nick, an intense, dark-eyed boy who knows all of York’s hidden places and histories. Miranda wonders if Nick is falling for her, but she is distracted by another boy -- one even more handsome and mysterious than Nick. He lives in the house across from Miranda and seems desperate to send her some sort of message. Could this boy be one of York’s haunted souls?

Soon, Miranda realizes that something dangerous -- and deadly -- is being planned. And she may have to face the darkest part of herself in order to unravel the mystery -- and find redemption.

— description

This is a definite case of me judging a book by its cover and being happily proven wrong.

Now, was this a WOW? No, but it kept me entertained and has definite appeal to anyone who likes ghost stories.

It's haunting, and the setting of York was all sorts of lovely. The setting seemed cold yet quaint, like I needed to snuggle up next to a fire and hide from all the ghosties lurking in Miranda’s world.

I didn’t really have an emotional connection to the story, but the ghostiness and mysteriousness of it all kept me engaged. Fans of a good “BOO!” every now and then – or even those who devour books set in England – should give it a whirl.

Anna Reads young adult book blog

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson

Girl of Fire and Thorns Rae CarsonThe Girl of Fire and Thorns
By Rae Carson

Sept. 20, 2011
Greenwillow Books, 432 pages
Source: NetGalley

Once a century, one person is chosen for greatness.

Elisa is the chosen one.

But she is also the younger of two princesses. The one who has never done anything remarkable, and can’t see how she ever will.

Now, on her sixteenth birthday, she has become the secret wife of a handsome and worldly king—a king whose country is in turmoil. A king who needs her to be the chosen one, not a failure of a princess.

And he’s not the only one who seeks her. Savage enemies, seething with dark magic, are hunting her. A daring, determined revolutionary thinks she could be his people’s savior, and he looks at her in a way that no man has ever looked at her before. Soon it is not just her life, but her very heart that is at stake.

Elisa could be everything to those who need her most. If the prophecy is fulfilled. If she finds the power deep within herself. If she doesn’t die young.

Most of the chosen do.

— description

I had some serious problems with Elisa at first:

1) She's lazy and whiny and weak.
2) I couldn't get over the fact that she reminded me of a troll doll (you'll see).

But, wow, did I ever do a 180 on this! Holy heck, this story just stunned me as I got deeper and deeper into this intense fantasy world. In time, Elisa becomes strong and brave and wild. I'm so impressed by Rae Carson for how well she pulled off such a major transformation.

And she wasn't the only deep and complex character; the large "cast" of the book was filled with intriguing and multifaceted characters. (Humberto! I love you so!) It's not often that so many characters endear themselves to me at once.

What really got me about this book was the really relatable and inspiring subplot about Elisa's struggles with her weight, body image and food addiction. It was a fresh storyline that many girls will appreciate -- I sure did.

Fantasy fans will eat this up.

Anna Reads young adult book blog

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Cold Kiss by Amy Garvey Review

Cold Kiss
By Amy Garvey

Sept. 20, 2011
HarperTeen, 304 pages
Source: Publisher

It was a beautiful, warm summer day, the day Danny died.

Suddenly Wren was alone and shattered. In a heartbroken fury, armed with dark incantations and a secret power, Wren decides that what she wants—what she must do—is to bring Danny back.

But the Danny who returns is just a shell of the boy Wren fell in love with. His touch is icy; his skin, smooth and stiff as marble; his chest, cruelly silent when Wren rests her head against it.

Wren must keep Danny a secret, hiding him away, visiting him at night, while her life slowly unravels around her. Then Gabriel DeMarnes transfers to her school, and Wren realizes that somehow, inexplicably, he can sense the powers that lie within her—and that he knows what she has done. And now Gabriel wants to help make things right.

But Wren alone has to undo what she has wrought—even if it means breaking her heart all over again.

— description

The dead are raised! Witchy things go on! But no no no, this is not your average zombie book. There's no gore, no brain-eating, no arms outstretched and chasing you.

Sure, there's zombification. A girl raises her dead boyfriend from the grave and has to deal with the consequences.

But beneath all that, it's a sad and touching story about loss and the struggle to move on. It's surprisingly relatable in that sense -- most of us know how hard it is to let go of first love. The emotions involved here were handled with delicacy and realism that was oh-so-painful.

It's a more emotionally intriguing story than I expected, but I have to admit: I did want at least SOME brain-eating. Just a taste.

Anyone wary of zombies and more interested in tales of struggle and loss will find this book an intriguing compromise.

Anna Reads young adult book blog

Monday, September 19, 2011

Top 10 Books I Feel As Though Everyone Has Read But Me

It's Top 10 Tuesday (hosted at The Broke and the Bookish) and the topic is
Top 10 Books I Feel Everyone Has Read But Me

I’m sort of alarmed by this, because I always am like “OMG I have so many books I haven't read yet”...but then when it came time to make this list I was sort of like: HOLY CRAP I HAVE READ EVERY BOOK EVER.

Exaggeration, but I guess I don’t always realize how many books I HAVE read when I’m too focused on those I’ve yet to get to. Anyway, that list of those I haven't gotten around to includes:

The YA Authors I Haven’t Touched: 
Anything by P.C. Cast, Holly Black and Ellen Hopkins

Every Other YA Blogger Has Read This: 
Matched by Ally Condie and The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Should Have Read in High School: 
Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut, The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath and Lord of the Flies by William Golding

My Book Club Doesn’t Read Traditional Books: 
The Help by Kathryn Stockett, Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen and The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

Am I missing out by not having read any of these? Or are other readers just making me feel that way?

Anna Reads young adult book blog
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