Happy Top Ten Tuesday!

This week’s theme is actually “Ten Books To Read If You Like This Super Popular Book/Author”, but since I’m no good at making recommendations like that, I thought I would do last week’s theme instead, which I already had prepared and just forgot to post.  (I hate when life gets crazy like that.)

My fall TBR falls into three categories:

  • new releases that I’m super excited about
  • books I’ve recently purchased and haven’t gotten around to yet
  • books that I’ve had forever and need to get off my shelf

I guess we’ll see, at the end of fall, how many of these I’ve actually read!

What are your goals?

I think I may actually head to my library this week for some banned books!  I’m looking to read some that I already own (His Dark Materials, The Kite Runner) as well as some that have been on my TBR for as long as I can remember (Forever, The Lovely Bones, Gossip Girl).  In my research, I also found some previously unknown banned books, like Persepolis, which I’m going to check out.

Keep an eye out for some banned book features this week!

Are you doing anything special in your own life, or on your own blog?

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So, before I start my review, there are a few things you should know:

1. I was a huuuuge fan of David Levithan when I was in high school.
2. I have not read Every Day.
3. I did not expect that Netgalley would actually approve me for an ARC of this book, but that’s a thing that happened.

So I was going back and forth, should I read Every Day before starting Another Day?  The introduction to Another Day says it’s not necessary, but reviews say it is.  It was such a dilemma for me that I didn’t start reading this book until about a month after I was approved.  And I did it without reading its predecessor, which was probably a bad idea.  Not that I felt I was missing anything from the plot, but I felt I was missing an emotional connection to the characters.


In Another Day, we follow Rhiannon through a perfect day with her otherwise cranky, distant, rude, awful boyfriend.  For just one day, he’s attentive, caring, actually seems to love her.  They have a beautiful adventure, but for some reason, every day afterward, he gets upset with her when she mentions it.  Justin gets upset with her a lot, actually.

Then strange things start happening.  She meets a guy at a party.  A guy she has an instant connection with.  A guy who introduces himself as a cousin of her friend.  A guy she later finds out is absolutely not her friend’s cousin.  A guy she never sees again.

She emails back and forth with this mystery guy, and eventually sets up a meeting.  But the guy doesn’t show up.  Instead, some other person shows up.  Rhiannon is confused.

It turns out that this mystery person – who has no gender – goes by “A” and has the unfortunate circumstances of hopping from one body to the next each day.  Can Rhiannon handle something like that, never knowing who A will be?  What happens when A is in the body of a female, or in the body of someone she doesn’t find attractive?  How much of love is the emotional connection, and how much is the physical package?

An awful lot of reviewers have complained about Rhiannon’s character, calling her spineless, whiny, clingy, weak, whatever.  You know what I think?  I think she’s a really, really realistic picture of a teenage girl.  Yes, she lets Justin get away with being an absolute jerk.  And why?  Because her self-esteem is terribly low.  She thinks that Justin is the best that she can do.  She’d rather be with someone who is awful to her than be alone.  Is that sad?  Yes, of course.  But is it realistic?  Unfortunately, yes.  I can’t hold any of Rhiannon’s behavior against her, because she behaves like a normal teenage girl.

What I can do, though, is hold A’s behavior against him.  (I’m going to refer to A as “him” because that’s what Rhiannon does.)  It’s not A’s fault that he’s transported into the body of Rhiannon’s boyfriend.  It’s his nature. He can’t help it.  But A makes this big deal about how he tries not to interfere in someone’s life.  He tries not to change things.  He lives a day in their life and moves on to the next body.  But somehow he can’t help but chase after Rhiannon after spending a day in Justin’s body.  He continually seeks her out, making her feel guilty for not being attracted to him in all his bodies.  He makes her feel guilty for not breaking up with Justin.  It gets to the point that he is making his bodies skip school, or run away, just to see Rhiannon for a few minutes, very much not following his mantra to just live a day in their lives as they normally would.  I honestly found A very frustrating and manipulative.  I would probably feel differently if I’d read Every Day.

Oh, but the writing.  The writing is beautiful, as I have come to expect from Levithan.  And, since I’ve seen such mixed reviews, I did go ahead and buy Every Day.  (Although I haven’t read it yet.)  Maybe I’ll be able to better understand A’s actions after I read this story from his perspective.

So, in the end, I’m giving this sad, infuriating, open-ended book a three-star rating.  I didn’t love it, but I didn’t hate it, either.

Final rating: ★★★☆☆

Sometimes hype can be a bad thing, but sometimes it can be good.  I’ve heard so much about these three books that I can’t help but want to read them.  Even when I think they’ve disappeared, they come right back to haunt me.

I know a lot of people are particular about the format of their books.  Maybe they’ll read a new release as an ebook, but then when the paperback comes out, they’ll add it to their collection.  Sometimes a book will get a cover redesign halfway through (Anna and the French Kiss, I’m looking at you) and a fan of the series will rebuy the the books they already own so that the covers match for the whole series.  Personally, I’ve never really cared.  Sure, I’ll gaze longingly at a beautiful redesign, but will I buy it?  Probably not.  I usually go for whatever edition of the book has the lowest cost.  Ebook, paperback, hardcover, it doesn’t really matter to me.  All I care about are the words.

The short answer: I’m cheap. 😉

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In Anna and the French Kiss and Lola and the Boy Next Door, we got two very slow-building romances. In fact, one half of each couple was with someone else for the majority of each book. In Isla and the Happily Ever After, we start off with romance.

Isla, hopped up on painkillers after getting her wisdom teeth removed, heads out to a cafe called Kismet, where she runs into Josh, her long-time crush. While Isla is normally very shy, the painkillers take away some of her inhibitions that night, and she ends up having a very fun night with Josh. Back at school, Isla and Josh’s relationship unfolds beautifully and realistically… until it also implodes, also quite realistically.

I read this book in one sitting on a Saturday afternoon. I am a big fan of Stephanie Perkins’ work, but Isla really surprised me. Anna and Lola had a very similar structure, very similar themes of unrequited love and leaving the one you might be comfortable with, but who isn’t necessarily right for you. Isla is very different in that it’s about finding yourself and not letting your insecurities get the best of you.

In that way, it’s actually a very frustrating book to read, because it’s clear that Isla and Josh are so good for each other. They balance each other out perfectly. But Isla’s insecurities and her uncertainty about what her future might hold end up putting a strain on her relationship with Josh until she snaps and breaks it off. Break up with him before he realizes he can do better than you. It’s heartbreaking, and I almost cried reading it, because it’s just so realistic.

In Anna and Lola we saw what it takes for two people to realize they’re meant for each other. In Isla, the story was more about what it takes to make that relationship actually work. And I think that’s a good thing for teens, the target audience of these books. Yes, it’s great to find someone you love. It’s all sunshine and roses at the beginning. But as that relationship goes on, you have to work at it. And that’s not often shown in YA novels. But yes, couples fight, and past relationships can come back to haunt you, and there will be days where you’re not sure that it’s going to work out. And that doesn’t mean that your relationship is bad, or that you should break up, or that there’s something wrong with you. It means that your relationship is normal, and I have to give Stephanie Perkins a lot of credit for doing a great job at showing that.

Isla is so different from its predecessors, but it’s still a really great book. Highly recommended for fans of Stephanie Perkins’ works.

Final rating: ★★★★☆

Goodreads recently released a list of The Top 100 YA Books.

The average person has read 24 of them.

How many have you read?

I clocked in at 32, but thought I’d do better than that!  I own a number of them and just haven’t gotten to reading them yet, so I’m going to try to knock them off my TBR this year!