News Years Resolutions + What I’m Excited for in 2018

Year In Review

I can’t believe 2017 is over! It feels like just yesterday I was making new years resolutions for last year. It’s been a tough year, but I’ve grown from it and there’s been many moments I know I will cherish. For instance, the transition to boarding school was a welcome challenge and I cannot wait for the next four years. However, it can be easy to overlook big (and small) moments of joy when we are faced with the current news cycle. This year, I learned it is important now more than ever to use my voice to contact my representatives, stand up for what I believe in, and to fight for my rights.

“That’s the problem. We let people say stuff, and they say it so much that it becomes okay to them and normal for us. What’s the point of having a voice if you’re gonna be silent in those moments you shouldn’t be?” – Angie Thomas, The Hate U Give


bestofBest Young Adult Books of 2017

Far From the Tree by Robin Benway. It is hard to imagine any “best books” list without Benway’s National Book Award winning Far From the Tree. This story of three siblings begins with middle child Maya grappling with giving her baby up for adoption just as she was given up for adoption sixteen years ago.

Warcross by Marie Lu. Lu’s sci-fi thriller was an unexpected favorite. I am not usually drawn to either genre, but something about heroine Emika Chen was immediately compelling.

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Books for People Who Hate Reading

It’s that time again. The holidays are upon us, which means it’s time to pick out gifts. I find picking out the perfect present a stressful hassle, but I know that everyone, even those who absolutely despise reading, can take pleasure in the gift of a good book. Without further ado, here is the third annual holiday gift guide:

For the person who “doesn’t like reading”: 

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi feels simultaneously like a sweeping multi generational family story and a collection of vignettes of each family member. This lends to easy, yet thoughtful readability.

For that one cousin you see at every reunion but have never actually talked to:

National Book Award winner Far from the Tree by Robin Benway is perfect for everyone. Far from the Tree follows three birth siblings torn apart by adoption, but reunited through interesting circumstances.

For the person who just wants to see the movie:

We all love Amandla Stenberg, and her newest movie, slated for release in 2018, is based off Angie Thomas’s The Hate U Give. The Hate U Give follows Starr, a black teenager who witnesses her unarmed friend get shot by a police officer.

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June Wrap Up

What Happened in June

June was an insanely busy month for me, so I hope you can understand why my blog posting has not been as consistent as I would like. I had finals the first week, then was immediately off to Rabat, Morocco for a month, which is where I am writing from now. I’m really looking forward to a calmer July.

Debut Author I Loved

I have written this before, but I will write it again. I have been overwhelmingly disappointed by the lack of debut authors in Young Adult recently. Of the debut authors I read this month (only one, out of six authors) I felt dissatisfied with their work. I am hopeful Fall will bring talented new names, but it looks like the forecast for summer will be same old, same old. Here’s to being proven wrong.

What I’m Reading

Right now, I’m about 150 pages into The Burning Girl by  professor Claire Messud. Friends haven’t enjoyed it, but I really have. Her prose can get a little excessive and windy, but that’s one of my favorite parts of the novel.

What I Blogged About

Blog: The Best Books to Bring on a Long Flight

Review: Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Review: This Savage Song by V. E. Schwab

What I’m Excited for in July

July 4: The Disappearances by Emily Bain Murphy hits shelves. Something about the soupy summer air always bodes well for chilling thrillers set in small Midwestern towns.

July 9: Oblong Books in Rhinebeck, NY hosts Adele Griffin, Morgan Matson, and Jenny Han.

July 11: The Lake Effect by Erin McHanan comes out. Set of the shores of Lake Michigan, this coming of age novel is the perfect beach read.

July 18: The Library of Fates by Aditi Khorana is released. With an absolutely stunning cover and a backdrop of Indian mythology, I’m excited to see what Khorana’s debut has in store.

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.