On Dystopian Young Adult Fiction

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Small confession: I caved and read another romance novel. And then reread two others I fell in love with last year.

I can’t apologize, because they were all great. I have mad love for Karina Halle’s work. I also may have a small thing for soccer players… I make no apologies for this.



Then, of course, I explored my saved shelves (yes, the real and the digital), and discovered just how many Young Adult, female heroine driven, post-apocalyptic, dystopian fiction there is in the world.

I’m not complaining at all, but holy cow, I’d never actually realized there was so much of it! And no, I do not believe that there is any harm/shame/what-have-you in reading books geared toward high school students. I read Anna Karenina when I was eleven, and I read the complete works of William Shakespeare a year later (yes, I’m serious). Read everything and read it because you like it, okay? (Just not “Fifty Shades”…)

Most recently, I finished the Chemical Garden series by Lauren DeStephano, and while there were a few parts that dragged just a little, I did enjoy the concept. The premise is that we’ve completely eradicated genetic diseases, cancer, immune disorders, and the like, all at the cost of human life expectancy. Men die at 25, women ay 20. The only people who live longer are “first generations” who were born before these effects took hold, and not necessarily everyone is born as perfect human specimens. There are still those with birth defects that are looked down upon as malformed.

Enter Rhine, who is essentially kidnapped and sold into marriage, and who has heterochromatic eyes (one brown, one blue), which intrigues her new father-in-law scientist/doctor/psycho.

Not my favorite series of this genre, but certainly worth a read. A solid three out of five orange trees.

      

Another I finally got around to in the past few months is the Selection series by Keira Cass. This one takes a note from Suzanne Collins by “selecting” girls from different portions of what was once the Americas. Teenage America (yes, that’s her name) is selected and sent away to be courted by the nation’s prince. There’s also a caste system (probably one of my favorite “rules” of this world) that determines your job, indicates who you might marry, etc.

Not the craziest, most complex read I’ve found, but certainly enjoyable, and I really loved the different rebelling factions. Another solid three out of five stolen pennies.

      

The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer is truly excellent. I reserve five out of five for knocked-my-socks-off-could-not-put-down-Harry-Potter-and-the-Prisoner-of-Azkaban-level-rock-star-awesome, but “Cinder” gets four out of five screwdrivers. Loved, loved, loved it, and I won’t bother to explain. Read it now. (And yes, there are more than what I’ve added links to, but obviously, start here.)

      

Those are examples, because I’m sure I don’t need to tell you about the Divergent series or the Hunger Games. More still that fit the category quite neatly are the Matched series, the Delirium series, the Shatter Me series, the Uglies series, the Mortal Instruments, the Infernal Devices, and you know I can keep going.

The next two I’m looking forward to taking for a spin are “A Thousand Pieces of You” by Claudia Gray (which I’ve already dug into and is part of the Firebird series) and “The Forsaken” by Lisa M. Stasse.

   

For those of you who are not as voracious, perhaps, as I am about reading until your eyeballs fall out, enjoy the next few weeks/months of bedtime reading, and you’re welcome.

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Book of the Month Club – February 2017 – “The Possessions” by Sara Flannery Murphy

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I’m going to go ahead a confess that I’ve been pretty awful about keeping up with my Book of the Month picks.

Oh, I log in at the beginning of each month and diligently educate myself about each of the monthly selections, and I get very excited when the BOTM box arrives on my doorstep, but here’s the thing: I’ve been reading too much on my phone.

My book apps have yet to fail me (I do so love Scribd) and its far too easy to snuggle up in bed, check my Snapchat and skip right on over and scroll through the dozen or so ebooks I’ve saved in my tiny glowing library. My hold-in-your-hands paper books have, therefore, more often than not, found themselves stacked (neatly, at least!) on the end table of my living room.

“The Possessions” did not end up on said stack.

First of all, make-up junkie that I am, I was drawn to the too-perfect-to-be-anything-but-Photoshop lip line business happening on the front cover.

Second of all, I know myself well enough to understand that I desperately need to get out of my romance novel obsession and rejoin the land of fiction without orgasms. I felt that this, a story about seduction, obsession, and intrigue, was at least a step in that general direction. Kind of.

And third, the heroine’s name is Eurydice. I played her namesake in “Orpheus & Eurydice” in college for a stage movement project. It was like fate spoke to me and said “pick up the damn book”.

This one took me just about two days to read. I don’t necessarily care so much that it didn’t plunge me into “non-romance” – there are definitely some erotic themes going on here… but what I think I enjoyed most was the exploration of emotion Edie goes through.

As part of a society committed to helping others reconnect with dead loved ones (oh, she’s like a medium, but with a special drug), Edie remains curiously unaffected by the thoughts and feelings of the spirits she summons. Until widower Patrick Braddock has her summon his late wife, and Edie finds herself trapped between remaining safe in her drug-induced detachment and pulling herself out of it to risk allowing Sylvia’s memory to affect her.

I need to stop there, because spoilers are awful, but I do recommend this book.

Four out of five perfect lipstick applications.

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Book Boyfriends, Part 1 – The Gentlemen

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There is no shame in having a book boyfriend.

I say this because I have several dozen… hundred…

It really depends.

While it is very easy to say that Mr. Darcy is the ultimate gentleman book boyfriend, I find that so many are overlooked. I’ve always preferred Bingley, anyway, as one-dimensional as he may seem (I really do treasure a sense of humor).

Don’t worry. I love some rogues, vagrants, fighters, and the odd criminal or two (book-wise!), but those will be for other lists. 😉

My favorite gentlemanly book boyfriends are…

Prince Hal from “Henry IV, Parts 1 &2” and “Henry V” by William Shakespeare 

Well, yes, Hal is a teensy bit of a trickster in his formative years, but there is no denying he is polite and (very) distinguished. We forgive his philandering in pubs with Falstaff because, let’s be honest, his heart is true.

Marco Alisdair from “The Night Circus” by Erin Morgenstern 

Only a hopeless romantic would spend years of his life crafting such magnificent feats of illusion in tribute to his lady. Who needs love letters when you’ve got an entire enchanted carnival to work with? He’s also a bit of a writer/doodler

John Brooke from “Little Women” by Louisa May Alcott 

Am I the only person in the world who can’t stand Laurie? I liked him fine as Jo’s boy Friday, but good gracious, I wanted to smack him by the end of the book. John Brooke, while somewhat reserved, truly loves Meg and has his own small ways of showing his feelings, and Meg’s defense of him to her mother delighted me.

Colonel Brandon from “Sense and Sensibility” by Jane Austen 

I feel obligated to include an Austen character, and if I must, it’s Brandon. While this may merely be evidence of my everlasting crush on the late and magnificent Alan Rickman, it is worth noting the Brandon is the very personification of the phrase “still waters run deep”. He may seem dull at first, but it masks a thoughtful and sensitive nature that I find unbearably attractive.

Kell from “A Darker Shade of Magic” by V.E. Schwab 

If you have not dug into this series yet, I do so highly encourage it. Not only is the world building excellent, but our beloved protagonist Kell is a well-traveled, poised, sharp, and eloquent gentleman. Small crush, no big. I also super admire Lila – slighter bigger crush. 😉

Niall Stella from “Beautiful Secret” by Christina Lauren 

I couldn’t possibly forget my romance novel boys – it just happens most of them are not exactly… *ahem* gentlemanly. Niall Stella, though, is about as well-mannered and refined as they come, albeit fairly repressed. He more than makes up for it by the end. While I love all the boys from the “Beautiful” series, Niall remains my favorite. What I wouldn’t give to see this man in a suit…

And not to worry. I will most assuredly introduce you to the rest of my book boyfriends (even the decidedly ungentlemanly ones… especially them, in fact) in future posts.

Scribd Selects – February 2017

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The first thing I do on the first day of the month is write my rent check. The second thing I do is see what Scribd has added to their monthly Selects.

If you are unfamiliar with Scribd, click here or peruse the App Store or Google Play Store. ‘Tis a magical land of ebooks and audiobooks.

If reading off of a screen isn’t your thing, I encourage you to click on the pictures below to grab hold-pages-in-your-hands copies of the following books.

AND STILL I RISE

“And Still I Rise” is a Black American History text, and it looks remarkable. Chronicling significant events from 1965 to 2015 into a comprehensive timeline, this book takes a close look at modern black social, cultural, and political influence in the United States from Malcom X to President Obama. I can’t wait to dive into this one.

 

 

THE OPIUM WARS

This book broaches a subject that had honestly never occurred to me. When Arab traders first brought opium to China for medicinal purposes, it opened the floodgates for addiction across the country and fed Great Britain’s economy for years. So much so that when the Chinese attempted to ban opium, the British fought to keep it for the sake of their own economic stability and their reliance on trade with China including tea. “The Opium Wars” follows that struggle.

 

MIDNIGHT IN BROAD DAYLIGHT

Until just two years ago, I was woefully uneducated in regard to Japanese internment in the United States and pretty generally ignorant about the events between Pearl Harbor and Hiroshima. “Midnight in Broad Daylight: A Japanese American Family Caught Between Two Worlds” examines those historical monuments from both sides within the same family, and the uncertainty and intensity that comes with war.

 

Knowing me, I’ll read all of these by next week. Let’s rock.

Books to Read in 2017

We are into week four of 2017, and I have read ten books. My goal of 75 books in a year is looking steadily more preposterous.

There are plenty of other preposterous things going on so far this year, and in an effort to educate myself about the voices that are being silenced by the current political climate, I have done some research and created a list for myself.

In the past, I’ve created lists that include things like a book of poetry, a book longer than 500 pages, a book written before I was born, etc.

This list is pretty different.

  • Book about a First Nations culture I’ve never heard of
  • About growing up in a modern First Nations community
  • Psychology text about the impact of conversion therapy
  • Memoir of a conversion therapy patient
  • About being female in the military
  • History about the feminist movement
  • Book about intersectional feminism
  • Personal account about the process of transitioning/transition therapy
  • Memoir about living gender neutral
  • Journalistic perspective of the media’s coverage of refugees
  • Memoir of a refugee
  • About human trafficking in the United States
  • About human trafficking globally
  • About an illegal immigrant
  • About a legal immigrant
  • About a war veteran from another country
  • Book about asexuality
  • About growing up Latinx in the United States
  • About growing up black in the United States
  • About growing up Asian in the United States
  • Psychology of racism
  • Psychology of sexism
  • Examination of religious influence and impact within modern-day politics
  • About a black historical figure I’ve never heard of
  • About a Latinx historical figure I’ve never heard of
  • About an Asian historical figure I’ve never heard of
  • About a transgender historical figure I’ve never heard of
  • About climate change and climate change denial

Please, please, please feel free to comment with book suggestions for any of the above categories, as well as categories I may have missed. There are, more than likely, plenty that did not occur to me as I wrote this – please help me get on the right path in this regard. The goal is to educate myself, and hopefully others.

The Fairy Godmother of Smut

I’m beginning to notice just how many friends I’ve collected whose first impressions include involved discussions about sex. From the mechanics of how one can conceivably have sex on a motorcycle (pretty sure he lost that bet) to recommendations for (ahem) items

In this regard, I’m finding that my truest talents lie with (pun intended) romance novels. For the third time this month, I wrote down a recommended reading list for a friend who was in need of better lesbian erotica.

Below is a summary of my general advice to all smut readers.

First things first; please put down whichever Fifty Shades book your nose is currently buried in. Please. Down. Now.

Done? Excellent. Thank you.

Secondly, please do me and the general BDSM community an enormous favor and never pick it back up again.

The most honest advice I can give you as you search through the pantheon of steamy reading (a process that has yet to bore me – there’s just SO much of it) is this: take a good hard look at the books you enjoy apart from romance. What do you read most often? Fantasy? Sci-Fi? Crime? Examine your existing bookshelf and take stock of what you already know you like.

Additionally, throw away any preconceived notions. I know plenty of lesbians who read smut about gay men. We all have our turn ons; don’t shy away from yours.

Next, trust your fellow readers, but trust yourself more. If a book about alien werewolf people seemed good enough for someone to have rated it five stars, it must turn someone’s crank. You will probably go through some you’re not crazy about before you get to the stuff that really does do it for you. A particular favorite series of mine is realm-traveling vampire steampunk. No joke. Another involves post-apocalyptic tattooed bootlegging bikers. We all have our vices. (See below for links…)

Finally (and I cannot stress this point enough), understand that there is no shame whatsoever in reading whatever the hell you want.

Happy reading, loves.

  

2017 Reading Challenge

I’ve committed myself to reading 75 books by the end of this year.

This is almost laughable. I definitely should have set it higher.

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The screenshot above is actually incomplete. I read 108 books last year, and I’ve read seven books so far in 2017. Number eight is excellent so far.

Book of the Month and Scribd have done excellent things for my personal library.