The Best of 2013

And so ends the coolest year of my life. 2013 brought me so many new experiences. I lived in London and travelled to Wales, Budapest, Ireland, Scotland, Italy, Spain, Amsterdam and Paris. I turned 20! I moved into my first apartment and I started my junior year of college. AND, I passed 1,000 followers on my blog! So to celebrate the end of an awesome year and the beginning of a *hopefully* equally awesome new one, I’m listing my top 5 “bests” or “favorites” of the year. (All chosen by me, and therefore, inarguable.)

Favorite Books of 2013!

1. Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys

2. Just One Day by Gayle Forman

3. Allegiant by Veronica Roth

4. Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

5. The House of Hades by Rick Riordan

Favorite Movies of 2013!

1. Stuck In Love

2. The Way, Way Back

3. The To Do List

4. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

5. Catching Fire

Favorite Places

1. London

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2. Amsterdam

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3. Paris

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4. Madrid

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5. Ireland

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Coming of age

Choosing your own path is never easy and coming of age is so vague. For me, my path unsurprisingly spawned from the books I read. I found comfort in the pages of “Catcher in the Rye,” “The Truth About Forever,” “Looking for Alaska” and “Tess of the D’Urbervilles.” All about individual people and places linked solely by exploration. Exploration of one’s mind and heart, of foreign places, of massive dreams.

I decided I wanted to be a novelist or a book editor or a journalist because I wanted to provide the solace to others that I so desperately needed when I was a teenager (…last year…). I wanted to feel special and feel loved and connected to other people, and books did that for me. So I began reading more and writing about the books I read here, on this blog. And for a while, that’s all I wanted from life. Namely, to be for others what my authors had been for me.

I’m starting to realize that the books I depended on changed me in so many more ways than I perceived. They don’t only make me want to write and influence people, they make me want to stamp my own trail. They make me want to be an individual with her own thoughts, dreams, heartaches and ideas.

I’m writing this because I am just starting to feel unafraid in my pursuit of distinction. I think people feel obligated to nurture their community’s beliefs and desires, whether that community be your family, friends, school, boyfriend, girlfriend, etc. This is a treacherous way of being. Respect is necessary. Compliance is not.

I wish to challenge my peers to think broadly. Depend on books that glorify exploration and independence and find in yourself the courage to run out of your comfort zone as fast as possible. I don’t think this will be easy, but I think it is something we all need to do. I believe that is the only way to encounter your true self and make up your own mind about what kind of person you want to be.

The most resonating thing I’ve learned from books is the necessity of giving back, whether you give back money, education, food, love, friendship, or a kickass YA book. I don’t think it matters how you give back, just that you find a way to contribute to your world. I’m not sure how I’ll do it yet. Maybe someday I’ll become a novelist, book editor or journalist, but right now, I’m keeping my options (and mind) open.

P.S. Sorry this has almost nothing to do with books. It’s finals week and I haven’t read anything fun in a million years and this all came rushing to me at once. Hopefully, this doesn’t sound as pretentious as I’m afraid it sounds. DISCLAIMER: I KNOW NOTHING ABOUT LIFE AND ITS MYSTERIES. FEEL FREE TO PUMMEL ME VIA INTERNET VIBES.

Book Spotlight: Hyperion Keats by Molly Zenk

MZBlogTour

“Hyperion Keats” by Molly Zenk is a new young adult novel published by Highland Press that just came out yesterday!

Synopsis:

Three modern teens, a 200-year-old diary, a literary mystery to solve.

Twelve-year-old Hyperion Frances Keats, great-great grand niece of poet Johnperf5.000x8.000.indd Keats, hates tip-toeing around her older sister’s “medical diagnosis”.  Why is Isabella so determined to turn her back on what makes her unique in a sea of wannabes?  Is popularity more important than the truth?

The sisters and boy-next-door Will find themselves in the middle of a mystery after discovering a 200-year-old diary written by the girl who inspired the sonnet “To A Lady Seen For A Moment At Vauxhall.”   The teens aren’t the only ones after the answers found in the pages from the past, though.   The LBT Brotherhood – a secret society dedicated to preserving the Romantic Poets three creeds of  love, beauty, and truth – want the secrets contained in the diary to remain lost to time and will stop at nothing to silence Hyperion, Isabella, and Will forever.

Excerpt:

I barely crack the door open before Neighbor Boy launches into a spiel that may or may not be rehearsed—I can’t really tell because he’s talking too fast for me to guess one way or the other. “Hi, I’m not a stalker or anything so don’t get freaked out, okay? But I saw the historical marker in your front yard and had a couple of quick questions if you, uh, don’t mind me, uh, asking. You don’t mind me asking stuff, do you? I can go away if you do.”  He blinks nervously a ton of times in anticipation of me either saying yes and waiting for his couple of supposedly quick questions or no and slamming the door in his face. Why would I say no? He’s the prettiest boy I’ve ever seen up close. Even if boys don’t like to be called pretty, with his huge blue eyes and unruly, anime character hair, that’s the only word that comes to mind. Pretty. My heart does this funny little fluttery jump like I’ve run a mile in under five minutes and I’m positive my palms are too sweaty to shut the door. Even if I wanted to, shutting the door means he’d go away and there’s no way I’m letting that happen. Especially not on my birthday.

 “Go ahead. Ask your questions,” I whisper because I seriously doubt I can say it louder even if I wanted to right now.

 “Great.” He flashes a lopsided grin that makes my heart fluttering turn into a hammering. “Is this really the George Keats House? Like the real George Keats, brother to the poet John Keats’ house, and you actually live here-live here and not keep it up like a museum or something? Do I have to buy admission because I’m, like, standing on your yard?”

“Um, yes, yes, no, and no,” I field his jumbled together questions in order.

“Really? Are you like direct descendants or did you just buy the house from someone else and decided the historical marker was a cool trick to attract fan boys like me?”

His rapid fire, excited delivery is getting easier to understand. For a second, I think about Isabella by the window seat with her natural light waiting to make her good first impression, and about how Mom always tells me not to talk to strangers because she reads way too much of Nancy Grace’s child snatching Headline News blog, but it’s like my mouth is on auto-pilot as my heart ratchets away in my chest and I answer anything Neighbor Boy asks. “Direct,” I say. “Or Dad is, which makes us too. Mom was just a Romantic Poets fan girl who lucked out by meeting Dad in some college class and marrying in. They both teach at the university. British Lit.”

Neighbor Boy pushes his sandy blond hair out of his face with one long-fingered hand and, I think, even if I don’t like to do manual labor on my birthday, I got the better deal by agreeing to open the front door. While Isabella is hanging out in the kitchen imaging what he’s like, I don’t have to imagine. I know.

I’m really excited to read this once finals (hell) ends. If you’re also interested, why not make it your next read? 

Have a cool and rad weekend, peeps.