September 24, 2017

My recommended required reading | AKA Books that I Read for School and Didn't Hate

Summer has finally come to an end. For many people this means going back to school, either as a school or a teacher, and facing another year of studying, learning, and stressing.

School is made up of many facets; horrifying geometry pop quizzes, a list of extracurriculars longer than your TBR, and late nights trying to catch up on what you should have done yesterday. But all of these struggles pale in comparison to the beast of required reading.

The nature of required reading is a double-edged sword, which is perhaps the topic of another blog post. For now, let's just recognize that while being forced to read may not be the most pleasurable literary experience, it doesn't have to be the worst either. As with any book that you read, the reader has power with the story. Even with required reading, you have the choice to make the most of the book, or to dismiss it as another worthless assignment that you are determined to hate.

Teachers too often get hate about their required reading choices, but the students' displeasure is misplaced. The teacher is not the author of the book, or even the person who decided it was popular. As a society, we collectively put value on certain books that survived throughout time. So, let me say it one more time for the people in the back, IT IS NOT A TEACHER'S FAULT THAT YOU HATED A BOOK.

It took me a while to figure this out, since unfortunately, it is easier to blame a teacher than to blame yourself. But once you start at least trying to appreciate the required books, they will start to appreciate you as well. An open minds leads to understanding, connection, and eventually enjoyment while a closed mind only leads to disappointment.

I am not going to lie, I have read a fair amount of books throughout my education career that I did not like or downright hated. But I have read a ton of books for leisure that I hated too. So, in the spirit of trying to see required reading in a new light, I am going to share some of my favorite books that I was assigned to read.

September 3, 2017

When video games meet Spartacus | Arena by Holly Jennings

Arena (Arena, #1)By Holly Jennings
Arena #1
Published on April 5, 2016
336 Pages
Science Fiction, New Adult, Diverse

This book was provided to me by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. I swear on my bookshelf that this has not affected my opinion of the book.

Every week, Kali Ling fights to the death on national TV. She's died hundreds of times. And it never gets easier...
The RAGE tournaments the Virtual Gaming League's elite competition where the best gamers in the world compete in a fight to the digital death. Every kill is broadcast to millions. Every player leads a life of ultimate fame, responsible only for entertaining the masses. 
And though their weapons and armor are digital, the pain is real.
Chosen to be the first female captain in RAGE tournament history, Kali Ling is at the top of the world until one of her teammates overdoses. Now she s stuck trying to work with a hostile new teammate who's far more distracting than he should be. 
Between internal tensions and external pressures, Kali is on the brink of breaking. To change her life, she ll need to change the game. And the only way to revolutionize an industry as shadowy as the VGL is to fight from the inside.

August 29, 2017

TMST: Long-running series I need to find and read

Tell Me Something Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by Rainy Days Ramblings. The topics are diverse and span from books and authors to blogging and the meaning of life (at least in regards to literature). This is my first time participating in the discussion, but I am super excited to do more. If you want to share your thoughts on the prompt, feel free to make your own post too!

As a child, the only thing that could stop me from reading was running out of books. I would read anything and everything, as long as it was words on a page. Thankfully, the middle grade genre has a lot of long-running series with the number of books in a series reaching over 20! I used to read long-running series all of the time, like 39 Clues, The Magic Treehouse, even some of the Rainbow Magic fairy books. 

In retrospect, many of the most popular MG books are a part of long-running (and seemingly endless) series. Unfortunately, that form of series is not common within the YA genre. Generally, YA books are longer and more complicated, so mass-producing them at the same rate as the long-running MG series is pretty much inconceivable. But then I get confused again because there are a lot of long-running adult series (especially mysteries) that also seem to be never-ending (@ James Patterson and Kathy Reichs). 

For my purposes, I am going to define a "long-running series" as any series with more than four novels, including spin-offs and revivals. Even though four books may not seem long to some readers, it is harder than you would think to find long-running series in the YA genre. Most of the popular, and longest, series I have already started (like Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas, the Percy Jackson books, and Cassandra Clare's novels). 

I would love to see more long-running YA series that extend past the standard trilogy. The trend is so popular with MG, adult, and even picture books, yet almost non-existent in YA.

With my mini-rant over, here a few long-running series that I would like to read.

August 16, 2017

The dangerous difference between unlikeable and intolerable

There is a fine line between annoying and intolerable. Personally, I have danced across this line so often that I am very familiar with the difference. Unfortunately, there are some characters who are completely unaware that there even is a line. 

All readers have met unlikeable characters sometime in their book adventures. These are the characters who make your blood boil and your veins bulge in frustration. For some reason or another, they get on your nerves. In fact, they are a common literary tool used to stir up emotion within the reader. Think about all of the romances that are hate-to-love. In the beginning, we all hated Rhys from A Court of Thorns and Roses (and even though some of us still hate him, you get the point), Will Herondale from The Infernal Devices, the Darkling from The Grisha series, even Haymitch from The Hunger Games. When I think about it, there are a lot of characters who started pretty high on my "I'd-love-to-watch-you-burn" list, but ended up on my list of favorite characters. I classify these characters as "unlikeable" since they rub me the wrong way sometimes, but have not completely lost their chance for my respect

But, there is another kind of annoying character. The kind that crosses the line between decent indecency and hateful scumbag. These characters are definitely unbearable, but sometimes it can be hard to discern when they changed from merely unlikeable to full-blown intolerable.

August 1, 2017

The month of coming back (again) | July 2017

Even though summer is on its way out for the year, things are just heating up on the blog. I am finally feeling back into the groove of reading and blogging, even if I am still a tad behind.

I detailed all of the nitty gritty detail about my three-month absence in my earlier post, which you can feel free to read if you want. But, the point is that I am focused on the future of my blog, and I hope you are too. 

What's Up Next?

In the upcoming months, I have quite a few things planned, one of them being actually posting on the blog. I want to revive my book memes of Classic Conversations and Book Battles in the near future. And of course, post more reviews and discussions. Secondly, I want to diversify (literally and metaphorically) the content on my blog. Essentially, I want to start writing about more things (like TV shows, the occasional movie, and some discussions that lean outside of the book universe). I would love to hear any suggestions for non-book related topics you want to see here!

I am also painstakingly attempting to fine-tune my blogging style. The first one you probably did not notice, but it makes a HUGE difference to me. I am trying to make my blog graphics more cohesive and recognizable. 

I am also adding a new feature to the bottom of most of my posts called "Takeaways" as sort of a highlights reel of the post. For me, reading is important not only for the occasional laugh and OTP romance, but also to widen my perspective and learn something new. The true value of literature is not how it makes you feel while reading it, but how the words leave an impression after the book is closed. So, at the bottom of every review, I will recap what impact the book actually ended up having on me, if any. 

July 28, 2017

Questioning my entire existence, but in a good way | All Our Wrong Todays by Elan Mastai

All Our Wrong TodaysAll Our Wrong Todays
By Elan Mastai
Published on February 7, 2017
384 pages
Adult, Science Fiction, Time Travel

You know the future that people in the 1950s imagined we'd have? Well, it happened. In Tom Barren's 2016, humanity thrives in a techno-utopian paradise of flying cars, moving sidewalks, and moon bases, where avocados never go bad and punk rock never existed . . . because it wasn't necessary.
Except Tom just can't seem to find his place in this dazzling, idealistic world, and that's before his life gets turned upside down. Utterly blindsided by an accident of fate, Tom makes a rash decision that drastically changes not only his own life but the very fabric of the universe itself. In a time-travel mishap, Tom finds himself stranded in our 2016, what we think of as the real world. For Tom, our normal reality seems like a dystopian wasteland.
But when he discovers wonderfully unexpected versions of his family, his career, and—maybe, just maybe—his soul mate, Tom has a decision to make. Does he fix the flow of history, bringing his utopian universe back into existence, or does he try to forge a new life in our messy, unpredictable reality? Tom’s search for the answer takes him across countries, continents, and timelines in a quest to figure out, finally, who he really is and what his future—our future—is supposed to be.

July 10, 2017

Mission Impossible | Books I have to catch up on

At the beginning of the year, I had a few reading goals. This year, I did not just want to read more, but also broaden my bookshelf. Most importantly, I wanted to read more diverse books, especially debuts. Unfortunately, my reading life was derailed due to the difficulty of the last few months (you can read all of the juicy details here). 

I fell behind on a lot of things during the time I was away from blogging, but my Goodreads challenge has taken the most notable bit. Out of my goal of 80 books this year, I have only read 13. Thanks to the friendly reminder on Goodreads homepage, I know that I am about 28 books behind schedule. While I may not be a math person, I know that those numbers aren't what I was hoping for. 

Fortunately, of the 13 books I have read this year, most have been out of the realm of what I normally read. I have delved into adult science fiction, classics that I have always wanted to read but never mustered the motivation, and quite a few amazingly diverse reads. Even though I may not reach my numerical goal of 80 books, I have been pretty well on my diversifying. 

But, I still have some work to do. 2017 is a big year for releases, and I want to try to get ahead before falling even more behind. (What is the literary equivalent of a marathon? I need to know so I can start training.) So, I compiled a list of ten of the books that I REALLY need to catch up on.  

The Hate U Give
By Angie Thomas

A Court of Wings and Ruin
By Sarah J. Maas

When Dimple Met Rishi

By Sandhya Menon

Once and For All
By Sarah Dessen

Saints and Misfits
By S. K. Ali

Strange the Dreamer
By Laini Taylor

The Names They Gave Us
By Emery Lord

Bad Romance
By Heather Demetrios

The Crown's Fate
By Evelyn Skye

Flame in the Mist
By Renee Ahdieh

Have you ever fallen behind on your reading goals? Are there any books that you need to catch up on this summer? What other books do you think I need to read soon?

July 5, 2017

Is there still a blog here? | On my absence and plans for the future (again)

Is a three-month absence too long to blame on technical issues? 

Unfortunately, it was not a broken computer, slow Internet, or a three-month long blackout that prevented me from blogging. 

The Details

For the last three months or so, I have attended two funerals, spent many long weekends consoling family, and tried to complete my last semester of high school without flunking everything. In between the crying, studying, and traveling, I have not had any time to read, let alone blog. 

While blogging has been an important part of my life (admittedly on and off) for the past five years, my family, and ultimately my sanity, were more important to me in the last couple of months. 

To be completely honest, there were times when I did not think I could ever return to blogging. The thought of writing a new blog post filled me with anxiety. There was a voice in the back of my head whispering that I was gone too long, no one would remember me, and that I was not even a good blogger in the first place. 

On that note, I would like to give the biggest shout-out to Roberta @ Offbeat YA and anyone else who had faith that I did not abandon this little blog of mine. It turns out you were right, even when I had doubts. I know my blog isn't the biggest, the prettiest, the funniest, or the most consistent, but it warms my bookish heart to know people care about my ramblings. You guys make everything worth it.

Anyway, I have learned quite a bit in the past weeks. Most lessons are painful and private that you don't want to hear about anyway. But, there is one that we all know, but we don't always appreciate. It is in the darkest times when books can be the most beneficial. In the past two weeks, I started reading again. Did reading fix all of my family's problems? No. But the real magic is that books don't have to fix everything. Picking up a book again made me feel like myself. In a world where our lives are chaotic, destructive, and sometimes downright depressing, books are a constant. The words on a page never change and characters never abandon their books. Even when life seems like a Hallmark movie that someone decided didn't deserve a happy ending, you can take comfort in your passions. 

Earlier in the year, I promised myself that I would never apologize for my blogging habits, no matter how sporadic they become. If you want to read the whole post about not giving into regret about blogging, click here. If you were too lazy to click the link, here is the quick and dirty: I am tired of being anxious, guilty, and sad about the state of my blog. Books have provided a safe place for me throughout my entire life, and I don't want blogging to erode that passion. So, I don't want blogging to become a chore to me, or else reading will as well. 

For better or worse, this means that I need to take breaks from blogging as needed. Over the last couple of months, I have definitely needed a break. I hope you can forgive me for my absence, but I have comfort in the fact that I have already forgiven myself.


1. I am not dead.
2. I am not quitting. New posts will be up by the end of the week, and hopefully, pretty consistently after that.
3. Reading is not a cure-all, but books can go a long way in the healing process.
4. I appreciate each and every one of you who continue to follow my blog despite the sudden disappearances, silence, and craziness. 
5. I have some catching up to do, with reading, blogging, commenting, and getting back into the groove of things. (And let's not even talk about the state of my Goodreads challenge right now). 

So, what did I miss? What books have you been reading lately? What are the latest releases I need to catch up with? How has your life been in the past three months? Tell me everything!

April 30, 2017

Girl Out of Water by Laura Silverman | Sunday Street Team

Girl Out of Water
Girl Out of Water
By Laura Silverman
Published on May 2, 2017
350 pages
Young Adult, Diverse, Contemporary

This book was provided to me by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. I swear on my bookshelf that this has not affected my opinion of the book.
Anise Sawyer plans to spend every minute of summer with her friends: surfing, chowing down on fish tacos drizzled with wasabi balsamic vinegar, and throwing bonfires that blaze until dawn. But when a serious car wreck leaves her aunt, a single mother of three, with two broken legs, it forces Anise to say goodbye for the first time to Santa Cruz, the waves, her friends, and even a kindling romance, and fly with her dad to Nebraska for the entire summer. Living in Nebraska isn’t easy. Anise spends her days caring for her three younger cousins in the childhood home of her runaway mom, a wild figure who’s been flickering in and out of her life since birth, appearing for weeks at a time and then disappearing again for months, or even years, without a word. 
Complicating matters is Lincoln, a one-armed, charismatic skater who pushes Anise to trade her surfboard for a skateboard. As Anise draws closer to Lincoln and takes on the full burden and joy of her cousins, she loses touch with her friends back home – leading her to one terrifying question: will she turn out just like her mom and spend her life leaving behind the ones she loves.

March 16, 2017

An Unfortunate Diagnosis but There's Still Hope | Girl of Myth and Legend

Girl of Myth and Legend
By Giselle Simlett
Girl of Myth and Legend (The Chosen Saga #1)The Chosen Saga #1
Published on December 29, 2015
363 Pages
Young Adult, Fantasy, Debut


This book was provided to me from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. I swear on my bookshelf that this has not affected my opinion of the book.

A girl with a past she tries to forget, and a future she can’t even imagine.

Leonie Woodville wants to live an unremarkable life. She wants routine, she wants repetition, she wants predictability. So when she explodes in a blaze of light one morning on the way to her college, it’s enough to put a real crimp in her day.

And things only get weirder…

Leonie learns from her father that she is last of the Pulsar, a phenomenally powerful member of a magical species called the Chosen. It will be her sole duty to protect the Imperium, a governing hierarchy, from all enemies, and to exceed the reputation of the Pulsar before her. So – no pressure there, then.

Leonie is swept away from her rigorous normality and taken to a world of magic. There, she is forced into a ceremony to join her soul to a guardian, Korren, who is both incredibly handsome and intensely troubled, a relationship for which ‘it’s complicated’ just really doesn’t cut it.

But Leonie is soon to learn that this ancient world is no paradise. With violent dissidents intent to overthrow the Imperium, and dark entities with their own agenda, she and Korren find themselves caught in a war where they will have to overcome their differences if they are to survive.

Dare to dream. Dare to hope. Dare to be a legend.

February 28, 2017

Is Normal all that Great Anyway? | Fifteen Seconds of Normal by Alex Marestaing

Fifteen Seconds of Normal
By Alex Marestaing
Published on October 11, 2016
Fifteen Seconds of Normal
294 Pages
Young Adult, Diverse

This book was provided to me from YA Bound Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. I swear on my bookshelf that this has not affected my opinion of the book.

Step 1: Transfer High Schools. Step 2: Hide your Tourette’s. Step 3: Find your fifteen seconds of normal. 
Kaeya Garay has a plan. And it seems to be working. But when a curious interruption named Thatcher Kelly stumbles upon her “safe” place in the school’s abandoned art gallery, her grand plans for normalcy are suddenly derailed. 
Set over the course of three weeks, Fifteen Seconds of Normal is the quirky saga of a literature obsessed teen on the edge of a meltdown and the hope driven heroine who begins to pull him back.

February 23, 2017

YALit Giveaway Blitz 2017

YALit Giveaway Event!

A bunch of authors who got together to bring you a YA Big Box of Paperbacks Giveaway! One lucky winner is going to win 50 Young Adult Paperback Books! How’s that for an epic Book-Lover’s Prize?!

The giveaway is valued at over $500, yet it still open worldwide! Our first giveaway went to a winner in ROMANIA–and yes, we’re willing to pay the insane shipping on this oversized, overweight package to get the prize to WHOEVER wins!

Some of my personal favorites are included in the giveaway, like Adorkable by Cookie O'Gorman, The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard, and even Wicked Lovely by Marissa Marr. You would definitely be able to find some new favorites in the line-up.

Today, I am sharing some exclusive excerpts from authors who organized and sponsered this amazing giveaway along with the giveaway.

February 10, 2017

My quirks are not for your entertainment | How quirky gets in the way of diversity

In today's world, there is nothing more important than diversity--accepting people as they are. It is not a choice to include everyone, regardless of race, sexuality, gender, disability, but a duty. Diversity has two main components, inclusion and respect. This is an all-or-nothing game so you cannot claim to respect someone without including them in your lifestyle, art, and literature. The reverse is also true: there is no point in including someone if you misrepresent or diminish their existence and struggles. 

One of the biggest offenders of polluting diversity is inclusion without respect, which can be seen in the sudden influx of "quirky" YA characters. There are a lot of characters who have some kind of defining characteristic that is not normal, therefore, it is a quirk. 

Many books nowadays are trying to pass off quirks and "cute" abnormalities as diversity. They take a complicated, complex, and meaningful topic like depression or suicide, and then trivialize the meaning by making it a "quirk" instead of a real issue.

February 8, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday | February 2017

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme (or monthly in my case), hosted by the amazing Jill at Breaking the Spine.

Since I am a rebellious blogger, I am not following the traditional Waiting on Wednesday rules. Instead of posting the meme weekly, I am going to do it monthly (work smarter, not harder). Plus, my WOW will only include books that will be releasing (or have already been released) in the same month, so you don't have to wait forever to get these beauties. 

This month features a lot of diverse books, which could not have been timed better. This year, I vowed to read and blog about more diverse and inclusive novels. With such a suffocating atmosphere in the real world, I want to be able to spotlight books that offer a more diverse, accepting, and open-minded approach to the world. Books really do have power; the power to increase knowledge, open minds, and create understanding, but only if you pick up the right ones. So, I hope that I can guide you in the right direction with my picks this month.

January 29, 2017

What's her name again? | A Thousand Nights by E. K. Johnson

A Thousand Nights
By E. K Johnson
A Thousand Nights #1
A Thousand Nights (A Thousand Nights, #1)October 6th, 2015
328 pages
Fantasy, Retelling, Diverse

Lo-Melkhiin killed three hundred girls before he came to her village, looking for a wife. When she sees the dust cloud on the horizon, she knows he has arrived. She knows he will want the loveliest girl: her sister. She vows she will not let her be next.
And so she is taken in her sister’s place, and she believes death will soon follow. Lo-Melkhiin’s court is a dangerous palace filled with pretty things: intricate statues with wretched eyes, exquisite threads to weave the most beautiful garments. She sees everything as if for the last time. But the first sun rises and sets, and she is not dead. Night after night, Lo-Melkhiin comes to her and listens to the stories she tells, and day after day she is awoken by the sunrise. Exploring the palace, she begins to unlock years of fear that have tormented and silenced a kingdom. Lo-Melkhiin was not always a cruel ruler. Something went wrong.
Far away, in their village, her sister is mourning. Through her pain, she calls upon the desert winds, conjuring a subtle unseen magic, and something besides death stirs the air.
Back at the palace, the words she speaks to Lo-Melkhiin every night are given a strange life of their own. Little things, at first: a dress from home, a vision of her sister. With each tale she spins, her power grows. Soon she dreams of bigger, more terrible magic: power enough to save a king, if she can put an end to the rule of a monster. 

January 20, 2017

The Feels of a Five-Star Book | Queen of Chaos by Kat Ross

Queen of Chaos
By Kat Ross
The Fourth Element #4
Published on January 18, 2017
Fantasy, Young Adult, Diverse
308 pages

This book was provided to me from Xpresso Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. I swear on my bookshelf that this has not affected my opinion of the book.

Persepolae has fallen.
Karnopolis has burned.
As the dark forces of the Undead sweep across what remains of the empire, Nazafareen must obey the summons of a demon queen to save Darius’s father, Victor. Burdened with a power she doesn’t understand and can barely control, Nazafareen embarks on a perilous journey through the shadowlands to the House-Behind-the-Veil. But what awaits her there is worse than she ever imagined…
A thousand leagues away, Tijah leads a group of children on a desperate mission to rescue the prisoners at Gorgon-e Gaz, the stronghold where the oldest daēvas are kept. To get there, they must cross the Great Salt Plain, a parched ruin occupied by the armies of the night. A chance encounter adds a ghost from the past to their number. But will they arrive in time to avert a massacre?
And in the House-Behind-the-Veil, Balthazar and the Prophet Zarathustra discover that they have more in common than meets the eye. But is it enough to redeem the necromancer’s bloodstained soul and thwart his mistress’s plans?
As a final showdown looms with Queen Neblis, the truth of the daēvas’ origins is revealed and three worlds collide in this thrilling conclusion to the Fourth Element series.

Luckily for you, the first book in the series, The Midnight Sea, is currently FREE on Amazon. Now you can start your addiction to this series at no cost!

January 18, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday | January 2017

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme (or monthly in my case), hosted by the amazing Jill at Breaking the Spine.

Since I am a rebellious blogger, I am not following the traditional Waiting on Wednesday rules. Instead of posting the meme weekly, I am going to do it monthly (work smarter, not harder). Plus, my WOW will only include books that will be releasing (or have already been released) in the same month, so you don't have to wait forever to get these beauties. 

This month's books vary from the start of a promising high fantasy to the ending of a favorite series. There are some extremely exciting books and some of them are my most anticipated of 2017!

January 16, 2017

Riordan sets bar for diversity in middle-grade | The Hammer of Thor

The Hammer of Thor
By Rick Riordan
(Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard #2)
Published October 4, 2016
The Hammer of Thor (Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard, #2)471 pages
Middle Grade, Mythology, Fantasy, Diverse

Thor's hammer is missing again. The thunder god has a disturbing habit of misplacing his weapon--the mightiest force in the Nine Worlds. But this time the hammer isn't just lost, it has fallen into enemy hands. If Magnus Chase and his friends can't retrieve the hammer quickly, the mortal worlds will be defenseless against an onslaught of giants. Ragnarok will begin. The Nine Worlds will burn. Unfortunately, the only person who can broker a deal for the hammer's return is the gods' worst enemy, Loki--and the price he wants is very high.

January 2, 2017

Excuse my excuses | A story of blogger regret and recovery

I have made a lot of excuses since I started blogging five years ago. I have blamed my problems on my lack of time management, co-bloggers, laziness, fear, forgetfulness, cute puppies who just want me to sleep with them, etc. Some of them were blatant problems that plagued my life, while others were just lies and excuses to make myself feel better. But, every time an excuse slipped out of my mouth (or from my keyboard) I instantly felt an overwhelming sense of guilt. 

Every missed post, every unanswered comment, every blank email made me feel like I was drowning in my responsibilities as a blogger. I felt as if I was letting everyone down, especially myself. 

I started this blog in the beginning with two of my best friends in the world. We were naive little bookworms who thought that blogging only consisted of writing posts. HAHAHA, right? Soon enough, we realized that there was a lot more that we did not account for when we gave life to our project. In fact, both of them have decided that blogging is not the right path for them anymore, leaving me the sole owner of Crazy for YA. This proves that bBlogging is so much more than just writing and posting, but that is a discussion for another time. 

The point is, I could continue to blame my naivety, my lack of time, my personal life and the many other things that seem to make blogging impossible, or I can own up to the fact that my blog will not be perfect.