Q&A With Marie Lu + Giveaway Of The Young Elites ARC

OH MY GOD YOU GUYS. I’m so happy that my next fantasy after my Throne of Glass binge was The Young Elites!! SO GOOD. I’ll be reviewing it soon but make sure it is on your TBR because it is SOLID and I cannot WAIT for book 2.

I was VERY excited to be able to get in on a phone interview with Marie Lu because I loved the Legend series and I HAD to listen to her talk more about The Young Elites after reading and loving it!!

My question to Marie was this:

 

So, in the Legend series, you gave us this really compelling dystopian United States, which was both familiar and unfamiliar to us.  And in Young Elites, you give us a really kickass and amazing fantasy world.  I was just curious, now that you’ve done both, what was one of the most difficult parts of writing your own world and the rules to that world?

“It was a completely different experience from writing Legend.  It’s hard making up all of your own thinking.  You kind of have to base some of it off of real life, so I don’t think anything can be completely my own.  For The Young Elites, I did a lot of reading about Renaissance Italy and Renaissance Venice and what life was like back then, and what people ate and how they dressed. And a lot of those things went into the story.  I’d feel weird saying that it’s my world, because it’s still very much based on reality.  And I took a lot from what already existed.

But, it was definitely a different experience because Legend was sort of looking forward and this is kind of looking back in time.  And it was interesting playing with that, because oddly enough they kind of end up at the same place where it’s still a dystopia in some ways.  But, it happened in the past and– ultimately thinking about it, I was really–I was like, wow, it’s interesting that no matter if you go forward or backwards, we’re still going to have these similar issues.  And that was fun to explore.

But, it was definitely a challenge trying to switch my writing style, because now I kept trying to avoid using a lot of modernisms that kept creeping their way into the story.  And the first time that I turned in my manuscript, my editor was like, “I feel we could tone down on the modern tone of your stuff.  It’s kind of futuristic for an old-timey sort of story.”  So, that was an adjustment as well.”

She was also really kind, because we only got to ask her one question, let us email any further questions we had hoped would be covered but weren’t. So I had to ask her about her art and Pinterest boards!

On how her art and her (amazing) Pinterest board for The Young Elites aids in her planning of the book:

“I’m so thrilled you like the Pin board! Haha, it’s totally my procrastination enabler…..but it also really does help as I draft. I like to Pin as I go, and sometimes I’ll even see something on Pinterest that will inspire something in the book. Teren’s hairstyle, for example, was inspired by this:  

The Young Elites inspirationPhoto credit here

As for my art–yes, I find that before I ever start a first draft, I must draw my characters first in order to get a firm handle on who they are. All of my sketches in my Pin board were done very early on in the TYE writing process. I also like to draw whenever I get writer’s block or find myself mentally exhausted. It’s my way of taking some time away from the writing, but still getting to do something creative that’s set within the same fictional world.”

 

There were some other great questions asked and some really interesting things discussed! But my FAVORITE thing was about one of my favorite aspects of this book — which is how Adelina is pretty much an anti-hero. June and Day, from her Legend series, are good people and Adelina is definitely darker and not as easy to like but you STILL root for her in a lot of ways even when you are like OMG BAD ADELINA. So I was SO happy someone asked about this!

On The Young Elites being an origin story for a villain and the writing of an anti-hero of sorts:

“I thought it was the idea of writing from the antagonist’s point of view after I was talking to my agent about this book.  When I first started writing The Young Elites I wanted to write a fantasy book, but at the time it was–it actually starred Raffaele instead of Adelina, and Raffaele was a totally different character too.  He was very, very bland, just sort of like your every-boy, and he was going to university and he thought he was a Young Elite. It just–it was a very, very sort of bland story.  And I couldn’t quite put my finger on what was wrong with it, but I knew I wanted to write something about these types of people.  So, I gave the first hundred pages to my agent, and she was like, “Well, who is this side character over here?  She’s kind of interesting.”

And Adelina was a side character who is total evil.  And after my agent said that, that was when I was like, “Hmm, I never thought about writing it from her point of view, but that might be an interesting exercise.”

And it was totally different from Legend, because Day and June, they live in a really dark world, but they’re inherently good people at heart.  They have good families who treated them right, and I feel like that really made them who they are as people when they grew up.

And Adelina is totally different.  Her family is twisted and terrible, and that rubbed off on her a lot.  And it was kind of disturbing to have to get into that headspace, because I didn’t experience any of that.  And to be able to try to figure out a way to make this person do horrible things but also not make her totally unlikeable so that you’re like, “God, I just want this character to die already” was a bit of a challenge too.

So, I don’t know.  It was very, very odd.  And I feel like I got depressed more when I was writing this book, which is kind of–it’s kind of sad to say.  But, having to put yourself into that space was–I mean, it’s not a great place to be in.  So, afterwards I always have to go, like, hug my dog or, you know, go eat and drink something so I don’t feel quite so awful about writing stuff that’s, like, yay, killing people.  But, yeah.  Yeah, it was very, very odd.”

 

Because I loved The Young Elites SO much I’m going to give away my ARC of it because I plan on buying this puppy when it comes out!! (I have a feeling you all are going to want to as well!!). It’s going to be one of those series I need to have complete & on my shelf. I just know it.

Rule Kinds of Things:

* US ONLY.
* Ends 9/22 11:59 EST.
* No purchase necessary.
* You must be 13 years or older to enter (for legal-y kind of reasons). Grab a parent or someone older to enter for you!
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About The Book:

The Young Elites Marie Lu

 

I am tired of being used, hurt, and cast aside.

Adelina Amouteru is a survivor of the blood fever. A decade ago, the deadly illness swept through her nation. Most of the infected perished, while many of the children who survived were left with strange markings. Adelina’s black hair turned silver, her lashes went pale, and now she has only a jagged scar where her left eye once was. Her cruel father believes she is a malfetto, an abomination, ruining their family’s good name and standing in the way of their fortune. But some of the fever’s survivors are rumored to possess more than just scars—they are believed to have mysterious and powerful gifts, and though their identities remain secret, they have come to be called the Young Elites.

Teren Santoro works for the king. As Leader of the Inquisition Axis, it is his job to seek out the Young Elites, to destroy them before they destroy the nation. He believes the Young Elites to be dangerous and vengeful, but it’s Teren who may possess the darkest secret of all.

Enzo Valenciano is a member of the Dagger Society. This secret sect of Young Elites seeks out others like them before the Inquisition Axis can. But when the Daggers find Adelina, they discover someone with powers like they’ve never seen.

Adelina wants to believe Enzo is on her side, and that Teren is the true enemy. But the lives of these three will collide in unexpected ways, as each fights a very different and personal battle. But of one thing they are all certain: Adelina has abilities that shouldn’t belong in this world. A vengeful blackness in her heart. And a desire to destroy all who dare to cross her.

It is my turn to use. My turn to hurt.

 

About The Author:

Marie Lu

Marie Lu is the author of the New York Times bestselling Legend series. She spends her spare time reading, drawing, playing Assassin’s Creed, and getting stuck in traffic. She lives in Los Angeles, California, with one boyfriend, one Chihuahua mix, and two Pembroke Welsh corgis.

Learn more at her Official Website.  Check out The Young Elites website!

Book Talk: The Piper’s Son by Melina Marchetta

Book Talk: The Piper’s Son by Melina MarchettaThe Piper's Son by Melina Marchetta
Publisher/Year: Candlewick- March 2010
Genres: Contemporary YA
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
Other Books From Author: Jellicoe Road, Saving Francesca, Finnikin of the Rock (series), Looking For Alibrandi
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Want an “at a glance” look at what I thought? Check out my Review On A Post-It or my “Final Thought”

 

A1
The Piper’s Son takes place 5 years after Saving Francesca. It’s a companion novel but it can TOTALLY stand alone though I do think reading Saving Francesca is a GREAT idea anyways. It focuses on Thomas Mackee and his family who have endured a tragedy. This tragedy has ripped the family apart and Tom himself has quit all the things he loved and pushed everyone else away and is pretty much at an all time low. He’s forced to confront the brokenness when he gets kicked out of his apartment and has to live with his pregnant aunt and gets a job where a couple of his former friends work.

a2I NEED TO STOP READING HER BOOKS BECAUSE THEY DESTROY ME FOR ALL OTHER BOOKS.

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I’ve said it before in my Melina Marchetta reviews but I’ll say it again — there are books and there are Melina Marchetta books for me. I don’t know what energy of the universe she harnesses to write these amazingly perfect books that make you feel like you’ve never felt these feelings before but at the same time they resonate so, so deeply. I DON’T KNOW but, like always with her novels, I’m completely rendered speechless after reading The Piper’s Son and it just keeps simmering in my mind long after I finish.

1. I loved returning to Frankie and the gang: This takes place about 5 years after Saving Francesca and the main focus is on Tom’s life rather than Frankie’s. Some of the group is still around and some of them are off in different places. I loved the bits and pieces we got that filled in the pieces of what went down in those 5 years. Selfishly I wanted more to know every last detail of those 5 years but alas that would be a series now wouldn’t it? Tom has been outside of the group after losing his uncle Joe and has pushed them away and made some really bad decisions. I loved watching the group try to rally for Tom like they did Frankie in Saving Francesca but also show him tough love that he needed. This group has my heart!

2. I loved learning more about Tom Mackee: Oh my god I love him and I was always so curious about him in Saving Francesca as we got to know him. We learn of his romance with a familiar character from the group & we learn what he had been up to when the tragedy happened to his family. We see the effects of all that and how he’s given up everything that made Tom, well, Tom. I loved learning more about his family background and how he saw things from back in the Saving Francesca days and how he interacted with the others/saw the others. I fell in love with Thomas Mackee for sure even when he was unlikable and downright hard to deal with.

3. The brokenness of Tom and his family GUTTED me: The brokenness of Tom’s family was just so heavy on my heart the whole time I read. The tragedy that befalls Tom’s family is one that just collides with their world and shatters everything into a million places. I could feel the weight of this fractured family especially when juxtaposed with all these memories of the family BEFORE. They are THAT family that you wish you could be a part of. So close, so beautiful. I also loved that we got chapters from Tom’s aunt which filled in some of family history but also told of her pain and loss and how it still affects her.

4. I’ve read a lot of books dealing with grief but few come close to the layered and gut-wrenching grief in this book: The layers of grief in this book, man. My heart feels a bit differently after finishing this one because I feel like it was hammered and twisted and punted across a field. Grief is a really, really hard thing to explain, as someone who has grieved a devastating loss myself, but somehow Marchetta just nails it. Just brilliantly and right through the heart.

a6RATING-loved-it

factors+ EVERYTHING
- NADA. So close to a beyond loved but I’m so very stingy with that rating. It’s SO hovering right on that line.

Re-readability: Oh yes.
Would I buy a copy for my collection? Of course.

a5people who read Saving Francesca, fans of Gayle Forman/Trish Doller/Cath Crowley, people looking for a great male POV, people who like books about family

a8The Piper’s Son is yet another Melina Marchetta masterpiece. A beautiful and gut-wrenching story of loss, the enduring bonds of family and friendship amidst tragedy and the kind of healing that can only come with the help of the ones we love. Thomas Mackee, you will not recede back into the pages of the book ever.

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The Piper's Son by Melina Marchetta

a8j* Have you read this one? What did you think? Similar or different from me? I would LOVE to hear regardless!
*If you haven’t read it, does it feel like something you’d be into?
*

 


The Perpetual Page-Turner

 

I’m A Distracted Reader…Like The Worst.

I can get lost in a book all day with the rest of them — completely and utterly absorbed in the world or the character’s journey and not even realize that it’s turned dark and Will went back to bed an hour ago. But when it comes down to it, at my core, I’m a very distracted reader — something that even Will has pointed out lately.

There’s the distractions of other people wanting to talk to you or requiring your attention….or cute nieces who want to play with you while you are reading on vacation.

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But my biggest distractions?

 

My brain, the Internet and Netflix.

 

My brain:

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 My brain never stops. It’s always jumping around. This is why I have a hard time sleeping. I will be reading and something  on the page will spark something in my brain and I will start thinking about that or go research it or what not. Or I will get up from reading to put my laundry in (that I forgot to do) and then I will find myself embarked on an intense cleaning session for 3 hours all because I couldn’t find a lipstick I randomly thought about because I was washing the shirt I wore out the last time I wore that lipstick. I might get up to use the restroom and will see my nail polish and start painting my nails. Or maybe I’m really stressed about something and the whole time I’m reading I realize my brain is just thinking about it OVER AND OVER AGAIN and I’ve been reading the same sentence for an hour.

My brain just doesn’t cooperate sometimes for reading. It takes A LOT for it to finally settle in.

The Internet:

IcpiOwd1

This might be the WORST of them all. It’s so awful!! I’ll read like 10 pages maybe and then be like OH I need to pop on Twitter or check my email and the next next thing I know an hour has passed and I’ve just been scrolling or getting lost in link after link. Or it’s a continuous read 10 pages, refresh ALL THE THINGS, read 10 pages, refresh ALL THE THINGS (still nothing, Jaim), read 10 pages, refresh ALL THE THINGS and then get sucked into a Twitter conversation. Or maybe I’ll go to the park to specifically read and leave with 4 pages read because in my quest to get the most PERF outside reading picture to put on Instagram I got sucked into the internet.

Lately I’ve realized HOW BAD my addiction/the distraction has gotten and I decided that I would put my phone and laptop in a place that I could NOT reach from my reading spot. (That was pretty much my only solution that wasn’t getting rid of my phone/laptop or putting a shock collar on myself and letting Will zap me every time I went to reach for one of them). And you know what happened??? I’ve gotten SO MUCH MORE reading done because of it. I’m way too lazy to get up and retrieve my phone/laptop every time I get the urge to refresh ALL THE THINGS. So I sit there and reading and then maybe after an hour I do a little checksie on the interwebs and put it back down & read. It’s funny how when it’s right next to me it just CALLS to me to refresh and check in.

NETFLIX:

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Sometimes I go through random obsessions with new shows on NETFLIX and they just CALL TO ME while I try to read.  Once I get into a show that’s ALL I want to be doing. Pretty much why barely any reading got done when I marathon-ed Breaking Bad last year. I’ll be on the couch reading and it’s like THE OBSESSION just calls out to me and, in the case of tv shows, I just find myself wanting to be ONLY in that world…doesn’t even matter what book I have in front of me. I think this is why I can go a week or two without reading much…because every time I try to….that jealous & needy bitch Netflix is like I AM YOUR ONE AND ONLY SOURCE OF ENTERTAINMENT UNTIL THIS SERIES IS OVER.

 

I definitely think technology, especially my phone and my laptop, end up being the BIGGEST and most detrimental distraction for me + my reading time…and really with any other sort of productivity actually. Changing my habits has definitely helped a little bit! Honestly sometimes it’s a wonder that I get any reading done between these 3 things!

 

Let’s TALK:

Are you a distracted reader or once you are in the zone you are IN and not coming out? If you are a distracted reader, what are your biggest distractions?

Ten Authors I’ve Only Read One Book From But MUST Read More!!

Top Ten Tuesday, as  always, is hosted at my other blog — The Broke & the Bookish

This week’s topic: Top Ten Authors I’ve Only Read One Book From But MUST Read More!!

I decided to only focus on authors who had multiple books out already rather than debut novelists because there are SO many debut authors I NEED TO READ MORE BOOKS FROM…but they aren’t actually out yet!

TTT-try2a

1. I read This Song Will Save Your Life from Leila Sales and I’ve heard SUCH good things about the rest of her books. Considering that This Song was one of my favorites of last year I’m surprised I haven’t gotten my butt into gear and started her other books! Also did you see the new paperback cover for this book??

2. I just recently read Everything Leads To You by Nina LaCour and I KNOW I have to read her other books! That book was BEAUTIFUL!

3. It’s my mission to read all the books from Courtney Summers after having read Some Girls Are. Her words just pack a punch and all her books look SO different! Very interested in her zombie book!!

4. Julia Quinn is the first historical romance author I’ve read and I REALLY loved The Duke & I. Cannot wait to read more books in this series and beyond!

5. My first encounter with Catherine McKenzie was through her book Arranged and it was the PERFECT beach read — light, romantic but also made me think a little! I really want to read her other books especially Spin & Forgotten!

6. Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick is SO underrated and I just know that I need to read more of his books. Especially because he seems to keep setting them in my city and I LOVED the Silver Linings Playbook movie.

7. I don’t know why I didn’t do whatever it took to get my hands on Cath Crowley’s other novels after reading Graffiti Moon but FOR SHAME. I especially want to read A Little Wanting Song. I think my issue is that they are only pubbed in Australia. I THINK that’s why I didn’t immediately buy it. I think I need to make a Fishpond order.

8. Okay so I LOVED Raw Blue from Kirsty Eagar and when I read this I saw that she had two more books out but they were paranormal and at that point I wasn’t really open to reading much paranormal. I KNOW I need to read more from her because I’m sure her paranormal is just as awesome as her contemporary.

9. Joshilyn Jackson writes women’s fiction (I guess that’s the term people use? Chick lit? IDK) and I really liked her novel Backseat Saints but haven’t read any of her other books yet but really want to read Someone Else’s Love Story!

10. I’m hoping to slip this one on here last so maaaaybe none of you are still paying attention. That’s right….since last year I STILL have only read book 1 of the Harry Potter series and I KNOW I KNOW I KNOW.. I have to get to like book 3 to REALLY get into the series (or so I hear from everyone) and then I’ll understand the goddess that is JK Rowling. It’s not that I didn’t like book 1…I just haven’t had time/felt compelled enough to devour the next one. SOMEONE LOCK ME IN A ROOM WITH JUST THAT SERIES (I realize maybe that’s not a good idea to tell strangers on the internet to lock you in a room. Isn’t that the stuff Lifetime movies are made of??)

 

So tell me…which author should I make my priority to read a second book from (besides JK Rowling because I KNOW YOU ALL AND THAT WILL BE YOUR NUMBER 1)? And tell me which book I should read next from any of these authors if you have read them!

Book Talk: Kiss Of Broken Glass by Madeleine Kuderick

Book Talk: Kiss Of Broken Glass by Madeleine KuderickKiss of Broken Glass by Madeleine Kuderick
Publisher/Year: HarperTeen- September 9, 2014
Genres: Contemporary YA
Format: ARC
Source: For Review
Other Books From Author: None as of right now.
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I received this from the publisher in exchange for review consideration. This in no way swayed my opinion. Pinky swear!

 

 

 

Want an “at a glance” look at what I thought? Check out my Review On A Post-It or my “Final Thought”

 

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.A teenager is caught cutting at school and is sent to a psych ward for a mandatory 72 hours. During this time she’s forced to confront her addiction to cutting, reflect on what made her start cutting and she meets some other patients along the way whose presence gives her much to think about and make these 72 hours interesting.

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I almost put this book down to be honest because I was just really not into it. It wasn’t the novel in verse thing, which I like, it was just that I was pretty much bored and not feeling like I cared what the last page held. But I kept reading it because I was like, “oh what the hell..it’s really short, told in verse and I’ll finish it in less than an hour…which I did.

1. I swear, I felt no emotions during this book: If I could have recorded my face reading it I feel like my face would have been have remained the same the whole time and FEELINGS pretty much did fluctuate at all. I was just turning page after page hoping something would make me care. I mean, I WANTED to care about a young girl who cuts herself and gets caught and Baker Acted (sent to a psych ward for a mandatory 72 hours). I thought I would feel something towards it but I just didn’t. Like at all. I felt nothing really which was strange considering I know it was inspired by this happening to the author’s daughter.

2. From a technical standpoint I thought the novel in verse worked well & the writing was solid: It was poetic and flowed really well. I really LOVE novels in verse and this executed it really well. It really FIT the story well!

3. I will say that I liked that it wasn’t an AND NOW SHE IS FIXED AFTER THIS EVENT type of book but just a snapshot of a girl who can’t help but cut and is forced to reflect on it: It was about a normal girl. Not a girl with a ton of issues or a deep dark secret. But just a girl who got caught up in it for her own reasons (which are revealed). It wasn’t an “AND NOW SHE IS SAVED AND SHALL NEVER CUT AGAIN” book but an honest look at a girl who gets a chance to reflect on it for 72 hours and meet people who will give her even more to think about. It’s that looking back of this is how I got there, this is where I’m at and she gets to think about the path she wants to take when she is released. I FELT like it was a realistic portrayal but I also admit that my experience is limited to this peer pressure induced, wanting-attention-from-a-guy-I-liked week of cutting I had in 7th grade.

 

a6RATING-mixed

factors+ the writing
- I was so bored, no emotional connection whatsoever

Re-readability: No.
Would I buy a copy for my collection? Not for mine but I plan to donate my copy to the YA section of my library.

a5fans of novels in verse, people who are interested in novels dealing with cutting

a8On a technical level I thought Kisses of Broken Glass was well written and the way it was told in verse really fit the story well. I liked the idea of the book but I literally felt nothing at all. No emotion at all which was strange because I should have felt SOMETHING while reading. I should have probably put it down when I thought about how bored I was but I 1) thought it would pick up and 2) it was so short I was like MIGHT AS WELL FINISH.

review-on-post-it

Kiss of Broken Glass Madeleine Kuderick

a8j* Have you read this one? What did you think? Similar or different from me? I would LOVE to hear regardless!
*If you haven’t read it, does this book feel like something you’d be into?
* What are some of your favorite novels in verse??

 


The Perpetual Page-Turner

 

But There’s Always Something Else At The End

Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer

I just finished Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer and I’m feeling unsure how I want to talk about it, other than just generally knowing I want to talk about my connection to this book. Whether or not I’ll “book talk” it later, I don’t know, but that’s the freedom I’ve given myself by hanging up my book reviewer hat.

What Belzhar Is About:

Belzhar is about a girl who gets sent to a school for kids with “issues” and they are supposed to heal. The main character has lost her boyfriend and gets sent there because she is unable to cope with it. She gets put in a special English class and there are only like 4 other kids in the class and it’s SUCH a hard class to get into and nobody knows how anyone gets picked…but every year kids in this class proclaim it as life-changing. When she gets in the class, she realizes they are going to be studying the works of Sylvia Plath the whole semester and they are given a journal writing assignment that leads her and her classmates to Belzhar…a place they all almost can’t believe is real.

I don’t want to give anymore away than that, but I immediately knew this was going to be an interesting book for me. The Bell Jar changed my life, so I was interested to see how the works of Sylvia Plath would change these kids.

My first Bell Jar reading experience:

I was a senior in high school. My mom had just been diagnosed with brain cancer and was told she had maybe 6 months to live (she ended up living for 2 years though, FIGHTER she was). The chaos that was unleashed on the day of that diagnosis forever altered my life. It wasn’t an after-school special where we rallied around each other and lived out her last days frolicking in the sun and such. There was anger that none of us knew what to do with. And that anger became as volatile as an active volcano. One night, everything was too much and I left. I packed a bag and called a friend and I left. I ended up living at a friend’s house for a month or so (a friend who, I might add, had the perfect Full House kind of family which made it harder for me). I only saw my family in counseling sessions until I returned home.

I was feeling very alone and, while thankful for the family housing me,  just felt like nobody understood. I was in this violent sea of anger and confusion and grief, just being thrashed by waves and feeling like I couldn’t keep afloat. I went to the library and decided to give The Bell Jar a try. No idea why. I just had heard of it and decided I wanted to read it. I will never forget reading this book in a room that was not mine, surrounded by people who couldn’t understand what I was going through. I stayed in that bed until it was over and I wept and I wept and I wept.

Someone finally put words to what I was feeling. I no longer felt alone. Or crazy. I understood Esther and that feeling of all-consuming isolation, like you are absolutely alone, trapped inside a bell jar nobody can even penetrate. I wrote like crazy after that experience — I knew I had to get it all out. I felt the tiniest light of hope in one of the darkest and confusing times of my life. That book helped me out of it in a way.

My experience reading Belzhar:

The characters in Belzhar know that bell jar feeling so well. As they each reveal their stories, you see the aching loneliness they have because of situations in their life. Soul-crushing pain and grief and guilt and confusion. There was one quote in particular that just really encapsulated both of our experiences:

Belzhar quote

But then they start reading Plath & writing in their journals. And these words – they save in a way. They let us know we aren’t alone. They allow us to feel outside of ourselves, which is exactly what helped the numbness dissipate for me. They give voice to things you couldn’t even assemble into words. Let you slip into somebody else’s life for a bit or get an outside look in to your own life.

Belzhar Meg Wolitzer

If I read The Bell Jar prior to that year, I probably wouldn’t have felt the way I did about it on a personal level. But words find you and take you where you need to go. Just like they did the characters in Belzhar — though definitely in a more physical way.

Reading Belzhar reminded me of the power of words and how healing they can be — whether they are the ones we breathe into ourselves or the ones we put out into the world for others to breathe in. It reminded me of how sometimes you read a book that your soul really needed you to read. It reminds you of your humanness and that we don’t have to share the burden alone. That’s what I loved about the English class in Belzhar. They didn’t have to share their burdens alone anymore — they had each other to share their pains and their guilt and the weight of the world they were each carrying.

And it reminded me of the hope…

There is more to that ribbon passage I shared above. It continues:

Belzhar quotes

It’s the kind of hope I had at the end of The Bell Jar that is mirrored in this book. When I read the end I saw that Esther knew that things weren’t going to be automatically easy, but she had reached the end of the ribbon where there was something other than infinite pain. She knew she could still descend into that madness and it would be hard, but there was hope. And 18-year-old Jamie, who felt so lost and knew that harder things were going to come because a cancer was currently wreaking havoc on her mom’s brain? She needed to know there was going to be something at the end of that ribbon. Something different. That it wouldn’t be endless pain.

As I read Belzhar I found myself instantly transported back to that time in my life and reminded of how powerful words can be. Things have been rough here in the present — not hopeless, but hard enough that it’s tough remember to have hope — and I think reading this book took me to a Belzhar of my own…a Belzhar I needed to go to right now.

Book Talk: I’ll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson

Book Talk: I’ll Give You The Sun by Jandy NelsonI'll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson
Publisher/Year: Dial- September 16, 2014
Genres: Contemporary YA
Format: ARC
Source: BEA
Other Books From Author: The Sky Is Everywhere
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I received this from the publisher in exchange for review consideration. This in no way swayed my opinion. Pinky swear!

 

 

 

Want an “at a glance” look at what I thought? Check out my Review On A Post-It or my “Final Thought”

 

A1
Jude and Noah are twins and have always been very close — Jude the popular, wild daredevil who is outgoing and fun and Noah the quiet, artistic outcast who loves the boy next door. The cracks in Noah and Jude’s relationship start to form at age 13/14 and one event will completely shatter them (told through Noah’s perspective) and then 3 years later the twins, who are stranger to each other and barely speaking, will start to find their way back to each other (told through Jude’s perspective).
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a4I had been waiting for this book for FOREVER. Ever since I read The Sky Is Everywhere. I was not disappointed even in a little bit with that kind of anticipation. I gave you some of my early thoughts back when I read it after BEA but honestly I just want to write a love letter to this book and to Jandy Nelson. That’s all I really feel like I want to do. It was the kind of book I am looking for.

1. I’ve read books that I consider great works of art but I’ll Give You The Sun is the Sistine Chapel ceiling of them all: I’ve been to the Sistine chapel and Michelangelo’s creation is breathtaking and one glance up at the ceiling isn’t enough to take it all. That is I’ll Give You The Sun. You just stare up at the magnificent ceiling in awe trying to fathom how Michelangelo even accomplished that which is how I felt while reading this book. How are these words perfectly strung together so perfectly? How do you make me feel that with just a sentence? How did you pull off this storytelling so perfectly? It’s complex and intricate and  just shows the magnitude of Jandy Nelson’s gift — something so rare and special that could give me something new upon every read. There’s an inventiveness that truly is stunning, awe-inspiring and a bit magical.

2. The kind of deep, soul-rooted emotional reaction I had to this book is something I feel like I can’t even explain: The way these words and this story made me feel in the very depths of me is what makes a favorite book for me. This book had the plot and characters and the writing but the emotions that Jandy Nelson evoked with this one just felt like she reached into my soul and exposed the barest of my emotions. I was a flood of tears at certain points of this book because the way certain things come together are just devastatingly heartbreaking or overwhelmingly beautiful.

3. The way this story was told is SO effective: So it takes a little bit to get used to the timeline of this novel but basically we read from each twin’s point of view but at different places in time. So we see the beginnings of the story, and the beginning of their fractured relationship, with a young Noah’s point of view and then it alternates to Jude’s point of few several years later and in the present. It’s heartbreaking because, as the reader, we see some of the things that the other twins know which makes the fracture between them overwhelming and devastating. We KNOW secrets and key pieces that they are missing that could help repair their relationship. We carry the burden of their secrets and biggest hurts. As the story progresses, we find out things and they find out things and you just feel them being pulled back together to the point where they will both know the things that each other knows. The way things are told and revealed just really added to the emotional reaction I had and kept me turning the pages because I needed to know each twin’s part in the story!!

4. I will never ever forget Jude and Noah’s story: Never ever. Their passion and their grief and their sadness and EVERYTHING…it just isn’t something that can go away quickly. It leaps off the pages and I just still think about them all these months later. Their triumphs and their losses and their defining moments felt like they were mine as well.

 

a6RATING-beyondloved

factors+ EVERYTHING — but if I have to narrow it down — writing, plot, storytelling, EMOTIONAL REACTION, characters. It’s just a Jamie book so everything is perfect.
- NADA

Re-readability: Oh yes.
Would I buy a copy for my collection? UM YEAH.

a5fans of Jandy Nelson’s The Sky Is Everywhere obviously, people who like poetic and lyrical writing, fans of Melina Marchetta/Cath Crowley/Hilary T. Smith, fans of siblings stories, people who like books that are both heartbreaking and beautiful, lovers of character driven novels, people looking for a unique read, fans of books that make you think, PEOPLE WHO THINK YA CANNOT BE LITERARY (read this and I dare you to tell me that again!)

a8There is a reason that I said Jandy Nelson was a favorite author after The Sky Is Everywhere and I’ll Give You The Sun solidifies that tenfold. You don’t just read a Jandy book — you live it. I’ll Give You The Sun was one of the most all-consuming reading experiences ever. It’s mesmerizing, beautifully written and packs the kind of emotional depth that feels like a tidal wave to the heart. I’ll Give You The Sun is the best book I’ve read in 2014 and I really doubt anything else can dethrone that this year. There’s a reason we’ve all been waiting YEARS for a new Jandy book.

review-on-post-itI'll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson

 

a8j* Have you read this one? What did you think? Similar or different from me? I would LOVE to hear regardless!
*If you haven’t read it, does it feel like something you’d be into?
*

 


The Perpetual Page-Turner

Top Ten Authors I Think Are Super Underrated In Contemporary YA

Top Ten Tuesday, as  always, is hosted at my other blog — The Broke & the Bookish

This week’s topic: Top Ten Underrated Authors/Books in X Genre

I chose a genre near and dear to my heart that I see myself as pretty well read in — contemporary YA. Yeah no surprise to my regular readers right? Now some of these authors might be popular here in the book blogosphere but I realize how many AMAZING authors don’t get nearly enough recognition. I love sooo many of the super well known authors and think they are so deserving of the attention but here are 10 authors that I think should be WAY more well known than they are.

* I tried to pick authors that have had books out for a while rather than some underrated new-ish authors which I have SO many of those!!

underrated authors

1) Jessi Kirby: NO SERIOUSLY. How is she not more popular?!? Her books are so awesome and perfect for Sarah Dessen fans! In order of my love for them: Golden (this book!!), Moonglass and In Honor. Seriously, I am DYING for her next book to come out next year and I just can’t comprehend how she isn’t more well known. A definite favorite author of mine!!

2. Corrine Jackson: If there was ever a gem I read this year…Corrine’s book If I Lie was definitely it!

3. Trish Doller: Trish is certainly popular here in the  book blogging world but I won’t be satisfied until she becomes a household name!! She is one of my FAVORITE authors and you need to read Something Like Normal and Where The Stars Still Shine — both of which made me cry and were 5 stars reads for me.

4. Laura Buzo: Okay, so she’s an Aussie author and her one novels that I liked (Holier Than Thou) isn’t even published here but you should know about here in America. Her book Love & Other Perishable Items (also know as Good Oil in Australia) is PHENOMENAL. Very very character driven book and not a huge plot but I loved it SO MUCH.

5. Leila Sales: I haven’t yet read Leila’s other books (PLANNING ON IT BECAUSE SO MANY PEOPLE I TRUST LOVE THEM) but based on This Song Will Save Your Life…I don’t know WHY she isn’t more popular. One of my favorite books of last year and one of my favorite contemporary books ever!

6. Courtney Summers: No seriously she is brilliant…the world needs to know her more than they do now! Also, love following her on Twitter.

7. Sarah Ockler: Her book, Twenty Boy Summer, got major buzz because of some people trying to ban it but she’s such a solid writer in the contemporary YA space that I’d really like to see her other books get more recognition especially The Book of Broken Hearts.

8. Robin Benway: I’ve made it my mission to get everyone to read Audrey, Wait (it seriously made me create a WTF-why-is-this-not-more-popular shelf on Goodreads). It’s hilarious and fun! And her new series (first book: Also Known As) is really fun, too! Robin Benway is one of the only authors to make me laugh as hard as I did when I read Megan McCafferty’s Jessica Darling series!

9. Daisy Whitney: Her book When You Were Here was brilliant and did NOT get nearly the attention it deserved! Very emotional and beautiful book! And I have her other book The Mockingbirds on my shelf which got rave reviews from people I trust when it came out!

10. Siobhan Vivian: Whether it’s her contemporary books or her series she co-writes with Jenny Han…Siobhan Vivian deserves WAY more attention. Not That Kind Of Girl is a book I want to give every teenage girl!

 

So tell me…who are some authors you think are completely overrated in the contemporary YA genre that I should check out??

Book Talk: Rites of Passage by Joy N. Hensley

Book Talk: Rites of Passage by Joy N. HensleyRites of Passage by Joy N. Hensley
Publisher/Year: HarperTeen- September 9, 2014
Genres: Contemporary YA
Format: ARC
Source: For Review
Other Books From Author: None -- debut novel!
AmazonGoodreadsTwitter

I received this from the publisher in exchange for review consideration. This in no way swayed my opinion. Pinky swear!

 

 

 

Want an “at a glance” look at what I thought? Check out my Review On A Post-It or my “Final Thought”

 

A1
To say Sam’s life has been all military all the time would be an understatement — her dad is a colonel and her brothers are military as well. She’s lived by those rule her whole life. Before her brother Amos dies he gives her the ultimate dare — to enroll at the DMA — the military school they both went to. Never one to pass up a dare and to honor her brother, she decides to enroll when it is announced that women will be able to enroll in this all boys military school. There are only a couple of female recruits in this first class and everyone makes it known right away that they are not welcome….that the DMA needs to stay an all-boys school, that they can’t cut it and will make them weak. Sam isn’t worried about the physical training and she knows what to expect growing up military but nothing can prepare her for the war waged against her and the female recruits….or the feelings she’d have for her drill sergeant.

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a4I think Rites of Passage is one of the most surprising books of the year for me thus far. I figured it would be pretty good but I had NO idea how absorbed in this one I would be, how intense it would be and how much I would FREAKING LOVE IT.

1. I had no idea how intense this would be: I mean, the summary did hint at how hard it would be for her but it couldn’t have prepared me for how intense or crazy it would be. I definitely was thinking HARD but also kind of cutesy (kind of like Cadet Kelly….HILARY DUFF WHAT..anyone else remember this movie?). WRONG WRONG WRONG. Sam gets put through SO MUCH. The guys against her aren’t just giving her little shoves and stuff…it was seriously intense and I was scared for her life. THIS IS SERIOUS SHIT. They want her out of their school so bad and my anxiety level watching what they did to her to try and force her out? THROUGH THE ROOF. And so much anger for all the sexism and the boys club behavior!!! I couldn’t contain myself.

2. The setting was awesomely written and unique: Sure we get boarding schools in YA but I have never seen a military school pop up before (not saying there ISN’T..I just don’t know of it). Joy Hensley really made me feel like I was there and BOY WOULD I NEVER WANT TO BE. I would never last a minute. From the craziness of their workouts to the sacred feeling on campus, I just was instantly transported there and could hear the uniform marching and feel the spit on my cheek as someone screamed orders in my face.

3. SAM IS SO BADASS: You can ask Will…I was fist pumping and rooting for her very loudly though he would have preferred I did it in my head. I can’t tell you how many times I wanted to cry for her in this book. I can’t imagine being badass enough to fight her way through everything she had to endure physically and mentally. SO MANY FEELS FOR SAM. She had so much to prove to herself and everyone around her (especially her military dad) and I could feel that — especially when she was EVEN BETTER THAN SOME OF THE BOYS but everyone kept telling her she was weak. I felt like such a lazy person after watching how kickass she was and how tough. Anybody want to be my workout/running buddy so I can be like Sam??

4. The CAMARADERIE was touching: Pretty much everyone is against her and she had some major disappointments with people she should be able to trust and rely on but there were these moments of camaraderie with people who did believe in her that just touched me and gave me a surge of feelings. There were some really great characters who had Sam’s back and I loved them.

5. DRILL: OH HOT DAMN. You need to meet Drill, friends. I felt the struggle between not wanting to break rules but FEELINGS. My heart was skipping some beats that is for sure.

6. I found one of my most hated characters EVER…like burning hatred I can feel in the depths of my soul: There were a lot of hateable characters in this but there is ONE and I kept screaming, “OH MY GOD I FREAKING HATE YOUUUU” because the things he would do to Sam were awful and SO FRUSTRATING how she couldn’t do anything about it. Watching so many of his plots against her succeed and watching him get away with so much made me SCREAM. Sometimes I found myself having to take a moment to relax because I was so tense and squeezing the pages of the book. I kept wanting him to get an excruciating kick to the balls. Will kept telling me I was being crazy but I couldn’t help but be like AHHHHHHHH I AM SO MAD. I HOPE YOU DIE STUPID CHARACTER. Yes, I make death threats against characters.

 

a6RATING-loved-it

factors+ plot, setting, characters, emotions, writing
- NADA

Re-readability: Possibly! I so want another book to continue the story though!!
Would I buy a copy for my collection? Yes I would like one!

a5fans of contemporary YA, readers who are looking for a unique setting in contemporary YA, readers who have punching bags nearby (haha kidding but no really…RAGE BLACKOUT), fans of military type setting, readers wanting a physically and mentally badass character who is easy to relate to, readers looking for an absorbing & intense read, readers who want books that tackle sexism and the patriarchy and the good ol’ boys club

a8Rites of Passage was an intense read that I could not put down. Like AT ALL. Joy Hensley gives readers a thrilling ride that will have you rooting for one of the most kickass heroines I’ve read and seriously worrying how much more she can take despite that. It was the kind of vivid reading experience that makes you feel like you are right in this with her. The mental fatigue, the determination and the fueled rage, the ache of the muscles on the 100th pushup, the heart-pounding fear — I felt it all! I like a book that makes me go through a myriad of emotions and Rites of Passage did that and then some. Rites of Passage may have invented some new emotions in my life or tapped into ones I never have felt before. An all around absorbing read that did everything right for me.

review-on-post-it

Rites of Passage by Joy N. Hensley

a8j* Have you read this one? What did you think? Similar or different from me? I would LOVE to hear regardless!
*If you haven’t read it, does this book feel like something you’d be into?
* Did anyone else feel intense rage and hate for a certain character (or few!)???
* Did you like the way it ended? (I so want a sequel but I was good with the ending).
* Anybody else feel like they should maybe not be eating ice cream on the couch while reading this because it further cemented how not kickass heroine they are? OH JUST ME??

 


The Perpetual Page-Turner

 

September To-Be-Read List!

I didn’t have time to post a September Most Wanted at the end of August/beginning of September like I wanted to! Just know there are LOTS of September releases so I probably wouldn’t have ever finished it EVER. So I apologize for not having a nice list of September releases for you to check out BUT I did film a video of which books I’m prioritizing for September and a good chunk of those are September releases. So are we sort of friends again??

Let me know if you’ve read any of these/which one should be my TOP priority!

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