Top 5 Wednesday: Books Outside Our Comfort Zone

Welcome to another Top 5 Wednesday as hosted by Sam @ Thoughts on Tomes. This week’s topic is about the books that we’ve read outside of our comfort zone, or what we usually read. So the types of books I usually read are fantasy – adult and YA – and YA contemporaries. Those are the main types of books in which I read, and of course there are subgenres within those that fall out of what I normally do, but here I’m going to talk about a few books I’ve read (and some I haven’t finished) that fall out of my comfort zone.

5. Cinder by Marissa Meyer

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This YA sci-fi book is very popular with a lot of people, and I thought it was okay at best. I really wanted to get into it because I love the idea of mixing sci-fi with fairytale retellings, but this first book just didn’t really do it for me, but I did still enjoy it. I do enjoy reading sci-fi books, but I don’t do it often and I want to change that.

4. Saga by Brian K Vaughan

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This comic book series definitely falls out of my comfort zone because even though I’m a manga fanatic, I’ve never read a comic book series before. I may have dabbled here and there on them before, but this is the only comic book series that I’ve actually invested myself in – and I love it! Comics are very similar to manga in that they tell a story through pictures, but they’re very different because they’re generally smaller volumes, bright, colorful art throughout, and all of the art styles differ in some way. Not to say that manga isn’t the same, but the color aspect is definitely different.

3. My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, & Jodi Meadows

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Now I do enjoy reading historical fiction novels and period pieces, but I’ve never read a YA historical comedy retelling. It’s a mouthful, but it was such a fun book! I felt like the authors did a wonderful job not only retelling the story of Lady Jane, the nine day queen, and then incorporating their own twists and magical elements to the mix. It made for a fascinating, wonderful story about awkward teens in the 1600s.

2. The Deal by Elle Kennedy

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I’ve never read a New Adult story before, and as this series was my first in that genre, I’m really glad to have picked it up. Sure, it’s got a lot (A LOT) of sex, but it also has a story around it and I felt like I was becoming very invested in the characters. I haven’t really heard much about the NA genre except that it’s college aged kids, lots of sex, and drama. I mean, that does kind of sum it up, but I’m sure that there is more out there that’s different and explores more. This series definitely made me interested to read more in the NA genre.

1 . Asylum by Madeleine Roux

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It’s a horror novel. I hate horror. I haven’t finished reading this book, but I started it a while ago for a readathon and I just… I can’t. I want to finish it, I do, but horror is just not something I’m comfortable with watching or reading (unless I’m in a weird mood). The thing is, I’m really interested to see what happens in the book but the pacing and story are creepy, and then the pictures inside it? Forget, I can’t.

Let’s Chat! ≧◡≦

What kinds of books fall out of your comfort zone? Have you read any that fall into mine? What kinds of books do you want to explore that you don’t normally read? What’s stopping you?

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My Lady Jane Book Review

myladyjaneTitle: My Lady Jane
Authors: Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, & Jodi Meadows
Publisher: Harper Teen
Publication Date: June 7, 2016
Genre: Young Adult – Historical Fiction, Romance, Comedy
Pages: 491
Format: Received Hardcover in Uppercase Box for June

EDWARD is the King of England. He’s also dying, which is inconvenient, as he’s only sixteen and he’d much rather be planning for his first kiss than considering who will inherit his crown. . . .

JANE is Edward’s cousin, and far more interested in books than in romance. Unfortunately for Jane, Edward has arranged to marry her off to secure the line of succession. And there’s something a little odd about her intended . . .

GIFFORD is a horse. That is, he’s an Eðian (eth-y-un, for the uninitiated). Every day at dawn he becomes a noble chestnut steed—but then he wakes at dusk with a mouthful of hay. It’s all very undignified.

THE PLOT THICKENS as Edward, Jane, and G are drawn into a dangerous conspiracy. With the fate of the kingdom at stake, our heroes will have to engage in some conspiring of their own. But can they pull off their plan before it’s off with their heads?

The comical, fantastical, romantical, entirely true story of Lady Jane Grey but not really

Lady Jane Grey, sixteen, is about to be married to a total stranger—and caught up in an insidious plot to rob her cousin, King Edward, of his throne. But that’s the least of Jane’s problems. She’s about to become Queen of England.

Like that could go wrong.

I had been in a reading slump before I picked up this book and I am so glad I chose to read this when I did because OH MAN, there is so much humor in this book!

This is an historical fiction retelling novel about a young woman by the name of Jane Grey who, upon her cousin’s surmised “death,” she becomes queen for about nine days before the proverbial poop hits the fan.

The book is divided into two parts: the first part being all of the events before and leading up to when Jane becomes Queen and when she is almost killed because of it; and the second part being where the narrators (who break into the story every once in a while) change history.

Of course there are actual differences in real history and their history for this retelling, such as the magic in this world being ones in which humans, depending on their lineage, can turn into animals – these kinds of people were called Eðian (pronounced eth-ee-uhn). And, like any ruling country of the time in the 1500’s, not a lot of people liked those who could change – and these people were called Verities. And then you get the common folk who don’t bend one way or the other.

The plot of the book was engaging and had me wanting to turn the page to find out what happens next, who can be trusted, what kinds of twists and turns were going to happen, and oh. The humor. Yeah, there was that, too. It followed three main characters: Edward, Jane, and Gifford (call him G!) and each chapter was in the point of view of one respectively. I thought this was a great move because it allowed us to have different perspectives and takes as to what was going on in their surroundings and how each person would react in those situations. It started off with a few common problems that needed to be fixed, to betrayal being had, to a forced wedding, more betrayal, and so on.

Edward – or rather, King Edward VI – is a sixteen year old boy-king who doesn’t really rule the country; he lets his advisors do it for him, signing what needs to be signed when he’s told about the changes and such. He hasn’t really come into his own at the beginning and I thought that was interesting and a bit of a refresher because I’m so used to reading about princes and kings that are stuffy and cautious and all of that. Edward was kind of a hot mess, and I appreciated that. He has the worst sense of timing and direction, easily offends the ladies (without meaning to), and he is kind of a whiner. But as the book progresses into the second half, he starts to become much more open minded and accepting of a lot of things and he becomes stronger as a result of the people and circumstances around him. I was actually quite impressed with him at the end.

Jane is a stubborn girl who loves – LOVES – to read books, and carry books with her, and put puts ahead of people. She hates the idea of marriage, but she hates being told what to do more because she believes she has her own mind to make her own decisions, thank you very much. I found that she was kind of lost and troubled in the beginning due to the circumstances surrounding her, but as the story progressed she proved that she is not only brave, but also a risk taker and willing to help those she cares about. She’s very much a modest young lady of sixteen, but I found that she really grew on me and that she was definitely a strong young woman.

Gifford – or G, as he prefers to be called – just wants to be free to run and live without having to worry about the pressures his father may put on him, or his father looking down on him. We learn very early on that G is an Eðian, and that he views himself to be cursed as he changes into a horse when the sun rises, then back into a man when the sun sets. He has some secrets, and he lets people think what they want to about him, but I found that he was one of my favorite characters. He was so willing and ready to protect Jane a lot throughout this book and he also was a great asset to the whole plot. I found him to be stubborn as well, but also so full of emotion.

There were also secondary characters in this story that played a big role, such as Gracie – a Scottish lass with a fiery tongue and wore trousers (gasp!), Pet (Edward’s pet dog), Gran (Edward & Jane’s grandmother), among others. I loved each of these characters because they brought so much life into the story, and obviously helped to further along the plot.

And the romance was also adorable and sweet as we watched the love between characters blossom, and one character being a silly git, and oh man. All the warm, fuzzy feels at the end.

Overall, I really, really enjoyed this book. The humor was fantastic and referenced a lot of phrases and sayings that we say today or that would have been said during a later time period, the romance was adorable, the characters each grew in positive ways, and the plot was interesting and made me want to know what was going to happen next.

I rated this book 5/5 stars and highly recommend it!

Uppercase Box June Unboxing

Hey peeps, I’m here with another Uppercase Box unboxing for you! If you don’t know what Uppercase is, as it says on the website, it’s “a young adult book-of-the-month subscription box. Simply put: You sign up and receive a recently published YA book and awesome book-related items every month! Plus you’ll access exclusive book content and a one-of-a-kind reading experience to dive deeper into each story.”

I’m soooo excited for this month’s box! It had a book I’ve been really excited about reading and now I don’t have to go out and buy it myself!

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This month’s box included:

Ahhhh, I’m flailing because the tote bag is the cutest thing EVER and the book!? Oh man, a YA historical fiction novel? They’re a rare breed, so I’m very excited to read this book.

And I’m going to admit that when I first saw the magnet I thought it was an illuminati symbol. Haha… ha…

Let’s Chat! ≧◡≦

Have you read MLJ yet? What were your thoughts? Have you ever read an historical YA novel? Also, do you have any cool bookish totes and what do they say/have on them?

 

The Book Drop March Subscription Box

Hey guys! So I signed up for another book subscription box, but this one is from The Book Drop. As it says on the website:

The Book Drop is our very own monthly subscription box service. What does this mean? This means once a month we hand-select one of our favorite new books based on your reading preferences, package it up all nice and cute in a box and send it your way! Book Drop subscribers get a book delivered to their doorstep (or mailbox) once a month from Bethany Beach Books.

So I’m subscribed to the Jane box which includes:

  • Paperback book (usually a contemporary or historical fiction novel, with the occasional literary fiction novel)
  • Indie Next list for the upcoming month
  • An occasional goodie

I chose this box in particular because it allows me to receive books outside of the normal genre that I’ve been reading lately and it also allows me to receive books that I’d otherwise never pick up on my own. So for this month I’m actually really excited for the book that was in the box.

Here’s how the box came:

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It was a long box that was sealed to the teeth, so cutting it open was kind of difficult. BUT! Once I did manage to open it, here’s what was inside:

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The items that I received were:

  • May the Road Rise Up to Meet You by Peter Troy.
  • A Celtic magnetic bookmark (that matches the book in terms of one of the character’s origin).
  • A little note about the book and why it was chosen.
  • An Indie Next book list for the upcoming month.

As the note states,

“‘Set against the dramatic backdrop of the Civil War, May the Road Rise Up to Meet You is a story of four unforgettable characters who illuminate the quintessential American experience.’ I thoroughly enjoyed this book, it’s one of my favorites. Despite being published a few years ago, it’s still one of the my go-to staff recommendations when customers come in looking for a good book. We also included a little magnetic Celtic bookmark! Happy reading!! Love, AZ”

And then when I read the rest of the synopsis I became intrigued and interested in reading it. As I haven’t read many books based around the Civil War era, I’m interested to see this take on it and how it plays out.

Overall, my first box from Bethany Beach Books (aka, The Book Drop) was a fun one and I’m excited to see what the next month will bring.

Have you ever received a box from The Book Drop? Have you read this book? If so, what are your thoughts? Let me know!

Top Ten Tuesday: Historical Settings I’d Love to Read More Of

Welcome to another Top Ten Tuesday as hosted by the lovely people of The Broke and the Bookish. Today’s topic is all about the past and the future, and for mine I chose the past. I wanted to share some historical settings that I’ve never really heard enough of in books – or books that I’m drawn to. So here are some of the historical settings I’d like to read about:

  1. Ancient Romans – I mean, the Roman Empire was a very vast and powerful empire way back when, plus they’re rich in culture, so I would really love to read a YA book or other book that takes place in this kind of society. It wasn’t always about war, but I know that it did happen often.
  2. Ancient China – Again, rich in culture, very powerful, many different facets of society… I’d love to read about a story from the perspective of a young emperor or a housemaid or something.
  3. Atlantis – Okay, so maybe Atlantis never existed (or did it?), but I would still love to see some cool concepts come from writing something about this land of advanced technology and why they were wiped out. It would seriously be cool.
  4. Renaissance Italy – I know there are a few novels here and there that taken place during the time when Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Michelangelo, Botticelli, and so forth lived. It was extremely rich in culture and art and history and I would love to see some political scandal, or a young Michelangelo, or something!
  5. Industrial Era America – We don’t really see too many of these when industrial technology was just being introduced to the states. Of course, this is also the time when child labor laws didn’t exist and children as young as six worked in dangerous places, so… I can see why that would be a turn off.
  6. The 1920s-30s – This was a time of glam and I’d love to see something happen during this time. It was between the two World Wars, so it could have been a time of peace. What happened then? Someone get creative and tell me something!
  7. 1800s England – You know people love the Victorian era, right? The dresses, the high society, the changes in how things were run… I think that it’s because it was a transitional time, but I’d really love to read more novels that take place during this time.

Honestly, I think that’s it! A lot of these times and cultures are really fascinating to me, and I’m sure there’s plenty more, but these are the ones that stick out the most.

What historical settings would you want to read more of? Let me know!