Sunday, April 26, 2015

paper stars picks #1

Hi everyone! So, as most of you probably know from reading some of my other posts, I have a friend over at Paper Worlds and Swirls of Ink. We've been wanting to do some more posts together lately, so we came up with the idea to do joint posts sort of whenever we feel like it.

The series that we've just started is entitled Paper Stars Picks, which is when we pick six categories and each answer three on our respective blogs. You can check out the first half of this first installment over on her blog, here. So! Here is my half of the first installment of Paper Stars Picks.

Which protagonist would you be? 

Violet: Kestrel from The Winner's Curse. Kestrel is super smart and resourceful, and also I'd get to wear an awesome gown like the one she wears on the cover! or (sorry I'm picking two but I can't choose!) Cress from The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer. To be honest, any of the girls from the Lunar Chronicles are awesome protagonists, but I really enjoyed reading about Cress's character and hanging out with everyone in that group would be a lot of fun!

Sunny: Tessa Gray from The Infernal Devices trilogy. She loves books and is clever and kind, three things that I think are super important in a personality. Also, it doesn't hurt that she has both Will Herondale and Jem Carstairs to choose from... I seriously love Tessa though, above and beyond her choice in men. 

Significant Other you'd like to date? 

Violet: Morpheus from the Splintered series by A. G. Howard. Yes, he is still my favorite book boyfriend. I don't think this has changed since I've been blogging. Love Morpheus :) 

Sunny: Paul Markov from A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray. He is a brilliant scientist and a little socially awkward, which just makes him so much cuter. He also throws his entire self into anything that he sees worth doing, which I find so endearing. 

Which YA trope would you like to live out? 

Violet: ordinary girl meets extraordinary world. I would love to explore a new fantasy world and discover an incredible adventure, while still having my normal life. Think Meghan Chase from the Iron Fey series by Julie Kagawa, or Alyssa from Splintered by A. G. Howard, or Percy Jackson from the Percy Jackson series. 

Sunny: the "omg I'm what?" trope where the main character is unaware of his or her involvement in the magical, supernatural or royalty. See: Clary Fray from the Mortal Instruments, Elara from The Princess in the Opal Mask, and Alex from the Covenant series. This is a little similar to Violet's pick, but it doesn't necessarily open a new world to the character in question, just changes their involvement in their own one. 
So thank you to Violet for guest starring over here on Stardust Words! Let us know what your picks would be in the comments :) 


look at her go: reviewin' reviewin': simon vs. the homo sapiens agenda

Name: Simon Vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda
Author: Becky Albertalli
find it on goodreads
barnes & noble

synopsis: Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing, will be compromised.

With some messy dynamics emerging in his once tight-knit group of friends, and his email correspondence with Blue growing more flirtatious every day, Simon’s junior year has suddenly gotten all kinds of complicated. Now, change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met.

full, non-spoilery review under the cut!

Saturday, April 25, 2015

look at her go: reviewin' reviewin': all the bright places

Name: All The Bright Places
Author: Jennifer Niven
find it on goodreads
barnes & noble

synopsis: The Fault in Our Stars meets Eleanor and Park in this exhilarating and heart-wrenching love story about a girl who learns to live from a boy who intends to die.
Theodore Finch is fascinated by death, and he constantly thinks of ways he might kill himself. But each time, something good, no matter how small, stops him.
Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister’s recent death.
When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school, it’s unclear who saves whom. And when they pair up on a project to discover the “natural wonders” of their state, both Finch and Violet make more important discoveries: It’s only with Violet that Finch can be himself—a weird, funny, live-out-loud guy who’s not such a freak after all. And it’s only with Finch that Violet can forget to count away the days and start living them. But as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to shrink.
This is an intense, gripping novel perfect for fans of Jay Asher, Rainbow Rowell, John Green, Gayle Forman, and Jenny Downham from a talented new voice in YA, Jennifer Niven.

Full non-spoilery review under the cut!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

waiting on wednesday: a court of thornes and roses

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly feature over at Breaking the Spine where we feature an anticipated release each week.

This week's pick: A Court of Thorns and Roses – Sarah J Maas
find it on goodreads
Release Date: May 5

synopsis: A thrilling, seductive new series from New York Times bestselling author Sarah J. Maas, blending Beauty and the Beast with faerie lore.

When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin—one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world.

As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she's been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow grows over the faerie lands, and Feyre must find a way to stop it . . . or doom Tamlin—and his world—forever.

Perfect for fans of Kristin Cashore and George R. R. Martin, this first book in a sexy and action-packed new series is impossible to put down!

I've been saving this one because it is truly one of my most anticipated books of the entire year! I love Sara J Maas so much, and I absolutely cannot wait to see what this new series holds. Beauty and the Beast mixed with faerie lore? Yes PLEASE! Can it be May 5 already? I feel like so many people have already read this because there were a lot of ARCs floating around, so I really need for this book to be in my hands now.  

what are your picks this week?


Tuesday, April 21, 2015

top ten tuesday: authorpalooza

 Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature over at The Broke and The Bookish where we highlight a different theme every week. This week's theme is "April 21: Top Ten ALL TIME Favorite Authors (yeah, I'm mean like that! You could narrow it down to a genre if you it REALLY kills you...or just make your list a top 20 :P )" And, as many bibliophiles will know, this is a daunting subject. I narrowed my list down to twelve, but there were nearly thirty amazing authors in the mix at one point or another. There are just so many amazing writers out there, it is hard to pick and choose favorites.

1. Rainbow Rowell – When someone asks me who my favorite author is, I often think of Rainbow Rowell first thing. I absolutely adore every single thing that she has written, and I would highly recommend her to a wide variety of readers. Her stories are real and funny, and I honestly just can't get enough.

2. John Green – Another one of my knee-jerk reactions to the question of favorite authors. I have dutifully read every single novel that John Green has ever written or contributed to, and though I have liked some more than others, there is nothing that John Green has written that I haven't thoroughly enjoyed. 
3. Jane Austen– My first Austen novel was Sense and Sensibility, and I read it when I was eleven years old. Ever since then, I have been, maybe predictably, in love with Austen and her entire world. When I visited Bath, in the UK, where Austen spent a lot of time, I nearly lost my mind. Though my favorite novel of hers is Mansfield Park, I truly do adore each one of her novels. 
4. Sarah J Maas– I just read my first novel by Sarah J Maas last fall, and she immediately became one of my favorites. Her Throne of Glass series is one of the most epic, completely compelling and readable series that I have ever read, and I cannot wait to get my hands on A Court of Thorns and Roses soon. Maas is newer to me but definitely up here in the list of my favorites. 

5. Morgan Matson– I must admit, I was interested in Matson for a while, but never got around to reading any of her novels. Then, when I finally read Since You've Been Gone, I fell in love and read her other two novels in quick succession, loving every single second of the experience. It has been a while since I was so completely swept up by a contemporary author, and I can't wait to see what else Matson has to offer. 

6. Daniel Handler/Lemony Snicket – One of my primary childhood influences (is this a scary statement? probably) I tore through A Series of Unfortunate Events several times in my formative years. He is so funny and clever, though, I soon expanded my reading experience to those books beyond just the series, and I have yet to be disappointed. 

7. Stephanie Perkins– It has been a good amount of years since I first read Anna and the French Kiss, and after about eight rereads (and several reads and rereads of her subsequent two novels) I can firmly say that I will never get tired of Stephanie Perkins' writing. She has such a talent for characters, and I cannot help but fall in love with her writing, every single time. 

8. Rick Riordan – My love for Rick Riordan's stories goes back to when I first read Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief when I was 11 years old. I had never read anything like it, and I kept up with his new releases every single year until the Heroes of Olympus series finished last fall. I can't wait for his new series to begin this October, though I am sad to be leaving some of my absolute favorite characters behind.

9. J.R.R Tolkien– Tolkien is another one of those authors that captured my imagination when I was in middle school, and the first time I read the Fellowship of the Ring was such a magical experience for me, I cannot imagine a favorite authors list without Tolkien on it. 

10. Shannon Hale– It seems that I have loved so many of these authors since I was a child, because Shannon Hale is another author who shaped my young adolescence. I read The Goose Girl and Princess Academy over and over, and I still have yet to read a book of Hale's that I haven't loved. 

11. J.K Rowling– Guys. Come on guys. J.K. Rowling has to be on your list! Where would we all be without Harry Potter? 

12. Gail Carson Levine – Ella Enchanted was just one of the many amazing novels that Gail Carson Levine wrote that I loved. There are many other fairy tales, short stories, and fantastical worlds to visit, and I love every single one of them. 

There are so many other amazing authors! It was so hard to pick just these. What are some of your choices for this list? 


Friday, April 10, 2015

a week of recommdenations: day five

This is the fifth and final day of a week of recommendations! This week has been so much fun, and I hope that y'all have enjoyed it and at least gotten a couple recommendations from these posts! Special thanks for Violet for inviting me along with her on this week of posts!

This last day is a day for retellings, which are something that Violet and I cannot get enough of. I've always loved fairytales and myths and folklore, and retellings give me a chance to read stories that I love all over again, anew. Retellings are one of my favorite sub-genres under the umbrella of YA or Adult, and I am really excited to share some of my favorite picks with you. 

Cinder is the first in an eventual quartet called the Lunar Chronicles, and if you've been on booktube or around the blogging sphere then you'll know that these are extremely popular books with tons of people. Each installment is a sci/fi, futuristic fairy tale retelling, and they are all so creative, my mind is blown even more than I thought possible with every book. Cinder is, obviously, a retelling of Cinderella. Scarlet, the second book, is a Red Riding Hood retelling, and Cress, which is book three, tells the story of Rapunzel. However, all the characters and stories are so intertwined, there is a lot more going on in each book than just the retelling at hand. They're amazing! You should all read them! 

This is a a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, with elements of Roman society and mythology thrown in for good measure. I adored this book when I first read it, and the ending is seriously so epic! The world of Cruel Beauty is brilliant and different and dangerous, and I would definitely recommend this to anyone who is looking for a Beauty and the Beast story with a twist. 

Though this is a middle grade series, I enjoy myself immensely when I'm reading the Land of Stories books. Though they aren't strictly retellings, they do include characters from all of your favorite fairy tales, all in one world, so I count them. Since they are middle grade, they're fast paced and just so much fun. 

I am a huge fan of the 12 Dancing Princesses, and I have read multiple retellings of this classic story. However, I think that Entwined is my favorite. It is darker and somehow deeper than most of the other versions that I have read, and I love the characters so much. The 12 Princesses, in this retelling are strong and three dimensional, quite a feat when there are 12+ characters to develop. I love this retelling, it is graceful and twisted. 

This is the first book in a trilogy that retells Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland stories. Violet urged me to read this series for ages and I never got around to it until this year, and I was amazed. This too is a darker story than even the original Alice, which is pretty twisted in its own way. I think this is a must read for anyone who enjoys retellings of any sort, and even anyone who just wants to be swept away in a different sort of world. 

And here we come to the end of a week of recommendations! I hope you all had as much fun as I did. 


Thursday, April 9, 2015

a week of recommendations: day four

Welcome back to A Week of Recommendations! This is the fourth of five days, and today's theme is Paranormal books!

I, frankly, have not read that many paranormal books. To be quite honest, I'm not exactly sure even what makes a book paranormal and not just fantastical. But, that being said, I am not a huge fan of vampires, monsters, ghosts, horror, etc, which I'm pretty sure is what the genre of "paranormal" is all about. However, I did scrape together the few I have read into a list for you guys :)

I read this one in the end of 2013, and I absolutely loved it. I usually don't like vampires, (I actually think Twilight was the last vampire book that I read before this) but I actually really enjoyed what Holly Black did with hers. It definitely taught me not to discount vampire books. Black's take is creepy and elegant, with bits of grittiness and some seriously cool imagery. I personally think that this is a YA paranormal staple.

This is one of the most unique stories that I have ever come across. It combines witches and seers with private school boys, ley lines and Welsh mythology, which sounds like it wouldn't go together at all, but somehow totally totally does. I have yet to continue on with the next two books in this eventual quartet, but once the final book comes out later this year, I intend to binge read all four of them. 

I haven't read this one in a long time, but I do remember vaguely that it was Christmastime and my whole family was staying at my house, so I was sleeping on a blow up mattress in our bonus room and crying over this book at 2 in the morning. This is one about a girl and a boy who have always been in each other's heads, able to communicate telepathically. However, when this, very real, very live boy moves to the hometown of the girl counterpart and gruesome things start happening in the woods nearby, things get complicated. (I'd just like to point out that I was so DEVASTATED by the end of this book that I have yet to bring myself to proceed on with the series, so read at your own risk. It was still an amazing book though!)

This is the first book in a six book series about a school for vampires. I love the series with all of my heart, and the first installment is particularly stellar. This was a vampire book that I read in the wake of my "let's give vampires a chance!" kick that came from reading The Coldest Girl in Coldtown. And I did not regret giving these vampires a chance. I loved the way that Mead set up the whole hierarchy of vampires and half-vampires, and I would absolutely love to attend St. Vladimir's. 

Ok, four recommendations was about all I could manage for paranormal! (insert embarrassed, grimacing emoji) I've read others, but none that I really liked as much as these four! Obviously, I need help. Comment some paranormal suggestions below :) 


Wednesday, April 8, 2015

a week of recommendations: day three

And here we have come to day three of five of A Week of Recommendations. Today's theme is Contemporaries, yay! Throughout my reading life, I have always been drawn to contemporaries. Some of my favorite stories and worlds may be fantasy, but there is never a time where I fall into a slump in the middle of a contemporary. I just love them, especially when they're sweet and fun, but with some emotional depth. 

Ever since I was in middle school, I've been reading lighthearted contemporary novels. I remember falling in love with Jen Calonita's Secrets of my Hollywood Life, Liz Tigelaar's Playing With the Boys, anything by Meg Cabot, etc. etc. They're really what got me into reading religiously, and I've carried that love of contemporaries with me into this portion of my life. I had to really pare down the choices I had for this list, so the ones that made it on here are the best of the best. (I also went over the five book standard, but that's ok because I seriously couldn't decide.

Of course, the number one spot has to be one of my all time favorite books and the best book of 2014, I'll Give You The Sun. This is the most beautiful story about twins, Noah and Jude, and the ups and downs of their relationship with each other and with life in general. It is told from two points of view, and two points in time, and there is mystery and romance and heartbreak throughout. This is the first book I recommend to anyone who wants to read anything at all. It is lyrical, magical, truly. Something happens when you read this book, and you'll want it to happen to you. 

This is another book that, after I read it, I felt truly changed. For the first fifty or so pages, you're so confused and have no idea what's going on, but then you get into the groove of the story and I, quite literally, could not put the book down for the rest of the story. It is amazing, the way that Marchetta weaves the past in with the present and the connections that are made. The characters are another triumph of this one, they're raw and imperfect and that is why you love them. If you've already read this one, another great contemporary by Marchetta is Saving Francesca, which I also highly recommend.

If you know me at all, you will probably have heard/read me rave on and on over how much I love this book and also Stephanie Perkins in general. The things I love so much about this book are as follows. 1) the setting. As Anna explores the city, we get to do so also, which is amazing. 2) the romance. This novel has one of those romances where the two people literally cannot stay away from each other, as if there is a magnetic pull between them, and I love that. 3) It's funny and it's fun, and the quirks in it make you feel like it is real, like it is happening to you. It also deals with family problems and sickness and what to do when you fall out of love but are too scared to be alone. I could go on and on about how much I love this one, but it would be much easier if you just read it. 

I am a huge fan of roadtrips and roadtrip stories, and this is one of the best ones that I've ever read. Actually, everything by Morgan Matson is amazing and totally worth a read, but Amy and Roger happen to be my personal favorites. I love how they both went through so much character development, with the whole of America as the backdrop for their relationship and the way they grew from strangers to something more. This one deals with some hard subjects, and shows how, when bad things happen to you, after grieving, it's ok to move on. I think that's important, and I love the way this book doesn't undermine the grieving process.

This is one of the most adorable books that I've ever read. I love the protag, Lara Jean, because she isn't jaded or cynical, she's open and innocent and, really, a breath of fresh air when you're reading from her POV. I really enjoyed seeing her story unfold, from the embarrassment she feels in the beginning, to her becoming stronger and being able to stand on her own in the end. I love the detail that Jenny Han put into characterizing Lara Jean, her sisters, and everyone else in the novel. This is a great spring/summer read.

A different sort of contemporary than the other ones on this list, this is more about friendship than romance, except at the very end. It is about how one person can change the way you look at everything, can make you come out of your shell and just be more you. And those are the friends that you should hold onto. Aristotle and Dante broke my heart and then put it back together again, for this book is bittersweet and melancholy, told in a subdued tone that brings the emotions into sharper focus. It made me think, and I adored every second of it. 

This book isn't just about tragedy, it hinges on it. Nothing in this book would've happened without one single, tragic moment, when a beloved sister dies. Who she leaves behind is her younger sister Laurel, who is starting high school without her sister, falling in love without her sister, and sharply feeling everything that's left over without her sister. It's only when Laurel starts writing letters to dead people that she can puzzle out her own feelings and perspectives, both on her sister and herself. Love Letters to the Dead is sad and poignant, but it also emphasizes the importance of newness, all the while underlining the fact that, to move on, we must forgive.

What are some of your favorite contemporaries? 


waiting on wednesday: an ember in the ashes

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly feature over at Breaking the Spine, where each week we all highlight a highly anticipated book that is coming out soon.

This week's pick: An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
Find it on goodreads 
Release Date: 28 April

synopsis: Set in a terrifyingly brutal Rome-like world, An Ember in the Ashes is an epic fantasy debut about an orphan fighting for her family and a soldier fighting for his freedom. It’s a story that’s literally burning to be told.
LAIA is a Scholar living under the iron-fisted rule of the Martial Empire. When her brother is arrested for treason, Laia goes undercover as a slave at the empire’s greatest military academy in exchange for assistance from rebel Scholars who claim that they will help to save her brother from execution.
ELIAS is the academy’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias is considering deserting the military, but before he can, he’s ordered to participate in a ruthless contest to choose the next Martial emperor.
When Laia and Elias’s paths cross at the academy, they find that their destinies are more intertwined than either could have imagined and that their choices will change the future of the empire itself.

Basically, this had me at "terrifyingly brutal Rome-like world." I love ancient Rome and everything having to do with anything about it, so I already am so excited to see what Tahir does with this unique setting. This book sounds super badass, and I honestly can't wait to get my hands on it. Doubly excited because I have seen nothing but amazing reviews from those who have advance copies! 

What are your picks this week? 


Tuesday, April 7, 2015

look at her go: reviewin' reviewin': vicious

Name: Vicious
Author: V.E. Schwab
find it on goodreads
barnes & noble

synopsis: A masterful, twisted tale of ambition, jealousy, betrayal, and superpowers, set in a near-future world.
Victor and Eli started out as college roommates—brilliant, arrogant, lonely boys who recognized the same sharpness and ambition in each other. In their senior year, a shared research interest in adrenaline, near-death experiences, and seemingly supernatural events reveals an intriguing possibility: that under the right conditions, someone could develop extraordinary abilities. But when their thesis moves from the academic to the experimental, things go horribly wrong. Ten years later, Victor breaks out of prison, determined to catch up to his old friend (now foe), aided by a young girl whose reserved nature obscures a stunning ability. Meanwhile, Eli is on a mission to eradicate every other super-powered person that he can find—aside from his sidekick, an enigmatic woman with an unbreakable will. Armed with terrible power on both sides, driven by the memory of betrayal and loss, the archnemeses have set a course for revenge—but who will be left alive at the end?
In Vicious, V. E. Schwab brings to life a gritty comic-book-style world in vivid prose: a world where gaining superpowers doesn’t automatically lead to heroism, and a time when allegiances are called into question.

full, non spoilery review under the cut!

a week of recommendations: day two

 Welcome to Day 2 of A Week of Recommendations! Today we are discussing our picks for sci/fi & fantasy, and I am so excited to share my picks for this theme. 

I always was a fan of fantasy, in the vague, "I like Harry Potter so if I read a few more books like that I'd be happy" kind of way. Never did I actually seek out new books in the genre, nor was I terribly adventurous in the fantasy books that I did read. Slowly, though, over the past year, I have been getting more into this amazing genre, and I have ready some truly incredible fantasy stories over the past couple of months. I'll refer you to my super long post which can serve as a guide to getting into fantasy here. Sci/fi is spottier for me. I have to really be in the mood for something that is sci/fi, and as such I haven't read much of it. But I do really enjoy the ones I have read, so there are a couple for you on this list.

1. Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas 
This is an eventual six book series, with the fourth installment coming out in September (SQUEE), but for today, I'm just recommending the first book in the series. Throne of Glass is set in a world where magic is forbidden, a power-mad king rules over races of people whom he treats like slaves, and one girl, one assassin, has been locked away in the salt mines for the rest of her life. Until she isn't. This is one of my favorite series, I love the characters and the world, and they are so action packed that I think everyone would be able to get into them. 

2. Princess in the Opal Mask – Jenny Lundquist
This book takes place in a fairy tale world, but it isn't a retelling. It is about two sisters, both princesses, separated at birth so that one thinks she is a mere commoner. The sister who stays princess always wears an opal mask, but why? When they meet, intrigue and plots and court life make everything complicated. This is a shorter fantasy novel, unlike most of the ones I've read, but that doesn't take away from its quality. The world is nicely built up, and there is also a sequel that I have not yet read. 

3. These Broken Stars – Amy Kaufman and Meagan Spooner
One of my most successful forays into sci/fi, this book has been described as "titanic, in space." And indeed it is about a rich girl and a poor soldier meeting and feeling attracted to one another, all the while aboard a luxury "spaceliner." And that spaceliner does indeed crash. But when they survive, the similarities end, and they are stranded on a deserted planet with no idea how to live, let alone be rescued. 

4. Zodiac – Romina Russell 
I just recently finished this one, and I have to say, the world is very original and interesting. Zodiac takes the twelve houses of the zodiac and turns them all into actual houses, with planets and people who are all different. When threats comes to the houses, with disasters striking right and left, a girl from Cancer determines that these threats are coming from a long-lost 13th house, and sets off with a solider and a diplomat from Libra to save their universe. 

5. Red Queen – Victoria Aveyard 
This is another recent finish for me, and I have a full review here. I have been pitching this to everyone as a Hunger Games meets Game of Thrones meets like X Men type thing. The world is nicely paced, with a very clear disparity between the reds, basically enslaved and poor workers, and the silvers, who are royalty with powers. But Mare is a red, and Mare has powers, and when the silvers find out, she finds herself thrust into a palace intrigue that could cost her her life. 

What are some of your fantasy and sci/fi picks? especially sci/fi because I'm always looking for more sci/fi to read. 


Monday, April 6, 2015

top ten tuesday: checking in

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly list feature hosted over at The Broke and the Bookish where, each week, we discuss a different topic as it relates to some of our favorite books. This week's theme is "April 7: Top Ten Characters You'd Like To Check In With (meaning, the book or series is over and you so just wish you could peek in on the "life" you imagine they are leading years down the line after the story ends). "

I love this theme!! I often wish I could go into some of my favorite series and just see how the characters are living their lives, especially with standalone contemporaries that I feel like are too short. (I've excluded Harry Potter from this list because, well, obviously we'd all want to check in and see how Harry and the gang is doing)

1. Cath and Levi from Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell – I love these two so much, and I felt like I could keep reading on and on forever about their lives together. I would love to peek in on them now and see how they're being adorably dorky together.

2. Macallan and Levi from Better Off Friends by Elizabeth Eulberg – Since it took these two SO DANG LONG to get together in the first place, I would love to be able to see how they're living their life together now that they finally had gotten to a point where they could be together. If only, if only.

3. Amy and Roger from Amy & Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson – this really is turning out to be contemporary couples hour over here, but I really do want to see how Amy and Roger are working out, with the distance and all. I hope they're still doing ok, but it would just be nice to check in, you know?

4. Percy, Annabeth, Frank, Hazel, Jason, Piper, Leo, Reyna, Nico, and everyone else from Camp Half Blood and Camp Jupiter from the Heroes of Olympus series by Rick Riordan – Though this series ended last year, I am still in denial and feel like there will be more to come from Percy and the gang. Oh how I wish that were true. I want to know how these kids are doing, after everything they've been through, I want to make sure someone is giving them cookies and enough love. Especially Nico.

5. Anna and Etienne from Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins – I guess technically the last time we hear from Anna and Etienne is in Isla and the Happily Ever After, but I would still like to check in on them, post the events of that last novel. They're one of my all time favorite fictional couples, and just to know that they're doing alright would be enough for me.

6. Noah and Jude from I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson – I just want to make sure that the twins are healing their relationships, with each other, with their father, with their significant others and friends and ghosts and demons. I just want to make sure they're on the road to recovery and make sure they're still making art.

7. Mim, Beck and Walt from Mosquitoland by David Arnold – Did they get back together for opening day is really my main question and also can Mim and Beck please get married and have Walt be the maid of honor and the best man at once?

8. Mia and Adam from If I Stay and Where She Went by Gayle Forman – This duology showed that these two basically need each other to survive well, and I just want to make sure they're together and happy and not chased by their pasts. I want them to still be making music together, mismatched pieces fitting somehow perfectly together.

9. Victor, Sydney, Mitch and Dominic from Vicious by V.E. Schwab  – Basically, I just want to make sure that they took their golden opportunity to run around helping other EOs as a team of morally questionable super anti-heroes. I'd eat up a TV show like that.

10. Eleanor and Park from Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell  – WHAT ARE THE THREE WORDS.

what are some of your answers to these questions?


spotlight on: summer contemporaries


the spotlight series is a monthly feature here at Stardust and Words, where we feature a different part of the bookish lifestyle each month! Last month's post, which was a guide to fantasy reads, can be found here
This month, being as it is the last month of school, is making me antsy for summer and everything that it brings. (especially the extra time that I can devote to reading lol) As I have said in a few other posts, in the spring and summer, I tend to be in the mood for cute contemporaries, and am always on the lookout for good ones. So this month, I thought it would be fun to spotlight some contemporaries for summer!

These books are (with the exception of 1) exclusively set in summer or have to do with summer. This is not a comprehensive look at all my favorite contemporaries, just the ones for the hot months. Keep in mind that these are in no particular order, and that there can be multiple books included from a single author. (e.g. Morgan Matson writes amazing book, all her books happen to be set in summer, ergo, many a Morgan Matson on this list.)

1. Second Chance Summer – Morgan Matson

As the title suggests, this is a book that takes place over the course of one extraordinary summer. Taylor and her family take a summer-long vacation at the lakehouse where they used to spend all their summers, forcing Taylor to face some old friends and some old more-than-friends. Though the story definitely has elements of lightheartedness, young love, and friendship, it is by no means just a mindless, happy story. The characters face are hard truths, sickness, forgiveness and admitting wrongs. I love Morgan Matson's writing, and though this is not my number one favorite of hers, I still would give it a five star favorites rating.

2. Amy & Rogers Epic Detour – Morgan Matson

Like I said, I love Morgan Matson, and this is definitely my favorite novel of hers. I love Amy & Rogers with all of my heart. Like Second Chance Summer, there are elements of tragedy and hardship underneath the exterior of a fluffy summer romance. After Amy's Dad died in a car crash, her mother decides to pack up and move across the country, leaving Amy in charge of getting the car from California to Connecticut. But Amy hasn't driven since her father's accident. Enter Roger. Old family friend who needs to get to Pennsylvania and can drive. The two form a shaky bond, but as the miles pass, their relationship deepens and grows. I love road trip stories, and the details that Matson puts into this cross country collection of characters and experiences is amazing.

3. Since You've Been Gone – Morgan Matson

This is Morgan Matson's third and final novel, I promise. Since You've Been Gone is a story of best friends, and specifically, what happens when that best friend that you've come to depend on suddenly disappears, leaving only a list of bizarre instructions in her wake. When Emily's best friend Sloane does just that, Emily enlists the help of friends new and old to help her complete the list and find Sloane. This is the lightest of Matson's three novels, and probably the most fun and quickest. I loved the way the romance developed and the ways that Emily changed throughout the novel.

4. To All the Boys I've Loved Before – Jenny Han

Strictly speaking, the this book does not take place in summer. So, right here, on book four of this list, I've broken my rules for this post. But! This book is so cute and amazing and squee-worthy and I think of it in my head as a summer read, so I couldn't not include it on this list. This is the story of Lara Jean, who, over the course of her life, has never told her respective crushes that she likes them, only poured her heart out in love letters and stored them in her room. But when someone sends the letters, her world is turned upside down as one of her closest friends receives word or her secret crush and she enlists the help of a fake-boyfriend to throw her friend off. I love love love this story, it is so much fun and a definite must read for your summer.

5. My Life Next Door – Huntley Fitzpatrick

Definitely a quintessential summer read for me. Samantha and Jase are next door neighbors who, over the course of one summer, simultaneously get to know each other and fall in love. Though it isn't instalove, exactly, they do develop a relationship pretty early in the book, which is something that makes this different from a lot of other YA books that I've read. The story is about their relationship, how they overcome obstacles to stay together, rather than about the buildup to an eventual revelation of feelings that we see so often. It is cute and fluffy, to be sure, but it also felt relatable and real, especially because both families played a huge role in the entire story.

6. What I Thought Was True – Huntley Fitzpatrick

Fitzpatrick's other novel is a classic story, girl-from-wrong-side-of-tracks-meets-boy-from-right-side type affair. But it is also a lot darker than her other novel, dealing with more serious issues than My Life Next Door did. The romance also takes a lot longer to develop, but that doesn't make it any less sweet. Gwen and Cassidy are naturally at odds. Gwen cleans houses and Cassidy is a trust fund baby. But they also have a history, something that makes Gwen hate Cassidy for something even more than just the obvious disparity between their lifestyles. However, when Cassidy becomes the lawn boy for some of the houses Gwen cleans, the two, perhaps, have a chance to reconcile and maybe even fall in love.

7. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants – Ann Brashares

Pretty much every girl from the ages 10-35 found out about this book in 2005, when the movie based upon it came out. But just in case you missed it: four best friends, who have always spent their summers together, separate for the first time, going across the globe on respective trips. They find a pair of pants that, against all rules of science and humanity, fits all of them, and decide to send them back and forth over the summer. Amazing story, and the book is decidedly darker than the movie, with the girls having to grow up and deal with hard truths over the course of their summers. I love the emphasis on the fact that differences can make friendships stronger, as well as can distance, but in the end, it is you who makes your own decisions, and you who has to deal with their consequences.

8. Falling in Love with English Boys – Melissa Jensen

When Catherine's mom drags her across the pond so she can do research in London for the summer, she is less than thrilled. She has nothing to do except read the journal of Katherine Percival, written in 1815 and remarkably relatable to her own life. When Catherine meets William, who just so happens to be the descendant of the other Katherine, and also super cute, things start to get very interesting. This is told in alternating POVS, which is a definite change. One is Catherine's and one is Katherine's journal, and I definitely liked Catherine's portion of the story better, but by no means are the diary chapters bad or boring. This would be a quick and fun summer read for most.

9. This is What Happy Looks Like – Jennifer E. Smith

This is the book that we all wish would happen to us in real life. Graham is an uber-famous movie star, and he accidentally sends an email to Ellie, a small town girl living in Maine. This happy accident starts an email chain between the two of them, and it continues happily until Graham actually comes to Ellie's hometown to shoot a movie. Which, of course, is when everything gets complicated. I absolutely flew through this book, as it isn't very long and I couldn't wait to see what happened next. There are some "secrets" being hidden by characters, but I thought they were pretty transparent and wasn't surprised by any of the reveals. Still, this is cute, which is exactly what a summer book should be.

10. We Were Liars – E. Lockhart

Honestly, the less you know about We Were Liars going in, the better. I started this book knowing next to nothing about the premise, and that made it such a richer reading experience, because this book is kind of short, and being surprised by everything that was happening made it feel longer. This book definitely has a huge twist at the end, and it is much darker than any of the other contemporaries on this list. It does take place in summer though, it is just a different kind of summer than the rest of these. It is so good and so worth the surprise and mystery though.

11. The Truth About Forever – Sarah Dessen

There are a couple Sarah Dessen books that I could've put on this list, but to be honest, after I read five or six of them they all started to run together. The Truth about Forever is the one that I do really remember liking, and the only one that I have ever felt like rereading. This is the story of Macy, who has a dead father and a controlling boyfriend and a life that is falling apart. She takes solace, for the summer, in the chaotic world of Wish catering, surrounded by a colorful cast of characters and Wes, who is artistic and honest and strong. In the ensuing days of summer, Macy finds herself growing and changing, and doing things she never thought she would ever do. This is definitely my preferred Sarah Dessen novel, and it is quite perfect for reading whilst laying on a beach or by a lake somewhere.

12. 13 Little Blue Envelopes – Maureen Johnson

Honestly, it has been quite a while since I read this book, so all I remember about it is that a girl has an aunt who sends her envelopes with instructions in them, and said girl runs around, meeting different people, going to different places, following these instructions. And that it takes place over the summer. I've included it here because I do, in fact, remember enjoying the book as I read it, even if I don't remember many of the plot details, and also because it is very popular with many others on goodreads and in the blogging sphere.

13. On the Fence – Kasie West

Charlie has grown up around all men, and so she excels at sports, but not so much at communication. With her single dad, three brothers, and quasi-brother of a next door neighbor, she is happiest when playing some sort of sport. But when she gets a job at a boutique and starts to spend time around girls for really the first time in her adolescent life, she finds that there might be more to her than just one side. I loved that this book didn't put down girly girls for the sake of the tomboyish ones, or vice versa. I thought the romance was cute and the book as a whole was good, but Charlie accepting herself and realizing that she can be more than just one thing was the real victory of this story.

14. Prada and Prejudice – Mandy Hubbard

I adore Regency England, and I loved this take on Jane Austen's classic story. When Callie is on a school trip and takes a bad fall, she somehow wakes up in Jane Austen's England, and spends the majority of the rest of the book clumsily trying to survive that world. However, there are cute boys and good friends wherever you go, and that works in Callie's favor as she alternately crushes on and hates the arrogant Alex, a duke. This book! This book is so so cute! But it is also about accepting yourself and loving what you can bring to the table, instead of trying to change yourself to fit into other people's standards. Adorable with a good message- a beautiful thing.

15. Better off Friends  – Elizabeth Eulberg

Macallan and Levi have been best friends since they were kids. Everyone knows that they are a package deal, and they've always been there for each other. However, the fact that they're so close makes it hard for others, especially those with romantic interests in one of the two, to get close without feeling threatened. And then there's the problem of Macallan and Levi's own feelings for each other, which are confusing at best. This is the classic "can boys and girls be just friends" question, and I loved the whole ride. Macallan and Levi are so likable, and even when they can't seem to get it right between them, you still root for it to smooth itself out for the whole book, which takes place over many years and many summers, so I'm counting it in this list.

I hope you can read/swoon over some of these suggestions! What are some of your favorite summer-related books?


a week of recommendations: day one

Hi guys! So this week is going to be a little different here at Stardust and Words. (though there will still be regularly scheduled posts along with the special ones!) My friend Violet is doing a really fun theme week over on her blog, Paper Worlds and Swirls of Ink. She's invited me to participate for the week, and the link to her original post is here. Basically, it is a week of recommendations, where every day has a different theme, and we recommend books to you in that genre each day. The genres are as follows: 

Monday: Historical Fiction Tuesday: Fantasy/SciFi Wednesday: Contemporary Thursday: Paranormal Friday: Retellings

As you can see, today's theme is historical fiction, which, sadly, is something that I have never read a ton of. However, I do have a few recommendations from my meager experience with historical fiction. 

1. The Book Thief by Markus Zusaktakes place in World War II Germany and one of my all time favorites, this revolves around an orphaned girl, her adoptive parents, and a jewish boy hiding in their basement. It's beautiful, brilliant, hearwrenching. 
2. The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller– Ok I didn't know whether I could count this as historical fiction, because the events of the Trojan War aren't concrete historical events, but then I decided that I wanted to count it. I love reading about ancient Greece and especially the Trojan War, in school and in fiction, and this is such an amazing and interesting take on those events. 
3. The Healer's Apprentice by Melanie DickersonThis book takes place in Germany in the 1380s. It has the elements of a fairytale retelling, loosely based on Sleeping Beauty, but it is also much more grounded and decidedly less magical than many other fairy tale retellings that I've read. 
4. Secret Letters by Leah Scheier – This novel is set in Victorian London and involves Sherlock Holmes and mystery and cute boys. It's been almost two years since I've read this, but I do remember it being a fun one. 
5. Number the Stars by Lois Lowry– Another one set in World War II, this time in Denmark, I think this is one that most every elementary school-aged kid read at one point in their formative years. I remember loving it when I was a kid, and on a recent re-read I was surprised by how much I still enjoyed it. 

So there is the first of five recommendation posts coming at you this week! What are some of your favorite historical fiction reads


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