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Lisa the Nerd

I'm a nerd who likes to read YA lit. Sometimes adult books when someone insists it's fabulous. Always Jane Austen.

Currently reading

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
J.K. Rowling, Mary GrandPré
Shadow Kiss
Richelle Mead
Such a Rush
Jennifer Echols
Wool Omnibus (Wool, #1-5)
Hugh Howey
Amy & Roger's Epic Detour - Morgan Matson, Suzy Jackson In a sentence or so: A boy and a girl who are pretty much strangers go on a road trip across the country and much non cheesy soul searching and self discovery transpires. Amy and Roger are both heading across the country to places they really don’t want to go. Amy has to leave California for Connecticut to join her mom in their new life after her dad died. It’s a new place and it’s weird and she just doesn’t want to go. But really she doesn’t want to do much of anything these days besides go through the motions. Roger is leaving California to go stay with his dad and dad’s new family in Philadelphia. Roger needed a ride, and Amy isn’t driving since the accident, so their moms hatched this scheme to get them across the country together.What could have been a supremely awkward few days turns into side trips that reveal much about who Amy and Roger really are. Amy has yet to deal with the grief of losing her father and the state her family is in since the accident. Roger has some unfinished business with a college girlfriend who dumped him without an explanation. You guys KNOW I’m all about the self discovery and this book is LOADED with it. Like, packed to the ceiling with feelings and internal musings and moving forward emotionally. I love that we can experience the change in a character in a stand alone novel. I love that self discovery resonates with each and every one of us as a reader in a different way. Between the road trip atmosphere of playlists and gas stations and road snacks and the slow building relationship between Roger and Amy and all of the emotional release for both of them coming to terms with their futures, this book really stands apart as an extraordinary contemporary read. Fave quote: Alas, listening to the book on audio did not lend itself to quotability for my review. But of course there were many good one liners. I wish I could relay some to you! If you have some to share - please do!
Shadow and Bone - Leigh Bardugo n a sentence or so: Alina has crazy amounts of power that could possibly save her country from the Shadow Fold which is full of monsters that will EAT YOUR FACE, if only she could discover how to tap into her power without being forced to and find the courage within herself to be the powerful Grisha she is destined to be.Alina and Mal have been best friends since they showed up as orphans on the same doorstep as children. Mal is everything Alina is not. He is confident, charismatic, and skilled. Alina...not so much. At least, that’s what she thinks. When their military troop is attacked crossing the Shadow Fold, Alina looks deep within herself to protect Mal and something incredible happens. She becomes light. Something that the Grisha had thought would never happen. Something that makes no sense to Alina and certainly no sense to anyone else.After getting swept up by the Grisha and the Darkling (who is like the Grisha HBIC but a dude), Alina is off to train to become a Grisha. Which sounds like it would be super cool, if not for the fact that she has NO idea how to channel her power, she misses Mal like crazy (and maybe finally admits she kinda like likes him), and she thinks maybe the Darkling is flirting with her? You know, the immensely powerful and living through multiple lifetimes (Dalai Lama/Avatar Aang style) Darkling? NO BIG DEAL. Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo marks the beginning of a trilogy rich with magic, Russian influence, and lots of feels. Alina is a solid main character who has a whole world dumped on her shoulders and doesn’t feel worthy of the task. We’re with her as she struggles to find her place among the Grisha and find confidence in herself. And of course a little love triangle/swoony times on the side doesn’t hurt the book either...I’ve heard lots of raves about this book from the likes of my blogger friends such as Heidi, Kristi, Amy and April. Yeah, how’s THAT for some praise? Naturally, they were right. I was immediately swept away into Shadow and Bone thanks to Leigh Bardugo’s world building. I loved the Russian influence and of COURSE I always love anything to do with magic and fantasy and dark creatures so that was fantastic. If you’re looking for a YA fantasy that has solid relationships, rich world building, a strong female lead and a diverse supporting cast, give Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo a shot. I think you’ll become engrossed in Alina’s story and start casting your lots pretty quick! Fave quote: "I wasn't nervous or frightened. I wasn't anything anymore." (335)
Blood Red Road - Moira Young In a sentence or so: Saba’s twin brother Lugh is kidnapped and she will do anything and go anywhere to rescue him.Saba, Lugh, Emmi and their Pa live on a little bit of dry, miserable land by a watering hole. They seldom see people, and when they do, they’re suspicious. And rightfully so, because when a group of men rides up, notes Lugh’s (but not Saba’s) crescent moon mark on his face, they kidnap him. Their Pa dies in the effort to prevent him from being kidnapped, but not before telling Saba that she will need to be strong. That people will need her. That her time on this earth is not even close to being over.So off Saba and Emmi go, across the vast unsafe world to find Lugh. They aren’t the biggest fans of each other, since Lugh is really the one that bonded them together, so the trip is even harder than it would be otherwise. Saba is soon swept up into a dangerous world where she is desperate to survive if only to rescue her twin and keep Emmi safe. Corrupt dictators, harsh desert like environments, cage fighting to the death, and ambush are just a few of the struggles Saba has to face in Blood Red Road. Don’t worry though. It’s not ALL awful. She does meet a boy with gray eyes named Jack who just might be the perfect boy for her. He’s calm, thoughtful, and just a touch silly where Saba is anxious and uptight and all business all the time. Quite a pair, those two.I feel like my review for this book simply cannot do Blood Red Road justice. Moira Young writes in dialect (which did not bother me in the slightest, as you KNOW I loved The Chaos Walking Trilogy) that helps set the tone for the book. Saba is in a very different and considerably more harsh world than the one we know. While there isn’t a ton of world building, that was okay because really it’s more about the characters in the world. Which isn’t to say you don’t get a feel for the climate and craziness of the peeps in charge. OH you do. I can hereby claim Blood Red Road by Moira Young as one of my all time favorite dystopians. I loved Saba and her curmudgeonliness mixed with bravery and dedication. I loved Jack and his ability to soften Saba yet still let her be who she is meant to be. I loved Emmi and her wisdom and courage. I loved the crazy plot of Blood Red Road because you really don’t know where you’re headed - just like our lovably cranky heroine. Fave quote: "They call me the Angel of Death." (164 ARC)Pairs well with: Okay, bear with me on this one. It's definitely lulz but it always reminds me of Jack and Saba. She don't know she's beautiful!
The Original Adventures of Hank the Cowdog - John R. Erickson, Gerald L. Holmes In a sentence or so: Hank the Cowdog is trying to solve the mystery of who killed the hen when he decides he’s had ENOUGH of the ranch and their lack of respect for him and heads off to be an outlaw. Lols ensue.There’s been a murder on the ranch. Thankfully, Hank the Cowdog is head of ranch security and is well trained in such things. He does a thorough search for tracks and evidence with his #2 Drover and they come up with nothin’. Drover isn’t really all that helpful for Hank, but he appreciates him nonetheless and tries to encourage him when he can. So Hank’s trying to solve this mystery and then he maybe sorta accidentally puts himself into a compromising situation that leaves him shamed and dejected by his owners. He decides to quit the ranch and leave them all behind if THAT’S how they’re going to act. He turns outlaw and joins the coyotes. He knows he doesn’t really fit in with the coyotes what with their eating of rancid meat and their uncivilized violence and what not...but if he can’t solve the mystery of the murdered hen, where DOES he he fit in? What’s a cowdog to do?I ADORED this series when I was in elementary school. Every time we had library time, I’d hunt out the next Hank the Cowdog and happily turn all the pages, devouring Hank’s wit and humor. I was a little worried about going back as an adult and reading a series written for elementary/younger MG. You guys, worrying was a waste of time.Hank the Cowdog is completely age appropriate while still being silly and thoughtful and fun for all ages. Hank thinks he’s pretty hot biz, but you figure out pretty quickly that he’s not quite the detective and badass he thinks he is. Don’t worry - it only adds to his charm and sincerely funny interactions. If you have kiddos who like reading adventure books that are a little bit silly, or if you yourself are into that kind of thing (like ME!), then give Hank the Cowdog a chance. If you like it, you have about 60 other books in the series! Fave quote: “As a rule, I”m a pretty good sport. I was a kid once myself and I got into my share of mischief, but I can’t get used to people biting my tail. I mean, there’s something kind of special and private about a guy’s tail. If he’s got any pride at all, and he tries to keep it nice, and he’s a little fussy about scabs and bald spots and tooth marks and slobber and all that stuff.”
Unravel Me - Tahereh Mafi Obviously I can’t (okay fine I WON’T) avoid spoilers for Shatter Me. So read that first and then come back to this piece. Thanks. In a sentence or so: Juliette is now with the underground movement against the bad guys which is a lot more complicated than it seems because she’s so lethal no one really knows what to do with her.So Juliette is revealed as the full form badass that she is and the underground leaders, which include Kenji, are like YES PLEASE because what a huge advantage to bringing down their oppressive government/rulers/dudes in charge, right? Well, Juliette doesn’t really know how to harness her badassery and is actually pretty whiney and withdrawn and makes things complicated for everyone. It’s frustrating. We get more development of Juliette and Adam and their relationship is on the rocks. Mainly because of her crazy powers of destruction but also because she’s kinda maybe got feelings for WARNER and it’s about time quite frankly because he is everything.In addition to learning more about the underground movement and what their plan is for Juliette, we discover more about Warner and Adam and the other players in the game. I’m really bummed to tell you that Juliette is pretty much the worst in this one so don’t get your hopes up that she’ll be all femme badass because despite having the power to do so, she mostly isn’t and is wishy washy and whiney and blurg. For all my Team Warner fans out there, this one is for you. You find out more behind the broken man you learned about in Shatter Me and of course it makes you fan yourself and swoon and feel all the feels. So that’s exciting!Without spoilers, know that lots of things happen, mainly towards the end of the book. We learn more about other characters than we do about Juliette which is just fine considering her aforementioned lameness in this installment. Mafi’s writing continues to be crazy addictive and her storyline is that wonderful blend of dystopian+supernatural that I cannot get enough of. Basically if you thought Shatter Me was rad, you’ll be all about Unravel Me and jonesing for the next book which totally isn’t coming soon enough for my liking. Fave quote: I know that he is a tortured soul who, like me, never grew up with the warmth of friendship or love or peaceful coexistence. I know that his father is the leader of The Reestablishment and applauds his son's murders instead of condemning them and I know that Warner has no idea what it's like to be normal. Neither do I. (110)Pairs well with: Friends to fangirl over Warner with you because you will NEED IT. Don't worry. I got you.Fix er up: Juliette was the WORST you guys. I need her to come back full force in book 3 and be the badass I know she is on the inside. Believe in yourself, J!
The Lost Prince - Julie Kagawa It's no secret that I adored the Iron Fey series by Julie Kagawa. I literally pre-ordered The Iron Fey box set while reading The Iron King. So yeah, I'm kinda obsessed. But would I love The Lost Prince? I mean how could I ever hope to love a book and a boy as much as I love Ash?Oh Julie. I will never ever doubt you ever.(full review to come closer to the release date of the book..)
Insignia - S.J. Kincaid n a sentence or so: Ubergamer teen Tom Raines is drafted by the US Military to train for and eventually virtually fight in World War III going down in space.Tom doesn't live a great life. He bounces from hotel to hotel with his gambling dad and attends a virtual high school...sometimes. He's not cute. He's socially awkward. But that boy Tom can GAME. That special talent eventually catches the eye of a top recruiter for the military and after his father essentially signs his life away, Tom starts a whole new life. A life where he matters. A life where he's smart and special and better. A life that is taking him down a path of power and prestige. A life that involves great risk and even greater reward.It's no secret that I like video games. When Anna was reading this book, she went all CAPS at me in her insistence this was such a Lisa book. GIRL WAS RIGHT.Insignia has elements of Ender's Game meets Divergent with a heaping serving of techy goodness. While I was all about the gaming and tech speak, I also really really liked Tom and his friends and the plot that drove the story. His roommate and quick best friend Vik refer to themselves as the Doctors of Doom when they get their prank on. I mean REALLY. It doesn't get much more awesome and teenage boy than that.I don't think you have to like video games to like this book. I think you just have to like solid male main characters who are smart and funny while being insecure and desperately wanting to do what's right in the midst of moral gray. S.J. Kincaid blends world building and character building perfectly with a constant balance dramatic tension and 14 year old boy humor.So come. Meet Tom and his friends at the Pentagonal Spire where he trains to fight in a space war and immerse yourself in the moral dilemmas and love triangles and budding best friendships in the midst of a war fought by teenagers. You'll be glad you did.Fave quote: "Tom decided he'd stay up all night if he had to. His brain was whirling. He had a date...kind of. With a real, live girl...he hoped." (15)Pairs well with: VIDEO GAMES. Get your game on, yo. Even if it's Tetris, that counts. Geek out. It's good for you.Fix er up: Um yeah, you guys probably already know this about me but I'm basically a 28 year old lady on the outside and a 12 year old boy at my core. So there's nothing about this that could be better. Unless I was at the Pentagonal Spire hanging with the crew too, obvs.
Firelight - Sophie Jordan In a sentence or so: Jacinda is caught in her dragon form by a group of hunters and has to go on the run with her mom and sister before the tribe can punish her.So Jacinda and her friend are out cruising the sky in their dragon forms and they KNOW it’s not allowed but whatever, its super fun, so they do it anyway. A group of hunters catches sight of them and barely misses capturing them. It is kind of a big deal and the dragon leaders are all “We need to do something about her” which translates creepily into “Let’s clip her wings and marry her off to the son of the tribe leader”.Fortunately, Jacinda’s mom helps their family escape. Unfortunately, they go to super duper dry Arizona where Jacinda’s inner dragon can barely survive. Which just might be her mom’s way of killing off her draki side so she can live a normal life. But what if Jacinda doesn’t want a normal life, okay?!There are DRAGONS, I say! There are also cute boys, swoony times, self discovery, mean girls, and sweet family dynamics that are complicated and feel so very real. Most importantly though, DRAGONSSSS.I zoomed through this book in no time, thanks to Sophie Jordan’s solid writing and fresh plot. It was one of those stories where the reader is plopped into the fantasy (which I strongly prefer), rather than a slow reveal of abilities or whatever.Honestly, if you like YA romance and fantasy and quick reads that make you happy while making you think a little bit, read Firelight. It’s super fun! Oh yeah, and there are dragon things happening. In case you missed it.Pairs well with: A misty mountain view. Since Jacinda’s real home is in the mountains where it’s humid and easy peasy for her draki form to come through, that’s where she’s happiest.Fix er up: The insta-love. Give me some dramatic tension!
The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight - Jennifer E. Smith In a sentence or so: A girl meets a boy and sweet, swoony, quirky, thoughtful, and simply lovely things happen in the midst of frustration, grief, and delayed flights. Hadley's late for her flight to her dad's wedding in London to some lady she's never met and doesn't want to meet, thank you very much, because it basically destroyed her family. She's got her angst amped up to 11 when she misses her flight and bumps into this adorable British boy named Oliver who ends up sitting next to her on the plane and being genuinely awesome and a tad silly but also sincerely interested in what Hadley's got going on in her life.This is a story of life changes and disappointment and unexpected hope. While I thought Hadley was totally justified in her frustration and angst, I loved that Oliver listened to her, respected her, and tried to give her some perspective while being supportive. He ended up voicing a lot of the advice I would have to Hadley. Which of course endeared him to me all the more.Sure, Hadley and Oliver are what keep the pages turning, but within those pages is depth and insight into families and second chances and life changes we can all relate to. I was expecting an adorable romance (hello - BRITISH BOY) but was pleasantly surprised by the emotional exploration and family plots. If you're looking for a read that will make you laugh, swoon, think and hope, please read The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight. You know, if you're one of the 4 people who hasn't already done so.Fix er up: More, please! Pairs well with: Your favorite latte. Because like your favorite latte, this book will make you feel all warm and fuzzy and happy inside. Also, it reads like a friend over a cup of coffee so that is double perfect.Fave quote: "In the end, it's not the changes that will break your heart; it's that tug of familiarity." (21 ARC)
A Dance With Dragons (A Song of Ice and Fire, #5) - George R.R. Martin O_O
Seraphina - Rachel Hartman In a sentence or so: While the uneasy peace between dragons and humans grows increasingly tense, the half-human and half-dragon Seraphina tries to figure out who she is and how she fits into this decades long drama. THERE BE DRAGONS, YO. Seriously, dragons are the best. These dragons can take a human form, which burdens them with Feelings and Emotions and Vulnerability. But when they aren’t in human form, they’re all about their hoards and stuff. Half of them are for the peace, but the other half are all about taking down the weak humans. Seraphina is half and half which is totally unheard of, probably forbidden, and freaks out people on both sides. However, Seraphina is also smart and kind and an incredible musician who’s ridiculously brave. So when she starts to become increasingly involved in the Dragon and Human conflict, you root for her and trust in her and want the world to accept her for who she is. The medieval setting partnered with dragons and court intrigue and political motives made for a YA read unlike any I’ve read before. As a lover of fantasy things, this didn’t bother me in the slightest, just surprised me a bit. If you’re looking for a fantasy that will make you think, present an incredibly fresh perspective on dragon lore and a kick-ass heroine, as well as a good doses of mystery, self discovery, and swoon, you will love Seraphina by Rachel Hartman! Fave quote: “For the merest moment I couldn’t breathe. Something inside me quivered, some oud string plucked by his words, and if I breathed it would stop.” (174) Fix er up: It takes awhile for things to really get started, what with the world building and all. So you have to be in the mood for this sort of book. And if you are, you are in for the best of reads! Pairs well with: Orchestral yet totally badass music. If you're feeling especially fancy pants, go all medieval with it. Then it will be like you're channeling Seraphina herself! Also, sweatpants. Not just because sweatpants are the best but because there is a particularly swoony scene practically in blizzard conditions.

The Hobbit

The Hobbit - In a sentence or so: Bilbo Baggins, a clan of dwarves and Gandalf go on an adventure to score some treasure from a dragon. Bilbo is just a chill little hobbit who likes hanging out in the Shire. He’s more into the tea and biscuits than grand adventures. Although even the most reclusive of hobbits can’t say no to a journey with 14 dwarves and his favorite wizard Gandalf when there’s a potential to cash out huge in the end. So Bilbo takes a risk, albeit very reluctantly, and joins the dwarves on their quest. Crazy things happen! Bilbo proves useful! But he also remains fussy that he’s not at home with a cup of tea! They have to rely on teamwork and wit! Dragons are super rad! Friends, you know how I feel about Lord of the Rings. I watch the extended edition movies about once every 2-3 months. Andrew and I own at least 3 LOTR themed board games*. Yeah. I’m serious about it. BUT I’ve never read the books. I KNOW. Shame me and take my nerd card or whatever but I’m just trying to keep it real here.I read The Hobbit to try and begin fixing this glaring absence in my nerd repertoire. I loved the adventure and the characters and Bilbo’s inner monologue. I loved the wit and narrative asides from Tolkien to the reader. I completely understand why this book is an adored classic.However, if you’re not familiar with the world of fantasy, there are lots of descriptions and stories and songs that aren’t directly plot related. Hell, even if you do know the world of fantasy, this one still strays off the path more than most. However, those asides DO add to the overall warmth of the book. Just be warned that this adventure is a bit winding. If you haven’t already read The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien and classic literature, fantasy, and/or adventure are your thing, DO IT. You will regret nothing. *If my nerdiness is too much for you after this, I totally understand. Fave quote: "So they laughed and sang in the trees; and pretty fair nonsense I daresay you think it. Not that they would care; they would only laugh all the more if you told them so. They were elves of course." (46)Fix er up: Some of the descriptions were a titch much for me.
Au Revoir, Crazy European Chick - Joe Schreiber In a sentence or so: Perry takes his family's frumpy and severely awkward foreign exchange student to prom. Only she's not a frumpy foreign exchange student - she's a super hot assassin.Perry's incredibly overbearing father and compassionate mother twist his arm into taking Gobi, their super awkward foreign exchange student, to prom. Not only is he surprised Gobi even wants to go (being a social outcast and all), but prom falls on the night of his band's FIRST EVER big gig. Seriously, sometimes the stars just align in the worst possible way. But as deflated as Perry might be about these circumstances, nothing will prepare him for where the night will take him.After a small altercation on the dance floor, Perry and Gobi ditch prom. She wants to go to downtown New York, it being her final week in the states and all. Perry, being the nice guy he is, agrees. While sitting at a table in a club waiting for Gobi, he's approached by a total knockout in a tight black minidress. Yeah, it's Gobi. Mind still spinning, Perry and Gobi are zooming around the city. Her purpose for hiding her identity for all these months are sinister, yet Perry can't escape. Whether by choice or by force, he's along for the ride as she heads out for a night of fatal revenge.Yeah, FATAL REVENGE. Guys, there's killing in this book. And also it's about prom and first gigs and best friends and parent pressure about college choices and cracks about being a virgin and his balls sucking up into his stomach. Another bonus? The chapter titles are questions from college applications. In short, Au Revoir, Crazy European Chick ruled.Au Revoir, Crazy European Chick is a fast-paced thrill ride that all happens in the matter of hours. Which, by the way, is exactly how long it took me to read it! Once I started, I couldn't stop reading and I had to know what drove Gobi to revenge, if Perry was going to make it out alive, and when they were gonna bow chicka bow wow.If you're looking for a quick read with ridiculous circumstances grounded in real truths and pain and growth and humor, read Au Revoir, Crazy European Chick.Fave quote: "Your nickname is Virgin?" (60)Fix er up: If I over think it, I can find flaws and get cynical about the completely aligned circumstances of it all. If I let go and have fun with it, I'm just fine shrugging off the coincidences.
Anna and the French Kiss - Stephanie Perkins In a sentence or so: Anna attends boarding school in France for a year because her douchebag dad thinks it will help culture her and stuff. She makes new friends, learns more about herself, and has complicated feelings for a hot british dude.Here’s the deal. I know everyone and their mom has read this book already, so I will save you the synopsis. If you’re one of the 8 people left on the planet who haven’t read this yet, you can certainly check out the summary at Goodreads.Since we are reading about Anna’s time in Paris as it happened, I felt like her friends were my friends. And while School of America in Paris probably didn’t have a yearbook because yearbooks are lame, let’s pretend they did. This is what I’d write in each of their yearbooks.Mer – I will forever and always love you because you reached out to Anna on her first night. You set the tone for her whole year in Paris by being sweet and thoughtful and patient with her. While things didn’t work out for you and St. Clair, I have NO DOUBT that some seriously rockstar boy is in your future because you deserve THE BEST.Rashmi – For reasons I don’t fully understand, I liked you a whole helluva lot. Something about your understated snarkiness and low-key compassion for all of your friends is just fantastic. I respect you to the moon and back.Josh – Your subtle humor and ability to help the group feel at ease, even in the most awkward of situations, is such a gift. You were the perfect bro for St. Clair. I have no doubt y’all talked about Anna and Ellie all the dang time. I also secretly loved that you frequently cut class and drew all the time.Anna – How I love your love for all things movies. I would totally watch It Happened One Night with you on repeat for a decade because I love it – and you - that much. I felt your pain with the whole being in a New Place situation, but you handled it magnificently. Do me a favor and don’t sell yourself short – you are hilarious, insightful, and a great friend.St. Clair – You had me at your rants about Rasputin. As a history nerd who is particularly charged about the whole Tsar Nicolas II situation, this made my heart beat OUT OF MY RIBCAGE like a cartoon. Your love for Anna manifesting as a friendship first was the absolute BEST. Thanks for being the guy she needed you to be. I’m sorry about your mom, bro. Also, sorry your dad is a dickbag.There are so many fun elements to this story. Like being in Paris, being at boarding school, the hot British guy that is a GREAT FRIEND and then some, realizing past mistakes and moving on, accepting your friends for who they are, and punching that girl in the face who TOTALLY DESERVED IT ALL THIS TIME.You will find someone or something to relate to in Anna and the French Kiss. You’ll also totally highlight the hell out of this book because Stephanie Perkins has some incredible dialogue and one-liners.Yeah, Anna and the French Kiss lives up to the hype.Fave quote: "I wish the thing that is best for me." (87)Fix er up: Some things were painfully obvious to me, but that did not hurt on the enjoyment AT ALL. I kind of liked knowing what was coming so I could be fully in the moment with Anna and St. Clair and all the rest!
Wanderlove - Kirsten Hubbard In a sentence or so: Bria travels to Central America to prove to everyone she’s a Global Vagabond. Many new experiences, new friends, hilarity and self-discovery ensue. Bria signed up for what she thought was going to be an exotic adventure with beautiful teenagers like her. She was stoked to prove to her two besties and her ex-boyfriend Toby that she was up for anything, even if they all chickened out. When she arrives in Guatemala City, however, she is greeted by a middle age troupe of incredibly cliché travelers. Not exactly what Bria had in mind. Luckily for her, in no time she is swept up into an unlikely backpacking trio with Starling and her brother Rowan. They assure Bria they will show her Guatemala City and the surrounding areas as it was meant to be seen, which is pretty rad.While the core of the plot is about traveling around Central America and discovering new things, we keep coming back to Bria and why she’s there in the first place. Bria’s background with Toby, her parents, her best friends and herself slowly come into focus throughout the read. I loved learning more about where she came from to learn more about where she was going.It’s no joke that I LOVE YA because of the self-discovery and coming of age themes that are so often present in the books. Wanderlove is a stellar example of why YA is incredible to read about and experience.Because the thing is, I was Bria. Bria was me. I didn’t travel to Central America, but her struggles of feeling good enough without constant validation, her giving up parts of herself for a boy who is NOT WORTH IT, getting in her own way so much of the time, and finally – FINALLY – the realization that she is a good person who deserves to be happy – all resonated so deeply with me.Yes, Wanderlove is a travel adventure book. Yes, Wanderlove is an adorable romance. Yes, Bria is hilarious and awesome and you love her from the beginning. But what I loved most about Wanderlove was Bria’s journey of self-acceptance and admitting her own mistakes and forgiving herself. It cut my heart so deeply to hear an experience so like my own through her voice. And ultimately, it made my heart swell to see her happy and awesome and brilliant by the end.Fave Quote: "I'll have won. This time, for always. But it's never going to happen unless I close my eyes and jump." (151)Fix er up: I would have liked to see more of Starling. I was quickly attached to her, even as a secondary character. Her complete acceptance of Bria – no questions asked – was inspiring. LOVE.

The Sea of Monsters (Percy Jackson and the Olympians Series #2)

The Sea of Monsters (Percy Jackson and the Olympians Series #2) - In a sentence or so: Percy tries to save Camp Half-Blood from being poisoned into oblivion and saving his best friend Grover from marrying a Cyclops. He is a total badass while doing so.Percy is at YET ANOTHER new school after all the drama that went down last summer. He's not the best at making friends, but he's totally honey badger about it because he has other things going on. Like being a son of Poseidon and such. He does manage to make a surprising connection with a charity case named Tyson that all the other kids pick on. Percy is more than a little surprised when Tyson defends him like a champ when monsters get all up in the school trying to take him out. Clearly, there's more to this kid than meets the eye.Percy is soon reunited with Annabeth, daughter of Athena, and discovers that things at Camp Half-Blood are seriously amiss. Luke is still trying to destroy the camp because he's all bitter his dad Hermes ditched him. He's even going so far as to try to bring Kronus back together. Listen, if the olympians destroyed this titan because they were scared of what he would do - it is NOT a good idea to put humpty dumpty back together again. I wish Luke were reading this.Percy has more amazing Greek mythology adventures in The Sea of Monsters. We get many nods to the Greek myths we know and love while seeing Percy grow and develop as a character. He is strong, smart, sensitive, caring, all wrapped up in a surprisingly snarky and badass package. I kind of love Percy Jackson a whole helluva lot. Annabeth, Tyson, Grover, and the rest are certainly fun to read about too and add depth and drama to the story.Here's the deal. I am firmly Team Percy. I love middle grade books and I love Greek mythology and The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan marries them perfectly. He gives me a hero I can root for and a story I don't want to put down. I loved that this went a bit darker with the whole Doom Of The Whole World thing lurking on the horizon. I place my trust for survival into Percy's capable 13 year old hands.Fave Quotes: "But you, Percy - you are part god, part human. You live in both worlds. You can be harmed by both, and you can affect both. That's what makes heroes so special." (252) - TEAM PERCY, YO."His sandy hair, which used to be so unruly, was now clipped short. He looked like an evil male model, showing off what the fasionalbe college-age villain was wearing to Harvard this year." (125) - YEAH SNARK."I could smell the thing - a sickening combination of wet sheep wool and rotten meat and that weird sour body odor that only monsters have, like a skunk that's been living off Mexican food." (3) - MIDDLE GRADE FOREVER.Fix er up: There were quite a few deus ex machina moments in this, but really, I am so enamored I was willing to let just about anything slide.Title: The Sea of Monsters (Percy Jackson and The Olympians #2)Author: Rick RiordanPub Info: Disney Hyperion, 2006Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy