Mary's Minute: Book Buzzwords

While at work this week, I was processing a bunch of YA books that have been in the library for a few months when I noticed one I'd never given much attention to before except to put all the requisite labels on it. The title was interesting and the cover was peculiar so I flipped it open and took a look inside to see what it was about. You know how sometimes the formatting makes the first few words of the jacket copy or each chapter bold or larger than the rest? It was like that so it was really easy to see a bold type "1913" at the beginning of the summary. I immediately lost interest, flipped the book shut, and got on with my day, not sparing that book a second thought except to wonder if anyone else has bookish buzzwords. That is, are there any genres, phrases, comparisons, etc that immediately turn you off a book? And, if you have those, what are the ones that make you immediately pick a book up? Also, have these buzzwords changed at all over time?

Once upon a time, any book that was compared to YA heavyweights like Twilight, Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, The Fault in Our Stars, Eleanor & Park, etc. would sell a book to most readers by principle. I know right after I binged Twilight, New Moon, and Eclipse and was awaiting the release of Breaking Dawn, I was desperate for any vampire YA I could get my hands on. Ah, 2008. 'Twas a simple time. But that led me to Richelle Mead, who became one of my all-time favorite authors. But now for a lot of readers, the words "vampires" and "dystopian" are instant turn-offs. Comparing an author's work to John Green's elicits eye rolls and derisive groans.

For some readers, negative reactions to comparisons to A-list authors stems from those authors being problematic, either in their real life or in their work. There's no end to discussions about issues with Green, Rainbow Rowell, Sarah J. Maas, Maggie Stiefvater, and JK Rowling to name a few. To others, maybe it's because they don't gel with a certain genre. Many fantasy and sci-fi fans tend to find contemporary boring and melodramatic. My friend Danielle, who used to blog at Love at First Page, is well known for despising love triangles, and if she finds out you've read a book she can't tell if the romance is geometric, she will always come looking for spoilers. If yes, boom. It's on her do not read list. And for others readers, maybe even the book's publisher can be a turn off if they've been burned before.

So I'm curious what kind of buzzwords YOU have, dear readers. Feel free to share in the comments! And to get things started, I'll share a few of mine. Keep in mind that these aren't actual rules, just guidelines. For every turn off and turn on, there's a book or five that have proven to be the exception.

Buzz words that turn me off a book:
•historical (does not matter the time period)
•religious press
•verse / "a novel in verse"
•motorcycle clubs

Buzz words that turn me on a book:
•road trip
•road trip with royalty wins bonus points
•marching band
•basically any sports romance but especially those two
•"_____ in space"

These are a few of my favorite things!
Anastasia in space? Good. Anastasia riding unicorns in space while kissing a hockey player? Good.

For some extra reading on this topic, Lauren from Bookmark Lit has a whole series about Read Bait

Waiting on Wednesday: Trouble Never Sleeps by Stephanie Tromly

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly feature hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases.

Trouble Never Sleeps
Trouble #3
by Stephanie Tromly
Coming April 24, 2018
Kathy Dawson Books

Happily Ever After gets a serious makeover in this swoony, non-stop, thrill-ride of a conclusion to the Trouble Is a Friend of Mine trilogy.

No one makes getting into trouble look as good as Philip Digby—and he looks good doing it. Now that he's back in town, he's plunged Zoe (and their Scooby Gang of wealthy frenemy Sloane, nerd-tastic genius Felix, and aw-shucks-handsome Henry) back into the deep end on the hunt for his kidnapped sister. He's got a lead, but it involves doing a deal with the scion of an alarmingly powerful family, not to mention committing some light treason. Zoe and Digby are officially together now, and she's definitely up for whatever closure this new caper might offer, even though this mystery will come with a twist neither expected.

With acerbic banter, steamy chemistry, and no small amount of sarcasm, Zoe and Digby are the will-they-or-won't-they, charismatic crime solving couple you've been waiting for.

Why I Want It:
Honestly, I was really worried we weren't getting a book 3 because it took forever for news about it to come out so I feel really privileged that I get a conclusion to this amazing series. I'm not usually one for mysteries, but the humor and sloooooowly burning ship of Zigby hooked me from the very beginning. 

Why I think you should want it:
This series is basically Veronica Mars: there's oh so much snark, plenty of swoons, a wonderful ragtag group of misfit characters, and, oh yes, plenty of mystery. You can check out my review of book 1 Trouble is a Friend of Mine, and then I definitely recommend you check out the series for yourself!

Review: This Adventure Ends by Emma Mills

Rating: 5 stars
Pub Date: October 4, 2016
Publisher: Henry Holt & Co
Genre: young adult contemporary
Format/Source: arc, from the publisher
hardcover, purchased
Status: standalone
Links: First & Then review
Foolish Hearts blog tour

Sloane isn't expecting to fall in with a group of friends when she moves from New York to Florida—especially not a group of friends so intense, so in love, so all-consuming. Yet that's exactly what happens.

Sloane becomes closest to Vera, a social-media star who lights up any room, and Gabe, Vera's twin brother and the most serious person Sloane's ever met. When a beloved painting by the twins' late mother goes missing, Sloane takes on the responsibility of tracking it down, a journey that takes her across state lines—and ever deeper into the twins' lives.

Filled with intense and important friendships, a wonderful warts-and-all family, shiveringly good romantic developments, and sharp, witty dialogue, this story is about finding the people you never knew you needed.

Waiting on Wednesday: Obsido by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly feature hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases.

The Illuminae Files #3
by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff
Coming March 13, 2018
Knopf Books for Young Readers

Kady, Ezra, Hanna, and Nik narrowly escaped with their lives from the attacks on Heimdall station and now find themselves crammed with 2,000 refugees on the container ship, Mao. With the jump station destroyed and their resources scarce, the only option is to return to Kerenza—but who knows what they'll find seven months after the invasion?

Meanwhile, Kady's cousin, Asha, survived the initial BeiTech assault and has joined Kerenza's ragtag underground resistance. When Rhys—an old flame from Asha's past—reappears on Kerenza, the two find themselves on opposite sides of the conflict.

With time running out, a final battle will be waged on land and in space, heros will fall, and hearts will be broken.

Why I Want It:
BECAUSE I HAVE NEEDED IT SINCE JUNE 1, 2016! Because it's one of my all-time favorite series! Because I don't want to have died in vain in Gemina! I want this book. I DESERVE this book.

Why I think you should want it:
Well, if you're not already a fan of The Illuminae Files, I don't think there's much I can do to convince you to read it, but I'll try: this series is one of the most exciting, swooniest, funniest, most unique series I've ever read. The books are amazing, and the audiobooks are incredible. They're gorgeously written AND illustrated, and honestly, I'm just so impressed with the amount of work that has gone into them, from Amie and Jay, of course, to their editors and the artists (like Marie Lu!!!) and the copyeditors and audiobook producers and the full cast of narrators. Everyone who has touched these books made them into the most beautiful pieces of art, and I'm so grateful to all of them for making such a fantastic series for me to obsess over. 

If that hasn't convinced you, I reviewed Illuminae and the Illuminae audiobook and reviewed Gemina via gifs and collected a bunch of amazing Illuminae merch if you're into that sort of thing.

Waiting on Wednesday: Pacifica by Kristen Simmons

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly feature hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases.

by Kristen Simmons
Coming March 6, 2018
Tor Teen

Marin is cosario royalty, a pirate like her father and his father before him. Sailing the ocean to chase adventure is in her blood. But these days no one cares that the island town her people call home is named after her grandfather. They have a new leader, one who promises an end to their hunger – and one who thinks that girls are meant for the kitchen or the brothel. Marin knows she's meant for more than that, and with the sudden influx of weapons on the island, and rumors of a pending deal with the enemy oil nation in her wake, she knows a big score to gain the council's favor is the only way to save her people, and herself.

Ross lives a life of privilege. As the president's son he wants for nothing, but he longs for a life of adventure. On a dare, he convinces his best friend Adam to sneak out to the Docks, the site of local race riots between the poor Shorlings and the upper class. But when Adam is arrested along with the other Shorlings, and not even the president is willing to find him, Ross finds himself taking matters into his own hands. He journeys back into the Docks, ready to make deals with anyone, even a beautiful pirate, if it means Adam's safe return.

When Marin and Ross meet in dangerous Shoreling territory he sees a way to get his friend back and she sees her ticket home. The ransom a president’s son would command could feed her people for years and restore her family’s legacy. But somewhere in the middle of the ocean, Marin must decide if her heart can handle handing over the only person who has ever seen her as more than a pirate.

Why I Want It:
I fell in love with Kristen's writing way back in 2013 when I binged Article 5 and Breaking Point and had to wait what felt like AGES (it was a few months) for Three. I love her books!

Why I think you should want it:
Pasifika rep! Own voices! Pirates! Boss lady pirates! Take your pick of all the amazing things!

Blog Tour: Foolish Hearts by Emma Mills

Rating: 5 stars
Release Date: December 5, 2017
Publisher: Henry Holt & Co
Genre: young adult contemporary romance
Format/Source: ARC, from the publisher
Status: standalone
Links: First & Then review

A contemporary novel about a girl whose high school production of A Midsummer Night's Dream leads her to new friends—and maybe even new love.

The day of the last party of the summer, Claudia overhears a conversation she wasn't supposed to. Now on the wrong side of one of the meanest girls in school, Claudia doesn't know what to expect when the two are paired up to write a paper—let alone when they're both forced to try out for the school production of A Midsummer Night's Dream.

But mandatory participation has its upsides—namely, an unexpected friendship, a boy band obsession, and a guy with the best dimpled smile Claudia's ever seen. As Claudia's world starts to expand, she finds that maybe there are some things worth sticking her neck out for.

Waiting on Wednesday: Pitch Dark by Courtney Alameda

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly feature hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases.

Pitch Dark
by Courtney Alameda
Coming February 20, 2018
Feiwel & Friends

Set against a future of marauding space scavengers and deadly aliens who kill with sound, here is a frightening, fast-paced YA adventure from the author of the acclaimed horror novel, Shutter.

Tuck has been in stasis on the USS John Muir, a ship that houses Earth’s most valued artifacts—its natural resources. Parks and mountains are preserved in space.

Laura belongs to a shipraiding family, who are funded by a group used to getting what they want. And they want what’s on the Muir.

Tuck and Laura didn’t bargain on working together, or battling mutant aliens who use sound to kill. But their plan is the only hope for their crews, their families, and themselves.

In space, nobody can hear you scream . . . but on the John Muir, the screams are the last thing you'll hear.

Why I Want It:
MARAUDING. SPACE. SCAVENGERS. Aliens is one of my favorite movies of all time so I'm totally down with space horror.

Why I think you should want it:
MARAUDING. SPACE. SCAVENGERS. I mean seriously, do you need more reasons???

Review: Prince in Disguise by Stephanie Kate Strohm

Rating: 4.5 stars
Release Date: December 19, 2017
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Genre: young adult contemporary holiday romance
Format/Source: ARC, Baker & Taylor ARC program
Status: standalone

Someday I want to live in a place where I never hear “You’re Dusty’s sister?” ever again.

Life is real enough for Dylan—especially as the ordinary younger sister of Dusty, former Miss Mississippi and the most perfect, popular girl in Tupelo. But when Dusty wins the hand of the handsome Scottish laird-to-be Ronan on the TRC television network’s crown jewel, Prince in Disguise, Dylan has to face a different kind of reality: reality TV.

As the camera crew whisks them off to Scotland to film the lead-up to the wedding, camera-shy Dylan is front and center as Dusty’s maid of honor. The producers are full of surprises—including old family secrets, long-lost relatives, and a hostile future mother-in-law who thinks Dusty and Dylan’s family isn’t good enough for her only son. At least there’s Jamie, an adorably bookish groomsman who might just be the perfect antidote to all Dylan’s stress . . . if she just can keep TRC from turning her into the next reality show sensation.

Happy birthday, Mary Had a Little Book Blog!

Holy crap, you guys. When I moved to Dallas back in 2012 and started this site, I never didn't think that it would still be around five years later but I also never did think that it would still be around. I guess I just wasn't thinking forward enough. 

The past five years have been full of change, both good and bad. I've moved around some (a lot. Sorry for the rotating addresses, friends & pubs!), got two new jobs including working at my library (for which I am eternally grateful), attended some bomb-ass book events, and even moderated a few. I blurbed my first-ever book, was in the acknowledgements of a handful of books, and my book collection at least doubled its size. I met some of the best people in the world online and IRL. I joined a bookish fantasy football chat that I didn't realize then would become so ingrained in my daily life that I honestly don't know what I'd do without those friends or how I existed before I talked to them every day. In addition to the blog here and Twitter, I added Instagram to the mix and became addicted to bookish candles.

More than all that easily defined stuff, I changed a lot personally. The world at large has changed so much in five years, and the book community has changed to reflect that, both through positive growth and intense struggle. And I have personally changed as my community has. It has not been an easy five years, but I think I can say I'm a better, wiser, more aware person than I was in 2012, and for that I'm grateful.

So what's next? Well, I'm still not super forward-thinking, but... I guess I keep going. For me, it's very important that blogging always feel like it's fun and enjoyable. It takes up a lot of my time so if I ever feel like it's a chore instead of a hobby, an escape, that's not okay with me. Which is why I might take unannounced breaks, but I have no plans to call it quits permanently. Blogging here at Mary Little Had a Book Blog brings me a lot of joy. Not only do I get to share my love of books with all you lovely readers, but I get to express myself through writing, which is something I take pleasure in, even if I'm not so into fictional writing (lol. I've tried. It did not go well). As long as there are books to be read and discussed and as long as the reading and discussing are enjoyable, I'm going to be here, talking up the books I like and making recommendations.

Thank you all so much for reading my little book blog. It has meant the world over the past five years to know that someone's listening. Here's to many more years together! *hugs*

To celebrate my blogiversary right, I'm hosting a couple giveaways, one for the US & one for international peeps. Scroll to the one that's right for you. I'll also be doing a few others throughout the month so stay tuned for more free books!

US Giveaway
One winner will receive a box of books and a custom 8 oz candle from Flickering Tales. The box will include Gemina by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff (signed), The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli (signed), Song of the Current by Sarah Tolcser (signed), Dear Martin by Nic Stone, Foolish Hearts by Emma Mills, and [edited to add] The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo (signed). The candle will be designed by the winner with help from Rachael of Flickering Tales. You'll get to pick your own scent combo and the label!

Open to US only. Entrants must be 13+ with parents' permission. Giveaway is open until 12 AM CST January 1. Please enter via Rafflecopter below; winner will be chosen at random, and odds are determined by number of entries. I reserve the right to disqualify any entries that are not in accordance with my giveaway policies as stated in the Review & Site Policies tab at the top of the page. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

INT Giveaway
One winner will receive as many books as $30 (USD) will get you on Book Depository, winner's choice. So you can pick an expensive book or several cheaper ones. Up to you! Open to wherever Book Depository ships for free EXCEPT the US! Entrants must be 13+ with parents' permission. Giveaway is open until 12 AM CST January 1. Please enter via Rafflecopter below; winner will be chosen at random, and odds are determined by number of entries. I reserve the right to disqualify any entries that are not in accordance with my giveaway policies as stated in the Review & Site Policies tab at the top of the page. Good luck!

Edited to add: US peeps, please don't enter this giveaway. I know it sounds tempting, but this is one of the few INT giveaways I've been able to hold. Please let those folks have their chance to win.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Seriously, thanks for reading everyone. I hope you have a very happy holiday season and a wonderful new year. And again: stay tuned for more giveaways! I have a bunch planned!