Tuesday, March 28, 2017

(72) Top Ten Authors I'm Dying to Meet

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

This week's topic: Top Ten Twenty Authors I'm Dying to Meet.
 
*****
 
I've been pretty lucky to have been able to meet so many amazing authors at BEA and ALA, but there are still a few several dozen I'd love to meet!

1. Nora Roberts
She is honestly like my all-time favorite author. Her books got me through high school and some tough shit, and her Circle Trilogy has become an annual reread for me. I've had better luck with her series than her standalones, but I've still got SO many left to read. I love that she's got like a never-ending backlist. Next up on my TBR for her: the Three Sisters Island trilogy! :D

2. Brighton Walsh
BRIGHTON. MY FAVE. I've been a fan of this lady's books since I devoured Caged in Winter one Christmas morning. Her books are not only addictive, but I adore being part of her Brigaders group (even if I don't really participate or go on Facebook WHOOPS BUT I STILL ENJOY IT). 

3. Chelsea Fine
Her AoA trilogy, and reviewing them, is what actually got me into book blogging, so not only are they all-time favorite books, but they are very special to me! Chelsea is a lovely person, too. I'm just very sad it's been a few years since she's had a new book out. I NEED MORE CHELSEA FINE STORIES IN MY Life.

4. Rachel Harris
Ah, Rachel. Kindhearted, sweet, wrote some fabulous books. I've been a huge fan of hers, and a part of her reader group for YEARS. And I'm so sad that I still haven't been able to hug her in person. ONE DAY.

5. Laini Taylor
Gah, I'm still so mad at myself that I didn't try harder to meet her at BEA 2016. Her DoSaB trilogy is one of my favorites ever, and I'm so fucking excited for Strange the Dreamer. I can't wait devour it this weekend. She's definitely one author I *need* to meet someday.

6. Mindy McGinnis
After LOVING A Madness So Discreet, and enjoying all of her other books, she's quickly become another favorite author of mine. I just love that her stories are so gritty and dark and yet hopeful. She's also one of those authors I make sure to follow closely, in case of book news and such. GIMME MORE.

7. K.A. Tucker
I decided against her signing at BEA 2015 for some unknown goddamn reason (I think I wanted to head over to a different signing early), and I wish I would've taken the time to see her. She's one of my favorite NA writers, so THERE BETTER BE A NEXT TIME.

8. Victoria Schwab
VEEE. Gah, I'm still quite bitter that I couldn't go to the con that she came to last year. I did get a signed book out of it (bc Sarah is AWESOME), but it wasn't the same. I've really loved all the books of hers I've read (esp the Shades of Magic series omg my babies), and she's kind of an inspiration for me when it comes to writing and publishing. So I MUST meet her at some point in the near future.

9. Kasie West
I'm pretty jealous of all those who got to meet Kasie this past weekend at Apollycon. I REALLY, REALLY WANT TO MEET HER. Her fluffy contemporaries are such feel-good stories for me, and I've enjoyed/loved them all. And I will read anything she writes.

10. Michelle Smith
Because Play On is such a book of my heart, I may just cry if I do end up meeting Michelle. And I guess that would be payback for my review making her cry. LOL. But seriously, I cannot wait to meet this lady someday. She is so wonderful, and her books are the best kind of stories; uplifting and honest and heartfelt.

11. Emery Lord
I can't believe I almost forgot Emery. Not only is she one of my fave authors, but one of my fave human beings, and I think being in her proximity would make you feel like life is so beautiful and sunshiny and warm. #expectations

 12. Melina Marchetta
I also can't BELIEVE I almost forgot Marchetta. WHO AM I. She is a queen of writing, and I just wish she were closer bc sometimes I wonder if I'll ever get to meet her and then I want to cry over the thought that I won't since Australia is too far away. I hate everything. (Probably for the best as I don't think I'd even be able to talk in her presence)

13. Stacey Lee
Stacey is a more recent favorite of mine. I stayed away from historical fiction that didn't take place during WWII, for no good reason? I guess I thought it was boring? But whoa boy, not the stories that Stacey tells! They are fun and her characters are badass and strong-willed and I just love them so much. I can't wait to read The Secret of a Heart Note

14. Renee Ahdieh
My love for her Wrath and Rose, for Khalid and Shazi, knows no bounds. Renee's writing is just so freaking gorgeous, and I really want to meet the woman behind such amazing books and characters.

15. Paula Stokes 
I just adore Paula. I'd say I adore her books but I still have only read The Art of Lainey omg I am so terrible. BUT I did love that one, and I think she's a pretty awesome person, so I definitely want to meet her!

16. Claire Legrand
I still have only read Some Kind of Happiness, but that was such a personal book for me, and I was so thrilled that she joined the Shattering Stigmas event I helped co-host (idk why I'm mentioning except that it still makes me happy when I think about it! Claire is lovely). Every time she posts snippets of WIPs, it makes me want to read all her books. That will happen. As well as meeting her!

17. Krista and Becca Ritchie
My favorite twins! The Addicted series means a lot to me, like A LOT. I have so much love for the characters and the series, for the way that KB tackled tough subjects, all with grace and kindness and honesty. They are some of the best NA out there, no question. And meeting them would just be AMAZING.

18. Nina Lane
Her Spiral of Bliss series is one of my all-time favorites (still need to finish it, but I've just been dragging my feet, ugh). I've been a fan of her writing for a long time, and I would just LOVE to meet her.

19. Anna-Marie McLemore
Anna-Marie is a new favorite of mine, and I can't believe it took me so long to read her books. They are so lyrical and enchanting, and she seems like a wonderful person just based on her tweets and such. And like, I am just so freaking excited for Wild Beauty and whatever else she's going to publish. I WANT IT ALL.

20. Mary E. Pearson
Because I want to fangirl over the Remnant Chronicles with her and tell her how much her series means to me in person. She already knows I'm a big fan (and she follows me on Twitter! WHAT WHAT), but I still want to meet her so badly. but omg I'm just glad tho that I've got more Remnant books to look forward to. 2018 COME SOONER.
 

I got to ten, and then I realized GASP I FORGOT SOME OF MY FAVORITES. I FORGOT QUEEN MARCHETTA. HOW DARE I. So yeah, I cheated. Not even sorry. There are still so many fab authors I want to meet someday. AND I'M DETERMINED TO CROSS ALL THESE AUTHORS OFF MY LIST. Even though I'm also nervous about meeting some of them. I mean, how am I supposed to shake Nora's hand without bursting into tears? How am I supposed to fangirl over Melina's words if I can't speak properly in her presence? I've had starstruck moments with authors before, and I think I have definitely gotten better at not being so awkward/quiet, but it's still hard. This is the kind of stuff that keeps me up at night. I need to take a class. How to Socialize 101. How to Meet Your Heroes and Not Faint from the Excitement 201. The important stuff!


I'm sure I'm forgetting some authors too (like JK Rowling but I felt that was obvious, of course I want to meet her HAVE YOU MET ME #Pottertrash. also forgot Penelope Douglas, whoops). HAHAHA I CAN'T STOP MAKE ME STOP. 

So anyway, which authors would be on YOUR list? Have you met any of these lovely people yet? Let's talk! :)

Monday, March 27, 2017

A Few March Mini Reviews

Title: The Gauntlet
Author: Karuna Riazi
Publisher: Salaam Reads
Release Date: March 28th, 2017!

From Goodreads...
A trio of friends from New York City find themselves trapped inside a mechanical board game that they must dismantle in order to save themselves and generations of other children in this action-packed debut that’s a steampunk Jumanji with a Middle Eastern flair.

When twelve-year-old Farah and her two best friends get sucked into a mechanical board game called The Gauntlet of Blood and Sand—a puzzle game akin to a large Rubik’s cube—they know it’s up to them to defeat the game’s diabolical architect in order to save themselves and those who are trapped inside, including her baby brother Ahmed. But first they have to figure out how.

Under the tutelage of a lizard guide named Henrietta Peel and an aeronaut Vijay, the Farah and her friends battle camel spiders, red scorpions, grease monkeys, and sand cats as they prepare to face off with the maniacal Lord Amari, the man behind the machine. Can they defeat Amari at his own game…or will they, like the children who came before them, become cogs in the machine?



My Review!
I don't read MG very often, but when I heard about this book, I knew I needed it. I've always loved Jumanji, and this really was so much like the movie, which wasn't a bad thing. I also felt that it was unique enough to stand on its own, and I adored the characters. Farah was brave and clever and loyal. Her determination to save her brother and defeat the game and the man behind it was so admirable. And it was SUCH a fun read! It was rife with dangerous obstacles and twisted challenges, but it had a lovely friendship at the core of it, and it was highly entertaining. I know I don't have a lot to say about it, but that's not a reflection on the book because it was good. Take a chance on this one, guys!

RATING:


*****

Title: You're Welcome, Universe
Author: Whitney Gardner
Publisher: Knopf
Release Date: March 7th, 2017!
*eARC kindly provided by Random House Children's via NetGalley*

From Goodreads... 
A vibrant, edgy, fresh new YA voice for fans of More Happy Than Not and Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, packed with interior graffiti.

When Julia finds a slur about her best friend scrawled across the back of the Kingston School for the Deaf, she covers it up with a beautiful (albeit illegal) graffiti mural.

Her supposed best friend snitches, the principal expels her, and her two mothers set Julia up with a one-way ticket to a “mainstream” school in the suburbs, where she’s treated like an outcast as the only deaf student. The last thing she has left is her art, and not even Banksy himself could convince her to give that up.

Out in the ’burbs, Julia paints anywhere she can, eager to claim some turf of her own. But Julia soon learns that she might not be the only vandal in town. Someone is adding to her tags, making them better, showing off—and showing Julia up in the process. She expected her art might get painted over by cops. But she never imagined getting dragged into a full-blown graffiti war.

Told with wit and grit by debut author Whitney Gardner, who also provides gorgeous interior illustrations of Julia’s graffiti tags, You’re Welcome, Universe introduces audiences to a one-of-a-kind protagonist who is unabashedly herself no matter what life throws in her way.


My Review!
This took me a LONG time to finish. I wasn't really into it. But I took a break, and then I came back to it, and I ended up enjoying it. The MC could be super unlikable, and I wasn't 100% cool with some of the things she did and said. BUT I did like her a lot, and I adored the relationships in this book. The one between her and her moms, and the one between her and her new friend, YP. This book had zero romance, and it had a lot of focus on Julia working through her anger and trust issues by letting someone else in. It was just about growing up and figuring out who you are, the people you want around who will not only take but give and fill your life with color. And it had SO MUCH ART, I LOVED IT. I can't wait to flip through the finished copy to see all the artwork in a way better than my kindle screen.

RATING:

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Seeing Harry Potter Through Adult Eyes

And by adult, I mean ~adult~ bc LOL. But no, it really has been that long since I've read the Harry Potter series. I'm so glad I decided to start the series over again in December. I really needed this timeless story to remind me again that books are not only empty words. I needed the story of sacrifice and love and friendship, of hope even in the darkest of times, of immeasurable acts of bravery, of standing up for what you believe in and fighting for what's right, fighting with all you have, fighting even when you're tired and you feel like it'll never be enough. It's inspiring. My love for this series knows no bounds, because as JK so aplty puts it, Hogwarts will always be here to welcome me home, and I am so home within the pages of this story. <3

This post is just a little thing about my thoughts on the series as a whole and what I think now versus then and what I'd ignored the first time or forgotten. :)

***SPOILERS***


I unship Ron and Hermione. Like whoops, but I’m still not a fan of them. And it’s not that I don’t like Ron, because I do think he is an inherently good person, but he could be so obtuse and jealous and selfish and rude. I do get his personality, in most ways! He was the one people forgot about in the golden trio, the one who didn’t have the fame or the brains, the one that had always felt looked over and he was certainly compensating for what he lacked (especially the footsteps he’d had to follow with his older brothers). But I’m still just meh about them. All they did was fight with each other. I just don’t think that Ron can match Hermione, that he’s her equal. His emotional immaturity probably will get better as he gets older, but he’s got a long way to go to and I don’t really see him keeping up with her throughout the years.

And I may or may not have gotten stronger feels about Harry and Hermione. Not always romantically shipping them, but I definitely felt that their relationship was so intimate and just stronger than Hermione/Ron’s and Harry/Ginny’s combined. And it doesn’t help that the movies really play into this with them. (Let’s not forget that random dance scene in Deathly Hallows Part 1). So, I kiiiiind of shipped them. I also quite liked Ginny and Harry together, so idk. I just really hated seeing Hermione with Ron.

The amount of abuse that Harry suffered is largely ignored and forgotten. I’m VERY surprised that the emotional abuse and neglect he suffered at the hands of the Dursleys was completely brushed over, as if it didn’t have lasting effects on him. And it seemed not to, but that means nothing, and I don’t quite believe he’s perfectly FINE after all that. Plus, with losing Sirius and then Dumbledore and Fred and Lupin and Tonks, I just can’t. It hurts too much. This poor boy deserved better.

Sirius Black also deserved better. I am not kidding when I say that I will NEVER get over his death. Never. It is so unbelievably unfair to both Sirius and Harry. Sirius, who spent twelve years in Azkaban for a crime he didn’t commit, who lost his best friend, and then Harry all in one, who put this kid above all else. And Harry, who finally found a home and a family with his godfather, the way that James and Lily had always wanted. These two had deserved more time together, and they had deserved better.

I feel more for James and Lily than I do even for MCs in stories. They’re dead, you know? But they feel more real and more alive than so many characters I’ve read. I’ve cried over them quite a bit during these rereads, and it just SUCKS that Harry didn’t get to grow up with them, that he only knew them through others and through other moments in the series. I wish they’d never died. I wish he’d been able to know them as Sirius and Lupin had. Also something I can’t stop thinking about: James told Lily to take Harry and run even though he had no wand and no way to defend himself. He knew he’d die, but they came first always. And then of course, Lily would not stop shielding Harry even when she knew it would cost her her life. They were two of the bravest souls. I HATE IT ALL SO MUCH.

The marauders are everything to me (excepting fucking Wormtail, of course). Dear god, these boys. I love them so, so much. Their friendship is everything, especially the one between Sirius and James. THESE TWO. They did enable each other when they were kids, like the Weasley twins, but they grew up into such fine young men who didn’t realize that they would soon be separated by death. *sobs* “I would have died before I betrayed them.” *dies* Sirius loved James SO MUCH, and all he wanted when they died was to take care of his precious godchild. But he COULDN’T. He could not fulfill the duty James had given him, and I’m sure Harry looking so much like his father just absolutely killed him at times. And then you had Lupin, who was not only accepted into the fold, but who was so loved he had friends who willingly turned into animals to keep him company and save him from himself. What kills ME is that James died thinking Lupin might be a traitor and Sirius lost them both at the same time because Lupin had believed him to have killed Pettigrew and betrayed their best friends. I HATE EVERYTHING. My one consolation is that Lupin and Sirius had each other in the end.

Snape is a goddamn bully, and Dumbledore kept too many secrets. I mean I always knew that Snape was a bully, but I feel like I got swept up in the bravery that Snape had shown once you finally understand his character, and how fabulously dressed and wise Dumbledore is. But they’re two people that really needed to learn some lessons of their own. And honestly, Snape had only one redeeming quality: his love for Lily. He never protected Harry because it was the right thing to do; he only did it because he’s Lily’s son. He never cared for the boy, not even by the end of his life. And the amount of abuse that he inflicted upon Harry is not something that should be forgiven so easily. As much as his “Always” moment gives me such feels, I really wish he’d been a better person. And with Dumbledore, UGH. This man had issues with telling people the truth, and Things happened that hadn’t needed to happen if he’d just been honest. I know that he had wanted to spare Harry more pain, that he had wanted to preserve what little childhood happiness he’d had, but he should have realized that Harry had never been an innocent boy.

Neville is the actual best. I’m so sad that Neville is basically pushed aside by everyone in the story, that he’s always laughed at and underestimated. I’m sad that none but a few ever find out that his parents are two of the bravest people ever. And Neville inherited that courage. No matter what anyone says, he belonged in Gryffindor. If his parents could have seen him at the end of the book, they would have been so, so proud of their boy. He was an unfailingly kind and sweet person and he deserved MORE from people. #nevilledefensesquad

Hermione was the real hero of the series. Sorry to Harry, but he never would have been able to do anything without Hermione’s help. He may be skilled as fuck, but she is the brightest witch of her age, and she was the thread that held everything together. Without her, he would have been lost.

I’m more Gryffindor than I think. Of course I have to think about my House here! It’s something that had always surprised me when I took quizzes, given how much I’m Ravenclaw. (Incidentally, there’s not even a huge gap between how Gryffindor I am compared with the rest. I’ve got a bit of all the Houses in me). But ultimately, I think I am a lion. I’m pretty much a Hermione Granger, in a lot of aspects. I’m going to go more in-depth with the Houses in general in another post, because clearly I spend too much time thinking about this series. Haha. I just really love belonging to Gryffindor. <3

Little things I’d forgotten or missed the first (or few) times:
  • Harry didn’t have much of a relationship with Dumbledore. I remember thinking they had because they cared for one another a lot, but in actuality, they were hardly together in the books.
  • Book Ginny is 100% better than Movie Ginny. Also she, like Neville, is pretty ignored until book six, when Harry finally starts to see her in a romantic light. But she is such a badass, and so fierce, and I wish she’d had more page/air time than she was given.
  • Fred and George were such little assholes. I love them still, obvs, but man they sucked at times.
  • McGonagall loved Harry, a lot, and she was extremely proud to have him in her House. She was always so protective of her cubs, and she put them first through everything. She’s one of my favorite fictional characters ever.
  • Draco never really redeemed himself by the end, did he? Sad.


It was SO good being back in this world. I love it so much. Are you guys a fan of Harry Potter? Which House are you in? Let's talk! :)