Saturday, April 25, 2015

Stacking the Shelves: The B&N Gift Card Edition

"Stacking the Shelves" is a weekly haul meme that is hosted by Tynga's Reviews. It allows book buyers to share their accumulation of books with the online book-loving community.

Yeeesss… The books…

Unleashed by Sophie Jordan
Willowgrove by Kathleen Peacock
The Ruby Circle by Richelle Mead
Death Marked by Leah Cypess

I used my Christmas gift card money to buy all of these books from B&N so I didn’t technically break my ban. By the way, as soon as I finish Sever by Lauren DeStefano, my ban will be over! Woot! Woot!

What books have you bought/received lately?

Friday, April 24, 2015

Dean Winchester Friday

Dean Winchester (or sometimes Jensen Ackles) Fridays make me a very happy fangirl. You'll see why when you look at the picture.

NO! Dean! My poor baby!

FYI, this image is disturbing, and not just because Dean’s hurt. It just looks gross.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday: Cut Both Ways by Carrie Mesrobian

"Waiting On Wednesday" is a weekly event, hosted over at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases we're eagerly anticipating.

This week, what's really got my pages in a twist is...

Cut Both Ways
Publication Date: September 1, 2015
Hardcover, 304 pages, HarperCollins
Genres: YA, LBGT, Contemporary

Will Caynes never has been good with girls. At seventeen, he’s still waiting for his first kiss. He’s certainly not expecting it to happen in a drunken make-out session with his best friend, Angus. But it does and now Will’s conflicted—he knows he likes girls, but he didn’t exactly hate kissing a guy.

Then Will meets Brandy, a cute and easy-to-talk-to sophomore. He’s totally into her too—which proves, for sure, that he’s not gay. So why does he keep hooking up with Angus on the sly?

Will knows he can’t keep seeing both of them, but besides his new job in a diner, being with Brandy and Angus are the best parts of his whole messed-up life. His divorced parents just complicate everything. His father, after many half-baked business ventures and endless house renovations, has started drinking again. And his mom is no help—unless loading him up with a bunch of stuff he doesn’t need plus sticking him with his twin half-sisters counts as parenting. He’s been bouncing between both of them for years, and neither one feels like home.

Deciding who to love, who to choose, where to live. Whichever way Will goes, someone will get hurt. Himself, probably the most.

My Thoughts

I feel like there are a lot of good LGBT books coming out this year and I’m totally stoked to get my hands on them! What LGBT books are you looking forward to this year?

What book are you waiting for this Wednesday?

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

What Makes Your Adult Literature Better Than My Young Adult Literature: A Short Story by Me

Here's another piece I wrote for my Nonfiction Short Story class. This one is a public essay instead of a story. Tell me what you think! Please? And thank you?
What Makes Your Adult Literature Better Than My Young Adult Literature? 
The discussion started the same way most of these types of discussions do. “Twilight is absolutely ridiculous.” Of course, the moment I heard the word Twilight, I decided to remove my eyeballs from my phone screen and actually pay attention to what my classmates were talking about during the fifteen minutes we had before our Survey of English Literature II class began.

I should probably explain before I get started that I am a very adamant and devoted fan of young adult (YA) literature, despite having  turned 21 more than six months ago. I read and review books on my blog, Shell’s Stories. I follow every YA publishing group that I know of on Facebook, Twitter, and other various social media sites. And I own hundreds upon hundreds of YA books.

So when I heard another person criticizing a young adult book, with no apparent basis, except for its literary quality (And what exactly constitutes a book’s “literary-ness”? Who decides whether or not a book is literary?) for an argument about why it was so bad, I got a little mad. In fact, my reaction was to post the following statement to Facebook:

People are ripping on Twilight before my class starts. I find it funny that they sit and criticize the literary qualities of a young adult romance book. It's meant to entertain, not satisfy your desire for an intellectually stimulating read. Get over yourself and admit you loved it just as much as the rest of us did at first.

I’m sure I could have stated that a little better, but my feelings got the best of me. At the time, I was not brave enough to debate this issue—plus they were having what could have been construed as an MYOB conversation—so I simply listened and imagined rather spiteful things happening to the two girls who were holding this hate session.

It is not my comment about these young ladies that really inspired this paper, nor is it the girls’ conversation—I actually only remembered this conversation as I began writing this paper. It’s really what the other people said on the Facebook post, and just online in general, that really had me thinking.

“I love it all and am not ashamed to admit it! At first hated the movie too but just they grew on me. Loved the books. Now just watched the marathon on tv…enjoyed them! Very entertaining to me.” – my cousin

“Saw the movie first - hated it. Read the book - loved it. Loved the movies just to see it living on the screen. Now I can't even re-read the books because they really are bad, but guys put it down because they are jealous of fictional hotties and girls put it down to be cool. It's how you know who not to be friends with lol. The Twilight test.” – my older sister

Books like Twilight, The Hunger Games, and even the Harry Potter series have fans. Yet these fans have to make disclaimers about why they like the books, as you can see with the phrases like “not ashamed to admit it” and “guys put it down because they are jealous of fictional hotties and girls put it down to be cool.” According to Joel Stein’s May 2012 article “Adults Should Read Adult Books,” “The only thing more embarrassing than catching a guy on the plane looking at pornography on his computer is seeing a guy on the plane reading ‘The Hunger Games.’ Or a Twilight book. Or Harry Potter.” And when almost 500 people commented to express their extreme distaste for the article, even they used phrases and sentences that did not simply defend their enjoyment of YA literature, but tried to justify it by explaining that YA isn’t all they read, or they like YA because it’s lighter than adult books that apparently have heavier, and therefore somehow better, subject matters. Some of my favorite comments (as in they make me angry, not favorite as in I agree with them) are “Don't get me wrong, I love a good Margaret Atwood novel. But sometimes, after weeks of reading depressing non-fiction about economics or social issues, it's nice to sit back and read a novel that is just about character development, not using fancy words that have most readers reaching for a dictionary every other page,” and “IS [YA] all I read? Of course not?”

Do adult literature fans have to tell their readers why they enjoy Charles Dickens, Aldous Huxley, or George Saunders? No. So why is there this double standard? It’s also interesting to note that movies like Avengers, Superman, and The Dark Knight are all based on children’s action heroes from comic books that were originally targeted towards children, yet rarely do you see online posts about how comic book characters are inappropriate movie-watching material for adult audiences. So why, again, does this double standard come into play?

I am not the only one who has noticed that young adult literature is getting a bad rap. Articles around the YA book-world have constantly defended the right for people to read what they enjoy. But why should they have to defend their reading choices at all?

Generally, the combatants of older readers of YA—these readers are typically above the age of 25 and reading YA— believe these older readers should spend more time reading adult literature. Usually, adult nonfiction is the genre these combatants prefer. Why? Because it’s realistic, intellectually stimulating, and absolutely not created for a children’s mind. Yet a fantasy story that introduced new possibilities, and does not simply tell a biographical story, explain a historical event, etc., is not considered high quality literature. This may just be me spouting nonsense, but wouldn’t a story based on fiction show more imagination and spark new ideas than a work of nonfiction?

I know I have just spurted question after question after question with no real answers in sight, but I cannot see what is so wrong with writing for children and reading children’s books. Is our society so ashamed of our children that we can’t stand to pick up a book mean t for them unless it’s to read them a good night story? Do we devalue our children enough to throw a piece of literature at them that has no depth, literary basis, etc.? I really don’t believe that is the case.

To make this piece a little more interesting and interactive, and a little less grumbly and grouchy, I want you to participate in my essay (or, as I like to call it, my very long and question-mark-filled rant). You get to decide whether or not a story has literary quality, but you don’t get to know the name of the story, just what it’s about. I’m going to give you blurbs of various adult books and young adult books and you get to guess which belongs in which category, adult or YA? Literary or not?

Blurb #1
Summers span decades. Winter can last a lifetime. And the struggle for the Iron Throne has begun.
As Warden of the north, Lord Eddard Stark counts it a curse when King Robert bestows on him the office of the Hand. His honour weighs him down at court where a true man does what he will, not what he must … and a dead enemy is a thing of beauty.
The old gods have no power in the south, Stark’s family is split and there is treachery at court. Worse, the vengeance-mad heir of the deposed Dragon King has grown to maturity in exile in the Free Cities. He claims the Iron Throne.
Adult or YA?
 Answer: Adult. Game of Thrones may have dragons, swords, and fantasy elements, which are all the makings of a young adult book, but the description forgets to mention its
incest-, murder-, and sex-filled plotlines.

Literary or not?
Answer: Unknown. While some might consider a fantasy book to automatically fall into the “not” category, George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series is actually built on actual historical events. *GASP!* There’s even a website dedicated to finding the parallels between the real world and the fictional Westeros.

Blurb #2
Into Thin Air is a riveting first-hand account of a catastrophic expedition up Mount Everest. In March 1996, Outside magazine sent veteran journalist and seasoned climber Jon Krakauer on an expedition led by celebrated Everest guide Rob Hall. Despite the expertise of Hall and the other leaders, by the end of summit day eight people were dead. Krakauer's book is at once the story of the ill-fated adventure and an analysis of the factors leading up to its tragic end. Written within months of the events it chronicles, Into Thin Air clearly evokes the majestic Everest landscape. As the journey up the mountain progresses, Krakauer puts it in context by recalling the triumphs and perils of other Everest trips throughout history. The author's own anguish over what happened on the mountain is palpable as he leads readers to ponder timeless questions.

Adult or YA?
Answer: Adult.

Literary or not?
Answer: It is considered to be literary, if you can’t already tell from  Into Thin Air’s description. Nonfiction = literary. But, despite this book being based on true events, its differences from the young adult book Hatchet by Gary Paulsen are minimal. Both deal with the idea of survival in extreme conditions, the idea of mortality, and analyzing who you are in life-threatening situations, yet because Hatchet was written for a younger audience and is not based on real events, it’s not seen as a book that’s worth an adult’s time.

Blurb #3
It happened like this. I was stolen from an airport. Taken from everything I knew, everything I was used to. Taken to sand and heat, dirt and danger. And he expected me to love him.
This is my story.
A letter from nowhere.
Gemma is kidnapped from Bangkok airport and taken to the Australian Outback. This wild and desolate landscape becomes almost a character in the book, so vividly is it described. Ty, her captor, is no stereotype. He is young, fit and completely gorgeous. This new life in the wilderness has been years in the planning. He loves only her, wants only her. Under the hot glare of the Australian sun, cut off from the world outside, can the force of his love make Gemma love him back?
The story takes the form of a letter, written by Gemma to Ty, reflecting on those strange and disturbing months in the outback. Months when the lines between love and obsession, and love and dependency, blur until they don't exist - almost.

Adult or YA?
Answer: YA. But, you may be asking yourself, isn’t abduction a very serious topic? Why yes, yes it is. Not every YA book is filled with characters that have shallow problems like boyfriend drama, prom dilemmas, or mean girl attacks.

Literary or not?
Answer: Lucy Christopher’s Stolen has won quite a few literary awards…in the children’s category. Despite its serious discussion of Stockholm Syndrome, abduction, and general nightmare-inducing subject matter (which are all the makings of a Law and Order: Special Victims Unit episode), adults aren’t meant to read this tale of a girl being taken from everything she knows and loves, yet this very same phenomenon happens to adults just as often as it happens to children.

To some, it may seem like I’m just making a big issue out of nothing, however, this topic is prevalent in the online book-community. So before you move on from this paper and proceed to forget my points, I implore you to, whenever you pick up a book to read—young adult or adult, it doesn’t matter—ask yourself if the book should be valued because it’s adult, or devalued because it’s YA. I expect, if you like the book, the answer will be obvious.           

Monday, April 20, 2015

Nowhere But Here by Katie McGarry (Book Trailer)

I really don't like the name Oz, but it's a Katie McGarry book, so I guess I'll just have to get used to it...

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Which Team Are You? : The Batman vs. Superman Edition

I basically just post a book series every week and have people vote on what team they are. I know the YA Sisterhood does the YA Crush Tournament, but I just want to find out how much you guys like one love interest over another, in one series.

Last week's poll was over Team Robb or Team John from Georgie R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series. Team John won! 

So for this edition of “Which Team Are You?” I’m going to ask you the ultimate question. Are you Team Batman or Team Superman? 

You can (obviously) choose from:

1)  Batman

or 2) Superman

I’m more of a Batman fan than a Superman fan. Don’t tell my dad.

If you had to choose one, who would it be, and why? I don’t think anyone is unaware of these two famous characters, so I don’t think I need to provide a description.

Which Team Are You?

Team Batman
Team Superman
Poll Maker
***Please note that I stop checking the poll the Friday before the new poll comes out (on Sunday). Also, please only vote once so everyone’s vote counts, unless you need to vote for both guys. I give you permission to do that because sometimes choosing is tough.***

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Stacking the Shelves: The Supernatural Edition

"Stacking the Shelves" is a weekly haul meme that is hosted by Tynga's Reviews. It allows book buyers to share their accumulation of books with the online book-loving community.

Buying books with pretty people on them feels so satisfying…

The Supernatural book was only $0.50! Some organization at my school was selling books and it was there! So of course I had to buy it.

What books have you bought/received lately?

Friday, April 17, 2015

Dean Winchester Friday

Dean Winchester (or sometimes Jensen Ackles) Fridays make me a very happy fangirl. You'll see why when you look at the gif.

I don’t know why, but this makes me extremely happy…

Thursday, April 16, 2015

TV Shows I'm Watching

Television shows I’m watching:

The Originals


Game of Thrones


TV shows I just finished watching:

The White Queen

The Legend of Korra

What TV shows are you watching?

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday: The Heart of Betrayal by Mary E. Pearson

"Waiting On Wednesday" is a weekly event, hosted over at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases we're eagerly anticipating.

This week, what's really got my pages in a twist is... 

The Heart of Betrayal
(The Remnant Chronicles #2)
Publication Date: July 7, 2015
Hardcover, 470 pages, Henry Holt & Co.
Genres: YA, Fantasy

Intrigue abounds in this hotly anticipated sequel to The Kiss of Deception!

Held captive in the barbarian kingdom of Venda, Lia and Rafe have little chance of escape. Desperate to save her life, Lia's erstwhile assassin, Kaden, has told the Vendan Komizar that she has the gift, and the Komizar's interest in Lia is greater than anyone could have foreseen.

Meanwhile, nothing is straightforward: there's Rafe, who lied to Lia, but has sacrificed his freedom to protect her; Kaden, who meant to assassinate her but has now saved her life; and the Vendans, whom Lia always believed to be barbarians. Now that she lives amongst them, however, she realizes that may be far from the truth. Wrestling with her upbringing, her gift, and her sense of self, Lia must make powerful choices that will affect her country... and her own destiny.

My Thoughts

I haven’t read The Kiss of Deception yet. I’m waiting for this book to come out before I read it. And by that time I may decide to wait until book #3 comes out, just so I don’t have to wait to read them all. Unless there isn’t going to be a book #3… I’m not sure if this is a trilogy, duology, or a series. Someone HELP!

What book are you waiting for this Wednesday?

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Cover Reveal: Smoked by Mari Mancusi

Another cover reveal! I think these are my favorite things to post about!

(Scorched #3)
Publication Date: September 1, 2015
Hardcover, Sourcebooks
Genres: YA, Fantasy

Once upon a time the world burned.
Until a girl and her dragon smothered the flame.
But the spark that ignited the apocalypse never went out.
And the Scorch is about to begin.

When Team Dragon rescues Emmy from the government lab, they think the future is finally safe. But they soon discover that Emmy has a secret--a secret so dangerous it could trigger the very apocalypse Connor and Caleb were sent back in time to prevent.

As a dragon hunter, Connor has committed his life to saving the world. There’s nothing he wouldn’t do to complete his mission… even if it meant betraying his brother and losing Trinity’s heart. Even if it meant doing the unthinkable. But a desperate choice meant to prevent The Scorch, may become the spark that sets the world aflame once more.

My Thoughts

I haven’t actually read this series yet, but I LOVE the covers! This one isn’t as great as the first two, but if it feels all texture-y like the first two, I can’t wait to buy it!

Have any of you read this series? Let me know how you feel about it if you have.