Top Five Wednesday: Side Ships

Tell us your favorite relationships that don’t involve the protagonist!

We’ll start with the obvious and the one that is probably about to be on everyone’s list.

Ron and Hermione

For the record, I’m so glad J.K. Rowling didn’t have Hermione end up with Harry. Hermione and Ron compliment each other so well, his sense of humor to her practicality, her brains to his… well. We can’t all be geniuses, can we Ronald?

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Prim and Buttercup

Prim and her cat had a better love story than Katniss and Peeta. Buttercup is a mangy, old thing, with distrust of everyone around him except for Prim. When Prim dies, he even goes looking for her. My dog probably wouldn’t have even noticed that I had left.

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They’re even dressed alike!

 

Will Herondale and Jem Carstairs

The ultimate bromance, or… you know… parabatai pairing. Will and Jem are the perfect duo, fighting demons, cracking jokes, and having each other’s back. Jem is the voice of reason to Will’s destructive nature, holding him back from the edge every single time.

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Jamie Fraser and Murtagh

I couldn’t decide if this relationship was more of a bromance or a father-son like relationship, but I definitely like their dynamic. I think they compliment each other well, more or less like Will and Jem, balancing each other out and adding strength to the other’s flaws.

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Jon Snow and Ygritte

I know Jon’s one of the main character’s on Game of Thrones, but we have so many POV characters that it’s hard to tell who’s a main character and who is not. I really liked Jon Snow and Ygritte together. Again, she balanced Jon’s cautious and practical nature out with her fiery and bold personality. Even though it took Jon a while to warm up to her, I think she was good for him and taught him a lot while they were together.

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The Love that Split the World by Emily Henry

Title: The Love that Split the World25467698
Author: Emily Henry
Pages: 396
Year: 2016
Publisher: Razorbill
Rating: 4

Goodreads Synopsis: Natalie Cleary must risk her future and leap blindly into a vast unknown for the chance to build a new world with the boy she loves.

Natalie’s last summer in her small Kentucky hometown is off to a magical start… until she starts seeing the “wrong things.” They’re just momentary glimpses at first—her front door is red instead of its usual green, there’s a pre-school where the garden store should be. But then her whole town disappears for hours, fading away into rolling hills and grazing buffalo, and Nat knows something isn’t right.

That’s when she gets a visit from the kind but mysterious apparition she calls “Grandmother,” who tells her: “You have three months to save him.” The next night, under the stadium lights of the high school football field, she meets a beautiful boy named Beau, and it’s as if time just stops and nothing exists. Nothing, except Natalie and Beau.

Emily Henry’s stunning debut novel is Friday Night Lights meets The Time Traveler’s Wife, and perfectly captures those bittersweet months after high school, when we dream not only of the future, but of all the roads and paths we’ve left untaken.

Friday Night Lights meets The Time Traveler’s Wife is the perfect description of this book. There is a stark contrast between those two references, but The Love That Split the World marries the Contemporary with Fantasy and Sci-Fi, creating a cohesive and complementary world within it’s pages. I can safely say that I have never read a book like this one before, and I found the different genres within to mesh together perfectly.

Right off the bat, we are introduced to a minor but very crucial character, Grandmother. Grandmother has been appearing to Natalie since she was a child, and has suddenly decided to reappear after a three year hiatus to deliver an important message. “Three months to save him.” As any of us would be, Natalie is confused and unsettled. Who is him? And who is Grandmother? Is she a religious messenger? A Native American apparition? Or simply a figment of Natalie’s imagination? One thing is clear, time is running out and Natalie has to race to beat the clock.

Adopted at a very young age into a middle-class white family, Natalie has struggled with her identity all her life. As a child, she tried to fit in with the people around her so that they wouldn’t think she was different. But as a blossoming young adult, she has become tired of this charade and is looking to discover her Native American heritage. This leads to the alienation of some of her closest relationships and changes the dynamic within the social space she has occupied for so long. Throughout the novel, Natalie struggles to answer the question; Who am I? Her mental state plays a very large part in this book, as she tries to figure out whether her experiences are supernatural or psychological.

Natalie Cleary is a particularly wise, and likable protagonist; she is quick to point out slut-shaming and refuses to see her ex-boyfriend’s new girlfriend as anything but human. Natalie is a feminist, and she refuses to give in to social pressures and constraints that compromise her sense of self. Her relationships with each of the characters featured are meaningful and play an important part in her journey to discover who she is, and who she needs to save.

This book is centered around a romance between Natalie and Beau, and relies on your attachment to that romance in order to effectively tell the story. I found Natalie and Beau’s relationship to be a little too insta-lovey for my taste. There wasn’t any build up of their relationship, just feelings plucked out of midair and proclaimed as love. Their romance was entirely built on good looks, and we are constantly reminded of those good looks throughout the novel.

“His biceps are roughly the size of my head, and his eyes look like summer incarnate, and he has two little dark freckles on the side of his nose, and a mouth that somehow manages to look like a shy kid’s one minute and a virile Greek god’s the next.”

Jesus H. Roosevelt Christ.  I’m not sure what I prefer, being constantly reminded how beautiful a character is, or being constantly reminded how ordinary a character is. I have to admit, that description does paint a pretty picture. Emily Henry has an extraordinary way with imagery, using words to perfectly conjure a character, action, or place in the reader’s mind. Criticisms aside, I did believe and become invested in their romance. Despite its beginnings, it felt genuine and relevant.

The Love That Split the World is a novel that features diversity, feminism, positivism, and the contrast between the supernatural and psychological. I don’t want to spoil the ending for anyone, but I liked that it was open-ended, and at the same time not unclear. This is one of those books where you don’t get a concrete, “tied up all the loose ends” ending, but it’s done beautifully, successfully, and it satisfies the reader. Nothing in this book is cut and dry, everything is open to interpretation, and the ending captures that perfectly.

 

United States of Books: Alaska

Week two of the United States of Books coming your way! Here’s the road map; every Friday I will bring you book recommendations from each of the fifty nifty United States. Anyone else remember that song from elementary school? We’re just going to follow that order.

This week we’re heading to Alaska!


Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George

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Miyax, like many adolescents, is torn. But unlike most, her choices may determine whether she lives or dies. At 13, an orphan, and unhappily married, Miyax runs away from her husband’s parents’ home, hoping to reach San Francisco and her pen pal. But she becomes lost in the vast Alaskan tundra, with no food, no shelter, and no idea which is the way to safety. Now, more than ever, she must look hard at who she really is. Is she Miyax, Eskimo girl of the old ways? Or is she Julie (her “gussak”-white people-name), the modernized teenager who must mock the traditional customs? And when a pack of wolves begins to accept her into their community, Miyax must learn to think like a wolf as well. If she trusts her Eskimo instincts, will she stand a chance of surviving?

 

The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey

11250053Alaska, 1920: a brutal place to homestead and especially tough for recent arrivals Jack and Mabel. Childless, they are drifting apart–he breaking under the weight of the work of the farm, she crumbling from loneliness and despair. In a moment of levity during the season’s first snowfall, they build a child out of snow. The next morning, the snow child is gone–but they glimpse a young, blonde-haired girl running through the trees. This little girl, who calls herself Faina, seems to be a child of the woods. She hunts with a red fox at her side, skims lightly across the snow, and somehow survives alone in the Alaskan wilderness. As Jack and Mabel struggle to understand this child who could have stepped from the pages of a fairy tale, they come to love her as their own daughter. But in this beautiful, violent place things are rarely as they appear, and what they eventually learn about Faina will transform all of them.

 

After the End by Amy Plum

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She’s searching for answers to her past. They’re hunting her to save their future.

World War III has left the world ravaged by nuclear radiation. A lucky few escaped to the Alaskan wilderness. They’ve survived for the last thirty years by living off the land, being one with nature, and hiding from whoever else might still be out there.

At least, this is what Juneau has been told her entire life.

When Juneau returns from a hunting trip to discover that everyone in her clan has vanished, she sets off to find them. Leaving the boundaries of their land for the very first time, she learns something horrifying: There never was a war. Cities were never destroyed. The world is intact. Everything was a lie.

Now Juneau is adrift in a modern-day world she never knew existed. But while she’s trying to find a way to rescue her friends and family, someone else is looking for her. Someone who knows the extraordinary truth about the secrets of her past.

 

Before I Let Go by Marieke Nijkamp

33918883Days before Corey is to return home to the snow and ice of Lost Creek, Alaska, to visit her best friend, Kyra dies. Corey is devastated―and confused. The entire Lost community speaks in hushed tones about the town’s lost daughter, saying her death was meant to be. And they push Corey away like she’s a stranger.

Corey knows something is wrong. Lost is keeping secrets―chilling secrets. But piecing together the truth about what happened to her best friend may prove as difficult as lighting the sky in an Alaskan winter…

 

 

Touching Spirit Bear by Ben Mikaelsen

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After severely injuring Peter Driscal in an empty parking lot, troublemaker Cole Matthews is in major trouble. But instead of jail time, Cole is given an alternative: a one-year banishment to a remote Alaskan island. This program—called Circle Justice—is based on Native American traditions that provide healing for the criminal mind. To avoid serious jail time, Cole resolves to go. While there, Cole is mauled by a mysterious white bear and left for dead. Thoughts of his abusive parents, helpless Peter, and his violent anger cause him to examine the root of his troubled ways.

Author Ben Mikaelson delivers a poignant depiction of the vicious cycle of violence and one boy’s journey to healing.

 

Bonus: The Call of the Wild by Jack London

Next up, Arizona!

 

 

 

Top Five Wednesday: Books for your Hogwarts House

I wanted to be as accurate as possible, so I created another account on Pottermore and took the sorting quiz again to make sure. The first and second time I previously took it, I was a Gryffindor through and through. This time, however, I was sorted into Ravenclaw.

I’m having an identity crisis. Which end is up, who am I, what is the meaning of life – crisis.

Also, as an added bonus, I took the patronus quiz. Turns out, I’m a Marsh Harrier. You can imagine my confusion, as there is no such creature in existence in the good ol’ United States of America. No room for birds other than the Bald Eagle. So I looked it up.

A Marsh Harrier is basically a very common British Hawk. A dangerous pigeon, if you will. (Or if you won’t.) Hot damn. Let’s go knock out some Dementors.

Anyway. I’m just going to include both houses.

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My sentiments exactly, El Paso commercial. 

 

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

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Katniss is a Gryffindor through and through. She is endlessly loyal, brave, and daring, taking unnecessary risks in order to protect the people she loves. Prim belongs in Ravenclaw, as she has a ready mind and seems to think a lot more logically than Katniss does. (Peeta is a Hufflepuff, FYI.)

Outlander by Dianna Gabaldon

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With her quick wit, desire to learn, and logical mind, Claire would be definitely be sorted into Ravenclaw. Brawny, quick tempered, and selfless Jamie would be sorted into Gryffindor.

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

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This one is incredibly obvious… As university professors and accomplished scholars, both Diana and Matthew would be sorted into Ravenclaw.

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

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Isabelle Mauriac, “the nightingale,” would be sorted into Gryffindor for her unbridled bravery against the Nazi’s, loyalty to her fellow rebels in the face of death, and her strong sense of right and wrong.

The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

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Kelsea could go either way. She has a desire to learn and loves to read, but she is also brave and stands up for others. She has a strong sense of what is right and wrong, and she definitely has a lot of nerve. I think I’ll put Kelsea in Gryffindor.

My Favorite Book Series

There are certain books and series that I can read over and over again without getting tired of them, and every time I read I take away something different. The books in this list are old and new, but they are books that have stuck with me.

#5 The Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare

I read this series for the first time only last year, believe it or not. I put off reading it for so long because, for whatever reason, I associated the hype around it with Twilight. (Yeah, I don’t know either.) I guess I hated the hysteria and swooning that went along with Twilight, so when this series came out and people were swooning over Jem and Will I was like…. Hard pass. However, when I finally decided to read it, I was blown away with the writing, the characters, the adventure, and the world that Cassandra Clare created. Now, it’s among my top five favorite book series!

 

#4 The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Baby’s first dystopian novel. This series is what introduced me to the dystopian genre, if you don’t count 1984. I immediately fell in love with Katniss Everdeen and Suzanne’s writing. I have to admit that I had never heard of this series before they announced that the film was coming out, but I hopped on that train faster than you can say “tribute.”

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#3 Betsy-Tacy Series by Maud Hart Lovelace

I was first introduced to this series in the 2nd grade, when I read Betsy-Tacy, and Betsy, Tacy, and Tib for the first time. As a child with an active imagination and a growing affinity for historical fiction, I fell in love with Betsy Ray’s adventures in Deep Valley. What I love most about this series is that each book progresses in age and reading level as Betsy grows up, beginning with age 5 in Betsy-Tacy, and 20-something in Betsy’s Wedding. The books are simple, but timeless. They capture the nostalgia of growing up at the turn of the century so perfectly, and I’ve read my copies so often they are falling apart.

 

#2 Outlander Series by Dianna Gabaldon

This is another relatively new addition to my favorites, but I already know I’ll be reading about Jamie and Claire’s adventures for years to come. I read the first book in a day, which is a FEAT considering how long the books are. I got up to book 4 in a matter of weeks before I decided to take a break. I tend to binge read and not savor a series like I should. I had no idea I would love this series so much, but I’m so glad that I do!

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#1 Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling

Raise your hand if you knew this was coming… Harry Potter is a series that I have read over and over and over again, and I never get tired of it. Even on my 12th read, I still laugh and cry at the same parts. This is a series that is very close to my heart, and I can’t wait to read it to my kids one day. Hopefully they’re smart and will love it as much as I do.

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