Tag Archive: contemporary


Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish.

This week’s topic is places books have made me want to visit. This can include places that are real or fictional. They’re listed in no particular order.

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card (Battle School) – The biggest reason I would want to go to the Battle School is to experience the Battle Room. It’s laser tag without gravity. What could be cooler than that?

Harry Potter Series by J. K. Rowling (Hogwarts) – I want to see what the castle would be like. It seems like there is always something exciting going on and an adventure around every corner. However, I’ll be avoiding the Forbidden Forest. I can’t handle any giant spiders.

Vicious by V. E. Schwab (Merit) – I would mostly want to go to Merit because of the superpowers. There’s isn’t much memorable about the place, but it’s a world that has superpowers. I know I’m just visiting, but I’m taking my powers with me when I leave. Plus, I really need to meet Victor … for science, of course.

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline (Oasis) – I need this in my life. Being the video game nerd that I am, I would love this virtual world. I’m sure I would never get anything done though, so maybe it’s a good thing it doesn’t exist.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (Gatsby’s Mansion) – I want to go to a Gatsby party. I’m not normally an overly social person, but there ain’t no party like a Gatsby party.

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll (Wonderland) – It’s seems like a crazy, fun place full of interesting characters. I want to meet the Cheshire Cat as well. If cats could talk, I feel like that is exactly how they would act.

The Archived by Victoria Schwab (The Archive) – The archive is described as “a place where the dead rest on shelves like books.” It would be interesting to see how everything is set up because it’s such a unique concept.

Dreams of the Dead by Thomas Randall (Japan) – While this is a horror story, I would still want to go to Japan based on how it’s described in this book. I’ve always wanted to go because I think Japanese culture is fascinating.

Pivot Point by Kasie West (Compound) – This is another place I want to go because of the powers they have. While I wont get any powers, it would be cool to see how everything operates. They probably won’t let me in though since I’m just a “Norm.” 😦

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins (Paris) – Another place I have always wanted to go. This book just made me want to go even more. It seems like a beautiful place.

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Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish.

This week’s topic is books that are character driven. These are books that rely heavily on the characters to tell the story. Everyone’s interpretation of that may be different. These books are ones I felt best fit that description. They’re listed in no particular order. If you’ve done this Top Ten Tuesday, feel free to link your post in the comments, so I can check it out. 🙂

Vicious by V.E. Schwab – This book really stands out because of the characters. Each of them are essential, and I mean what’s not to love about anti-heroes and superpowers. Vicious is a new favorite of mine, and I’ve been trying to get everyone I know to read it.

The Way of Shadows by Brent Weeks – While the story is high fantasy, it’s driven by the characters. There are so many of them, but they each stand out. The characters and how they interact are some of the most memorable parts. The plot is great but watching the characters grow and develop is what really makes the story compelling.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald – This is one book where the characters make it or break it for some readers. They’re realistic in the sense that they’re all flawed in their own way. The choices they make and how they handle themselves are the main focus of the novel.

The Murder Farm by Andrea Maria Schenkel – Told mostly through testimonies of the villagers, The Murder Farm relies entirely on it’s characters to tell the story. All the voices are unique and new characters are constantly introduced to propel the plot. Full Review

We Are the Goldens by Dana Reinhardt – The story is told through first-person, but Nell (the protagonist) speaks directly to the reader as if she is talking to her sister Layla. The relationship between the sisters is what drives the story and draws the reader in. Full Review

Overnight by Adele Griffin – A group of friends have a sleepover and one of them disappears. Everything that follows gets told through the alternating perspectives of several of the girls. Each of them are unique even if a bit cliche at times, but it’s how they each deal with the situation and how they react that tells the story.

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness – The main character in this story deals with very serious issues, and it does get emotional. The focus of the story is on Conor and how he deals with everything happening in his life. He’s relatable in the sense that you can understand what he is going through and the emotions he’s feeling. Full Review

Black Box by Julie Schumacher – This story deals with a family struggling to help a member who is suffering from severe depression. The family has to learn how to understand what Dora is thinking and feeling, and at times, they find it very difficult. What makes this story stand out is that instead of the main character being the one who is suffering, it’s her sister. This allows the reader to see a side of the situation that isn’t usually shown. Full Review

Easy by Tammara Webber – A cute story about a girl and boy who fall in love while in college. They each have their own past to deal with before they can officially move on. The characters are believable, and they deal with some major issues over the course of the novel.

Shayla’s Double Brown Baby Blues by Lori Aurelia Williams – While there are a lot of sub-plots, all of them are character driven and focus on a certain aspect of each of the characters’ lives. Some of them are relatable, though others are not. They are all well-developed and make the story more believable. Full Review

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. I’ve decided that I want to participate in the Top Ten weekly posts. While I might not post every week, I will as often as I can.

This week’s topic is books that you’ve had a difficult time reading for one reason or another. They’re in no particular order.

The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams – This was an incredibly hard book to read because of the subject matter. It’s very sad, and the whole time you want to somehow help this poor girl out of her horrible situation. I started this book at night and didn’t put it down until I was done at four in the morning. It’s a hard story to put down because you want to know what happens next and emotional because you’ll be sad, frustrated, angry, and happy all within a few chapters.

Shizuko’s Daughter by Kyoko Mori – This is another emotional read but for different reasons. Yuki is left all alone when her mother commits suicide. Her dad doesn’t seem to love her, and her stepmother treats her terribly. She is easy to become attached to and you want to be able to help her. It’s told through different perspectives, and during certain ones, you feel extremely sorry for Yuki and what she has to deal with. A great story about a girl dealing with the death of a parent and having to move on with her life.  Full Review

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson – This is a beautifully told story dealing with serious issues. You’re empathetic with Melinda and her situation because as she’s struggling with this difficult problem, everyone seems to be turning against her. There are plenty of times I wanted her to speak up for herself, but it’s understandable why she would stay silent for so long. Honestly, I think everyone should read this story. Especially high school students because I feel the story has a special way of teaching about empowerment and speaking up for yourself, while also showing how the victim feels.

A Fair Maiden by Joyce Carol Oates – Cringeworthy would be a great word to describe this book. It deals with the relationship between a 16 year old girl and an 80 year old man. There are plenty of disturbing moments that make your skin crawl. It’s as if you’re watching a horror movie and screaming at the characters to stop and run the other way. I have never felt so much pity for a character at the end of a novel like I did this one. It’s a really interesting story, but I know it won’t be for everyone. Full Review

My Life as a White Trash Zombie by Diana Rowland – While this was a very interesting concept, it wasn’t quite what I expected. There were some boring moments, and the main character repeated herself so much, it got kind of old. It was a bit hard to relate to her since she has an addiction to pills, but she’s a unique character, and I did like her personality. I liked the overall story, but it was difficult to get through at certain points.

The Fever by Megan Abbott – I thought this would be more of a mystery, but it’s mostly about teenagers and how they act. It had a few boring moments during the middle of the book. There were a lot of red herrings, and the ending was not as great as I was expecting. This book just wasn’t for me. Full Review

Trapped by Michael Northrop – Honestly, I didn’t really like anything about this book. This is one of those books that just didn’t work for me. There were no surprises, the characters were boring and flat, and the ending was unsatisfying. It was difficult for me to finish this novel.

Slated by Teri Terry –  I really wanted to like this book, but the characters weren’t great, and while the plot had potential, it didn’t quite work for me. Full Review

Zombie Blondes by Brian James – I accidentally read it twice because I had forgotten I had read it before. This was way before I discovered Goodreads where I could track all of my read books. I didn’t enjoy this story as much as I had hoped. The main character is judgmental, the father is incompetent when it comes to his daughter, and the plot is predictable. However, the ending had a new twist that I liked.

The Maze Runner by James Dashner – I was prepared to really enjoy this novel because of all the hype, but the hype sort of killed it for me. I did like it, but I had trouble getting through this book at certain parts. As I was reading, I kept picking up similarities to Lord of the Flies, so I did some research and found out that Lord of the Flies inspired The Maze Runner. I often like when books are inspired by my favorites, however, it did ruin a scene during the ending for me because it was almost exactly from Lord of the Flies.

We Are the Goldens Review

Genre: Young Adult

*I received this book from Netgalley for an honest review.

We Are the Goldens by Dana Reinhardt is a contemporary novel about two sisters named Nell and Layla. The sisters have had a close bond that only grew stronger once their parents divorced. There seems to be nothing that can come between them until Nell finds out a secret about Layla that could destroy everything.

Nell adores her older sister. She and Layla have always been one unit, both relying on the other, but Layla begins changing. Nell discovers that Layla is in a relationship with one of the teachers, and she tries to support Layla’s decision, but she is torn between her sister’s happiness and her own feelings that the relationship is wrong. Nell must decide what she will choose to do before it’s too late.

The writing style is different in We Are the Goldens. It’s in first person, but Nell speaks directly to the reader as if she is talking to her sister Layla. She will state things like “do you remember the time we did this” or “mom and dad were mad at us about that” (not direct quotes from novel). I’m not used to the narrator speaking directly to me as if I was one of the characters, but it worked well for the story. It adds a unique voice to the narration and makes the reader feel more connected to Nell.

Nell looks up to Layla and wants to be more like her in every way. While I understand that Nell admires Layla, Nell did seem a bit “obsessed” with her sister at times. Although I didn’t fully understand Nell’s “obsession” with Layla, I did appreciate their relationship. It would be nice to have a bond with someone from birth and to have him/her be there for you during tough times. Though Layla was quite annoying at times, the way the characters were portrayed made them realistic, and I could believe that this family existed. When the secret is revealed, Nell only wants what is best for her sister.

There is a focus on character interaction that helps make the plot engaging. It’s easy to keep turning the pages to find out what happens next. I enjoy that the secret was already explained, so there is more time spent on figuring out what Nell should do next. The characterization is nice throughout the novel, and it’s interesting to learn more about each character. The ending is left open-ended for the reader to decide what truly happens next. Even though I wanted a little more closure, I liked how it ended.

We Are the Goldens focuses on a bond between two sisters. It’s a fast-paced story that makes you want to keep reading to find out what happens to Nell and Layla. The characters are believable and make for a really interactive and enjoyable story. The writing style is different than other young adult novels, but it added to the plot. It’s a well-rounded story that I would recommend. We Are the Goldens is still available on Netgalley, if anyone wants to read it before the publication date May 27th, 2014.

My Rating: ★★★★

I have finished reading Red Bang and Casting Shadows Everywhere and both books were a pleasant surprise. I will most likely have a review up for Red Bang this Tuesday. I actually started reading Trapped by Michael Northrop a while ago, and I still haven’t finished it. It’s taking me forever to read. I’m not particularly enjoying it, but I’m planning on finishing it tomorrow after work. Anyway, here are the books I plan on reading next:

Geek Love – Katherine Dunn
Genre – Horror/Fantasy

Geek Love is the story of the Binewskis, a carny family whose mater- and paterfamilias set out–with the help of amphetamine, arsenic, and radioisotopes–to breed their own exhibit of human oddities. There’s Arturo the Aquaboy, who has flippers for limbs and a megalomaniac ambition worthy of Genghis Khan . . . Iphy and Elly, the lissome Siamese twins . . . albino hunchback Oly, and the outwardly normal Chick, whose mysterious gifts make him the family’s most precious–and dangerous–asset.

As the Binewskis take their act across the backwaters of the U.S., inspiring fanatical devotion and murderous revulsion; as its members conduct their own Machiavellian version of sibling rivalry, Geek Love throws its sulfurous light on our notions of the freakish and the normal, the beautiful and the ugly, the holy and the obscene. Family values will never be the same.

This Song Will Save Your Life – Leila Sales
Genre – Young Adult/Contemporary

Making friends has never been Elise Dembowski’s strong suit. All throughout her life, she’s been the butt of every joke and the outsider in every conversation. When a final attempt at popularity fails, Elise nearly gives up. Then she stumbles upon a warehouse party where she meets Vicky, a girl in a band who accepts her; Char, a cute, yet mysterious disc jockey; Pippa, a carefree spirit from England; and most importantly, a love for DJing.

Told in a refreshingly genuine and laugh-out-loud funny voice, THIS SONG WILL SAVE YOUR LIFE is an exuberant novel about identity, friendship, and the power of music to bring people together.

*Descriptions taken from Goodreads.

I’ve been wanting to read Geek Love ever since it was recommended to me by a classmate. He, of course, told me about some of the creepy and disturbing things that happen within the book, so I’m prepared for it. This sounds like a very interesting story. I just recently discovered This Song Will Save Your Life, and it sounds really good. I’m excited to find out what happens.

I finished reading Daughter of Smoke & Bone and Red Dragon, and let me just say, they were pretty awesome. I’ll have my short review up for both in my monthly wrap-up. However, if anyone would like a full review on any of the books I read, just let me know. I would love requests if there are any.

The Broken – Shelley Coriell
Genre – Romance/Thriller
Pub. Date – April 29, 2014

He took her life, but left her alive.

Three years ago, reporter Kate Johnson was the first victim—and only survivor—of the Broadcast Butcher. Scarred both physically and psychologically by the brutal serial killer, Kate lives life on the run, knowing that one day, he will find her and finish what he started.

In the pursuit of justice, you sometimes have to step outside the law.

Agent Hayden Reed spends his life chasing monsters. The only way to stay sane is to detach, but the second the Broadcast Butcher case crosses his desk, Hayden knows this is the case that might just cost him his soul. To catch this vicious murderer before he strikes again, Hayden must find Kate and earn her trust. For it’s her darkest secrets that hold the key to stopping this madman once and for all. . .

We Are The Goldens – Dana Reinhardt
Genre – Young Adult/Contemporary
Pub. Date – May 27, 2014

Nell knows a secret about her perfect, beautiful sister Layla. If she tells, it could blow their world apart.

When Nell and Layla were little, Nell used to call them Nellaya. Because to Nell, there was no difference between where she started and her adored big sister ended. They’re a unit; divorce made them rely on each other early on, so when one pulls away, what is the other to do? But now, Nell’s a freshman in high school and Layla is changing, secretive. And then Nell discovers why. Layla is involved with one of their teachers. And even though Nell tries to support Layla, to understand that she’s happy and in love, Nell struggles with her true feelings: it’s wrong, and she must do something about it.

*Description taken from Goodreads.

I received both of these books from Netgalley. It’s really exciting to be able to read a book before it’s published and share my opinion on it. I requested The Broken, and I was pre-approved for We Are The Goldens, which is really amazing to me. I’m sure most users get way more pre-approved books, but since this is my first one, it’s very exciting. Both of them sound really interesting, and I’m looking forward to reading them.

A Fair Maiden Review

Genre: Fiction

*May contain spoilers

A Fair Maiden by Joyce Carol Oates is an adult contemporary novel that focuses on a 16-year-old girl named Katya. Even though the protagonist is young, the story focuses on adult themes such as rape, an emotionally damaged person, and a rather disturbing relationship. The story deals with Katya’s psychological state and how far she is willing to go to feel loved.

Katya is working as a nanny for the rich Engelhardts in New Jersey. One day, she is walking the Engelhardt’s two children to the park when she stops to window shop. While she is stopped, she meets Mr. Kidder who is a much older gentleman. He becomes interested in Katya, which seems harmless, and Katya enjoys the attention she receives. Katya is drawn to Mr. Kidder’s lavish life, and she is a bit intrigued by his intentions. After spending some time together, Mr. Kidder requests that Katya pose for his new paintings. These requests make Katya think about what Mr. Kidder really wants from her and what he is willing to do to get his way.

I’ll start off by saying that A Fair Maiden is not for everyone. There are plenty of cringeworthy moments in this novel, and they can make the reader feel uncomfortable. I know I felt that way more than once while reading. By this, I mean the relationship between Mr. Kidder and Katya. The way he addresses her and speaks to her is rather creepy. It gets even worse as the story progresses. Although it’s creepy, their relationship makes a lot of sense based on Katya’s character.

Katya’s character is well-developed. She has grown up in an environment that neglected her. Katya’s mother would rather drink and gamble than deal with her daughter, her father left the family when she was young, and Roy, a “distant” cousin, treats Katya horribly. Katya has low self-esteem, and it makes her a perfect target for others to abuse her. Katya craves some sort of approval from others. She desperately wants a father figure in her life, and she wants to escape her fate of being poor forever. When Mr. Kidder starts showing her attention, she is hesitant, at first, but she jumps at the chance for someone to show an interest in her. Of course, he has his own motivations for this relationship but that is not made clear until near the end.

The ending is a bit surprising. I had a bunch of ideas about what Mr. Kidder really wanted, but I never guessed what actually happened. It adds a more disturbing layer to this story, and I’m not sure many readers will guess his true intentions. I ended up staring at the page after I finished this book, wondering what on earth I had just read.

*Spoilers*

One of the biggest issues I have with this story is how the rape is handled. I know the reason for these scenes is meant to show how vulnerable Katya is and how she believes the two individuals care for her. However, I didn’t enjoy that there were no consequences for the offenders. They were able to get what they wanted without anything bad happening, and Katya ends up believing everything is fine. At first, she wasn’t happy about the situation, but then she learns to accept it. That’s actually terrible for this young girl. I understand that it is to show how psychologically damaged she is, but I feel there are better ways to show this.

*End Spoilers*

A Fair Maiden is a sad and disturbing story about a relationship between Katya and Mr. Kidder, and it demonstrates how emotionally damaged a girl can be without a good role model in her life. While this story is well-written and Katya is well-developed, it’s not for everyone. The story can really stick with a reader and that might not always be a good thing. I do believe it’s worth reading, but it might not be as satisfying as most readers would like.

My Rating: ★★★