Books to Warm Your Heart

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Valentine’s Day is fast approaching and nothing screams love like reading in solidarity for hours on end. To prepare you for the day of love, I have come up with a wonderful list of books that I am more than happy to present you with. As many of you know, the only thing I love more than reading is feminism. Which is why, all of these amazing stories come from equally amazing female authors. This year’s top picks so far are from Colleen Hoover, Stephanie Perkins, Rainbow Rowell, and Huntley Fitzpatrick. With that line up who could go wrong?

November 9th by Colleen Hoover

I’m starting off strong with November 9th. What can I say? Colleen Hoover really knows how to do it. I still haven’t read Slammed but after how in awe I was after reading this one I might have to. November 9th starts off with a great idea and Hoover pulls off the intricate storyline with her realistic writing style and endless plot twists. This story was honestly a trip. It begins when Ben saves Fallon in a tough situation with her father, after that the two begin to fall in love as any other teenagers would do. The complication (of course) is that Fallon is moving across the country that night. The couple agrees to meet up every year with no contact besides that day so Ben can write a book about it. The couple sees each other through new lives, deaths, friendship drama and otherwise.

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

After all the hype for this book I finally gave in and read it and boy, was it worth it. Anna and the French Kiss is about a girl who gets sent overseas for her final year of high school by her parents (honestly that sounds like a dream come true). At first, Anna resents that the decision was made for her, but as soon as she makes some new friends she kind of learns to deal with it. “Where does the french kiss come in?” one might ask. I will tell you, but not too much because I want you to actually read this book. Anna meets a boy in France and while she is falling in love with the city and the language she is also falling in love with the boy. But wait! What will happen to them when Anna has to go back to America?! For that one, you will have to read to find out.

Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

Stephanie Perkins strikes again with Lola and the Boy Next Door and I am here to tell you all about it. Lola is an eccentric high schooler who is beginning to hang out with the wrong crowd because of her older boyfriend when, out of the blue, a friend (and a not-so-friend) move back into the house they occupied when they were younger. Lola finds her time being taken up by the pair of siblings that are back into her life as if they were never gone, and you guessed it, a love story is spawned. This book was a super fun read because Lola is not a conventional character and neither is Cricket or Calliope, they are all so different and interesting and their lives intersect in such a perfect way. Perkins does not disappoint with the characters from the first book, she brings Anna back even though the stories are completely different. This works with the story well, because their lives just fit together they way the do in works of fiction.

Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I’ve read a lot of Stephanie Perkins this year, fight me. It was so worth the time it took up, the whole three days. Isla and The Happily Ever After was a beautiful end to a beautiful series of books. This book takes place between the states and France, combining elements of both the other books. There was a ton of overlapping of different character’s lives and stories and I live for that kind of stuff in writings. Although, Anna and Lola certainly have their difficulties in love, Isla really had a harder go of it than either of them. I actually really enjoy that in a love story because it’s more real to me. Real life is rarely perfect and although sometimes it’s nice to read an ideal life, sometimes it feels better when it’s the reader can relate. On top of being hopelessly in love, Isla has to deal with normal person problems too, like pesky sisters, and picking out a college and making the right decision for her and her friends, which is equally, if not more stressful. It was really a great read.

Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

Attachments is a love story about adults, and adults in strange circumstances at that. I know that is a rare thing to find on this mostly YA blog, but here we are. Many relationships these days begin with the internet, but not the way Rowell sets this story up. I would say that Lincoln is the main character and he has a not very interesting life. Lincoln is what one might call a nerd. He lives with his mom, he plays Dungeons and Dragons, and keeps going to school because he doesn’t know what he wants to do and works in a newsroom screening computer usage. I liked Lincoln, he was doing the best with what he could with what he had and just figuring things out, kind of like we all are. Lincoln’s strange job leads him to (kind of) meet Beth and Jennifer. Lincoln gets to know Beth the way us readers get to know characters in a book, because his job is to screen emails and web history, Beth’s included. As you can imagine they encounter a few bumps with the whole privacy thing but over all it was a good book.

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

Whaaat?!? A second Rainbow Rowell book?! I know, I’m literally in love and it’s ridiculous. I loved both of these books equally and they were both so different. When an author can do very well in different types of stories I am just in awe of this author’s skill. Attachments was a book in a world that could actually happen, Carry On was a completely different kind of amazing. It was an adventure romance for all the Percy Jackson and Harry Potter lovers out there. This story takes place in a school for magic and, Simon, the main character orphan and most powerful magician of all time, spends all his time trying to protect the magical world from the Insidious Humdrum all the while trying to prove that his roommate is a vampire. It does have some Harry Potter similarities but honestly they didn’t cross my mind until I was writing this post right this second, there are so many differences though and this just might be my favorite love story I’ve read all year which is saying something. This one is just so different and it can’t be put into categories.  Seriously read this one.

The Boy Most Likely To by Huntley Fitzpatrick

The only reason I only have one Huntley Fitzpatrick book on this list is because I read all of her books previous to this post. If you read My Life Next Door, The Boy Most Likely To is the perfect addition to your reading list. The characters are from the first book but this time around the story is focused on Nan’s brother Tim. The Garrett’s definitely have quite the presence in this book because they welcome Tim into the garage bedroom to get his life together. Like any time anyone ever has tried to get their life together, there are a few unexpected mishaps. Overall this book is worth your time and I am very impressed with this book and this author. I think Huntley Fitzpatrick has enough promise to be the next Sarah Dessin.

Summer reading list

  

The first up on my reading list is The Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard. I have heard a lot of good things on the internet about it. This book takes place in a caste system that is defined by their type of blood. I love dystopian books so I’m really looking forward to reading this!

Second goes to The Young Elites by Marie Lu. I LOVED THE LEGEND SERIES! That in itself is why I really want to read it, I was so in love with her writing in the trilogy. It’s seems that this book follows up ten years after the disease in the trilogy. Some children have gifts because of the disease, and some people are looking to take them down. Yeah I’m pumped for this book.

I’ll Meet You There is next. This book is by Heather Demetrios. Skylar is faced with the possibility of losing art school and Josh lost his leg in Afghanistan. They meet in a hotel and who knows what will happen next? I’ll keep you updated.

I Was Here made the list because of the love I have for Gayle Foreman and sad books. Cody’s best friend, Meg, kills herself and Cody is left alone. Through everything Cody begins to think that maybe there’s a lot about Meg that Cody didn’t know. Gayle Foreman has yet to disappoint.

Vanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver is a recent addition to my reading list. But the cover looks cool downy not? It’s about sisters and disappearances and that is all I know!

I’m looking forward to reading and keeping you updated!

The Old Man and The Sea by Ernest Hemingway

I finally got around to reading The Old Man and the Sea. 

It is about an old fisherman who goes out every day to fish alone. He respects and loves the sea and the fish that live in it. He has had a bad luck streak and has not caught anything in 84 days. Because of this, the young boy’s parents will not let him fish with the old man. The young boy seems to take care of the old man and he seems to be the closest thing to family the old man has. One day, when the old man is out fishing alone, he struggles to catch the biggest fish he had ever seen.

I like the way this book was written. I liked how the words just seemed to flow along like the waves in the sea. Truthfully, I think a story about fisherman does not sound appealing at all. If it were written by anyone else I don’t I would have read it, but I really wanted to get more familiar with Hemingway and I’m so glad I did. It’s hard to put my finger on exactly what I liked about the book, but I loved the characters. I liked the way the old man was described, how his whole body looked dead and withered but his eyes were alive and as blue as the sea. I liked how the young boy ( who was probably a young adult ) cared so much for the old man.

I didn’t know how to feel about the end, but I don’t know that I was suppose to know.

I am so glad I finally got around to reading this book.

Maybe One Day by Melissa Kantor

IMG_1012This book starts in the office of New York City Ballet school where two high schoolers are hearing the words no ballerina wants to hear, they are being cut. There isn’t room for Olivia and Zoe because NYCB can’t afford to teach girls who will not make it. Zoe can’t imagine anything happening that could be worse than being cut, until something does happen. Olivia gets sick, really sick, and Zoe has to deal with her best friend getting Leukemia and going through high school without Olivia.

Olivia is a sweetheart, but I happen to identify very closely with Zoe. Other than the fact that I don’t have a best friend since birth who is dying of cancer I could be Zoe. Recently, I underwent a similar speech. I wasn’t cut but I was told that I probably would have better luck in not ballet. Zoe and I had very similar reaction, I continued to go to class but I cut my hair very short and went into a ballet rebellion. I also am more of Zoe because I can be the bitchy friend sometimes. I am not telling you all of this because you all care deeply about how I view myself in line with the characters, I am telling you this because the characters in this book are life-like. Olivia was a sweetheart, the world would be a cruel place to take her. She was kind and loving and she taught ballet to unfortunate kids when she no longer could learn. Olivia was just the kind of person cancer should not be able to touch.

Life goes on. Zoe learned that more than ever when Olivia gets sick. Zoe has tests and grades that don’t care that her best friend is in the hospital. She has overly friendly cheerleaders and hot football players that suddenly care. There is parties and other friends and birthdays, but Zoe doesn’t want any of that. Zoe wants Olivia to be okay. Zoe deals with sadness as she takes over teaching Olivia’s dance class, and as she gets involved with a boy Olivia used to like. Zoe and Olivia even fight, but Zoe would do anything for Olivia, even take her to the nutcracker.

This book was real and sad and moving. As I was reading it in a hotel lobby I had to pause every paragraph in order to not disrupt the others in the room with my ugly sobs. This book hooked me because I am a dancer, but I kept reading because I fell in love with the characters and the plot. Everyone should read this a cry with me.

Independent Study by Joelle Charbonneau

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A+ to Joelle Charbonneau, she knows where romance belongs in a dystopian. I love Cia, she will be put on my list of wonderful females for sure.

Independent Study begins as Cia and the rest of the colony students that passed the Testing are taking their general exams. Cia and Thomas are falling back in love, and Cia finds the recording she created at the end of the last book.
The examinations place her in Government studies instead of her desired field and she is separated from her friends. She excels in Induction and takes on 9 classes as well as an internship with the president herself. She works with Mical and a few classmates to fix the way the testing is done, but that brings trouble.
I can’t wait to see what happens in Graduation Day, unfortunately I have a stack of books up to my shoulder that I have to read before I can get to it. I love how Thomas and Cia have a relationship but it is only present when Cia wants it to be, after being chosen for government there was no mention of Thomas at all during the induction. But after he was still there for her. I love it.

The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau

So I recently finished the first book in the Testing trilogy: The Testing. By recently I mean roughly a half hour ago.

As I huge fan of dystopian novels, I already was excited to read this book, but I didn’t have super high expectations. Cia reminded me of Katniss, and I have read nearly a billion of the same book so I was a little worried as well.

This book has some downfalls. For starters, I could put it down. I forgot about it for at least a week while I was busy with a book for school. It also doesn’t sound good, the title reminds me of high school and the sequels title is actually a class I am in. I get that is about a school but really. All in all, there could be much worse problems to have.

I don’t mean to bash this book at all (that isn’t even bashing, you should hear me talk about Eleanor and Park), I do have some really good things to say about this particular novel. I love Cia, she is smart and cunning and modest. She takes care of Thomas and helps him, but she won’t flat out say she loves him. There is no messy love story problems if the boy is the clingy one (I CANNOT EMPHASIZE HOW MUCH I LOVE THAT). I love that Cia figures everything out and is trusting anyway. I love Cia as a character. Thomas reminds me a little bit of Four from Divergent because he is moody, but he is different because he is clingy and I like that too! I really loved the plot and the concepts and the testing scene. It was very well written and once I picked it up a second time I got through it in one day.

I will write to you all soon, until then, I will be reading Independent Study!

WinterGirls by Laurie Halse Anderson

Before this week it had been a long time since that book has blessed my brain. I revisited the ‘dangerland’ of Lia and Cassie over the weekend and relived the scenes and sentences of these tragic teenagers. It is heart breaking. That is the only word that I could think to truly describe the tortured world inside their calorie-counting heads. What makes it so heartbreaking is that this is a real thing that happens to real people. I would like to dedicate this review to ED awareness, but because I have a small blog that like four people see the best I can do is to provide some stats and the warning signs.

Most people who are affected by eating disorders are female, like Lia and Cassie, but men also experience eating disorders.

Lia and Cassie develop their disorder during a middle school summer and it follows them through high school and it completely takes over their life. Lia had been to an inpatient hospital twice and the book only starts when Cassie dies. Those two fictional girls are in high school, they should be having fun, not spending hours exercising or being in funerals. This book follows Lia as she struggles with her disorder and losing her friend.  Lia’s disorder follows her around like Cassie’s ghost and everyone she loves doesn’t know what to do with her. How do you help someone who only wants to destroy themselves?

I love this book. The characters seem real, like they could be a neighbor or someone you go to school with. It’s a great look into to the mind of a struggling teen, which is often just cast aside. I would recommend Wintergirls because it is crazy, and sad, and so very, very real.

To wrap up my book review I am going to give you the warning signs in case you, or someone you know may be struggling with an eating disorder.

You can look for starvation and weight loss, being afraid to gain weight, refusing/restrictive eating or continuous dieting. There may also be over-exercising, being very cold, strange hair growth, or hair loss. That’s what to look for if you are worried about the problem being anorexia. Bulimia Symptoms include a preoccupation with or obsession with food, binging and purging, laxatives, diet pills, etc.  Physically you may notice the salivary glands may be swollen or they may have broken blood vessels in the eye. There may also be similar symptoms to Anorexia. Get help.

Statistics and Symptoms found on  www.anad.org

I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai

I finished the book I am Malala yesterday. Although I find it very hard to read nonfiction, I struggled through this whole book anyway. It was a great story and it really opened my eyes to what was going on over there. As a very fortunate American it can be very hard to realize what is really going on around the world, despite my efforts to educate myself on it.

The first part of this book was slow going. It talked a lot about her family and where she came from. I know that it is very important to know all of that in order to understand, but I did have a hard time following it, probably because I was not familiar with the names and there were no dragons.

I really started to get interested when Malala began speaking out. Although it was very dangerous she didn’t worry for herself. She didn’t think the Taliban would kill a little girl. Malala spoke out everywhere and raised money for schools, she even wrote a secret diary for BBC Urdu. Her father encouraged her and was a great support.

After things settled down a bit Malala became paranoid (for a good reason), her father’s friend had been shot. Malala began double checking locked doors and windows. She didn’t stop going to school though, and it was on the bus ride home that she was shot by the Taliban.

Her medical procedures were hard to follow, she moved hospitals a lot and eventually landed in the UK where she lives and studies.

The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

Reading is an important part of my life, and hopefully many of yours as well. Keeping a book in my mind for a very long time is no easy task, and yet this book that I picked up by chance has been in my thoughts since I read it at least a month ago. Cassie and her brother keep walking through my head, begging me to read The Infinite Sea and to ignore the book that I have to read for my English class.

The 5th Wave follows Cassie’s journey in the world after the world is taken over by aliens. She had a family, before all of this began, before the waves hit. The first wave took out the electricity, leaving everyone without the things that they depend on in this day and age. The second wave was a wave, a tsunami to be exact. That wiped out a lot of the coastal areas. Third came the disease, they had a lot of different names for it but it was a more deadly version of Ebola, and that took Cassie’s mother, and a huge chunk of the population.  The Silencers were fourth, they were humans with aliens stuck inside their brain and they killed people. They left the kids.

Cassie had to fend for herself and what she had left of her family. She to go on not knowing what had happened to all her friends that she left behind. An old friend is reintroduced and followed through his training process. The fifth wave is for you to find out.

I loved this book, if I am ever faced with an apocalypse I hope to be like Cassie Sullivan.