Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: Books That Make Me Want To Do All the Things

I'm always inspired by books so I love this topic. Make sure to leave me a link in the comments so I can check out your list. Happy Tuesday! 
Book Titles link to reviews 

1. I'll Give you the Sun by Jandy Nelson made me want to make art!

2. Just One Day by Gayle Forman made me want to travel!

3. Half the Sky by Nicholas Kristoff and Sheryl WuDunn made me want to help women around the world in every possible way!

4. Ariel by Sylvia Plath made me want to write poetry!

5. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley made me want to get a PhD in literature!

6. The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater made me want to finally learn how to read the tarot cards that have been in my closet for years. 

7. On the Road by Jack Kerouac made me want to learn about the Beatnik Movement!

8. Circling the Sun by Paula McLain made me want to learn more about Africa and Beryl Markham! 

9. In the Shadows of Blackbirds by Cat Winters made me want to read all the WWI poetry I could get my hands on and introduced me to some new poets!

Monday, July 25, 2016

Recently Read: We are the Ants

Author: Shaun David Hutchinson
Genre: Young Adult- Magical Realism
Publication Date: 2016
Page Count: 455
Rating: 5/5

Add on Goodreads

Henry has every reason to wish for the end of the world. His boyfriend killed himself, he no longer speaks to his best friend because of it, he hates school and the bullies, and to top it all off, his dad left the family and Henry blames it on himself. But when Henry is abducted by aliens and told he is the only one that can prevent the end of the world, Henry must decide if he thinks the world is worth saving. 

I devoured this book. I read all 450 pages in two sittings. I knew I loved Henry's narrative voice within the first two pages. Henry is smart and angsty, everything I want in a YA narrator. I thought all of the characters, even the minor side characters, were really well developed and Henry's world felt so real to me. I am a big fan of magical realism and I thought the magical element within this novel of the aliens was perfectly done and unique.  

There is a lot of hard stuff in this book. Henry's life is not a piece of cake and I felt for him. I wanted to reach out to him and offer encouragement. His journey and thought processes felt so real and authentic. I loved the way the relationships developed and changed. I don't want to say too much because I don't want to give anything away, but this book did a great job of portraying how difficult it is to see beyond your individual self to the rest of the world when you are young. I thought the end was perfect as it left a lot up to the reader to decide. This book was entertaining and very impactful. It makes a beautiful but brutal statement about life and the world we live in. 

One of my favorite things about this novel was that Henry is gay, but this novel has nothing to do with him coming out. While I also enjoy novels about gay characters expressing their true selves to their friends and families and think they are absolutely important, that should not be the only way gay characters exist in YA. Henry is gay and his family and friends already know, that is a part of him and a part of the story of course, but it is not the whole story. 

I'm usually not a huge fan of YA contemporary so I have found magical realism to be that added element that really helps me get into contemporary. If you have any recommendations, please let me know. If you are new to magical realism, this would be a lovely place to start as the characters and contemporary issues are very strong and well done, and the magical element is the icing on the cake. The romance in this novel is very well written, (romance is the element of contemporaries that make me hesitant to read them) and I really enjoyed the development and honesty of all of the relationships in the novel. This is a book I can see myself rereading in the future and enjoying it just as much as I did the first time, if not more. 

Let me know if you have any YA contemporary or magical realism suggestions in the comments!

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Weekly Wrap-Up:

Reading Update:
My reading has been off for most of this month, I haven't done a lot and I've been feeling unmotivated to do anything lately, but I think that mood has passed. I have read a few things since my last wrap-up and I have been in the mood to pick up EVERYTHING on my shelf.

I read (and reviewed, link below) All the Birds in the Sky which was a really interesting and genre bending novel. I devoured We are the Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson in two sittings, and read the very visual novel Chopsticks by Jessica Anthony and Rodrigo Corral. Reviews for both will be coming soon.

I plan to pick up one of my library books below next, both of which I have been wanting to read for quite a while.

What I Bought and Borrowed:



What I Posted:
TTT: Books I love with under 2,000 Goodreads Ratings
The Power of Chick Flicks
Review: All the Birds in the Sky
Library Wishlist

Stacking the Shelves: tyngasreviews.com
The Sunday Post: caffeinatedbookreviewer.com

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Library Wish-List

Hey guys! I thought I would make a post about what I'm hoping to score from the library before the end of my summer break. I have been reading from the library quite a bit (I talked about feeling guilty about using the library when I have so many unread books here) but I have really been loving taking advantage of my library while I'm home for the summer.

I have been in the mood for something so specific lately -YA magical realism- so the first book falls in that genre. I devoured We are the Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson which was a great piece of YA magical realism and now it's all I want to read. If you have any recommendations for me (besides A.S. King) let me know!

I found this one because Maggie Stiefvater gave it a five-star rating on her Goodreads. I really liked the magical atmosphere in The Raven Cycle so I'm intrigued by any magical novel she gives a five-star rating. This one has to do with dream worlds. 

I'm not sure if this is magical realism or just a contemporary, but I have been hearing great things about it, and I'm really interested to see how this author pulls off the small town religion aspect.

I love poetry and have been wanting to get into some modern poetry and I think I will really like this collection. I have seen this author's work on the internet and loved its simple but impactful style. I have this one on hold right now, but I am considering just buying it because there is so many people ahead of me. Let me know if you read it and what you thought! 

Monday, July 18, 2016

Recently Read: All the Birds in the Sky

Author: Charlie Jane Anders
Genre: Science Fiction/Magical Realism
Publication Date: 2016
Page Count: 316
Rating: 3/5

Add on Goodreads 

Patricia is a witch. Laurence is a science genius. They both are outcasts. Patricia and Laurence find each other and lose each other over their journeys of magic and science and change the world. This novel is genre-defying and thought provoking.

This novel was really hard for me to rate because I had such a strange reaction to the end. I finished this novel, which deals with the possible end of the world, the same day that the military coup in Turkey happened and felt really shaken. I think the timing of me reading this one really affected my thoughts about it. I thought the ending was good, it was pretty emotional on its own, but it was not without light and hope. I just felt so weird reading about the possible end of the world when I read about awful world-altering events everyday. Seeing such a clear reflection of violence and fear in the fiction I was reading and the real life news I was reading was an odd experience. Now, I know that we did not face a possible end of the world, but some days it doesn't feel too far off from it. And for those directly affected by that specific event, it could feel much more like the actual end of the world.

Anyways, that's enough of a glimpse of what my head-space is like at the moment. On to the book... 

Besides all that, I really liked the way that this novel played with the idea of magic vs. science and how they help and hinder each other. I really liked the characters and found the magical realism elements to be really well done and interesting. One word of caution: if you read this book, you must accept that you will be confused at some points. The story is not quite linear and some concepts that exist in this world and not in ours, must just be accepted as they are with no real explanation. I was never too confused and never felt like giving up because of it, but I did have to accept that I would not understand everything as it was presented to me and had to be patient in order to understand. 

I loved how the science fiction and magical realism elements blended together seamlessly in this novel and thought Anders did a great job of building a beautiful and fragile world that was all too real. I would definitely recommend checking this one out, especially if you are looking for something unique and out of the ordinary. There is so much depth and humanity in this small book, I just wish there was a bit more of the world. Some concepts could have been further explained or explored, but I also enjoyed figuring out the concepts on my own. 

If you have read this one, I would love to hear your thoughts on it!

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

The Power of "Chick Flicks"

The other day, was not so good. I was bummed out and in a bad mood so when I got home I decided to put on a couple movies that I already knew I loved and just relax, but in the process I discovered something really great about chick flicks.

It's no secret that anything that girls, particularly teenage girls like or do, will be attacked and deemed ridiculous and unworthy for anyone besides teenage girls, which is ridiculous. The music they like, the T.V. shows they watch, the way they speak, or dress themselves, and the movies they watch are always under attack, and this criticism of entertainment preferences stays with women as they grow into adults too. Romance novels are constantly snickered at and discounted from the category of "real literature" and any movie with a female lead and romantic plot is labeled a "chick flick". Personally, I don't think any male would die from watching a movie or reading a book with a female protagonist but I digress.

I started with Clueless as I had just finished an Emma by Jane Austen retelling and was in the mood to watch Clueless. I loved the movie even more than the last five times I watched it. I laughed constantly at the wit and satire and enjoyed Cher's journey from self-centered teen to a little bit less of a self-centered teen.

But behind the satire and humorous exaggeration is the common experiences and anxieties of a teenage girl. Whose cool and what's cool to wear, what group do I fit in with, how does this group rank, and even failing your driving test are HUGE issues to young girls, even though they are commonly mocked. Being a teenage girl is hard, particularly in a culture that always has something to say about everything you watch, read, eat, wear, or tweet.

The second movie I watched was Legally Blonde which has empowered me more than anything has in a very long time. I had seen the movie a long time ago but hardly even remembered it, so it was like watching it for the first time. I love Elle Woods and the message the movie stands for; women are capable of anything professionally regardless of their interests or appearance. Elle is beautiful and loves pink, shoes, and getting her nails done, and for some reason people seem to think this means she is incapable of being a lawyer. 

I love that Elle is motivated by a boy to go to law school at first but then discovers a real passion and talent for the subject on her own. Elle is so sweet and true to herself, and neither of these things stops her from being successful which is usually not the case with successful women in movies or on T.V. A woman of power is usually portrayed as mean and ruthless and it is implied or explicitly stated that this is how she got her power. Elle's compassion and beauty are seen by others as a disadvantage and a reason to not take her seriously, but she sees it as an advantage and never looses that compassion, even when others mistreat her. I think the message of this movie can best be summed up by Elle herself:

Although "chick flicks" are often discounted by critics and watchers as junk entertainment, that's just not true. A movie with a female lead is always empowering and worth equal merit as a film with a male lead. Really, what more could you ask for than a film that provides humor, romance, female empowerment, and a great wardrobe? 

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Weekly Wrap-Up: Happy July! and Book Outlet Sucks Me in Again

What's New:
Not much new to report. This week is the Fourth of July in America so I plan on eating grilled food and sitting by the pool.

Reading Update:

Since my last update I finished Emma: A Modern Retelling by Alexander McCall Smith (review linked below) and I am currently reading All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders. I don't know anything about it besides the fact that it has been described as odd and genre-bending. I'm just starting it so I still don't know much about it but I will keep you updated of course.

What I Bought/ Borrowed:
I made a Book Outlet


What I Posted: 
Review: Memoirs of a Beatnik (or what happens when a woman writes about sex)
Poetry Spotlight: Walt Whitman
Eight Places I Love on the Internet (and that I think you will too)
Review: Emma: A Modern Retelling

My last update

Next week I'm hoping to have a discussion post, a review, and a Top Ten Tuesday post up!

Stacking the Shelves: tyngasreviews.com

The Sunday Post:caffeinatedbookreviewer.com