Monthly Rewind: June 2015

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1. I saw Taylor Swift on the 1989 Tour: Oh my gosh. I wrote all about it here but it was SO FUN and I hadn’t seen her since 2007 at a tiny little venue so it was so cool to see her where she is NOW. Had such a good time!

2. Lots of pool days!! — The one thing I love about our apartment is the pool. I’ve had some really nice and relaxing days at the pool reading! ULTIMATE RELAXATION.

3. I decided to start tinkering again with the story idea I started last year: I really have never wanted to write fiction before but I had this really personally inspired story idea and I finally wrote a paragraph last year, cried and was done with it. Meanwhile scenes have been popping up in my head and I can’t stop thinking about it. So I randomly found myself opening on a Friday night and wrote a couple more sentences.

4. We went to our second Block Party concert of the Summer– We saw A Silent Film, Misterwives, Big Data, New Politics + Foxtrot and the Get Down! Was super fun and I LOVED seeing Misterwives because they have become faves since I first heard them last year! Also we went to an AMAZING burger joint in Philly before the concert (PYT) and I got a cheese steak burger on A GLAZED DONUT BUN. It was incredible.

5. I discovered some new local foodie spots I love: I found a new Korean food stall at a local farmer’s market and it was SO GOOD and while I was there I saw the Brunettes Bookshop Bakery!! THE TWO THINGS I LOVE THE MOST — dessert and books!

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I put all my Monthly Rewinds in a Spotify playlist so you can listen to them here !

 

1. Seventeen — Sjowgren


2. Back to the Ordinary — Kid Astray

3. Astronaut — Paris Carney


4. Cliff’s Edge — Hayley Kiyoko

5. Alligator Years — Twinsmith

6. Could Have Been Me – The Struts

 

Honorable mentions:

Hold Me Down by Halsey
You’re Mine by Lola Marsh
Make you Mine by Family of the Year
Slip by Elliot Moss
Winter is for Kierkegaard by Tyler Lyle
No No No by Beirut

Check out the rest of my June playlist

 

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I read 12 book this month!

1. Truthwitch by Susan Dennard — OMG I had no self control after I got it at BEA. Will be reread MULTIPLE times before it comes out in 2016 I’m sure. SO GOOD.
2. Quintana of Charyn by Melina Marchetta: WHAT A GOOD SERIES ENDING. THIS BOOK WAS EVERYTHING.
3. PS I Still Love You by Jenny Han: What a delightful book and conclusion to Lara Jean’s story as we know it!

 

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Saint AnythingI’m not at all surprised it’s a NEW SARAH DESSEN. Read my thoughts on Saint Anything!

 

 

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‘Me. I determine my own worth. If I had to rely on others I’d have lain down and died waiting.” — Quintana of Charyn by Melina Marchetta

Quintana once again proving why she is so BADASS. When I read this line I was like PREACH MY QUEEN.

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1. My 5th year blogoversary postI didn’t set out to write a post talking about those things to celebrate my 5th blog birthday but WHATEVS.

2. If We Were Having Coffee: These are my favorite posts to write if I’m honest and I love catching up with you guys!!

3. Ten Books I’d Love To See As TV Shows/Movies: Thanks for letting me ramble and be a bit sentimental and nostalgic but also for letting me share 4 blogs I’ve really been digging lately.

4. A Sentimental Value: Loved talking about some books that are special to me!

5. I’m Not Too Old For That: Another post inspired by a conversation I had with a non-YA reader that caused me to reflect!

 

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Are We Out of the Woods Yet?
or maybe my two mini review roundups (here and here)

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Eh only one video this month:

My Simon Vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda book talk

 

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1. The Status of All Things: It’s ComplicatedI loved this post from Estelle and she totally sold me on this book. I loved how she reflected on social media and the things on her mind have been A LOT of what have been on my own lately.

2. 7 Places To Pause For More Peace In Your Life Courtney’s blog is a new-ish add to my blog reader and I’ve really been enjoying her posts! This one REALLY was one I’m glad I read. They were all so spot on in places I really should pause more often. Except for #4. If I pause when I wake up I’ll fall back asleep haha. I also have to say I loved Courtney’s post How A Devastating Diagnosis Taught Me To Really Live

3.When You Die You Won’t Care About Emails: If you read these recaps of mine every month you pretty much know Alexandra is always on here because her posts always resonate with me so much. I have been thinking about a lot of things in the “when I die I won’t care about this” so maybe I shouldn’t obsess over it.

4. How To Find Balance Between Self Improvement vs. Self Acceptance: I swear I’m like a self help/self improvement junkie. I NEEDS THE BALANCE.

5. Welcome to the Present Moment: Nice, short little reminder from Jess about living in the present. When I think about what I’m thinking about all day it’s either worry about something I can’t go back and undo or ALL THE FUTURE THINGS. I’m rarely in the moment.

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1. Litographs! I got my Throne of Glass litographs shirt and I just want sooo many of them! It is made up from THE TEXT of Throne of Glass (and other books…mostly classics!)

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2. Podcasts – So I had asked for podcast recs in this post and you guys came in clutch! My friend Ellie suggested the Happier podcast with Gretchin Rubin (who I have previously read) and a few of you recommended that so I started that one and another recommended one which was Stuff You Missed In History Class. Any and all recs welcome!!
3. Sun Cups: I’m always looking for new food if you haven’t noticed by now that every month my new obsession is always food or drink related. Will grabbed these for me on a whim when I was PMSing and OMG SUNFLOWER BUTTER YOU ARE BAE. Like a Reese’s but not as sweet and it’s dark chocolate.

 

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1. Our roadtrip to Michigan for my girl Tara’s wedding: I met Tara about 5 years through book blogging (she has since quit..SAD) and I’m so happy to be able to go to Michigan for her special day. Will and I are pretty excited for a road trip!
2. Our beach vacation with my family: I AM SO READY FOR MY VACATION. My family rents houses in Fenwick Island, DE and it’s lots of beach and pool and eating and family time. I am excited!
3. Starting my Throne of Glass series reread : I’m pretty sure Bloomsbury is hosting one that I’ll join but either way I’m starting my reread next month either way.

 

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In honor of my road trip in July, tell me:

One song that would DEFINITELY be on your roadtrip mix!

 

 

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Pick a category (or 5… or all of them) and tell me what went on in YOUR life this month!! What sort of things were noteworthy for you this month? New obsessions? Any new song recs?? Best books you read this month? Great posts I missed on your blog? Answer to my question of the month?

10 Of My Favorite Books I’ve Read So Far In 2015

Top Ten Tuesday, as  always, is hosted at my other blog — The Broke & the Bookish

This week’s topic: Top Ten Of My Favorite Books I’ve Read This Year

I’ve had a really really good reading year. I’ve really liked WAY more things than NOT liked or did not finish because I wasn’t into it. But when I was making this list I was like, even though I LIKED and even REALLY liked stuff, there wasn’t a lot that garnered my highest rating. I mean, I’m happy that I had generally positive feelings towards a good chunk of what I’ve read but DAMMIT I WANT SOME NEW FAVORITES.

best books 2015 so far YA

 

Truthwitch by Susan Dennard: Okay so I got this at BEA and it was one of my MOST anticipated (cough for 2016 I KNOW..I HAVE NO CONTROL) and I read it as soon as I got home from BEA…well actually on the train on the way home. OH MY GOD IT IS SO FREAKING GOOD. If you love epic fantasy, THIS MUST BE ON YOUR TBR. I typically don’t want to reread a book right after I read it but I just keep wanting to reread this.

 
A Court of Thorns & Roses by Sarah J. Maas: Was so swept up in this awesome fantasy/fairytale retelling. (My thoughts on ACOTAR)

 
The Start of You & Me by Emery Lord: I loved her debut Open Road Summer but this one is just SO DELIGHTFUL. (My review of The Start of You & Me)

 
Mosquitoland by David Arnold: This was such a quirky little gem that I loved so much and Mim is a character I will not soon forget! (My review of Mosquitoland)

 
Lumatere Chronicles by Melina Marchetta: OMG THIS TRILOGY. Incredible. INCREDIBLE. MY NEW FAVORITES. I have never cared about characters as much as I care about these ones. (My review of the Lumatere Chronicles)

 
All the Rage by Courtney Summers: What an important novel that I couldn’t put down at all! ALL THE EMOTIONS, MAN….INCLUDING FIERY HOT RAGE! (My review of All the Rage)

 
PS I Still Love You by Jenny Han: What an extremely satisfying ending to Lara Jean’s story that I fell in love with in To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before! (My review of PS I Still Love You)

 
Emmy & Oliver by Robin Benway: This was one of the sweetest yet heartachingly saddest books (all in one!) that I’ve ever read.  (My review of Emmy & Oliver)

 
Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen: I’m only read Just Listen, Lock & Key, Someone Like You and now this one (although I’m reading This Lullaby right now) but Sarah Dessen just keeps impressing me and I just want to devour her backlist.This one was just EVERYTHING I love in contemporary YA! (My review of Saint Anything)

 
The Boy in the Black Suit by Jason Reynolds: This one I feel has gone under the radar so far this year and it makes me so sad because it’s so excellent. It’s definitely a more quiet and character-driven novel but I just loved it so much. (My review of The Boy in the Black Suit)

 

 

 

So tell me…what have some of your fave books been so far?? I would REALLY love it if you would tell me ONE you think I absolutely MUST read that just blew you away this year! Have you read any of these?

Book Talk: Emmy & Oliver by Robin Benway

Book Talk: Emmy & Oliver by Robin BenwayEmmy & Oliver by Robin Benway
Publisher/Year: HarperTeen- June 2015
Genres: Contemporary YA
Format: Hardcover
Source: For Review
Other Books From Author: Audrey, Wait - Also Known As - The Extraordinary Secrets of April, May and June -
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I received this from the publisher in exchange for review consideration. This in no way swayed my opinion. Pinky swear!

 

 

 

Want an “at a glance” look at what I thought? Check out my Review On A Post-It or my “Final Thought”

 

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It’s about a girl whose childhood best friend/next door neighbor/crush gets kidnapped by his dad when they are younger and 10 years later he is found and he returns to the house where his mom still lives with her new family and he’s expected to rejoin this life that he was taken from.

a2OMG DID I REALLY JUST READ THAT IN 4 HOURS? I DIDN’T MEAN TO. OOPS. OH WELL. SO GOOD.

a4AH. Is there a name for when a book makes you so giddy and makes your heart so full but also like hurts your heart too and is kind of sad? There should be a word for that literary experience. Someone invent one!  Whatever the case, this was my experience with Emmy & Oliver!  I’m so happy I loved Robin’s latest because I’ve enjoyed her past work — Audrey, Wait! even inspired me to create a “WTF WHY IS THIS NOT MORE POPULAR” shelf on my Goodreads. Her books are hella underrated and deserve way more attention!

Emmy and Oliver was just so beautiful! It was from the perspective of Emmy who was Oliver’s childhood best friend and was the last one to see him before he was kidnapped. My heart broke imagining Oliver’s situation (would REALLY love a short story from him even though I liked the story being from Emmy’s perspective) of being kidnapped by his dad and returned 10 years later to his mother and I thought Robin captured all the complicated feelings Oliver would have so well. It was so heartbreaking as we see him have a hard time assimilating back into regular life and having these complicated feelings about his dad who he’s lived with and loved for the past 10 years. Oliver has changed. The world he left 10 years ago changed.  His truths have changed. There are so many things that just don’t fit quite right anymore and I loved watching him work through those with Emmy by his side.

Emmy and Oliver’s relationship was so just sweet and wonderful. It made my heart flutter and I loved how they worked to get to know each other again — accepting the past and learning what has happened in the past 10 years to get to know the person they are now. I could feel Oliver’s frustration and sadness also while being reconnected with Emmy and their two other best friends who have all remained best friends through that time. He feels like he just missed out on so much as much as he wants to just jump right back in.

Emmy was such a great character — she’d been sheltered a lot after Oliver’s kidnapping happened. She had these parts of her life that she kept from her parents because she knew they wouldn’t approve of because of their strictness but these things made Emmy happy and more like the real her. I loved watching her go for her dreams and she was just a delightful character all around.

 

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factors+ feels, characters, writing, humor, swoons, aww factor
–  nothing!

Re-readability: Maybe because I blew through it and should spend more time with it haha
Would I buy a copy for my collection? I have one!

a5contemporary YA fans, readers looking for a pretty angst-free romance, people who want a read that will make them smile and laugh but also maybe cry or feel an avalanche of sadness

a8Emmy & Oliver was yet another delightful read from Robin Benway who I believe is a massively underrated author who you all should read if you haven’t! Within 18 pages of this book, yes I know precisely it was this number because I tweeted it, I had snort laughed and teared up and was smitten already. It’s beautiful and heartbreaking and hilarious and sweet and heartachingly sad and altogether an enjoyable read. I mean, I DID accidentally devour it in 4 hours. Great balance of romance and friendship and parental relationships!

review-on-post-itEmmy & Oliver

 

a8j* Have you read this one? What did you think? Similar or different from me? I would LOVE to hear regardless!
*If you haven’t read it, does it feel like something you’d be into?

 

 


The Perpetual Page-Turner

If We Were Having Coffee

I saw a life coach I love, Ashley, do a post entitled If We Were Having Coffee and I decided to take her lead and do one myself in November 2013 because I loved it and sometimes I feel like we forget that there is a whole life behind the people that write and read blogs. I got such a great response to my initial post so I made it a  reoccurring thing for the past couple of years and do it when I feel so inclined!

 

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So, grab your coffee/beverage of your choice and meet me for a chat. I’ve got a lemon shandy right now (it’s afternoon right now, okay!) and it’s divine.

If we were having coffee….I’d tell you that I’m currently reading This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen and Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff. Also, I’m audiobooking The Running Dream by Wendelin Van Draanen. I’d ask you what you are currently reading!

If we were having coffee... I’d tell you how much of a FUN summer Will and I are having already and we have so many other fun things planned I can barely contain my excitement. I’ve enjoyed beach days and pool days and nights out and good food and ice cream and concerts and new beer and just SO MUCH FUN. I’m really thankful it’s been a fun summer and it’s been really nice to feel so happy after a crappy winter! I’d ask what you have been up to thus far this summer!

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If we were having coffee.… I’d tell you that I opened up that THING…better known as a story…that I had told you about before. I had written like a paragraph or two last summer, bawled and then never opened the document again. It’s been sitting on my desktop untouched but all the while ideas have come to me for it. It’s a contemporary YA (I think..idk she just finished her first year of college) and it’s so personal and I am not even a good writer nor have I ever wanted to write a novel before. BUT WHAT THE HELL. I OPENED IT. I WROTE A SENTENCE OR TWO TO ADD TO WHAT I HAD. WE WILL SEE WHAT HAPPENS.  I’d ask if you are an aspiring writer. If so, do you have any tips??

If we were having coffee…. Id tell that recently I’ve been thinking a lot about fear and how I can recognize places in my life where it has held me back. I know that sometimes fear is there to protect us but also I’m starting to see how I use it as a crutch and it kind of makes me sad. I don’t want to let myself live so fearfully and I don’t know when I started REALLY letting fear get in my way.

If we were having coffee…. I’d tell you that I’ve really been wanting to get into podcasts. I’d ask you for recs!!

If we were having coffee… I’d tell you that I’ve really been having a weird relationship with social media. I’ve been so disillusioned by it recently? I don’t even know if that’s what I mean. I just…sometimes I’m so weary from it. I get overwhelmed by it. I think “WHY DO I PUT SO MUCH TIME AND ENERGY AND STOCK IN ALL THIS?” I have nothing to say sometimes. I’m over the over-documentation and wading through the picture perfect shininess to get to the realness. The constant barrage of voices and options and links and possibilities of people and things to follow and knowledge and opinions. BUT THEN OTHER DAYS I AM LIKE OMG I LOVE THE INTERNET. IT IS THE BEST. I’ve been a lot more MIA than I used to be (especially on Twitter) and I feel like the balance has really been helping me. I’d ask you how you deal with social media fatigue.

If we were having coffee….I’d tell you how last time I was lamenting all my workout woes and how I couldn’t get back on the workout wagon and I’d like to inform you that I’ve been working out again and IT FEELS SO GOOD. I mean really. Sure, it’s nice to lose a little weight and look toned and wink at yourself in the mirror because you are like DAMN GIRL YOU LOOK GOOD. But most of it is about how I truly feel. I hate every moment while I muster up motivation and all the way through the workout until I think of how I feel after. How energized I am. Or how I think about how badass my body feels when I can hold a plank for longer or do more burpees than usual. It makes me feel like I can conquer anything…well not during my workout…mostly I’m a whiny baby…but AFTER. HEAR ME ROAR.

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If we were having coffee….I’d you that I’ve been having A REALLY spectacular reading year thus far in 2015. It’s been kind of magical — a great mix of 2015 releases and older books and things I missed last year that seemed to be beloved by others I trust. I don’t want to jinx myself but MAN OH MAN IT’S BEEN GOOD. I’d ask you how 2015 has been treating you reading wise!

If we were having coffee…I was thinking the other day while going through some of my old college papers while cleaning a box from my old room at my stepdad’s (and was talking with book club about it this morning) about how much I MISS school. And not even SCHOOL itself. But learning things. And I know I am learning things all the time and blah blah blah. But I miss learning a specific skill or subject. So I’ve decided I’m going to challenge myself to learn a new thing this summer. I’d ask you WHAT THE HELL I SHOULD LEARN! haha

 

If we were having coffee…what would you tell me? Come on…lay it all out! It’s just you, me, the pleasant sounds of a cafe…and maybe some other eyes in the comment section but NBD right?? Our we can have coffee in my inbox if you don’t feel comfortable. I really want to know! What’s going on with you?

2 New Adult Romances I’ve Read Recently

I don’t read a lot of New Adult but I’ve been trying to find things that I think I might like because I LOVE the idea of reading about twenty-somethings. So let’s talk about two that I read this month!

 

Luck on the line zoraida cordova

Luck on the Line by Zoraida Cordova

This one was enjoyable and OH BOY did it make me HUNGRY. A lot of the story takes place in a restaurant and the male lead is a chef soooo FOOD FOOD FOOD so naturally I was into that though I think it is the author’s duty to send samples of the food to readers whilst reading because COME ONNN. Oh did I mention he’s a really HOT chef? I really enjoyed Lucky as a heroine — she’s headstrong and confident but she totally is a mess the way a lot of us are in our early twenties. I loved that Lucky kind of bounced from one thing to another in this journey to figure out what she wanted. I think Zoraida captured that “I don’t know what I want to do with my life” feeling so well. Plus Lucky has this guilt from her father’s death that has always kind of lingered with her and caused this growing fracture between her and her mom (who is a hot mess). I enjoyed the romance because it is a trope I LOVE (a “hate” to love story) and I enjoyed their amusing banter throughout the book. I think the only thing I was disappointed in was that the tension between them was going so well and then when they finally had “a moment” where things could change between them it went at breakneck speed to intense love. The sexytimes were…well SEXY…especially a certain kitchen scene. But I just felt like a serious love relationship came too fast for my own taste.  It was an enjoyable romance that read quickly and is perfect if you want a lighter romance without TOO much angst.  Oh hey and it’s $2.99 for Kindle!

Rating

RATING-LIKED

 

 

Rebound Noelle August

Rebound by Noelle August

Man, I have to say I didn’t LOVE this one like I did the first book in this series, Boomerang. I liked it and it definitely held my attention but it didn’t shine for me as Boomerang did which is a shame because I was really excited to get to know more about Adam and Alison — the CEO of Boomerang and the daughter of a potential investor who also know as Ethan’s former girlfriend who cheated on him (which I LOVED getting to see the other side of THAT story). I thought the romance was kind of similar to Mia and Ethan (no idea who each other is when they first hook up…oh and it’s a sexy scene) and then find that it complicates things professionally but I found this one to be more angsty and dramatic than Boomerang. It was nice to see our favorite characters again and get to know these two better but I don’t know…the spark I felt for Boomerang just wasn’t there despite there being some really great moments.

I enjoyed it just fine but surprisingly I didn’t fall in love with Adam and Alison like I thought I would.  Both of their stories were interesting and their chemistry was good (seriously sexy!!!) but I just didn’t feel giddy about them like I did Mia and Ethan. I think maybe because both Adam and Alison have these major trust issues and these bad things that happened and it fell more in line with the New Adult “saving each other from the past” stuff I don’t like? I can’t quite put my finger on it. Despite that, the writing is still fantastic and I LOVE getting to know all these employees at Boomerang which seems like such a fun company to work for. I really do love that these books continue to showcase twenty-somethings trying to figure things out career-wise and with themselves in those tumultuous 20’s years in addition to all the romance. I will DEFINITELY be reading the next book because it stars GREY who is Adam’s brother who we got a nice glimpse of in this one and from what was teased he’s going to have an interesting story!

Rating

RATING-LIKED

 

 

Have you read either of these? What did you think if you have? ALSO I would really love some New Adult recs — in any genre not just romance. I love the idea of reading about twenty-somethings trying to figure out life, work, romance, etc.

New To The Queue {14}

New To the Queue is a sporadic thing around here wherein I give you a tiny glimpse into some of the books, movies, tv shows and bands I’ve recently added to my never ending queue of things to read/watch/listen to. For past posts, go here!

books-to-read

Legacy of Kings

Legacy of Kings by Eleanor Herman (Amazon // Goodreads)
Publication Date – August 25, 2015

Why I Added It To My To-Be-Read list: So I had HEARD of it prior to BEA but didn’t really KNOW anything about it so it was on my “to check out” list in my head. I had the awesome opportunity to attend a breakfast hosted by Harlequin Teen and Eleanor Herman was there and SHE is awesome and this book sounds like an awesome historical fantasy that I CANNOT wait to dive into.

What It’s About: A re-imagining of Alexander the Great with a fantasy twist!!

 

 

Smoke Catherine McKenzie

Smoke by Catherine McKenzie ( Goodreads // Amazon)
Publication Date- October 20, 2015


Why I Added It To My To-Be-Read list:
I really enjoyed Catherine McKenzie’s Arranged and have her other books on my TBR list for when I’m wanting an adult fiction book!

What It’s About:  Two ex-friends + family issues + a wildfire that threatens their town

 

Not If I See You First

Not If I See You First by Eric Lindstrom  (Amazon // Goodreads)
Release Date: December 1, 2015


Why I Added It To My To-Be-Read list:
While at BEA the lovely ladies at the Novl (Little Brown’s YA community) presented this during a brunch and it sounded SO good. Honestly, I’ve never read a book with a blind MC. I hadn’t heard of it before! I AM SO BEHIND ON NEW RELEASES.

What It’s About: It follows Parker, a girl who happens to be blind, during her junior year as she navigates through school, guys, the social scene and more as she tries to follow her “Rules.”

 

Daughter unto devils

Daughters Unto Devils by Amy Lukavics ( Amazon // Goodreads)

Release Date: September 29, 2015

 


Why I Added It To My To-Be-Read list:
While at the Harlequin brunch I mentioned before we got to chat with an incredibly awesome editor there and he was majorly talking about this one and he said it was scary and I’m like NO BUT I WANT LIKE TRULY TERRIFYING and he assured me it was.  SO YAY. It’s hard for me to find books that scare me.

What It’s About:  A family moves to the prairie where things are just NOT right — starting with the blood they find in the new cabin they are to live in that was abandoned by its previous owners. Tales of evil and murder in this new town weigh on the main character who is trying to get away from a past that already haunts her.

 

 

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Sense8

Sense8

Why I Added It To My Netflix Queue:  I asked for binge watching recs on Twitter and Meg, whose tv recs are always pretty in tune with things I like, suggested it and all I did was read the summary and I’m like YEP. SOON THIS WILL HAPPEN.

What It Is About: “From the creators of “The Matrix” and “Babylon 5″ comes this tense series in which eight people can telepathically experience each other’s lives.”

 

Rudderless

Rudderless

Why I Added It To My Netflix Queue: It just looked like something I’d be into — emotional and just a very *ME* feel. I can just tell sometimes? I also really liked Anton Yelchin in Like Crazy so I’m interested to see him in something else.

What It Is About: “Devastated over his son’s death, former ad exec Sam removes himself from society to drink away his grief. When he summons the will to perform his son’s songs at a local bar, the music gains popularity and Sam claims to have written the tunes himself.”

 

Kelly & CalKelly & Cal

 

Why I Added It To My Netflix Queue: I love unlikely friendship!!

What It Is About: “Struggling with the challenges of parenthood, a dispirited young mother finds an unlikely friend and confidante in her paralyzed teenage neighbor. But when their relationship crosses the line, she starts to consider the consequences.”

 music-to-listen-to

 Ryn Weaver — The Fool

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Why I Added It To My Musical Rotation:  I have featured some of her singles (Octahate & Runaway) in my Monthly Rewinds in the past year or so and I’ve been DYING for this album to come out!! I’ve only listened to it once but I’m digging it!

James Bay — Chaos & the Calm
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Why I Added It To My Musical Rotation: I had been digging his singles and it was LOVE AT FIRST LISTEN when I heard Let It Go & If You Ever Want To Be In Love last August and I just kept falling in love with the other singles — especially Hold Back the River! This has been on repeat A LOT since it came out!

Zella Day — Kicker

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Why I Added It To My Musical Rotation: At the end of last year I stumbled upon her singles East of Eden and Hypnotic and decided to follow her on Spotify so I could be alerted of new stuff because I LOVED those two songs. Really enjoying this album!

If you want to catch what I’m listening to…follow me on Spotify! Let me know who you are so I can follow back and check out youuur music!

lets-talk

YOUR TURN! Tell me one book you added to your TBR list recently! Tell me a movie/tv show you added to your must watch list! Tell me a new band/singer you just added to your musical rotation! Also, have you read/watched/listened to anything on my recently added list? Or did I make you add something to YOUR queue? Tell me, tell me!

5 Years of Blogging….WOAH BUDDY (PLUS a Fun Giveaway)

Soooo my blog kind of hit the 5 year mark this week…yesterday actually (sadly…or not sadly…the first 2 months of my blog basically got deleted when I transferred from Blogger to WordPress many moons ago). I had all these wild and fun plans for the occasion for months prior to actually getting remotely near June….but then summertime, laziness and other things got in the way.

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Last year I wrote a sentimental post about how this journey has changed my life  and in 2013 I wrote about why I keep blogging and did some crazy math which you know math is hard for meee (you can just add some days, minutes and seconds to those crazy figures to make it even MORE impressive haha) and if you didn’t read those you SHOULD because it talks a lot about how this whole thing changed my life and my journey and all the crazy life things YOU GUYS have seen me through over the years (seriously, that list makes me get teary and omg I could add so much more). I echo those sentiments wholeheartedly.

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I feel like I don’t have a lot to say for this one because I’ve kind of said it already? I mean, I can’t say THANK YOU enough (thank you for reading/commenting/supporting/being awesome/making me not feel so alone in this passion of mine/being my friends) but outside of that? I don’t have much to add.

Maybe I could talk about all the reasons I’m in awe of the fact I’m still doing this? 5 years is a long time especially in blogland where blogs croak just as quickly as they are made. Maybe that I’m in awe that I’m still doing this because sometimes I’m too lazy or that sometimes it’s too hard or frustrating or feels not worth it. Or some days I feel like I’m irrelevant or that nobody is reading or cares what I have to say anymore…especially after five years. Sometimes I don’t have words to say or feel like I’m repeating myself when I talk about books. Or how I feel like I’ve run out of all my good unique & creative ideas that made me live up to my “most creative blogger” award (no really I didn’t make that up haha) too early on in my blogging career and now I’m just boring and generic. Some days I just plain ol’ feel like I have no balance in my life and I want to run far away from books. Or some days I’m just TIRED of it (tired of writing, tired of everything, tired of dumb blogging politics that I typically ignore anyways, tired of social media, tired of expectations, etc.). Some days I’ve felt like quitting.

But then….

You get a comment that brightens your day.
You get an email that is so kind.
You chat with an author that you really love.
You make a new friend in this community.
You connect a person with a book that they end up loving.
You read a really great book that you KNOW you found because of blogging and it speaks to you and maybe even changes your life.
You find out someone started a blog because of you or started reading again because of you.
You do something really awesome that you are proud of and people respond well to it.
You get inspiration from somewhere out in left field.
You get an awesome opportunity because of your blog.
You get a book that inspires you to talk about it personally or passionately.
You have a great discussion about a book with someone.
(this list could go on)

AND THEN YOU REMEMBER WHY YOU DO THIS.

The bullshit kind of fades away. Even the non-bullshit reasons that made you feel like you wanted to quit gently subside. And you find yourself placing your I HEART BOOK BLOGGING t-shirt back on and getting back to work with the clearest of mind and heart, full of a renewed passion and perspective.

So, I mean, I guess what I’m trying to say is that if you are feeling discouraged as a blogger, it’s okay. It happens for many reasons and it will happen many times to come unfortunately. But sometimes you get what you need to keep going through the ups and downs. Even veteran bloggers get the blues.

I think what I’ve learned in 5 years is to remember the things that make THIS JOURNEY worth it — the most simple and pure reasons of why I started all this and what truly makes me tick behind the scenes.

Your comments and views and followers will fluctuate. You won’t always get that coveted ARC you wanted. A certain person may not be that nice or won’t give you the time of day. You won’t always be the best or even runner-up. You will always be able to compare yourself to others and it will make you feel inferior. You will mess up. WordPress or Blogger will eat a post you spent 3 hours writing. You might have a slump where you hate what you write or you hate what you read. A lot of things can suck on this journey but also a lot of those things might not be things that will matter after a day. A week. A month. A YEAR.

So on a day/week/month when you are feeling like that?  Slow it down. TAKE A BREAK. Reevaluate. Remember what made you start this. Remember what makes you tick. Strip all the things away that you can’t control or the things that you know are unimportant in the grand scheme of life. Remember the things that are TRULY important TO YOU in all this. Change what you can. Work with the things you might not be able to change. Remember this ONE THING does not define everything in your life. REMEMBER WHAT MAKES YOU HAPPY ABOUT ALL THIS/THE GOOD THINGS THAT HAVE HAPPENED.

And really think about it. Sometimes it will be enough and give you a renewed sense of purpose. And sometimes you will realize it’s time to gracefully bow out. AND THAT IS OKAY. Sometimes we outgrow things, sometimes we change or life changes, sometimes it’s just time for a new chapter. I know one day that will happen and I will be okay with it. When I no longer have joy for it and when I slow it down and still can’t muster the enthusiasm for it? IT WILL BE OVER because I will not taint the good memories I’ve had with a bitter, less than excited attitude or just a lack of passion/sense of obligation.

So, if you still have that fiiiiire for it, keep at it. You can do it. (If I can, you can). On your own terms. Whether you blog every day or you blog once a week. It’s your blog, baby.

5 years might look super impressive (and I mean, I’m not downplaying how AWESOME it is) but it hasn’t always been a picnic (JUST KEEPIN IT REAL). There have been tears, days (okay a week sometimes) where I refuse to open my blog, threats to myself that I’m going to quit FOREVER, awful slumps. The road has been paved with ups and downs and hard work and perserverance. BUT I AM SO THANKFUL THAT I AM STILL HERE DOING THIS. In this moment and where I stand lately. And it’s been a HELL of a five years. I can’t even begin to recap the epicness and the fun and the shenanigans both online and off because of this blog.

 

GIVEAWAY

So now for the giveaway in honor of all this awesomeness that has been the last 5 years

WHAT ONE LUCKY WINNER WILL GET:

A care package curated BY ME

An idea of what will be in it: a favorite book or two of mine (I will have a way to guarantee it’s not something you have already if you win), maybe a super anticipated ARC or 2, some fun bookish goodies and just other things I LOVE. Basically like a Secret Santa box but no secret…it’s from meeeee. Because I love you guys and I want to do something special for someone who has supported my blog in any way.

*US only for the care package, sorry. ALTHOUGH. If you are an international reader, I will offer a $25 Amazon gift card. *

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

(Haha remember that time at the beginning-ish of this post where I said I feel like I had nothing to say this time? HAH I LIED).

To All The Books I Read Before BEA & Never Had Time To Talk About

I fully intended on writing up full posts talking about these here books. Unfortunately BEA happened and my brain has become mush to actually write full posts on them but they deserve to be talked about for sure!! Plus it’s summer and mini book talks are going to me a lot of what you see because I CANNOT SIT INSIDE ON THE COMPUTER IN THE SUMMER. My body won’t let me do it when the sun is shining and the temperature is actually Jamie-approved.

Making Pretty Corey Ann Haydu

Making Pretty by Corey Ann Haydu

May 2015 – Katherine Tegen Books
I received this for review consideration from the publisher. As always, this did NOT affect my opinions of it.

 

I loved Corey’s novel Life By Committee so I was very excited for this one and she didn’t disappoint! I loved the messy family dynamics — no really the dad is shallow, goes through many women and offered his young daughters new boobs for their birthday — explored in this novel. I LOVED the portrayal of two sisters who have been in it together and partners-in-crime until cracks appear in their relationship and everything feels different between them. Also super loved the NYC setting! The main character’s voice felt so….frenetic to me? I couldn’t get a handle on her but then I realized “OH MY GOSH THIS IS SO HOW MY BRAIN WAS AS A TEENAGER.” These intense emotions and feelings and highs and lows. Exquisitely written and full of that raw and unflinching honesty that I’ve come to love from Corey’s books.

Rating

RATING-reallyliked

 

 

Bone Gap by Laura Ruby

Bone Gap by Laura Ruby

March 2015 – Balzer & Bray
I received this for review consideration from the publisher. As always, this did NOT affect my opinions of it.

Have you ever read a book that you were like OH MY GOSH THIS IS BRILLIANT but you almost felt like you didn’t FULLY get it? Like MAAAAYBE you weren’t smart enough for it? Yeah, that’s how I felt about this book. It was unlike anything I’ve ever read and so freaking smart and awesome and WOW. But I also feel like it hurt my brain a little. It was this blend of contemporary and fantasy…maybe a little magical realism? I can’t even label it really. Very surreal and dream-like. Definitely ~literary~ sooo I have another book in my arsenal for people who don’t think YA can be literary. I loved the mystery of trying to figure what happened to Roza and I really grew to love Finn. It’s confusing at times but the end really brings it together.

Rating

RATING-reallyliked

 

 

 

Extraordinary Means Robyn Schneider

Extraordinary Means by Robyn Schneider

May 2015 – Katherine Tegen Books
I received this for review consideration from the publisher. As always, this did NOT affect my opinions of it.

OH MY GOSH I LOVED THIS ONE. Seriously raced through it! So beautiful and emotional and GAH SO GOOD. I loved that it felt like it was contemporary but the only thing is that in this world there is a strain of tuberculosis that is incurable and has these teens in a sanatorium as they wait a trial that could maybe cure them. It feels like half summer camp/boarding school and half a hospital setting which is a jarring setting at times as you watch them be normal teens but yet NOT AT ALL. I loved the group of friends and I loved the romance — it was so bittersweet because for all the really great and fun moments between them you watch them fall even more sick. I found myself really racing through it to see if a cure would come in time or not! I LOVED Robyn’s writing and definitely plan to go back to her debut for sure!

Rating

RATING-loved-it

 

 

Have you read any of these? What did you think? If not, are you planning to read any of them?

 

Book Talk: PS I Still Love You by Jenny Han

Book Talk: PS I Still Love You by Jenny HanPS I Still Love You by Jenny Han
Series: To All The Boys #2
Publisher/Year: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers- May 2015
Genres: Contemporary YA
Format: Hardcover
Source: Bought
Other Books From Author: Summer series, Burn For Burn series, Shug
AmazonGoodreadsTwitter

 

 

 

Want an “at a glance” look at what I thought? Check out my Review On A Post-It or my “Final Thought”

 

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PS I Still Love You is the sequel & conclusion to To All The Boys I’ve Loved before — check out my review here!

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a4Oh man, what a thoroughly satisfying sequel and ending to Lara Jean’s story. And honestly? It has nothing to do with who she ended up with! I’m not going to say here, in the spoiler free zone, whether I was happy about the boy situation because I don’t want to give anything away but I will say that this was a wonderful book with an ending that personally made sense to me! I loved how Jenny really examined all the intricacies that come with first love and your first REAL dating relationship plus your first heartbreak. I felt everything — from the giddiness of your first real boyfriend to the pressures of sex to that absence a breakup creates– and I just loved (well, not loved because OW MY HEART) watching Lara Jean experience it all. And, like with To All The Boys, family and friendship also shines in this. Jenny just handles all these various relationships and how they shift and change so flawlessly — how the sisters relationship evolves, to old friends who come back in your life, to watching people who were once a part of your daily life no longer be there. It explored so many amazing things and I could blather on about each different relationship from this book.

This book actually hit me really hard personally when it came to two major things.

Lara Jean and missing her mom: MAN, Jenny killed me. You know right away in To All the Boys that Lara Jean’s mom had passed away and their dad has been raising the 3 girls. I really connected with the sisters because of that and in this book even more so. Jenny so poignantly captures what it’s like to have lost someone many years ago — the grief isn’t as in your face but it rushes to the surface in certain moments and that longing is always there. It’s the big things but also in the little moments. There was this moment when the girls are talking to their dad and something comes up and Lara Jean has this moment where she can’t remember a detail about her mom. I know that panic and that drop in your stomach when you feel like you can’t remember something about them. And then there is this really hard moment of heartbreak for Lara Jean where she is crying and she just wishes for her mom and wonders what she’d do and OH MAN…I just lost it. I feel like normal people probably won’t feel that emotional about it or see much significance but I can’t tell you how many times after I lost my job that I’ve wished for my mom to be here because I know she would help me come up with a killer game plan.

First heartbreak: I’m not at all going to get into details of who or what or why and if things get worked out but MY HEART HURT ALONGSIDE LARA JEAN. I think Jenny just nails what it is like to experience that euphoria of first love and that sledgehammer-to-the-heart feeling with your first heartbreak. I found myself weirdly emotional about it because it so perfectly captured it and it started dredging up MY first real heartbreak that happened in high school. I was like finding myself thinking about it and feeling emotional about it and I was like OMG I AM HAPPILY MARRIED SO WHO CARES but there’s just something about that first heartbreak that just sticks whether or not you get back together. It sticks with you and it’s the first time I think you really see what it means to be vulnerable with someone — to let them have your heart in that way. You move through relationships with different eyes after that one.

OKAY SPOILER TIME:

DO NOT READ ON IF YOU DO NOT WANT TO BE SPOILED

Okay can we talk about the boy situation??? I was so happy with who she ended up with. SO HAPPY. But what I really loved that Jenny did is that she didn’t make either of them be AWFUL or anything. I genuinely loved both of them even though, like Lara Jean, Peter K had my heart more. In my life I’ve been faced with this same dilemma….I’d have a spark with two different guys and I KNOW I could love or be with either one of them but one just has my heart a little more in the moment. I SO UNDERSTOOD THAT. I was so happy Jenny didn’t make one of them be a douche to make it easy for Lara Jean. BUT POOR JOHNNY. My heart was really sad for him because it was wonderful and swoony and made me smile. His little “I never had a chance did I?” gutted me. It sucks sometimes to have to hurt a perfectly good person but the heart wants what the heart wants. I will say that I was SO surprised with how little Josh had to do with this book because I loved him too BUT I think it was so realistic and true of how sometimes people are so involved in your life and then…they aren’t. You move on and forward without people you care about and the anatomy of your relationship can change.

 

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factors+ characters, the romance, the exploration of these big firsts (love & heartbreak), all the relationships (father/daughter, sisters, friends, romance)
–  Honestly not much but I was so hoping for more of the sister relationships to have more of a focus like in the first book

Re-readability: I definitely want to reread both books at some point.
Would I buy a copy for my collection? I already did!

a5Well, obviously people who read To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before. But I recommend both books to fans of YA realistic fiction! To people who like books that examine crushes and first love! Fans of books with strong family relationships!

a8Jenny Han is just one of those authors who is able to so beautifully write about coming of age and everything that comes with it. The growing and changing of relationships, all the firsts, pain and heartbreak, etc. I really loved Lara Jean and her sisters and I’m really sad for their story to be over but PS I Still Love You was completely satisfying as a reader.

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PS I STill Love you review jenny han

a8j* Have you read this one? What did you think? Similar or different from me? I would LOVE to hear regardless!
*If you haven’t read it, does it feel like something you’d be into?
Were you happy about who LJ ended up with??

 

 


The Perpetual Page-Turner

I’m Not Too Old For That!

I feel like all my favorite reading related discussions on this blog happen from conversations with non-reading people or non-YA reading people (this, this and this for sure). This discussion is certainly a product of such a conversation.

I was catching up with an old friend and the topic of reading came up and I definitely read different things than I used to. I explained some of the stuff I’m into now and she, totally not trying to be disrespectful, said something along the lines of, “But how do you read about teenagers so often? I feel like I’m so past all that and like it’s not at all relevant to my life anymore. Plus I like more literary things” And I mean, her right to read what she wants and I do understand WHY adults might not be into YA. Totally, I read adult fiction too because I can’t ONLY read YA. Anyways, I explained a little of why I love YA and gave her a couple books to try out because I am very confident in their relevancy to people of all ages. (I’m not even going to tackle that literary comment because HAHAH some of the YA books I love are way more ~literary~ than some adult books I’ve read).

But that encounter got me thinking… I will be 30 in October. My 10 year high school reunion happened last year. I AM SO FAR PAST HIGH SCHOOL. Why does YA speak to me still? I mean, I still read adult fiction and other things but I am so, so into YA and don’t see a switch being turned off anytime soon.

I mean, aside from the fact that YA has some of the most innovative and creative and exciting stuff coming out and AMAZING writing/storytelling/characters…what IS IT about YA that attracts me to it still? I really thought about it and I’ve come to the conclusion it lies in these two areas:

1. There is something really appealing to me when I read YA because of the lens I read it through as an adult and how I can reflect and process my past.

I honestly think there are so many things that I’d experienced as a YA that makes so much more sense to me now as an adult. I am a very reflective person by nature and I’ve found that reading YA has helped me to do that and also has made me more self aware as an adult because of it.

2. THERE ARE SO MANY UNIVERSAL THINGS IN YA THAT DON’T GO AWAY ONCE YOU HIT ADULTHOOD.

I mean, SO many of the things I read about in YA are actually relevant to me. I might not be in high school or be falling in love for the first time as an old married lady but what I find about a lot of my most favorite YA books is that when you strip away that kind of stuff that isn’t applicable to me, I still find things that are so, so relevant to me. That are these universal THINGS that most humans — young and old — deal with to some degree. And I have found that YA has explored these things in such a raw and honest way that really clicks with me.

Here’s just a small sample of things that have been so, so relevant to me in YA novels (in a thought-provoking and meaningful way) despite being past that ripe YA age:

grief and loss and tries to work through that. My mom might have passed away in 2006 when I wasn’t reading YA but there is still so much to work through even years later and reading YA stories about grief has helped me process a lot. It’s given me new eyes to what I experienced as an actual young adult when my mom was sick and then passed away. Read: Why I love reading stories about grief

–  friendship: I’ve read books about losing friends, making new friends, the ups and downs of friendship, etc. etc. As a 30-something my friendship landscape may have changed but friendship at 16 and friendship at 30, while different, relies on a lot of the same core things. And a lot of those friendship issues that you have at 16? YOU STILL HAVE THEM AT 30 BUT JUST IN DIFFERENT WAYS. It’s still so hard to deal with friend breakups or growing apart, the difficulty of making new friends, opening yourself up to new friends (getting over your initial judgments to make room for a friend) and there is still so much JOY in having girlfriends. I think I appreciate those relationships EVEN MORE NOW.

–  finding yourself/growing into your own as you grow up/becoming the most REAL version of yourself/figuring life out: I’m sad to report to 16 year old Jamie that you don’t figure your shit out when you become an adult like I thought would happen. I think, as a approach 30, I’m more myself than I’ve ever been before as I’ve waded through a lot of versions of myself that were only half true to my heart. But I AM STILL FIGURING IT OUT. I don’t think you ever truly figure things out. I still doubt myself. I’m still growing and learning (about myself and the world). I learn SO MUCH about myself and my own journey through YA characters of all genres. Things that inspire me, things that make me want to be braver and better and kinder, things that make me want to live more boldly and take more chances. I STILL don’t know what I want to do with my life despite knowing what I want to BE ABOUT and HOW I want to live. I’m still figuring it all out.

And honestly these are just A FEW of the things that my last couple reads made me think about and were so RELEVANT to my life (I could go on — family issues, identity issues, living more fully, figuring out what you want to do with your life, fighting for what you believe in or what is right, life disappointments, feeling lost, dealing with depression, heartbreak, etc).

And sure, I’m not saying reading YA as an adult is something that everyone has to be into or is their thing. I can understand not WANTING to read about high school/teenagers, being picky about what kind of content you read in YA or even finding SOME stuff in YA eyerolly as an adult (I do sometimes!) but to say that YA can’t be or isn’t relevant to the life of adults is simply not true.

 

I’m curious…if you are an adult reading YA..what draws you to it? If you have a different feeling about this, I’d love to know!

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