Bookworm Quirks: Books I Want to Read, but Do Not Want to Write

Books I Want to Read But Do Not Want to Write

There are several versions of quotes with the same message: If you can’t find the book you want to read, go write it.

And all around the world, there are resounding cries of “But I don’t wanna!” from readers that don’t like to write, aren’t good at it, or have no idea where to start.

Here are the books I would love to read but don’t want to write for a variety of reasons.

More Diverse Books

As a straight white blonde, it’s pretty easy for me to relate to 90% of YA protagonists, especially in the contemporary romance genre. But even I’m getting sick a bajillion ‘me’s! Give me more skin tones, shapes, sizes, orientations, lifestyles, interests, hobbies, dreams, strengths, weaknesses, plot lines! We aren’t all the same, so why do so many books tell the story of the same five girls? I don’t feel like it’s my place to write these stories, to use these voices for myself, so PLEASE tell me about your favorite diverse authors so I can support them and their voices!

Pirates Please!

Will I ever get sick of pirate stories? No. Never. But that is so much research and any research-heavy material scares me (I really hate feeling dumb and wrong, y’all.) so I shy away. I might get the courage to write a pirate book one day, but who knows? Certainly not me.

Mermaids!!

Same goes for mermaids! While there’s less reSEArch (get it?! Sea! Mermaids!) and more world-building, the same fears apply. Send me fun mermaid recs!

Books with Fun Hobbies

My favorites in the category are The Language of Flowers and A Vintage Affair. Any book that makes me want to learn more about an interest of the character’s is probably going to be a favorite. Give me the party planners, the florists, the photographers, the fashion designers, the actors, everything! Every creative endeavor. Just hook a girl up.

Sound off in the comments: What books do you want to read but not write? Do we have any in common? Do you have any recommendations to fill these voids on my shelf? Let me know!

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Book Review: Keeping the Moon by Sarah Dessen

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Synopsis: Colie expects the worst when she’s sent to spend the summer with her eccentric aunt Mira while her mother, queen of the television infomercial, tours Europe. Always an outcast — first for being fat and then for being “easy” — Colie has no friends at home and doesn’t expect to find any in Colby, North Carolina.

But then she lands a job at the Last Chance Cafe and meets fellow waitresses Morgan and Isabel, best friends with a loving yet volatile relationship. Wacky yet wise, Morgan and Isabel help Colie see herself in a new way and realize the potential that has been there all along.

Why I Chose This Book: This follows my tradition of reading clearance Sarah Dessen books while waiting for Half-Price to tally up my book offer. It also follows the tradition of getting me so caught up that I use some of the money they offer me to buy it.

First Impressions: At first, I didn’t love the cover. It’s generic, fits any early 2000’s summer romance book. But the sunglasses, svelte body, and flower all tie into the story, so I’m not mad about it. Just wish it could have been done in a more deliberate way?

What I Liked: This book is so relatable. Most girls struggle with loving their bodies/fitness/weight/self-image. It’s so empowering, it has amazing friendships, different kinds of love, there’s tons of art and music involved. I just love so much about it! Kiki wasn’t the stereotypical absent mom, and truly cared for her daughter. Also, there are some gorgeous quotes that pull on a subtle recurring theme of universes, and how everyone has a different view of the world. Mira and Norman had me heart-eyeing at them the whole time. And there’s a bad-for-you love subplot that I totally understood and hated that it was so relatable! But it was accurate and true.

There’s also a character that says mean, snide things and is just such a mean girl. And this book had a lesson that was all too true: (MINOR SPOILER ALERT)

 

 

 

 

 

We don’t always get to tell off our Bea’s. And that’s something we have to find peace with.

 

 

 

 

SPOILER OVER

What I Didn’t Like: How short it was! I always want more from Dessen. Also, I hated Mark and Bea!!!

Ratings and Recommendations: Fans of summer romance, YA, coming-of-age stories, feminist messages that don’t hit you over the head with it

2. Loved It

Final Thoughts: Loved it! It made me cry a couple of times. I can’t wait for my next Dessen book!!

Sound off in the comments: What did you think of this book? What’s your favorite Sarah Dessen book? Did you relate to Keeping the Moon? Let me know!

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Book Review: Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson

Tiger Lily

Synopsis: Before Peter Pan belonged to Wendy, he belonged to the girl with the crow feather in her hair…

Fifteen-year-old Tiger Lily doesn’t believe in love stories or happy endings. Then she meets the alluring teenage Peter Pan in the forbidden woods of Neverland and immediately falls under his spell.

Peter is unlike anyone she’s ever known. Impetuous and brave, he both scares and enthralls her. As the leader of the Lost Boys, the most fearsome of Neverland’s inhabitants, Peter is an unthinkable match for Tiger Lily. Soon, she is risking everything—her family, her future—to be with him. When she is faced with marriage to a terrible man in her own tribe, she must choose between the life she’s always known and running away to an uncertain future with Peter.

With enemies threatening to tear them apart, the lovers seem doomed. But it’s the arrival of Wendy Darling, an English girl who’s everything Tiger Lily is not, that leads Tiger Lily to discover that the most dangerous enemies can live inside even the most loyal and loving heart.

First Impressions: I think this is a gorgeous cover. But Tiger Lily is not the girl in the beautiful dress. She is never that person, and not being that person is a huge part of who she actually is. And I think the cover designer really did a disservice to the book and character by not making a more honest cover.

Why I Chose This Book: My sister got me this book, knowing my love of retellings and Peter Pan. I will always be grateful to her for this. (Thanks, Sis!!)

What I Liked: SO MUCH. From the get go, this book is dedicated “For the girls with messy hair and thirsty hearts.” (Book hasn’t even started and the cover is already wrong, but whatever I’m not bitter.) This book is so gorgeously written, and it really keeps with the dark tone of the original work. Peter Pan has become so watered down in mainstream media, so I love seeing his portrayal in things like Tiger Lily and Once Upon a Time. He is so scary! And Anderson did a great job of staying true to that. Also, I’m not much of a Tink fan. Never have been. But this book is told from her perspective as she follows the characters around. And I love her!! She provides a more impartial view while still staying involved. I’ll include a few of the quotes I wrote down, but here’s one of the first things Tink says about Tiger Lily. “She was the most interesting girl I had ever seen, and I couldn’t resist staying near her to see what happened next.”

This book also covers some really intriguing commentary on current issues, such as the gender binary, murder, self-love, traditional gender roles. For example, Tiger Lily is cared for by Tik Tok, who “was born to be two genders…that’s the way he was made.” Smee kills those he admires most, and the more he admires, the more creative he gets. Tiger Lily struggles with loving herself so much, y’all. And it kills me. The whole tribe is pretty much against her because she doesn’t fit quite in. Here are a few quotes I wrote down just about that.

“…opinions by the dozen landed in each hollow track left by her feet.”

“Still, the longer I was around her, the more could see the colors of her mind and the recesses of her heart. There was a beast in there. But there was also a girl who was afraid of being a beast, and who wondered if other people had beasts in their hearts too. There was strength, and there was also just the determination to look strong. She guarded herself like a secret.”

“I’m not myself.” “You can never say that. You’re just a piece of yourself right now that you don’t like.” (Which I think is a crucial lesson for people to learn. You must address the aspects of your being to improve and be self-aware!)

“Everyone will think I’m ugly.” “That’s true. But we are a small village. We have narrow tastes. There’s no telling who else in the world would think you are beautiful.”

“Tiger Lily wanted to say it back. But she held on to the words greedily, too caught in the habit of keeping herself a secret. And Peter – half sadly, half expectantly – let her go.”

“I could never leave. Because I think people must be the same everywhere. Only these people are my bones.”

“She wasn’t sure what love was, but maybe she was supposed to bend.”

ISN’T IT SO BEAUTIFULLY WORDED, Y’ALL? I can’t handle it. I have so many pages of quotes from this book. Okay, fine, one more. But this one is about Peter.

“He never seemed to think over a decision, but merely plowed ahead, and somehow the earth always caught him in her soft hands. No one thought of doubting him.”

Also, the way Anderson included pieces of the original work brought so much happiness to my heart. Like the neverbird nest? I’m still swooning over how it was included. And if you know me, you know friendship love is my favorite kind. And we get a great BrOTP in Tiger Lily and Pine Sap!!

What I Didn’t Like: Not much, really. Oddly enough, I hated Wendy in this. And I am SUCH a Wendy, guys. Giant, the man TL is to marry, IS THE WORST. Ughhhhhh. But yeah, that’s all I don’t like. And they’re really just characters I didn’t like, not the actual book.

Ratings and Recommendations: For fans of Peter Pan, Once Upon a Time. For girls that don’t quite fit into what society expects them to be.

1. New Favorite Alert

Final Thoughts: This book is a love letter to girls that don’t fit in and refuse to change just to do so. I can’t wait to give this book to my kids.

Sound off in the comments: Have you read this book? What did you think of it? Did you love it as much as I did? What’s your favorite retelling/alternate perspective book? Let me know!

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Bookworm Quirks: Books are Confusing, or, Why I Need a Book Club All the Time

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For one semester in college, I was in a book club. It was new, and I was transferring. It was one of the best book experiences in my life. We only read two or three books, but I realized I knew so much more about books than I had thought. When people were there to discuss aspects of a novel, there were theories and concepts in my mind just waiting to come out. And I understood the books I read so clearly.

Recently, I’ve been reading or rereading a lot of books that I really want to discuss with a group. From the super diverse If You Could Be Mine to the slow moving but intense The Miniaturist, I’ve been trying to figure out how I feel about books by just reading and writing reviews. But it’s hard, y’all! There’s less back and forth, more waiting. And it was so nice to see ‘Book Club!’ in my planner.

On the other hand, I’m a speed reader. And waiting on others to finish a book just makes me feel sluggish. Or I’m in a reading slump and haven’t touched a book in over a month. So it’s struggle either way, I suppose. But who wouldn’t prefer to struggle with a group of like-minded bookworms rather than alone?

What do you think about book clubs? What books have you read recently that you needed to discuss? Sound off in the comments!

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Bookworm Quirks: Crying Over Spilled Ink, or, How Books Emotionally Manipulate Me

Crying Over Spilled Ink

Many bookworms know the struggle of ‘the feels’, when a book makes you feel a lot of emotions, typically unhappy ones. Being a Highly Sensitive Person, I’m very subjective to emotional manipulation. So being a reader is a tough gig.

Some books are about tragic things, such as The Fault in Our Stars. Others hit me in ways they shouldn’t, like Off the Page and Between the Lines by Jodi Picoult and Samantha Van Leer. Others have intense scenes that have gorgeous wording or imagery, as seen in Just Listen and Keeping the Moon by Sarah Dessen.

In TFiOS, characters meet because of their poor health. From page one, we know this can only end in tears. In my case, when I read it in one sitting in the back of a car on a road trip, I had nine separate sobbing sessions. It hurt. You know in Shakespeare in Love, how Shakespeare wrote Romeo and Juliet to prove love could be portrayed on the stage? It felt like John Green wrote TFiOS to prove it would be accurately written. While Green is known for writing pretentious teenagers, these felt real. Like I could have known them from school or seen them at the movies. And that makes the ending hit so much harder. Anyone can get sick. Even people you know.

Have you ever seen that tumblr post that begs someone to write a novel where the main character falls in love with the reader? It’s already happened. Jodi Picoult teamed up with her daughter, Samantha Van Leer to create a duology about a prince stuck in a fairy tale and the reader who wants to help him escape. The second book deals with the falling out of their efforts. I don’t want to spoil anything, but it hit me so hard. I’m in a long distance relationship in which we only get to see each other once or twice a year. I was reading these books near the end of a visit to see him, and many of the feelings I was struggling with were reflected in the novel. I was crying and sobbing while he held me close, begging me to stop reading if I was so upset. But if I read it when he wasn’t there, who would comfort me? I still haven’t been able to reread the books since, even though they are among my all time favorites.

Sarah Dessen is the QUEEN of YA romance. She creates characters that feel real but don’t seem ordinary. And in Keeping the Moon, she tore at issues I’ve long fought with. Colie was a bigger girl that was laughed at, made fun of, and bullied terribly. She lost weight when her mom became a fitness guru, but still felt like that girl everyone was judging. I felt like Sarah Dessen was writing about me, but the sad reality is that many girls feel this way. In Just Listen, the main character has to get past her assumptions and judgements to find where her life is taking her after a huge life change. She feels like her world is ending, but in the grand scheme of things, they aren’t. I am so bad at that! Every tiny setback sends me spiraling, and I also have to learn the importance of this quote: “Don’t think, don’t judge. Just listen.”

All of these books broke and fixed and broke my heart. Among SO MANY MORE. So tell me: what books did you cry over? Why? Did you have similar reactions to these books? Sound off in the comments!

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Book Review: Conversion by Katherine Howe

Conversion

Synopsis: It’s senior year at St. Joan’s Academy, and school is a pressure cooker. College applications, the battle for valedictorian, deciphering boys’ texts: Through it all, Colleen Rowley and her friends are expected to keep it together. Until they can’t.

First it’s the school’s queen bee, Clara Rutherford, who suddenly falls into uncontrollable tics in the middle of class. Her mystery illness quickly spreads to her closest clique of friends, then more students and symptoms follow: seizures, hair loss, violent coughing fits. St. Joan’s buzzes with rumor; rumor blossoms into full-blown panic.

Soon the media descends on Danvers, Massachusetts, as everyone scrambles to find something, or someone, to blame. Pollution? Stress? Or are the girls faking? Only Colleen—who’s been reading The Crucible for extra credit—comes to realize what nobody else has: Danvers was once Salem Village, where another group of girls suffered from a similarly bizarre epidemic three centuries ago . . .

Inspired by true events—from seventeenth-century colonial life to the halls of a modern-day high school—Conversion casts a spell. With her signature wit and passion, New York Times bestselling author Katherine Howe delivers an exciting and suspenseful novel, a chilling mystery that raises the question, what’s really happening to the girls at St. Joan’s?

Why I Chose This Book: 

First Impression: Intriguing cover. What does the yellow bird mean? The thorny branch  gave off a feeling of danger and mystery without being too cliche. I really liked this cover.

What I Liked: I’d never heard of the confession that came years after the Salem Witch Trials and revealed everything to be a prank. It was very interesting to read. I also didn’t know about the Mystery Illness of 2012, so this book showed brand new history to me, both older and recent. I liked that we didn’t get a straight answer at the end. It felt very real.

What I Didn’t Like: The two narratives didn’t mesh well to me. I think the stories would have been better as two separate novels or maybe if it had been written by someone more YA-oriented? It could have been 100 pages shorter and had a much stronger impact instead of dragging on. There’s a taboo relationship that almost felt condoned by the author/plot. Colleen felt like someone trying too hard to be a teenager.

Ratings and Recommendations: I honestly don’t know? I’m still trying to figure out how I feel.

6. Not Sure How To Feel

Final Thoughts:  I really needed to read this with a book club so I had a group of people to help me figure out what I thought of it. I went back and forth on so many aspects, that I don’t know how many stars to give or who should read it or anything. I’m very conflicted with this book.

Sound off in the comments: Have you read this book? What did you think? Let me know!

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Book Review: Brazen by Katherine Longshore

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Synopsis: Mary Howard has always lived in the shadow of her powerful family. But when she’s married off to Henry Fitzroy, King Henry VIII’s illegitimate son, she rockets into the Tudor court’s inner circle. Mary and “Fitz” join a tight clique of rebels who test the boundaries of court’s strict rules with their games, dares, and flirtations. The more Mary gets to know Fitz, the harder she falls for him, but is forbidden from seeing him alone. The rules of court were made to be pushed…but pushing them too far means certain death. Is true love worth dying for?

Why I Chose This Book: I got this book as a prize for beating my sister at the 2015 PopSugar Reading Challenge last year. Being obsessed with historical fiction, specifically anything set in Henry VIII’s court, I have had this on my radar since it started getting publicity. As soon as it was in my hands, I started devouring it.

First Impression: My one disappointment with this GORGEOUS cover is that the jewel under the z is off center. This was so distracting!!! It drove me so crazy that I just took the dust cover off and left it on the shelf.

What I Liked: I loved that Anne Boleyn was such a large part of this book! She’s my favorite historical figure and I love seeing her from different perspectives because so much of her life is uncertain. Fitz was so sweet and I really grew to love Mary. Her poetry is gorgeous. She has a love of words that many bookworms will super relate to: “I flinch a little at the word. [Concubine]’s not as bad as whore. The round u and long i make it taste almost fruity. But the hard c’s are like seeds, puckering the mouth.” There’s so much of this almost tasting of words, and it’s such a gorgeous way of connecting to Mary.

There are many quotes I wrote down in my notes just so I could share them.

“There are some people who make an impact as soon as you meet them. Lodge themselves in your mind. Embed themselves in your very soul. Anne Boleyn is one of those people.”

“Power undetected is not the same as powerless.”

“‘What does love feel like, your majesty?'”
“‘It’s like music only plays when you’re together. Like the very air tastes of strawberries. And like one touch-one look-could send you whirling like a seed on the wind.'”

“‘And when he looks at her- have you seen it?'”
“‘It’s like his gaze is a nod. As if he agrees not only with everything she says but with everything she is.'”

SO BEAUTIFUL, AM I RIGHT?!

Another very cool thing in this book is that it describes how the Devonshire Manuscript came to exist. The semester after I read this, we actually studied the Manuscript in class and it was so amazing to see history and fiction combine. I highly recommend looking into the Devonshire Manuscript whether you read this book or not.

What I Didn’t Like: In the first few pages, Mary spends a whole paragraph describing her surroundings, and ends it with “My eyes never left him.” Sure, Mary. You just have all-encompassing peripheral vision. I had to put down the book for a little bit after that, but thankfully it got much better. It really took my breath away, and I grabbed Tarnish (Longshore’s book from Anne Boleyn’s perspective) as soon as I could afford it.

Ratings and Recommendations: Good for anyone that loves historical fiction, Henry VIII, Tudor court, or seeing history through the eyes of a young girl and her friends.

2. Loved It

Final Thoughts: I’m really excited to read more of Longshore’s work and see how she uses real events to bring history to life.

Sound off in the comments: Have you read this book? What did you think? What’s your favorite setting for historical fiction? Let me know!

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