Hush, Hush, Becca Fitzpatrick

Hush, Hush, Becca Fitzpatrick, Simon and Schuster

Hey y’all!

I can’t believe how fast the last few weeks have gone by – I’m only days away from spending six weeks in NYC! This program is supposed to be pretty intense, so I don’t know how much reading, reviewing, and posting I’ll be able to do, but I’m gonna try! Now, on to today’s review!

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I talked about this a couple of weeks ago with The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, and I’m going to say it again today – I think a lot of how we (or at least I) feel about a book after I’m done reading it has something to do with what my expectations were going in. A little bit about me – a lot of the time, I don’t really read reviews of books before I read the book myself. I don’t want to risk any spoilers, and I don’t want someone else to influence my perception of it. Odd for someone who writes book reviews herself, I know. But often I’ll just skip to the bottom of a review to look at the overall recommendation or lack thereof (if they have one) and make my decision from there. If I see ten other bloggers or reviewers have absolutely loved a book and recommended it to a lot of people (either by giving it a lot of stars or posting about it a lot), those positive reviews might sway me if I already thought it looked interesting. Usually, I go back to read the reviews in-depth after I’ve finished a book to see what other people thought about it and if they liked the same parts I did. Especially if I really loved a book, I want to re-live it for a little bit longer through talking about it with other people who liked it as much as I did.

All that to say that I read Hush, Hush because Rachel mailed it to me to read as part of our exchange, and liked it. I’d never heard about it, so I didn’t have any true expectations, other than that Rachel had liked it and she’s never steered me wrong before. But man, we seem to be in the minority about this. It’s got an average four-star review on Goodreads, but somehow the first two pages of reviews are solid one-star rants of hatred. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve given a one-star review before, retroactively (I’m looking at you Ivan Denisovitch), but never have I felt the same intense negative feelings as those reviewers felt about Hush, Hush. Sure, it can be a little unrealistic (pretty much everything that happens in the biology classroom) and reminiscent of Twilight (again, oddly enough, the biology classroom, among other things), but the positive outweighs the negative for me. Maybe I’m just easily pleased or gullible, but I though Fitzpatrick did a nice job in terms of pacing and creating and sustaining suspense. I read Hush, Hush in three big chunks over the weekend that probably would have been one or two big chunks if I didn’t have other things to do that interrupted my reading. If the pacing sucks or I’m not intrigued by what I’m reading, especially lately, I don’t do that. So for me, that speaks to my own positive feelings about the plot and characters. Some of the villains I saw as villains a mile away, but their actual crimes and motivations were legitimately a surprise to me. I thought Nora was a lot more likable than Twlilight‘s Bella, and a lot more interesting. As far as Patch is concerned, I couldn’t quite decide if he was a hero or a villain until the very end – something I’ve seen with side characters in other novels, but can’t recall reading a book where it happened with the leading man – in my opinion, at least, that creates interest, and again, suspense. Also, in a world where fantasy, paranormal, and dystopian fiction creates a lot of characters with weird names that I often like in spite of their names, the character names in Hush, Hush were pretty fitting. Nora Grey is just a cool name, and Vee’s name really fits her somewhat flighty personality. I wasn’t a huge fan of the name Patch at first, but it grew on me, especially when we got his last name. Then I might have swooned a little.

Now I feel like I’ve spent this whole review “in defense of” in opposition to the negative reviewers instead of just saying this: I went in to Hush, Hush feeling pretty confident I’d like it, but without any major expectations for it to be “the next big thing,” and really enjoyed it. But who’s to say that if I went in with even higher expectations, I wouldn’t still have liked it a lot. It’s not a particularly difficult read, so if you’re on the fence, I’d say give it a try. It might not drastically change your outlook on life, but it’s an entertaining way to spend a couple of hours, and sometimes, that’s all we really need out of a book.

-Strawberry

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The Witches of East End, Melissa de la Cruz

The Witches of East End, Melissa de la Cruz, Disney-Hyperion

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I usually try to go into a new book without many expectations, but sometimes it happens anyways. I had high hopes for this book. It sounded so promising – witches! romance! good vs evil! Not to mention the pretty cover! But all hopes aside, The Witches of East End just fell a little flat for me. I actually just tried and deleted my attempt at a summary, because frankly this novel is a little all over the place and I had a hard time describing it without spoilers and/or sounding sarcastic. So take a look at the Goodreads summary, which I’ve link to.

Sounds good, right? And in some ways, it was. de la Cruz is really good at what I call in my brain “making the setting a character.” Meaning that she created the setting in such a way that this book couldn’t be set any other place without majorly changing the way things go down. As somewhat far-fetched some of the characters and events in the novel are, it feels like they couldnt take place any where other than North Hampton. The setting wasn’t just a frivolous decision, but served the novel well. But in other ways, It lost me. It switches back and forth between the perspectives of the three Beauchamp women, and I mostly found myself continuing to read so I could be out of whomever’s perspective I was reading. Freya’s was the most irritating, because the first half of the novel all she seems to talk about is men, and how much she wants the man she can’t have, but still really loves the one she’s got. Ingrid was less irritating, but she also felt like she was there as a very contrived foil to Freya. She’s a librarian to Freya’s sexy bartender for goodness sakes. Joanna was kind of boring to read about, because for the most part, she doesn’t see much action. Her experiences with the dark and mysterious seem to serve mostly as foreboding for the reader and not much else.

I think what killed The Witches of East End for me is that it reads like at least three different stories, but not in a good way. The first and most obvious factor contributing to this feeling is the fact that the three women almost never seem to interact with each other, so the reader is essentially following three simultaneous story lines in the same setting. Even at the end of the novel, when the family bands together to fight the evil, they only come together briefly before separating again, so everyone makes the same important revelations independently of the other characters, which was frustrating as a reader. I felt like a number of plot points could have been resolved a lot faster if the women just communicated. Aside from the narrative structure, the plot itself really feels like three separate stories: in the first, the women are witches in hiding, not allowed to use their magic and living like humans. In the second, all of a sudden, they’re out in the open, doing their ‘thang, flaunting their powers in flagrant violation of the supposed restrictions they’ve been living in fear of for years. In the third, they’re actually goddesses from Norse mythology, fighting bad guys that, suddenly, are from Norse mythology, too, because apparently all witches are and/or used to be goddesses.

There’s also a lot of heavy-handed foreshadowing in addition to the obvious references to the Salem witch trials that are mean to be offhand remarks. I felt like de la Cruz wasted some potentially interesting elements of this story by treating her readers as if we couldn’t make the connections on our own. I also had some beef with the cliffhanger epilogue ending. The next sentence is semi-spoilerish, so fair warning. After spending 90% of the novel making us think one brother is the “bad” one, only to switch it up and make the second brother the actual “bad” one, de la Cruz throws in a very short epilogue that not only introduces a brand new character, but reverses the situation once more. I’m generally not a huge fan of the cliffhanger. I can appreciate what I like to call an emotional cliffhanger – where the events at the end of one book greatly affect a character and we don’t see the emotional repercussions of those events until the next novel – and I can even occasionally appreciate a plot-driven cliffhanger, but even then, I really prefer for it to have more of an effect on the plot than just as a reason to get the reader to buy the next book. The cliffhanger at the end of the second Hunger Games books comes to mind as a good example – we don’t know what’s happened to Peeta at the end of Catching Fire, but then neither does Katniss. In this case, the cliffhanger serves the character and her development/motivations as much as it serves to create suspense for the reader. The cliffhanger at the end of The Witches of East End felt like a ploy to sell the next novel in the series and nothing else. Between my standing issues with the first book and my inner rebellious teenager who doesn’t want to do something just because someone else says I should, I don’t have any interest in reading the next novel in the series.

I feel like this is the longest review I’ve ever posted, and definitely the least positive, but it’s really not to say that I hate this book, because I don’t. Not at all. In the range of bad, okay, good, and great, it was a decent “okay.” I think I just wanted it to be so much more, and when it wasn’t, I was disappointed. In my brain, I was expecting something like Practical Magic in book form (best and definitely most underrated Sandra Bullock movie ever? maybe?) and got this instead. A solid “meh.”

-Strawberry

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books I’ve Read So Far This Year

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly blogging meme hosted by the Broke and the Bookish.

It’s actually pretty great timing that this week’s theme is the Top Ten Books I’ve Read So Far This Year, because the other day I actually made a list of all the books I’ve read so far this year! For the first time in my life since before kindergarten, all of the books I’ve read this year were for pleasure! Not that I haven’t enjoyed a lot of the books I had to read for school, but there’s just something about picking a book for yourself and reading it without having to worry about writing a paper about it later. Even as I’ve started reviewing, I always try to read it just for fun, and then try to remember how I felt when I write the review. So without further ado, in no particular order, here are the top ten books I’ve read so far this year! I only included new reads, so no re-reads! Images are from Goodreads, and since I’ve already reviewed all these books, I’m just including a link to my old review.

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Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

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The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

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Looking For Alaska by John Green

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Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

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The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

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The Red Tent by Anita Diamant

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Where She Went by Gayle Forman

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Don’t Judge a Girl by Her Cover by Ally Carter

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The Monsters of Templeton by Lauren Groff

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The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith

-Strawberry

 

 

The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle, Avi

The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle, Avi, HarperTrophy

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Ok y’all, we’re throwing it back today. Just pretend it’s Thursday, if that bothers you. I read like three books in the last two weeks and was too lazy to write reviews for any of them until now, so this will be a review-heavy week. Get ready for it.

I’ve literally (and I mean literally) had The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle sitting on my bookshelf unread for at least ten years. Probably more. I have no memory of who gave it to me, but odds are good that it was my grandmother, because she used to come over to our house with boxes of books she’d picked up at garage sales and other places like that. Why I didn’t read it when I first got it is also a mystery to me, because at the time, I was all about the American Girl books and the Dear America series, so a historical fiction like this would have been right up ten to twelve year old me’s alley. We’re a big spring cleaning/purging family – going through our books, clothes, and random crap at least twice a year and making humongous piles to donate to Goodwill, and that’s when we aren’t moving. Since I (probably) received my copy of Charlotte Doyle, we’ve moved no less than five times. What can I say? We get bored. But that really only makes the miracle even more miraculous that I’ve managed to hold on to this copy. I’ve always been a bit of a book hoarder, but there were a bunch of books that had never been read and looked less likely to be read as we got older that didn’t survive move number two. But I’m glad this one survived! As a refresher for everyone, The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle tells the story of Charlotte Doyle’s passage from England to America, where her entire family awaits her. The other families meant to escort her mysteriously can’t make the ship, but the man entrusted to Charlotte’s temporary keeping forces her to board, making her the only passenger and young woman aboard a cargo ship full of sailors (scandalous!). The crew isn’t just any crew, just as the captain isn’t just any captain, and drama ensues. The whole story is told from Charlotte’s perspective through her journal, so we only see what she sees.

This was just a fun little trip down childhood lane for me. Even at twenty-two, Captain Jaggery still terrified me as much as he was no doubt meant to terrify the ten year old this book was marketed towards. The first third of the book or so when Charlotte is at her most prim and proper was my least favorite, just because I loved when she (spoiler?) puts on men’s clothes and joins the crew. (Are spoiler alerts still required when the book is as old as I am?) Maybe I’m just losing my game, but the ending was actually a really pleasant surprise for me, and I loved it. The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle was a Newbery Honor Book, and it totally deserves that distinction, because the winning qualities perceived in this book then still hold up today. With the exception of a few slow spots, the pacing is excellent, the protagonist is just annoying enough to be believable and lovable enough to cheer on at the end, and with the exception of a few insignificant crew members, the rest of the characters were well drawn and added to the story. Considering 90% of the book is set on a ship, Avi makes sure we as the readers never get cabin fever. If you’re like I was and just haven’t gotten around to this childhood classic, I’d say make an effort and go for it!

-Strawberry

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books in My Beach Bag This Summer

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly blogging meme hosted by the Broke and the Bookish.

Can you guys believe it’s June already? I must have spent all of May wondering where April went, because now I have no idea what happened to May either! Time flies in the real world I guess? I leave for my summer publishing course in less than two weeks, so I’m getting really excited for that! Everything I’ve heard about the course involves pretty much no down time, so my posts may be few and far between for those six weeks. Consider yourselves warned.

Anyways, this week’s Top Ten Tuesday is Top Ten Books that Should be in Your Beach Bag This Summer or Top Ten Books that Will be in My Beach Bag This Summer. I’m feeling selfish today, so I went with the second one. Summer reading to me (and it seems like to much of the blogging community) is all about YA and contemporary. When I was in high school, before I really knew YA as a genre was a thing, I literally used to call these books (like Sarah Dessen books) teeny-bopper books or beach books. I don’t actually have any beach plans this summer, but these are books from my TBR list that would be in that beach bag if I was going! This list is surely going to show just how behind in the contemporary world four years as an English major with so much required reading has made me! As always, cover images are from Goodreads!

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Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell – I think at this point if you’ve spent more than a week reading book blogs you’ve heard about this book, and I’m no exception! I’ve heard so many lovely things I hope to read it soon!

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Paper Towns by John Green – I loved TFIOS and Looking for Alaska, so I really want to catch up on the rest of John Green’s backlist!

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Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins – Normally, the plot construct for this book and some of the cover editions (the one with the two teens in front of the Eiffel Tower, specifically) might turn me away from this book because of a high cheese factor, but I’ve read so many reviews that seem to contradict that, so it’s on my list!

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Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta – What a great title. It just sounds interesting! And I just love the cover.

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Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor – Not contemporary, but I’ve heard so much buzz about it that I really want to try it out for myself!

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Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson – I love a good road trip with as much emotional baggage as physical suitcases. Bring it.

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The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp – Since the Divergent movie came out, I’ve begun to develop an inexplicable crush on Miles Teller, so I want to see him in the movie version of this book, but not till after I read the book first!

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Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen – While my love for Sarah Dessen is true and never ending, and this was the book that came out just after I temporarily stopped reading YA with the previous reckless abandon, and I’ve been longing for it ever since.

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Just One Day by Gayle Forman – I loved Where She Went and retroactively appreciated If I Stay after initial feelings of disappointment , so I’m curious to see how I’ll feel about this duo of novels.

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The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton – Not really YA or contemporary, but it just sounds juicy and I loved The House At Riverton.

There you have it! What’s in your beach bag this summer? Anything I missed?

-Strawberry

Let the Great World Spin, Colum McCann

Let the Great World Spin, Colum McCann, Random House

Happy Wednesday! I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned it or not (and I’m too lazy to go check), but Rachel (Blonde of Strawberry Blonde Books) and I are starting up the book exchange again! For those who haven’t been reading that long (pretty much all of you, I assume), last summer the two of us decided we would mail books back and forth all summer and keep a blog about it as a way to keep in touch and entertain ourselves since we were both stuck at home. When the school year began again, we decided to keep the posts going with our own book choices, at our leisure. Now that it’s summer again, we’re going to try to squeeze in another couple rounds of book exchanges before I leave for NYC! For the first round, she sent me Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann.

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This was a bit of an unexpected pick, because most of what we sent back and forth last summer was a bit lighter, but I really enjoyed it. McCann writes some lovely prose, and I stopped myself from underlining at the last minute more than once, almost forgetting that this wasn’t my book! The multiple narratives/perspectives kept things interesting, and really added to the storytelling aspect, rather than detract from it, which, I’ll admit, sometimes I find multiple perspectives can do. Often, the action either gets repeated or something gets left out, but not in Let the Great World Spin. McCann carefully controls the release of information, keeping the reader interested, but by the end, I felt pretty satisfied that most of my questions had been answered, at least the ones that had a concrete answer. It took me a little bit of time to get invested in this story, but once I did, I was all in. I told my mom that Let the Great World Spin was nighttime reading – not something I really wanted to do in between chores and work during the day, but something I spent my nights on, when I could really slow down and think. A great pick that I probably wouldn’t have picked up on my own, but one that I’m glad for reading.

-Strawberry

 

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Book Boyfriends & Fictional Crushes

Hey y’all!

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly blogging meme hosted by the Broke and the Bookish.

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday is a freebie, so I decided I would go back and do one from before I jumped on this crazy train! A long while back, the ladies at Broke and Bookish did a Top Ten Fictional Crushes, and since I love falling in love with a fictional character, I decided that would be my theme this week! As usual, my picks are in no particular order and all cover images are from Goodreads!

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Dexter from This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen – I just reread this one to counter a more serious book lent to me by a friend and fell in love with Dexter all over again. Such a sweetie, and I’ve always been a sucker for a boy who could sing me a song, even if the actually thought of being serenaded makes me cringe.

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Wes from The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen – My other favorite Dessen boy. I just might have to reread this one sometime soon! Also, love the name Wes.

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Westley from The Princess Bride by William Goldman – The second reason behind my love for the name Wes/Wesley/Westley. Admittedly, my crush on this character is heavily swayed by Cary Elwes’ portrayal in the movie. Swoon.

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Augustus Waters from The Fault in Our Stars by John Green – Do I really even need to go into this? So sweet, so thoughtful (if a little theatrical), and I’ve always had a thing for clever boys who like books.

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Peeta from The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins – I feel like Peeta gets a lot of flack on the internet, but while Gale might be the tall, dark, and handsome one, he’s ultimately an asshole, and Peeta loves Katniss enough that he overcomes the most intense brainwashing EVER to fall in love with her all over again. All that being said, Liam Hemsworth, I’m still single. Holla atcha girl.

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Adam Eddington from A Ring of Endless Light and Troubling a Star by Madeleine L’Engle – The ultimate sweetie. Plus he’s smart, and he regularly visits his great-aunt/grandmother figure. He’s a keeper.

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Mr. Darcy from Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen – Again, do I really need to go into this? “You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.” He may start out as a jerk, but I do love a little challenge. Making women swoon since 1813.

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Marco from The Night Circus by Erin Morgernstern – A little troubled and mysterious, but uses his magic to build special tents in the circus just for Celia.

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Thomas Grey from The Last Time I Saw Paris by Lynn Sheene – He’s described on the back cover as a “mysterious Englishman working with the Resistance.”  Swoon. If you haven’t read this, by the way, it’s historical fiction set during the French Resistance to the Nazis and is well worth the read.

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Aragorn from The Lord of the Rings trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien – I saw the movies before I read the books, so I think it’s safe to assume that this is most definitely influenced by Viggo Mortensen’s portrayal. So manly! But sensitive!

So there you have it! Not the most thought-provoking of lists, but definitely swoon worthy!

-Strawberry

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, Ransom Riggs and Happy Memorial Day!

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, Ransom Riggs, Quirk Books

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Happy Memorial Day! I hope everyone gets to enjoy their day off to spend time with their families, rest, and remember those who’ve fought for our country!

I actually finished this book last week, but I’m only just now getting to the review! Not that this should say anything about my feelings for this book, because I really liked it. I’d been hearing about it a lot lately, especially since the second one came out in January, so it’s been on my list for a while.

Jacob spent most of his childhood looking at his grandfather’s mysterious old pictures, first believing the stories behind them before dismissing them as made up as he reaches adolescence. When a life-changing “Before and After”-defining moment occurs, Jacob travels to an isolated Welsh island to discover the truth and discovers quite a bit more than that.

I loved how Riggs incorporated the old photos, and I especially loved finding out that the pictures came before the story, and actually played a part in shaping the narrative – what a cool way to write a novel. I enjoyed hearing Jacob describe some “peculiar” photo, only to see it when I turned the page. *Side note, props to whoever made the placement decisions for the pictures. As much as I liked seeing the pictures, I also really liked that I was able to create the image in my head by myself first. While the pictures really pushed me over the edge, everything else about Miss Peregrine’s was wonderful, too. Riggs deftly navigated the whole time-loop explanation and the fantasy aspects in general without over-complicating the plot or muddling the details. Miss Peregrine and the peculiar children, too, were well drawn and interesting to interact with as a reader, even if Jacob’s father and the rest of the present day characters were just a little off for me. I can’t wait to see how they all develop through second novel, because Riggs has made a fan of me!

-Strawberry

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books About Friendship

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly blogging meme hosted by the Broke and the Bookish.

When I read this week’s theme, I “aww-ed” and for the first time in a while went straight to typing! The last couple of weeks have stumped me, but since I love a good friendship book, the only hard thing about this book was narrowing it down to ten! As usual, my list is in no particular order and all images are from Goodreads!

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Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein – I feel like I’ve talked about this book on this blog a lot since I read it this winter, but it just falls in to a lot of categories I guess! Code Name Verity follows a friendship from its inception and shows the sacrifices we’d all make for our friends, no matter how difficult.

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 The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series by Ann Brashares – The classic teenage female friendship series, as much as it might be mocked by pop culture now, spoke to me as a teenager as much as it does now.

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Peaches by Jodi Lynn Anderson – I actually haven’t read this book in a while, but I remember really enjoying it when I did. It’s definitely along the lines of/catering to fans of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants books, but that’s what made me read it back then and makes it perfect for this list now! Also Bass Ackwards and Belly Up by Elizabeth Craft and Sarah Fain. It’s also about four best friends who have to separate to go to college, which is why it isn’t getting its own entry, but still worth a read if you like Sisterhood or Peaches!

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The Grey King by Susan Cooper – I think more than any other novel in this sequence, all of which involve a lot of siblings actually, The Grey King makes a point to show the significance of friendships and how they can shape and save us, be they a friendship between two boys or a boy and his dog. Also the only one in the series to win a Newbery medal for what it’s worth. (The Dark is Rising was a Newbery Honor, though, I think.)

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Looking for Alaska by John Green – A book about friends, and how sometimes the friends we’ve known the shortest can feel like we’ve known them forever and simultaneously know nothing about them at all.

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A Separate Peace by John Knowles – Gene and Finny’s friendship makes up the true heart of this novel, and is what makes the ending of the novel so heartbreaking.

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Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume – I haven’t read this one in a while either, but it’s just the quintessential going through puberty novel and proves just how important friendships at that age can be.

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James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl – Proving that your friends don’t have to be human to make you feel like you belong.

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It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini – A book about mental illness, but also a book about how all sorts of friends can help you pull through.

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The Harry Potter series by JK Rowling – You really didn’t think I’d leave it out on this post, of all posts, did you? Even though at this point I feel almost obligated to include HP in every TTT, it really and truly does belong on today’s list. Because while it may have a lot of magic and an ongoing battle between good and evil, at its core, it can be argued that the Harry Potter series is a series about friendship and its lasting and significant impact on our lives.

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Bonus: The Body by Stephen King – True confessions, I haven’t read this book/novella. But it’s the basis for the movie called Stand By Me, which is one of my favorites. Because like The Writer, “I never had any friends later on like the ones I had when I was 12. Jesus, does anyone?”

So there you have it! This is most definitely not an exhaustive list, because I feel like there’s more than a few I’m missing!

-Strawberry

The Night Circus, Erin Morgenstern

The Night Circus, Erin Morgenstern, Anchor Books

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Ah, where do I start with this book? The Night Circus was just lovely. Totally engrossing, leaving me with just the most pleasant of book hangovers. I think there’s just something so mysterious and whimsical about any old-timey circus setting that I’m always going to love, and the added drama and real magic of The Night Circus as a setting I loved even more. It’s a beautifully written work, if not as quotable as some of my other recent reads. Morgenstern eased me in to the dream world she’d created and set me loose to explore. When I was trying to explain this book to my mother, with the varying parallel and intersecting timelines, she said she didn’t think she would like it, because it sounded like a lot of work. I was left trying to explain that while The Night Circus definitely forces its reader to pay attention, it doesn’t do so in a way that feels like work. At first, the second person narration that starts the book and features intermittently throughout sort of threw me off, and I wasn’t sure I was going to like it. However, by the end of the novel, when I was able to see how that second person narration ties in with the rest of the novel, I was able to reconcile its presence without being annoyed by it.

Considering how prominently the love story seems to feature in the back cover summary and a lot of the promotion for The Night Circus, I was expecting to see it much sooner than half way through the novel. While it wasn’t necessarily problematic for me because I enjoyed every page that it took to bring me to that love story, it was a little misleading. However, when it did finally show up, it was just as simultaneously grand and understated as I’d hoped and come to expect from the rest of the novel. Perhaps partially because of that love story I kept waiting for, I have to say that Morgenstern is the queen of the slow build and suspense without ever making me feel like she was trying to be suspenseful. Perhaps anticipation is a better word? Throughout the novel, I felt this lingering, weighty suspicion that The Night Circus and everyone within it might eventually some day unravel, and it kept me turning the pages, hoping that it wouldn’t. Morgenstern’s characters, too, made this such an enjoyably mysterious novel. The twins, especially, with their wise beyond their years vulnerability, I particularly enjoyed. I’ve also just had a thing for nicknames that no one can quite remember their inception, and Poppet and Widget whimsically fit that bill. I also actually like that Morgenstern didn’t go into great detail about the other circus acts, instead choosing to focus on the circus as it related to the two magicians. I think had she attempted to describe much else, it would have fallen flat of the reader’s expectations. Instead, I was allowed to fill in as much of the blanks as I wanted while still maintaining the mystery and wonder of the spectacle such a circus would be.

Overall, I really enjoyed The Night Circus, from beginning to end, even if it wasn’t quite what I expected when I first cracked open the spine. I loved the way Morgenstern integrates, magic, mystery, romance, and the human condition into one beautiful story about a circus.