Thematic Recs: Road Trips!

In anticipation of my upcoming 2-day car journey home from Skye, in which I will be jammed into the back seat with my sister and an extraordinary number of bags (and that’s just the ones that won’t fit in the boot!), I thought I’d recommend some books about more pleasant road trips than the one I’m about to embark on. 😛 I haven’t read all that many road trip books – they’re not something I usually go looking for – but here are a few that stuck out to me:

Morgan Matson//Amy & Roger's Epic Detour1) Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson. The classic road trip novel! After her father’s death, Amy’s family moves across the country, and Amy is charged with taking the car to join her mother at the new house. But Amy is scared to drive on her own, so her mother arranges for an old friend – Roger – to drive with her, and they have an epic adventure on the way. This story is a little sad, naturally, but no overwhelmingly so. It’s wonderfully-written, the characters are really enjoyable to read, and there’s even a little romance mixed in that’s really cute~ ❤

Mag Rosoff//Picture Me Gone2) Picture Me Gone by Meg Rosoff. Mila goes on a road trip across the U.S. with her father, searching for his missing best friend, and makes some unexpected discoveries on the way. Part road trip story, part mystery, with just a hint of magical realism – this book was an unexpected hit for me! 😀

E. Lockhart, Lauren Myracle & Sarah Mlynowski//How to Be Bad3) How to Be Bad by E. Lockhart, Lauren Myracle & Sarah Mlynowski. A recent read (I only finished reading it yesterday!), in which two friends go on a road trip together in hopes of repairing their rather strained relationship, and are joined by their new co-worker, who is really just hoping to make some new friends… There’s a lot going on in this one, and each of the girls has their own problems that they’re trying to either solve or escape from, but it makes a really great feel-good summer story!

Alexandra Bracken//The Darkest Minds4) The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken. This one’s a little more of a stretch, since I haven’t actually read it, but I thought this list needed something that’s not so contemporary – and The Darkest Minds is, unusually, a dystopian road trip, following a group of teenagers with special powers. I can at least vouch for Alexandra Bracken’s writing style, as I really enjoyed her other book (Brightly Woven, a fantasy novel). This trilogy is super-popular, as well, so I have high hopes for when I actually get round to reading it (which will be soon, I hope!).

[EDIT (27/7/17): Have finally read The Darkest Minds, and can confirm that it’s everything I hoped it would be, i.e. excellent.]

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The Playlist Tag

The playlist tag was created Little Red Reader, and I wasn’t tagged by anyone, but I decided to do it after seeing Elisabeth Paige’s video. Basically, you just have to set your playlist to random, and pick a book to go with each song that comes up.

If you’re interested, I’ve made a video playlist of my songs, for your listening pleasure~

Frances Hodgson Burnett//A Little Princess1) Vienna Teng, Anna Rose

Since this is a lullaby, I thought it was only fitting that I chose a book about dreaming and imagination, so my pick for this song is A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett: Sara, left destitute after her father dies, is forced to become a servant to pay off his debt to her fancy boarding school, and finds refuge in the stories she learnt when she lived with him in India.

Anna Rose, it’s time to dream:
I see that your imagination knows no bounds.
There it flows like some magical stream,
And carries you on its journey.

Lauren Oliver//Delirium2) Lucie Silvas, Twisting the Chain

This song fits Lena and Alex from the Delirium trilogy by Lauren Oliver pretty well, I think. There’s a lot of love between them, but everything that’s happened to them just seems to make them constantly on edge around each other.

I can see you’re hurting –
You wear it like a coat of armour.

Tamora Pierce//Melting Stones3) Lee Ann Womack, I Hope You Dance

Of course, I can’t seem to do any kind of tag without mentioning my favourite author, so the book I chose for I Hope You Dance is Melting Stones by Tamora Pierce. In this book in particular, Evvy has to decide who she wants to be in the future – whether she’ll be a force for good, or for destruction.

I hope you never fear those mountains in the distance,
Never settle for the path of least resistance.

Paullina Simons//The Bronze Horseman4) Journey South, English Rose

This song will forever make me think of Rose and the Doctor from Doctor Who (and, in fact, the only version of the song that I could find on youtube was a Doctor/Rose fan-video… 😳 ), but since that’s not a book (or rather, I haven’t read any of the Doctor Who books…), I had to go with my second choice: The Bronze Horseman trilogy by Paullina Simons! Tatiana and Alexander have to go through so much, but even so, they never give up on each other~ ❤

No bonds… nothing… no one… will ever keep me from she.

Tahereh Mafi//Shatter Me5) The Dresden Dolls, Girl Anachronism

I knew as soon as this showed up on my playlist that I was going to have to pick the Shatter Me trilogy by Tahereh Mafi! Juliette’s not quite as messed up as the girl in this song, but the people who locked her up still have a lot to answer for.

I might be catching, so don’t touch.

Morgan Matson//Amy & Roger's Epic Detour6) The Dandy Warhols, Bohemian Like You

Number six is Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson, which I chose mostly for the feel of it – near-strangers who both get along so well, dancing around the issue of possibly-more-than-friends, but having a great time of it regardless. 🙂

It’s you that I want, so please,
Just a casual, casual easy thing,
Is it? It is for me.

Sarah Dessen//Someone Like You7) Billy Joel, Only the Good Die Young

Another contemporary, of course, but this time it’s Someone Like You by Sarah Dessen, where dependable Halley falls in with the charming but slightly wild Macon.

They say there’s a heaven for those who will wait,
And some say it’s better, but I say it ain’t.

I’d rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints –
The sinners are much more fun.

Sally Green//Half Bad8) Belle & Sebastian, Waiting for the Moon to Rise

This time it’s the Half Life trilogy by Sally Green, which is all about the journey – running from the past, along a path with an uncertain destination. The books have a rather more urgent pace than this mellow song, but I think it still fits…

I was following a trail
I’d never been along before,
Chasing darkened skies above me.

J.K. Rowling//Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone9) Belle & Sebastian, Get Me Away from Here, I’m Dying

This one’s a bit of a stretch, as the song can be a little random in places, but I ended up picking the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling, mostly because there’s a verse that reminds me so much of how I felt the first time I read it. 😉 (Bear with me, this quote is kind of long…)

I’ll settle down with some old story about a boy who’s just like me:
Thought there was love in everything and everyone – you’re so naïve!
They always reach a sorry ending; they always get it in the end.

Still it was worth it as I turned the pages solemnly, and then,
With a winning smile, the boy with naïvety succeeds!
At the final moment, I cried – I always cry at endings…

Katie McGarry//Crash Into You10) Avril Lavigne, Anything But Ordinary

For this final song, I chose Crash Into You by Katie McGarry – a book about love and teenagers and wanting to be seen. And driving. Very fast.

Sometimes I drive so fast,
Just to feel the danger.
I want to scream,
It makes me feel alive.

November Wrap-Up

Cassandra Clare//Clockwork PrinceNovember feels like it went by way too fast… :/ & I didn’t actually do all that much reading in the latter part of the month, because the new Pokémon games came out, and I was first caught up in excitement, then in playing the games (which are awesome, by the way). Nevertheless, I managed to read a grand total of 11 books in November, as well as 3 short stories – and this is them:

Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare. I had so many feelings about this book that I actually ended up writing a mini-review, which you can read here.5 stars

Cassandra Clare//Clockwork PrincessClockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare. Needless to say, I went straight on to the sequel, which answered all my questions (even the ones I hadn’t realised I was wondering about). I wasn’t entirely satisfied with the way Jem’s storyline seemed to be wrapping up, but that little niggle was thankfully fixed in the epilogue, and my only other  problem with the book was the Will’s-greatest-hits montage at the end, which I thought was a little cheesy… But that was just a tiny, tiny thing, & easily overlooked. It does make me really, really eager to read The Mortal Instruments book now, but I think I need to take a little break (& maybe read some of the books that I already own) first…5 stars

Morgan Matson//Amy & Roger's Epic DetourAmy & Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson. A sweet, but sad contemporary road trip novel. I really loved both Amy & Roger, as well as most of the many, many people they met on their trip, and I particularly loved that Morgan Matson included loads of photos and reciepts and the playlists that they listened to…4 stars

Tabitha Suzuma//ForbiddenForbidden by Tabitha Suzuma. Excellently written, & very thought-provoking, and though I liked the book a lot, I’m not entirely sure how I felt about the situation it presented… On the one hand, Maya & Lochan’s relationship was kind of squicky, but on the other hand, their relationship never really felt like one between siblings, even before they admitted their feelings, and I kind of wanted to root for them to find an escape together someday… My main problem with the way their relationship was portrayed was actually in the early parts of the book, when Maya was pushing Lochan for a relationship that seemed to scare him more than anything – but then again, somebody had to be the instigator (otherwise there’s no story), and reading about the instigation of an incestuous relationship is always going to seem kind of creepy… For those of you who’ve read the book already (or who don’t mind spoilers), feel free to check out my spoilery discussion post here. I’d love to hear your thoughts!3 stars

Paullina Simons//The Bronze HorsemanThe Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons. This book was such an emotional roller-coaster! So much tragedy, and then every time Tatiana & Alexander managed to get together, & things seemed to be going well for them, something would come up to drive them apart… 😦 I absolutely loved this book – the characters were so well-written (even the ones like Dimitri, who I really, really hated), & the drama was incredibly intense. There’s a slight cliffhanger at the end, so I’m looking forward to reading the sequel.5 starsRosamund Hodge//Cruel BeautyCruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge. A Beauty & the Beast re-telling, though is more complicated than a simple girl-meets-monster-and-redeems-him story, and it also has rather a dark edge to it, which I enjoyed – and a lot of Greek mythology! I liked the story a lot, even though it took me a while to warm up to the main character, Nyx, and I thought that the big reveal about Ignifex & Shade’s connection wasn’t quite as unexpected as it might have been intended to be… I think I may have officially restarted my fairytale retelling obsession now… 😉4 stars

Marissa Meyer//CinderCinder by Marissa Meyer. The first book in the Lunar Chronicles, and a cyberpunk-Cinderella retelling. Really interesting and inventive, and I loved all the characters so much! 😀 The ending was a little abrupt, but that was the only real problem I had with the book, and I hope that the sequels will take care of any lingering dissatisfaction, even though they follow different characters…5 stars Marissa Meyer//ScarletScarlet by Marissa Meyer. I’ll admit that I didn’t enjoy this quite as much as Cinder (not enough Cinder/Kai 😉 ), but it was definitely a solid follow-up. The plot seems to be escalating dramatically, and the new characters are fun, too – although I don’t feel that I managed to connect with either Scarlet or Wolf as much as I did with Cinder and Kai… I did appreciate, though, that rather than presenting this second book from an entirely new perspective (as I had expected), Marissa Meyer included chapters from Cinder and Kai’s perspectives, too; building on the first book rather than starting over.4 starsThe Little AndroidGlitches and The Queen’s Army by Marissa Meyer. These are three of the novellas set in the Lunar Chronicles universe, and I figured I’d read them before getting started on Cress. They’re all pretty quick reads (naturally), and well-written and developed (especially considering how short they are… All three stories can be read online for free, and if you’d like to do so, then I’ve linked each one to the cover inages below:

Marissa Meyer//The Little AndroidThe Little Android is set not too long before Cinder, and is a Little Mermaid-retelling about an android mechanic who falls in love with one of her human co-workers. Cinder herself appears briefly in the novella (in the role of the witch who turns Mech6.0 into a human), which was one of my favourite moments, and feel of the story is bittersweet.5 stars

Marissa Meyer//GlitchesGlitches is a direct prequel to Cinder, and is about Cinder’s childhood in New Beijing, the beginning of her friendship with Peony and Iko, and how she first discovered her talent as a mechanic. It was really lovely to see Cinder as a little girl, so unsure of everything in her new life, but this one was also pretty sad, and the ending was somewhat abrupt (though not unexpectedly so…).4 stars

Marissa Meyer//The Queen's ArmyLastly, The Queen’s Army follows the childhood of one of the new characters who’s introduced in Scarlet, and I wouldn’t recommend reading it before you’ve read both Cinder and Scarlet (even though it’s kind of a prequel), as it’s super-spoilery. Also for that reason, I can’t tell you all that much about it! I did enjoy the book, but I felt that the narrative was much choppier than the other two novellas, and I didn’t like it quite so much…3 stars

Marissa Meyer//CressCress by Marissa Meyer. I loved this book so much! Definitely my favourite in the series so far – the plot seems to be really taking off (literally!), and I’m seriously excited for Winter, the last book in the series… Character-wise, Cress was adorable and incredibly relatable, and I really loved the relationship development between her and Thorne; I’m definitely getting more attached to Wolf and Scarlet, even though there wasn’t so much of them in this book; Jacin was an unexpected delight to read (and that scene in the Rampion when he and Cinder talk about Winter was probably one of my favourite scenes in the whole book); and Winter! I wasn’t expecting Winter to even show up in this book, but I am so glad that she did, and I can’t wait to learn more about her!5+ starsRae Carson//Fire and ThornsFire and Thorns by Rae Carson. This is the first book in the Fire and Thorns trilogy, and in the US I believe it is called The Girl of Fire and Thorns, so if you’ve heard of that one, then, yes, this is the same book. It was a little slow-going at first, and I didn’t enjoy part 1 all that much: I liked how realistic the main character, Elisa, seemed, but I didn’t much care for any of the other characters, and not much of the book’s main conflict had been revealed – in fact, much of part 1 was focused on Elisa’s insecurities. However, in the second and third parts the book really picked up, and (in addition to watching Elisa grow as a character, which was wonderful), I grew attached to many of the supporting characters, and the world and its conflicts were really fleshed out. 🙂4 starsRae Carson//Crown of EmbersCrown of Embers by Rae Carson. Elisa’s (continued) growth is incredible, and there are so many other characters that I came to love over the course of reading this: Some older ones like Hector and Mara and Belén, and some new ones, like Tristán and Storm (who grew on me like a weed, and won’t let go). I did miss Cosmé, though, and I’m still not a huge fan of Ximena – but her part in this book and the direction her relationship with Elisa takes is certainly interesting. Writing-wise, this was a lot faster-paced than Fire and Thorns, which made it a lot easier to get into, and the mix of political intrigue and adventure made the plot engaging right from the start.5 stars

October Haul

In terms of book-buying, this month actually ended up being even more extravagant than last month… 😦 I think I may have a problem. On the plus side, though, I have now bought all but one of the books on my new list of books that I’m allowed to buy this year, so there probably won’t be a November or December haul (unless I get books for Christmas. Or lose control of my book-buying impulses…).

October HaulAnyway, here goes nothing:

1) Throne of GlassCrown of MidnightHeir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas. The first three books in a series about an assassin called… Caelena? Forgive me if I’ve misspelt her name. :/ Anyway, I’ve been in the mood for assassin books recently, & I’ve heard nothing but good things about this series (and they were in the buy-one-get-one-half-price offer at Waterstones!), so I couldn’t pass them up.

2) Empire of Ivory by Naomi Novik. The fourth book in the Temeraire series. I really love these books, though I’ve only read the first two. I also really love the covers, so I thought I’d pick this one up before all the copies get replaced by the new, much uglier ones. The series basically centres around the Napoleonic Wars, but with dragons.

3) Life After Life by Kate Atkinson. I’ve been wanting to read this book for a while – since  I heard about it when it won the Costa Novel Award for 2013 – and I finally decided to pick it up since it was on special offer (& I haven’t been able to get hold of a copy from my library). As far as I can tell, it’s about reincarnation… Or else repeating the same life over and over. I’m not entirely sure, but it sounds pretty interesting.

4) The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. I decided to pick this up after reading The Jewel by Amy Ewing, since it’s been compared to The Handmaid’s Tale. I don’t know much about this book – despite the fact that it’s a classic – except that it’s set in a dystopian future where the birth rate has gone way down…

5) Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson. An apparently sad contemporary road-trip book that I don’t know much about, but have heard is good. I will probably be reading this soon.

6) The Slow Regard of Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss. A novella set in the Kingkiller Chronicle universe. I have the two main books in this series on my kindle, so I was actually planning on getting this one in ebook form, but then I walked into Waterstones & found that they had signed copies! So this is signed, & beautiful, & I will probably read this pretty soon, too. 🙂

7) Clariel by Garth Nix. The Old Kingdom prequel. I have been waiting for this book for almost 10 years, & it is so good to finally have it on my shelf. 😀

8) The Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan. The final Heroes of Olympus book. I’ve actually already read this one, & written a mini-review, which you can find here.

9) The Iron Trial by Holly Black & Cassandra Clare. Another book I’ve already finished reading, & loved. The first book in the new Magisterium series, which follows a boy names Call who decidedly does not want to go to the Magisterium & become a mage. Unfortunately (for him, but not for us 😛 ), it seems that the universe has other plans.