Top Ten Tuesday- Unique Books

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and The Bookish.

toptentuesday

Well helloooooooo there!  Sorry I’ve been MIA lately. My family was on Spring Break for two weeks which means lots of Disneyland, lots of junk food, too many play dates and sleepovers, and well, lots of hanging out in our pjs. There was little time to read, let alone blog.

But school is on and now it’s back to the business of spazzing over incredible books.

This week for TTT we are discussing books we found to be totally unique. Hello, fabulous topic! Let’s get to it.

 

Daughter of Smoke and Bone1. Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor- Maybe it’s on my mind because the third and final book in the series comes out TODAY (sniff sniff. I can’t say goodbye) but really it’s because this book is made of awesome. He’s an angel. She’s been raised by chimaera. There’s this beautiful back story. Karou is a wonderfully strong heroine and her forbidden love story with Akiva is breathtaking. Also, Taylor’s writing is so witty and poetic. If you haven’t picked up this book, do it soon.

 

these broken stars2. These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner- It’s a sci-fi. It’s a love story. It’s got a creepy ghost vibe. I loved this book.

 

More Than This3. Anything by Patrick Ness- I love his Chaos Walking series. When I try to describe it to someone I totally stumble all over it because it’s sci-fi, it’s dystopic in a way, it’s a survival story.  It’s a story of friendship. It’s pretty much perfect. And now, after recently reading More Than This, I can honestly say that Ness is a stellar writer with a way of telling crazy, odd stories and making the characters who live them seem so very real, so much like you or me.

 

Pawn4. Pawn by Aimee Carter- In a time where we are being overrun with dystopian societies in our YA books, along comes a fun new series about a girl who is surgically enhanced to take the place of a dead royal and who, in doing so, becomes a part of a large rebellion.

 

The Raven Boys5. The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater- What a totally unique setting with a cast of interesting, strange characters. Pair that with Stiefvater’s beautiful writing and it’s pretty much unputdownable.

 

Shadow and Bone6. Shadow & Bone by Leigh Bardugo- Bardugo is a gifted storyteller, creating a brand-new world of magic and lore. The descriptions and characters are richly done and the main characters–good and bad–earned my loyalty early on.

 

Burn for Burn7.  Burn for Burn by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian- This one has three girls who band together to plot revenge against the kids who make them miserable. It’s not your typical high school story though. This one takes an interesting twist.

 

Wither8. Wither by Lauren DeStefano- Here is another dystopic world and yet it manages to be different. There’s a disease killing of most people in their twenties (I can’t recall the exact age it occurs) so young women are kidnapped and used as the wives (plural) for young men in order to continue family lines and allow the older generations (who are unaffected by the disease) to work on a cure. One of the great things about this book is that DeStefano makes you sympathize with–even like–one of the “bad guys.” Sure, he ends up not being so, so bad in comparison to others in the book, but you end up liking him all the same despite the fact that he’s a guy whose wives are prisoners on his estate.

 

Bumped9. Bumped by Megan McCafferty- This is a dysoptic with a satirical side to it. It’s crass and funny and inspired by a world obsessed with shows like 16 and Pregnant. It’s definitely worth checking out, but it’s not necessarily for the faint of heart or those easily offended.

 

Across the Universe10. Across the Universe by Beth Revis-I loved this book. It’s a sci-fi and a love story with a heavy dose of WHAT THE WHAT thrown in. It’s sort of like an episode of The Twilight Zone (which I love).

 

That’s all for now.

 

Happy Tuesday!

 

Top Ten Tuesday- Kick Ass Heroines

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by those kick-ass ladies over at The Broke and The Bookish.  This week we’re talking about the kick-assedness (yes, it’s a word) of some of our favorite heroines.

Here are my absolute favs:

1. Frankie Landau Banks, The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau Banks– Butt kickers are fabulous, but give me a girl who uses her incredible smarts to take over the all-boys secret society at her school (because she didn’t like being excluded) AND who makes up words like gruntled (the opposite of disgruntled. How can you be disgruntled and not be gruntled?) any day.  This girl is bright, she’s funny and yet she’s still awkward and so realistic what with her insecurities and the fact that she cares too much what her lame-o boyfriend thinks, but every girl should aspire to find their inner Frankie.

2. Mia Thermopolis, The Princess Diaries– She may be awkward and shy, but this girl knows what she wants, she knows what she needs to do, and she always, always finds a way to do it. Again, Mia is not the girl who’s going to beat everyone up or who will finish the race first, but she overcomes huge obstacles, she ends up living out her adolescence in view of a watching world, she (spoiler alert) brings democracy to a country that has never known it AND she even figures out a way to get her prom-hater boyfriend to put on a tux and take her to his senior prom.  Mia’s got it all in the bag, she just doesn’t know it.

3. Katsa, Graceling– She’s a more fierce heroine. Katsa is skilled with the gift of killing people.  She’s an assassin for an evil king. She’s fearless. And when she has to forsake her king (she knows he’s bad news) and do the right thing, she does it without question. And finally, Katsa isn’t the girl who needs the fairytale ending to live happily ever after.  She chose a different path than I would have, but she made that decision unapologetically and I love her for it.  She is what feminism is about (not because of the choice she made, but because she went against the grain and did what she wanted).

4. Katniss, The Hunger Games– Well, if she’s not bad-ass then I don’t know who is.  She saved her sweet little sister from The Games, she saved Peeta and she gave President Snow the ultimate inyourface (at the end of the first games).  While the series didn’t end perfectly, and Lord knows this girl dumb as a hammer when it comes to guys, I always admired her strength. Had I been in her position, I would have hidden in a tree and cried until someone captured me.  But not Katniss. Hell no.

5. Isaboe, Finnikin of The Rock– What a fabulous book, with a stellar story and an unbelievably good romance. Isaboe showed such bravery and such passion. She was absolutely my favorite character in that book, both for her willingness do anything to see their home restored and for her love for Finnikin.  This girl is fierce while still maintaining such grace in the face of tragedy and against seemingly insurmountable odds.

6. Taylor Markham, Jellicoe Road– Taylor has a side to her that is recklessly devoted in her love for Hannah (her caretaker) and her mother. It’s this drive that pushes her to find answers about her life and her family.  And it’s this relentless love/hate thing she has for Jonah Griggs, one of the biggest bad-ass literary guys ever, that is a beautiful perk in the story of a girl who so desperately needs her mom. It seems simple and yet there is so much to this painfully flawed girl.

7. Clary Fray, The Mortal Instruments series- Clary is willing to go to those dark corners and creepy places I would never dare to.  She wants to fight as a Shadow Hunter, a life that was at one time foreign to her. She’ll do anything to protect her family, her best friend Simon or her loverboy Jace (and you would too). And even though she’s tiny, I have a feeling she could kick your butt and mine.

8. Jane Eyre– The ultimate feminist chick before feminist chicks were in existence.  And Jane isn’t in your face about it. She doesn’t have to preach about not needing a man or a family. She loves Mr. Rochester, despite the odds.  And yet, even though it’s so painful, she leaves his home because she needs to; she has to.  It’s the only option for someone like her (someone with morals, someone with integrity and self-respect).  And she proves to herself that she can make it without him, she just likes life better with him.  I love that story.

9. Elizabeth Bennet, Pride and Prejudice– A poor girl who wanted to marry for love in a time when marrying for love didn’t happen very often. AND she was willing to turn down not one but two marriage proposals, one from a super-hot, extremely rich Mr. Darcy (because he was rude and deserved a big SO THERE).  She was a lady in every way and yet she never failed to say exactly what was on her mind.

10. Viola, The Chaos Walking series- Oh this poor girl who orphaned from the moment the story begins.  Though she doesn’t know Todd, the young boy who is shocked to find her outside of town, she decides to trust him. They aren’t even sure they like each other, but they each have a common goal: to get away from Prentisstown and the people who seek to kill them both.  Throughout this series, both Todd and Viola risk life and limb for each other, but I especially love Viola, how even though she can hear every thought racing through Todd’s head, how even when they are separated and Todd does some questionable things, she believes in his goodness and she’ll do anything to save him. I’d love to see this girl when she grows into a woman because I know she’s be amazing.

Top Ten Tuesday- For People Who Like …

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. This week we are blabbing about books for people who like_________. Fill in the blanks. Now, we all know that everyone is going to do The Hunger Games. I am too (sort of) because HOLY CRAP THERE ARE SO MANY GOOD DYSTOPIANS OUT THERE (and because I recently did a TTT about retellings, further showing my inability/unwillingness to plan ahead)!!! But mostly it’s because there are so many good dystopians, I swear.

Anyhoo, I’m first going to list my books for HG peeps, but I’m also doing a second list for those who like funny, girly reads.First, we’ll tackle the serious stuff:

TOP TEN EIGHT BOOKS FOR HUNGER GAMES FANS

1. Divergent by Veronica Roth- Well that’s a huge duh, right?

2. Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi- Oh yes, this was fantastic, especially because there was a great deal of kissing in the shower (mind out of the gutter. All clothing was intact. The shower hid the talking/smooching sounds from prying ears. Apparently, these were some LOUD kissers).

3. Legend by Marie Lu- This was so good! Good guys vs. Bad guys only the good guys are really the bad guys and the bad guys are really the good guys. Confused?  Just read it.

4. The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater- Such a cool, somewhat dark premise. It isn’t a dystopian, but the setting, the writing, and the characters all lend themselves to that sort of feeling.  It’s excellent.

5. The Chaos Walking Trilogy by Patrick Ness Are you sick of me talking about these yet? I’ll never stop—NEVAR!!!!— because they are SO good!

6. Delirium by Lauren Oliver- I love this book. It’s so beautiful and painful. Dark like a dystopian and rich and lovely like a tragic romance.

7. Wither by Lauren DeStefano- Creepy and weird but totally addictive. And I double dog dare you not to like one of the “bad guys”, Linden.

8. The Uglies by Scott Westerfeld- Very cool, dark, Twilight Zone-ish premise.  And at the same time, some of the messages ring so true in today’s world.

AND  ONTO THE HAPPY…

TOP TEN FIVE BOOKS FOR FANS OF THE PRINCESS DIARIES (ie: funny, girly reads)

1. The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau Banks by E. Lockhart- Hello, hilarity and an awesome heroine who kicks major boy butt with her fabulous brains.

2. Freshman Year and Other Unnatural Disaster by Meredith Zeitlin- This book is so, so funny. It hits on those awkward high school moments with such painful, honest clarity.

3. Past Perfect by Leila Sales- Strong heroine who is unafraid to be a rebel and who has a hilarious inner monologue?  Sign me up.

4. The Ruby Oliver books by E. Lockhart- I don’t know how to describe them except to say, OMG, Ruby, I love you. These books are SO funny.

5. Ten Things We Did and Probably Shouldn’t Have by Sarah Mylnowski- These girls are so awesomely clueless, but I love them. I really, really do.

 

Thaz all folks.

TGIF- Comfort Books

TGIF is hosted by Ginger at GReads.  This week is a subject I love: Comfort Books.

Do you have books that you read over and over again when you need a smile or a cry or a good swoon?  I have books like that. It doesn’t matter how any times I read them, they bring me such comfort.  Sometimes old books (as in ones we’ve read so often we can recite them) are better than new ones. They’re like old friends.

When I need a smile, I always grab a Princess Diaries book. I’ve read the whole series many times, but I gravitate toward Forever PrincessPrincess in Love and The Princess Present. Still, I’ve been known to reread the whole series at once when I need a larger supply of smiles.  It’s like a big hug.

Another go-to happy book for me is Austenland by Shannon Hale. Anything that 1) references Jane Austen characters and 2)pokes lighthearted fun at Austenites is for me.  The concept here (a girl who stays at a super-secret resort which recreates Austen life, characters and fantasies that star the patrons? Hello, I’m there) is fun and the humor, the writing and the characters are completely charming.  And Mr. Nobley (the book’s Darcy)? Swoon City, baby.

Finally, a book that never ever fails to make me happy is The Truth About Forever.  It has it all: humor, friendships, Armageddon experts (ha ha), romance and one of the most swoonworthy boys ever created.

Happy Friday!

Underworld

Underworld by Meg Cabot

I love this cover. It's gorgeous. And is it just me or is that the hottest forearm ever?Seventeen-year-old Pierce Oliviera isn’t dead. Not this time.

But she’s been taken by John Hayden, lord of the Underworld, to the dim, twilit world between heaven and hell, where the spirits of the deceased wait before embarking upon their final journey.

John claims it’s for her own safety, to protect her from the Furies who yearn for vengeance against him. But John may have reasons of his own for wanting to keep Pierce close…

And soon Pierce learns that while she might be safe from the wrath of the Furies in the Underworld, the people she loves back on earth are not. Can she convince John to release her in order to save the life of someone in her family? Or will the price he asks her to pay for her freedom turn out to be too high?

(from megcabot.com)

Warning: If you haven’t read Abandon, the first book in this series…what are you waiting for?  Get on it! 

The Story:

In this second book in the planned trilogy, Pierce awakens in the arms of John—Lord of the Underworld—in his bedroom that’s, well, in the Underworld.  Oh and did I mention that he’s shirtless?  BEST BEGINNING TO A BOOK EVER!

John has taken Pierce to his home, believing that she’s safer from the threat of the Furies while under his care.  While Pierce is tantalized at the idea of being with John—the man she truly loves—she’s devastated at the thought of being away from her family, especially her mom.  Despite the fact that he’s doing it to protect her, it still feels a little like Pierce is imprisoned.  And she soon realizes that while she’s safe from harm, her family is very much at risk because the Furies will do anything to get to her—even hurt her loved ones.

Pierce fears that her cousin,  Alex , is in danger and she convinces John to travel back to Isla Huesos with her; back to a town in an uproar over the recent hurricane and over the news that Pierce Oliviera has been kidnapped by a man who looks an awful lot like John (so he’s hot, right?).

John is still crazy sexy.  Pierce is drawn to him and he to her despite the roadblocks.  But John also continues to be very mysterious.  He’s keeping secrets about his dark past, secrets that Pierce is determined to find out. Secrets that Richard, the cemetery sexton believes she needs to know.  All of it begs the question, who can she trust and where is she really the safest?  Pierce doesn’t fear John anymore, but she wonders what he’s hiding. And John seems like a good guy, but underneath there is still that part of him that will do anything to keep her by his side.

My Take:

Is it not obvious already? I loved this book.  In fact, I think I loved it even more than the first (which is saying a lot because I crushed pretty hard on that one).  It’s lush and sexy and somewhat dark, all while remaining distinctively Meg Cabot.

Underworld continues to retell the myth of Persephone, yet Cabot spins it with her signature style, creating strong yet flawed heroines and extremely swoonworthy boys,  all written with humor and just the right tough of romance.  This series is edgier than Cabot’s other books, but it’s told with the fast-paced narration we’ve come to expect from her and it’s laced with funny moments.  Also, there are a few interesting mysteries unraveling this time around.  It was completely unputdownable (this IS a word).

One of the things I really appreciated about Underworld was the relationship between Pierce and John. It’s the heart of the story. John was a total enigma in the first book—sweeping in and out and rescuing Pierce, arguing with her, and always intriguing her, while somehow remaining out of reach.  In this book he really has a chance to shine.  We get to know him better (although he still maintains an air of mystery) and we see the love and attachment between him and Pierce really develop into a true, steamy, tingle in your toes romance.  Near the end I thought the pages were going to go up in flames. That’s how good it was between those two.

And romance aside, this is just a really good story that’s well-told.  Every chapter left me hungry for more, so much so that this book hasn’t even technically come out yet and I’m already falling all over myself dying for the sequel. And for more shirtlessness, let’s be honest.

Crush Intensity– 4.75/5 Read this book and love it like I did. Crush on John, continue to root for Pierce, and enjoy the eerie vibe and the mystery as it all plays out.

Memorable Quote:

“Do you really think bringing me here is going to make them just…stop?”

Because the rest of my worries were about precisely this.

“I don’t know,” he admitted. dipping his head to press his mouth to the back of my neck [INSERT TEE’S SIGH HERE]. I felt an immediate zing all along my veins, like his lips were carbonated or something. “This is the first time I’ve ever been in love with a girl who the Furies were trying to kill. But I know there’s nothing you can do to stop them. This is exactly where you belong. Where you’ve always belonged. And where I hope you’ll consider staying…this time.”

Sneaky Peek– Underworld is in stores May 8th. Until then, check out the two chapters available on Meg’s website, including the scene above!

I want to extend a huge thank you to Scholastic (and to Meg Cabot and her team) for sending me an Advance copy of Underworld. I mean, I know she didn’t send it to me personally, but hey, a fangirl can dream, right?  Thank you!

Top Ten Tuesday- Theme Song Edition

You guys, I love the theme that the ladies over at The Broke and The Bookish have chosen for Top Ten Tuesday this week. I always love them, but this one totally speaks to my heart because I’m the girl (ok, mature-ish woman) who carries her iPod everywhere, creates playlists for everything and has to be told by my kids constantly to turn down her music.

So why was this such a hard list to make? I mean, hello, we try as often as possible to include Soundtracks to our reviews. But therein lies the problem: I’ve already listed so many (but not all) of these in reviews that they don’t feel original to me anymore.  But you know what? The songs still totally rock me.  That’s what music should do.  It should take you back to a moment or a certain emotion and it should make it come alive again.

1.  Divergent by Veronica Roth – Bleed It Out by Linkin Park. Everytime I hear this song, all I want to do is say “HOLLLLAAAAA!!!” It’s lame, I know, but it’s me.

2. The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson– Across the Universe by The Beatles.  As with most people, The Beatles are my favorite band ever.  I love the lyrics to this song.  You have definitely heard it before, but have you really listened to the words?

3. Lola and The Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins– Read My Mind by The Killers

I love this book so, so much. And I love that even though Cricket and Lola have known each other forever, there is that underlying sense of newness to them as they tiptoe toward a romantic relationship.  There’s so much hope and uncertainty and such sweetness there.  And there is a great set of lines in this song:

It’s funny how you just break down
Waitin’ on some sign
I pull up to the front of your driveway
With magic soakin’ my spine

I just love how perfectly it hits that vibe of Lola and Cricket.  They are both waiting on something and throughout the whole story, the whole relationship, there is such charm and such magic in their connection.

4. Unearthly by Cynthia Hand– Run by Snow Patrol.

Oh my goodness, have you read this book?  The words to this song fit it so perfectly.

5. Across the Universe by Beth Revis– Newborn by Muse

I loved this book like, in a crazypants way. Originally, I chose the theme from The Twilight Zone as its soundtrack (which totally still fits), but I think this song does too.

6. The Summer Books (The Summer I Turned Pretty,It’s Not Summer Without You, We’ll Always Have Summer) by Jenny Han- Smile Like You Mean it by The Killers

7. Blue Bloods by Melissa De la Cruz– Time is Running Out by Muse

I can’t take credit for this one. She put it in the book. How can I think of anything else?  Plus, it fits perfectly.

8. The Truth bout Forever by Sarah Dessen– Someday by The Strokes

9. Hourglass by Myra McEntire– If I Had a Gun by Noel Gallagher’s High lying Birds.

Lordy, I love this song.

And that’s all I’ve got! I’m looking forward to hearing everyone else’s picks.  I need some new music!

Top Ten Tuesday:The Anti-Valentine’s Day Edition

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by those awesome ladies at The Broke and The Bookish. This week we’re going Anti-Valentine’s Day by talking about books that broke our hearts a little. I’ll be honest, this is a tough one for me. I crave happy endings. I fact, I need them.  But I was able to come up with a few.

1. Princess on the Brink by Meg Cabot- Don’t laugh, but this book really made my heart sad.  When Michael left for Japan I was so devastated for Mia.  I mean, using sex to manipulate your boyfriend to stay in NYC? Sounds like a foolproof plan (or not). And yet, it didn’t work.  And don’t even talk to me about that slimy Corn Hater, JP. He was just waiting for the opportunity to slip in there. HATE HIM!

2. The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness– Now, this is not a romantic book on any level. But damn if it didn’t break my heart more than once.

3. If I Stay by Gale Forman– How many times did I cry when reading this? I can’t even count. There were so many moments: the obvious ones between Mia and Adam, of course; but the memory of Mia reading Harry Potter to Teddy or the moment when Grandpa gave his little speech to Mia. They all killed me—but in a good way. In the way that makes you feel more alive.

4. Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor– I know I’ve been talking about this book so much lately, and if you’ve read it you understand. There is so much beauty and love here and there is tragedy. There are victims of circumstance and there are victims of misunderstanding, but oh it’s so beautifully painful to watch it all play out.

5. Delirium by Lauren Oliver– I don’t want to spoil this book for anyone, but I totally burst into tears during its last moments.  It was a wonderful book all the way through, but the end—even though I knew it couldn’t be a happily ever after—it totally rocked me.

6. Mockingjay- I know most people either loved or hated this book.  I was more in the first camp, although there were things I would have done different. There were moments that really touched me (Peeta with the frosting roses) and moments that hurt to read (obviously the big event in the Capitol) but I have one word for you all: Finnick. Oh, that one hurt.

7. Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler– This book is so beautifully written and even though it’s mostly about two best friends, it begins with a common tragedy: Frankie’s older brother, Matt, has died. And Frankie doesn’t know that Matt and her best friend, Anna, were in love.  The secret and the loss create tension between the girls and their problems are very realistically portrayed…but it’s the flashbacks of Matt that are totally breathtaking.

8. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte- Don’t tell me that you didn’t cry when she left Mr. Rochester.  I don’t know if I could have done it.

9.  Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling- I’m a huge sissy la la, but my heart really broke for Harry when Sirius (SPOILER ALERT) died. Sirius was totally hot  awesome and the closest thing to family our poor little Harry had.

10. The Piper’s Son by Melina Marchetta– I adored Tom in Saving Francesca, so it totally hurt to see what a dark guy he’d become (that’s right Lloyd Dobbler School Of Wisdom, the world is full of guys. Be a man). And the family history! Marchetta is SO good at this. She weaves so many storylines together and there is a ton of tragedy and so, so much love. All of her books have broken my heart at least a little bit.