The Best Books to Bring on a Long Flight

Recently, I flew nine hours from JFK airport in New York all the way to RBA in Rabat, Morocco. The trip was long, but made much nicer by all the books I brought along to read. If you have a lengthy flight coming up and are stressing over what to read: relax! Hopefully, these recommendations will give you an idea.

The Novel You’ve Been Wanting to Read Forever

A long flight is the perfect time to crack open a novel you’ve been wanting to read but are perhaps intimidated by (whether that be because of length, language, themes, etc). For me, this book was Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. This read was probably my favorite out of the five and I cannot recommend it enough!

The Page Turner (Preferably Fantasy or Adventure)

This novel is for when you just want to lose yourself. Best for quickly passing time, I would recommend This Savage Song by V. E. Schwab. I recently saw her at an event and was immediately fascinated by her easily phrased yet thoughtful writing. Another great read is Strange the Dreamer or Daughter of Smoke and Bone both by Laini Taylor.

The Guidebook

A friend gave me Insight Guide to Morocco, but I would also recommend any guide by Lonely Planet. My advice is to use these guides to get a general sense of your destination, but to not make exact plans from them. Sometimes, it can be more rewarding to just wander.

The “Research” Novel

Under the guise of research, find an interesting book by a native author or book set in your destination. I checked out The Caliph’s House: A Year in Casablanca by Tahir Shah.

An Old Favorite

Sometimes, when venturing so far from home, you may begin to feel homesick. I associate certain novels with times or places in my life, so I will usually bring an old favorite that reminds me of home. Besides quelling homesickness, this book will allow you to rediscover why you love to read. I brought To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han.

May Wrap Up

What Happened in May?

May went by in a blink of an eye! Whether it was the stress of school and final exams, or the anticipation of my trip to Morocco, this month flew by for me. In terms of books, there were a lot of sequels coming out, but not many debuts or stand alones. Hopefully we’ll begin to see more new authors, because it sometimes feels tiring to see the same ten names every month.

Debut Author I Loved

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Karen McManus’s debut mystery was pitched as Pretty Little Liars meets the Breakfast Club, a description which it certainly lives up to. Sometimes trashy, always page-turning, this debut is perfect for a long flight or rainy day.

What I’m Reading

Right now, I’m reading Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Next up is A Million Junes, Emily Henry’s much anticipated second novel.

What I Blogged About

Review: We Are Okay by Nina LaCour

Blog: 5 Great Books About School

Review: Scythe by Neal Shusterman

Review: Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han

What I’m Excited for in June

June 4: Oblong Books in Rhinebeck hosts Laini Taylor and Victoria Schwab

June 6: Once and For All by Sarah Dessen comes out. Dessen’s novels are perfect beach reads, light, funny, and always sweet.

June 6: Words in Deep Blue by Cath Crowley is released. Another romance, Crowley’s debut takes place in a bookstore. What’s better than that?

5 Great Books About School

I only have three weeks left of school- then I’m off to Morocco for a month. Throughout my middle school experience I have found many books about the horrors,  terrors, and gruesome three years of middle school. Some of these books are fantastic- some are far from it. Here are five books I feel like exemplify my school experience (so far). Onto the next chapter!

Popular by Maya Van Wagenen

Written by teenager Maya Van Wagenen, Popular follows Maya as she navigates 8th grade while following Betty Cornell’s Guide to Teen Age Popularity. Awkwardly funny, Popular explores generational differences and what makes a modern teenager. Check out my full review here.

Falling into Place by Amy Zhang

Also written by a teenager (it’s no coincidence the best books about teenagers are also written by them), Falling into Place follows a teenage queen bee who decides to end her life. If you liked Before I Fall, you’ll love this. Check out my full review here.

The Graces by Laure Eve

The Graces is by no means a realistic depiction of high school. Often, it borders on fantasy. However, the underlying messages of wealth, class, and idolization of the rich are issues teenagers work through every day. Check out my full review here.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

With an unflinching, candid voice Starr Carter describes race relations and being one of two African American kids in her tony, white prep school. Starr’s inner commentary is funny yet insightful- I often found myself stopping my reading to think about what she said. Check out my full review here.

Hold Still by Nina LaCour

Nina LaCour’s debut about a girl reeling after her best friend’s suicide is a savvier, smarter, and better written alternative to the popular 13 Reasons Why. Check out my full review here.

April Wrap Up

What Happened in April?

April was a huge month for book news! Tahereh Mafi, author of Furthermore, announced she will be continuing her Shatter Me series with a fourth book coming out next March. Also, Hulu released their adaptation of The Handmaid’s Tale and it is fantastic. Gilead is brought to life with great cinematography and fantastic actors.

Debut Author I Loved

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While Angie Thomas’ debut came out in February, I have been disappointed with most of the debuts coming out this Spring so I have decided to write about a relatively new author. I did not choose to highlight Thomas in February, however I absolutely adored her novel The Hate U Give, which I read this past month.

What I Blogged About

Review: City of Saints and Thieves by Angie Thomas

Review: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Review: Dreamology by Lucy Keating

What I’m Excited for in May

May 2: Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han hits shelves. Read my review of Jenny Han’s PS I Still Love You here.

May 16: A Million Junes by Emily Henry is released. Henry blew everyone away with her debut, The Love That Split the World, so I’m very excited to read her next novel.

May 16: Flame in the Mist by Reneé Ahdieh comes out. Check out my review of her previous novels here and here.

May 30: One of Us is Lying by Karen McManus comes out.

The Perfect Books to Read This Spring Break

The coveted Spring Break is soon to be here! After a long, snowy winter, I am very glad to have a small respite. Unfortunately, many on Spring Break are vexed by the problem of too much time- whether that be because they are on a flight somewhere tropical, or (in my case) staying at home with nothing to do. Luckily, Spring has brought many great new releases that will keep you turning pages and losing track of time. Here are some of my favorites.

1. Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

I am a huge fan of Laini Taylor so I was thrilled to find out that her ethereal, fantastical Strange the Dreamer does not disappoint. Be forewarned: Taylor’s newest is impossible to put down once you’ve started it.  Read my full review here.

2. Gem and Dixie by Sara Zarr

National Book Award Finalist Sara Zarr’s latest is about two sisters with a complicated family life. Gem and Dixie used to be as thick as thieves, but an absent father and oblivious mother drew them apart. When an unexpected opportunity pulls them together, will they take it and rekindle the close bond they once felt?

3. Almost Adulting by Arden Rose

Personally, I am not the biggest fan of celebrity memoirs, however Rose’s debut was full of funny and relatable essays about dating, traveling, and mental health. Almost Adulting is a light read great for a day on the beach.

4. Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

Lauren Oliver’s Before I Fall is a realistic look at every type of relationship- friendships, romantic relationships, and family relationships (specifically between sisters).  After you’re done with this poignant novel, be sure to check out the newly released film adaptation. Check out my full review here.

5. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

Lara Jean’s story finally comes to a close this May in Always and Forever, Lara Jean. In preparation, I would suggest reading the beginning of this sweet-but-never-saccharine series. Read my review of P.S. I Still Love You, the second book in Lara Jean’s story, here.

 

 

My Favorite Female Characters

Happy International Women’s Day! Today, we are celebrating extraordinary women, so I figured we should talk about some extraordinary female characters as well. While every female character may be unique and special, a couple stand out in the crowd. Here are my favorite female characters in Young Adult literature.

1. Parker Grant- Not If I See You First by Eric Lindstrom

Throughout Not If I See You First, Parker handles her blindness with cutting humor and grace. While she may struggle internally, she always presents a strong front. This is damaging to her at some times, but her confidence and courage never wanes. It is also worth noting that Parker Grant is the only character on this list written by a male author.

2. Lina Vilkas- Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

Lina’s story takes place in Siberia, where she and her family are trapped in a concentration camp in WWII. In one day, she goes from promising art student to prisoner. Her resilience and unflinching hope in the face of unbelievable tragedy is truly inspiring. Bonus: Lina’s cousin Joana is a wonderful and equally inspiring protagonist in Sepetys’s third novel, Salt to the Sea.

3. Violet Markey- All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

After the death of her sister Eleanor, Violet’s world is turned upside down. At the beginning of All the Bright Places, Violet’s coping methods are non existent. However, as the story progresses, so does her character development. In the novel, Violet creates an online magazine, Germ, which author Jennifer Niven decided to create in real life. Check it out here.

4. Kristin Lattimer- None of the Above by I. W. Gregorio

Kristin is best described as the poster All-American girl. This all changes on homecoming night, when she tries to have sex with her boyfriend and subsequently discovers she is intersex. This means that while she has the outward appearance of a girl, she has male chromosomes. Kristin’s story challenges what it means to be female and made waves in term of intersex visibility when it was released.

5. Kate Thompson- Vengeance Road by Erin Bowman

Kate embodies strength in its most literal meaning. After her father is murdered, Kate disguises herself as a boy and takes to the gritty plains of the American Southwest. Kate’s endurance and focus, both mental and physical is powerful to read, making her a no brainer to end this list.

February Wrap Up

What Happened in February?

February was a mellow month for me. I tried to focus on schoolwork and avoid thinking about my boarding school applications which I had submitted in January and would hear about in March. I have also found that I’ve been in a bit of a reading slump. Many of the new releases I read in February were a little lackluster. Hopefully spring will bring better books.

Debut Author I Loved- Ibi Zoboi, American Street

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Zoboi draws upon her own experiences to write American Street, a novel about Haitian immigrant, Fabiola. This timely debut is not to be missed!

What I Blogged About

Review: Tell Me Something Real by Calla Devlin

List: 5 Sunny Reads to Transport You Away from the Cold

Review: Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

Review: Genuine Fraud by E. Lockhart

What I’m Excited for in March

March 7- The Inexplicable Logic of my Life by Benjamin Alire Sáenz hits shelves.

March 19- My birthday! I turn 14.

March 21- Feminist author Rebecca Solnit speaks at Oblong Books and Music in Rhinebeck, NY.

March 28- A Crown of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi comes out. Check out my review of her debut.

March 28- Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor is released. Click on the title to see my review.

 

5 Sunny Reads to Transport You Away From The Cold

We’re deep into the winter, and without the cheer of the holidays, everything can get a bit dreary (especially if you’ve been reading the news lately). While a spontaneous trip to Palm Springs or Hawaii might not feasible, don’t worry, these YA books will have you covered.

A Fierce and Subtle Poison by Samantha Mabry

A Fierce and Subtle Poison follows seventeen year old Lucas, who spends his summers at his dad’s hotel in Puerto Rico. The way Mabry weaves the native plants and flowers of Puerto Rico into her dark magical realism is ingenious- and will have you buying tickets to the next flight to the tropical island.

Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour

This romance set in sunny Los Angeles never skimps on describing the details of the setting. After all, the main character is an aspiring set designer, so she spends an unhealthy amount of time observing the space around her.

Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys

I really don’t know if Out of the Easy is set during the summer or the main character Josie just doesn’t go to school. Either way, Ruta Sepetys’s second novel set in the humid French Quarter of New Orleans is not to be missed.

Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas

The only novel on this list that will make you want to skip Spring Break this year, Haas’s murder mystery set Aruba doesb’t leave out a single gruesome detail. Dangerous Girls draws major inspiration from Natalee Holloway’s murder.

Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson

This roadtrip romance is the perfect novel for feeling adventurous on a $9.99 budget. As someone who has taken a summer roadtrip, I can attest that Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour is  completely realistic, and captures the unexpected moments of driving across the country for three weeks.

Your Last Minute Shopping List

We’ve all been there- a few days before the holidays and you’ve done absolutely none of your shopping. Friends, relatives, that weird probably an aunt that always comes to Christmas dinner- all the people you need to get gifts for start piling up. Don’t worry. Everyone appreciates a good book and this list has only the best books.

For the person who’s read everything: For this person, you can’t just wrap up Divergent or The Hunger Games and call it a day. In fact, you can’t name a book they haven’t read. The Graces by Laure Eve was a quiet September release, perfect for lovers of A Fierce and Subtle Poison or Bone Gap.

For the person who “doesn’t like reading”: This is the “I’ll just see the movie,” friend. We all have one, and no matter how annoying they can sometimes be, we love them. Nicola Yoon’s Everything, Everything is a short, sweet romance novel- with a movie starring Amandla Stenberg in the works.

For the person who just finished (and loved) The Fault in Our Stars: The next big book is here. All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven tells the story of two depressed teenagers in love. Deciding to ignore their parents, they set off on an adventure tour of their home state. Sound familiar? This novel is very well written (in fact I liked it better than The Fault in Our Stars) but has a plot that is not very original.

For the person who started singing carols in May: My True Love Gave to Me is a short story collection from your favorite YA authors, edited by Stephanie Perkins. It’s basically Love Actually in print form.

For the person who’s already sick of the snow: I hate the snow. Living in New York however, it’s pretty unavoidable. Luckily, The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson never fails to transport the reader to days of dripping ice cream cones and flamingo pool floats.

For the suprise gifter: By far the most awkward moment of the holiday season is when a friend gives you a gift you didn’t anticipate and you don’t have a gift to give back. Don’t worry- More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera is a crowd pleaser you can always pull out in a pinch.

For the person who loves kale smoothies and chlorophyll water: Found exclusively in artisanal coffee shops in Williamsburg, this friend only reads J. D. Salinger and Jonathan Safran Foer. They can be a tough person to think of a gift for, but I promise they’ll think I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson is cool. Bonus points: When put next to an avocado toast, this book is totally instagrammable.

For the person crushed that PLL is ending soon: Teenagers around the world were heartbroken when they heard Pretty Little Liars was in its last season. Destined to join Gossip Girl, One Tree Hill, Friends, 90210, Gilmore Girls, and legions of other trashy-but-totally-watchable shows, this book turned hit TV show has been around since 2006. Vanishing Girls by YA veteran Lauren Oliver is perfect for this person.

For the person who wants an escape from 2016: Furthermore is about as far from reality as it gets. Author Tahereh Mafi is known for her lyrical yet never flowery prose and her newest does not fail in continuing that legacy.

For the person who prefers non fiction: Most Dangerous by Steve Sheinkin just won YALSA’s award for best Young Adult nonfiction novel of 2016. It’s well deserved- this meticulously researched read about Daniel Ellsberg, government insider turned traitor during the Vietnam war gives a fascinating glimpse back into the not so long ago past.

For the adult on your list: Hipster film fanatics and dads everywhere will love the gift of Bad Dads, a coffee table collection of Wes Anderson film inspired artwork.

October Wrap Up

What Happened in October?

October was a pretty mellow month. The only big event was Halloween- I was Wednesday Addams.

Debut Author I Loved

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Sarah Everett’s debut is a relief from all the fantasy novels coming out recently. This realistic fiction follows teen Addison Sullivan before and after a bus crash that changed her life. Right before the crash, she was talking to a boy- who no one else could see. Maybe it has something to do with her stay at Overton, a shady medical facility.

What I Blogged About

October 5- You in Five Acts by Una LaMarche

October 11- 8 Things About Me and 8 New Books to Read

October 19- Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

October 25- The Rose and the Dagger by Renée Ahdieh

What I’m Excited for in November

November 1- The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

November 1- Blood for Blood by Ryan Graudin

November 1- The Amateurs by Sara Shepard

November 22- Scythe by Neal Shusterman