Gilmore Girls Read-Alikes

You might have heard that the much loved TV series Gilmore Girls has made its way to Netflix. If, like me, you don’t have Netflix (or if you have already re-watched the entire series), these books might help you capture some of the happy feelings from the series. If you don’t feel like reading this whole list I’ve discovered that in my mind I consider fantasy titles great read-alikes for this series in general. (Thanks to my friend Kristin for suggesting this list idea!)

If you want books with a quirky ensemble of characters:

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  • Heist Society by Ally Carter: Time is short and the job is monumental but Kat has a crack crew and, hopefully, enough talent to pull off an impossible heist (and maybe right a few wrongs along the way).
  • Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley: As Ed walks Lucy through Shadow’s art, the night that promised to be a disaster turns into something else. In a city filled with missed connections and opportunity, Ed and Lucy are right where they’re supposed to be
  • Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones: Sophie Hatter is the eldest of three sisters, which everyone knows means Sophie is doomed to failure should she ever set out to seek her fortunes. Sophie is resigned to her fate–living obscurely, and less than successfully, working in the family hat shop. Except that this is not a traditional fairy tale and events soon intervene to set Sophie on a very unexpected course indeed for an eldest daughter.
  • The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater: Only one rider can win on race day–if they can stay alive long enough to finish the course–and the stakes for both Sean and Puck couldn’t be higher but as this unlikely pair trains side-by-side they might find a greater prize than anything from the race purse.
  • Illusions of Fate by Kiersten White: Jessamin has been an outcast since she moved from her island home of Melei to the dreary country of Albion. Everything changes when she meets Finn, an enigmatic young lord. Armed with only her wits, Jessamin will have to navigate the murky waters of Alben politics and magic–not to mention the uncharted territory of her own heart.

If you want books with witty banter:

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  • Better Off Friends by Elizabeth Eulberg: Both Macallan and Levi are pretty sure they’re better as friends than anything else. Except they can’t help wondering if the complications that come with being more than friends might just be worth it.
  • Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta: Sixteen-year-old Francesca Spinelli has a lot of limitations on her life. The worst might be her forced transfer to St. Sebastian’s, a former boy’s school that’s trying to turn co-ed.
  • Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan: If every town has a story, so does every resident. Kami’s own story has caused her a fair bit of trouble over the years and not a few friends. That’s what happens when your best friend seems to be an imaginary boy you talk to in your head.
  • The Archived by Victoria Schwab: Someone wants to hide something about the Coronado. And perhaps about the Archive too. If Mac can’t solve the mystery that remains the entire Archive could collapse.
  • The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater: As Blue and these improbable raven boys find each other things start changing for them and their small town. Together they could unearth untold magic and power, as long as they can find it first–and control it.

If you want books with a sweet romance:

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  • To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han: No one was ever supposed to see Lara Jean’s love letters except for Lara Jean. They were never meant for anyone else. With all of her feelings laid bare for these five boys, Lara Jean isn’t sure how to go back to the girl she used to be before the letters were delivered.
  • Enchanted by Alethea Kontis: In a land as ripe with magic as Sunday’s, it isn’t particularly surprising to meet a talking frog. The real surprise comes when he shows an interest in Sunday’s stories and quickly becomes her dear friend. And maybe something else.
  • Open Road Summer by Emery Lord: It takes a cross-country tour but over the course of one unforgettable summer Reagan will learn that mistakes aren’t forever,  even if friends are, and home doesn’t always have to be somewhere to leave.
  • Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins: With uncertain plans for college and the future looming,  Josh and Isla will have to learn to be apart before they have any chance of staying together.
  • The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith: Lucy and Owen don’t have a lot in common to start with. They don’t even know much about each other. Still their relationship plays out across the miles in the form of postcards and sporadic emails. Although both Lucy and Owen try to move on they soon realize an unfinished something keeps pulling them back to each other.

If you want books with an awesome family:

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  • Roomies by Tara Altebrando and Sara Zarr: What starts as an innocuous email about whether to buy a microwave or a mini-fridge turns into a series of emails that might lead to friendship and a few other insights during a summer filled with possibility.
  • Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan: Dash and Lily don’t have much in common but somehow they connect on the papers bound in that red notebook. Will these two misfits make sense in person? Only time will tell if their fledgling relationship can survive Lily’s family, Dash’s friends, some comical disasters and, of course, the holiday season in New York City.
  • The Year My Sister Got Lucky by Aimee Friedman: The harder Katie clings to her memories of City life, the more Michaela adapts to life in Fir Lake, leaving Katie to wonder what happens when your home doesn’t feel like a home and your best friend starts to look like someone you don’t know.
  • Suite Scarlett by Maureen Johnson: Scarlett Martin and her family live in the Hopewell Hotel in the heart of New York City. That might sound like a dream come true but just ask Scarlett about her fifteenth birthday and it’s easy to see the sometimes harsh realities that owning and running a hotel can really entail.
  • Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson: With the help of some unlikely friends, Sloane starts working her way through the list her best friend left behind when she disappeared with no notice. Apple picking at night should be easy. Dancing until dawn might actually be fun. Kissing a stranger could go either way. Skinny dipping? Stealing something? Those might take a little more work

If you want books about smart characters:

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  • When It Happens by Susane Colasanti: At the beginning of the year Sara and Tobey don’t really know each other. By the end, Sara and Tobey might have a whole new beginning together.
  • Love and Other Foreign Words by Erin McCahan: Love is a word found in many languages. And with so many things around her changing, Josie is about to get a crash course in the true meaning of the word
  • The Shadow Society by Marie Rutkoski: Darcy always wanted to be part of something, to belong somewhere. But she may have more than she bargained for with a mysterious boy named Conn and infiltrating an even stranger group called the Shades.
  • This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales: With a chance at real friends and something that makes her truly happy, Elise might be able to change herself after all.
  • Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac by Gabrielle Zevin: It starts with a coin toss. If Naomi had picked tails she never would have gone back for the camera. She wouldn’t have tripped on the stairs and hit her head. There would have been no ambulance and no amnesia. Naomi would remember her boyfriend and whatever it was they had in common. She’d remember the lives her parents have been living. She would remember her best friend Will and why he calls her Chief and keeps making her mix tapes. But Naomi picked heads.

Let’s Talk about giving authors a second (or third) chance

I try to keep my “to be read” list locked down and part of that is being really strict about what I add. It has to be a book I really want to read and one I really think I’ll get to. I don’t add later books in a series until I’ve read and liked the first. More importantly, if I dislike a book by an author, I cut my losses.

Generally this involves a two-or-three strike policy; I’ll try two books by an author and if I dislike them both I move on with my life. If two of the books are part of the same series I will give three chances. (Unless it’s a book I really dislike for whatever reason, then it’s often a one-strike policy.)

I am starting to re-evaluate this strategy.

I had already read and not totally loved two books by White. One book wasn’t what I wanted it to be and the other just wasn’t a personally satisfying read. It happens. I assumed that, although White’s books always sound great and are often go-to recommendations that I give other readers, her writing style just didn’t work for me as a reader.

Then something interesting happened. I read White’s story “Welcome to Christmas, CA” in My True Love Gave to Me and I adored it. I literally cried while reading this story because it was so touching and beautiful and perfect.

Then I started hearing about Illusions of Fate on goodreads and I was totally enchanted by the premise and the cover. Then other bloggers I trust started telling me it was really good. So I decided to read it. And it was everything I hoped for and more. For most of the time while I was reading, I couldn’t stop smiling. I began recommending it to people while I was still reading it.

I’ll talk more about why I loved the book in my review. Here I wanted to talk about the fact that I took a chance on this book and it totally paid off.

Now this could mean my tastes have changed. It could mean that White’s writing style has changed. Or it could mean that my reading tastes have a lot to do with plot and premises that I find appealing.

What does that mean about my two-strike policy? Have I missed other books by authors I wasn’t sure about but might ultimately love? There’s no way to know and since I am so strict with my TBR I won’t be going back to re-evaluate all of the authors I’ve elected to skip. But perhaps like all good rules my reading policy might sometimes be made to be broken.

So let’s talk about giving authors a second chance in the comments. At what point do YOU cut your losses with a certain author or series?

Mortal Heart: A Chick Lit Wednesday Review

“The sum and total of who I am and who I will ever be is already contained within me.”

Mortal Heart by Robin LaFeversSired by Death himself, all of the girls at the convent of St. Mortain are blessed with gifts from their godly father and tasked with carrying out his dark work in the world. Annith has watched her sisters come and go from the convent of St. Mortain, all the while waiting patiently for her own chance to serve Mortain and leave the confines of life in the convent behind.

After years of proving herself the perfect novitiate, after passing every test, Annith’s future outside of the convent is less than certain. When she learns that the abbess wishes to groom her as the next Seeress, Annith knows it is time to strike out and choose her own path–wherever it might lead–in Mortal Heart (2014) by Robin LaFevers.

Mortal Heart is the conclusion to LaFevers’ His Fair Assassin Trilogy. It is preceded by Grave Mercy and Dark Triumph.

Like its predecessors, Mortal Heart works largely on its own since Annith is a new narrator and the arc follows her. The larger events of 1488 Brittany and the young Duchess’ struggles to hold onto her country continue as do the machinations of the Abbess.

Although there is a lot of overlap between these books in terms of their timelines, Mortal Heart is the first time readers truly get to know Annith as more than an extremely skilled and obedient novitiate of Mortain. However, Annith soon reveals that she has quite a bit of grit. Even without special gifts from Mortain like her closest friends, Ismae and Sybella, Annith is a fierce protagonist who is not afraid to seek out her own path.

Readers of the first two books will anticipate a certain order of events to this story. While many expected elements (and familiar characters) do feature here, Mortal Heart still has numerous surprises to keep readers guessing (or, more accurately, gasping in surprise).

As always LaFevers delivers a well-researched historical fantasy as well as a detailed author’s note separating fact from fiction and outlining the actual historical events featured in the novel. This book is well-plotted with a perfect balance between new story and tying up elements from the previous installments in the series. Mortal Heart is an expertly written conclusion to a delightfully clever series. The only regret readers will have is realizing that the series is truly over.

*This book was acquired for review consideration from the publisher at BEA 2014*

Possible Pairings: Brightly Woven by Alexandra Bracken, Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carringer, The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson, Graceling by Kristin Cashore, Fire by Kristin Cashore, The Wicked and the Just by J. Anderson Coats, Vessel by Sarah Beth Durst, The Lost Sun by Tessa Gratton, The Agency by Y. S. Lee, Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi, The Winner’s Curse by Marie, Rutkoski, Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder, The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner

Monday Memories: Clariel

Monday Memories is a weekly feature hosted by Miss Print and the Book Bandit. Just take a photo of a book from your personal library (or a library book that’s significant to you, etc.) and talk about why it matters. Is it your first ever signed book? The first book you reviewed on your blog? Whatever it is, write it up in a Monday Memories post and share it. Just please link back if you decide to join!

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Today for Monday Memories I’m talking about Clariel by Garth Nix.

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Clariel is the book I never knew I always wanted.

I didn’t know this book was even going to exist until Cecelia from The Adventures of Cecelia Bedelia told me about it a few months before BEA. I could hardly fathom more Old Kingdom books. Then, as BEA 2014 approached, you can imagine my surprise and happiness when I realized Garth Nix would be at BEA to sign arcs. (Since Nix is Australian it is not an exaggeration to say he is almost never in the US.) So great was my excitement that I waited an hour in line to see him at BEA. Then, the next day after another loooooong day at the Javits I dragged poor Nicole down to Books of Wonder for a BEA-centric signing because obviously I needed the rest of my Old Kingdom books signed.

You can read all about the ensuing BEA adventures too of course.

You can also read my review of Clariel but like I said it was everything I never knew I always wanted. It broke my heart and then put it together. While Clariel isn’t my favorite Old Kingdom character, it’s not an exaggeration to say that this might be my favorite Old Kingdom book (for now at least!).

To join, click the Inlinkz frog below to link up. Then see what everyone else has to say :)

Week in Review: October 19

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This week on the blog you can check out:

This week was pretty good for me. I got a lot of mail (I love mail). I got a lot of good feedback on things at work (top BookMatcher, maker of exquisite “How to: Reader’s Advisory” handout). And I’ve been getting rid of a lot of books which are either being given away on my blog or twitter OR are going to the stash at work to give to teens. This is slightly embarrassing because I am giving away a lot of books from BEA without reading them (and I was really restrained this year about what I took!) but it also means I feel less guilt about requesting arcs from publishers.

And, since I’m already obnoxiously bragging: I am already scheduling blog posts for 2015 which means I get to pick up a shiny, new ARC to read soon. I do have to take a step back though from planning ahead because it’s a little dizzy making.

I also had a blast this week on the blog reviewing the entire Old Kingdom series (so far anyway). I love this books and reading Clariel before it published this week reminded me just how much I love this series and why. *heart*

This weekend is busy too (I’m writing this on Friday as I often pre-schedule these posts) with a book signing on Friday night with Nicole, work on Saturday, AND a bead show on Sunday with my mom and Nicole. Mom is starting to feel a lot better and is walking around more (and wanting to walk around more) so I am stoked for this bead show.

We’re nearing the year mark for Mom’s surgery (and past the year mark for my aunt’s death which was at the beginning of this month) and it’s been on both of our minds. But earlier this week she looked at me and she said that instead of thinking about it as the anniversary of her brain surgery we should think about it as the anniversary of when she lived and was okay. And I really like that idea.

I talk a lot on Twitter about trying to re-frame myself to be unflappable and positive. And it’s really hard, and often has few to no rewards, but it honestly helps. So I’m going to keep trying.

I’m also gearing up for Monday Memories which, if you have a blog or even if you don’t, I hope you’ll join!

How was your week?

Abhorsen: A Review

Abhorsen by Garth NixLirael has finally found a place for herself as the Abhorsen-in-Waiting. She has even found unexpected family and friends in Sam and the Disreputable Dog. But with this new knowledge comes an immense responsibility.

A necromancer is trying to awaken Orannis the Destroyer with the help of Chlorr–a Greater Dead creature–and Sam’s unwitting best friend Nick. Only one barrier keeps Orannis from unleashing its terrible power. Orannis must be stopped. Lirael does not know how, only that she has no choice but to find a way in Abhorsen (2003) by Garth Nix.

Abhorsen is the conclusion of Nix’s original Old Kingdom trilogy. It is preceded by Sabriel and Lirael. The book is followed by Nix’s recent prequel Clariel.

Abhorsen picks up shortly after the conclusion of Lirael. Lirael and Sam are still struggling to prevent Orannis from awakening. Everything Lirael has learned both in the Clayr’s glacier and without will be put to the test as she races to find a way to bind the Destroyer.

Nix once again delivers a high action fantasy adventure here. Lirael in particular comes into her own in this story as she embraces her past and everything that her new role as Abhorsen-in-Waiting entails.

Abhorsen is a nail-biting conclusion to an excellent trilogy. While the story ends beautifully, readers will still want to see more of these characters long after the book is done.

Possible Pairings: Plain Kate by Erin Bow, Brightly Woven by Alexandra Bracken, The Demon’s Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan, Fire by Kristin Cashore, Vessel by Sarah Beth Durst, The Lost Sun by Tessa Gratton, Seraphina by Rachel Hartman, Magisterium by Jeff Hirsch, Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones, Dreamhunter by Elizabeth Knox, Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers, Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas, Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta, The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski, The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner, Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld, Illusions of Fate by Kiersten White

Lirael: A Review

Lirael by Garth NixLirael has been raised as a daughter of the Clayr–part of the extended family who live within the Clayr’s glacier seeking to understand their visions of the future. But Lirael has never fit in among the Clayr despite years of trying. She does not look like any of her Clayr family. She has no knowledge of her father. She was abandoned by her mother.

Worse, and far more shameful to her, Lirael does not have the Sight which allows all of the Clayr to see into possible futures. Instead, a full two years after she should have developed the Sight, Lirael is left feeling the outsider.

With little else to occupy her in the Clayr’s glacier, Lirael begins to experiment with Charter Magic while working as Second Assistant Librarian. In honing her natural affinity with the Charter, Lirael summons a strange companion and also sets herself on a path to oppose an ancient evil and choose her own future in Lirael (2001) by Garth Nix.

Lirael is the second book in Nix’s Old Kingdom series. It takes place roughly 18 years after the events in Sabriel. (Readers unfamiliar with Sabriel should still be able to jump into the series with the help of background passages for key information.) On the other hand, readers familiar with Sabriel will recognize familiar characters as well as relatives of characters featured in Sabriel.

Although Lirael is a very different heroine from Sabriel, this story treads similar territory as Lirael tries find her own identity and make a place for herself in the Old Kingdom. Lirael is savvy and smart. Although she makes mistakes including some rash decisions, Lirael learns throughout the story and her growth is obvious as she comes into her own.

Lirael is another beautifully evocative fantasy from Nix. The blend of high fantasy elements with action and adventure continues in this second installment as Lirael learns more about her past and meets some unlikely friends and allies along the way. Page-turning twists and shocking reveals will leave readers eager for the next installment.

Possible Pairings: Plain Kate by Erin Bow, Brightly Woven by Alexandra Bracken, The Demon’s Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan, Fire by Kristin Cashore, Vessel by Sarah Beth Durst, The Lost Sun by Tessa Gratton, Seraphina by Rachel Hartman, Magisterium by Jeff Hirsch, Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones, Dreamhunter by Elizabeth Knox, Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers, Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas, Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta, The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski, The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner, Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld, Illusions of Fate by Kiersten White