Thursday, August 28, 2014

Book Review: My Faire Lady by Laura Wettersten

My Faire Lady
Title: My Faire Lady
Genre: YA Contemporary
Setting: A Renaissance Fair 
Copyright: 2014
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Paperback: 352 pages
Axie's Rating: 3 out of 5
Rowena Duncan is a thoroughly modern girl with big plans for her summer—until she catches her boyfriend making out with another girl. Heartbroken, she applies to an out-of-town job posting and finds herself somewhere she never expected: the Renaissance Faire.

As a face-painter doubling as a serving wench, Ro is thrown headfirst into a vibrant community of artists and performers. She feels like a fish out of water until Will, a quick-witted whip cracker, takes her under his wing. Then there’s Christian, a blue-eyed stunt jouster who makes Ro weak in the knees. Soon, it’s not just her gown that’s tripping her up.

Trading in the internet and electricity for stars and campfires was supposed to make life simpler, but Ro is finding that love is the ultimate complication. Can she let the past make way for her future?
Reasons WHY you should read this book:
**It's a light-hearted contemporary YA. The story follows the heroine's life-changing summer spent working at a Renaissance Faire
**It focuses more on friendships than romance. The main romance of the book is a friendship that blossoms into a romance as opposed to love-at-first-sight.
**The setting is a Renaissance Faire! There's jousting, horses, costumes, and food!
**It's a Debut novel! 

My cousin Sara used to go to Renaissance Faires/Festivals for her birthdays. My cousin Sara is awesome.

Cover Envy: It definitely portrays the tone of the novel, even though I'm sure the cover model could have worn a prettier Renaissance-style dress. Something like this:

Quick Plot: After being dumped by her cheater boyfriend, Ro pursues an ad calling for artists on the Internet, which lands her a job as a face painter at a Renaissance Faire. 
Concept: The main appeal of this book is its concept. After you read it, you'll know the gist of what goes on in a Renaissance Faire....sort of. Do Renaissance Faires employ teenagers? ::Goes off to ask Sara::
Main Character: Rowena Duncan. She reminds me of heroines in most 21st century teen movies, that is, she makes a lot of silly choices based on emotions, puts her foot in her mouth a lot, but always apologizes and sees the error of her ways. I'm looking at you Disney Made for TV movies! Also, remember when Carmen went to theater camp in Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants book 2? This book was like that whole section, except at a Renaissance Faire.
All You Need is Love: It's friendship at first sight! Rowena, trying to get over her cheating boyfriend, chases after gorgeous Christian, a knight at the faire. In the friend zone is Will, a charming whip cracker who shows Ro the ropes.
Allies and Enemies: This book is all about them friendships, so there are a lot of side characters whom Ro bonds with, including Suze, a "sassy wench". On the opposite end, there's the requisite mean girl, who's a very flat character whose only purpose was mean, really.
Diversity: The three most likable characters (in my opinion) were all diverse characters, so there's that, ahahaha. Ramon. Davis. Sage. 
Writing: First person, present tense following Rowena. Very easy to read. Nothing fancy.
Recommendations: Any Meg Cabot contemporary novel w/ a concept hook or twist, like Avalon High or All-American Girl. Or if you like things medieval, check out Waterfall by Lisa  Tawn Bergren about a girl who falls through time to a medieval Italy with knights in shining armor!

Final Thoughts: Overall I enjoyed this book. It's very "innocent" even if the characters drink and speak of "hooking up" and are all seventeen/eighteen or over. It just has that innocent vibe, like it's a PG-13 rated teen movie. I legit had that time-old debate with myself where I couldn't figure out if "hooking up" was kissing or something more. You totally know what I'm talking about it. The plot and general storytelling are also very PG-13 movie-style. Ro goes to the Renaissance Faire, makes friends, LEARNS LIFE LESSONS, and kisses boys. It's like the epitome of a YA light contemporary w/ a Renaissance Faire setting as a hook. I wrote the word "Renaissance" incorrectly a million times while writing this review.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday: Love, Lucy by April Lindner [Release Date: January 27, 2015]

Waiting on Wednesday is a meme hosted by Breaking the Spine that features upcoming novel releases.

Love, Lucy
Title: Love, Lucy
Author: April Lindner
Genre: YA Contemporary 
Setting: Florence, Italy
Publisher: Poppy
Hardcover: 304 pages
Release Date: January 27, 2015
While backpacking through Florence, Italy, during the summer before she heads off to college, 17-year-old Lucy Sommersworth finds herself falling in love with the culture, the architecture, the food...and Jesse Palladino, a handsome street musician. After a whirlwind romance, Lucy returns home, determined to move on from her "vacation flirtation." But just because summer is over doesn't mean Lucy and Jesse are over, too.

Inspired by E.M. Forster's A Room with a View.
This book sounds really cute! I haven't read E.M. Forster's A Room with a View, but I really enjoyed the movie, so a fun YA contemporary inspired by the classic novel sounds like something I'd love to read.

Also, it's pretty funny this summer romance book is coming out in January.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Young Adult Reading List: Favorite YA Contemporary Romances

This is a list of my all time favorite YA contemporary romances. They're all well-written with great characters, and of course, major swoooooon. I'm not a fan of tear-jerker or issue-driven YA, so these contemporaries all have happy endings (even if it might take heartbreak to get there).

French Kiss (Diary of a Crush, #1)
Quick Plot: Adorkable Edie has the biggest crush on "moody, dark, and delicious" Dylan. If only her crush could be something more. On her art college's class trip to Paris, she takes a chance (or two)!
Bonus: Manning is a British author and the characters are all very British and cute. This is the first in her Diary of a Crush series. The sequel is equally adorable (and sexier).

Saving Francesca
Quick Plot: Francesca attends the recently turned co-ed St. Sebastian's school for boys. With just a handful of girls as allies, Francesca strives to make the school more gender-equal, even if the de-facto leader of the boys, Will Trombal, is a smug [albeit adorable] pain in the ass. She's also trying to piece together her life in the face of her mother's depression.
Bonus: Marchetta is a brilliant writer. This book is laugh out loud funny, but also extremely heartfelt and romantic. A spin-off is The Piper's Son, featuring a side character from Saving Francesca.

This Lullaby
This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen
Quick Plot: Weary of love Remy meets musician Dexter the summer before she leaves for college, and falls in love.
Bonus: Every YA contemporary romance list needs a Sarah Dessen book. Of her books, The Truth About Forever and This Lullaby are my favorites. 

Going Too Far
Quick Plot: Meg is a girl not afraid to break the rules. John is a cop trying to understand why she feels she must break them.
Bonus: Jennifer Echols wrote New Adult books before New Adult was a genre. The sexual tension between the characters is sizzling.

Sloppy Firsts (Jessica Darling, #1)
Quick Plot: In diary format, we follow the life of hilarious teenager Jessica Darling who's going through another year of "teenager torment", and falling for the enigmatic musician Marcus Flutie.
Bonus: This is the first book in the Jessica Darling series

Perfect Chemistry (Perfect Chemistry, #1)
Perfect Chemistry by Simon Elkeles
Quick Plot: Brittany Ellis falls for her chemistry partner, Alex Fuentes.
Bonus: Perfect Chemistry is the first in a series about the Fuentes boys.

Easy (Contours of the Heart, #1)
Quick Plot: Jacqueline falls for her econ tutor at college. Meanwhile, a man is stalking her...
Bonus: There's a spinoff book featuring a side character from Easy called Breakable.

To All the Boys I've Loved Before (To All the Boys I've Loved Before, #1)
To All The Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han
Quick Plot: Lara Jean writes a love letter to every boy she's ever felt unrequited love for. One day, the letters get mailed...
Bonus: I wrote a review for this book! Check it out: here. The sequel, P.S. I Still Love You, comes out April 21, 2015.

Anna and the French Kiss (Anna and the French Kiss, #1)
Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
Quick Plot: American-born Anna gets send to boarding school in Paris where she meets and fall for adorably British Etienne St. Clair, who unfortunately has a girlfriend.
Bonus: This is first in a series that features a new couple in a different city each book. Paris. San Francisco. New York City. 

Losing It (Losing It, #1)
Quick Plot: Bliss Edwards decides to lose her virginity on a one night stand. At the last minute, she chickens out, leaving the gorgeous boy naked in her bed, only to walk into class the next day to see he's her theater teacher.
Bonus: This is the first in a series of connecting books.

The more YA contemporaries I read and love, the more I'll add to this list. I love recommendations!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Book Review: To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han + Quotes

To All the Boys I've Loved Before (To All the Boys I've Loved Before, #1)

Title: To All the Boys I've Loved Before
Author: Jenny Han
Genre: YA Contemporary 
Setting: East Coast small town
Copyright: 2014
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Hardcover: 355
Axie's Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Cover Envy: That cover is gorgeous. 
What if all the crushes you ever had found out how you felt about them... all at once?

Lara Jean Song keeps her love letters in a hatbox her mother gave her. They aren't love letters that anyone else wrote for her; these are ones she's written. One for every boy she's ever loved—five in all. When she writes, she pours out her heart and soul and says all the things she would never say in real life, because her letters are for her eyes only. Until the day her secret letters are mailed, and suddenly, Lara Jean's love life goes from imaginary to out of control.

Reasons WHY you should read this book:
**It's like the anti-stereotype of Asian people in YA. 
**It's like the best example of a diverse book doing well in the market. I'm so happy that it's been such a runaway hit!
**The heroine is adorable and super likable. 
**Peter Kavinsky

I've never read a Jenny Han book before this one. Blasphemy! I'm Korean-American and live and breathe YA, yet have never read a YA book by a Korean-American! I have read adult books by Korean-Americans...mostly because they're written by people my family is acquainted with, like Chang Rae LeeI mean, all Koreans know each other. Take Ellen Oh for example. She's my father's childhood best friend's brother's wife. As for Jenny Han, she's my old boss's co-worker's client. No lie. Every Korean-American YA author is connected to me! (These are all coincidences).

I was the most excited to read To All the Boys I've Loved Before after Dramabeans, my all-time favorite Korean drama blog, posted a giveaway and review of the novel on their website. Check it out: here! They brought up the fact that the novel utilizes the fun Korean drama trope of a contract marriage/dating, which is when two people who usually dislike one another agree to pretend date/marry for a variety of reasons, usually to make an ex-flame jealous. Of course, the two pretend lovers in the contract marriage end up falling in REAL LOVE. Swooon. Here's a list of great Korean dramas that feature this trope: contract marriage dramas. My favorites are Full House (famous actor enters a contract marriage with a normal girl, who's a writer!) and Goong (in an alternate present-day Korea, a prince enters a contract marriage with a quirky commoner girl).

Main Character: Lara Jean is an adorable heroine. She's very naive and sheltered, but that makes sense considering how protective and strong-minded her older sister, Margot, is. She has wonderful character growth throughout the story, while retaining her sweetness and vulnerability. 
Quote: That's when I see him. Peter Kavinsky, walking down the hallway. Like magic. Beautiful, dark-haired Peter. He deserves background music, he looks so good. - To All the Boys I've Loved Before
Swoon Factor/Love Interest: Oh man, I love Peter. He has so many faults, but at the same time, he also has this boyish charm. And the way he teases Lara Jean is swoon-adorable.
Quote: [Lara Jean is speaking to Peter about being in a relationship with another person] "It's scary when it's real. When it's not just thinking about a person, but, like, having a real live person in front of you, with, like, expectations. And wants." I finally look at Peter, and I'm surprised by how hard he's paying attention; his eyes are intent and focused on me like he's actually interested in what I'm saying. - To All the Boys I've Loved Before.
Favorite Secondary Character: The Korean grandmother who never shows up. She's exactly like my grandmother. #amazing
Quote: Josh has some sixth sense of when my dad's cooking Korean food, because he'll come sniffing around right when we're sitting down to eat. He loves Korean food. When my grandma comes to visit, he won't leave her side. He'll even watch Korean dramas with her. She cuts him pieces of apple and peels clementines for him like he's a baby. My grandma likes boys better than girls. -To All the Boys I've Loved Before
Diversity: It's cover/plot-explanatory. It's also the kind of diversity that feels right and natural to the story. It's not like, oh hey, let me point out this one girl is Asian because by default the rest of the cast is white. The diversity is in the culture of the characters, the world they live in, and in the conversations between them. Here's a snippet of a conversation Lara Jean has with Lucas Krapf, which I thought was brilliant and super comforting to see in a YA contemporary novel. 
Quote: [Lucas is speaking to Lara Jean, first about his sexuality, then about her race]  
"I just let people believe what they please. I don't feel like it's my responsibility to quantify myself for them. I mean, you get what I'm talking about. As a biracial person, I'm sure people are always asking you what race you are, right?"
I haven't thought of it that way before, but yes yes yes! Lucas gets it. "Exactly. It's like, why do you need to know?" 
We smile at each other and I feel that wonderful sensation of being known by someone. -To All the Boys I've Loved Before
Here's a subtle and brilliant way that Han shows diversity & how wonderful Peter is as a character:
Quote: Peter brushes past me and starts taking off his sneakers. "You guys are a no-shoes house, right?""Yeah," I say, surprised. -To All the Boys I've Loved Before
Diversity is as easy as a boy taking off his shoes while coming into a girl's house. (LOVE)
Quote: Margot would say she belongs to herself. Kitty would say she belongs to no one. And I guess I would say I belong to my sisters and my dad, but that won't always be true. To belong to someone--I didn't know it, but now that I think about it, it seems like that's all I've ever wanted. To be really be somebody's, to have them be mine. -To All the Boys I've Loved Before
Writing: I mean, just read these quotes. It's a simple style, but there's so much heart in the words.

Recommendations: For a contract dating romance, check out Smart Boys & Fast Girls by Stephie Davies. I haven't read this one, but The Fine Art of Pretending by Rachel Harris coming out Sept 30th looks like a fun "pretend dating" romance.

Looking Forward To: P.S. I Still Love You (To All The Boys I've Loved Before #2) [Release Date: April 21, 2015]

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Book Review: The Maze Runner by James Dashner

My great and wonderful cousin and co-blogger, Kat, has started her own blog: Readiculous Blog! Just like on Books are Bread, she'll be blogging about books, movies, writing and more! Give her some love and a round of applause :) For her last hurrah, she's reviewed The Maze Runner by James Dashner, in anticipation for the movie coming out: September 19, 2014.


Title: The Maze Runner (The Maze Runner Series #1)

Author: James Dashner
Genre: YA Science Fiction > Futuristic > Dystopian
Setting: Maze > Country unknown
Copyright: 2009
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Paperback: 374 pages
Kat's Rating: 4 out of 5

Reasons WHY you should read this book:

- This is coming out as a movie, so I decided to get off my butt and actually write this review (that has been sitting empty for the better part of a year).

- Fact: I left a showing of Transformers Dark of the Moon to talk to my sister about Maze Runner when she called me (no, the phone did not ring in the theater. So don't worry, Sara).

- This book is part science fiction, part dystopian, part thriller, part survival story. In other words, it will make an epic movie and you should always read the book before seeing movies (Fact).

- Awesome side characters: Alby, Newt, Minho (Swoon! See below for my love of Minho).

- And therefore, bromance! I love bromances! It's not as overt in this book as it could be with all of the boyz and their near-death experiences (I mean seriously, what could bring two friends closer?).

Quick synopsis:

"If you ain't scared, you ain't human." When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his name. He's surrounded by strangers--boys whose memories are also gone.Outside the towering stone walls that surround the Glade is a limitless, ever-changing maze. It's the only way out--and no one's ever made it through alive.Then a girl arrives. The first girl ever. And the message she delivers is terrifying.
Cover Envy: Simple and just hinting at the greater story. Just what I want in my Sci-Fi book covers.

Main Character: Thomas is the perfect main character to discover this world with since he has not memory (that means he's just as confused as we are). However, he doesn't just let people tell him what to do (despite being new and amnesia-ridden in this cuh-razy maze world). He has just enough compassion in him to make him a "hero" but he's logical enough that he's not too self-sacrificing. He's like the Ralph (Lord of the Flies style) in this book.

All You Need is Love: No one needs love in the maze! There's no crying in the Maze! The Maze is about survival! 

Sorry, I got a little carried away. To be fair there is Theresa who is the only girl character, so obvi we think, "Oh, I see what's going on here James Dashner" *wink wink, nudge nudge* "I see what you're doing here James. Come on Jimmy, come on Jimbo, I see what this is about." But  it's not about that. It's about survival! And maybe friendship, but not kissing friendship (not yet *wink wink nudge nudge*).

Diversity: MINHO! He is my Maze Runner crush (and only slightly because he shares a name with Lee Minho and Choi Minho, swoon). He's just a bad-a$$ and he's super smart about how he goes about things, he thinks things through (unlike some of the other characters who just go in metaphorical guns blazing). I like a guy with a cool head, so Minho checks off all of my boxes AND he's Korean. So, yea, there's that.

We've also got Alby who is the defacto leader and pretty cool as well. He's the one who brings order to the group and a lot of that is because he is respected in the glade (that's the name for their home in the maze). So thumbs up for Alby as a character.
Also Frypan, who I assume didn't get a lot of screen time because he doesn't talk a lot. However, his name alone makes him an awesome character (he obviously is the cook of the group).

Allies and Adversaries: Woo, there are a lot of these. And we don't know who is who *dun dun dun*! However, that is what makes this book so awesome, no one fits in a slot. Everyone is in an impossible situation and therefore, we get to see them struggle to survive and create some semblance of order a la Lord of the Flies. (No lie, this book super reminded me of Lord of the Flies in the best way, I loved that book when I was 13. Yea...I'm realizing what a weird teenager I was).

Writing:  Dashner's writing has character while still delivering great action, even the emotional scenes don't feel too slow. I think that's really the ultimate goal in science fiction writing. Also, he writes some pretty bad-a$$ boys, the kind that you know survived some pretty crazy stuff:
Thomas hated the people who'd taken this poor, innocent kid form his family. He hated them with a passion he didn't know a human could feel. He wanted them dead, tortured, even. He wanted Chuck to be happy. But happiness had been ripped form their lives. Love had been ripped from their lives. -The Maze Runner
“Shouldn't someone give a pep talk or something?" Minho asked, pulling Thomas's attention away from Alby.
"Go ahead," Newt replied.
Minho nodded and faced the crowd.
"Be careful," he said dryly. "Don't die.” -The Maze Runner
(Isn't Minho perfect?!)

Friends and Family plan: Chuck. He had no friends before Thomas arrived in the maze, maybe because he's the youngest or maybe because he's a prankster. Anyway, he and Thomas become close friends and Thomas becomes like a big-brother protector to Chuck (it's adorbs).
Also, Theresa is an intriguing character. She's not my favorite secondary character, but she's obviously important for driving the story forward, so I appreciate her for what she is. Although, she's not too straightforward with Thomas and I don't like that.

World Building: Awesome. This maze is epic. It's like a character in itself. Also, the crazy creatures and machines and unspoken rules are well fleshed out. Plus, Dashner made up his own curse words. That's always awesome in my book.

Recommendations: Eye of Minds (James Dashner's newest series), False Memory by Dan Krokos

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Stacking the Shelves: Isla and the Happily Ever After & The Wild Girl

Button  owned/made by Wilde Heart Book Blogs

Stacking the Shelves is a meme created by Tynga Reviews in which bloggers post photos and information on what books they've purchased/received/borrowed during the week!

I got these in the mail this week! Super excited :)

Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins 
The Wild Girl by Kate Forsyth

What's stacking your shelves this week??

Friday, August 22, 2014

Feature & Follow Friday: Book Series to T.V. Series

Alison Can Read Feature & Follow
Feature & Follow Friday is a meme hosted by Parajunkiee's View & Alison Can Read. Check out their blogs and the Featured Bloggers of the week! This is great for finding amazing new blogs to follow and for gaining followers yourself. 

Axie's Pick

Jacqueline Carey's fabulously dark and sexy Kushiel Series. It's like Game of Thrones meets Fifty Shades of Grey...aka television fodder. The main heroine is a girl born with the goddess Kushiel's "dart" in her eye, meaning she's cursed/blessed to feel pleasure in pain. She's therefore trained as a courtesan for men and women with particular tastes. Around this setup is a dark imaginative world based on old European cultures and cities, with a pantheon of original gods and goddesses, as well as a fabulous cast of unique characters, including the beautiful and wonderful Joscelin, celibate zealot to Phedre's courtesan.

On a side note, who else is loving the sexiness that is James Fraser in Outlander?? More epic series should be turned into T.V. series, especially ones with strong, well-rounded female characters like Claire Fraser. 

Kat's Pick

Brian Jacques' Redwall Series. It's like the MG animal PG-13 version of Game of Thrones. It's super epic and lends to multiple story-lines and grand settings that could fill a whole television series.

What book series would you love to see as a T.V. series?