Tuesday, February 28, 2017

If Only I Could Time Travel

I've always loved history. It was my second favorite subject in school (the first being English, of course). Though I actually find research boring, I like learning history. I think I'd find research more fun if I hadn't always hated to do it for school papers. Creative writing was my forte, not nonfiction. In any case, I don't know why I don't read more historical fiction or even nonfiction than I do, given how much I love learning about different time periods and people throughout history. But I want to start, especially when it comes to things I find particularly fascinating (which is so much).

I've read a lot more YA historical fiction that isn't WWII-inspired in recent years, and it's been so fun. Stacey Lee's Under a Painted Sky and Outrun the Moon, The Valiant, A Madness So Discreet, a book about Pocahontas for a college course. Also alternate history or historical fantasy, like Iron Cast, Stalking Jack the Ripper, and the Great Library series. (which I still think counts a little, no?)

and what inspired this post, my current read:
Alexandra Bracken's Passenger duet, which is not strictly hist fic, but a time travel storyline that is so richly detailed in history.

I love the idea of time travel SO MUCH. I can't get over how amazing it would be to have history right at your fingertips, to be able to go back in time and discover things that have been left buried and forgotten. History books, especially those we learn from in school here in the U.S. are geared toward white people and unbelievably lacking in EVERYTHING. How much of it is the truth and how much was fabricated based on who was doing the recording? How many people were lost to history? How many civilizations and cultures are there that we don't know nearly enough about? There is so much we could learn, so much that I'd want to do, if I could go back in time.

I'd want to meet the Founding Fathers. George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton (!!!), etc. I'd want to be there when they founded our nation, when they signed the Declaration of Independence. I'd want to meet Abraham Lincoln, one of our greatest past leaders. I started watching Timeless last month, and though I've only seen two episodes, I can't wait to finish the first season. The second episode was about Abraham Lincoln. One of the main characters is a historian, and it was hard for her to be around the man, knowing he'd die. And that if she tried to prevent it, she could damage history irrevocably. I had such feels, because I understood her hesitation and anger and yearning to warn him. Like how could you stand by and NOT change history?

I don't think I would dare change history even if I desperately wanted to because the untold damage I could do would probably scare me too much. I mean, what if I ended up erasing my whole family and myself? History is meant to be the past. (HOWEVER idk if I could resist not saving priceless artifacts and pieces of history that have been lost. It's so sad that there is SO MUCH missing in the world). Anyway, seeing it through my own eyes would definitely be an experience of a lifetime. So time travel appeals to me greatly, and I've done a lot of thinking during my reread of Passenger, and Wayfarer. Some of the families in the books collected things, and I was like: YUP THAT'D PROBS BE ME. Haha. I would also want to make sure people knew the truth. Because like I said, I don't trust that all we learn and read about history is true.

And here are some things I'd want to do if I could time travel. I'd want to see my earliest ancestors, and find out how I came to be here today. I'd want to go to a ball during the Victorian era (for the fashion, no matter how painful). I'd want to watch a Shakespeare play, the way it was meant to be watched, and meet the man who seemed ahead of his time. I'd want to meet the Bronte sisters and Jane Austen, women who wrote and published books even when they were probably told that no one would want to read them. I'd want to take a stroll through the Library of Alexandria. I'd want to visit Pompeii before the volcano erupted. I'd want to taste what it'd feel like to watch history play out. I'd want to find out what happened to Amelia Earhart. I'd want to meet the women, the people, who were ignored and forgotten because cishet white men held the power to record events.

I'd want to explore Ancient Rome, Greece, Egypt. I'd want to travel back as far as I can, see a dinosaur maybe (idk they're super scary). I'd want to see and do EVERYTHING. My historical knowledge needs to vastly improve as well, because I'd have way more on this list and it'd be more diverse if I wasn't so ridiculous about researching. I REALLY want to get into doing that. And it's kind of a must as an author, depending on what you're writing, I think. I just need to get out of the mindset that it's boring and too much like school. I also want to start reading more books on history for sure. So, I'd love some recommendations, specifically in the nonfiction area! I've got some feminist historical books and one about Rome (SPQR) on my wishlist already, but I want more! :D


And this post begs the question: if you could time travel, would you? Where and when would you go? Let's talk!

Monday, February 27, 2017

Two February Contemporaries You NEED on Your Radar

Title: We Are Okay
Author: Nina LaCour
Publisher: Dutton Books for Young Readers
Release Date: February 14th, 2017!
I picked up a physical ARC of this at ALA midwinter.

From Goodreads...
You go through life thinking there’s so much you need…

Until you leave with only your phone, your wallet, and a picture of your mother.


Marin hasn’t spoken to anyone from her old life since the day she left everything behind. No one knows the truth about those final weeks. Not even her best friend, Mabel. But even thousands of miles away from the California coast, at college in New York, Marin still feels the pull of the life and tragedy she’s tried to outrun. Now, months later, alone in an emptied dorm for winter break, Marin waits. Mabel is coming to visit, and Marin will be forced to face everything that’s been left unsaid and finally confront the loneliness that has made a home in her heart.

 
My Review!
Heartbreakingly tender and emotional, what surprised me most was how relatable it felt for me. I was not expecting to shed tears over it. But this story is one of... first love and grief and trying to figure out who you are when you're not sure of yourself anymore and of the family you choose and the need for human connection. It was bittersweet at times, but it was such a real book. I wasn't super into it at first, but by the end, I was invested in these characters, especially Marin, who treated loneliness as if it were a badge of honor but who needed to remember and realize that life is fuller when you have people in your life who love and cherish you, like Mabel and her parents, when you decide to let them in and live in the moments that make up the world. Definitely a story I highly recommend.

RATING:

*****

Title: The Hate U Give
Author: Angie Thomas
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Release Date: February 28th, 2017!
I picked up a physical ARC of this at ALA midwinter. Thank you, Harper!

From Goodreads...
Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, Angie Thomas’s searing debut about an ordinary girl in extraordinary circumstances addresses issues of racism and police violence with intelligence, heart, and unflinching honesty. Soon to be a major motion picture from Fox 2000/Temple Hill Productions.

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.

But what Starr does—or does not—say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.


My Review!
This book is going to change lives. It is a refreshingly honest and unflinching look at privilege (especially white privilege) and racism. I knew it was going to be important, given that it was inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement. But going in knowing is not the same as reading this and finding out exactly why The Hate U Give is so vital, to not only those who need it but to everyone. I’m happy that it’s gonna be a movie, to give it a wider audience and help white people understand what the movement is all about and why it fucking MATTERS. This book made me so angry, in a good way, and it was a reminder that this country is still nowhere near what equality is supposed to be. I loved Starr, and her family. I loved that they stuck together through everything, and their close relationships just made my heart melt. I loved so many of the other characters too. They really made this book what it was: heartwarming and so real. This didn’t hit me as emotionally as I thought it would, but it was still a damn good story.

RATING: 

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

(70) Top Ten Books I Liked Less than I Thought I Would

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

This week's topic:
Ten Books I Loved Less/More Than I Thought I Would (recently or all time) -- or you could do something like books I liked more/less than everyone else.

I thought about doing books I loved more than I expected, but in the last year I've read a lot of books I didn't like as much as I wished I had. So, I decided to go that way instead! And these are the ones that stuck out in my mind. 

1. Three Dark Crowns
I REALLY wanted to love this one, but man, it was not the girl power story I'd wanted. I'm hoping the sequel goes better in that regard. 

2. Of Fire and Stars
This was the most disappointing book of 2016, tbh. I wanted a f/f fantasy so badly, but this was so predictable and boring. UGH.
 
3. He Will Be My Ruin

K.A. is one of my faaave authors so I always expect to love her books, but I just did not care for this one that much. But it was pretty twisty, which I always appreciate in thriller/suspense books.
 
4. Beast 
Another big disappointment! It wasn't really a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, and I just did not like the MC. I read a few reviews that made me think about him differently, but I still didn't think he had much character development at all.

5. Heartless 
I still enjoyed this one a lot, but it was not as great as I thought it'd be. And it was not on the level that the Lunar Chronicles is, tbh.

6. Untold
After LOVING the first book in this series, I was so mad at the way the second went. Waaaaay too much romantic angst and drama for me that it felt so unnecessary.

7. Ivory and Bone
A fantasy set in the prehistoric era? How could I possibly have not loved this? But ugh, it was not as exciting or fantastical as I thought it'd be.

8. Out on Good Behavior
This was the f/f New Adult that I'd been waiting for, and it was suuuch a disappointment. I didn't like the way Frankie was treated, and I just didn't believe in this romance.

9. Fear the Drowning Deep
This one sounded like my tastes, but it wasn't very good. I know a lot of people have liked it, but it felt very flat and underdeveloped to me.

10. This Is Where It Ends
After meeting Marieke at BEA, I was super excited to read and love her book. But I, um, did not. It was not an emotional read for me, and I thought the flashbacks too so much away from the story.


Sadly, there were many 2016 releases that didn't work for me. Have you guys read any of these yet? Did you love them, hate them? Let's talk! :)

Monday, February 13, 2017

From the Den: January Edition

From the Den is a feature to showcase the books that I don't post reviews for on the blog, whether I liked them or not. I read so many books that never make it onto The Fox's Hideaway, so I wanted a feature where I could still tell y'all about them. :)

I still didn't read a ton in January, but I think I've FINALLY gotten over that terrible reading slump though, so yayyyy! I'm also happy I enjoyed most of the books that I read. :D


The DA Readathon
Written in the Stars
This book wasn't always easy to read, nor was it always particularly engaging because the plot is very straightforward, but the story itself is, as so many have said, important. But it hurt to read about what Naila had to deal with, the suffering she endured, a time of her life that will leave a lasting mark on her. Written in the Stars was eye-opening regarding arranged marriages, what they can be like (both good and bad) and is a reminder that they still happen around the world. I was filled with so much anger for Naila, and for girls and women everywhere whose choices are taken away from them. I was angry over how people treated Naila, that everyone tried to silence her, that no one cared what SHE wanted. But the story also filled me with hope, and I rooted for Naila so hard. She was so brave, and she was determined to choose her own life, and her own future, and her own husband. While this won't be topping my favorites shelf, I'm SO glad I read it! I'll definitely be reading future Aisha Saeed books.
Rating: 3 Paw Prints!


If I Was Your Girl 

I wasn't expecting to finish this book so quickly, but it was super readable and pretty fast-paced. I really liked If I Was Your Girl! It was a story about a transgender girl who moves in with her dad and starts over in a different town, completely and finally, as who she is on the inside. So, not a whole lot to the plot, but it was still enjoyable, and it's a book that MATTERS. Amanda's experiences are important, and I loved seeing her find happiness and joy with new friends and a boyfriend and a dad who is TRYING when he only ever made her feel as if she should hide her truest self from the world. But the people in this story weren't always kind or understanding, and it was all so new for Amanda that I thought she shouldered the blame/fault for that too often, and she deserved so much better from others.  I'm glad Amanda had some wonderful people in her life though, ones who didn't judge or kick her out of their lives, and ones who gave her more strength and support to stand up for herself. Her story was lovely, and I'm glad people, but especially teens, have it!
Rating: 3.5 Paw Prints!


To All the Boys I've Loved Before 

I quite enjoyed this one, A LOT! My favorite part about it was the relationship that Lara Jean had with her fam. Her dad is awesome, and the sisterly bond between her, Kitty, and Margot made my heart melt. Lara did read a lot younger to me, based on her reactions and such, but I didn't mind so much because it felt like her. She was just a girl trying to balance being the older sister now that Margot's moved out and the feelings she has for two different guys. Josh, who is definitely cute but who I don't care for because PETER K. I didn't fall in love with him for a long time, but eventually, I did. And I loved watching the relationship between him and Lara Jean develop. So that ending made me a bit mad. BUT GOOD THING THERE'S A SEQUEL.
Rating: 3.5 Paw Prints!


The DNF 
*eARC kindly provided by Random House Publishing Group (Ballantine) via NetGalley*

I tried, and I got 12% into it. But I just don't have any interest in returning to the book at this point. I think it definitely has strong writing and characters, but I am SO. BORED. And I'm not a big fan of books that span multiple years. I will give it a second chance at a later time, because I think I could really enjoy it if I get further into the story. So this is kind of a we-are-on-a-break moment for us instead. :D

*****

Have you guys read any of these books yet If so, what did you think of them? Let's talk!

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Those Two Books I Meant to Review in 2016 But Didn't

I'm such a witty titlist. 

ANYWAY. I read these two books way back in like, October, I think. And I had always meant to write full reviews for them, but I forgot, and then I forgot about them a lot, and I ended up just writing a mini thought section on them. So, here they finally are! :D

*****

Title: A Monster Calls 
Author: Patrick Ness
Publisher: Walker Books/Candlewick Press
Release Date: September 27th, 2011

From Goodreads...
The monster showed up after midnight. As they do.

But it isn’t the monster Conor’s been expecting. He’s been expecting the one from his nightmare, the one he’s had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments, the one with the darkness and the wind and the screaming…

This monster is something different, though. Something ancient, something wild. And it wants the most dangerous thing of all from Conor.

It wants the truth.

My Review!
I thought I was going to review this but I don’t think I can. This was such a personal read for me that it’s hard to talk about. I flew through the story in a couple hours, and I read the illustrated version, which made the experience even better. And I ugly sobbed so fucking hard. This is a very heartbreaking and heartfelt book. The MC, Conor, is going through a very tough ordeal, and he doesn’t know how to feel about it. He doesn’t know how to act, so he lashes out, and he ignores, and he denies what his heart is telling him. What he knows but does not want to think about. The monster, through stories and through letting Conor be ANGRY, he helps the boy see the truth and understand what it means. Without going into too much detail, let’s just say there was a lot about this story that was relatable for me, and it hurt. There was one point, with Conor and his mom, that just utterly broke me. A Monster Calls is not a book easily forgotten, and it will stay with me for a long time.

RATING:


*****

Title: Punk 57
Author: Penelope Douglas
Publisher: Penelope Douglas
Release Date: October 21st, 2016!

From Goodreads...
“We were perfect together. Until we met.”

Misha

I can’t help but smile at the words in her letter. She misses me.

In fifth grade, my teacher set us up with pen pals from a different school. Thinking I was a girl, with a name like Misha, the other teacher paired me up with her student, Ryen. My teacher, believing Ryen was a boy like me, agreed.

It didn’t take long for us to figure out the mistake. And in no time at all, we were arguing about everything. The best take-out pizza. Android vs. iPhone. Whether or not Eminem is the greatest rapper ever…

And that was the start. For the next seven years, it was us.

Her letters are always on black paper with silver writing. Sometimes there’s one a week or three in a day, but I need them. She’s the only one who keeps me on track, talks me down, and accepts everything I am.

We only had three rules. No social media, no phone numbers, no pictures. We had a good thing going. Why ruin it?

Until I run across a photo of a girl online. Name’s Ryen, loves Gallo’s pizza, and worships her iPhone. What are the chances?

F*ck it. I need to meet her.

I just don’t expect to hate what I find.

Ryen

He hasn’t written in three months. Something’s wrong. Did he die? Get arrested? Knowing Misha, neither would be a stretch.

Without him around, I’m going crazy. I need to know someone is listening. It’s my own fault. I should’ve gotten his number or picture or something.

He could be gone forever.

Or right under my nose, and I wouldn’t even know it.
 


My Review!
I also thought I was going to review this book fully, too, but WELL. I guess I don’t really have much to say about it anyway, which is not to say that I didn’t love it, because I did, but that I feel like I’ve said enough in my reviews for Corrupt and Bully. I call Punk 57 the love child of the two. It is so much like both, and yet different. For me, it took the good of them, and it made the bad parts better. Alpha male who is actually not totally an asshole, even if I didn’t always like his choices. A female MC who is just as strong and sharp as the other girls. A romance that felt a lot less…. problematic. Like as much as I love Bully, it’s not a perfect or easily likable relationship. But the one between Ryen and Misha felt really well-developed. It felt more rounded, and there were definitely some steamy parts in the story. :D I was hooked, as I always am with Penelope Douglas books, and I LOVED this one. It was addictive and with characters you couldn’t help falling in love with.

 RATING:

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

February 2017 Releases

How did it get to be February? Didn't we just celebrate the start of 2017? Gah. I hope the days slow down, because I need to catch up. And I deeeefinitely need to catch up on February releases because omg there are SO MANY.

February 2nd
 
February 7th

February 14th

February 21st

February 28th 
  

I've already read: ...none of these. WHOOPS. I got into such a reading slump after the election, but now I feel like that is *finally* over so I'm determined to get quite a few February releases read!

For review: so many! Daughter of the Pirate King, Traveler, Wintersong, Gilded Cage, and Beautiful Broken Girls. From ALA, I picked up a few February books: The Hate U Give, The Valiant (which I've started and am already hooked on), and We Are Okay. I'm SO excited about all of these and hope to read them all this month.

My most anticipated: A Conjuring of Light, for sure! I'm both terrified and delighted to finally have the series finale in my hands. I know it's going to be a painful read, but it'll be worth it. I'm also super interested in Ronit & Jamil.


Which February releases are YOU most excited about? Am I missing any that should be on my radar? Let's talk! :)