Discussion: Thoughts on YA Novellas and Short Stories

I’ve noticed a trend over the last few years where YA authors are putting out lots of novellas and short stories to accompany their series. Examples:

throne of glass novellas

The selection novellas

Please tell me, WHO ASKED FOR THESE??? I already have a hard enough time reading all of the books in a series, but now I have to read all of these novellas and short stories too? I know that I don’t HAVE to read them–nobody’s forcing me. But it feels like if the author’s putting it out there, then maybe I’m supposed to get additional information about characters or events from these stories.

However, I’ve found that a lot of times reading the extra material does not help or change my viewpoints about characters or events. If the events in the short story or novella were so important, then the author should have included that information in the book/series to begin with. To be completely honest–and I don’t really like feeling this way–it feels to me like these short stories and novellas are published purely to make more money by milking an idea that’s working for all that it’s worth. And that just leaves a bad taste in my mouth where that author is concerned. I feel like I, as a reader, am being taken advantage of.

kim kardashian money gif

So my position is that these little “extras” are unnecessary and just create added stress as a reader (not to mention cost, because libraries don’t often carry these–you actually have to buy them). Let’s think about one of the greatest series that has ever been: Harry Potter. If she wanted to, J.K. Rowling could 100% write a million more stories about day-to-day life at Hogwarts featuring a variety of characters. But she hasn’t. Sure, she’s fleshed out the world and made movies, etc. but she hasn’t done anything else with Harry, Ron, and Hermione and their time at Hogwarts. If she wanted to, I know for a fact that people would pay for that. So why hasn’t she chosen to do that while many lesser known and less popular authors with smaller fandoms have?

At the end of the day, I’m just sitting here pleading for authors to give me the whole story in one or two books (three max). I don’t have time to read four, five, eight book series anymore and I certainly don’t have time to read 50-100 page novellas and short stories.

What are your opinions on YA short stories and novellas? Are you a fan? Why do you think authors write them? Let me know in the comments!
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Sibling rivalry is brought to a whole new level | Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

Three Dark CrownsThree queens are born, but only one can survive. Every generation, triplet queens are forced to fight to the death. Whoever survives reigns as the new queen. Arsinoe, Mirabella, and Katherine have known this their whole lives. Unfortunately, both Arsinoe and Katherine are still working to master the gifts that the goddess has given them. Everybody knows that Mirabella is going to end up queen, but Arsinoe, Katherine, and the families that fostered them aren’t willing to go down without a fight.

TL;DR – Great main characters and plot, but the world building could use a little work/additional explanation. Also, get ready to be overloaded by secondary characters.

This book had been sitting on my shelf forever it seems. I finally got around to reading it, and immediately after I finished I made my husband go to Barnes & Noble to pick up the second book. I didn’t really think that I’d like it as much as I did–I think I might have heard a couple of negative reviews about it.

The first thing I noticed is that Blake did a really good job making all three queens likable. I didn’t necessarily have a favorite and I was really torn about which queen I wanted to end up winning. I think it could have been really easy to paint one queen as the hero and the other two as villains, but the whole premise of the book means their relationships and decisions are so complicated. I love how each sister has her own conflicting desires. It really makes you wonder how previous queens felt and reacted.

The overall plot was great and I really liked how politics played so strongly into the story line. I’m really intrigued to see how this series ends and I appreciate that the author is taking her time. I wouldn’t have been surprised if this book had ended with one of the sisters killing another, but it seems like that kind of thing won’t happen until later books. I will say, though, that the ending was very unexpected for me and was part of why I was so eager to get my hands on the second book.

The world building is the only part that I find a little weak. This is a very complicated world and it’s not fully explained. We’re not really given any history or background for how this place came to be or who/why the goddess is, etc. Why triplets? Why don’t queens reign longer? Who reigns while the triplets are growing up? How does the queen know what gifts the babies have? Why do people live in groups based on ability? Is it possible for a poisoner to be born to elementals? What would happen to them? Just so many questions.

My last little issue is that there were SO MANY secondary characters. Seriously. I only started to figure out who everyone was after about 2/3 or 3/4 of the book. Other than that, though, I really enjoyed this book and am also enjoying the second book so far. I would definitely recommend.

Overall Rating: 4
Language: None
Violence: Moderate
Smoking/Drinking: Mild
Sexual Content: Moderate (a couple of scenes, no explicit descriptions)

A definitive and completely subjective ranking of all Sarah Dessen books

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone! Seeing as how Sarah Dessen is literally the queen of YA Contemporary Romance, I though I’d rank her books to celebrate the holiday. I’ll admit, this was a bit more work than I thought it would be, I literally just binged half of her books. But I think that makes me uniquely qualified to make this list. Keep in mind these are all my opinions.

But here we go, this is how I would rank her books from least favorite to most favorite. I’ve included the order and year in which the books were published as well. Titles link to Goodreads. (Note: I’m not including her short story on the list.)

Sarah Dessen covers
For the record, I liked the old covers better, but no one asked me.

13) That Summer (1st book, published 1996) – This is the only one of Dessen’s books where the main character is not involved in some kind of romantic relationship, but that’s not why I’ve ranked it so low. I like the characters and the overall themes, but it’s a lot more telling than showing. It’s really apparent that this is Dessen’s first book and it comes off as more the main character telling us a story rather than living the events with her.

12) The Moon & More (11th book, published 2013) – Emaline isn’t my favorite character and this is the first time that Dessen has essentially given us a love triangle. On top of that, I don’t really like Luke or Theo. I mean, I think I could have liked Luke, but we don’t end up seeing that much of him. I did really like Emaline’s relationship with her brother, Benji, though.

11) Keeping the Moon (3rd book, published 1999) – Colie might be my least favorite Dessen protag. I feel like she comes off as immature and her relationship with Norman didn’t actually feel very organic. I did, however, like the message of self-confidence and self-worth, etc.

10) What Happened to Goodbye (10th book, published 2011) – While I love Luna Blu as a location, the rest of the story feels a little more…vague. McLean was an okay character for me even though I did really like her relationship with her dad.

9) Someone Like You (2nd book, published 1998) – Scarlett and Halley are ultimate friendship goals. I absolutely LOVE their relationship. Again, though, because this is only Dessen’s second novel, it doesn’t read as smoothly and doesn’t feel as absorbing as her later books. But I did also enjoy how Halley and her mom come to some kind of resolution in the end.

8) Dreamland (4th book, published 2000) – This book is absolutely heartbreaking. I was too young the first time I read this book and didn’t really understand all of the implications, but rereading it last week just destroyed me. I don’t have experience being in an abusive relationship and haven’t read very many books dealing with that, but I feel like I understand Caitlin. While I don’t always agree with her decisions, they make sense to me.

7) Along for the Ride (9th book, published 2009) – I just like Auden so much. Her parents are both infuriating, but I really like how Auden is with her step-mother and half-sister. The scenes where Auden is bonding with her sister are so precious. I also like how Auden and Eli’s relationship develops over time. Also, this book features my fave Dessen location OF ALL TIME: The Washroom (the pie laundromat).

6) Once and For All (13th book, published 2017) – I loved Louna’s mom and William and the wedding planning element made this book really fun. While I know some people really don’t like Louna or Ambrose, they felt really reminiscent of Remy and Dexter to me, so I actually did end up liking them.

5) Lock & Key (8th book, published 2008) – Ruby and Cora’s relationship is one of my favorites. Dessen has a lot of sister relationships throughout her books, but I feel like this one was the most tender. I also like that Nate was probably the most in-depth love interest that we’ve had.

4) Just Listen (7th book, published 2006) – Again, I was too young the first time I read this book, so I feel like I just understand more now. As a “difficult” middle child myself, I feel like I relate in some ways to Whitney. I know this story is about Annabel, but I felt like this story was more about Whitney as a secondary character than any of Dessen’s other books have been about secondary characters.

3) Saint Anything (12th book, published 2015) – The Chathams. I feel like that’s really all I need to say. They’re such a great family and I love seeing Sydney with them. I also like how Sydney realistically works through her feelings about her brother and what he’s done.

2) This Lullaby (5th book, published 2002) – Remy is one of my favorite Dessen protags. She’s feisty and smart and loyal and jaded. I think this book is really where Dessen hits her stride. And how can you not love Dexter?

1) The Truth About Forever (6th book, published 2004) – I have read and reread this book so many times over the years. It’s really become a comfort object to me for some reason. Macy and Wes and the whole Wish Catering crew just feel so real to me. I love every scene where they’re catering and rushing to resolve emergencies. Watching Macy’s family finally trying to heal after everything that’s happened is both heartbreaking and heartwarming at the same time.

Do you agree with my rankings? What is your most and least favorite Sarah Dessen book? Let me know in the comments!

BLOG TOUR: The Sweetest Kind of Fate by Crystal Cestari [GIVEAWAY]

The Sweetest Kind of FateThe Sweetest Kind of Fate
by Crystal Cestari
Release Date: February 13, 2018
Genres: Young Adult, Paranormal, Fantasy

Goodreads|Amazon|B&N|iTunes|Book Depository|Kobo

SYNOPSIS: GREAT. I’ve somehow found myself tangled up with a siren, a mermaid, and a homicidal wicked witch who once tried to strangle me to death. Way to go, Amber!

Amber Sand, legendary matchmaker, couldn’t be more surprised when her arch nemesis, Ivy, comes asking for her help. Ivy’s sister, Iris, is getting married, and Ivy wants to prove her sister is making a huge mistake. But as Amber looks into Iris’s eyes, there doesn’t seem to be a problem—Iris has clearly found her match.

It seems happily ever after is in the cards, but when Iris seeks out a dangerous, life-altering spell, it’s up to Amber and Ivy to set aside their rivalry and save the day.

While Iris is willing to put everything on the line for love, Amber continues to wrestle with her own romantic future. Her boyfriend, Charlie, is still destined for another, and no matter how hard she clings to him, fear over their inevitable breakup shakes her belief system to the core.

Because the Fates are never wrong—right?

REVIEW: I really enjoyed the first book in this series. I thought Amber was such a delightful character. Unfortunately, I felt like she wasn’t quite as delightful this time around. I think some of that centers around her jealousy of another character. It was just kind of annoying and immature. I mean, what did she expect to happen? I just feel like she should have had more foresight and done something about it.

Amani and Kim were great secondary characters even if we didn’t get to see too much of Kim. Charlie seemed a lot less present in this book than in the last one. His relationship with Amber is kind of weird for me though. Because she knows that he’s not her match, so I don’t really understand how she can justify feeling jealous or why she thinks that their relationship will last.

The plot itself was interesting, but I felt like it got pushed to the side at times to deal with Amber’s drama. There seemed to be an overarching theme of “love” throughout the book and the author hit it pretty hard a few times–I’m just not exactly sure why. It almost felt like this book had some kind of deeper meaning, but if it did, it went over my head.

Overall, this book was still pretty good, but not as good as the first in my opinion. I still love the descriptions of Chicago and all the baked goods, but there were just some other things that weren’t quite as enjoyable.

Overall Rating: 3
Language: None
Violence: Moderate
Smoking/Drinking: Mild
Sexual Content: Mild


TOUR BANNER_preview

Click on the banner above to be taken to the giveaway!



Crystal Cestari 2ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 
With rainbows in my hair and stories in my head, I am a writer drawn to magic in the everyday world.

My debut novel, The Best Kind of Magic, arrives May 16, 2017 from Hyperion. Follow Amber Sand, a magical matchmaker who can actually see true love, as she takes off on a fun and romantic adventure toward happily ever after.

Website|Goodreads|Twitter|Instagram


Fantastic Flying Book Club 2

Note: I received this book free from the author/blog tour in exchange for an honest review.

This book was so Jake | The Diviners by Libba Bray

The DivinersAfter a careless night of drinking and partying, Evie is being sent to live with her uncle in New York. New York of the 1920s doesn’t seem like such a punishment to Evie especially when she gets there and finds out that her uncle runs a museum based on the occult and all things supernatural. Her uncle seems pretty cool but his assistant, Jericho, is a total wet blanket. Evie plans to just have a good time in the big city with her friend Mabel and her new friend Theta but that’s brought to a screeching halt when a serial killer is discovered. That alone is scary enough, but this killer seems to have ties with the occult and Evie, her uncle, and Jericho soon find themselves in the middle of the investigation.

If you liked this, you should also read: In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters

TL;DR – A great setting and murder mystery were hampered by a slow pace and multiple subplots that don’t add to the main plot (but will probably come into play later in the series).

I LOVE the 1920s as a time period. Not that I would have wanted to be alive back then, but looking back at that decade is always fun. There’s just so much glitz and glamour. Every day is a party. I know that this is incredibly romanticized, but I can’t help it. This book does a great job of evoking all of those feelings but also showing some of the rougher sides of the 1920s. I especially appreciate the frank depiction of Theta and Memphis’ relationship as an interracial couple. I also feel like Bray did a good job of showing a little bit of what every day life was like in the 1920s–not just the speakeasies. The language seemed super authentic to me and that was something I really enjoyed.

The plot of this book was pretty fantastic but it started off SO SLOW. Honestly, the only reason I kept with it past the first 200 pages is because I know how many people really love this book and series. There was nothing inherently wrong with the beginning of the book, but there wasn’t much that made me want to get back into it after I set it down. Not much was happening and I didn’t find Evie to be a very likable character.

Speaking of Evie…she just wasn’t my favorite. She was immature, selfish, and impulsive. While she did show some growth throughout the book, it wasn’t much (especially not 600 pages worth). She’s pretty much the same character at the end as she is in the beginning. She just doesn’t think things through or think about other people! The rest of the characters were fine and I felt like there was a lot to be explored with them, which will probably happen in future books.

Another issue I had was just with how LONG this book is. I don’t necessarily mind a 600 page book, but not all of the characters and subplots were essential to the story. Obviously the author is setting up the rest of the series, but I just don’t feel like that was necessary to do in the first book. If she had cutout all the extra things about Theta, Memphis, and Henry, then the book probably would have been a much more manageable 300 pages. The whole time, I was expecting a bunch of characters to come together in the end with their special skills to take down the bad guy but…that never happened. So then here I am at the end of the book feeling unfulfilled and not really caring about Theta or Sam Lloyd or Henry DuBois (or the girl from the Chinese restaurant–what does she have to do with anything???).

Overall, I actually did like this book (despite my critiques). I thought the murders were creative and the way the characters solved the mystery seemed logical and was fairly easy to follow. However, while I think I would probably enjoy the rest of the series, I have no drive to actually pick up the next book. I would recommend this book for those who don’t mind a slower pace and are willing to invest for the long haul.

Overall Rating: 4
Language: None
Violence: Heavy (slightly graphic but not too descriptive)
Smoking/Drinking: Heavy
Sexual Content: Moderate

Hype, hype baby | Under pressure to read new and hyped books

This is a blog post idea that has been bouncing around my head for a little bit, but yesterday it kind of came to a boiling point. I kept seeing posts about one book in particular (it was the book’s release day). Bloggers, authors, EVERYONE was raving about this book and talking about how excited they were to finally receive and read it. This is the book in question:

The Belles

So I’m just like, yes pretty cover, I understand. But then I went to read the synopsis on Goodreads and it left me feeling just…confused.

confused gif supernatural jensen ackles

It legitimately doesn’t sound interesting to me AT ALL. There is no part of that synopsis that appeals to me and I don’t even really understand what the book is supposed to be about. But here’s the thing: I marked it as “Want to Read” anyway.

Why did I do that? Even now I’m not totally sure. I’m usually pretty good at resisting peer pressure and I’m not really afraid to share my unpopular opinions, but hearing how excited everyone else was about this particular book, I thought that I must be missing something. So I guess FOMO is why I did it?

FOMO gif The Office Steve Carell Michael Scott

Something that I really enjoyed from my hiatus was completely unplugging from the book scene. I didn’t check my blog, I didn’t check other blogs, I didn’t even really go on Goodreads except to update my reading progress. This made it so I wasn’t really aware of what new books were coming out, what other people were hyping, etc. I also didn’t request ARCs on NetGalley during this time. I felt like I had this new freedom to read books that had been sitting on my shelf for a while (physical and digital). I also had time to do some rereads that I’d been meaning to get to.

I apologize for the rambliness of this post, but in the end it just got me thinking about how much pressure we put on ourselves as bloggers to read the newest thing, the most hyped thing. We want to stay relevant so that means keeping up with everything that’s happening RIGHT NOW. We have to read the latest books and hop on the newest trends immediately or else we’ll get left behind. Except…I don’t think it’s really like that. I like reading reviews about newer books, but I also like reading reviews about older ones–maybe ones that I’ve read a few years back or ones that I’ve been meaning to read for a while.

What I’ve learned through all of this: It’s okay to not be the very first one to read and review something. Accepting this idea has helped me to relax as a blogger and as a reader. Changes I have noticed:

  • I’m not requesting as many ARCs on NetGalley
  • I feel less pressure to try to get publishers to send me physical ARCs
  • Because I don’t have as many ARCs to review, my reading schedule is more open which allows me to mood read more or read the books that have been piling up on my shelves or reread old favorites
  • I don’t feel the urge to buy as many books since what I want to read is usually available at the library–no holds (and I’m also actually reading books that I already own)
  • I’m reading books that I WANT to read, not just books that I feel like I SHOULD read

So there you have it. I’ve officially removed The Belles from my “Want to Read” shelf on Goodreads. I’m still open to reading it in the future, but I’m not going to let myself be pressured into reading it just by its initial hype.

Let me know how you feel about book hype in the comments! Is it helpful, damaging, or neutral? Do you have any similar experiences to mine? How did it turn out?

The quickest of takes and the mini-est of reviews

I read a bunch of books while I was out on my hiatus and since I was on hiatus, I wasn’t taking notes as usual. Let’s just say that I remember some of these books better than others. But it’s the lasting impressions that really count, right?

Our Dark Duet by Victoria Schwab – I LOVED the first book in this series! And this one honestly did live up to my expectations. If you liked the first book, you’ll like this one too. Everything that I liked about the characters from the first book were in this one as well plus more. The book was just…deeper. I cried. 5/5

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart – My first experience with E. Lockhart and I absolutely loved it. I loved the writing, I loved the characters, I loved the setting. The plot was masterful and I think I started to suspect what the twist was exactly when the author wanted me to. I will definitely be reading more by her. 5/5

The Thousandth Floor by Katharine McGee – I don’t really know what I expected this book to be… It was just a little too artificial for me. The characters were all fake with each other (as they were supposed to be, but still) and the setting of the tower also seemed a bit contrived. I don’t think there were any characters that I really just liked. I won’t be reading the second one. 3/5

Imprudence by Gail Carriger – I keep reading this series because I keep hoping it’ll get better. I adore the Finishing School series and I just want this series to be a little more like that. Something about Prudence repeatedly rubs me the wrong way. She’s just so…arrogant? Bossy? Entitled? I’m not exactly sure what it is. Nevertheless, I will probably read the next one. 3/5

Proof of Forever by Lexa Hillyer – This book was just so…weird. The girls were in the past, but they could remember everything about the future. There was no real reason why they should need to recreate a photo in order to get back to the future. And then the ending with one of the characters seemed a little dramatic and unnecessary. I also didn’t really like any of the characters. 2/5

The Siren by Kiera Cass – The story was okay, but had some elements that left me scratching my head. The main character’s decisions didn’t always make sense to me. I didn’t feel like she always acted rationally or like…thought through her decisions. Secondary characters were all just okay. 3/5

The Rose & the Dagger by Renee Ahdieh – This was a great follow-up to the first book. I enjoyed the strategy involved at various points throughout the story–it just kind of mixed things up a little bit. I also enjoyed getting to know the little sister better as a character. 4/5

The Wrong Side of Right by Jenn Marie Thorne – I liked this book more than I thought I would! The main character was relatable and likable. I loved her interactions with her half-siblings and her dad’s wife (especially that last relationship). Her struggles seemed genuine and the conflict that she has to face was really well done. I would definitely recommend this book! 4/5

Fireworks by Katie Cotugno – This book…I liked that it was set in the 90s. The girl band/boy band thing seemed genuine because of the time period. But then there’s just a lot of girl/girl fighting and backstabbing and not being good friends-ing. I did like where the main character ended up though. 3/5

Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han – To be completely honest, I haven’t been on the Peter train since the second book (John Ambrose all the way–don’t @ me). So this book was a little bit ugh for me. But also, I know that we all want happy endings, etc, but why do YA authors want us to believe that all high school relationships will work out in the long run? I know that some do, but the vast majority of high school relationships are just that–high school relationships. NOT “always and forever” love. I would not have wanted to end up with any of the boys I went to high school with. Just saying. 3/5

The Last Boy and Girl in the World by Siobhan Vivian – The main character was a pill and I didn’t like her 85% of the time. She was a butt to the love interest for the first 95% of the book but then he still likes her in the end? I just don’t even know. Also, is this plot something that could really happen? If so, local government can be scary. 3/5

Lucky in Love by Kasie West – I was excited that this book portrayed an interracial relationship (I’m all about that rep) but then the love interest might as well have been white. I don’t remember any defining characteristic that made him Asian except for his last name. Kasie West has been super hit or miss for me. Some books I love, but others are just flat. I did like the zoo setting though. 3/5

Let me know which of these books you’ve read in the comments! Do you agree or disagree with my quick takes?