5 Romances I Hate to Love, or Love to Hate

I love a good romance story. I mean…who doesn’t? Give me a rom-come or a love-filled period drama any day of the week and I’m a very happy camper. Sometimes though, I come across stories that I love, but hate at the same time. And there are always different reasons for this response. It could be that I dislike one of the people in the relationship, but I like the other one. It could be that it was an instalove connection, which annoys me. It could even be the writing style throwing me off, yet I keep trudging onwards. And yet…keep them coming!

These are 5 romance stories that I hate to love, or love to hate.

glass-sword-2

Mare & Cal

I read this second book in the series mostly because I wanted to see how their relationship would play out. Would they recover from the plot twist in Red Queen? Would it drive a wedge between them? I got so frustrated with them throughout Glass Sword, but I just HAD to know how they end up. I didn’t love this book, as you can read about in my review of it. But I really like Cal, and I think he can do better than Mare. You know it too, Cal!

crooked-kingdom

Kaz & Inej

They’re not even a straight up couple and I hate that I love them. They’re so right for each other, but at the same time, it makes perfect sense that they can’t just commit and be together. They’ve both got ridiculous amounts of baggage that prevent them from being what I want them to be (insert flirtations of Nina & Matthias as an example). I’m so conflicted by their relationship, or lack thereof. I need a third book, Bardugo!

phoenix

Harry & Ginny

That’s right! I said it! I’ve never been a fan of the Harry-Ginny combo. Actually, I’ve just never really been a fan of Ginny. I didn’t expect it to last, to be honest, while I was reading the books. Then the movie came out and I thought the chemistry between the two actors was off a little, so that just solidified my opinion. Harry literally could have ended up with whoever he wanted. (Cue “Choooo Chaaannggg” from A Very Potter Musical.) Then the “Cursed Child” script was released and I’m still sticking to my guns, here. And yet…I love Harry Potter and his whole world. So even if a book came out that was all about their life together, I’d read it. Because Potter.

saga

Marko & Alana

I’ve been reading the Saga volumes for the last year or so and I have to say, Marko and Alana have an incredibly frustrating relationship. As far fetched as their bond seems, there’s also a crazy dose of reality mixed in. Yes, they’re in another world, but they’re dealing with a lot of the same relationship drama that we see everyday all around us. Maybe not escaping from our warring planets, but raising a family together, meeting each other’s families, being separated from each other, and more. I like this story and the way I’m kept on my toes, but sometimes it’s hard to face the truths these two characters deal with.

bridget

Bridget & Mark & Bridget & Daniel

I really enjoyed this book and I love the 3 movies. There’s so much in these stories that I can relate to, and then other things that I have no connection with and make me laugh out loud…or just generally enjoy my own life a little bit more. I went back and forth between whether I preferred Mark or Daniel for Bridget. While I now that in the end, Daniel wasn’t the right pick for her (not including the spoilers from the new movie), I still don’t love her with Mark. But I do love Colin Firth. So I’ll keep coming back to these stories, anyway.

What romances do you hate that you love? Let me know in the comments!

Happy reading! – Caitlyn

5 Books I Read Because of Hype

I’m one of those readers who runs on recommendations. I’m always looking for the latest craze or hype-inducing storyline. I want to know what I’m talking about when I join the conversation, so I always fall prey to hype. These are 5 books that I read because of all the conversations they started amongst the blogosphere and Goodreads threads.

anna and the french kiss

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

SO MANY people told me to read this book. I was skeptical because I hadn’t really gotten into the contemporary scene at that point. But I finally decided to dive in on a sick day and I’m so glad that I did. Since I finished reading about Anna and Etienne, I’ve read the next two books in this companion story trio and I loved them. This book is the reason I reach for a contemporary romance. Plus that cover art. *Swoon*

throne

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

I love high fantasy. I’m always interested in new worlds and innovative magic systems. I’d heard a lot of people talk about this series after the sequel came out, but the cover threw me off. It seemed weird, I’ll be honest. But I watched a spoiler-free review of the first book and the vlogger was SO into it. I love fangirling, so I wanted what she was having. And now? I freaking love this series. I always pre-order the new books long in advance and anxiously await their arrival, even clearing my schedule for them. These stories consume me. There are so many characters and so much world building that I’m too invested to stop now.

outlander

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

Everyone and their cat’s mom has talked about this series. I’m all about historical fiction and time travel, plus romance and Scotland…hubba hubba. But then, the romance also made me hesitated. I’m not one of those people who just LOVES blush inducing love scenes, call me crazy. Once the TV show started airing, I wanted to be part of the conversation, so I picked up the first book. I actually read it as I watched the episodes, which was pretty interesting. Then I watched the second season of the show and haven’t read the book. I AM glad that I read it. I thought the writing was powerful and the world was engaging. I would like to continue the series, but I haven’t settled on whether it’ll be print or TV, or both.

wrath

The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh

I read a few blog posts and watched some booktube videos of readers raving about this story, so I picked it up. I sat down and read it cover to cover in one sitting. Not necessarily because it was a work of genius, but because it hooked me in and I had the time. Since then, the sequel has been released and I have yet to read it. I don’t really remember what happened in the first book, probably because I read it TOO quickly. I don’t know that I’ll pick up the second book any time soon. I already have it on my Kindle, staring at me, longing to be given a chance. Maybe the hype sucked me in TOO much the first time around.

all the light

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Again I say, I love me some historical fiction. Last year, I was on a major WWII kick and read book after book about that time period. I was also teaching The Diary of Anne Frank along with a WWII unit, so I was thirsty for more information. Everyone kept telling me that I should read this book, but the page count was daunting. Once I finally decided to give it a chance, I flew through it. The characters lept off the page and I was so emotionally invested in their fictional little lives. I love this book. It’ll forever be one of my favorites.

What books has hype made you read? Let me know in the comments below!

Happy reading! – Caitlyn

Clockwork Angel (audiobook) by Cassandra Clare, narrated by Jennifer Ehle

*This review contains spoilers if you haven’t read The Mortal Instruments series!

“In a way, we are not here just because we have nowhere else; we need nowhere else, because we have the Institute, and those who are in it are our family.”

clock-angel

Synopsis from GoodreadsIn a time when Shadowhunters are barely winning the fight against the forces of darkness, one battle will change the course of history forever. Welcome to the Infernal Devices trilogy, a stunning and dangerous prequel to the New York Timesbestselling Mortal Instruments series. The year is 1878. Tessa Gray descends into London’s dark supernatural underworld in search of her missing brother. She soon discovers that her only allies are the demon-slaying Shadowhunters; including Will and Jem, the mysterious boys she is attracted to. Soon they find themselves up against the Pandemonium Club, a secret organization of vampires, demons, warlocks, and humans. Equipped with a magical army of unstoppable clockwork creatures, the Club is out to rule the British Empire, and only Tessa and her allies can stop them.

Feelings: It’s been a couple of years since I read the Infernal Devices trilogy. I’m all up in this Shadowhunter world! I’ve read everything that Cassandra Clare has published and will continue to do so. I wanted to listen to the audiobooks this time around just to shake it up a little. I saw who the narrators were and was instantly excited. This first book is read by Jennifer Ehle, who played Elizabeth Bennet in the classic Pride and Prejudice BBC Drama.

One of the main reasons I love this book is because of the Victorian time period. The rules and social norms are so different from not only the Mortal Instruments series, but other urban fantasy stories as well. We see Tessa struggling with the way Shadowhunters interact with each other and diving into this whole new culture and it’s really fascinating to see it through her eyes.

Issues: Once again in YA, we have that whole “character is instantly accepting of change” trope. Tessa finds out she’s a shapeshifter and that all of the Shadowhunter world exists and she’s cool with it. She’s got a million questions, sure. But she’s accepting very quickly. I get it…she can’t go back so she might as well move forward. And she has the Codex to help her get situated. But still.

Will confuses the crap out of me. Can I say that? It’s like HE doesn’t even know what kind of character he’s going to be. Is he going to be the guy that changes because of a girl? Is he going to be the kind of douche bag guy who refuses to budge at ALL because of a girl? Is he an arrogant jerk? Is he just pretending? There’s zero predictability and no chance of connecting to him.

Characters: I love seeing favorite characters in this new time context. When Magnus says he has a thing for black hair and blue eyes…I got so excited. Alec is coming, Magnus! Just you wait! It’s fun to see him before he meets up with the gang in The Mortal Instruments series. In this book, we also see different familiar families: Lightwoods, Herondales, Penhallows, Carstairs, and more.

It didn’t take long for me to be reminded of how much I dislike Will Herondale. I know a lot of people think he’s the ultimate literary dream boat, but I totally disagree. He’s incredibly arrogant and proud. Yes, he’s exactly the same as Jace. Later on, after some serious character development, I can start to see how he could be somewhat likable – once his somewhat caring nature comes out – but ultimately…no. Not a fan. See “Issues” above.

Jem is totally different. Yes, he’s Will’s best friend, but I enjoy his scenes so much more than Will’s. He’s a truly kind soul and he’s probably one of my favorite characters in the Shadowhunter world. I’m excited to read about him more in the new Dark Artifices series. He’s a lot like Alec, in my opinion. Not that their personalities are the same, but they’re the best friend to the Herondale hero and are underestimated by those around them. And I end up liking them far more than said hero.

I really like Tessa. She’s strong and self assured. I like the way she acclimates to the other cast of characters and we see her fitting in. She really sees people. (Not to be confused with the previous “Issue” I mentioned.) She had a place to belong and feel special, which I loved seeing for her, as you get the feeling she’s not used to that. Tessa isn’t a damsel in distress, even considering the context of her time period.

Narrator: Jennifer Ehle’s narrating was ok…then she got to the exciting stuff. The way she called out and yelled…bothered me. I didn’t buy it, you know? She tried out a few different accents for the many characters, but it lacked consistency. She’d float in and out of accents and voices, which was a bit confusing. It ultimately made it so that I would then go back and forth between listening to the audiobook and reading it on my Kindle. (I’d give the audiobook narrator 3 stars, separate from rating the book and storyline itself.)

Final thoughts: This book wasn’t as good the second time around because I knew there were plot twists coming, even if I couldn’t remember exactly what they were. I am looking forward to continuing on with the audiobooks to see if I can remember what’s ahead! Ultimately, though, I love the Shadowhunter world. Always will. And I really do love this setting and this different cast of characters. If you like historical fiction and paranormal fantasy, I’d recommend giving this world a try (even if you didn’t love The Mortal Instruments series).

Pick this up if you liked:

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier

Goodreads rating: 4.33/5

Audible.com rating: 4.3/5

My rating: 4.5/5

Happy reading! – Caitlyn

Heartless by Marissa Meyer

“It is a dangerous thing to unbelieve something only because it frightens you.”

heartless

Synopsis from GoodreadsCatherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland and a favorite of the unmarried King, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, she wants to open a shop and create delectable pastries. But for her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for a woman who could be a queen. At a royal ball where Cath is expected to receive the King’s marriage proposal, she meets handsome and mysterious Jest. For the first time, she feels the pull of true attraction. At the risk of offending the King and infuriating her parents, she and Jest enter into a secret courtship. Cath is determined to choose her own destiny. But in a land thriving with magic, madness, and monsters, fate has other plans.

Feelings: The thing about prequels and retellings is that you know where they’re going to end up. You kind of like Cath until you remember that she’s going to end up as the bad guy in Alice’s story. I thought Meyer did a great job of weaving in some references to Alice’s world here and there. We met some familiar characters, as well as some magical items with a twist.

Issues: I didn’t understand Jack’s role in the story. He was a super childish dude who clearly (but maybe not?) hated Cath. Was it love-hate? Or just straight up hate? I don’t know and he really doesn’t serve a purpose. It seemed like he would a couple of times, but then nothing would come of it. Not a big issue for me, since he’s a nobody character…but I just felt like something was important about him and I was wrong.

The dream magic wasn’t ever explained. Cath would wake up from dreams with lemon trees and roses growing around her bed…why? Was it because the Sisters were speaking to her about her fate in her dreams? Not really sure.

Finally, the pacing was a bit slow. I read it really quickly and it was easy to follow, but it was just a slow moving story from time to time. But then the ending felt rushed and one scene in particular felt like it came out of nowhere. It made me feel a little disjointed.

Characters: Catherine is an imperfect character. We knew where she was headed since this story serves as a prequel. We knew that she wouldn’t be a Cinderella kind of character, always cheerful and full of optimism. She’s even a bit judgmental and selfish from time to time, which makes it so that her turn towards evil isn’t completely out of left field. If she was Snow White-y or Cinderella-y, it wouldn’t make sense and it’d be hard to buy in to. But that’s just not the case here. She was actually pretty relatable for a while, big dreams and a drive to see them through, yet there was a series of obstacles in her way. I think Meyer made a strong creative choice with the story’s ending. It all makes sense and we can see how she got from Point A to Queen of Hearts.

Oh, Jest. What a love interest. Was this classic YA insta love? Meh. Sort of. It wasn’t like the “I just met him and his eyes are amazing and I want to marry him” kind of insta love, more like insta strong feelings. They did go back and forth one too many times for my taste, but then again…it was a pretty complicated situation.

The minor characters in this story were an interesting cast. You have Mary Ann, Cath’s partner in crime. They seem like sisters for the majority of the book, even though one serves the other. Then you have Cath’s parents, with the classic pushy gentry mom and the generic laid back pushover dad. There’s the king; the kind but stupid king. Where are everyone’s back bones? Where’s the courage and the guts? This book has an entire kingdom of people with their blinders on, in need of a leader. Enter the Queen of Hearts, ready or not, I guess.

Comparisons: I know a lot of people want to know how this book compares to The Lunar Chronicles, but really…there’s no comparison. Cinder and her friends get a lot more page time, a lot more room for character development and possibility. This book is a standalone, so what’s done is done. If you’re a fan of TLC, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll like this story, especially if what you enjoyed most was the science fiction element. That’s just not a thing in this book. Meyer’s writing shines through, though, just like it did in TLC. Plus, the tones of the two stories are totally different. So that’s my two cents when it comes to comparing.

Final thoughts: If you’re not a huge fan of Wonderland like me, don’t be put off by this story. I really enjoyed it, even though I never could connect with Alice or Through the Looking Glass. Too much whimsy loses me, but Meyer does a great job of balancing the story that already exists and taking creative license. Overall, I liked this book. I wasn’t just super crazy about it, but I generally enjoyed it. My advice: don’t read it on an empty stomach. There’s talk of baked goods on every page.

Pick this up if you liked:

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund

Goodreads rating: 4.14/5

Amazon.com rating: 4.3/5

My rating: 4/5

Happy reading! – Caitlyn

5 Books I’m Thankful For

I love Thanksgiving. I love November and December in general, really. I just love holidays and pumpkin spice lattes and Christmas joy. There are so many things that I’m thankful for: my family and friends, my job and education, breath every morning and a safe place to sleep every night…the list could go on and on. I’m thankful for a family that encourages learning and reading. I’m thankful for the chance to travel to new worlds or dive into history, just by reading pages from the comfort of my own home. Books have given me so much over the course of my life. Some books have given me a new level of understanding, some have given me courage and confidence, while others have given me moments of peace. These are 5 books that I’m particularly thankful for.

harry_potter_and_the_sorcerers_stone

I’m trying really hard to think outside the box and reach beyond the first thing to pop in my head, but listen…there’s no denying the impact that Hogwarts and Co have had on my life. The first book came out when I was 6 years old and it was just a couple of years later that I finally convinced my mom to let me read it. I can honestly say that this series is one of the reason I love books so much today. I felt a plethora of emotions over the years of being engaged in this world: anxiety, joy, fear, hope, friendship, safety, and more. I’m thankful for Harry Potter and for having stories that feel like home.

crazy-love

Non-fiction and I are not usually friends. However, there was a season in my life where a friend literally put this book into my hands and I started reading. I didn’t want to, but I caved. I’m a sucker. This is the one non-fiction book that I keep coming back to. Sometimes it’s just to reread a chapter or a paragraph, while other times it’s to start at page 1 and see what happens. Francis Chan has a way of helping me understand who God is and how He loves. This is a love that I couldn’t wrap my head around…until I read this book. I’m thankful for Francis Chan and the new eyes that I see the world through.

anne of green

I was late to the Anne of Green Gables game, I’ll admit. My mom told me over the years that I should read it and that the main character reminded her of herself. I think that’s the reason I resisted reading it. Typical teen. Ha! I randomly decided to give it a chance just a couple of years ago and now I’m obsessed. It’s like Anne and I have always been friends. (Maybe that has something to do with my mom, too…) This series is so full of hope and joy, laughter and love. I know that I can open any one of these books or turn on the audiobook and I’ll crack at least one smile. I’m thankful for Anne Shirley and for reminders that beauty is all around us.

lineage-of-grace

Francine Rivers is one of those rare individuals that I would do untold things to meet. You know those basketball game half-time half-court contests? I’d do that for a chance to meet her. And I once had the chance to do that for a cool prize and vehemently refused. So…trust me when I tell you that means something. When I think about how much I love her books and honestly, I’m thankful for all of them, this one sticks out. This book includes 5 stories about Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba, and Mary from the Bible. Rivers has a way of taking what we know about them from God’s word, and turns them into full fledged stories. She gives them voices, ambitions, and humanizes them in a way that I hadn’t pictured before. I’m thankful for this book and the way it helped me to read the Bible.

fangirl

Man, I love this book. When I read the last page, I felt this overwhelming sense of understanding. I felt seen and known by these characters and the author. Rainbow Rowell always writes books that are poignant and funny, while also being complex and surprising. This Rowell book in particular really spoke to me. I’ve read it twice now and I’m sure I’ll read it again when I need a reminder that it’s ok to be myself and that in fact, that’s what makes me awesome – no one else is 100% like me. I’m thankful for Fangirl and I’m thankful to be me.

What books are you thankful for this holiday season? Let me know in the comments below!

Happy reading! – Caitlyn

America’s First Daughter by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie

I have had so LITTLE reading time lately, that for the first time since I started writing this blog more than a year ago, I didn’t have a review to post on Tuesday! WHAT? So this week, instead of posting a Top 5 on Thursday, I’m posting my review for the week.

“Sons of a revolution fight for liberty. They give blood, flesh, limbs, their very lives. But daughters . . . we sacrifice our eternal souls.”

first-daughter

Synopsis from GoodreadsBestselling authors Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie tell the fascinating, untold story of Thomas Jefferson’s eldest daughter, Martha “Patsy” Jefferson Randolph—a woman who kept the secrets of our most enigmatic founding father and shaped an American legacy.

From her earliest days, Patsy Jefferson knows that though her father loves his family dearly, his devotion to his country runs deeper still. As Thomas Jefferson’s oldest daughter, she becomes his helpmate, protector, and constant companion in the wake of her mother’s death, traveling with him when he becomes American minister to France.

It is in Paris, at the glittering court and among the first tumultuous days of revolution, that fifteen-year-old Patsy learns about her father’s troubling liaison with Sally Hemings, a slave girl her own age. Meanwhile, Patsy has fallen in love—with her father’s protégé William Short, a staunch abolitionist and ambitious diplomat. Torn between love, principles, and the bonds of family, Patsy questions whether she can choose a life as William’s wife and still be a devoted daughter.

Her choice will follow her in the years to come, to Virginia farmland, Monticello, and even the White House. And as scandal, tragedy, and poverty threaten her family, Patsy must decide how much she will sacrifice to protect her father’s reputation, in the process defining not just his political legacy, but that of the nation he founded.

Feelings: I’ve been reading so much young adult over the last few years that this book forced me into a total switch in mindset. The writing was so much more elevated than what I’ve been used to lately that at first, it was hard for me to get in to it. The beginning was stellar, then we went back in time and it slowed down a little. Once I got used to the rhetoric and the way the storyline flowed, I was hooked. But I had zero reading time. It took me about 3 weeks to finish this book, but I probably read the last 350 pages over 2 days. I got SO in to it!

One thing that I really appreciated was the author’s note at the back of the book. They explain where they took creative liberties and what parts of the story are rooted in truth. There were some things that shocked me and others that just made sense. I liked that they took the time to do this because I’m not a historian. I wasn’t fact checking as I read, but I WAS aware that I was ultimately reading fiction.

Issues: This wasn’t the kind of book where I put it down for the last time and could think of 3 things right off the bat that I didn’t like. So as of right now…24 hours after finishing this book…I have zero issues.

Characters: Patsy is a very complicated character. We see her grow from a young girl eager to please her father all the way to an older woman with a dozen children running around. She had quite a life for us to span in one book! She was hard to connect with at times, but I was finding it hard to put myself in her shoes. She lived a life that I can’t even imagine, even after reading about her. The pressures, the responsibilities, the constant flux of history…I found it al fascinating. I kept wanting different things to work out or play out differently, but it’s history. While the author’s did take some liberties, the heart of the story is there – the heart of who Patsy Jefferson, the First Daughter was. I learned about her and her family on every page, learned why they did what they did and what their world forced them to do.

Thomas Jefferson, you old goat. Of course, I learned about him in my middle and high school American history classes. Then I learned more about him in my college history courses, but still…what a guy. There was something about seeing him through his daughter’s eyes that was captivating. You see both the adoring daughter side, as well as the critical yet fiercely loyal side. They had a relationship that reminds me of my own with my father, built on a steady companionship. One thing that I really appreciated about this book was that they didn’t seek to make the founding fathers perfect, because they were very flawed human beings. We saw their failures and their virtues alike.

Genre: I love historical fiction. This book, though, is like a whole new level of the genre. You can see on each page how painstakingly researched the storyline was. Every piece of the tale is rich and bursts off of the page. It’s highly engaging prose, for those of you that maybe tend to hesitate when it comes to historical fiction, expecting it to be droll and bleh. This is SO not that!

Final thoughts: This book is especially great for those of us Hamilton fans. A chunk of this book takes place while that musical is going on (in regards to the timeline), so we see Jefferson’s perspective from across the pond. We also get Jefferson’s side of his conflict with Alexander Hamilton. Lafayette is a reoccurring character, as well as a handful of other guys.

 

Goodreads rating: 4.23/5

Amazon.com rating: 4.7/5

My rating: 5/5

Happy reading! – Caitlyn

5 Books I’ve Recommended to Students Lately

I love pairing people with books. I think about who they are, what they might enjoy, what they would put down in 5 minutes, and how fast they read. If someone is a slower reader, a book that takes a while to get in to probably isn’t the best bet. Not all of my students are big time readers – shocking, I know – so I can’t just assume they’ll dive into the same stories that have captivated me. Then there’s also the age and maturity difference. That definitely plays a factor.

These are books that I’ve personally recommended to my students lately.

 just listen

Just Listen by Sarah Dessen

Student requested: An easy-to-follow storyline with some romance thrown in.

After a week, my non-reader student told me she’d finished this book! She’d stayed up late and even read while some of her teachers were talking. She was so invested in these characters and desperate to see how their storylines played out. That’s exactly how I’d felt when I read it earlier this year! Annabel was a model with a bright future, until that future was suddenly over. Then she meets Owen, a guy full of mystery who makes Annabel finally feel seen.

nimona

Nimona by Noelle Stevenson

Student requested: A graphic novel that was a little bit different.

That’s a perfect way to describe this story! The illustrations are unique, compared to what I’ve read, and the story is definitely different. Nimona is a shapeshifter with a whole lot of spunk.She teams up with Lord Blackheart, a well known villain, to bring down the “heroes” and prove that they aren’t who they appear to be. A twist on the usual hero vs. villain storyline, this book will keep you on your toes!

illuminae

Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Student requested: An adventure book of epic proportions.

When a non-reader approaches me and says they want to read about an adventure, this is the first book I think of. This boy in particular is hard to please, gets bored easily, and doesn’t think reading can be even remotely fun. Then I put this book in his hands. He flipped through it, eyes wide at the page count, and said, “Wait…is this really a book?” YES! It has illustrations and transcripts, diagrams and even classic paragraphs. This book takes place during 2575 and a war is raging over a planet. No one is safe and no one can be trusted. You have to read it to believe it, folks.

 sword-of-summer

The Sword of Summer by Rick Riordan

Student requested: A book that was kind of like Percy Jackson.

Not only is this book LIKE Percy Jackson, but it was written by the same author and has some crossover to that beloved series. This is the story of Magnus Chase, the cousin of Percy’s girlfriend Annabeth Chase. Magnus’s storyline doesn’t stick to the Greek or Roman family line as Riordan’s previous books, but rather detours through Norse mythology. It’s got personality and grit, it’s just different enough to feel like a new story, while still feeling comfortable like you’re reading an old friend (AKA Percy).

goose girl

The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale

Student requested: A fairy tale, “but like a different fairy tale.”

That’s literally what the student said. She didn’t want Cinderella or Sleeping Beauty, she wanted something new and fresh. I pointed her towards The Lunar Chronicles but she wasn’t interested. (Don’t worry, I’ll work her up to it!) So then I gently forced her towards Shannon Hale. The Books of Bayern series reads like a classic fairy tale, but it also feels new and different. It has magical elements that are really interesting to read about and characters that jump off the pages.

Do you have books that you’d recommend to middle schoolers? Let me know in the comments below!

Happy reading! – Caitlyn