What I’ve Been Audiobooking Lately

All of my audiobooks lately were new reads to me and I’m kind of disappointed I didn’t get any re-reads in via audiobook because I have been loving that. I also didn’t audiobook as much as lately because of my new podcast obsession.

 

The Running Dream

The Running Dream by Wendelin Van Draanen

Oh man, I really liked this one! It’s about a girl who loses a leg and is facing the new reality of her life as an amputee. I was just really inspired by this book even though it was fictional because I know this could be someone’s story. I found myself so invested in Jessica and her journey — watching her feel defeated to watching her really work to walk and run again and her growing friendship with Rosa. It was just such a good book that really gets you pumped about how strong the human spirit is and makes you feel like you can accomplish anything. I also loved how it explored how we treat people who are sick or disabled or just physically different through Rosa’s character and Jessica understanding some of what Rosa has gone through. I do wish it would have been a little more grittier as it explored some of her depression after the accident and her struggles to run again. It definitely was a lighter, more uplifting story that gave an inspirational message, and while I definitely was moved by it, I know I would have felt more for it had it been a little grittier in areas. I would probably READ this one because I found the narrator so irritating — kind of valley girl like or how an adult might think a teenager sounds like — and just not my favorite. If I wasn’t so into the story I would have quit because of the narrator.

RATING-reallyliked

Boy Meets Boy

Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan

I’ve loved so many of David’s books but had never read this one. IT WAS SO DELIGHTFUL and the audiobook was soooo good. It was Full Cast Audio and it was my first time every listening to an audiobook where all the different characters had their own narrator when they spoke. The narrators were just all so great and engaging. As far as the story goes, it was just such a cute romance and I just adore all the characters! The setting was so interesting because it’s not at all like any high school I’ve ever seen — it’s this sort of made-up, fantastical  sort of high school where the cheerleaders ride motorcycles, the prom queen is also on the football team and there is so much openness/acceptance when it comes to sexual orientation. It was such a great book about friendships, too. I LOVED the friend group and how they were there for each other so much plus that sexuality wise it was all over the spectrum — people who were really confident in their sexuality and people who weren’t sure what they identified as, etc. This one was just so charming and funny and I just loved David’s books so much!

RATING-reallyliked

story of a girl

Story of A Girl by Sara Zarr

I just felt weirdly ambivalent to this one which was sad for me because I really loved Sweethearts. I do wonder if it was the format for such a quiet book…maybe reading it would have been better for me and I would have connected with Deanna better. There is always this sad yet beautiful undertone to Sara’s books and this definitely had that. Deanna was a character it was easy to feel truly bad for — she gets branded as the school slut at a young age when sleeping with her older brother’s friend and her dad is the one that catches her and basically hasn’t been able to look at or talk to her for years. The past has really affected her even years later, particularly because she was so young when it happened, and all she wants to do is get out of her parent’s house and have a new start. My heart ached for her through so much of this story even when she made incredibly bad decisions. I loved the relationship with her brother — that was a shining relationship for me in this story! I think I just wanted more when it comes down to it — Deanna was an interesting character but I only got invested to a certain point. There was just something missing for me.  The narrator was Sara Zarr herself and I thought she was good. I always like when the author reads because they kind of KNOW the inflections and how things are supposed to sound.

Rating

RATING-OKAY

 

 

 

 

 

Have you read any of these books?? Tell me what you thought! What have YOU been audiobooking lately?

Ten Books I’ve Recently Acquired

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

This week’s topic: Top Ten Books That I’ve Recently Acquired/Last Come Into My Posession

So fun timing because a BUNCH of books came in for me at the library before I lift on my trip to Michigan to see my friend Tara get married and then some books came for me while I was away!

Book haul

 The Revenge Playbook by Rachael Allen: A finished copy from Harper showed up for me! I was already planning on reading my ARC and am really excited about this one as I really liked her debut novel!

A Sense of the Infinite by Hilary T. Smith: Another finished copy from Harper. I’ve actually read this one and enjoyed it so I’m happy to have a copy to go next to my copy of her debut novel Wild Awake!

God-Shaped Hole by Tiffanie DeBartolo: My friends Estelle and Ginger have RAVED about this one and I have pretty similar taste to them sooo YEAH finally got this one via the library since it’s been YEARS since they’ve been telling me to read it.

Frostbite by Richelle Mead: I really am trying to finish series this year so I’m going to keep going with the Vampire Academy series! Thankfully my library has them all!

Storm’s Siren by Mary Weber: This one randomly showed up here! Definitely going to give it a try when I’m feeling something paranormal/fantasy which is what this seems like.

Storm’s Fury by Mary Weber: The sequel, which just came out last month, came with Storm’s Siren!

Of Metal & Wishes by Sarah Fine: This one and its sequel below came in a package from Simon & Schuster while I was away! It looks interesting!

Of Dreams & Rust by Sarah Fine:  ^^^

Happiness For Beginners by Katherine Center: This is another Estelle rec that came in from the library!

Yes Please by Amy Poehler: So excited to read this one. Again, came in from the library!

 

 

So tell me…have you read any of these?? Which should I read first?

3 May/June Releases I Read

Summer has been busy and my attention span has been that of a gnat to actually sit down and write a ton of book talk type stuff. So mini review time for some books that were released in May and June that I just really would like to talk about sooner rather than later.

Made You Up Francesca Zappia

Made You Up by Francesca Zappia

About In A Sentence (ish): Alex is starting a new school her senior year after an incident that got her kicked out of her last school. She wants to make it through the year with no trouble which is hard considering she has schizophrenia — something she tries to keep to herself and she’s trying to keep in check until she meets a boy who looks like someone from her hallucinations.

Thoughts: This one was really interesting as the main character is a little bit unreliable to us as readers. She has schizophrenia so as things are happening within the story you are constantly wondering if it is real or not real. I really loved Alex and how tough she was. I could feel how frustrating it must be for her to be unable to always decipher reality from delusion but I loved the ferocity in which she lived in spite of that and how she really tried to take control of it in her own way. I loved her so much and my heart broke for her in those moments where she was so confused no matter how much she tried to manage it. There’s a pretty great cast of characters in general — like Miles, the love interest — and I just couldn’t put it down because of my desire for Alex to persevere and to find out what is real/not real especially with some conspiracies. There is a moment, a thing that I guessed and ultimately turned out to be true, and the realization of that moment just broke me down. Made You Up was just a very fantastic read that I recommend. I can’t say how accurate its portrayal of schizophrenia is but, to me, I found Alex’s schizophrenia to feel so real and like while a big part of her…it didn’t at all DEFINE her.

Rating:

RATING-reallyliked

The Devil You Know by Trish Doller

The Devil You Know By Trish Doller

About (in a sentence-ish): Cadie has spent a lot of her time going to school, working and taking care of her dad and sister so when she has a chance for adventure with two boys she meets at a campfire she takes it. All is fun until it’s not because one of the boys might not be what he seems.

Thoughts: This is the saddest thing — to not mark a new book by a favorite author as a new favorite book — which is not to say I didn’t like it. I loved Trish’s first two books but I didn’t LOVE this the way I loved them. I think it’s more of a “me” issue and my deal with mystery/thriller/suspense kind of books. Unless I’m shocked or the mystery is super elaborate or all sorts of mindf*ckery, it never gets like super high ratings. If I completely guess it without any wavering or found it to be obvious, no matter how objectively good the book is (which I can still enjoy those parts), I have a hard time rating it high because it kills some of the enjoyment for me. While it got super creepy and twisted at times, I didn’t find it to be all that mysterious or hard to crack what was going on. I didn’t feel the suspense or exhilaration to because I was certain what was going on  even though I DID fly through this book. I just kept waiting for something to happen to make me be like WOW OKAY but in the suspense/thriller department it didn’t.  But what it didn’t do for me there,  there was so much GOOD. It had Trish Doller’s signature writing which is always so fantastic and a main character who is just SO complex plus she owned her sexuality and her life choices which I loved. I loved reading about her family dynamics and could feel the weight on her shoulders so I just so understood her desire to just be free and a bit reckless when she gets the chance to do something that ignites the desires of her heart that have been kind of locked away. I’m sad I can’t give this higher marks but it just didn’t make me fall in love like her other books Something Like Normal and Where The Stars Still Shine.  All the things I found great about it are so typical of those books…I think it just comes down to the genre being a hard one for me.

Rating

 RATING-LIKED

 

 A Sense of the Infinite Hilary T. Smith

A Sense of the Infinite by Hilary T. Smith

About In A Sentence-ish: Annabeth and Noe have been best friends for years and even have planned their future endeavors together until Noe starts dating a guy and their friendship shows signs of drifting apart at a time when Annabeth needs Noe because her personal life is complicated and doesn’t know what to do without her.

Thoughts: What a great and complicated book about friendship! I’m all about books that have really strong friendships but I also really love ones that explore that fragile nature of friendship and those friendships that slowly start to crumble as two people go in different directions life-wise but still want to hold on for whatever reasons. It was such a great portrait of a friendship breakup, especially a really like exclusively close bff duo, and Annabeth’s story was really compelling to me especially with her family dynamics and secrets. Plus Hilary T. Smith’s beautiful prose strikes again! I loved Wild Awake and I could tell she was a talented writer, and while very different kind of style compared to Wild Awake, it’s equally as stunning. I will probably write a whole post devoted to all the things this book brought up re: friendship soon!! It’s a quieter contemporary YA but it explores a lot of things very poignantly.

 

Rating:

RATING-loved-it

 

 

 

 

Have you read any of these? What did you think?

Podcasts I’m Listening To

So, if you saw my If We Were Having Coffee post recently I mentioned I was wanting to get into podcasts and asked for suggestions from you all while I was searching for other podcasts. OH MAN I think I’m addicted already and, like anything I’m newly addicted to, I’m just diving in and adding way too many to my list.

I typically listen to a lot of audiobooks in the car or while I’m cleaning or making breakfast or getting ready but I was just feeling like I wanted something different sometimes. So my car time and getting ready time and so on is now this constant Sophie’s Choice between music, audiobooks and podcasts.

So I think my issue with podcasts as of right now is when they have HUGE feeds of past episodes because I’m like OMG WHERE DO I START? DO I just jump in with the current one? Start from the beginning? I’m so the kind of person that gets twitchy if I don’t start something from the beginning but also I want to be on the current episodes. How do you all deal with this?? HOW DO YOU PODCAST?

So here’s the ones I’ve listened to as of right now (like a substantial amount of episodes) and some of my thoughts:

 

Call Your Girlfriend podcast

I randomly came upon this one in my searches and oh my god I love these girls! They are two long distance besties and I just want to join their squad, k? They are so funny, smart, interesting and like cool feminist chicks that have just really entertained me so far. I love how balanced they are — they give us a glimpse into their personal lives, talk about the silly and frivolous and also the important things like feminism and diversity and such. It’s a great mix of pop culture, politics, current events, awesome rants, etc. I’m so amused by them and I just feel like I’m chilling on my bed and painting my nails while on a three way call with my besties (which was so fun back in the day amirite?). Two besties catching up and talking about everything and anything. Definitely my entertaining podcast fix. I started at the beginning with their pilot episode and I so want to keep going and catching up but I also want to like be listening to their current episodes because of all the current events and stuff they talk about. But but even already there are “inside jokes” from other episodes I’ve noticed and I’ve only listened to like 7 so far.

Official about on their website: “Call Your Girlfriend is a podcast for all the long-distance besties out there, brought to you by Gina DelvacAnn Friedman and Aminatou Sow. Every other week, tune in as we discuss Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the beauty of caftans, menstruation news, Kimye, Pitbull, Hillary Rodham Clinton, casual racism, emoji, straight people, California, rom-coms, Lorde lipstick, and so much more.”

(Website/Listen)

 

Stuff You Missed In History Class podcast

I mentioned in my If We Were Having Coffee post that I missed learning, like school learning. So a bunch of people mentioned this podcast in that same post when I asked for podcast recs so I thought it was a good fit for the learning AND the podcast need. I’ve enjoyed it so far and have learned some interesting things. Definitely great for history nerds like myself! I love learning about obscure things I might not have really heard about or that I didn’t know much about. I’ve found myself wanting to go research afterwards or even thinking, “OH MAN I WANT A YA HISTORICAL BOOK WRITTEN ABOUT THIS.” They have been doing podcasts since like 2005 so there are A ZILLION. The first episodes were super short like 4-8 minutes but now the more recents are like 30-40 minutes. I’ve been listening to just the most recent ones because you don’t really need to follow them in order at all. However, sometimes when I’m getting ready in the morning and only have like 10 minutes I’ll listen to two of the older episodes for a quick history fix. I also have been skipping some when they really just don’t interest me at all but I’m mostly open to learning about random things.

(Website//Listen)

PodcastHappier

My friend Ellie was talking about this at book club and I was like OMG I AM SO ON BOARD. I really loved Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project so I really wanted to give this one a try. It’s about happiness and ways to add happiness to your life! I could always use that. I love the format and I love that it is Gretchen and her sister doing it. I typically listen to this one to start my morning off on an inspiring and good note. I started at the beginning just because they didn’t have THAT many in as they just started in April of this year. They are about 30 minutes each and I just find them to be a good way to start my morning. Nothing like EARTH-SHATTERING but I’ve found that I’ve enjoyed starting my day off this way and thinking about some of the things has boosted my mood and started my day off right.

Official description:

Gretchen Rubin is HAPPIER, and she wants you to be happier too. The #1 bestselling author of The Happiness Project and Better Than Before gets more personal than ever as she brings her practical, manageable advice about happiness and good habits to this lively, thought-provoking podcast. Gretchen’s cohost and guinea pig is her younger sister, Elizabeth Craft, a TV writer and producer living in Los Angeles, who (lovingly) refers to Gretchen as her happiness bully.

(Website//Listen)

Other ones I subscribed to but haven’t started yet:

Serial
Totally Married
Stuff You Should Know
Tranquility du jour

Do you listen to podcasts?? Let me know what I should listen to!

Ten Hyped Books I’ve Never Read

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

This week’s topic: Top Ten Hyped Books I’ve Never Read

 Being immersed in a bookish community such as this online one that I find myself in there is the tendency for books to get super hyped up here and then sometimes even outside our little bubble. There are a lot of hyped books I plan on reading but just haven’t yet. LET ME KNOW IF YOU THINK THEY ARE WORTH THE HYPE. Here are 10 I haven’t read yet!

 

hyped-books

 

 

 

The Wrath & the Dawn: This one is a new release but I’ve seen a lot of buzz for it before it was even released and even since then I’ve heard a lot of “favorite book of 2015″ declarations. I own it and plan on reading it!

The Girl on the Train: This one is one of those books I first heard hyped in the adult fiction book community and then it spread and now I’m even seeing it on my personal Facebook mentioned by people I didn’t even know read books most recently a girl I went to high school with and haven’t spoken to in like 10 years.

Red Queen: OMG THIS ONE HAD SO MUCH HYPE AND BUZZ EVEN BEFORE IT CAME OUT. I wanted to read it at first but after hearing from some people whose opinions I trust I’m not sure it’s high on my to-do list right now. It’s a maybe.

Dorothy Must Die: Oh man, sooo much hype for this one. Harper was pushing it so hard last year and it seemed to be loved by a lot of people. The package the ARC came in was really cool though. That’s always how I can tell a book is going to be the “one” of the season.

A Darker Shade of Magic: This is a newer release but OH MAN were bloggers going nuts for this one! And I’ve literally only heard good things. I definitely plan on reading it soon!

Insurgent: I know I know. I haven’t read book 2 of this super hyped series. One day maybe.

The Night Circus: This is one of those again that it seems like even my random Facebook friends have even read. I feel like I’m always so behind on the ones that become huge deals outside of this community!  Definitely plan on reading it though!

Me Before You: ALL THE HYPE FOR THIS ONE. Even a lot of YA bloggers who don’t read a lot of adult fiction read this one and it’s all praises for it. Plan on rectifying that soon!

The Dream Thieves: I KNOW I KNOW I KNOW. I loved The Raven Boys but I just am awful with series especially when they are hyped and I am behind. Planning on binging Blue Lily Lily Blue along with this one soon!

The Selection: This series has taken the world by storm and is definitely one of the most hyped series in recent years. I’m not sure if it’s my thing but it looks really fun!

So tell me…what hyped books have YOU not read? Which of these do you think is worth the hype??

Book Talk: The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma

Book Talk: The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren SumaThe Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma
Published by Algonquin Young Readers on March 2015
Genres: Contemporary YA, YA Mystery
Format: ARC
Source: For Review
Amazon/Twitter
Goodreads

I received this book for review consideration from the publisher. This in no way swayed my opinion of the book. 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

Told in alternating points of view we meet two girls whose only connection is a girl named Orianna and mysteries that surround them. Violet is a talented dancer from a good family who is well on her way to pursuing her dreams. Amber is a girl who has been locked away in an all girl’s correctional facility for many years despite the innocence she maintains. Amber hopes for justice and Violet hopes for nothing to get in the way of what she’s earned but is something else already set in motion?

a2WAIT I DO NOT UNDERSTAND WHAT JUST HAPPENED?!?

WhatJustHappened

a4

OKAY. So this was an interesting experience, guys! I’m LOVING LOVING LOVING the book. I’m TENSELY reading…just turning the pages as fast as my brain can keep up with because things are getting CRAAAAZY UP IN THIS BOOK. And then the ending happened. I didn’t get it. I literally did not understand what happened. So I reread the THING that happens that confused me. STILL DIDN’T UNDERSTAND. So I reread again because maybe the sun from the beach I was reading on affected me. NOPE. NO COMPRENDO. MY BRAIN STILL HURTS. So I googled “PLEASE SOMEBODY EXPLAIN THE ENDING OF THE WALLS AROUND US.” Google was actually real helpful. Sort of. I found two different explanations of the ending. I think the last one made more sense and I THINK is actually what happened. If what I read is what actually happened then it was an awesome ending and such a wonderfully strange & unique book!

I think the only downfall to this book is truly is that I didn’t understand what happened at the end — I don’t know if it was my brain or if the ending was legit kind of confusing. I was so amped about it from page one and then I really struggled with the ending. But before that there was a whole lot of things that were keeping me turning those pages.

I loved the writing — it was so fantastic and had this haunting and atmospheric quality to it that could cause the hair to stand on your arms. Half of the setting is in this correctional facility for girls and she just completely transported me into this place and this look into an all girls juvenile detention center and the effects of being there on the girls. It’s not a setting I think I’ve ever read so I was glued to the book in that way. I loved seeing how the inmates interacted and what life is like day to day but also this exploration of justice and freedom and how unfair sometimes the justice system is if you aren’t as privileged as someone else.

There was this underlying mystery and these undertones that constantly made you feel like something wasn’t QUITE right. It made it such a page-turner in addition to the way she completely immersed you into the setting. Twisty in all the right places, tension that feels palpable. I think a lot of this is due to the two narrators — Amber and Violet — because you aren’t quite sure if you can trust them. Are they guilty? Are they innocent? As you try to wade through the lies and the truths you get so tangled into both of their stories. But then we have this other character, Ori, who we don’t hear from but we know her as Violet’s best friend and Amber’s new roommate and slowly we get pieces as to why she ends up there.

 

a6RATING-reallyliked

factors+ writing, plot, page-turning abilities, uniqueness, setting
–  the fact I didn’t understand quite what happened at the ending at all

Re-readability: I’m tempted because I kind of like reading twisty books again after I know things
Would I buy a copy for my collection? Because it’s not a favorite, probably not but I sure hope my library has a copy of it because it is FANTASTIC.

a5lots of people! Readers who are looking for something truly unique, readers who love a little mystery

a8This book truly was on a LOVE level until the ending. I’m fine with having to really think about an ending but I get really frustrated when I can’t understand what happened so it honestly left a bad taste in my mouth even after how fabulous this book had been before that. When I read someone’s explanation I was back to OH MY GOSH WOWWW but ultimately having to google to understand the ending affected my overall feelings. Still very much liked it but I have to be honest about how the ending left me.

review-on-post-itThe Walls ARound Us review

 

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?
If you did read it (and let’s mark spoilers in the comments), PLEASE CAN WE DISCUSS!! PLEASE!!

 

 


The Perpetual Page-Turner

Why I Am The Way I Am

 

Well, I really don’t have the answer for the overarching reason of why I am the way I am in general. That’s another topic for another day. More so, I had an encounter this weekend that reminded me why I blog, why I do it the way I do  (read: probably way too open and emotional and sappy for most people). It was definitely one of those life-affirming things for me.

So Will had off on Friday for the 4th of July and we kept throwing around ideas for things to do. We finally decided just to stay around our area. We took a four mile walk (2 miles to this cute neighborhood we love with lots of shops and food stuff and 2 miles back). One of my missions, besides getting coffee, was to find this Little Free Library (which I think is the COOLEST concept ever) that I knew was in the area so I loaded up a backpack with a couple books and we went. It was an adorable street off the main road and when we walked up there were two ladies outside in front of it actually picking out paint colors for it — one being the owner and the other her neighbor. I’m a chatty/friendly person (clearly you know this) and so we got to talking to them for a little bit. Learned that the owner of the LFL used to work with Laurie Halse Anderson who I love so that was pretty cool but then she talked about WHY she decided to put up a Little Free Library. And here comes the life/blog-affirming part.

Little Free Library

She shared that she had gotten the Little Free Library when she was caring for her husband who was diagnosed with ALS. They felt closed off as it got harder to go places for him and so she got one in hopes that neighbors and the community would come use it. It became such an uplifting thing for him (and for her) to have neighbors and others come visit and exchange books and interact with them in such a hard time. I haven’t really talked about it on the blog as much as I’ve talked about losing my mom to brain cancer but Will’s dad passed away from ALS about 5 years ago. So this story really, really moved me and I was so thankful that she shared it.

Here’s the thing. I’ve always believed that reading and books are a special sort of magic. They are there when you are lonely, when you need to feel connected to other humans, when you need to escape, when you need something to uplift you or energize you or don’t want to feel alone in whatever you are dealing with. They have the power to transform and save and do all sorts of things. Words and stories are so powerful.

It reaffirmed for me about how much reading and blogging about what I read is about connection for me — connecting with other readers, hearing their stories and just connecting with humanity in the pages of the books I read. I think that’s why I’m so willing to share the personal things. Why I hope you will trust me with your stories when I share whether that be in the form of blog posts of your own, in my comments or in my inbox. That’s why I might talk more about my experiences related to a book or how a story moved me personally. It’s just important to me. It’s just how I’m wired. Maybe it was losing my mom when I realized how much CONNECTING with other people who went through something hard/similar and hearing their stories made me not feel so alone. How certain books were there for me at the right time.

It reaffirmed why I run my blog the way I do.

 

And this is not to say that it’s the right way (I’ve said it a zillion times before…no right way/no better way). It’s just the way that makes me feel content and makes it fulfilling and worthwhile FOR ME. It’s why I’m okay that I’m not naturally the blogger who can do a wonderful critical analysis and point out all the technical things that just don’t come so easily for me. It’s why I’m okay with featuring books in different ways even though it might not be flashy and get a whole lot of attention. It’s why I’m okay writing more personal posts in favor of  promo posts. All those things that I don’t do are great and needed and important… but the things that I do are the things that align with ME and what I care about/what interests me and the blog gives me an outlet to do that. I’m so thankful for that. When I DO the things that make me fulfilled it’s what keeps this blog going (and everybody’s sense of fulfillment comes from something else!).

Sometimes I’ll get down on myself that maybe I should do this and that and what not. Maybe my blog should have more of this. Maybe it should look more like this. Maybe I should do less of this. But at the end of the day, I’m really happy with what I do. I’m happy with what I put out here and what I focus my time on when I do this. I’m so thankful for all the ways I’ve connected with people who became shoulders to cry on (metaphorical but whew you don’t have to endure the snot on your shoulder), who gave me advice or inspired me, who I may have helped with my words, who reached out to me and shared their stories, who may have felt inspired by my openness, etc. etc.

Today just really reaffirmed why I blog, why I do it the the way I do and why I am the way I am — no matter how the trends shift or what becomes cool. At the heart of this blog will always be the things that are important and fulfilling to me and I sincerely hope, for my fellow bloggers, that it’s that way for you — no matter how that looks! It also reminded me just how vast this book community is outside of my little corner of the bookternet and how wonderful it is.

Thank you for being vulnerable with me these 5 years. Thank you for sharing your stories on your blog, in the comments of my posts/emails or by the books that you write. It’s what has kept me around for the past 5 years — not the ARCs, not the “cool perks”, not the ad money, not the spotlight or anything else.

In Memory Of

IMG_7539One of my favorite pictures of my sister and I with my mom when we were really little.

 

Today marks the day, 9 years ago, that I lost my mom to brain cancer. The first couple years my sister and stepdad and I would go to her grave. That always felt a little uncomfortable and sad to me personally because a gravestone in the middle of town amongst a sea of other dead waiting to be remembered held no significance to me or maybe it just felt so final? Either way, I couldn’t do the whole visiting the grave thing. I felt guilty for years that I rarely visited her grave but for me…that’s just not where she was. I felt nothing by being there except sadness and awkwardness. I just don’t get graveyards — they are definitely for the living but I guess, for myself, I’d much rather go have a glass of wine on the porch in the home where she actually lived.

 

Sometimes after we would try to have some breakfast or lunch and be together which was nice but it was still too hard to accept the fact that she was gone and here we were eating brunch and trying to act like this wasn’t hard. Other years I stayed in bed and was sad all day. I didn’t particularly like that either.

So a couple years ago, after the breakfasts and lunches kind of faded away because we got busy and the day felt less ceremonious and ritualistic, I decided to honor and remember my mom in my own way. It’s still a sad day for me every year but enough time has passed that it doesn’t feel as raw like the only thing I CAN do on that day is cry a whole lot.

For the past couple years on this day I’ve been trying to do things that my mom loved. It might be as simple as having a glass of wine (my mom was a big wine-o) and listening to Jimmy Buffett (her favorite). One year I went to beach because my mom grew up in Florida and the beach was one of her favorite places on this earth. I always have a little dance party because my mom was THAT person on the dance floor and always loved to dance so much.

This year when I was thinking about what I’d do to honor my mom I started thinking about memory and how 9 years was a long time and how I’m scared I’m going to run out of things that I remember she loved. I talked about this a little bit in my P.S. I Still Love You book talk but that’s one of my greatest fears — not remembering. Or forgetting the details — what her laugh sounded like, how her face looked for real and not just in pictures, what her favorite food was, etc.

IMG_7543

Making fun of my mom (on the left) because of how she scraped her legs falling down in her wedding dress in Jamaica

And I kind of had a moment this morning. My mom’s favorite dessert of all time was carrot cake. It’s not my favorite but I’ve grown to like it. I was thinking about how I wanted to get some carrot cake today but was trying to think of a backup favorite in case I couldn’t find any easily. And then I just sat there because I couldn’t remember what else she liked dessert-wise. And then I panicked. How could I not know or remember? What if I didn’t know all along? How could I not have paid more attention? And so on.

I panicked thinking about how slowly and slowly these memories and these details were going to fade. How eventually there is going to come a time when I will have just as many (and then MORE) years on this earth without her than with her. And it pains me to think about that. How I had 20 years on this Earth with her but time is going to keep going and I’ll be living in a world where there will be 20 years of memories without her. 20 years between the time she lived and the time she didn’t.

IMG_7544I will always remember my mom’s hair (esp how big it was sometimes). ALWAYS. Like in fine detail. Because she passed on the wild mane of curls to me.

Memory and memories are just a weird thing. We collect them. We try to hold on to them. We lose them slowly or they become vague/less specific as we have distance from them — they begin to have holes like swiss cheese. We try to fill picture frames and books and journals and our social media pages with them. We try to pass them and on share them so that the memories just don’t live within us and end up leaving us when we die or our memory fails us for good. They aren’t always reliable or accurate. The most random ones jolt through our brains at the most random of times in full living color while other ones we try to remember just seem lost in the abyss. There are some things we remember forever. There are some things that seem lost the moment it became a part of our history. How some memories we wish we could forget have been branded in our hearts (I wish I didn’t remember the day my mom died in so much detail and color).

IMG_7542RenFaire! That time my sister bawled because she was too embarrassed to dress up but NOT US.

 

There’s been these periods of grief in my life. The times where I’m just trying to get through the day and grief was intense because it just happened and my mind could not fathom it. There was depression and bitterness. There came a wave of a lot of “firsts” that happened without my mom. And then these HUGE big life changing things that were hard to think could happen without my mom — graduations, marriage, babies (for my sister and not me obviously), etc. And I guess maybe this stage I’m in right now has a lot of fears of remembering or realizing the details have slipped away more than I’d like them to have. And maybe it’s that I’m dealing with my stepdad getting remarried and all of my mom being taken OUT of that house that a huge chunk of our memories were made in in preparation of his new wife. Maybe it’s that in preparation for all that, we’ve had to go through some of my mom’s stuff and memories have been swirling around.

So on this hard day, 9 years later, I decided that one of the biggest part of memories and remembering the people we loved is in the sharing and the retelling — sharing them with other people so they aren’t these things that are solely up to us to remember. It’s always broken my heart that Will never met my mom or that Geneiveve and Adela (my nieces) will never ever know her. So it came to me really strongly, in the middle of my panicking over my mom’s second favorite dessert that I can’t remember, that I really really want to put together a book with memories and pictures of my mom and growing up for Genevieve and Adela…and for myself if I’m honest…so that they can know her and that those memories can live on. I want to write about what I know about her. Relive memories I haven’t forgotten. List the random details.

 IMG_7540Intergenerational — my great grandma (who I barely remember), my grandma Mimi and my mom and I. My mom was I think 25 or 26 in this picture which WOAH.

And now I’m going to go on search of that carrot cake. And by the way, as I was writing this post, it dawned on me that cheesecake was definitely a close second.  Memory is a fickle beast, I tell you.

 

Monthly Rewind: June 2015

mr1a

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Follow me on Instagram to see more images from my month

 mr2a

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

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

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

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

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

Processed with VSCOcam with 5 preset

 

mr3

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

 

1. Seventeen — Sjowgren


2. Back to the Ordinary — Kid Astray

3. Astronaut — Paris Carney


4. Cliff’s Edge — Hayley Kiyoko

5. Alligator Years — Twinsmith

6. Could Have Been Me – The Struts

 

Honorable mentions:

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

Check out the rest of my June playlist

 

mr4

I read 12 book this month!

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

 

mr5

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

 

 

mr10

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

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

mr6

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

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

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

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

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

 

mr12

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

mr7

Eh only one video this month:

My Simon Vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda book talk

 

mr11

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

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

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

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

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

mr8

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

Processed with VSCOcam with f3 preset

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

 

mr9

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

 

mr12

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

One song that would DEFINITELY be on your roadtrip mix!

 

 

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?

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

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

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

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

best books 2015 so far YA

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

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

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...