My Top Ten Auto-Buy Authors

top ten tuesday

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

  1. Libba Bray
    • I LOVE Libba Bray. Everything she writes is incredible, diverse, and captivating. At this point, I don’t even read descriptions of her books before I buy them; I trust that I’ll love whatever story she decided to write this time.
  2. Patrick Ness
    • I have yet to read a Patrick Ness book that didn’t amaze me. His understanding of human emotions and motivations is incredible, and the stories he creates are gripping and insightful.
  3. Megan Whalen Turner
    • Her Queen’s Thief series is my favorite series EVER. I can’t count how many times I’ve reread those four books. If she ever published the rest of the series, I would shove people out of the way to buy it first. She has promised two more books to the series, but the fifth book has a practically blank Goodreads page. The fangirl angst is real.
  4. Brandon Sanderson
    • Okay, so I haven’t read (or bought) everything that Brandon Sanderson has written. But I plan to. And when he publishes new books for the series of his that I have read, I will (of course) buy them. Very. Quickly. Because he is freaking talented.
  5. Maggie Stiefvater
    • Like Sanderson, I haven’t read everything that she has written. Once I knew I loved her writing, I tried to read her first series (the Shiver one), but it didn’t grab me at all. However, all of her new books are amazing, and I will buy anything she publishes (once again, probably without looking at the plot at all).
  6. Elizabeth Wein
    • Code Name Verity goes down as the best historical fiction I’ve ever read, and the most emotionally destructive book I’ve ever sobbed my way through. I haven’t read her other two books, but I own them, and I will read them, the next time I need a good cry.
  7. Ally Carter
    • OMG I actually own every (YA) book that she has written. A literal auto-buy author, and I love all of her books. They are comfort food in the form of books, and I have read her Gallagher Girls series at least four times (and the earlier books at least 6 or 7 times).
  8. Stephanie Perkins
    • I loved her Anna/Lola/Isla series, and if she publishes any other novels, I would pick them up, no question. Her contemporary style is magical.
  9. Naomi Novik
    • I’ve fangirled over Uprooted a lot on this blog (the awestruck review here). I haven’t read her Temeraire series yet, but I own half of it (my sister is reading it currently).
  10. Kristen Cashore
    • Kristen Cashore writes strong female characters like no one else. Her fantasy stories have complex plots, breathtaking romance, and powerful characters. I love her books so much, and I can’t wait for more books in the Graceling/Bitterblue/Fire series to come out.

Who are your auto-buy authors? Have you read any of these author’s books? 

Happy Tuesday!

Book Review: The Evolution of Mara Dyer (Mara Dyer #2) by Michelle Hodkins

After the addictive story in book one, this installment of the Mara Dyer trilogy left me wishing for more. It was undeniably creepy…but little else.

3/5 stars

cover the evolution of mara dyer

My spoiler-free review of the first Mara Dyer book can be found here

Amazon Description

Mara Dyer once believed she could run from her past.

She can’t.

She used to think her problems were all in her head.

They aren’t.

She couldn’t imagine that after everything she’s been through, the boy she loves would still be keeping secrets.

She’s wrong.

In this gripping sequel to The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, the truth evolves and choices prove deadly. What will become of Mara Dyer next?

My Review

Once again, the main thing I can say about the Mara Dyer books is that they are dark and creepy. Jude stalking Mara was genuinely scary. It was written well, giving the reader the feeling of being crept up on and spied on. This book will make the skin between your shoulder blades tingle. I read part of this book at home alone and it scared the crap out of me, not gonna lie.

The catch 22 Mara faced–she can’t get anyone to believe about Jude because talking about it only makes her look crazier–was frustrating and gripping. I empathized with the impossible situation Mara was in, and I forgave her for actions that I would usually see as stupidly reckless from a different character. Mara is a survivor, and I respected her character for her emphatic determination to fight and stay out of mental hospitals. It broke my heart when the people around her started to doubt her. The story was written in such an “in your face” way that I couldn’t help but feel for Mara; we were trapped in the story together.

Unfortunately, the main selling point of book one–Noah–became annoying in book two. Noah was obviously keeping secrets, putting unnecessary stress on Mara by making her worry about their relationship. While he was my favorite character in the first book, I just wanted him to go away in this book. Mara could handle herself, and Noah was just serving to present drama that the story didn’t need.

Without the veil of Noah’s swoon-worthiness, the romance between the two of them was reduced to stereotypical Instalove. While I expected their relationship to develop and deepen in the second book, it ended up stagnating, stuck on reiterating the fact that Noah loved Mara more than anything and that he would do anything to keep her safe. I still didn’t understand why Noah was willing to throw his life away for Mara. When their relationship refused to have any depth, I started to give up on the romantic subplot. It was a good thing that the book was so scary, because otherwise, it would have absolutely nothing going for it.

The Evolution of Mara Dyer has one major plot problem: nothing happens. There was no clear plot arc or sense of cause-and-effect. Looking back on the plot, there were no stand-out scenes or sense of rising action. The book lacked forward momentum and honestly could have been half as long. There continues to be nothing about the Mara Dyer trilogy that sets it apart from the rest of the paranormal pack–and there was a reason I stopped reading the paranormal genre.

The Evolution of Mara Dyer can boast of an addictive plot and a haunting darkness. It kept me reading, and I want to know what happens next. The ending of book two was just surprising enough that I need answers, and I want Mara’s character to get a happy ending. Despite my complaints, I want to find out what happens in the last book.

Book Review: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer (Mara Dyer #1) by Michelle Hodkin

This book was a powerful and creepy read that fits perfectly into the YA paranormal genre.

3/5 stars

cover the unbecoming of mara dyer

Amazon Description

Mara Dyer doesn’t think life can get any stranger than waking up in a hospital with no memory of how she got there.
It can.
She believes there must be more to the accident she can’t remember that killed her friends and left her mysteriously unharmed.
There is.
She doesn’t believe that after everything she’s been through, she can fall in love.
She’s wrong.
After Mara survives the traumatizing accident at the old asylum, it makes sense that she has issues. She lost her best friend, her boyfriend, and her boyfriend’s sister, and as if that weren’t enough to cope with, her family moves to a new state in order to give her a fresh start. But that fresh start is quickly filled with hallucinations—or are they premonitions?—and then corpses, and the boundary between reality and nightmare is wavering. At school, there’s Noah, a devastatingly handsome charmer who seems determined to help Mara piece together what’s real, what’s imagined—and what’s very, very dangerous.
This fast-paced psychological—or is it paranormal?—thriller will leave you breathless for its sequel,The Evolution of Mara Dyer.

My Review

I used to be really into YA paranormal books, but I fell out of that phase a few years ago, and since then, I’ve been more focused on fantasy and contemporary stories. I’d always seen the series in bookstores but I’d never bought it, so when I received it as a gift, I decided I could return to the paranormal genre for a little while.

Mara was a good protagonist. I clearly understood her personality and I enjoyed her voice. The PTSD she faced affected her severely, but her character had other facets as well. While I usually don’t like PTSD-dominated stories, the hallucinations and other inexplicable oddities that occurred around Mara were so creepy and thrilling that I actually loved them. After the mysterious trauma that pushed her family to move to Florida, it was obvious that Mara was damaged, but there was always the question of where the mental illness ended and the truly supernatural weirdness began. I couldn’t stop reading; I had to know what was in her mind and how the rest of it could be explained. (But more on that later.)

Like most paranormal stories, the romance is a driving force of the plot. Noah was a great character–hot, mysterious, supportive, flirty. From the first scene with him, I knew that he was going to be a strong love interest; scenes with him were easily my favorite scenes in the story.

However, his relationship with Mara had a heavy dose of Instalove. Noah went from being this bad boy (and I honestly believed him to be the player that everyone said he was) to the ultimate caring and compassionate boyfriend for Mara. He made sweeping declarations of love and stood by Mara even as corpses appeared around her. I understood why Mara loved him and needed him in her life–he helped her heal, he believed in her, he added normalcy to her life–but I didn’t understand why Noah suddenly dropped everything for this girl. (Even the explanation given later in the book–spoilers–didn’t satisfy me.)

The romance was swoon-worthy and addictive, but if you are looking for a developed or complex relationship, this book does not deliver. Noah was a great character to read about, but the mechanics of why he was even part of the story (before certain things are revealed) are vague and unrealistic.

Like the romantic subplot, the plot of this book is fast-paced and gripping. The plot grabbed me from the early chapters and didn’t let me go; I had trouble falling asleep because I couldn’t stop thinking about what was going to happen next. The battle between insanity and paranormalcy was dark and haunting, and I genuinely had moments where I wondered if Mara was insane.

Unfortunately, this became a problem. The paranormal elements were revealed too late in the story, leaving the plot arc feeling unbalanced for me. The “is she crazy” aspects could have been toned down more to allow the paranormal side of the story (which was remarkably interesting) to stand out more. As it was, the story ended with me unsure of what Mara’s paranormal skills actually were. I love understanding the mechanics of a book’s magics, and this book left me unsatisfied and confused.

Overall, The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer is a solid paranormal story. It doesn’t have any plot elements that set it apart from other books the (in my opnion) “meh” genre. If you love insanity/paranormal stories, then this book is a must-read. I will definitely finish the series, but I don’t expect the later books to be anything other than creepy stories dominated by romance.

Summer Wrap Up

School is back.

dt crying

Hello, junior year of high school.

Goodbye, amazing summer.

I don’t hate school or anything–once I get into it, I actually enjoy it–but the sudden switch from laziness to forced productivity is a lot to handle. Acclimating to new teachers and new classes is also hard in the beginning, and I’m ready for everything to settle into the usual rhythm.

But less about school, more about summer. I set myself eight goals at the beginning of summer, and I met almost all of them. Here’s a look back at what I accomplished.

1. WRITE

I totally succeeded at this one. I added 30,500 words to my WIP over the course of nine weeks, bringing my total up to 83,800 words. I have to say, this is better than I ever expected from myself. I’m getting close to the end of my second draft, and I have everything left that I need to write plotted out. I am so ready to write THE END on the last page.

I didn’t write short stories, but that’s okay. I wrote a few poems, some of which I shared here.

Most of all, I’m proud that I kept writing, and that I wrote scenes that I actually enjoy. Of everything that I added this summer, I like most of it, and my self doubt has decreased from “crippling” to “mild.”

2. Read 20 books

I read 21!!! YAAAAY.

  • The Perilous Sea by Sherry Thomas
  • Firefight (Reckoners #2) by Brandon Sanderson
  • The Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler
  • P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han
  • The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer (Mara Dyer #1) by Michelle Hodkin
  • The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh
  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
  • Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder
  • The Evolution of Mara Dyer (Mara Dyer #2) by Michelle Hodkin
  • The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
  • The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich
  • Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho
  • Aces Up by Lauren Barnholdt
  • The Thief (Queen’s Thief #1) by Megan Whalen Turner
  • The Queen of Attolia (Queen’s Thief #1) by Megan Whalen Turner
  • The King of Attolia (Queen’s Thief #1) by Megan Whalen Turner
  • A Conspiracy of Kings (Queen’s Thief #1) by Megan Whalen Turner
  • When Lightning Strikes (1-800-WHERE-ARE-YOU #1) by Meg Cabot
  • Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

My favorite new read: The Summer of Chasing Mermaids

cover the summer of chasing mermaids

Most surprising read: The Picture of Dorian Gray

cover the picture of dorian gray

Favorite reread: The King of Attolia (no competition, since it’s my favorite book ever)

cover king of attolia

3. Keep blogging (at least three posts a week)

Yep, did this one too. I had a total of 37 posts! I can’t say much more on this one, besides that I maintained my goal of writing (in numerous different forms) and that summer laziness never took over.

4. Spend time with friends

CHECK. I hung out with friends a lot, more than I expected I would. Lots of trips to Coffee Bean, lots of lunch hang-outs, lots of good times were had.

5. Catch up on TV shows

I sort of succeeded? I caught up on Doctor Who (season 8), but I didn’t watch the most recent season of Once Upon a Time. On Netflix, I finished up How I Met Your Mother (the ending was whatever…I cried but felt like the last season was completely unnecessary for that pre-planned ending), and started watching White Collar. I’m a few seasons in, and while it isn’t amazingly well written or intense, it is fun to watch.

6. Learn ballet

Well, I had to do this one. I had a ballet summer school class for PE credit, and it was a great experience. I remain loyal to my first love, fencing, but I can definitely see myself taking another class if It fit in my schedule.

7. Finally get my drivers permit

WHOOPS. Nope. That didn’t happen. SSSHHHH

8. Enjoy myself

SUCCESS. I had a really great summer. Lots of new experiences, lots of fun times with friends, lots of relaxation.

Also, my sister made us both amazing steampunk fairy costumes for San Diego Comic Con. Check out her blog here!

sdcc pic 2

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How was your summer? Did you accomplish your goals?

Top Ten Authors I’ve Read the Most Books From

top ten tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. Every week, they post a new Top Ten topic and other bloggers respond with their own lists. I take part in this meme when I have something to say for the topic and I remember what day it is.

This topic is strange for me because I reread my favorite books so often. It feels like I’ve read dozens of book by my favorite authors, but most of the only have a few books that I’ve read three or four times each. For this topic, I’m only counting the first time I’ve read a book, so these authors don’t necessarily match my favorite authors, just the ones I’ve read the most books from.

  1. Janet Evanovich — 16 (ish) books

The Stephanie Plum series started off great and should have ended before it went off the rails. It was humorous and fast-paced and above all, fun, but every book was the same. Evanovich’s formula for creating best-selling action novels works, but after sixteen of the same story, I got tired of the repetition. It also bothered me that the romance never went anywhere; it was one step forward, two steps backward, and I wanted Stephanie to get over herself already.

2. Meg Cabot — 11 books

I’ve read All-American Girl, When Lightning Strikes, all six Mediator books, and all three Abandon books. The Abandon trilogy was definitely my favorite, but everything Cabot writes is fun to read.

3. Ally Carter — 10.5 books

I love Ally Carter so much. Seriously, she’s my comfort food of books. The Gallagher Girls series got me hooked on her ridiculous stories, and her Heist Society series sealed the deal. The novella that brings both series together (Double Crossed) was PERFECT. Her newest book, All Fall Down, wasn’t as good as her other books, but I’m always up for another Ally Carter book.

4. P.C and Kristen Cass — 8 (ish) books

The House of Night series started off strong. I loved the unique paranormal world and the eccentric cast of characters. The series started to unravel as it went on, and in my opinion it should have ended around book six. I say I read 8-ish books, because I don’t actually remember how far I got into the series before I quit.

5. Micheal Buckley — 8 books

At the end of my time reading middle grade books, I picked up one of the last great MG series I would ever read (at least so far): The Sister’s Grimm series. I loved the magic of the series and the complex plots that didn’t act like children were too young for creepy stories. My little sister is reading them now, and I’m glad that it seems like she’s enjoying them as much as I did when I was her age.

6. Libba Bray — 6 books

Libba. Freaking. Bray. She’s incredibly diverse–with the stories she tells and the characters in those stories. I’ve read her Gemma Doyle trilogy (my favorite), Beauty Queens (my other favorite), Going Bovine (my least favorite), and The Diviners.

7. Brandon Sanderson — 6 books

I’ve fangirled about Sanderson so much on this blog that is goes without saying that he is on this list. He’s amazing. The Mistborn trilogy, both Reckoners books (Steelheart and Firefight), and the Mistborn companion, The Alloy of Law–all of them were amazing. I want more time in every world that Sanderson creates, more conversations with the characters he paints.

8. Richelle Mead — 6 books

I loved the Vampire Academy series. Six books long, it had a powerful and captivating plot, with swoon-worthy romance and complex world-building.

9. Patrick Ness — 5 books

I love everything I’ve read by Patrick Ness: the Chaos Walking trilogy, A Monster Calls, and More Than This. His story-telling abilities are unparalleled. Chaos Walking is my favorite story of his.

10. CC Hunter — 5 books

I read the Shadow Falls series a while ago, and I enjoyed the playful paranormal plots. I haven’t read the spinoff series, but I might pick it up if I was ever in the mood for good old-fashioned paranormal romance.


What authors have you read the most? Do we share any most-read writers? What other books by these authors should I read?

Book Review: The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

Wow. This book pulls no punches. I don’t know how Stephen Chbosky crammed so much emotion into such a short novel.

5/5 stars

cover the perks of being a wallflower

Amazon Description

The critically acclaimed debut novel from Stephen Chbosky, Perks follows observant “wallflower” Charlie as he charts a course through the strange world between adolescence and adulthood. First dates, family drama, and new friends. Sex, drugs, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Devastating loss, young love, and life on the fringes. Caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it, Charlie must learn to navigate those wild and poignant roller-coaster days known as growing up.

My Review

I definitely did not know what I was getting into with this book. I did not expect it to be so powerful.

Charlie was such a unique protagonist. Younger and shier than YA protagonists usually are, Charlie was undoubtably a wallflower, and I loved him for it. He started off the book innocent and naive, and it was painful to watch him lose his training wheels so quickly, and to realize that they’d never really been on. I liked that Chbosky wrote a character that was willing to cry (a lot), who felt emotions deeply, who cared about the injustices that his eyes were opened to. He wasn’t the perfect person–far from it–but he was the perfect protagonist for this story. Charlie was the type of character I couldn’t help but empathize with; I wanted to protect him, but at the same time, I wanted him to learn to stand on his own two feet.

The only part of Charlie that I didn’t love was his voice. Told as a series of letters, the book is at the mercy of Charlie’s youthful and inelegant writing style. While Chbosky was able to capture Charlie’s personality extremely well with this voice, it made actually reading the book somewhat annoying. I’m conflicted about this, because I want to reward skillful writing, but in this case, the skill resulted in the feeling of bad writing…AHH who knows. I still loved the book.

The other characters in this book were complex and realistic. I liked what each of them added to the story and how clearly you could see their influence reflected in Charlie’s personality. I wish that I’d read more of the books that Charlie and his teacher talked about, because I felt like I was missing subtle parts of the story.

The plot of this book is simple: Charlie trying to survive his freshman year of high school. He makes new friends, and has experiences with drugs, sex, and other hallmarks of high school. The plot provides an elegant structure for the real meat of the story: social commentary and discussions. This is the part of the book that really hits home. I was left thinking about the issues this book discussed for days after I finished it, unable to let go of the story. This book touches on so many issues our society faces today–LGBT rights, rape culture, abuse–and it talks about them with a powerfully plainspoken voice. The tone never feels judgemental or preachy. As an eyeopener, this book excels.

The ending of this book shocked me. I hadn’t seen it coming, though I’m sure if I reread it I will pick up subtle clues. It fit nicely with the rest of the book, avoiding the pitfall that so many twist endings make: straying so far from the rest of the book that it feels disconnected.

I have one major problem with the book, and that is that Charlie actually sent the letters. Can you imagine receiving these letters, days apart, not knowing who the boy who was pouring his soul out to you was? Charlie is seriously depressed at points in this book, and it honestly struck me as unfair and mean for him to put his problems on someone else without giving that person a chance to help. It might just be me and things I’ve gone through myself, but if someone had sent these letters to me, it would have destroyed me.

I just wish that that part of the plot had been addressed. I had convinced myself that the prologue would be a response from the guy, and when it wasn’t, I felt like a massive part of the story was ignored.

(Did anyone else have this problem? Please comment so we can discuss!)

I would recommend this book to anyone who is willing to have their emotions put through a rollercoaster ride for the sake of a powerful discussion of societal issues. This book is not an easy read. Even though it is short, it was an emotionally heavy read. I’m glad I finally read this book, and if you haven’t I would strongly encourage you to read it, even if it is outside of the genres you usually read.

 

The Fandom Book Tag!!!

fandom tag image

I found this tag over at the Fangirl Fastionista and I knew I had to take part. She just created this tag to combine two of her favorite things: fandoms and books. In her original post, she has a slew of fandoms matched with book themes, but I’m only including fandoms that I’m a part of, or that I have a book that perfectly matches the tagline she created.


Fandoms I’m In

Doctor Who: a book with a mostly blue cover — Across a Star-Swept Sea by Diana Peterfreund

cover across a star swept sea

I’m always talking about this book, but I can’t get over the adorable love story, the whimsical dystopian setting, and its commentary on the role of civilization in modern life.

Sherlock: A book featuring a a psychopath/sociopath — Bitterblue (Graceling #2, or #3, depending on Fire) by Kristen Cashore

cover bitterblue

Though Leck plays a part in all three of the Graceling books, Bitterblue gives the reader an in-depth look at the monster that is King Leck. My skin was crawling the entire time I was reading it, and I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to reread it, despite the amazing story it contains.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: a book featuring a bad ass heroine

HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO CHOOSE?

Vin from the Mistborn trilogy by Brandon Sanderson

Vin is once described as a combination of a noble woman and a cat, and it is so true. She is the ultimate bad ass character who stays in the shadows but can fight with the best of them. In the spirit of Buffy, Vin’s Mistborn abilities give her a supernatural edge and make her fight scenes all the more dramatic.

Once Upon a Time: a book inspired by fairytales — Uprooted by Naomi Novik

cover uprooted

Though it isn’t exactly a fairy tale retelling, Uprooted is inspired by the Grimm fairy tales, and there is a definite mood of bedtime stories that have been turned on their heads. Dark and thrilling, this book takes a fairy tale setting and throws out happily ever after.

Harry Potter: a book featuring magic — Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

cover night circus

I haven’t talked about this book in a while, but the breathtakingly beautiful magic in Night Circus reminds me of an adult Harry Potter. I loved the romance that wove its way through this book, and the writing was simply gorgeous. If you haven’t read this book–go get it and read it!


Other Fandoms

Supernatural: a book where the main character comes back to life — The Revenants series by Amy Plum

These are some of my favorite paranormal books. I haven’t reread them in a while because they are on my never-used Kindle, but I remember falling head-over-heels for the romantic and dark story of people whose job it is to die themselves to save other people’s lives.

Game of Thrones: a book featuring dragons — Dragon’s Keep by Janet Lee Carey

cover dragons keep

This was one of my favorite books when I was a preteen. The classic boy raised by wolves story twisted so that a girl ends up living with dragons on a secluded island. A beautiful story that made me cry my eyes out.

Star Trek: a book featuring aliens or takes place in space — Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

cover enders game

I read this book in sixth grade because my English teacher recommended it–and loved it. I haven’t reread it sense, but I keep meaning to go back and see if I love the sci-fi world as much as I did the first time. I bet I will.

Pretty Little Liars: a book in which people get blackmailed — Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

cover code name verity

You want to talk about having your heart ripped out and stomped on? This book does that. But it does it so well that you’ll just want to reread it the second you stop crying (which will probably be a few hours after you finish reading it). The confession of an English (sorry, Scottish) prisoner in Nazi-occupied France, this historical fiction is one of the most powerful stories I’ve ever read.


Fandoms I’m Adding

Because we can’t talk about fandoms without Firefly!

Merlin: a book or series that you wish had gone on longer — The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

cover scorpio races

I loved that this story was told so simply and well in stand-alone form, but I would die to get to spend more time on that crazy island with Puck and Sean–and the sky and the sand and the sea and Corr.

Firefly: a book that not many people know about, but that you LOVE — The Queen’s Thief series by Megan Whalen Turner

cover queens thief covers

I can’t fangirl about these books hard enough. These books are my life. They’ve got thieves and court intrigue and just enough magical elements–and the sweetest, most heartbreaking romance ever. Gen is my hero.


I want to thank Fangirlfashionista for coming up with this tag! For the rest of the fandom’s, you can check out the original post.

I tag:

Jess @ Princessia of Books

Cristina @ My Tiny Obsessions

Nicole @ Nymphadora Winterfell

And anyone else who wants to take part. Have fun!