Interview with Carrie Allen, Author of Michigan Vs. The Boys

Hey, everyone! Today I am extremely excited to be hosting an interview with Carrie Allen, the author of Michigan Vs. The Boys. I read Michigan Vs. The Boys in May and I loved it! It was amazing to see another book with girls in sports because there are so few and the book overall was super inspiring!
Here’s a little bit about the book:

Michigan Vs. The Boys | Carrie Allen

Published October 1st, 2019

304 Pages | ebook

Content Warnings: bullying, attempted sexual assault, use of date rape drugs

Michigan Manning’s whole life is hockey. This is her team’s year, she knows it. But budget cuts at her school are keeping the girl’s hockey team away from the ice. Her team won’t be playing this year.
Determined to play hockey no matter what it takes, Michigan tries out for the boy’s hockey team. Even though the boys are just about the opposite of thrilled to have a girl on their team, Michigan is determined to play hockey, through whatever they throw at her. After all, this is the year that colleges are taking note.
But one ‘prank’ on Michigan crosses the line to assault and she has to decide whether she wants to risk hockey in order to speak up.

All summaries are my own unless otherwise stated. Parts of the summary may be borrowed from goodreads.

When did you first decide you wanted to be an author?

I started writing in elementary school– my first books were written on binder paper, trimmed and stapled to resemble “real” books. I always had an urge to write, and to read, but high school English classes chased me away to the sciences. After college and grad school, I had trouble finding books I connected with, and I hadn’t written in years. Until one day, I was traveling with the collegiate volleyball team I worked with, and we’re all lounging on the nasty airport floor waiting for a flight. Our outside hitter said, “Carrie, you HAVE to read this!” and passed me a copy of a book with a pair of hands holding a red apple on the front. And wow—there was suddenly this whole shelf of books that I hadn’t been reading because I was supposed to be A Grown Up. Then, when I semi-retired from sports medicine to stay home with my first baby (who is about to turn ten!) I binged the Hunger Games trilogy. As soon as I finished the last page of Mockingjay, I turned back to the first page of Hunger Games and binged the whole series again. As soon as I finished it the second time, I started writing my first manuscript (the first of a terrible, terrible dystopian trilogy that we will not discuss further.)

What inspired you to write Michigan Vs. The Boys? How did you first come up with the idea?

Michigan Vs. The Boys is actually my second hockey manuscript. The first was about a girl who spent her whole childhood playing on a boys’ hockey team, and when she’s invited to a USAH development camp, she has to transition to playing on a girls’ team. It was super fun to write, but as soon as I finished it, I knew I had to write the harder story—for the girls who didn’t get to have my MC’s positive experiences. I love hockey and I want my sport to be the best it can be, on and off the ice. In writing Michigan, I wanted to support the athletes while shining a light on the work that still needs to be done.

What are some things that you hoped to accomplish by releasing Michigan Vs. into the world?
Why do you think that it is important that there be more books like yours published?

My first goal with Michigan was to support the athletes like Michigan, because I’ve been there. I’ve been the only girl in the room or on the ice, and I’ve faced things I shouldn’t have had to. Every girl in hockey has; most girls in sports have. But I also saw a need for books like Michigan—the gatekeepers in publishing haven’t let a lot of sports-centered books through. There are so many real life Michigans, and I want them to see themselves represented on the bookshelves, to have their stories told. 

But I also wrote Michigan for the readers who don’t follow sports, readers who don’t think they like sports. I can’t blame them—mainstream sports media isn’t really my jam either. Women receive only 4% of sport media coverage. Four percent! You really have to work to find the sports that I follow, which means there are so many amazing athletes whose stories we never get to hear! Not only that, but women in sports and YA fiction have a lot more in common than readers might realize—starting with the fact that many women in sports ARE young adults! I know YA readers would love these athletes if they could gain more access to them.

What did you learn while writing Michigan Vs. the Boys? How did you grow by writing it?

Michigan was actually an easy book to write– don’t hate me for it, because I’ve had my share of not-easy manuscripts! Because I spent twenty years playing, coaching, reffing, and covering hockey as a Certified Athletic Trainer, I didn’t have to research much. I kept a USA Hockey rulebook nearby to double check facts as needed, and luckily one of my best friends grew up in the U.P. and was able to help me with the setting. 

I grew by writing Michigan because it was brutal to put her through the trials that I did. Those were both some of the hardest and easiest scenes to write. They’d flow easily from me, but leave me emotionally wrecked. I just kept picturing the lone girl at so many rinks across the country and thinking, “I’m doing this for you!”

What sorts of books would you like to see published in the future (plots, rep, etc.)?

Oh, wow, we need more sports books like you wouldn’t believe! We need joyful books and books about the problems in sports and books about team dynamics and individual athletes and non-traditional sports and trans athletes and queer athletes and racism in sports and body positivity and toxic femininity and sports journalists and non-American sport settings and Paralympic athletes and recreational athletes and Olympic athletes and everything in between! It never ceases to amaze me that approximately half of all high school students are athletes, but YA sports books take up only a teeny tiny sliver of the bookshelves. Sports are so much more than a sixty-minute game or seven innings or one hundred meters, and I’d love for YA readers to be able to connect to the athletes and experience the whole story.

What is one or more things that helped keep you going when you were stuck with writing this book? This can be a specific food, a pet, family member, hobby, etc.

My number one way to get unstuck is to walk the dog—literally. I actually thanked my dog Ivy in Michigan’s acknowledgements, because our early morning rambles were how I fixed all of Michigan’s sticky spots! Now I take my cattle dog mix, Torrey, for walks or runs to mull over ideas I want to explore or to imagine my characters. Dogs are awesome– they never look at you weird when you’re dictating out-of-breath notes about imaginary people while hoofing it up a hill.

There’s a scene in Michigan vs. The Boys where Mich goes for a run and she’s feeling isolated and lonely, so to push herself, she pictures her former teammates running with their teams, or Jack training in the pool by himself. She feels less lonely knowing that somewhere out there, someone else is training, too. I feel that a lot when I’m writing. Somewhere out there is an athlete who needs my book, and that gets me working.But also, tea and peanut butter M&Ms 😊

And finally, what advice do you have for aspiring authors?

Write for you first. Write your passion, write the book you want to read. I’ve written probably twenty novels and short stories. Even if I’m incredibly lucky, I’ll still only get to share a small percentage of my work with the world. But each one of those stories has meant something to me, and that’s what gets me working on the next one.

The other advice is to find your people. It is scary and hard to make friends in the book world, but it’s also much easier to create when you’ve got people who believe in you. And critiquing for friends is the best way to learn to write and revise. Publishing is a team sport!

I loved conducting this interview with Carrie. She was a delight to talk to and I think that all her answers are so thoughtful and amazing. As most of you probably know, I play softball so books with girls in sports are really inspiring to me and I definitely agree that we need more! The book community is a lot better because of Carrie’s book and I hope that more authors or aspiring authors will find her book and decide to write one of their own sports books.

What’d you think of this interview? Have you read Michigan Vs. The Boys by Carrie Allen? Do you play any sports?
As always, thank you so much for stopping by to read–it means the world! Please, stay safe and keep on reading!

June wrap up

Welcome back to another of Phoenix’s wrap ups! I feel like the beginning of this month, I read very slowly, and then I read a lot of books at the end of the month, so that’s nice! Anyways, how??? is??? it??? already??? July???

I read 14 books this month, which is pretty good for me!

Can't Say It Went to Plan by Gabrielle Tozer
Project LIT Mountain Brook - O'Neal Library
Amazon.com: Ruinsong (9780374313357): Ember, Julia: Books
  • Can’t Say it Went to Plan by Gabrielle Tozer. This is actually an ARC that I finished at the very end of May but I didn’t have time to put it in my May wrap up so now it’s here. It wasn’t a bad book, however it was very slow at the beginning and I think I was just expecting something a little different ⭐⭐⭐
  • Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World by Ashley Herring Blake. This book overall was pretty good, however the whole plot of the person leaving notes in Ivy’s locker, basically blackmailing her to come out was not good and not a good lesson. But – Ivy didn’t actually come out because of that blackmail, and other than that part, it was actually a really good book! ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • Ruinsong by Julia Ember. You can see the few fantasy books beginning to get mixed back into my reading…overall this was a fine book, I mean it was a unique concept but also nothing special (that sounds so brutal, geez) and I enjoyed it but wasn’t over the moon about it. ⭐⭐⭐
Amazon.com: Can't Take That Away (9781547605309): Salvatore, Steven: Books
Amazon.com: Between Perfect and Real (9781419746017): Stoeve, Ray: Books
Amazon.com: May the Best Man Win (9781250625120): Ellor, ZR: Books
  • Can’t Take That Away by Steven Salvatore. I really enjoyed this book. I honestly love a lot of stories where it’s a group of friends helping the MC get something (especially queer groups of friends) and so this was really fun! ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • Between Perfect and Real by Ray Stoeve. I thought that this was a super awesome book, and it felt very different from any other book with a trans teen coming out to their parents. I thought that it was just told so well and just an amazing story overall. ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • May the Best Man Win by Z. R. Ellor. This book was…interesting? I am honestly really conflicted on it. It had a cool plot and it was diverse but also…Jeremy, one of the MCs, was kinda a jerk? And the writing at times just wasn’t my favorite. However, Jeremy did acknowledge what the things he was doing were wrong and he was slowly getting better throughout the book, I think. ⭐⭐⭐
Amazon.com: Summer Bird Blue (9781481487757): Bowman, Akemi Dawn: Books
Amazon.com: Odd One Out (9781101939536): Stone, Nic: Books
Amazon.com: Starfish (9781481487726): Bowman, Akemi Dawn: Books
  • Summer Bird Blue by Akemi Dawn Bowman. Okay, the first thing I wanna say: I expected to cry a lot more. People describe sobbing over this book and I was a little scared but…I didn’t? I’m not a very emotional reader anyways, so that might be part of it, but still. I expected to cry more. Also, can I just say, yes for aroace spec rep??? YES. It’s soooooo rare and if I were gonna cry, the parts that it was mentioned is where I would most likely cry. ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • Odd One Out by Nic Stone. This book was…I don’t know? Like I honestly don’t know my opinions on this book. On one hand, it kept me hooked and it was interesting but on the other hand…well my mind keeps going back to the unchallenged biphobia. ⭐⭐
  • Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman. Dawn Bownman’s writing is a masterpiece. This writing was seriously so amazing, and the book itself was amazing as well. I especially enjoyed the descriptions of the art at the end of the chapters. ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Amazon.com: Hani and Ishu's Guide to Fake Dating (9781645672579):  Jaigirdar, Adiba: Books
Amazon.com: You're Welcome, Universe (9780399551413): Gardner, Whitney:  Books
Amazon.com: The Ones We're Meant to Find (9781250258564): He, Joan: Books
  • Hani and Ishu’s Guide to Fake Dating by Abida Jaigirdar. This book was AMAZING. I really enjoyed The Henna Wars, which I read last month, but this one was 100% better, I loved it SO MUCH. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • You’re Welcome Universe by Whitney Gardner. I really enjoyed this book. I like how it really shows that graffiti is art because a lot of people just think it’s vandalism and don’t really appreciate it. ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • The Ones We’re Meant to Find by Joan He. I…woah. I am thoroughly conflicted and confused about this book, that twist just sorta blew my mind? ⭐⭐⭐
Amazon.com: The Art of Running Away (9781631635779): Sabrina Kleckner: Books
Seafire by Natalie C. Parker: 9780451478825 | PenguinRandomHouse.com: Books
  • The Art of Running Away by Sabrina Kleckner. This was a really sweet and nice middle grade book and I enjoyed it immensly. ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • Seafire by Natalie Parker. This one took me a while to get through because fantasy slump but it was a fun one to come back to when I didn’t have anything else to read and I did overall enjoy it. ⭐⭐⭐

The Monthly Bingo is created by A Colorful Bibliophile and it is totally amazing, so please head over there and check it out! It’s such a fun thing to do and I hope you’ll join in on it!
Here’s what I’ve done for this month!

Despite not up to my normal level, I wrote a few more blog posts this month (more than last month, I mean, which wasn’t very hard to beat). All of these posts were super fun, though, and I really hope you check them out if you haven’t already because they’re some of my best yet (in my opinion).

This is my favorite post to date, I think it’s my most important post as well!
My first book review in a very long time–for an awesome book!

June goals:

  • Blog some more?
  • Hang out with my friends
  • Don’t think about school after it ends
  • Follow a few more blogs

July goals:

  • Write a pretty big chunk of my book
  • Do at least half of my summer work (don’t you dare leave it all for August)
  • Read 12 books
  • Catch up on book reviews on goodreads
  • Try to play some more softball (if your body doesn’t continue to get hurt in various ways)
  • School’s out! Yep, in June. My school goes a little longer than a lot of other peoples (though we don’t have school until September)
  • I started a new WIP! Don’t know if this is a good or bad idea because…I already have another WIP, but I’ve barely written any of this one anyways. I’m really excited for it though, because it actually has fake dating in it! I’m really looking forward to incorporating this into the plot since it seems like there are a LOT of fake dating books coming out recently and I wanted to write my own.
  • My team’s softball season ended. While I wasn’t able to play in the final games, given my injury, I still had a great time being on that team and I loved all my teammates. We ended up third (out of four teams) but it was still a really fun season, despite me being injured.
  • …More baseball stuff happened? Most of you have probably figured out that I’m a big baseball fan by now, but we’ve reached the halfway point of the season and things are going pretty well (depending on which team you root for haha. But then again, most of the things were expected. Except for…the Giants and the Red Sox?)

What was your June like? Have you read any of these books?
Thank you so much for stopping by and have a great July!

April Wrap Up (part 2)

Let’s play a guessing game! Who wants to guess how many books I read this month that I did not mark as read/review on goodreads? No, seriously, I want you to guess. Let me know in the comments! (hint: it’s a lot). Anyways, here we are in May already, this year is zipping by! We’re already 1/3 of the year??? How??? Anyways, let’s see what I’ve been reading this month.

~What I Read~

Long story short, I read an adequate amount of books at the beginning of the month and then I went on vacation and read 2 contemporary books in 3 days and then on that vacation, I picked up a fantasy and…I’m still reading it…so basically I think I need to read more realistic fiction/contemporary so please if you have any recs, let me know in the comments!
Also, I’m going to apologize in advance for the weird image formatting that you might see (image sizes being off) because I don’t know, my image sizing is being weird so I’m going by eye what looks good!

A Wish in the Dark: Soontornvat, Christina: 9781536204940: Amazon.com: Books
Scary Stories for Young Foxes: Heidicker, Christian McKay, Wu, Junyi:  9781250181428: Amazon.com: Books
Lost in the Never Woods by Aiden Thomas
  • A Wish in the Dark by Christina Soontornvat. I really enjoyed this book! It had a super interesting world, where light was extremely important and the governor controlled all of it, and it had an awesome plot, too! I feel like the pacing was off a little bit near the end but overall it was super good! ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • Scary Stories for Young Foxes by Christian McKay Heidicker. This was a reread, because I’m trying to write a short story that is horror (it’s not going well for anyone who wants to know) and it was good as well! Maybe it’s because I’m not the target audience but it wasn’t that scary, but I still really enjoyed it! ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • Lost in the Never Woods by Aiden Thomas. I loved Thomas’s debut, Cemetery Boys, and had high hopes for this one, too. But, unfortunately, I didn’t enjoy this as much as I enjoyed CB. It was definitely still an interesting book, but I think that my own expectations got the better of me, here. ⭐⭐⭐
Amazon.com: The Gilded Ones (9781984848697): Forna, Namina: Books
Amazon.com: Parachutes (9780062941084): Yang, Kelly: Books
Amazon.com: Amelia Unabridged: A Novel (9781250253026): Schumacher, Ashley:  Books
  • The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna. This book, at the beginning, was sort of boring. I mean, all she was doing was running around battling. But I did enjoy the worldbuilding and the story near the end, plus the friendships. I haaaaated the romance though. I’m truly conflicted on this one so I’m giving it 3.5 stars which I rarely do ⭐⭐⭐.5
  • Parachutes by Kelly Yang. This book was super eye opening, with an excellent plot that centered around sexual harrassment and raising awareness about that. There were a few minor things I didn’t like but they didn’t affect the plot overall so it was still a very good book! ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • Amelia Unabridged by Ashley Schumacher. This book was a nice and easy read! That’s the problem. It’s a book about grief, her best friend dies and she goes off and falls in love. Not saying that you can’t fall in love it’s just really weird to me how light this book was despite the topic. ⭐⭐⭐
Amazon.com: The Wide Starlight (9780593116227): Lesperance, Nicole: Books
Amazon.com: Sweet & Bitter Magic (9781534453852): Tooley, Adrienne: Books
Amari and the Night Brothers (Supernatural Investigations, 1): Alston, B.  B.: 9780062975164: Amazon.com: Books
  • The Wide Starlight by Nicole Lesperance. This book was interesting, it kept me reading but there were a few things that I didn’t like. It was also confusing at times, as it seemed to be a mix of fairytale and real life and that’s not exactly my favorite genre. Plus, there did appear to be a few times where things were way to easy (ex at the end with the ring). ⭐⭐⭐.5
  • Sweet And Bitter Magic by Adrienne Tooley. This was an interesting book and it had a cool concept but overall it was a very meh book. ⭐⭐⭐
  • Amari and the Night Brothers by BB Alston. This was a super awesome middle grade book, it was written well, there was magic, there was so many things including important parts about how Amari is treated differently just because of the color of her skin and where she lives. ⭐⭐⭐⭐.5
Full Disclosure by Camryn Garrett: 9781984829986 | PenguinRandomHouse.com:  Books
Amazon.com: Picture Us In The Light (9781484726020): Loy Gilbert, Kelly:  Books
  • Full Disclosure by Camryn Garrett. I loved this book, it really taught me a lot about HIV and shows really how much stigma there is around it that shouldn’t be there. The characters were amazing, the storytelling was amazing, the plot was amazing…it was all amazing! ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • Picture Us in the Light by Kelly Loy Gilbert. I found this book off of May’s personalized recommendations and I was going on a vacation so I was like, ‘I’ll get it for vacation.’ And I read it and it was REALLY GOOD. Once again, I must know: how do authors write books that are just about…people’s normal lives…and yet they’re still very interesting? ⭐⭐⭐⭐

~The Monthly Book Awards~

Alright everyone, I am sorry to say that I am, for now, discontinuing my Monthly Book Awards. I think they were a fun idea at first but more and more they’re getting less fun to write and more something that I’m not looking forwards to doing in my wrap ups. I’m super sorry and if anyone wants to know my favorite character/plot/worldbuilding/book/etc., please ask in the comments! I’m totally fine with answering there, it’s just….something about the formatting…or writing the entire thing in a post…or something that was really being a pain for me. I love all the support I’ve gotten in the past about the monthly book awards and I’m very sad to see them go, they’re just not enjoyable for me to write anymore and I’m hoping that getting rid of them will fix at least part of the blogging burnout I’ve been going through. I’ve been looking through the comments that you all have written and I’m really sorry to have to get rid of these since I know a lot of people really like them! To check out past monthly book awards, go look at some of my other wrap ups, including my most recent one, my March Wrap up.

TBRs

For the record, I read exactly 0 of the books that I said I would read in April for my April TBR so I’m just not going to do one this month (I entirely forgot I even owned books I hadn’t read yet…oops…)

~Monthly Bingo~

The Monthly Bingo is created by A Colorful Bibliophile so please head over there and give her some love because it’s an amazing idea! You can find April’s bingo board here.
Here’s this month’s board! (I didn’t get bingo 😭)

And that’s it for this month’s wrap up! I hope that you enjoyed reading and thank you so much for stopping by! Take a guess at how many books you think I’ve read but not marked on goodreads (and I’m not even going to say no peeking because if you really go into that much effort to get the answer correct, you deserve it honestly). Also, SOMEONE PLEASE GIVE ME REALISTIC FICTION RECS BECAUSE I NEED THEM. Seriously, even if you have already recommended the book to me, write it in the comments because I it helps keep me more organized to have a bunch of recs in one place (by ‘organized’ I mean I’ll just look in the comments for book recs but not actually put those recs anywhere else ie on goodreads).
As always, thanks for stopping by and I hope you have a marvelous May!

March Wrap Up (part two)

Hey everyone, welcome back to my March wrap up! This is part two, in case you missed it, I’m splitting my wrap ups into two parts so they aren’t the monster that was my January Wrap up. I published the first part of the wrap up on Sunday, where I discussed favorite posts around the blogosphere, the posts I published this month and more! Please head on over and check it out if you haven’t already! For this part of the wrap up, I’ll be talking about the books I’ve read, my monthly bookish awards (more on those later if you don’t know what they are) and more!
First of all, someone please tell me how we’re already a fourth of the way through the year? Please, educate me on this sorcery, it seems impossible. This year is going…weirdly fast and I’m not sure why. Or how. But I’m all for it.
Anyways, let’s get into my reading month!

~What I Read~

Amazon.com: A Dark and Hollow Star (9781534453678): Shuttleworth, Ashley:  Books
Amazon.com: Skyhunter (Skyhunter Duology, 1) (9781250221681): Lu, Marie:  Books
  • This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger. This book was super different from what I usually read. It was a little slower than other things that I pick up but it was super good! But now I just don’t know what was real because at the end, Odie just said something like ‘all storytellers bend their stories a little,’ and a bit more stuff like that. ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • A Dark and Hollow Star by Ashley Shuttleworth. This was probably my most anticipated release of 2021 and it was good! I really liked the characters and the plot, but I do have to say that it was definitely very slow at the beginning and while there was rep LGBTQ+-wise, there was basically no rep POC-wise which was disappointing ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • Skyhunter by Marie Lu. This book was super interesting and may very well be my favorite Marie Lu book. It did seem like just another sci fi book but the characters were awesome and there was a bit of twist to a usual YA sci fi plot. ⭐⭐⭐⭐
The Dangerous Gift (Wings of Fire, Book 14) (14): Sutherland, Tui T.:  9781338214543: Amazon.com: Books
We Are Not From Here by Jenny Torres Sanchez
Shadows Over London | CamCat Books
  • Wings of Fire by Tui T Sutherland: The Dangerous Gift. I started reading Wings of Fire when I read middle grade books and so I’ve continued to read them as they come out! These books are ones that I never grow out of–they’re still as enjoyable today as they were when I was the target audience! ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • We Are Not From Here by Jenny Torres Sanchez. This book was sad and eye-opening and I’m really glad to have read it. It taught me a lot–I had no idea about La Bestia before reading this–and it was very heart-wrenching. ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • Shadows Over London by Christian Klaver. I received this book as an ARC and it was…fine. I didn’t really care for it, the writing style was not to my liking and the plot was just meh. ⭐⭐
Lore by Alexandra Bracken
Amazon.com: Elatsoe (9781646140053): Little Badger, Darcie, Cai, Rovina:  Books
  • King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo. I read the entire Shadow and Bone series just so I could read this one and I finally got around to it. Wow, it did not disappoint! I loved seeing Nikolai and Zoya but I especially loved seeing Nina. Plus, Leigh Bardugo is a master at writing plot as always and it was just so awesome to be in the Grishaverse again! ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • Lore by Alexandra Bracken. I read The Darkest Minds by Bracken a while ago and didn’t enjoy it that much so I didn’t really know what to think, going into this one. Whatever it was, my expectations were not very high. And it was indeed a meh book. It was an interesting idea for a book overall and there were some interesting parts and interesting characters but the book itself, I didn’t really care for it. ⭐⭐
  • Elatsoe by Darcie Little Badger. This was a fun, easy to read book! Plus, I always love seeing an aroace protagonist! I do agree with many reviews I’ve seen on this book that it reads more as middle grade than YA but it was still enjoyable. ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Amazon.com: The Girls I've Been (9780593353806): Sharpe, Tess: Books
I'll Be the One by Lyla Lee
Amazon.com: Rule of Wolves (King of Scars Duology, 2) (9781250142306):  Bardugo, Leigh: Books
  • The Girls I’ve Been by Tess Sharpe. Woah, this book was…intense. This might have been the first thriller I’ve ever read (honestly, I’ve probably read more but who knows) and…wow. Clearly I have nothing to say about this book haha. ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • I’ll Be The One by Lyla Lee. This book was so fun and enjoyable! I was recommended this book by Katie @Whispering Pages and finally got around to reading it and it was just so awesome! I would highly recommend this to anyone who wants a fun contemporary book. Or just anyone. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • Rule of Wolves by Leigh Bardugo. It’s over. I can’t really believe it’s over but wow that book is quite something. There were some things I liked less than I liked about King of Scars, and some things I liked more. It was a very mixed book. ⭐⭐⭐⭐

~The Monthly Book Awards~

Those of you who’ve seen my blog since the last wrap up know what the monthly book awards are but for anyone new, I’ll explain them really quickly.
These awards are basically just short little things I do where I ‘award’ a character, a world, a book, etc. if it’s the best one of the topic that I’ve read that month. Down below, you can see all the categories and the award winners for each one!
Note: all awards are my own opinion
Also: While this is my creation, anyone who wants to participate in the monthly book awards is completely welcome to do so on their own blog! Just make sure to credit me, but other than that I’d love to see everyone else’s award winners!
And just a reminder from last month, I’ve decided to remove the ‘worst’ part of the awards. While it can be good to know what books to stay away from and where books are weaker, I’ve realized that it’s much more important to focus on the good parts of books, and also that it might be sort of unfair to choose what book was worst in some points. Hope you all are okay with this! (If you really want to know the ‘worst’s, you can ask me in the comments).

Best character: There really is no character that pops out at me as the ‘best character’ in this group. My first thought was Nikolai, but I think I’m going to go with Skye from ‘I’ll be the One.’ Skye was super determined and self confident and she didn’t let anyone push her down which was a super cool quality to have.
Most interesting character: I guess I’ll go with Nora from The Girls I’ve Been. She’s a con artist’s daughter so she’s had to basically be different girls throughout her life.
Funniest character: Okay, this is why I didn’t put Nikolai as ‘best character’; he’s clearly the funniest character. I mean, come on, he’s Nikolai. How could he not be the funniest.

Best Villain: I….honestly don’t know. I didn’t read many books with villains this month. I guess the only two villains there really was was those in A Dark and Hollow Star and in Shadows Over London and of those I guess I’d have to say the villain in A Dark and Hollow Star?
Most original villain: I honestly do not know, nor do I think either of the villains I mentioned previously were extremely original so I’m just gonna leave this blank.

Best plot: What else could I possibly say other than King of Scars? Leigh Bardugo is a master of plots (and characters, too) and KoS is no exception. Rule of Wolves is a close second behind this (as it is the second in the King of Stars duology…)(I don’t even know if that was a pun and it wasn’t intended to be but…)
Most original plot: I think I have to go with Lore by Alexandra Bracken here. I’ve never read a book anything like this (I mean, Percy Jackson was the closest as it is set in NYC and there is greek mythology but it didn’t come anywhere close) and the concept was super interesting.
Craziest plot twist: Not gonna lie, I’m just saying Rule of Wolves because I can’t think of anything else. I cannot think of a plot twist in Rule of Wolves either, but I’m just going with it because there’s got to be one in there somewhere.

Best world building: I always hate using a single book for lots of answers but best world building clearly goes to King of Scars/Rule of Wolves. Just like sh’es a master at plot, Bardugo’s world building is fabulous.
Most original world: Well it appears I did not read many books that even had fantasy worlds so I’ll go with Elatsoe for this one. The world in Elatsoe was basically our world but there was some magic and creatures which I thought was pretty cool.

Best romance: Uuuuh
Uuuuuuuuuh
I guess I’ll say Nina and Hanne from King of Scars??? There was literally no other romance that stood out to me this month
Most unexpected romance: I’m not gonna lie, most romances are extremely predictable these days. I honestly don’t know what to say because none of these surprised me the slightest bit.

Most diverse book: Well, King of Scars was very diverse but I’m going to go with I’ll Be the One by Lyla Lee here. All of the main characters/important side characters were LGBTQ+ as well as Asian. Skye was also fat and it was a very body-positive book which unfortunately is not something that I see very often in YA.

Best book overall: …Oh, come on, it’s got to have been King of Scars. I’d also put Rule of Wolves here. Despite the fact that I did rate Rule of Wolves 4 stars when I rated King of Scars (as well as I’ll be the One) 5, I think overall I enjoyed Rule of Wolves more, there were just more things that I also enjoyed less. I’ll Be the One was an extremely close second, I loved that book.
Most original book overall: (*Note: I’m changing this prompt from ‘most interesting book overall’ to ‘most interesting book overall’) Oh, Lore’s gotta win this one too, like I said before it was extremely original.
Most surprising book overall: I’ll Be the One by Lyla Lee. I was expecting to really enjoy it but I was not expecting to LOVE it. It was SUCH an amazing book and you NEED to go out and read it RIGHT AWAY.

~April TBR~

Just like last month, I’m doing a short TBR of books that I’m probably going to read in April. Don’t expect me to stick to this TBR though! (I said I was gonna read The Gilded Ones in March but I only got halfway through due to the fact that I received two extremely anticipated books of mine right after I started reading it and just had to start reading those)

Amazon.com: Kingdom of Souls (Kingdom of Souls, 1) (9780062870957): Barron,  Rena: Books
Amazon.com: A Universe of Wishes: A We Need Diverse Books Anthology  (9781984896209): Clayton, Dhonielle: Books
Amazon.com: Not Your Villain (Sidekick Squad) (9781945053252): Lee, C.B.:  Books
  • Kingdom of Souls by Rena Barron. I saw a talk by this author last…August? And I’ve been excited to pick this up ever since. I think that now that I actually own this I’ll be much more likely to do so!
  • A Universe of Wishes edited by Dhonielle Clayton. This will be the first anthology I’ve read in a while and I’m excited to pick it up! It looks like a super interesting read.
  • Not Your Villain by CB Lee. This is the second book in the Sidekick Squad, whose first book I read in February. I’m trying to read this series really slowly given that book 4 doesn’t come out until August and if I devour them all right now, I will be in that awkward spot where I remember too much that a reread is worth it but not enough that I can just pick up the book remembering exactly what happened in that last one, come August. (disclaimer: I’ll probably end up in that spot anyways)

~Monthly Bingo~

And I’m back with the monthly bingo again! The monthly bingo is created by A Colorful Bibliophile and it is an absolutely amazing creation. You can find this month’s bingo board here, as well as the board for the month of April here.
Anyways, enough rambling, here’s my March bingo board:

Not gonna lie, I definitely bent some of the prompts a lot. But come on, I needed to get my bingo!
Anyways, I do hope that you participate in the monthly bingo because it is a WHOLE LOT of fun!

Have you read any of the books that I did for my reading month? What do you think of my monthly bookish awards? Are you going to participate in the bingo? (you totally should). Let me know in the comments! I’d love to talk to you!
As always, thank you so much for stopping by and taking the time to read this; it means the world. Stay safe and keep on reading!

Our thoughts on teens in YA

Hey everyone! As you might recall, if you’ve been around my blog a bit, I did a discussion post last month (it was actually a collaboration with April @Booked Till Midnight!). I had a whole lot of fun writing that post and so I decided to write another discussion!
Unfortunately I decided to procrastinate on writing this post until just about the last minute and now I’m tired and rushing and this post is nowhere near as good as that other one (which you can find here). Sooooo I’m super sorry about that and hopefully you still enjoy the topic. I promise that the post coming next week will be better. It’ll be one of my famous* wrap-ups so, yeah, there’s that to look forwards to if you enjoy those anyways (and I’m sorry if you don’t?)
*This is self-proclaimed fame. I honestly feel like my crazy wrap ups are the thing I’m most known for at this point (but especially my absurdly long January wrap-up).
This is a really interesting topic that I’m sort of conflicted on, and I’m wondering what all of you think. I really hope you enjoy since I’ve been thinking about this for a while and can’t wait to hear your own opinions on this topic!

In YA books, teens or people in their young twenties are almost always the main characters, the heros of the story. They’re books that really show how young people can be strong, can be the heros, in a world where oftentimes it’s older people who take the helm, from parents to government officials, etc. But how well do authors, who are oftentimes adults themselves, portray teens? Where is it okay that they make the character act a little older/younger than they are and where is it just weird? What books write teens well and what don’t?
(I know people have addressed the wordpress editor font weirdness before but for some reason it just changed for me and I do not like this times new roman font size twelve or whatever)
I just want to start off by saying that all opinions are my own and not everyone might agree with me!

First of all, I wanted to discuss younger teens in YA books, maybe teens who are thirteen, fourteen, fifteen years old, ages that I don’t see portrayed that often in YA. I, personally, don’t enjoy how books portray characters these ages a lot of times and I’m going to cite a book that is loved by a LOT of people for this: Eliza and her Monsters. In Eliza and her Monsters, the main character, Eliza, is 17/18 years old. Now, in this book she has two online friends who she talks with a lot, one of whom is 14/15 years. And throughout the book, Eliza and her other friend who I believe is a little older than her (honestly, I’m shocked I remember even this much, I read this in September and info from books slips through my brain like water through fingers.) constantly talk about how young this character is and just make her seem a lot younger than 3 years. Guys, fourteen year olds aren’t actually that young. At all. I promise. They’re teenagers, they act like teenagers, three years isn’t that big an age gap at all. Also, I listened to the audiobook for part of this (it’s a terrible book to listen to on audiobook because there are some pictures) and whenever Eliza was talking to this 14 year old, Em, Em’s voice was so high like she’s a first grader not a fourteen year old.
This isn’t the only instance when this happens in books, it’s just the one I remember most (because Em’s voice was so high and it was in my ears aaack) but the verdict: I believe that younger teens are portrayed as much younger as they are in real life in YA books and I’d love to see some more books with characters who are on the younger age range of the teen-spectrum (not sure if that’s a thing but sure, I just made it up). Oftentimes, teens these ages are the main characters in middle grade books or supporting characters in YA and I think we need more main characters these ages. What do you think?

Next up: Do authors write teens in books too old, sometimes?
Well, in my opinion, yes there are definitely times when teens are written much too old (looking at you, Six of Crows). These are seventeen or eighteen year olds who act like they’re nearly thirty. Does this dampen the enjoyment of reading? It depends what you read for. If you’re reading these books specifically to find characters your age who act like you but who do these super heroic things, yeah, it might. If you spend the entire book telling yourself ‘a teen couldn’t do that. This is super unrealistic,’ and contemplating how un-teen-like this entire thing is, then that will definitely not be a fun read. But I’ve found, at least in my case, that it’s possible to enjoy a book even if the teens aren’t realistic. I pay more attention to the plot than I do to the characters, most of the time and that means that even if these eighteen year olds are acting like thirty year olds, they’re still doing awesome things to help the plot forwards so I still enjoy the book. How does the way characters act affect your enjoyment of a book?

What makes a good teenage protagonist in a YA book?
Well, I think this varies depending on the genre of the book. If you’re reading a YA realistic fiction/contemporary, you probably want a relatable protagonist. Contemporary/realistic fiction is about growing up, learning new things, so the protagonist you’re reading should be relatable. Someone who you can connect with. If not relatable, at least realistic. You want real problems, real emotions, not some sort of barbie-doll plastic mold of a teenager.
(disclaimer: I don’t read many realistic fiction/contemporary books and I also do not analyze the characters a whole bunch so I’m sorry that that part was super short)

In a fantasy or adventure or basically anything that isn’t a realistic fiction book, I think that it’s a little different. Of course, you want a teenager who acts like a teenager, once again a thirty year old-acting teen is prooooobably not the best character, but I feel like there’s also certain ways you want a teen to act. You know, you don’t want a damsel-in-distress teen (unless it’s the beginning of the book and they get an arc) because you don’t want to read about other people helping the protagonist. They’re the protagonist, you want to read about them doing their own things! Usually, in a book you’re looking for a strong, determined, loyal* character who can hold their own and who is the star of the story, not some sort of side character while the action is taking place somewhere else.
*this is something I see in a lot of characters in books but obviously not all of them. Keep reading, more on this below.

But then, there’s a type of character we haven’t talked about. A type of character that a lot of people seem to love (I actually don’t fit into that category, something I’ve discovered recently). Morally grey characters are not really your typical YA protagonists.
Why?
Here’s the thing. There’s one trait that sets them apart from characters I discussed above: loyalty. Oh, also things like a moral compass…okay there are several things. Man, that sentence sounded dramatic and now I have to go add things to it.
Anyways. People love these ruthless, grey characters because they’re different. I think. I’m not one of these people so maybe I shouldn’t be speaking on this. But I had to add this in here! So onwards I go. Morally grey characters are different and oftentimes these really strong characters who are willing to do anything to get what they want which can be an admirable trait. And they can just be plain, downright fun.
Gosh, I don’t even know what I’m saying anymore.

Well, that’s a wrap on this post! Again, sorry for the content, it definitely wasn’t up to my usual level of chaos over here on my blog and wow maybe I should stop apologizing and actually just write something I’m proud of but nope I’ve been busy (and yet if you asked me to name a single thing I did this week I’d probably sit there staring at you (or my computer screen) blankly.).

Just a reminder to everyone that there is one week left to enter the giveaway for ‘A Bite of Revenge’ by Setayesh Kazempoor. Check out my post where I interviewed Setayesh, and then head on over to enter the giveaway! You can also find the giveaway here and the goodreads page for this book here.

What do you think of this post? Do you agree with me or have some different opinions? What sorts of things do you enjoy seeing in your protagonists?
As always, thank you so much for stopping by–it means the world! Everyone, please, stay safe and keep on reading!

Baby it’s Cold Outside Book Tag

Thank you so much to Cherelle @A Bolt Out of the Book, Madeline @The Bookish Mutant and Cherry @Cherry Blossom Books for tagging me to do this! (wow, when did I become so immersed in the blogging community that I get tagged 3 times for something!) I am so so so sorry it took me so long to get this out…I know that it may be a little past the time when this tag is appropriate to do but I’m going to go ahead and do it anyways since the questions aren’t thaaaaat related to the holidays (if they are, well, just let me do my tag in peace).

~Rules~

  • Thank the person who tagged you and link to their post.
  • Display the banner (copy and paste).
  • Link to the original creator: erin @ Reading On A Star !
  • Answer the questions!
  • Tag however many people as you want!

~Questions~

Snow Day: What’s your comfort book?

Aaah, well it turns out I actually don’t reread many books over and over again. If I had to choose one I would probably say the Percy Jackson books (the original ones) or the Harry Potter books because when I was younger I used to just read these books over and over and over, whenever I didn’t have a book from the library or something I’d just pick these up. I can’t count how many times I’ve read the Harry Potter series. (And ever since certain comments from the author have been revealed I have yet to pick it up again. *sigh*)

Snow Angels – What’s a book that you love so much you would want to be buried with it (a little morid, but…)?

I have to choose one book to take with me to the afterlife? To read over and over again for all of eternity? Ha ha just kidding. Okay…a book that I want to be buried with. Hmm, this one’s hard. You know, in about April when I actually read this book, it was my favorite book, I absolutely loved it, it was awesome…and then I read a lot of other books, got more immersed in the reading (and blogging) community and it sort of got pushed to the background. But I think for this one, I will say All the Stars and Teeth by Adalyn Grace. It’s adventure fantasy so it’s just really fun to read and…well there are parts of it that are a little cliche, it’s soooort of just another adventure fantasy but I really really enjoyed it.

Warm Socks – What’s a book that makes you feel warm inside? (The fluffiest, cutest romance you’ve ever read?)

So…I do not like romance much. Like, at all. I really really don’t enjoy reading books that are just straight up romance, as in that’s a main part of the book.
However. I suppose for this question I will say…well this is a bit of a weird one, since they’re not really a main couple in the book but then again they might be in book 3…anyways, I’m going to say Sev and Kane from Crown of Feathers. Yeah, not a romance AT ALL but…I dunno. And, disclaimer, I read this book a while ago so I might not be remembering Kane’s name right…my brain is swiss cheese. I apologize.
I don’t know what it was about them that made me like them…I mean it was a biiiit of an enemies to lovers romance but they weren’t enemies, they just disliked each other…anyways, whatever it was, I shipped them from the moment Kane appeared in the book (yes, when the two still disliked each other)

Hot Cocoa – What winter-themed novels have you previously read?

Yeah, I really don’t read many seasonal novels. I’m not even sure what winter-themed means….I mean, I suppose, like, it’s winter out? Cold and snow? Which, you know, is a liiiittle odd since there’s plenty of places that never even get snow but okay I’ll go with it. For some reason the book that first comes to my mind is Absolutely Truly, by Heather Vogel Fredricks. This is a middle grade novel that I read several years ago and if I recall correctly it’s based mainly, if not completely, in a small town in…New Hampshire? Vermont? In the winter.

Sledding – What’s a book with the best plot twists? Who’s an author that always keeps you on your toes?

I’ll have you know that it took considerable self restraint NOT to put Four Dead Queens here (and if you want to see the numerous posts where I talk about the crazy plot twist in this book, see my yearly wrap up, my liebster award post, and my original tag, the 2020 book tag). Instead, I chose Eight Will Fall by Sarah Harian. This is possibly the only spooky (I guess horror?) YA book that I’ve ever read but I REALLY loved it. There were definitely a lot of twists that I never really expected.

Ugly Sweaters – What’s a book with the ugliest cover?

So, I’m going to have to agree with Cherelle on this one that A Court of Silver Flames has a REALLY ugly cover. But I’ll also say a book that I’ve actually read because I’ve never read any ACOTAR books and will probably never read them. So I’ll go with Lupe Wong Won’t Dance. This is a middle grade novel so maybe it’s a little unfair of me since I understand that even the covers of middle grade novels are a little different than YA novels but I feel like in this cover there’s way too much going on in this cover. The main premise of Lupe Wong Won’t Dance is this girl who’s a huge Mariners fan and a huge baseball player as well–she plans to be a pitcher in the major leagues. Her uncle works for the Mariners and promises Lupe that he’ll introduce her to her favorite baseball player if she gets all A’s in school. But then, in gym which she loves, it’s the square dancing unit and Lupe does NOT want to square dance.
I didn’t like this cover for a few reasons. There’s a lot going on in this cover–we have her school’s mascot behind her on what I assume is the gym floor? And then around Lupe there’s people dancing–square dancing, I assume. The title is also super colorful and just all those different colors and things happening, it’s a lot for eyes to take in? But also, there’s a lot of words on the cover. Of course we have the title, in large letters at the bottom, and then the author, but also Lupe’s jersey that she’s wearing has the words ‘Mexinese’ on it–Lupe is mexinese and that’s definitely touched on in the book–as well as her school mascot behind her has words around that. I feel like on a cover, really the only words should be the title, the author and maybe a short phrase or something.
Lastly, the jersey she’s wearing isn’t the same colors as a Mariners jersey and I know it’s not a Mariner’s jersey but I feel like since that’s her favorite team it should be at least the same colors. These are the colors of a Mets jersey.
(please excuse the formatting for this answer. Thank you)

Movie Marathon – What’s the last book you binge read?

I’ve actually been reading a lot of books really quickly, lately…I’ve spent a lot of time, just, reading which is pretty nice. So, there’s been several books that I read in under 24 hours but I think I’ll say that the last book I actually binge read was probably Ice Dogs by Terry Lynn Johnson. I read this in one sitting, in a little under 2 hours I think. Someone I know had been RAVING about this book so I picked it up one day and just gave it a go. It was…pretty interesting? A really cool adventure, and crazy that it was realistic fiction. I learned some survival skills and it was cool that it was about dog sledding since you don’t see many books about that.

Letter to Santa – What’s a book that’s on your wishlist this year?

Well, here’s the one question that is a biiiit out of season. But fortunately, there’s birthdays! Eventually! I’m not actually gonna tell you when my birthday is (sorry guys) but I WILL tell you it’s in less than a year. I know, that really narrowed it down.
Aaanyways, either my birthday or Christmas will come first or maybe someone will just give me a book randomly (every reader’s dream). But the book that I probably want most for a holiday would be…A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder. I’ve heard a lot about this book and it’s a mystery and I’ve recently been reading more mysteries and they’re super interesting and yeah I just want to read this now!

~Tags~

Well it’s a little late in the season to tag anyone, However, there’s been several new bloggers in the goodreads YA book blogs group (check it out if you haven’t already!) and I thought I’d tag them! So I’ll tag:

Well, friends, that’s this week’s post! Have you read any of these books! And be sure to check out the four blogs I tagged–they’re new bloggers and would love your support! As always, thank you so much for popping by and checking my post out! It means the world. Stay safe and keep on reading!

2020 Book Tag

Welp, here we go with yet another tag. It seems like ever since I started with the tags, I’ve just been doing them constantly. I’m sorry about that guys, I’ll try to get a discussion post or review up soon, we’ll see!

Before you ask, yes. You read this right. A book tag about 2020, the year as a whole. Because what better year to do one on? 2020 has been the biggest roller coaster of a year that anyone could possibly imagine and there are just so many ideas for a book tag. I will separate the tag into a few different sections so that you all know what part of the year I’m talking about. (Please note: I live in the USA so depending on what country you live on, different things may have happened throughout the year, but this is just what’s up in the US. You can definitely still do the tag even if you live in a different country!)

Here are the rules for this book tag:

  • Link back to the original creator, Phoenix @Books With Wings
  • Thank the person who tagged you
  • Answer all the questions
  • Tag at least 4 people
  • At the bottom, talk about some other books you read in 2020! (this isn’t required, just suggested!)

Please note: Just because this is a book tag about 2020, the books you talk about do not have to have been read by you in 2020
ALSO: This tag is about 2020. However, it does not need to be done DURING 2020. The year is almost done but this tag doesn’t have to be! It’s only a tag about the year, there’s nothing in it that requires it being that year.

Okay! I really hope you all enjoy this tag and find a little light in this year that has been sub-par. I know that it’s a ‘2020 book tag’ but you can do it anytime, not just in 2020! This tag is not time sensitive like the monthly book tags that I have tried and failed to get popular, so don’t worry!

Here is a list of the questions and below I will post my answers:

Part one: Beginning of the year
1) A book that you were really excited for
2) A book that started out really well (to be fair, I’m not certain if it started well, but it was certainly better than the rest of the year)

Part two: The world goes on hold
3) A book that had an unexpected plot twist
4) A book where you felt like nothing happened
5) A book where two main characters were separated (quest, disease, forbidden, etc.)

Part three: The world tries to reopen (and begins a second wave of the pandemic)
6) A book in which the characters made a bad decision
7) A book with an impatient/overly eager character

Part four: The world adjusts (not sure this ever actually happened but…I’ll bend this a little)
8) A book in which the character’s goals change midway.

Part five: The end and looking forwards
9) A book whose sequel you really anticipated/are anticipating
10) A book whose sequel was better than its original (we’re all hoping….)
11) A book that you read just to finish it (didn’t like it but wanted to finish it anyways)


And here are my answers to all of these questions!

1) A book that you were really excited for

A book that I was really really excited to read this year was ‘House of Dragons’ by Jessica Cluess. I thought it had a very interesting concept and I always love books that sort of have trials the characters have to complete. Plus, we get dragons. Unfortunately, House of Dragons did not live up to my expectations – there were some parts that were interesting but overall the writing style wasn’t very good and I knew almost nothing about the world.
You can find my goodreads review of ‘House of Dragons’ here.
Another posts by me featuring this book is my November Monthly wrap-up and book tag

2) A book that started out really well

A book that I thought had a good beginning was Scavange the Stars. The writing style was great for the whole book and we got to see this harsher, worn side of Amaya who’s really just trying to stay alive. It jumps right into the action, making you wonder why on earth Amaya is on the ship and that keeps you reading for the entire book.
You can find my review of ‘Scavenge the Stars’ on my blog here as well as my goodreads review here
Another post featuring this book on my blog is my November monthly wrap-up and book tag

3) A book that had an unexpected plot twist

Okay, this book I read a while ago. When I say a while, I mean like early 2020, sometime in January, but for me that is a while. I have a memory with as many holes as swiss cheese when it comes to books – I read so many of them and then immediately forget the plots. Still, this plot twist is so memorable that I remember it almost a year later. The book ‘Four Dead Queens’ is such an amazingly weaved book, told so skillfully and beautifully that you can’t put it down. I will not tell you the plot twist for spoiler-y reasons but let me just say that this book is very much worth reading and you need to pick it up immediately if you have not already. (proof that the plot twist was great: I mentioned it in my 3-sentence review of this which book I wrote at the beginning of the year before I really started using goodreads a lot) (And can we talk about that cover though? Beautiful)

4) A book where you felt like nothing happened

Ah! Ha ha ha ha (*laughs in disappointment*). Oh boy do I have the book for you. ‘The Future Was Now’ by JR Harbor.
Let me say right now that I miiight be a little biased against this book. Because of other problems that I have with it (many, many problems. I recommend you check out my rant of this book here to see me roasting it farther)
So, things did happen in this book. Here’s the thing: it ends basically exactly where it started. We get no character growth, no nothing. Asa could have just gone to the city, found a pretty girl and gone back home (more about the ‘pretty girl’ in my review rant)

5) A book where two characters were separated

I absolutely loved ‘I’ll Give You the Sun.’ Basically the main reason that, well, everything happened in this book, was because our main characters, Jude and Noah, were separated.
Not physically, mind you. But the twins, who were practically inseparable for most of their lives, were in a giant fight and were barely talking to each other. Given how close they were before this, I’m saying that they were separated in this scenario. You can find my blog post about this book here. You can also find it mentioned in my (less than adequate) October wrap-up.

6) A book in which the characters made a bad decision

I’m going to call this book one giant bad decision.
It’s not that the book itself was bad. In fact, it was a very interesting book. But the entire book was quite literally about making bad decisions. Here’s some background:
The girls of the Danvers field hockey team are determined to win the state championships – in any way possible. Including dappling with some dark magic. But their dark magic needs recharging every now and then…by doing the worst things they can. Stealing the book copies from a classroom. Replacing chemicals in the science lab with water. And more. Like I said, all bad decisions.

7) A book with an impatient or overly eager character

Literally the second I looked at this prompt I thought of Spensa from ‘Skyward’ by Brandon Sanderson. Maybe I wouldn’t call Spensa overly eager but she certainly is extremely eager and definitely a little impatient. She wants to be up in the air, flying like her father was, no matter what it takes. And then, once she begins to get training, she just wants to actually fly, to actually be up there, in the first few days where she’s sort of just stuck on the ground learning the basics.

8) A book where a character’s goals changed midway

‘Tarnished are the Stars’ is the only book I can really think of in which this happens. At the beginning, Anna has a grudge on Nathaniel because he hurt a child from Anna’s village. Eventually, the child dies and Anna is so angry that she goes searching for Nathaniel to kill him. But then Eliza arrives on the scene and they suddenly have another goal – reveal what the tarnish that is affecting the hearts of everyone in the village is and stop it. Anna went from wanting to kill Nathaniel to working alongside him (and thankfully, it is NOT the enemies-to-lovers trope, they’re just friends!)

9) A book whose sequel you were/are anticipating

NEVER ask me this and expect me to list only 1 book. For your convenience, I managed to lower it to four anticipated releases, but let me tell you it was HARD. Also, images are from the book whose sequel I’m anticipating (because the third book of Children of Blood and Bone’s cover isn’t out yet).
The books that I am anticipating are book 2 of All the Stars and Teeth, All the Tides of Fate, the third book in the Children of Blood and Bone series (untitled), A Vow so Bold and Deadly (ACSDAL 3) and book 3 in the Crown of Feathers book, Wings of Shadow. I love all four of these serieses and can’t wait to read the…woah, for all four, the final book! Especially with that cliffhanger at the end of both Heart of Flames and Children of Virtue and Vengeance.

10) A book whose sequel was better than the original

This so rarely happens to me but fortunately I have the perfect example here. The Shadow and Bone series DEFINITELY improved as it went on, the third being…still not amazing, but SO MUCH better than the first book. I think that, since this was Leigh Bardugo’s debut series, her writing improved a lot as the series went on (but Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom are still WAAAAY better)

11) A book that you read just to finish it.

I mean….almost every book I was assigned to read for school? But if we’re going reading for pleasure, I’ll have to say the Shadow and Bone series again. The main reason I picked up Shadow and Bone was to get through it so I could read King of Scars. Shadow and Bone was just…not very good. But I knew that there were characters in it that were in KoS so I just barrelled through it…. (I still haven’t picked up King of Scars, ha).
But also…I’m one of those people who NEVER DNFs so I probably have a few others that I’m forgetting. (anyone think that goodreads should just have a ‘DNF’ button?)

Well, there’s my tag! I really hope you enjoyed this because I thought it would be a fun way to end the year and it’s just an all around original tag! (I hope) Here are the people that I will tag:

Em @Cats, Bibliophiles and Baguettes
Katie @The Storybook Sisters
Alex @The Scribe Owl
April Lee @Booked Till Midnight

Weren’t tagged? I know a lot of people in the blogging community (most of whom I met in the last three days because I’ve actually been making an effort to talk to people) so I can’t tag everyone! But even if you weren’t tagged, please go ahead and do it! I would love to see your answers!

One more thing! Some of you may have noticed the ‘Monthly Wrap-Up Book Tag’ that I’ve been hosting. Yeah, it’s not going so well, probably because it’s sort of on a time crunch and I’m not posting it soon enough and people have already started their monthly wrap-ups, etc. etc. SO. I’m changing how this is going. I will put up a page for the three monthly questions each month. Questions will be put up at the BEGINNING OF THE MONTH. If you want to stick your monthly questions into your wrap-up, just for a fun little ‘learn more about the books’ thing, please do so! If you link your post back to my wrap up I will be sure to present it on my blog so that anyone can see it!
For those of you who are interested in using the questions for this month, the questions are:

  • A book you read this month with a strong bond (friends, family, etc.)
  • A book you read this month in which the characters feasted
  • The book with characters that you would love to invite to your house for thanksgiving (pre-covid)(note: if you do not live in the USA you can talk about the characters you would invite to your house for a feast)

You can find the rest of my monthly wrap-up and check out my answers to these questions here.

Have you read any of these books? What do you think of my anticipated releases? Do you believer that goodreads should add a ‘DNF’ button? Please, tell me what you think in the comments! I always love to hear your opinion on my opinion as long as you’re respectful! As alwaus, thank you for stopping by to read this post and this blog. It means the world!
Stay safe and keep reading,

Scavenge the Stars by Tara Sim

Week number two of my “Beyond the Story” challenge! First I want to thank anyone who is participating in this challenge–though I know not many people are participating, I thank everyone who is. Please, put your reviews for this challenge in the comments if you want to!

*Please note: I listened to this book as an audiobook so character names may not be spelled exactly correctly. If you see an incorrect spelling, please don’t hesitate to let me know in the comments. Thank you.*

Summary: When Amaya saves a mysterious man from drowning, she is afraid that her sentence on the debtor ship, which is almost up, will be elongated. Eager to get home, she believes she has destroyed her future. Instead, the man who she saved strikes up a deal with her: he’ll help her get revenge on the man who ruined her life and she’ll help him get revenge on the person who ruined his. And so Amaya is tossed into a world of riches and finery in a plot to murder both of the men. But the more she explores this new world, the more she dregs up the past that she thought was gone forever–and the more she realizes that no one can be trusted.
On the other hand, Cayo’s life is looking up. It seems he’s finally gotten rid of his gambling problem and his sister is about to marry a wealthy man, giving his family a boost. However, his sister collapses on the night that his father hopes to finalize the marriage and it’s soon confirmed that she has the deadly sickness that’s spreading around Moray. Just to make matters worse, it seems that Cayo’s gambling has lead the family to bankruptcy and now they have nothing to pay with for the expensive medicine. When word gets around that a rich Countess has arrived in the city, Cayo’s father insists that he try to get close to her for a little extra money.

The characters
Amaya: The first character we are introduced to is Amaya. When we meet her, we find her on a debtor’s ship, working furiously. Conditions aren’t great. But don’t worry, Amaya’s leaving soon. This girl is hard-working, tough, strong and loyal. I liked what a strong female character she was but there were a few things I didn’t like about her (more on that later).
Cayo: Shockingly enough, I enjoyed reading the chapters that followed Cayo’s perspective much more than I enjoyed those following Amaya. I think it is because Cayo is more…realistic. He actually has problems. Sure, Amaya has problems as well–I mean she was stuck on a debtor ship, practically a slave, for seven years. But no offense to anyone that this has actually happened to, this doesn’t happen very frequently. Meanwhile, Cayo’s problems are shown throughout the book. His sister is sick. His family is broke. He’s constantly on the urge of getting back into gambling. You can really feel him more than Amaya, this distant character who’s sort of…good at everything.
Boon: Suspicious. The entire time, he was so suspicious. No one just has that much money when you’re out at sea. About his personality….he was sort of ambitious. And broody. Despite the fact that he’s sort of the inciting incident, he’s not in this book much at all.
There were actually so many amazing characters in this book and I cannot name them all. In fact, most were just there for bits and pieces of it, but important nonetheless. Here’s a few more really minor characters I liked:

  • Liesl
  • Saraiya
  • Sebastian

The plot:
So…I’ll admit. I went into this book expecting adventure. Maybe it was the cover, maybe it was the synopsis. Whatever it was, I didn’t think that the characters would be attending parties and tromping around the city.
Revenge. That is what this book is all about. Revenge on the man who ruined Amaya’s life. Revenge on the man who ruined Boon’s life. And it keeps spiraling from there–it seems like everyone who has wronged Amaya a little bit, she’s eager to get revenge on.
I think that that is my biggest problem with this book. She is so eager to kill these people who have wronged her. Now, I am in no way standing up for any of the things that Captain Zharo did. He was cruel and abusive to people, even children as young as eight or nine years old. But Amaya jumps straight to killing in several circumstances. She kills the debt collector who brought her to the ship seven years ago. So much death, much of it that probably didn’t absolutely have to happen.
Revenge, death and non-adventure aside, I did, in fact, enjoy this book very much. I will be forever shocked at how easily authors can fill a bunch of nothing with a bunch of something but I guess if you become an author you get lots of experience making things sound fascinating. I feel like half this book was about people wandering the city, there wasn’t even much action, and yet it wasn’t an uninteresting book. In fact, I would go so far as to say that it was interesting! And yes, despite the fact that I didn’t adore this book, I will be reading the second one once it comes out.

The worldbuilding:
I absolutely loved the world building in this book! I never got an info dump explaining where places were and there were so many countries and kingdoms mentioned. We only got to see one city in this book, which I’m actually disappointed about. I would have loved to see more of this world. Hopefully, that’s what I’ll get in book two!

The romance:
So…I didn’t actually expect there to be romance in this book. I had heard, somewhere, that this book had an asexual/aromantic character and I just kind of assumed that it was Amaya, for some reason. My bad. So the fact that there was romance, even if it was a small amount, was a little surprising to me.
But…I actually liked the ship. I mean, I didn’t absolutely adore it, but it was bearable. That is definitely a shocker for me, who so rarely tolerates reading straight romance in books.

All in all, this book was a big barrel of surprises. It wasn’t my favorite, but it wasn’t awful, either. And I am, in fact, glad that I read this book.

Final rating: (out of five stars)
Characters: 🌟🌟🌟🌟
Plot: 🌟🌟🌟🌟
World building: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
Romance: 🌟🌟🌟
Diversity: 🌟🌟🌟
Final rating: 3.8 stars

Book info:
Title: Scavenge the Stars
Author: Tara Sim
Published by: Little Brown Books on January 4, 2020
Genres: YA, fiction, fantasy, LGBTQIAP+
Pages: 383 (depending on edition)

Have you read “Scavenge the Stars”? What did you think about it? Are you hoping to read the next book? What do you think will happen in “Ravage the Darkness”? What about this blog post? I’d love to hear your opinion on my opinion (just be respectful!) I’d be so excited to have a bookish discussion with you! Plus, make sure to check out some of the other posts I have to offer!
As always, thanks for reading. To take the time out of your day to read my rambles and half-baked posts means the world. Stay safe and keep reading!