Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag

I kind of self-nominated myself for this one. Even though its over a month since the halfway point of the year, when I saw Analee’s post over at Book Snacks, I couldn’t help but think about my own reading selections for this year. I realized I had some really bad ones and I kind of really want to talk about them with everyone.  Analee was nice enough to tag me after the fact and now it’s all official and nicely packaged. Thank you, Analee!

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Book Review: Howl’s Moving Castle

Howl's Moving CastleHowl’s Moving Castle

By: Diana Wynne Jones

Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult, Romance

Sophie has the great misfortune of being the eldest of three daughters, destined to fail miserably should she ever leave home to seek her fate. But when she unwittingly attracts the ire of the Witch of the Waste, Sophie finds herself under a horrid spell that transforms her into an old lady. Her only chance at breaking it lies in the ever-moving castle in the hills: the Wizard Howl’s castle. To untangle the enchantment, Sophie must handle the heartless Howl, strike a bargain with a fire demon, and meet the Witch of the Waste head-on. Along the way, she discovers that there’s far more to Howl—and herself—than first meets the eye.

~From Goodreads

Like many people, I discovered Howl’s Moving Castle through the Hayao Miyazaki film. While I loved the film, I wasn’t completely satisfied with the romance (it was a little rushed for my taste) so I went searching for the original source material and vowed to read it one day to satisfy my dissatisfaction. While it took me several years to get to it, I found that the book did satisfy me in ways the movie didn’t, but not in the ways I originally thought. Rather than a stronger romance, Jones gave me better characters, with 100% more hilarious bickering and character flaws. In fact, the book has less romance than the movie, surprisingly enough. Who would’ve thought?

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Book Review: Tsarina

TsarinaTsarina

By: J. Nelle Patrick (Pen name for Jackson Pearce)

Genres: Historical Fiction, Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult

Natalya knows a secret.

A magical Faberge egg glows within the walls of Russia’s Winter Palace.
It holds a power rooted in the land and stolen from the mystics.
A power that promises a life of love for her and Alexei Romanov.
Power, that, in the right hands, can save her way of life.

But it’s in the wrong hands.

~From Goodreads

The summary of this book should read something more along the lines of this: “Natalya knows a secret…but can she keep it?” And the answer to that would be no, Natalya can’t. Tsarina promises so much in the summary, but ultimately doesn’t deliver. I was expecting an alternate Russian Revolution with more of a positive Romanov influence and a happy ending for all involved. Instead, I got a lackluster account of Natalya’s journey to protect a secret Faberge egg that was doomed before she even started because of her own stupidity.

This Review Will Contain Spoilers

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Top 5 Wednesday: Book Series You Wish Had More Books

Top Five Wednesday

Top 5 Wednesday is a meme created by GingerReadsLainey. Her videos are awesome so make sure to go check out her Youtube channel! If you’d like to join in on the fun, you can find more information on her group’s Goodreads page here.

You ever have a series that you love so much that you wish it would never end? I’d call you a liar if you said no! Here are five of my personal favorites that I wish had more books.

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Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books That Would Be on My Syllabus if I Taught Fantasy in YA 101

Top Ten Tuesday 1

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme created by the ladies over at The Broke and the Bookish. Click on the banner above if you want to find out more and to see a list of upcoming topics!

Happy Tuesday everyone! This week’s topic is actually one that I had a lot of fun doing, but it did take me a while to complete. As a former teacher in training, building units and syllabi were probably my favorite parts of the job. While I’m not teaching anymore, the former teacher in me enjoyed picking out books for a fake class. If you all were real students and taking my class, I hope you would’ve enjoyed it!

NOTE: For the most part, I’ve tried to keep this list within the High Fantasy genre, also known as Sorcerer-and-Sword Fantasy. While there are some exceptions, high fantasy is usually what people think of when you ask them to come up with examples of fantasy titles. Also, I tried to keep this list to only books I’ve completed. There might be better examples of fantasy, but if I haven’t read them, I can’t really talk about why they’re good examples of fantasy.

Also, I think I was thinking a little bit too much like a teacher when I did this! Excuse the mention of discussion topics, homework, and the evils of the school board!

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Book Review: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

Aristotle and DanteAristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

By: Benjamin Alire Saenz

Genres: Young Adult, Romance, LGBT Lit

A lyrical novel about family and friendship from critically acclaimed author Benjamin Alire Sáenz.

Aristotle is an angry teen with a brother in prison. Dante is a know-it-all who has an unusual way of looking at the world. When the two meet at the swimming pool, they seem to have nothing in common. But as the loners start spending time together, they discover that they share a special friendship—the kind that changes lives and lasts a lifetime. And it is through this friendship that Ari and Dante will learn the most important truths about themselves and the kind of people they want to be.”

~ From Goodreads

What can you do to fill a hole in your heart that you know can’t be filled? This is a question that Ari, our narrator, struggles with through most of the book. From an outside perspective, Ari has everything in life he could want: a good home, two parents who love and care deeply for him, and a good education. Yet, despite this, he feels empty and finds little joy in most of what he does. Although his parents love him, his father rarely speaks to him, perpetually living through the horrors of his experiences in the Vietnam War and his mother refuses to acknowledge his older brother, Bernardo, exists after being thrown in prison for a crime Ari is completely unaware of. He has no friends to speak of until he meets Dante at the local pool, someone both open and happy in ways that Ari is not. This book, while not perfect, was both heart-wrenching and beautiful and deserves the praise it gets.

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