Book Talk: Mosquitoland by David Arnold

Book Talk: Mosquitoland by David ArnoldMosquitoland by David Arnold
Publisher/Year: Viking Juvenile- March 3, 2015
Genres: Contemporary YA
Format: Hardcover
Source: For Review
Other Books From Author: None, it is his debut!
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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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When Mim’s mom and dad split, Mim finds herself suddenly uprooted and living with her dad and his brand new wife all the way in Mississippi while her mom, whose correspondence has become less and less frequent, is in Ohio. When she finds out that her mom is sick, she hops a Greyhound bus to get to her which leads her on a journey where she’ll encounter people who leave a mark on her and be forced to confront some tough things.

a2There’s no way I’m going to be able to explain this book!!

a4What an experience reading Mosquitoland was! I know I’m not going to be able to adequately describe this book or the experience and that’s okay. I’m just hoping you’ll see that beautiful cover or my interview with David Arnold and will want to just rush right to pick it up!! It’s one of those one in a million kinds of books. The kind of book that doesn’t FEEL like anything else you’ve ever read. I really have a hard time comparing it to anything I’ve ever read before, truly. I love experiences like that.

Here’s what I loved about it:

1. ROAD TRIP: I’ve read lots of road trip books but none quite like this. Mim truly goes on quite the adventure as she leaves Mississippi to get to her mom in Ohio. It was like a road trip hopped up on extra shenanigans. I don’t want to slip in too many of the situations she finds herself in but it was quite the wild ride. I kept turning the pages like WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN NEXT?!

2. MIM: You guys, YOU NEED TO MEET MIM. There’s no one way to describe Mim — I’d say quirky or eccentric but I’m not sure either of those words fully encompass Mim’s personality. I could tell you about her personality or the things she likes but it doesn’t present the whole picture.  She’s Mim. That’s the only way you can describe her. MIM. I’ll assert it as an adjective. Mim in all her Mimness.  That’s all I can say. And when you meet her you will know what I mean. She’s a voice that echos louder than most in the recesses of my readerly mind. She made me snort-laugh unattractively. She made me cry inconsolably. She made me want to shake her but then hug her at the same time. She made me think. She seeks answers and her journey to find them is one you don’t want to miss as she really has to confront some tough things in her past and present. I could go on and on about Mim and her growth and how much of an amazing heroine she is but the takeaway here is….THERE WILL BE ANOTHER VOICE LIKE MIM. She’s an anomaly (but, like, not written in that annoying way in which the author is like LOOK AT MY CHARACTER ISN’T SHE SO QUIRKY AND DIFFERENT). She’s Mim through and through.

3. The writing: There was something so hypnotizing with David Arnold’s writing. The way this story was told was just so VIBRANT. I don’t know how to explain it other than that. It was dream-like. Surreal. Half the time I was like “IS THIS REALLY HAPPENING?” or is it one beautifully constructed hallucination?? Or maybe it’s a movie reel in my mind?? It was just He spins some sentences and some thoughts that just make you pause before moving on. I dog-earred the crap out of this book for many reasons — profundity, humor, a certain turn of phrase that delighted the cockles of my heart, a heart-warming moment, etc. I also love how the story is revealed with the trip narration and then with letters to Iz. We get slivers of the past that has brought her here mixed with this surreal road trip. Also? How David Arnold explored mental illness in a powerful way. I don’t want to say too much on it because I want people to experience it purely how I did.

4. The cast of characters she meets along the way: There were sooo many excellent characters she crosses paths with who change her and help her along her journey. Every character she crosses paths with come to life so vibrantly in a way that is just SO impressive.

 

a6RATING-loved-it

factors+ plot, characters, writing, uniqueness, themes
Nothing really.

Re-readability: Yes!
Would I buy a copy for my collection? Yes!

a5contemporary YA fans looking for something a little different, people who like offbeat indie movies like I do (seriously, it’s so cinematic and I kept picturing it shot like some of my favorite indie flicks), readers who like a wild road trip,

a8Mosquitoland was just delightfully offbeat in the most charming of ways. Mim is a heroine which no adjectives can quite pin down the essence of Mim. She will test your patience but you cannot help rooting for her on her journey. And the writing?! It made me up my dog-earring game! Gut-bustingly funny at times, punches you in the gut at other times. David Arnold is a brilliant author who DEFINITELY brought out the big guns with his refreshing and vibrant debut. What next, David, WHAT NEXT? I cannot wait to see what else he can do.

review-on-post-itMosquitoland by David Arnold

 

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

A Walk Down Memory Lane: The Joy Of A Good Album

Sometimes I get nostalgic so I take A Walk Down Memory Lane — check out previous posts!

So I’m in the process of getting all the crap out of my old room in the house I lived from 8th grade until I got married and one of the most daunting parts of that is figuring out what to do with all my cds (SERIOUSLY WHAT DO I DO WITH THEM ALL?). I have hundreds and hundreds of cds from my childhood through college and I was getting all sorts of nostalgic.

I was thinking about how I haven’t bought a new cd (aside from 1989) in YEARS. I buy off Itunes and I pay for Spotify monthly. Listen, I love these things. Like Spotify? My love for it knows NO BOUNDS. But sorting through my cds made me kind of miss cds in a way but also think about my listening habits.

I mean, here’s the thing. I am obsessed with Spotify. I have playlists upon playlists. I love having access to ANY SONG I WANT AND NOT HAVE TO HAVE A BAJILLION CDS EVERYWHERE. I love not having to buy an album if I don’t want to. Because, let’s be real, back in the day before I could preview songs on the internet, the worst thing in the world was to hear a new song and rush out to buy the album only to hate EVERY OTHER SONG on the album.

But on the other hand? I’m feeling overwhelmed by ALL THE OPTIONS. I’m finding myself having SO much music that I just feel like I can’t even keep track of EVERYTHING I like/get to all those artists/songs I like (kind of similar to my too many book choices thoughts?). I have SO MUCH MUSIC that I can’t even decide what to listen to half the time.

The biggest thing I’ve realized? While I obviously do still listen to albums all the way through, I’m listening to playlists I’ve made A LOT of the time. Picking and choosing songs from various albums. (Sure, I used to make mixtapes/cds a lot but the majority of what I listened to an album all the way through.)

AND THAT’S WONDERFUL. IT IS A WONDERFUL WORLD IN WHICH I CAN LISTEN TO JUST THE SONGS I LOVE. LISTEN TO WHATEVER I WANT. WHATEVER MY MOOD DICTATES. ALWAYS. ON THE GO.

But? (You knew there was a but…)

There is nothing like a well crafted album. I mean, the art is in the start to finish. Not in one or two, ready for radio hits. But it tells a story from beginning to end. It’s complete. Those albums, that even your least favorite song, is pretty great. Putting together an album is a craft. It’s an experience. I can think of so many full albums that I probably know EVERY word to every song. THERE IS JUST SOMETHING ABOUT THAT. And sure, not every album is like that. AT ALL. But today I’m so used to just giving the album a quick preview and picking my favorite songs out and never giving the album another thought or a second listen.  With cds, I mean sure I could skip songs I didn’t like, but most of the time I popped the album in and listened. And SOMETIMES songs would grow on me or I’d see them in a different light after a second or third listen. It was just a full listening experience.

And I’m not even talking about just the LISTENING part of the experience. But oh my god I miss the liner notes. Just ripping open that cd (UGH cd packaging was the most pain in the ass thing though) and pouring over that booklet — looking at the lyrics, any pictures and any other sort of thing included.

I REALIZE THESE MUSINGS SOUND CRAZY. I mean, it’s not even like cds are totally a thing of the past but I’m looking at my own life and ALL my music listening is done through my computer or my phone AND IT IS MAKING ME NOSTALGIC (even though I’m thankful I don’t have to have a bajillion cds to store and I can listen to whatever I want).  And I KNOW I can listen to full albums easily. It’s just…in this pick and choose digital world, I don’t always. And sometimes I feel like less people care about the ART of making an album because of the way listening habits are evolving.

And today’s vagrant musings are brought to you by the letter N (for nostalgia because I’m sippin’ heavy on it lately) and the glass of wine I just consumed. Let’s not even talk about how I just cried my way listening to some music that reminded me of certain college nights with friends. GET AWAY FROM ME, NOSTALGIA.

A Little Chat With David Arnold + A Giveaway of Mosquitoland

You guys! YOU GUYS! I’m so, so super excited for David Arnold to be on my blog today. WHY might you ask? Because David Arnold is awesome and I loved his debut novel, Mosquitoland, which is out TODAY (I’ll be talking about it later this week!!). It was delightfully unique and Mim is somebody you NEED to meet. Also? He’s just really a cool dude who has EXCELLENT taste in music and other things.

I’m so happy to have him here chatting about Mim, music, road trips and mental illness in fiction. I loved all his answers and had SO MUCH FUN with this one! Check out for info about Mosquitoland and David after the interview!

 

Mosquitoland David Arnold interview

 

1. Describe Mosquitoland in 5 words or less.

Home.

2. One thing I really loved was the vibrant cast of characters Mim meets on her trip — no matter how brief their encounter. If you wrote a spin-off novel from the perspective of any other character, who would it be and why?

I actually wrote a novella from Walt’s point of view. It follows him from Chicago right up to the moment he meets Mim under the bridge. I’m still revising it, and at this point, there are no plans for publication. But I’d love to get it out there one day.

(My response to that: OMG YES PLEASE).

 



3. I ADORE MIM SO MUCH. If Mim and I were to be friends and had a girl’s day to 1) visit the bookstore, 2) the record shop and 3) rent a movie, tell me a book or two she’d point out as favorites, the record she’d make me buy because she loves it and the movie she’d pick because she’s been dying to see it!

 

THANK YOU! And wow, this is a fun one. I’m going to go ahead and negate the ones she mentions in the book, because that would just be lazy. So… being that Mim is a self-diagnosed anomaly, I feel like she might be the kind of person to point out a couple books on opposite ends of the spectrum. So let’s say Vonnegut’s Breakfast of Champions and Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. For the movie, let’s pretend like it’s June already, and Jurassic World is out, because GAH. As for records, I think she would be the girl walking out of the store with a stack under her arms, but if she only recommends one, it would most likely be… Pet Sounds by The Beach Boys.

 



4. I’m always a sucker for a road trip novel so I was eager to go on this journey with Mim. Tell us your favorite road trip memory + a song that is a MUST on any road trip playlist.

 

Well, I did take a trip on a Greyhound as research for this book, but that is FAR from my favorite road trip memory. I think I’d have to pick the trip I took with my wife and son a couple years ago. He was 18 months at the time, but a good traveler. We drove from Nashville to D.C., then to Boston, then up to Maine for a family wedding. It was so fun! And I’m going to pick two songs for this road trip, a good pick-me-up song, and a good stare-out-the-window-at-the-passing-trees-and-contemplate-life song: Kids by MGMT, and Shelter From the Storm by Bob Dylan.

 



5. Mental illness is a big part of Mosquitoland. It’s such a complex topic to delve into and to really “get right”. What was your approach to handling it in Mosquitoland?

 

I never sat down to write a book about mental illness, but once I really dove into Mim’s character—specifically her relationship with her parents—it became evident that this was part of her story. Mental illness can manifest itself in a number of different ways, so I felt it was important to make sure Mim’s experience was plausible, and her responses were realistic. In addition to quite a bit of research on the front end, I recruited the help of three top-notch professionals: a clinical psychologist, a licensed clinical social worker, and a licensed social worker who specializes in mental health. All three of them read the manuscript and offered valuable insight. You’re absolutely correct in noting the importance of getting it right—I did everything I could to do this, and only hope it was enough.

 

6. If Mosquitoland were a movie and you got to be in charge of the music/soundtrack, tell me which 5 songs would definitely make an appearance in Mosquitoland: The Movie. (I’d love to know any particular scenes matched up with songs if they aren’t on the spoiler side!)

 

Oh man. Best question ever. Um. Okay. I actually made a chapter-by-chapter playlist. But in an effort not to overwhelm/bore everyone, I’ll only pick five: opening scene would be Don’t Think I’m Ever Gonna Figure It Out by Elliott Smith, which would then fade into David Byrne’s Glass, Concrete and Stone. The scene where Mim, Beck, and Walt are all getting burgers in the drive through, I would use something like Extraordinary Machine by Fiona Apple. And then in Chapter 28, I actually wrote that they’re listening to a song on the radio about an undertaker, which is Undertaker by M. Ward. And then without spoilers, I always imagined the ending being cut together to either Blood by The Middle East, or Transatlanticism by Death Cab for Cutie. (Know what’s better than five good songs? Six. Boom. You’re welcome.)

 

Thank you so much for indulging me, David!! You are even more awesome in my book for the fact you made a chapter by chapter playlist…but this actually doesn’t surprise me. And omg CHILLS right now thinking about the ending with EITHER of those songs. I will be the first to petition for you to be in charge of music for Mosquitoland should it ever become a film (I can really really see it as an awesome indie flick with kickass music).

If you haven’t heard of Mosquitoland, check it out:

 

Mosquitoland David Arnold After the sudden collapse of her family, Mim Malone is dragged from her home in northern Ohio to the “wastelands” of Mississippi, where she lives in a medicated milieu with her dad and new stepmom. Before the dust has a chance to settle, she learns her mother is sick back in Cleveland.
So she ditches her new life and hops aboard a northbound Greyhound bus to her real home and her real mother, meeting a quirky cast of fellow travelers along the way. But when her thousand-mile journey takes a few turns she could never see coming, Mim must confront her own demons, redefining her notions of love, loyalty, and what it means to be sane.
Told in an unforgettable, kaleidoscopic voice, “Mosquitoland” is a modern American odyssey, as hilarious as it is heartbreaking.

 

David Arnold is a stay-at-home dad who wrote Mosquitoland while his son napped and watched Sesame Street. This is his first novel. The family lives in Lexington, KY and readers can find David Arnold online on Twitter @roofbeam and visit him at www.davidarnoldbooks.com.

Check it out on: Goodreads // Amazon

GIVEAWAY

And because I really enjoyed this book I really want to give away a copy to one of my lovely readers! So let’s do that:

Mosquitoland David Arnold

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

*US ONLY.
* Ends 3/10

February 2015 Rewind – Music Recs, Inspiring Posts & More!

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Processed with VSCOcam with s2 presetBook + Chocolate Torte Cake

Follow me on Instagram to see more images from my month

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1. Went to Apollycon: Had such a fun time at Apollycon in Philly to celebrate the release of Jennifer Armentrout’s newest release with 20+ other authors. Was so nice to hang with friends and chat with authors I love!

2. Will and I celebrated Valentine’s Day with pizza and chocolate cake — That’s how we roll. We were going to go out for dinner and then it was snowy/icy so we decided to just ditch those plans. Plus restaurants are more annoying on Valentine’s Day.

3. We took our older niece and nephews for lunch & bowling: This was our belated Christmas present to them — a day to just do something fun without the little ones. We had such a fun time and it was nice to spend some quality time with them. Will kicked our butts in bowling.

4. Changed my hair up a little bit- I get so BLAH in the winter and I just wanted a little something different so I changed my hair color up from the typical reddish color I do to something more purpley-red. It’s fun and made me happy.

5. I’ve been in a weird reading/blogging space: I’m simply not reading as much as I usually do so far this year. I’m just trying to ride it out and do what I feel like. I think it’s related to blogging to be honest. Feeling like I have to PROVE/GIVE REASONS why I liked or did not like a book. Sometimes I just do or do not. It’s just hard to feel like I have to put my critical hat on every time I read something. That’s not who I am as a reader which is why I said I’m no longer a book reviewer. But, even with declaring that, I still feel self conscious because of what other people still expect this place to be because I’m a book blogger. I’m not a reader who picks apart things. I read and I talk about what I liked/disliked, how it made me feel, what it made me think about, etc. I don’t want to be a book reviewer. I just want to talk about books. However I feel like. Focusing on what IIIII want to about the book. *repeats to self, ignores all the other crap*

 

mr3

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

1. Falling Short — Lapsley


2. Dangerous — Big Data (ft. Joywave)


3. Strange Enough — VERITE


4. What Kind of Man — Florence + the Machine

5. Show Me Emotion — The Dunwells

6. Under Stars — AURORA

 HONORABLE MENTIONS:

Can’t See the Light by Reuben and the Dark, Lifted Up by Passion Pit, Shots by Imagine Dragons, Reconfiguration by Other Lives

Check out the rest of my February playlist

 

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Again, this month I only read 6 books so I’m just going to give my top book of February!

Mosquitoland David Arnold

 Mosquitoland by David Arnold — My review will happen this week but this book is so unlike anything I’ve ever read.

 mr5

A Court of Thorns & roses

 My Save the Date for Sarah J. Maas’s ACOTAR. I know it’s a most anticipated book so I wasn’t surprised at all! WORTHY OF THE ANTICIPATION! :)

 

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” Forgiveness is tricky, Alexis, because in the end it’s more about you than it’s about the person who’s being forgiven” ” — The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand

I thought A LOT about this sentence and forgiveness after reading this.

 

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1. Ten Fantasy Novels This Newb Needs To ReadI loved all your recs and input! Your love for fantasy books makes me even more excited to be into this genre!

2. My favorite things when it comes to romance in books: THIS WAS SO FUN. So many LoVe fans. I knew you were my people!

3. On second chances: This is one of my favorite discussions I’ve had in a while SOLELY for the fact that I loved all your thoughtful responses and how varied they were!

4. I Recognize The Insanity, I DO!: Another session of bookworm therapy where bookworms enable bookworms. LOVED IT.

5. Ten Bookish Problems In My Life: This was so fun! We bookworms sure do have some “problems”! Lack of shelf space seems to be a big one!!

 

mr12ANY of my book talks! I was so excited to talk about some of these books!

 

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STILLL NADA. Womp womp. Youtube is so much harder for me because I need good lighting and to look decent and for Will not to be here making noise. Never can find a good time these days!

 

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1. Does Your Opinion Need To Be Heard?In an online world full of hot takes on the latest issues, I do not want to live my life constantly in a reactionary status”  SO MUCH THIS. I am always so cautious in my online life to think before I spout my opinion on something that has happened — whether in the community or a current event. It’s easy to see something online, feel your blood boil and tweet out an angry 140 character rant before you’ve had the time to do your research/take a breather and ask yourself what you are trying to accomplish/wonder if your opinion could be more helpful if you step back and wait for you emotions to settle. I’ve seen the knee-jerk emotional reactions in full force (I’m not judging) and I’ve just always known that reaction isn’t for me which is why I stay silent on a lot of things when the bullets are flying so to speak. Not because I don’t care or HAVE an opinion but because I carefully weigh how I want to present my opinion, if it’s something that ACTUALLY needs to be said, if I have the time/energy to facilitate a discussion about that opinion, what I hope to accomplish by saying it (is it to start a dialogue or to slam something I don’t like?) etc. I have opinions but I’m not sure every single one of them needs to be heard. (And I’m sure others feel differently and that’s okay!)

2. A Reverse To-Do List: I’ve unintentionally done this when it comes to blogging. I started saying no to a lot of things when I realized how unhappy it was making me to do TOO much. It feels bad saying no sometimes but it is empowering and Jess’s post really explains this well!

3. The Awesome Power of Tiny Triumphs: “That’s the thing with forward progress. It’s made up of lots of small steps, and we have to take an awful lot of them on our own, in the dark and away from the fanfare, before we can get to those big moments that really do merit recognition and applause.”  LOVED & desperately needed this post for the reminder that the tiny triumphs are important to remember!

4. Why Am I Not Doing The One Thing I Want to Do?:  It’s funny because I always have these couple things that remain on my to-do list daily and I never seem to do. Soooo this was very relevant!!

5. Five Surprising Things You Learn As A Female Solo Traveler: Interesting post! I’m a woman that truthfully has had to work A LOT to be okay with doing things alone (it’s so hard for me) and become more independent. Hell, I could cry thinking about eating at a restaurant alone. But I work on it and I’ve gotten out of my comfort zone A LOT in the past 5 years…especially BECAUSE of this blog.

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1. Better Call Saul on AMCWill and I were huge fans of Breaking Bad and Saul was one of my faaaavorite characters so I’ve been excited every since I heard about this show! I AM SO OBSESSED ALREADY. The actor who plays Saul is brilliant and it is bringing even more depth and to a character I didn’t think I could love more. Learning about Saul BEFORE Breaking Bad? AMAZING. This whole new Saul we are seeing!!
2. Fresh Off the Boat- Will and I don’t watch a lot of comedies but we watched this one and it gets me rolling!
3. My “College Jamie’s Favorites” playlist: I’ve been having some major nostalgia issues lately. So I’ve been putting this playlist on and it just seems to transport me. And also I remember how much awesome music I loved back then. SOME OF MY FAVORITE ALBUMS I HAVEN’T LISTENED TO IN A WHILE.

 

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1. Gayle Forman!!: I’m going to get to see Gayle Forman twice in one month and THAT IS EXCITING. She’s coming to a bookstore in Princeton and then my favorite local indie, Children’s Book World. ALL THE EXCITE. (Gotta get all this out so I can act ~normal when I see her). I’ve met/talked with her quite a few times but I CANNOT HELP FEELING EXCITED LIKE IT IS THE FIRST TIME.
2. Maybe more spring-like temperatures?: A GIRL CAN HOPE RIGHT??
3. NYC Teen Author Fest: I’m not CERTAIN that I’m going but I’d really like to go at least for a day!

 

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Who is one author you would love to chat with over a cup of coffee? Why?

(For me it’s Gayle Forman, OBVIOUSLY. Every time I talk to her I just could talk for even longer. She’s so interesting, smart and funny and always has great stories to tell (esp her travel stories) and she cares and thinks deeply about life! And maaaaybe she could tell me what Allyson and Willem are up to right now. :P )

 

 

 

lets-talk

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?

A January & February Release I Enjoyed!

I’ve got two mini reviews for you today! Just trying to get caught up — that ever so elusive achievement for me!

 

Conspiracy of Us by Maggie Hall

 

The Conspiracy of Us by Maggie Hall

Amazon // Goodreads
Published: January 2015
Received a copy for review from the publisher. This is no way influenced the opinions shared.

What It Is About In A Few Sentences: One day Avery think she is a semi-normal teenager and the next she’s being whisked away to Paris and told she has a secret, powerful family who has had a hand in a lot of the world’s history. And then she finds out that she might just be part of the key to decoding an ancient prophecy that has alluded people which makes her a pawn for the people who want to use her to figure out this mystery and also those who want her dead because of the power she could hold.

This one was fun and had me racing through the pages as the stakes kept getting higher and the conspiracies kept getting more layered. I’d heard it described as a YA DaVinci Code (also reminded me of National Treasure) and I can see that totally! You’ve got to suspend some disbelief obviously and forgive Avery for things, as a reader, you see pretty clearly (I totally guessed some things or called bad decisions) but it didn’t detract from my experience. I loved getting to know this dangerous and powerful family that Avery discovers that she has and seeing how lavish their lifestyle is and the secret hand they have in a lot of the world’s history (so much historical goodness). It was exciting and truly mysterious as danger seemed to lurk at every corner and plots to use Avery were a plenty. The only things I didn’t love: the romance (I don’t really feel it in any REAL way) and also I just struggled with the characterization not being as strong as I typically like. I will be continuing on with this series because I love a good, fast paced conspiracy thriller and I’m so interested in decoding this mystery right along with them (hopefully with even more whisking away to foreign countries)! Super entertaining!

RATING

RATING-LIKED

 

 

My Heart & Other Black Holes

My Heart and Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga

Amazon// Goodreads
Published: February 10, 2015
I received a copy of this book for review from the publisher. This is no way influenced the opinions shared.

What It Is About In A Few Sentences: The main character has spent much of her life plotting her suicide because she doesn’t want to end up like her father — a man who committed a violent crime that has made her a pariah amongst her peers. She realizes that she won’t carry it out on her own so she finds a website that helps you find a suicide partner which leads her to Roman — a boy so haunted by a tragedy in his family.

I named this as one of my favorite 2015 books I read in 2014 so you may have already seen how much I loved this one! This one was heavy and super emotional but also so full of life and hope despite the sadness crying out from the pages. Reading it made me feel the weight of all the books I own (a lot) on my chest. The two main characters both have some awful things that have happened to them and they feel the burden is just too much and that transferred on to me as a reader.  It’s so hard to read as they plot their mutual suicide and, as the countdown until the day it is supposed to happen, you just so desperately want them to find that one shred of hope to turn back from the plan especially as they start to truly form a bond. Warga deftly explores depression and suicide in a way that just haunts you. I really loved Aysel’s voice — it was just so REAL and honest and her personality was just so vibrant even amongst all the darkness she felt. *kind of spoilery* I was nervous when this book started going into romance territory because I was like “NO. THIS IS SO GOOD PLEASE DON’T SCREW THIS UP” but I thought Warga handled it pretty delicately and realistically and rather than handing us this “LOVE CURES ALL” story I think it was more that Roman became this mirror to which Aysel suddenly could see herself more clearly. Would I honestly have preferred it just to be a friendship? Yep. As a personal thing I think it could have shown it just as clearly how important their connection was in how it sparked some more life-affirming thoughts within them. *end spoiler* Hauntingly beautiful this one was and I dog-earred so many pages because, man, Jasmine Warga can write!

RATING

RATING-loved-it

 

 

 

Have you read either of these? I’d love to know what YOU thought!! If you haven’t read them, do you think they are something you are interested in?

I Recognize The Insanity…I Do.

There’s this thing that I do. I’m sure you do it too.

(Please tell me it’s not just me).

I go on and on about how I have SO many books that I’m running out of space. I’ve got review copies. Older books I’ve never ever read. New books I’ve acquired. ALL BOOKS I AM EXCITED ABOUT. Basically, I’ve got A LOT of books. More books than I can read in this life time. (And it’s not like I’m going to ever stop acquiring them).

So what do I do?

WHAT PERFECTLY NORMAL BOOKWORMS DO. (right right right?) I immediately get into my car and GO TO THE LIBRARY instead of picking up one of the books here.

Will doesn’t get it when I come home with library books. He’s all, “BUT YOU HAVE SO MANY BOOKS HERE TO READ. WHY DO YOU NEED TO GO GET SOME MORE?”

And I’m all:

+ I couldn’t find anything I was in the mood for on my shelves. (Him: OUT OF ALL THESE BOOKS…NOT ONE??)
+ There is no such thing as too many books. (Him: Yes. There is. You are Exhibit A).
+ THE LIBRARY IS MY HAPPY PLACE. (Him: ………..)
+ I RECOGNIZE THE INSANITY, OKAY, AND I AM FINE WITH IT. (Him: As long as you recognize it).

I do this with my closet too. I am out of hangers and really have no room for more clothes but I can stand there in my closet for 20 minutes and lament the lack of clothing options. Apparently it’s the same with the bookshelves. I can have a bajillion options (too many it feels like sometimes) but sometimes I still just like coming home with a stack of library books.

As I’m writing this, I just in fact came back from the library (I got Daughter of Smoke & Bone and Finnikin of the Rock in case you were curious). When I arrived home, there were TWO packages of books at my door. On my way to my bookshelves I tripped over a book. I stand in front of my bookshelves and immediately feel the guilt and the judging stares coming from them (and my piles…let’s be real..it’s Hoarders up in here).

It doesn’t really make sense why I went to the library and got more books….but I accept that it doesn’t make sense.

Let’s Talk

AM I THE ONLY ONE?? Can anyone make sense of my need to do this even though I have hundreds and hundreds of perfectly good books I’m excited about here??

Ten Of My Favorite Heroines Outside of Contemporary YA

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

This week’s topic: Top Ten Favorite Heroines

This was a Top Ten Tuesday topic back in 2012 and in 2010 so everything I pick is from books I’ve read after that post in 2012.

I read a lot of contemporary and could have really gone on and on about my favorite heroines but I figured I’d tell you some of my favorite outside of that genre  (fantasy, paranormal, sci-fi, dystopian etc.)

best YA heroines

Celaena from Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas: YOU GUYS. I love Celaena so much. She is so badass and her arc in the first 3 books is AWESOME. Plus I just love her personality!

Feyre from Sarah J. Maas’s A Court Of Thorns and Roses: Okay I KNOW THIS ISN’T OUT YET but I, in good conscience, NOT put Feyre on this list after book 1 of Sarah’s new series. Like she isn’t the kind of badass you are used to seeing. She doesn’t have special powers or badass assassin skills but life has dealt her a rough hand and she has learned to be TOUGH and smart and resourceful. I LOVE HER SO MUCH.

Clara from Cynthia Hand’s Unearthly series: MAN, Clara goes through a lot in this series and I was just so attached to her.

Kestrel from Marie Rutkoski’s The Winner’s Curse trilogy: OH MAN. Kestrel grows and learns a lot and I love that. She was realistically flawed and I LOVED THAT. I cannot wait to see what book 3 holds for her. I just love her so much!
Cinder from Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles series: I still need to read Cress but from Cinder & Scarlet….Cinder is one of my MOST favorite heroines ever.

Eleanor from Susan Dennard’s Something Strange & Deadly trilogy: I haven’t read the final book yet but my heart just hurts for Eleanor a lot. The things revealed and that she goes through…she’s not afraid to make the hard choices. Plus I love her attitude!

Adelina from Marie Lu’s The Young Elites series: Adelina is NOT your typical heroine. She’s kind of a villain/kind of a hero and I love how complicated her personality is. She doesn’t always make me happy but I FEEL HER. I DO. I just can’t ever get her out of my head.

Aria from Veronica Rossi’s Under the Never Sky series: I AM SO SAD THIS TRILOGY IS OVER. Aria grew so much in her journey and I just have such a place for her in my heart.

Lynn from Mindy McGinnis’s Not A Drop To Drink: What a smart girl and I couldn’t even imagine being in her situation! The strength she had just really impressed me and I wish more people would meet her!!
 

So tell me…who are some of your favorite heroines that I need to meet outside of my usual contemporary reading??

Book Talk: The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand

Book Talk: The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia HandThe Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand
Publisher/Year: HarperTeen- February 10, 2015
Genres: Contemporary YA
Format: ARC
Source: For Review
Other Books From Author: The Unearthly series
AmazonGoodreads

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”

 

A1

The last time Lex can remember being happy is before her brother killed himself. Now she’s haunted by ghosts that keep her from moving forward — the ghost of her brother, of the guilt and of the life she had before everything happened (like a family that wasn’t broken, a boyfriend, friends). While the grief is shared, she alone carries the burden of knowing about a text Tyler sent that night that could have made everything different.

a2*weeps*

a4

Oh man, you guys. Recently it seems I’ve been reading a lot of books about suicide or the grief experienced from losing a loved one from suicide. My heart, I think, was beginning to look like Swiss cheese and Cynthia Hand just obliterated whatever was left of it with The Last Time We Say Goodbye.  I really super loved her Unearthly series for MANY reasons (seriously that series is AH-MAZING if you dig paranormal) but I loved how skilled Cynthia was in writing some of the heavier stuff in that series and the way, as a reader, she made me feel it. Some of the most moving parts of that series, for me, were her exploration of loss and grief. So I KNEW she was going to make my heart take a beating if she wrote a whole book exploring that. AND SHE DID. OH SHE DID — so poignantly and heartachingly well.

It’s hard to talk too objectively about this book because I feel it TOO MUCH. The way Cynthia Hand wrote Lex’s grief makes me get a lump in my throat just thinking about it. I read A LOT of grief books (for reasons) and this is just so authentic in the way it portrays it not only through Lex but her family. If I hadn’t already known that, in fact, Hand HAS lost someone (her brother) I would have been sitting here just KNOWING that she had because there’s just this intangible quality about the way she writes grief that I just don’t think a person who hasn’t experienced grief and loss truly can do.  Lex’s brand of grief felt a lot like my own after I lost my mom — especially the shutting people out. There were just these little nuances and small moments that Hand just gets right. So right that it hurts. Also, THAT GUILT SHE HAS SURROUNDING THAT NIGHT? A friend of mine had almost the same exact thing happen when a mutual friend of ours committed suicide and I know how intrusive that guilt was.

I loved that we meet Lex months after everything happens. It’s the time, I think, in my own grieving experience where I felt the worst. The house is more quiet because less people are coming over. The phone rings less. You are forced to be alone with your thoughts more because the distractions of death (the logistics, the funeral, the social calls, etc. etc.) are gone and the world expects you to get back into your normal routines and habits….except…you know..like with this person-shaped hole missing from your life. Hand captures that weird limbo where the “formal” grieving happens and the “back to real life” happens SO PERFECTLY. You are still thinking and feeling it so deeply but with that “I AM PRETENDING TO BE FINE” mask on and trying to pretend to give a crap about Normal Life Things/also really caring about those things.

I know I’m focusing on the grief aspect of this book but it’s what made this an excellent read for me because of how intricate Hand made it! I will say the romance is SO WELL DONE. It was sweet and realistic and I LOVED IT SO MUCH. To be honest, I really did love a lot of the relationship explored and how your grief impacts those and changes the dynamic — from friends who mean well but can’t totally understand to the guilt-ridden parents who feel just as wrecked as you do. I think Hand did a great job showing those relationships and how they fracture and change with the weight of grief but mean so much.

a6RATING-loved-it

factors+ writing, portrayal of grief, EMOTIONS
just a TAD slow at points

Re-readability: MAYBE. It’s heavy, so I’d really need to be in a mood to tear my heart out.
Would I buy a copy for my collection? Yes!

a5fans of Cynthia Hand’s Unearthly series that enjoy contemporary, readers looking for books that deal with loss and grief, readers that want to cry or have their heart torn out, readers who can handle a heavy topic such as suicide, fans of quieter novels

a8I really enjoyed Cynthia Hand’s foray into contemporary YA! It was a HARD book to read. I mean, a clear-your-reading-schedule-because-your-heart-needs-time-to-repair-itself kind of read. It may have been a quieter novel in terms of plot but the way Hand explores loss/grief/guilt/suicide/relationships impacted is just LOUD LOUD LOUD in your heart.

review-on-post-it

The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand

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?
Also, have you read her Unearthly series?? If not, GET ON THAT. I’m not even a paranormal gal and I loved it so much!

 

 


The Perpetual Page-Turner

Series Send Off: The Jessica Darling series by Megan McCafferty

Check out past Series Send Off posts in which I finish the last book in a series & chat about it plus introduce new readers to the series with my general & non-spoilery thoughts about the series as a whole!

I just finished the 4th & 5th books of the Jessica Darling series FINALLY…seriously I read the first 3 forever ago. I just didn’t want to let go (plus I get distracted by ALL THE BOOKS). So, as per the usual format, I’ll talk about the series as a whole for those who aren’t familiar and then give my thoughts on books 4 &5 as I say goodbye to this series.

jessica-darling-seriesmm

Upon finishing the series I say to all of you who haven’t started the series:

READ IT. It’s one of my ALL TIME FAVES. There is just nothing like it out there. THEY WERE JUST PERFECT FOR ME. There’s just something about following Jessica from high school through adulthood — she voices the struggles, triumphs and confusion of adolescence and that transition into adulthood SO WELL. Everything is so raw and real and the characters feel like real human beings that make mistakes and have flaws. REAL. That’s the only way I can think to describe this series. Also, HELLA funny. Jessica’s inner monologue slays me every time. Her voice is UNPARALLELED.

 

 

What The Series Is About:

The Jessica Darling series follows the charming (and sometimes not so charming) Jessica from high school through adulthood as she chronicles all those life-changing moments with SERIOUSLY razor sharp wit. From falling in love (and out of it), to going to college, to trying to pay your rent as a broke twenty-something, Jessica’s voice just captures perfectly the highs and lows in the journey to and through adulthood in a way that is just so realistic and in a way that is easy to relate to. She puts the difficulties of growing up into words that will make you laugh, reflect and nod along with her. Seriously, she goes through it all!!

 

 

Recommended For People Who Love:

Series that span YEARS (ie from high school into adulthood), contemporary YA (this is a classic!!), hilarious and brutally honest MCs, epic romances

 

 

Thoughts On Fourth Comings & Perfect Fifths
(Skip below to the next section if you haven’t read the series yet!)

 

jessica-darling-series

MAN, Megan McCafferty just captures that awkward “I’m an adult but I don’t feel like an adult” feeling SO WELL in Fourth Comings. I felt like I kept nodding my head like YES IT IS SO HARD TO BE A TWENTYSOMETHING OUT OF COLLEGE. Why do I feel like I’m a fake adult?? Why is it so hard to get all the things you thought you’d have by this point??  The job, the glamorous life, the feeling that you are doing what you are supposed to be doing, a romantic relationship that just feels right, etc.

Fourth Comings, man. I thought my heart was going to break with Jessica and Marcus. I mean, there love story has been up and down and I was so happy they were finally back together….and now Jessica is questioning it?? And then he asks her to marry him??? MY HEART WAS NOT OKAY. But I got it? I did. They were in different places in life. How she talks about that made so much sense to me even though I was like NO NO NO. Basically when it came to their romance, this book DESTROYED MY HEART. Like tore into two. But as I watched her try to figure out her answer to him…I realized I admired how honest she was about the whole thing. She loved him BUT. Love is so tricky and I just think sometimes we want something to work out so much because you love someone but it’s not REALLY working yet it hurts so much to let it go. So, even though I was like NO NO NO NO you need to be together..I really understood. She had to be honest about what she wanted for her life. Where she saw it going. Was her love strong enough for him to give up what she wanted? We see a wiser and more honest (in a more self-aware way) Jessica in this one. And it hurt, but it was TRUE. She really saw the whole picture.  GOD I COULD JUST CRY THINKING ABOUT THIS BOOK!

Perfect Fifths — I was not ready for this one. As I started I was immediately like WAIT WHAT IS THIS THIRD PERSON NARRATION??? I wasn’t sure how I felt about it but it was perfect as I read on. I loved getting this complete story with her AND Marcus’s thoughts. Jessica and Marcus and their chance meeting after years of not speaking?? That nostalgic, awkward FEELING it is to be in the presence of the one you loved once? MY HEART. BE STILL. It was definitely a slower conclusion that revolves around their conversation as they meet and a lot of jumping back in time but I enjoyed every minute of it. Every minute of kind of re-living their epic love story that spans all these years (god, I’m reminded of Veronica and Logan here from VMars). There were points where I wanted MORE from this book in terms of fleshing out the adult Jessica and Marcus since they last time we saw them. I felt kind of distanced from their lives. But ultimately, I really loved this conclusion as a fan of this series. It wasn’t necessarily AND THEY LIVED HAPPILY EVER AFTER which I kiiiind of wanted for the sake of all that they have put my heart through but I just felt like it was SO fitting for their love story. My love for Jessica and especially Marcus grew even stronger in this book. I just cried as I read the last words because this series was EPIC. I wasn’t okay with it being over because I felt just so attached to them.

 

 

Rating Broken Down By Books
(Links to individual reviews)
:

Sloppy Firsts: 5 STARS!!
Second
Helpings: 5 STARS!!
Charmed Thirds: 4.5 stars
Fourth Comings: 5 STARS!!
Perfect Fifths: A solid 4 stars!

 

 

Farewell Jessica Darling! Growing up with you was a pleasure. I feel like YOU GOT ME and I can’t tell you how many times I nodded like YES YES YES  or THAT’S SO ME or YOU ARE PUTTING WORDS TO SOMETHING I CANNOT DESCRIBE. We would have been bffs if you were a real person. Your honesty and reflection was refreshing and I know I will never meet anyone like you again. Thanks for the major LOLS, the tears and for being you. YOU. YES. YOU. (forever).  (Seriously, I’m really emotional right now because this series is EVERYTHING).  WHY WHY WHY is it over????

 

What did you think of the conclusion to this series if you’ve read it?? What did you think of the series overall?? If you haven’t read it, have I piqued your interest?

The Duff: A Giveaway!

TheDuff-Banner

One of my favorite things in the world are all the 90’s and early 2000 teen rom-coms. 10 Things I Hate About You, Clueless, She’s The Man, Mean Girls, Bring It On, She’s All That, Can’t Hardly Wait, Never Been Kissed — I could go on! I feel like I haven’t found as many more modern teen rom-coms that I love like those and so I AM SOOOO excited for The Duff because it looks like it has all the makings for a great teen rom-com! I haven’t READ The Duff by Kody Keplinger (plan to!) but I enjoyed one of her other books! PLUS I super super love Mae Whitman from her role in Parenthood and just her as a person in general (one of the few celebs I follow on Twitter) so I have high hopes! It looks funny and super cute (even WILL wants to see it!!) so I’m excited though I cannot think of Mae Whitman as a “duff” because she IS SO NOT.

 

TheDuff-Graphic1

 

 

If you don’t know what it is about or haven’t seen the trailer here’s what it is about:

Bianca (Mae Whitman) is a content high school senior whose world is shattered when she learns the student body knows her as ‘The DUFF’ (Designated Ugly Fat Friend) to her prettier, more popular friends (Skyler Samuels & Bianca Santos). Now, despite the words of caution from her favorite teacher (Ken Jeong), she puts aside the potential distraction of her crush, Toby (Nick Eversman), and enlists Wesley (Robbie Amell), a slick but charming jock, to help reinvent herself. To save her senior year from turning into a total disaster, Bianca must find the confidence to overthrow the school’s ruthless label maker Madison (Bella Thorne) and remind everyone that no matter what people look or act like, we are all someone’s DUFF.

 

Follow on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram
Visit the Official Website
Follow TheDUFFMovie on Snapchat for exclusive chats and content debuts

 

Now for the giveaway:

One winner will receive:

TheDUFF-bookcoverTheDUFF-TShirt

  • Copy of the book (movie tie-in book cover)
  • T-Shirt
  • Mini-Poster

 

Open to US mailing addresses only.
Prizing provided by CBS Films
Ends February 27th at 11:59 EST

 

TO ENTER:

Leave a comment below telling me your favorite teen rom-com WITH an email/Twitter that I can get a hold of you if you win!

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