Tag Archives: favorite books

My Favorite YA Books of 2017

23 Dec

I’m judging this based on what I read in 2017, not necessarily books that released in 2017, and I’m only focusing on YA. If you want a complete list of books I read, check out my Goodreads challenge. A lot of these books could fall into more than one category, but I didn’t want repeats, so I tried to stick with a new book each time.

I hope you find some recs you’ll enjoy!

Fantasy

The Forgetting by Sharon Cameron

Labeling fantasy and science fiction can get a little strange, and this novel is a perfect example of that. I honestly can’t say a lot about this book, because, if I did, it would ruin the craziest surprises. Surprises that blew me away. I totally loved how bizarre and brutal and lovely and strange this book is. If you’re okay going in blind into a strange new world with little to no explanation, you will love this novel, because by the time you get answers, it’s a million times worth it.

Sci-Fi

Warcross by Marie Lu

If you’ve ever spoken to me about the types of books I love, then you know I love future tech. (There’s something so much fun about exploring possibilities.) Marie Lu hit the nail on the head with this book that features a futuristic video game and a craze overtaking the world. Her plot twists have me DYING for book 2. (And we need more gamer girls in fiction.)

Historical

My Lady Jane by Brodi Ashton, Cynthia Hand, and Jodi Meadows

Technically a historical fantasy, My Lady Jane is easily the funniest book I read all year. (And I definitely need more laughter in my laugh.) If you’re willing to let your imagination stretch past the point of believability (especially since most of the characters are real historical figures), and you don’t mind the authors breaking the fourth wall, this book is the one you didn’t know you absolutely needed. It’s unique, hilarious, and un-put-downable. Also, My Plain Jane, a sequel following a different time period, releases in 2018. It’s one of my most anticipated reads.

Contemporary

Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde

At first, I wasn’t sure how this book would play out. I mean, it takes place over one weekend at a convention. What could happen? SO MUCH. If you’re a geek like me, the love for geek culture just seeps out of this quirky story. It really captures how much a fictional character can save a person. The cast is full of diversity, including a female protagonist on the spectrum, and the book features a lot of important discussions more people need to have. A quick, fun, but important read.

Horror

There’s Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins

So this novel takes place in Nebraska, which automatically gets points from me, because we do not have enough books set in the Midwest. Despite a lot of Midwest clichés, I really enjoyed this story. I read it one setting. I didn’t see the killer coming. It’s super gory in a way a horror book should be. And I couldn’t stop thinking about when all was said and done. Love, love, loved this spine-tingling mystery.

Debut

Body Parts by Jessica Kapp

Yay for more future tech! This book discusses lots of relevant issues about body autonomy and the power of pharmaceutical companies. It has just the right amount of gore (can you tell I enjoy gore?), and the action is both nonstop and believable. Add a dash of romance, and you’re in for a wild ride. Also, I think this is a standalone, so if you need a great standalone (and want to support a debut author), pick this one up.

Sequel

These Dazzling Heights by Katharine McGee

If you haven’t read The Thousandth Floor (#1), then go get it right now, especially if you’re an old-school Gossip Girl fan. This is another fantastic futuristic novel with believable tech and lots of guilty pleasure drama. The novel does not get enough credit for showing a lot of socio-economic situations that are happening now. I absolutely love this series. It’s uncomfortable and devious in such a flawless way that allows you to enjoy every little moment, even the ones you should feel guilty about enjoying.

 

Series

Tiny Pretty Things and Shiny Broken Pieces by Sona Charaipotra and Dhonielle Clayton

I can’t believe I didn’t pick up these books sooner. Competitive ballet + real-life issues = I wish there was a book 3. (Why isn’t there a book 3???) I went from loving certain characters in the first book, to hating them in the second, and it was perfection. Also a series for Gossip Girl fans, this duology keeps you on your toes with betrayal in highly competitive ballet. This diverse duology is written by two diverse authors and published by Cake Literary, a diverse company.

Biggest Surprise:

The Love Interest by Cale Dietrich

I hesitated to include this category, because it makes me sound like I expected a book to be awful, but that’s not what I mean by “Biggest Surprise.” Biggest Surprise, to me, means I wasn’t sure what to expect from a book, and then it blew me away. The Love Interest definitely takes YA tropes and turns them on their head in the most glorious (and often hilarious) ways. I’m also a fan of spies, and there’s more future tech, so…

Manga

Jigoku no Enra

If you took a peek at my Goodreads challenge, you might have noticed that I read A LOT of manga this year. In fact, I normally read a lot of manga, but this was the first year I recorded it. Why? I used to hide how much manga I read, because there’s this weird stigma about it, but when I started sharing it, I began to connect to other readers who loved some of my favorites, so I’m recording it from now on. Anyway. Jigoku no Enra has everything I love in a paranormal shoujo: demons, cursed princes of hell, and one unfortunate girl wrapped up in it all. Definitely recommended.

Top Three Honorable Mentions:

The Speaker, Daughter of the Pirate King, and Our Dark Duet.

The Speaker by Traci Chee is book 2 in a Sea of Ink and Gold series. Her prose drips off the pages. A complex, yet brutally beautiful fantasy.

Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller has pirates and magic. Need I say more?

Our Dark Duet concludes the Monsters of Verity, and it was a fitting ending for a twisted tale about monsters, music, and mayhem.

But what was my all-time favorite read?

Scythe by Neal Shusterman

It was my first time reading Shusterman, and he blew me away. I LOVED Scythe so much I never put it down. It’s brilliant, morally gray, and gory as hell. Scythe answers the question, What happens when everyone begins to live forever? Well, we hire Scythes, of course. You know, people trained to decide who will die. The book follows two scythe apprentices, and everything they go through—including their first deaths and some pretty horrible plot twists—will keep your head spinning. After every chapter, I kept bothering my roommate because I HAD to talk to someone about each and every scene. This book is also a near-future scenario. Scythe released at the end of 2016, so if you’re talking about 2017 releases only, my favorite book was Warcross by Marie Lu.

What were your favorites?

~SAT

 

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Writing Tips: Mother’s Day & Childhood Inspiration

12 May

Now, I have to admit that I’m unsure if this qualifies as “writing tips” or not, but I can’t seem to think of another way to explain it other than to explain recent events in my life and how I got to this decision to post about this.

On Friday night, I was driving home when I was hit by a drunk driver. Everyone was physically fine, but these moments often make you take a step back and wonder “what if?” or simply reflect on life. It’s also Mother’s Day, and, as many of you know, my mother passed away in 2003, so there’s been a lot of personal reflection happening for me over the past few days, and I wanted to share my thoughts on how reflecting can help your passionate spark if you feel as if it’s about to die.

Happy Mother's Day. This is Halloween, 1992, with my mother, my brother, and I. I was a ghost :] Probably perfect considering my paleness.

Happy Mother’s Day. This is Halloween, 1992, with my mother, my brother, and I. I was a ghost :] Probably perfect considering my paleness.

But, first, If you want something short and sweet, I posted this on my Twitter, and many followers found it comforting. “Do you sometimes feel like chasing your artistic dream is hard? This will cheer you up: click here.” 

Now–the bigger reflection: I’ve had more experiences in this sort of stuff than I’d like to admit to myself, but they always cause me to look back, and my childhood is often where I end up. I cannot say why this is other than it’s caused by a “flashback” sort of a thing. I begin thinking about what I’m grateful for, who I love, what I love, and everything that moves me from one day to another. But I’m going to concentrate on writing, because I want to stay in the “writing tips” as much as I possibly can.

So what in my childhood moved me forward into writing? (And many of you already know about my mother’s death being the biggest moment when I was pushed forward into taking it seriously, so, again, I’m going to talk about something else, although that is essential.)

Favorite Books:

I think this can be very important to remember, but, even more so, to return to every piece once in a while and read. Include first books, middle school reads, and beyond. On days where you’re feeling down, especially about writing, returning to these texts can spark your passion again, easily and without any strenuous effort. All you have to do is read, and you might be amazed at how quickly you’ll return to your timeless love for language, even if the original texts are simple and/or wouldn’t spark interest today if you hadn’t read it before.

Mine, as an example, includes childhood novels about Nancy Drew and Scooby Doo, young-adult series by Meg Cabot or Lynne Ewing (specifically Daughters of the Moon), and adult novels, generally memoirs like Mop Men, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, or A Long Way Gone. I can even return to literature I loved in school, my favorite being The Stranger.

As a comedic picture: this is me, shocked by novels, at 3 years old, and my great-grandmother quite thrown off by my craziness.

As a comedic picture: this is me, shocked by novels, at 3 years old, and my great-grandmother quite thrown off by my craziness.

Favorite Writing Experiences: 

These moments can bring back the original moments that brought you the utmost happiness before other moments brought you down. You can return yourself, especially to childhood, when you first started writing and you didn’t have the stresses of publication or critiques. These memories, although little, are very powerful.

My personal example? In second grade, my short story about my two dogs, Milo and Max, won the class writing competition, and I got to read it to the class. I still have it, and the drawings and wording often makes me giggle, but it also lightens my writing soul. I go right back to that podium, when I was fearless, and I feel it transition to today’s time.

Others who inspired:

Think beyond the top five people who inspire you today. Try to recall the first few who you may not remember on a regular basis but know that they linger somewhere in your artistic past (meaning they’re also in your artistic self today.) Most of the time, you might remember one, but then you’ll remember more and more, and you’ll soon have a list of small instances that led to your wonderful path you’re on today.

My personal example here is my fifth grade teacher, Mrs. Metcalf. She was the first teacher to pull me aside and encourage my writing. When I was first writing back then, I was started my stories off with “Hi. I’m Henry, and this is my story…” and she taught me to start in the middle of action. I wrote her a story for Thanksgiving Break, and it started with a turkey running wild through a grocery store. Looking back on it, it was cheesy and poorly written, but she returned, having read the entire twenty pages, and encouraged me more and more, teaching me what else I could do in order to enhance my words. I was nine at the time, yet her teaching lingers today, and I’m grateful to have had such a wonderful teacher in my life at such a young age.

My hope is that you may take a moment today (or any day) to reflect on the moments that have brought you here today and remember never to give up on your dreams! It may seem cheesy, but it is, ultimately, very true, and I’m sure many of you know this, but many also have fleeting moments of doubt, and we can prevent these by reminding ourselves of what matters: life, love, and passionate dreams.

I always tell myself to write with passion; succeed with self-discipline. 

This is my personal philosophy, but I’d love to hear yours as well. Share below and spread the dream to others who may be struggling at this very moment in time (whether they read this today or two years from now.) Words are timeless. Let’s use that to embrace the love of art.

Have a great and meaningful day 😀

~SAT

P.S. Goodreads Quote of the day:

I leaned against the desk, ran my hand over my father’s paperwork, and picked up a pen. Turning around, I shoved it into my father’s hand.
“What’s this?” he asked, raising a brow.
“You’ll need it to sign my death certificate,” I said, pain vibrating my veins against my muscles and bones. “Are we done now?”

Eric, Minutes Before Sunset

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