Tag Archives: Young Adult

Reading Challenge 7: A Book by an Author You Love

Everyone has their favorite authors. Or at least, most people do.

In the past, I remember hesitating when people ask me who mine is. In class a professor would go around the room and ask and I’d find myself frantically searching for someone in my mind. Most often I just settled with Rowling. I got a scathing look or two, but to be honest I didn’t know what else to say. Truth be told, I feel like in order to name someone as your favorite author you need to have read more than one book by that person. And I skip around enough that I don’t usually return to the same person twice, not since I was a kid at least.

However, after this past year I have an answer. Still not what I’d love to give sitting in an English class, but I nonetheless have fallen head over heels for Rainbow Rowell’s writing.

Anyone following my blog probably already has heard me rave about Fangirl, and maybe Eleanor and Park as well. Now, as an English major I cannot sit here and say “oh she’s the most fantastic writer on the face of the planet, and her prose are just fantastic!” because it wouldn’t be the least bit true. But I can say I love her stories, and that her characters never fail to connect with me, and that I have always enjoyed popping open one of her easy to read books after a long period of boring or challenging classics.

So, it came as no surprise that when Rowell announced she was writing a companion book to Fangirl, I definitely had a bit of a well…fangirl moment.

In Fangirl Rowell creates a fictional fantasy series. I know that sounds redundant but it is. If you try to find Simon Snow and the Mage’s Heir on Goodreads or at your library it won’t be there. Nor will any Google searches of Gemma T. Leslie get you anywhere. Essentially instead of picking an actual fandom, Rowell created her own…or perhaps better stated she parodied one of the most famous. In Carry On, Rowell explores the fictional fictional world she created by telling her own version of Simon Snow’s story.

Simon has been having a rough year. He just returned to Watford School of Magicks after a long summer. He’s still trying to figure out how to deal with the Insidious Humdrum, a strange being who is stealing magic from his world and happens to look just like his eleven year old self. To make matters worse, he and his girlfriend have just broken things off, and his nemesis and roommate Baz is missing. Simon is thoroughly convinced Baz is just trying to mess with him, but with questions about the Humdrum weighing on him and plenty of classes, he doesn’t have much time to think about it. That is until a ghostly visitor appears with a quest that will alter his final year at Watford.

While I initially started this book thinking “ooh a sort of take off on Harry Potter how delightful!” I quickly found that this story is really its own. Sure, a reference to the Normals or to Ebb the goatherd who’s never left Watford since graduating or to Simon’s status as Chosen One due to a prophecy might cause a few chuckles. But the story quickly diverges into its own set of adventures and questions.

I would again by no means classify Carry On as complex, but it’s enjoyable. I loved the variety of characters and thought it was particularly inspiring how Rowell creates magic based entirely on the words you choose. As a writer I cannot help but love the thought that words have power and that we give them power by how we use them. Words are a kind of magic whether we’re mages like Simon or simply Normal, there’s no denying that what comes on a page or out of our mouths can change the world.

I’d definitely advise Fangirl lovers to pick this one up if you liked the excerpts of Leslie and Cath’s writing. It was a bit different from Rowell’s other stories, though as I think most of the summaries say it’s every bit as romantic and heartwarming.

Who is your favorite author or at least an author you love? Have you ever felt embarrassed about your taste in reading? Do you think words have power? There’s a few to start with but feel free to add your own questions or comments.

Here is a book challenge I did not make. Click it to find the original source.

Here is a book challenge I did not make. Click it to find the original source.

Past Entries:

1. A Book You Own But Haven’t Read

2. A Book that was Made into a Movie

3. A Book You Pick Soley for the Cover

4. A Book Your Friend Loves

5. A Book Published this Year

9. A Book with a Color in the Title

15. A Book of Poems

17. A Book that Will Make You Smarter

22. A Book with Pictures

24. A Book You Loved…Read it Again!

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Book Challenge 22: A Book With Pictures

All right, well if you’re going to pick a book with pictures that isn’t truly a “picture book” where do you start? Nonfiction works maybe? An old illustrated edition of Dickens? A graphic novel?

There are plenty of interpretations to the challenge, but this book was already on my reading list. And besides, what better pick for a book with pictures, than a book whose entire concept was framed around pictures?

You heard me right. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs was essentially put together with pictures first, and then a story. In other words, Riggs gathered up a variety of old peculiar black and white photos and then created a story based on them. The resulting story is quite interesting.

Jacob is sixteen when his grandfather dies under mysterious circumstances. Though everyone tries to tell him he’s insane, Jacob is certain that the odd death must be related to his grandfather Abe’s old stories of a children’s home in Wales. Though he too once thought these stories of strange and unusual children were fiction, Jacob is still determined to try to find the truth by setting out to find this mysterious orphanage hoping to figure out the mysteries of his family’s past.

I’ll leave it at that to avoid giving too much away. My own feedback on this book is that the story is really interesting. It’s a young adult book, so as often is the case it’s a fast read which is sometimes a nice change of pace. I didn’t think the writing was anything special, or even that the themes were really well-developed. But I nonetheless enjoyed this story, especially due to the intriguing pictures that guide the plot.

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At times it did feel a bit disjointed due to the pictures. As though they were the focus rather than the actual story itself. But I enjoyed seeing these old real images that are sort of fascinatingly creepy without being disturbing. It was a fun read for Halloween, engaging a sense of strangeness and suspense and mystery without being a real horror story of any kind. Definitely hope others will consider picking it up. If nothing else, look at the pictures. Those are interesting enough by themselves!

Here is a book challenge I did not make. Click it to find the original source.

Here is a book challenge I did not make. Click it to find the original source.

Other entries:

1. A Book I Own But Haven’t Read

2. A Book that was Made into a Movie

3. A Book You Pick Soley for the Cover

4. A Book Your Friend Loves

5. A Book Published This Year

9. A book with a color in the title

17. A book that will make you smarter

24. A book you loved…read it again!

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Book Challenge 24: A Book You Loved…Read it Again!

All right, so it’s been slow in coming with starting work, but here’s another book challenge entry!

In honor of the recent release of Carry On by Rainbow Rowell, I decided to reread the companion book, one of my all time favorite young adult fiction books– Fangirl.

Fangirl focuses on Cath Avery, a freshman English major leaving home for the first time to attend college. It should be an exciting time, at least that’s what her dad and twin sister seem to keep telling her, but Cath can’t stop worrying. She is concerned about her father being alone at home, and about her sister who seems to have suddenly become a party girl, about how to get along with her surly roommate and how to handle the two boys fighting for her attention. And then there’s the stress of her classes, especially her fiction writing one with a professor who couldn’t care less for her fanfiction, and of course all Cath wants is to be able to finish her popular fanfiction story Carry On, Simon about the world famous series Simon Snow before the last book in the series arrives.

I read Fangirl last December on the recommendation of my good friend and freshman roommate. She thought I’d like it due to some of my similarities to the main character as a shy nerdy English major myself. And indeed, she was right. It’s become one of my favorite books not because it’s a fantastically well written novel (although for teen fiction it’s quite good), but because I related to the content so strongly.

Like Cath I remember the trepidation of going off to college for the first time. I remember the doubts about belonging and the struggles to find a place. But I also strongly related to feeling a sense of outgrowing old writing, though in a slightly different sense. Cath is told regularly that Simon Snow is for children, and that fanfiction is a worthless form of writing. Her own twin wants to leave it behind, the thing they use to reguarly share and love. For me, it was starting to move beyond fantasy. Starting to expand outwards beyond my normal comfort zone and home turf. For me it was my writing partner claiming we’d grown too old for our old things and me helplessly clinging on, even when she’d long since abandoned it. A bit different from fanfiction, but nonetheless still reminiscent to me.

The beauty of Fangirl is the coming of age aspect of it. It’s the transition point I think most college students could testify to having undergone. Of growing up, of figuring out who you are, of learning to both accept and outgrow aspects of earlier life. Sure, the romance is adorable, and the fandom Rowell creates is laughable, but I truly think that there are some real truths hidden in the pages of a rather fun story, and I recommend it to fellow college students and fangirls alike.

Any fellow fangirls out there willing to admit it? Any one have a favorite book you’ve read more than once? Or any other comments you’d like to add?

Here is a book challenge I did not make. Click it to find the original source.

Here is a book challenge I did not make. Click it to find the original source.

Other entries:

1. A Book I Own But Haven’t Read

2. A Book that was Made into a Movie

3. A Book You Pick Soley for the Cover

5. A Book Published This Year

9. A book with a color in the title

17. A book that will make you smarter

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Book Challenge 9: A Book With a Color in the Title

So, for my next book I decided to skip a little bit again since this is another relatively new book that will have to go back to the library sooner. My choice for this unusual challenge was a book recommended to me by a twitter follower: Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard.

The story is about Mare Barrow, a girl raised in poverty due to her blood color: Red. In her world those who have silver blood are prized. They live with privilege and often have impressive powers they wield over the reds. However, Mare finds herself to be more special than she had realized before when she accidentally displays powers of her own in front of the royal family. Determined to protect themselves from further danger, the royals make a plan to hide her amongst them, engaging her to one of the princes. Mare must figure out where she belongs, deciding if she will fight beside her fellow Reds or if she will allow the Silver privilege to become her new destiny.

I really enjoyed this novel over all. I wouldn’t call it great in terms of writing style or wholly original, but it was a fun and easy read. I thought the plot was largely enjoyable, quite suspenseful in a few places, though a bit predictable in others. Really it seems like kind of a blend of some of the other distopian fiction that is so popular right now, though I enjoyed the mixture of having sort of a feudal system amongst all the more modern aspects. It definitely reads more fantasy than some of the other books I’ve read of this sort of genre. I have also particularly appreciated that so far romance hasn’t been the main focus. It has a place in the story, but it’s not the main plot, which is how I think it should be.

Anyhow, if you enjoyed The Hunger Games or Divergent or books that involve kings and queens and battles for power I think this might be a good book for you. If anyone else has read it let me know what you think!

What’s your favorite book with a color in the title? Do you have one? Have you read any books that would meet this challenge?

Here is a book challenge I did not make. Click it to find the original source.

Here is a book challenge I did not make. Click it to find the original source.

Other posts on the book challenge:

1. A Book I Own But Haven’t Read

2. A Book that was Made into a Movie

5. A Book Published This Year

   

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21 Favorite Young Adult Books

This is a continuation of the series I’d posted earlier talking about my favorite children’s books. Again, I’ll reiterate some of these books I haven’t read in a long time, but my impressions of them have stuck around, hence why they’re on the list. Hopefully in a bit I’ll have my favorite adult books out too. Also, some obviously are torn between the children’s genre too, it just depends on classification (same with my children’s post). Regardless, here are a few books I liked in the young adult genre in no particular order.

Inkheart  Inkheart by Cornelia Funke– I definitely read these as a kid, but they are perhaps a bit dark for the kids genre. I loved the plot, especially as a writer imagining the possibility of characters coming to life. Great characters, funky magic, and wonderful literary references.

The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle, #1)The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater–  More recent reads that I really enjoyed. I found these more original considering many of the teen fiction books often follow very similar plots.

Mister Monday (The Keys to the Kingdom, #1)The Keys to the Kingdom by Garth NixThese are very dark, but I think that’s part of what drew me to them. Definitely a little funky but interesting, and I really liked the hero Arthur for some odd reason, very compelling I suppose. Plus Suzy Turquoise Blue was an awesome sidekick.

The Goose Girl (The Books of Bayern, #1)The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale– It’s funny how so many of these are series, however, this first book remains my favorite. I love twisted fairy tales, especially slightly lesser known ones like Goose Girl. Ani is a fantastic heroine and her powers are so different and yet wonderful!

The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, #1)Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan– I loved the sarcastic dry humor in Percy’s tone, the modern take on Greek mythology. Of the more “popular” teen fiction series, this is definitely one of my favorites just because I felt it displayed some of the greatest level of creativity.

No Shame, No Fear (No Shame, No Fear #1)The Quaker Trilogy by Anne TurnbullThese books were perfect due to my love of historical fiction, romance, and stories on faith. I loved the forbidden love aspect between Susanna and Will, though this of course felt more real than the usual romantic drivel. Again, my memories are a bit blurry, but as a young teen I know I at least liked the first two books. As I now attend a Quaker college, I’m a bit terrified someone will think my love of these a bit shaming, but I’m not going to allow myself any as I was an impressionable teen at the time.

The Squire's Tale (The Squire's Tales, #1)The Squire’s Tales by Gerald MorrisI love Arthurian legend, and nothing is better than having classic stories retold from new points of view. The first books begin with the ever lovable Terrence, squire to Sir Gawain and then proceed to cover several other stories from Parsifal’s page, to the brother of Sir Tristan, to a brave and savvy damsel who doesn’t need a knight. They never failed to make me laugh, but they also excited in me a sense of adventure and a continued love for Camelot.

FangirlFangirl by Rainbow Rowell– My friends might kill me if I don’t add this, since they believe it’s based on my life. I agree I found many points of Cath’s life to be very relatable, and even cried once or twice. A funny coming of age story that every “fangirl” should read.

BeastlyBeastly by Alex Flinn– Again with the fractured fairy tales. An adorable love story, a clever modern retelling of Beauty and the Beast, and a fun and easy read. I liked the use of the modern chat-room start to this novel incorporating other fairy tales in as well. It’s one I’ve read twice, because I enjoyed it so much.

Stormbreaker (Alex Rider, #1)Alex Rider by Anthony Horrowitz– I was obsessed with these for much of my teen years. I liked the spy stories containing the reluctant yet amazing Alex. These were fast paced and entertaining, though (slight spoiler) I HATED how they ended.

Zach's Lie (Zach's Lie, #1)Zach’s Lie by Roland Smith- I remember I loved the suspense of these books! I think they’re probably one of those that bridge the children’s and young adult area, not really sure where to put it. However, these interesting fast paced books kept me reading til the end.

Gideon the Cutpurse (The Gideon Trilogy, #1)The Gideon Trilogy by Linda Buckley-Archer– Time travel novels can be fun if they’re well done. I liked these ones quite a bit since they entered into 18th century England (one of the times and places that most interested me). Thievery and adventure and two times clashing, I thought these were a fun collection of stories. The adventure in these was entertaining, though like with many fiction series, I remember being somewhat disappointed by the end.

Storm CatchersStorm Catchers by Tim Bowler This book is one of those really random one that I believe I remember most of the main details. Since it seems to be so memorable (I think I may have read it more than once), I had to include it here. Great story of mystery and suspense with a touch of surreal (ghosts and divining). It definitely kept me guessing all the way through.

Warm Bodies (Warm Bodies, #1)Warm Bodies by Isaac Morrison– I know what you’re thinking, isn’t there a movie? Yes, but it’s very different from its inspiring novel. This book is dark and odd. I liked the writing and only read it a few years ago, so it’s fresher in my mind. The movie is hilarious, but if you’re looking for a darker zombie story, look here.

Stargirl (Stargirl, #1)Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli– I had a book club on this novel once, and I remember we raised some valid points about this book’s value. It has good messages on identity, peer pressure, fitting in, and plenty of others as well. Stargirl herself is a very interesting character.

Nobody's Princess (Nobody's Princess, #1)Nobody’s Princess by Esther M. Friesner– So in case it isn’t obvious, I like stories with princesses, I like stories about Greek myths, and I like stories about women who are empowered (especially princesses)- and this one on Helen of Troy is fantastic. Definitely takes the “face that launched a thousand ships” and gives her a brand new definition. Such a great read for any fellow myth lovers, especially ones that love tough female role models.

Just One WishJust One Wish by Janette Rallison– This one is cheesy, but bear with me. I loved the cute and quirky romance in this, but also the bravery of the main character in fighting for her little brother who is suffering from cancer. Rallison has some very fun and cute romance novels, but I liked this one for the values beyond just the teen love aspect. Sad and yet heartwarming, it may be cheesy but I loved it as a girl.

Enter Three WitchesEnter Three Witches by Caroline B. Cooney– Have I mentioned my love of Shakespeare? This fun play on Macbeth takes the story from the point of view of more minor characters such as Fleance, or the author’s creation of Mary (the Macbeth’s ward). The story gave a new perspective to this theater piece, but still maintained some of its classic darkness.

Princess BenPrincess Ben by Catherine Gilbert Murdock– Another empowered princess story. Benevolence may sound like a frilly princess, but she faces some tough challenges and overcomes them quite well. The story was quirky and fun, but also continues to promote female empowerment through the use of some classic fairy tale themes being played with.

How the Hangman Lost His HeartHow the Hangman Lost his Heart by K. M. Grant– This book was ridiculously funny. Again, old London is one of my favorite settings for stories, but this one is different than any I’ve read before. A cute and funny love story with some good action and adventure to go along. I mean what could go wrong with a main character named Dan Skinslicer?

Brief CandleBrief Candle by Kate Pennington– My first introduction to Emily Bronte. I found it funny to read Wuthering Heights this year having read this book as a young person. An intriguing adventure to be sure, and it had a fantastic twist at the end if I remember correctly. Regardless, interesting historical fiction read.

What young adult books do you love? Any good recommendations for me? I’m always looking for more as these are something I still read in my spare time.

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Alex Rider: Spying Marketing Strategies

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As an adolescent one of my favorite book series were the Alex Rider books by Anthony Horowitz. I discovered them by first watching the movie and after falling in love with the story, decided to pursue the written version as well.

For those who don’t know, Alex Rider is an action packed spy novel based on the story of a reluctant fourteen year old British agent. The books were suspenseful and interesting, never failing to keep me involved. I was hooked on them and followed them all the way to the end of the series.

Looking back at the books it is interesting to consider how the marketing of them affected me. The movie was what first got my attention. This method of marketing does seem to be rather effective. The making of a book into a movie is not only a sign that the book was a success, but a reason for those who haven’t already read it to do so before (or in my case after) they view the film.

Other factors behind it may have been the covers with intense looking backgrounds and a simple symbol on the front to represent the adventure. Once within the book the fast paced plotline kept me going much as it had in the movie.

As the last book, Scorpia Rising, came closer to release there was a good deal of advertising that went into it. Though I didn’t need such hype over the book (because I had eagerly been awaiting it for more than a year) the methods used were interesting when considering how marketing affects a book.

One particularly interesting method was the use of book trailers posted online. Those were the first video trailers I had ever seen for a book, and while somewhat cheesy and simplistically animated, they were very effective in drawing me in at the time.

Marketing is a fascinating part of the literary world. Book trailers have been particularly popular in the last few years. They are a good way to interest readers to pursue a book due to their compelling nature. They provide a visual and often tease at plot elements to come. As an Alex Rider fan I remember sitting on the edge of my chair as I watched the first of the three trailers. The mysterious music, the small hinting plot developments, the dramatic phrase: “one bullet. One life”.

How has marketing affected you as a reader? What do you think of book trailers? These aspects of writing never fail to interest me. I’d love to hear your thoughts too.

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