Saturday, January 30, 2016

January Wrap-up

January Wrap-up Post

Books Ally has read:

Lament by Maggie Stiefvater: 2 stars

The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutoski: 4 stars

Tartuffe by Moliere: 4 stars

Salt and Storm by Kendall Kulper: 3 stars

Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers: 1.5 stars
(I have, like, two chapters to go, but I think I can safely rate it at this point.)

The Golden Braid by Melanie Dickerson: 3 stars

These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner: 4 stars

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir: 5 stars

Books Alison has read:

NONE. :P January has been a ridiculously busy month for Alison. Although, by the time this is posted she may have finished the Maze Runner. STILL. You should all give her awesome book recommendations in the comments. (She likes sci-fi and fantasy). GO.


Confessions of Another Book Drunkard: In which Alison responds to my previous post and rebukes me for dog-earing pages.

Review: Ash and Bramble by Sarah Prineas: In which I give a conflicted review about a slightly dark Cinderella retelling.

The ABBA book tag by Ally: In which there are books! Song Lyrics! And fun!

Top Ten 2015 Releases I Meant to Get to but Didn't: In which I list all the books I waaant this year.

Title Tangents by Ally: In which a story is made out of book titles.

Top Ten Books I Recently Added to my TBR by Alison: In which Alison really needs to read these books.

Review: Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson: In which I review a new favorite book.

Posts from the blogosphere:

7 Types of Villain Deaths by Alyssa @ The Devil Orders Takeout

2 Year Blogoversary by Alexa @ Summer Snowflakes

The Generic YA Dystopian Novel by Jessica @ Bookish Serendipity.

Introducing Title Tangents by Eugenia @ Genie in a Book

More Writer Problems by Opal @ Opal Swirls

We are Currently...

Reading: Unwind by Neal Shusterman
Watching: Lost & Alias
Listening: Phillip Phillips!
~ Ally

Reading: An Ember in the Ashes
Watching: Criminal Minds
Listening: Hamilton (The Schuyler Sisters)
~ Alison

That was our month! Tell us about yours.

Friday, January 29, 2016

The Hunger Games and My Christian Faith

One of the essay topics for my English class was 'a secular book that has meant the most to your faith.' After pondering on that for quite awhile, I finally settled on The Hunger Games for its themes of sacrifice, nonconformity, and courage. I thought I'd share with you guys my essay. Let me know your own thoughts on the matter!

The Hunger Games and its Impact on my Faith

“I volunteer as tribute!” (Collins 22). These are the four words that plunge Katniss Everdeen into a deadly game of survival and wits in the novel The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. “Kill or be killed” becomes the rule she and 23 other kids must live by in the Games. Death is everywhere, deceit is the norm, and compassion is rare—yet, despite the prevailing darkness in this fictional world, this book has had a significant influence on my Christian faith.

From the moment she volunteers for the Games, sacrificing her own safety for her beloved sister Prim, Katniss is constantly being made into something she is not. First it is the Capitol's stylists that want to make her into something beautiful (by their standards) despite the discomfort it causes her. Still others want to put words into her mouth for her own good—but all Katniss wants and needs is to look and feel like herself. This struck me as a poignant illustration of the world and its assertive influence on me. Like Katniss, I feel myself being molded into the person I “should” be, by the world's definition, and not the person I really am.

In order to survive, it seems Katniss must stoop to doing things that are against her nature. Even before she steps foot inside the arena, a battle between good and evil is waged within her. Will she kill others to save herself? Her instinctive answer is yes. She is immediately distrustful of those who surround her, even those who show her kindness, such as Peeta, a competitor in the Games. The conflict within Katniss is palpable. She doesn't want to grow to like or trust Peeta because she knows he must die. She even contemplates the fact that she may be the one to kill him. But Peeta says something that makes an impression on her. He said that he wanted to prove that the Capitol did not own him, and show that he was more than just a piece in their games (Collins 142). Although she initially brushes them off, the effect these words have on Katniss is profound. The Capitol will never have her completely. Nevertheless, Katniss does kill others—young people like her—in the games. In one of those instances there is no conflict within her, no warring between what is right and wrong. She takes a life out of anger and revenge, and in that moment the darkness wins out.

I can relate to Katniss.

The world is constantly whispering “conform” to me, just as the Capitol shouts “KILL” at Katniss. Sometimes I wonder if my walk as a Christian is really worth it. Katniss gave in to the darkness. As have I, in the past. But in Katniss' story there is an underlying hope that there is more to life. There is always a choice. And there is always a way to beat the forces of darkness and for good to prevail.

The Hunger Games does not end wrapped up neatly and tied in a little bow. It couldn't. It does, however, present us with hope, because in the end Katniss is not a pawn in the Capitol's games. She doesn't remain untouched by the horrors of the games, but in some ways she is better for them. She is not just a tribute. She is the girl on fire, a symbol to the rest of Panem which meant that they could defy the Capitol and win.

Just as Katniss did, I will have to make sacrifices as a Christian. There will be times when I will be surrounded by evil and tempted to give up. I will have to confront the evil inside of me [“For out of the heart come evil thoughts. . .” (New International Version, Matt. 15:19)]. and I will struggle to stay true to myself. I will have to learn to trust the people I need to trust, to lean on others when I can't do everything by myself, and to help others even when it may not benefit me. It will be difficult, but I have been given more than just a “may the odds be ever in your favor” (Collins 19). God is on my side—and at the end of all the darkness, the pain, and the suffering of this world, I hope will come out changed for the better. Like the girl on fire, I want to defy the world and win.

That was my essay, but there were a few things I wish I had expanded on. I'm not saying that the parallels I've found to a Christian's walk are clear or intentional. A lot of things were different for Katniss. The lines between good and evil were a lot more blurred. Was it wrong to kill in that arena? It haunted Katniss, yes, but then it was a game of survival.

Still, I did describe Katniss's committing that murder as giving in to the darkness. But aren't we faced with difficult choices in the world as well? Even though it's hard to say what was the right or wrong thing to do, when Katniss performed that act she was doing exactly what the Capitol wished her to do. I think a lot of us can relate to being faced with difficult choices. We've all failed at some points, but the best thing we can do is to seek forgiveness, seek strength, and just keep going.

I wish I could expand even further, but I have so many thoughts on this topic! I'd love to hear yours. Is there a secular book that has meant a lot to your faith?

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Top Ten Fictional Characters in YA Novels

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

Top Ten Fictional Characters in YA Books

Thorne & Cress from The Lunar Chronicles

Yes, I'm counting them as one! Thorne was hilarious, Cress was adorable and together they were super cute and did heroic things.

"Cress, do me a favor. Make sure I don't shoot anyone we like."

Anne Shirley from Anne of Green Gables 

Anne will always be number one for her imagination, wit, and flair for the dramatic.

“My life is a perfect graveyard of buried hopes.” 

Elisa and Hector from The Girl of Fire and Thorns 

I thought they were both very strong characters, and I loved their development.

“Well, we'll have no more of such foolishness," I say harshly, to cover the wavering in my voice. "We're getting married, and that's that.” 

Seraphina from Seraphina 

She was brave, she was passionate, she was... a bit odd. I just loved her voice!
"I remember being born.
In fact, I remember a time before that. There was no light, but there was music: joints creaking, blood rushing, the heart's staccato lullaby, a rich symphony of indigestion. Sound enfolded me, and I was safe."
Harry from Harry Potter

The Boy Who Lived! Despite his attitude in the fifth book, I finished the series with so much love for Harry. After tagging along with him in his adventures through SEVEN books (and I've read them several times) I've grown to love his character. And that cheek!

“Do you remember me telling you we are practicing non-verbal spells, Potter?"
"Yes," said Harry stiffly.
"Yes, sir."
"There's no need to call me "sir" Professor."
The words had escaped him before he knew what he was saying.” 

Hermione from Harry Potter

Brave and insanely smart. I've always loved that she was a little bit bossy too. And I sympathized with her when she had to deal with Harry and Ron when they were in their moods. Actually, Harry AND Hermione had to deal with that, come to think of it...

“Just because you have the emotional range of a teaspoon doesn't mean we all have.” 

Tiger Lily from Tiger Lily 

Oh, Tiger Lily. She was just so strong and stoic. She finally opened her heart up, only to have it broken. I just felt for her.

“To love someone was not what she had expected. It was like falling from somewhere high up and breaking in half, and only one person having the secret to the puzzle of putting her back together.” 

Puck Connolly and Sean Kendrick from The Scorpio Races 

They were just so deep and complex and I loved them!

“I say, 'I will not be your weakness, Sean Kendrick.'
Now he looks at me. He says, very softly, 'It's late for that, Puck.” 

Marak from The Hollow Kingdom

Marak cracks me up. Even if he is one of the ugly goblin kings who steals humans to take as brides. Loved him. He gets two quotes.

“Forks are absurd, he scoffed. They insult your food. They make it think you're killing it twice.” 

“Don't fret. We'll just have to find something else you're good at besides killing people.” 

Razo from The Books of Bayern

Razo was so sweet and funny. I was so glad when he had his chance to be heroic!

“Razo hopped back up and adopted a posture that said he was completely unruffled, never had been, and in fact was ready to do something manly like lift boulders or swallow live worms.”

Ella of Frell from Ella Enchanted

Who couldn't love spunky Ella?

“It is helpful to know the proper way to behave, so one can decide whether or not to be proper.” 

Howl from Howl's Moving Castle 

So, this may be closer to MG or children's fiction, but I'm listing him anyway. Howl is so funny, and his oddity quickly endeared him to me.

“Yes, you are nosy. You're a dreadfully nosy, horribly bossy, appallingly clean old woman. Control yourself. You're victimizing us all.” 

Tarver and Lilac from These Broken Stars 

This was a very recent read for me, but I very quickly fell in love with these characters.

“Where will I sit?” 
Sit? Why, on this comfortable chaise longue I’ve carried here for you in my pocket, Your Highness, so glad you asked. 

Shoot, I did 13 again. Today was a freebie, and the characters are generally my favorite aspect of a novel. What are some of your favorite fictional characters? And feel free to leave a link to your own TTT below!

Friday, January 22, 2016

Review of Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson

Walk on Earth a Stranger (The Gold Seer Trilogy #1) by Rae Carson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Genres: YA; Historical Fiction

"Gold is in my blood, in my breath, even in the flecks in my eyes.

Lee Westfall has a strong, loving family. She has a home she loves and a loyal steed. She has a best friend—who might want to be something more.

She also has a secret.

Lee can sense gold in the world around her. Veins deep in the earth. Small nuggets in a stream. Even gold dust caught underneath a fingernail. She has kept her family safe and able to buy provisions, even through the harshest winters. But what would someone do to control a girl with that kind of power? A person might murder for it.

When everything Lee holds dear is ripped away, she flees west to California—where gold has just been discovered. Perhaps this will be the one place a magical girl can be herself. If she survives the journey."

When I first found out this was going to be released my reaction was akin to that of a child getting her favorite toy back after a long and dreadful period of time-out. Because the period between Carson's releases is, in essence, a literary time-out. How can I enjoy life to its fullest in this time?


I can however, share my obsession love of her books, because I am a generous bookworm and believe that no one should be so sadly deprived.

Walk on Earth a Stranger is different from A Girl of Fire and Thorns in that, except for Lee's special abilities, it is less of a fantasy and almost wholly Historical Fiction. Not having read much Historical Fiction in the YA genre, I was really interested in how Carson would execute this story. I wasn't surprised to find myself completely swept up in Lee's journey.

The trials she faces, the fears she had of being labeled a witch, and her struggle just to survive--these all endeared her to me and had me rooting for her throughout the entire novel.

This is mostly a character-driven novel, but there are several conflicts they had to face. I loved the complexity of the characters, and seeing the way they interacted with each other. There was a lot of tension, a lot of compassion, and a lot of strife between them, which was so fascinating to see.

The romance was very light, and plot wasn't romance-driven at all. There was still romance (or at least, a promise of romance), but there was more of a focus on friendship, which is refreshing to see!

One thing I would have liked to see more of is the use of Lee's gift. I was looking forward to the magical aspects of the story, so I was just a bit let down when that didn't come into play as much as I'd hoped.

Despite that, I loved this book in its entirety! Absolutely recommend it to anyone who loves Historical Fiction or has enjoyed Rae Carson's A Girl of Fire and Thorns series.

Content: I can't think of anything except mild violence? This one is definitely clean!

Why are you still here? Go read one of Rae Carson's books! Or leave a comment on what you thought of Walk on Earth a Stranger below. :)

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Top Ten books I recently added to my TBR

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish

Top Ten books I recently added to my TBR.

This week's Top Ten Tuesday are the ten books most recently added to my to read list.  A lot of these shouldn't be on here.  But I am running behind the bandwagon.  

The Maze Runner

I'm not sure if this completely counts, because I got it from the library the other day, but I'm gonna put it up here anyway.


I know a few people that have read this and the idea of it intrigued me, so I recently put it on the TBR shelf.

Twelve years a slave
I discovered that my family actually owns a copy and that I want to read it at some point in my teenage years.

Scarlet (The Lunar Chronicles #2)

Cinder was the first book review I did, and I loved the book, but the library never had Scarlet when I was there and at the time I didn't have any money so I kept forgetting to get it.  It has recently been re-added to my TBR shelf.

Eyes wide open (The Outlaw Chronicles #1)
I tried a Ted Dekker book before, and I just couldn't figure out how to read mystery, I have never been into mystery before(outside of Nancy Drew).  But I'm gonna give this one a chance, mostly because from what I've read of Ted Dekker, He's a really great writer.

Sing (The Homeward Trilogy #2)
I read the first book in this trilogy a while back, and from what I remember it was pretty good.  I saw the series at the library and I remembered the first one, so I thought I'd add this one to my TBR shelf.

The Hunger Games
I have actually read this whole trilogy already, but I recently decided that I need to read all of them again.  So technically this goes on the To-Be-Re-read shelf.

Any of the 53 Star Trek books on my bookshelf(that I haven't read yet).

Some friend of a friend was selling a whole bunch of stuff, and I bought 50 Star Trek books(from TOS to Voyager) for 20 dollars.  It was a good day.  

Wendy Darling
I saw this one at the library, and read the back cover.  Not only did it look good, but I generally like Colleen Oakes, and Peter Pan is one of my favorite fictional characters, I love spin offs of the original Peter Pan story.

Anne of Green Gables
I don't know why I have yet to read this series, Ally keeps telling me to, and I know it's gonna be good.  But I WILL read it eventually.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Title Tangents

Title Tangents is hosted by Genie in a Book

Here are the rules, as written by Eugenia:
  1. Every two weeks there will be a list of 5-10 books whose titles you have to somehow integrate into a paragraph of ~ 200 words. This is just a rough guide, if you are a little under/over it's up to you :) (I don't think anyone is going to be sitting there counting the words on the screen, and definitely not me!)
  2. Highlight/use a different coloured font for the titles
  3. The fun thing is, it can be as whimsical or realistic, serious or downright hilarious - the situations those titles find themselves have endless possibilities. The characters, settings, and whether there's dialogue or not are entirely your choices
  4. Take a screenshot/type up your paragraph 
  5. Link back to Genie In A Book with the blog banner on your post
  6. There will be an optional theme each week, such as book titles from a particular genre, author, series etc. which I'll put to a vote.
The Titles!

My Title Tangents

They all fall down--the pieces of sky--shattering into oblivion. They call this the New Genesis, but I know what's really happening. Our world is slowly disappearing--piece by piece. And I'm torn. Do I stay with The Protected? My family? They say that blood is thicker than water, but I think I've already made up my mind. I finger the crumpled paper in my hand, playing the words over in my head. I've memorized them by heart:


It's lonely up here, from where I watch you. I would have stayed with you, if I had my choice. But they'll always see me as the boy in the skin of a monster. You're the only person I'll miss.

And, Lia, if you ever miss me--and that might be too much to hope for--just look up. And know I'll be waiting for you.

- N.

I blink hard, fighting tears. I have to do this, not for Noah, but for myself. So what happens now? I go.

738 days. In 738 days I will see my family again.

If all goes well.

Thank you, Eugenia, for hosting! That was a lot of fun. Despite what looked like a lot of contemporary titles, I decided to go the dystopian route! Did you do title tangents? If you did, feel free to leave a link to your post below!

Friday, January 15, 2016

2016 YA Releases I'm Looking Forward To

18 YA Books That Release in 2016

Yes, yes. I know what you're saying. That's a LOT of books! But since when have I ever been able to narrow things down?

This Savage Song by Victoria SchwabWhen We Collided by Emery LordTruthwitch by Susan Dennard

This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab. Okay, so no, I haven't read anything Schwab has published, but ALL of her books sound so good, and if A Darker Shade of Magic is as good as everyone says it is, I will be reading this one! I mean, sci-fi/fantasy that involves battling monsters? Yes, please.

When We Collided by Emery Lord. Because I don't read a lot of contemporaries, and this one is supposed to be deep and beautiful and lovely. *sigh*

Truthwitch by Susan Dennard. Why is this on my to-read list, you ask? Because it's supposed to embody all that is EPIC. Or so I've heard. And it's already been published! *squeals*

Three Wishes by Lisa T. Bergren. *stifles screams* This series branches off the River of Time series and my heart almost can't take it. Also, time traveling. Need I say more?

Stars Above by Marissa Meyer. I am obsessed with the Lunar Chronicles. Gimme those stories!

The Rose and the Dagger by Renee Ahdieh. The Wrath and the Dawn was lovely.

Beyond the Red by Ava Jae. ALIENS. I don't read enough books with ALIENS.

These Vicious Masks by Tarun Shanker. I'm sorry, but Historical Fantasy?? Jane Austen meets X-Men?? That gets PRIORITY.

The Crown's Game by Evelyn Skye. Because 1. Russian culture and 2. MAGIC.


Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton. Mythical beast. Twu wuv. Oh yeah, and more magic!

The Girl from Everywhere by Heidi Heilig. Sci-fi. Fantasy. A time traveling ship!

Ever the Hunted by Erin Summerill. A girl who tracks criminals. A dangerous quest. And murder. *gasp*

Heartless by Marissa Meyer. It doesn't have a cover yet, but obviously I couldn't leave this one out because 1) It's about the Queen of Hearts and 2) Marissa Meyer, the queen of all authordom! Yes, that is a word...

The Crown by Kiera Cass. *grips heart* *staggers around* *faints* Yeah, I just want that dress. AND TO READ THIS BOOK!

The Mirror King by Jodi Meadows. After the perfection that was The Orphan Queen? I think SO.

Blackhearts by Nicole Castroman. Let's see...more Historical Fantasy!!! (I LOVE this trend!) And Blackbeard. That's a no-brainer, people.

Assassin's Heart by Sarah Ahiers. It's like Romeo and Juliet. With Assassins.

The Beautiful Pretender by Melanie Dickerson. She writes sweet, clean fairy tale retellings, and I always get caught up in them!

That's what I'm looking forward to in 2016! Are you excited for any of these titles? What are you looking forward to in 2016? Aaand, what's your favorite book cover from the above?