5 Tropes that I want to see more of in YA

Whilst thinking about what kind of posts we would be putting up for you guys in June, I realized that I want to post more original content amongst Tags, Reviews, Wrap Ups – you get the idea. I think talking about bookish topics is certainly a place to start and Swetlana will also be writing posts along those lines – so stay tuned for that!

#1 Exploring the flaws and depths of characters

I often find that in books the plot tends to take over that and that’s kind of unfortunate because whilst reading a book for the plot is fun, exploring the depths and flaws of the characters that are going through these journeys – to see how it affects them emotionally. Often characters have had a difficult childhood, or a bad relationship with either their parents or siblings beforehand and that affects someone’s mental health too and I think it would refreshing to see that explored. Because often that aspect is brushed aside for the purpose of the storyline. Of course, that doesn’t mean it should take over everything but keeping a nice balance is what gives a well-rounded character – in my opinion.

#2 Healthy Communication and mutual respect

This is really important because in a lot of YA books (also TV Shows, Movies etc) the idea of being abusive or manipulative towards your partner is being romanticized and I really have a big problem with that – because it shouldn’t be made out to be romantic or fun because the guy is broody, tall dark and handsome (which is overused to the point where it’s literally everywhere – in almost every romance novel ever). Give me healthy communication where both parties talk about the problems in their relationship instead of silencing each other or even brushing the conflict aside.

To give a little example I really enjoyed Feyre and Rhys’s relationship in ACOTAR by Sarah J. Maas (A Court of Thorns and Roses), especially in ACOMAF (A Court of Mist and Fury) and ACOWAR (A Court of Wings and Ruin) they have let the other talk about what’s bothering them without judging or learning about each other’s past but not making assumptions about it – instead letting the other take their time to tell those stories in a way that allows them to express how they felt at that time in their lives. In ACOWAR they both talk about a lot how much they respect one another and value their positions. Especially how Rhys gave Feyre a high position in his court of authority and how the rest of the Inner Circle respects her as both a friend but also as their leader.

I couldn’t write a post about how much I value those things without mentioning Magnus and Alec from Shadowhunters. (TV Show not the books because I have a few problems with how they were written in the books) – what this show has done is honestly what I never thought we would get but they gave us a good healthy representation of their relationship and I’m so happy to have decided to give this show a chance – and whilst it has its flaws which is normal and kind of unavoidable with a TV show that talks a lot about politics and explores the topic of racism – with the Shadowhunters representing white people and the Downworlders people of color and that has LGBT characters – it’s become one of my favorites (which is also due to the fact that the cast is a bunch of sweeties).

Magnus and Alec value each other above their differences (they explicitly talk about that in season 2a) – coming from different worlds and parts of the society they grew up in – but also not ignoring that because that is why them coming together is so special – both of them coming from completely different races makes their relationship interracial which makes them that much more special. I mean this kind of combination has never existed on TV before – and it’s amazing to have both of these characters on screen right now. (Also: Harry Shum Jr and Matthew Daddario care so much about these two it warms my heart)

Bottom line is, abusive behavior or manipulation in relationships needs to stop being romanticized and glorified in all kinds of media.

#3 Writing more diverse characters brings representation to under-represented communities

Representing these communities is extremely important to do in Literature because I feel like the books we read influence the way we think so much – There are so many things that we see characters do that we apply to situations in real life and that’s why it’s great to see that this is slowly becoming a thing. That we get to see more diverse characters is amazing and makes me (as a reader) feel like I’m not alone in what I feel and that there are others who feel the exact same way.

#4 Exploring mental health without glorifying mental illnesses

Mental Health is a really important topic that should also be explored more in YA Literature because people that are dealing with depression, or anxiety often feel alone and isolated – so having characters in books that are suffering from mental illness is really good for representation and raising awareness. Sadly, sometimes those things get romanticized or glorified, which should be avoided.

#5 Reinforcing the idea that a character doesn’t need to have a romantic relationship with someone – and still be a great character.

I just feel like that’s something that I would love to see more of because I haven’t had a relationship yet and every time I get asked “Why don’t you have a boyfriend yet?” it gets a little more tiring trying to explain that maybe I’m not ready or maybe I don’t want that right now in my life where I’m more focused on ensuring I have a good future and getting my drivers license, because apparently, that’s all that matters in life.

Don’t get me wrong, I love me a good romance I can read about but having a character that just has fun in their life without a significant other would be refreshing to see.

Let’s reverse the question for the comments: Are there any tropes you’re tired of seeing? If so, let’s talk about them!

*Note: What do you think of the use of text color? Does that make it more visually pleasing to read? Feedback is greatly appreciated!

 

Review: Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare

It has been almost a week since I finished reading Lord Of Shadows and I still don’t really know how to sum up how I feel about this book and everything that happened in it. I am still utterly heartbroken and terrified of the ramifications for all of the characters in the aftermath. How are we going to move forward from this without completely ruining the characters and us as readers? Someone, please invent a time machine so I can jump to the release date of Queen Of Air And Darkness and find out how all of this is going to play out. Please?


One of my absolute highlights about this book was that we got to revisit some of our previous characters and have them interact with our crew in Los Angeles and then to get back to the London Institute and get all the references to The Infernal Devices characters was so much fun too. I miss them all dearly and this just made me want to re-read TID even more.

And even though we had previous characters show up, they in no way overshadowed our main crew and what they were going through at any point. They were more of a nice addition and definitely a treat!

The only characters I didn’t like were some of the newly introduced Centurions. I didn’t appreciate they way they acted to the residents of the L. A. Institute or anyone, for that matter. I could have definitely done without them! We were also introduced to a bunch more characters and more of the history of them (or is it myths? I’m not sure.) and I am definitely curious if they are going to come back into play in QOAAD and if so, how they’ll play into things and where their alliances are going to be, etc.!


And since we’re already talking about characters can we please talk about Kit and Ty? They honestly were such a fun dynamic to read about and I loved seeing their relationship develop and change over time! I loved the fact that Kit, as someone who grew up in the human world, was aware of human medicine and mental illnesses and the perspective that gave him into Ty’s situation. I am so excited to see their dynamic explored further in The Wicked Powers (Cassie has confirmed this, I am not being mean and spoiling you).

Kind of on the topic of Kit, one thing I was a bit disappointed about is the fact that some characters seem to have no unique character traits or are mostly characterized the same way as some of their ancestors and I think that’s a bit lazy on the author’s part. Obviously, you might share a couple of characteristics with your family but you’re not entirely the same. This bothered me so much I actually marked it in my copy of Lord Of Shadows.


Continuing on the topic of relationships: something I didn’t expect to enjoy quite as much as I did were Mark, Cristina and Kieran! That is such a fascinating dynamic and if Cassie wants to explore it further (in whatever form) I am definitely here for it! Give me more!


The one thing that will make me really angry when I read about two characters that share any kind of relationship is when they don’t communicate. I get so angry and want to yell at my book or throw it across the room in frustration (which I’ll never actually do, I love my books too much for that) and so the whole Julian and Emma relationship in this book involved a lot of internal screaming and yelling at my book. (#funtimes) They do eventually get their stuff together and talk, so it was all good eventually, but still. TALK TO EACH OTHER.


We were also introduced to some new character dynamics that I didn’t see coming but really enjoyed (one in particular that I am not saying anything about because #spoilers) and which gave us a different look at some characters and how they were feeling. Which was highly appreciated!

Obviously, with a cast of characters as big as the Blackthorn family, there isn’t always enough time to spend with each character and learn more about them but we did make small steps in getting to know some characters more in this book for sure!


Lord Of Shadows nicely continues the threads that Cassie spun in Lady Midnight while also including new threads that are going to determine how QOAAD is going to play out and definitely sets up some serious conflicts for quite a few of our characters (both new and old ones). It also feels like Lord Of Shadows was setting up more than just QOAAD but also Cassie’s future trilogies (I’m not sure how much The Dark Artifices plays into The Last Hours, but it definitely seems to play into TWP and the Magnus centric trilogy!) and I am so ready for all of it!


This book was probably one of the easiest 5-star rating I have given this year even though I had some minor issues with it and I can’t believe I now have to wait two years to find out how this story ends. That is just simply too much time, Cassie!


PS: If you’re wondering if you can read Lord Of Shadows or the previous book in The Dark Artifices trilogy without having read any of Cassie’s previous works, please check out this post!


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Review: Twilight of a Saint, The Turtle Problem and Children of the Earth by J.M. Harte (Short stories)

The author requested for me to review these in exchange for an honest review. Thank you (again) to the author for being so kind! (*Note: We’re not accepting any review requests currently! You can find more information on our review policy!)

Twilight of a Saint

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A child, desperate to help her ailing friend, seeks the aid of an old and mysterious healer. Little does she know that her arrival will plunge the healer into terrible memories of war, love, and loss. Can the healer overcome the horrors of her past? Will the child be able to save the one she’s sworn to protect? Read on to discover this and share in the beauty and tragedy of a saint at the end of her days.

It’s a story about what it means when you want to help so many people but you know you can’t help them all – that kind of feeling of helplessness is talked about a lot in this story. I loved how Colette was willing to do anything to make that pain of her friend go away. In the end, it’s making that decision of – should I let them have peace or do I (selfishly) want them to stay alive so they can continue to be in my life?

The Dynamics in this story were very interesting and made me kind of think about how brutal the war must have been and how many suffered not only from the war but also because all of these countries were so divided.

If you like short stories, I would recommend you check it out!

Rating: ★★★★

The Turtle Problem

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A scientist, a priest, and a mechanic travel back in time to witness the birth of life on Earth.

Going into this, I didn’t expect it to have to do with science, but I’ve really enjoyed that aspect of the story. Those three men explored the idea of faith and God as a creator – They wanted to proof that he was/is real but in the end, they realized they didn’t need to. I really liked how this made me think of my own view of what Religion is to me and what I think in relation to the creation of life – essentially the earth.

The reason I only gave it 3 Stars is because while it was good – it should have been longer to explore that kind of setting a bit more because there is a lot that could have been explored. Like what the earth looked like, what kind of creatures were alive – if there were any at all. Short stories are meant to be short – I get that – but a little bit more detail would have made this even better. I haven’t read many short stories in my life but the appeal of long novels is how much you get to explore the world and the characters more than you’d be able to in a short story. Overall, I did really enjoy this!

Rating: ★★★

Children of the Earth

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Four children, desperate to escape the terrible abuse of their foster father, embark on a journey through an alien and perilous world to find their home at last. Cora, though little more than a child herself, leads them, all the while carrying a terrible secret. Lies told in the dark evolve into truths.

When reading the title, I didn’t expect this story to be what it ended up being like. I really enjoyed reading about these children who just wanted to go back home, seeking revenge for someone they all loved. That line between reality and myth really blended together nicely. Cora keeping that secret was a nice element of the story and really brought more into the theme of lies and truth that is definitely prominent in this story.

Another thing I really liked was how it reminded me of the fairy tale “Red Riding Hood” with the red coat being mentioned quite a few times.

Rating: ★★★★

This was something I have never read before but I’m glad that I did, because I feel like, with reading something new we always learn and experience something we didn’t know before and that’s a good thing.

 

The Your Favorite Music Tag: Books & Music!

This tag is created by Debbie from Debbie’s Library and as you all know how much I love doing tags I couldn’t pass up on this one because these are two of my favorite things in the world combined.

Lia over at imaginaryplacesonpaper recently did this tag and it’s basically inspired by her post.

The Rules

  • Tag the creator of this tag and the one who tagged you
  • Pick 5 songs (or more) that you just have to listen whenever they are played
  • Pick the books/characters you think fit that song the best, and explain why you pick this book/character for this song

 

#1 Magnus and Alec from Shadowhunters on Freeform/The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare

This song fits them so well because when they first meet you can see how there’s that spark between them, both of them not knowing what it is but they have that instant connection and it’s kind of that feeling of – This could be something special, someday. (Indeed it turned out that way)

I see this kind of from Alec’s perspective because at the start (in the show) he’s afraid of what will happen if he acts on his attraction to Magnus and it describes that feeling of being afraid but still wanting to be near that person – even if it’s confusing. Whenever I’m in the mood to listen to songs that remind me of them this is one of my go-to songs.

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My mind forgets to remind me you’re a bad idea
You touch me once and it’s really
something
You find I’m even better than you imagined I would be
I’m on my guard for the rest of the world
But with you I know it’s no good

 

#2 Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

A song like this is just perfect for what kind of characters we have in this duology. That kind of vibe of like – burning down kingdoms and raising the stakes to put the fire of their enemies out. (It’s not as literal but more metaphoric and figurative.)

When I looked at the lyrics it instantly reminded of Kaz Brekker, who is one of my favorite characters I have read about in a while, who is this kind of anti-hero that doesn’t want to be anything more or less than what he is and I admire that quality and his witty mind.

23437156Holy water cannot help you now
See I have to burn your kingdom down
And no rivers and no lakes can put the fire out
I’m gonna raise the stakes, I’m gonna smoke you out

Seven devils all around me
Seven devils in my house
See they were there when I woke up this morning
I’ll be dead before the day is done

 

#3 The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

The reason I picked this song for this book is that it’s that situation where a black teenager is killed because of prejudice against black peopleessentially the utter ignorance of white people that is still a big reason why this world is so deeply rooted in racism. 

Starr going through this situation is really hard for her and realizing the importance of no longer keeping silenced about her friend’s death and instead taking a stand against the media – against the cop who is responsible. Some of her white friends still display a lot of racism and Starr calls them out – that’s what the song reminds me of.

Side note: This book is amazing and I highly recommend you pick it up!

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You, you may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you will join us
And the world will be as one

 

#4 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher/Netflix Show

Upon looking for a song to best describe the vibe of this book and Hannah’s life and what it was like leading up to how it ended, her feeling helplesshoping someone would come to help hergive her reasons to live. But none of that happened.

It’s been a while since I watched the show but it really stuck with me. Besides, I really love this song.

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Head stuck in a cycle, I look off and I stare
It’s like that I’ve stopped breathing, but completely aware
‘Cause you’re giving me a million reasons
Give me a million reasons
Giving me a million reasons
About a million reasons

 

#5 Feyre and Rhysand from A Court of Thorns and Roses Trilogy by Sarah J. Maas

It isn’t necessarily a song that I actively listen to but I found it on this playlist and I think it fits them pretty well, especially as the title reminds me of the night sky in Velaris (I wish I could physically go there – It must be stunning) and how Rhys helped Feyre overcome that darkness that was in her heart and find light within herself to love someone that truly respects her as she deserves.

Throughout reading ACOWAR (that was recently released on May 2nd) I fell in love with their relationship even more than ever before. The amount of mutual understanding and zero judgement for the other’s past and what they had to endure just killed me.

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My life
You electrify my life
Let’s conspire to ignite
All the souls that would die just to feel alive

I’ll never let you go
If you promise not to fade away
Never fade away

Finding songs that remind me of books or certain characters was so much fun! If you guys want to do this tag as well, you can say I tagged you!

Why You Can’t Read The Dark Artifices Without Having Read All Of Cassandra Clare’s Other Works

With the most recent release in Cassandra Clare’s Shadowhunters Chronicles (The Mortal Instruments, The Infernal Devices and now The Dark Artifices) I thought it would be the perfect time to do this post!

I know people often wonder if they can read any of Cassandra Clare’s series without having read everything else that’s been released and while you can definitely read The Mortal Instruments or The Infernal Devices without having read the other you most definitely can’t read The Dark Artifices as a standalone series.

I know you’re probably wondering ‘Why?’, well, let me tell you!

The Dark Artifices follows characters who have grown up as Shadowhunters. Lady Midnight was the first time we were following characters who have been Shadowhunters their entire lives and have grown up learning everything there is to know and so we, as readers, don’t get told things about the world. We’re expected to know them the same way the characters already do. Which, if you’re new to this world is really difficult, I think. In City Of Bones and Clockwork Angel we follow two characters who are thrown into this world that is entirely new to them and as they learn more about it, so do we.

There is so much history that is referenced in The Dark Artifices. Cassandra Clare’s newest installment in her Shadowhunters Chronicles is set five years after the events of City Of Heavenly Fire and our main characters know all about those events and reference them quite often. If you haven’t read TMI you are a) going to get spoiled for the events of COHF and b) you are missing the emotional impact the events had on our characters! But you’re not only missing out on the events of TMI but also TID as we visit London in the second installment and there is all of that backstory to the London Institute and the previous owners.

There are so many previous characters mentioned and reappearing in The Dark Artifices. I feel like with Lady Midnight you would’ve been okay if you hadn’t read Cassie’s previous books as we don’t see too many of our previous characters in that one or not to the same extent as we do in Lord Of Shadows. At the point I’m currently at in Lord Of Shadows a majority of TMI‘s major characters have shown up at least once and we’ve talked about characters from TID a couple of times too. And you just don’t have the same emotional commitment to all of those characters if you haven’t been with them for everything they have gone through.

You don’t get to experience the author’s growth if you start with The Dark Artifices. Lady Midnight is Cassandra Clare’s 12th book in her Shadowhunters Chronicles and she was very obviously grown as an author from when she wrote City Of Bones – it’s very evident! And I think if you start with an author’s most recent work you just don’t get to see that growth and it might actually make you like their previous books a lot less because of it. I’ve read all of Cassie’s previous books (minus the novella bind-ups) and the more I read the more in love with her writing I fell. To this day, The Infernal Devices is my favorite series of Cassie’s. I loved everything about it and I cry every time I finish the trilogy which is a great sign for me!

If you guys have been reading our blog for a while and followed my Down The TBR Hole posts, you might have seen that I decided to keep Rick Riordan’s Magnus Chase series on there as it was about Norse mythology and I got really excited about it.

But since I started reading Lord Of Shadows I’ve decided that if I’m ever going to get to Rick Riordan’s books, I’ll have to start from the very beginning and read my way through all of his works for the very reasons that I just mentioned. I feel like I might miss out on characters and the emotional connection to them if I just start with a random series from Riordan.

Have you guys read any of Cassie’s or Rick’s series in their entirety and can share your experience with reading them? Did you come across some of the same observations I did and talked about? Let’s discuss in the comments below!

eARC Review: Now I Rise by Kiersten White – 5 Reasons Why You Should Read It!

now i riseTo be completely honest with you guys, I have no idea how to write this review? I absolutely adored both books in The Conqueror Saga and all I want to do is yell at you guys to read them both as soon as possible? I want to tell you to run out and get your hands on a copy of And I Darken and then immediately preorder Now I Rise because they deserve all the love they can possibly get!

But before we talk about why I loved Now I Rise so much, why don’t I share with you what the first book in the series is about as to not spoil anyone who might now have read it yet?

No one expects a princess to be brutal. And Lada Dragwlya likes it that way. Ever since she and her gentle younger brother, Radu, were wrenched from their homeland of Wallachia and abandoned by their father to be raised in the Ottoman courts, Lada has known that being ruthless is the key to survival. She and Radu areand i darken doomed to act as pawns in a vicious game, an unseen sword hovering over their every move. For the lineage that makes them special also makes them targets.

Lada despises the Ottomans and bides her time, planning her vengeance for the day when she can return to Wallachia and claim her birthright. Radu longs only for a place where he feels safe. And when they meet Mehmed, the defiant and lonely son of the sultan, Radu feels that he’s made a true friend—and Lada wonders if she’s finally found someone worthy of her passion.

But Mehmed is heir to the very empire that Lada has sworn to fight against—and that Radu now considers home. Together, Lada, Radu, and Mehmed form a toxic triangle that strains the bonds of love and loyalty to the breaking point. (via goodreads)

Now, let’s talk about what I loved so much about these two books and make you want to read them too?

Reason #1: The Setting

Up until this point in my reading experience I haven’t read any books set in the Ottoman Empire and so this was a completely new territory for me and I was a bit worried that I would get lost in the story a little bit and it admittedly happened a couple of times while listening to And I Darken but the story was so much easier to follow in Now I Rise! I loved getting to explore this part of the world and of history especially. I do enjoy learning about historical events but unfortunately, I haven’t had the opportunity to get into historical fiction before. I couldn’t be happier that this was my first look into what historical fiction can be!

Reason #2: The Diversity

We all know that I have made it a goal to read more diverse books this year and I was so happy about all of the diversity in this book! We had racial, sexual and religious diversity from the very beginning and I really appreciated it! I really enjoyed Radu’s first reaction to partaking in prayer with a Muslim man and his constant struggle with religion and how religion guided him in his life and in his decisions. The story’s setting in time and place also means that there are prejudices against various diversities included in this book and we get to see the characters deal with them and it gives them such room for growth and development! 

Reason #3: Complex Relationships Between Our Three Main Characters

I think one of the aspects I loved most about these books so far are the complex relationships between our three main characters Lada, Radu and Mehmed. We follow them from the moment they enter this world and we get to see them grow up and develop different relationships with each other that each come with their own difficulties and tests over the years and I loved that so, so much. Seeing Lada and Radu’s relationship change over the years was even more interesting as they are always in competition with each other and such polar opposites in a lot of ways.

Reason #4: Lada Dracul

Honestly, this trilogy has given me a new female character to adore and I am so thankful! And while I thought I have been introduced to kickass characters before, I think Lada by far takes the crown! From a very young age, she is ruthless and not afraid to stand up for what she believes is right and even more so for what she believes she deserves and seeing her grow into the person she is by the end of Now I Rise was both awesome and absolutely terrifying. I wouldn’t want to get on her bad side – ever. Seriously, I am afraid for the fate of anyone who dares to get in her way in the final book of this trilogy!

Reason #5: There Is Kindness Even In The Most Dark Places

This is something that really stood out to me while reading this book. Even when things are truly bad and there are such horrible things happening Lada and Radu will show kindness to the people they think deserve it. I feel like this was even more so true for Radu during the events of this book. He was surrounded by so much horror and hurt and he still tried to show kindness when he could while still fulfilling his role. But I wouldn’t compare Radu’s kindness to the one that Lada showed. She is an entirely different person and shows kindness in a different way.

There you have it, five reasons why you should absolutely and immediately read The Conqueror Saga and then come back and talk to me about how much enjoyed the series! I feel like I have made it my mission to convince people to read this trilogy – I keep bugging Sandra about it too!

Release Date:

Now I Rise will be released by Delacorte Press on June 27th and all of you guys should be heading to your local bookstores and/or libraries and get this book as soon as possible! I know I’ll be impatiently waiting for my pre-order to arrive!

Have any of you guys read the first part of this trilogy and are you planning on continuing with it? What were some of your favorite aspects of this story? Let’s discuss in the comments below!

A Q&A With Christine From The Story Salve

Hey, you guys! Today I have a bit of a different post for you which is also part one of two posts with or about Christine! I recently joined Mikaela’s Big Blogger, Little Blogger project and got paired up with Christine as my little blogger and today I’ll introduce you guys to her before she shares a guest post all about reading critically next week! Let’s jump right into this Q&A we did!

1. Question: Tell us a little bit about yourself to introduce yourself to our readers and anyone stumbling across this post!

Hi, everyone! My name is Christine, and I blog @ The Story Salve here on WordPress.

I currently live in a small town in Northeastern Pennsylvania, but I previously lived in New York City and Philadelphia, and I’m originally from Oklahoma.

Aside from reading and blogging, I’m also an aspiring novelist. I’m currently working on a Young Adult novel about a bisexual protagonist dealing with clinical depression—it may or may not be partially autobiographical 😉

2. Question: Tell us a little bit about how you got to blogging! Have you always loved to write?

I’ve loved writing since I was a kid when I used to make up elaborate stories about my imaginary friends. Back in high school, I had a Xanga blog for a brief time (I’m totally dating myself right now) and then in college I got really into Tumblr as a distraction from all my school stress. Neither of those were super serious blogs, though, and I honestly have so much respect for young bloggers still in school who keep up with their online life so consistently. Y’all are amazing.

I started seriously blogging in January. One of my goals for 2017 was to review every book I read, as well as reading more diverse books. So I started out with a lot of reviews, and have since branched out to discussion posts and memes.

3. Question: Tell us a little bit about your history when it comes to reading! Do you remember your first book you ever read? Have you always enjoyed reading?

I fell in love with reading at the ripe old age of six, when my brother gave me his copy of The Boxcar Children. I loved the book so much that I once started writing it down word for word in a spiral notebook—because my 6-year-old self just wanted to know what it would be like to write a book.

Reading has always been a part of my life. One of the main reasons I call my blog The Story Salve is because stories have always acted as a balm on my heart. I was an awkward kid and an even more awkward teenager, but reading helped me feel less alone as well as expanding my understanding of the world.

4. Question: What is your blog’s main focus – if it has one? How long have you been blogging?

As I said before, I started my blog as primarily a book blog, without really knowing what I was getting into. As I started following more blogs, I decided that I wanted to find my own niche way of blogging. Around the end of March, it occurred to me what my unique take on books is: I’ve dealt with depression for about 10 years, and I’m passionate about how mental health issues are represented, particularly in YA fiction.

I’ve had the same WordPress account for probably two years or so, but I didn’t really use it regularly until this year. The Story Salve itself has only been at it for about 2 months now. I started out with only a few other blogs following me (most of whom I’m pretty sure are inactive anyway) but I’m slowly building more of a following – and I’m always looking to make new friends.

5. Question: What are your favorite genres to read? What are your favorite books for each genre?

I mostly stick to realistic fiction. I, unfortunately, am one of those people who’s really picky about fantasy: it has to be really character-driven rather than purely plot-focused (a good example: The Game of Thrones series, which everyone should read because it’s better than the show).

I tend to read “issue-focused” YA contemporary. I like to watch characters go through a difficult situation and solve a major, almost adult-like problem. I think it’s because there weren’t a lot of YA books like this around when I was actually a young adult. Some great examples I’ve read in the last year or so:

  • A Sense of the Infinite by Hilary T. Smith
  • Exit, Pursued by a Bear by E.K. Johnson
  • The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
  • Between Two Skies by Joanne O’Sullivan

Other genres I read a lot:
what I guess is termed “literary fiction” (some good examples include Joyce Carol Oates, Toni Morrison, Zadie Smith)
memoir (please please read anything by Mary Karr)

6. Question: What are some other things you love to do other than reading and writing?

My other hobbies include cuddling my cat, walking about in nature, and doing home yoga videos on YouTube (check out Yoga With Adriene if you wanna know about my life).

I honestly don’t do much that isn’t related to reading/writing. Stories have been the one constant in my life, and I honestly don’t know what I’d do with myself if I couldn’t read.

7. Question: Who is your favorite author/your favorite authors? What do you love about them/their writing?

This is the hardest question!

Usually, when strangers ask me this, I rattle off Jane Austen and then duck out of the conversation really fast. I think, as a writer, people expect something from my answer to this question. The reality is that my favorite authors change on a regular basis. I’ve been reading so much YA contemporary lately, so I guess you could say some of my most recent favorites are Becky Albertalli, Riley Redgate, Louise Gornall, Whitney Gardner.

Generally, what I look for in good writing amounts to two things: ease of prose that flies by so fast you don’t even know what happened and the kind of writing that makes you want to slow down so you don’t miss a single word. Those sound contradictory, but they actually aren’t.

Fun fact: I was an English major in undergrad, so I read all the classics and obscure stuff that nobody’s heard of outside academia. I enjoyed it, really I did, but when I graduated, I realized how much I missed reading things that didn’t require taking pages and pages of notes trying to parse out what the author’s trying to say. I still read a few classics a year, just to keep my head sharp, but I truly think that good writing doesn’t have to be difficult to read.

8. Question: If you could only read one book for the rest of your life, which one would it be? (No Harry Potter!)

This is easy—I’d read Anne of Green Gables all day every day. It was my favorite book when I was 8, and I re-read it every couple of years. It’s about an 11-year-old orphan girl in Canada, about all the mistakes she makes and experiences she has grown up in the nineteenth century. And I swear, every time I re-read it, I get something new out of it. Anne is such an inspiring character. If you haven’t read it, please check it out for me!

Let’s do some this or that kind of questions!

1: Paperback or Hardcover? Paperback. Hardcovers are too heavy.
2: Physical or ebook? I prefer physical, but I end up with more e-books because they’re cheaper.
3: Standalone or series/trilogy/duology? I actually prefer standalone, generally. I think series are harder to accomplish and keep me interested. Plus I forget everything that happened in the first book by the time a new one comes out.
4: Reading all day or reading all night? All day. I’m an old lady, I’m in bed by 10 pm most nights.
5: Short books or long books? Long books! More bang for your buck.

I had so much fun thinking of questions and reading through Christine’s answer! I hope you guys enjoyed getting to know a possibly new blogger too! Make sure to check out her blog and Twitter and give her a follow and/or leave a nice comment!