Tuesday Top Ten – Most Anticipated Winter Releases!

Welcome to the new year everyone! Its a brand new beginning and all of that sort of thing. But the best part of the new year is this: NEW STUFF. All that stuff that was “next year” is now THIS year. And that includes books.

Now its time to talk about the top ten books that I’m getting excited for this winter! Check them out, troche and let me know what books YOU’RE excited about!

10. The Shadow Cabinet by Maureen Johnson

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The third installment of the series, price and I’ve been waiting for it for so long. I feel like I’ve been waiting for so so so long for this book that I absolutely need to reread the first two books to remember what the hell is supposed to be going on in the third book.

Release Date: February 10th, 2015 

9. Dead to Me by Mary McCoy

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I am so excited for this debut novel…I think its my most anticipated debut novel of the year. I absolutely adore Mary, she’s a librarian for the Los Angeles Public Library and has always been a dear friend and supporter of me and this blog, and I can’t wait for her book. Its set in the 1940s, amidst the glitz and glamour of the film age and it sounds deliciously thrilling. I can’t WAIT.

Release Date: March 3rd, 2015 

8. The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord

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I am so so excited for this new novel by Emery Lord. I had NO idea who she was until she was on a panel with…I think Stephanie Perkins at the Festival of Books and I just loved everything about her. Plus she was so cute and I don’t know haha, I wanted to read her book. I absolutely LOVED Open Road Summer. She has a fresh teen voice and a total knack for addicting romance and I can’t wait for this one. Max sounds amazing.

Release Date: March 31st, 2015

7. I Was Here by Gayle Forman 

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Gayle Forman is a QUEEN of contemporary YA lit. She blows my mind with everything that she writes, especially Just One Day/Just One Year (which were optioned for film!!). I’m VERY excited for a brand new release from her, especially since the synopsis makes it sound like another emotional roller coaster. Oh Gayle.

Release Date: January 27th, 2015 

6. Salt and Stone by Victoria Scott

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This one would be much lower on the list but I’m spoiled as hell and I already read it and know how absolutely amazing it is. But now that I know its great, I’m dying to get that book with that beautiful cover in my hands, and for everyone else who loves the first one, you’re going to love the second one even more. Its a truly heartbreaking.

Releases: February 24th, 2015

5. Fairest by Marissa Meyer

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I know! A novella on the list. For those that don’t know me, I’m usually not a massive fan of novellas, and find most of them are unnecessary. But…but…I think Fairest is going to be spectacular. One, because Marissa Meyer is a fantastic writer. Two, Levana is SUCH a mystery and maybe some of this will shed a little light, and maybe it’ll open up new possibilities for Winter. Either way, I’m excited for it.

Release Date: January 27th, 2015

4. Invaded by Melissa Landers

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This is another winter release that I’ve already read. And one that I totally absolutely love. But I think I’m really excited about this because I KNOW how good it is and I get to meet her this year! Plus, if I can have more Aelyx and Cara in my life, I’m totally okay with that! And maybe if we all show love to Invaded and buy it, we WILL get more!

Release Date: February 3rd, 2015

3. The Alex Crow by Andrew Smith  

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I mean. Duh. I want my hands on this book so badly. I’ve been trying to get my hands on an ARC of this thing for MONTHS and have not been able to do that. I am dying for this book. Every single thing about this book sounds amazing and Andrew is an incredible author. When I interviewed him last year and he described the book as “It’s about a ship that gets stuck in ice, a fifteen-year-old kid, a schizophrenic who thinks he can speak to Joseph Stalin, a summer camp for kids who are addicted to technology, the de-extinction of a species of crow, and there’s a bigfoot in there, too. You know…the typical stuff.” Come on. I’m sold.

Release Date: March 10th, 2015

2. Unchanged by Jessica Brody

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I’M DYING TO READ THIS BOOK. I need to know what happens next. Unforgotten left on such a crazy, heartbreaking, emotional note and I’m dying to see what happens next for Sera and Zen and Kaelen. It hurts just to even think about it because of allllll the crap that went down in the second book and I need this book in my hands. You hear me, Jessica? Give me the book and no one gets hurt ;)

Release Date: February 24th, 2015

1. The Ruby Circle by Richelle Mead 

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Yes. Please. More Adrian Ivashkov. Oh and of course Sydney too. But definitely Adrian. And after that ending in Silver Shadows, I basically wanted to scream, get in a car and drive up to Richelle’s house and demand that she tell me everything that was going to happen next. Luckily, I’m a patient girl (ha!) and its nearly upon us to find out the ending to this fantastic series! AND I’m finally going to meet Richelle! AGH

Release Date: February 10th, 2015

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What are some the books that you’re looking forward to releasing in January, February and March? Make sure to share them in the comments!

Book of the Week-The Girl of Fire and Thorns

Welcome back to the Book of the Week, treatment in its new day, physician Thursday! I changed the outline of my blog a little bit and moved the Book of the Week from Friday to Thursday. Okay, and I am totally aware that is neither Thursday nor Friday and I’m already doing seriously horrible at sticking to my blog outline. I’m trying to do better though and its been kind of a busy week.

But moving on. I am on a reading high right now, trying to make my goal of 200 books in a year and so far, I’ve read 11 books this year, which isn’t too bad considering its mid-January.

So it actually was kind of hard to pick a book for a book of the week.

However, I was reading the sequel to this week’s book of the week and I realized how much I enjoyed the story and I wanted to talk to people all about the sequel. Well, I can’t really do a post on the sequel of the novel without first talking about the first story. So here is this week’s Book of the Week.

The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson 

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So the basic premise of the novel is this: Elisa is a princess in the country of Orovalle, the younger sister, with no real purpose and no direct line to the throne. She isn’t beautiful; in fact, she enjoys her food a bit too much and is known for being a very kind princess but a very FAT princess. To make matters worse, she is married off to Alejandro, the king of the near by desert country of Joya d’Arena, in secret. Alejandro is gorgeous, and his son adores Elisa but she’s in a loveless, secret marriage and she feels even more useless than she did in her own country.

Because Elisa has a destiny, a destiny given to her from God in the form of a Godstone, a blue stone in her stomach, visible through her navel that makes her as a chosen one, one who will do somehing great as the will of God. This, of course, makes her a hot commodity, and only puts a SLIGHT bit of pressure on her.

And then she is kidnapped by a group of kids her own age, who live in the eastern areas of the Joya d’Arena , where war has raged for generations, unknown to the weak king, Alejandro. They hope by bringing God’s chosen to their cause, they will finally be able to defeat the Invierne army that threatens the entire kingdom. Finally, Elisa feels like she has a purpose…and a boy named Humberto, who looks at her like no one else in the world ever has.

The Good or the Bad: 

First, I’m going to start with the bad, because there isn’t a lot. The biggest “issue”, if you will, for this book was the God aspect of it. In a lot of fantasy novels that are written, there is some form of religion. It only makes sense because religion is the way we explain how things happen, how we came about. Its where we get our morals and our “rules”, where we came from. It only makes sense that gods would exist in these alternate universes. However, with Elisa’s Godstone and her destiny from God, and all that, it got a little too religious for me. I’m an atheist and can only handle a little bit of religion and I had a hard time determining if it was the God of a fantasy world or if it was a book with heavy Christian values. I’m not a Christian so heavy Christian themes in a book is hard for me to stomach. Its why I have such a hard time reading the Chronicles of Narnia, but I love Harry Potter.

Moving on though, the rest of the book is absolutely fantastic.

First (you know, besides the first ‘first’ that talked about religion), there’s the character of Elisa herself. She is a wonderfully written character. Tamora Pierce, one of my absolute heroines, says “Elisa is a wonderful, believable hero, the kind that every reader can imagine as herself.” This is a perfect way to describe Elisa. She’s a younger princess, getting married to this extremely handsome king on her sixteenth birthday, and she’s a born Chosen one from God, and she’s fat. She’s insecure in her own body and her own destiny and she’s forced to marry an extremely handsome king, who has no interest in actually recognizing her as his wife. She feels like a child and she feels useless. How many of us have felt that? If you haven’t felt that, you must be a robot.

But of course, Elisa doesn’t always stay this timid and afraid little girl. She becomes an adult, though through trial. She’s kidnapped by people who need her help, because she is the Chosen. And even though she feels completely inept and she has no clue whatsoever what the Godstone and its purpose is for her, she is able to help. And the best part of her stepping up and helping, and gaining the confidence to lead these people, is that it comes from herself. It doesn’t come from her Godstone. The Godstone may have been the reason that she was brought into this but it isn’t what makes her the great leader that she is. It isn’t what gains her the loyalty of those people, it isn’t what causes the friendship she gains in her guard, Hector, the adoration she wins from her new son, Rosario, and the love she gets from her friend, Humberto. That is all 100% Elisa and its fantastic.

There’s the story itself, that captivates me enough to keep reading. You can’t help but want to root on Elisa the entire time. Even though Alejandro is a weak king and he rules his kingdom in an indecisive manner and he’s letting his outer eastern providences die in defense of his whole country, you can’t help but want them all to win. You even can’t help but rooting for him a little bit, as he realizes what he has done wrong and how he tries to fix it. Even though Joya d’Arena is in shambles and its poor and the people are starving and they can barely defend themselves, you want them to win because you want Elisa to win. And Elisa believes in the Joya d’Arena people. You are so excited to watch as she goes from a overweight, shy and unsure princess to a confident and capable ruler.

I don’t want to give away too much of this book, because there is so much to it that makes it an enjoyable book. Its fast paced enough to keep you wanting more and all the characters are believable. Elisa is one of the most believable female characters that I have ever read. Alejandro is a real character in that he represents the weakness of previous rulers, the reality that not all leaders are strong. I love Humberto and Cosme, Elisa’s captors who become her friends, because of their determination to succeed, to defend the place where they love and leave.

And the sequel is only that much better. This is a book that I definitely recommend. Five stars. A round of applause. Two thumbs up. Standing ovation. Rae Carson is a very talented and engaging writer and I can’t wait for more people to pick this book and enjoy it. I hope that this post encourages you all to pick up the book and that it encourages everyone to read the sequel, The Crown of Embers, which is even better than the first. I can’t wait til this fall with the last installment in the series comes out because its sure to be an instant hit, and even more enjoyable than the first two.

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Book of the Week-Looking for Alaska

As a huge supporter of young adult literature, for sale John Green is one of the authors that top my list. John Green is definitely an example of how young adult literature can be used as a viable source of literature and SHOULD be used in classrooms.

Moving on though, its been forever since I did a Book of the Week post because, sadly, I was so busy between Christmas and all the birthdays that I have going in December and I literally had no time to read anything. But now that I still have a month left of glorious winter vacation before I hit the books again in school, I can consume all the books that I received as Christmas gifts.

One of those books was Looking for Alaska, by John Green.

Which leads me to our book of the week.

Looking for Alaska by John Green

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In this award winning novel by John Green, we meet high school junior, Miles also known as Pudge, who decides to go to a boarding school in Alabama because life at home is just normal and boring. He doesn’t have any friends; no one even shows up for his going away party. And he’s obsessed with last words; he can recall the last words of countless famous people and he knows that he can’t get those kind of events, those kind of words living at home, where nothing happens.

So he goes to boarding school, where on his first day, he immediately is pulled into the world that is created on that campus. He becomes friends with his roommate, Chip aka the Colonel, which gains him friends with Takumi and the extremely beautiful and kind of crazy Alaska Young. How could Pudge resist? Of course he falls in love with her! How could he not, how could anyone not? Soon there are pranks to pull, classes to ditch, a lenient but kind of scary headmaster to avoid and some seriously teen awesomeness to experience.

The Good or The Bad:

Honestly, I feel like I should have read Looking for Alaska before I read The Fault in Our Stars. The Fault was a one of a kind book that literally broke my heart and changed the way I see young adult literature… again. It was a unique story in the very familar world of teenage life. It was the third book I had read by John Green: I love An Abundance of Katherines and Paper Towns was an extreme let down. There just isn’t a book like The Fault in our Stars.

That being said, I really enjoyed Looking for Alaska. I like the story of boarding school…there’s something awesome about kids and teenagers basically having the run of the place without the influence of parents around all the time. Why do you think Harry, Hermione and Ron got into so much trouble while tucked in away in wizarding boarding school? No parental guidance, just a bunch of teachers who are too busy knocking back firewhiskey (or normal) in their offices late at night to notice the mischief that is so clearly going on.

I really like Miles a.k.a. Pudge too. He’s a typical teenage boy, playing video games, smoking cigarettes, eating bufriedos, and so on. Pining after the insanely beautiful but completely unattainable Alaska Young. Getting his first blow job by the hot Romanian student. I love Pudge.

I didn’t like Alaska at all. I don’t know why but something about her drove me insane. I loved Pudge and Takumi and Lara and the Colonel and I could understand the allure of Alaska Young but she was hot and crazy and maybe that’s extremely appealing to most guys or something but she was insane. And everyone loved her; maybe that was the point. She had losses early in her life and sometimes she made mistakes and she didn’t know how to handle when she did. I could understand that and I can understand being so extremely confused by just being a teenager, with all those emotions.

But a lot of what happened to me, as far as storyline, was very predictible to me. I didn’t feel the kind of shock and heartbreak that I felt in other books. When (SPOILER) Alaska Young ends up dead in a car crash, I wasn’t surprised in the least. People said they cried like crazy when that part happened but I feel like I didn’t even flinch in the slightest. I mean, sure, I was sad but it didn’t feel like anything I felt when I read the Fault in Our Stars. Maybe I would have appreciated Alaska more if I had read it before The Fault, but that’s the way I read it and Alaska just didn’t reach me the way that Hazel and Augustus did.

I did like all the pranks pulled by people; they were totally fun. I didn’t pull off any pranks whatsoever when I was in high school, mostly because I was kind of shy and social afraid of doing anything that might actually be fun and I didn’t really know any people that would partake in anything like a school prank. So the pranks that I read in this book, like putting hair dye in people’s hair gel and firecrackers and sending out false progress reports and bringing a stripper to a speech day. All fantastic and classic. LOVED it.

Honestly, I did enjoy the book. I read it in one day and I only do that for a book that I am actually interested in and its still a GOOD book but it felt depressingly flat after The Fault in Our Stars and maybe people built up this book so much in my mind that I had extremely high expectations. I definitely recommend that people read this book but I wouldn’t recommend reading it after the Fault if you enjoyed it as much as I did. Like…I literally worship that book so maybe I’m just the slightest bit biased when it comes to judging these books.

The point is, its a great book and it’ll have you glued to the pages through out the entire book. Miles is a fun character and I honestly cracked up during his very blow job because, seriously, it was HILARIOUS! You’ll crave a bufriedo (fried bean burrito) because it sounds both artery clogging and absolutely delicious. You’ll want to take religions with Dr. Hyde because he makes the ideas of religion seem extremely interesting, even for a staunch atheist like me. I want to go to boarding school now, and I want to light firecrackers outside the headmasters’ house and go camping in the rooms and get chased by the evil swan. This is a great, great book and I’m definitely a John Green backer.

What did you think of Looking for Alaska?