I’ve really been slacking on the discussion posts, guys, and I hope you’ll forgive me. It’s just been a rough few weeks and I haven’t felt up to posting anything besides the reviews I already scheduled. But I’m back and ready to share some thought provoking discussion posts with you guys once more 🙂
Today, I want to talk about something that has been in the back of my mind for awhile. Sometimes I’ll read reviews for books and they’ll be mostly positive, and then I’ll get to the end and the reviewer will say But I HATED this ending so I just can’t give it full stars! Usually, but not always, I see this with endings that are heartbreaking or otherwise soul-crushing. I totally get it–if my OTP was broken up, or a favorite character was killed, I would be super upset too. But if I loved the book otherwise, would I lower its rating?
Let’s discuss it.
Imagine this: a book is perfect in every single way. The plot is wholly original and engaging, you’ve fallen in love with the characters and the romance is to die for. The ending rolls around, and suddenly a wrench is thrown into your happy book place. Suddenly everything has gone to shit and the pages are running out. You furiously read on, hoping with all your might that things will get better.
But the pages run out, and your left feeling like someone has ripped our heart out of your chest and ran it over with a semi truck.
So–you loved the book up until the ending. The writing was still beautiful and the characters didn’t have a 180 with their personalities. It was still a good book, and you acknowledge that. But the ending broke your soul, so what do you do? Do you give it the full 5 stars, or are you knocking it down a half star? One? more? Or do you say “damn it all” and give the book a super low rating? Or do you do something like this:
I see a lot of people taking major points off for an ending, but personally, I don’t have to be in love with the way things ended to be in love with a book. A prime example of this is Blackhearts by Nicole Castroman. Talk about a cruel book–but it was absolutely amazing, and I loved every second, even when it was breaking my heart. Of course, if an ending is ridiculous and out of character and comes out of nowhere, then yeah, I might knock off a few points. If it’s lame or boring then I’ll definitely take away a half a star or two, but it’s one thing to hate the ending and another thing for the ending itself to be terrible.
I think that I also come from a different place, as I’m also a writer. I love writing endings that break your heart–in fact, I don’t believe in happy ever afters (at least not in the first book *evil laugh*). I see heartbreaking endings as great writing feats and something to aspire to be like. It’s a great thing, to leave a mark on someone with your writing. So props to the writers who have made me cry and curse their name. I hope I can be like you one day 😀
Happily ever afters are nothing to scoff at, especially when I love all the characters and want them to survive through the entire season *crosses my fingers and toes and hopes the raven king has a happy ending*. I love them too, don’t get me wrong, but there’s something special about a book that can make me care so passionately about the book. If anything, a heartbreaking ending makes me love it more, not less. But I’m weird and that might just be me *shrugs*
Love them or hate them, endings can make or break a book. It all depends on how you feel about certain aspects of it.
cAN YOU LOVE A BOOK IF YOU HATE ITS ENDING? DO YOU LIKE HEARTBREAKING ENDINGS, OR DO YOU LIKE HAPPILY EVER AFTERS? LET ME KNOW IN THE COMMENTS BELOW!
Hey guys! It’s been a really busy, really hard couple of weeks for me. I know my blog has been lacking some diversity in posts lately–only reviews were posted so far this week–and I wanted to spice things up. I’ve seen a lot of cute tags going around lately, and I want to join in on the fun. No one tagged me for this, but it sounds really fun so I’m doing it anyways! I’m kind of obsessed with Disney princesses, so this is the perfect tag for me!
1. Snow White: name your favorite classic
Granted, I haven’t read very many classics, but my ultimate favorite is To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. It’s just such an incredibly important story, and the writing is beautiful. A timeless classic indeed 🙂
2. Cinderella: name a book that kept you reading well past your bedtime
This is an odd answer, but the first time I pulled an all-nighter was when I was reading Beautiful Darkness by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl. I really loved these books in middle school, so it’s really no surprise I stayed up all night to read that 500+ page book.
3. Aurora: name your favorite romance
I have a very, very long list of OTPs (which entirely defeats the purpose of one true pairing, but I digress), but I have to go with my most recent love, Teach and Anne from Blackhearts by Nicole Castroman (review coming on Monday!). They’re love was beautiful, intoxicating, heartbreaking, a definite must-read for romance lovers ❤
4. Ariel: name a book that’s about making sacrifices and fighting for your dreams
I think this fits the Legend trilogy by Marie Lu, but especially the 3rd book, Champion. Day and June had to give up so much to fight for their dream–to make the Republic a nation they could live happily in. It doesn’t skimp on the sacrifices either, especially on June’s end *sobs*
5. Belle: name a book with a smart and independent female character
My favorite Disney princess! As for the character, I have so many favorite strong, independent female characters. In honor of A Gathering of Shadows being released last Tuesday, I’m going with my favorite cross-dressing, lady pirate, Lila Bard.
6. Jasmine: name a book with a character who challenged the social issues
Cinder from The Lunar Chronicles really fits the bill! She fought for equality for everyone, whether they were human or cyborg, Lunar or earthen. One of my favorite social justice activists!
7. Pocahontas: name a book whose ending was a roller-coaster of emotions
I think for a book to truly be good, the ending should be a roller-coaster of emotions. Give me some craziness! Since there are so many to chose from, I’ll go with a recent book that absolutely gutted me and shot my emotional distress levels through the roof. Blackhearts by Nicole Castroman had a wild ending that kept me on the edge of my seat until the very last page! (and even after)
8. Mulan: name a book with a kick-ass female character
I have to go with my homegirl (and my favorite character of all time) Aelin Galathynius from Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas. If she doesn’t qualify as kickass, I don’t know who does.
9. Rapunzel: name a book that features an artist
I haven’t read many books with artists, but my favorite is Echo from Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry! She’s an amazing artist and her skills are an important part of her character.
10. Merida: name a book that features a mother-daughter relationship
There aren’t very many mother-daughter relationships in YA, and it’s such a tragedy. BUT, there is a great example with Blue and Maura Sargent in The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater. Seriously, the female relationships in the series are spectacular and so, so important!
11. Anna and Elsa: name a book that features a great relationship between siblings
My book! 😉 As for actual published books, I don’t know of any books that feature sisters off the top of my head–and I just scrolled through my goodreads and I couldn’t find anything, either! So, I’m cheating a bit and going with my favorite Threadsisters, Safi and Iseult from Truthwitch by Susan Dennard.
Besides the people below, I tag anyone who would like to do this tag! Please leave your links below if you’ve already done this challenge/do it in the future–I’d love to see your picks!
Do you agree with any of my choices? Have a favorite disney princess? Let me know in the comments below!
Seven Ways We Lie
Author: Riley Redgate
Genre: YA, contemporary
Pub Date: March 8th, 2016
Paloma High School is ordinary by anyone’s standards. It’s got the same cliques, the same prejudices, the same suspect cafeteria food. And like every high school, every student has something to hide—whether it’s Kat, the thespian who conceals her trust issues onstage; or Valentine, the neurotic genius who’s planted the seed of a school scandal.
When that scandal bubbles over, and rumors of a teacher-student affair surface, everyone starts hunting for someone to blame. For the unlikely allies at the heart of it all, the collision of their seven ordinary-seeming lives results in extraordinary change.
It’s not every day that I willingly pick up a contemporary, but I was intrigued by the concept of Seven Ways We Lie. I was thrilled when I got approved for an eARC (whooo!!), and I saw a handful of my friends giving it pretty glowing reviews. So, how did it turn out? I had some issues, but overall, I enjoyed reading it.
Reign of Shadows
Author: Sophie Jordan
Series: Reign of Shadows #1
Genre: YA, fantasy, romance, retelling
Pub Date: February 9th, 2016
Seventeen years ago, an eclipse cloaked the kingdom of Relhok in perpetual darkness. In the chaos, an evil chancellor murdered the king and queen and seized their throne. Luna, Relhok’s lost princess, has been hiding in a tower ever since. Luna’s survival depends on the world believing she is dead.
But that doesn’t stop Luna from wanting more. When she meets Fowler, a mysterious archer braving the woods outside her tower, Luna is drawn to him despite the risk. When the tower is attacked, Luna and Fowler escape together. But this world of darkness is more treacherous than Luna ever realized.
With every threat stacked against them, Luna and Fowler find solace in each other. But with secrets still unspoken between them, falling in love might be their most dangerous journey yet.
I’ve been on a retellings kick lately, so I knew I had to read Reign of Shadows. I met Sophie when she was on tour with Victoria Aveyard and she was so lovely, so I knew I had to bump her book up to the top of my TBR. It seemed up my alley, and it was short enough that I could read it in one sitting. I think it’s safe to say that I enjoyed this book!
Author: Sarah Ahiers
Series: Assassin’s Heart #1 (?)
Genre: YA, fantasy, romance
Pub Date: February 2nd, 2016
In the kingdom of Lovero, nine rival Families of assassins lawfully kill people for a price. As a highly skilled member of one of these powerful clans, seventeen-year-old Lea Saldana has always trusted in the strength of her Family. Until she awakens to find them murdered and her home in flames. The Da Vias, the Saldanas’ biggest enemy, must be responsible—and Lea should have seen it coming. But her secret relationship with the Da Vias’ son, Val, has clouded her otherwise killer instinct—and given the Da Vias more reason than ever to take her Family down.
Racked with guilt and shattered over Val’s probable betrayal, Lea sets out to even the score, with her heart set on retaliation and only one thought clear in her mind: make the Da Vias pay.
With shades of The Godfather and Romeo and Juliet, this richly imagined fantasy from debut author Sarah Ahiers is a story of love, lies, and the ultimate vengeance.
Assassin’s Heart was one of my most, if not the most, anticipated books of 2016. I absolutely love any books that involve assassins–Throne of Glass, anyone?–and pair it with a Romeo and Juliet retelling and you’ve got my dream book. I saw a lot of negative reviews for it before I started and I was a bit worried, but I still went into this book with an open mind. However, after awhile, I saw why many people disliked this book (myself included, sadly).
Author: Kathryn Purdie
Series: Burning Glass #1
Genre: YA, fantasy, romance
Pub Date: March 1st, 2016
Publisher: Katherine Tegen
Source: Borrowed (thank you, Ava!)
Sonya was born with the rare gift to feel what those around her feel—both physically and emotionally—a gift she’s kept hidden from the empire for seventeen long years. After a reckless mistake wipes out all the other girls with similar abilities, Sonya is hauled off to the palace and forced to serve the emperor as his sovereign Auraseer.
Tasked with sensing the intentions of would-be assassins, Sonya is under constant pressure to protect the emperor. One mistake, one small failure, will cost her own life and the lives of the few people left in the world who still trust her.
But Sonya’s power is untamed and reckless, her feelings easily usurped, and she sometimes can’t decipher when other people’s impulses end and her own begin. In a palace full of warring emotions and looming darkness, Sonya fears that the biggest danger to the empire may be herself.
As she struggles to wrangle her abilities, Sonya seeks refuge in her tenuous alliances with the volatile Emperor Valko and his idealistic younger brother, Anton, the crown prince. But when threats of revolution pit the two brothers against each other, Sonya must choose which brother to trust—and which to betray.
BURNING GLASS is debut author Kathryn Purdie’s stunning tale of dangerous magic, heart-rending romance, and the hard-won courage it takes to let go.
Burning Glass was easily one of my most anticipated books of 2015. I love a good love triangle, especially one involving two brothers. It’s a weakness of mine, I suppose. So imagine my delight when my friend lends me her copy–finally, the anticipation is over! But from the first page, I knew that Burning Glass and I would have some serious problems.
Into the Dim
Author: Janet B. Taylor
Series: Into the Dim #1
Genre: YA, sci-fi, historical, romance
Pub Date: March 1st, 2016
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
When fragile, sixteen-year-old Hope Walton loses her mom to an earthquake overseas, her secluded world crumbles. Agreeing to spend the summer in Scotland, Hope discovers that her mother was more than a brilliant academic, but also a member of a secret society of time travelers. Trapped in the twelfth century in the age of Eleanor of Aquitaine, Hope has seventy-two hours to rescue her mother and get back to their own time. Along the way, her path collides with that of a mysterious boy who could be vital to her mission . . . or the key to Hope’s undoing.
Addictive, romantic, and rich with historical detail, Into the Dim is an Outlander for teens.
It’s no secret I absolutely love time travel stories. Something about them is just so wonderful. The most recent one I read and reviewed was The Love That Split the World, but that was magic realism. I really wanted to read a time travel story that got down to the core of it–travelling through history and experiencing the time. When I heard of Into the Dim, I hoped it would be that story, and indeed it was.
Author: Victoria Scott
Genre: YA, contemporary, sci-fi (ish)
Pub Date: February 23, 2016
Ever since the Titans first appeared in her Detroit neighborhood, Astrid Sullivan’s world has revolved around the mechanical horses. She and her best friend have spent countless hours watching them and their jockeys practice on the track. It’s not just the thrill of the race. It’s the engineering of the horses and the way they’re programmed to seem so lifelike. The Titans are everything that fascinates Astrid, and nothing she’ll ever touch.
She hates them a little, too. Her dad lost everything betting on the Titans. And the races are a reminder of the gap between the rich jockeys who can afford the expensive machines to ride, and the working class friends and neighbors of Astrid’s who wager on them.
But when Astrid’s offered a chance to enter an early model Titan in this year’s derby, well, she decides to risk it all. Because for a girl from the wrong side of the tracks, it’s more than a chance at fame or money. Betting on herself is the only way she can see to hang on to everyone in the world she cares about.
When I first heard about this book, my first thought was a comparision between Titans and The Scorpio Races. It’s a dangerous thing, to compare your one of favorite books to another, and I’m afraid I fell victim to that. I thought Titans would be similar to The Scorpio Races, and in a way, it was very similar, but it was also very different, and not necessarily in a good way.
It’s Sunday, and that means it’s time for another discussion post! I missed last week because of Fictional Fever week, but now I’m back and hear to talk to you guys about a topic that has been weighing on my mind for awhile now.
Mental health in YA fantasy (and sci-fi too, I suppose). Or rather, the lack of it.
Yes, I know what you’re thinking. But Alex, it’s fantasy. They don’t have the tools to deal with mental health like we do in the present. Alright, that might be true in some cases, but I don’t think that’s a good enough excuse. They don’t have to label things like schizophrenia and depression and bipolar disorder upfront, but they shouldn’t leave it out entirely. Mental health is another facet of diversity, and one that affects everyone, no matter their race or gender or body type or age.
Who’s to say that a princess can’t be bipolar, without it being blamed on “crazy mood swings” Who’s to say that a magician can’t be depressed? Or that a shapeshifter can’t be racked with anxiety all the time?
Fantasy novels are often based in a fictitious world, but the characters and emotions in the story are often reflect things that happen in our daily lives. Why can’t this be the same with mental health? Why can’t I pick up a fantasy novel about a princess that is depressed, or wants to overcome her anxiety, or has bipolar disorder? The fact that I can’t do this makes me so sad, because even though I read fantasy to discover things decidedly not realistic, I like to see pieces of me reflected in stories. I will love a book 100% more if I find things I relate to personally, and you can sure as hell bet I’d love a fantasy book that depicted mental illness.
Just because it’s a fantasy novel, or a science fiction, or anything other than contemporary, doesn’t mean it can’t properly depict mental illness. Like I said before, it doesn’t have to come outright and label certain things–I understand that might be unbelievable, given the setting. But I find the novels that deal with these topics are the ones that I love the most.
Of course, who would I be without giving you some recommendations?
Throne of Glass is a high fantasy, but that doesn’t stop the main character from dealing with very, very realistic emotions that plague regular people. In the series, particularly the third book, Heir of Fire, Celaena goes through/deals with some pretty fucked up shit. In HoF, she feels lost and alone in the world. I don’t know about you, but that sounds like depression to me. The way she overcomes it and perseveres despite the fact that she seeming has nothing to live for gives me hope. It makes me believe that I can feel that way too; not so alone anymore.
These next two are sort of cheating, as they’re both set in the real world, but they both have fantasy/paranormal elements as the main points in the novel. Both The Raven Boys and The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer deal with mental illness. Gansey from TRB deals with anxiety, and Maggie Stiefvater makes it feel so realistic that it could be you instead of Gansey in the novel. In Mara Dyer, both Mara and Noah deal with an abundance of issues, including depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder.
Does it matter that these novels aren’t contemporary? Does it matter that they have fantasy and paranormal elements that you’ll find nowhere on this earth? No, it doesn’t. Because as long as there are humans, there will be mental illness. And as long as there are humans in YA, there should be real, accurate depictions of mental illness. To hell with genres.
There should be more mental illness in YA fantasy and science fiction. Period.
This is your daily reminder that you matter, you’re struggles are real, and you are not alone. It may be dark, but it’s when it’s darkest that the light shines best.