Bookish Posts

Things I Want to See More of in Literature

Yes, I do realize this was a Top 10 Tuesday post a while ago, but since today is neither Tuesday, and I don’t have merely 10 things, I don’t think it’s too much of a problem to post this today. One day I will actually post one of these things on a Tuesday, but that will probably not be until the future.

Anyway, here’s my list!

1.) More of the Enemies>Friends>Lovers trope. Not gonna lie, but I’m in love with this trope, and it want to read more books with it. I find it so romantic when two people start off on opposite sides of a conflict, slowly become friends, and then realize that there’s something more. In all reality, I think I just want this because I was a hardcore Zutara shipper during the Avatar: The Last Airbender series. You know we were cheated out of our Zutara moment, fans!

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Sorry…need a moment {sobs}

2.) Books set during the Civil Rights Movement. There aren’t many YA historical fiction books set during the Civil Rights Movement, and it’s a shame. It’s unfortunate because teenagers and young adults were the backbone of the Movement. If I don’t see this soon, I might have to write my own.

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3.) Books set during The Great Depression. The Great Depression was an important yet tragic time in American history. I think it’d be a good idea to see novels about teens riding the rails or even maybe a Robin Hood retelling set during this time period.

4.) No more girl-on-girl hate. I’m so tired of girls hating each other simply because one is more popular or because one wears more make-up. I especially hate when girls who are supposed to be friends end up hating each other because they fought over a boy. I was so annoyed when I recently read a book where two girls who have been friends since preschool end up feuding because one decided to date the other’s crush. Real friends don’t act that way.

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We don’t actually all act this way…I promise…

5.) Study abroad novels. I know there’s a whole series dedicated to this premise but they’re literally not anywhere I know except online. I don’t even see them at my library and honestly I don’t even know if they’re any good. Anyway, I love books where characters travel overseas and experience a culture shock. Or even having a foreign character comes to the U.S.

6.) More time travel books. I want a Magic Tree House series but for YA. I was obsessed with the Magic Tree House as a kid and I would love to have a series where characters all over time to participate in hi-jinks and shenanigans.

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7.) More girl-friend groups. The years I spent in high school and middle school were awesome NOT because of any lasting romances, but because of the amazing friends I had. I’d love to see more groups of girls being friends, and possibly kicking ass and taking names together. Like the Sailor Senshi!

 

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…realizing much of this list is due to downright nostalgia…

8.) Fairy-tale retellings of diverse mythologies/folk tales/fairy-tales. Don’t get me wrong. I love Beauty and the Beast and The Little Mermaid, but I’d like retellings of Asian, Latinx, African, or Aboriginal folklore too!

9.) More epic fantasies where the protagonist is a female. The fantasy industry has largely male main characters, and I’m kind of getting bored with it. As a writer who’s currently penning a (hopefully) epic fantasy of her own, this definitely needs to happen.

10.) Books set during the 1990s. I want to see more YA books set during the 1990s and early 2000s. These years shaped my childhood and I would love to see books that talk about 90s pop culture…

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11.) DIVERSITY (especially in fantasy and sci-fi)!!! I know this was probably on everyone’s list, but I really mean it. As a biracial woman, it infuriates me that people can get mad because there’s POC in a fantasy world where there’s talking frogs, magic, and…I don’t know, flying pigs. Like really? There needs to be more representation of everyone whether POC, LGBTQA, or disabled characters.

Honorable Mentions: Fantasies involving the Zodiac signs, powerful female superheroes, more magic boarding schools/colleges, and soooooo much more!

Book Reviews

Book Review – The Lines we Cross by Randa Abdel-Fattah

The Lines We Cross

The Lines We Cross is a thought-provoking novel with an important message that resonates with the political climate of today. Our two protagonists are as different from each other as night and day. Michael is the son of two avid anti-immigration activists who believe immigrants should completely assimilate into the Australian culture. Mina is a refugee from Afghanistan whose life is starting to look just a bit brighter…until she has to move to an upper middle class neighborhood to Michael’s private school and ends up clashing with Michael’s parents’ group, Aussie Values.

What I Liked:

I absolutely loved Mina’s character! She was intelligent, sarcastic, and sassy…basically everything I could ever want in a main character. In the beginning of the novel, Mina feels like a fish-out-of-water. She has moved from her multicultural neighborhood in West Sydney to attend a prestigious private high school. Her growth over the course of the novel from insecure new student to confident young woman was endearing. I also absolutely loved her family.  I was glad to see Mina’s stepfather depicted as endearing and a doting husband and father.

I also loved the moment when Michael began thinking for himself and stopped regurgitating the things his parents and Terrance told him to. Michael, as a character, I kept going back and forth about liking. I wish he had started thinking for himself and questioning his parents’ values before he met Mina. While she did serve as the catalyst for his change, it seems that he ONLY changed just to impress her.

The setting of Australia was different and refreshing to me. I personally can’t recall reading a YA contemporary novel not set in the States or the UK. It was a nice change and I enjoyed learning about Australian culture. Personally, I didn’t think about the fact Australians go through a lot of what we go through here in the United States, such as a tense political climate.

The writing was superb and kept me transfixed. I couldn’t put the book down except to go to work and to sleep. I loved Fattah’s prose.

Also, Paula and Mina are 100% BFF goals.

What I Didn’t Like (and it Worked):

Ugh. Michael’s parents and their friends disgusted me. They were so condescending and patronizing. My problem with them was that their brand of racism is the type where they believe what they’re doing is right for those “inferior” to them. Every time they spoke, it just ground my gears. I also wasn’t too fond of their treatment of Michael’s younger brother who is definitely coded as being autistic thought it is never mentioned. What REALLY made me mad was when reading about how their mother told her child who takes everything literally to “Get out of her way” and the poor boy ended up having to be brought to her by the police because he thought she meant her words. It’s treated as a cute memory but I was kind of disturbed. It only made me dislike Michael’s parents a lot more.

Final Verdict:

I loved this book immensely and it is definitely a novel we need in today’s world. It teaches us to have compassion to those who may not look like us. I laughed, I cried, and I laughed some more. I highly recommend it to everyone, especially people who want to view life through another’s eyes.

Rating: A+

Book Reviews

Book Review – Days of Splendor, Days of Sorrow by Juliet Grey {Spoilers!}

This is the second book in Juliet Grey’s Marie Antoinette trilogy. I sincerely loved the first book in this series, so I’m completely disappointed to say I did not particularly this one.  Days of Splendor, Days of Sorrow begins immediately after King Louis XV’s death and the ascension of Queen Marie Antoinette and her husband King Louis XVI. I tried to stick it out with this one since April 30 and I ended up DNFing it about 70% in.

What I Liked:

The coverage of the American Revolution through the eyes of the court of Versailles.

I was genuinely happy when Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI finally consummated their marriage (after 7 years) and had their children. However, if Louis XVI hadn’t been a coward, he would’ve gotten that surgery years before. But no….ugh….

What I Didn’t Like:

I feel like Juliet Grey did the complete opposite of everything she did that made me love Becoming Marie Antoinette. I didn’t like the sudden changes from Marie Antoinette’s first-person POV to third-person omniscient within the same chapter. Even sometimes on the same page. It was very jarring and took me out of the narrative. I would think it’s Marie narrating, realize it’s not, and then have to go back and reread everything I just read! I thought it was REALLY annoying because those sections focused on characters I didn’t particularly care for.

Also, Grey did that thing where Marie went from a relatable human being to a harpy who only cared about nice clothes, gambling, and doing everything but being a queen. I quickly found her annoying. When people complain about her, she’s truly confused as to why no one likes her. It’s because you’re out here gambling away 500,000 livres and your people out here starving, honey boo boo.

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{Spoiler!!!}

Marie Antoinette cheating on her husband was frustrating for me, and I spent the chapter yelling at her for it. HOWEVER, if Louis XVI was really as neglectful as the book portrays him to be, then I can almost understand her. I absolutely do not condone cheating, but it’s as if Louis purposefully pushes her into the arms of Axel just so he can get her to leave him alone. He barely appears throughout the entire novel. If I was married to him, I’d probably gamble all of my money and party all of the time too. They declared that they loved each other in the novel, but it felt like they were just saying it to say it.

I don’t understand why authors don’t spend time creating a sweet love story between them. Just because they didn’t fall into bed with each other every two seconds doesn’t mean they might not have loved each other. I would much rather read a sweet awkward love story between the two than this.

Final Verdict:

Since I ended up DNFing this book, it does not get a good grade from me. Will I read the last book in the trilogy? Probaby, because I’m a masochist.

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But also because I feel bad because for some odd reason, she’s one of my favorite historical figures.

Rating: D-

 

 

 

Bookish Posts

My Summer TBR

So in the grand state of New Jersey, it is 91 degrees which means I’m ready to hop in a pool and stuff my face full of ice cream. In fact, at this exact second, I’m still deciding whether I want to go to work or head to the beach instead. (I’m kidding. I promise I’m a responsible adult…most of the time.)

Anyway, this weather is playing with my emotions and forcing me to believe that we’re in the season teacher and students alike dream of: summer. While it’s not my favorite season, I love it for one reason:

READING!

During the summer, I get to read a lot more than I usually do during the school year. Probably because I don’t have hundreds of small children to look after. And this summer I’m particularly excited about my “summer reading” list.

Summer 2017 shall be dubbed my Summer of Fantasy!

I plan to read:

1.) The entire Shadowhunters series!

City of Bones (The Mortal Instruments, #1)City of Ashes (The Mortal Instruments, #2)City of Glass (The Mortal Instruments, #3)City of Fallen Angels (The Mortal Instruments, #4)City of Lost Souls (The Mortal Instruments, #5)City of Heavenly Fire (The Mortal Instruments, #6)Clockwork Angel (The Infernal Devices, #1)Clockwork Prince (The Infernal Devices, #2)Clockwork Princess (The Infernal Devices, #3)Lady Midnight (The Dark Artifices, #1)Lord of Shadows (The Dark Artifices, #2)The Bane ChroniclesTales from the Shadowhunter Academy

I read City of Bones way back when it came it out in 2007, but I never actually finished the rest of the series. It wasn’t that I didn’t like the book. I just kind of forgot to read the rest of them. This summer, however, I plan to tackle them all. I have to go to my university where I’m taking grad school classes for two weeks and since I know absolutely no one, I’m going to take these books with me. Maybe I’ll even liveblog as I read them because this will be one interesting ride.

2.) As if that wasn’t enough, I plan to re-read:

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (Harry Potter, #1)

Pottermore is hosting a Wizarding World Book Club and I am soooo excited about it. I only believe we’re reading one book a month so it should be fairly easy to keep up with. (P.S. If you want to know, I’m a Hufflepuff!)

3.) As if that wasn’t enough, I also plan to get started on:

The Way of Kings (The Stormlight Archive, #1)

4.) And…

The Final Empire (Mistborn, #1)

Because I really want to get started on both series! I heard so many good things about Brandon Sanderson’s writing, and I want to completely be immersed.

5.) Finally, I have:

The Black Prism (Lightbringer, #1)

This was completely an impulse buy as was…

6.) …this one…

The Palace Job (Rogues of the Republic, #1)

Now, you may be thinking: Ashley, you have a really daunting summer reading list. Are you actually going to read all of these? The answer is probably not. After all, I’ll have homework and wedding planning to do but that’s okay! I’m not the type of person to be mad and look like this if I don’t finish all of these books by August 31.

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I’ll just carry it over to September 1 and create my Autumn of Fantasy!

What are some books you plan to read this summer? Do you have a daunting summer reading list?

 

 

 

Book Tags

A – Z Bookish Survey

This tag was created by Jamie at The Perpetual Page-Turner. And let’s get to it!

  1. Author you’ve read the most books from:  Probably Ann M. Martin. I was completely obsessed with the Babysitters’ Club series. I read 79 books in the main series, plus the mysteries, Super Specials, Super Mysteries, and the Little Sister and Friends Forever spinoff series.  I was hooked! An honorable mention is probably the Sweet Valley Twins series. Image result for stacks of babysitter's club books
  2. Best sequel ever: Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins. I liked the first book in the series, but Catching Fire is the book that really sold me on the trilogy. It’s also when I first started hardcore shipping Katniss and Peeta, so it will forever be in my heart. 6472227
  3. Currently Reading: Days of Splendor, Days of Sorrow by Juliet Grey and Disney after Dark by Ridley Pearson.
  4. Drink of Choice While Reading: I don’t really have a drink of choice while I read. I’ll drink whatever’s around: water, juice, coffee, tea, soda, wine. Any of those really. Odds are I’ll be too into a book to really notice what I’m drinking. (I almost drank baby oil that way.)
  5. E-reader or Physical Book? BOTH! I love the feel (and smell) of a physical book, and I also love carting around hundreds of books with the Nook app, Kindle app, Overdrive app, Hoopla app, and the Audible app. I’m in book heaven everyday!
  6. Fictional Character You Probably Would have Dated in High School: Peeta!!! He’s sweet and he can bake me things when I’m sad.
  7. Glad You Gave This Book a Chance: Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. At first, I was kind of turned off by the IM format when it was advertised, but I quickly got over it and ended up devouring the book. 23395680
  8. Hidden Gem Book: The Keeper’s Vow by Francina Simone. 30625328
  9. Important Moment in Your Reading Life: Once upon a time, five-year-old Ashley was taken to the library and received her very first library card. That card opened up multiple doorways and she hasn’t looked back in 21 years.
  10. Just Finished: Becoming Marie Antoinette by Juliet Grey.
  11. Kinds of Books You Won’t Read: Horror. I’m a big scaredy-cat and will not read any horror books. Especially horror books that include clowns…looking at you, It.
  12. Longest Book You’ve Ever Read: Chesapeake by James Michener. This book clocks in at 1,001 pages. 1212583
  13. Major Book Hangover because of…: Enough said.23437156
  14. Number of Bookcases You Own: Only one. I want more, but there’s no point in buying them now because I’m planning on moving out soon.
  15. One Book You’ve Read Multiple Times: Probably Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. It’s my favorite book in the series and I’d read it everyday if I could. Actually, I’m pretty sure I’ve read the entire series at least 15 times.
  16. Preferred Place to Read: Once again, I don’t really have a preference. I’ll read anywhere that’s comfy!
  17. Quote that inspires You/Gives You Feels: “I cannot tell you how thankful I am for our little infinity…You gave me forever within the numbered days, and I’m grateful” – The Fault in Our Stars
  18. Reading Regrets: I regret that I can never seem to finish series, but I’m working on that flaw. I also pretty much regret being a really hardcore Twihard.
  19. Series You Started and Need to Finish: I have sooo many, but the one I’m trying to finish this year is The Mortal Instruments series. I’m planning to tackle this one when I have to go to Virginia for two weeks during the summer.
  20. Three of Your All-Time Favorite Books: How dare you ask me to choose between three of my babies?!! I guess I’ll choose Fall of Giants by Ken Follett, Goblet of Fire by J. K. Rowling, and The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd.
  21. Unapologetic Fangirl of: ALL OF THE BOOKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  22. Very Excited for This Release: Before She Ignites by Jodi Meadows. 28524058
  23. Worst Bookish Habit: I have two! One is (again) my not being able to finish a series and the second one is probably my ability to spoil myself accidentally on purpose…
  24. X– Marks the Spot – 27th Book on Your Shelf: Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
  25. Your Latest Book Purchase: Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson. 7969594
  26. Zzzz-Snatcher – Book You Stayed Up to Read: The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah. 21853621

I tag anyone who hasn’t done this bookish survey yet! It was so much fun to fill out and already tag posts are becoming my favorite thing to do!

Until next time, bookworms!

Book Reviews

Book Review – Becoming Marie Antoinette by Juliet Grey, or Why I Couldn’t Be a French Princess

Becoming Marie Antoinette is an intriguing novel that follows the early life of doomed queen Marie Antoinette from her early years as a child in Austria under her formidable mother, the Empress Maria Theresa, to her ascension as queen of France. I’m actually surprised at how much I enjoyed this book, even though I did put it down at one point.

What I Liked:

Juliet Grey managed to humanize Marie Antoinette. In so many other novels I’ve read, Marie is either portrayed as a saint or as the devil incarnate. There’s not usually a happy medium. However, in this book, while Marie is shown with both good and flawed character traits, like any character should. This portrayal really makes her feel relatable. I mean, it couldn’t have been easy leaving the only home you’ve ever known to marry a boy you’ve never met at the age of fourteen. When I was fourteen, I was still under the impression that I had to put my arms and legs inside my blankets so nothing would “get” me. In other words, if I was her, I’d be pretty inept. Now, I’m not exactly saying that she was inept when she got to France, but she could’ve benefited from one more year at home with her mother. She never understood how precarious her position as the dauphine and thus the queen of France was. Hell, she couldn’t even take part in politics because it wasn’t something the queen consort of France should worry her pretty little head about. Ugh. No wonder all she cared about was having fun and gambling. That’s probably all I would have cared about, too.

The author also managed to bring Versailles to life, especially the ridiculous rules regarding the etiquette of the royal court. I would have HATED living in the French court back then…I mean, French revolution aside, but if I couldn’t get dressed without my underwear being passed around from noblewoman to princess to Princess of the Blood, I would have cursed out everyone within hearing distance and then be sent back to whatever country I came from.

What I Thought Was Meh:

Louis Auguste. Poor, awkward Louis Auguste. I kind of felt sorry for our dear dauphin. He’s just sooooo awkward. However, he annoyed the hell out of me, because Marie would be trying to tell him how she felt and he’d just repeat something one of his tutors told him. Like, damn it, Louis, you’re going to be the king of France. Grow a backbone! Also, there’s all this build up about why they didn’t consummate their marriage, but it’s left by the wayside and will get picked back up in the second book. If you studied history, you know why it took so long, but it didn’t need to be treated like it was some big secret. I did love his character when he and Marie would have their tender moments though. Hopefully, there’ll be more of those in the sequel.

The conflict between Marie and the king’s mistress, Madame du Barry, was equally awkward, and it didn’t need to happen. I know it does happen in history, and Marie uttered her utterly insipid line about how there’s people at Versailles, but the way it’s portrayed in this novel made me want to bang my head on the wall. A good five chapters was spent with Marie going “Should I talk to her?” and then “No, she’s a whore” over and over again. And it was especially annoying that the only reason she started this whole conflict was because Marie got advice from people she should’ve ran away screaming from. At least it was entertaining.

What I Didn’t Like:

The pacing!!!!!!! I ended up putting the novel down toward the beginning of the novel, because the chapters where she’s training to be the dauphine were just soooooooo boring. I can only read so much about the Versailles glide and her hideous medieval braces for so long. Don’t get me wrong, I did find all of this interesting, but not interesting enough. I did soldier through though and the pacing did pick up once she (FINALLY!) arrived at Versailles.

Final Verdict:

All in all, I liked Becoming Marie Antoinette. Even though the pacing was really slow, I did love Marie’s character and she had me laughing out loud during some scenes. It’s really like listening to Marie Antoinette tell her story. I do plan to start the next book soon!

Rating: B+