Friday, February 27, 2015

March Book Battles are Coming!

March Madness is here! Of the bookish sort that is. There are two bracket style battles I'm invested in taking place in the coming weeks.

The first is the School Library Journal Battle of the Books. I've been following this one for years, and still love it. This is the first year in a few years where I haven't read all of the books, but there are still a lot of contenders I'm really excited about. You can see the brackets here.

The book I'm hoping wins it all:

This will be a challenge as the Newbery winner is famously unable to win this competition. It is probably not a shock then that this is what I voted for in the Undead Poll, which is now open. Go vote if there's a contender you love!

SLJ BoB 2015 commences on March 9. 

The other Battle I'm excited about is the YA/MG Book Battle which focuses on under-appreciated books from the backlist (including last year). You can see the contenders here. You can see the complete bracket for this battle here

I'm afraid I can not comment on what I would like to see win this particular battle as I'm a third round judge. And that's going to be HARD. So many of my favorites are in this battle. 

The YA/MG Battle starts Monday. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Blackbird Fly

Blackbird Fly by Erin Entrada Kelly appealed to me for so many different reasons. I am always looking for good, MG school stories, and this is one about an immigration experience as well. It's a good one too with strong characters, excellent themes, and a realism about middle school that made me slightly sick to my stomach.

Analyn, known by her nickname, Apple, moved to the US from the Philippines when she was only four years old. In the years since she has learned a disdain for herself and her mother. She is embarrassed by the food her mother cooks and how she saves every penny. She longs to be more like her American classmates. It is not easy being the only Filipino in her small town Louisiana school. Things get worse when Apple's social climbing friends want to have boyfriends, and it is revealed that Apple has made the school's "Dog Log". Apple hates herself more and more as school becomes even less bearable. Things at home are not much better. All Apple wants to do is learn to play guitar, and her mother won't allow her. Through some new friends, a lot of awful mistakes, and some hard lessons Apple begins to look beyond the small mindset of middle school social dynamics and works hard to make her future dreams a reality.

This book is seriously well done. So well done it actually hurts to read it. Middle school is the worst. I actually had knots in my stomach as I read about Apple's life. The often racist teasing. The yearning to fit in and be the same. The realization that her friends were not behind her. It's a wretched time for anyone and Apple's story conveys that so well. All MG readers will understand Apple on some level. In addition to the typical middle school story we also have Apple's feelings on being an immigrant child. Her embarrassment and resentment of her mother is conveyed so well. This is something else that readers will be able to identify with. What middle schooler isn't embarrassed and resentful of their family? But through Apple's eyes and story, readers will also learn that everyone has a story. The majority of the supporting characters are just as well drawn as Apple and each has a perfect place and moment in her story.

Blackbird Fly is a book about learning who you are and embracing it. I like that it doesn't make everything perfect though. There is one scene that is a bit over the top as far as breakthrough moments go, but it fits so well into where it is in the story and everything else around it is so real, I'm okay with that. And there is no indication that life is sunshine and roses after that. I did feel the end wrapped up a little quickly, but I also like that the books is as short as it is.

I enjoyed reading Blackbird Fly and recommend it to anyone who loves good MG school stories. I will certainly be putting a copy of it in the hands of my daughter.

I read an e-galley made available by the publisher, Greenwillow Books, via Edelweiss. Blackbird Fly goes on sale on March 24th.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

TTT: Favorite Heroines

This week's topic: Favorite Heroines 

I did a post on this way back when I first started writing down my thoughts about books. You can read that post here. It's a more in depth explanation of my top five, but I've moved some of what I said there to here.

In order I discovered them:

Meg Murry from Wrinkle in Time by Maeleine L'Engle 
"Maybe I don't like being different, but I don't want to be like everybody else either."
I can not begin to tell you everything that Meg did for me as a young reader. It is hard being different and knowing you are different. Is hard being a person who doesn't seem to excel at the things others find important: sports, dance, etc. It was a refreshing and eye-opening experience to read a book where a girl like Meg, a girl like me, is the hero. And she is heroic through the use of her brain and her heart.

Anne Shirley from Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maude Montgomery
"There's  such a lot of different Annes in me. I sometimes think that is why I'm such a troublesome person. If it was just the one Anne it would be ever so much more comfortable, but then it wouldn't be half so interesting." 
Anne is another kindred spirit in literary form I was delighted to discover. While I was never quite as dramatic as she is, I do know what it is like to have an imagination bigger than the world I'm currently inhabiting. This is another aspect of myself I felt was odd and no one else shared until I discovered Anne. I really appreciate how her story is so grounded in real world happenings too. She holds on to her dreams despite this, and I've always tried to follow her example and learn from her. She eventually finds such a good balance between the two. 

Elizabeth Bennet from Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen 
"There are few people whom I really love, and still fewer of whom I think well. The more I see of the world, the more am I dissatisfied with it; and every day confirms my belief of the inconsistency of all human characters, and of the little dependence that can be placed on the appearance of either merit or sense."
Elizabeth is another character I met at exactly the right point in my life. I love her stubborn independence and courage to go her own way and not compromise her principles. She also shows how easily it is to be taken in and manipulated by your own prejudices and misconceptions. And she owns her mistakes. I was turning a bit cynical when I discovered Pride and Prejudice. I was also beginning to think the high standards I had for relationships were maybe too high given I was one of the few people I knew not in one. She gave me the courage to stand by my convictions and not give in to society's pressures. 

Aravis Tarkheena from The Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis
“And what business is it of yours if I am only a girl?  You’re probably only a boy:  a rude, common little boy –a slave probably, who’s stolen his master’s horse.”
Aravis is hands down the best of the Narnian heroines. She's always been my favorite. She was raised in a society where women were counted as lesser citizens and had no say in determining their future.  When hers is determined for her she desires to end her life.  After an intervention from her talking horse she realizes she has another alternative:  she can run away.  So she puts on her brother’s armor and sword and does just that.  Aravis is also highly intelligent and manages to keep her head, even in very stressful situations. Most of all what I love about her is that even though she feels remorse for her misdeeds and understands how to make better decisions after her encounter with Aslan, she is still Aravis.  Her personality is not altered in the least.  She is still the outspoken, argumentative, feisty girl she has always been. 
Hermione Granger from Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling
Are you sure that's a real spell? Well, it's not very good is it? I've tried a few simple spells myself and they've all worked for me. Nobody in my family's magic at all, it was ever such a surprise when I got my letter, but I was ever so pleased, of course, it's the best school of witchcraft there is I've heard - I've learned all the course books by heart of course. I just hope it will be enough - I'm Hermione Granger, by the way, who are you?"
Hermione Granger is my literary twin so she has to be on this list.  Seriously, how much this girl is like me is actually a bit disturbing.  I too prefer the company of books to people on most days.  Growing up my closest friends were usually boys because I thought the girls my age were generally silly.  I still don’t understand why someone would choose to watch a sporting event over studying or intellectual discussion.  I like to be in control.  I am a planner and tend to think my plan usually is the best one.  I am not a risk taker.  I always want to be the one with the answer.  I have been called a know it all more than once in my life.  I can hold a grudge for an indecently long time. There are times where she is at her most shrill and bossy and I cringe, because I know I have sounded exactly like that more often than I would care to know.  I have learned to control some of this, I hope, as I’ve gained wisdom and maturity.  Hermione takes me back to my younger, more outspoken, self.  

Irene Attolia from The Queen of Atollia by Megan Whalen Turner
"I inherited this country when I was almost a child.  I have held it.  I have fought down rebellious barons.  I've fought Sounis to keep the land on this side of the mountain.  I have killed men and watched them hang.  I've seen them tortured to keep this country safe and mine.
I LOVE her. I wrote an entire post all about her once. She is not just my favorite heroine, but my favorite character of all time. Ever. She is just so complex. She is a woman who has done some truly terrible things for some very good reasons.  And she has done some terrible things for less acceptable reasons.  Nothing about her character is comfortable.  Irene made some hard choices at a young age.  These choices were the best she could make for her people and the security of her throne but they were not good for her personally.  They isolated her and pushed her further and further behind a mask of power, ruthlessness and inaccessibility until that persona gradually started to become all she was.  Irene is brilliant.  She is a master strategist, a fantastic manager and has amazing patience and a fierce control on her temper (mostly-one person tends to set it off).  She has a wry sense of humor.  She doesn’t enjoy her loneliness.  However, her inability to trust and rely on anyone slowly begins to erode her humanity away.  And she knows this and sees it happening.  This is the one area she is powerless to control though.  She can’t let down her guard while directing a war, managing her fractious barons, manipulating her enemies and maintaining her country’s independence. Everything about her character is so thorough and brilliantly established. 

Katherine Sutton from The Perilous Gard by Elizabeth Marie Pope
God?  You don’t look like any god to me, Christopher Heron!  You look like a piece of gilded gingerbread, that’s what you look like, one of those cakes they sell at a fair!”
Kate is probably not as familiar a character to some.  If you haven’t read The Perilous Gard, you should.  She is just made of awesome. Kate has grown up playing second fiddle to her more beautiful and vivacious younger sister.  When her sister does something completely witless and offends Queen Mary, it is Kate who finds herself being banished to an obscure castle in the north of England, known as The Perilous Gard.  Here the servants try to shape her opinions of the residents and nature of her new home.   But Kate is intelligent and stubborn enough to make her own opinions and those opinions start to wreak havoc on the way of life at Elvenwood Manor.  As does her tendency to express these opinions in sarcastic statements.  She is a spitfire for sure.  When her new friend Christopher sacrifices himself in order to save his niece’s life, Kate follows him into the underground world of the Fairy Folk.  Here she uses her wits, courage and strong will to save them both. 

Harriet Vane from Gaudy Night by Dorothy Sayers (Also Strong Poison, Have his Carcase, and Busman's Honeymoon)
I seem to be behaving very stupidly.  But the reason why I want to-to get clear of people and feelings and go back to the intellectual side is  that that is the only side of life I haven’t betrayed and made a mess of.”
I really like the way Harriet stands up to the adversity she faces.  She manages to get through her imprisonment with her sense of humor intact.  She doesn’t even carry a grudge against the police for putting her there.  What I like best is Harriet comes through her ordeal knowing herself and is unwilling to make similar mistakes again.  She spends a great deal of time trying to figure out what she wants and I admire her for this.  An easier route was open to her but she refused, for various reasons, to accept it.  It takes a great deal of courage to follow the path she sets off down, and also to admit her faults as easily as she does. And while I love her for everything she is herself, I also love how perfect she is for Peter. Best romance. 

Millie Chant from The Lives of Christopher Chant by Diana Wynne Jones (and all the other Chrestomanci Books)
"She's got her Very Stupid expression on. Don't be fooled by that. She doesn't want people to know how clever she really is. It's a very useful expression. I use it in lessons when Mother Proudfoot or Mother Dowson go boring on."
I realize that Sophie is the more oft chosen favorite DWJ heroine, and as much as I love Sophie, I love Millie even more. She grew up a goddess. A goddess. Wrap your mind around that. And when she was finally able to choose her own life, she chose what most people would think is a completely ordinary and drab existence. She is a wife and mother. Yes, she's also an enchantress in her own right, but a good deal of her energy goes to running Chrestomanci castle and making sure that the children in her care are not burning anything down (no small task). She is so incredibly good at it though. She isn't particularly beautiful or seemingly powerful, but she is shaping the life of the next Chrestomanci, just as much as she shaped Christopher's.  There is great power and an awful lot to honor in that. And there is the not inconsequential fact that her wedding band contains Christopher's ninth life. He trusted her enough to put his life literally in her hands and her power backs him up. 

Maddie Brodatt in Code Name Verity and Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein
"A part of me will always be unflyable, stuck in the climb."
Maddie has such a quiet strength to her. You see it all through Code Name Verity. Even when she is scared and broken and hurt, she has that quiet strength. It is even  more apparent in Rose Under Fire when you see how far she's come. How she is moving on with her life, continuing to build, continuing to help, continuing to fly despite the part of her that will always be a little broken. You can see it in how she gives Rose strength and supports her. Maddie's heart is huge and she is able to do great things with that quiet strength of hers. Of all the characters on this list she is the one I'm least like, but the one I wish I could be more like. 

I really like this topic because it made me think about the whys behind the female characters I admire. I am going to expand this and do some more posts throughout the year that focus on my favorites in each genre and age category I read. All won't be as wordy as this one is, but I want to highlight more of the amazing female characters I admire.

Who are some of you favorite heroines? 

Friday, February 20, 2015

Books That Fill Me with Missionary Zeal

Why yes, that's a totally made up word in my title. Full credit for that goes to author Stephanie Burgis who wrote this post a couple weeks ago about book missionizing. That got me thinking about the books that fill me with the most evangelistic zeal. What are the books I recommend most often and to as many people as possible.

The Authors/Series I recommend:



These are my auto-buy authors, the ones I love and recommend the most. There are MG, YA, and Adult books here in all different genres: fantasy, science fiction, historical, romance, adventure, mystery. Many of these authors write more than one of these into their story. What you will find with any one of these authors is that whatever they are writing about, it's just darn good writing and their characters will be amazing. Because I love characters.

Individual Books I Get Excited About:

 Those two bottom ones are my most recent obsessions.

What about you? Are there any books that fill you with a passion to let the world know they exist?

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Prairie Fire

Last year I read The Story of Owen: Dragon Slayer of Trondheim by E.K. Johnston and fell in love. I fell in love with the characters, the town of Trondheim, the world Johnston created, and the voice that told the story-Siobhan. I immediately began looking forward to the sequel, Prairie Fire. Now that I've read it, I'm sort of wrecked but only the best of ways.

Prairie Fire is very much a sequel in the strictest sense of the word. It is the second half of Owen and Siobhan's story. While you could probably read it first, the emotional pay off will be far greater if you don't. If you haven't read The Story of Owen, go and do that. I don't know what's been holding you back anyway.

Spoilers for The Story of Owen ahead. You've been warned.

Siobhan, Owen, and Sadie have graduated from high school and are beginning their service to the Oil Watch. Siobhan has mostly recovered from her encounter with the dragon that left her hands burned, but she will always have limited mobility. She is learning to cope. She has found a different instrument. She still feels a strong sense of purpose. Siobhan is Owen's bard, and she does not take that commitment likely. Hailed by much of the populous as heroes, Siobhan and Owen are not looked on quite as favorably by their government. They find themselves stationed in Alberta on the edge of the Canadian prairie-an assignment that's kind of a slap in the face given Owen's talent and proven ability. But their support team is top-notch and they've bonded. They find the other two novice teams, one American and one Japanese, easy to work with. All three teams forge new ties and friendships, bonds needed living in the realm of the most dangerous dragon species alive with an instructor who is a frowned upon rule-breaker and a general who scorns all the things Owen and Siobhan stand for.

"When Lieutenant Porter said 'it's our busy season', what he'd meant was 'Shit there are dragons everywhere. Duck.'"

This quote sums the book up nicely. There are a lot more dragons, dragon slayings, and close encounters with dragons in this book than the first. There was quite a lot of set-up in the first book. It was a time to get to know both Owen and Siobhan, time to get to know the world, and to fully understand what it was the Thorskgards were fighting for. True, there were plenty of dragons to be found too, but in this second half they're everywhere. Also in this book the reader is introduced to the mother of all dragons-nearly unbeatable and scary as everything. The pace is much faster than the first book. It feels like a head long rush to the explosive and shattering end.

Siobhan's recovery is rather skipped over. Her emotional recovery happens much faster than seems reasonable until you remember how young she is. And young people often can bounce back and find new routes quicker than adults. She still has her music. It's just different. I think too that her being a rather even tempered individual from the start helps the believability of this. The story becomes Siobhan's more than ever as she and Owen are separated for quite some time. The government is trying to keep Siobhan's influence over public opinion to a minimum. They want the people to forget Owen's a hero. Owen's presence is still felt even in his absence though, and Siobhan still works on ways to get what he is capable of out there. These two have an amazing relationship, a friendship that is truer and stronger than average. I love how much they give to each other and complement each other. Siobhan gave Owen a voice. Owen gave Siobhan a story. And it is absolutely beautiful.

There are a number of new characters introduced in this story and I loved them all-Courtney the engineer and Porter the lieutenant especially. The other two dragon slayers add so much to the story as well and I love the interactions between them. (Nick, the American from NYC, was a particular favorite and I wished we had just a bit more from him.) The characters in the first book are all back though we see far less of them now that Siobhan and Owen are away from home. Sadie is present for much of the first half, but is assigned to the UK while Siobhan and Owen remain in Canada. I enjoyed her when she was there though. She is a perfect balance to both Siobhan and Owen.

Thematically this book is even more brilliant than its predecessor. The slayers and their teams are all so young. All serving their countries and the world in a noble pursuit. But bureaucracy and politics being what they are, they can't always do it effectively. They are dedicated, bold, and brilliant. What they do has a high cost though and Johnston shows that beautifully.

Basically this book left me sort of wrecked, but in a brilliant way.

I read an ARC provided by the publisher, Carlolrhoda Books, at ALA Midwinter. Prairie Fire goes on sale on March 1st.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Cybils Winners are Announced

This year's Cybils Winners were announced just a little while ago. You can find every category's winner here.

I served on the MG Speculative Fiction first round committee this year. The winner chosen from the finalists we selected is:
Here is my review.

Of all today's winners, this is the one I'm most excited about:
It won in the category of YA Realistic. This book is so good and deserves way more recognition than it has received so far. Here is my review.

The award season for 2014 books is officially over. It looks like any award committee in any form meeting for 2015 pubs are going to have their work cut out for them.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Listen, Slowly

Thanhha Lai's Inside Out & Back Again took the kidlit world by storm a couple years ago, garnering both the National Book Award and a Newbery Honor. Anticipation for her second book, coming out this month, is high. In my opinion, Listen, Slowly is even better than Lai's first book.

Mai has plans for her summer. Plans that involve hanging out at the beach with her best friend, Montana, and Him-the boy she's had a crush on since he talked about a love poem in English class. Her plans most definitely do not involve accompanying her grandmother on a trip to Vietnam to discover information about her long missing grandfather. But try telling that to her do-gooder parents. Her father will be spending his summer in Vietnam doctoring needy children and can't be there to help Bà. Her mother is trying an important case and can't go to Vietnam at all. As the youngest cousin with no pressing academic plans, Mai is selected to go and make sure Bà is okay and has all she needs. Mai's goal is to get this excursion over with and fly home as soon as possible. As the days in Vietnam pass she is assaulted by mosquitos, heat, a rash of pimples, an attack of diarrhea from swallowing pond water, and not completely understanding the people around her all the time. But she also makes a new friend, learns more about her Bà and Ông, the war that tore her family apart, and the country whose rich history, culture and language runs through her California girl veins.

The rich setting and distinctive voice were my favorite aspects of Inside Out & Back Again. Lai's talent for both shine even brighter in Listen, Slowly. Mai's voice is perfect middle schooler. She is sassy, sarcastic, pouty, self-centered, sneaky, and argumentative. She is also kind, brave, loyal, and a little scared of the future and her place in it. She is a bit wrapped up in her own privilege too. Her parents want her to learn to give and be appreciative. She rolls her eyes a lot. I loved her to pieces. Upon reaching Vietnam, she learns a lot about family, friendship, and loyalty, but doesn't morph into a different person. She's still a snarky, sneaky, slightly awkward middle schooler. In Vietnam she makes a friend, one of her many cousins, named Út. Út loves frogs and being the bane of her mother's existence. The girls don't  hit it off, but through many shared adventures and schemes become close friends.

The story is quiet and full of lush descriptions of Vietnam. Even though the plot is not full of heart-stopping actions and events, it is rich with the smaller events of life. Lai mostly manages to maintain a quick pace with these smaller events, and there is so much humor in the book. I laughed out loud several times.

The setting is incredibly well done. It is quite easy to feel completely immersed in the country of Vietnam. Lai's descriptive prose with told through the snarky tone of Mai's voice convey a beautiful country. The reader sees the large clogged cities with their noise and pollution and the slower life of the smaller villages. Lai manages to keep a light tone when discussing politics and the realities of a developing country, but still conveyes the scope and breadth of the issues. Her ability to bring things to a level middle graders can understand and appreciate is impressive. Part of what makes it so good, is that she doesn't condescend to her readers. The book is full of Vietnamese, some of it translated, some not. Context works well enough so the reader knows what is going on, and it just adds richness and authenticity to the setting. One of my favorites scenes is when Mai's translator is trying to teach her about how all the different accent marks and pronunciations change the meaning of the word Ba and Mai's comparing the noises to sheep: a frightened sheep, a serious sheep, a surprised sheep, a sheep falling over, and "I get to say 'whatever' while sounding like a constipated sheep." It's funny and conveys the complexities of the language perfectly.

Going with Mai and her grandmother on their journeys of discovery and closure is a privilege every reader will enjoy. I laughed and cried with them, and felt like I was a part of their family when I finished.

I read an ARC provided by the publisher, Harper Children's, at ALA Midwinter. Listen, Slowly goes on sale February 17.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

TTT: Things I Want When it Comes to Romance

This week's TTT topic: Things I Like/Dislike When it Comes to Romance

Things I Like Love and Want When it Comes to Romance

BANTER-The more banter and the more snarky it is, the better.

Excellent Examples of Banter Can Be Found In: The King of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner (YA Fantasy), To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis (Adult Sci-Fi), The Perilous Gard and The Sherwood Ring by Elizabeth Marie Pope (YA/MG Historical), Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge (YA Fantasy), Biggest Flirts by Jennifer Echols (YA Contemporary),

Conversation-I like reading conversations where the couple in a romance discuss things. Music, art, books, politics, sports, movies-anything that is outside the realm of their relationship with each other. I like to know that these are whole people who have things to say to each other beyond: "You're hot and I want to make out with you".

Excellent Examples of Conversation Between Romantic Couples Can Be Found In: Gaudy Night by Dorothy Sayers (adult mystery), The Perilous Gard by Elizabeth Marie Pope (YA/MG Historical), Knife by R.J. Anderson, Perfect Couple by Jennifer Echols (YA Contemporary), I'll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios (YA Contemporary),  Bone Gap by Laura Ruby (YA Magical Realism)

Intelligence: Yes, I like the individuals who make a couple to display intelligence independently and with each other. This makes the first two things on my list happen more easily in a story.

Excellent Examples of Intelligent Romantic Pairings Can Be Found In: The King of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner (YA Fantasy), Gaudy Night by Dorothy Sayers (adult mystery), The Perilous Gard and The Sherwood Ring by Elizabeth Marie Pope (YA/MG Historical) Across a Star Swept Sea by Diana Peterfreund (YA Fantasy), Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge (YA Fantasy)

Strong Relationships Outside of Romantic Relationship: I like to see the individuals involved in romance have good relationships outside of their romantic pairing. If the romantic pairing is all there is in the character's life, it's not a good sign for the health of the relationship.

Excellent Examples of SRORR Can Be Found In: Anything written by Melina Marchetta (She is a master at this. YA Realistic and Fantasy), All the Jennifer Echols books I've read so far have this too (YA Contemporary), The Bitter Kingdom by Rae Carson (YA Fantasy), I'll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios (YA Contemporary)

Sexy Times: I admit it. I enjoy reading about kissing, and yes, even more. Lust, passion, and physical attraction are super important in a romantic relationship and I need the author to make me believe it. Note that does not mean I need every single detail. I just need to know for sure it is there. In fact, The King of Attollia has this with it being so incredibly subtle it would go over the heads of its younger readers. But it's definitely there.

Excellent Examples of Sexy Times Can Be Found In: Busman's Honeymoon by Dorothy Sayers, Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge (YA Fantasy), The Bitter Kingdom by Rae Carson (YA Fantasy), Bone Gap by Laura Ruby (YA Magical Realism), The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas (YA Fantasy)

Swoony Times: This what I call those moment of intense emotional connection or individual sacrifice one half of the couple makes for the other.

Excellent Examples of Swoony Times Can Be Found In: The King of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner (YA Fantasy), Guady Night by Dorothy Sayers (Adult Mystery)  Arrow by R.J. Anderson (Paul at the end!!!! YA/MG Fantasy), The Perilous Gard and The Sherwood Ring by Elizabeth Marie Pope (YA/MG Historical), Crown of Embers by Rae Carson (YA Fantasy), Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein (Maddie and Jamie's letters-my heart! YA Historical Fiction), The Perilous Sea by Sherry Thomas (YA Fantasy)

Even though I don't review it on the blog, I do read a lot of adult romance. Here are my favorite books by my favorite authors. I love these authors because they all do this entire list so well. Every. Single. Thing.

 And then, of course, there was the book that started it all and inspired me to look for all these things in a good romance:

Do you enjoy reading romances? What sort of things do you look for?