On the topic of “growing up” in literature.

black espresso

Recently, I’ve started to hear more and more about writers of adult fiction asking writers of YA fiction when they will grow up. The problem? Readers experience the same phenomenon. I can’t tell you how many times someone who chooses to read the classics or someone who chooses to read endless strings of adult crime thriller novels, tells me that I should grow up and stop reading my “silly teenage fantasy romances.”

UM, EXCUSE ME?

My main issue with this does not lie in their obvious literary snobbery or even the fact that they don’t know what they’re talking about, since they don’t read YA fiction. My problem lies in the fact that they’re looking down on a genre that actually gets kids and teenagers to read. I can’t tell you how many of my friends growing up seriously disliked reading because of its association with school, and therefore things like “work” and “bad” and “for smart people only.” Yet when I begged them on my figurative hands and knees to read something (usually Harry Potter), they would inevitably give in and appease me. By doing so, they would fall in love with reading all over again and discern things about the world around them and the world within them that they’d never even glimpsed at before.

Here’s the thing: I don’t care if 99.9% of the books I read center around teenagers who discover a hidden magical/mythical world within their own while finding first love in the process, defy a totalitarian government against all odds, or find out that they are, in some way, very different than most people. Because all of these crazy plots are inspiring. Don’t get me wrong, I grew up on the formulaic crime mystery. As a kid, I would constantly sneak into the study to read Catherine Coulter, Iris Johansen, etc. until the wee hours in the morning. Are these novels bad? No. Are they the only good ones? Definitely not. Are they the most inspiring? Depends on who you are. But in a world where teenagers would rather watch endless hours of TV, waste time reading the same tweets and Instagram photos over and over, and use SparkNotes on every English exam, books that intrigue teenagers are important.

Take Harry Potter, for instance. A scrawny eleven year old with a lightning bolt-shaped scar who, rather than choosing defeat, fights the most feared wizard in magical history and wins. What about Katniss? A half-starving girl from an unimportant district firmly under a horrific government’s control finds herself the face of a revolution. Tris—a small girl from an unassuming faction who chooses to be Dauntless in more ways than one, who begins to understand bravery, selflessness, and facing one’s fears, both in everyday life and in epic battles, and who glimpses her mother’s hidden strength. And Lena? The girl who follows all of the rules, who is perhaps the most afraid of love, who later becomes one of its biggest advocates, and who takes down her society’s walls built upon years of fear of the unknown. Don’t forget Meghan, the girl who risks everything to save her little brother, who finds herself at the center of the faery universe, and who changes from a self-conscious farm girl into a catalyst who changes the very fabric of the faery existence.

All of these stories, and much, much more, tell of teenagers who step up and change something. They find love and they lose it. They figure out what’s important to them in life and fight for it. They aren’t okay with being a part of the status quo. Now, I know that all of the stories I referred to were dystopian or fantasy, but the same goes for much of young adult literature. These authors are so full of imagination that these stories become more than words on a page. These characters are no longer caricatures; they take on a life of their own. Whether young adult fiction tells of transformation of an entire world or of transformation in a single person’s life, it makes a difference.

Camus’ The Stranger, Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment, Shakespeare’s plays, Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, Jane Austen’s works, Catherine Coulter’s FBI Thriller series, etc. are all GOOD. The classics, the moderns, the fantastical, the realistic, the sci-fi, the paranormal, the romance (well, not Erotica, sorry), and many more are all GOOD.

My point is, just because something is written for a young adult, a middle grade, or a children’s literature-based audience doesn’t make it childish.

So, THANK YOU to every single young adult author, reader, blogger, or publisher who refuses to “grow up.”

 

Okay guys, what do you think about growing up in literature? I’d really love your feedback! 🙂

Review: The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa

Publisher: Harlequin Teen

Genre: YA, paranormal, post-apocalyptic, vampire

Series:  Blood of Eden

Pages: 485

Release Date: April 24, 2012

Rating: coffee cup iconcoffee cup iconcoffee cup iconcoffee cup iconcoffee cup icon

Summary from GoodReads:

To survive in a ruined world, she must embrace the darkness….

Allison Sekemoto survives in the Fringe, the outermost circle of a walled-in city. By day, she and her crew scavenge for food. By night, any one of them could be eaten. Some days, all that drives Allie is her hatred of them—the vampires who keep humans as blood cattle. Until the night Allie herself dies and becomes one of the monsters.

Forced to flee her city, Allie must pass for human as she joins a ragged group of pilgrims seeking a legend—a place that might have a cure for the disease that killed off most of civilization and created the rabids, the bloodthirsty creatures who threaten human and vampire alike. And soon Allie will have to decide what and who is worth dying for again.

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coffee to goCoffee To Go: Go buy the book. It’s so worth it. I will warn you that this is not a light-hearted read*. There is no such thing as a vegetarian vampire–Allie’s world is gritty. You will, without a doubt, fall in love with the characters! They change and grow ever so perfectly. Perhaps my favorite part: the plot is extremely well-paced and natural. Nothing feels forced. I almost couldn’t force myself to put the book down.

Characters—

Allie: Disliked her. Loved her. Can’t put her into a box because she changes so much throughout the novel. It’s so beautifully ironic that she begins to discover her compassion and selflessness as she’s supposed to be discovering her depravity and greed. She’s witty (I might have snickered and laughed out loud more than a few times), she’s brave, she’s fierce, etc. Basically, I would want to count her as a friend because I know that she’d have my back and be super cool while doing so. Very…Underworld-esque.

Zeke: FIN-ALL-Y. It’s been a long time since I’ve read a book in which the love interest is not too broody and not too girly. He speaks his mind rather than going through insane mood swings because he “can’t fight his love for her.” Not that I don’t love that, but it gets repetitive. More than that, I love that he’s more than a love interest. He’s a great foil, he’s a whole, dynamic character, and he exists apart from Allie’s universe. No insta-love here (thank GOD). They find each other attractive, sure, but they focus on character qualities. You will LOVE Zeke.

Kanin: He’s so mysterious! He kept me wondering about him, his past, and his future all the way through the book. He gave up enough info to hold my interest, but kept my imagination running wild with “what ifs.”

The World—

So. Gritty. There were a couple of gory scenes that made me cringe, which is hard to do. The vamps in the novel are REAL VAMPS. And the rabids—thank you Julie Kagawa for making the creepiest creatures EVER. Just picture The Walking Dead meets vampires. So choose: live in a vampire city where you can either be a human blood bag or scavenge for your food or take your chances outside of the city and hunt for your food. Don’t forget that it’s smarter to sleep during the daytime because the rabids and vamps come out at night! Never mind that they can see better than your human eyes at night anyway. Oh..and don’t you dare believe that all humans are on the same side. Welcome to The Immortal Rules.

The Themes—

Friendship, sacrifice, and forgiveness show up multiple times. This story also explores the beauty, the faults, and the core of what it means to be human. On top of all of that, I saw some Biblical themes. However, Kagawa does not shove any kind of religion down the reader’s throat. She presents each theme tastefully. Haha. Vamps. Get it…

Final Thoughts—

*gush gush gush*

READ THE BOOK! If I could give it more than five coffee cups, I would. This book most definitely goes on the same shelf as my most favorite series. Originally, I was really hesitant to read these because I was still wrapped up in Kagawa’s Iron Fey series. I thought that anyone who could write the Faery world so exquisitely would have trouble creating an original vampire world. Why I thought so, I can’t explain. But let me tell you—I was proved SO wrong! I hang my head in shame, having read this book.

Memorable Quotes—

“Did he teach you how to bore your opponents to sleep? Because I think I missed that lesson.” – Allie

“What are you doing to me?” he whispered. (Who, you ask? *evil snicker* You’ll have to read it.)

“… [he] finally did what I’d been fearing and hoping and dreaming he’d do from the very start.”

“You will always be a monster; there is no turning back from it. But what type of monster you become is entirely up to you.”

Espresso Expressions: Times and Places and Stories

black espresso

Is there a time and place for everything?

…in literature?

This week’s spotlight!

Okay, the basics: what is your name, how old are you, and what is your life in a nutshell?

My name is Tyler-Marie & I’m 17 years old. Describe myself? I’m about to begin my second year of university life. I love everything & anything English (hardcore Doctor Who, C.S. Lewis, and tea fan)…Yet, getting on a deeper side, I’m sort of in a love affair with story. I want to watch great stories, read great stories, write great stories, and live great stories. This probably explains why I’m an English & Journalism major.

Real and Fantastical stories—they all fascinate me. I’m also a believer of Christ. He is truly my reason for everything. I could only hope to incorporate Christ like truths into everything I write and do. Well, here’s a quote that describes me a little better: “She quietly expected great things to happen to her, and no doubt that’s one of the reasons why they did.” Zelda Fitzgerald.

What’s your blog name, what’s it all about, and what’s been your biggest challenge?

Livingwithfrecklesandwords. It’s quite a vague name—I mean what kind of blog is that? But, that’s sort of the fun part about it. The readers have no idea what to expect when they read the blog. It’d be the same thing as if they met me. All they would see is my freckles and hear my words. Yet, that’s just at a first glance. Once they read my blog, they see so much more. So, that’s basically what my blog is—it’s getting to know me.

My biggest challenge has been building up a community via cyber space. I sort of feel like the new girl who just moved in a completely new house in a completely new neighborhood in a completely new city—it’s intimidating. At first, you just sit by yourself at the lunch table, wondering if anyone is really hearing you. I’m sort of at the “new kid at the lunch table” phase.

Favorite book? Worst question EVER, I know.

Jane Eyre. Sort of a funny answer. I absolutely adore the moral center of Jane though. She makes one of the toughest decisions, since she has to turn down her love and do what is right. Jane Eyre isn’t just a good book to read, but one that teaches lessons. Jane’s the kind of character that gives you something to yearn for. Alice in Wonderland is also a close second.

Currently reading?

Divergent! Yes, I have been reading classics for a while and decided to hop onto the Young Adult Lit train while I could. I already love it so much. It’s nice to read a novel whose author isn’t dead.

Lastly (and most importantly), what caffeinated goodness can we find in your hands most often?

Earl Grey tea with French Vanilla creamer. Yes, there are many Starbucks frappes that I love, but nothing beats this drink. In the morning. In the afternoon. Or at night. I love Earl Grey tea. A perfect companion to any story.

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          Tyler-Marie suggested that we explore how time periods affect literature. I absolutely believe that time periods affect literature. But how? It’s one of those things that we pretty much take as a fact when someone says so without stopping to wonder why. Then I got to thinking that the greatest novels—the ones that many a high school student vetoed in favor of Spark Notes—communicate themes and ideas that are universal. These ideas don’t expire or become less applicable in changing cultures and periods of time. Yet, their novels rely heavily on the culture of the time. One of my most favorite novels, Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, falls into this category.

For such a timeless story, I still couldn’t see it taking place in, say, 1973 or 2013. Only the Roaring Twenties, with its ridiculously lavish parties, vast gap between the wealthy and the poor, ever-loosening morals, and gilded carelessness could handle this story. Gatsby works diligently towards his wealth so that he and Daisy can build a life together. Their love burns ever so brightly…and then burns out quickly, affecting everyone around them. The Twenties was a decade of extreme prosperity that lasted for just a blip in time and burned out just as quickly and just as terribly. I know that this has been a very condensed comparison, but my point is that the novel mirrors its time period and the country’s mood.

Other times, the settings within books trigger the “what if” questions within the said time period. Entering the 21st century, less and less people—especially teenagers—care about what goes on in the world around them. I find myself (as an adult) trying to shy away from current events and politics all the time. Dystopian novels, such as The Hunger Games and Delirium show us pictures of what our world could be if we ceased to care about the happenings in the world around us. I know that dystopian stories have been told decades previously, but the mood in the 21st century seems to be asking these “what if” questions more than any other generation.

Even Shakespeare, whose iambs will never come easily to me, communicates themes in plays like Hamlet and King Lear that have remained relevant for centuries. However, his time period inspired him. Obviously today’s society is completely inadequate for these Shakespearean plays. Creative as we are, we do not have the glory of the Renaissance enriching our work.

Call me crazy, but THIS is why I love Hemingway and Lauren Oliver, Fitzgerald and Veronica Roth, C.S. Lewis and Julie Kagawa. Each author, of stories both realistic and fantastical, finds themselves influenced by different time periods, different cultures, and different backgrounds. Oh, literature.

How do YOU think time periods affect literature? Quite a bit or not at all?

Don’t forget to send me an email with an Espresso Expressions topic at coffeeshopreads@gmail.com!

Book Review: FAE by C.J. Abedi

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Publisher: Diversion Books

Genre: YA Paranormal Romance, Faeries

Series: Fae trilogy

Pages: 471

Release Date: July 30th, 2013

Rating: 3.5/5

Summary from Good Reads:

The battle between Light and Dark is about to begin. 

Caroline Ellis’ sixteenth birthday sets into motion a series of events that have been fated for centuries. A descendant of Virginia Dare, the first child born in the lost colony of Roanoke, and unaware of her birthright as the heir to the throne of the Light Fae, it isn’t until she begins a tumultuous relationship with Devilyn Reilly that the truth is revealed.

Devilyn is the only one of the Fae who is both of the Light and of the Dark, and struggles to maintain that precarious balance to avoid succumbing to the power of the Dark within him. He is the only one who can save Caroline from those who would destroy her and destroy all hope for unity among the Fae. He promises Caroline that he will protect her at all costs, even when it means protecting her from himself.

Told from the alternating perspectives of Caroline and Devilyn, FAE draws on mysteries, myths and legends to create a world, and a romance, dangerously poised between Light and Dark.

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Characters—

Caroline: Can I just brag on this girl for a second? She was my all-time favorite aspect of this novel. She begins and stays so witty that I found myself literally laughing out loud. Her internal monologue is so relatable and real. Most high school girls would think exactly like her. I’ve read some reviews in which people criticize her for fawning over Devilyn when they first meet, but if we’re being honest, almost any teenage girl with hormones would be immediately drawn to Devilyn. The authors describe him as incredibly hot, a star athlete, and a mysterious boy arriving in a small town. I am impressed that Caroline does have self esteem. She doesn’t walk around feeling ugly and insecure. She knows where her strengths lie, both physically and personality-wise. With that said, she’s also not vain or conceited. She doesn’t realize the extent of her beauty. I do wish that Caroline would have uncovered more secrets about her past and delved deeper into the world of Faerie, but that’s what the second and third books are for, right?

Devilyn: Let’s just describe Devilyn as a much more intense and less sarcastic Daemon Black (Lux Series). He’s got the prickly, overprotective, secretly sensitive and romantic thing down. I guess we will all understand him when we are an immortal teenager constantly battling our evil temptations while trying to defy Fate and protect the person we love. What I love about Devilyn is that he has everything: looks, wealth, charm, you name it. But he doesn’t care about any of it. He can see through false beauty. Long story short: if you’re a fan of the brooding, self-sacrificial, gorgeous type, Devilyn Reilly is your man.

Odin: Every story needs the “rock” character, the person who stays constant and represents goodness, and Odin fits that bill. He may be quirky but I always get a sense of safety and warmth when he was in the scene. Great addition to the book!

Teddy: I hate to say it, but Teddy is the formulaic guy best friend that’s so common in paranormal romance. He’s utterly human—and a good one at that. He seems to only show up in the plot when it’s convenient, which has some pros and cons to it. I can tell you (no spoilers) that he doesn’t constitute the third party of a love triangle! How refreshing. Teddy, while a more minor character, adds some depth and some well-roundedness to the story.

The World—

There’s a prophecy foretelling of an epic battle, romance that defies ancient laws, a conniving, manipulative villain, and human drama throughout it all? Yes please! While the back story and the prophecies behind Fae have a dark and medieval feel to them, the story itself isn’t dark. If you’re looking for something reminiscent of Julie Kagawa’s Iron Fey, you won’t find it here. Instead, it has more of a Twilight feel—with a way less whiny narrator and a way cooler world. The romance here is different. It isn’t sensual or built on witty, sarcastic banter. Instead, it’s sweet and bittersweet…if that’s possible.

Final Thoughts—

This book has its flaws. It does. There were times that I wanted to tell Devilyn to take a chill pill and to stop using such girly sentences. “I had to close my eyes and gain control over my racing heart.” So not okay for his character. What about “…and HE, the one that will not be named…”? This isn’t Voldemort we’re talking about. Some of the descriptions within the story were a bit excessive and the authors could have tightened up the plot, but the story itself is enjoyable. It has some great qualities; it’s just not for those seeking mystery and action. Those who are seeking a teen romance with a paranormal edge will LOVE this book! Moreover, I’m sure that everyone will appreciate the quotes at the beginning of each chapter. They’re all relevant, insightful, and hail from Seneca to Shakespeare to Emerson to Italian proverbs! I’m a huge fan. Lastly, the transitions from Caroline’s POV to Devilyn’s and back again are flawless. You’ll have to read for yourself to see how flawless. Do it.

Memorable Quotes—

“Enchanting. Loveable. Forbidden. I had to stop.”

“How ugly my world was. Ugly even with all the outward beauty we possessed.”

“It may be what I am, but right now it’s far from who I am.”

***This book was provided by the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I was not compensated in any way.

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