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Book Review| Me Before You – JoJo Moyes


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Published: Dec. 31, 2012
Genres: Fiction, Chick Lit
369 pages
Goodreads Rating:  4.30
My Rating: 5.0

Lou Clark knows lots of things. She knows how many footsteps there are between the bus stop and home. She knows she likes working in The Buttered Bun tea shop and she knows she might not love her boyfriend Patrick.
What Lou doesn’t know is she’s about to lose her job or that knowing what’s coming is what keeps her sane.
Will Traynor knows his motorcycle accident took away his desire to live. He knows everything feels very small and rather joyless now and he knows exactly how he’s going to put a stop to that.
What Will doesn’t know is that Lou is about to burst into his world in a riot of colour. And neither of them knows they’re going to change the other for all time.

I really only picked this up because the movie was coming out and I’d enjoyed other JoJo Moyes books in the past. Once I saw the trailer for the movie, I was a little put off. I still have yet to see the movie, but Emilia Clarke’s acting in the minute-long trailer just seemed very over the top.

I needed a good romantic book to help get me through the beginning of my husband being away due to his military career. I was completely unprepared for how much I would love this book.

WARNING: SOME SPOILERS MAY BE AHEAD

what i liked

Louisa’s Family Dynamic

Louisa’s family is very typical of a lot of families. There is a lot of love, and some repressed anger. There are secrets and intense moments of truth. Louisa’s parents, as much as they want to support her, need her to support them. It says a lot that somebody living in the United States can relate to the Clark family’s financial problems; we all know how one bad economy can affect the world.

This family was very authentic in everything they did. From the parents choosing a favorite child (even if they won’t admit it), to Louisa and Treena’s constant back-and-forth, this was one of the few literary families that didn’t feel too happy, too sad, or too melodramatic.

The Traynor Family (or,more specifically, Mrs. Traynor)
If there is anybody misunderstood in this book, I think it’s Mrs. Traynor. She loves her son the way most mothers love their sons; completely, if not a little too much. There is a constant feel of tension between the two, as if she has babied him all his life and he resents her for it. I picture the two of them at his college graduation, and she’s licking her thumb to wipe a smudge of dirt off of him or to tame a cowlick.

She is used to being the matriach, the person in charge of the family.With Will taking that power from her, I think she felt very lost. For the first time in a long time, she has no control over what is going on with her family. I think that’s why she was harsh and cold towards Louisa.

Will & Louisa

I mean, obviously. Their relationship was absolutely amazing. Starting off with an awkward meeting and continuing on until Louisa decides she is done dealing with Will’s nonsense. I think I really connected with this relationship because it wasn’t an immediate attraction. It took most of the book for the two of them to realize their feelings for each other. The wole wedding scene was so frustrating for me because all I wanted was for them to kiss and reveal their feelings. Unfortunately they were both too afraid and unsure of the other that nothing happened.

did like

The Ending

This isn’t entirely true. I liked the way the book ends. I think it’s great because it isn’t a typical happy ending. The thing I didn’t like was how quick it ended. I wish that there had been more time between the island scene and the Switzerland scene. It felt like so much was left unsaid between them and, as somebody who loves to talk and talk and talk about their feelings, it killed me.

Louisa’s Reaction on the Island

My god, girl. First, how the hell are you going to leave a man who can’t walk ON A BEACH with a lot of SAND?! IN FRONT OF PEOPLE. I get being hurt and upset and whatever, but poor, poor Will. Or, as my Spanish I class taught me, p-p-p-pobre Cenicienta. I have never felt such sadness for a character before. He depends on Louisa for so much, and he knows how much this will hurt her, but he can’t lie to her or lead her on. He knows his mind and he knows his heart. All I can picture is this poor man confined to a wheelchair, watching the woman he loves walk away from him as he tries to talk to her about this. He’s calling out for her and she’s just ignoring him. It’s not as if he can run to her, scoop her into his arms and tell her how wrong he was.

I completely understand the hurt and pain Louisa is feeling here, but my empathy lies more with Will at this point.

The Beginning

It’s not that I didn’t like the beginning so much as it just didn’t suck me in. Until Will became a larger part of the story, I felt like I was slowly trudging along. I’m not exactly sure why I could not get into it at first. Maybe it was just the whole angry, despondent feel of the book after Louisa lost her job and can’t find a new one. I am very glad I pushed through the beginning because this book literally brought tears to my eyes. final thoughts

Concerning the Controversy

I am not in any way shape or form trying to say how people should feel. When the movie first came out, a lot of people were angry and called it something along the lines of, “suicide porn.” People were angry because they felt the book and the movie showed that handicapped people were better off just killing themselves. I don’t think that was what JoJo Moyes was trying to convey at all.

As somebody who has dealt with depression and anxiety for years, I have come to realize that you can’t save everyone. Sometimes people are beyond help, some people don’t want help, and sometimes people don’t realize help is out there. To me, Will did not want the kind of help Louisa and his family wanted to give him. I am a huge proponent of assisted suicide. If a person is in their right state of mind, is in pain or is terminally ill, who are we to deny them the dignity of death before they lose themselves?

All in all, I loved this book. I might give it a 4.5 rather than the full 5, but it’s still a book I would recommend.

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Graphic Novel Review| The Wicked + The Divine

 

• Published: Nov. 1, 2014
• Genres: Graphic Novel, Comics, Fantasy
• 144 Pages per Volume
• Goodreads Rating: 3.92
• My Rating: 5.00

Volume One:
Every ninety years, twelve gods incarnate as humans. They are loved. They are hated. In two years, they are dead. The team behind critical tongue-attractors like Young Avengers and PHONOGRAM reunite to create a world where gods are the ultimate pop stars and pop stars are the ultimate gods. But remember: just because you’re immortal, doesn’t mean you’re going to live forever.

Volume Two:
The second volume of the award-winning urban fantasy series where gods are the ultimate pop stars and pop stars are the ultimate gods. Following the tragic and unjust death of Lucifer, it takes a revelation from Inanna to draw Laura back into the worlds of Gods and Superstardom to try and discover the truth behind a conspiracy to subvert divinity

Working at a bookstore is the worst form of torture. My To-Be-Read list never shrinks; for every one book I finish, three take its spot. It’s especially difficult trying not to buy everything I see. Thankfully, the On The Same Page Secret Sister project helps. Now, whenever I see a book that looks interesting, I put it on my wishlist and keep my hands away from it in hopes that my Secret Sister will send it to me.

In my first box for this round, my Secret Sister sent me the first volume in this series, as well as Sex Criminals. I enjoyed both graphic novels, but The Wicked + the Divine has so many of the things I love: mythology, sassy characters, fighting, foul language and a mystery.

what i liked

The Pantheon
The 12 gods of the Pantheon don’t stick to one mythos. Of the twelve, no one religion reigns. There are gods from Norse, Irish, and Greeks myths, and gods from Egyptian, Mesopotamian and Japanese myths. From what I gathered in the story, any of the gods can be part of the Pantheon – it just depends on whose turn it is. In the beginning of Volume One, we see the previous Pantheon 90 years ago, but aren’t given many clues on who is who.

Their interactions with each other are interesting as well. I would love to see how “Jehovah” interacts with Lucifer. Are the Gods who are enemies in myth also enemies in this life, or do they realize how short their two-year existence is and simply move on from their past? It’s interesting that certain gods can be a three-person god (like the Morrigan and  Urðr), but they manifest differently per god.

The Artwork
I am picky, and I am stubborn. If I don’t like the artwork in a G.N., I usually don’t pick it up. On the other hand, if I’m invested in the story and they switch artists, I’ll keep reading. I wasn’t sure how I felt about the artwork at first. The more the story progressed, the more I began to love the artwork. Each character is distinctly different, with their own facial expressions and quirks. This may sound like a small expectation, but I’ve found with many graphic novels that artists have a hard time giving characters their own looks. (See: The Walking Dead).

did like

The Backgrounds
If there’s anything I love, it’s a story with a good amount of backstory. With the first two volumes of tW+tD, we don’t get a lot of backstory for the gods before they were turned, or even for the last time the pantheon was on earth. I’m sure most of that will be revealed in the next few volumes.

 

final thoughts

I am completely obsessed with this series. I can’t wait to read the next volumes in this series. Have you read The Wicked + the Divine? Did you love it or hate it? What are your opinions on the gods? Let me know in the comments!

Top Ten Tuesday| Childhood Favorites

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This week, I wanted to focus on books I read as a kid and loved. So many of them were critical in forming my love of reading, as well as determining which books I’d try as an adult. These range between ages 9-13. Most of these I read between elementary school and middle school, with one or two being in the first  years of high school. PS. Please don’t judge me for the books I read as a child. I didn’t know better.

10. Twilight by Stephanie Meyers

twilight

Yes, my dear friends, I absolutely loved this book. I was always searching for good supernatural fiction, so when I came across Twilight, my 12-year-old brain didn’t know what to do. I was a weird kid in middle school in the sense that I was the only kid who didn’t own any Abercrombie and Fitch, so I really identified with awkward Bella Swan. At this age I didn’t realize just how toxic and abusive the Bella/Edward relationship was. I just saw an awkward girl being showered with attention and thought it was the best love story ever written. (Until Breaking Dawn. I hated that one).

9. Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging by Louise Rennison

angus thongs and full frontal snogging

For some reason, I just really liked these books. Georgia Nicolson was funny, and her life was more interesting than mine. The first time I had ever heard of the “pencil test” (you stick a pencil under your boobs and, if it stays, you’re considered to have big breasts) was in these books, as was a few other moments of adolescence. I probably read these at 13 or 14, right when I was really learning the ins and outs of sex. I never finished the series, but it never got that intense in these books. A little heavy petting I think, but it definitely taught me a few things my school didn’t.

8. Goosebumps by R. L. Stine
goosebumps

Specifically, the book above. I read this book at least twenty times. I loved it! The whole “choose-your-adventure” thing had me hooked. If I died, I could just flip back and nobody would know. It felt like I was cheating by not starting the book over, but nobody stopped me. I was invincible! These are the original roleplaying games. Of course, being Goosebumps, they had a hint of creepiness to them. One wrong chapter and you’d be turned into a vampire or fall down a laundry shaft and never seen again.

7. The Giver by Lois Lowry
The-Giver
I read The Giver in elementary school (5th grade, I think) and I loved it. It was completely different than anything else I had ever read. This was really the first dystopian novel I read. Some parts were confusing to me as a kid. When I realized Jonas could only see in black or white, or how animals didn’t exist in this world, I was so confused. What could happen in the world to make animals completely disappear? At some point, Jonas stops taking these pills they were forcing the children to take, and he then starts feeling the emotions once repressed by the pills. It took me a few years (and a re-reading) to realize at one point, Jonas probably has a boner. It’s a book one can read at a young age and re-read as an adult to fully appreciate.

6. The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
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In fourth grade, we started learning about the Holocaust. Depending on your reading level, you had specific books you could choose from. I really wanted to read Maus, a graphic novel based on the Holocaust but uses mice and cats instead of people. Unfortunately for me, my reading level was too high and I wasn’t allowed to choose from that pile of books. Instead, I read Anne Frank’s diary. I had never felt so much from a non-fiction book before. Anyone who has read it knows just how powerful it is. Anne Frank, at such a young age, was a powerful writer who could control words in ways adults rarely can. This was probably the first book that made me experience what we know as “the feels”. I don’t remember if I knew her fate when I began the book, but I had hoped with all my might that she made it through in the end. When I found out she didn’t, it took a lot to keep the tears in.

5. Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz
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I
‘ve talked about these books before, and I’ll probably talk about them again. Of all the books I ever checked out in my elementary school’s library, I checked these out the most often. I used to sit on my babysitter’s steps and read these out loud to the younger kids and try to scare them. They used to play along and scream when they were meant to, but I don’t think it ever really scared them. The stories weren’t the scary part; it was the pictures inside that were really terrifying. They still give me the creeps. I can’t wait to have children so I can share these horrifying books with them.

4. Most of Amelia Atwater-Rhodes’ books
atwater rhoades
So there are only two books shown above, but I read most of the Hawksong series. I stopped after Wyvern, I think. Atwater-Rhodes is the reason I started reading supernatural fiction. In a small town with a limited amount of YA books in our library, hers were the ones I kept going back to. I loved the stories, and I really loved the romance. Hawksong was such an insane idea to me at a young age; two creatures, enemies by nature, are forced to marry? How is the fabric of nature not ripped in two?! Then, of course, we have the vampire/demon/witch stories that follow. It’s a shame these books never received the attention Twilight did because I truly believe they’re better. (Though I haven’t read them in 10 years so I could be very wrong).

3. A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket
series of unfortunate events

I am fairly certain this was the first series I actually read on my own. If I had been old enough to know what a fandom was, I would have been 100% committed to the Series of Unfortunate Events fandom. There was nothing I disliked about this series. It was the first book series I found where there was no happy ending. Ever. How could I expect there to be when the name is literally about unfortunate events? I was an optimistic child I guess. I just always expected the parents to be alive, that they were hiding somewhere, waiting to collect the Baudelaire children. I never finished the series, so it’s possible there was a happy ending after all.

2. Harry Potter by J. K. Rowling
harry potter
Of course HP was going to be in here. Harry Potter was the first series I read, but I read a lot of it with the kids I was babysat with. I remember when I borrowed Goblet of Fire from the library at school as a fourth grader, I thought, “There is no way I’m going to be able to finish this by the time it’s due!” I finished that book in a week. I was so impressed with myself. Remember how big that thing was?! And I, at age 9, finished it in a week. I had to push myself to finish OotP and HBP. I don’t really remember reading DH even though I know I did. I guess, as I grew up, they lost their magic to me. I tried re-reading them a few years ago and couldn’t finish GoF. I was halfway through the book and hadn’t made it to Hogwarts yet! It’s a series that was magical to read as a kid, but just didn’t hold up as an adult.

1. Alanna or The Song of the Lioness Series by Tamora Pierce
alanna

Alanna was the first heroine I fell in love with. She switched places with her twin brother to become the first woman warrior . During this time, she fights demons, immortals, king-killing cousins, falls in love with both a prince and a thief, and does all of this while being constantly sure and unsure of herself all the time. This was the first series I ever read that actually talked about Alanna hiding her identity realistically: she had to wear a binder for her breasts and had a mother-like woman help her whenever her period appeared. Once Alanna began having sex, the same woman would teach her a tonic that acted like a contraceptive. Pierce does a spectacular job at showcasing the difference between a toxic relationship (Alanna x Jonathan) and a healthy relationship (Alanna x George). If I could go back in time, I would have smacked my hands away from Twilight and put in more Tamora Pierce books.

There you have it folks! My top 10 childhood favorites. What are some of your favorites? Were you shocked at any of mine? Did any of yours make the list? Let me know in the comments!

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Book Review| The Luckiest Girl Alive – Jessica Knoll

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The Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll
Published: May 12, 2015 by Simon & Schuster
Genres: Fiction, Mystery, Thriller
Pages: 352
Goodreads Rating: 3.54
My Rating: 4.0

Her perfect life is a perfect lie. As a teenager at the prestigious Bradley School, Ani FaNelli endured a shocking, public humiliation that left her desperate to reinvent herself. Now, with a glamorous job, expensive wardrobe, and handsome blue blood fiancé, she’s this close to living the perfect life she’s worked so hard to achieve. But Ani has a secret. There’s something else buried in her past that still haunts her, something private and painful that threatens to bubble to the surface and destroy everything. With a singular voice and twists you won’t see coming, Luckiest Girl Alive explores the unbearable pressure that so many women feel to “have it all” and introduces a heroine whose sharp edges and cutthroat ambition have been protecting a scandalous truth, and a heart that’s bigger than it first appears. The question remains: will breaking her silence destroy all that she has worked for—or, will it at long last, set Ani free?

I try to go to the gym with my husband whenever he goes. I hate going by myself and it gets me out of the house. Before you walk in, there is a bulletin board I usually glance at. Since we go to the military gym on base, there’s usually a good amount of “base” activities. I happened to see the words “Book Club” and snapped a quick picture to send to a friend of mine to see if she’d like to check it out. It was at the library and scheduled to take place on Tuesday (it was Saturday). I didn’t start reading until Sunday night and finished Monday morning. I did sleep, so I wasn’t awake the whole time. That doesn’t mean I couldn’t have done it. No part of me wanted to put this book down. Had I not had an extremely busy day, I wouldn’t have gone to bed at 1 AM; I would have stayed up to finish.

Review

I thought this was going to be a YA fluffy novel about a dead girl or a zombie or something. Yes, I broke the cardinal rule: I judged the book by its cover. I should have known from the first few sentences that this would not be anything close to a YA book, but I didn’t realize just how dark it was going to be. This is one of those books I can’t review without giving away spoilers, and I don’t plan on spoiling it. It was just too good. So this review will be pretty dang short.

Though LGA is compared to Gone Girl, they are so very different. Amy from Gone Girl is a wonderful villain who is manipulative and, in short, insane. She’s great to read about, and I enjoyed the book. Ani (pronounced AH-nee), on the other hand, isn’t nearly as villainous as Amy. She is manipulative and, yes, at times insane, but Ani doesn’t go to the extremes Amy does. Plus, the story lines are completely different. Once again, I won’t give anything away, but LGA is not about a spurned lover or a s/o who cheats or anything like that, even though Ani does have a fiance. Her story goes so much deeper than any of that.

At the beginning of the story, I didn’t like Ani. She comes from a different world than me, where brand names (and last names!) actually matter. She can be indifferent, which is unsettling for a reader. We want to connect with our main character, and it was hard for me to connect to her at first. By the middle of the book, I wanted nothing more than to hold her and brush her hair and feed her pizza. Ani, and all the characters in this book, are written as realistic people instead of fictional heroes. We want our Knights in Shining Armour, our Damsels in Distress, all the typical archetypes we have been conditioned to see. None of these characters are blatantly present in this book. Some characters can be made to fit in these roles at times, but not throughout the whole story. (I’m no English major here either, so don’t kill me).

I finished this book in less than 24 hours. I really enjoyed this book, and I think if you liked Gone Girl, you should pick this up.

four star

Have you read this book? If not, do you want to? Let me know in the comments below!

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Top 10 Tuesdays| Fictional Bookworms

Today’s Top Ten Tuesday, brought to you by the lovely people at The Broke & the Bookish, is all about fictional bookworms! I’ll admit: sometimes adding a bookworm into the story feels like a cop out. As a reader, of course I want to identify with the characters; it seems like the easiest character trait to give them is to be as much of a bookworm as I am. The bookworms in my list are all characters I actually enjoy, who love books as much as I do.

10. Hermione Granger from Harry Potter
dont you read
Harry Potter came out when I was five, but I didn’t read it until I was in the third or fourth grade. How could I not love the only female lead until Luna’s appearance? Hermione was everything I wanted to be: brave, smart, sassy, and she didn’t let the boys boss her around. Hermione is and will always be one of the best role models for young girls to read about.

9. Lisa Simpson from The Simpsons
books and beers
Show me a person who doesn’t like this little feminist/bookworm/activist and I will show you a liar. I don’t think I really paid attention to The Simpsons until I was in my tween years, and I quickly fell in love with Lisa. She often felt ostracized by her intelligence and, while I am not saying I’m a genius, most people from my hometown probably don’t know the sun is a star.  Bless their hearts. (I’m actually surprised I haven’t used this line on one of the multiple alcoholics running around that town). Lisa is one of few female characters who is boisterous in her beliefs and extremely unapologetic. We need more Lisa Simpsons in the world.

8. Tyrion Lannister from Game of Thrones
tyrion books
Everyone’s favorite half-man couldn’t be more right. Tyrion, who often makes jokes about his sad existence, is a loved character because he will not sugar-coat things. He is blunt and crude, but extremely intelligent and witty. I know a lot of bookworms like this in real life. Martin’s books are successful because he writes his characters as if they are real people and he’s just copying their dialogue.

7. Daria Morgendorffer, from Daria
Daria

I didn’t watch Daria a lot. It was just barely before my time, and now I only have hulu and Netflix so I can’t catch any reruns on TV (unless it’s available through one of those services, in which case I need to get on it). I do know that had I been a teenager in the ’90s (and not born in ’92), I would have been a Daria kind of girl. To be fair, I still was. I was a royal bitch  an angsty thing from ages 11-17. I had a hard time figuring out who I was as a kid. One part of me wanted to be like my mom, who has always been very feminine, and the other part wanted to be like my dad, who took me to more than 10 rock/metal concerts before my 16th birthday. So, as you can imagine, I didn’t fit in with most kids and became a hater of the world. Yay teen angst!

6. Matilda Wormwood from Matilda
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I loved this movie as a kid. Trunchbull scared the daylights out of me, and I’m pretty sure I was terrified to go into the first grade because of this movie. I distinctly remember being in pre-school and some older kids were helping us do arts and crafts. They were probably in middle school or maybe even high school, but for some reason I thought they were first graders. I was so scared! How was I ever going to be able to go to the first grade when I was nowhere near as tall as these people?! I’m sure I got over it quickly, because I don’t remember anything more happening about that. I wish I had read Matilda as a young child, because I feel like I wouldn’t have felt as alone, just like her. If we ever decide to have children, Matilda will be one of many books I’ll read to them.

5. Belle from Beauty & the Beast
belle

Ugh I wish this .gif was bigger because which one of us would not be fucking thrilled with that library?! Belle is my second favorite Disney Princess for so many reasons, but one of the biggest is because she is one of the few animated characters who loves books as much as I do. The art in this movie is astoundingly beautiful, and only adds to my love for it.

4. Lizzie Bennett from Pride & Prejudice
elizabeth bennett
My mother has an ardent (get it??) love for anything written by Jane Austen. I could not tell you how many times she has watched Emma, and it was her who introduced me to Pride and Prejudice. Let me just say this: Keira Knightley is the queen of period movies. She is wonderful in P&P as well as Anna Karenina and The Duchess (all of which are based on books!). Elizabeth is a character who screws up a lot, but will not allow herself to be pushed around by anyone. She enjoys long walks and good books (sounds like the beginning of an eHarmony account).

3. Kelsea Raleigh Glynn from The Queen of the Tearling
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He found her staring at her books with utter devotion, like a lover. 

There is so much more to Kelsea than being a bookworm, which is why she’s made it so far up in my list. Yes, she loves books. She adores them and understands their importance in our daily lives, but Johansen makes sure Kelsea’s life doesn’t revolve around these books. Many quotes in Tearling adequately describe Kelsea’s immense love of reading and literature, but they do not take away from the actual story. That alone is an extreme talent.

2. Wishbone from Wishbone
wishbone
This dog. This dog right here. I loved this show. I loved this dog. I had a stuffed animal version of him and when you squeezed his tail, he’d say, “Don’t go there!” Surprisingly, I don’t remember ever reading any of the books based on the television show. I just remember this dog dressing up as literary characters, living in a library and having great wonderful adventures. Thanks, Wishbone.

1. Poussey & Taystee from Orange is the New Black
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I am a huge fan of OitNB and I absolutely love the relationship between these two. Fun fact: I once had an interview for a job as a librarian at a jail. I did not go to said interview because it was a men’s prison and I am a paranoid person. Anyway, back to these two. The whole show has snippets of almost every cellmate reading, but it really focuses more on Taystee and Poussey since they are surrounded by books everyday. I loved their funeral for the burned books, and how hard they had fought for them. Taystee ate a bug. She ate a bed bug for those books! I don’t know any other fictional character who would go to such great lengths for their beloved books.

I know I’m probably one of ten people who don’t have Rory Gilmore on here, but I never watched the show. Ever. The only reason I know her name is because she’s pretty much worshipped in the bookish community. If I had put her here, it would have felt like cheating.

There’s my top ten! Who are some of yours? Let me know in the comments!

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Book Review| The Queen of the Tearling – Erika Johansen


81JQ-u+67GLThe Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

Published July 8th 2014 by Harper
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult, Fiction
Pages: 434
Goodreads Rating: 3.94
My Rating: 4.5

Young Kelsea Raleigh was raised in hiding after the death of her mother, Queen Elyssa, far from the intrigues of the royal Keep and in the care of two devoted servants who pledged their lives to protect her. Growing up in a cottage deep in the woods, Kelsea knows little of her kingdom’s haunted past . . . or that its fate will soon rest in her hands.

I’d seen this book floating around tumblr for a long time. I would see it in the grocery store and think, “Damn, that does look really good,” but I wouldn’t pick it up. (I have a hard time buying hardcovers because they can just be ridiculously expensive). I was at an indie bookstore in New Hope, PA when I saw Queen in paperback. I snatched it up and walked right over to the register because I was not buying anything else. Of course, it found its way off my radar while I was reading graphic novels and some books from my TBR shelf (I’ll post a picture in a new post). A few days ago, I found it in one of my old beach bags and decided to start reading it. I was absolutely hooked from the first page.

Review
Being Johansen’s debut novel, I was astounded by her writing skills. Looking back at the story, not a lot of action happens, but I was never bored reading this. A lot of the story focuses on one main event, but enough was added where I never thought, “Okay, I’m on page 156 and nothing is happening what the hell.” Even with moments like meeting the people at court, I found myself chuckling out loud or making faces at some of these fictional people. Which leads me to my next point: her characters.

Johansen is magnificent in creating a world of diverse, complex characters. Kelsea is an overweight teenager with a bad temper, but she excelled at being a queen. Her adoptive parents had a large hand at that, and they too are such different characters. Barty, her adoptive father, and Carlin, her adoptive mother, were the epitome of “opposites attract.” Barty is the nurturing, warm hearted figure while Carlin never hugged or coddled Kelsea. There is also no sugar-coating anyone in the book. Kelsea’s biological mother, the late Queen Elyssa, was vain and, at times, a little dim. At the end of the first novel, we are left wondering who Kelsea’s father is, so I can’t speak about him. Everyone in this story, from Mace to the Fetch, are all written like real people, not some romantic savior who can do no wrong.

Then there is the history of this land, the Tear. I’m still not 100 percent certain I completely understand, but it touches on their founder, William Tear, crossing the sea and leaving behind a dying land. I’m pretty sure that land is the United States. This story takes place in the future, when something has taken away so much of what we are today and gives these people what we were back in the medieval period. There are references to Rowling and Tolkien as great authors of the past, and the drug heroin even makes it in here as a lost recipe, but one that is trying to make a come back. I have seen this take on the world in at least one other book, but it left out too much, where I was confused at what the hell was going on. Queen, on the other hand, gives you just enough to realize, “OH DAMN,” and that’s it.

My last point is the lack of romanctic interest. I loved it. It’s not like there is no romance at all, because we do see that SPOILER ALERT SPOILER ALERT SPOULER ALERT SPOILER ALERT SPOILER ALERT SPOILER ALERT
Kelsea has feelings for the Fetch. There is also a moment when Pen is trying to wake her and he has no shirt on, and Kelsea wants to reach out to touch him. I ship Kelsea/Pen so damn much. Do I like the Fetch? Of course, he’s a wonderful character. I do not trust him. I don’t think he’s a realistic choice for her. If she wants to have a little fling with him, I am all for that. If she wants him to become her husband later on, I have a hard time believing that will happen.

I have already downloaded Invasion on to my Nook, and am trying so hard to finish Cary Elwe’s As You Wish before starting it. I give this book four and a half wormies, but I refuse to cut this little guy in half, so be satisfied with looking at only four of them.

four star

PS. Yes, I know Emma Watson is supposed to be cast as Kelsea in the movie adaptation, but I don’t know how I feel about that. Kelsea is supposed to have a darker coloring than her super fair mom and she’s fat. Emma is none of these things, and I think they are very important to Kelsea’s character. I guess we’ll see.

Have you read Johansen’s book yet? What did you think? If not, do you plan on reading it after my review? Let me know in the comments!

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Top Ten Tuesday| Ten Books That Celebrate Diversity/Diverse Characters

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the lovely people at The Broke and the Bookish. This week is all about books that celebrate diversity. This list is going to be a combination of books I have read and books I want to read. I’ve included the descriptions from Goodreads as well. Enjoy!

10. Americanah – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

americanah

As teenagers in a Lagos secondary school, Ifemelu and Obinze fall in love. Their Nigeria is under military dictatorship, and people are leaving the country if they can. Ifemelu—beautiful, self-assured—departs for America to study. She suffers defeats and triumphs, finds and loses relationships and friendships, all the while feeling the weight of something she never thought of back home: race. Obinze—the quiet, thoughtful son of a professor—had hoped to join her, but post-9/11 America will not let him in, and he plunges into a dangerous, undocumented life in London.

Years later, Obinze is a wealthy man in a newly democratic Nigeria, while Ifemelu has achieved success as a writer of an eye-opening blog about race in America. But when Ifemelu returns to Nigeria, and she and Obinze reignite their shared passion—for their homeland and for each other—they will face the toughest decisions of their lives.

9. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe – Benjamin Alire Sáenz

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Aristotle is an angry teen with a brother in prison. Dante is a know-it-all who has an unusual way of looking at the world. When the two meet at the swimming pool, they seem to have nothing in common. But as the loners start spending time together, they discover that they share a special friendship—the kind that changes lives and lasts a lifetime. And it is through this friendship that Ari and Dante will learn the most important truths about themselves and the kind of people they want to be.

8. Beloved – Toni Morrison

toni-morrison-beloved

Sethe was born a slave and escaped to Ohio, but eighteen years later she is still not free. She has too many memories of Sweet Home, the beautiful farm where so many hideous things happened. Her new home is haunted by the ghost of her baby, who died nameless and whose tombstone is engraved with a single word: Beloved.

7. Rat QueensKurtis J. Wiebe

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Who are the Rat Queens?

A pack of booze-guzzling, death-dealing battle maidens-for-hire, and they’re in the business of killing all god’s creatures for profit.
It’s also a darkly comedic sass-and-sorcery series starring Hannah the Rockabilly Elven Mage, Violet the Hipster Dwarven Fighter, Dee the Atheist Human Cleric and Betty the Hippy Smidgen Thief. This modern spin on an old school genre is a violent monster-killing epic that is like Buffy meets Tank Girl in a Lord of the Rings world on crack!

6. Persepolis – Marjane Satrapi
persepolis
Persepolis is the story of Satrapi’s unforgettable childhood and coming of age within a large and loving family in Tehran during the Islamic Revolution; of the contradictions between private life and public life in a country plagued by political upheaval; of her high school years in Vienna facing the trials of adolescence far from her family; of her homecoming—both sweet and terrible; and, finally, of her self-imposed exile from her beloved homeland.

5. Ms. MarvelG. Willow Wilson
ms marvel

Kamala Khan is an ordinary girl from Jersey City — until she’s suddenly empowered with extraordinary gifts. But who truly is the new Ms. Marvel? Teenager? Muslim? Inhuman? Find out as she takes the Marvel Universe by storm! When Kamala discovers the dangers of her newfound powers, she unlocks a secret behind them, as well. Is Kamala ready to wield these immense new gifts? Or will the weight of the legacy before her be too much to bear? Kamala has no idea, either. But she’s comin’ for you, Jersey!

4. Saga – Brian K. Vaughn, Fiona Staples
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Written by Eisner Award-winning “Best Writer” Brian K. Vaughan (Y: The Last Man, The Private Eye) and drawn by Harvey Award-winning “Best Artist” Fiona Staples (Mystery Society, North 40) Saga is the story of Hazel, a child born to star-crossed parents from opposite sides of a never-ending galactic war. Now, Hazel’s fugitive family must risk everything to find a peaceful future in a harsh universe that values destruction over creation.

3. An Ember in the Ashes – Sabaa Tahir
ember in ashees

Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear.
It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do.
But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy.
There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.

2. The Wrath and the Dawn – Renee Ahdieh
wrath and dawn

Every dawn brings horror to a different family in a land ruled by a killer. Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, takes a new bride each night only to have her executed at sunrise. So it is a suspicious surprise when sixteen-year-old Shahrzad volunteers to marry Khalid. But she does so with a clever plan to stay alive and exact revenge on the Caliph for the murder of her best friend and countless other girls. Shazi’s wit and will, indeed, get her through to the dawn that no others have seen, but with a catch . . . she’s falling in love with the very boy who killed her dearest friend.

1. Kindred – Octavia E. Butler

kindred
Dana, a modern black woman, is celebrating her twenty-sixth birthday with her new husband when she is snatched abruptly from her home in California and transported to the antebellum South. Rufus, the white son of a plantation owner, is drowning, and Dana has been summoned to save him. Dana is drawn back repeatedly through time to the slave quarters, and each time the stay grows longer, more arduous, and more dangerous until it is uncertain whether or not Dana’s life will end, long before it has a chance to begin.

What are some of your favorite books that celebrate diversity? Did any of them make my list? Let me know in the comments!