Why I Read YA

I’ve been asked before (very politely) why I, a monkey in my twenties, would read something clearly not aimed at my demographic aka YA. This is especially relevant after I read several naff YA books in a row. So today I’m gonna give a few of my main reasons why I keep going back to YA (with examples- yay!)

six of crowsBecause when it’s good, it’s damn good. Even after all this time, YA can still get my heart pumping. I let my emotions lead my choice of books, so if a book genre can still make me feel excited, then I’ll keep going back to it. Books like Six of Crows more than keep me sated- but you’ll hear all about it in my upcoming review. For now, I’ll just say books like that show how YA is always doing new and innovative things, which leads me onto…

northern lightsThey’re often extremely imaginative. The main reason why I keep going back to books aimed at a younger audience is that there’s a lot of fearlessness in the way YA authors write. There really is a sense in YA that you can write about *anything*. Being a fantasy lover, it makes logical sense that I’ll seek new worlds wherever I can find them. And since some of the boldest, most adventurous work always seems to be aimed at people under 18, that’s where I’m naturally drawn. Of course, for all this explosive talent, the genre is not without its faults. Still…

talonI am a genre whore, so I’ll read anything. Sure, all genres have “genre specific” problems- but if I was going to hold a flaw against an entire group of books, I’d have a lot of trouble finding anything to read. Though I can admit that tropey laden books like Talon exist, I strongly hold by the fact that *every single* bookish problem can be done well somewhere (who hasn’t thought about a book “wow this is a walking cliché but it’s done so well that I love it and don’t care”?). Plus, no matter how much I complain about YA, there’s always those books that somehow manage to avoid tropes and clichés altogether- I’m always on the lookout for those. But while we’re on the subject of genre…

wideacreAdult books can be a bit tiring/draining/bleak. I still remember the first time I thought “I think I can venture into the adult section now” (contemporary not classics). But when I picked a selection and read them, I came away so dejected, thinking “is this all adults think about?” All the books had been about jaded characters, stuffed with seedy subject matter and full of depressing topics (oh just wait for my review of Wideacre and you’ll see what I mean!!). Now I’ve found more books in that genre I like, but I still think there’s something to be said about returning to the innocence of a good YA novel.

peter pan and wendyA little Peter Pan syndrome doesn’t hurt. Yes, it might be a little obvious from this post and my frequent references to Peter Pan that I was one of those children who never wanted to grow up. Not only did I spend hours as a child jumping off my bed trying to learn to fly, but the adults in my life always taught me you’re only as young as you feel (my grandpa, for instance, went to Disneyworld for the first time at 75 and loved it so much he went back the next year). We all have to grow up- but that doesn’t mean we have to be old. Inside at least, we can still be young. (And no this doesn’t mean I have a Dorian Gray style picture stashed away somewhere 😉 )

Hobbit_coverAnd finally, they’re educational. You never stop learning! Just because I’m older doesn’t mean I’ve incorporated all the lessons of youth. Every time I read a YA novel, I’m learning something new and in a funny way actually growing up. And isn’t that a fundamental point of YA- staying young while growing as a person?

So there’s my list of reasons for reading YA! Do you read YA too? Why? Why not? Let me know in the comments!

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My Top Ten Books Featuring Sisterhood

*Warning there will be lots of pink and gushing girliness in this post*

Phew it is hot today- I don’t know how anyone gets anything done when it’s so hot! Resisting the urge to just lounge around all day, I thought I’d follow on from yesterday’s post and talk about sisters in books!

I don’t think sisterly love gets nearly enough attention in books- so today I want to celebrate some of my favourite books that feature sisters (both real and metaphorical) in a big way!  And just a heads up, I won’t be including any creepy long lost identical long lost twins or back or backstabbing biatches here- this one’s all about the positivity (mostly 😉 ):

pride and prejudice

  1. Pride and Prejudice– how could I not include Austen? The queen of the sisterhood?! That would be madness! In fact, I was actually super tempted to put Sense and Sensibility on here as well, but let’s face it, nothing beats Lizzy and Jane’s relationship!

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  1. I Capture the Castle– so mostly I just want an excuse to mention a childhood favourite. But there is a strong sister relationship in this book- only trouble is, even after all these years I can’t quite put my finger on where that relationship ends up at the end of the book. Ah well, it still deserves to be on this list, partly because I have always wanted to be part of this wacky family, but mostly because I secretly want to live in a derelict castle with no heating… (says the girl that couldn’t stand the Scottish winters)

little women

  1. Little Women– apart from this book giving me the warm fuzzies every time I think about it, this book hands down has one of my favourite family dynamics in literature- and guess what? They’re all girls! Yay- girl power! The March sisters are adorable, quirky and love fiercely- but my goodness you don’t want to get in the middle when that goes awry- there are ups and downs in this book that still make me cry (and not just the obvious *ahem* unmentionable parts- seriously don’t mention it, or you will reduce me to a fluffy orange mess again…)

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  1. Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants– you knew it was coming- after my review yesterday it can’t come as a surprise. What’s especially wonderful about this series is that it has every type of sisterly relationship- it deals with the figurative, the blood relations and the “oh goodness what category are you in” type of sister. And even more importantly, it doesn’t shy away from conflict between sisters (really just an occupational hazard)- instead directly addressing the issues they have and letting the characters grow as a result.

to all the boys

  1. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before– I’ve mentioned it before- but one of the best things about this series is the *lovely* sister relationships in it. Like my previous choice, it doesn’t make them buddy-buddy all the time- but that’s a-okay with me! Because complex dynamics are so important when portraying any relationship- and especially in something as nuanced and complicated as sisters!

court of thorns and roses

  1. A Court of Thorns and Roses Trilogy– okay so I wasn’t actually sure whether to include this one, because initially *avert your eyes superfans* I wasn’t totally sold on the sister relationships. It just seemed to be based on the protagonist’s older sisters letting her do all the work for them. But, while I’m still not convinced of this series’ perfection- review of ACOWAR to come *very* soon– I did find the sister relationships grew on me.

red sister

  1. Red Sister– okay, so no one in this book was technically a biological sister- BUT they were all Sisters- you know, nuns. Killer nuns in fact. And let’s face it, when am I gonna pass up an opportunity to mention killer nuns? (Plus they also had developed really great bonds with each other- but to be honest my brain is still on the *deadly nuns* thing to go into detail 😉 )

the young elites

  1. Young Elites– This one is another really unusual one, because this series is so out there. And I can’t talk too much about why I love this sister relationship, because of *spoilers*. But what I can say is this relationship ends up being super integral to the plot and the story’s conclusion- and how many non-romantic relationships can you say that about really? Let alone sister relationships?

hunger games

  1. Hunger Games– and speaking of another sister relationship that is integral to a book’s plot, what about Katniss Everdeen and her sister Prim. There would have been no story if Katniss hadn’t offered herself as tribute to save her sister. And as for where this relationship ends up going… well let’s not go there shall we (seriously, it’s like I designed this post to get all teary or something!)

how i live now

  1. How I Live Now– okay, so another cheerless book about the end of the world. But there was one thing I always took heart from and that was Daisy holding Piper’s hand and leading her through the literal end of the world- they’re not technically sisters, yet this image of sisterly devotion is burned into my mind whenever I think of a moment of sisterhood in books. I just want to point to it and say *that right there* (there’s also a lot of weird shit in this book, but at least there’s family at the centre of it all)

Okay that post ended up going in a darker direction than I intended. Do you agree or disagree with my choices? What book do you think is a great representation of sisterhood? Let me know in the comments below!

And naturally, I dedicate this post to my sister the monkey baby (yes that is her real nickname and no I am not making that up)

Top Five Divisive Books

So I’ve just got back from the polling station and it was as anti-climactic as ever. But my social media is still a massive battleground…

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Now since politics today is probably the most divisive topic out there (because if you don’t agree with me on everything you’re not a real *insert political affiliation* and you are an *insert insult here*) I thought I’d have a relaxing evening and talk about books that people get *really* up in arms over. These are the books with incredibly INTENSE fan bases and detractors- and my goodness- people have fought tooth and nail over them. So without further ado, this is my list of divisive books:

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1. Harry Potter– ooh er- I’m nervous to even put this on the list- which oddly enough is why I have to include it. Because while many of us book bloggers are proud Potterheads or are friends with them, they are some of the most diehard fans out there. They will not brook even one iota of criticism for their beloved books and saying anything less than “the books are perfection and I want to kiss the feet of the goddess JK” is enough to get you excommunicated from bookish communities… Anyone not with them is a muggle and all that jazz. So yeah, Potterheads, I love ya, but you can be a bit scary!

twilight

2. Twilight– I think a lot of people have grown up about this one, so while there are still Twihards out there, they seem less inclined to stab you with a stake if you don’t happen to like sparkly vampires. But the main reason I included this on the list, is because it sparked the phenomenon of not only going after the non-sparkly-vampire-lovers (what’s the term for that? Normal? 😉 ) but also massive in-fighting. Before it was cool to fight over whether you shipped Gale/Peeta with Katniss Everdeen or Stephan/Damon with Elena, there were hordes of teens running round shouting “Edward!” “Jacob!” at each other. (Also “bite me Edward!”- seriously it was a weird time)

Throne_of_Glass_UK

3. Throne of Glass– so this book was a bit of a phenomenon in that first it was really popular to like it and then it was really popular to criticise- I don’t know if that was just me that noticed that? Either way, you guys know I fell in love with this series cos of the characters, but since it wasn’t instalove for me, I can see both sides of this argument. Either way, the reason it’s on this list is because I have seen plenty of passion when it comes to both its fans and its detractors. Fortunately that hasn’t devolved into anything truly nasty.

The_Fault_in_Our_Stars

4. The Fault in Our Stars– so back when this blew up, I was into watching a lot of booktube, and yes, naturally the youtube comment sections are the cesspit of humanity, but I think this was the first time I saw people giving out death threats over a book. I get that people love John Green, I’ve been there, but man you don’t have to fight all his battles for him. If a few people don’t like his books, it’s no biggie. He’s still a bestselling author and I’m sure he can handle minor criticism from folks on the internet- just sayin’.

catcher in the rye

5. Catcher in the Rye– I had to squeeze at least one classic onto this list. Now I know this gets assigned at schools everywhere in the states, so a huge number of people have read it. What is phenomenal about this book is that *every time* I mention it, I get a chorus of “I love it” “I hate it” in the comments. It has to be one of the most “marmite” books ever- you either love it or you hate it.

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(ok that may have just  been the most British reference ever)

Anyhoo- so do you agree or disagree with these choices? What books do you think are very divisive? Let me know in the comments! And can all the Twihards and Potterheads looking to lynch me get in line in an orderly fashion… 😉

The Most Depressing Post Ever

So obviously the best thing to do when the world gets you down is to talk about depression… Okay- this is clearly not the best thing to do, but who says I am good at judging what the best thing to do is? If you want answers, look to your nearest pope/politician/prat, they’ll be happy to oblige- me, I just recommend books and give occasionally sage advice:

“Life’s a joke and tragedy is the punchline” – Chris Ray Gun

Now I know what you’re thinking- hasn’t mental health week been already? Well, yeah, but I’m far too doolally to keep track of these things. And I thought I’d just jump on the bandwagon cos when it comes to mental health “everybody is talking about how nobody is talking about it” (Freddy Gray)- so what difference does it make when I add to the white noise?

Alright- serious-face on. I do actually care about mental health. Yada yada *insert personal experience* yada yada… Let’s just cut the crap and get to the books before my dark humour completely takes over. These are, in my totally subjective opinion, some of the best books you will find on mental health out there:

  1. Jude the Obscure – Fair warning, this is not a book to perk up your mood. It is, however, brutally realistic and the most honest reflection of the human condition I have ever seen. There is also a lot more to this book than mental health, so if you are looking for a deep story that will imprint itself on your soul forever- than this is the book for you!

jude

  1. All the Bright Places – the jury is out on this one and as many people that seem to love it as loathe it. Me, I was firmly in the love it camp. Again, this is totally subjective, but this was one of those rare books that had me crying in public because it felt so raw and real.

all the bright places

  1. The Bell Jar – I bloody love this book. Sylvia Plath’s writing is exquisite. I don’t normally fall for a lot of literary fiction, but man if this book doesn’t hit you like a tonne of bricks, your old ticker can’t be totally switched on when you read it.

the bell jar

  1. Titus Alone – this is most definitely the most peculiar choice on this list. Firstly, because I wasn’t a fan of the rest of the series, secondly because this is generally viewed as the weakest one in the trilogy and thirdly because it’s just an odd book. But I was strangely wooed by it. Perhaps it is because I am such a huge fan of imperfections in books in general- especially when those imperfections perfectly coincide with the message and tone of the book. To put it simply, the book was totally mad, the author was supposedly losing his mind while writing it and the overall effect is, well, mad. You’d be hard pushed to find anything more poetic than that.

titus alone

  1. The Yellow Wallpaper – it’s slightly spoilery to even put this on the list, so look away now if you haven’t read it, but I couldn’t fail to include this quintessential look at female hysteria. While I’ve met academics who wish to diagnose the main character as suffering exclusively from patriarchal control, I truly believe this applies more broadly to mental health in general. Again, there is more than just the mental health to this story, but I think in today’s climate we can find a great deal of universality in looking at the intriguing psychological aspects of this book.

yellow wallpaper

So perhaps an odd list- but this is just my personal take on which books I feel tackle this topic in the most authentic and beautiful manner. Now I want to know- which books on this topic do you have an affinity for? Let me know in the comments!

And because it’s Friday and I want to end on a happy note, this trailer just came out and I am so excited!!

Series I Won’t Be Finishing #noguilt (okay a little bit of guilt…)

Hello, my name is the Orangutan Librarian and I am a series-finisher (sounds like I’m starting an AA meeting). But after starting a couple of series recently I wasn’t too keen on, I want to make a commitment to myself *not to* continue reading the rest of the series- no matter what!!

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Because there are plenty more fish in the sea and there are books crammed into every bookshelf/library/shop/orifice and OH MY GOD I AM DROWNING UNDER A NEVERENDING TBR!!!

  1. Killables– arghhh I could not think of a single reason to recommend this book to anyone. The only problem is that they have this book in the library to tempt me. But no- I WILL BE STRONG!!!

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  1. Caraval– it had its moments, but that ending made me just give up on it. I just can’t bring myself to read the sequel- I’m out.

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  1. Outlander– as you may remember from my posts months ago, I rage quit this series- I won’t be picking up another one.

Abandon

  1. Long Way To A Small Angry Planet– hahahaha I had to put this one on here- but it’s actually hilarious to think about reading the second one when I only finished the first so that I could rage review it. I think my thoughts about this book can be summed up thusly:

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  1. Bronze Horseman– nope, just nope. I’m not gonna read any more of this because *YEUCH*.

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  1. Knife of Never Letting Go- okay, so unpopular opinion here, but I hated the style of this one. The Grammar Nazi in me just could not deal.

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  1. Thief’s Magic– I have a love-hate relationship with Canavan- and even though they have copies in all the libraries I frequent I have no desire to carry on with this series. I just did not connect with any of the characters in this- not a-one.

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  1. Queen of the Tearling– what makes me feel better about this one- aside from being bored stiff with the first one- is that I’ve heard a lot of people didn’t like the finale and said it wasn’t worth finishing anyway.

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  1. An Ember in the Ashes– another unpopular opinion, but I really wasn’t sold on this series and have no desire to read the second.

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  1. Talon– okay, I’ll admit I read the second one, even though I hated the first one, because it had a scaly cover and I love dragons. Buuut no more!! I will not read another whiny book about non-dragons masquerading as mythical wyrms. I just cannot.

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Annd on that note it’s time to say goodbye for today! (Yes, yes this post was just an excuse for a million goodbye gifs). Did you agree or disagree with my choices? What series have you quit? Let me know in the comments!

Books I Actually Read In Pairs

“We will now take a break from this regularly scheduled programme…” Okay, so confession, I’ve been using the scheduling tool a lot more recently and have been passing over blogging in the last few days (passing over…pass-over… it’s Passover- a time for family, wine and bad puns apparently).

Anyway, I had planned a post for today, but decided to change it up a bit cos nothing’s more fun than breaking a self-imposed schedule.

As I mentioned in my “Books to Read in Pairs” post the other day, I usually try to read books that are polar opposites after each other. So I thought I would share with you some books that I enjoyed reading together.  And these they are:

  1. Tess of the D’Urbervilles & Persuasion – I will admit that there was a time in my life when all I did was read Hardy followed by Austen followed by Dostoevsky, but personally I feel like after the soul-crushing romance of Tess, you need a book that tells you that love can withstand, even the longest of separations.
  1. Crime and Punishment & Northanger Abbey – Both of these have dark themes, but let’s face once you’re done with the punishing finale of Crime and Punishment, you need the happily ever after of an Austen novel- especially this one which turns everything dark on its head.
  1. Gulag Archipelago Volume I-II & Forever in Blue – So this one’s kind of cheating, cos I actually read this during rather than after Gulag (which I only just finished) cos man this was a hard book to read and I needed a break!! If you do check this out, and I recommend you do, just know you will need several YA contemporaries to hand during and after this book. I know I’m going to line up loads for the rest of these volumes (only 5 more to go!)
  1. Hogfather & The Bluest Eye – This is actually the reverse of the other books- cos sometimes I need some Pratchett to psyche myself up to reading (emotionally) challenging books.
  1. The Godfather & Corrupt Me – These actually go together really well- so I should have included this in my last post- especially since I love any opportunity to pimp out the lovely Jillian Quinn’s work! But while they do complement each other, they are really different. Definitely worth reading back to back!

So who else tries to read different books together? What books do you like to read in pairs? Let me know in the comments!

What to read after something existential and deep…

Hello all! Hope you’re having a lovely Sunday and Happy Mother’s Day!

I don’t know about you, but after reading something heavy or deep, I always feel like I *deserve* to read something super light. So after my post yesterday, I decided to compile a list of things to read after you’re done delving into the existential and need to read take it easy:

  1. Weather reports– weather reports are safe, they will not hurt you and it’s always good to be prepared!

weather report

  1. YA contemporary– fun frivolity where the biggest stress is what to wear to the school prom- yes please!! But watch out for the ones where people die…

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  1. A frothy fantasy– not the kind where anyone gets hurt- but the semi-safe kind where they wander off in New Zealandesque landscapes for hours on end (if nothing else you can let your mind wander to “where are the hobbits”). Again, preferably with the emphasis on the main character’s dress sense.

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  1. The TV Guide– let’s face it when you’re done with all the heavy stuff, you’ll be reaching for the remote and may as well find something good…

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  1. Those clickbait posts that begin “you won’t believe…”- and sure enough you won’t believe you stumbled on such crap by the end of it. (Although that example was taken from this awesome post of clickbait titles for classics)

clickbait books

And that’s it! Now I’d have also included kid’s books on this list- but we all know how existential books like Goodnight Moon can get… But as long as you can resist the urge to read too much into them, you should be safe…

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So what do you like to read after something heavy? Let me know in the comments!