Hey Spring, Is That Really You? (A March 2015 Recap)

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1. Saw Gayle Forman, Libba Bray & AS King: What a FUN night! Such interesting conversation about feminism, diversity, friendship and more! They reenacted a scene in I Was Here and it was hilarious. I’m always thankful when I get to see Gayle — she’s so fantastic to talk to and just somebody you want to be bffs with basically.

10989646_10102231968658715_1372333546296726158_oWith Gayle and my pal Frankie

2. We actually got a significant snowfall amount — I was already over Winter but we really hadn’t gotten a REAL good snow. Just like tiny snowfall amounts that are more annoying than anything. Love a GOOD snowfall!

3. I was sick 3 out of 4 weeks of this month: Basically March = MISERABLE. KIDS ARE GERM MAGNETS. BOTTOM LINE. Nannying kind of sucks in that way. I’d be sick all week and then get a day or two of being healthy and then BOOOM sick again. OH and then this past weekend I was in bed because I had the worst pain of my life and thought I had appendicitis. GOOD TIMES.

4. Will and I took Genevieve out for a little date- There are so many kids in my sister’s family and we decided to take Genevieve out for a little alone time with us. We did lunch and then took her to this big indoor playground. She had a blast. Her little face was red and she was sweating a little as we dragged her out haha

5. I did a little retail therapy: I was feeling so blue all month because I was sick ALMOST EVERY WEEK so I decided to buy a cute skirt and dress! THANK GOD FOR ONLINE SHOPPING.

 

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I put all my Monthly Rewinds in a Spotify playlist so you can listen to them here now ! SERIOUSLY I think my March playlist is one of my most favorites in a while!! It’s going to be so hard for me to pick. Lots of new loves and lots of new stuff from old faves.

1. Dead – Phoebe Ryan


2. The Balance — Royal Tongues

3. Knocking On Heaven’s Door – RAIGN (I like their other stuff too but this cover is EVERYTHING. And it was on The 100 season 2 finale!!!)


4. Vamala – Champs

5. Hey Now — Matt & Kim

6. We Won’t Sleep — Handsome Ghosts

 HONORABLE MENTIONS:

So many  favorites released singles so I figured I’d just round those up down here but I listened to all these A LOT:

No Room in Frame – Death Cab For Cutie
Believe – Mumford and Sons (suuuuch a different sound for them but I LOVE!)
Crystals – Of Monsters & Men
Hollow Moon – AWOLNATION

Also, I can’t leave Busy Earnin’ by Jungle off my list! Been my jam all month!

Check out the rest of my March playlist

 

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Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta: MY QUEEN. Loved all her contemporary and SO glad to have started her fantasy trilogy.

The Start Of Me & You by Emery Lord: Emery’s sophomore novel was just as amazing as her debut!

The Orphan Queen by Jodi Meadows: Oh this fantasy was so fun! Espionage! Taking back the kingdom! Vigilante justice!

 

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Simon vs the homo sapiens agenda

I was so glad to finallyyyyy share my review of Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli. I was sitting on this review for quite a few months to wait til closer to the release date and I’m so happy so many of you loved it too or are SUPER excited about it!

 

 

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“In friendship, we are all debtors. We all owe each other for a thousand small kindnesses, for little moments of grace in the chaos.”  And then a couple of lines after: “Because with true friends, no one is keeping score. But it still feels good to repay them — even in the tiniest of increments.”  - Emery Lord’s The Start Of Me & You

These two lines are pretty much what I think about friendship in a nutshell!

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1. My Review of Two YA Monthly Subscription BoxesI’ve been curious about these and I’m glad my review was so helpful to so many of you who were also super curious!

2. Is It The Author’s Job?: Oh my goodness. This was one of my favorite discussions I’ve had with y’all in a while. Thanks for being so thoughtful and making me think!

3. Books For Readers Who Like Not-So-Easy-To-Like Characters: I had fun putting this list together and loved chatting about the topic of unlikeable characters with you!

4. Books From My Childhood/Teen Years I Want To Revisit: Oh the nostalgia!!

5. That Thing I Regret Not Having: I love doing these Beyond the Pages posts and chatting with you guys about real life things that books make me think of!

 

mr12ANY of my book talks! Always haha
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I also really had a good time writing about the joy of a good album! Music lovers, where were ya?! :) Or maybe it was just me being super nostalgic and weird and nobody could relate haha

 

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STILLL NADA. Womp womp.  I should probably leave this section off until I get my crap together.

 

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1. Even more organization awesomeness from Hannah- I’m dreadfully behind on book blog reading. Like really embarrassingly. So thankful for the Twitters for being all abuzz about Hannah’s post! Hannah is the most organized person EVER and always shares great tips and now she’s got me pining for all these things — THAT FOXY DORI!

2. The People We Don’t Get the Chance To Thank: What a beautiful post from Jess! Definitely made me start making a list of people I’d be remiss if I never got to thank!

3. Email Guidelines for the World: YASSSS. THIS.

4. Hard Is Not A Reason:  Oh man did I need this post right now! I feel like I’ve been chalking a lot of things up to being “too hard.” Needed this post to call me out!

5. Authenticity Online: If you read my Monthly Rewinds every month you know I always seem to share a post Shannon writes. Her posts are always so thought-provoking and timely and RELEVANT to me. Also really loved “What Compels Us To Share?”  and “Your Perspective Is Important At Any Age” that she wrote in March as well!

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1. SherlockOKAY OKAY. So I listed this a couple months ago when I watched the first season but like OBSESSION does not even cover it now that I’ve finished season 2 & 3 this month. I’m just basically non-stop thinking about this show (and Benedict because YEAH). WHY THE LONG WAIT?! (You can find out what else I’ve been watching lately movie/tv-wise)
2. My new skirt I bought – I’d also post a pic of the dress I bought but I’m too lazy. But yeah, this skirt is going to be a staple FOR SURE. I’ve already come up with a few outfits with it. I need it in every color ever.
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3. 2 new teas: I’m always getting new tea. Up this month is the Echinacea with elderberry from Traditional Medicinals and Trader Joe’s Rooibos & Honeybush Tea!

 

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1. Going to visit my dad for Easter: As I’ve mentioned before my dad lives 4 hours away so I don’t see him often. BUT Will and I are heading up in a couple days for the Easter weekend.
2. MAYBE FUN OUTSIDE THINGS?!: Spring so far has been COLD. Very winter-like. I’d like to ummm play outside THANKS.
3. New Mountain Goats album and a new Passion Pit album: WAHOO. Excited. Been a fan of TMG for a long time and same with Passion Pit so YAYS.

 

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So this question isn’t like my typical ones nor is it really an exciting one or too thought-provoking one BUT I’ve been wondering:

Do you like that I just tell my top THREE books I read in my Monthly Rewind or would you prefer I listed ALL the books I read each month and denote my favorite 3? I’ve always just done top but I was curious what you all found most helpful!

 

 

 

 

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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?

Ten Books I’ve Recently Added To My To-Be-Read List

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

This week’s topic: Top Ten Books I’ve Recently Added To My TBR List

If you are a frequent visitor here you know I love sharing what I’ve recently added to my book/Netflix/music queues on a monthly basis with my New to the Queue posts so when I was coming up with topics for Top Ten Tuesday over at TBTB, I thought it would be fun to see what everyone else had recently to their TBR!

 

Here are some of the books I’ve added to my TBR list (both Goodreads & my physical — I count both) lately! I’ve added a lot of upcoming releases without covers so I’m going to skip anything without a cover because it will mess up mah flow.

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Star Crossed by Elizabeth C. Bunce: I added it recently because I’ve been getting into fantasy lately (obviously) and it was on a “you may also like” for something I was looking up and it looked interesting! It’s an older series I haven’t heard much about!

Darker Shade of Magic by VE Schwab: I *thought* I had added this to my TBR at some point on Goodreads but it showed up in my OwlCrate and so now it’s OFFICIALLY on my TBR.

Fairytales for Wilde Girls by Allyse Near: One of my favorite Aussie YA bloggers loved this one so I HAD to add it. Apparently it’s all sorts of fantasy/fairytale/gothic goodness.

Rules for 50/50 Chances by Kate McGovern: This one sounds like a heart-wrenching sort of contemporary. YOU KNOW I’M ALWAYS UP FOR THAT. When the main character turns 18 she can find out if she has the gene for an illness that has been killing her mother. Learn if you are going to die or just not know? Personally it’s going to be hard because Will’s dad passed away from ALS and sometimes it IS genetic and Will could find out if he has it or he could not (at this point he’s chosen not to).
Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke by Anne Blankman: I added this because I just read Prisoner of Night and Fog, the first book in this series (I don’t know if it’s a series or a duology or a trilogy), and I need to read this one soon! If you like historical fiction set in Nazi Germany, this one is great and told from the POV of a girl who was in the inner circle of the Nazis and begins to question everything and Hitler is her old family friend — Uncle Dolph.

Hotel Ruby by Suzanne Young: Love Suzanne Young’s The Program and this one sounds so intriguing from the synopsis. I don’t know much about it because the summary seems purposefully vague but I know the Hotel Ruby is an intriguing place that isn’t what it seems.

Sophomore Year Is Greek To Me by Meredith Zeitlin: It’s no surprise I love books set abroad and this one is set in GREEEEECE. Doesn’t that cover just scream BEACH READ?! When it showed up at my doorstep recently I hadn’t heard of it but it immediately made me yearn for nicer weather PLUS it says a la Anna and the French Kiss soooo you know that’s one of my all time FAVES FOR A LONG TIME.
Written in the Stars by Aisha Saeed: This is actually going to be my next read! I accepted it for review and I’m super excited about it because I’ve only heard great things. I’m looking forward to delve into a culture I’m not really familiar with and to also learn a little more about arranged marriages which is the premise of this one.

Luck On the Line by Zoraida Cordova: SO I won a Kindle copy of this book at Eric Smith’s book release party and I was so bummed because I thought I lost the paper to redeem it. BUT ALAS..cleaning out my purse I found it and immediately redeemed it! I got to chat with Zoraida and she is awesome so I especially can’t wait to read this sexy New Adult title!
Last Year’s Mistake by Gina Ciocca: Looks like a super cute YA romance!

So tell me…what books have you added to your TBR list lately? Have you read any of these???

5 Reasons Why You Should Buy The Start Of Me & You by Emery Lord TOMORROW!

5 Reasons Why You Should Buy The Start Of Me & You by Emery Lord TOMORROW!The Start Of Me & You by Emery Lord
Publisher/Year: Bloomsbury USA Childrens- March 31, 2015
Genres: Contemporary YA
Format: ARC
Source: For Review
Other Books From Author: Open Road Summer (which I also SUPER loved)
AmazonGoodreadsTwitter

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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Paige’s boyfriend died suddenly a year ago and she’s been living her life with the title of The Girl Whose Boyfriend Drowned hanging over her. She’s shut mostly everyone else out besides her best friends and has let the event dictate her life. She finally feels ready to move forward so she doesn’t lose even more time and creates a list of things to do to make this coming school year a good one — things like get her crush to want to date her, join a club, swim & more.

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FIVE REASONS YOU SHOULD BUY THIS BOOK WHEN IT COMES OUT TOMORROW:

 

1. Emery Lord is writing some of the best realistic contemporary YA out there: Tis true! If your jam is contemporary YA, Emery Lord is where it is at. Jump on that bandwagon early because I know Emery Lord’s popularity is just going to grow more and more. I loved her debut Open Road Summer and this sophomore novel solidifies Emery Lord as one of my favorites already.

2. The girl power in this book makes my heart soar: I already wrote a post that was inspired by the friendship in this book but Imma take some more time to talk about it because it is AMAZING. The friendship between the 4 girls is one of my FAVORITES I’ve come across. Seriously, I just want to be like, “HEY GIRLS…is there room for one more in your group?” I loved how they were all so supportive of each other and their dynamic with one another was different but still important. A lot of times I find in YA that it’s always about the main character and her bff and the other girls in the group are kind of these caricatures who actually don’t seem THAT important to me. Not the case in The Start of Me & You. Each girl was so distinct and their presence in the group was felt and was important. I loved all their shared history and how they stick with each other through all the growing pains of life. If you love positive & strong female friendships, The Start of Me & You excels here! (I also loved how their group expanded to also include some males and there weren’t any dramatics with that).

3. The romance in this book will cause your heart to melt into a sticky sweet puddle of swoons: NO LIKE THE CUTEST EVER. SO SWEET IT HURTS. I promise. It was so realistic and so well done!!! I love when a romance seems unlikely but develops after they spend actual TIME together and get to know each other. I have to admit that I’m fond of the romances where the love interest starts over a friendship of sorts and is totally unexpected. It’s so like what happened between my husband and I. I actually liked a guy he was friends with, like totally had my eye set on him, but we kept spending more time together as I was trying to get close to the other dude….and well, the rest is history. I LOVE THAT STUFF and it totally appealed to me with Paige and Max. From how they bonded over small interests to how they confided REAL stuff, it just completely captivated me and I was shipping them hard. If you like cute, awkward romances….this one is aces!!

 4. NERDINESS ABOUNDS: I love books about nerds and smart people! It’s sexy, yo! Nerds showing off their nerdiness. Nerds enjoying Quiz Bowl. NERDY BANTER AND FLIRTING (um getting flirty with Pride & Prejudice chatter!! MY FAVE PART!). It was just so refreshing and their passions were so real.

5. It’s a touching and realistic story about a girl who wants to start anew and not be bound by her past: I really related to Paige’s story A LOT. She became known as The Girl Whose Boyfriend Died and that identity just became her — to others around her and even to herself. When a label like that clings to you (I was The Girl Whose Mom Died) it’s easy just to keep living your life under that assumed identity. I loved Paige’s determination to break free from that finally. I loved the list she constructed that she hoped would help her and I loved how she opened herself up even though it was hard. Luckily the girl had AMAZING support — friends AND family. And I loved that her grieving wasn’t just about the old boyfriend. Sure, she mourned him obviously, but she really they had been only dating for four months and his death impacted her life beyond that which is a hard thing to reconcile. But I think it was also a lot experiencing death for the first time at such a young age. That’s never something easy to reconcile when you encounter someone your age that dies so young.  I think Emery Lord explores this in a balanced way — it never becomes too overwhelming or sad — it’s a lot more about her second chance in light of what happened.

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RATING-loved-it
factors+ characters (main and secondary alike), plot, romance, feels, strong friendships, writing
Nothing

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

a5fans of realistic/contemporary YA, fans of sweet romances, readers who are looking for strong female friendships, readers looking for a great beach read (a balance of happy/ tough real life stuff)

a8The Start Of Me & You absolutely delighted me — from the strong female friendships to the sweet & nerdy romance, it slapped a constant grin on my face. Emery Lord is so skilled in writing realistic fiction — the romances, the friendships, the hardships, high school life, familial relationships — in a way that it includes it all but never feels overwhelming nor underdeveloped. Emery Lord’s sophomore novel is a must read and solidifies why I’ve been so bold to say she was a favorite author after her first book, Open Road Summer.

review-on-post-itThe Start of Me & You Emery Lord

 

a8j* Have you read this one? What did you think? Similar or different from me? I would LOVE to hear regardless!

CAN WE JUST TALK ABOUT THE FRIEND GROUP?!? Also, please give me recs for good, strong friendship books in YA!
*If you haven’t read it, does it feel like something you’d be into?

 

 


The Perpetual Page-Turner

What I’ve Been Watching

I had such a fun time sharing my all time favorite movies one week during Top Ten Tuesday and was so happy with how much we all had to talk about with movies and all the recs I got! I’ve been sharing the things I’ve added to my Netflix queue but I was thinking why don’t I round up all the things I’ve been watching sporadically? I mean, movies and tv are stories too! And I just really like any form of story-telling! For more What I’ve Been Watching posts, click here!

Movies I Watched

 

91EsIUFkxNL._SY679_St. Vincent

“With his parents preoccupied with their divorce, lonely 12-year-old Oliver strikes up a friendship with his war-veteran neighbor Vincent. A hard-drinking gambler with a fondness for hookers, Vincent finds his life changed by the boy’s presence.”

OH MAN. I love Bill Murray so much. SO MUCH. He’s been in some of my all time favorite movies (Rushmore, Life Aquatic, The Royal Tenanbaums, Lost In Translation) so I’ve been dying to watch this one. Will and I LOVED it. It was funny but also really tender and emotional. I didn’t realize that it was going to make me cry. I loved the relationship between Bill Murray’s character and the kid — it was so heartwarming. Bill Murray, like always, really commits to his character and made him come alive and Melissa McCarthy & Naomi Watts were really great too.

Rating: 5/5

 

 

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Gone Girl

“this unsettling thriller follows the mercurial Nick Dunne, who finds himself dogged by police and caught in a media maelstrom after he becomes the prime suspect in his wife’s disappearance.”

I was excited to watch this after reading the book last year! I actually thought it was a pretty good adaptation. Will, who has not read the book and I told him NOTHING, really liked it and was like “WOW THAT IS NUTS.” I do think my reaction READING it was more shocked than his was watching it. I thought they handled the timeline pretty well and her journal entries. For some reason I felt like there were some things missing at the end or were different. But overall I liked it though, obviously with this kind of story that depends on a twist, reading the book takes that shock element away but it was fun to watch with someone who had no idea.

Rating: 3.5/5

[Keep Reading]

Ten Books From My Childhood/Teen Years I’d Love To Revisit

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

This week’s topic: Top Ten Books From My Childhood/Teen Years I Want To Revisit

I love re-reading in theory but I kind of fail at it. I would LOVE to revisit some old childhood/teen favorites but I also get scared to taint the childhood MAGIC and the FEELS  I have surrounding these books if they don’t hold up. Anyone else feel like that?

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 1. ALL JUDY BLUME BOOKS: I loved her Fudge books and Freckle Juice as a kid and then as a pre-teen I LOVED books like Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret, Blubber, Tiger Eyes, Deenie, etc. JUDY BLUME WAS/IS MY QUEEN.

2. ALL BEVERLY CLEARY BOOKS: Oh my god my childhood was alllll about Ramona, Henry Huggins and Ralph S. Mouse! Also loved Muggie Maggie.

3. All RL STINE: I wouldn’t want to go back and read ALL of them (I did as a kid) but there are a few favorite Goosebumps books I want to reread. BUT what I want to revisit most is the Fear Street Saga!

4. Sweet Valley High Books: OH MAN. I would love to see what I think about Elizabeth and Jessica as an adult. As a kid, I was an Elizabeth but wanted to be a Jessica.

5. Little House on the Prairie series: This series is the one, aside from the Boxcar Children, that REALLY made me the reader I am today. I actually think I AM going to reread this series.

6. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett: I was just so enchanted by this book as a kid.

7. Behind the Attic Wall by Sylvia Cassidy: OMG DID ANYONE ELSE READ THIS BOOK?? It was one of my all time favorite books but I feel like NOBODY has heard about it. I don’t remember a thing about it but it was my FAVORITE. That one and Mud Blossom. Two I don’t hear much about!

8. 1984 by George Orwell: I read this in either middle school or high school and I remember LOVING it. I wonder what I’d get out of it as an adult.

9. To Kill A Mockingbird: I LOVED this when I read it in school and I think it’s definitely one that demands to be reread. AND AHHH THE HARPER LEE NEWS DELIGHTS ME.

10. I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou:  I read this in high school and I distinctly remember wishing I didn’t have to analyze it and do big projects with it for school because I loved it and I just wanted to READ it. I think this reread WILL happen.

 

So tell me…did you read any of these as a kid/teen?? What books would YOU want to revisit from that time?

2 Adult Fiction Books I’ve Read Recently

Before I started this blog in 2010 I used to primarily read adult fiction (pop on over here if you are interested in my reading history). I clearly went full force into YA but I still do read adult fiction here and there (some I loved recently: here, here, here, and here). I’m definitely craving adult fiction even more these days (I’d love some recs in the comments) so here’s two I’ve read lately.

 

Sugar Daddy by Lisa Kleypas

Sugar Daddy by Lisa Kleypas

Amazon // Goodreads
Published: 2007
Big thanks to Racquel for recommending and gifting me this book!

What It Is About In A Few Sentences: 14 year old Liberty moves to a trailer park in Welcome, Texas with her single mother where she meets her first love and the guy who is always in the back of her mind as she grows up. Liberty comes of age in that trailer park and is faced with some things that make her grow up faster than her peers. Soon she finds herself in Houston, as a twenty-something, struggling to make the life she wants happen and she meets a older, powerful man named Churchill who changes everything for her — even her understanding of things that happened in the past.

When I first added this to my TBR I thought it was a straight up romance novel (which remember! I like now!). When I let Racquel know I was starting to read this one she mentioned that it’s part romance, part women’s fiction. After reading it I can say it’s a totally apt description. I REALLY liked this one and could not put it down! We meet Liberty as a teenager and the book spans to her early twenties (good one for YA lovers wanting to try out some adult). I LOVED LIBERTY. She is one tough chick and I loved watching her coming of age story. Life has definitely NOT been easy for her (grows up poor, tragedies, etc.) and she grows up way too soon because of some THINGS. My heart just broke for her but I also felt super proud of her for how she handled it. Her story made me super emotional for MANY reasons — everything she endures, how her past finds her years later, the things she learns, etc. OKAY and let’s talk about the romance? (SIDENOTE: Southern men are so swoony).  HARDY CATES. Her first love. Their romantic tension was INTENSE and I felt the heartbreak she feels when he leaves (somehow I missed that part in the summary). Kleypas writes their relationship so well. SWOON. But the romance with another character later on? SWOON AGAIN. I loved how Liberty has to reconcile this first love that she doesn’t want to let go with the prospective of new love. AND THE ENDING. PERFECT PERFECT PERFECT. This book was heartwarming even though it made me cry a couple times. And the characters? Lisa Kleypas creates the most wonderful main and secondary characters. I JUST WANT TO HUG THEM ALL.

RATING

 

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Shotgun Lovesongs by Nickolas Butler

Amazon// Goodreads
Published: March 2014
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: It follows the friendship and lives of a group of guys from a small town through flashbacks and in the now as they are in their 30’s and life has taken them in very different directions as they’ve all made a life for themselves. They are reunited for a wedding and have to face the ways they have changed AND their friendships have changed  despite their attempts to hold on to what they had. Secrets, betrayals, struggles and the passing of time that has changed them all put a strain on what they had.

I liked this one but not as much as I’d hoped! It also may have been that it took me forever to read it because it was on my kindle and my kindle died and I kept forgetting to charge it. The main thing for me that I LOVED about this one is how it explored male friendships. I loved the friendship of these guys from this small town even despite how the dynamics shift through the years as they grow older and their lives get even more complicated. It’s really rare for me to read a book that gives me these tender male relationships and I really grew to love Hank, Ronny, Kip and Leland and their bond even when things get complicated amongst them. I loved learning about their early friendship contrasted with the men they have all become as two have left and two have stayed. Marriages, tragedy, betrayals, financial troubles, shenanigans…they endured it all. It’s definitely a quieter book and I really liked the character development and the prose. Every character captured my heart some way or another as they were all so complex. It was interesting how we see what  success and happiness is challenged in these very different men. They all seem to think they want what another has or might pity another but they learn the grass ISN’T always greener and things aren’t always as they seem (YEP CLICHES FOR THE WIN HERE). Also, such a great book that reminds you GET to pick who your family is and what HOME really means to a person. Plus, the setting and feel of small town life? SPOT ON. It reminded me so much of where I used to live. It’s funny because I KNOW groups of guys from that small town I used to live in that remind me SO much of these guys. My problem? As distinct as the characters were through the eyes of the others, sometimes I struggled with the actual voices of who was narrating and would get confused with the multi-narration and the shift to the past/present.

RATING

RATING-LIKED

 

 

 

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?

Monthly YA Book Subscription Box Reviews: Uppercase & OwlCrate

Subscription boxes are all the rage and they have them for pretty much everything you can imagine. I personally have done Julep (did it for a while but had to stop because NAIL POLISH OVERLOAD) and Ipsy (did it in the first year it was created and quit after one time).

I’ve noticed a lot of bookish subscription boxes popping up over the past year — created by bookstores, bookish websites and bloggers alike. I’ve been curious about them and was grateful that two companies reached out to me for a chance to review their subscription box. So full disclosure: I did not pay for these but received one box for review from both companies in exchange for an honest review. I didn’t receive any other compensation other than the free box!

UppercaseLogo5-e1403709110859(click the logo to check out the website)

What I got:

Cute packaging (the mailer, if you care, was a standard priority mailer envelope)! Also, Jamie fail. I got too excited and started taking stuff out so pretend you didn’t see the candle and it’s in the package still.

Uppercase boxThe whole package!

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Closeup of the candle!Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

I opened the package and immediately I pulled out a non-book shaped thing which was  the candle! It’s adorable (I’m definitely keeping that tin after I burn the candle). It smells nice and I’m actually burning it right now. Then I pulled out the letter. I think this was a nice touch — it’s handwritten and I loved hearing why Lisa picked Red Queen.  Then I pulled out the book, Red Queen. I think this was a good selection though I already have it as an ARC. I tried to read it a couple months but since I’m a mood reader I was in a fickle mood and put it down though I definitely plan to try to pick it up again. Then it came with a signed bookplate from the author that I can put in my book (very cool!). Then there was a little slip of paper with a 15% discount to a shop on Etsy which I will be checking out!

Pros:

Nice, clean website. Detailed FAQ section that was pretty darn thorough.
Love the two subscription options. There’s the Expert which is the most general one — it varies in genre and isn’t tailored to your taste or anything. Then there is the Personalized box which is nice if you are a bit more picky, only read certain genres, etc. Since I don’t have a log-in I couldn’t get into see what kinds of questions you get asked but I know it is a more personalized pick based on your answers.
Excellent curating — They are new releases from major publishers! I browsed the past picks too (I love that you can see that as a prospective customer) and I think Lisa has done a good job picking quality books in various genres for the Expert box! I think if you read pretty widely you will be great with the Expert picks!
Exclusive author content for Uppercase members: I thought this was such a nice touch! You’ll get an email about a week after the box ships in which you’ll get some exclusive content JUST for Uppercase members.

Gift option: I love that there is an option to gift it to a friend and you can pick which box and how many months. What a great gift to give someone!

Cons:

A little too pricey for my taste: I think this is my problem with subscription boxes in general? The basic (Expert) box is $29 (that includes shipping).  Most YA hardcovers are let’s say ~$15 plus shipping if you order online. (On Amazon and B&N they are listing it around $11.50 right now). I guess it depends on if you value not having to do the work of finding a new read and also if you think the bookish goodie is worth those extra couple dollers.

Only currently ships to US, Puerto Rico and Canada. (This doesn’t affect ME but thought it’s worth noting).

Return policy: I know it probably has to be this way because it would get MESSY and crazy but if you get a book you already own you are pretty much out of luck. You can’t return it. Best you can probably do is sell it to Amazon or a second hand shop to get yourself a new book. Or host a giveaway. Swap with a friend. It would be a bummer to get a book you already had but I guess that’s the gamble if you are a frequent book buyer. If don’t buy a lot of books, this won’t be much of a problem!

 

e940a7aaec0b421e931a3b6877ded904(click the logo to check out the website)

 

Cute box! Love how even their box calls out to their brand!

Owl Crate box

Ooh pretty stuff! (I love when packages come with this stuff because I always reuse it)

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The whole package!

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The poster in full (it has the OTHER cover on the other side):

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I was SOOO happy because I have been wanting this book and actually didn’t own it! I thought for sure I would get a book I either had as an ARC or owned so this automatically made me happy! I thought the goodies in here were all fab — the CraftedVan bookmarks that I love, the Game of Thrones figure (I don’t watch but Will and I are starting it soon), the swag (pin, bookmark and poster) and the cutest unicorn bandages EVERRR. Like I kind of want to get wounded so I can use one. (Okay not really because I’m the whiniest of whiny babies and pain adverse).

Pros:

Great curating: I mean, it’s only the first pick from Owl Crate but I thought this pick was on point! It is a new release with good buzz!

Themed packages: This is one thing I think is REALLY cool about Owl Crate is that each month has a different theme that the book and the goodies for the month revolve around! This month was fantasy and the sheet I got says that next month the theme is “all the feels”! Very curious what that will entail!

Really lovely packaging: I’m a sucker for good packaging and presentation and Owl Crate had that from the time I saw the package on my doorstep to the time I opened it. Everything looks super professional and is just REALLY cute. Love the logo and how pretty everything is! A+ branding.

The goodies: This subscription box is more expensive than Uppercase Box BUT you get extra goodies in it. So if you are a person who wants to discover cool bookish things, this one is great. It was really fun to get some cute surprises! I thought the selection of things in this box were of quality and worth the money. I personally have some bookmarks from Craftd Van already (dessert themed) and they are the best bookmarks I’ve owned!

Price discount if you select a 3 month or 6 month plan: If you know that you want to get it for more than just a month there is a discount which I appreciate!

Ships internationally: It’s a pretty steep price if you ARE looking to ship outside of US or Canada but I like that it’s an option!

Cons

Expensive: Pretty much everything I said above about Uppercase Box. This one is $29.99 plus shipping but you DO get more goodies with the book that I thought were of quality.

No personalized option: It’s probably not fair to compare the two but I think that this was a great feature of Uppercase that helps pickier readers. I would HIGHLY recommend being open to many genres if you subscribe to this one because there ISN’T the option to maybe get only fantasy-ish picks or contemporary only (at this point in time anyways). If you are open to reading from many genres, I think this isn’t a con at all. Like for me, this wouldn’t bother me at all because I’ll read from any genre.

Return policy: I already explained this above for Uppercase. I get why they maybe wouldn’t but I do wish there was an option (for both of them) to maybe get 1 or 2 “returns” on your account in the event you got the same one. So, I guess, like I said above you can always give away it if you get a duplicate, donate it or sell it.

 

Would I subscribe to Uppercase or Owl Crate?

 

 

I think Uppercase AND Owl Crate are great but I don’t know that it would be worth it for ME right now. Why? Because if you are a blogger (especially one who gets a lot of ARCs) or someone super into this community who buys a lot of books, it’s a bit of a gamble. Looking over the past month’s (plus this month’s) of Uppercase selections, I already owned ALL but one out of 7 (which I was aware of but not interested in) that I got either as ARCs and/or bought. I would consider subscribing to Uppercase/ Owl Crate if I stopped blogging and wasn’t as on top of new releases/not getting ARCs anymore obviously (and also if my financial situation could allow it haha).  I WOULD in my current situation, however, consider gifting it to a friend or family member who reads but isn’t up on the new releases — definitely my niece and maybe my little sister.

People I WOULD recommend them to:

 

People who aren’t up on the latest and greatest books: I’m thinking of some family members and friends who read YA (but not nearly as voraciously as the people in this community) and I think they wouldn’t be aware of or have already heard of these picks. I know I have a lot of readers of this blog who are NOT bloggers and who rely on my blog and others to find recommendations and I think this sort of box would be REALLY good for them to discover new books.

People who don’t buy a lot of books: If you are a person who pre-orders a lot of the big buzz books and talked about books in this community, there is a good chance you might have already gotten it. But if you are a person who really doesn’t buy a lot of new books (especially new releases) this might be ideal.

People who don’t have time to discover new reads: If you aren’t super into the community and don’t really like to spend time finding new reads, this might be your solution because they curate for you! It can be time consuming and hard to find out where to start so this takes all the hard work out of it and gives you well-loved and decently popular books.

People who are new to the YA scene: I think this is a great thing if you are new to YA and don’t know where to get started!

People who are wanting to give a gift to the young or not so young YA reader in your life: You might be someone who doesn’t really read YA but knows a YA reader! This is a great gift option because you don’t have to try to figure out what book they might like and who doesn’t like getting FUN mail!

 IN SUMMARY

 

I think Uppercase and Owl Crate are on to something really great even if I don’t think, right now, it’s a good investment for me because I get a lot of books right now and I’d probably overlap a lot plus financially I’m not able to do any sort of subscription boxes right now. When the time comes that I ever abandon this blog and am not as immersed in this community I think I’d LOVE to subscribe to either one of them. They both of their own pros and cons (some that they share that are just really inherent of subscription boxes, I think) but I would highly recommend both. I think it would depend on what you are looking for — Uppercase has more flexibility that could be more tailored to your tastes and Owl Crate is really fun because you get themed boxes full of really awesome goodies in addition to the book. All depends on what you are looking for and how much you are willing to spend! I also do recommend both because both Lisa (Uppercase) and Korrina (Owl Crate) are great contributors to this community from the interactions I’ve had with them and they have solid recommendations.

 

Do you subscribe to any bookish boxes? What do you think about these/are you interested in subscribing? Let me know if you have any questions about them and hopefully I can answer! Also, for fun, I’d LOVE to hear about any OTHER subscription boxes you are into!

The Start Of A New Favorite Series. I CAN FEEL IT.

YOU GUYS YOU GUYS YOU GUYYSSSS. As you may in fact know, Melina Marchetta is one of my all time favorite authors EVER. EVERRRRR. I’ve read and loved her contemporaries and I had just been putting off her fantasy books because, at the time, I wasn’t super into fantasy and I was a bit intimidated. I finally decided to read Finnikin of the Rock a couple weeks ago and OH MY GOD. I am a woman obsessed. I cannot stop thinking about the characters. The world. EVERYTHING. It’s every bit of magic that her contemporary books had for me — especially her signature character development. A few people assured me of this and they were so right. SO RIGHT.

Finnikin of the RockGoodreads // Amazon

THIS BOOK IS EVERYTHING. (and I’m told it only gets better…and more brutal).

Before I discuss my feels, let me give you the down low on what it’s about if you aren’t familiar: Finnikin of the Rock is from the Lumatere Kingdom. Ten years ago the royal family was MURDERED (he was VERY close with them) and then this awful curse was put on his kingdom that doesn’t let anybody in or out of the kingdom. Some people had already fled but then the other half of the kingdom is still trapped in there and being ruled by an AWFUL new ruler. So, for the past ten years, all the people who had fled the Lumatere Kingdom have been scattered about various kingdoms living in mostly awful conditions. Finnikin and Sir Topher, his guardian, have been wandering around and taking a census of the Lumatere people. Finnikin is called to meet with a young girl who makes a big claim — that the heir to the throne is actually alive. She claims that they need to gather their people and return home with the heir to undo the curse.

WOAH WOAH WOAH. Just thinking about their journey gives me chills. And how complex those characters were.

Here’s just a glimpse of what I loved about it:

The world & history: I was a little nervous that this might be a little slow in the beginning as it set up the history and the world but I was just pretty absorbed from the beginning. I will say I looked at the map so many times, to get my shit straight, that I finally just had to take a picture of it so I didn’t have to keep flipping back. It helped to be able to picture their journey as they went from kingdom to kingdom and truth be told I got so into it that I almost wanted a paper print-out of the map so I could record notes about where things went down. I loved learning about the history of Lumatere and what went down and also their kingdom in relation to the other kingdoms in the land. On the same note, I LOVED finding out about all the kingdoms because they were all kind of known for different things. MAN, some of those kingdoms were brutal though especially to the people in exile. It was a heartbreaking ordeal how some of these exiles were living and being treated.

The “taking back the kingdom” plot and how it played out: I read two books in a row where taking back the kingdom was a thing (the other one is The Orphan Queen) and I love it! I loved as they traveled to the different kingdoms gathering the necessary people and telling the exiles (who have been living 10 years in limbo and crap conditions basically). The excitement just kept building as we got closer and then THE BIG REVEAL as they got closer (did not see that coming truthfully). There was this moment where they are standing outside of the kingdom and I just felt this surge of pride for what they were doing. How it was all orchestrated to get the people back there and all the sacrifice it took to get there. My heart was swelling with joy/sadness/pride/excitement/fear as they approached Lumatere. VERY EMOTIONAL.  I was seriously just doing a whole lot of this by the end.

9XL0vUY

The characters: It’s one of those situations where my love for them just grew to obscene amounts but I didn’t even realize it until we were closer to the end and things were going down. The reunions that were had amongst the exiled and how they worked so hard to get to where they were…MY HEART WAS BURSTING WITH LOVE AND PRIDE FOR THEM ALL. I LOVED Finnikin and Sir Topher and Evanjalin obviously but there were characters who came into the picture in smaller roles that I just loved so much and they made an impact on the story (and on me). I grew to love Froi (who the next book seems to be about?) even if there are still things about him that I can’t reconcile just right now. It’s classic Melina characters who just come alive and impact you in ways you didn’t see coming. I cannot wait to continue on with these characters.

SPOILERY TALK!!!!

* Do not read this paragraph if you want to read this book*

Some rambly thoughts and feels.

I sort of did not understand how the whole blood thing works. Like I *think* I got it but I also was confused?? Like the connection with the dead baby and how Isoboe walked the dreams? I had to reread those parts explaining it. I THINK I got it though. And ISOBOE. WHAT A BADASS. THAT REVEAL. How she brought her kingdom back?!??! GAHHH. Her reunion with Yata. OMG. And then when Finnikin’s dad reunites with his dudes. TEARS TEARS. And then the battle when Lucien carries Saro home. WAHHH. And the exchange between Lady Beatriss and Trevanion. MY HEART. Guys. I hear the next two books are even more feelsy and IDK IF I CAN HANDLE IT. ALSO, that ending was perfect and swoony and AHHH.

BUT BASICALLY…

If you aren’t reading this series. YOU MUST. If you consider yourself a fantasy fan. If you love Melina Marchetta’s books (and aren’t a fantasy reader) you should STILL give them a chance. There’s magic kind of stuff but a lot more of this is political, people in exile and about bringing a kingdom back….AND ALL ABOUT THESE CHARACTERS.

NOW I NEED TO PROCURE FROI & QUINTANA.

Beyond the Pages: That Thing I Regret Not Having

Beyond the Pages is my way of sharing the things books make me think about and interact with and want to talk about shared experiences with people. Some of my best conversations have happened because of something that came up in a book. I’m pretty personal in my reviews but I’d like a way to not bog down my review with a huge paragraph of personal experience so this is my way to be able to share it. Some times it will be serious and sometimes just random and fun but I hope we can connect! PAST Beyond the Pages here!

 

 

The book that inspired this conversation:

The Start of Me and You Emery Lord

The Start Of Me & You by Emery Lord
(Goodreads // Amazon)

What It Is About:

“It’s been a year since it happened—when Paige Hancock’s first boyfriend died in an accident. After shutting out the world for two years, Paige is finally ready for a second chance at high school . . . and she has a plan. First: Get her old crush, Ryan Chase, to date her—the perfect way to convince everyone she’s back to normal. Next: Join a club—simple, it’s high school after all. But when Ryan’s sweet, nerdy cousin, Max, moves to town and recruits Paige for the Quiz Bowl team (of all things!) her perfect plan is thrown for a serious loop. Will Paige be able to face her fears and finally open herself up to the life she was meant to live?”

 

What I said about itScreenshot at Mar 17 21-33-26

What It Got Me Thinking About:

girl friends, friend groups, my life choices

Image1fdsfOne of the best things about The Start of Me and You is the girl power. The main character has a close-knit group of 4 girls and I LOVED what a healthy, important friendship they all had. They were there for each other in big and small ways, knew each other like they knew themselves, worked through issues, had TONS of fun together, etc. But as I was reading I grew JEALOUS. And a bit wistful as I thought about my past. WHY? (Besides the fact Emery Lord just has a knack for writing enviable friendships).

Because I never had that.

Sure, in elementary school and maybe even early middle school I had lots of girl friends and we had sleepovers and such but I never had a close-knit group of girl friends like portrayed in this book that stood the test of time. When high school came I found myself making closer friendships with guys and caring more about those. I was almost PROUD to be the chick with all the guy friends? Proud that I was “above” all the petty girl stuff? And college was the same way. I gained MORE girl friends but mostly that was due to dorm living. I had my best friend and a handful of other girls that hung out in our general group but more often than not it was me + like 10 other guys. I didn’t foster close relationships with other ladies because I saw them as petty, too fickle, etc. I wrote them off easily because it was easier to “be one of the guys” even though I totally was a girly girl and there was a lot of NON-platonic feelings always happening (but THAT’s a separate topic for another day). It’s sad because, when I reflect on college especially, I had some really great girls in my life who were there for me and I had so much fun with but for whatever reason I liked my place among the dudes and that attention more than I cared to truly form a closer bond with the girls.

I think if there’s one thing I actually regret in life it’s not taking the time to see the value in having girlfriends and taking care of those relationships.

Now, here I am as an adult, and I wish had a close-knit group of ladies. I’ve seen how empowering female friendships can be over the years and have met some ladies here in this community who have taught me that through these past 5 years. They have been there for me and have shown me how valuable these relationships are in my life. I read YA and I see friendships like this and I’m just JEALOUS and full of regret. WHY, PAST JAMIE, DID YOU NOT CARE ABOUT YOUR LADY FRIENDS?

I mean, let’s be real, friendship isn’t always easy. I think maybe I didn’t like the hard work it DID take sometimes. It was easier to dismiss pettiness and drama and flock to the dudes who seemed to not have that. But what I didn’t get from MOST of those guys? That intimate sort of sisterhood you have among girlfriends. DEEP relationships where things of substance were talked about and the highs/lows of life were shared, shoulders to cry on, endless hours dissect life’s craziness, etc. I LOVED the easy nature of all that that I DID have amongst the girl friends I did have. I just don’t know why I didn’t see more value in that before.

But, here we are. I cannot go back. It might be harder to make friends now as a married lady but I’m working on it. I see the value. I crave those friendships. Maybe in my future I will find a kickass group of ladies to hang out with. Maybe not (I have major fears that people at my age are already set with their friend groups/friends). Who knows! But I know that my girl friends, the ones I have and the ones I will meet, are going to be more important than I ever made them back in high school and college. I might regret not making more of an effort but I am certainly not going to let myself regret it again 10 years from now.

 

 

Thoughts on anything I wrote? Did you/do you have a close knit of girl friends that you hang out with? Or were you “one of the guys” like I was? If you have/had close girlfriends please tell me about them so I can live vicariously!! :)

Top Ten Books On My Spring 2015 TBR List

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

This week’s topic: Top Ten Books On My Spring 2015 TBR list

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1. Joyride by Anna Banks: “A popular guy and a shy girl with a secret become unlikely accomplices for midnight pranking, and are soon in over their heads—with the law and with each other”  Sounds fun!!
2. Emmy & Oliver by Robin Benway: I LOVED Robin Benway’s Audrey, Wait! and Also Known As so I’ve been excited for this one to come out. “Emmy’s best friend, Oliver, reappears after being kidnapped by his father ten years ago. Emmy hopes to pick up their relationship right where it left off. Are they destined to be together? Or has fate irreparably driven them apart?
3. Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen: Everyone has raved about this series and I just need to start it already! AND it’s a Robin Hood retelling!!
4. The Survival Kit by Donna Freitas: I’ve had this one on my TBR list for a while. I know it is going to be absolutely gut-wrenching!!
5. The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater: I KNOW I KNOW. How have I not read this one yet?!?

 

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6. Hold Me Like A Breath by Tiffany Schmidt: It is the start of a series of crime family fairy tale retellings. This one is a retelling of Princess & the Pea and the main character’s family is one of 3 families who control the black market of organ transplants.
7. Made You Up by Francesca Zappia: ” Made You Up tells the story of Alex, a high school senior unable to tell the difference between real life and delusion” I LOOOVE unreliable narrators so I’m stoked about this one!
8. An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir: FANTASY! To continue my foray into this genre I’m currently smitten with. Plus it is set in a world that is Rome-esque.
9. Things We Know By Heart by Jessi Kirby: Jessi Kirby is one of the most underrated authors and I LOVED all 3 of her books (Moonglass / In Honor / Golden)  and have been DYING for this one!
10. The Devil You Know by Trish Doller: I LOVE Trish Doller’s books (Something Like Normal / Where Stars Still Shine) so this is one of my most anticipated! Seems like it’s going to be different than her previous too books (more thriller-y) so I’m very excited to read it!

 

So tell me…are any of these books on your TBR for Spring? Did I convince you to add any? ALSO ALSO…tell me ONE book (or two) that I need to consider having on my TBR for Spring!

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