Top Ten Tuesdays – Death Becomes Her

I stressed out about this list – what would I put on a syllabus if I could choose to teach anything… Yikes. I don’t know why, but I really wanted to come up with something that could actually be used in a classroom. I have a friend who’s an English teacher. I send her book suggestions all the time. I feel like this list is important, even though it’s really just for me. I also didn’t want it to seem like a repeat of the lists I’ve done in the past. I thought about gender roles and female representation. Group mentality. Collective behaviour. Male protagonists. Self-discovery.

What I ended up doing was going through my Goodreads list and jotting down every book I think would be interesting to discuss in a group setting. I then had to whittle the list down a lot. A lot! If I’d let my OCD take over, I would have pulled out my old university syllabuses and went through what I read then to see what fit where, but that’s just too much research for a TTT post.

I finally decided on Death and Dying in Young Adult Fiction. This was one of my favourite sociology courses, and since I like my books dark, it seems appropriate. I’ve listed an initial discussion perspective for each of the books. There are probably deeper levels we would get to through discussion, but this isn’t a real class. It’s just the idea of a class.

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The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly by Stephanie Oakes

Collective behaviour towards torture and death when religion and faith are involved. As well as the treatment of girls involved in crimes related to death. Continue reading

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Top Ten Tuesday – Romantic Tropes

This week’s TTT list was difficult (let’s say that’s why I’m late posting it… yeah, let’s say that)! Mostly, I found it challenging because it’s not my genre. I read stories that have elements of romance, but not romance novels. So, when confronted with the things I love/hate about romance novels, I wasn’t sure where to start. Everything I came up with fit into both categories. There are books that do it well and books that do it terribly. So, eventually I decided that the only option was to do exactly that – tell you the things that stand out in romance novels as good and bad. I’m going to pick the top five things that popped into my head.

Instalove – this is a trope in a lot of romance novels, especially YA romances. Two people see each other for the first time and fall instantly in mad, crazy, foolish, unbelievable love. It’s terrible. And it never feels real. But sometimes, an author is able to make it feel right. They create a build up to the relationship even when the feelings are instantaneous. Continue reading

TTT – Freebie – 2015 Rereads Challenge

The ladies over at the B&B are giving us a freebie today. I could do lots of things, but I’ve been busy, so I’m doing rereads. Alright, so I kind of already did this post back in November, but I’ve decided to actually schedule some re-reading this year as part of the #reread2015 Challenge.

Re-Read Challenge

Instead of reading a specific number of books this read, I’m re-reading specific books instead. Getting to enjoy books I really enjoyed the first time around again? Yes, please. Thinking I won’t read a single new book over the course of the year is a ridiculous and unattainable goal, so I’ve chosen twelve books. One a month. I should be able to make this goal no problem.

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Harry Potter 5,6,7 by J.K. Rowling

I’ve been doing my Potter re-read for over the last year. Picking up all the things I’ve forgotten by watching the movies so many times. I started book five just after Christmas, so I’m already on track to get these reads done. I actually think I’ll finish this one today or tomorrow. Book five is so much better than I remember it being. I’m super excited to reread the last two – especially since I’ve only read the seventh book once. Continue reading

Top Ten Tuesday – Re-Reads

Re-reading is one of those things that people tend to have very strong feelings about. Either you’re a re-reader or you aren’t – generally. I fall in the ‘are’ camp. I like to re-read. I feel a little sad whenever some tells me they never re-read/watch anything. That’s like meeting someone you really like and never seeing them again, cause that one time was good enough. I think if a book is good enough, it deserves a re-read. You catch so much more detail the second/third/fourth time through. You see connections. You see how much time and effort an author put in to making sure everything comes together just the way it’s supposed to. The last few years, I’ve put my re-reading on hold. I’ve been trying to read a certain number of books a year – and re-reads didn’t count. This year, I decided to revisit the re-read. I’ve been stockpiling these books. So, when I saw this week’s Broke and Bookish prompt, I knew this would be an easy week for me. The hardest part is going to be keeping it to only ten. I’m including a few series – they totally count as one book. They do. Accept it.

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Harry Potter Series by J. K. Rowling

If you’ve been reading the blog, you know I’ve already started this re-read, but I’ve got the three longest books left, so I’m totally including it. I probably won’t finish it this year. I don’t really need to talk about this one too much cause I’ve already done it here, and here, and here, oh yeah, and here. Continue reading

Top Ten Tuesdays – Recommendations for People Who Have Never Tried YA

Today’s TTT prompt is books you’d recommend to people who’ve never read blah, since I’m such a huge fan of the young adult genre, that’s my topic of choice. Taking a page from the girls of the Broke and Bookish, I’ve separated the list into reading styles. There’s this misconception by people that haven’t read YA that all the books are the same. That’s like saying that all books written for Adults are exactly the same. No one would ever say that. YA writing is the same. The author writes for a genre style, just within a specific age bracket. Not all YA books are good. And not everyone will like every style. I would never recommend a dark, gritty, depressing book for someone who likes happy, light hearted romances or a straight forward coming of age story to someone who only reads hard sci-fi. It has nothing to do with YA writing; it’s about finding your genre.

Here’s my list:

For people who like their books reality based and a little dark:

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

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This is the story of a boy who receives a package containing 13 cassette tapes – yes, cassette tapes they make a point that this is strange and he has to find a way to play them – containing 13 reasons why one of his classmates has killed herself. Each tape is about a specific person and their role in her decision. The tapes are moving from person to person so that they know their part. As the story unfolds, Hannah’s reasons begin to come together. I will never agree with her decision, but the book is amazingly well crafted. There’s a rape scene (not hers) in the book that makes my heart hurt.

Ballads of Suburbia by Stephanie Kuehnert

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This book is painful to read, because it’s so well written you can fall right into the story. It might resonate more with me because I was that age at that time and understand the pop culture influences of that time. It was easy to put myself back in that mindset. These kids are messing up their lives, and enjoying every moment of it. The drugs run more than rampant. There’s sex, drugs, music, depression, death. This is the dark side of being a teen. Sure, they get themselves into these situations, but sometimes, at that age, all you can do is find a place to fit and hold on.

 

For people who like LGBTQ coming of age stories:

Far From You by Tess Sharpe

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I wrote a review of this one over here. It’s got a good mystery. It’s got the intrigue. It represents bisexuality in a way other books haven’t.

Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan

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The story of two boys, with the same name, growing up near each other, with no awareness that the other exists. Each one is struggling with figuring out who they are. They accidentally meet in an incredibly entertaining way and blossom into fully developed characters. It’s not the strongest representation of the genre, but it has such a unique voice that it’s worth a recommendation.

 

For people who like historical fiction:

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

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I’m not a fan of historical fiction. I’ve tried many times, but I’m rarely able to become immersed in the story. I get easily distracted and my thoughts drift while I’m reading. This one was different. It’s the right characters in the right story at the right time. Also, I do find WWII stories more interesting than most historic fiction. My full review is posted here.

The Sweetness of the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley

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Totally different from the last suggestion. This one is a girl detective in the 1950s style story. It’s charming and delightful and makes fun of the genre without being disrespectful or silly. Flavia is one hell of a girl. It’s the first in a series with clever, entertaining titles. Give it a shot if you want something totally outside the mainstream.

 

For people who like quirky, tongue in cheek stories:

Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

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I did not want to read this story. A story about beauty queens who get stranded on a deserted island. Could this story be anything more than a ‘learning there’s more to life than looks’ rant? Well, yes. Yes, it can be. I finally caved because I needed an audiobook to get through the workday and this was the only one easily available. It won me over almost immediately. It is hilarious. Like actually exceptionally funny. And a complete barrage against consumerism and capitalism. The author’s footnotes are charming as hell. I really think this book is one that should be consumed in the audio format.

 

For people who like ghost stories with a romantic subplot:

A Certain Slant of Light by Laura Whitcomb

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A ghost who’s been haunting an English classroom realizes a boy in the class can see her. She’s able to possess one of girls and realizes the boy is being possessed by another ghost. They’ve both been suffering from loneliness and pain for so long that they instantly bond. Together, they’re finally able to do more than just watch people grow up. There’s a subplot about the families their bodies belong to that actually adds to the story. Typical ghost love stories are lame, but this one is totally different.

 

For people who like political commentaries and dystopian fiction:

The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins

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A pretty obvious suggestion, I know. It’s popular. People are always recommending it. But I’m making it to the people who are still all ‘why would I want to read a book about kids killing kids’. That’s the story on the surface, but these books are super political. It’s a condemnation against a society obsessed with image and celebrity – a message that has gotten lost in the hype and fandom of the books and movies. But at its heart, this book is against exactly what it has become. A society so obsessed with the next shocking form of entertainment and control that they’ve started routing for kids killing each other.

 

For people who like science fiction:

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

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Set in the not too distant future, kids are sent off to schools to learn to become soldiers to help protect Earth from another invasion. Ender is exceptional. He supersedes all expectations and quickly advances through the ranks. This is a science fiction book. It involves many of the tropes of the genre, but it is also coming of age story. It includes no romance. It is all about growing up and contributing to the greater good, whatever the cost. One of my top five favourite books.

 

What books would you recommend? Genre choices? What do you think more people should be reading?