I read this post of Libba Bray’s tonight, recommended by my friend, Audrey. It’s past midnight, and my parents are telling me to go to sleep. I replied with a sincere, “I will when my brain stops clinking around.”
While reading, I tweeted this:
MadeleineRex I am so grateful for parents & counselors & church leaders that believe I can do anything, that hand me the tools to paint whatever I want.
And I am so very grateful. You see, despite the fact that I’m throwing “I love you”s left and right and do try to smile a majority of the time, I’m a tough person to live with. I know this. It’s one of those things that is strictly undeniable. I cry – a lot. I cry when I’m happy, I cry when I’m sad. I cry at least once a day. Quite honestly, it’s a crucial part of my healing process.
I’m easily afraid that someone’s disappointed in me. I’m defensive and indignant. I always, and I mean always, have something to say. I’m overly anxious, and some little bird told me that I tend to push myself too hard.
And, yet, miraculously, there are all these people who stick around. These people who support me, believe in me, flatter me just enough but aren’t afraid to give advice. They know that I have potential for a lot of things – mistakes included. These people – my family, school counselors, church leaders, and other friends – happen to be my nourishment. They supply me with my Daily Values (based on a 2,000 calorie diet) of cheer, love, advice, support, and painful-but-necessary-growth. The arguments I get in – particularly those I am the cause of – are crucial. Every time I say sorry and every time I don’t serves as a life lesson.
I’m grateful for the people who shove me into a pool of ice water (even if I might yell at them). I’m grateful for the people that pull me out. I am grateful for the people who hand me a towel and say, “Next time, maybe the water will be a little bit warmer.”
I’m sorry for those teens around the world who aren’t as fortunate as I, that are seriously lacking in their Daily Values. Those kids who have people shoving them into ice water for all the wrong reasons. Whose water never gets warmer, and who are forced to claw their own way out and wipe themselves down with a washcloth. I hope for their sakes that someone will come into their life who will drastically alter it for the better. I hope for their sake that even if no one comes for a really long time, they’ll have the inner strength and resilience to keep moving on anyway – that their love for themselves will be sufficient.
I have so many dreams. I am ambitions. I want to be a stay-at-home-mom-editor-of-books-who-writes-on-the-side, even if that might be as impossible as a singer-rock-star-guitar player-who-also-juggles-and-flies-airplanes. I want to get an MFA. I want to exceed my own expectations and push myself harder. I know for a fact that I can only get so far – that I am, in fact, not invincible and am not talented in all areas (Goodness, no). But though I am wholeheartedly in love with literature, writing, writers – this fantastic world that is most certainly the one I belong in, I don’t want to confine myself. I don’t want to limit my potential or my knowledge-base. It’s not right to underestimate ourselves, our value to the world, or the affect we can have. It’s so very wrong to say “when” even though the glass is only two-thirds full simply because you’re afraid that someone will knock it over.
I hope that teens will aspire, dream, work hard, find their niche, and encounter people along the way who will prove to be invaluable and incredible. I want no one to live life contently in a 4×4 box. There are so many possibilities, so many holes in this world that need to be filled – wholes shaped just like you. Somewhere in the future there is a happy, smarter, vivacious you – a you who will face troubles and loads of crap, but will always bounce back, whether because you’ve clawed yourself out or someone gave you a hand. There’s also a you who has limited his or herself, who has accepted a less satisfactory condition, and that you is the one you want to avoid.
So, while I’m out-of-this-world lucky to have people who love me and want to see me succeed – who say “if” and not “when,” but also manage to keep my head from entirely losing itself in the clouds, who are always there to say what needs to be said or not (both teach equally important lessons) – and I might seem like the most ridiculous person to try to give advice, I have to sum this up and say one thing:
Chose the truest version of you. Always chose the path that leads to a better you, the you that is kinder, wiser, remarkable, beyond all comparison. This you will influence the world for good and stretch the boundaries of This Cannot Be Done. This you will inspire, and this you will be happier. This, despite the corny, sappy-movie-ness of it, is the you that you are meant to be. You were born with a potential to wreak havoc on people’s expectations, to wow and to uplift, and you were given the means (though it might be deep inside) to meet that potential.
Author: Lauren DeStefano
Published: March 22nd, 2011
Number of Pages: 368
With a premise that is extraordinary and unique, particularly among YA literature, Wither stands out on the shelf. However, it’s not until one picks it up and reads that one realizes what a mind-boggling, intriguing treasure it is. Rhine’s story is of love, both voluntary and not, hate, confusion, and passion. I was swept away in her world, her predicament, her feelings and worries. There’s no doubt that Wither wowed me – and there’s no doubt it will hypnotize many others.
What if you knew exactly when you would die?
Thanks to modern science, every human being has become a ticking genetic time bomb—males only live to age twenty-five, and females only live to age twenty. In this bleak landscape, young girls are kidnapped and forced into polygamous marriages to keep the population from dying out.
When sixteen-year-old Rhine Ellery is taken by the Gatherers to become a bride, she enters a world of wealth and privilege. Despite her husband Linden’s genuine love for her, and a tenuous trust among her sister wives, Rhine has one purpose: to escape—to find her twin brother and go home.
But Rhine has more to contend with than losing her freedom. Linden’s eccentric father is bent on finding an antidote to the genetic virus that is getting closer to taking his son, even if it means collecting corpses in order to test his experiments. With the help of Gabriel, a servant Rhine is growing dangerously attracted to, Rhine attempts to break free, in the limited time she has left. [From Goodreads]
What a ridiculously original and intriguing book! The premise itself is… unique and disturbing, but indubitably irresistible. I am so very, very grateful the opportunity to read an ARC (as were a friend of mine and her sister…).
Here’s the deal, this book is so fantastically interesting that I can hardly imagine anyone being able to put it down easily. The idea is simultaneously horrifying and surreal (in a, um, nightmarish way). Even during the slower parts of the book, I was desperate to know how the story would unfold – or if it even could. The darned thing was so twisted, and my feelings toward actions, characters, and what I hoped would happen were all over the place. I knew what I should feel, and it tended to be at odds with what was actually running through my head. This book makes your mind reel.
Rhine (first of all, what a stellar name!) is an ideal main character. Nonirritating, thoughtful, loving, naturally worried but not constantly overanxious, smart, clever, funny, and full of weaknesses that show that, not only is she human, but she has a beating heart just like the rest of us. Her confusion mirrored my own. Her fears and needs and wants were just what you’d expect, and her actions were all in character. Ultimately, though, the thing that made her awesome was that she could see beneath people’s skins, forgive them or dislike them, but treat them as they deserved – not necessarily as she wanted to treat them. I loved that despite everything, her visions and opinions weren’t always set in stone, but willing to change should change be necessary. She wasn’t too obstinate or inflexible. She gave second chances.
The other wives are fascinating as well. The dynamics of their situation are certainly unusual, but to them it’s surprisingly… unsurprising. Each one of them has a different take on the situation, their new home, and, for that matter, their new husband. The bond the wives share is one I think all girls or women can relate to. They are the most strong as a group, they work off each others’ energies, thoughts, and strength. They rely on each other as I would guess sisters do (I don’t have one). Essentially, it was a both a touching and heart-wrenching element of the novel.
Linden – the husband – is an incredible character! I never knew what to think of him. With every moment we spent with him, with every comment made by any of the characters regarding him, my opinion changed. Originally, his name made me cringe. He was evil. He was sick. Yet, as his character was revealed I came to “enjoy his company” and yearn to learn more about him. I can’t say anything more without giving too much away!
Gabriel is another key factor in the novel (of course). Though I thought he was sweet and learned to respect him, and though I was excited whenever he made an appearance in the book, I never felt close to him. I never quite felt like I had fallen in love with him – which is a bummer. Interestingly, I thought it was Rhine’s relationship with Linden that developed more and was the more intriguing of the two. I was far more anxious and excited when Linden entered the room.
The atmosphere was fascinating, as it was a mix of the present, future, and past. There were things that we definitely have not achieved technologically as of yet, but the society seemed to be very 1920s-like. I loved living in the world of this book for a short while (I read it way too quickly!), despite the fact that it’s horrifying. There were simply so many characters, settings, plot and character twists, and things to admire about this novel that I cannot wait for the sequel!
Ultimately, Wither is an astounding debut novel with incredible situations, moving scenes, terrific writing, and fascinating characters. I foresee many positive reviews in its future, as it is mystifying.
Title: Anna and the French Kiss
Author: Stephenie Perkins
Published: December 2nd, 2010
Number of Pages: 384
Oh my. He’s English.
“Er. Does Mer live here?”
Seriously, I don’t know any American girl who can resist an English accent.
The boy clears his throat. “Meredith Chevalier? Tall girl? Big, curly hair?” Then he looks at me like I’m crazy or half deaf, like my Nana Oliphant. Nanna just smiles and shakes her head whenever I ask, “What kind of salad dressing would you like?” or “Where did you put Granddad’s false teeth?”
“I’m sorry.” He takes the smallest step away from me. “You were going to bed.”
“Yes! Meredith lives here. I’ve just spent two hours with her.” I announce this proudly like my little brother, Seany, whenever he finds something disgusting in the yard. “I’m Anna! I’m new here!” Oh, [Gosh]. What. Is with. The scary enthusiasm? My cheeks catch fire, and it’s all so humiliating.
The beautiful boy gives an amused grin. His teeth are lovely – straight on top and crooked on the bottom, with a touch of overbite. I’m a sucker for smiles like this, due to my own lack of orthodontia. I have a gap between my front teeth the size of a raisin.
“Étienne,” he says. “I live one floor up.”
“I live here.” I point dumbly at my room while my mind whirs: French name, English accent, American school. Anna confused.
He raps twice on Meredith’s door. “Well. I’ll see you around then, Anna.”
Eh-t-yen says my name like this: Ah-na.
Anna is looking forward to her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a great job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. Which is why she is less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris—until she meets Étienne St. Claire: perfect, Parisian (and English and American, which makes for a swoon-worthy accent), and utterly irresistible. The only problem is that he’s taken, and Anna might be, too, if anything comes of her almost-relationship back home.
As winter melts into spring, will a year of romantic near-misses end with the French kiss Anna—and readers—have long awaited? [From Goodreads]
Let me tell you – this book took the abilities of my innards to the extreme. I believe my gut twisted, wrenched, flipped, pirouetted, and did all sorts of flexible things its usually incapable of doing. My grief at the idea of having to go to bed before finishing was so great that I begged my mother to let me finish (it was after midnight). It was either begging or having to confess and halfheartedly apologize the next day!
Anna and the French Kiss is a book that I’ve had my eye on for months, after having heard about it on Kiersten White’s blog. Knowing me, I probably would never have given it a chance if it weren’t for Kiersten, SO THANKS TO KIERSTEN. And, also, thanks to my dearest little brother who happened upon my wishlist post and then proceeded to buy me the book.
The moment you start reading, it’s clear that you have a clever, funny, and relatable main character. Anna is without a doubt someone I would want to hang out with, and I had no problems whatsoever cheering her on, despite some decisions that made me cringe. It was like she was my avatar and I was living through her, and the only way that could possibly be is if I were unusually comfortable with her. She’s the sort of person who’s willing to learn and grow, yet she’s not just a hunk of Play Doh – She won’t be changed by people stepping all over her. I was pleased that she was the sort of girl who actually seemed deserving of the love interest.
Étienne St. Clair. The romance in this story isn’t the sort that’s just fun. You don’t want them to be together because you know that’s what’s supposed to happen. St. Clair is not just a pawn in another love story, really only significant because there has to be a guy somewhere. He’s St. Clair. (You can tell I’m dazzled when I start emphasizing the obvious in italics.) This is the sort of guy that makes people swoon for all the right reasons, who would be perfect even if he wasn’t gorgeous, who is perfectly imperfect. He’s three dimensional, clever, intelligent, and, overall, loving. I was so glad to see that he was flawed and just as mortal as the rest of us. He can be wounded and stupid and make really dumb decisions more than once, but still struggles to be a good person, a better one. And now that I’m done writing that paragraph, it’s painfully obvious that I’ve failed to express how purely awesome he is. Please, just read the book.
The supporting characters, namely Rashmi, Mer, and Josh, are all crucial to the story. They say what needs to be said, do what needs to be done, be what they need to be, but they manage to do it with a flare that is entirely theirs. Rashmi is kind of a harsh and “I don’t put up with crap” sort of person, but I absolutely loved her. She was strong and sensitive. Stephenie Perkins should create a guy version of her for her next love interest (a British guy version of her). Mer was sweet and precisely what the group needed to soften them all up and keep them in line, and Josh was adorable and funny.
Who am I kidding? They were all funny. This book made me laugh out loud, sometimes to the point that I couldn’t read. Most books don’t reach that degree of hilarity. Speaking of which, this book made me do a lot of odd things. For example, it’s been a long time since I panted in panic at the thought of having to go to bed before finishing.
The book did pass into a sort of chick-flicky territory near the end (perhaps the last quarter of the book). I was upset and definitely disappointed, but there was no way I was going to quit reading. The characters made some stupid decisions that I simply couldn’t get behind, but I kept reading – I wasn’t there to hold grudges, I was there to see them make things right. I tend to tweet thoughts as I read, and here’s one that I tweeted last night:
You can’t go all chick-flicky on me, ANNA! You & I are too close for this kind of betrayal. (But I still love you. We can get through this.)
Ultimately, this book was amazing. In regard to my five star rating, I said:
If only because it takes a lot for a book to drive me THAT crazy.
So, while there were things that got on my nerves, there is no doubt whatsoever that this book is unique, hilarious, and will make your heart pound. I am not exaggerating. I probably squirmed when I read particular scenes. For example, there’s a scene in a movie theater, and I couldn’t get rid of the jitters for at least five minutes.
So please, dear readers, read Anna and the French Kiss, if only for the gift of living within such an enticing story and admiring all that makes it special – the writing, the voice, the people.
If you’re still having doubts, don’t take my word for it – take John Green’s…
Title: Fixing Delilah
Author: Sarah Ockler
Published: December 1st, 2010
Number of Pages: 304
Review Sent to Little Brown*:
On the surface, Sarah Ockler’s Fixing Delilah looks to be just another book about a summer adventure – lakes, fireworks, fairs, long-lost friends that return better than ever – but the character dynamics and growth make the story full and luscious. With a sort of Steel Magnolias feel, Fixing Delilah depicts women as their rawest, truest selves, displaying their fluctuating emotions but unwavering power. And the sweet love story is just a splendid bonus. So, while the book isn’t extraordinary, it’ll hold its own – just like its women.
Things in Delilah Hannaford’s life have a tendency to fall apart.
She used to be a good student, but she can’t seem to keep it together anymore. Her “boyfriend” isn’t much of a boyfriend. And her mother refuses to discuss the fight that divided their family eight years ago. Falling apart, it seems, is a Hannaford tradition.
Over a summer of new friendships, unexpected romance, and moments that test the complex bonds between mothers and daughters, Delilah must face her family’s painful past. Can even her most shattered relationships be pieced together again?
Rich with emotion, Sarah Ockler delivers a powerful story of family, love, and self-discovery. [From Goodreads]
This review is far later than I meant it to be. Sorry once again to Little Brown, who was great enough to send me an ARC!
I’ve never read Sarah Ockler’s debut, Twenty Boy Summer, and therefore had no idea what to expect from Fixing Delilah when I requested it months ago. I’m not even sure what turned me on to it. I wouldn’t normally read a book that, as I said in my official review, seems like “just another book about a summer adventure.” However, I was pleased with it and am glad I gave it a chance.
Delilah Hannaford, though not a main character that appears to be genuinely unique to me, held the story up well. She was the narrator the story needed to hold it together – the glue of the book. So, although I personally wasn’t wowed by or very interested in her, I respected her importance to the story.
The supporting characters were the folks who I found myself fonder of. Patrick, for instance, was cute and the sort of “Prince Charming” everyone likes to read about. I only wish that I thought Delilah was as perfect for him as he seems to think she is. Emily, a friend of Patrick’s who stretches to become a friend of Delilah’s, was my favorite character. If only I could have had more of her! She was cute and friendly and intelligent. I would have loved to see her in more scenes. She was definitely the sort of friend that was integral for Delilah’s growth – her “fixing.”
There are so many layers to the feuds, love, and anxiety of the Hannaford women. The past is painstakingly dragged into the future through people both dead and alive. (No, there are not zombies in the book, although that would have been an interesting development.)
I particularly enjoyed the mother-daughter love story. I have a mother who, much like Delilah’s, is a young, successful, stressed businesswoman, and I could really relate to the struggles between Delilah and her mother. Even though my relationship with my mother isn’t nearly as strenuous, I can imagine how it could be and how that would affect my life, particularly now during high school – when a girl needs her mother most.
Fixing Delilah is primarily about relationships, most of which begin broken and struggling to breath. The journey doesn’t involve car chases or bombs, but emotional troubles that are just as tangible and harmful. With a book full of women and emotional strain, there’s certainly plenty of drama – and tears.
My biggest disappointment was the predictability and the clichés. I’ve seen/read/heard this story before. Perhaps if Delilah had struck me more as an individual, the story itself might have done the same. I knew how the love story would play out from the beginning, or at the very least had enough of an idea not to be surprised when things went in certain directions. However, Fixing Delilah is still a fun read that I think will appeal to plenty of people, particularly to those with busy mothers, those who have weaknesses for singing boys, or both.
Essentially, I wasn’t thrilled or surprised or wowed, but this book is satisfying and precisely what you’d expect – which can be a nice treat in a world of so many possibilities and so few probabilities.
First, a reminder: I’m participating in Persnickety Snark’s Five Challenge. For the remainder of the year, I’ll post 5 books daily that were the greatest in whatever category. Today’s is 5 Hopes for YA in 2011.
- I hope that more people will do what I did back in January – “convert to the YA faith” – and quit considering it as inferior literature, instead seeing it as a source of nutrition for teens and adults. YA has changed people’s visions, inspired them, and taught them valuable lessons, all in a relatable and remarkably honest way. I simply hope that more people will realize this.
- I hope that YA literature will improve. Though I love it and write it – heck, I nearly live it – I do believe there’s room for improvement. There always is. We could use more books that, though not preachy, have an implied message. We could also use more books that are uplifting. Not to mention the fact that there are always audiences that need to be reached through specific channels that we have not gone through yet.
- I hope that YA will continue to thrive and prosper. The market has simply boomed. I’m so glad when I see the huge YA section at my library (at least in comparison to the other sections). I don’t really mind being the 322ned person with a hold on a book because the mere thought of 322 other people reading it is splendid. I love that my Borders has a beautiful YA section. I love that there are so many YA book blogs. And though it’s all so grand already, I like to think that this is only the beginning.
- I hope that young adult literature will affect people’s pasts, presents, and futures. I hope that it will continue to guide, strengthen, and empower teens. I hope that more and more inspiring and admirable characters will spring to life and teach lessons through the sheer force of their personalities and adventures.
- I hope that I’ll keep reading and writing YA, that it will continue to effect and brighten my life, and that I will be able to promote and support it… And I hope that my writer and blogger friends will do so, too.
What are your dreams for your favorite genre, whether it be YA or not?
First, a reminder: I’m participating in Persnickety Snark’s Five Challenge. For the remainder of the year, I’ll post 5 books daily that were the greatest in whatever category. Today’s is 5 Most Anticipated 2011 Titles. I wish I had five times as many “slots!” There are so many destined-to-be-amazing books coming out next year! I am not including books I currently have ARCs of, such as The Iron Queen by Julie Kagawa, Wither by Lauren DeStefano, Where She Went by Gayle Forman, etc (all three of which are great).
Note: Titles are linked to Goodreads. Synopses are from Goodreads as well.
1.Supernaturally by Kiersten White
Aw, my dearest Paranormalcy has a sister! Or a brother. There’s no judging, as there isn’t a synopsis yet. Kiersten White is on of my favorite people, and her debut one of my favorite books. It makes you feel bubbly on the inside while handling some pretty serious situations. Supernaturally, I hope, will be Paranormalcy on steroids.
2. Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare
Naturally, I was excited to read the companion series to The Mortal Instruments, but I was even more pleased to find that The Infernal Devices is just as unique and extraordinary. The first book, Clockwork Angel was fantastic, and the series has so much potential. I can’t wait for the second installment!
3. City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare
City of Fallen Angels is the fourth book in the bestselling series The Mortal Instruments.
“City of Fallen Angels takes place two months after the events of City of Glass. In it, a mysterious someone’s killing the Shadowhunters who used to be in Valentine’s Circle and displaying their bodies around New York City in a manner designed to provoke hostility between Downworlders and Shadowhunters, leaving tensions running high in the city and disrupting Clary’s plan to lead as normal a life as she can — training to be a Shadowhunter, and pursuing her relationship with Jace. As Jace and Clary delve into the issue of the murdered Shadowhunters, they discover a mystery that has deeply personal consequences for them — consequences that may strengthen their relationship, or rip it apart forever. Meanwhile, internecine warfare among vampires is tearing the Downworld community apart, and only Simon — the Daylighter who everyone wants on their side — can decide the outcome; too bad he wants nothing to do with Downworld politics. Love, blood, betrayal and revenge: the stakes are higher than ever in City of Fallen Angels.”
OH MY GOSH. I have loved this series. I have stuffed myself with it. I cannot wait for this book! My friends and I will definitely be reading it the second it’s released, probably all bundled up in my bedroom. My parents will have to bring McDonald’s up there to keep us from starving. I’ve only reviewed the first book, but I will need to reread the series before this book is released, and I might write reviews for two and three then.
My little brother even loves this series. That’s saying a lot, as he’s not the most enthusiastic reader.
4. Bitterblue by Kristen Cashore
“Book 3, tentatively titled Bitterblue and currently in progress, is a companion book to both Graceling and Fire and takes place in the seven kingdoms six years after Graceling. As you may have gathered, the protagonist is Bitterblue. Yes, Katsa, Po, and others from Graceling whom I’m not yet willing to name do appear in the book.” (source: http://kristincashore.blogspot.com/2008/…)”
I’ve loved the other two books in this series (The Seven Kingdoms), Graceling and Fire. Bitterblue is a fascinating little girl, but my excitement really comes from the fact that I’ve loved the characters, world, action, romance, etc in the other two books. Kristen Cashore has a gift. And I’ve heard that the characters I fell in love with in the previous books will return!
5. The Bridge of Clay by Markus Zusak
No synopsis besides Markus Zusak’s one comment:
For three years now, whenever people have asked the terrifying question – “So what’s your new book about?” – I’ve stuttered my way through a whole range of incoherent responses. I’ve talked about a murderer. I’ve talked about a mule and five brothers, and a girl on a roof.
Of course, everything I just mentioned plays its part in the new book, but not one of them is the heart of it. I guess sometimes it’s easier to tell people what surrounds a story, rather than the story itself.
When all is said and done, I think I finally see that the book I’m writing is actually simple:
It’s about a boy.
His name is Clay.
He’s building a bridge.
And he wants that bridge to be something truly great and miraculous.
Doesn’t it sound fantastic? Delicious? Glorious? I have only read one of Markus Zusak’s books (which is a fact I really can’t explain) – and it proved to be the the best book I’ve ever read, second only to the books in the Anne of Green Gables series. The Book Thief is perfect in every possible way, and The Bridge of Clay has a similar feel about it. How could you resist that simple “It’s about a boy. His name is Clay. He’s building a bridge. And he wants that bridge to be something truly great and miraculous”? It’s much like The Book Thief’s “It’s just a small story really, about among other things: a girl, some words, an accordionist, some fanatical Germans, a Jewish fist-fighter, and quite a lot of thievery. . . .”
Can we give Printz Awards for summaries? No? To bad.
It seems that 2011 is going to be the best year ever. I can’t wait. Only six more days, and we’ll embark on another journey, more fantastical and wondrous than the last.
First of all…
I wish that I could give everyone my copy of Delirium, but, unfortunately, taking it to Kinkos and sending you all the book as a Christmas gift would be illegal. Though I sympathize, getting arrested isn’t worth it.
On the other hand, congratulations to Krista Mckeeth of CubicleBlindness Book Reviews! I hope you enjoy it!
Now, feel free to watch a YouTube video that is totally unrelated. Many of you have probably scene this, but it’s still neat and splendidly Christmas-y: