Top Ten Tuesday- Best Books So Far This Year

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

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This week we are discussing our favorite books we’ve read in 2014…so far. Big problem for me since I’ve probably spent more time re-reading books this year than I have reading new books. And honestly, there have been few that have blown me away. Here are a few that i really, really enjoyed:

 

We were Liars1. We Were Liars By e. Lockhart- I am a huge Lockhart fan. This is different for her, but I loved it. It stayed with me for days. And yeah, the big secret may not be a shocker, but the way she tells the story and conveys the pain is so good it doesn’t matter.

 

Better off friends2. Better Off Friends by Elizabeth Eulberg- Books don’t get cuter than this one.

 

Ignite Me3. Ignite Me (Shatter Me #3) by Tahereh Mafi- Good lord, the steam. I love Warner. Love him. Though this is the end of the series, it feel like the beginning of so much more.

 

these broken stars4. These Broken Stars by Aime Kaufman and Meagan Spooner- A sci-fi, a Titanic vibe, a rock-solid romance and a strange, spooky twist.

 

More Than This5. More Than This by Patrick Ness- Melancholy and odd, Ness never, ever fails to disappoint. His worlds are painful and strange, but the characters are so human, so much like ourselves, it’s impossible not to relate.

 

What I thought Was true6. What I Thought Was True by Huntley Fitzpatrick- The epitome of a summer book. Good story, sweet romance, but substance as well.

 

Biggest flirts7. Biggest Flirts by Jennifer Echols- This one was cute and highly addictive. Is it life changing? No. But it’s not meant to be. It’s fun and I couldn’t put it down.

 

Scandal8. #scandal by Sarah Ockler- Different than her other books, but compelling and fun. I loved the cast of characters and how timely it is that they struggle with the weight of stupid decisions made in the spotlight of social media.

 

husbands secret9. The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty- This was a book club pick, Adult fic at its finest. I really enjoyed it. The epilogue is the best part.

 

That’s all for now. Have a great Tuesday!

 

 

 

Top Ten Tuesday- Books For Your Beach Bag

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

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This week we are chatting up summer reads. Personally, I think a good book is good any time, but there is something about a cute, happy story, or a book with a good romance, that just SCREAMS summer. Plus, you need something to do at the beach other than pretending to be busy when you’re actually people watching (am I the only one who does this?).

beach sign

Here are a few I’d recommend:

The Princess Diaries1. The Princess Diaries series by Meg Cabot- Let’s get the obvious one out of the way, shall we? But really, these books are funny, unbelievably cute, and you can read them in a single sitting. And then you’ll want to contact me and be like, OMG I get it now! I look like I swallowed a sock (see? You had to be there).

Summer I Turned Pretty2. The Summer series by Jenny Han– Well, duh. The name says it all. These books are perfect because they each take place over the course of the summers that Belly (trust me, you’ll get past the name) spends at the family beach house of Conrad and Jeremiah Fisher. These are the boys she’s loved all her life, in the house she’s grown up visiting every summer. When she turns fifteen both boys begin to see her as something other than a kid sister (she’s not their sister, because that would be gross). Also, I dare you not to love Conrad Fisher. He’s a little douchy at first, but trust me. You’ll fall for him slowly.

We were Liars3. We Were Liars by E. Lockhart– I loved this book. The review is still to come. It takes place on a private island owned by the Sinclair family. Yes, they are THAT filthy, stinking rich. But with that money, with that privileged family, comes sadness, and love, and an interesting twist.

 

Better off friends4. Better Off Friends by Elizabeth Eulberg– This book does not take place over the summer, nor is it set on a beach. But it’s being described as a YA When Harry Met Sally. Two best friends who fall in love. What could be cuter than that?

What I thought Was true5.  What I Thought Was True by Huntley Fitzpatrick– Definitely a summer book. This one takes place in a small seaside town. There’s a rich vs. poor element, there are family secrets and a protagonist with a past, and there’s a great love story. Fitzpatrick is particularly gifted at writing authentic love stories. Don’t miss this one.

My Life Next Door6. My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick– While you’re at it, don’t miss her debut novel either. It’s pretty perfect as summer love stories go.

Book of Broken Hearts7. The Book of Broken Hearts by Sarah Ockler– I loved this book. It is heartbreaking in many ways, but there is a beautiful love story here. There’s also a sweet romance, but at the heart of it is a story about a girl’s love for her ailing father.

the truth about forever8. Anything by Sarah Dessen- My personal favs will always be The Truth About Forever and This Lullaby, but you could probably pick any one and be happy. Her books are the essence of summer: good heroines and swoony guys, all set in a small town. She doesn’t shy away from issues, but she always leaves you feeling hopeful in the end.

Biggest flirts9. Biggest Flirts by Jennifer Echols– Oh, this one is cute and sexy and funny. I haven’t read all of her books, but this is by far the one I’ve enjoyed most. And I really, really love the two main characters. They have good chemistry and their banter is so cute that I kept finding myself with a big, stupid grin on my face.

This is What Happy Looks Like10. This is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith– Adorable. A. DOR. A. BLE. Just read it.

 

What’s Going in MY Beach Bag?

To All the BoysTo All The Boys I Loved Before by Jenny Han– I haven’t read this and must rectify this immediately because Jenny Han is a YA goddess.

Scandal#Scandal by Sarah Ockler– Ditto. I always love her books. She is a fantastic writer. And the premise is so timely (a girl gets caught kissing her BFF’s boyfriend and her life goes haywire thanks to social media).

Gods and MonstersDreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor– I hate saying goodbye. Sniff. This is an amazing series. I’m so sad it’s over.

ChampionChampion by Marie Lu– We’ve owned this for about fifty years, but I can’t bring myself to move on. I am so bad at leaving a series I love behind.

The OneThe One by Kiera Cass– Yeah, what I said about the last two books.

 

Have a great Tuesday and Happy Reading!

 

 

Top Ten Tuesday- Reasons Michael Moscovitz is the Fake Man of My Dreams

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

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It’s been a while since I’ve participated, I know. But this week is a freebie topic, so what better time to discuss my favorite book boyfriend ever (though there are many I love) than today?

Michael Moscovitz of The Princess Diaries series is hands down my ultimate book boyfriend and no one, outside of my hubby, will ever compare. In fact, I have a confession to make: when I read articles or reviews where other women profess their undying love for him I giggle and agree with them, but in my head I think he belongs to me alone. Because he does.

I can’t believe I just admitted that…moving on.

So let’s get to it. Be warned, if you have not finished this series, there are many spoilers here.

TOP TEN REASONS MICHAEL MOSCOVITZ IS THE FAKE MAN OF MY DREAMS

 

Talk nerdy to me1.He’s smart– In the early books, as we get to know Michael, we find out that he’s a genius. He’s in the computer club, he tutors Mia in Algebra, he makes her a Segway Human Transporter, and later, he goes to Japan to work on a robotic arm. The one he invented, because he’s the smartest boy in the world.  And we all know that smart= supremely hot.

 

2. He’s in a band- Though they eventually part ways because of college and other issues, Michael is in a band where he plays guitar and writes his own music. He even kind of flirts with Mia before they’re going out and tries to hint that he likes her by playing a song about a tall pretty girl who doesn’t know he loves her. (I KNOW!). And later, when they’re dating, Michael’s band, Skinner Box, plays her a song at school for her birthday and it’s called, wait for it, Princess of My Heart. I would have been in a puddle. Right there. Me. On the floor.

Boys in Books3. Michael is not super-clingy– Initially, Michael and Mia are friends. In fact, as the brother of her BFF, he’s one of her best friends. He sits at lunch with her sometimes, but not always. In fact, even when they start dating, Michael isn’t that guy who has to be with her every moment. He still eats with his Computer Club some days, he doesn’t care when she has princess responsibilities or things to do with her friends. He realizes that they can be together and have their own lives. I love this about him because it shows how secure he is.

4. He gets that Mia can freak out– I mean first, she has no clue he likes her, then she sends him these secret admirer cards with chocolate dipped strawberries on them, and later, even though they’re dating, she thinks he only loves her as friends. We won’t even get into the sexy dance or the Judith Gershner fiasco. Mia is young and a little prone to freak outs. She does kooky things. But Michael knows that playing with her little brother soothes her. Michael knows the smell of his neck (Tide and Ivory soap) makes Mia feel better. He doesn’t think she’s weird or a freak. Even more, he realizes that Mia doesn’t always see her awesomeness clearly. Michael sees it all; he gets it, and he loves her for it.

5. He’s mature– Michael is very sensible. He’s responsible. He, unlike his beloved girlfriend, is not prone to moments of pure spazziness. He sees how totally nuts her life is, what a circus Mia’s family can be, and he just goes with the flow, takes it all in stride. Her grandmother gets a busboy fired at Mia’s birthday dinner and causes a city-wide strike? No big deal. His sister is  now cheating on her boyfriend at Mia’s birthday party with said busboy? Bring on the Cheetos.  Michael doesn’t let it get to him. He is a solid force in Mia’s life. And later, when things get sticky, Michael isn’t dramatic about it all. He considers Mia, what’s best for her, and does the right thing even when it’s difficult for both of them.

Star Wars6. He loves Star Wars– There is no more I can say about a man who not only loves Star Wars, but quotes it with his girlfriend. I would have been sold on this alone.

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This is kind of how I picture adult Michael. And I’m so OK with that.

7. The Looks– Mia describes Michael as the third-hottest guy in school. I don’t know if fellow students actually think he’s hot , other than the fact that Mia and Tina discuss his cuteness a few times. I do know this: his hair is a tiny bit too long because he never has time to cut it, it’s dark and a little curly, and he has dark brown eyes. Hello, gorgeous, right? Also, we do know that when Michael appears in the final book, he’s bulked up a bit and even Trisha and Lana think he’s crazy hot. They even compare him to Christian Bale from Batman. We saw it all along though, I’m just sayin.

8. He’s Supportive– Michael is a secure guy. If Mia has to go to a princess function and their date is canceled, he’s cool. He’ll plan something else for them. If Mia is being given a guilt trip by Lilly about the excesses of her family’s wealth, he tells Lilly to shut up  and then spouts off statistics about Genovia being one of the best places to live in the world. He’s the one who helps her figure out she wants to be a writer, he’s the first to read her manuscript, he’s the guy who encourages her to go to Sarah Lawrence. Michael makes it clear he believes in Mia and supports her in this crazy life she leads.

MM Not Sorry9. He’s Forward– Michael knew she was dating Kenny (he wasn’t Kenneth yet), but he still created that computer program for her. He knew she was uncomfortable and insecure, especially when the sex talks started coming up and he told her straight out: you’re the girl I want to be with. And that boy meant FOREVER. And later, when she was with JP, he wasted no time letting Mia know how he felt about her. He flirted with her, he sent a robotic arm to Genovia to help in her father’s election, and though Mia tried to make it a friendly thing, he made sure she knew it wasn’t mere friendship that was on his mind. Michael never, at any time in the series, let there be a doubt about his feelings for Mia.

10. He created a robotic arm to prove to the world that he was worthy of dating her- And yeah, sure, it was to his own benefit and it was this amazing thing that was such an advancement for heart surgeons and their patients. BUT HE MADE IT BECAUSE HE LOVED HER.

11. He saved her snowflake necklace- I loved this part of the story. It showed that it meant something to him and that he hoped one day to give it back to her.

I really could go on. But I won’t. I’ve solidified my geek status today.

If you haven’t already, go out and read a PD book and fall in love with Michael today (just remember that I loved him first). Sigh.

 

Happy Tuesday!

Top Ten Tuesday- Unique Books

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

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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!

 

Love Triangles

Love-Triangle-crpI want to have a quick chat about love triangles. How do you all feel about them?

Generally, I have to admit, they annoy me. I don’t mind when a girl is leaving a guy, or getting over a guy, or realizing a guy isn’t all that, and ends up falling for another. In cases like those, it’s not really a love triangle as much as it’s just life. People grow up, their eyes open, they grow apart, they move on (hopefully to bigger and better things).

You always choose Mark Darcy. Always.

For example: You always choose Mark Darcy. Always.

What I hate is the idea that a girl can be desperately in love with two people at once. Where it can drag on for books, and books, and books. First, this is because I just do not believe a girl can love two people at once. She can love one and be attracted to another. She can lust them both. She can love one as a friend. She can be in the process of getting over someone she once loved while falling for someone new. But to me love is very much a choice. We can’t help who we’re attracted to, or who we initially “fall” for, and yet the decision to love them means choosing them above everyone else. It means, Bella, that even though your wolf buddy has a nice pack,  maybe you’re just human (for now) and see what every other person in the world sees: nice abs. Or maybe not.  But to be absolutely in love with two people? I say no way.

DF-10639

There are two choices here: Edward or Nobody. Either is fine with me.

This is something that drives me bananas. The drawing out. The agony. The Who Will She Choose? The Which Boy is Better?  I mean, does anyone you know really have these problems? Two insanely hot guys who want to fight over them? It’s not an issue I ever had or wanted. I like my love story with my one boy thankyouverymuch.

And then there are  endings. I realize there is no way to please everyone and that an author has to be true to her heart, but there are certain characters who are just supposed to end up together. They go together. If Mia from The Princess Diaries series (SPOILER ALERT) had not ended up with Michael Moscovitz (Fake Man of My Dreams) and instead wound up with that dry cleaning fluid smelling corn hater JP, my world would have been broken. At least for a little while.

Why did she get on that plane?

Why did she get on that plane?

So what’s the best way to resolve a love triangle in your book? Some people kill off characters, which I feel is a major cop out. Some make one guy so utterly horrible that the MC would be an absolute crazypants for choosing anyone but the other guy (raising a couple of questions: 1. Was he always an a-hole and if so, why was she ever attracted to him? Or 2. Why did he suddenly change?).  Then, some people just fall into step together without a choice, like Katniss and (SPOILER ALERT) Peeta (don’t even get me started on Gale’s craptastic ending. He turned into a war-hungry douche and I still preferred him). And there are the worst: The girls who get both guys. I’m referring to a trilogy that just concluded which will remain nameless. That ending inflamed me with total grumpiness because at the very least, she shouldn’t get both guys.

Because while I've always been Team Damon this has really gone one for too long. Are there no other boys?

Because while I’ve always been Team Damon, this has really gone on for too long. Seriously, are there NO other boys?

Recently, I read the finale to a series I loved. And it had an epic love triangle. I was very satisfied with the ending because it was very clear who the MC should be with. There was no question. For me, by the second book there was no doubt. But for so many I’ve spoken to that’s not the case. So did I like it because it went the way I wanted it to for my team? Maybe. Mostly I think it’s because the writer did a good job convincing me to love one guy over another. I’m willing to do that. I’m willing to fall in love with a different book character if the author convinces me. This happened in The Queen of Babble series by Meg Cabot (if you haven’t read them, do it. They’re adorable).

So really, what do I want? I guess I want love stories–even ones set in dystopic worlds, even ones with paranormal creatures, even ones with the most fantastical backdrops–to be more authentic. I want to see girls like Lenny in The Sky is Everywhere, who makes mistakes with one boy but clearly loves another. Or Aura from The Shade trilogy, who really loved her boyfriend–but he died. And she falls genuinely in love with someone else despite that pull she’ll always feel to her old boyfriend’s ghost. Or stories like Better Off Friends, where there’s only one boy (because even with one person, sometimes it takes time to get there). Those, typically, are my favorites.

I didn’t realize when I began this that I had so much to say. Whew! Thanks for listening!

These Broken Stars

These Broken Stars (Starbound Book#1) by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

these broken starsIt’s a night like any other on board the Icarus. Then, catastrophe strikes: the massive luxury spaceliner is yanked out of hyperspace and plummets into the nearest planet. Lilac LaRoux and Tarver Merendsen survive. And they seem to be alone. Lilac is the daughter of the richest man in the universe. Tarver comes from nothing, a young war hero who learned long ago that girls like Lilac are more trouble than they’re worth. But with only each other to rely on, Lilac and Tarver must work together, making a tortuous journey across the eerie, deserted terrain to seek help. Then, against all odds, Lilac and Tarver find a strange blessing in the tragedy that has thrown them into each other’s arms. Without the hope of a future together in their own world, they begin to wonder—would they be better off staying here forever? Everything changes when they uncover the truth behind the chilling whispers that haunt their every step. Lilac and Tarver may find a way off this planet. But they won’t be the same people who landed on it.  (Goodreads)

The Story:

Lilac is the daughter of the wealthiest man in the universe. Tarver is a highly respected soldier. They see each other one night aboard the Icarus ( a spaceship) and they flirt briefly, Tarver having no idea of Lilac’s real identity.  Lilac recognizes that her father would never approve of Tarver and so she changes her tune and treats him with scorn in front of her friends. Tarver leaves, understandably annoyed. Their worlds are too different, their station in life dictates where they should go and who they can fall for. No one knows this better than Lilac.

Fate throws them together once more when the Icarus begins to fall from the sky. As people scramble to find safety hatches, the sci-fi equivalent of a lifeboat, Lilac and Tarver jump into one and flee the ship before it crashes. They land on an uncharted planet to find that they are the only survivors of the crash, and worse, they seem to be completely alone on the planet.

As they struggle to survive and make their way to the wreckage of the Icarus in the hope of finding a rescue team–no doubt in their minds that Lilac’s father has sent one–they begin to notice eerie things about this new planet. They see odd things and hear whispers. It feels almost as if there are ghosts or spirits drawing them further in. The question remains: can they trust these voices or are they going insane? Through it all they become closer, desperate to save themselves and uncertain what the future holds.

My Thoughts:

Oh, yeah. I loved this book. It was so unique, so fun, so crazy different. It has this wonderful love story (no insta-love here, people. These two actually fall in love over time. It’s like a breath of fresh air). There’s the whole space/sci-fi aspect and then, of course, there’s this crazy mystery. More than once I found myself going WHAT. THE. WHAT?  But in a good way.

The beginning setup reminded me a bit of Titanic, if I’m quite honest. I haven’t read any other reviews, so I’m not sure if this is a common thing people are saying, but I liked this element.

You have Lilac, the rich girl, drawn to the boy she just shouldn’t love.

Titanic-Winslet Then there’s Tarver, an amazing guy in his own right, but one without the proper status.

JackAnd we all know what happens on the ship…

Sinking-Titanic-titanic-25510772-450-255Only this story is extra-awesome because the Icarus is a spaceship (albeit with quite an odd name).  After these similarities, the story is nothing like Titanic, but I really liked that initial vibe.

This book is well-written, told from the alternating perspectives of Tarver and Lilac (which I LOVE), and it has great tension. There are several moments that are intriguing, a serious OMG moment near the end, and together I think it all made for an excellent book.

Crush Intensity: 4.75/5 This is the first in a trilogy and I’m definitely excited to see where this series takes us.

Where’d I Get It: The library!

A Valentine for You

I know I’ve been the worst blogger this week.

mailboxesI’ve been busy doing Valentine things (because I’m that person who has little mailboxes for everyone in her family and I have to put something cute in them every single day to tell my people they’re my loves, big and small).

The_Lego_Movie_posterAlso, I was hanging with the family on our extra long weekend, watching The Lego Movie. Have you seen it? Did you spend several hours afterward singing “Everything Is Awesome”? I may have.

Girl Scout CookiesAlso, as is typical this time of year, I’ve been out selling Girl Scout cookies with my troops. Okay, and eating them. Alot of them.

Cool quizAnd then I took this obviously flawed Buzzfeed quiz. Whatever.

But I’ve also been reading. And thinking about all the reviews I have to write but don’t feel like doing haven’t gotten around to yet. I have a fabulous author interview coming up next week with my SC group, and I have a couple of books I read recently and loved that I’m excited to share with you. So, I’ve fallen short as a blogger this week, but I hope you know I’m thinking of you guys. Thanks for reading.

Here’s something adorable I saw on Facebook and Pinterest today. Enjoy.

Dementor valentine

Have a wonderful Valentine’s Day!

Defy

Defy by Sara B. Larson

DefyAlexa Hollen is a fighter. Forced to disguise herself as a boy and serve in the king’s army, Alex uses her quick wit and fierce sword-fighting skills to earn a spot on the elite prince’s guard. But when a powerful sorcerer sneaks into the palace in the dead of night, even Alex, who is virtually unbeatable, can’t prevent him from abducting her, her fellow guard and friend Rylan, and Prince Damian, taking them through the treacherous wilds of the jungle and deep into enemy territory.

The longer Alex is held captive with both Rylan and the prince, the more she realizes that she is not the only one who has been keeping dangerous secrets. And suddenly, after her own secret is revealed, Alex finds herself confronted with two men vying for her heart: the safe and steady Rylan, who has always cared for her, and the dark, intriguing Damian. With hidden foes lurking around every corner, is Alex strong enough to save herself and the kingdom she’s sworn to protect? (Goodreads)

The Story:

To save her from an uncertain future as a woman under the rule of their king, Alexa’s twin brother convinces her to live as a boy. Together they serve in the king’s army as personal guard to his son, Prince Damian. Alexa, now known as Alex, becomes adept at living as a man, even rising the ranks to be considered the fiercest warrior among her group. She earns the respect and trust of her counterparts as well as of the Prince himself, who keeps her close as a favored guard.

Even though Alex is strong and wise, she can’t outdo a powerful sorcerer who enters the castle one night, taking the Prince, herself and her fellow guard, Rylan, captive. It seems as though she and Rylan will be unable to save the Prince as they’re marched through the jungle toward an ominous future. Through this journey Alex struggles to keep her identity a secret and has to hide her attraction to Prince Damian. She’s not entirely sure who she can trust and she has to be on her game, ready to fight at any given moment.

My Thoughts:

I really liked this book. In fact, I was very puzzled to read some of the negative reviews I saw on Goodreads (they’re not all negative. Most are very good).Yes, there have been comparisons made between this book and the story of Mulan. I get it. Girl dresses up as a boy and lives life as a soldier. But that’s the end of the similarities there ( I think. I’m no Mulan expert, trust me). To me, there was something here that reminded me a tiny bit of Graceling. Maybe it’s because Alex was a very strong heroine, both in her moral character and in her physical abilities, much like Katsa.

In any case, I thought Defy, apart from any comparisons made, was an excellent book. There is a lot here, between Alex’s story as she hides her true identity, the Prince’s family and his story, the kingdom itself and the corruption that lives there, and of course, the dear friend Rylan who’s in love with Alex (he knows she’s a girl). At its heart, Defy is a love story. There are great moments of tension and kissing, there are questions about loyalty and where Alex’s heart should go. I loved every part of it, from the fights, to the uncertainty about who to trust, to the actual romance. This was a good ride.

Crush Intensity: 4.5/5 This one is fun. I’m eagerly anticipating more.

Thank you to Net Galley and Scholastic for providing me an e-galley of this book!

Final Note:

I don’t normally read GR reviews unless my friends have written them, but again, I was astounded at some of the things people where saying about this book.

In the beginning we find out that Alex, in changing her identity, is saved from the fate of every other orphan girl of the kingdom: life in a breeding house. This where the corrupt king and those men who truly serve him, rape and harm young girls in order to breed future soldiers. It horrifying to read and imagine, but that’s clearly how it’s meant to be perceived; that’s how the author conveys it. At no time does it seem like Larson is glorifying that portion of the story or is saying that’s all women are good for, in fact, in Alex’s life she’s showing that women have great strength and potential. Alex is the strongest soldier, able to beat anyone. Yes, she internally lusts after the hot shirtless prince more than once. Know why? She’s a teenage girl. With…gasp…hormones. Her attraction to a guy doesn’t make her any less of a strong woman. It doesn’t affect her ability to do the right thing. On the contrary. Alex can be all girl, can fall in love (or lust) with a boy and still kick ass.

I thought Larson very clearly showed the difference between women who are oppressed by men and women who are able to fly free. This book is obviously not a vote of support for rape or breeding houses. It’s not saying that girls can’t be around guys without drooling overt their shirtless abs. It’s a story. Simple as that. And a good one. But I guess everyone is entitled to their opinion.

Stepping off the soapbox now.

Top Ten Tuesday- Major Feels Ahead

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

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Maybe random TV commercials make you cry. Or maybe it’s the sight of ET saying “I’ll be riiiight heeeere ” ( sniff).  Everyone needs a good cry.  There are the cries that are simply just watery eyes threatening to overflow. There are the cries that come with laughter because you can’t believe something so incredibly silly is making you blubber. And then there are the big ones, the ugly cries with sobs and snot and Kleenex. Everyone has those sometimes.

Well, my friends, if you’re in a need of a good cry, I have some books for you.

If I Stay1. If I Stay by Gayle Forman— Ugh. The beautiful pain. The scene with Grandpa telling Mia it’s okay to let go and die…they’ll be all right? KILLS ME. Or the memory of reading Harry Potter to little Teddy? SOB. Make it stop.

The Fault in Our Stars2. The Fault In Our Stars by John Green–Oh, the freaking heartbreak that you knew, you knew was coming all along, but you read it anyway. It was so worth it you’d read it again and again. At least, I would (and do).

Book of Broken Hearts3. The Book of Broken Hearts by Sarah Ockler– This is a smaller cry, little tears throughout, as you slowly watch Jude witness her father disappearing day by day as his Early Onset Alzheimer’s steals him away. (There is much sweetness and happiness in this book too though).

The Book Thief4.  The Book Thief by Markus Zusak– The pain. There are a million moments in this book, some are small tears and some are big ones, but they have a profound impact either way.

When You Were Mine5. When you Were Mine by Rebecca Serle- This is a retelling of Romeo & Juliet, so it’s not like the ending was a big secret, right? But I cried. I mean, like bawled. I don’t know why really, I just couldn’t stop the waterworks (I mean, it’s just so tragic!). I woke my husband up with my tears. I contemplated e-mailing Serle at 12:30 at night when I finished reading (I ended up waiting until the next day so as to appear less crazy. Probably didn’t work). It was a good, painful cry though, complete with aches over that sad ending and satisfaction that the book was so well-done.

Knife of Never Letting Go6. The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness– One word: Manchee. It makes me want to cry right now.

Sky Paperback7. The Sky Is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson– The grief in this book is beautifully done because yes, it’s painful, and you see the way it affects the family, but there’s wonderful humor here that gets you through the rough times too. It’s a perfect balance.

Deathly Hallows8. Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling–Maybe part of me cried because it was all over, but the resolution, finding out the truth about why it happened the way that it did, seeing Harry at the very end when we thought we’d lost him, realizing all those lives we really had lost…it was perfect. It was a cry of satisfaction, I think.

Jellicoe Road9. Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta– Sigh. It’s just so good. I can’t even put it into words.

Saving Francesca10. Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta– This one got me in the very end. I vividly remember reading it in the middle of the night, sprawled out on the sofa in our playroom, as the rest of the family slept in the bedrooms. I read a certain part, put my hand over my mouth and cried. And cried some more–but in a very good way.  It was excellent and so worth the wait.

I'll Be There11. I’ll Be There By Holly Goldberg Sloan– Oh, this one. I love it. It gets to your heart in so many places–romantic love, familial love, sibling bonds, tragedy…it’s all there.

Night12. Night by Elie Wiesel– A true account of the author’s time as a boy in a concentration camp with his father. It’s so stark and brutally honest. Wiesel is so brave to let us see his imperfection and pain. This is a must-read.

Happy Tuesday! Go on now. Have a good cry!

Top Ten Tuesday- Wishlist

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

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Well, it’s feels like forever since I’ve done a Top Ten Tuesday. I know, I’m sorry. I’ve been lacking in the list-making department.  But never fear. Today I’m ready to tackle this week’s subject: My Reading Wishlist. This can be regarding more from a particular author, certain issues tackled, etc.

So let’s get to it!

I Heart MM1. You know what’s coming, right? But I have to say it. Have. To.

Michael Moscovitz. I want more of Michael Moscovitz Fake Man of My Dreams. So this goes out specifically to Meg Cabot: I need more Princess Diaries. I know the series has wrapped, but I reread it a couple of times a year in its entirety, then I pick up individual books from the series at random (so pretty much, I’m always reading a PD book). I need more.

love to laugh2. Funny Books- I love books that make me laugh out loud. I respect the fact that most authors say it’s more difficult to make someone laugh than it is to make them cry. I believe that. But I want to laugh. I want to giggle. I want to read smart funny, witty funny, silly funny, goofy funny…just funny.

kissing books3. More kissing books- There really isn’t a shortage here, I just like them and will never tire of a sweet romance. NEV- EEEER. And can we take out that whole thing where Good Girl is paired in Bio labs with Bad Boy/Mysterious Hot New Guy in School? It’s been done. I’m open to anything else though.

boarding schools4. More Boarding School Settings- I probably never would have survived boarding school, but I like to think I would have been the Frankie Landau Banks of any school I attended. Humor me here (because it’s so NOT true. I am a rule follower all the way).

Hermione5. Speaking of Frankie, I’d like more girls who kick butt. I don’t just mean physically tough girls (those are great too), but girls who outsmart everyone. We need more girls like that.

Clueless6. Best Friend Stories- I love a good romance, but sometimes I just want to read a girl story about the ups and downs of friendship. Not boy/girl friendship (which I also love, hello adorable), but tried and true BFFs who share makeup and have sleepovers and who know everything about each other. I’d love to see more of that.

Paris7. Fish out of Water Stories- I love books about people adjusting to life in a new place (like Anna and the French Kiss). I can’t move to a new city. In fact, I’m a stay at home mom; I can’t fly to a new city. I want to visit a new place, get to know it like a local, all through the eyes pf my protagonist.

Harry P8. Wizards- I know there’s no one who can do it like JK Rowling, but I’d love more books about wizards. I’m not a huge genre Fantasy fan, but I could get behind a good wizard story again.

Boys in Books9. Boy’s POV- I really love a boy’s perspective. I especially love it if it’s a love story. Alternating perspectives, his and hers versions, work for me too. I just really enjoy getting into a boy’s head. If it’s done well it’s fascinating.

ryan_ya10. Contemporary YA- I love YA, obviously. I love everything about it. We’ve seen our vampire stages and fallen angels stages and plenty of mermaids, and dystopias. There has been good (and bad) in every facet of YA, but I can never get enough stories about normal girls, ones without superpowers or a wolf fetish (because really. I still don’t get it. It’s like falling in love with your dog) or who live in worlds that have survived some kind of apocalypse. These are all great, interesting things, but show me a girl who has a funny after school job and a crush on her co-worker, let me get to know a girl whose just lost her best friend or whose life has been rocked by tragedy, and I’ll get sucked in almost every time.

And what about you? Anything you’re wishing for?