legend

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten TuesdayI know I missed last week’s so instead you get two this week, here is the first:

January 27: Ten Books I’d Love to Read With My Book Club/If I Had A Book Club (or you could pick a specific kind of book club — like if you had a YA book club or an adult book club or a science fiction book club etc.)

This is such an interesting topic and I often wish I could join a book club so I would have people to share my joy and tears over a book with. So here are the ones I would like to read with others, as always in no particular order.

snow like ashesWe Were Liars by E. Lockhart – This book left me with such mixed feelings that I need to discuss them with someone. I enjoyed the layout and the story but the twisted ending left me heartbroken and I have no one to understand that.

Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch – I know, I know, this is is on EVERY list that I’ve done lately but it is just that good. I love the world that Raasch creates and I would love to share that with as many people as possible.

Legend/The Young Elites by Marie Lu – I put both of these books because I feel they are so vastly different that they would provide a great conversational topic for the variety of writing styles that Lu possesses. Plus they are both pretty badass stories.

The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet by Kate Rorick/Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen – Obviously we would start with Austen and then read the more modern version, perhaps also watching some of Rorick’s YouTube videos. One of my favorite classics paired with a great new interpretation. Love, love, love. horns

Horns by Joe Hill – Dark and intense but definitely worth the read. And anyone who attended Catholic school or knows about Catholicism will definitely appreciate a lot of the symbolism and text. It’s a murder wrapped in myth and shoved into a scary reality. Amazing.

The Black Jewels Trilogy by Anne Bishop – I did manage to convince my bestie to start these and they were recommended to me by my cousin and have since become an all-time favorite. The world, the people, the story, all of it is blended into a seamlessly beautiful set of books that I always tell people to read.

Seven Realms by Cinda Williams Chima – Chima is an amazing author, colorful dialogue and witty characters. She builds a realm and makes you live in it. She blends character perspective into a narrative that is as fantastical as it is fantastic. Definitely one that people would enjoy talking about.

The Chronicles of Nick by Sherrilyn Kenyon – Sarcasm, demons, and high school, what could be better? Truthfully, this series should come after the Dark Hunter series but this version of blood of olympusNick Gautier is too irresistible for me to not talk about.

The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis – An all time favorite collection from beginning to end, loads of people have read it, but few have actually done so as an adult and are willing to discuss it. I’d like to change that. Reliving a childhood classic can be beneficial in more than one way!

Percy Jackson and the Olympians/Heroes of Olympus by Rick Riordan – And of course, Riordan’s writing is pure gold, comedic and otherwise. The blend of myth and reality, the different interpretations of both, the characters and their relationships, friendly and otherwise, all of it would make great conversation. Especially the growth over the two series.

Book Review: The Young Elites

It’s here, as promised!!

Featured Image -- 1097And I’m not just talking about the book itself but also my review of it. What an adventure this book took me on! After reading Lu’s other works I was not anticipating this complete 360 flip that she pulled. True, the story is still about good and evil, right and wrong, and of course, hidden agendas and twists. But it’s told from a different perspective that really makes you reevaluate how you view “darkness” or “evil”.

Adelina is a normal-ish girl. She lives at home with her dad and sister (in another realm) and she was unfortunate enough to be sick as a child which caused her to not only lose an eye and become a societal outcast but also unwanted in her own family. Her father is desperate to get rid of her and her sister is naively ignoring everything. Finally, Adelina can’t take it anymore and escapes.

She is found by a young man who is known as “Reaper” but there is definitely more to him than meets the eye, and the attraction is undeniable. She is saved but it might not be all that she had hoped it would. All her life, Adelina has struggled against people trying to control and manipulate her. And is the Reaper really any different? The Young Elites might have taken her in but do they really trust her? Can she really trust them?

So many questions! And only 300 pages in which to answer them! Adelina’s story is gripping, especially because it starts when she is about to die. The entire thing is one unbelievable scenario after another that paint a picture of deep pain and trouble. There are flashbacks and heart-pounding present moments. The action is enough to keep you turning the pages and make you stay up an extra an hour before bed. As I said in one of my status updates, I had to force myself to put the book down so I didn’t finish it in one day. Mostly because I also had school work that was going undone.

The cast of characters here isn’t overwhelming but some are particularly memorable and not just because of how I imagine they look. There are minor characters who play a role in Adelina’s life but only a handful of main characters that have continuous interaction that is written about.  And speaking of which, there is a character death in here that I’m not sure I will EVER recover from. It was almost as bad as Hedwig dying in HP7.

I wasn’t expecting such a dark story. Adelina isn’t exactly a good person or a bad one. She is definitely troubled and not at all perfect, which she deeply acknowledges. But embracing her flaws is one of her strongest attributes. She knows that she is beautiful but also knows that people are repulsed by her. She is very straightforward and blunt, which is admirable. Although she doesn’t always tell the truth when she should which really kept pissing me off.

Overall, this is a complex book that may not appeal to everyone, including people who loved Lu’s other works. But it has flair and style and if you appreciated Day from Legend then give this one a try. If you were more of a June fan, then maybe not. Either way, Lu writes this story in her unique fashion and it’s not another dystopian (if you’re sick of those), so add it to your TBR and enjoy the ride.

Goodreads rating: 5 stars

My personal rating: 94

  • Writing style – 10
  • Plot – 9
  • Dialogue – 9
  • Personality of Main Character(s) – 9
  • Love story – 9
  • Invokes emotion – 9
  • Synopsis accuracy – 10
  • Consistent level of interest – 9
  • Stays on topic – 10
  • Accuracy of genre/genre blending – 10

Book Review…sort of

I have not yet managed to finish a book in the last week but I have two that I am very excited about and would love to share with you.

I am currently about 5/6 of the way done with Outlander and about 2/3 done with The Young Elite, but this week, I have been trying to play catch up (and get ahead) on school work for NaNoWriMo which begins on Saturday. And as a result, I’ve fallen a bit behind on my reading, even at night before bed I’m only able to manage a chapter or two before I start nodding off.

And in the interest of saving myself time, I’m going to put in the Goodreads blurbs for each books but I promise my own summaries when I get around to reviewing them (hopefully this weekend/next week).

Outlander – “The year is 1945. Claire Randall, a former combat nurse, is just back from the war and reunited with her husband on a second honeymoon when she walks through a standing stone in one of the ancient circles that dot the British Isles. Suddenly she is a Sassenach—an “outlander”—in a Scotland torn by war and raiding border clans in the year of Our Lord…1743.

Hurled back in time by forces she cannot understand, Claire is catapulted into the intrigues of lairds and spies that may threaten her life, and shatter her heart. For here James Fraser, a gallant young Scots warrior, shows her a love so absolute that Claire becomes a woman torn between fidelity and desire—and between two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives.”

What a rush this book is! I am so intrigued by the isles north of Europe that I can find endless fascination in every story that is told about them. Characters lost in time, even more so. Not to mention a kickass love story that knocks through several loops before tossing you back down to land on your head, no longer sure what the right choice is. Other than being rather long, the book is very enjoyable. Gabaldon is a creative and colorful writer and especially with her real Scotsmen language. So far, two big thumbs up!

The Young Elites – “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.”

Wow, after Legend I didn’t think Marie Lu could get any better, but because that is possible, I think this series might be an even better one. It’s all about the darkness inside, the one that threatens to consume you and spill out onto the world. Most people can keep that in check but what happens when you can’t or at least no longer have to? There is less focus on the light (even the story is still about what is right/wrong) and it’s message is that much more powerful because of it. Adelina isn’t my favorite girl and she might lack temerity in compared to June (from the Legend series) but her twisted life is a story worth following and remembering.

books

There’s my quick update for you all! I promise full reviews will follow just as soon as I can sit down to finish the books 🙂

What I’m Reading

currently reading 10.11.14

The Grand Escape has been on my re-read list for awhile. I remembered this book while going through some of my childhood things and have wanted to read it again ever since. I ordered it from Amazon and it’s now sitting next to my bed all pretty and new and waiting to be cracked open.

Styxx has also been on my list for awhile now and I promised myself I would read this side of the Acheron debacle before the end of the year but I’ve been so distracted by all the shiny, new books coming out that I haven’t gotten around to it yet. Hopefully that changes soon!

The Whispering Skull is the second book in a series that I have been itching to get my hands on since I read the first. And it’s perfect for this time of year. Young people who hunt ghosts for a living? Yes, please!

The Iron Trial and The Young Elites are both new publishing by old favorites (well, not that old). The Iron Trial is co-written by fan-loved Cassandra Clare and so far, it’s pretty interesting, the 20 pages I’ve read at least. And The Young Elites is, of course, the new release from Marie Lu, author of the Legend series that I loved so much. She is fantastic and I hope this one lives up to expectation.

The final book up to bat is Outlander. After seeing it everywhere, and now it’s on TV, I needed to read it. It was calling to me. It’s a love story lost in time zones and I couldn’t resist it, even if the paperback is about twice the size of every other book I’m currently tackling. I’ve heard great things and so far, it’s reeling me in.

So that’s what I’m reading. What are you reading?

Legend by Marie Lu

Absolutely! This entire series is phenomenal!

Legend (Legend, #1)Date Published: January 1, 2011

Dates Read: 9/21/14 to 9/26/14

Rating: 5 stars!!

Synopsis: What was once the western United States is now home to the Republic, a nation perpetually at war with its neighbors. Born into an elite family in one of the Republic’s wealthiest districts, fifteen-year-old June is a prodigy being groomed for success in the Republic’s highest military circles. Born into the slums, fifteen-year-old Day is the country’s most wanted criminal. But his motives may not be as malicious as they seem.
From very different worlds, June and Day have no reason to cross paths – until the day June’s brother, Metias, is murdered and Day becomes the prime suspect. Caught in the ultimate game of cat and mouse, Day is in a race for his family’s survival, while June seeks to avenge Metias’s death. But in a shocking turn of events, the two uncover the truth…

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Teen Topic Tuesday: Sex in YA Novels

YA novels

I’ve noticed that YA novels differ greatly with discussing the topic of sex. I find that fascinating given the profusion of sex in our current society. Are some authors trying to avoid the topic because it is too embedded into our culture or because they are creating worlds so outside the current norm that sex wouldn’t even be on the table? And yet, other books have sex as a main focus, usually more fantasy or “real life” driven novels. What are those authors saying about sex and society?

Let’s have some examples because that’s always fun!

hp1-7 Harry Potter: no sex…there isn’t even kissing until the 5th book, and then after that, everyone is kind of busy trying to survive but still.

The Hunger Games: okay, so Katniss is pretty busy trying to survive the Hunger Games and then once she gets back, there is a whole love triangle thing happening that doesn’t really get resolved until the final book.

The Giver: Well Jonas is supposed to be 12 in the books but he is like 16 in the movies, so I can understand this one. Plus his society doesn’t believe in love…

Revolution 19: Robots and death but no sex.

The Selection: Sex before marriage is illegal, especially if you’re going to be the future queen, so obviously America doesn’t risk that.

Legend series: Unfortunately, no. (damnit, June)

matchedMatched: Definitely not, just another depressing love triangle that makes me want to strangle someone, usually the female lead

Maze Runner: No sex, which makes sense in the first book since only one girl shows up…but later events, could have fit in there somewhere (*spoiler* would have been an interesting twist when the girls gang up on the guys)

The Mortal Instruments: *spoiler* Plenty of opportunity but considering they think they are siblings for the better part of the series, that would just be weird

The 5th Wave: Okay, apocalypse and she basically ends up alone, this one I get

Doomed: Nope, no sex. Even though 17 year old Pandora is on the road with two very attractive young men

cinderThe Lunar Chronicles: No sex so far (fingers crossed for Wolf and Scarlet!!)

Delirium: I can’t remember but I don’t think the main characters actually have sex

Tiger Saga: Unfortunately, there is another distracting love triangle and the whole guys turning into tigers for the better part of the day thing that makes sex nearly impossible, though there is lots of tension at various points

Seven Realms series: Once again, lots of tension but no sex. Plus there is a lot of fighting for your life type action so it kind of makes sense.

 

 

twilightThe Twilight series: *spoiler* There is visible waiting until after marriage, cough, Edward, cough, so it doesn’t happen until the 4th book.

The Fault in Our Stars: *spoiler* Sex at the end of the book, which makes sense to me

matchedDivergent: *spoiler* Abnegation has a thing about being touchy-feely and it’s implied that Four and Tris have sex but no detail is given

The Wolves of Mercy Falls: *spoiler* If I remember correctly, Grace and Sam progress to that stage in the second book but in a very sweet way. Plus they’ve already been sharing her bed for months beforehand so yea, ’bout time.

House of Night: *spoiler* There is definitely sex in this book. And in particular it’s how Zoey ends up in a sticky situation that rocks her world.

 

Well now looking back, I can see that the idea of sex is usually lost in extreme post-apocalyptic societies. But isn’t it interesting that in a world that holds sex appeal in such high esteem, how often our YA novels skim over the topic completely?

If sex isn’t being talked about in a way that our teens can relate to, then isn’t the point of including it kind of lost? I like series that both include and don’t include sex, especially ones where surviving is more important than living, but isn’t it also important to talk about procreation? In particular, in post-apocalyptic settings where life and death are a matter of every day living? Because obviously the people there are still having children. (Unless you are Katniss who swears she never will.)

And while sex might not be the most important topic, I think it’s one that gets a lot of press and media exposure but not necessarily one that teens are talking about in safe or healthy ways. Especially with the typically assigned gender roles about “the s word” and what it means to “be a real man”.

I know that I have sexual tension, innuendo, and scenes in the novel that I’ve written and I’m happy with that decision. I think it’s important to represent real people (read: imperfect people), regardless of whether it is a fantasy world or not. So let me ask my fellow writers, what are your thoughts on this topic? Why do you choose to include or not include sex in your writing?

I think novels can have a powerful impact on the psyche of the growing mind and in doing so, shouldn’t we take the time to address the issue that are most pressing on those minds? Sex is a part of life, a part of becoming an adult (and being one), whether you choose to participate, abstain, or wait. I think it’s important to leave our readers with a positive impression of sex, not a negative one, that should be the goal. I know it’s the one I strive for.