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.

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.

Five Fictional High Schools I Wish I Attended

As summer draws to a close, the dreaded back to school season is coming quicker than any student would like. After the amazing summer that I had, it’s especially disappointing to go back to school  but while in class, I know I’ll be daydreaming about attending these amazing YA high schools.

Hardwick Hall, I’m From Nowhere by Suzanne Myers 

At Hardwick Hall,  the classic American boarding school, students row, horseback ride and even mention using the Harkness method.

St. Vladmir’s Acadamy, Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead

This supernatural academy where students sleep during the day and take classes at night seems anything but dull. Plus, the students learn magic!

American Ballet Conservatory, Tiny Pretty Things by Sona Charaipotra and Dhonielle Clayton

As a dancer, the chance to study at an elite ballet school seems like a dream come true. And while The American Ballet Conservatory is certainly that, I might have some qualms about certain students.

School of America in Paris, Anna and the French Kiss and Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins

This one is a no brainer- I mean, a boarding school for international teenagers in the heart of Paris? What more could one possibly ask for?

Honorable Mention: Anglionby Academy, The Raven Cycle series by Maggie Stiefvater

Although Anglionby is an all boys school, the amazing academics make a strong case for attending.

 
And if you were looking to Hogwarts, I’m sorry to disappoint. It’s in a class by itself.

A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir

 

Last year, Sabaa Tahir’s debut, An Ember in the Ashes came out and was an instant hit. It was easily the best- If not one of the best, releases of the year. Ever since, everyone has been waiting on the edges of their seats for the second book in her series. By some miracle (thank you so much, you know who you are), I was able to snag an advanced copy and got to read it.

I have to admit, my expectations were very high thanks to her debut, and for the most part I was not disappointed. If you haven’t finished An Ember in the Ashes, I advise you to stop reading here. A Torch Against the Night begins right where An Ember in the Ashes left off and switches between Elias, Laia, and Helene’s perspectives. Elias and Laia are making a mad dash across the Empire to get to Kauf and rescue Darin while Helene, the new Blood Shrike, is tasked with hunting down and killing Elias. This is all while revolution is rumbling in the belly of the Empire with everyone trying to claw their way up to steal Marcus’s crown.

Helene Aquilla has always stood out as a character, but in A Torch Against the Night, she really shines. She must kill Elias in order to secure Marcus’s grasp on the crown. Unfortunately, she has many powerful enemies, like Elias’s mother, The Commandent. There is also Avitas Harper, her former torturer, the Commandent’s spy, and a possible ally. Helene has a lot on her plate, but she never loses sight of her loyalty- whether it may lie with Elias, her family, or the Empire. Tahir writes Helene so complexly and beautifully written one cannot help but fall in love with her.

“The Blood Shrike is not lonely, for the Empire is her mother and father, her lover and her best friend. She needs nothing else. She needs no one else. She stands apart.”

As we follow Laia and Elias through the Empire, we get to see a lot more of the tribes and the different creatures that lurk in the Empire’s forests and mountains. Although there are many new characters and storylines introduced into the story,it never seems like an info dump, rather a gradual and natural reveal of different people. And just like her characters, her storylines are nuanced and compelling.

“Children are born to break their mothers’ hearts, my boy.”

A Torch Against the Night is as memorable read as An Ember in the Ashes. The complexity of every character’s relationships is stunning and written with talent. It is a must read for anyone looking for a book that will leave you long after the last page has been turned.

Tiny Pretty Things by Sona Charaipotra and Dhonielle Clayton

I am a dancer, so any book about dance I’m more likely than not to pick up. When Tiny Pretty Things first came out May of last year, I figured I’d get around to it eventually. But, unfortunately, with my TBR pile forever growing, I kind of just forgot about it. I finally got my motivation back almost a year after Tiny Pretty things came out, when I was at NYTAF (New York Teen Author Festival) this March. There I met Sona, but forgot to take a picture! I hope to run to her again though, especially after reading Tiny Pretty Things.

Tiny Pretty Things focuses on three ballerinas, June, Bette, and Gigi, who all attend an elite ballet academy. June is half-Korean, nearly dead, and slowly fading into the ensemble thanks to her ethnicity. But she’s determined not to vanish, even if it means destroying herself in the process. Bette is the classic ballerina; pale, blonde, beautiful, and ready to claw her way to the top. But the classics are getting a little boring; will she be able to survive? The last ballerina is the african-american Gigi, a simple, graceful, California girl. All of these girls have the same goal; become the prima. And they’re willing to do whatever it takes to become the best.

My favorite part of Tiny Pretty Things was the descriptions of dancing. As a dancer,I always find it frustrating when an author can’t quite write dancing correctly. There is something that that you either can do or can’t when it comes to writing about dance- and Charaipotra and Clayton can do it perfectly.

This book is a raw portrait of ballerinas and their art. It’s darkness and drama are entertaining, but at the end of the day, it is a novel about beauty and dance, and how the two come together to create a stunning art.

The Ultimate Summer 2016 Reading Guide

Hooray! Summer is so close I can almost taste it, but it seems like just yesterday I was bundled up in six sweaters, praying I survive winter. As summer draws closer, summer book releases start to come out and it can be pretty overwhelming. So many good books! Beautiful covers! Great blurbs! Exciting premises! How can you possibly choose from all the books? Don’t worry! It can seem daunting, but I’m here to walk you through all the new releases you need to have on your radar this sunny season.

1. The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson

Morgan Matson is already the reigning queen of summer novels (Since You’ve Been Gone, Second Chance Summer, Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour) so it’s no surprise her newest makes the top of this list. 

2. Love and Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch

Set in Tuscany and following sixteen year old Lina, this fluffy summer romance will have you booking the next flight to Italy.

3. The Art of Not Breathing by Sarah Alexander

This debut all about free diving is the perfect antidote to a beach reading slump.

4. A Fierce and Subtle Poison by Samantha Mabry

Set in Puerto Rico, this creepy magical-realism will keep you flipping pages way into the night. My full review

5. Summer Days and Summer Nights edited by Stephanie Perkins

This romance anthology written by twelve of your favorite authors and edited by Stephanie  Perkins is perfect for when you want your stories in tiny bites.