Betrothed since childhood to the prince of Mynaria, Princess Dennaleia has always known what her future holds. Her marriage will seal the alliance between Mynaria and her homeland, protecting her people from other hostile lands. But Denna has a secret. She possesses an Affinity for fire—a dangerous gift for the future queen of a kingdom where magic is forbidden.
Now, Denna must learn the ways of her new home while trying to hide her growing magic. To make matters worse, she must learn to ride Mynaria’s formidable warhorses before her coronation—and her teacher is the person who intimidates her most, the prickly and unconventional Princess Amaranthine (called Mare), sister of her betrothed.
When a shocking assassination leaves the kingdom reeling, Mare and Denna reluctantly join forces to search for the culprit. As the two work together, each discovers there’s more to the other than she thought. Mare is surprised by Denna’s intelligence and bravery, while Denna is drawn to Mare’s independent streak. Soon their friendship is threatening to blossom into something more.
But with dangerous conflict brewing that makes the alliance more important than ever, acting on their feelings could be deadly. Forced to choose between their duty and their hearts, Mare and Denna must find a way to save their kingdoms—and each other.
Of Fire and Stars was one of my most anticipated books of the year; it sounded amazing and looked amazing! I was overjoyed to get a copy at BEA. And even though the world-building and characters were fairly cliché, I was enjoying the first half; it reminded me of The Girl of Fire and Thorns.I liked Mare the most and liked how her relationship with Denna was developing. I was even intrigued with the mystery and political subplot even if the Directorate was totally useless. I couldn’t stop reading.
*Slight spoilers ahead*
Unfortunately it fell apart for me in the last 120 pages. All of a sudden, the pace went at breakneck speed because the story had so much to cram into the end. I’m certain this will be a book with a sneaky sequel. The search for the spy and the dagger was basically dropped; I was left wanting so much more in general. I wanted to know MORE about Affinities, MORE about the different cultures, and I wanted a more natural progression of Mare and Denna’s feelings.
It was so abrupt, from stolen glances and blushing faces to declarations of love and “can’t live without you.” I could feel their emotions in the first half; once they admitted their feelings, it was a lot of telling. I was disappointed to find that Denna was awfully selfish while Mare was somewhat immature. No one else had much personality to speak of.
At the end, I just wanted to finish the book. It didn’t have enough depth for me and had some terrible dialogue in the last 30 pages. I was sincerely happy to see two princesses in love, but I wanted to feel their love and I wanted their story to be more compelling in its other aspects. (Side note: the German cover is so gorgeous I’m tempted to buy it despite everything.)
This is difficult for me because I want this book to do well. Diversity in fiction is important and I’d really really love more f/f fantasy and more LGBTQ fantasy in general, especially from #ownvoices authors. Maybe Of Fire and Stars will work for some readers, but it was mostly wasted potential for me.
Have you read Of Fire and Stars yet? What did you think?
In an alternate Victorian world controlled by clock towers, a damaged clock can fracture time—and a destroyed one can stop it completely.
It’s a truth that seventeen-year-old clock mechanic Danny Hart knows all too well; his father has been trapped in a Stopped town east of London for three years. Though Danny is a prodigy who can repair not only clockwork, but the very fabric of time, his fixation with staging a rescue is quickly becoming a concern to his superiors.
And so they assign him to Enfield, a town where the tower seems to be forever plagued with problems. Danny’s new apprentice both annoys and intrigues him, and though the boy is eager to work, he maintains a secretive distance. Danny soon discovers why: he is the tower’s clock spirit, a mythical being that oversees Enfield’s time. Though the boys are drawn together by their loneliness, Danny knows falling in love with a clock spirit is forbidden, and means risking everything he’s fought to achieve.
But when a series of bombings at nearby towers threaten to Stop more cities, Danny must race to prevent Enfield from becoming the next target or he’ll not only lose his father, but the boy he loves, forever.
Let’s start off with a disclaimer: Tara’s agent is one of my very good friends and she was nice enough to lend me an ARC for review, but that in no way affected the honesty of my review or my enjoyment of the book. In some ways, it added a lot of pressure!! Luckily, I needn’t have worried- I loved everything about this book and was pulled in from the very first page.
The writing is superb and I love the alternate London with its steampunk elements. It wasn’t too different, just different enough. I loved the historical details. And I love the mythology behind the clocks and clock spirits! The short interludes with mythology were wonderful and it showed another layer of Sims’ writing and imagination.
Most of all, I loved the characters, especially Danny. They felt so alive and richly drawn. Poor Danny, with the weight of the world crushing his shoulders. His home life is a bit of a shambles, but he loves his apprenticeship, even if most people dislike how fast he’s climbed the ranks- he can’t help that he’s so talented and unique. The fact that he could repair time was such a great addition. He’s stubborn and determined, and has a bit of a Potter streak to him when it comes to solving mysteries and sticking his nose where it might not belong. But he’s endearing and I love his friendship with Cassie. And Colton is quite the cinnamon roll! He’s such a bittersweet character, this spirit pulsing with energy and warmth who loves his clock tower but who wants to experience life (and love) outside his tower.
And the rooooomance!! Ahh! Colton and Danny’s relationship was so great, very Casper in some ways, and very sweet despite the myriad of obstacles (with lots of kissing!). In fact, Danny kisses and flirts more than I expected in this book, and it is excellent. There aren’t any triangles but sometimes you kiss the wrong person before you get to kiss the right one, especially when said person is a spirit. I liked that Danny’s sexuality was part of his story but not the crux of his story.
The action really ramps up in the second half and it’s all very exciting and tragic. I couldn’t imagine how the book was so long and part of a series, but now I already want more! The pacing was excellent and it felt magical and charming. There’s so much to this world and these characters. I’ve only read The Archived but I can see fans of Victoria Schwab loving this, along with fans of historical fiction mixed with a bit of fantasy, adventure, friendship, and swoony lovely ships :D
A sweeping story told in letters, spanning two continents and two world wars, Jessica Brockmole’s atmospheric debut novel captures the indelible ways that people fall in love, and celebrates the power of the written word to stir the heart.
March 1912: Twenty-four-year-old Elspeth Dunn, a published poet, has never seen the world beyond her home on Scotland’s remote Isle of Skye. So she is astonished when her first fan letter arrives, from a college student, David Graham, in far-away America. As the two strike up a correspondence—sharing their favorite books, wildest hopes, and deepest secrets—their exchanges blossom into friendship, and eventually into love. But as World War I engulfs Europe and David volunteers as an ambulance driver on the Western front, Elspeth can only wait for him on Skye, hoping he’ll survive.
June 1940: At the start of World War II, Elspeth’s daughter, Margaret, has fallen for a pilot in the Royal Air Force. Her mother warns her against seeking love in wartime, an admonition Margaret doesn’t understand. Then, after a bomb rocks Elspeth’s house, and letters that were hidden in a wall come raining down, Elspeth disappears. Only a single letter remains as a clue to Elspeth’s whereabouts. As Margaret sets out to discover where her mother has gone, she must also face the truth of what happened to her family long ago.
Sparkling with charm and full of captivating period detail,Letters from Skye is a testament to the power of love to overcome great adversity, and marks Jessica Brockmole as a stunning new literary voice.
Letters From Skye was unbearably lovely from the very first page. I loved that it was written all in letters, and that it still managed to be a dual timeline novel. That seems tricky! It made the book focused while still remaining detailed within the letters themselves. The voices were so distinct and I loved the unraveling of the mystery and the blossoming of the romance. It’s a wonderful, quick read that is emotional and thought provoking (I almost cried a couple times), while the early letters contain quite a bit of humor. The story is very charming, full of family relationships & friendships, as well as romance. I highly recommend for historical fiction fans.
Debut author Sally Thorne bursts on the scene with a hilarious and sexy workplace comedy all about that thin, fine line between hate and love.
Nemesis (n.) 1) An opponent or rival whom a person cannot best or overcome. 2) A person’s undoing 3) Joshua Templeman
Lucy Hutton has always been certain that the nice girl can get the corner office. She’s charming and accommodating and prides herself on being loved by everyone at Bexley & Gamin. Everyone except for coldly efficient, impeccably attired, physically intimidating Joshua Templeman. And the feeling is mutual.
Trapped in a shared office together 40 (OK, 50 or 60) hours a week, they’ve become entrenched in an addictive, ridiculous never-ending game of one-upmanship. There’s the Staring Game. The Mirror Game. The HR Game. Lucy can’t let Joshua beat her at anything—especially when a huge new promotion goes up for the taking.
If Lucy wins this game, she’ll be Joshua’s boss. If she loses, she’ll resign. So why is she suddenly having steamy dreams about Joshua, and dressing for work like she’s got a hot date? After a perfectly innocent elevator ride ends with an earth shattering kiss, Lucy starts to wonder whether she’s got Joshua Templeman all wrong.
Maybe Lucy Hutton doesn’t hate Joshua Templeman. And maybe, he doesn’t hate her either. Or maybe this is just another game.
I’m so glad I decided to buy The Hating Game after seeing friends talk about it online because I loved it SO MUCH! I haven’t stopped thinking about the book since I finished!! From the opening chapter, I was enchanted by Lucy’s voice- she was so hilarious but real and I was giggling out loud on the bus, which I rarely do.
The publishing house setting was great, as were the office dynamics and oh my gosh, from the get go you just fall in love with Lucy and Josh and their silly office games. They hate each other soooo muchhhh (wink wink), like genuinely seem to hate each other and get under each other’s skin, that you know it’s going to be great when they stop hating each other.
The secondary characters are fleshed out well enough (loved Helene!), and Lucy and Josh could have been total caricatures but they’re not. She has quirks but she’s not a “quirky girl”. She overthinks everything and collects Smurf figures and misses her family, but she’s intelligent and reaching for her dreams. Josh could have been the stereotypical macho guy with a tender heart but he was so much more than that. He hides his shyness and insecurities with bravado, but he’s such a good person underneath that asshole layer. He’ll really surprise you, in a good way.
I also loved that the drama was believable and not that over the top. Family drama, mild dating drama, office drama, etc. There was some miscommunication but it was always resolved quickly. It helped that Josh knew Lucy really well, including her tendency to freak out in a very I Love Lucy sort of way, so a scene that could have been frustrating (her deciding that stopping by was stupid and she’s going to leave) was turned into something humorous: “Stop. Sit down. I’m making you some tea.” I swear I died when he made Lucy a sandwich, wrapped her in a cozy blanket, and watched ER reruns on the couch with her. Just because. Before anything physical really happens.
One of the best quotes is Lucy monologuing how she realizes that Josh is dangling his upturned hand on the couch like seeds to a skittish chicken (her being the chicken); he knows she needs to go slow (even if she doesn’t want to) and it’s honestly adorable. I loved watching their relationship thaw from enemies to coworkers to friends to Or Something- you’ll get that when you read the book!
This is one of those books that is predictable but you love all the individual elements so much that you don’t care. It’s very well written, from the voice to the characterization to the romantic scenes. And I loooooove the taking care of someone when they’re sick trope, like in You’ve Got Mail! Eep! Delirious medicine talk is almost as good as drunk talk, as far as unfiltered thoughts go ;)
The Hating Game is a pure rom-com and such a delight to read. It reminded me of Sophie Kinsella books but I think I loved it even better. I can’t believe it’s a debut and I can’t wait to read whatever Sally Thorne writes next. It was absolutely hilarious, really really adorable and sweet, and so sexy. One of my favorite books of the year for sure. (I’ve already reread THG since I wrote my review. Take that for what you will!)
Ella Coach has one wish: revolution. Her mother died working in a sweatshop, and Ella wants every laborer in the Blue Kingdom to receive fairer treatment. But to make that happen, she'll need some high-level support . . .
Prince Dash Charming has one wish: evolution. The Charming Curse forced generations of Charming men to lie, cheat, and break hearts -- but with the witch Envearia's death, the curse has ended. Now Dash wants to be a better person, but he doesn't know where to start . . .
Serge can grant any wish -- and has: As an executive fairy godfather, he's catered to the wildest whims of spoiled teenagers from the richest, most entitled families in Blue. But now a new name has come up on his list, someone nobody's ever heard of . . . Ella Coach.
I loved this book SO much for many different reasons! And I’m going to try something new and format my review in bullet points to really drive home my thoughts on Disenchanted.
-This book has all of the adventure, humor, and heart of Grounded: The Adventures of Rapunzel but still manages to feel completely different, which I think is incredible; the land of Tyme is so huge that each land truly feels like a different kingdom! They have their own cultures, histories, and landscapes, and it’s exciting to get to experience various parts of Tyme. Plus there are two maps!
-There are three POVs (Ella, Dash, Serge) that alternate in various lengths instead of chapters, and it was satisfying to see them begin to interweave while also getting the full scope of the story.
-I loved Ella! She was an amazing, well-realized main character: passionate, brilliant, and while she sometimes spoke too quickly or out of anger, her heart was always in the right place.
-I loved what Megan Morrison did with Ella’s family- it’s not the typical evil stepmother and stepsisters. Ella’s dad is alive and remarried, and she has a stepbrother and stepsister. It’s also more a case of growing pains and misunderstandings rather than them being “evil”. I really loved watching the evolution of their relationships.
-I loved Prince Dash! He was handsome but awkward, and his relationship with Ella (and his kingdom) really grows and flourishes. He takes the time to listen to her, even if he doesn’t agree. Plus there are well earned swoons ;) I loved Dash’s mother too. And the fairy godfathers Serge and Jasper, who I TOTALLY SHIP (and yes, it’s a legit ship!). Also, the head godmother Jules reminded me of the fairy godmother from Shrek 2. What a piece of work.
-I loved everything about the Blue Kingdom: the boarding school, the castle, the Glass Slipper, and the focus on the workshops and business class. It was unexpected and very dark and Dickensian at times, including one particularly harrowing sequence. I really appreciate that Megan Morrison never talks down to her readers. These are mature (but not inappropriate) books and deal with tough subjects much like the Harry Potter books did- through a fantasy lens.
– Disenchanted does a wonderful job of capturing a diverse group of characters within its pages, everything from race to culture to class. There are hints of an LGBT relationship too. The world feels multicultural and racially diverse, and the differences in custom and culture between each kingdom is illustrated nicely. Even the groups of fairies vary with regard to their own customs.
-At the crux of Disenchanted, however, is the issue of class and ethical dilemmas. Would you rather buy quality goods for cheap if the workers are treated abysmally or pay more for better goods if you know that the workers are treated fairly? This is what Ella is fighting for, for very personal reasons.
-The book made me emotional at different points- I laughed, I gasped, I almost cried- but last 60 pages are particularly fantastic. I love a good courtroom scene!
-Most of all, I loved all the small details. This world feels lived in, with a rich history that I’m dying to know more about. It’s timeless but modern and I love all the allusions and details from the first book and from fairy tales. I can’t wait to see what else is in store in the land of Tyme!
I am terrible at sticking to TBR lists but I do like to try to read seasonally. Makes me feel festive! The books on my fall TBR are a mixture of (mostly) upcoming arcs, books I own, and books I’ve gotten at the library, all in the spooky/supernatural/fantasy vein for the most part. Quite a few of them work for Fall Bookish Bingo too!
Every generation on the island of Fennbirn, a set of triplets is born: three queens, all equal heirs to the crown and each possessor of a coveted magic. Mirabella is a fierce elemental, able to spark hungry flames or vicious storms at the snap of her fingers. Katharine is a poisoner, one who can ingest the deadliest poisons without so much as a stomachache. Arsinoe, a naturalist, is said to have the ability to bloom the reddest rose and control the fiercest of lions.
But becoming the Queen Crowned isn’t solely a matter of royal birth. Each sister has to fight for it. And it’s not just a game of win or lose…it’s life or death. The night the sisters turn sixteen, the battle begins. The last queen standing gets the crown.
If only it was that simple. Katharine is unable to tolerate the weakest poison, and Arsinoe, no matter how hard she tries, can’t make even a weed grow. The two queens have been shamefully faking their powers, taking care to keep each other, the island, and their powerful sister Mirabella none the wiser. But with alliances being formed, betrayals taking shape, and ruthless revenge haunting the queens’ every move, one thing is certain: the last queen standing might not be the strongest…but she may be the darkest.
Three Dark Crowns is dark, strange, meandering, brutal, and fascinating. It’s a great book for fall for those very reasons! I really loved this fantasy world but it’s hard to get completely attached to anyone because the 3rd person present tense is peculiar and makes you feel distant. That being said, I found myself rooting for each queen at different points and I was genuinely shocked and dismayed at various points as well.
I definitely had favorite characters, and the details are fantastic: about the island, about the cities, about the abilities of the queens. It’s one of those books that burrows under your skin and stays with you afterwards. It’s not loud or flashy but it’s inventive and original. I loved how different the triplets Mirabella, Katharine, and Arsinoe were from each other; I also liked the compare and contrast between their upbringing and companions. Nature vs. nurture and all that.
I felt a little meh in the middle; I was going to rate it 3 stars for a while because I thought this was a standalone for some reason. No wonder the pacing felt off to me! It was interesting the entire time but I kept waiting for the story to ramp up. And the ending was fantastic but unexpected for that reason. It was harder to appreciate a slow burn story when my mind didn’t know to expect a sequel. However, I couldn’t get enough once the pace started rolling again towards the end.
It’s a captivating book. Even now, I keep thinking about the story, the characters, the terribly interesting history of Fennbirn Island and their Queens. The world building is so rich! And there is a map! Ellis and I keep discussing our theories for the sequel; there’s so much at play, so much to be answered for, and I can’t wait to see where the story will go.
Long before she was the terror of Wonderland — the infamous Queen of Hearts — she was just a girl who wanted to fall in love.
Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland, and a favorite of the yet-unmarried King of Hearts, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, all she wants is to open a shop with her best friend and supply the Kingdom of Hearts with delectable pastries and confections. But according to her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for the young woman who could be the next Queen.
At a royal ball where Cath is expected to receive the king's marriage proposal, she meets Jest, the handsome and mysterious court joker. For the first time, she feels the pull of true attraction. At the risk of offending the King and infuriating her parents, she and Jest enter into an intense, secret courtship.
Cath is determined to define her own destiny and fall in love on her terms. But in a land thriving with magic, madness, and monsters, fate has other plans.
Heartless was marvelous, enchanting, and oh so heartbreaking. I’ve been looking forward to this book for years and I’m so glad it lived up to my expectations! Marissa Meyers’ Lunar Chronicles is one of my favorite YA series and I was interested to see what a new story would look like from her. Heartless feels very different from her previous series but I loved it just as much.
It’s difficult to reimagine a beloved, well-known story but Heartless is done so well. It’s a slow build with a few pacing issues but I was entranced by the writing and the characters from the beginning. The world building is detailed and full of whimsy with clever allusions to Alice in Wonderland. You truly feel that this is a story taking place in the original Wonderland, but it also feels fresh.
Heartless would be nothing without a worthy main character and Catherine is magnificent. I couldn’t imagine how she could possibly become the Queen of Hearts that we all know; Catherine was full of love and ambition, and had such lofty dreams for her bakery, but you could see the hints of passion and temper simmering underneath. And oh how I loved all of the lemon tarts and spiced pumpkin cakes and other scrumptious treats! It made me want to bake everything.
All of the characters were deliciously complex, just like her recipes, although I didn’t care much for her parents or the King of Hearts. I loved the tea party scene with the Mad Hatter, I loved learning about the lands of Chess and Hearts and their history, and I loved Catherine’s relationship with Jest. It could have felt rushed but I like how it played out and it fit the whimsy of the story. Plus Jest was mysterious, fun, and quite romantic. The story and mystery comes to a head (pun intended) in this explosive crescendo that makes your heart break, even for characters you don’t like. It’s marvelous and awful.
If you love retellings in general, Alice in Wonderland in particular, or tragic romances and baked goods, Heartless needs to be on your reading list. It’s worth the preorder! And it’s the rare standalone that I wish would have a companion novel or two. It’s magical.
Can you believe there’s only 49 days left until the release of Heartless?!
It’s true!! And Fierce Reads is currently holding a sweepstakes so be sure to visit their site to enter!
Marissa Meyer is the New York Times-bestselling author of The Lunar Chronicles. She lives in Tacoma, Washington. She’s a fan of most things geeky (Sailor Moon, Firefly, any occasion that requires a costume), and has been in love with fairy tales since she was a child. She may or may not be a cyborg.
I can’t believe the 4th Annual ARC August hosted by Read.Sleep.Repeat is already at an end! I finished 7 arcs, so I almost reached my goal of reading 8, including a couple books that had been on my list for awhile. So that felt good! Definitely a success, and better than my first time participating last year when I read 4 arcs. Here are the books I completed, a mixture of e-arcs and print:
I also participated in Bookish Bingo Summer 2016 hosted by Bekka at Pretty Deadly Reviews and it was a huge success for me! I like that it covers three months at a time (June, July, August in this case) so you can spread out your goals.
I tried a previous Bookish Bingo season but didn’t do too well, so this time I tried to pick books already on my immediate TBR to fit each square ahead of time and it helped a lot! Having wiggle room was nice too. It was motivating to have a plan and work towards it, and it’s made me feel really productive reading-wise this summer, especially when a few of the books worked for both challenges. I’ll definitely try the next bingo card! Here’s what I read for each square:
Overall August was my best reading month of the year! 14 books, including some non-challenge books. I’m very pleased. Did you participate in either challenge or have other summer reading goals for yourself? And did we read any of the same books? Let me know!
Poppy Hooper and Ember Hawkweed couldn’t lead more different lives. Poppy is a troubled teen: moving from school to school, causing chaos wherever she goes, never making friends or lasting connections. Ember is a young witch, struggling to find a place within her coven and prove her worth. Both are outsiders: feeling like they don’t belong and seeking escape.
Poppy and Ember soon become friends, and secretly share knowledge of their two worlds. Little do they know that destiny has brought them together: an ancient prophecy, and a life-changing betrayal. Growing closer, they begin to understand why they’ve never belonged and the reason they are now forever connected to each other.
Switched at birth by the scheming witch Raven Hawkweed, Poppy and Ember must come to terms with their true identities and fight for their own place in the world. Enter Leo, a homeless boy with a painful past who – befriending them both – tests their love and loyalty. Can Poppy and Ember’s friendship survive? And can it withstand the dark forces that are gathering?
This book was a mixed bag for me. On the plus side, The Hawkweed Prophecy grabbed me from the very beginning and kept my interest all the way through. I loved the witchy feel; it was unique, secretive, creepy, and otherworldly. It also celebrated the bonds of friendship and sisterhood. I was intrigued by Ember, Poppy, and Leo, and how their lives were intertwined. It was at times sweet and very sad. There were quite a few characters that all had interesting, complicated parts to play.
Unfortunately, I didn’t have a complete emotional connection to the characters, which is where I got lost. Plenty scenes made me emotional, and I felt emotion between the characters themselves- love, jealousy, betrayal, loss…. but not between them and me. It’s hard to explain. There were also a few really disturbing sequences that bummed me out, but the writing is great and it worked for the story. The word choice throughout the book was precise and evoked so many senses and details. There is quite a bit of action in the second half while the majority of The Hawkweed Prophecy is very character driven.
It’s going to be a great book for fall. I could see glimmers of the strangeness of The Raven Boys, the witchiness of Unspoken and Beautiful Creatures, the curses and sisterhood of Practical Magic, and the creepiness of The Glass Casket. The book lost some luster for me in the middle and I wish I personally felt more connection, but I’m glad I picked it up at BEA.
Is this book on your Fall TBR? If you’ve read it already, what did you think?
The first movie I saw in theaters was The Little Mermaid when I was 3. I loved it! I remember the sequence with Ariel’s sisters in particular, and when we got home I found an Ariel Barbie under my pillow!
Belle is my favorite princess, with Tiana, Rapunzel, and Ariel close behind. But I love all the princesses really ;)
It’s a bit strange: Cinderella is not my favorite princess or Disney movie, but I LOVE Cinderella adaptations! The Disney live action is a favorite, as is Ever After and A Cinderella Story. I also adore the musical and I love Ella Enchanted and other Cinderella inspired books. It’s a classic tale for a reason.
SNOW WHITE | FAVORITE CLASSIC
Wuthering Heights: unpopular opinion time? Haha. I loved Wuthering Heights when I first read it in high school and I’ve read it 6 times since then. Everyone is unlikeable but so interesting and I love the violence of the language and setting.
CINDERELLA | BOOK THAT KEPT YOU READING PAST BEDTIME
I couldn’t put The Raven King down for obvious reasons, it was SO compelling and I had to know what was going to happen! I can’t remember the last time I stayed up til 1am reading a book (I fall asleep by 10pm most nights).
AURORA | FAVORITE CLASSIC ROMANCE
If we’re going purely book, I adore Anne and Captain Wentworth from Persuasion. That letter! The looks! *swoons* But if we’re talking movies I could watch every day, I love Emma & Mr Knightley so much, and of course I love Elizabeth & Darcy’s romance too.
ARIEL | BOOK ABOUT MAKING SACRIFICES AND FIGHTING FOR YOUR DREAMS
The Realms of the Gods had all of this. Daine has to choose between saving her world, her friends, and her love or being with her parents and all the gods in the other realm, which is very tempting. She’s sacrificing someone she loves either way and has to fight to get back to her friends and save Tortall from destruction. It was very tense and emotional!
BELLE | BOOK WITH SMART, INDEPENDENT MAIN FEMALE CHARACTER
Essie is self-sufficient, badass, and brave. She repairs mechanical droids and cage fights, and has much more going on underneath the surface. I loved her character in Stitching Snow! She can hold her own and doesn’t take crap from anyone, including Dane. But she’s smart and learns when to ask for help and who to trust when she needs to.
JASMINE | BOOK WITH CHARACTER WHO CHALLENGED SOCIAL CONVENTIONS OF HIS/HER WORLD
Rook. Sophia Bellamy isn’t content with just marrying a man for his wealth or staying at home, which is why she becomes the daring spy Red Rook and sets her mind to saving innocent people from the dungeons of revolutionary Paris in this alternate future world (that feels like 18th century France). She’s the embodiment of so many characteristics that she is told aren’t appropriate for young women in her world.
POCAHONTAS | BOOK WHOSE ENDING WAS A ROLLER COASTER OF EMOTIONS
Every Word. This entire book was a roller coaster of emotions! I was so anxious and tense the entire time. But parts of the book are also funny, tender, and really sexy, until everything turns terrible again. There’s a lot going on! You’ll be left wanting the final book immediately.
MULAN | BOOK WITH KICK-ASS FEMALE CHARACTER
As much as I want to say And I Darken because Lada is the epitome of kick ass, I have to go with Alanna: The First Adventure because Alanna is the epitome of Mulan! Disguising herself as a man to become a warrior, besting all of the men in her class, falling in love, being discovered and shunned as a woman but then saving the world and being accepted as a female warrior. Mulanna ;)
TIANA | BOOK WITH HARD-WORKING & SELF-MADE CHARACTER
Han Alister is the epitome of a self-made man in The Demon King. He goes from ruling the streets of Ragmarket to mastering his wizardry and becoming enmeshed in Seven Realms politics and the Gray Wolf queendom.
RAPUNZEL | BOOK THAT FEATURES AN ARTIST
I have a feeling that Rapunzel would be as taken with Jack from The Anatomical Shape of a Heart as Beatrix is. Art features heavily in the book, both traditional and non-traditional forms, and it affects almost every relationship. Jack is the main artist that comes to mind, but Beatrix is an accomplished artist in her own right.
MERIDA | BOOK THAT FEATURES A MOTHER-DAUGHTER RELATIONSHIP
One of my favorite things about The Raven Boys (and The Raven Cycle in general) is Blue’s relationship with the adult women in her life, particularly her mother Maura. They’re really close and you can feel the love between them. I also like that Maura can vacillate between being motherly and talking to Blue like an equal. They discuss everything and sometimes fight, sometimes keep secrets, but the mother-daughter bond is always there and it’s strong.
ANNA & ELSA | BOOK WITH A GREAT RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN SIBLINGS
The Summer After You and Me has a very real sibling relationship, which blossoms into something great, which I liked. Lucy and Liam are twins that used to be close as kids and have really grown apart. And honestly, Liam is a jerk to Lucy for most of the book. However, the last 20% or so you see them talk through their issues and differences and embrace their sibling relationship as friendship also; I liked the arc of their relationship with each other.
I’m tagging any Disney fans who want to participate! Let me know what you think of my selections in the comments below!
Katie Hammontree and Sarah Cooper have been best friends since the 2nd grade. Katie's welcoming, tight-knit family is a convenient substitute for Sarah when her distant parents aren't around, and Sarah's abrasive, goal-oriented personality gels well with Katie's more laid-back approach to life. But when a misunderstanding leads to the two of them being mistaken for a couple and Sarah uses the situation to her advantage, Katie finds herself on a roller coaster ride of ambiguous sexuality and confusing feelings. How far will Sarah go to keep up the charade, and why does kissing her make Katie feel more alive than kissing her ex-boyfriend Austin ever did? And how will their new circle of gay friends react when the truth comes out?
This is the kind of fluff I’m always looking for! I read Dating Sarah Cooper in about 4 hours and I really loved it. First of all, Katie and Sarah are extremely likeable despite the very unlikeable fake dating scenario they find themselves in at the start of the book. I loved their voices (especially Sarah) and I really liked the other characters as well. Not all of them were super fleshed out but there’s a good bit of “more than meets the eye” going on.
I also adored Katie’s parents and how close and supportive they were of her. One of my favorite scenes is when they reassure her they’ve always “known” about Katie because Katie isn’t even sure what she knows about herself! It was very sweet, but also kind of hilarious and a good turning point. Their quarterly family date night was such a fun idea too!
Not being LGBT myself (but knowing this book comes highly recommended from people who are), I thought Dating Sarah Cooper did a really wonderful job of exploring sexuality, prejudice, and how that all gets confused and fits into high school life. I loved watching Katie’s journey especially, the way she explained and sorted through her feelings, and gosh, this book was just CUTE ok!?! And had some very swoony kissing and really nice friendships. I totally loved it.
Will it be a summer of fresh starts or second chances?
For Lucy, the Jersey Shore isn't just the perfect summer escape, it's home. As a local girl, she knows not to get attached to the tourists. They breeze in during Memorial Day weekend, crowding her costal town and stealing moonlit kisses, only to pack up their beach umbrellas and empty promises on Labor Day. Still, she can't help but crush on charming Connor Malloy. His family spends every summer next door, and she longs for their friendship to turn into something deeper.
Then Superstorm Sandy sweeps up the coast, bringing Lucy and Connor together for a few intense hours. Except nothing is the same in the wake of the storm, and Lucy is left to pick up the pieces of her broken heart and her broken home. Time may heal all wounds, but with Memorial Day approaching and Connor returning, Lucy's summer is sure to be filled with fireworks.
The Summer After You and Me was such a delightful way to kick off the summer! I really enjoyed it. I grew up 5 minutes from the Jersey Shore myself, about an hour north of the town the book is set in, and it brought back all of these beach memories :)
The book takes place not long after Superstorm Sandy ravaged the East Coast in 2012, so there is definitely a somber tone throughout that’s balanced by the feeling of hope in the air. The town is rebuilding, everyone’s working to get back on their feet; it’s not without setbacks, but Seaside Park is getting there.
I really liked Lucy a lot; her interest in marine life and her academic drive coupled with her love of her hometown was refreshing! I loved her inner monologue, her love of the ocean, and her varied interests. I also loved her relationships with the people in her life. There was a lot of drama, included love triangles, but it felt like very realistic teenage drama. The ache of having seasonal friends, fighting with your parents, growing pains within your friend group, feeling replaced, realizing that you and your boyfriend might not have been meant to be more than best friends, competing with your sibling, and all the other stress that goes along with being in high school.
The thing I liked most is that everyone has these moments where they realize people make mistakes. And it takes work to get relationships back on track but it was refreshing to see them apologize to each other, to be mature and really work on their friendships.
Sometimes the dialogue was cheesy and oh gosh years of missed opportunities is the worst, but the romance was also very sweet although I can’t say I shipped anything very much. I did like Connor and the shared history between him and Lucy. Sometimes the flashbacks got confusing and I couldn’t tell whether I was reading about present day or not.
Overall I would definitely recommend this book to contemporary fans. It wasn’t earth-shattering but I could feel the ocean breeze and smell the boardwalk food. It has a unique New Jersey flavor mixed with summer romance and real relationships between family and friends, which was very appealing.
Have you read TSAYAM yet? What other summer books do you love? And have you ever been “down the shore”? Let me know in the comments!
Thanks to Alexa for the fantastic idea to make my own Captain America book tag! She helped me finalize a couple of the questions too. And thank you to my husband Chris for making me the awesome graphic, which you are more than welcome to use if you credit me :) Let’s get started!
Steve Rogers/Captain America: a book with a big character transformation Ginny Weasley in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Ginny changes enormously from Chamber of Secrets to OotP. She’s still the awesome girl she always was but she really begins to come into her own in this book. She becomes friends with a wide circle of people, starts to date in earnest, joins the Quidditch team, and is an integral member of Dumbledore’s Army. Ginny is also a powerful, intelligent witch with a talent for defensive magic who’s not afraid to stand up for herself or her friends… much like Steve Rogers :)
Peggy Carter: a book with a strong female protagonist The Lunar Chronicles– I love that TLC has a variety of female protagonists that are strong in different ways. Cinder is a gifted mechanic, Scarlet is independent and good at solving mysteries, Cress learns to be brave and can hack into anything electronic, and Winter is emotionally strong. They all have to fight to survive at one point, both for their lives and for their relationships.
Bucky Barnes: a book with your ultimate BROTP The best BROTP without question is Ronan Lynch and Blue Sargent in The Raven Cycle. I love them so much! They work so well together because they complement each other in opposite ways- different brands of the same impossible stuff. I live for their evolving relationship throughout the series, the way they snipe at each other but protect each other at all costs. The cave scenes at the beginning and end of Blue Lily Lily Blue are two of my favorite Blue/Ronan moments.
Howling Commandos: a book with squad goals The Inner Court at Rhysand’s Night Court in A Court of Mist and Fury is so amazing. There’s so much history between all five of them and it shows in their individual relationships and personalities. Plus you know that despite the teasing and arguing, at the end of the day they’ll go to war for one of their own.
Red Skull: a book with a cliche plot Throne of Glass – the first book definitely feels the most cliche out of them all (love triangle, a deadly competition, evil king) but that doesn’t make it a bad book! It just happens to hit everything on the fantasy checklist.
Natasha Romanoff: a book with a snarky side character Derrick the pixie is my faaaavorite character in The Falconer (and there are a lot of good ones to choose from!). He’s hilarious and very snarky, especially after a thimbleful of honey, which is like alcohol to pixies. I like that he’s secretive and emotional because it adds to the snark in his friendship with Aileana when she asks questions he doesn’t want to answer.
Sam Wilson: a book with a friendship meet cute. If I recall correctly, in Since You’ve Been Gone Emily is working at an ice cream parlor and Dawn runs in from the pizza place next door to avoid her cheating boyfriend and bff. She’s upset and spills her guts to Emily without knowing her, but Emily listens sympathetically and ends up going to deliver pizzas with her so she can cross an item off of her dare list. It’s unplanned, spontaneous, and a total meet cute than turns into a real friendship. Adorable :)
Winter Soldier: a book with a great twist (plot twist or retelling) I remember the twist at the end of Catching Fire made my jaw drop. I thought it was brilliant and led into the last book perfectly.
I’m Just A Kid from Brooklyn: a book with a memorable setting/character backstory The Wood in Uprooted could count as both a character and a memorable setting! An evil sentient wood with hundreds of years of history, bloodshed, and heartache is definitely memorable.
Do You Two…. Fondue?: a book with a love triangle For some reason Siege and Storm comes to mind, mostly because I can picture Nikolai cheekily asking Alina and Mal if they fondue *wink wink*. I can just ask easily picture Mal asking Nikolai the same thing, albeit with a bit more jealousy behind it haha.
You’ve Been Asleep, Cap: a book you love with a dual timeline/time travel Outlander works so well here as Claire does wake up in a different time, twice. She’s disoriented like Steve Rogers and has to adjust quickly to her surroundings, all while wondering what happened to her loved ones. It’s tragic. Plus Outlander uses time travel brilliantly in its plot throughout the series and I love it.
Til The End Of The Line: a book with the OTP to end all OTPs I could do this all day ;) But since I’ve been gently nudging everyone on twitter to read Every Breath lately, I’m going with James Mycroft and Rachel Watts. Wattscroft is a truly remarkable ship and a worthy OTP. It’s not always smooth sailing and they both suffer from traumatic events that manifest themselves in different ways. But they love each other so much and they communicate. They always find a way back to each other and would 100% go til the end of the line. Plus their banter is terrific and swoony, and the sexual tension is intensely hot! Surprise kisses and ankle grabs for the win.
I Had A Date: a book with a cliffhanger The Orphan Queen and A Dance With Dragons both end with very similar, VERY CRUEL, very in-the-moment cliffhangers. It was torture to wait for The Mirror King and I’m still waiting for The Winds of Winter. *glares angrily*
I Understood That Reference: a book with a pop culture reference There are a ton of awesome pop culture references in My Lady Jane but the One Direction references in The Deal really made me grin :D And can we talk about the fact that there is a sexy car scene with 1D playing in the background, because that’s fantastic.
“Did you re-download One Direction?”
“Uh huh. So why is ‘Story of my Life’ playing?” I demand.
She pauses then lets out a big sigh. “Because I like One Direction. There. I said it.”
—The Deal, page 273, kindle
I’ve wanted to explain to you all for awhile why I love WWE so much (I’m catching up on the Ten Reasons I Love X prompt!). I never thought I’d be someone who likes wrestling and it was barely on my radar until 3 years ago. I’d read while my husband watched but I started peeking at the screen and got wrapped up in the spectacle. Before I knew it, I was asking Chris to show me his favorite childhood matches and now I watch WWE almost every day! Also I’m really trying to lure you in with the first point on my list ;) Without further ado, here are the Top Ten Reasons I Love The WWE.
Real life YA fairytale romance
The story of Stephanie McMahon and Triple H is like a YA rom com come to life. Steph’s father Vince is the owner of WWE and she herself is a fourth generation wrestling promoter. Like her brother Shane, she started working for the company behind the scenes at an early age doing reception work, television production, and creative work.
This is where she met Paul Levesque aka Triple H, one of the rising stars of WWE at the time. She had a huge crush on him but her father forbade her from dating any wrestlers; Vince didn’t want to cause locker room problems or get his daughter’s heart broken and Triple H was dating someone else at the time, which led to a messy love triangle. But then in 1999 she was put into tv storylines which led to an onscreen storyline marriage with Triple H a year later…. which then blossomed into real life romance! They began secretly dating in 2000- fake dating for the win!!!!!! When it finally came out, her mother Linda was supportive but Vince was pissed and the locker room was mad because they thought Triple H was getting special treatment (he wasn’t, presumably. He was just that damn good.). I learned most of this from Triple H’s fantastic documentary Thy Kingdom Come.
Longer story short, they got “married”, “divorced”, “back together”, etc all on tv (oh the drama)… there was backstabbing and family drama for their characters, all while getting married in real life in 2003. They’ve been married for 13 years now and have 3 daughters and are truly the power couple of the WWE.
Triple H is a 14 time champion, creator of NXT, and the Executive VP of Talent, Live Events, and Creative. He’s always had a deep passion for the business side of pro wrestling, which is one reason he and Vince got on so well to begin with. Stephanie is the Chief Brand Officer, a former Women’s Champion, and they both still appear on tv in storylines and wrestle occasionally as part of the villainous Authority. They’ve still got it ;)
I LOOOOOOVE everything about their real and “WWE” relationship! And I ship them SO hard, especially when you watch older shows. You can tell how in love they are and how much everyone respects their business sense (even if people don’t always like them). As Stephanie’s twitter bio says, “I play a bad guy on tv.” There are quite a few wrestling couples (which makes sense with the lifestyle and all the travel), but Steph and Triple H are the original power couple andthe ultimate YA love story come to life.
“Wrestling is fake.”
I’ll be the first person to tell you, wrestling fans know that WWE is scripted. And we don’t care. That’s different from fake by the way ;) Do you know what else is choreographed and scripted? Movie fight scenes. Broadway dance numbers. Reality tv. It’s no different from any of those. Just because the outcome is predetermined doesn’t mean the action is fake. These athletes train 24/7 to stay in the best shape and to continually learn the business of wrestling. They go through continuous athletic training, public speaking, and acting classes; they hone their craft in a myriad of ways and put their bodies through so much.
The best rivalries have amazing chemistry- you have to trust the other person implicitly because these manuevers ARE dangerous. They have to be executed perfectly; many wrestlers have gotten concussions, broken bones, and torn ACLs. It’s like a dance. You want to feel the intensity and emotion, and you can tell when two wrestlers don’t have chemistry.
Year round sport
Monday Night RAW, the flagship 3 hour live show on USA Network, is actually the longest running television program in history– it’s been live on air once a week for over 30 years! There is also SmackDown on Tuesday nights, non-televised shows all over the country and world every week, and pay-per-view specials once a month. There’s no off season in wrestling! It’s all week long, 52 weeks a year, which is pretty awesome especially in the summer when I’m waiting for basketball and football to start again.
Holy s*** athletic moments
I’ve watched these men and women do some truly spectacular stunts, for lack of a better word. The beauty of their movements is really cool to watch; the best wrestlers are fluid, moving from move to move, corner to corner. Locking up, beating down, jumping off and twisting like divers. Sometimes you see a move that puts all of their athletic talent in sharp focus and it takes your breath away. And that’s besides all the surprise RKOs, Rock Bottoms, and Super Kicks.
Figuring out storylines
It appeals to the nerd in me and my puzzle solving/clue gathering brain. Sometimes things go off script, and there are surprises. That’s what makes it so much fun! It’s sports ENTERTAINMENT. There are good guys (babyfaces) and bad guys (heels), and people can turn at any time. It’s FUN to try and guess what will happen next, based on your knowledge of the athletes, their rivalries, patterns in the past, gossip in the news, what would be the most exciting/crazy/awesome outcome. I’ve gotten very good at predicting over the past 3 years ;) And storylines come into play because sometimes athletes do need a break (see Year Round Sport). Sometimes they are genuinely injured, sometimes they’re written out of the story, and then comes the anticipation of when they’ll come back!
possibly the greatest storyline since I’ve started watching. This promo video encapsulates the WWE perfectly and the match 2 years ago was amazing!! I’m really sad Daniel Bryan had to retire this year for medical reasons :(
There’s something for everyone
recognize anyone in this picture? :)
“WWE combines all these different genres [action, romance, comedy]… and culminates in live action.”
Do you like reality tv drama? There is LOTS of drama. Do you like sports? These are some of the best athletes in the world: former Olympic champions, NFL stars, models, dancers, soccer players, body builders, national champion college wrestlers. Do you like humor and biting wit? You’ll hear some of the smartest, sickest burns and in-ring promos. I guarantee you, you can find something to like about the WWE even if you don’t think you like wrestling (which is what I used to think!).
The roster is wonderfully diverse is a multitude of ways, including type of character and personality, as well as physically. Some superstars are quiet and intense, others are boisterous and funny, or serious, or goofy, or flashy, on and on and on. Some have cutting wit, others rely on their in-ring skills. One of my favorites has a PhD in biology and a YouTube gaming channel! It takes a lot to make it to the main roster and stand out, and there is a potential favorite for everyone here.
Women’s Division/Total Divas
Maybe my favorite part of the WWE is the women’s division. I started really watching right when Total Divas began airing and it got me so invested! These women were so much more than I expected and it was a great introduction to their lives and wrestling careers. I loved the Bella Twins and Paige, and the new crop of talent is extraordinary.
The #DivasRevolution last year kickstarted this amazing movement: we’re getting more matches, longer matches, more storylines, and some of the best female superstars since the late 90s. Bayley and Sasha Banks put on a 30 minute Iron Woman match and headlined an NXT pay per view, which had never been done before. And as of April this year, it’s no longer the Divas Title: it’s the Women’s Title, which is so cool. It won’t be long before they’re headlining the biggest event of the year: Wrestlemania.
The WWE Network, which launched in 2014, is possibly the greatest thing ever for old and new fans alike. It’s basically wrestling Netflix, a streaming service that encompasses every single pay per view special in addition to original programming. There are prank shows, interviews, podcast specials, Total Divas reruns (which airs on E! Network), and Breaking Ground, which is a behind the scenes look at their training division NXT.
You can search by year, by event (Wrestlemania, Money in the Bank, etc), or by favorite wrestler. If you love The Rock as an actor or a person (his Instagram is hilarious and inspiring), WAIT til you see him in a WWE ring. I didn’t get to see The Rock in his prime but I’ve seen allllllll his greatest moments by now and there are a lot! It’s really awesome to be able to catch up on the Attitude Era and other things I’ve missed.
Giving back to the community/fan interaction
WWE really encourages their employees and talent to give back to the community in a number of ways. They participate in anti-bully rallies at schools, reading events, hospital visits, leadership conferences, etc. I actually got to work on the Wrestlemania Reading Challenge and We Give Books events! And John Cena has granted over 500 Make A Wishes, more than double of any other celebrity. They meet with fans before shows, take selfies, and interact on twitter and IG. They’re always connected to the WWE Universe, as the fans are called, and it’s really cool. It makes them seem approachable.
Bonus fact:Abraham Lincoln was a skilled wrestler and trash talker, going 300-1 in his pre-presidential career. He’s even enshrined in the Wrestling Hall of Fame!
Thanks so much for checking out my post! Have you ever been surprised by a hobby you didn’t expect to like? What appeals to you most about WWE? Let me know!