Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions Quotes

I finished Dear Ijeawele, or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions while flying to New England a few weeks ago. I wanted to listen to something while traveling that I knew I could finish (the only reading I was able to get done was while I was in the air), so I downloaded this little thing to my phone and quickly fell in love with all of the words:

“If the justification for controlling women's bodies were about women themselves, then it would be understandable. If, for example, the reason was 'women should not wear short skirts because they can get cancer if they do.' Instead the reason is not about women, but about men. Women must be 'covered up' to protect men. I find this deeply dehumanizing because it reduces women to mere props used to manage the appetites of men.” 

It is like all the words I've ever thought were finally put down in a sentence that made actual sense. Women don't have to be 'covered up' just to protect men, and the idea that we think we have to do this is disturbing to me - I have no idea where it comes from. Our grandparents, our parents? I know that I find myself worrying when I walk to my car alone at night after leaving the gym, and I shouldn't feel that way. I shouldn't feel scared just because I'm a woman.

But I am.

Because I am smaller than most men, and I am not as physically strong as most men. Could I really fight my way free if someone tried to touch me? I don't know, but I do know that I am terrified that one day my own daughter, if I have one (or many), will also be fearful of walking alone in the dark, too. Will be terrified to let me know she's been touched by another person because of what she was or wasn't wearing. Will feel ashamed of something she should never be ashamed for. But I feel like I know what to say to her now that I've read these words. And I know how to teach her father what he should say to her about the clothes she decides to wear. And I hope we do a perfect job raising our sons, if we have any, to be feminists, too. 

"Never ever link her appearance with morality. Never tell her that a short skirt is ‘immoral.’ Make dressing a question of taste and attractiveness instead of a question of morality. If you both clash over what she wants to wear, never say things like ‘you look like a prostitute’ as I know your mother once told you. Instead say ‘ that dress doesn’t flatter you like this other one. Or doesn’t fit as well. Or doesn’t look as attractive. Or is simply ugly. But never ‘immoral.’ Because clothes have absolutely nothing to do with morality."

My Lady Jane

My Lady Jane (The Lady Janies #1)

by Cynthia Hand, Brodi AshtonJodi Meadows 

There are times when I can quietly finish an adventure and place it on my bookshelf, and then there are times when a story just sits on my bedside table for a handful of days after it is over. It took me quite a few weeks to My Lady Jane on a shelf, and it has everything to do with how much it surprised me.

Things happen quite quickly in this fantastic retelling of Lady Jane Grey's story: King Edward is dying (he’s terribly depressed over this) and Jane just found out her husband is a horse (call him ‘G’, please). Girls are wearing pants (the horror!) and ruling kingdoms.

And during all of this you, dear reader, are falling more and more in love and wishing that history could be rewritten for these characters.

I rarely laugh out loud while reading (you are much more likely to find me crying over a book) but could not help the smiles that broke free because of each page. My Lady Jane was lovely and daring and fun, and I just want everyone I know to read this.

 

May Adventures

This month I left behind a painful reading slump for these two lovelies below.

The Fire Next Time

by James Baldwin

I recently picked up The Fire Next Time and am hesitant to let it go - it has been so long since non-fiction has touched me in this way, and I wish everyone would read this book.

James Baldwin's prose hits you in the face to be sure your eyes are open:

“You were born where you were born and faced the future that you faced because you were black and for no other reason. The limits of your ambition were, thus, expected to be set forever. You were born into a society which spelled out with brutal clarity, and in as many ways as possible, that you were a worthless human being."

his is a difficult read and should be; it's a powerful account of a dangerous history that I know all too well growing up in the south. 

And, as hard as this is to read, it's one of the most beautiful books of my life: “If we-and now I mean the relatively conscious whites and the relatively conscious blacks, who must, like lovers, insist on, or create, the consciousness of the others- do not falter in our duty now, we may be able, handful that we are, to end the racial nightmare, and achieve our country, and change the history of the world”

The Mime Order (The Bone Season #2)

by Samantha Shannon

I've had this series on my shelf for quite some time now, but, it being a seven book series, I was hesitant to begin until recently. I was in a horrid book slump for much too long until I picked up the first book in The Bone Season series by Samantha Shannon and felt myself being pulled into this clairvoyant world full of strange monsters and secret gangs and blooming magic.

These books have a theme of being slow to start but, if you stick with the main character, Paige, you will somehow find your fingers gripping the last pages before you realize what has happened.

I am looking forward to picking up the third book soon - I am not looking forward to the wait for the fourth installment. 

*Originally posted on The Wild Hunt

Timekeeper

“You can’t force something to occur in the future because you’d like it to, just as you can’t go back and force the past to change. There are many branches of time reaching from your bodies - I can see them attached to one another. Humans call it fate, but it’s nothing so poetic as that. It’s simply time. Time, and the decisions you make as it passes, which in turn make history. When one decision becomes impossible, the thread snaps, leaving you fewer and fewer choices. 

You won’t know until it happens, and that’s when you’ll know the right thing to do. Because it’ll be the only thing you can do. And that becomes your fate.”

It’s 1875 and clock towers rule an alternate-Victorian London. That is, until they begin falling apart. 

Danny Hart knows all too well what can happen to a town with a damaged clock - his father has been trapped in a Stopped town for the last three years and Danny, a young and prolific clock mechanic, is doing all he can to save him. But Danny’s plans come to a halt when Enfield’s tower, the clock he’s been recently assigned to, shows signs of distress caused by the clock’s spirit - a young, golden-haired boy named Colton. 

Meeting a clock spirit is rare, and falling in love with one has been known to get a mechanic exiled in the past. Danny finds himself in the middle of a dangerous attack against his relationship with Colton and, more importantly, time itself. 

Tara Sim’s novel is a fascinating concept and adventure, and, though the plot struggles to find itself until the last hundred pages, readers will enjoy this nice introduction to the rest of the trilogy. 

Timekeeper’s direction has a habit of falling into the background, sending readers on small goose chases because of the teenage protagonist. I found it difficult to relate to this London; this world has so much potential. Had the atmosphere been explored and developed, readers would find themselves drawn into a fantastical world where the threads of time could be seen and manipulated throughout Danny's arc and not just at the end. Readers might also feel cheated by Danny and Colton's quickly formed relationship and Colton’s inability to realize that by self-harming he, in turn, hurts the town around him. 

However, though Danny’s romance with Colton has a few cracks in its foundation, it redeems itself in the end. Their relationship works only when they grow to realize they must accept the outcome of their story, even if it is not the outcome they may want for each other. Danny becomes the assured, dedicated hero I wished for him to be, and Colton finds that he can gain more by letting go. Though I do enjoy a bit of angst between my characters, I was thrilled to be able to see such a significant change between the two by the last page. Watching them grow into themselves and each other was a lovely experience.

What I found to be the most interesting aspect of Timekeeper was the starting and stopping of time similar to Martin Amis’s manipulation in Time’s Arrow. The characters find themselves repeating their actions unwillingly during the plot’s climax, and the reader finds themselves rereading the same sentences in a loop with an inability to stop it. I hope this is explored more in depth in the next book.  I also appreciated the way the author thoughtfully portrays the young women in her story. Danny’s best friend, Cassie, is a strong force by his side, willing and ready to be Danny’s ear while simultaneously working under the hood of his broken auto. 

It took a bit longer than expected to be drawn into Timekeeper, but, by the end, I realized I had been on quite an enjoyable adventure and look forward to what the next installment brings for Danny and Colton and myself. 

 

 

 

 

*Many thanks to the publisher for this review copy!* 

Happy Book Birthday to Summerlost by Ally Condie!

A Spring 2016 Kids' Indie Next List Top 10 Pick!

Named one of Publishers Weekly’s Most Anticipated Children’s and YA Books of Spring 2016

“Condie (Matched) strikes a deep emotional chord with this coming-of-age story.” – Publishers Weekly, starred review
“Honest, lovely, and sad.” – Kirkus Reviews
“A sweet, heartfelt story.” – School Library Journal

"It's the first real summer since the devastating accident that killed Cedar's father and younger brother, Ben. But now Cedar and what’s left of her family are returning to the town of Iron Creek for the summer. They’re just settling into their new house when a boy named Leo, dressed in costume, rides by on his bike. Intrigued, Cedar follows him to the renowned Summerlost theatre festival. Soon, she not only has a new friend in Leo and a job working concessions at the festival, she finds herself surrounded by mystery. The mystery of the tragic, too-short life of the Hollywood actress who haunts the halls of Summerlost. And the mystery of the strange gifts that keep appearing for Cedar. 

Infused with emotion and rich with understanding, Summerlost is the touching middle grade debut from Ally Condie, the international bestselling author of the Matched series, that highlights the strength of family and personal resilience in the face of tragedy."

Read an excerpt from Summerlost here

Many thanks to Word Spelunking and Penguin Kids for hosting this giveaway! 

 

 

Vengeance Road

I fell in love with reading when I was thirteen years old, gripping Kenneth Oppel's book, Airborn, in my palms. 

I don’t think I ever hated reading like many of my peers in high school, but I know I didn’t love to read until I was thrown into Matt and Kate’s story.

It was a whole new world to me; a world full of pirates and airships and unknown creatures lurking in the trees. I couldn’t get enough of the adventure, and I still crave those books more than any other. 

I wasn’t going to read Vengeance Road

I noticed the cover and thought it was stunning, but I wasn’t sure if the story would interest me. My friend, Alison, text me to tell me she was in the middle of reading it a few months ago. A few days later she let me know she finished, and she said I had to buy it and read it for myself. I bought it right before Christmas and wrapped it up and tucked it beneath my tree. I was in the middle of reading My True Love Gave to Me. But, gosh, had I known I would have felt this way about Vengeance Road I would have ripped off the bow and devoured it in one sitting. 

Vengeance Road is the most fun adventure I have been on in a very long time, because, and here’s the thing, it’s so, so tough. Kate doesn’t care who is in her way on her road for vengeance. I don’t know if this story would have worked if Kate had not been as strong as she was; if she hadn’t been strong enough to kill. She is the toughest heroine I’ve read since Delilah Bard from A Darker Shade of Magic. She isn’t afraid to take out anyone who stands in front of her, and I loved it. I loved it, because Kate doesn’t want or need or care about being saved. I loved it, because from the first page you are immersed in this story. You are jumping over roofs and shooting at gangs and racing away on horses with Will, Kate, and Jesse. 

“How fast are you really?” I says, changing the focus. 
“What?"
I nod to his holstered Remington's. “How fast?"
A devilish smile flickers ‘cross his face. “Gimme a target."
“That flower,” I says, pointing to a yellow bloom atop a prickly pear ‘bout twenty paces off. 
Before I even lower my arm, Jesse draws his pistol and fires. 

And I get so caught up when I’m reading a story that takes me on a wild chase. 

“Alley ahead!” he shouts, without slowing. He soars over it, landing on the opposite roof and skidding down the pitch a few feet before he catches himself. I follow but land funny. One ankle rolls. Pain shoots from my heel to my hip. I go down on my rump hard and start sliding, jerked to a halt only when Jesse grabs me at the wrist. 

I think I loved Will and Jesse and Kate so much because they took care of each other. They tumble down ravines, guns blazing, just to get to each other. To get the bad guys. 

I peer round the boulder. The gang’s scrambling for cover and firing blindly toward the ridge, but Jesse’s bolt upright. He darts for the Rider’s camp and roots through the saddlebags on their burros. 
“Jesse!” I shout. 
He finds his pistol belt, slings it on. Then he turns on the still-scattering Riders and unleashes his bullets like a demon. 

Erin Bowman is an amazing storyteller, and I'm so glad she took me on this adventure. I'm so glad this is out there in the world. 

And I wish it hadn't ended, but I know all good stories have to. 

Passenger

Are you listening?

Let me tell you a story...

Let me tell you why I’m giving Passenger five bright, golden stars. 

I have seen reviews for this story jutting out over my Goodreads newsfeed during the last week, and I have heard the cries for more from some readers while I've simultaneously felt the frustration from others who could not help the way they felt the book teetered on for pages with no action. 

All readers are so different, and that’s why I love Goodreads so much. I love hearing why people didn’t enjoy a story when I so clearly did, and I hope others will give me the same respect. 

I expect that an author, one who graduated from The College of William Mary with a degree in History and English, would want to explain what is going on during the year her character slams into, especially if the year is 1776 and the beginning of the American Revolution. So while I, too, had to patiently wait for the sword fighting and blood and racing through time, I (personally) did not hold a grudge against the book for it. I began to enjoy the whispers of the history lessons I sat through in college.  

But that is not why I loved Passenger. 

Matthew Jobin wrote a stellar review of Passenger recently in the New York Times stating, "One of her [Etta’s] would-be captors forms the other pole of the drama. Nicholas Carter, who was born after a white man’s rape of his African slave, is as much the product of his time as of his difficult origin, capable of sudden violence but also easily able to quote both Voltaire and the Bible."

This adventure gets five stars from me because Alex Bracken is loudly breaking barriers like many Young Adult authors today, and I am so thankful for the writers who see the particular genders, ethnicities, and classes who are receiving the short end of the stick in literature, espeically when it comes to being the hero of the story. 

Nicholas is one of the most heartbreaking, lovely, and fierce characters I have met in a while, full of anger towards people while full of love and wonder for the world. I think it’s important to note that he never does get to relieve himself of the burden he will forever carry because of the color of his skin, and he doesn’t magically wake up and throw off the dirty looks he receives when he’s running through a crowd with Etta, but he wants to. He so badly wants to believe that the world will get better, and I so badly want that for him, too. 

And, so, I think Alex has perfectly set up the final book to be full of adventure and pirates and wonder, but I hope she doesn’t leave behind the lessons she gave me in this story.

“Do you remember…the couple in London, in the station?"

“The ones who were dancing?” she asked. “What about them?"

“Would we…be able to dance…that way?” he said, finding it harder to catch his breath. “In your time?"

Etta pressed her lips together, clearly fighting to offer him a smile. “Yes.” 

Carry On

"I don't know what to do with my life," I said, wiping my eyes with a tissue. 

"Al," my boyfriend, John, said laughing, "didn't you know going into it that it was going to end?"

"I was in denial!" I said through wet mascara. "Don't make fun of me."

"I would never," he said, wrapping me up. "I think it's so cool the way you love books."

This is a normal reaction for me; it's actually the same exact reaction I have after finishing any book by Rainbow (seriously, see here and here). However, this time was worse. This time Rainbow gave me 517 pages of pure bliss and excellent dialogue and everything I could have wanted after reading Fangirl

And she gave readers another diverse book that was missing from the world. 

And she gave Carry On its own story. 

My friend, Alison Y., (I have two Alison's for those who don't know), text me the day Carry On hit the shelves of the Barnes & Noble she works at. 

"Are you going to buy Carry On?" she asked. 

"Is that a real question?"

"I think so."

"It's been on my Wish List since I first found out about it," I said. "Want to buddy read it with me?"

"Is that a real question?"

And every book I read with Alison is even better. There is just something so special about reading a story with one of your best friends and loving every minute of it with her. 

I have been working as a marketing coordinator at a publishing company for two months now, and I have been struggling to find the time to read for myself. Lately I have had to catch myself from crawling too far into my own head. I have to stop myself from thinking about being anywhere else than where I am. 

But when I read daily I don't feel like I need to be anywhere else than where I am; I travel more in stories than I will ever be able to in this life. 

And I've been really struggling with the books I love to read. I've somehow become afraid of loving books like these because there are people who try to make them seem less, but I realized this week that it just isn't true. These books could never be less. And you can never be less for reading them. 

"I wish there had been books like this when I was in high school," Alison said. "Someone is going to read this and their world is going to change."

"That's how I feel," I said. "When I read Simon vs. the Home Sapiens Agenda that's all I could think about. There are so many diverse books now."

"I just feel like YA books do something that other genres can't," Alison said. "They are so open."

I feel like I needed a Simon in my life who was a complete disaster, and I needed a Baz who loved him anyway. I needed a book about mages and dragons to remind me that I can still make this world magic. 

"I just can't believe it's over," I said, crying next to John. 

"But wasn't it wonderful while it lasted," he said, smiling. 

"It was," I said, laughing. "It always is." 

 

Everything, Everything

* I received this ARC via the publisher in exchange for an honest review *

"This innovative, heartfelt debut novel tells the story of a girl who’s literally allergic to the outside world. When a new family moves in next door, she begins a complicated romance that challenges everything she’s ever known. The narrative unfolds via vignettes, diary entries, texts, charts, lists, illustrations, and more.

'My disease is as rare as it is famous. Basically, I’m allergic to the world. I don’t leave my house, have not left my house in seventeen years. The only people I ever see are my mom and my nurse, Carla.

But then one day, a moving truck arrives next door. I look out my window, and I see him. He’s tall, lean and wearing all black—black T-shirt, black jeans, black sneakers, and a black knit cap that covers his hair completely. He catches me looking and stares at me. I stare right back. His name is Olly.

Maybe we can’t predict the future, but we can predict some things. For example, I am certainly going to fall in love with Olly. It’s almost certainly going to be a disaster.'"

 

Rainbow Rowell once mentioned that she wrote Eleanor & Park because she wanted to create a story where the reader feels like they are falling in love. She wanted to write a story about possibilities and beginnings because when you are young you can believe with everything you have that things don't just end. 

I felt like I was falling in love when I read Eleanor & Park, and I didn't know if I would ever feel that way about a book again. 

Then I read Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon. 

And as I sit here writing this review, trying to hold back tears while my heart pounds, I can only think one thing:

If every book read like Nicola Yoon's Everything, Everything we would never have to worry about teenagers not wanting to read again. 

So many books try to fill a reader up with painful, lengthy exposition that forces the reader to claw their way up a silky-smooth surface.

But we don't live our lives in exposition. We live our lives in texts and chatrooms and photographs and emails. We live our lives in conversation and breathlessness and movie ticket stubs and illustrations and beautiful little moments. 

And sometimes we live our lives in books.

Olly and Maddy's story reminded me of my first moments with John. The moments before I fell in love with him. There was never enough time together, and I wanted all these minutes with him. I wanted to watch him do everything. I wanted to watch him laugh and smile silently at me when he thought I wasn't looking. I wanted to see the way he fell asleep. 

I wanted all of those things for Maddy. I wanted Olly to touch her, and I understood how she felt when Olly called her 'Mads'. It feels like no one has ever said your name before, and I was breathless each time he made her laugh. 

There is something special about a writer who understands that an illustration of an email can show so much more than some words ever could.

There is just something so special about a writer who understands what it's like to be a reader. 

And sometimes there are just not enough words to describe the way you feel about a book.

Sometimes only happy tears and heart-pounding are all that you have to give. And that's enough. 

Trouble Is a Friend of Mine

"Preparing to survive a typical day of being Digby's friend wasn't that different from preparing to survive the apocalypse. 

Her first day not in school (because she cut) in her new hometown that will soon be her old hometown (because she's getting out of Dodge as fast as she can) Zoe meets Digby. Or rather, Digby decides he's going to meet Zoe and get her to help him find missing teenager. Zoe isn't sure how, but Digby—the odd and brilliant and somehow…attractive?—Digby always gets what he wants, including her help on several illegal ventures. Before she knows it, Zoe has vandalized an office complex with fake snow, pretended to buy drugs alongside a handsome football player dressed like the Hulk, had a throw-down with a possible cult, and, oh yeah, saved her new hometown (which might be worth making her permanent hometown after all.)


A mystery where catching the crook isn't the only hook, a romance where the leading man is decidedly unromantic, a story about friendship where they aren't even sure they like each other—Trouble is a Friend of Mine is a YA debut you won’t soon forget."

 

Trouble is a Friend of Mine landed loudly in my inbox a few weeks ago, and I would like to give a shout-out to Rachel Lodi, Digital Associate Publicist at Penguin Young Readers, for sending it my way (you are awesome, Rachel). 

If you know me then you know I LOVE characters who talk too much. I really love when dialogue drives a story, because I feel like I really get to know characters from what they say. I don't really know more about a character just because a writer has described the dresser in their Great Aunt Florence's room. I also really love writing dialogue, so that might be another reason I'm so fond of it. However, if I were to complain about one thing in this story it's that there might have been too much talking from minor characters who didn't progress the story. I only wish that there had been a little more description because this story reads like a screenplay. Which was really fun for me but it might not be the right story for some readers. I also believe this story is meant to be read in book format; I think it's really difficult to get the right affect if you're reading this on an iPad or Kindle. 

But the dialogue is so witty and entertaining! Stephanie Tromly has written so many great moments between these characters. I really just loved everything about Digby, and he's very different from most YA characters. I would agree with most readers that he is an exasperating version of Sherlock. He's quite strange and passionate and adorable even when he's wearing a tutu. I'm not fond of characters who have emotional issues but don't show them at all, and readers will be able to see all of Digby's awkwardness and anxiety in his dialogue. It's pretty difficult to not get swept up in his charisma. 

What I enjoyed about this story is the pacing. I felt like I could have read this book in a day had I not been in the middle of moving to Florida, but I've been so caught up in packing and unpacking and crying over my loss of internet until next Tuesday that I haven't been able to pick up this book and really sit down and finish it in one sitting. 

That being said, I believe this is a perfect book for readers who want a quick and hilarious read with a lot of dialogue and a hero who is impossible to not like. 

 

 

Second Chance Summer

My head hurts from crying so, so hard. I used a hand towel instead of kleenex for this book; I needed something heavy duty. Wow. 

Morgan Matson has easily become one of my favorite Young Adult authors, ever. 

Not only is she a great writer and storyteller, but she knows that boys really are not what makes the world go around, and I love that about her. 

A part of me wishes I had read Second Chance Summer before Amy and Roger's Epic Detour and Since You've Been Gone, because I didn't cry in those two like I did in this one, and now I'm just a mess. 

And I know why this story affected me: my grandmother. She wasn't ill in the way Taylor's dad was ill, but the deterioration of her health happened in the same way as his. One day she was my healthy, vibrant grandmother and then she wasn't. And it didn't really hit me that she was gone until a year later when I was driving down the road and wished with everything I had that I could just call her up and talk to her, because she really was the only person I could talk to about things. I missed her so much while reading this book, and I will always miss her.

This book was really hard to read for that reason and because Morgan describes, really well, what it's like to watch someone deteriorate in front of you. It was difficult because I felt like I really got to know and love Taylor's dad, and it was hard to think about how bright and strong of a character he was at the beginning of the story and then what he was like at the end.

My heart hurts, but I cannot recommend this book enough. 

 

 

A Modern Way to Eat

Let me get this off my chest: I don't cook. 

My friends know this, my family knows this, and even my dog knows this about me. I've never been too good at it, and I've always demanded instant gratification. 

Anna Jones makes me want to put a meal together. 

And it's not just because her book is aesthetically gorgeous; it's because she makes me feel like it's possible to not be a complete failure in the kitchen. 

I really enjoyed how casual this cookbook was, and even the lowercase letters throughout made me feel like I was an equal in the kitchen. There are not photos for every meal, but Anna's words easily help to paint a picture for the reader. I particularly enjoyed the "overnight oats with peaches" recipe.

The picture is flawless, the recipe is simple, and the serving size is perfect for my two person home. It's really hard for me to eat breakfast (mainly because it is such a heavy meal), but this is definitely something I plan to snack on in the mornings. I also really appreciate all of the different takes on pancakes and waffles; Anna knows the way to my heart. 

And that is the great thing about this cookbook; Anna wants us to have a positive influence on the environment. It's so, so hard to find recipes where the serving size is only two. It's also difficult to find a cookbook that really roots for you to save money and stay healthy. Each recipe in Anna's book looks so filling and positive without making me feel like I need to make a large trip to the market. 

I'm excited to try more of Anna's recipes in my new kitchen in a few weeks; I believe it's going to have me reaching for it quite a lot. 

 

 

 

 

 

*In compliance with FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received this book through Blogging for Books for this review. 

The Wrath and the Dawn

Ever since Lila Bard from A Darker Shade of Magic swashbuckled her way into my life earlier this year I have craved strong, feisty heroines (you can see where V.E. Schwab made me speechless here). 

I have longed for pirates and adventure and so much magic, and I have not been let down in the books I have read this year.

I honestly didn't expect for The Wrath and the Dawn to affect me as much as it has; ever since I finished this story late last night it has taken a part of my heart as its home. It's thrilling. I put it down for ten minutes before I turned my light back on, grabbed the book off my shelf, and read until I reached the end. AND THAT END. Wow. 

There are so many moments and scenes that keep replaying in my head, and I honestly don't know how I'm going to be able to wait an entire year for the next glimpse into these characters' lives. GOSH. WHY. 

Renée Ahdieh created a beautiful female hero who is fiercely loyal and extremely quick in her remarks; Shahrzad is brilliantly fun. I was so proud of her for speaking her mind whenever she felt the need to. Renée Ahdieh is such a witty writer, and I really loved her style. I never read a disjointed sentence; they constantly flowed. Her words were so filling and honest. 

And the world building reads like a dream.

And let me just talk about the swordsmanship tournament; the drills the men participated in were so beautifully written that my hands were gripping either side of my book, and I think I sat straight up in my bed, eyes wide, and held my breath until the scene ended. My most favorite scene, for sure! 

I don't know what the heck I'm going to do, especially after reading the first chapter of the second book! And, of course, the last chapter broke my heart a little bit. 

But I love it, and I will just patiently wait each dawn until the next book arrives.

Saint Anything

"Peyton, Sydney's charismatic older brother, has always been the star of the family, receiving the lion's share of their parents' attention and—lately—concern. When Peyton's increasingly reckless behavior culminates in an accident, a drunk driving conviction, and a jail sentence, Sydney is cast adrift, searching for her place in the family and the world. When everyone else is so worried about Peyton, is she the only one concerned about the victim of the accident?

Enter the Chathams, a warm, chaotic family who run a pizza parlor, play bluegrass on weekends, and pitch in to care for their mother, who has multiple sclerosis. Here Sydney experiences unquestioning acceptance. And here she meets Mac, gentle, watchful, and protective, who makes Sydney feel seen, really seen, for the first time."

I have all of Sarah Dessens books; however, I have to admit that I have only read three. Mainly because when I started buying her books I was young and full of teenage angst, and there just was not enough kissing and displays of love and devotion, and her characters did not declare they would die for one another and et cetera. You know, the normal wants of a teenage reader. 

But then you grow up and realize that Sarah Dessen writes real stories about love and friendship and life, and you just wish you could go back in time and kick yourself for wanting anything other than books like hers. 

Saint Anything is just so special; I have never met a friend who didnt feel invisible at some point in their life like Sydney. Unlike Sydney, I do not have an older brother who steals all of my parents attention, but I do have a younger sister who can do no wrong.

And I really felt so much pain for Sydney. 

And then I read this quote: “I’d done the right thing. I always did. It just would have been nice if someone had noticed.” 

I can’t relate to feeling this way with my parents, because my parents really do always notice when Im doing the right thing. Instead, I was instantly thrown back to when I lost my first group of friends I made at school, because I felt so alone. The friends I have now are so supportive and kind, and they didnt care that I couldnt afford pizza in college.

They just loved me. 

Which is why I really enjoyed Layla’s character in the book, because she was just such a good friend. I’m really starting to enjoy friendship stories, because having friends is one of the greatest joys in life. Having people to laugh with, who share your views, and who support you fully is so magical. All of the Chathams really made the story. I felt that Mrs. Chathams lines were the absolute best, and I was constantly surprised by her strength and humor. She was definitely my favorite character, and she never failed to make me feel when she was in the scene. 

I’m so glad that the story was not about a boy and a girl declaring they would die for one another; I much rather enjoyed reading about a young girl who realizes how strong she really is. 

Since You've Been Gone

Since You've Been Gone was such a joy to read, and there is a huge part of me that wishes I hadn't flown through it the way I did (but it was just so fun and awesome and good). 

I wish I had savored every little moment that Emily experienced. I wish I could go back and restart this story, because it constantly put a smile on my face, and there were quite a few times when I laughed out loud alone in my room while reading. 

"I'm still just sorry about this-making you drive me on my birthday." He glanced over at me, one eyebrow raised, and it occurred to me after a moment this wasn't quite right. "Your birthday," I said, trying to get my thoughts in line. "Drive me on your birthday."

I found myself thinking about Emily and Sloane and Frank and Collins and Dawn a lot after I finished, and I found myself smiling because of them. Morgan Matson's characters had the greatest quirks, and I really love that Emily listens to country music and how passionate Frank is about the tree frog population. 

This story really encapsulates friendship, and I have had my own friends who have disappeared before without even leaving me a list of tasks to complete. I think getting over a friendship is one of the most difficult and grown-up things a person might have to do, because our friends have a way of defining us.

I used to believe my identity was attached to the friends I had, and I didn't know who I was after I lost the ones I had made in college. I thought I was weak without them, and I had to learn that I was my own person. Emily realizes this too, and she realizes that she is brave and passionate and wonderful herself. She surprises herself, and I think we all have the power to do that. She learns how to make new friends, and she learns that they love her because of who she is and not just because she is Sloane's friend. 

“I was still a little amazed that this was happening. That this, the thing that had seemed so impossible, so terrifying, so utterly beyond me, was happening. I was having fun. And that I was the one who made it happen. "I did it," I said out loud, sendind my voice up to the stars above me, not really caring if the others heard me.”

Oh, and Frank. I really have no words for Frank, and I just feel the corners of my mouth tug up every time I think of him. He was just so different from other contemporary characters. 

I wish everyone in the world knew how important this sentence is:

“Date someone who'll wait to make sure you get inside before driving away.”

I'm eager to read more of Morgan Matson's work now, and I'm going to attempt to savor and not devour her next book (if I can).

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