Top Ten Books on my Fall TBR!{Top Ten Tuesday}

Top Ten Books on my Fall TBR!{Top Ten Tuesday}

top ten tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, which features (you guessed it!) top ten lists on a given topic each week. This week’s topic is. . . .Top Ten Books on my Fall TBR.  This is one of my favorite TTT topics, even though I pretty much NEVER stick to my list. I’m such a mood reader. That being said, here are the top ten books on my Fall TBR–at the moment!

1. We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson

We have Always Lived in the Castle

I’ve been meaning to read a Shirley Jackson novel for awhile and picked this one up back in August. I actually read a few pages at the time, but I decided to hold off on really reading it until October, since it seemed a good book for a scary-themed read.

2. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

graveyard book

This book is one this list for pretty much the same reasons as We Have Always Lived in the Castle. Plus, it’s Neil Gaiman!

3. Legend by Marie Lu

Legend

I’ve had this book on my shelf for almost a year, and now that I’ve read The Young Elites, I think it’s time for me to read Legend.

4. Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch

Snow Like Ashes

I admit I’m drawn to this one simply because of the pretty, pretty cover. That being said, it sounds REALLY interesting and I’ve heard some good things.

5. Landline by Rainbow Rowell

Landline

I have this one out from the library right now, actually, so I’ll be reading it soon! Even though this book wouldn’t appeal to me base on synopsis alone, because it’s Rainbow Rowell I’m going to give it a chance.

6. The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

name of the wind

I was gifted a copy of this book and I’ve heard REALLY great things about it. So many of my friends have read it and I’d like to be able to talk to them about it.

7. I’ll Give you the Sun by Jandy Nelson

I'll Give you the Sun

Everyone’s been talking about this book recently, and I REALLY want to give it a shot. It’s a little mysterious in it’s premise, but I’ve heard so many people talk about how great a writer Nelson is. I’m hoping my library will get a copy of this one sometime soon.

8. Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers

grave mercy

I’ve had a copy of this book for a long time but kept putting it off. It sounds great, though, and I’ve been in the mood for a book like it. I think after my current library books, I’m going to pick this one up.

9. The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab

near witch

Another book I think will be very thematically appropriate to read next month!

10. Chasing Before by Lenore Appelhans

chasing before

I’ve been meaning to read this book for awhile, and it kept slipping my mind. I really enjoyed Level 2/The Memory of After, so I hope to dive into this one sometime in the next month or so.

YOUR TURN: What’s on your TBR list this Fall?

 

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Book Review: Behind the Scenes by Dahlia Adler

Book Review: Behind the Scenes by Dahlia Adler

Behind the Scenes

by Dahlia Adler

Behind the Scenes

Original Publication Date: June 24, 2014
Length: 328 pages
Publisher: Spencer Hill Press

Obtained Via:Bought
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the story morning glory

 High school senior Ally Duncan’s best friend may be the Vanessa Park – star of TV’s hottest new teen drama – but Ally’s not interested in following in her BFF’s Hollywood footsteps. In fact, the only thing Ally’s ever really wanted is to go to Columbia and study abroad in Paris. But when her father’s mounting medical bills threaten to stop her dream in its tracks, Ally nabs a position as Van’s on-set assistant to get the cash she needs.

Spending the extra time with Van turns out to be fun, and getting to know her sexy co-star Liam is an added bonus. But when the actors’ publicist arranges for Van and Liam to “date” for the tabloids just after he and Ally share their first kiss, Ally will have to decide exactly what role she’s capable of playing in their world of make believe. If she can’t play by Hollywood’s rules, she may lose her best friend, her dream future, and her first shot at love.

howwasit

When I think “Hollywood” and “YA”, my immediate impression is not terribly favorable. However, I haven’t actually experienced that many books set around Hollywood to really have an inform opinion, so I tried to go into Behind the Scenes with an open mind–and it ended up being a pretty great read.

Behind the Scenes follows main character Ally. Ally’s on the cusp of the Hollywood life, thanks to her best friend, Vanessa. Ally wants no part in the glamor & gossip of the movies, but when Vanessa finds herself being cast as a lead of a new teen TV show, Ally gets more of a taste of Hollywood than she ever thought she would, especially when she comes on to the set as Vanessa’s personal assistant. It’s there that she meets Vanessa’s coworker, Liam, and they quickly strike up a romance.

Behind the Scenes focuses mainly on the romance, which was great, but what I liked even more were the things that added depth to the story. The romance was fun(and I’ll get to that in a minute), but Behind the Scenes would have just been a good, but not memorable, book if that’s all there was. Ally’s father has cancer, and it’s affecting her life in a big way. Her family has spent so much on hospital bills she feels selfish for going off to an expensive college after high school, and she’s doing her best to make as much money as possible(which is how she becomes Vanessa’s assistant). This story line added some sadness to Behind the Scenes, but several of the sweetest moments came from it too. The relationship between Ally and her dad, while not on the page that much, was heart warming. Ally’s parents aren’t absent parents, but they’re not that present, either, which made the scenes between Ally and her dad even better.

The exploration of Hollywood and the movies was also really intriguing. Just about the time that Ally and Liam start to get potentially serious, the three of them learn that the network wants Vanessa and Liam to pretend to date to drum of interest. This, out of all the story lines, made me the most nervous. I was afraid it would be played for cheap conflict and an easy way to keep Ally and Liam separated. Certainly, conflict *does* arrive because of this(which comes as no surprise), but it’s handled with care and thorough. It’s not just the fake dating that has Ally wondering if this is what she wants–the closer she gets to Liam, the more she realizes what that might entail for her.

Ally takes things pretty seriously, which immediately endeared me to her. Like any good main character, she makes some not-so-smart decisions, but she’s not afraid to think things through. She’s aware just exactly what Liam’s position in the spotlight means, and how it might affect her. She realizes that her dad’s hospital bills might have consequences for her future, so she snaps to work immediately to get things done.

Of course, the romance between Liam and Ally was the focus for most of Behind the Scenes. Initially, I wasn’t too sure how I felt about their chemistry. I liked Liam, and I liked Ally, but I wasn’t sure if I liked them together. It was obvious why Ally was attracted to Liam, but I was a bit confused as why Liam was so attracted to Ally right away, but as I began to discover the characters more, it made sense. Liam often hates everything to do with his job–the fame, the spotlight, the fact he gets things just because he’s attractive. It would make sense then that he would be drawn to someone who had no interest in the whole ordeal other than supporting her friend.

And the romance between Liam and Ally becomes positively swoon-worthy at times. There’s an intensity to their relationship that feels unique–it’s passionate, but in a quiet, almost subdued way. It’s a great contrast to the glitz and glamor of the world Liam normally inhabits. It starts mainly as them just liking to be around each other, but it moves into a place where they really get to know each other, and it’s a sweet and yet passionate relationship.

I don’t think Behind the Scenes made me reconsider my stance on Hollywood stories as a whole, but I did enjoy this one. It’s sweet and charming. It took a bit to get my interest but by 25% I was hooked.

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Behind the Scenes was a delightful surprise. It wasn’t at all what I was expecting and I’m glad for that. There were so many good aspects in this book–the family dynamics(though I would have liked to seen just a little bit more of them), the romance, and the friendship. The conflict could have come off as cheesy and convoluted but I thought for the most part it avoided that problem, and the end result was a highly enjoyable read. 4/5 cupcakes. 

4cupcakes

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Book Review: Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley

Book Review: Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley

Lies We Tell Ourselves

 by Robin Talley

Lies We Tell Ourselves

 Expected Publication Date: September 30, 2014
Length: 304 pages
Publisher: Harlequin Teen

Obtained Via: Advanced Reader’s copy given by the publisher through Netgalley. This in no way influenced my opinion of the book.
Standalone
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the story morning glory

In 1959 Virginia, the lives of two girls on opposite sides of the battle for civil rights will be changed forever.

Sarah Dunbar is one of the first black students to attend the previously all-white Jefferson High School. An honors student at her old school, she is put into remedial classes, spit on and tormented daily.

Linda Hairston is the daughter of one of the town’s most vocal opponents of school integration. She has been taught all her life that the races should be kept separate but equal.

Forced to work together on a school project, Sarah and Linda must confront harsh truths about race, power and how they really feel about one another.

Boldly realistic and emotionally compelling, Lies We Tell Ourselves is a brave and stunning novel about finding truth amid the lies, and finding your voice even when others are determined to silence it.

howwasit

A lie I told myself while reading this book: Nope, not getting emotional at all.

Lies We Tell Ourselves is a spectacular book. In just over 300 pages, Talley manages to deal with racism, sexism, prejudice of all sorts, historical information that draws parallels to today, and somehow manages to tell a story as well that gives the issues all the complexity they deserve.

To call Sarah and Linda “different” would be an understatement. On paper, they should abhor each other. Sarah is one of the first students to be integrated into the public high school, and Linda’s father runs the newspaper that speaks out against integration all the time. Both of them have been brought up by their parents to believe in things a certain way, so when they end up on the same school project, they clash. . . all the time. But somehow, along the way, they begin to regard each other as something closer to equals–Sarah may argue with Linda, but Linda realizes that Sarah is just as smart as she is, if not smarter. All the while, both girls are grappling with something else deeper inside them, trying to figure out what it means. From there, each of them find themselves very much challenged.

Lies We Tell Ourselves is told in a split POV and in this case, it really works. Sarah’s voice feels so authentic–it’s raw and full of pain, but also hope. Sarah is smart and talented, but she also finds herself becoming a beacon for a movement–a movement she agrees with, but at the same time, she just wants to be a person. Linda finds herself regurgitating her father’s viewpoints at first but struggles with really believing them considering who those views come from. Linda’s voice is hard to read at first, considering her prejudice, but it’s insightful and really tactfully done.

History is often hard to read about, and I find the era in which Lies We Tell Ourselves particularly challenging to read. It’s not easy to read about integration in such a raw way. Even though it’s a fictional account, the story aspect of Lies We Tell Ourselves puts more of humanity on the face of that period than any history book ever could.

Tackling both race and LGBT issues in a historical book while remaining accurate to the time period is no easy feat, but Lies We Tell Ourselves really manages it. It was brilliant, really–the way Linda is forced to confront her own prejudices as well as face her true identity drew quite a few parallel to issues of prejudice today, without ever feeling over-the-top. Lies We Tell Ourselves invites discussion, not declarations.

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Lies We Tell Ourselves is an amazing debut that I KNOW I will be re-reading. If you like history or books that deal with LGBT issues(or both!), get thee to a bookstore. It’s all really fantastically and tactfully handled, and will make you both think and possibly cry at the unfairness of it all at times. 5/5 cupcakes.

5cupcakes

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Book Review: White Cat by Holly Black

Book Review: White Cat by Holly Black

White Cat

by Holly Black

White Cat

Original Publication Date: May 4, 2010
Length: 320 pages
Obtained Via: Borrowed from library
Format Read In: audiobook
1st in trilogy
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the story morning glory

Cassel comes from a shady, magical family of con artists and grifters. He doesn’t fit in at home or at school, so he’s used to feeling like an outsider. He’s also used to feeling guilty; he killed his best friend, Lila, years ago.

But when Cassel begins to have strange dreams about a white cat, and people around him are losing their memories, he starts to wonder what really happened to Lila. In his search for answers, he discovers a wicked plot for power that seems certain to succeed. But Cassel has other ideas and a plan to con the conmen.

howwasit

Well, this was lovely. And by “lovely” I mean “full of betrayal, secrets, danger, cons, and adventures”. White Cat, while outside a genre I typically read(urban fantasy), was a great book. White Cat takes place in a world that seems mostly just like the normal universe–except for the addition of curse workers. There are all different kinds of workers, and it’s something that you’re either born with or your not. There’s luck workers, death workers, love workers, memory workers, etc. Black really takes this idea and runs with it, tying it into the world via history. There are all sorts of laws and mandates against curse workers using their magic, though of course it doesn’t stop most of them. Since curses are worked via touch, everyone wears gloves, but other than that it’s a pretty normal world.

Cassel is an awesome main character–he’s also a bit of an unreliable one, because the lines between his dreams/reality/memories are becoming blurred quickly, and he realizes that early on. He does his best to ward against it, but in a world full of magic with people who can take your memory from you, there’s only so much he can do. Sometimes when books use this type of plot device, I find it tiring and just meant to create suspense for the reader(like in The Maze Runner), but in White Cat it works so well because there’s a definite in-universe example of why Cassel might have trouble remembering certain bits of his life.

This book starts with Cassel of a roof edge, wondering how he got there, and then finding himself temporarily suspended from his school for mental health-related reasons. From there, Cassel starts putting the pieces together and realizes something really isn’t right here. I won’t go too much into the plot because it’s better the kind of thing you discover for yourself, but it’s filled with magic, lies, and most importantly–con men.

White Cat relies a lot on cons and trickery to work, and it does so well. I think this is really to the book’s advantage because if it had focused on JUST the magic system it could have easily fell flat. The way curses work is interesting, but not terribly original. The addition of deceit and crime families, though? It totally took the book to the next level, especially playing on the way Cassel and his brothers interacted with the descendants of the most powerful crime family.

The pacing in White Cat was spot-on. I was thrown right into the story and never wanted to surface. I listened to the audiobook, which just made everything better. It’s narrated by Jesse Eisenberg, who does a fantastic job with Cassel’s voice. Cassel is a bit of a dry and sarcastic character, so it fits really well. I was hooked until the beginning chapter, and there wasn’t a time I was ever disappointed in how the story was going. The latter half of the book especially made good use of side characters and deception.

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 White Cat was a really great read, especially for being a book outside of my usual go-to genres. The narration was fantastic and I think it made a BIG difference in how much I liked Cassel’s voice by the end. Definitely a good read for fans of books with magic & deception. 4/5 cupcakes. 

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Top Ten Authors I’ve read ONE book from but want to read more!{Top Ten Tuesday}

Top Ten Authors I’ve read ONE book from but want to read more!{Top Ten Tuesday}

top ten tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, which features (you guessed it!) top ten lists on a given topic each week. This week’s topic is. . . .Top Ten Authors I’ve read one book from but NEED to read more!

 

1. Andrew Smith

What I’ve Read: Winger

I read and LOVED Winger. I don’t think all of Andrew Smith’s books would be for me(I think Grasshopper Jungle, for example, is just a little too out there for me), but I loved Winger so much I definitely want to read more.

2. Anne Blankman

What I’ve Read: Prisoner of Night and Fog

Prisoner of Night and Fog was one of my favorite books I read last year, and I’m really look forward to the sequel. I’m sure it will be just as great and I’ll definitely read more works from this author!

3. John Irving

What I’ve Read:A Prayer for Owen Meany

A Prayer for Owen Meany had a slow start, but by the end I was calling it one of my favorite books. I actually have a few more of John Irving’s books on my TBR shelf(Cider House Rules & A Widow for One Year), so I’m hoping to read one by the end of the year.

4. Rick Yancey

What I’ve Read: The 5th Wave

I really enjoyed The 5th Wave. I know Yancey’s other books are quite different, but I’ve been curious about some of his previous books for awhile.

5. Leila Sales

What I’ve Read: This Song Will Save Your Life

I LOVED This Song Will Save Your Life. It’s an all-time favorite for me, and really made an impact. I’ve been told Sales books are a little more fluffy and less serious, but I still want to give them a shot at some point.

6. Trish Doller

What I’ve Read: Where the Stars Still Shine

Doller doesn’t have many books, but I do have her debut, Something Like Normal, on my TBR shelf.

7. Victoria Schwab

What I’ve Read: Vicious

I’ve only read Vicious so far, but I have both The Archived and The Near Witch on my TBR.

Only seven for this TTT for me today. When I was putting this list together I realized I tend to read a LOT of series, so there are very few authors I’ve only read one book from, and even fewer who I WANT to read more. That being said, these are seven I DEFINITELY want to read more from.

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