Top 5 of 2015

2015 was a great year for YA lit. There were a lot of fresh debuts. Several established YA authors like Leigh Bardugo started new series. I’m trying to think up a good cliche for how happy we readers were. Clams? Pigs in mud? I don’t think I have a good analogy for this…

At the beginning of July, I posted my half-way through 2015 list.  I found it interesting to look back at it. Some of the books have been replaced, some remained. This time, I didn’t sort my books into categories. I just chose the 5 books I thought were best overall. I tried putting it into order, but honestly- it was so painful, I gave up.  The only order it’s in right now is by colour of cover (feel free to laugh) .My list is fantasy-heavy this year. I don’t know if I have a slight bias, or if young adult fantasy this year was exceptional.

My list is fantasy-heavy this year. I don’t know if I have a slight bias, or if young adult fantasy this year was exceptional.

But here’s my list:

  1. Six of Crows (Six of Crows, #1)
  2. The Winner's Crime (The Winner's Trilogy, #2)
  3. The Fixer
  4. The Start of Me and YouA Court of Thorns and Roses (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #1)

Click on the covers to read my reviews. What was your favorite book this year?

Advertisements

Best Books of 2015 Awards (We’re Halfway Through!)

It’s July now, which means half of 2015 is up. All I can say is 2015 has been an absolutely fantastic year for YA with a whole bunch of great books coming out. I’ve been shamelessly working my way through them, and I’ve fallen in love with a great proportion of them. But there are some which deserve a special mention.
(Note: This only contains books from the young adult genre that were published for the first time in 2015)


Best Debut:

Book: Ember in the Ashes (Ember in the Ashes#1)
Author: Sabaa Tahir
An Ember in the Ashes (An Ember in the Ashes, #1)

Comments:
Possibly my favorite book of the year. Gorgeous cover and worldbuilding. Not to mention that the plot is awesome. So glad a sequel’s coming. Not so glad it won’t be here ’til 2016.


Best Dystopian:

Book: Red Queen (Red Queen#1)
Author: Victoria Aveyard

Red Queen (Red Queen, #1)

Comments:
Ooh! Betrayals abound. With awesome superpowers! This book reminds me of Red Rising- possibly better. Too bad I have a thing for the bad guy.


Best Fantasy:

Book: A Court of Thorns and Roses (A Court of Thorns and Roses #1)
Author: Sarah J Maas
A Court of Thorns and Roses (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #1)

 Comments:
Super hot! Fantasy! Faeries! I don’t know what more to say. Another contender for my favorite book of the year.  Read my review here.


Best Romance:

Book: The Start of Me and You
Author: Emory Lord

The Start of Me and You

Comments:
Cry-fest. Amazing friendships! (one that evolves into something more). My role model in relationships. Read my review of it here.

 Maybe this is unfair. But I had to tie this category.

Other Book: I’ll Meet You There
Author: Helen Demtrios

I'll Meet You There

 Comments:
This book was so wickedly raw and powerful, I had trouble breathing after i was done. It’s surprisingly powerful and relatable.


Best Mind-Screwer:

Book: Made You Up
Author: Francessa Zappia

Made You Up
Comments:
This book screwed with my mind. Love the crew in the book and the *ahem* spiciness of the main character. Read my review of the book here.


So those are the books I loved this year. I’m a bit disappointed I don’t have anything for the sci-fi category or for the historical fiction category. Never fear, I have books on my TBR list which (I hope) I will love.
What do you think about the list? Would you replace anything? Do you have any nominees?

Summer 2015: Books I Plan to Read

Yes, summer has started for me.
And that means temperatures soaring to 40 degrees, a crazy amount of mangoes entering the house, no school and perhaps most importantly, the time to read a bunch of amazing new material.
So here it is. A list of 5 new releases I want  plan to read this summer:

  1. Things We Know By Heart

    Author: Jessi Kirby

    Release Date: April 21

    Things We Know by Heart
    When Quinn Sullivan meets the recipient of her boyfriend’s donated heart, the two form an unexpected connection.

    After Quinn loses her boyfriend, Trent, in an accident their junior year, she reaches out to the recipients of his donated organs in hopes of picking up the pieces of her now-unrecognizable life. She hears back from some of them, but the person who received Trent’s heart has remained silent. The essence of a person, she has always believed, is in the heart. If she finds Trent’s, then maybe she can have peace once and for all.

    Risking everything in order to finally lay her memories to rest, Quinn goes outside the system to track down nineteen-year-old Colton Thomas—a guy whose life has been forever changed by this priceless gift. But what starts as an accidental run-in quickly develops into more, sparking an undeniable attraction. She doesn’t want to give in to it—especially since he has no idea how they’re connected—but their time together has made Quinn feel alive again. No matter how hard she’s falling for Colton, each beat of his heart reminds her of all she’s lost…and all that remains at stake.


  2. A Court of Thorns and Roses
    (A Court of Thorns and Roses #1)

    Author:Sarah J Maas

    Release Date: May 5

    A Court of Thorns and Roses (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #1)
    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.


  3. End of Days
    (Penryn and the End of Days #3 or Angelfall #3)

    Author: Susan Ee

    Release Date: May 12

    End of Days (Penryn & the End of Days, #3)
    After a daring escape from the angels, Penryn and Raffe are on the run. They’re both desperate to find a doctor who can reverse the twisted changes inflicted by the angels on Raffe and Penryn’s sister. As they set off in search of answers, a startling revelation about Raffe’s past unleashes dark forces that threaten them all.

    When the angels release an apocalyptic nightmare onto humans, both sides are set on a path toward war. As unlikely alliances form and strategies shift, who will emerge victorious? Forced to pick sides in the fight for control of the earthly realm, Raffe and Penryn must choose: Their own kind, or each other?


  4. The Wicked Will Rise
    ( Dorothy Must Die #2)

    Author: Danielle Paige

    Release Date: March 31

    The Wicked Will Rise (Dorothy Must Die, #2)To make Oz a free land again, Amy Gumm was given a mission: remove the Tin Woodman’s heart, steal the Scarecrow’s brain, take the Lion’s courage, and then Dorothy must die….

    But Dorothy still lives. Now the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked has vanished, and mysterious Princess Ozma might be Amy’s only ally. As Amy learns the truth about her mission, she realizes that she’s only just scratched the surface of Oz’s past—and that Kansas, the home she couldn’t wait to leave behind, may also be in danger. In a place where the line between good and evil shifts with just a strong gust of wind, who can Amy trust—and who is really Wicked?


  5. Saint Anything

    Author: Sarah Dessan

    Release Date: May 5 (expexted)

    Saint Anything
    Peyton, Sydney’s charismatic older brother, has always been the star of the family, receiving the lion’s share of their parents’ attention and—lately—concern. When Peyton’s increasingly reckless behavior culminates in an accident, a drunk driving conviction, and a jail sentence, Sydney is cast adrift, searching for her place in the family and the world. When everyone else is so worried about Peyton, is she the only one concerned about the victim of the accident?

    Enter the Chathams, a warm, chaotic family who run a pizza parlor, play bluegrass on weekends, and pitch in to care for their mother, who has multiple sclerosis. Here Sydney experiences unquestioning acceptance. And here she meets Mac, gentle, watchful, and protective, who makes Sydney feel seen, really seen, for the first time.

    The uber-popular Sarah Dessen explores her signature themes of family, self-discovery, and change in her twelfth novel, sure to delight her legions of fans.

Good Girls and Bad Girls

She’s a good girl
She’s Daddy’s favourite
He’s saved for Harvard
He know she’ll make it
She’s good at school
She’s never truant
She can speak French
I think she’s fluent

She said to me,
“Forget what you thought
‘Cause good girls are bad girls that haven’t been caught.
-Good Girls, 5 Seconds of Summer

Oh God! I love 5 SOS but they’re pretty close to messing it all up for ‘Good Girls’ all over the world.

I’m pretty close to a good girl: I do my homework. I don’t get in trouble at school. I’m socially aware.  I listen to my parents. I don’t date. I don’t dye my hair or have any piercings (except for a pair in my ears). And I’m addicted to reading which is relatively harmless compared to drugs or alcohol. I tell the truth.
However, I may or may not be the kind of girl who lets her parents assume that she’s doing what they want (even if she isn’t) and I might be a little addicted to the internet…just a little. And I have the feeling that, if I actually said what I thought all the time I wouldn’t be considered a good girl any more.

I know a lot of people and I don’t know anyone who is blessed angel good. Sometimes they’re good at hiding that the fact they’re quick with insults or sometimes they don’t even bother to hide the fact that they’re not even close to being Miss Perfect.
On one level, I sort of admire the second group of people and I sort of pity them too. They’re brave enough to do stuff which is not necessarily considered ‘good’ and it frees them from a lot of expectations. But at the same time it bars them from a lot of opportunities and people are generally a lot less willing to hand over responsibility to the ‘bad girls’.

I guess there are both pros and cons to being a in the closet bad girl versus just a bad girl. However, to make use of a cliché, don’t change yourself for anyone but yourself. If you’re unhappy with the things you do, the way you act or the way you look-it’s perfectly okay to change. But if it’s because someone makes you feel uncomfortable or ashamed about the things that you do or the way that you look -think very, very hard before changing. Ask yourself, if 10 years later, ‘Will I regret changing myself?’

So here are five Books for all the Good Girls who haven’t been caught (In other words, the bad girls who’re still in the closet):

  1. Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
    A classic that’s surprisingly good. Ball gowns, war and marriage for gain- what’s not to like?
  2. Perfect Chemistry by Simon Elkeles
    There’s something about the other side of the tracks which is irresistible to a good girl hiding behind a façade.
  3. Unwind by Neal Shusterman
    Even an orphan and music prodigy can do questionable things when on the run from an insane government.
  4. Goodbye Rebel Blue by Corielle Shelley
    This is actually a bit different from the other books. It’s a bout a bad girl going through a good girl’s bucket-list.
  5. Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas
    She’s so much worse than you thought…

Gone with the WindPerfect Chemistry (Perfect ...Unwind (Unwind, #1)Goodbye, Rebel BlueDangerous Girls

The YA 24 of 2014

As soon as Christmas is over, the people around me become almost disgusting nostalgic. Um…and maybe me too.

This year was full of disappointments ones which made me cry and wallow in self-pity. There were a couple of embarrassing moments here and there (probably more than I remember since I have a tendency to block out the bad stuff). But then there were those awesome moments where I met some pretty amazing people or where I laughed so hard, I probably sounded like a beached whale. And looking back at those memories, I kind of wish I could go back to them.

Since 2013, I’ve got the time to collect 31557600 seconds, 365 days, 52 weeks, 12 months or 1 year (however you want to put it)  worth of memories. I have photos to remind myself but like the quote below says,

 You can never truly go back too a time when you were happy.
– Ella Enchanted, Gail Carson Levine

So I’ve resigned myself to treasuring the memories…Unless you’re willing to lend me that secret time machine hiding in your basement; I swear I won’t use it for evil.

Books however, are a whole different ballgame. They are something which can be reread over and over again (providing that they’re good enough). And sometimes, they’re even better the second time around.

This year, I read 811 books. I’ve made a list of my top 24.

Like always, they’re not in any particular order. Also, please note that these books are ones that I have READ in 2014- not necessarily ones published in 2014

  1. Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan
  2. by Alexandra Bracken
  3. Midnight Thief by Livia Blackburne
  4. Written in Red by Anne Bishop
  5. Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor
  6. Exquisite Captive by Helen Demetrios
  7. Young Elites by Marie Lu
  8. Sisters Fate by Jessica Spotswood
  9. Sacrifice by Brigid Kemmerer
  10. How to Lead A Life of Crime by Kristen Miller
  11. Catalyst by Laurie Hale Anderson
  12. Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly
  13. Lock and Key by Sarah Dessen
  14. Effortless With You by Lizzy Charles
  15. On the Fence by Kasie West
  16. Beauty Queens by Libba Bray
  17. Cracked by Eliza Crewe
  18. Making Faces by Amy Harmon
  19. Between Shades of Grey by Ruta Septys
  20. Don’t Breath a Word by Holly Cupala
  21. Heist Society by Ally Carter
  22. To All the Boys I ‘ve Loved Before by Jenny Han
  23. Duff (Designated Ugly Fat Friend) by Kody Keplinger
  24. Hate List by Jennifer Brown

So this is looking back at 2014. Next post will be about looking forward to 2015 and New Year Resolutions

Travel: Choosing Destinations

My family is one of those perpetual last-minute vacation bookers. We’ve booked hotel rooms and bus tickets for Goa within 2 hours of us having to leave and for our Europe cruise, I think we had everything booked only a few days in advance. Is this because we don’t plan and research in advance? <snorts in laughter> Hardly. Trust me, we have everything researched ages before it’s considered socially acceptable to start planning a vacation.

It’s probably because we all have such different ideas of what a vacation looks like and we’re almost annoyingly democratic in choosing a vacation destination. Even my 11 brother has his own intense opinions (I miss the days when he was 5 and was willing to agree with me). Each of us have a list of places we want to visit, hotels we ant to stay at, places of interest there and estimated travel costs. All in a spreadsheet. That may sound freakishly over-organised for a vacation, but in my family if you want anyone to even consider your vacation you better have a decent power-point presentation and convincing argument planned out.

Christmas vacations are coming up, so that means I better get my April-May summbr break plans put together if I want to have a say in where we spend a week. Here’s a list of places I want to go:

1.) Jimbaran Beach, Bali

View across Jimbaran Bay

Are you crazy? White sands, blue oceans and pretty volcanoes. It’s like Hawaii but more exotic (and slightly more understanding of vegetarianism). And Jimbaran offers the best of Bali.

2.)Paris, France

View From the Balcony

At the risk of sounding like a teen girl cliche, I desperately want to visit Paris at least once in my life. It’s crowded, beautiful and classy.  Capital of romance, art, writing, fashion and the origin of democracy as we know it. Not to mention the great food and the beautiful gothic style architecture…

3. Athens and Santorini,  Greece

(Image from lonelyplanet.com )

Greek mythology fascinates me (thanks a lot Percy Jackson). But the Pantheon is only one thing I want to see in Greece. I’ll admit it, the Mediterranian food and idyllic beaches contribute a whole lot to my desire to go…

I’m also toying with the idea of using airbnb,com this time. Apparently it’s pretty good if you want to rent out whole houses or villas. I have a feeling that would help in getting a more authentic and interesting trip. So, has anyone used them?

Here’s a wishlist of 5 properties I love in the above 3 places. I highly doubt we’ll get to go there- but hey! we can all have dreams, right?

If you’re planning to get an airbnb account to check out some of these awesome properties, then click on this link https://www.airbnb.co.in/invite?r=13. It’s a referral link. You’ll get a credit of $25 (or whatever’s equivalent in your currency). I’m not even going to pretend to be altrustic: I get credit too.

I’m gonna end by recommending 3 great books about travel:

  1. Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert (A classic)W
  2. Wanderlove by Kristen Hubbard
  3. 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson

Confronting Change: A reponse to Mountain Dew’s #RiseAgainstFear Challenge

” Do one thing everyday that scares you.”

Ever since I did a project on Eleanor Roosevelt in 3rd grade, she’s been a role-model. She was charismatic, fearless and bold- all things that I want to be (but I desperately fear I’m not).  I’ve done my best to follow this quote.

Doing one thing everyday that scares you can be a daunting task, but like all tasks, it gets easier with practice. I’ve deliberately pushed myself into doing things which scare me; stepping out of my comfort zone in tiny steps.

If you include pre-kg and nursery schools, I’ve been to 10 different schools. Considering I’m in 10th grade, that’s pretty impressive (or weird- you choose). Sometimes I switch schools despite the fact that I’m living in the same city. It’s all part of the master plan: to confront change.

Change is something that, by definition, humans are scared of. But it’s true- Nothing in life is certain but death and taxes. So, I guess it’s up to us to get ourselves used to change, to learn how to cope with our life altering.

“Things change. And friends leave. Life doesn’t stop for anybody.”
– The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Changing schools frequently is my attempt to get used to change. Every time I switch schools, I desperately miss friends (who promise to keep in touch and are actually pretty good at keeping their promises) and am overwhelmed by the thought of having to make new friends, deal with new teachers  and starting over again with a tabula rasa (blank slate). Does it get easier after 10 switches? No- not really. Every school is different, with different groups of people and different priorities and while I’m acclimatizing to it, I face a lot of uncertainty. There are tears, there are regrets and of course, there’s second guessing. For the first few months (sometimes a whole year), I’m constantly wondering “Did I make the right choice.”

I still don’t know. It’s impossible to guess what might have been (I think Aslan said something similar in Prince Caspian). But then along with the tears there is laughter to balance it out and with the old regrets come new and great friends. Every school and every set of friends and teachers has helped me shape who I am- for better or for worse.

Change is scary and the idea of confronting it is even scarier but I promise it gets easier. Change  is inevitable and it’s something we have to learn how to deal with.

“You can’t stop the future
You can’t rewind the past
The only way to learn the secret
…is to press play.”
– Thirteen Reasons Why

Change and overcoming the fear which comes with change is a major theme in young-adult books. Here are a couple of must-reads about change and about learning how to overcome it.

  1. What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen
  2. If You Come Softly by Jacqueline Woodson
  3. Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan
  4. Hatelist by Jennifer Brown
  5. Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

These books will inspire you to  go ahead. Confront change; Rise above your fears.

This post was in response to the Mountain Dew challenge #RiseAboveFear.
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/mountaindewindia
Video: Warning the video is not in English