Best Books I Read in: January (and You Should Too)!

Sorry I left you guys waiting for this month’s list a couple extra days longer. I got distracted with snow and school and watching The Royals.

So in January I read a whooping 16 books! That must be an all-time best. I wanted to read as much as I could before the semester started–though I still read a fair amount the last two weeks of January, balanced with school work. Let’s get started!

love actually dancing

Short version here!
-WOLF BY WOLF by Ryan Graudin [asfghjkl masterpiece]
-MAP OF FATES by Maggie Hall [swoon]
-KILL THE BOY BAND by Goldy Moldavsky [this book is effed up]
-EVERY LAST WORD by Tamara Ireland Stone [cute! poetry! yay!]
-THE ANATOMY OF CURIOSITY by Maggie Stiefvater, Brenna Yovanoff, and Tessa Gratton [yessssss]

Longer/cooler version here!

wolf by wolf

OH MY GOD THIS BOOK. I love it SO much. I read it in a day because I just could not stop. I don’t think I’ve ever really read an alternate history book, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I was also wary of the subject matter since we’ve had a crop of Nazi Romance Book scandals in the last several months + last semester I took a class on Genocide, so the material was close to my heart. But this. book. was. incredible. Yael is such an amazing MC–she’s been through so much shit, but she still has so much heart, and it’s beautiful. The plot is nonstop and the writing broke me. Like, I had so many feels, it was disgusting [evidence below].

Amazon || B&N || Goodreads

map of fates cover.

The Conspiracy of Us was one of my favorite books of last year. I loved the characters and was totally hooked. I was so excited to win an ARC so I could read it and sate my fangirlsh needs! But who was I kidding, this book just made me need book 3! Again, spot on characters, humor, and sass. And swoony guys that actually made me CHANGE SHIPS. This has NEVER happened to me before. But as much as I love Jack Stellan, I’m here for Avery and her character growth and unraveling all the mysteries of this twisty tale. Okay, and Stellan. Full review coming soon!

Amazon || B&N || Goodreads

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anatomy of curiousity cover.

I’ve never really read short story collections before, but I’ve been in a writing slump recently, so I wanted to check this out since it’s a book for writers and readers. And oh man, I’m so glad I did! These stories and the writing tips/insights/notes  were incredible. The stories themselves were super interesting. I was hooked on two of them and found the other interesting but it just didn’t grab me, though the author notes were still invaluable. If you’re a fan of one or more of these authors or enjoy fantasy and richly woven stories, def check this out!

Amazon || B&N || Goodreads

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kill the boyband cover.

I LOVE THIS BOOK SO MUCH! I don’t even know how to talk about it and I want to review it, but you see how not knowing how to talk about this book could pose a problem. Just… just… I don’t even know. This magical book is somehow real. It has messy characters, insane situations, satire, a twisty plot, and GIRLS AND THEIR POWER AND FEELS. I’ll try to be coherent about this book some other time.

Amazon || B&N || Goodreads

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.every last word cover

The poetry in this book is beautiful! I thought it was also interesting to see a different manifestation of OCD that had more to do with invasive thoughts than the more well known neurotic tendencies. Even though this book deals with a heavy subject, it was a fluffy easy read with fun characters and a cute ship.

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What are the best books you’ve read recently? Have you read any of these?

 

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Waiting on Wednesday: SCARLETT EPSTEIN HATES IT HERE by Anna Breslaw

I’m so excited to talk about this booK!

Waiting on Wednesday Theme: Nerdy Book of My Heart

vanessa excitement

Scarlett Epstein Hates It Here coverTitle: Scarlett Epstein Hates It Here
Author: Anna Breslaw
Pub Date: April 19, 2016 from Razorbill/Penguin Random House
Amazon: Pre-order it here!
B&N: or here!
Goodreads: Add it to your shelves!

Meet Scarlett Epstein, BNF (Big Name Fan) in her online community of fanfiction writers, world-class nobody at Melville High. Her best (read: only) IRL friends are Avery, a painfully shy and annoyingly attractive bookworm, and Ruth, her pot-smoking, possibly insane seventy-three-year-old neighbor.

When Scarlett’s beloved TV show is canceled and her longtime crush, Gideon, is sucked out of her orbit and into the dark and distant world of Populars, Scarlett turns to the fanfic message boards for comfort. This time, though, her subjects aren’t the swoon-worthy stars of her fave series—they’re the real-life kids from her high school. Scarlett never considers what might happen if they were to find out what she truly thinks about them…until a dramatic series of events exposes a very different reality than Scarlett’s stories, forever transforming her approach to relationships—both online and off.

I feel like I might have talked about my love for all things fangirly in my Waiting On post for Gena/Finn. Regardless, if you could not tell by now, I love fandom. I started writing through fanfiction, so stories about fanfic are always close to my heart.

I’m really intrigued to see how the fanfiction world will mesh with her ‘real’ life. The pitch just kind of hits everything need I need it to–except ‘annoyingly attractive’ best friend because why do we hardly have YA friendships where the MC does not feel overshadowed by her prettier friend? Hopefully that’s just the pitch being misleading and the actual book won’t disappoint me.

Are you excited for SCARLETT EPSTEIN HATES IT HERE?

Author Interview + Giveaway: Nicole Castroman of BLACKHEARTS

Today I’m so stoked to bring to you an interview with the fabulous Nicole castroman. She’s the author of your new favorite Blackbeard origin story BLACKHEARts.

ABOUT THE BOOK

blackhearts

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You may recall this feelsy review swooning for my new favorite novel, BLACKHEARTS. I was so enamored with it that I was jotting down questions immediately after finishing (I was inspired!) before I realized that interviews are an actual thing that exist and that I could find Nicole’s website and get in touch with her. And thus, this happened!

 

 

Read on for Nicole’s thoughts on Blackbeard, writing, and what Anne and Teach’s favorite TV show would be!


 

THE INTERVIEW

  • What did you know about Blackbeard before writing your novel and what was the most interesting thing you learned during/after your research?

The only thing I knew about Blackbeard before writing my story was that he was a notorious pirate. I think one of the most interesting things I learned after doing my research was that he wasn’t as harsh and brutal as many people believe. Was he a good guy? No. But there were much more sadistic and crueler pirates out there. It was said that Blackbeard was quite engaging and almost agreeable to those who did as he asked. He preferred not to use force to get what he wanted. Instead he created his demonic appearance in the hope that people would automatically capitulate or give in to his wishes.

  • What was the first pirate story you heard, movie you saw, or fact you learned that made you go, “YES PIRATES!”?

When I heard that Blackbeard had held the entire city of Charleston, SC hostage, I was hooked. He didn’t ask for money. His only demand was for medication. He could have had anything, but that was all he asked for. Because of this, I wanted to know more about Blackbeard and where he came from.

sokka spend my vacation at the library atla

  • What was the hardest part of the writing process? How was writing two distinct POVs? Were there things you wanted to have your characters do or words you wanted to use but couldn’t, due to the time period?

The hardest part of the writing process for me was to try to stay historically accurate, at least as far as the voice is concerned. If I read a historical novel, I want it to sound historical. Nothing would have bothered me more than to write a modern voice set in 1697 England. Language has evolved over the centuries. Diction, pronunciation, articulation, and delivery can all change. The way my kids speak now is different from how my parents spoke when they were young. I wanted my story to sound authentic, without making it sound too old fashioned. It needed to flow, but still appeal to a modern teen. My 16yo daughter was a big help in this regard.

  • I especially love the moment Anne realizes the double standards between women of lower and upper classes, and how she—as a lower class woman—may have more freedom than someone like Miss Patience. Freedom is a major theme of the story. Do you think Anne, Teach, and Patience would be different people if they had the freedom they wanted?

Oh, good question. If Patience was a maid, it would be interesting to see if she’d act any differently. Somehow, I still get the feeling she’d feel superior to others. She’d most likely boss the other maids about.

winning try it regina ouat

I think if both Anne and Teach had the freedom they wanted, they’d be able to accomplish amazing things. It’s all about the choices they would make, and what they’d do with their freedom.

  • I loved the duality to Miss Patience. Do you see Anne and Miss Patience as character foils? Did you always set out to frame them that way, or did it develop as you were writing and revising?

I definitely set Anne and Miss Patience as character foils. Anne is supposedly inferior, at least according to Patience, but Anne’s character and strength are far greater. I actually tried to make Miss Patience more appealing, but I couldn’t find one redeeming quality about her. She’s bigoted and cruel and it’s just like Mary and Sara say. She might be pretty on the outside, but she’s ugly on the inside and it shows.

austenland done

  • Teach and his father have a very tense and complicated relationship, and I loved getting to see that through both Teach’s perspective and Anne’s. But the whole novel had interesting and complicated character dynamics like Anne/Teach, Anne/Mr. Drummond, Patience/her mother. Did you have a favorite to write? Or one that was the hardest?

I loved writing all of their character dynamics. Nobody is perfect and I wanted each character to have some flaws. I enjoy a story that challenges the reader and makes them question whether they like a character or not.

  • Blackhearts read like a Victorian novel to me. Who are your favorite couples from classic literature? What are your favorite classic lit novels?

One of my favorite couples is definitely Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy. I love Pride and Prejudice.

darcy and lizzie pride and prejudice

I’m also a fan of Rhett Butler and Scarlett O’Hara. I might have teared up a bit when my family and I went to the Margaret Mitchell house in downtown Atlanta. That’s where Margaret Mitchell wrote part of the book.

gone with the wind i love you well that's your misfortune

Another novel that some people might not know about is THESE IS MY WORDS by Nancy E. Turner. Sarah Agnes Prine and Captain Jack Elliot belong together as much as the previous two couples I mentioned. I have a soft spot for epic love stories. 🙂

  • Do you think women’s clothes should have more pockets?

I definitely think women’s clothes should have more pockets. 🙂

  • If Anne, Teach, and supporting crew of Blackhearts were in our world, what do you think their favorite TV shows would be?

I think they’d be big fans of Poldark. Anne might like Shark Tank. It’s a show about people going after their dreams. Teach might enjoy Shark Week.

poldark

  • Can you tease your next project?

I hope to be able to give you an answer to this question in the near future.

ill-just-wait-here-titanic-jack


ENTER THE GIVEAWAY

I’m hosting a preorder giveaway for a copy of BLACKHEARTS. All you have to do is follow me on Twitter and retweet THIS tweet (also embedded below) and you’ll be entered to win. Contest ends on Sunday 2/7 and is open international as long as Book Depository ships to you. May the odds be ever in your favor 😉


MEET THE AUTHOR

nicole castroman

Nicole was lucky enough to come with her very own best friend…she has a twin sister who can read her mind and finish her sentences for her.

At the age of 13, she went to Europe for the first time and it changed her life. She loves learning about different people, languages and cultures and speaks fluent German. She knows enough Spanish to get herself into trouble and can still read the Cyrillic alphabet from when she studied Russian.

She received her B.A. from Brigham Young University and has lived in Germany, Austria and two different places called Georgia. One is the country located on the Black Sea. The other is the state of Georgia where she now lives with her handsome husband and two beautiful children who continue to amaze her.
Website || Twitter || Facebook || Pinterest || Goodreads

ARC Review: REIGN OF SHADOWS by Sophie Jordan

Check out what I thought about a new YA Fantasy Retelling of Rapunzel!

reign of shadows coverTitle: REIGN OF SHADOWS
Author: Sophie Jordan
Pub Date: February 9, 2016 from HarperTeen
Amazon: Pre-order it here!
B&N: or here!
Goodreads: Add it to your shelves

Seventeen years ago, an eclipse cloaked the kingdom of Relhok in perpetual darkness. In the chaos, an evil chancellor murdered the king and queen and seized their throne. Luna, Relhok’s lost princess, has been hiding in a tower ever since. Luna’s survival depends on the world believing she is dead.

But that doesn’t stop Luna from wanting more. When she meets Fowler, a mysterious archer braving the woods outside her tower, Luna is drawn to him despite the risk. When the tower is attacked, Luna and Fowler escape together. But this world of darkness is more treacherous than Luna ever realized.

With every threat stacked against them, Luna and Fowler find solace in each other. But with secrets still unspoken between them, falling in love might be their most dangerous journey yet.

Thanks to HarperCollins for sending me an ARC!

REIGN OF SHADOWS was an enjoyable read. I flew through it, and it had nothing to do with its slim volume. It kept me turning the pages and rooting for the main characters, Luna and Fowler. Despite my enjoyment though, there were a lot of things I disliked about the novel.

My biggest complain is that there’s no reason for it to be a 2 book series. So little actually happens in book 1 that some of the romantic tension could have been cut to add in more plot and conflict that has to do with Luna’s true identity, the secret she’s keeping, and how it affects her world. A lot of scenes are repetitive and don’t establish anything new. Luna and Fowler trek through the forest and bump into people and have sexual tension and almost kiss but then don’t and then do more walking and almost kiss again. The interesting stuff like the bounty hunters slaughtering teenage girls and the main plot line of Luna being the true heir to the throne are barely present. Sometimes I also felt Luna was kept from making decisions purely to stretch the thin plot.

ugh hook

There isn’t really an ending since it just ends on a massive cliffhanger very abruptly, after a massive plot twist is revealed. I have no problem with a cliffhanger when it feels natural, like some questions have been answered or a character arc has progressed, but this book was devoid of character arcs for me and the world building still left so many questions (a forest in a world that has no sun? what do dwellers look like/what are they/how did they even come to be? how does the city above the trees have a lake?), that the end doesn’t provide any closure while still leaving the story open. It just cuts out, like if you were in a movie theater and the screen goes black in the middle of the film.

reign of shadows

As a Rapunzel retelling, it had some interesting subversions. I liked that Luna was blind instead of her “prince.” I just don’t know if she was written as Magical Disabled Person instead of simply a normal disabled person who knows how to take care of herself and isn’t solely her disability. Luna has a lot of skills, but I don’t know how she could maneuver around foreign parts of the forest without a walking stick or anything perfectly. Maybe that’s just my ignorance.

While this is a retelling, it also reads like a romance novel. Words like “heady” and “sinew” were used multiple times, which isn’t a big deal, but it just changes the feel or aesthetic of the novel. The plot was basically made up of romantic tension and almost kisses, as mentioned. I’d also call it insta-love, though some might dispute me on that point. Also, the first “moment” they share when Fowler nearly kisses her seemed to come out of nowhere, since he was very closed off before then. Fowler and Luna both fulfilled some very common, cliche romance tropes. Fowler is the gruff alpha male closed off to love, and Luna is the bright-eyed, optimistic innocent  girl. I just wish something else was done with their characters so the trope wasn’t so pronounced.

Despite that, I still enjoyed this story! Fowler and Luna had some great sass, their POVs flowed well, and I liked the side characters of Perla and Sivo. I hope we see them again! Side note: When Luna leaves the tower and begins to run out of food Perla gave her and she had feels, that gave me feels. Loved that.

feeeeels

Some might be bothered by the pace of the novel, but I wasn’t. The lead up to the end feels vaguely episodic with stuff Happening, Dramatic Break Ups and Getting Back Together compared to how slow the previous 250 pages were. All in all, REIGN OF SHADOWS needs some fine tuning, but kept me hooked to the page. Recommended for romance and fairy tale fans, rather than someone looking for a good fantasy.

Cover Thoughts
enchanted

Favorite Quote (From an ARC, so check the final version)
“Being a little dangerous in this world was a requirement.”
ouat hook once eyebrow

Favorite Character 
Maybe Fowler…? 🙂
asfdgh emma

A HUNGER GAMES Meta: Romeo and Juliet; Women; and Gender Roles

I just reread The Hunger Games and it was ah-mazing! I had a lot of thoughts and wanted to write a meta.

So when I watched Mockingjay Part 2 last November, I immediately wanted to reread the trilogy over winter break, but that didn’t happen. Well, I finished book one yesterday, and had all these feels and thoughts, so I decided to put together a little post.

feels lion king 2

(I originally wanted this to go up yesterday since I was supposed to finish the book Thursday, but I wasted Thursday binging Younger. Sorry I suck!)

***Oh yeah, even though this is focused on book one, it has minor spoilers for the rest of the series. 

Romeo and Juliet Influence

Katniss and Peeta have a slight Romeo and Juliet thing going on. Even before the ‘star-crossed lovers’ thing the Games makes them come up with, Katniss makes a comment about Peeta’s mom hating that he’s in love with a girl from the Seam. Even in District 12 they come from two different worlds. The Mellark crew lives slightly better off (even though they have to eat the burned bread they don’t sell D:) than Katniss and her family. In some ways there’s a difference in class that separates them.

And then obviously the ‘star-crossed lovers’ coin that the Capitol pins on them has more direct links to the play. The ploy with the berries is just like the Tomb Scene in Romeo and Juliet, when both lovers take their lives. Though their sacrifice mends the divide between their families, Katniss and Peeta have only started a rebellion. Katniss is symbolized as the mockingjay, while Juliet is enshrined in a gold statue. It’s just a small connection that made me smile.

Snape and Lily: Always

While I was reading, I picked up on something I hadn’t noticed before. Everyone knows Snape and Lily and Always from Harry Potter. It’s considered one of the most romantic things ever. I am one of those people that think Snape was a huge jerk and don’t really swoon over ‘always.’ But when Katniss asks Peeta when he first fell for her in order to get a sponsor gift from Haymitch, Peeta opens up and tells her about the first day of school. According to him, his father was in love with Katniss’ mother, but she married someone else and he’s loved her ever since. This immediately jumped out at me and I pieced it back to the baker’s promise to Katniss after she volunteers to save Prim.

Peeta’s dad promises Katniss he won’t let Prim starve. He’d also been buying game from Katniss and Gale for years. Basically, Peeta’s dad cared for Katniss and Prim in any way he could because of his love for their mom–and perhaps just out of being a decent human being. He didn’t look at them with hatred for symbolizing the woman he loved loving someone else. He helped keep them alive and was kind to them. Snape, on the other hand, was a bully to children he was supposed to be teaching, treated Harry horribly, and hated James and the Marauders for all eternity, to the point he got Remus fired. Peeta’s dad and Katniss’ mom are a much healthier version of Snape and Lily, to me.

snape approves

A World Filled With Women

An ongoing study looking at Disney princess movies just published research showing that male characters have more lines than the female characters. Part of the problem is the total lack of female characters besides the lead princess. How can Belle and Mrs. Potts speak more than the Beast, Gaston, Maurice, LeFou, Cogsworth, Lumière, Chip, the creepy asylum dude, a tavern full of drunk men, the bookshop owner, the baker, and an entire world full of men?

While I was reading, I noticed the abundance of women in minor roles in The Hunger Games. Greasy Sae, Rooba the butcher, Madge, Venia, Octavia and the redheaded Avox girl to name a few.

done with your shit agent carter

I also really loved the portrayal of Foxface, something I didn’t really care about six years ago. I loved how Katniss was kind of jealous of her skills, and how Foxface was always one step aside of her. Katniss had a grudging respect for her, something that really stood out to me when they’re lured to the Cornucopia for the feast and Foxface darts in and out before anyone can move. Katniss is like, “Ugghhhh, why didn’t I think of that! Why is she so awesome?”

proud family squad

On the same note, I love how there was no hate for any of the female tributes. She describes Glimmer as ‘sexy and lush.’ Katniss never compares herself to them in a mean way, or thinks awful things about them–despite being in a fight for her life. They’re simply there and a threat to her. Glimmer is the one she has to get the bow from. Clove nearly disfigures Katniss with her knife. Even though so much emphasis is placed on Cato and he is who makes it to the climax of the book, the female tributes present immediate threats to Katniss.

bad blood squad #SquadGoals

Rue, of course, is the most important female tribute to Katniss. She reminds Katniss of her sister, Prim. But in her own right, Rue is a very interesting character. She’s very developed, not just a Prim stand in. She has a lot in common with Katniss; the oldest in her family and working hard to protect them. She has a love for music, which Katniss at first scorns before remembering she used to love it too. Rue has a connection to mockingjays and is responsible for that famous whistle that gives us all feels.

She has her own strategy to survive the Games, different from all the others, but similar to Peeta. (Maybe that’s another reason Katniss took a quick liking to her ;D) While Peeta excelled at camouflage, Rue was able to hide herself in the trees.

Rue and Katniss take care of each other. Rue first gives her the idea to drop the tracker jacker nest that helps her escape. Then they’re able to exchange supplies and work together to destroy the mountain of supplies the Careers were hoarding, thus weakening them and turning the tide in the Games. Rue also just helps Katniss mentally, which any person would need if they were in a vicious fight to the death.

And then of course, the most prominent female character besides Katniss would be Effie Trinket. Firstly I just love how much her name says. Effie very much is a trinket of the Capitol. She means nothing to the Capitol, like a useless trinket, but is dressed up all ornately with crazy colored hair. She acts like the Capitol. She speaks like the Capitol.

In book one, she literally represents the Capitol in District 12. The Peacekeepers were super blah and didn’t care about enforcing the rules. So when Effie arrives, she is the Capitol. But of course she genuinely grows to care for Katniss and Peeta and her blinders are taken off, and she becomes more than the Capitol’s trinket.

we will dominate the earth azula atla

Subverting Gender Roles

Katniss and Peeta are so important to me! I was a Gale/Katniss shipper six years ago because I was a dumb 15 year old. But I’m turning 21 in April and I like to think I’m a slightly smarter person than I was then. Also my feminist awakening didn’t come until junior year, so maybe if I’d read these books a year later I would have seen them differently.

Okay but Katniss is the moody, angsty, athletic boss and Peeta is the softer, kinder, artist. Peeta is the one with all the feels and Katniss tries not to think about her heart. IT’S AMAZING.

Katniss and Peeta are both super intelligent, as shown by how they both survive the Games with different strategies. I also love how Katniss has a feminine side, like how she loves the clothes Cinna designs for her. Katniss is not strong because she can shoot a bow and arrow well; she’s strong because she can do that, and like pretty clothes, and love her family, and sing Rue to sleep, and cover Rue in flowers, and be openly disgusted at puss but try to save Peeta anyway.

Katniss isn’t good with words, that’s something Peeta excels at. Peeta isn’t good at being sneaky in the woods (he scares all the game away, drifts away from Katniss so she can’t hear the signal, and nearly eats nightlock, okay) but Katniss is a total badass at that stuff. She can shoot squirrels in the eye.

Katniss and Peeta don’t play into traditional gender roles. Katniss’s strength doesn’t come from a total lack of femininity, and while Peeta could be seen as the vulnerable artist, he’s also physically strong. They’re both independent characters and all the more interesting because they don’t conform.

peggy bamf sunglasses deal with it

A Woman’s Worth

Something I found sooo interesting in this book was the fact that Katniss isn’t desirable until Peeta makes her so. Haymitch basically tells her this. She’s sour and off-putting before Peeta tells everyone she has all these dudes at home that love her and he’s one of them. Katniss isn’t worth anything until a man speaks for her, wants her, tells the world she’s good enough for his love. Her act of bravery and love for her sister does not make her worthy. Neither does the 11 she scored on her own, based on her own merit.

And later, Katniss is the one that has to prove she loves Peeta. Katniss is the one no one believes. Katniss is the one whose emotions are constantly scrutinized. Katniss’ worth is constantly questioned.

After the Games, Cinna tries to dress her in girlish and innocent clothes (Katniss remarks she looks 14), trying to equate being a girl with not being a threat, worthless.

Katniss and the Epilogue in Mockingjay

Okay, so like many people, I was angry with the epilogue in the last book when I first read it. But when I saw the movie last November, I thought it was very well done. Why shouldn’t Katniss get a full life with love and children after all the shit she went through? Yes, you can have a full life without kids and everyone pointed to the numerous times Katniss tells us she doesn’t want kids. Of course, people who like the epilogue point out Katniss says she doesn’t want kids because of the horrible world they live in, and by the end of the series they have toppled that regime.

But while I was reading book one, it dawned on me how maternal Katniss was. Obviously she loves Prim more than anything, and did all this just to keep her safe. But even how much she looked after Rue and loved her so completely, it really showed me that Katniss is capable of so much love and she has that maternal instinct. Collins did a splendid job of showing us the difference or paradox between what Katniss says and what she does.

Yeah, maybe at sixteen, she didn’t want kids because that’s totally normal. But there’s a part of Katniss we’re shown quite intimately who gravitates towards kids naturally. I’ve started Catching Fire and she mentions taking Madge out to teach her how to shoot. She’s patient in her own ways and willing to help people learn.

I’m very satisfied with how the series ends because it’s important to see someone wounded and hurt and scarred choosing love and finding solace, finding comfort, finding a way to move on while carrying all those memories. Katniss isn’t suddenly healed because she has Peeta and children. She’s still hurting. But she’s also happy.

don't fucking cry harry potter


 

There we go! Some Hunger Games thoughts and observations. Perhaps I’ll do one for Catching Fire. Who knows.

What did you think of these observations? What is your favorite part of THE HUNGER GAMES? When did you read these books? Do you like the movies? Should I do one for Catching Fire? Tell me below!

Waiting on Wednesday: A STUDY IN CHARLOTTE by Brittany Cavallaro

Check out what book we’re spotlighting this week!

Waiting on Wednesday Theme: Gender-Bending!

she's the man mustache

a study in charlotte coverTitle: A Study in Charlotte
Author: Brittany Cavallaro
Pub Date: March 1, 2016 from Katherine Tegen Books/HarperCollins
Amazon: Pre-order here!
B&N: Or here!
Goodreads: Add it to your shelves!

The last thing sixteen-year-old Jamie Watson–writer and great-great-grandson of the John Watson–wants is a rugby scholarship to Sherringford, a Connecticut prep school just an hour away from his estranged father. But that’s not the only complication: Sherringford is also home to Charlotte Holmes, the famous detective’s enigmatic, fiercely independent great-great-granddaughter, who’s inherited not just his genius but also his vices, volatile temperament, and expertly hidden vulnerability. Charlotte has been the object of his fascination for as long as he can remember–but from the moment they meet, there’s a tense energy between them, and they seem more destined to be rivals than anything else.

Then a Sherringford student dies under suspicious circumstances ripped straight from the most terrifying of the Holmes stories, and Jamie and Charlotte become the prime suspects. Convinced they’re being framed, they must race against the police to conduct their own investigation. As danger mounts, it becomes clear that nowhere is safe and the only people they can trust are each other.

Equal parts tender, thrilling, and hilarious, A Study in Charlotte is the first in a trilogy brimming with wit and edge-of-the-seat suspense.

I can’t wait for this book! I’ve heard nothing but good things about it from the book world and it seems like a great twist on the classic story of Sherlock Holmes.

I’m sure most of us are fans of the BBC show with Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, but I’ve lost some of my love for it in the past few years. I haven’t been excited about Sherlock–both the show and the classic, in general–in a long time. That was, until I heard the premise for this! FEMALE SHERLOCK OMG YAY!–I’m so thrilled for it.

sherlock rather fun

Come on, you all knew this was coming, right?

A lot of people seem to get very defensive about how a Sherlock/Watson romance wouldn’t work–regardless of gender–because Sherlock is supposed to be this and Watson is that, but I am a romantic and I will ship almost anything that makes heart eyes, or annoyed eyes, at each other. ‘Tense energy between them’ ‘rivals’… I ship it already. I’m excited to see their dynamic play out, especially because Holmes/Watson are always friendly (I think?) in any reincarnation. I mean they may start out as reluctant allies, but never rivals.

I also love how the cover is kind of like a snapshot of all the detective work. I just imagine it as all the places they’re investigating/suspicious items they find. It’s so intriguing and I could look at it forever.

Are you excited for A STUDY IN CHARLOTTE? Are you a Sherlock Holmes fan?

ARC Review + Playlist + Giveaway: THE GIRL WHO FELL by S.M. Parker

Welcome to The Girl Who Fell Blog Tour!

blog tour banner - the girl who fell

the girl who fell

 

Title:The Girl Who Fell
Author: S.M. Parker
Pub Date: March 1, 2016 from Simon & Schuster/Simon Pulse
Amazon: Pre-order
B&N: Pre-order 
Book Depository: Preorder here!
Kobo: Preorder here!
Goodreads: Add it to your shelves 

In this gripping debut novel, high school senior Zephyr Doyle is swept off her feet—and into an intense and volatile relationship—by the new boy in school.

His obsession.
Her fall.

Zephyr Doyle is focused. Focused on leading her team to the field hockey state championship and leaving her small town for her dream school, Boston College.

But love has a way of changing things.

Enter the new boy in school: the hockey team’s starting goaltender, Alec. He’s cute, charming, and most important, Alec doesn’t judge Zephyr. He understands her fears and insecurities—he even shares them. Soon, their relationship becomes something bigger than Zephyr, something she can’t control, something she doesn’t want to control.

Zephyr swears it must be love. Because love is powerful, and overwhelming, and…terrifying?

But love shouldn’t make you abandon your dreams, or push your friends away. And love shouldn’t make you feel guilty—or worse, ashamed.

So when Zephyr finally begins to see Alec for who he really is, she knows it’s time to take back control of her life.

If she waits any longer, it may be too late.

THE GIRL WHO FELL was one of those books that sucks you in and makes you feel everything.

The story isn’t solely within the pages, but all around you. I felt like I was in that relationship with Zephyr. I felt groggy and isolated and broken. Alec wasn’t just Zephyr’s bane but he became mine, too. I read THE GIRL WHO FELL and fell.

Okay, that last bit is dramatic. BUT, I really did feel like I was in an abusive relationship while reading. It nailed everything. It brought my back to my psych classes. It was done so well.

Don’t let that scare you because the payoff, oh the glorious payoff. It was everything I needed. It was everything Zephyr needed. It was everything girls everywhere need.

Zephyr may fall, but she rises stronger in many ways.

It’s a beautiful story to see a girl lose herself and find her way back wounded, but not a victim. Zephyr is more than her trauma. She is not defined by it.

top model feels

In some ways this book feels like a character study. Zephyr’s home, friends, and school life are all integral pieces of this book. I really appreciated seeing such a fully fleshed picture being drawn. Also, her dog automatically hated Alec and I did a fist pump!

I really loved her best friend, Lizzie. She was great and supportive and everything you want in a bestie. Zephyr’s other best friend is a guy named Gregg, who she’s been friends with for a long time, and he when he finally makes his deeper feelings known, he seriously blows it. For awhile I was kind of disappointed that Gregg had feelings for Zephyr, but I found their development done well and a counterbalance to the toxicity of Alec. Gregg is definitely not her knight in shining armor, and he doesn’t swoop in to save the day, but he and his feelings also doesn’t take away from Zephyr and her story.

Then there’s Alec. Oh man. I wanted to punch him the entire book. I wanted to grab Zephyr and tell her to run. This creep knew exactly what he was doing and how to weasel his way into every single facet of her life. He could have been Kilgrave from Jessica Jones. He wants all the control.

This story also dealt with growing up in nuanced ways. There comes a point in everyone’s life where they learn to see their parents as humans who are still making mistakes. There’s also the end of high school, the fear, and loss of safety that comes with that. This gorgeous book examined all of these.

Reading The Girl Who Fell was a painful experience, but also a beautiful one. Seeing Zephyr try to come to terms with what had happened and move forward with her friends and family at her side means so much, and I’m sure it will to readers who can identify with Zephyr more than I can. No matter what your abuser tells you, that you’re alone and unworthy of love, there will always be people who stand behind you. This isn’t just a book, but a love letter to girls everywhere. 

Cover Thoughts
hug trish jessica jones

Favorite Quotes
I fall into her arms and the deluge begins. I cry for Boston College. For the lines being blurred. For doubting Alec. For believing in Alec. For forgetting me. For believing in the new me Alec made. I hate all of me and most of me and I don’t know how to escape the skin I’m in.  

I have a lot of favorites, they’re so amazing you need to read them all when you reach them. So that’s the only one I’m going to leave here. Just a reminder this is from an ARC, so the actual line might be a little different.

Favorite Character
My sweet Lizzie! Who stood by her friend through everything and was ready to punch Alec in the face.
holland punch

Thank you Brittany for letting me be a part of this blog tour! Thank you to Edelweiss and Simon Pulse for providing an e-arc. And thanks to S.M. Parker for writing such a lovely/feelsy book and being so supportive of bloggers and readers.

As a treat a playlist inspired by this book is below! 🙂 Here’s a link to listen to it on 8tracks (it even has annotations), but there’s a Youtube mix embedded here, as well.


 

Tracklist!

PART I: girl meets boy.

  1. The Great Escape by Boys Like Girls: This song has a way of just sucking you into it and it’s all about meeting someone and escaping together. It’s all encompassing, which is how Zephyr feels about Alec.
  2. Friday I’m In Love by The Cure: Another song about meeting someone and being in love and that’s all that matters.

PART II: girl loses self. 

  1. Colors by Halsey: This is where things to take a darker turn, where “love” takes over. You lose yourself. Everything is about the other person. Even though the boy in this song leaves her alone, I felt like that wasn’t the most important part of the song (since Alec by no means leaves Zephyr). For me, Colors is about losing yourself in a relationship and even if Alec never leaves her physically, he was never there for her emotionally.

PART III: girl is lost.

  1. Hypocrates by Marina and the Diamonds: This is the beginning of the awakening.
  2. Get Home by Bastille: How do you fight? Can you go back?

PART IV: girl fights.

  1. Out of the Woods by Taylor Swift covered by For King & Country: To me, this song feels like someone running away from something awful, trying to get out of the woods, searching for peace (“are we in the clear yet”).
  2. Don’t Forget Where You Belong by One Direction: Zephyr was never alone; she has people who love her standing by.
  3. Fight Song by Rachel Platten: Speaks for itself 🙂

 


 

ENTER THE GIVEAWAY 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

^^^^^^^ DO IT 😀

girl who fell graphic


ABOUT THE FABULOUS AUTHOR

shannon

Shannon Parker lives on the Atlantic coast with a house full of boys. She’s traveled to over three dozen countries and has a few dozen more to go. She works in education and can usually be found rescuing dogs, chickens, old houses and wooden boats. Shannon has a weakness for chocolate chip cookies and ridiculous laughter—ideally, at the same time. The Girl Who Fell is her first novel. Find her at www.shannonmparker.com

Author Links: Website | Goodreads | Twitter | Instagram


FOLLOW THE TOUR

Tuesday, Jan 12: Blessie @ Mischievous Reads Dreamcast
Wednesday, Jan 13: Emily @ Emily Reads Everything Review
Thursday, Jan 14: Brittany @ Brittany’s Book Rambles Tour Group’s Favorite Quotes
Friday, Jan 15: Tika @ Fangirl Confessions Movie Playlist
Saturday, Jan 16: Kristen @ My Friends Are Fiction Review
Sunday, Jan 17: Melanie @ One Less Lonely Blog Review + Interview
Monday, Jan 18: Cyra @ Rattle The Pages Review + 5 Reasons You Need to Read TGWF
Tuesday, Jan 19: Jocelyn @ Novels and Necklaces Interview
Wednesday, Jan 20: Cat @ Let the Pages Reign Review
Thursday, Jan 21: Aentee @ Read at Midnight 5 Ways TGWF Destroyed YA Tropes + iPhone wallpapers
Friday, Jan 22: Brittany @ Brittany’s Book Rambles Review + Interview
Saturday, Jan 23: Joey @ Another After Thought Review
Sunday, Jan 24: Stefani @ Caught Read Handed Review + Interview
Monday, Jan 25: Hanna @ Two Sisters Blogging Review
Tuesday, Jan 26: Michella @ YA Books Girl Review + Playlist
Wednesday, Jan 27: Michelle @ Dreaming of Alba Review
Thursday, Jan 28: Jamie @ Books and Ladders Review + Interview
Friday, Jan 29: Eileen @ BookCatPin Review
Saturday, Jan 30: Brian @ Brian’s Book Thoughts Review
Sunday, Jan 31: Sarah @ The YA Book Traveler Review + Interview