Tuesday Top Ten – Authors I’m Thankful For

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! I know, buy I know, buy not everyone celebrates Thanksgiving but I’m feeling particularly festive this week! I have a Magnus Chase giveaway going on right now, website I’m about to eat LOTS of food very soon, and my book releases in exactly a week! There’s plenty to be excited about and plenty to be thankful for.

I’m excited to hopefully get more involved with blogging, seeing as I’ve been very bad at it lately. I’ve been SO SO insanely busy but I’m glad to be back. I thought returning to the Tuesday Top Ten with a post about authors that I’m thankful for!

They are in no particular order :)

JK Rowling 

It should come as no surprise that Queen Rowling ended up on this list. She is easily my favorite author and she has been an influence on me since I was a child. She is an incredible writer, one of the best world builders I’ve ever encountered and full of so much magic and love. I feel a connection to her books and to her struggle through poverty and welfare and depression, and how she’s conquered so much of that. She’s a beautiful human being and I’m so glad that I’ve been lucky enough to read her the past 17 years. Her books saved me from a ton of heartbreak as a child, she gave me an escape when I had none and I would not be here as the person I am without her.

Tamora Pierce 

I’m grateful for Tamora Pierce for so many reasons. For being a great writer. For being insanely sweet when I met her and cried my eyes out. For creating strong female characters long before most of the YA authors we know did. For writing amazing fantasy. But I think mostly I am grateful to her for giving me my love for fantasy. Besides Harry Potter and LoTR, I wasn’t much into fantasy until I discovered her Tortall books. That’s when I learned how familiar fantasy can be, how you can get lost in this world that is completely made up but still feels as familiar as the one you know. Tammy gave me my love for fantasy…easily.

Cassandra Clare

I honestly have to thank Cassandra Clare for a lot of things. She gave me two incredible series that are easily my favorites. She gave me worlds that gave me a ton of bravery. But mostly? Her books came into my life at a time when I was falling apart and I didn’t know if I could get back out of it. I was depressed, more so than I had ever been in my life, when I found myself wandering the bookstore and stumbled upon City of Bones and that book saved me from myself. The whole series did. I’m so thankful for Cassandra and her books.

Jessica Brody

I can’t even begin to describe the gratitude I have for Jessica Brody. As an author and as a friend. She is a great author and has been an incredible inspiration for me. I love knowing that she writes contemporary and science fiction, adult and YA and she gives me the motivation to be all over the place too in my writing. But she also is the reason I’m the blogger than I am and the writer than I am, the person I am. She taught me so many amazing tricks. She has given me the best advice. She has lead me on the right path so many times. I can’t even begin to describe how much she means to me.

Leigh Bardugo 

The fact that I can call this amazing, talented, fantastic, hilarious author friend blows my mind every single time. She’s fabulous. She’s a great writer, one that blows my mind with each and every book that I read by her. She is so inspiring with her world building; it makes me work harder and harder. She’s a great friend, and she’s given me great advice over the years. She’s made me feel important and she’s made me believe that I can do this. I’m so grateful for that. And I’m so grateful for these amazing books that she’s given us.

Andrew Smith

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I am so thankful for Andrew Smith…because he is one of the best authors I’ve ever read, in my entire life, for so many reasons. He is able to write so many things in one, humor and fantasy and science fiction and romance and all of this in one big thing. He’s incredibly talented and very humble about it. And he connects with his fans so well. He treats them all with such respect and I admire it so much. I admire his love for literature, his love for his family, for travel, for his job, and his passion for just being himself and writing the books he wants to write. I wish very much that I could be more like him, as a writer and a person. And through all of this…he calls me friend. That is just the most surreal thing ever.

Jennifer L Armentrout 

I adore JLA. I love her so much and its because I hope to be an author like her. She writes with humor and she writes everything. She writes paranormal and fantasy and romance and science fiction and so many of her books are so good. I’ve been rereading the Covenant series recently and I’m remembering why I love it so much and I’m reminded of how much that series was a huge influence on The Awakened. She’s so incredible. I love that she writes with humor, like the way she would talk, because I do the same thing. She’s a huge influence for me. I also love her because she wrote Scorched, which tackled mental illness and really hit home for me. I love that when I told her what that book meant to me, she hugged me and told me she was proud of me for getting help. She’s an amazing author and person.

Rainbow Rowell 

I think Rainbow Rowell is one of the best YA authors to exist right now. She writes stories that just grab you and make you feel like yelling, yes, exactly, this is exactly right. She writes the human soul so well…all of her books bring tears to my eyes because of how well she captures human emotion. But I am so grateful and thankful for her because she wrote Fangirl. That book’s main character, Cath, is one of the only characters I can say with 100% certainty is much much like me. I kept reading through the book, thinking, yes, this is exactly how I feel. This is exactly what I mean. This is exactly the person I am. She just…its like she took my personality and put it on paper. I am so thankful for her creating a character that I can connect with so much.

Richelle Mead

Its funny that Richelle Mead came to mean so insanely much to me when I avoided reading the Vampire Academy series for SO SO long. But eventually I did it and I am so glad I did because Richelle writes beautiful fantasy which fantastically sassy main characters. Her Rose Hathaway is one of my favorite characters ever and was a huge influence on my Zoey Valentine for sure. She’s an incredible influence…and she showed me that you can take something that has been done a million times, like vampires, like zombies, and turn it into your own story, something new and unique and compelling. The Awakened exists a lot because of her and her series.

Melissa Landers

I cheated and put eleven authors on this list. I know, I said ten but whatever. Eleven works well. I had to put Melissa on here because I am so thankful for her as an author. She has always been a sweetheart to me and has always treated me with the utmost respect. And I just love her books. Her books showed me that you can have science fiction and romance in one and make it work so well. Alienated was a massive influence on The Awakened in the romance sense. Aelyx and Cara’s relationship influences Zoey and Ash’s so much and I’m so incredibly grateful for her fabulous blend of science fiction and romance. May she continue to write awesome books again and again.

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Who are some of the authors YOU are grateful for? Share in the comments!

Top Anticipated October Releases!

Young Adult

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

Fangirl #2 (sort of)

Simon Snow just wants to relax and savor his last year at the Watford School of Magicks, dosage but no one will let him. His girlfriend broke up with him, his best friend is a pest, and his mentor keeps trying to hide him away in the mountains where maybe he’ll be safe. Simon can’t even enjoy the fact that his roommate and longtime nemesis is missing, because he can’t stop worrying about the evil git. Plus there are ghosts. And vampires. And actual evil things trying to shut Simon down. When you’re the most powerful magician the world has ever known, you never get to relax and savor anything.

Release Date: October 6, 2015

My Thoughts: I literally can’t wait to get my hands on this book. As soon as Rainbow said she’d release it, I have just been counting down the days to hear more about Simon and Baz. Its so weird to be such a fan for a fandom that’s not even real but its so true. I adore Simon Snow and I can’t WAIT for this book!

A Madness so Discreet by Mindy McGinnis

Grace Mae knows madness. She keeps it locked away, along with her voice, trapped deep inside a brilliant mind that cannot forget horrific family secrets. Those secrets, along with the bulge in her belly, land her in a Boston insane asylum. When her voice returns in a burst of violence, Grace is banished to the dark cellars, where her mind is discovered by a visiting doctor who dabbles in the new study of criminal psychology. With her keen eyes and sharp memory, Grace will make the perfect assistant at crime scenes. Escaping from Boston to the safety of an ethical Ohio asylum, Grace finds friendship and hope, hints of a life she should have had. But gruesome nights bring Grace and the doctor into the circle of a killer who stalks young women. Grace, continuing to operate under the cloak of madness, must hunt a murderer while she confronts the demons in her own past.

Release Date: October 6, 2015

My Thoughts: I think that Mindy has a beautiful way of writing and an incredible storyteller and I’m really excited to read this book. I’ve had an ARC for months but just haven’t had the time to read it, but I’m so excited for it!

Cinderella’s Shoes by Shonna Slayton 

Cinderella’s Dress #2

The war may be over, but Kate Allen’s life is still in upheaval. Not only has she discovered that Cinderella was real, but now she’s been made Keeper of the Wardrobe, her sole responsibility to protect Cinderella’s magical dresses from the greed of the evil stepsisters’ modern descendants. But Cinderella’s dresses are just the beginning. It turns out that the priceless glass slippers might actually exist, too, and they could hold the power to reunite lost loved ones like her father—missing in action since World War II ended. As Kate and her boyfriend, Johnny, embark on an adventure from New York to Italy and Poland in search of the mysterious slippers, they will be tested in ways they never imagined.

Release Date: October 6, 2015

My Thoughts: I LOVE LOVE LOVE the first book in this series and Shonna is so nice as hell, and I can’t wait for the second one. The main character is just sassy and wonderful and I really can’t wait for more adventures in this historical romance.

The White Rose by Amy Ewing 

The Lone City #2

Violet is on the run. After the Duchess of the Lake catches Violet with Ash, the hired companion at the Palace of the Lake, Violet has no choice but to escape the Jewel or face certain death. So along with Ash and her best friend, Raven, Violet runs away from her unbearable life of servitude. But no one said leaving the Jewel would be easy. As they make their way through the circles of the Lone City, Regimentals track their every move, and the trio barely manages to make it out unscathed and into the safe haven they were promised—a mysterious house in the Farm. But there’s a rebellion brewing, and Violet has found herself in the middle of it. Alongside a new ally, Violet discovers her Auguries are much more powerful than she ever imagined. But is she strong enough to rise up against the Jewel and everything she has ever known?

Release Date: October 6th, 2015

My Thoughts: I’ve already read this book and its incredible and such a great follow up to the amazing book that is The Jewel. I’m lucky that I was able to read this already and I’m glad that its coming out soon!

Black Widow: Forever Red by Margaret Stohl

Natasha Romanoff is one of the world’s most lethal assassins. Trained from a young age in the arts of death and deception, Natasha was given the title of Black Widow by Ivan Somodorov, her brutal teacher at the Red Room, Moscow’s infamous academy for operatives.

Ava Orlova is just trying to fit in as an average Brooklyn teenager, but her life has been anything but average.The daughter of a missing Russian quantum physicist, Ava was once subjected to a series of ruthless military experiments-until she was rescued by Black Widow and placed under S.H.I.E.L.D. protection. Ava has always longed to reconnect with her mysterious savior, but Black Widow isn’t really the big sister type. Until now. When children all over Eastern Europe begin to go missing, and rumors of smuggled Red Room tech light up the dark net, Natasha suspects her old teacher has returned-and that Ava Orlova might be the only one who can stop him. To defeat the madman who threatens their future, Natasha and Ava must unravel their pasts. Only then will they discover the truth about the dark-eyed boy with an hourglass tattoo who haunts Ava’s dreams. . . .

Release Date: October 13, 2015

My Thoughts: I mean, come on. Black Widow AND the amazing Margie Stohl…I was sold from the moment that I first found out this was going to be an actual thing. There needs to be more of Black Widow in the world – and all the female Marvel and DC characters – and I’m glad this book is coming out and I’m stoked about Margaret being at the helm.

Ice Like Fire by Sara Raasch

It’s been three months since the Winterians were freed and Spring’s king, Angra, disappeared—thanks largely to the help of Cordell. Meira just wants her people to be safe. When Cordellan debt forces the Winterians to dig their mines for payment, they unearth something powerful and possibly dangerous: Primoria’s lost chasm of magic. Theron sees this find as an opportunity—with this much magic, the world can finally stand against threats like Angra. But Meira fears the danger the chasm poses—the last time the world had access to so much magic, it spawned the Decay. So when the king of Cordell orders the two on a mission across the kingdoms of Primoria to discover the chasm’s secrets, Meira plans to use the trip to garner support to keep the chasm shut and Winter safe—even if it means clashing with Theron. But can she do so without endangering the people she loves? Mather just wants to be free. The horrors inflicted on the Winterians hang fresh and raw in Januari—leaving Winter vulnerable to Cordell’s growing oppression. When Meira leaves to search for allies, he decides to take Winter’s security into his own hands. Can he rebuild his broken kingdom and protect them from new threats?

Release Date: October 13, 2015

My Thoughts: I literally can’t handle the excitement that is this book. When I read that first book…I couldn’t handle how excited I was when I finished this book. Its just so insanely good. Sara is an incredible writer and storyteller and I think there should be more fantasy like this in the world. I can’t wait to see how this story continues.

The Rose Society by Marie Lu

The Young Elites #2

Adelina Amouteru’s heart has suffered at the hands of both family and friends, turning her down the bitter path of revenge. Now known and feared as the White Wolf, she and her sister flee Kenettra to find other Young Elites in the hopes of building her own army of allies. Her goal: to strike down the Inquisition Axis, the white-cloaked soldiers that murdered her love, the Crown Prince Enzo Valenciano.

But Adelina is no heroine. Her powers, fed only by fear and hate, have started to grow beyond her control. She does not trust her newfound Elite friends. Teren Santoro, leader of the Inquisition, wants her dead. And her former friends, Raffaele and the Dagger Society, want to stop her thirst for vengeance. Adelina struggles to cling to the good within her. But how can someone be good, when her very existence depends on darkness?

Release Date: October 13, 2015

My Thoughts: I’ve literally had this in my possession since July and I haven’t read it, no matter how excited I’ve been about it. I hope to read it before its released because my goodness, the first one was just incredible and I can only imagine that it gets better and better.

Trust Me, I’m Trouble by Mary Elizabeth Summer

Trust Me #2

Staying out of trouble isn’t possible for Julep Dupree. She has managed not to get kicked out of her private school, even though everyone knows she’s responsible for taking down a human-trafficking mob boss—and getting St. Agatha’s golden-boy Tyler killed in the process. Running cons holds her guilty conscience at bay, but unfortunately, someone wants Julep to pay for her mistakes . . . with her life.

Against her better judgment, Julep takes a shady case that requires her to infiltrate a secretive organization that her long-gone mother and the enigmatic blue fairy may be connected to. Her best friend, Sam, isn’t around to stop her, and Dani, her one true confidante, happens to be a nineteen-year-old mob enforcer whose moral compass is as questionable as Julep’s. But there’s not much time to worry about right and wrong—or to save your falling heart—when there’s a contract on your head.

Release Date: October 13, 2015

My Thoughts: Mary Elizabeth is awesome and her first book is so fun. I love it because the main character is just not what you expect, and she’s not exactly a hero and that’s what makes it so fun because you love her the entire book. I can’t wait to see what shenanigans she gets up to in this second book.

Poet Anderson…of Nightmares by Tom Delonge and Suzanne Young 

Poet Anderson #1

Jonas Anderson and his older brother Alan are Lucid Dreamers. But after a car accident lands Alan in a coma, Jonas sets out into the Dream World in an attempt to find his brother and wake him up. What he discovers instead is an entire shared consciousness where fear comes to life as a snarling beast called a Night Terror, and a creature named REM is bent on destruction and misery, devouring the souls of the strongest dreamers. With the help of a Dream Walker—a guardian of the dreamscape, Jonas must face his fears, save his brother, and become who he was always meant to be: Poet Anderson.

Release Date: October 20th, 2015

My Thoughts: One of the coolest YA authors writes a book with Tom Delonge from Blink 182? Do I honestly need to say much more than that?

New Adult

The Fifteenth Minute by Sarina Bowen

The Ivy Years #5

Freshman Lianne Challice is known to millions of fans as Princess Vindi. But sometimes a silver screen sorceress just wants to hang up her wand, tell her manager to shove it, and become a normal college student. Too bad that’s harder than it looks.

She’s never lived a normal life. She hasn’t been to school since kindergarten. And getting close to anyone is just too risky — the last boy she kissed sold the story to a British tabloid.

But she can’t resist trying to get close to Daniel “DJ” Trevi, the hot, broody guy who spins tunes for hockey games in the arena. There’s something haunting his dark eyes and she needs to know more.

DJ’s genius is for expressing the mood of the crowd with a ten second song snippet. With just a click and a fade, he can spread hope, pathos or elation among six thousand screaming fans.

Too bad his college career is about to experience the same quick fade-out as one of his songs. He can’t get close to Lianne, and he can’t tell her why. And the fact that she seems to like him at all? Incredible.

Release Date: October 13, 2015

My Thoughts: I read this a few days ago. Amazing. Just keep writing Sarina. I’m just in love.

Middle Grade

Magnus Chase: The Sword of Summer by Rick Riordan

Magnus Chase #1

Magnus Chase has always been a troubled kid. Since his mother’s mysterious death, he’s lived alone on the streets of Boston, surviving by his wits, keeping one step ahead of the police and the truant officers.

One day, he’s tracked down by a man he’s never met—a man his mother claimed was dangerous. The man tells him an impossible secret: Magnus is the son of a Norse god.

The Viking myths are true. The gods of Asgard are preparing for war. Trolls, giants and worse monsters are stirring for doomsday. To prevent Ragnarok, Magnus must search the Nine Worlds for a weapon that has been lost for thousands of years.

When an attack by fire giants forces him to choose between his own safety and the lives of hundreds of innocents, Magnus makes a fatal decision.

Sometimes, the only way to start a new life is to die . . .

Release Date: October 6, 2015

My Thoughts: I just got this in the mail and I’m really so very excited to read this. I am wary, of course, I love Percy Jackson and the Heroes of Olympus as well, but I never was sold on the Egyptian series so I’m hoping Magnus Chase captures me in the same way Percy did once upon a time. I have high high high hopes for it!

General 

Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith

Cormoran Strike #3

When a mysterious package is delivered to Robin Ellacott, she is horrified to discover that it contains a woman’s severed leg.

Her boss, private detective Cormoran Strike, is less surprised but no less alarmed. There are four people from his past who he thinks could be responsible – and Strike knows that any one of them is capable of sustained and unspeakable brutality.

With the police focusing on the one suspect Strike is increasingly sure is not the perpetrator, he and Robin take matters into their own hands, and delve into the dark and twisted worlds of the other three men. But as more horrendous acts occur, time is running out for the two of them…

Career of Evil is the third in the highly acclaimed series featuring private detective Cormoran Strike and his assistant Robin Ellacott. A fiendishly clever mystery with unexpected twists around every corner, it is also a gripping story of a man and a woman at a crossroads in their personal and professional lives.

Release Date: October 20, 2015

My Thoughts: The first two novels have just been absolutely amazing. JKR has a way with mystery and crime. She has a way of making her voice shine but also creating a whole new voice with these incredible novels. And I love that she still writes as Robert. It makes me happy as hell. I can’t wait for this!

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What books are YOU excited for in the month of October? Share them in the comments!

July Book Wrap Up!

Books Pledged to Read in 2015:

150

Am I On Track: 

8 books behind. Not even stressed at all.

Books Read So Far: 

78

Total Books For July: 

10

Dream of You Novella

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Re-Read)

Rome

Nash

Rowdy

Forever With You (ARC)

Asa

Penguins with People Problems

Upside Down

Him

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Favorite Book of the Month:

Forever with You by Jennifer L Armentrout

This book just blew my mind. It was a story very close to my heart as well so…yeah, what is ed it just meant a lot. And JLA just gets better with every book.

Least Favorite Book of the Month:

Upside Down by Lia Riley

I definitely didn’t hate this book but I wasn’t massively in love with it either.

Books I Want to Read Next Month:

With This Heart by R.S. Grey

The Rose Society by Marie Lu

The Night We Said Yes by Lauren Gibaldi

Hollywood Witch Hunter by Valerie Tejeda

Just One Song by Stacey Lynn

Catching Jordan by Miranda Kenneally

Jubilee Manor by Bethany Hagen

Until Friday Night by Abbi Glines

Full Re-Read of the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series

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Happy Birthday Jo Rowling and Harry Potter!

Today we in the nerd world celebrate two incredibly important birthdays: the 50th birthday of one JK Rowling and the 35th birthday of her wonderful main character, buy Harry Potter.

Every year on July 31st, visit this site I celebrate. I bust out some Potter clothes, throw one of the movies on (if not all 8) and read the books. I spend the whole day thinking all about Harry Potter, and celebrating the life of the woman who created him.

Some people don’t understand. I know you guys do. You guys are here for a reason. You love books like I do. You get wrapped up in the world and the characters. Its like Snape said to Lily in those flashbacks: “its real for us”.

It’s real for us.

And that’s exactly right.

I have been lucky enough to have an incredible life. I have. I am here. I am mostly healthy. I am mostly healthy. I have clothes on my back, shoes on my feet and food in my stomach. I am surrounded by people who love me and care for me. I have this blog. I have my love and passion and dedication for writing. I am so lucky.

But I haven’t always been so lucky. I’ve been through hard things. There were days where dragging a razor across my skin felt better than anything else. There were days where I legitimately wondered, why am I even awake? There were days where I had the faces of my five younger siblings looking up at me, looking TO me, to keep them happy and safe, and fed and off to school. There were days where the water was shut off, there was no phone, no electricity. There were days where screams echoed through the walls that made me want to shove a pillow on my head or scream back. I grew up fast. I stepped up to the plate more times than I wanted to. Some days, it was just hard to get out of bed. Some days, it was just easier to skip life.

But when I was ten years old, I met an eleven year old boy by the name of Harry Potter. He was stuck in a cupboard, hungry and lonely, scared, and treated like garbage by the people that were supposedly his family. And then one day, a letter arrived for him, taking him to a magical and beautiful place called Hogwarts, and not only did Harry’s life change forever, but so did mine. Suddenly all those things that alway seemed so impossible were possible.

Those books saved my life and saved me from becoming the person I could have become. If there’s one thing I’m proud of after 27 years of life, its the person that I am. I am smart, talented, strong, resilient. I am loving and caring and open. I am trustworthy and honest and determined and passionate and dedicated. And I feel like I owe so much of that to the books that have come into my life, but especially to the Harry Potter series.

Because, here’s the thing: the Harry Potter series taught me more than any other book ever has. It taught me more than a lot of things in life have. It kept my head above water when I felt like all I was doing was drowning. It kept me from becoming a bitter, tired and defeated person. I stepped into those pages, and became friends with those characters, raced alongside them in those adventures, grew up with them, learned with them, and came out the other end with them, hopeful and happy and determined and ready. Those books taught me about love and acceptance, tolerance, to not judge a person based on their cover, to give people second chances, to know that your family isn’t always the people that share the same blood as you. Harry Potter taught me that even in the darkest of times, you can keep going, you can keep moving on, because there’s a light shining there at the end of the tunnel. That, even when things seem at the very worst, it can only get better.

I was ten years old the first time I picked up the series, and now I’m 27 years old. I have read these books a countless number of times. I legitimately cannot think of how many times I’ve read them. I go back to them again and again and again and they fill me with the same feelings that I felt when I read them as a child and a teenager. It blows my mind that something that became so important to me at ten years old is still one of the most important things in my life. I have covered my body in five Harry Potter tattoos…and I know that I will get more of them because I don’t know what other way I can say thank you to this author, to these books, to these characters for what they have done for me, for how they have shaped me, for being there for me when I felt like no one else in the world was.

So today I say, thank you JK Rowling and Happy Birthday. Thank you for being an amazing person. Thank you for creating these books and these words and these people and the magic for people all over the world to experience again and again. Thank you for being amazing. Thank you for being an inspiration. Thank you for helping me to become the Sara I am today and for continuing to shape the Sara I will be tomorrow. Thank you for getting up and getting through your own hardships. You deserve the most wonderful birthday, and the most wonderful life.

“The stories we love best do live in us forever, so whether you come back by page or the big screen, Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home.”

This makes me cry. Every. Single. Time. Every time.

Happy Birthday Jo. Happy Birthday Harry.

Tuesday Top Ten-Fictional Characters I Most Relate To

I am so impressed with myself right now. Mostly because I’m really bad at doing Tuesday Top Tens lately and here I am doing one. Granted its about 3 am, side effects and I’m bored and tired but not sleepy tired and I’m kind of sick so I don’t really wanna sleep, website so hence the Tuesday Top Ten is actually getting done for once. I’m really proud of myself.

I do these questions on my personal facebook page. I have a TON of friends on FB, sick and I don’t mean that as a bragging thing because I realized that I have all these friends and I barely know them. So I try to do these get to know you questions to try and get to know them so they feel more like friends. Anyway, I asked the other day, what fictional character do you think is most like you?

And it got me thinking: this is a GREAT idea for the Tuesday Top Ten. So let’s do this :)

10. Belle from Beauty and the Beast

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I think this one is pretty self explanatory. Belle is probably the first character that really stood out to me, because she loved books and she got so wrapped in the stories and she continued to read them over and over again, and for some reason, people thought this was the weirdest thing in the world. Now, reading is pretty cool now but it wasn’t always like that and so I really identified with Belle, not fitting in and escaping the real world for the adventures in a book. Plus, I was massively determined to being able to walk and read at the same time…and I completely hit that goal.

BOOKSELLER: “That one? But you’ve read it twice!”

BELLE: “Well, it’s my favorite! Far off places, daring swordfights, magic spells, a prince in disguise -“

9. Princess Leia from Star Wars

star-wars-episode-iv---a-new-hope-5229c3b7a902b

Maybe this is just wishful thinking but this is another character that stood out to me as a child and stuck with me for the rest of my life and probably will continue to do so. I think I liked that she was basically the only girl in the movie, which means she had big shoes to fill and even though she wore pretty dresses and was a princess, she could handle a gun, had sarcasm and kept up with the boys. I grew up with mostly boys and I always felt like I had to be loud, and obnoxious and over the top to get their attention and to make them realize I was just as good as them, if not better, and that one day, a Han Solo is going to realize that I’m awesome, even when I’m annoying. Okay moving on because that paragraph was the biggest mess ever.

“I’d just as soon kiss a Wookiee.”

8. Aly from the Daughter of the Lioness

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I LOVE ALY! I think the reason that I most related to her was her desire to be something new, something that was unexpected of her, even though everyone was doubting her. The thing about Aly is that everyone believes in her, expects so much of her, knows that she can do so much. But she knows what she wants, and what she wants is not what everyone else wants for her and she meets fight after fight trying to make that happen. What I love about Aly is that she loves her family and knows that they want is best for her, she still fights to live her dreams and to live her life the way she wants to.

“Why, I’m just as true and honest as dirt. And I’m even more charming than dirt.”

7. Tessa Gray from The Infernal Devices

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The thing that always caught me about Tessa, that made me connect with her, was her ability to love everyone, and to care about everyone, feel responsibility for them. I know that I feel like I have to take care of the world, even though that’s not my responsibility. Tessa gets thrust into a brand new world and falls in love with all of these people that reach out and take care of her. She spreads her love so easily and that is exactly how I am. If someone is nice to me, takes care of me, welcomes me in, I fall in love. I love people fully. Plus she loves books. She says the most wonderful things about books; she quotes them. She’s an early fangirl ;) I wish I could find a boy like Will Herondale that would talk and argue books with me.

“Tessa craned her head back to look at Will. “You know that feeling,” she said, “when you are reading a book, and you know that it is going to be a tragedy; you can feel the cold and darkness coming, see the net drawing tight around the characters who live and breathe on the pages. But you are tied to the story as if being dragged behind a carriage and you cannot let go or turn the course aside.” His blue eyes were dark with understanding — of course Will would understand — and she hurried on. “I feel now as if the same is happening, only not to characters on a page but to my own beloved friends and companions. I do not want to sit by while tragedy comes for us. I would turn it aside, only I struggle to discover how that might be done.”

6. Alec Lightwood from The Mortal Instruments

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Why do I relate to Alec Lightwood? How do I not relate to him? There is so much of Alec in me, its kind of crazy. I know that it took a lot of time for others to love him but I loved him from page one. He’s confused, and loyal and determined and confused. He’s so fiercely loyal and protective of his sister and brother and of Jace. I love that about him, especially since he’s often afraid while he’s trying to be protective. We definitely have the same sassy, sarcastic attitude that he gets in the very last book. But the most important thing that we have in common is the journey that we’ve taken to figure out who we are. Alec is shy, confused, and unable to accept parts of himself because of the fear of what others would think. I know what that’s like…to be so unsure of who you are and where you’re going and to watch Alec blossom and figure out who he is and become a stronger and better person because of that. I’d like to see myself in that.

“I did not make a pie,” Alec repeated, gesturing expressively with one hand, “for three reasons. One, because I do not have any pie ingredients. Two, because I don’t actually
know how to make a pie.” He paused, clearly waiting.

Removing his sword and leaning it against the cave wall, Jace said warily, “And three?”

“Because I am not your bitch,” Alec said, clearly pleased with himself.”

5. Mia Thermopolis from The Princess Diaries

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Oh Mia Thermopolis. I immediately fell in love with her when I read the first book when I was 12 years old. She’s insecure and a little paranoid and a total fangirl and constantly trying to do the right thing, and kind of stumbling along. She’s so real. And even when she’s with a boy (Michael Moscovitz) and knows he loves her, she still gets insecure and makes silly mistakes. She overanalyzes everything and worries so much. She literally over worries about everything and its insane. But its totally me. I’m the biggest worrier I know. I worry about the dumbest things and so when I read the book, I really felt close to Mia. Plus she’s a writer. That obviously connects with me a lot. It takes awhile for her to figure out that this is what’s good at and what she wants to do with her life. Gasp. So me.

“But then I remembered something Grandmere had once assured me of: No one has ever died of embarrassment-never, not once in the whole history of time.”

4. Sophie Hatter from Howl’s Moving Castle

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Sophie is also sort of like an Alec Lightwood for me in the whole insecurity thing. Sophie begins the novel and the movie feeling trapped in that hat shop, stuck in a life chosen for her because she thinks its the right thing to do. She’s not special, she’s not pretty, she doesn’t have any particular talents, she doesn’t stand out. She thinks that this is the best path for her because what other path does she have. Her mother is fabulous and constantly traveling and her sister is beautiful and has the attention of all her customers. But it takes Sophie breaking out of the box, going on a crazy adventure and falling in with a totally unexpected crowd to blossom. She figures out who she is and becomes strong and confident. She simply has to find that thing that makes her the person she is. It feels SO familiar to me, to be unsure if I’m on the right path, or if I’m even half as special as the people I’m around.

“They say that the best blaze burns brightest, when circumstances are at their worst.”

3. Ron Weasley from Harry Potter

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YES. Ron Weasley. My favorite Harry Potter character, tied with Sirius Black. I like Ron Weasley because he’s the most relatable, the most realistic of the big Three in those books. There are so many reasons I relate to Ron. He feels in the shadow of others: his siblings, his best friends. He doesn’t think he’s as great as them and he’s constantly trying to prove himself. There’s a need to prove himself. But I also love that he’s a great friend but he has faults. He gets mad and jealous and frustrated and he gets in fights with his friends. People don’t always understand that about him because Hermione is seriously SUCH a selfless friend but Ron is real and selfish and he gets jealous and angry, and that feels normal and I know I’m like that. But the one thing that really gets me about Ron is his loyalty to his family, especially his brothers and sister. My immediate family means the absolute world to me. I too come from a large family, a family of six kids and I love my brothers and sisters so much, its amazing.

“You’ve sort of made up for it tonight,’ said Harry. ‘Getting the sword. Finishing off the Horcux. Saving my life.’

‘That makes me sound a lot cooler than I was,’ Ron mumbled.

2. Rose Hathaway from Vampire Academy/Bloodlines

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I’ve always kind of hoped that I was like Rose Hathaway until my parabatai, Sylvia (from Fangirl Feeels) was reading one of the VA books and pointed out that Rose reminded her so much of me, the things she said, the way she acted, and honestly, I took that as a HUGE compliment. She is one of my FAVORITE female characters of ALL time and to be compared to her, to feel like I relate to her and that I’m like her…it almost feels like an honor. I want to be like one of my favorite characters. She’s brave and incredibly loyal and I would hope to be like that. But I love that she’s goofy and sassy, which I think kind of equates to me. I like that she’s constantly making jokes and saying ridiculous things and trying to find the humor in even the worst situations. I really feel similar to her. I don’t know that I am similar to her but I’ve heard it so and I like to believe I am :)

“The other problem in my life is Dimitri. He’s the one who killed Natalie, and he’s a total badass. He’s also pretty good-looking. Okay—more than good-looking. He’s hot—like, the kind of hot that makes you stop walking on the street and get hit by traffic.”

1. Cath from Fangirl

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There is literally never been a character that I’ve related to more in my life than Cath in Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl. From the moment that I started the book, I just fell into it. It easily became one of my favorite books and I had to tell Rainbow and she was SUCH a doll and sent me a postcard, thanking me for the letter and for relating to Cath so much. But its really her that I should thank. She literally understands me as a person. Sure, there are things about Cath that aren’t me. But there are so many things that are me. She is so afraid and anxious of the outside world, of making mistakes and venturing away from the things that are safe that she completely loses herself in the worlds of books. And people don’t always understand that about her. They don’t understand that navigating the cafeteria at her new school is seriously frightening and anxiety inducing. They don’t understand how someone could be SO obsessed with fictional characters. But I do. I completely get Cath and she gets me. She IS me.

“No,” Cath said, “Seriously. Look at you. You’ve got your shit together, you’re not scared of anything. I’m scared of everything. And I’m crazy. Like maybe you think I’m a little crazy, but I only ever let people see the tip of my crazy iceberg. Underneath this veneer of slightly crazy and socially inept, I’m a complete disaster.”

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Tuesday Top Ten-Best YA High Fantasy Series

I was browsing around Tumblr this morning, medical like I do (because how do you start a day without spending some time on Tumblr) and I saw a post talking about YA high fantasy and it had SO many of my favorites. I was trying to think of something to write for the Tuesday Top Ten today and it just presented itself to me so easily.

I must admit, thumb as I wrote this list, I discovered TWO things: One, I really need to read more high fantasy (recommend some, please!) and two, I am majorly biased on one particular author…but that’s okay.

10. The Beka Cooper Trilogy 

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Books: Terrier, Bloodhound, Mastiff

Beka Cooper is the ancestor of George Cooper (who is massively important in Pierce’s first series, which, duh, is on the list), and she joins the Provost Dogs, which is basically like a police force. As the books go on, she becomes one of the most prominent and well trusted of the Dogs, solving crimes and taking down criminals. The story is told in diary form, which was a new thing for Tamora Pierce.

Its awesome. Anything Tammy does is basically magic, but what I love about this is you know how history plays out after this already. Her first four Tortall series all take place years after this so you know the direction its going in, but its still so fun. I think that Tamora Pierce has a wonderful way of writing fantastically strong characters but sometimes we convince ourselves that Daine and Kel and Aly are only able to have their stories because of all the things Alanna accomplished in the first series. But telling Beka’s story really tells us that women had a lot more power, and possibility in the past until obviously something went wrong. Plus these stories are so different than the others. Beka has to prove herself, not really as a capable woman, like the others, but just a capable person in general. And the crimes she solves, the mysteries that unravel are all so fun.

9. The Immortals Quartet 

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Books: Wild Magic, Wolf Speaker, Emperor Mage, The Realms of the Gods

Daine is trying to escape her home country of Galla, where she was treated as a pariah, an abomination for the “sickness” she believes is inside her. When she is brought on as an assistant horse handler on the way to Tortall, she discovers that she’s not crazy, but she has a rare bit of magic in here called wild magic, which gives her the ability to communicate with animals, heal them and even shape shift. Under the tutelage of the realms most powerful mage, Numair, she learns to control her magic and when her new home in Tortall is threatened by immortal creatures, she must learn to use her powers to help save her home and her friends.

I mean, can you really go wrong with this book? There’s magic and animals and cute boys and kissing and battles and its a GREAT series. Tammy blew my MIND with this one. I love Daine because before Daine, we had Alanna, who was great but didn’t get to be a girl as often because she was pretending to be a boy, so Daine was awesome. I loved when she was able to give up her dresses for breeches, and when she discovered she could heal animals. I love that we see old characters from Alanna’s series and I love the whole idea of these immortal creatures like spidrens and centaurs and stormwings. Daine’s story is absolutely fantastic.

8. The Protector of the Small Quartet 

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Books: First Test, Page, Squire, Lady Knight

In Kel’s book, the law has been changed and girls can go out for their knighthood, instead of hiding their sex the way Alanna does in her series. This is the moment that Kel has been waiting for but its tainted when the king grants her permission to come to the palace to try, under the condition that she have a probationary year, something no boy has. Not only does Kel have to prove herself as a knight, but that she belongs there amongst the boys.

What I love about Kel’s story is that it seems like it could be a repeat of Alanna’s story but it most definitely is not. Kel has a whole new adventure to go through. Alanna had to prove herself, yes, but everyone thought she was a boy. Kel is a girl, and on probation and has to work even harder than all the boys do. On top of that, her page master treats her differently and her fellow pages tease her, and play jokes on her, all to try and get her kicked out. I think Kel’s story is sometimes easier to relate to than Alanna’s. I like how it starts off with Kel being bullied and being angry that she and others are getting bullied and turns into a larger story when Scanra comes chopping at the Tortall borders. Kel always wants to take down the bullies, no matter how big or small, and I love her story.

7. The Girl of Fire and Thorns Trilogy 

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Books: The Girl of Fire and Thorns, The Crown of Embers, The Bitter Kingdom

Elisa was born with a godstone in her belly button, marking her as a chosen one, to do amazing things in the world. However, Elisa feels so much less than a chosen one. She’s massively overweight, not pretty, and constantly in the shadow of her older sister. When she is married off to a neighboring kingdom’s king, who is devastatingly handsome, she doubts she’ll ever reach her supposed amazing potential. Then she is kidnapped, by revolutionaries, and she suddenly sees how much more she is capable of and what she really could accomplish.

The first thing that caught me about this book is that Elisa is fat. Straight up, Elisa is fat. I love that. Do you know how often we get YA heroines who are fat, especially in novels like this? We just don’t. Even though Elisa loses weight through out the series, she remains a bigger girl and I think that’s important. Elisa is a strong, strong, incredible female character but its more than a physical strength. She’s incredibly smart, clever and she figures out exactly what she needs to do, with bumps all the way. Its all about coming into yourself, and coming into what people expect of you, and just doing the best that you can with what you are given and its just incredible. I dragged my dad, boyfriend and brother four hours to Las Vegas just so I could meet Rae Carson.

6. The Throne of Glass Series 

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Books (so far): Throne of Glass, Crown of Midnight, Heir of Fire 

Celaena is a former deadly assassin, sent into the dark work prisons. She is caught trying to escape and is chosen by a stranger to be a contestant, part of a tournament to choose the next King’s Champion. If she succeeds in winning, she will have to work for the King, whom she hates, for a period of time and then she can earn her freedom. She agrees and comes to the palace to compete but then people start disappearing, dying, being sabotaged in the contest and Celaena fears that she could be next. Add in the handsome and charming prince Dorian and the equally handsome and strong captain of the guard, Chaol, and you have a recipe for trouble.

 Sarah J. Maas blew my mind with this series. I had seen it all over the place for so long and I finally purchased it and was so incredibly glad when I did. The one thing that really jumps out at me of this series is the incredible world building of it. It is deep and complex and has a whole history to it, which is beautiful. A really good high fantasy novel will have that, and this book definitely accomplishes that. Add in the fact that there’s Dorian and Chaol and its so hard to figure out which one you like more, because they’re both so different…and you’re just so addicted to the story. But the kicker of the series is Celaena, who is a fantastic main character. I love that she can kill a person easily, almost in her sleep, but also loves to curl up with a good book and is so incredibly loving and caring.

5. The Song of the Lioness Quartet 

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Books: Alanna: The First Adventure, In the Hands of the Goddess, The Woman Who Rides Like a Man, Lioness Rampant

Alanna and her twin brother, Thom, are unhappy with their futures. Thom is all set to go to the palace to train as a knight, when he wants to go and learn to hone his magical Gift and become a powerful sorcerer. Alanna is to be sent to the convent, to be trained as a lady, to return home and find a husband, when she wants to become a knight. They switch places, and Alanna heads to the palace as Alan, disguised as a boy in order to earn her shield. Alanna has to work hard, doing all that she can to earn her shield, while trying to hide the fact that she is a girl.

This book series is incredible and what truly blows my mind about it is that it was written back in the 1980s. People think that the idea of a strong female character is a new phenomenon because of Hermione and Katniss and Tris but the original strong YA female character is definitely Alanna. She disguises herself as a boy for YEARS. Do you know how hard that would be? Not only does she have to work hard to become a knight, which is a trial all in itself, but she has to do it pretending to be a boy. She has to pretend that she doesn’t get her period, or breasts, and that she doesn’t having feelings for boys. She can’t undress herself in front of them. Its all so hard. But she fights hard and earns everything that she gains and its just SUCH a great series. Its a must, an absolute must for any lover of YA.

4. The Grisha Trilogy 

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Books: Shadow and Bone, Siege and Storm, Ruin and Rising

Alina Starkov is an orphan, earning her way through life, and struggling to find where she fits in. She’s working as a mapmaker, getting by and trying to ignore that her best friend, Mal, is handsome, popular with the ladies, and an incredibly good tracker. One day, as their crossing the Fold, a desolate bit of land, she saves Mal’s life, by using a power that she never knew she had. She has been labeled the Sun Summoner, a rare Grisha classification, able to produce light from within her. Suddenly, she is whisked away by The Darkling, the most powerful of the Grisha, and her power becomes the center of her existence.

The first I met Leigh Bardugo was at the Ontario Teen Book Fest. She was on a panel and the moderator said something about strong female characters not existing when the authors were younger and Leigh immediately says “Uh, duh, Alanna?” and I knew immediately that I needed to read her book. I bought Shadow and Bone that day and I’ve been massively in love with the Grisha trilogy since then. I just read the last one a few weeks ago when it was released and I’m just so in love. Leigh is an incredible writer and a beautiful storyteller. She has magic, and power, and politics and romance and humor and so much all in one series and its just brilliant. I really haven’t read a series like this before and I doubt I will ever read one like it again.

3. The Seven Realms Series

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Books: The Demon King, The Exiled Queen, The Grey Wolf Throne, The Crimson Crown

Raisa is the princess of her queendom, being bred every day to be the queen. She is royal by blood on her mother’s side, and has tribal blood from her father’s side and after spending time with her father and his people, she returns to the castle, restless and ready to do more. Her mother, on the other hand, has been taken in by the High Wizard, in a world where wizards are not to be trusted, and Raisa begins to fear what her mother will do. She starts sneaking out of the palace, getting to know her queendom, hoping to become the best queen that she can be. Han is a former thief, turning away from his criminal ways, in order to support his mother and younger sister. When he steals a wizard’s amulet one day, trouble begins to follow him and leads him into finding the truth about where he came from and what sort of powers he holds in himself.

THIS SERIES. I picked it up on a whim, really, just out of nowhere, and coincidentally, a few days before the final book was released. I literally read the four of them in a period of about five or six days and I have no regrets. Cinda Chima is absolutely brilliant. She reminds of Tamora Pierce a bit, and she just builds a great world. The Seven Realms is just so incredibly real and I love both the main characters so much and I couldn’t wait until the two of them met up together. Raisa is fun, and brave, and sassy, and strong and Han is sarcastic and fearless and reckless and caring and I just love the both of them so much. There’s mystery and intrigue and magic and you can never really figure out who the bad guy is and the books are full of surprises until the very end. There’s action one moment and then steamy makeout scenes the next and I seriously canNOT get enough of these books.

2. The Daughter of the Lioness Duology 

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Books: Trickster’s Choice, Trickster’s Queen

Aly has lived in the shadow of her parents for her entire life. Her father is the King’s spymaster and her mother is King’s champion, and the first female knight in over a century. Her godparents are the king and queen, the wildmage and the realm’s most powerful mage, the captain of the King’s Guard and more. Her brother is studying to be a sorcerer and her twin has gone for his knighthood. What Aly wants more than anything is to be a spy,  but her parents do not approve. She is kidnapped by pirates and sold into slavery at the nearby Copper Isles, to the Balitang family. There she discovers a rebellion brewing, the dark skinned raka wanting to take their country back from the light skinned luarin. Before she knows it, she’s wrapped up in it, doing everything she can to protect the Balitang girls, who could become the countries’ future rulers.

I’m rare in liking this series by Tammy the most but I must admit that I am quite biased. This is the first series that I actually read by Tammy. I picked it up when I was about 15 years old because it mentioned pirates and I was obsessed with pirates at the time. Obviously pirates were NOT essential to the story but I legitimately found one of my favorite books of all time. Aly is incredible and so different than Alanna, Daine and Kel. She doesn’t have magical powers like Daine, though she has the Sight. She isn’t a fighter like Alanna and Kel, though she can fight. Instead she’s absolutely clever. She knows the way of politics and the underground spy world. She knows the minds of people and how to trick them and how to get them to do the things she wants them to. Plus I loved the rebellion of it, of the people rising up. Its…easily my favorite book (tied with Goblet of Fire).

1. The Harry Potter Series 

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Books: You know

I’m not going to do a summary for this one because, duh. I’m pretty sure most people know what this is about and if you don’t…have you been living under a rock for all these years? Seriously?

I know this one is weird on this list because its kind of…is it full fantasy? Its kind of contemporary at the same time? I consider it high fantasy though. Also, is it YA? I’ve always sort of considered it YA but a lot of people say it’s children. SO that’s weird. But either way, its my favorite of all time. I do not have five HP tattoos, a personalized HP license plate and much more for nothing. This series is one of the most incredible series to ever be written and there is literally no other book that can make me feel the way these do. They have everything I could possibly need. They provide escape. They have taught me so many lessons of life. They make me laugh and cry. They make me question everything. They have brought me friends. They have an incredible world built and the story is beautiful and complex and exciting from the first page to the last.

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