Four More YA Books that Rock

I recently read and LOVED the Carnival at Bray by Jessie Ann Foley, which has great 90’s alternative music at its core (among other things), and that got me thinking about other great books I’ve read that centered around music. If you’re a music lover, check out these four books:

Hairstyles of the Damned by Joe Menothe Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen ChboskyIf I Stay by Gayle ForemanJust Listen by Sarah Dessen

I especially recommend Hairstyles of the Damned by Joe Meno, although some parts are pretty vulgar, so it’s a read for older teens. It really embraces the whole sex, drugs, and rock and roll idea, but the books was funny, and Joe Meno’s style of writing is always unique and exciting. I think what really captured me was the music though because I never expected to read a book where the main character loved the band, the Misfits, which happened to be one of my music obsessions when I discovered the book.

Have you read any books where music played a prominent role in the story? What book was it?

10 Things I Love and Loathe about Romance in Books

Lovethings I love about romance in books

  1. I love when the protagonist falls in love with their best friend, like Ron and Hermione in the Harry Potter series.
  2. I love when relationships develop organically and over time, like Cath and Levi in Fangirl (also, like Ron and Hermione)
  3. I love when relationships in books aren’t just about passion and obsession. When that fizzles out, what do the characters do? What do they talk about?
  4. I love stories about unrequited love, but they turn me in to an emotional wreck. I’ll never be able to part with Ellen Wittlinger’s Hard Love because it’s the only book that has ever made me cry.
  5. I love stories about falling in love for the first time– that mixture of elation and vulnerability and how it’s scary that someone can make another feel all those things and also it’s scary to think about losing the person that can make someone feel all those things.

loathe

things I loathe about romance in books

  1. I loathe insta-love because it’s cliché and unrealistic and unhealthy. It bothers me that these kinds of books dominate the market because who can relate to them? What kind of expectations are we creating?
  2. I loathe love triangles also because they are cliché, but mostly because the protagonist NEVER picks the love interest I would, so either there is something wrong with me or there is something wrong with the protagonist. (I’m betting it’s not me…) Also, I think it’s weak character development.
  3. I loathe the brooding bad boy with a heart of gold. He’s brooding because he’s supposed to be angsty and complex, but usually he has the personality of a wet blanket and has nothing in common with the protagonist.
  4.  I loathe when the love interest does things like sneak into the protagonist’s bedroom uninvited to watch the protagonist sleep. That’s not romantic. That’s creepy and totally warrants a restraining order.
  5. I loathe when a protagonist’s love interest is a supernatural being that is as interested in feasting on them as they are canoodling with them. See number four.

What do you love or loathe about romance in books?

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish and poses the question “What are ten things you like or dislike about romance in books”?

The Classics Club

Can I tell you a secret? I skimmed my way through English class in high school and sometimes during college (except for The Great Gatsby, which I read twice, anything written by Shakespeare, and my British lit. class– the Romantics have my heart, for sure). I’m an English major who has yet to develop a taste for the Classics and it makes me feel like a hack. Nay, a poser! Maybe I was forced to read all the wrong books at all the wrong times. Maybe those ten-question pop quizzes over chapter 1-5 ruined the reading experience. Regardless of the reason, I feel like I’m missing out.

I recently discovered the Classics Club, which is not our average book challenge. What your typical book challenge asks you to do in a year, the Classics Club asks you to do in (at most) five. That’s because they know for some, reading fifty (yes, fifty!) classic novels is no easy feat. So today, I’m officially challenging myself to read fifty classics, and my due date will be January 5, 2020.

Here are the 50 Classics that I’m going to read:

Classic Novel Book Covers for Classics Club

1. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee  2. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald  3. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky  4. Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes  5. The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck  6. Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton  7. The Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad  8. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen  9. Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe

classic novel book covers 2

10. A Separate Peace by John Knowles. 11. The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner  12. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy 13. Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson 14. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte 15. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas 16. The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame 17. Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie 18. Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White

classic novel book covers 3

19. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens 20. Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott 21. Wise Blood by Flannery O’Connor 22. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien 23. The Lord of the Rings: the Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien 24. The Lord of the Rings: the Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien 25. Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren 26. Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne 27. Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

classic novel book covers 4

28. The Tale of Genji by Murasaki Shikibu. 29. Beowulf by unknown 30. Ulysses by James Joyce 31. Cymbeline by William Shakespeare 32. King John by William Shakespeare 33. The Winter’s Tale by William Shakespeare 34. Fountainhead by Ayn Rand 35. I am a Cat by Soseki Natsumi 36. Paradise Lost by John Milton

classic novel book covers 5

37. Mainstreet by Sinclair Lewis 38. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier 39. The Fall by Albert Camus 40. The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury 41. The Voyage Out by Virginia Woolf 42. The Years by Virginia Woolf 43. The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins 44. Le Morte d’Arthur by Sir Thomas Mallory 45. The Decameron by Giovanni Boccaccio

classic novel book covers 6

46. Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie 47. The Little Foxes by Lillian Hellman 48. Metamorphoses by Ovid 49. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith 50. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

 

New Years Resolutions

Happy New Year!

I’m ringing in the new year with a new Booktube video– my five New Year’s Resolutions. I’m looking forward to expanding my bookish horizons, discovering new tea (like Golden Tips Tea, perhaps?), becoming a more consistent blogger, and embracing all the super awesome life experiences 2015 will bring. I actually had a lot more than just five– like spending less time on the couch, becoming more organized at work, and cooking in advance so I have an actual lunch to bring to work, but I wanted to keep my video brief. (Now that I’m looking at it– my video– I think I should definitely add “creating custom thumbnails” to that list too. What’s with my goofy expression?!) I hope you’re looking forward to 2015 as much as I am!

What are you New Year’s Resolutions for 2015?

Christmas-New Years-Blogoversary-Extravaganza Tag!

Christmas NY Blog TagIn celebration of Of Spectables and Books‘s ONE YEAR ANNIVERSARY, I decided to participate in this bookish tag.

  1. What was your favorite Christmas/holiday present that you got this year?
    • My favorite gift is the Harry Potter movies, all eight of them. And, it’s not so much the movies, but the fact that Jon so eagerly watched every single one of them with me this weekend.
  2. What’s one thing you’ve done this year that you are proud of?
    • I’ve bought my first car AND I signed the lease to my very own apartment. Those are two things to be VERY proud of.
  3. What made you want to start blogging?
    • Blogging has always been apart of my life; I created my first personal blog back in middle school, and I wrote about whatever crossed my mind. Niche blogging was new to me though. I’d discovered some book blogs right before I graduated college, and I knew I had discovered my calling.
  4. What are 3 things you want to do in the New Year?
    • I want to read more books that are “outside my comfort zone”. I want to make my new apartment my home. And I want to create more Booktube/Youtube videos!
  5. How long have you been a blogger, and what’s your favorite part about it?
    • I’ve been blogging since I was about 12 years old. But, I’ve only been a book blogger for about three years. My first post on Books & Tea was a review for Joe Meno’s The Great Perhaps.
  6. If you could be best friends with 3 fictional characters, who would they be and why?
    • That’s a tough question. I suppose Luna Lovegood would be choice number one because she has a unique perspective on life, she is always kind, and I imagine she is a very loyal friend. Princess Raisa from the Seven Realms series is choice number two because I think she could use a friend, one that she’s not romantically attracted to and one that she can be herself around (a mix of feminine princess but totally kick-butt warrior). My last choice…Kamala Khan from the new Ms. Marvel. She’s soooooo cool!!!
  7. What is your most anticipated read in 2015?
    • The new Ms. Marvel graphic novel is being released in March 2015, and I want it in my life!
  8. What are your favorite 5 blogs you follow? Share the love and share with everyone!
    • I have LOTS and LOTS of favorite blogs, so here are some:
      1. Oh, the Books! – Of course they would make this list!
      2. Reviews and Cake – I only recently discovered Vlora’s blog, but she had me at her post about semicolons and superpowers
      3. My Life as a Teacup – Beautiful design, great content, and I’ve also joined her book club that she hosts on Facebook
      4. The Written Word(s) – This is another blog that I recently discovered, and I’m smitten by her positivity and geekiness.
      5. Tea Between Books – Her posts are refreshing, and they always make me chuckle
  9. What is your favorite holiday?
  10. What is one thing you want to change in the New Year?
    • I became kind of a lazy cook this year, so in 2015 I want to tackle new and delicious recipes.

Characters I’d Love to Dress Up as for Halloween

Halloween used to be one of my top favorite holidays. Dressing up and going door-to-door begging for candy with friends was the perfect way to spend a crisp, October evening. But, the excitement for this suger-infused holiday sort of fizzled out when I realized that as an adult, I had to buy my own candy (and worse, share it with all the kids in the neighborhood. Puh!). I haven’t really had an excuse to dress up since college (and even then I just alternated between a fairy and a zombie). If I had an excuse to dress up for Halloween this year, these would be my top five choices:

Zoey Left 4 Dead1. Zoey from Left 4 Dead

Finding a playable, strong female character (who is not sexualized) can be challenging to find in video games, so when I discovered Zoey in Left 4 Dead, I fell in love. She’s a horror film nerd, who wears comfy sneakers, jeans, a pink track jacket, and her hair tied back. She doesn’t have cleavage spilling out or a bare belly because that’s not really practical during a zombie apocalypse. Zoey just seems real. Aside from being able to assemble the costume out of clothes already in my closet, I would just need two cap guns and a bright red first aid pack!

shepherd2. Commander Shepherd from Mass Effect

Now, my Commander Shepherd had short black hair styled into a bob, but like the Commander Shepherd above, she totally kicked butt and saved the universe. Well…maybe. I never got to finish Mass Effect 3. Honestly, I try not to think about the Mass Effect series because I’m trying to save money. The more I think about how amazing the games are, the more likely I am to go out and buy an XBox 360 just so I can play these games.

Lilith as "the Siren" from Borderlands3. Lilith as “the Siren” from Borderlands

The only games I could possibly love more than the Mass Effect games are the Borderlands games. I love both Siren characters– Lilith from Borderlands and Maya from Borderlands 2. But, I was unstoppable as Lilith wielding a Maliwan Hellfire (we don’t need no water…). How could she not make this list? Actually, I’m pretty sure dressing up as Lilith for Halloween won’t be satisfactory– can I just be her?

Hermione4. Hermione Granger from Harry Potter

Not everyone on this list wields guns. Hermione relies on her smarts, her books, and her wand to fend of evil. She’s been my hero since I was ten years old, so it’s no surprise she would make it on this list.

Eowyn from the Lord of the Rings5. Éowyn from the Lord of the Rings

Éowyn– she casts aside her nobility and becomes a shieldmaiden. And then. AND THEN! She killed what no man could.

This post is so full of girl power. I feel like starting a riot.

What characters would you like to dress up as for Halloween?

 

The Nerdy Girlie and Super Space Chick host Five Fandom Friday. I totally didn’t know it was a thing until today, which is why I’m posting this on a Sunday.

Books I want to read but haven’t because I figure I’ll put them down 15 pages in, so what’s the use? (Part Two)

Remember when I wrote that post about some classic novels I wanted to read but was too afraid to pick up because high school ruined classic novels for life? Well, to be honest I’m procrastinating. Instead of picking up one of those classic novels, I came up with a few more that have piqued my interest:

Emma by Jane Austen
Emma by Jane Austen

1. Something by Jane Austen. I don’t care if it’s Emma, Sense and Sensibility, or Pride and Prejudice—just something by Jane Austen. The Book Rat makes me feel like I’ve been missing out on life since she re-reads Austen’s works like I re-read Rowling’s. Plus, Austen has to be doing something right if people keep adapting her work into new movies and new books.

War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

2. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy. If being regarded as one of the most important pieces of literature in the world doesn’t make you nervous, perhaps the thickness of this mammoth novels will. I probably would have gone through life not giving Tolstoy a second thought. Then, I stumbled upon the blog, Books on the Nightstand, which was doing a War and Peace reading challenge. They made the novel seem so enticing, and ever since, I’ve been tempted to pick up the novel.

Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott
Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott

3. Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott. Medieval England. Cries of witchcraft. YaddaRomanceYadda. Richard the Lion-heart, King John, and Robin Hood! What’s not to like? Well, Robin Hood won’t be a fox, and Richard won’t literally being a lion, for start. I’ve had my eye on this novel for a while. I’m not sure what’s keeping me. It has everything I could ask for like legendary characters, history, and adventure. I’m pretty sure the simple fact that it’s considered a classic has me sticking my nose of at it. For shame!

Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut

4. Any book by Kurt Vonnegut. It almost seems like everyone has read at least one Kurt Vonnegut book (except me), and everyone seems to admire his work. But…what if I’m the only person who doesn’t like Vonnegut? Or worse, what if I don’t get it. The problem with Vonnegut is I’ve built him up in my head as some literary genius that I’ve become weary that it will all just be one huge disappointment.

Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner

5. Same thing with Faulkner (except, I haven’t actually met anyone who has read his work and liked it…). I want to read anything by Faulkner. The Sound and the Fury. As I Lay Dying. Light in August. Absalom, Absalom! Go Down, Moses. Faulkner’s books seem so full of things I love—experimental writing styles and an array of vivid characters. What I’m afraid of? Well, again my own expectations. I honestly feel I might actually enjoy Faulkner’s work. But, what if it turns out he’s not half as good as Mark Twain or Flannery O’ Conner?

Dracula by Bram Stoker
Dracula by Bram Stoker

6. Dracula by Bram Stoker. Honestly, I’ve never met a vampire book that I really enjoyed. Nor have I seen a vampire movie that kept my undivided attention. So, I’m starting to think there is something wrong with 20th century (and later) vampires. There must be something about vampires that make people obsessed with them, and I wonder if maybe Dracula holds the key. Or, maybe not. Maybe it will just reinforce my idea that vampires are really, really lame.

For the sake of keeping with my New Year’s Resolutions, which book should I pick up first?

2013 Tea(ish) Resolutions

New Year's Day, 2013

Hoorah! Hoorah! 2012, you were not my least favorite year of my existence thus far, but I’m glad to say goodbye to you. I rang in the New Year the same way I’ve rang it in for the past four years– lounging around in PJs and watching the Twilight Zone marathon. Thank goodness for Rod Serling.

Yesterday, I wrote about my bookish resolutions. But, I’m not done yet! I jotted down some tea(ish) resolutions as well:

  1. Drink more tea. I’ve reverted back to my old ways. I’ve received comments from my co-workers like, “I can tell when you make the coffee, Jackie. I drink one mug and my eyeballs start shaking” or “did you really just drink that entire travel mug of coffee in an hour?” And to the latter I sheepishly respond, “No…I drank two and a half…”. I can feel the effects of the amount of coffee I’m drinking, too. It makes me feel anxious all the time. And it’s really hard to look at things when my eyeballs are shaking (I’m only joking about that last bit. Kinda.)
  2. Be more adventurous. I have one bad experience with a type of tea, and I’m forever skeptical of that type of tea. For example, Oolong. I hated that tea for the longest time because I thought it tasted like mud and grass. Then I tried Six Summits Oolong from Teavana, and Ooooh Darjeeling from Adagio, and things changed a little bit. Still, I’m worrisome to purchase Oolong tea because of my first experience with it. Ultimately, I need to stop being a Nancy, and buy a bag of some dang Oolong! I think I tried to make this a resolution last year, but it didn’t work out too well.
    (Note: I don’t know any Nancy’s, so I don’t really know what their opinion on Oolong tea is. Perhaps they really like it. I don’t know).
  3. Invest in an electric kettle. This will directly help me with achieving #1, I’m sure of it.
  4. Try new brands. I pretty much stick to what’s available at the grocery store or what’s at Teavana. There is an entire world of tea out there that I haven’t had the pleasure of sipping. This needs to change for obvious reasons.
  5. Actually sit down and write a review of the tea I just drank. You guise, I’ve actually drank a lot of tea this year, and I tried out new flavors too. But, writing teaviews is difficult. Book reviews are easy-peasy because I’ve participated in book discussions for years (just through different mediums). But teaviews…my inexperience with tea affects my ability to adequately express my experience with it. Teaviews are more complicated than just describing the aroma/taste of the tea. It’s about the experience as a whole. How it makes me feel—warm and cozy, peppy and awake, nostalgic, creative, British?

What are some of your New Year’s Resolutions. Oh! And Happy New Year’s to you all!

2013 Bookish Resolutions

It’s that time of the year again—when I become eager to set out before me changes that will benefit me. Like, exercising or eating less potato chips. I adhere to these changes for a few weeks before ultimately giving up. Before I know it, I’ve not changed out of my pajamas all weekend, and I’ve devoured an entire bag of cheddar and sour cream chips. I should probably admit defeat, but who am I to turn my back on tradition? Here are my 2013 book blogging resolutions:

  1. Scheduled Posts. Blog space providers have this neat function that allow bloggers to write posts in advance and schedule them to post in the future. I’d really like to use this more often. Hopefully it will help me not drop off the face of the blogosphere for months at a time. Consistency is key!
  2. Spotlight older books. Book bloggers go bonkers over new releases. I know my heart skips a beat when I have the opportunity to read an ARC (mostly because it doesn’t happen too often). Sometime I feel lame because I don’t have stacks and stacks of new releases lining my bookshelves. But, there are loads of older books (that the rest of the world can run out and purchase RIGHT NOW) that have been overlooked because of new release hype.
  3. Participate more in the community. I’m not talking about meme’s here, although I’m still keen on Parajunkee’s Follow Friday or For What It’s Worth‘s Blogger Confessions for the dialogue they create. I’m looking at you Read-a-thons and Bloggiesta! I’ve always had to work during Read-a-thons, but not this year. I’m clearing out my calendar just for you!
  4. Read more. Duh! I slacked off terribly this year. I read less this year than I did last year. And I stopped reading all together when I started my Intermediate Accounting class in Fall. Textbooks suck the fun out of life. With no more college classes on my agenda, there is nothing to compete with reading time. Er…except the three Mass Effect video games my mom bought me for Christmas.
  5. Be more critical of reviews. Is it just me, or are there far more positive reviews out there these days? I know everything out there isn’t golden, so what’s the deal? I’ve snagged far too many hyped up books this year that were a huge let down.
  6. Don’t create guidelines. On how many books or what types of books to read. Last year I joined several challenges—fairy tale retelling, e-reader books, non-fiction, indie-pubbed. I didn’t stick to them. I want to read what I want, when I want, and I don’t want to have to be conscious of what kind books I’m checking out. I don’t even want to bother with the Goodread’s book challenge this year! Around this time of the year, bloggers are celebrating the 150th book they’ve read. Meanwhile, I’m throwing confetti in the air because I finished my 20th book. I think you guys have superpowers!
  7. Borrow books from the library. Via e-reader! This is one of the reasons why I wanted a Nook in the first place, and I haven’t actually used this feature. I’m really bad at returning library books on time. Last time, I owed about $35. To make matters worse, I kept forgetting to pay it back so the library threatened to put me in collections. I’ve been ashamed to show my face around there ever since. Don’t have to worry about overdue books and collection agencies with e-readers though. Good ol’ e-readers.
  8. Read outside of my comfort zone. I’ll expand on this one a few days. It’s worthy of it’s own post, I think.

What are some of your bookish resolution for 2013?

Books I Missed in 2012

2012 was not a year of many reads for me. Frankly, I was a slacker, and I used my preoccupation with my Intermediate Accounting class as a scapegoat. [Digression]I earned a 100% on my accounting final. Oh yeah![/Digression]. There are loads of books on my TBR list that I never got around to reading.

Life Eternal, The Marked, Dearly Beloved

Of all the books that hit shelves in 2012, Life Eternal by Yvonne Woon, The Marked by Inara Scott, and Dearly, Beloved by Lia Habel were the three books I’m most disappointed I didn’t pick up. These were the books I anticipated most this year because their predecessors made it onto my list of favorites from 2011. But, before I knew it 2013 was a few days away, and I never got around to snagging myself copies!

 

This is Not a Test, The Other LifeI’m a sucker for Zombies, and This is Not a Test by Courtney Summers seemed like a fresh approach to the somewhat saturated zombie market. Perhaps I’d be a sucker for Weepers too. I wouldn’t know because I never got around to reading The Other Life by Susanne Winnacker either. Oh woe!

 

Scarlet, Kill Me SoftlyFairytale and folklore re-tellings are abundant, and I’ve not been disappointed by any of the adaptations I’ve picked up so far. I’m happy to say that I read and LOVED Cinder by Marissa Meyer, but I’m disappointed that I missed out on Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen and Kill Me Softly by Sarah Cross.

 

article 5I’ll admit it. My interest in this book was superficial at first. The cover reminded me of one of my favorite video games– Fallout 3. I wasn’t even disappointed when I found out this book had nothing to do with nuclear fallout, but rather it dealt with the abolishment of the Bill of Rights. Say it isn’t so! I lick my chops hungrily when I see this book. The sadness I feel for not having read Article 5 by Kristen Simmons is similar to the sadness I felt when I couldn’t eat chicken noodle soup for the two years I was a vegetarian in high school. (Note: Chicken noodle soup is pretty much my favorite food group.)

There you have it, folks. Of the myriad of books that were released in 2012, these eight were the ones I regret not reading with the rest of you. Which books do you feel you missed out on in 2012?