My Reading Journey

So i was doing my daily journey through the blogs that I follow and I came to one of my favorites, no rx The Perpetual Page Turner, there run by the lovely and awesome, Jamie. Her most recent blog entry talks about her Reading History (which you can read here) and the different books that shaped her life.

I loved it. It was so cute, and it was nostalgic and it really brought to my mind my own reading history.

See, the one thing I’ve noticed in my journeys as a reader, as a writer, and as a blogger is that so many people that I’ve met have that “moment” or that “one book/book series” that just does IT for them. It brings them into the world of reading. You have no idea how many times I’ve heard, “Harry Potter/Percy Jackson/Mortal Instruments/Divergent/Hunger Games/John Green/Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants/etc got me into reading”. Which I think is absolutely wonderful and is a testament to how wonderful YA literature can be.

And I get that question a lot. “What book got you into reading?” because people know how insane I am with books and reading. And I always feel really perplexed when I get that question. Like…”Um, Green Eggs and Ham? Go Dog Go? The Polar Express? Chicka Chicka Boom Boom?”

Because, the thing is, reading has exploded over the past decade, and I do think that it is in LARGE part to do with the young adult literature boom. So many people are picking up these books, loving them and becoming readers, and picking up more  YA books.

But for me? I’ve ALWAYS been a reader. I can’t pinpoint a moment in which I discovered reading because its long before my memory can remember. I’ve been reading since I was a small child, three, maybe four years old. Reading has always, always, always been a part of my life. I can’t ever remember a time when I wasn’t reading. But I am seriously curious about the different books that I’ve read through out my life and so this is where I talk about my reading journey.

Thanks Jamie for an awesome post, and I hope you don’t mind that I’m borrowing it!

Childhood (3-10 years old)

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In my childhood days, I spent most of my time reading probably what most kids read: LOTS of Doctor Seuss, lots of Berenstein Bears, lots of Shel Silverstein. However, those books got really easy and really “boring” super fast. So I was already moving on to chapter books, formula books, by the time I was about five or six and I stuck with those for quite a many years. I’m talking Baby-Sitter’s Club, Pony Pals, Boxcar Children and the various Sweet Valley series (Sweet Valley High, Sweet Valley Kids, Sweet Valley Jr HighSweet Valley College). I ate these books up SO fast, and they probably were way below my potential but I could read a couple Baby-Sitters Club books a day and I loved that. I also read a lot of Judy Blume books in those days too.

I also realize now that reading all those Sweet Valley Books as a nine-year-old was probably unbelievably inappropriate. The high school and university series TOTALLY has sex in it and I was so cavalier about it, when I was a child. Interesting.

But those were the books I loved as a kid. They weren’t challenging and they were easy reads and I could bust through those books so fast, making me seem like a better reader than I probably was because I wasn’t challenging myself!

Preteen/Middle School (10-14 years old)

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I was 10 years old when I discovered Harry Potter, and this seriously changed my life in so many ways, I couldn’t even begin to write about it. That is a whole ‘nother blog post. But it changed the way I read books. Books didn’t have to be short, and they could be so different and interesting and challenging and wonderful. Harry Potter was the first book that I read that wasn’t a formula book, really, and I just loved it. I ate that up so fast and it was the first step I took into a whole different world.

Also when I was in middle school, I discovered both Sarah Dessen and Meg Cabot, both of whom are still some of my absolute favorite authors. This is where I discovered YA literature, and this is why I’m still obsessed with YA and I”m writing this blog. A friend of mine gave me Dessen’s Someone Like You and I loved it so much and went out and bought That Summer, Keeping the Moon and Dreamland and I’ve bought every book since then on the day its come out. For Meg Cabot, I went and saw the movie The Princess Diaries and realized it was a book. Then I read the book and realized how much better it was than the movie and I’ve consumed every single Meg Cabot book to come out since then.

This was the beginning of my foray into young adult literature. I had dipped a toe in, in the contemporary world of YA lit. I think this is also when I sort of discovered that I liked to write too, at about 10 years old. I think that’s when I realized that I liked the way these YA authors wrote, so relatable and so real, like you were stepping into the messy minds of teenagers.

High School (15-18 years old)

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This is what I am going to call my exploring years. I read a LOT during high school, and a lot of that was classics because of school. And I’ll tell you: Shakespeare? Steinbeck? I get they were great guys and all and changed literature and all that…but ugh, ugh, ugh. I can’t read either one without wanting to drown myself.

But I did discover a lot of classics I did like. I loved The Great Gatsby. Gone with the Wind. Poisonwood Bible (okay, which isn’t a classic, but is a great book). Brave New World. Huckleberry Finn. TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD! (Hey, I named my dog Scout for a reason).

This was also the time that I was really getting into fantasy, especially young adult fantasy. It hadn’t QUITE broken out yet but it was definitely getting there. I had consumed the Lord of the Rings books with fervor, because I just loved the movies so much. (I had read The Hobbit as a kid). I was still reading Harry Potter like crazy, and I had discovered two of my still favorite authors, Tamora Pierce and Libba Bray. Tamora Pierce introduced me to a world of pure fantasy and it still is one of my absolute favorite fictional worlds to be in. Libba Bray gave me the sort of urban fantasy that I didn’t really know existed. I didn’t know that you could read fantasy books in a world you recognized, even if it was a Victorian England you never actually lived there. This is where I think my obsession with the supernatural, the fantasy, and all that started. I was full on 100% obsessed with Harry Potter and my reading habits were growing and growing by the minute.

I will also say that it was during this time that I discovered Twilight. Now as much as I don’t think its a well written book and all that, it was also very instrumental into the books that I enjoy now.

Young Adult (19-now)

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And this is where the trouble started :) This is where all the build up, all the YA I’d been obsessed with like Sarah Dessen, and Meg Cabot, Tamora Pierce, Libba Bray, Harry Potter just escalated.

Now, as you guys now, I read YA by the stacks and stacks of books. I consume YA so fast and so easily. I have discovered The Mortal Instruments (and in turn, the Infernal Devices), Percy Jackson and The Olympians, The Heroes of Olympus, Seven Realms series, The Hunger Games, Divergent, John Green, The Lux Series, the Legend trilogy, the Grisha trilogy, and so so so so so many more that I couldn’t even begin to tell you them all.

But I’ve also continued my love of contemporary YA as well, as that is what started the journey. I still love Sarah Dessen and Meg Cabot to no end. I read John Green now and David Levithan, Morgan Matson (!!!), Jessica Brody, and so many more. And this love of young adult books and what motivates me to do this blog and its what I read most of. I still read adult books but for the most part, its YA all day.

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So that’s my journey through books. Its been a long journey but an enjoyable one and I know its going to continue because my love for books only strengthens every day. I discover new authors and new books every day. I’m so grateful to my parents for pushing me so hard to read as a young child because I’ve been reading for longer than I can remember and books are magic to me, they are therapy, they are entertainment, they are escape.

So what was your reading journey? Did it start early like mine, or was there certain books or series that helped you to become a reader? As always, let me know in the comments!

And if you write a post as well, let me know and I’ll link it in this one :)

Tuesday Top Ten-Favorite YA Female Characters

So I’ve totally already done this Tuesday Top Ten before, information pills but it was kind of my favorite one to do (besides maybe my favorite fictional boy crushes) because there’s SUCH an outpouring of strong, amazing, kickass, well developed awesome female characters out there and I want to be able to share the ones that I like so much with all of you.

I also did this list way back in November and I had probably, hmmm, like five followers back then, which included my dad and my boyfriend and maybe a few friends. Now I have nearly 1000 followers and so I want to write it again, so all my new followers can now see this :)

So here we go! My top ten (err…eleven) favorite female characters in young adult literature!

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11. Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games 

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Katniss is a badass, and she’s one of the first characters that comes to mind when you have strong female characters of YA, especially with the immense success of the Hunger Games movie and Catching FIre hitting theaters this fall. I like Katniss a lot, but mostly from the first book, not so much the next two. My personal opinion is that she gets a little whiny toward the end. Again, thats my personal opinion. But I do think she’s a great character. She’s a girl that doesn’t give up, even though most 12 year olds probably would. Instead of crawling into a hole, and letting her family starve or letting her and Prim be taken away, she figures out a way to survive and hunts, and trades and does whatever she can to help her family survive. And these skills that she learns for survival are the KEY to her survival in the Hunger Games. She’s extremely clever and she’s very caring as well, for her family, and for the people that come into her life like Peeta and Haymitch and Cinna and even Effie. She’s a GREAT character and Jennifer Lawrence is a great actress to play her.

10. Tessa Gray from The Infernal Devices 

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I love Tessa Gray because of her bravery, her resilience, her cleverness and the fact that she loves books so much. I love that Tessa Gray only wants to do the best that she can and that she cares SO much. The thing about Tessa is that she is unique, in so many different ways. First off, she’s an American in London. Then she’s amongst a bunch of Shadowhunters, which she is not. Then she’s not even sure what she is: possible a warlock, but without a warlock’s mark and no explanation of what she is. The Infernal Devices trilogy is not only the story of the London Institute and the Shadowhunters attempting to defeat Mortmain and his revenge plan but its also about the journey that Tessa takes in discovering herself and who she is and what she is and what her purpose is. I love that she loves with all of her heart and she loves her brother, even though he isn’t what she thought he was, and she loves the people she meets through the London Institute. I love that she loves both Will and Jem, and not in a whiny Bella Swan kind of way but in such a real, genuine way, the way people love in real life.

9. Luna Lovegood from Harry Potter series

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J.K. Rowling once said about Luna Lovegood that she has an unbelievably rare quality of a person who just doesn’t give a damn about what people think about her and for that, she’s on my list. Because let’s face it, no matter what we say, no matter how much we profess it, we all care at least a little bit what people think of us. That or, we care what CERTAIN people think of us. Luna has the quality of being an absolute badass because she’s so sure of herself. She is teased and bullied, and people mess with her and think she’s weird but she doesn’t even notice. She’s so happy in her own world and I, for one, envy her for that. But she’s also a seriously loving and caring and brave person. When she finally makes friends, she is so good to them, and she is a pivotal character in my opinion. I don’t think the Harry Potter series would have been right without her in it, and there’s a reason why everyone calls me Luna <3

8. June Iparis from the Legend trilogy 

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Okay, June is an absolute badass, and honestly, I think she’s one of the strongest female characters I have read in a novel, especially in the overflow of young adult lit that is going on right now. I was amazed at June’s…tenacity and her fire and her strength. I was discussing June with someone online once and they said she was cold, she didn’t have a personality, that she wasn’t as easy to like as some of the other heroines that are out there, and that’s exactly why I like her. She’s different. She’s trained as a soldier and thinks like a soldier and has a hard time breaking that habit, even when things start stacking up against everything she ever knew. Its hard for her to be as trusting of people, especially someone like Day, who she is told over and over again is a criminal. I think she’s very human, and I love how her feelings for Day are always in question, always a work in progress. I like that there’s a love story in this novel, but not the kind that takes over the story. I love June because she has a head on her shoulders, and she uses it before she falls in love. I love how smart she is, and how reluctant she is to accept the truth…because she wants to know its the real truth before she believes it. She’s such a great character.

7. Tris Prior from the Divergent trilogy 

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I think one of the biggest reasons that I love Tris is because she’s so little, and people don’t really believe in her because of that, and she proves them all wrong. She’s the tiny, little, divergent (read: normal) girl, who takes a chance, leaves her parents behind for a different faction, a faction so vastly different than the one she was raised in and just…just rocks it. I mean, sure, not at first. She’s weak, scared, shy. But she does all the work she needs to do to not only become part of the Dauntless faction, but to be number one in the initiates. I love that. I love that she’s been taught so much about the act of being silent, being selfless, lacking of affectionate and all of that sort of thing, but when she comes to Dauntless, everything she does is so real, and so genuine. She makes friends because she is so genuine. And Four falls in love with her because of that, and that’s just too darn cute for life. I am jealous for Tris and her relationship with Four, because…well he’s Four, and do you see the picture above? Theo James is QUITE the looker. But in all seriousness, I admire Tris for her bravery, her cleverness, her selfishness and selflessness, and her never ending drive.

6. Clary Fray from The Mortal Instruments

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I know that most of you know how addicted I am to the  Mortal Instruments series, and I’m sure you’re wondering why on earth the main character would not even be in the top 5, and there are reasons for that, and I totally have a TMI character in the Top 5. So hush. I love Clary, I super adore her. I enjoy watching as she takes the journey from normal teenager girl, to a budding Shadowhunter. I love that she’s brave and fearless, and she wants to save everyone: her mom, Simon, Jace, everyone. I love that the Shadowhunter world is SO confusing to her, but she goes with it, and she adapts quickly and that, I don’t know, she sort of grows into what is her natural heritage. She was born to be a Shadowhunter, even though her mom held that away from her for so long. I think the biggest reason why I love Clary is because of her loyalty. She is SO incredibly loyal and loving to the people she cares about: her mom, Luke, Simon. And when she meets the Lightwoods and Jace and Maia and Magnus, she cares for all of them as well. She just can’t help but care, and her caring is what makes her so brave.

5. Alina Starkov from The Grisha Trilogy 

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Alina is one of the most interesting characters that I have read in awhile. One, because she’s incredibly powerful…more powerful than pretty much every single person that she knows. And at first, she strays away from that power and is reluctant to use, reluctant to get any stronger. But as the story goes on, she almost begins to crave that power. She begins to grow addicted to it, and she feeds off of it. I think so many times we see characters that are so inherently good all the time, so good even when they make mistakes or make wrong decisions but Alina kind of represents a different sort of heroine. I think that we see Alina struggle more than any other character, because power is a dangerous thing. I don’t think that Alina is evil or a bad person, but that all depends on what happens in the final book of the series. We leave off, with all these people believing she’s a saint, a savior, and with her on a crazy, impossible quest to track down ways to make herself more powerful. This is incredibly dangerous and makes Alina a very complex, and addicting character. I just keep wanting to read and find out what happens next.

4. Alianne Cooper from The Tricksters Series

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One of the strongest female characters that I’ve seen in the young adult genre, and just one of many that Tamora Pierce has created in her Tortall world: Alanna, Thayet, Buri, Daine, Maura, Keladry, and so so so many more. But when it comes down to it, Aly is easily my favorite and I think a lot of that comes down to that she was the first Tortall woman that I met, and she ushered me into a book series, and a book saga, that would seriously change my life. Aly is a sixteen year old girl with the kind of skills I could only dream of having at twenty-five years old. She’s incredibly clever, and has the knowledge and abilities to become a spymaster for a massive rebellion and be incredibly good at it. She knows about spying, and codes, and the sneakiness that comes with it. She knows about war and the way it goes, the way its run. She knows politics and crops and government and trade, social and culture, she’s just so incredibly smart. She can wield daggers and has wicked hand-to-hand combat skills. She’s quick on the spot, and can turn a lie in an instant. She’s charming and funny and relatable. She’s amazing, and one of the characters I always, ALWAYS bring up when talking about young adult literature.  

3. Isabelle Lightwood from The Mortal Instruments series 

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Can I say that if this was favorite female CRUSHES, it would be Isabelle at number one, easily? One, Jemima West is absolutely gorgeous and I can’t wait to see her as Isabelle in the movie this summer. But I like Isabelle because she’s the badass of the books. She is one of the best Shadowhunters there is, gender aside. She has her awesome gold whip, and she takes down demons and fights with Jace and Alec. I also love her humor, her personality. She always has a smile on her face; she’s always finding a way to joke through things, and laugh her way around, even when everyone else is so down. She’s a fierce, strong character and I think sometimes is overlooked but she’s one of my absolute favorites. Alec and Jace both say, that though the Shadowhunter world has changed, that it is still hard for girls to become true warriors, and yet Isabelle works her ass off for it. And she’s another fiercely loyal, and caring person as well. The amount of love that she feels for her family: for her parents and Alec and Max and Jace is unparalleled. She is willing to do anything for them. Plus I just want to be HER: sexy, strong, brave, fearless, charming, a fighter…a fierce, fierce fighter.

2. Raisa ana’Marianna from The Seven Realms series 

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Raisa is seriously….I can’t even…she’s just so awesome. I knew from page one that I was addicted to this character. She’s everything realistic about being a teenage girl plus SO much more. She is young, and pretty and wants to enjoy both of those. She wants to flirt with boys and have fun, and not worry about taking the throne just yet. But then drama goes down (as it is wont to do) and Raisa is forced to run away from her kingdom, hide herself from her own mother, and eventually come back to take her rightful throne. She is so much stronger than a lot of the characters we’ve seen in YA in that…even though she falls madly in love with someone she can’t be with, she doesn’t really cave to that. Her duty comes first and foremost through it all, and she follows the rules, to keep a hold of her unsteady claim on the throne. Spoiler: I honestly didn’t think she was going to end up with Han, for a VERY long time. We really don’t figure out that Raisa is willing to push buttons until she has fought for her throne and she feels the strength to do so. But she has fire and passion and a good head on her shoulders, even as she makes the same mistakes that any human would do. She is a character that I would LOVE to see her on the big screen.

1. Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter series

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I don’t think its any surprise that she is the best YA female character, at least according to myself. She is the first female character that I really read that I connected to, and that I still continue to connect to. Before I discovered Harry Potter, I was reading formula books like Sweet Valley High, Baby-Sitter’s Club, Pony Pals and the Boxcar Children. In other words, books that weren’t challenging me in the slightest. I first read Harry Potter when I was 10 years old, just one year younger than the characters themselves and Hermione immediately jumped out to me. One, she really was the only female character that we got to know in that book, besides, like McGonagall and Mrs. Norris haha. But I loved how smart she was, especially since she wasn’t born into that world. I loved how, even though she was teased and bullied, and had no friends, she didn’t stop being smart just for that. I love that she was always proud of her brain and her intelligence and she never, ever dumbed herself down for a boy, ever. I loved that she was brave, and loyal and kind and selfless and quick thinking and all of that. She is AWESOME and Emma Watson did a wonderful job portraying her :)

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I hope you enjoyed this week’s edition of the Tuesday Top Ten.

Don’t forget to check out last week’s Top Ten, on my favorite fictional dads, and other lists here.

Who are some of YOUR favorite young adult fictional female characters? As always, share in the comments!