5 Favorite Revolutionary Novels

Happy Yesterday-Birthday America.

Honestly I’m not feeling super celebratory this year. Over the top patriotism has bothered me for a while, but this year it feels especially off. We still ate apple pie and hotdogs, and we still went to fireworks (there is no such thing as a bad reason to set off safe, colorful explosives)*, but posting American flags made out of books on Instagram feels icky.

Still, since this year marks the 244th anniversary of signing of the document that started one of the more influential revolutions in history, I thought it might be fun to talk about some of my favorite books about revolutions. These are in no particular order. Half-assed listicles for the win!

*plus outside is apparently VERY low-risk of Covid spread, so I figured this was a good opportunity to get my kids out of the house for the first time in months

The Hunger Games Trilogy

Obviously! A good dystopia needs a good revolution, but my favorite thing about this revolution is how messy it is. Both sides are willing to do pretty terrible things in the name of victory, and in the end Katniss doles out justice on a whim. Nothing is black and white in this series, especially Katniss, which is what I think STILL separates this book from all the other YA dystopias out there. Plus the side-characters are SO COMPELLING!!!


Children of Blood and Bone

God, everything ABOUT this novel! The one-of-a-kind magic system, the dynamic characters, the real-world relevance, the romance, the no-win revolution. Like The Hunger Games, one of my favorite things about this book was how both “sides” seemed to be right about magic. But unlike The Hunger Games, I can’t imagine how this can possibly resolve. I came for the revolution, but I stayed for the magic. I’ve never read anything like it before, I love how deeply grounded it is in African traditions, and everything just fit together like puzzle pieces. THIS BOOK!


Les Misérables

Oooooo, I love a good book about the French Revolution! Les Miserables is probably my favorite romantic-era novel. The characters are what really makes this book worth the read, though certainly the revolutionary setting makes for a FABULOUS story. I love how Victor Hugo isn’t afraid to show how the French Revolution didn’t really make things better for anyone, but how the French people continued to have hope (and continued to have more revolutions!). This book is complex, and heartbreaking, and lovely, and LONG. I highly recommend the Penguin abridged version, lol!


Next Year in Havana

I’m pretty well burnt out of dual-timeline historical fiction, but I just ADORED this book in spite of all of that. It’s sexy, it’s authentically Cuban, it’s exciting, it’s glamorous. I love how strong the women in this book are, and that while they aren’t always in control of their lives they TAKE control where they can. They’re willing to take risks for love. And not just romantic love. Familial love plays a big role in this book. Plus, look at that cover. Doesn’t it just make you SWOON?!?!


Prince Caspian

Full disclosure, this is one of those rare situations where I enjoy the movie more than the book. But Prince Caspian is one of my favorite Narnia novels. This is the complete and utter opposite of EVERY OTHER BOOK on this list because it’s pretty black-and-white. Caspian and friends good, existing government bad, zero complications. But I don’t know, I just love the character development of the Pevensies, how they come slowly over the course of the book to realize that they can’t do it alone. They need Aslan. Also, Reepicheep is the best. EVER. I will fight you to the death on that one.


What are your favorite revolution books? Let me know in the comments!

Why I Try to Comment on Every Blog Post I Read

And you should too!

As book bloggers I always see people talking about blog hopping, or comment groups, or posts titled “how to make me comment”. Comments are really important to us, partly because they help us measure the success of our posts, but mostly because we want to engage with our readers.

(Which is just fancy blogger talk for “we want to TALK to you!”)

But I’m going to do you one better. I try to comment on EVERY blog post I read.

Let me start by saying that I don’t always succeed. Sometimes I just can’t think of anything to say, especially on Top Ten Tuesday posts or book tags. Always writing “great review!” feels disingenuous, so if I didn’t connect with the post at all I sometimes just can’t think of a comment. But I would guess this only happens to me maybe once every three or four days. I can almost always think of something to SAY.

Why though?

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Mid-Year Freak Out Tag – 2020 Edition

Oh my gosh. June is over. Summer vacation is halfway over. I don’t know whether to shout for joy or cry. Shout for joy because PLEASE can we go back to school in August. Cry because summer is over and I’m still waiting on pretty much all the books from my summer reading list to come either to the book store or library. I’m worried I won’t have time to read them all. 😥

Also, the middle of the year always sneaks up on me. During summer vacation it’s really hard to keep track of the date, so I’m always shocked and, well, freaked out to find it’s July. lol

So far this year I’ve read 45 books, but since a HUGE chunk of those were either gifts or read for work, it hasn’t been the most exciting year for me book-wise. Not even all the books in my Top 10 have four stars, yikes! Still, I’m well on my way to my 75 book goal, and frankly may have to adjust it to 100. YAY ME!

Best Book You’ve Read So Far in 2020

Okay, I’m going to share my two favorites, because they’re so different from each other. My top book is hands down The Mirror & the Light, which is easily the best historical fiction novel I’ve ever read. I love the Thomas Cromwell trilogy so much, and this book was literally perfect. I wouldn’t have changed ANYTHING about it (except maybe make it never end!). My second top book is a YA backlist title, A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi. It had been on my to-read list forEVER, and I finally picked it up on sale in February. GUYS. Why did I wait so long to read this book?!?! If you haven’t read it yet you’ve GOT TO.

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Prediction Book Tag

Hello everyone! Hope you’re having a nice weekend. I wasn’t paying attention and grabbed a hot pan last night, so that’s awesome. By the time you read this it’ll have been over a week, but whatevs, I thought you should know. Right now it’s 3 AM because I went to bed early and my husband woke me up when he came to bed around midnight and I couldn’t fall back asleep. So yay. Hence the blabbering.

Dani @ Mousai Books tagged me in the Prediction Book Tag well over a month ago, but I was doing a thing so I didn’t get to it. UNTIL TODAY. Since then I’ve been seeing this everywhere, so it’s probably just as well that I waited because now I’m pretty excited to see how this goes!

Also, someone tagged me in something like, two weeks ago, and I can’t find that tag anywhere. So if that was you, SORRY!

The rules for the Prediction Book Tag:

~ Pingback to the creator, the amazing Mandy & Sha @ Book Princess Reviews!
~ Tag the person who tagged you
~ Find an answer to match each prompt.
~ Most importantly: have fun!


Prediction for my Next Read

Um, there’s no prediction here. I am a MAJOR planner. Probably because I don’t have fifteen million unread books sitting around my house. The only uncertainty here is order, because I don’t know when the books I ordered from the bookstore will arrive. Plus everything will just have to get put on hold when my Empire of Gold pre-order comes in. Duh. But in some order my next four reads are:

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Lonesome Dove: Expectation vs. Reality

I just read that great American Western novel, Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry. While I don’t know that writing a review of such a novel is helpful (or even possible), I thought it might be fun to share my thoughts, especially relating to how it held up to my expectations. So, here we go!

Expectation: This book is long.

Reality: It’s even longer than I thought, AND it’s slow!

Seriously, this book clocks in at about 850 pages. And I’ve never read a slower book in my life. I set a pace of 50 pages a day for myself, and some days I was up late just trying to finish my 50 pages. The book is dense and the pace is slow. It takes them a good 150 pages just to get started on the cattle drive, and about 500 pages to get out of the state of Texas. I God! Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t bored, it’s just LONG.

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Favorite Books in Each Genre

The last 365 days or so I’ve made a big effort to read more in a variety of genres. The result is that I’ve read some amazing books that I would never have read before! So I thought I would take some time to share with you all my favorite book from each genre.

Literary Fiction: Bel Canto

If you’ve been following my blog for any length of time, you’re probably tired of hearing about Bel Canto. But I’m going to tell you again anyway. In an unnamed South American Country, a group of rich industrialists get together for a birthday dinner/concert. A group of guerrilla terrorists show up to kidnap the president of the country, who isn’t there. Their indecision leads them to being stuck with a hundred hostages when the military shows up. The terrorists and the businessmen get to know each other, form friendships, and even fall in love. It’s beautiful, it’s heartbreaking, it’s just wonderful.

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What is a Young Adult Book?

Okay, so. I notice that as book bloggers or members of bookish social media we have a *really* hard time determining when books are young adult and when they aren’t. Partly this is a direct result of using social media. If a blogger we love who mostly reads YA books is reading a book, we may assume it is YA. (That happened to me with Red White & Royal Blue. Oops!) We may check the Goodreads shelves, and lord knows THEY cannot be trusted. Partly this is because publishers don’t necessarily go out of their way to let us know if something is YA. They tend to let marketing and the imprint speak for itself. But I don’t know about y’all, I don’t know which imprints do YA. And even if I *did*, Harper Collins doesn’t put the word “Teen” anywhere on the outside of the book, even though the imprint is Harper Collins Teen.

So, yeah, it can be a tricky field to navigate. I get that.

But I also see a LOT of misconceptions when I’m reading reviews and discussion posts about YA. So let’s take a second to define things, shall we?

“Definition”

I think the most important thing I need to address going in is that there is no hard and fast definition or rule of what makes a Young Adult book. The phrase “Young Adult Literature” hasn’t even been around all that long, even if the concept has been. It’s constantly changing. Even experts in the field can’t all agree on what YA is, so that’s part of the reason the whole thing is so ambiguous.

But, essentially, Young Adult is a marketing category created by publishers in order to target books at young audiences. This means that when writing the book the author has teens in mind, when publishing the book the publisher has teens in mind, and when marketing/selling the books booksellers have teens in mind.

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Calendar Girls July: Best Book Adaptation

This month’s Calendar Girls Theme is Drive-in Movie: Best Book Adaptation. Thanks to Adrienne @ Darque Dreamer Reads for hosting.

I’m not really feeling this today, guys. Normally I could go on and on about movie adaptations, and what makes one good or bad. I could list my favorites and what makes them amazing. I could talk about why it’s so important to see them as separate and not compare them. I could talk about favorite adaptations from other genres, like musicals and TV and opera. But not today.

Today I’m having a hard time not feeling guilty for doing something as pointless as writing a blog post about books.

So you’re getting the short version. Maybe another time I can write more.

The Lord of the Rings Trilogy

It’s no secret that The Lord of the Rings is one of my all-time favorite books. And the movie trilogy came at just the right point in my life when I was impressionable enough to become full-on obsessed. But it *really* holds up. My husband and I have watched it again in these last few months, and other than a few special effects shots in the first movie, everything is just as good as I remembered it. I think there’s a couple reasons:

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The Grad Student Book Tag

What do you guys think my big celebration should be for finishing up my graduate school classwork? Big party? No, social distancing. Fancy dinner? No, restaurants are closed. A book tag? PERFECT!

Jillian the Bookish Butterfly created this super fun book tag for all you nerds in graduate school or thinking about graduate school. And she knew I was working on a degree too, so she tagged me! Thanks Jillian!

As a side-note, I am NOT graduating yet. I still have to do my practicum (also called internship) in the fall, but I’m thinking (hoping) it’s going to be a LOT less work than my classes were. Guaranteed I won’t have to read 60 pages of a cataloging textbook every week. Ugh.

So, yay! Let’s get started!


Picking an Area of Study

What’s your favorite books and/or series from each of your favorite genres?

Oh gosh! I have so many favorite genres! lol

Fantasy: Lord of the Rings. I know, such a cliche. But I’ve been in love with it since forever, literally since middle school. Y’all, that was 20 freaking years ago. And true love never fades.

Historical Fiction: Wolf Hall and the Thomas Cromwell trilogy. It’s just SOOOOO stinking good! I love Cromwell as a narrator and his odd sense of humor, as well as seeing Henry and his wives from an outsider’s persepctive.

Classics: Pride and Prejudice. It’s just so romantic and funny and all-around well written. I never get tired of it.

Young Adult: Probably Eleanor & Park. You all know how obsessed I am with Rainbow Rowell.


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Discussion: Do Big Books Intimidate You?

Today’s discussion post is brought to you by bringing home Lonesome Dove from the library and THEN realizing it was written in 1986! YIKES! 600* pages of 20th century American writing? Good luck to me…

*Did I say 600? It’s closer to 900.

So I notice a lot on social media, especially Bookstagram, that a lot of people talk about how intimidated they are by long books. This is often cited as the reason for purchasing but not reading The Priory of the Orange Tree and Jane Eyre in particular. And I get it, those books are long. I know a lot of people set massive reading goals for themselves, and it can be hard to read 20 books a month if one of them is 800 pages long. Even if that isn’t you, long books can be scary. What if you don’t like it? What if it’s long AND slow? What if it takes you forever and you have to give it back to the library before you’re done? What if you lose interest halfway through?

Personally, it’s never been much of a deterrent for me. Maybe it’s because I read The Lord of the Rings in 7th grade and therefore became immune, lol. Also, people don’t have any problem reading a series that goes on for 6+ books, and that’s a lot more to read. I just see my long books as a whole trilogy wrapped up in one convenient package! Also, it doesn’t get worse the longer it goes on, so double plus!

But, on the other hand, I’d be lying if I didn’t say I’m terrified of the idea of Lonesome Dove. I usually love long classics, but I’m not a huge fan of 20th century literature. And I’ve never read a Western. So I’m not sure if I’m going to like it, and it’s a really long book to slug through if I don’t…

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