Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books Which Feature Characters Who…

This was actually a really tough one, so I’m sure it will be super interesting. I look forward to checking out other responses sometime later this evening. (Work is so busy right now, I definitely won’t be able to sneak a peak at lunchtime like I usually do!)

Top FIVE YA Books which feature characters who have active parents

Ever notice how many YA books–especially YA fantasy books–have lead characters with dead or absent parents? I set out to make a list of books where the character’s relationship with his/her parent is a major plot point. Bonus points if the lead character was involved with something magical or paranormal and the parent is more of a muggle but loves/supports their children anyway. I didn’t want to pepper this list with watered down versions of the kind of relationship I was going for, so I shortened it to five:

1.  The Lynburn Legacy Trilogy (Unspoken, Untold, Unmade) by Sarah Rees Brennan

The kids are at the center of this story, but the whole town is involved and the parents have to fight the good fight as well, even sometimes stepping aside and letting their more powerful children lead the way.

2.  The Young Wizards series by Diane Duane

Kit and Nita’s parents aren’t the type to let their 11-13 year old kids stay out long past their curfew without giving them some grief about it, even if they are just trying to save the known universe from destruction and decay. And, later, when the cat’s out of the bag about their magic and their important missions, they have an even harder task: coming to grips with their pre-teens putting themselves in mortal danger.

3.  The Archived by Victoria (V.E.) Schwab

MacKenzie’s relationship with her parents comes into play in this series as the entire family mourns the loss of a child. It would have been easy to make the relationship completely distant, but instead its strained anyway, made even more strained by her constant absence and sneaking out. If it weren’t for the library of the dead, this has many of the makings of a contemporary YA family drama

4.  The Raven Cycle by Maggie Steifvater

I love a lot of things about The Raven Cycle, but one of the things I love most is the various family dynamics. Blue and the boys make their own family in a way, but everyone is centered in where they come from. Ronan Lynch wouldn’t be Ronan Lynch if his parents weren’t who they are. Blue grew up in a quirky, female-rich household and relies heavily on her mother and aunts as the adventure progresses. Gansey and Adam have absent parents, but the trappings of their disparate raisings are evident in their outlook.

5.  The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkowski

A little less strong of a parent presence in this one than some of the others, but the first volume of this series in particular struck me with it’s complex father/daughter relationship. It gets paralleled in book 2, between the emperor and his heir, but Kestral’s love for her father is evident even as she struggles to define her own course of action so very different from everything he stands for and the book would be much weaker without that conflict.

So to make this top ten a true top ten, let’s list some topic ideas that I came up with and really wanted to do, but had to reject because I could only come up with one or two books. Please, please, please, leave a comment and give me some recommendations of books that fall into these categories that I missed

Top FIVE lists I wanted to do, but I haven’t read enough diverse stuff yet

Top ten books which feature characters who are transgendered

  • Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan

Top ten books which feature characters who are asexual

  • ???

Top ten books which feature characters who are not as perfectly nice looking (too tall, too short, ugly, fat, etc.)

  • A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin
  • Dark Triumph by Robin LeFevers

Top ten books which feature characters who are “incidentally” people of color 

This one is hard to title. Basically, I mean, books where the characters are POCs, but that fact isn’t completely central to their story. Some examples:

  • Legend by Marie Lu
  • The Lynburn Legacy by Sarah Rees Brennan

Top Ten books which feature (main) characters who are not romantically linked at all

  • The Chronicles of Narnia (?-I’m pretty sure, but can’t remember)

Leave your recommendations; I’m in desperate need and would love it if we could come up with a list of ten for each. Some of you maybe even did on your own. If so, most definitely leave a link. And, of course, I’m fascinated to see what everyone else choose to list that I didn’t even fathom.


Comic Roundup-March and April

More and more these last few months I’ve gotten more into comics. I used to include little mini-reviews of what I’d checked out with my monthly book wrap-up posts, but as I read more and more comics each month, those posts get longer and longer and I thought it would be fun to split them out, so those of us who want to talk about comics have our own space to do so. Without further ado, here’s what I read in March and this first half of April:

23518316Trees Vol 1 by Warren Ellis and Jason Howard

I liked the idea of this a lot more than I actually liked it. It follows a bunch of characters all over the world, which will probably pay off eventually, but in these opening issues is just really confusing. I couldn’t keep everyone straight and I had a really difficult time trying to understand what was happening overall. I’ll probably give the second volume a go once it comes out as a trade paperback (I’m finding I’m a trade fan anyway and something like this I don’t think I’ll ever be able to keep the story straight month-to-month even if I wasn’t) and see if I can get into it more.20898019

Ms. Marvel Vol 1: No Normal by Willow G. Wilson and Adrian Alphona

I don’t know that I’ll ever be a superhero comic lover, but I enjoyed this quite a bit. It’s funny and fast-paced–even though not a whole lot happens in this one–and has art that I enjoy, so I’ll be sure to continue on with this series.

11279472Serenity: Better Days and Other Stories by Joss Whedon, Zack Whedon, Will Conrad, Michelle Madsen,Julius Ohta, Patton Oswalt

I love the Serenity graphic novels primarily because it’s like having more Firefly, but it really feels like just a consolation prize…I’d rather have the show. This one was okay. I jaw-dropped at one point at the end (that you’ll know about if you’ve read it) but the whole distraction story leading up to it was boring. And then there were some moments that just seemed out of character. Kaylee at one point was like right in the middle of the action, which is not like her at all. This one was weird, but I’m having fun with it, and I’m not likely to pass up the rest.

Serenity: The Shepard’s Tale by Joss Whedon, Chris Semnee, Dave Stewart, Stever Morris, and Zack Whedon8596384

I enjoyed the layout of this one, moving backward in time from the Shepard’s death in the Serenity movie, and was ultimately satisfied with the story I’d been eager to know, but I thought it felt a little bit rushed. You have to do a lot of reading between the lines to discern things about this world and the character’s relationship with it and it’s not a situation where I really like working hard to figure out what should have had time to be expository.

23920475Saga #25-#27 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples

Saga was on hiatus for awhile and I was completely oblivious to the fact that it came back over several months ago. Luckily I stopped by the Image section at the comic book store to see if there was new Alex+Ada and spotted an unfamiliar Saga cover a few rows down. (And what a beautiful cover it is…#25 and #26 are probably two of my favorites.) The books themselves were fabulous as always, of course. The stakes are high, the action is amazing, and I have no clue what will happen next.6839093

Chew Volume 1: Taster’s Choice by John Layman and Rob Guillroy

I was having a lovely four-star kind of time with this during issues one through three, enjoying the creative concept, the dark humor, the detailed, but easy on the eyes art style, until I hit issue four, which didn’t make any sense to me, and left me confused and kind of put off. But then it rebounded spectacularly with issue five, the conclusion of this volume. So intense, big action, came back to the plot of the first three chapters and tied everything together. I’m still in awe and I can’t wait to get my hands on volume two and see where it goes. (Fun story: my comic shop only had volumes 1 and 5-9 when I went back there to get more….and already on order but ten days out is not acceptable, my friends!)

Deadly Class Volume 1 by Rick Remender, Wesley Craig and Leigh Loughridge

As usual with the first few issues of a book with an expansive cast, I felt a lot lost. But there’s a really cool, dark but funny atmosphere to this that seems to capture the angst of adolescence in a universal way while staying rooted in the 1980’s. It’s a lot violent, but it all fits with the story and the action moves along at a break-neck pace. I’ve already bought volume 2 and I’m looking forward to this being yet another favorite for me. Definitely one to check out if you have a penchant for high school drama and a very dark sense of humor.

And of course, since I’m new to this whole scene, I’m always looking for recommendations! Especially from other publishing companies, I seem to always be drawn to Image titles, but I’m sure there’s more great stuff out there!

March Reviews

First, a quick announcement: I started some social media accounts to use in conjunction with the book blog. My personal Instagram was already pretty book-heavy, but I thought it would be better to have one for the stacks of books and things and one for more personal pictures of friends and places because I like sharing the former with anyone and everyone, but the later should stay more private. So, now you can check out the Twitter and/or Instagram extensions of The Starlight Shelves, if you want to. I didn’t get a new Goodreads profile, but this is as good a time as any to plug it!

I was in a bit of a reading slump on and around the Ides of March (I had written “middle part of March” but I couldn’t pass up the pretentious reference!). I did, however, finish few books during the first and last weekends of the month and here are a few quick thoughts to share on each one:

18460392All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

I did the thing that I always try to avoid doing with this–namely, reading other people’s reviews after I’ve read the book, but before I’ve written mine. And this book definitely seems to be a bit divisive. People are either over the moon or have a lot of negative things to say about it and I will say it definitely inspires a lot of strong emotion. I fall into the camp that loves it, though I thought the ending was a little rushed or something, didn’t quite fully flesh out everything it needed too. But I thought it was moving, emotional, and very well done overall.

The Duff by Kody Keplinger6931356

The movie release finally motivated me to pick this up, though I’d been eyeing it up for awhile. I loved it a lot more than I thought I would. Bianca had a very strong voice, and was delightfully brash and selfish, which I love to see in a character figuring herself out. It was a little underdeveloped and quick to resolve, but overall it was a really fun read. The movie was really enjoyable as well, but be warned it has a completely different plot.

17143Go Tell it on the Mountain by James Baldwin

I’m still in awe of James Baldwin. This was my second foray into his work and his writing is spectacular and his characters and settings really come to life. That said, this work employs a vignette style that I have just never been a fan of, bouncing between characters. It wasn’t for me overall, but I still have a high regard for James Baldwin and look forward to reading more of his other novels and essays.

The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski16069030

A really enjoyable read. It’s hard to genre-place this…I think it’s technically fantasy, but there are no wizards or dragons to be found. Instead, it’s set in a fictional realm, in a conquered nation, with the daughter of the victorious general becoming friends with a slave. It’s a little slow to start, but it’s delightfully complex and logical, the plot is tight and intense and the characters are all very good. I found it to be a little to overburdened with flowery simile and metaphor, but it wasn’t so bad I couldn’t get past it and really love the story.

20443207The Winner’s Crime by Marie Rutkoski

I was a little worried at the end of book one that the plot of this one would drag along, doing nothing but waiting around for book 3. But I was so glad to be wrong. This stepped up the stakes and challenged the characters and–though this will always be a series more focused on the political than the action–this did seem to step up the pacing, though that’s also just a side effect of the intensity. I love the pace this has taken with the romantic entanglement, it jump-started a little quickly in book 1, but there are no easy solutions to problems and this is a world where every little mistake has a consequence. I’m so eager to have book 3, even though it won’t come out for a long time yet, unfortunately.

I Was Here by Gayle Foreman18879761

This is my least favorite of all five Gayle Foreman books I’ve encountered and I’m not sure if it was because of a jumped-up expectation of mine after loving her two popular duos after reading them last year, or if this was just not as good. I think it’s some sort of mixture of both. This did not evoke the emotion I expect it was trying to. Cody and Meg’s story was compelling and from a distance, seems to work, but I just couldn’t get invested. And the romance was clunky. Which was so weird as every other romantic scene of Foreman’s I’ve ever read has had me practically fanning myself. She’s good at it usually, but this time, it was just a really strange situation and it wasn’t for me.