Top Ten Tuesday: YA Books for YABC

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Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish (click the link to visit them) who pick a different topic each week.

The topic for this week is: Ten Books I’d Love to Read With My Book Club/If I Had A Book Club (or you could pick a specific kind of book club — like if you had a YA book club or an adult book club or a science fiction book club etc.)

My friend Di and I have an unofficial YA book club (YABC) where we meet up, drink wine, exchange books and rant/swoon over them. It’s pretty awesome. Therefore, I am choosing the books that have been the most successful YABC topics in the past.

Oh the rants we’ve had…

(Links go to related posts)

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1. The Hunger Games: Well, durrr. There was a period of time where myself and Di were banned from talking about THG in public because we just couldn’t stop, and it always ended in the same very heated (but y’know, friendly..) argument.

Mainly because it turns out that Di likes NICE BOYS like Peeta and is therefore WRONG ABOUT EVERYTHING. I mean really, Peeta over Gale…?? SERIOUSLY. Other topics included why I hated the first movie (because I’m right) and why Di didn’t (because she’s wrong).

2. Vampire Academy: Oh, we are not even close to be being done with VA YABCs! But the series so far (we are up to book 3 I believe), has already provided us with so much good ranting material.

There’s been the obvious Dimitri-in-my-pants rants and girl crushing all over Rose Hathaway and her complete awesomeness. And then there’s the hilarity that ensued when we realised we couldn’t pronounce any of the vampire species so anyone listening in to our convo in the bar at Waterloo station probably thought we were having a stroke.

And lastly, there’s the fact that it’s impossible to discuss VA without comparing it to our favourite topic ever – Buffy!! So good!

3. Twilight: Possibly the first ever YABC-type rant in the history of Di and Lipsy book rants.

Topics mainly revolved around how ridiculous it is but quickly descends into how much we want to have sex with control freak Cullen, and ultimately how much we COULDN’T STOP READING. There has also been a lot of discussion over the TERRIBLE fashion choices Meyer made – if there’s ever a BEIGE POLO-NECK shortage just head to Forks, yeah!

Oh and in case you were wondering, I’m the lion and Di’s the lamb. LOLZ.

4. The Selection Series: The big debate here is clearly Team Maxon Vs Team Aspen but for once I think me and Di actually agreed (we did, right?). Team Maxon to the max…see what I did there. There was also a lot of talk about how this series helped with our post-Hunger Games blues, and how much we want GILES to play the king in the TV Series. What ever happened to that?

5. Graceling: Oh so much swooning went on at the Graceling edition of YABC. We swooned over the pretty much perfect Prince Po, and at how AWESOME Katsa is. We just love her. KATSA & PO 4EVA.

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6. The Chaos Walking Trilogy: This wasn’t so much a YABC meet-up as it was a constant texting/tweeting/ranting/raving/crying over how amazing, heartbreaking, and just plain HORRIBLE this series is. I think at one point I declared how much I hate Di for giving it to me. IT HURT MY IMPENETRABLE HEART. We cried over poor Todd. And how cute him and Viola are. And let’s not even mention the dog. I just can’t.

7. Uglies: After giving this to Di to read and hearing her thoughts on it I can’t even think about the book without bursting into laughter. I liked it. Sure, the protagonist was annoying, but I thought it was a really brave book that covered some important teenage issues. Di did not. Di hated it with a firey passion which naturally led to a particularly loud edition of YABC.

8. Divergent: There were only really a few topics we managed to focus on when discussing Divergent. First…back to The Hunger Games. Second, HOT MAKE OUT SCENES ON TRAINS. We did manage to briefly discuss which faction we’d be before quickly returning to swoon over Four and his tattoos. Sigh.

9. The Mortal Instruments: Let’s face it. There’s only really one topic in discussion where TMI is concerned – whether Jace and Clary will EVER get it on (I only got up to book 3). And not forgetting the whole possible incest thing. INCEST IS BEST. Ahem. I have a brother – It is NOT. Shudder.

10. The Lunar Chronicles: This is only so far down the list because for once we pretty much agree on everything about these books. Mainly, that they are beyond awesome. We’ve swooned over Prince Kai, Captain Thorne and even Wolf – or maybe that was just me? We love Cinder, and Scarlet and Cress and want to poke Levana’s eyes out. And now we’re just waiting for more.

One more thing: I feel the need to include Narnia here too. I don’t think we’ve even had an actual Narnia YABC but it’s never really far from our thoughts to be honest. Whether we’re discussing if it’s OK to fancy High King Peter, or laughing at Ben Barnes’ accent in the Prince Caspian movie….it’s always a Narnian life for us. For Narnia!

Gone Fishing!

I’m taking a break, guys.

I’m going home tonight to celebrate my Nan’s 80th birthday – on a narrowboat! And then my mum is coming back to London with me to visit, and go to Wimbledon. Excited.

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I did mean to schedule some posts but I haven’t found the time so I’m just going to take a wee break. I haven’t really been reading much lately anyway, due to life and the tennis.

I’ll reply to any comments/emails after I’m done celebrating Nadal or Murray winning Wimbledon.*

* I just jinxed it didn’t I?

Also, Happy Birthday to my favourite Di! Sometimes I make her get drunk and write guests posts for me. If you want to make her birthday even better you should check out her awesome new tote bags and enter her Birthday Giveaway HERE.

Guest Post: Di does…Insurgent!

insur One choice can transform you—or it can destroy you. But every choice has consequences, and as unrest surges in the factions all around her, Tris Prior must continue trying to save those she loves—and herself—while grappling with haunting questions of grief and forgiveness, identity and loyalty, politics and love.

Tris’s initiation day should have been marked by celebration and victory with her chosen faction; instead, the day ended with unspeakable horrors. War now looms as conflict between the factions and their ideologies grows. And in times of war, sides must be chosen, secrets will emerge, and choices will become even more irrevocable—and even more powerful. Transformed by her own decisions but also by haunting grief and guilt, radical new discoveries, and shifting relationships, Tris must fully embrace her Divergence, even if she does not know what she may lose by doing so.

It turns out I don’t need to review Insurgent which I finished last week, because my friend Di got hammered and wrote this hilarious and strangely almost-insightful rant/review and sent it to me. She’s probably regretting that right now. But it’s too good to not share.

Here she goes…[I am butting in in square brackets]

When I was first handed Divergent it was with the promise of the Hunger Games but with guns. That seemed OK to me because of the Hunger Games shaped hole in my life that no matter how many times I reread, it never filled that first anxious fist-chewing time.

I did not have this feeling reading Divergent. In fact I don’t even recall a feeling. I was jet-lagged, it was 3 AM and it filled a space of time in my life that needed filling. And I don’t know if I even liked it, it was just… Fluff.

So, imagine my surprise whilst reading Insurgent to find that I’m so transfixed I can barely use my phone to inform Lipsy [Hi] of this unexpected glee. IT’S THE HUNGER GAMES ALL OVER AGAIN I believe was all I could text whilst not looking at my phone. Followed by FOUR IS BEING A DOUCHEBAG….This is amazing!

After that day, whilst a bit pissed reading The Sun in a kebab shop, I found a double page spread in which the chap playing Four in the film (not hot enough) [agreed x 1000] was heralded as ‘THE NEXT RPATZ’ and I stifled a smirk. Is this actually the new Twilight?

Fact: Factions, Districts, Tributes, Divergents – Hungervergents.[LOL]

[Anyway] Whilst reading Divergent, I spent a lot of time thinking (as you do) GOOD LORD I COULD HAVE WRITTEN THIS WHEN I WAS 20. Then I read that it was in fact written by a 25 Year old.

RESPECT!

Where Divergent was a bit meh, [I could not disagree more] Insurgent soars. Tris and Four argue a lot, it’s great. They are real people that you get pissed off with for their petty reasonings before remembering they are 16 years old. Also the make out scenes are hot. So much hotter than divergent, SRSLY [this I do agree with].

The relationships are real. Christina and Tris as Bffs is REAL YOU GUYS. Four and Tris as teenagers in love, real in the lamest way possible. As it should be.

HOWEVER what the Hunger Games lacked in hotties (let’s be honest, the movies tried and failed to make either Peeta or Gale ‘leading males’ – the Hunger Games is 100% Katniss…OK and a bit of Gale being moody) Divergent probably fills the Twilight / RPatz void.

Four is unavailable, distant, hot, moody, difficult, all the things we apparently want in a teen heart-throb (srsly though) and it’s strange to see the film version neatly slotting into the void left behind by Twilight, when the books are so obviously more Hunger Games in nature. It’s an interesting case study… except we know it’s all trash (apart from the Hunger Games which is genius). [Anyone getting a bit lost here?]

Let’s talk about the end of this book. ***no spoilers*** The end of this book… is perfect [I thought it went on a bit tbh] I could see it coming a mile off (to the point where I was like ‘that’s too obvious and clearly not going to happen’) then it HAPPENED and woah. Perfect.

In hindsight, Insurgent is a lot more like a Margaret Atwood novel than any YA I’ve read. You know, maybe… The Handmaids Tale or Oryx & Crake. I have heard nothing but REALLY BAD things about Allegiant, the final novel in the Divergent series, but controversially, I am gagging to read it and think it will be amazing. But then, I really loved Mockingjay so…

THIS HAS BEEN A DRUNK REVIEW WRITTEN BY DIANNE TANNER. [She wrote that, not me, honest!]

Di Di has a photo blog called Icefloe, which is awesome. You can go there by clicking on the image.

Di & Lipsy do…Divergent

For those of you that don’t already know, Di is my YA BFF and when we get together we get a bit carried away ranting and/or swooning over our latest reads. We are not allowed to discuss The Hunger Games in public, or watch Twilight in the cinema because we get into trouble. A lot.

Our latest joint YA adventure was DIVERGENT by Veronica Roth.

If you want to read an actual review of Divergent, you might want to go elsewhere…but this is pretty much everything you need to know! Oh, and if you haven’t read Divergent, there aren’t any huge spoilers here, but continue at your own risk.

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Did you have any preconceptions/expectations of Divergent before you started it?

DT: I was given my copy by a friend who sold it to me as “The Hunger Games but with guns and stuff” so this is pretty much what I was expecting. I’m still not sure if that was my take-away from it though.

L: I saw so many bloggers rave about it but I never really thought it would be that good. I knew it was Dystopian so expected it to be like THG, because everything is these days!

What do you think of the cover? (It’s sooooo much better than The Hunger Games & TMI covers, I think)

DT: I think it’s shit, but it might just be the version I have. Why is it holographic!?

L: What is wrong with you, what’s not to like about a holographic cover!?? It’s better than these atrocities:

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Overall concept:

L: I thought it was imaginative in places (the fear simulation for one) but too similar to other recent dystopian YA. Factions/Districts/Casts…enough already!

DT: The fear simulation bits were pretty good. I am not sure what I make of the idea of “factions” I think this reminded me more of The Selection than The Hunger Games, [yeah me too!] I think it’s interesting that a lot of books are starting to sort us into categories in our dystopian, shitty futures, in different ways. I think I quite liked the way it was done in this book but I basically think the Dauntless were obviously set up to be “the cool kids” right? Ooh they all wear black and jump off trains they are so DANGEROUS.

L: Yeah I think the idea behind Dauntless was a bit thin. Their Manifesto was pretty ridiculous. I think Roth just really wanted a reason for people to be tattooed & pierced. But I’m OK with that, it was hot.

DT: The Erudite made me think of FRINGE. You know the bald guys, they were well Erudite. [HAHAHAHA yes, THE OBSERVERS!] I also like that I have no idea how to say any of the names of the factions out loud and I also had to look them up online because I couldn’t remember any of them. Nice one.

L: I can only remember Abnegation, Erudite and Dauntless, what were the others….

At one point I was kind of expecting President Snow to pop up and start sending Mutts into the simulation tests….


DT: Let it go, it’s not the Hunger Games!

😦

What Faction….

A) Do you think you are most suited to?
DT: DAUNTLESS OBVIOUSLY BECAUSE I AM AWESOME AND WEAR BLACK ALL OF THE TIME AND HAVE TATTOOS.
L: Naturally! I think I would be a bit rubbish at being Dauntless, but it’s still the one that appeals the most. They hang out wearing black and getting drunk. That is already my life.

B) Would you want to choose?
DT: Weirdly I did find myself thinking this while reading the book which is something I didn’t do with The Selection or The Hunger Games (although for the record in The Hunger Games I would choose district 12 because even though they are starving and stuff they have the best clothes, I really love the whole coal miner/lumberjack look (read: Hemsworth). I think I would probably choose Amity because then I could have a pony. Except I’m not sure how I feel about being happy ALL OF THE TIME.

L: AMITY…I’d forgotten about that one. Are they just really nice? No offence Di, but you couldn’t be Amity. Being happy all the time? Hahahaha as if! And while we’re talking about clothes, why does the Divergent poster have them in Hunger Games wetsuits? Just wrong. IT IS NOT THE HUNGER GAMES.

HGPosters

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Characters:

What did you think about Tris? (I hate that she called herself Tris btw. I don’t like it)
DT: Tris is a shit name. At first I really hated her and I thought I was going to give up like I did with Uglies, but it turned out to be OK, we made peace. There was some pretty H.O.T making out on a train segments I totally spaffed over, and she was pretty great towards the end.
L: Yeah it took me a while to warm to her too, but she was pretty badass in the end.

We obviously have to talk about Four:

L: I thought he was a great love interest for Tris, but I only found him hot until he started calling himself Tobias. (What’s wrong with me?) I have a pretty sexy-in-my-pants image of him. Obviously, I have casting rage where the film is concerned.

DT: I TOTALLY ONLY THOUGHT HE WAS HOT AT THE END AS WELL!!![No! I thought he was hotter BEFORE we found out his name is Tobias. That really put me off!] Do you think it was when he took his shirt off and the hot tattoos etc, whatttt![That was pretty fit though] In the film he is hilariously being played by the guy that died in series 1 of Downton Abbey – MR PAMUK hahaha, he is not hot at all. Sad times! I quite liked him as a character as well but thought his whole story line was pretty obvious. NO SPOILERS.

L: It was really obvious, but I was OK with that. He’s damaged. That’s hot. I have no idea who that actor is, but he’s deffo not how I pictured Four.

Christina: What happened to her!? Oh, she’s going to be heartbroken when she finds out about Will. Sigh.

DT: I DON’T REMEMBER ANY OF THIS I was way too jetlagged and really should have read it again before answering these questions, but I am trapped forever reading THE HOST which is THE MOST DULL BOOK EVER.

L: Take that back!!!

Caleb?
I’m hoping he will have a bigger part in the next one too. I think he’s gonna end up being pretty awesome.

DT: WHO THE FUCK IS CALEB?
L: You are RUBBISH.

Favourite Part/Scene?

DT: Hot make out scene on the train, blates.
L: Blates.

What do you want from the next book?

L: I’m scared to read it in case it is rubbish.
DT: Yeah I’ve heard loads of really bad things and I really don’t know if I want to read it. Except that I obviously do, and obviously will.
L: I’m not going to buy or anything, but you are clearly going to lend it to me, right. RIGHT???

I give Divergent all the Unicorns. Take them all!

unicorn rating

Di has an awesome photography blog called Icefloe. You should it check it out!

Related: Di & Lipsy do…The Selection

Blog Take Over: Uglies by Scott Westerfeld – A review by Dianne Tanner

Di

Today I have handed over the reins to my friend Di who you should all know by now because I talk about her a lot. Click on the polaroid to visit her stunning photo-blog Icefloe and stalk her as much as I do! Di has taken this opportunity to slag off review a book I recommended to her.

13581049Tally can’t wait to turn sixteen and become pretty. Sixteen is the magic number that brings a transformation from repellent Ugly into a stunningly attractive Pretty, and catapults you into a high-tech paradise where your only job is to have a really great time. In just a few weeks, Tally will be there.

But Tally’s new friend, Shay, isn’t sure she wants to be Pretty. She’d rather risk life on the outside. When Shay runs away, Tally learns about a whole new side of the Pretty world – and it isn’t very pretty. The authorities offer Tally the worst choice she can imagine: find her friend and turn her in, or never turn Pretty at all. The choice Tally makes changes her world forever.

Quite famously, ever since I finished reading the Hunger Games, my life has been empty. Bereft of all meaning. There is a Katniss Everdeen sized HOLE in my soul. So when Lauren [That’s me, Hi!] handed me this book UGLIES with the quote “BEFORE THE HUNGER GAMES, THERE WAS… UGLIES” emblazoned on the cover, I will admit, I was interested. At this point, I’ll read anything with a quote to this effect on the cover.

If you suffer from the Katniss Soul Hole let me save you some time and tell you that this is not the book you are looking to fill it. This book, is gash.[Bit Harsh, Tanner]

Tally Youngblood lives in “Uglytown”. Here she waits until she turns 16, where she will undergo some form of plastic surgery to be transformed into a “Pretty” and move to “New Pretty Town”. It must have taken months to come up with those place names. Currently, she is “Ugly”. Sigh. Then she meets a girl called Shay (also “Ugly”) who thinks the whole thing is a bit stupid and runs away, chaos ensues.

Are we supposed to like these characters? Because there was no point in this book at all that I connected with any of them. I guess maybe its aimed at a slightly lower age bracket then The Hunger Games so the writing is a LOT simpler. A lot of it feels like it was edited quite heavily, I spent a lot of time feeling like there was supposed to be MORE to a sentence, more to beef out the people, relationships, everything you are supposed to get your teeth into. Nothing about this book gripped me. I didn’t even finish it. I stopped reading about 100 pages from the end because I went away for the weekend, and have no inclination to pick it up again.

The main protagonist, Tally, is vapid and shallow. And stupid. She just cannot wait to be pretty. I actually found the concept and “science fiction” bits of this quite interesting. I feel like it could have been so much more. When Tally runs away to the “smoke” where people live like actual people (ew, they like, live in the woods and stuff! Fuck off Tally) I started to perk up, Tally meets the people who moved away from the “pretty” world people live in (I’m even sounding vague here because the whole thing is so vague in the book I can’t even begin to explain it) to the woods, you get more of a feel for what could have been. There is some good stuff there. But the whole tenuous “love” story – I guess I missed the part where Tally fell in love with David, it was sudden, unromantic and baffling. Ridiculous. The whole thing is just ridiculous. Part of me was left wondering if this was because it was written by a man? I love a good nonsense love story (the entire point of YA in my opinion is to be a 30 year old woman on a train to work feeling trying to capture that teenage feeling again) and this book is sorely lacking that.

Did I mention how STUPID Tally is? She gets given a little tracking necklace to wear which she knows her friend will be like “dude wtf is that necklace?” and she doesn’t just take it off before she gets to the Smoke, OR doesn’t just throw it in the river where it will vanish forever. No. She puts it in the fire, where it explodes, and goes of. What an idiot. I was literally screaming at this girl by this point. [Hahaha I KNEW you would be!]

There are hoverboards though, and everyone loves a hoverboard. But did we need 2 chapters about how Tally can’t ride one yet? No. No we do not.

When trying to explain to someone the concept of this book when I was reading it, I ended up ranting about how if I was an actual teenage girl reading this I would probably kill myself. I guess maybe you have to read the rest of the series to get to the part where Tally realises that looking the way she was born doesn’t make her “ugly” but frankly all this book does is demean women and leave you feeling bad about the way you look. Every time Tally speaks all she talks about is how she cannot wait to have plastic surgery to make her look like everyone else (The thought of seeing a person who has aged naturally disgusts her, and she can’t even look at them. That’s not ok).

Am I missing something here? Was this book supposed to be some kind of social commentary on the way women are made to feel by magazines these days? [That’s what I got from it, yes]Tally constantly bemoans her “too small eyes” and “frizzy hair”. Teenage girls don’t need to read this kind of thing. Teenagers don’t need to hear that “biology” tells them that being better looking makes life better.

Does this series get better? [It really does!] Do I have to read 2 more books to get to the point where it turns out that gosh darnit *slaps thigh* Tally was wrong the whole time and has seen the error of her brainwashed thinking?

I refuse. ONE STAR.

Dianne Tanner
http://www.diannetanner.co.uk/

Uglies was published March 29th 2012 by Simon and Shuster

Want More?: My review of Specials (Uglies #3) is here.