Lists

Popular YA Books I Haven’t Read

Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass, #1)
Throne of Glass (series) by Sarah J. Maas

Although I am, admittedly, SO late to the game on this one, I think I actually will start the series this year. I’ve spent the past 26 years of my life reading strictly contemporary and romance, completing blowing off fantasy because I thought it was something I wouldn’t like.

This year, that all changed. When I read The Cruel Prince earlier this summer, I got on a fantasy kick that I haven’t been able to get off! I’m currently reading the final book of this author’s other series (A Court of Thorns and Roses) and am really enjoying it. Once I heard that the fae and magic do become a part of the ToG series as well, I was basically sold! The final book comes out this fall and it will be nice to be part of the hype and excitement for the book if I can get through the first 6 books by October 23rd.

 

Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles, #1)
Cinder by Marissa Meyer

The Lunar Chronicles is one of YA’s most popular series, but it’s one that has just never interested me. I remember seeing the first book in stores many years ago (before I was a blogger or part of the book community) and thought the cover was really weird. I still think that, and it’s a problem I can’t get over TBH.

I’m just not into cyborgs/robots/futuristic stuff.

This is one that I will not be changing my mind about, even if SO many people swear I’m missing out on something.

 

 

The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle, #1)
The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

This is another series that is just BELOVED by so many people, and I have yet to get around to trying it out. I think the main reasons I haven’t read this series have to do with first impressions.

The cover doesn’t look like something that would normally float my boat, and I’m usually pretty averse to books that are primarily about boys. I have learned recently that the main character is a girl, so that sways my favor.

Contemporary, realistic settings with magic make some of my favorite books, so I do really want to give this series a try!

 

Red Queen (Red Queen, #1)

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

I actually did have some interest in this book closer to when it was originally released, but it has just faded over time and at this point I know I’m not going to read it.

The synopsis DOES sound interesting and originally there was a ton of hype surrounding it, but just not enough for me to buy it, I guess? I’ve also heard that the remainder of the series went seriously downhill and I’m not about to sign up for a series knowing I will only like the first book. This one will be a pass for me.

 

 

Shatter Me (Shatter Me, #1)
Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

I am actually VERY interested in the premise of this book, but didn’t hear about it until somewhat recently (like the past year or so), despite how popular it is!

I bought this book for my Kindle several months ago when I saw it on sale, so I know I will read it at some point. This is just one of those books where I’m definitely interested BUT there are also so many other books that I’m MORE interested in, that I just haven’t gotten here yet.

One day, Shatter Me, one day…

 

 

Six of Crows (Six of Crows, #1)
Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Although I’m currently reading and very much enjoying the Shadow & Bone series, which takes place within the same Grisha world, I just have zero interest in this duology.

The cover is weird, the title doesn’t make any sense, and I’m just not into a heist book with a bunch of different POVs (one of my pet peeves in books). I know this book is basically considered a masterpiece and is universally loved, but I just don’t think it’s for me.

 

 

 

Jellicoe Road
Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta

SO many people whose opinions I trust rank this as a 5-star, must read, all-time favorite book. I have owned it for a few years but, like I said with Shatter Me, I just keep prioritizing more exciting books ahead of it.

Melina Marchetta was a writer for one of my all-time favorite TV series (Dance Academy! If you haven’t watched it, it is on Netflix and THE BEST THING EVER) so I do have an affinity for her work. I feel like this is a book I actually NEED to read and I hope I can get to it soon.

 

 

Some of these books I definitely plan to read, others I have completely written off as not for me. If you have read anything on this list and have strong opinions either way, I would love to hear them!

Review

The Names They Gave Us

The Names They Gave Us

The Names They Gave Us
by Emery Lord

Published May 16, 2017 by Bloomsbury

Source: Purchased


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Everything is going right for Lucy Hansson, until her mom’s cancer reappears. Just like that, Lucy breaks with all the constants in her life: her do-good boyfriend, her steady faith, even her longtime summer church camp job.

Instead, Lucy lands at a camp for kids who have been through tough times. As a counselor, Lucy is in over her head and longs to be with her parents across the lake. But that’s before she gets to know her coworkers, who are as loving and unafraid as she so desperately wants to be.

It’s not just new friends that Lucy discovers at camp—more than one old secret is revealed along the way. In fact, maybe there’s much more to her family and her faith than Lucy ever realized. [summary from Goodreads]

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Emery Lord has been one of my favorite authors for a while now, but this book really just cemented her into YA royalty. This is one of those rare books that is so perfect in every way that you just…don’t really know what to say about it other than it will make you feel. so. much. 

Lucy finds herself starting off the summer freshly dumped and questioning her faith after learning that her mom’s cancer has come back. Religion and cancer can be topics that immediately turn people off to a book, but I assure that this book is neither a “cancer book” nor a religious book. Lucy’s faith is explored in an honest and complex way as she tries to navigate believing and trusting in God (in a totally progressive way) alongside wrestling with questions like how God could allow her mom to get sick again. I found the doubt she experienced totally realistic and a great aspect of the story.

The setting and characters of this book were all so absolutely perfect. I am obsessed with Camp Daybreak and wish I could spend a summer there myself. I loved the family of camp counselors that Lucy found herself a part of. Every character added something really special to the story and I just fell absolutely in love with everyone.

If you haven’t jumped onto the Emery Lord fan-wagon yet, then you have no idea what you’re missing out on. And if you have read her, well, then you know! She’s writes with a phenomenal voice that pulls you deeply into the story. Seriously…by the last page, I am so not ready to leave! To anyone and everyone who is reading this post: read this book. You will be glad you did.

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Like I said above, this is my absolute favorite new Emery Lord novel. It is the perfect mix of summery contemporary feels with a story that will make you laugh, cry, and wish you were spending your days with Lucy at camp. Must read!

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Review

Let’s Talk: The Secret of a Heart Note

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The Secret of a Heart Note


The Secret of a Heart Note
by Stacey Lee
Published December 27, 2016 by Katherine Tegen Books
384 pages
Amazon | B&N
Source: Purchased


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As one of only two aromateurs left on the planet, fifteen-year-old Mimosa knows what her future holds: a lifetime of using her extraordinary sense of smell to mix base notes, top notes, and heart notes into elixirs that help others fall in love. All while remaining incurably alone.

For Mim, the rules are clear—falling in love would render her nose useless, taking away her one great talent. Still, Mimosa doesn’t want to spend her life elbow-deep in soil and begonias. She dreams of a normal high school existence—taking up a sport and limping away flush from victory, joining the debate club and saying things like “That’s a logical fallacy!” Having a boyfriend.

When she accidentally gives an elixir to the wrong woman and has to rely on the school soccer star to help fix the situation, Mim quickly begins to realize that when it comes to falling in love, the choice isn’t always hers to make.[Goodreads]

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The Secret of a Heart Note is about Mimosa (Mim) and her mom (Dahlia), the last two aromateurs in the world, as they create custom love elixirs for people who want to fall in love. Mim lives a very strict and sheltered life so that she can preserve her nose and learn everything there is to know about plants and their properties so that she can create the perfect love potion for each client. The most important rule, however, is not to fall in love herself, as her powers would be sure to vanish instantly.

Of course, this presents quite the dilemma because there is a basketball player at school, Court (dumb name, cute boy), who she thinks is cute, and she thinks he might like her back. It’s a fun twist on the forbidden love trope.

Although there is an overarching theme of love in the story, it doesn’t focus solely on the romance between Mim and Court. There is a struggle between Mim, who wants to go to school and have a normal teenage life, and her mother, who only wants the best for her daughter –as long as it is a future in the aromateur business. Plus, there is the long-lost sister of Mim’s mother, Bryony, who disappeared after a rift in the family.

Side Note: I LOVED how all the aromateurs’ names were types of flowers. It was lovely. Plus, there were cute and fitting “quotes” from aromateurs of the past at the start of each chapter, which made it all feel very real.

Court was more than a pretty face, too. He had his own family problems going on but it wasn’t overly dramatic. It all felt very real. I liked how Mim had multiple problems come up during the story, but instead of angsting over them, she actually went out and did something about them!

I thought it was interesting that everyone at school knew that Mim was a “love witch” and it wasn’t ever anything for her to be ashamed about. There are also bonus points for diversity! Mim’s best friend, Kali, is Samoan and LGBT!

Overall, The Secret of a Heart Note was a fun contemporary romance without too much romance and just the right touch of magical realism. It lived up to its unique premise and the whole book had such a pretty atmosphere. I definitely enjoyed reading it and will be checking out Stacey Lee’s two other books as well!

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Are you planning to read this one? If you already have, did you love it too?

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Review

Let’s Talk: The Smell of Other People’s Houses

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The Smell of Other People's Houses

The Smell of Other People’s Houses
by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock

Published February 23, 2016 by Wendy Lamb Books
240 pages
Amazon | B&N
Source: Borrowed from library (audiobook!)


1It’s Fairbanks, Alaska in 1970 and four teenagers’ very different lives are about to become entangled forever. First there’s Ruth, who lives with her harsh grandmother and is sent away to a convent after becoming pregnant at sixteen. Everyone in town saw Dora being chased out of her house by her abusive father, and she feels like she will never truly escape her past. Alyce dreams of becoming a professional ballerina, but is torn by her loyalty to her fisherman father. Hank decides it’s safer for he and his little brothers to run away than to stay at home. Told in four alternating viewpoints, each character’s story is unique and  yet beautifully tied to the others.

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What first drew me to The Smell of Other People’s Houses was it’s GORGEOUS cover. I feel like I could just stare at it forever. Luckily, the writing is just as beautifully captivating! I actually can’t believe this is a debut novel because everything is done so, so well.

Although four viewpoints can usually be a bit confusing, each character’s voice was so unique that I never forgot whose chapter I was listening to. It also helped that, until the end, each character had their own story line, even though the characters overlapped a bit.

It was so interesting to learn about how people lived in mid-century Alaska. Alaska had just been accepted into the union, and I had never before thought about how so many Alaskan Natives and non-natives alike objected becoming part of the United States for fear of losing their way of life. The community where our characters live, near Fairbanks, was an especially poor area of town. It was heartbreaking to hear of the characters shopping at the Salvation Army for worn out socks that have holes when it’s 40 degrees below zero! I can’t imagine being that cold all the time (or ever).

I can’t pick one character that I liked best — what’s so great about this novel is that you grow to care about everyone in the story. And, the side characters are just as wonderful as the main characters! No one was unnecessary and everyone contributed something important to the story. Dumpling and Bunny’s family were so wonderful and provided much-needed warmth to the lives of the main characters.

The story is tied together so wonderfully at the end and I was thrilled to see the characters’ stories come so full-circle. All I wanted was to read more about them! This audiobook actually took over my life. I didn’t listen to my favorite morning show that I NEVER MISS because I needed to keep listening to the book!

I absolutely recommend this book to fans of character-driven books with beautiful writing! I can’t wait to see what comes next from Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock. Her writing is absolutely gorgeous and she is definitely an author to watch.

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Have you read The Smell of Other People’s Houses, or do you plan to? Let me know in the comments what you thought of this book!

 

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Review

Let’s Talk: My Lady Jane

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My Lady JaneMy Lady Jane
by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows

Published June 7, 2016 by HarperTeen
512 pages
Amazon | B&N
Source: Purchased


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Edward is the sixteen-year-old king of England, and he happens to be on his deathbed, unfortunately. He’s pretty upset about this considering he would rather be planning how to get his first kiss than planning who to give the crown to when he dies. His counselors persuade him to name his cousin Jane as his successor. However, to secure the line of succession, Jane needs an heir. Which means she needs a husband. Edward agrees to marry her off to Gifford (call him G). Jane would rather read all day than become a married lady — or the queen — and G has a few secrets of his own — like he spends his days as a horse. Edward, Jane, and Gifford become wrapped up in a plot to save England. Can they take back the kingdom before it’s off with their heads?

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“No horse jokes,” he said.
“My lord, I apologize for the horse joke. If you put down the book—unharmed!—I will give you a carrot.”
He brandished the book at her. “Was that a horse joke?”
“Neigh.”
“Was that a horse joke?”

MY LADY JANE is nothing like any book I’ve ever read, and yet combines the best of all the books I’ve ever loved. The story takes place in sixteenth-century England during the reign of the famous Tudor family. I knew nothing but the name ‘Tudor’ before reading this and am now pleased to say I understand the line of succession, the names of the rulers (and the many wives…) and how it all played out. And I never felt like I was getting a history lesson.

I don’t want to give too much away because this book is best enjoyed with surprises intact, so I’m not going to tell you anything more about the plot, except that you will LOVE IT. The dialogue was quip and funny and the whole book was totally over the top, but in the best way possible. Jane was a heroine that many of us can relate too – she loves books above all else wants nothing more than to spend her days filling her head with knowledge. But when the time comes, she is also a bad ass lady who will stop at nothing to protect her friends and to do what’s right.

I really enjoyed that this book was a spin-off of history. It makes me sad for the real Lady Jane Grey, who I wish history could have seen more of before she was unjustly beheaded. I wasn’t sure what to think of the Eðian storyline at first — certain people who can turn into animals? It sounded far-fetched and unbelievable but ended up being just the right touch of magical realism. It just WORKS within the story and I didn’t question it at all as I read. In fact, it made for some of the funniest most enjoyable parts of the book. It’s of course a retelling of the infamous Protestant/Catholic divide of the time, but instead the divide is between Eðians and the Verities who hate them for it.

Jane, Edward, and Gifford are all unique and developed characters who I loved equally and who were all equally essential to the storyline. Some books with multiple POVs leave me feeling like I love one character and don’t want to switch to the other, but that was not the case here! Even though the chapters switched off between each character’s POV, the story continued on very neatly and never felt jumpy.

MY LADY JANE will keep you engrossed until the end. It will make you laugh out loud and fall in love with the characters and never want the story to end. After 512 pages, I still wanted more!

 

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Review

Let’s Talk: Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum

Tell Me Three Things

Tell Me Three Things
by Julie Buxbaum

Published April 5, 2016 by Delacorte Press
336 pages

Amazon | B&N

Source: Purchased


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When Jessie’s father spontaneously elopes with a woman from Los Angeles, Jessie’s life is uprooted as she moves across the country to LA for her junior year. Jessie is quite unhappy to be living with her new stepmother and stepbrother who she doesn’t even know, and isn’t thrilled to start attending a fancy private school full of rich people. So on her first day, when she begins receiving anonymous emails from Someone/No One (SN), she is grateful for a friend, even if she doesn’t know that is.

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  1. I totally called who SN would be right from the get-to.
  2. That didn’t stop me at all from absolutely falling in love with this book.
  3. I loved the instant messaging-style of writing in this book. It doesn’t always work for me, but it’s done extremely well here.

The storyline is pretty simple, actually, but it totally works and still feels fresh and interesting. As someone who moved around a lot during my school years, I completely identified with Jessie’s fears of not fitting in, her anxiety about where to eat lunch, and her longing to make meaningful friendships while still maintaining those from her previous life in Chicago.

I really enjoyed the anonymous messaging back and forth between Jessie and SN. It’s a fun way to build their relationship dynamic and helps them become closer over a shorter period of time, because it’s so much easier for both of them to be their real selves over writing than in person.

I loved that one of the central plot lines in the story revolves around an English project (yay, reading!) and a cute boy that she gets to be partners with. There’s also ANOTHER cure boy who’s in a band, and a great girl named Dri who ends up being a really great friend for Jessie.

I loved all of the characters and the role they each played in helping Jessie to come out of her shell and enjoy life in LA.The ending is super-satisfying and I’m so happy with who SN turned out to be! I won’t say anything more about it, but this is a super fun read and I’m so glad I picked it up.

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Review

Let’s Talk: When We Collided by Emery Lord

When We Collided

When We Collided
by Emery Lord

Published April 5, 2016 by Bloomsbury USA Childrens
352 pages

Amazon | B&N

Source: Purchased


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Vivi and Jonah meet in the small town of Verona Cove, California. It’s a picturesque summer town on the northern California coast, where people are either vacationers or ‘townies’ who you’ve known your whole life. Jonah is a townie with a huge family, who recently lost his father and is now responsible for caring for his three younger siblings. Vivi is staying in town for the summer while her mother paints, and is Jonah’s opposite in so many ways. She is a loud, take-charge, force of nature, who sweeps Jonah up into her path (with little say from him). Jonah is soon along for the ride as Vivi deals with her secret mental health issues over the summer.

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Emery Lord is an auto-buy author for me, and I knew When We Collided would be anything but a disappointment. It’s definitely a heavier book than her first two were, and while it does cover the very serious topics of mental health and grieving the loss of a family member, there is also a whirlwind romance that you will get swept up into just as much as Jonah and Vivi did.

Jonah and Vivi are two polar opposite characters. Jonah is quieter and more focused. He is dealing with the loss of his father and the subsequent depression that keeps his mother from taking care of her six children. He’s trying to keep his father’s restaurant afloat and is doing the best he can to pay the bills, care for his younger siblings, and help his mother. Vivi, on the other hand, is a bright ball of light that came barreling into the story. She moved into town after a bad decision caused some major friend drama in her hometown, and refuses to be ignored with her bright red lips and eclectic fashion taste. When she meets Jonah at the pottery shop where she works, she seems to just decide that Jonah would be part of her summer and he gets swept along into her life.

I know many people have described Vivi and Jonah’s romance as instalove, but I didn’t see it that way. It does happen very quickly, but I can totally see Jonah’s character kind of ‘going along’ with Vivi — she’s beautiful and new and interesting and something to take his mind off the stresses of his own life.

I liked that the reader doesn’t really know what is going on with Vivi’s health until the end. We know that she is supposed to be taking pills every day (which she’s not), but we don’t know why. This really allows you to get a picture of the way bipolar disorder affects Vivi, and how it changes her personality and alters her choices.

I feel as though I learned so much about mental health and bipolar disorder through this book. Yes, Vivi is overwhelming. No, she’s not someone I would want to be around all the time. But that is what made her real and why I breezed through this hefty novel in two sittings. I had to find out what happened to her and Jonah, and I got just as caught up in the whirlwind that is her life as Jonah did.

Emery Lord is a master of words and the writing in this novel is absolutely beautiful. This is Lord’s best and most important book to date. It opens up such great conversation about mental health, and is a groundbreaking book in YA. I am a better and more educated person for having read this book.

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