Top Five Wednesday: Summer Reads

Top Five Wednesday is a book meme that Lainey started, and is now hosted by Sam at Thoughts on Tomes.
If you want to join in checkout the Goodreads page!


May 17th: Summer Reads
–The weather is heating up (for half of the world), so what books remind you of summer and are your quintessential summer reads?


I’m going with 5 summer-y arcs on my TBR – because I need to get to these this summer…

Also, if I straight up g with summer-y contemporaries, my list will be identical to every other “Unexpected Everything”, Kasie West, and “Since You’ve Been Gone” filled list that are the first summer-y books that come to mind, arguably for many people.


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1 – Hook’s Tale – Being the Account of an Unjustly Villainized Pirate Written by Himself

by John Leonard Pielmeier

I LOVE retellings. Peter Pan retellings being among my favorites. I also love redeeming villain stories (its a thing, go with it). This combines those two things – apparently its inspired by Wicked…which I have never seen/read/heard in full. But it seems cool none-the-less and I’m excited to read this.


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2 – Song of the Current

by Sarah Tolcser

This is another book featuring ships and the seas. I’ve been on a pirate kick lately, I don’t know. I don’t think this book is directly about pirates, but its about river gods and kickass, ship sailing females (which is close enough to pirates) and seems intriguing so I’m excited.


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3 – The Possible

by Tara Altebrando

Superpowers are just a summer-y thing to me. Probably because all the superhero movies come out in the summer (I’m dying for GotG2 and Spider-man!). I don’t know much about this, it it seems really interesting. I was mostly just hooked by the concept of X-men-like powers.


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4 – Sovereign – Nemesis – Book Two

by April Daniels

I Loved the first book (NetGalley Review – Nemesis #1: Dreadnought) which come out earlier this year. I wasn’t expecting this one to come out so soon, but it comes out this summer and I got approved for an arc on netgalley. I read and loved the first one over winter break (but I was in central america so it was summer!) and I really want to read this, so here it is.


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5 – The Comic Book Story of Video Games – The Incredible History of the Electronic Gaming Revolution

by Jonathan Hennessey, Jack Mcgowan

Summer is the only time I actually have the time to play video games, and comics in general just seem a summer-y thing. So, there it goes on the summer reads list.


Some Honorable Mentions:

I have two mandatory summer reading books this year – as I’m taking AP English Literature next year school. I have to read Pride & Prejudice and Thousand Splendid Suns.

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Book Blitz: The Unseen

The Unseen
by Jacob Devlin
(Order of the Bell #2)
Published by: Blaze Publishing
Publication date: May 9th 2017
Genres: Fairy Tales, Fantasy, Young Adult
Unseen

Synopsis:

Crescenzo and his friends may have survived their confounding journey to the enchanted realms of Florindale, but now they find themselves fighting for their sanity and lives while stuck on the other side of the very mirror they set out to destroy.

With their families trapped by a former ally with a crippling fear of the queen, Enzo, Rosana, and Zack must play a deadly game in Wonderland, where shadows are on the move, kings are at war, and one of them wants Rosana dead.

As darkness hovers over the world, the friends must lean on each other and stop the King of Hearts from following through on Avoria’s orders: Break them.

Purchase

AUTHOR BIO:

jacobdevlin
When Jacob Devlin was four years old, he would lounge around in Batman pajamas and make semi-autobiographical picture books about an adventurous python named Jake the Snake. Eventually, he traded his favorite blue crayon for a black pen, and he never put it down. When not reading or writing, Jacob loves practicing his Italian, watching stand-up comedy, going deaf at rock concerts, and geeking out at comic book conventions. He does most of these things in southern Arizona.

Author links:


1TheUnseenBlitzBanner

GIVEAWAY
Blitz-wide giveaway (INTL)
  • A fantasy ebook bundle + a $5 Amazon gift card

Ten Teasers:

  1. Pino curled up next to Carla, pulled her close, and hugged her. Wherever they were going, they were going together. That was almost all that mattered, except for one thought that would continue to gnaw at his mind; Crescenzo, he thought. My son, please be safe, wherever you are.

 

  1.     “I’ve seen it all since my arrival,” Geppetto said. “Avoria brought the darkness with her. The land turned against itself. War wiped out the people Avoria left alive. This is important for you to know, my boy, because I imagine we’ll be here a long time. Wonderland is not known for hospitality or unity.”

 

  1.     “The man bowed so low he came back up with wet specks of dirt on his nose. “Matthew Hadinger, at your service. You may call me Matt. I belong to the court of Wondertown and was on a pleasant mission before that abomination showed up. His Majesty, the King of Spades, requests the presence of a one Miss Rosana Trujillo in his royal court this night. Are you she?”

 

  1.     A chill rippled through the air, and Madame Esme cast a wary gaze around the tent. “Now, Madame Esme has very limited time to speak to you. Please listen carefully.” She lowered her voice, reached across the table, and then seized Zack’s elbow. “I have predicted the death of one of your own.”

 

  1.     While everybody else wore knee-high greaves and heavy boots, the archer woman wore boots that gleamed as though they were made of thin glass. Zack cringed. What if the glass broke beneath her?

Wait, Zack thought. Didn’t I hear a story once that made me feel this way? A woman who ran around with glass on her feet?

     Nah.

 

  1.     “Sir,” Hook spoke, “do you know who we are? We hardly see reason to fear a group of grown men riding into town on a parade of ponies.”

The army snapped into a new formation, this time converging on the entire group. Hook began to sweat when the point of a spear scraped his stubble-spattered chin. “Okay,” he croaked. “You’ve made your point. Might I invoke parlay?”

 

  1.        “Carvers are very special people. We feel the living souls of the world around us. We set them free, we tell their stories, and once in a while, we have the fortune of shaping the future. Would you like to know how your father came to be?”

 

  1.   A misty shadow materialized in front of Crescenzo, and when the full body appeared, Crescenzo had to squint to be sure he perceived it correctly. It had the right shape and height, the right spiky hair, but everything else was wrong: a foggy black shape clad in leather that seemed to be evaporating without really disappearing. Crescenzo’s blood went ice cold.

 

  1.   Slowly, Madame Esme forced herself to turn around and confront the woman. “Avoria,” she whispered.

“Is that how you address a queen?” Avoria droned. “Really, Esmeralda, I’d assumed better of you.”

 

  1.   When they were alone, the stranger let go and stood in front of Alicia with arms folded across his thick chest. Alicia wondered if there was anybody inside the cloak. The figure spoke, its voice deep and powerful. “I have seen what comes to pass if you intervene with fate today, Alice. All these people turn to dust. The New World withers to smoke. Wonderland crumbles to ash.”

Excerpt One:

Rosana fell to the ground, landing much more softly than she’d expected, followed by Gretel. The top hat flittered back toward the ground like a feather. Its owner caught the hat with a gloved hand, a strange mix of brown leather and dark bits of metal like the rest of his outfit. “Whew!” the man huffed, shaking muddy droplets from his hat before securing it neatly to his head. “This world has gone mad!”

Rosana climbed to her feet and helped Gretel up, flicking water out of her hair. Catching her breath, Rosana wrung out her cloak, hugged the little girl, and then faced the stranger.

“You just saved our lives,” Rosana said.

“Please. I merely did what any sane man would do.” The stranger removed his hat again and scratched his head. “Maybe.”

“Who are you?”

The man bowed so low he came back up with wet specks of dirt on his nose. “Matthew Hadinger, at your service. You may call me Matt. I belong to the court of Wondertown and was on a pleasant mission before that abomination showed up. His Majesty, the King of Spades, requests the presence of a one Miss Rosana Trujillo in his royal court this night. Are you she?”

 


Excerpt Two

Zack wrinkled his brows. “Who are you? Why have I come to see you? I don’t even know you.”

“You wouldn’t know of Madame Esme. But she certainly knows of you. Lady Fortune keeps painting your name in the cosmos. It would appear there is an important role for you in the journeys of Pinocchio’s son.”

“Enzo,” Zack said quietly.

“Yes.” A chill rippled through the air, and Madame Esme cast a wary gaze around the tent. “Now, Madame Esme has very limited time to speak to you. Please listen carefully.” She lowered her voice, reached across the table, and then seized Zack’s elbow. “I have predicted the death of one of your own . . . the son of Pinocchio. Madame Esme cannot be sure of the circumstances, but it is to take place soon in the realm of wonder.”

Zack yanked his elbow out of Madame Esme’s grip. “What are you saying? Why would you tell me something like that, even if it were true? That’s . . . an evil thing to say.”

The woman edged forward, impossibly calm given the horrible news she delivered. “Madame Esme is never wrong, Son of Pan. Oh, how often she wishes she were! Avoria arrived seven days ago, and what a mess we have become! The lands of Roma are falling to ruins once more. The Grand Canyon crumbles to dust as we speak. Avoria seeks a territory in which to build her citadel, and nothing will ever be the same. But the son of Pinocchio is destined to lead us all to battle. Thus, we need you, Son of Pan. We need you all to dethrone Avoria and restore peace. But if The Carver dies, hope dies with him.”


Excerpt Three

“Oh yes, boy, a true Carver can work with anything! Wood, marble, stone, diamonds, even the earth itself. Ask Michelangelo. By fortune, he came about a grand slab of marble one fateful day. It is said that he saw a man inside of it. He felt the marble’s energy and became one with it. All he had to do was carve around that man and set him free.” Geppetto paused, letting his knife rest on his lap. “I’ll have you know that, today, that block of marble is known as Davide.

Crescenzo’s jaw fell. “Seriously? The naked guy?”

“And the first to slay a giant, you might remember,” Geppetto added. “He lives on through Michelangelo’s work. Some even say they’ve seen him breathe. You see, Enzo, Carvers are very special people. We feel the living souls of the world around us. We set them free, we tell their stories, and once in a while, we have the fortune of shaping the future. Would you like to know how your father came to be?”

A cool gust of wind ruffled Crescenzo’s hair. This was a story he never thought he’d hear. He leaned closer. “Yes.”

 

Top Ten Tuesday: 10 Things I Want To See More Of In YA

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

Anyone can participate and its a lot of fun, so I highly encourage it!

Let me know if you’re a part too!


Today’s Prompt:

May 9Ten Things On Our Reading Wishlist – things you want to see more of in books — tropes, a time period, a specific type of character, an issue tackled, a certain plot, etc. All those things that make you think I WANT MORE OF THIS IN BOOKS!


1 – Involved Parents

Something that happens in virtually every YA novel, no matter the genre. The parents are absent. In fantasy, this generally means dead or conspicuously missing. In contemporary, this means their existence is ignored until the main character is grounded to create drama.

Kids go where they want, when they want, never seem to go home or get caught doing stupid things. Parents just aren’t involved in their kids lives and while unfortunately that is the reality for some kids, it certainly isn’t the most common reality.

The only YA books I’ve seen where the parents role an important role, are ones why the parents are terrible – and if thats the focus of the book you’re writing, if thats the story. Then perfect! All is well!

But don’t make your protagonist a well-rounded character with a good home life, with parents who never talk to them. And not every fantasy heroine needs to be an orphan. Let them have families!

2 – Protagonists That Don’t Live Up To Western Beauty Standards (Where That Isn’t The Focus Of The Plot)

Every YA protagonist is beautiful, and they either KNOW IT or think themselves as plain until a love interest expounds on their beauty. But generally, they are always thin, pale etc. Always adhering to western beauty conventions.

Give me different races and ethnicities. Give me different fashions. Give me unique hair and eyes – or very,very generic ones.

Give me ugly protagonists, protagonists with disabilities and scars. Acne. Different body types. Like a real person, like a real teenager, the ones the protagonists are meant to be embodying – in stories why their looks aren’t the focus.

Why can’t a chubby girl star in a fantasy? Because she’s only ever in contemporaries angst-ing about her weight – like in “Dumplin'” – the entire arc is her accepting her body type. And its a great story, its a great message. That doesn’t mean it should be the only arc afforded to those character types. (Sorry, I got a little heated)

3 – Diverse Sexualities That Aren’t The Plot’s Focus

Diverse reading is a big topic now. And now is when more books featuring lesbian/gay/bisexual characters are coming out, with all sorts of different portrayals and representations. Which is great.

But overwhelmingly these characters star in contemporaries where their main, or even entire story arc revolves around their sexuality. Coming to terms with it, coming out, etc. If they are afforded a place in a fantasy, it is a side characters.

I’d like contemporaries and fantasies with non-straight protagonists whose sexualities aren’t the focus, you can be gay and still have a life not centered on it, you can be a part of another plot.

4 – Asexual Characters

Or any diverse sexuality really, but as I’m ace, I’d love to see more ace characters (especially with the awful erasure of Jughead in Riverdale making me want to stab things).

Here is a list of books with ace characters I found. – As you can see, its pretty sparse, and most of the time its not even explicitly stated. (That’s why I’m dying to get my hands on Tash Hearts Tolstoy).

5 – Books With No Romance

Virtually every YA book, be it contemporary, fantasy, sci-fi, or what have you is wither romance centered or has a romance sub-plot. Why?

Not everyone dates in high school. And almost no one finds their true love in high school. And honestly, in all that world saving, is a boyfriend your biggest concern?

Mind you, I love romances, I love the romance subplots. But do they need to be in every book? We can’t just have strong, complex friendships? Friends that live and die for one another? Complex character interactions not revolving about romance?

Is it just me? Because I’d like to see some books without romance.

6 – Redeemable/Complex Villains or Morally Grey Protagonists

I’ve mentioned before that I love the arc of a redeemable villain, because I love the complexity of those characters. Not all evil people are actually evil, and if they are, they often didn’t start out that way. I’d love to see more stories with villains who, even if they aren’t redeemed, have their convictions fully explored. Or even stories from the villain’s point of view – where we’re rooting for them (Think Dr. Horrible or Invader Zim type thing).

Give me unreliable narrators that keep me guessing on who to trust, on what to believe – not knowing who to root for to win.

Morally grey protagonists whose ends justify their means, or so they believe.

It’s more interesting than the generic good-to-the-bone arch-type protagonist every fantasy/action story gets these days.

7 – Retellings of Lesser Known Source Material

Adaptations and retellings are EVERYWHERE in YA. And I love them, love seeing new takes on old favorites. But you can only retell Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast so many times before it gets old.

Don Quixote would make a great YA retelling. Or what about Aesop’s fables? Or one of the less common Shakespeare plays like “Midnight Summer’s Dream” or “Twelfth Night” – all would make great retellings that people won’t know by heart before they’re even picked up.

8 – Magical Realism

I love magical realism, because I like cross-genre fiction. Like contemporary sci-fi. Theres a million different ways to combine things and it isn’t very common to do so.

I want dragons in the real world. Modern day witches. Superheroes going to high school. Soulmate stories. Love potions in chemistry class. Give me time travel.

If its a fanfiction trope, it probably falls under magical realism and I probably want it in YA.

9 – Diverse World Building In Fantasy

I love fantasy. But lately, a lot of fantasy world have begun to feel repetitive. Similar world/caste/magic systems, all mono-cultured.

I want new fantastic worlds. New mythologies and lands and magi systems.

Multiple systems and cultures within the same world.

Maybe a story with different factions having different views on who exactly IS the chosen one.

That would be new and interesting.

There are hundreds of cultures in human history to draw from – no need for the constant use of anglo-saxon culture – while I enjoy it, I also learn enough about it in school.

Give me ancient Greece or Meso-american inspired! Something!

10 – Subverting of Tropes

After a while, tropes get dull, especially when authors rely on the selling of the trope and rather than using it as a single aspect of the story, make it the entire story.

So I love the novels that subvert the tropes, as much as I may love some of them. Like “The Love Interest” which is basically satire of every YA love triangle there is. Or, “The Rest Of Us Just Live Here” which flips the entire “Chosen One” arc. I love that sort of thing.


Do you agree with my list?

Which do you want to see more of?

Are they any you disagree with?

Do you do TTT?

Let me know down in the comments and drop me a link if you do!

 

Top 5 Wednesday: LGBTQ+ Reads

 

Top Five Wednesday is a book meme that Lainey started, and is now hosted by Sam at Thoughts on Tomes
If you want to join in checkout the Goodreads page!


April 19th: Favorite LGBTQ+ Reads
–Talk about your favorite books that feature LGBTQ+ characters or are by LGBTQ+ authors.

(Changing this a bit – spotlighting LGBTQ+ reads I NEED/WANT to read.
– Not comprehensive of course)


Simon Vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda – 1

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Summary:
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.

This book is crazy popular – everyone LOVES it. A movie is being made! I have to read it! And I’m a sucker for cute romances so… I need this in my life.

Anyone want to buddy read this over the summer?
I have the e-book but haven’t gotten to it yet.


The Gentleman’s Guide To Vice and Virtue – 2

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Summary:
An unforgettable tale of two friends on their Grand Tour of 18th-century Europe who stumble upon a magical artifact that leads them from Paris to Venice in a dangerous manhunt, fighting pirates, highwaymen, and their feelings for each other along the way.

Henry “Monty” Montague was born and bred to be a gentleman, but he was never one to be tamed. The finest boarding schools in England and the constant disapproval of his father haven’t been able to curb any of his roguish passions—not for gambling halls, late nights spent with a bottle of spirits, or waking up in the arms of women or men.

But as Monty embarks on his grand tour of Europe, his quest for a life filled with pleasure and vice is in danger of coming to an end. Not only does his father expect him to take over the family’s estate upon his return, but Monty is also nursing an impossible crush on his best friend and traveling companion, Percy.

Still it isn’t in Monty’s nature to give up. Even with his younger sister, Felicity, in tow, he vows to make this yearlong escapade one last hedonistic hurrah and flirt with Percy from Paris to Rome. But when one of Monty’s reckless decisions turns their trip abroad into a harrowing manhunt that spans across Europe, it calls into question everything he knows, including his relationship with the boy he adores.

Witty, romantic, and intriguing at every turn, The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue is a sumptuous romp that explores the undeniably fine lines between friendship and love.

This is one of my most hyped releases for the year. European travels, 18th century (bisexual!) romance. Family dynamics. Pirates! I need this in my life.


They Both Die At The End – 3

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Summary:
On September 5, a little after midnight, Death-Cast calls Mateo Torrez and Rufus Emeterio to give them some bad news: they’re going to die today. Mateo and Rufus are total strangers, but, for different reasons, they’re both looking to make a new friend on their End Day. The good news is: there’s an app for that. It’s called the Last Friend, and through it, Rufus and Mateo are about to meet up for one last great adventure—an unforgettable day that will change both their lives forever.

I haven’t read ANYTHING by Adam Silvera but I want to read LITERALLY ALL OF THEM. Of all three of his books, this is the one that most intrigues me – I want it.


Peter Darling – 4

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Summary:
Ten years ago, Peter Pan left Neverland to grow up, leaving behind his adolescent dreams of boyhood and resigning himself to life as Wendy Darling. Growing up, however, has only made him realize how inescapable his identity as a man is.

But when he returns to Neverland, everything has changed: the Lost Boys have become men, and the war games they once played are now real and deadly. Even more shocking is the attraction Peter never knew he could feel for his old rival, Captain Hook—and the realization that he no longer knows which of them is the real villain.

This is the least hyped book on this list. I haven’t seen much on it, but I recently added it to goodreads and I really want to read it. Its a Peter Pan retelling featuring  a growing up, trans Peter, and not-so-villainous Hook (a favorite of mine in retellings) and a romance. It has really great reviews too – though not very many.


The Wishing Heart – 5

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Summary:
With a book in her bag and a switchblade in her pocket, Rebel’s been thieving her way through life while hoping for a cure to fix her ailing heart.

But when the bejeweled vase she just tried to hawk turns out to be a jinni’s vessel, Rebel gets lost to her world and dragged within another. Now every magical being in the city wants the vase for himself.

Thrust into a game of cat and mouse in a world she never knew existed, Rebel must use her uncanny skills to find a way to free Anjeline the Wishmaker.

But wishes have consequences. And contracts. Anjeline’s freedom could unravel a love like Rebel has never known, or it could come at the cost of Rebel’s heart…

I received an e-arc of this for a book blog tour from Entangled Teen – its really good so far and features a lesbian romance in a fantasy setting – something far too rare. My tour stop/review is May 13th!


What do you think of my list?

Are any of these on your TBR?

Have you read any? 

What did you think?

Let me know!