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Book Discussion: The Royal We

the royal we

The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan

Summary

Rebecca Porter did not dream of being a princess.

When Rebecca (Bex) leaves Cornell to study abroad at Oxford for a semester, she did not expect to be placed in the same dorm as Prince Nicholas, Great Britain’s future king and the most eligible bachelor. Nor did she expect to be part of his social circle, have similar interests, and eventually, fall in love with him.

But life as a royal’s girlfriend is not all glamour. Bex finds herself in the middle of complex royal family relations, untrustworthy colleagues and friends, and the ruthless paparazzi, who will stop at nothing to get the scoop on her. Nick and Bex have to maneuver their relationship, and decide on their future (together or apart) in the public eye.

The Royal We tells the Will-and-Kate story from Kate’s point of view. If, of course, Kate was American.

Aubrey

heartRomance Score: Good Efforts 

Despite the somewhat silly premise, the romance between Nick and Bex is well-built. Bex first earns the trust of Nick and then falls in love in the best way possible: while binge-watching awesome television together. Their relationship is complicated – Nick has concerns about marrying young and of course, the press want to know everything about their relationship. I liked how real it seemed, despite all the craziness of princes and royalty.

Feminist Score:  Good Effort   Rosie

Bex works hard to remain her own person despite all the restrictions of being the girlfriend of the heir to the British throne. She’s a supportive partner to be sure – but she also works to make a life for herself outside Nick. She has a harder time standing up to her sister (her best friend), but their relationship perfectly explained the tension between your love of your closest sibling and your significant other.

diversity people circle iconDiversity Score:  Not A Bit

I was pretty disappointed with the lack of diversity in this book. It pretty closely follows the Kate-Will story, but all the characters are rich and white. Even Bex, the “outsider,” is from a rich, well-educated family. This is a story about the British royals, who are … rich and white, but I wish we could have seen a peek into something else. There’s a bit of discussion about mental illness, but the topic isn’t discussed deeply enough to warrant a higher score.

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Awesome Factor: Between You’re Trying and Good Effort  

I really enjoyed this book – it was a quick, fun read with a deeper message about relationships, sacrifice, and balance. But despite enjoying it, I couldn’t rate it any higher with the blatant lack of diversity.


Favorite Character

Nick. He’s a swoon-worthy prince in many respects. He wants what’s best for Bex, and works hard to make sure she fully understands what it means to be attached to him.

Favorite Line

“Long ago, I reminded Nick that he had the power to turn a life of being in-waiting into a life he wanted to live – that he could still be in charge of himself. So could I , and so could Freddie, and running away was not taking charge; it was just running. Besides, if I’d ever really wanted to leave, I wouldn’t have needed Freddie to open the door. I would have saved myself.”

Is this worth a book hangover?

Yes, especially for those of us with an interest (cough obsession) with the royal family. If you also refreshed CNN nine times an hour when Princess Charlotte was born, or woke up at 5 a.m. and Skyped with your mom during the royal wedding, you will love this book. 

Fun Author(s) Fact

Jessica Morgan and Heather Cocks are die-hard royalists, and run a blog called Go Fug Yourself , which covers celebrity gossip and, of course, the royals.

Read This Next

American Wife by Curtis Sittenfield. American Wife is based on the life of Laura Bush, told from the point of view of Laura from childhood through her time in the White House. And while this book is purely fiction, it is a very interesting take on a First Lady.

Post Author: Anisha

Anisha

Anisha loves books, Gilmore Girls, and her Kuerig. She’s been reading mainstream YA since she was actually a young adult, and Jess is helping her expand her horizons with more diverse, interesting books from newer authors.

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Book Chat: Summer of Chasing Mermaids

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Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler

Summary

Elyse d’Abreau knew what her life was supposed to look like. She was a talented singer living in Trinidad and Tobago with her tight-knit family. She and her twin, Natalie, were on the brink of stardom. They were only days away from going on a world-wide singing tour. Her dreams were about to come true.

But a tragic accident forces Elyse to reconsider her goals. Elyse can’t sing anymore and needs space from her former life. She moves to Oregon to live with her aunt and cousin, and learns to rebuild her life in a new place. When a cute boy comes for the summer, though, she’s intrigued. Their romance blooms over a love of boats, their families, and an unhealthy competition that threatens to destroy the Oregon home she’s come to love.

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Favorite Character

Elyse. Elyse stands up her herself and her friends, and has a clear morale compass for right and wrong. I also love how she owns her sexuality in so many ways (listen to the podcast for more steamy details!).

Favorite Line

Elyse writes poetry, and there are many incredible lines. One of our favorites is excerpted below:

If everyone followed rules

As they were written, as they were said

You wouldn’t be allowed to vote…

Rules are rules, yet still

trumped always by kindness and human decency.

Let. Him. March.”

The full poem is even more beautiful.

Is this worth a book hangover?

YES. This book is beautifully written romance story with unique, diverse characters. We highly recommend it.

Fun Author Fact

According to her website , Sarah Ockler does tarot readers for her characters and plot. Tarot cards appear a few times in Summer of Chasing Mermaids – now we know why!

Read This Next

For another (slightly sadder) romance, check out My Heart and Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga. Aysel and Roman are both regulars in online suicide forums, and make a pact to help each other die. But as their romance blooms, Aysel realizes that she’s not sure she’s ready to die. We reviewed this book last April on the blog!

Post Author: Anisha

Anisha

Anisha loves books, Gilmore Girls, and her Kuerig. She’s been reading mainstream YA since she was actually a young adult, and Jess is helping her expand her horizons with more diverse, interesting books from newer authors.

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Filed under Contemporary, Heavy Topics, podcast, Romance

Book Discussion: Better Than Perfect

 

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Better Than Perfect by Melissa Kantor

Summary

Juliet Newman knows that perfection is hard work.

She studies hard, takes part in all the right activities, and practices hard at swimming, all so she can have the perfect application for Harvard University. She’s a good, responsible daughter in a perfect, beautiful family. And she has the perfect boyfriend – with the same drive and goals as she does. She and Jason have “J power” – and will be at Harvard next year.

But then her parents separate, and Juliet’s perfectly constructed life begins to crack. How can she stay the perfect, devoted, driven daughter when her dad is living 30 minutes away, and her mom is turning into someone she can’t recognize? As Juliet faces these new challenges, she also begins to wonder why she needs to be perfect, and to what end?

heartRomance Score: Between You’re Trying and Good Effort (SPOILER)

I’m not a huge fan of any cheating-related romances, especially without any lessons learned. Juliet blatantly cheats on Jason who, despite a few neurotic flaws, seems to be a decent guy. She doesn’t have any real remorse for it. The romance between Juliet and her love interest wasn’t really relatable to me. She has an instant attraction to him (understandable), but I couldn’t understand why she wanted a relationship with him. Not a huge fan.

Feminist Score: Good EffortRosie

As a hyper-competitive, driven person, I completely related to Juliet. I loved that she was just as (if not more) driven that Jason, and willing to do everything she could to get into Harvard. I loved how she took care of the other people in her life and made her own decisions. This isn’t an adventure book (so we don’t see any bad-ass sword fighting or saving the world), but in the context of a regular high school girl, I think the feminist score is high.
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Diversity Score: Not A Bit

There was… no diversity in this book. White, rich high school with white, rich students.(Though, yes, there’s one Asian friend who makes a racist comment about other Asians). Even the transfer student from China is actually a white kid born in London. I wish there was more to say about this… but there isn’t.

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Awesome Factor: Good Effort

Despite it’s flaws (see Diversity Score), Better Than Before is a good read. I love high school romance stories with smart, driven characters. And even though I couldn’t completely buy into the romance, I enjoyed the family and school related plot. In a nutshell, this is The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen if Macy was just like Jason.

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Favorite Character

Juliet. If you can’t tell already, I can really relate to her, especially her need to be a “good girl” – the perfect daughter, student, and Harvard applicant.

Favorite Line

“Instead of running away from home, I texted my dad. I told him I was okay. I told him I was with Sofia. I told him I would meet Kathy at the house in the morning. I asked him to stop texting me.

Because I was a good girl. And good girls didn’t throw away their phones or leave home or make their parents worry about them for no reason.”

I really relate to Juliet being a good girl – the struggle between following your emotions and doing the rational, “good” thing. I think that is a struggle a lot of young women deal with, and it was well-described in Better Than Perfect.

Fun Author Fact

Melissa Kantor has a great answer to the question “What’s the craziest thing you ever did to get a boy to like you”.

She moved to Zimbabwe. Check out the full story on her blog.

Read This Next

For another high school romance with competitive characters (well, a crazy competitive boyfriend), check out The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen. It’s one of my favorites from high school.

Post Author: Anisha

Anisha

Anisha loves books, Gilmore Girls, and her Kuerig. She’s been reading mainstream YA since she was actually a young adult, and Jess is helping her expand her horizons with more diverse, interesting books from newer authors.

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Book Discussion: One

one

One by Sarah Crossan

Summary

“People always want to know.

They want to know exactly what we share

               down there,

so sometimes we tell them.

Not because it’s their business

but to stop them wondering – it’s all the wondering

about our bodies that bothers us.”

Tippi and Grace are conjoined twins; though they are two separate people, they share one body. Although they’ve grown up with many challenges – endless medical issues, expensive alterations and adaptions for their needs, and sharing a body – it is the cruel comments from others that they never really get used to.

Though Tippi and Grace have been homeschooled their entire lives, they are suddenly able to attend a private school in Hoboken, New Jersey. And now the twins must navigate a regular high school every day. Between their ever-present health concerns and challenges at school, will Tippi and Grace ever get a taste of teenage normalcy?

Snipping

heartRomance Score: Good Effort  

Given Tippi and Grace’s shared body, any kind of romance has some complications. Yet, there was a sweet, developing romance in the story. Tippi faces all the complications of teenage romance (Can he really like me?) with all the additional complications of her health.

I really appreciated that the story didn’t delve deeply into the bodily complications of any kind of intimacy. From one of the first paragraphs, the author made it clear that this kind of morbid curiosity would not be tolerated, and I liked that this story let us focus on the twins as people.

Feminist Score: Between You’re Trying and Good EffortRosie

This book doesn’t have a particularly feminist lean, but the characters do defend themselves and do not live in a constant world of pity or hatred. I would have liked to see a little more education to the general public on the cruelty they face, but I also understand that this story is more internally focused than a battle for their rights.
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Diversity Score: A+ Success

Tippi and Grace’s story is told with respect. The story focuses on their emotional journey through battling health problem and attending a new school, not the specific details of their bodies. Definitely an A+ for the diversity of the main characters. And even the supporting roles, including new friends Yasmeen and Jon, have their own unique stories and challenges at the school. One did a really good job respectfully delving into a hard topic.

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Awesome Factor: Good Effort

One is a surprisingly emotional story told beautifully in free-verse. From the first few paragraphs, I was immediately hooked, and remained much more invested that I expected. By reading the story from only Grace’s perspective, you get a glimpse of what it’s like to share a body, but not the mind, of the second sister. Though the ending was a tad bit predictable, I still found myself caught up in the agony and struggles of Grace and Tippi.

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Favorite Character

Dragon. I love her energy, devotion to dance, and her interesting relationship with her older sisters.

Favorite Line

There are so many beautiful verses in this story, but here’s the one that stuck with me:

Sometimes I follow his lead

read along in The Grapes of Wrath

               until I find a dog-eared page

then stop

 

so I can inhabit the rhythm of his reading,

feel how

it must have been for him to

               turn those pages,

               see those words,

trace the outline of his

thoughts.”

Is this worth a book hangover?

Yes. One is beautifully written and well told. It is also a fairly short read – you can easily finish it in one day (or one long run on the treadmill, if you read while you run.).

Fun Author Fact

Sarah Crossan runs her own book blog on her website, where she interviews other authors about their books. A+ for promoting collaboration and mutual success, Sarah Crossan!

Read This Next

I don’t think I have a good recommendation in the same theme as One, so instead, I’ll recommend a book from Sarah’s blog that is now on my list. Check out Asking For It by Louise O’Neill, a book an eighteen year old girl who is tragically violated at a party, the aftermath, and the myth of the “perfect” rape victim.

Post Author: Anisha

Anisha

Anisha loves books, Gilmore Girls, and her Kuerig. She’s been reading mainstream YA since she was actually a young adult, and Jess is helping her expand her horizons with more diverse, interesting books from newer authors.

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Book Discussion: The Second Empress

Empress

Anisha’s Note: I’ve been on a bit of a Michelle Moran kick lately! I recently reviewed The Rebel Queen and reread Cleopatra’s Daughter. I promise I read new books as well, but I believe Gretchen Rubin’s principle that re-reading is the best reading.  

The Second Empress by Michelle Moran

Summary

Napoleon Bonaparte, the undeniable ruler of France and perhaps soon all of Europe, is looking for a wife. Not just any wife, but one who is young, fertile, and most importantly, with clear lineage to the throne of France. And when Napoleon sets his sights on something, he gets it. When Napoleon decides that he wants to marry Maria Lucia, the eldest daughter of Francis II of Austria, she is forced to leave behind her home, family, and even her precious puppy to help save her homeland. Can Maria Lucia find happiness in her new home under the reign of Napoleon?

The Second Empress is a fictional take on the life of Maria Lucia, the Archduchess of Austria and second wife of Napoleon Bonaparte. The story chronicles the later reign of Napoleon through the eyes of three unique characters: Maria Lucia, Napoleon’s disillusioned sister Pauline, and a Haitian servant named Paul. It’s a well-told, enjoyable piece of historical fiction.

heartRomance Score: Between You’re Trying and Good Effort  

I don’t want to give away too much of the plot, but I did enjoy the story of Maria Lucia and her romantic interest. It is a bit simplified, and a bit of a princess-in-need-of-saving, but still sweet and light. It was a nice contrast to some of the darker parts of the relationship between Maria Lucia and Napoleon.

Feminist Score: Between You’re Trying and Good EffortRosie

On one hand, Maria Lucia is characterized as weak, meek, and unable to stand up to her husband. However, that husband happens to be Napoleon Bonaparte, so perhaps we can give her a little grace here. Still, I wish we had seen a little more of Maria Lucia’s personality (and standing up for herself) throughout the story. At best, she’s portrayed as the sacrificial lamb given to Napoleon to allow her country to remain free.
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Diversity Score: Good Effort

As mentioned above, this story is told from three perspectives, including Paul, a young Haitian servant who lives in France and serves the Bonaparte family. I was really impressed with Paul’s portrayal, and really enjoyed the descriptions of Haiti, his internal struggles about heritage and home, and his decisions in the book. This is only one character, but in a book focused on only a few (real) people, I was impressed with this fictional addition.

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Awesome Factor: Between You’re Trying and Good Effort

This book is an enjoyable, quick read, but it’s not perfect. My biggest qualm (and my qualm with historical fiction at large) is that it mixes fact and fiction. While the main characters are based on real people in history, Moran takes liberties with new characters, dates, and specific events to make a more romanticized plot.

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Favorite Character

Paul, the Haitian servant living in France. His unique perspective on the events (and people) around him are a wonderful addition to the story.

Favorite Line

“No shame in crying” he tells me. “If we don’t cry for the dead, then what will we cry for?” 

Is this worth a book hangover?

I think it’s a fun read, especially if you enjoy historical fiction, but I don’t think it’s quite hangover worthy.

Fun Author Fact

According to her website, Michelle Moran was inspired to write The Second Empress while researching her fourth novel,  Madame Tussaud.  She spent extensive time in France both for personal travel and to research the book.

Read This Next

Beneath the Marble Sky by John Shors. Beneath the Marble Sky is the fictionalized story of the life of Princess Jahanara, daughter of Emperor Shah Jahan and his wife, Arjumand Banu Begum (the woman for whom the Taj Mahal was built).

Post Author: Anisha

Anisha

Anisha loves books, Gilmore Girls, and her Kuerig. She’s been reading mainstream YA since she was actually a young adult, and Jess is helping her expand her horizons with more diverse, interesting books from newer authors.

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Book Discussion: Tiny Pretty Things

Tiny Pretty Things by Sona Charaipotra and Dhonielle Clayton

Summary

Many little girls take ballet class, and dream of one dancing as a professional soloist. But there precious few positions in the professional dancing world, and even fewer leads. To become a soloist, you must be mentally and physically strong, and willing to do anything to be the best.

Join the cut-throat, elite American Ballet Conservatory, where every girl wants to be the next prima ballerina. Bette, who comes from an elite ballet family and grew up watching her sister star as the Sugar Plum Fairy, will stop at nothing to remain the favorite.  June is struggling on every front – trying to convince her mother to let her stay at school, maintaining her tiny weight while not alerting the school nutritionist, and learning about her family history. And Gigi is the new girl – new to the school, the state, and the level of competition. All three of them want to be on top, but only one girl can dance the soloist position.

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heartRomance Score: Between You’re Trying and Good Effort 

Who knew that there was so much romance going on at a competitive ballet school? Surprisingly, Tiny Pretty Things explores a number of interesting romances, including a few ballerina-ballerhino couples. The power dynamics in the relationship were so complicated and interesting. I’m looking forward to seeing where future relationships take these characters. This isn’t exactly a romantic book (given the cut-throat, competitive nature of elite dance), but it definitely added to the story.

FRosieeminist Score: You’re Trying 

I really enjoyed this story, but some of the tactics really, really scared me. While I think these relationships are likely true to elite competitive activities, I would have liked to see one or two examples of great female friendship.

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Diversity Score: A+ Success 

Tiny Pretty Things excellently captured the struggles of being different in a world in which every ballerina is expected to look the same. Many of the characters struggle with their identity in a compelling manner. June struggles to fit in as a half-Korean half-white ballerina, Gigi battles wild assumptions about her race, and even Bette struggles to maintain her level of perfection. I easily related to all three of their struggles, and Tiny Pretty Things perfectly captured the identity confused associated with growing up.

wow icon Awesome Factor: Good Effort 

As a former dancer and current type-A person, I really enjoyed this book. Although there are some parts that were hard to read (especially around certain tactics used to get ahead), I couldn’t put it down. Even if you’re not a dancer, it’s worth the read – the characters alone will keep you thinking long after you finish the story.


Favorite Character

Bette. I love a good villain, especially one as smart, complex, and confused as Bette.

Favorite Line

“It’s finally here. The moment I’ve been waiting all my sixteen years for. The moment that will lift me out of mediocrity and onto the horizon, make me the next prime-time-worthy prima of the dance world, elevate me higher than I ever truly thought possible.

Make no mistake: I’ve fought long and hard for this moment, given blood, sweat, and tears, deprived myself at every turn. I’ve earned this.”

Is this worth a book hangover?

Yes!  Between the interesting setting (the dance studio), the dynamic and complex characters, and the insane competition, this book can easily be finished in one sitting. It was well written and totally worth the read. 

Fun Author Fact

Sona Charaipotra and Dhonielle Clayton co-authored the book in a fascinating way. In an interview with the School Library Journal, they explained their process: Dhonielle wrote Gigi, Sona wrote June, and they both wrote Bette.

Read This Next
I have yet to find another book that discusses dance so completely. Instead, I’ll recommend Under the Painted Sky by Stacey Lee. Check out our review here.

Post Author: Anisha

AnishaAnisha loves books, Gilmore Girls, and her Kuerig. She’s been reading mainstream YA since she was actually a young adult, and Jess is helping her expand her horizons with more diverse, interesting books from newer authors.

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Book Discussion: Dorothy Must Die

“She wore a long, formfitting, beaded gown that flared out at the bottom and was corseted so severely that I wondered how she could breathe. Her breasts weren’t the only thing Dorothy was trying to show off: the fishtail was slit up the side, revealing her most important assets.

Her shoes, of course. “

Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige

Summary

Amy Gunn hates her life. She lives in rural Kansas with a less-than-present mother and a school full of bullies who refer to her as “Salvation Army trash”. She’s dying to get out of Kansas, and get out of her life. One day, a sudden tornado transports her to the land of Oz. Amy is familiar with all the stories, and is excited to meet Glinda and Dorothy. But she soon learns that the Oz she knows is not the real Oz. A tyrannical Dorothy has taken over Oz, enslaving the flying monkeys and terrorizing the munchkins. She is unstoppable, and sucking all of the magic out of Oz. But can another girl from Kansas stop the reign of Dorothy?

This incredible retelling of The Wizard of Oz makes us rethink the good versus evil dynamic, how power corrupts, and what happens after “happily ever after”.

heartRomance Score: You’re Trying 

Dorothy Must Die is primarily a story about fighting a tyrant and finding yourself. While there is a bit of romance between Amy and one of the main male characters, it is not central to the story. I actually love this about the book. Between learning to use magic and trying to understand the dynamics of good and evil in Oz, Amy is pretty damn busy. Maybe she’ll have time for romance once her mission is done.

FRosieeminist Score: A+ Success  

Amy is a kick-ass heroine. I love her strength and passion, and the sense of justice she has. Amy faces a number of really scary situations, including a lot of violent battles and the threat of torture by the Wizard of Oz hero. She fights bravely and alone, and there’s a lot to admire in this woman.

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Diversity Score: You’re Trying

This book isn’t particularly diverse. Most of the characters are white, and though we don’t know much about any of their sexuality, Amy is straight. However, I liked that Amy was from a poor broken home. As discussed in the I Was Here review, diversity in economic circumstance is an important component of diverse books.

wow icon Awesome Factor: Good Effort 

From the time my first grade teacher read Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad PigI’ve always loved books that retell stories from a new point of view. This retelling was particularly well-written, and I love how Dorothy and the world of Oz were portrayed as so dark and violent. This book surprised me in the best way. I can’t wait to read the second installment, The Wicked Will Rise


Favorite Character

By far, Amy Gunn. Amy is a smart, quick learner with a temper not unlike mine. She’s a heroine you can relate to, and totally get behind.

Favorite Line

“A chill shot down my spine as I remembered that things were never easy around here. good and evil were always changing places with each other.”

One element of this book that I loved was how none of the sides were purely good or evil. All parties use torture and manipulation to get their way, and Amy learns early on to trust no one.

Is this worth a book hangover?

Absolutely, especially if you like fantasy and fairy tales. 

Fun Author Fact

Danielle Paige has written several books retelling the Wizard of Oz, including three novellas from Dorothy’s point of view.

Read This Next
Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad PigA seriously under-rated childhood favorite of mine.

… but if you’d like to read something young adult, I’d try the Wicked Years Series by Gregory Maguire. The inspiration for the Wicked play, this series tells the story of Oz from the point of view of the Wicked Witch of the West.

Post Author: Anisha

AnishaAnisha adores YA romance – and thinks that all love stories should start on the beach and end with the first kiss. Jess is helping her expand her horizons with more diverse, interesting books from newer authors.

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Book Discussion: Bumped

Bumped by Megan McCafferty

Summary

In a dystopian future where a majority of adults are infertile, pregnancy is a prized act left to the teens. The most genetically attractive teenagers are wooed by fertility agencies and infertile couples, often earning hundreds of thousands of dollars as payment for a genetically superior child. The country is birth-obsessed; suddenly, pregnant teenage girls are America’s best chance of survival.

Enter identical twins Melody and Harmony. Separated at birth, their lives could not be more different. Melody was adopted by professors who spent thousands of dollars and countless hours perfecting her – she is now one of the hottest sought-after birth mothers. Harmony was adopted by a family in a small religious community, who reject the wordly idea of “pregging for profit.” When Harmony learns that she has a sister involved in the pregnancy business, she is determined to save her from her choices.

This fascinating novel highlights an interesting dichotomy in how we see birth, pregnancy, and religion.

heartRomance Score: Between You’re Trying and Good Effort

Bumped is primarily a story about friendship and sisterhood, but the romance is pretty fun too. Both Melody and Harmony have romantic interests, one of which was kind of obvious and the other refreshingly surprising. I’m excited to read the next installation of the Bumped series to see how the romance develops.

FRosieeminist Score: Good Effort  

In Bumped, we find ourselves in a future where some teenagers are giving birth for profit, and some rejecting the notion completely. While you can’t quite compare this to the so-called “Mommy Wars”, there is definitely some interesting implications of this in the new world. It really makes you consider how feminism, religion, and pregnancy could manifest itself in the not-so-distant future.

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Diversity Score: Between You’re Trying and Good Effort

On one hand, this book isn’t particularly diverse. That being said, this future world is creepy in part because of the lack of diversity and the premium paid for European-princess looks.

wow icon Awesome Factor: Good Effort 

This book really surprised me. The premise is really interesting, and while it was definitely written for teenagers, it was very thought-provoking. I’m looking forward to reading Thumped next.


Favorite Character

Harmony. You have to love a girl with her attitude, determination.

Favorite Line

“A condom” I shriek, my voice echoing around the room.

Zen clamps his hand over my mouth, “Are you trying to get me arrested”.

.. Because there’s nothing worse than preventing teen pregnancy, right?

Is this worth a book hangover?

Yes. This is a fantastic, quick read that leaves you thinking about the future of our society. I highly recommend it.  

Fun Author Fact

According to her website, Megan McCafferty lives in Princeton, New Jersey, where Bumped takes place. As a fellow Jerseyan, I’d only ask that she include Wawa in her next book.

Read This Next
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret AtwoodBumped reminded me of a teenage version of the classic The Handmaid’s Tale.

Post Author: Anisha

AnishaAnisha adores YA romance – and thinks that all love stories should start on the beach and end with the first kiss. Jess is helping her expand her horizons with more diverse, interesting books from newer authors.

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Book Discussion: Gilt

Gilt by Katherine Longshore

Summary

Kitty has always always been overshadowed by her best friend, Cat. Cat is fierce, brave, fun, and also, at times, cruel. She’s also very determined to have the best of everything, including the best man in Tudor England: King Henry VII. But as Kitty finds her way to the British court, she realizes that Cat is in way over her head, and her childish flirtations will lead to danger very quickly. Can Kitty manage to get herself out alive, or will she get caught in Cat’s plans as usual?

Set in 1530s Tudor England, Gilt is the story of fictional character Kitty Tylney and her best friend, Catherine Howard (the 5th wife of Henry VIII).

heartRomance Score: You’re Trying 

This book is set in Tudor England, so the ideas of romance are different than our modern standards. There are occasional scenes of flirtation between characters, but this is really a story of intense female friendships.

FRosieeminist Score: Between You’re Trying and Good Effort  

I thought that Kitty was fairly advanced for her time without overstepping the bounds of historical context. At the beginning of the novel, Kitty is a shadow of her best friend, Cat. I like her growth throughout the story into a woman with her own opinions, taking charge of her own life.

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Diversity Score: Not A Bit

Okay, it’ s a little unfair to complain that a book about Tudor England has no diversity, given the time period. But the characters are all white heterosexuals with similar viewpoints. There are no non-white or gay characters, even though Tudor history alludes to some alternate possibilities during that time period.

wow icon Awesome Factor: Between You’re Trying and Good Effort 

I’m a huge fan of any Tudor time period book, and this was an interesting story. I will say that all of the characters except Kitty were a bit flat, and I wished to see a bit more depth in them. However, I like the author’s concept of adapting typically adult stories (e.g. The Boleyn Inheritance by Philippa Gregory) to a younger audience.


Favorite Character

Kitty. I like her growth throughout the book, especially in her relationship to Cat.

Favorite Line

“And I was the perfect mirror. I helped her refine every performance – etching and casting back at her all the things I couldn’t be myself. She took me with her everywhere. We complemented each other. Completed each other.”

Is this worth a book hangover?

If you’re one of those people who inhales everything related to Tudor history, especially fictional accounts (e.g. Alison Weir or Philippa Gregory), you will enjoy this story. It’s quick, descriptive, and provides a new, younger perspective on Catherine Howard.  If you’re not a Tudor nerd, (or, in contrast, are a SUPER Tudor nerd, and care a lot about accuracy in Tudor history) this probably won’t be your book. I squarely fall into the first category, and look forward to reading Katherine Longshore’s other books. Tarnish, about Anne Boleyn, is currently on my library waiting list. 

Fun Author Fact

On her website, Katherine Longshore refers to Tudor historical fiction as The Real Housewives of the Tudor Court. I love this description, and it basically explains my love of all things Tudor history.

Read This Next

The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory. This is the fictionalized story of Mary Boleyn, sister of King Henry’s second wife, Anne Boleyn. A warning to anyone who actually studies history: This is fiction. Philippa takes a lot of liberties with her characters. That being said, if you want to read about The Real Housewives of the Tutor Court, she’s your author.

Post Author: Anisha

AnishaAnisha adores YA romance – and thinks that all love stories should start on the beach and end with the first kiss. Jess is helping her expand her horizons with more diverse, interesting books from newer authors.

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Filed under Historical

Book Discussion: Saint Anything

Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen

Summary

Sydney Stanford has grown up in the shadow of her older brother. Peyton has been getting in trouble for years, his infractions growing larger and larger, and eventually, landing him in jail for crippling someone during a drunk-driving accident. With her brother in jail and her mother focused on his comfort and safety, Sydney finds herself alone in her guilt over what her brother did. To make matters worse, her brother’s older, strange friend is always around, and Sydney can’t shake the feeling that something isn’t right about him. Saint Anything is a high school story about family, friendship, consequences, and the importance of listening to your gut.

 

heartRomance Score: Between You’re Trying and Good Effort

I’ll admit that I’m partial to some of the couples in Sarah Dessen’s stories (Wes & Macy, Remy & Dexter). Mac and Sydney’s romance is sweet, but slow. It’s not as large a part of the story as usual Dessen novels, but I appreciated it.

FRosieeminist Score: Between Not a Bit and You’re Trying [Note: SPOILER BELOW]

I’m a huge Sarah Dessen fan, and looked forward to this book for months. I really enjoyed the story plot, and about 90% of the book went exactly as I expected. But… the ending. I just can’t understand the ending of this book. [SPOILER]: I just could not believe that after all of the months of stalking, and everything that happened, Sydney didn’t press charges against Ames.

Sarah Dessen is a YA author who writes about both sweet, fun, summer love stories and serious, hard topics. In many of her books, she tries to weave between both, and is relatively effective. The teens in her novels tend to be a little more passive than I’d like, but overall, they seem to get the justice they deserve (see: Annabelle in Just Listen). In that regard, this book really falls short. I was so disappointed by the lack of action at the end. Thousands of teens rely on Sarah Dessen to help them navigate through tough teenage years. One of the hardest things a person can face is knowing that someone is creepy, but not being able to do anything about it. I wish Sarah had followed through and proven that there is something you can do, but instead, I’ll give my own advice.

If he’s creepy, or lurking, or just seems off, tell an adult. If that adult does not listen, tell another adult. Call the police. File charges, and get him in jail. There is no need to be polite, or good, or sweet, or give him the benefit of the doubt, when your life or body is at stake. 

diversity people circle icon

Diversity Score: Between You’re Trying and Good Effort 

Sydney, like most of Dessen’s protagonists, is white and wealthy. I don’t believe any of the main characters of the story aren’t white. That being said, I appreciate a story that talks about violence in wealthy, white communities. It’s easy to believe that bad things don’t happen on the nicer side of town. This story highlights that fact well.

wow icon

Awesome Factor: You’re Trying 

I really, really wanted to like this book. I actually did like most of it. But I can’t get over my views about the ending (see: Feminist Score).


Favorite Character

Layla. I loved her obsession with french fries and finding the perfect combination of junk food. I think we could be friends.

Favorite Line

“You get used to people being a certain way; you depend on it. And when they surprise you, for better or worse, it can shake you to the core.”

Is this worth a book hangover?

I really, really wanted to like this book. I’m a huge Sarah Dessen fan, and I love the way she writes. I was absolutely in love with this book until the last 30 pages. I would say it’s worth the read (especially if you’re a Sarah Dessen fan), but be prepared to be a bit disappointed. 

Fun Author Fact

Lakeview, the setting for Saint Anything (and most of Sarah Dessen’s other books), is based in Sarah’s home in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

Read This Next

Just Listen by Sarah Dessen. This book captures all of the magic of Lakeview in typical Dessen fashion, but with a more satisfying ending.

Post Author: Anisha

AnishaAnisha adores YA romance – and thinks that all love stories should start on the beach and end with the first kiss. Jess is helping her expand her horizons with more diverse, interesting books from newer authors.

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Filed under Contemporary, Heavy Topics, High School