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

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

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

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

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

But then….

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

AND THEN YOU REMEMBER WHY YOU DO THIS.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

GIVEAWAY

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

WHAT ONE LUCKY WINNER WILL GET:

A care package curated BY ME

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

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

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

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

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

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

Making Pretty Corey Ann Haydu

Making Pretty by Corey Ann Haydu

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

 

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

Rating

RATING-reallyliked

 

 

Bone Gap by Laura Ruby

Bone Gap by Laura Ruby

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

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

Rating

RATING-reallyliked

 

 

 

Extraordinary Means Robyn Schneider

Extraordinary Means by Robyn Schneider

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

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

Rating

RATING-loved-it

 

 

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

 

Book Talk: PS I Still Love You by Jenny Han

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

 

 

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

OKAY SPOILER TIME:

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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PS I STill Love you review jenny han

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

 

 


The Perpetual Page-Turner

I’m Not Too Old For That!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Ten Books On My Summer 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 on My Summer TBR

I realized that a lot of books that are at the top of my TBR list were also books on my top ten new releases I’m excited about for the second half of 2015 so I tried not to repeat any of those 2015 releases!

Books to read this summer 2015hahahah I was dusting my shelves and totally put my hearts upside down…it’s been like that for DAYS and I didn’t notice.

 
My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick: I’ve been meaning to read this one for FOREVER because it so seems like a me book but this summer IT WILL HAPPEN. Looks like a great summer read, yeah?

Emmy & Oliver by Robin Benway: Loved Robin’s Audrey, Wait and Also Known As and this one looks fantastic as well!

A Million Miles Away by Lara Avery: We all know contemporary YA but I tend to enjoy contemporary YA romances like this ESPECIALLY in the summer. Seems emotional and I’m curious how it will all turn out!

City Love by Susane Colasanti: This sounds like one that is SUPER fun for the summertime. It’s set DURING the summer before college which I LOVE.

Future Perfect by Jen Larsen: A girl’s grandmother offers her a full ride to the college she wants to go to in exchange for weight loss surgery. Between this and Dumplin’ coming out in the Fall I’m excited to read some books about body image and such!

Rebound by Noelle August: I loved Boomerang in this New Adult romance series so I cannot wait to read this one this summer!

One Plus One by Jojo Moyes: I am going to stop being a Jojo Moyes virgin, okay?? (thanks to Hannah for this one!!)

The Night We Said Yes by Lauren Gibaldi: I’ve been saving this one for summertime because it looks like a fun book full of romance and friendship!

Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon: This was on my most anticipated debut lists for 2015 and I’ve been trying to hold off till a little closer to the release date sooo I’ve deemed soon the time to read it!

Truest by Jackie Lea Sommers: Another great sounding contemporary for the summer months!

 

So tell me…what books are you planning on reading this summer? Have you read any on my list??? Which one should I read first??

Series Send Off: The Lumatere Chronicles by Melina Marchetta

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

OH MY GOD. I’m bursting with my love for this series and these characters. I honestly did a lot of joyful crying towards the end.

 

lumatere-chronicles Goodreads // Amazon

 

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

 

I HAVE NEVER LOVED FICTIONAL CHARACTERS MORE THAN I HAVE LOVED THESE ONES. TRULY.  The main ones. The secondary ones. Even a whole lot of minor characters who sometimes only get a couple pages in the whole series. I AM BURSTING WITH LOVE. WITH JOY. WITH SORROW. WITH PRIDE. I’m also a a bit sad because I can’t fathom not knowing all the details of their lives through alllll the years to come. I just don’t want to let them go. It feels a bit like mourning right now. It’s a bit of a slower fantasy series in some ways when compared to other fantasy I’ve read (it totally is action-packed at times) but the character development and the EMOTIONS and the ferocity in which you will care for these characters and their kingdom is unparalleled. I loved all Melina Marchetta’s contemporaries and I’m happy to say these, like those ones, are 5 star reads for me.

 

 

What The Series Is About:

Oh man, how can I even describe this series as a whole?? A kingdom. A horrific attack. A curse. A people group in exile. A people group finding their way home. AND THEN SO MUCH MORE. I don’t even want to spoil a MOMENT of it.

 

 

Recommended For People Who Love:

epic high fantasy series, Melina Marchetta’s other books and are open to fantasy, character driven stories, badass females and all so differently badass, amazing world-building, amazing and complicated relationships, unparalleled character development

 

 

Thoughts On Book 2 & Book 3
(Skip below to the next section or read my review for book 1 if you haven’t read the series yet!)

 

Finnikin of the Rock — I already shared my thoughts on this book so I’m not going to but it’s crazy how I thought this was so amazing and then Froi and Quintana blew it out of the water (even though it’s still very awesome).

 

Froi of the Exiles: OH MAN. Froi. FROI. This book was so freaking awesome. I love that we still are with the characters we love from Lumatere but OH MAN the characters we meet in Froi of the Exiles just captured my heart (even the more prickly ones) and are all just so intriguing and their stories are fascinating. I loved learning more about Charyn and what was going on there and a lot of their history that intersects with the characters from book 1. I felt like that book kept shocking me and revealing things and I couldn’t keep a handle on my emotions. But let’s just talk about Froi himself. I did NOT like Froi in Finnikin of the Rock but oh the character growth that happens…MARCHETTA MAGIC.  Learning his background and having answers to the questions he’s been wondering about his life was just this constant rush of emotions to read. I finished Froi so mad at myself for not having Quintana of Charyn on hand, despite being warned, because holy CRAP the ending of this book is too much too handle. Random aside: maybe it was because I was doing an Orphan Black binge but I kept picturing Quintana as Helena from Orphan Black.

Quintana of Charyn: HOLY ROLLERCOASTER OF EMOTIONS. I thought the first two books were a rollercoaster of a ride but this book felt like a rollercoaster on steroids — one that had my insides all out of place and kept me in free fall through a good part of it. I am serious…I cried for at least half of this book at different points — sad and just bursting with happiness kind of crying. My heart was swelling so much I thought it might just take off out of my chest. All the things that come full circle and Froi’s two worlds colliding and all the things we find out and OMG I AM CRYING RIGHT NOW. I’m serious. I care too much. As I was finishing this book I was just weeping and Will was like, “wow this book must be sad” and I’m like “but I’m not even cry because I’m sad or devastated…I just have so many emotions and pride and love and my body doesn’t know what to do with it so I’m just crying.”  This book broke my heart and restored it. I mean, I’m telling you Marchetta outdoes herself because there are single sentences or words spoken that could just bring me to my knees. “It’s not our time.” “Do you honestly think I’d stay there knowing they were using you as bait” THOSE ARE ONLY A FEW THAT GUTTED ME. Everything did really. It was the book that kept on hitting me hard.  ONE OF THE BEST ENDS TO A TRILOGY/SERIES EVER.

 

 

 

Rating Broken Down By Books

I don’t really need to break it down for each book because honestly each book gets the same rating for different reasons!!

RATING-beyondloved

 Rereadability: OH YES.
Will I buy it for my collection?: UM YES. I library-ed all 3 of them and I fully intend on purchasing them.

 

I normally write my little farewell to the series and right now I’m just crying whilst trying to write it because I just want to go on and on with them. It seems so final to say goodbye. I just want to reread already because….it can’t be over. DEAR CHARACTERS OF THIS SERIES I LOVE YOU SO MUCH. MORE THAN PROBABLY IS HEALTHY. From the main characters to the minor characters who were so integral to this story, you are all SO IMPORTANT AND I FEEL A SURGE OF PRIDE WHEN I THINK OF YOU. This series is one of the best I’ve ever read. Melina Marchetta remains my queen and in my top 5 favorite authors of all time.

 

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

Are We Out Of The Woods Yet?

If there is one thing you’ve learned about me over the years it’s that I am a very sentimental person and everything is ridiculously significant to me so I reflect a lot about the most random of things.

I can even make going to a Taylor Swift concert an emotional thing. So, yeah, I went to see Taylor Swift yesterday in Philly. It was awesome. As one would expect. I’ll get to the experience but first I’m going to get a little emo on y’all. IS IT A DAY THAT ENDS IN Y?

This was not my first Taylor Swift concert. I saw Taylor Swift in February of 2007 at a small venue called Crocodile Rock near her hometown and about 45 minutes from me. I went with my college roomies on a whim because we all loved her single Tim McGraw and had been listening to her album nonstop. (My Taylor Swift conversion was by force — they were all country fans and I was the pretentious little hipster who was too afraid to admit I liked it when they constantly played it but I so did. I WAS SO ANNOYING IN COLLEGE). Taylor was adorable, talented and sweet. I remember her pulling up a little girl on stage for Stay Beautiful. It was just a great experience and it made me a fan of her even more.

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So here we are like 8 years later. EIGHT YEARS HOLY CRAP. A lot has changed in 8 years — for me and clearly for Taylor Swift who is playing to crowds of 50,000 now and is one of the biggest names out there. But there is something ridiculously significant to me as I reflect back on my own journey and that of Taylor’s in these years. I got a little emotional when I bought the tickets. When I first saw her I had just turned 21 a few months before and now I’m getting ready to turn 30 in a few months. MY LIFE WAS SO DIFFERENT.

When I first saw Taylor my mom had passed away just a few months before that in July of 2006. I was so lost and so unsure of myself because of that but also just in general because those early twenties are just a tumultuous time of growing in general. When I saw Taylor last night I’m at a place where things aren’t perfect but I feel like I’m out of the woods — I’ve made it through my 20’s and even though things at almost 30 are not what 21 year old Jamie would have expected them to be but I’m okay with that. I’m confident and more happy with who I am than I’ve ever been. I’m more myself than I’ve ever been and having a BLAST because of it. I’m doing things for ME and not worrying about what people (whose opinions don’t really matter) think. It was a long and tearful journey — some pretty hard friendship breakups and letting things/people go that had been a part of my life for so long, saying no to be able to say yes to the things truly of my heart, some definite comfort zone blasting and a lot of mistakes along the way. It was hard to realize how much of my life I lived for other people in my early 20’s — to make them like me, to have their approval, to fit in, to not rock the boat — all at the sacrifice of my own happiness and the real me. But if there is one lesson I’ve come out of my 20’s with is that life is too short to pretend to like things you don’t and to deny yourself the things you really do because of what people think. I’m quoting myself from this post.

And I can’t help but see some weird parallels between my life in these 8 years and Taylor’s life in these years since I last saw her (okay hers is much more exciting than mine but STILL). I mean, LOOK AT HER RIGHT NOW. She has come into her own so much. She’s owning who she is and what she wants to do. She’s letting herself go in directions that others might question and she’s doing it with CONFIDENCE and SWAG. And she’s just having a whole lot of fun with her life and not letting opinions that don’t matter dictate her life. It certainly hasn’t been easy for her and for every one who loves her she’s got plenty of people who want to knock her down. But she’s doing it. And at the heart of this world dominating Taylor Swift is still that sweet girl I saw sitting on a stool timidly just being so vulnerable with the audience and telling the stories of her heart.

It’s crazy how much can happen in 8 years. It’s humbling. It’s empowering. It’s motivating. It’s a reminder that I CAN GET THROUGH IT. 8 years later and I still miss my mom like crazy but it, and the other extremely difficult things I’ve faced in those years, DID NOT BREAK ME.

So, I don’t know, it might be this weird parallel because of my overly sentimental heart but if a Taylor Swift concert that bookends my incredibly tumultuous 20’s is the thing I needed to reflect and remind myself of how badass I am and how much strength I have inside of me…well then I will take it and run with it as I face my 30’s head on.

 

So let’s get to the actual concert!

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Some highlights:

– IT WAS SUPER FUN. So much fun to sing and dance and not care about my white girl awkward dancing because there was a lot of that going on. Loved singing to all my faves! She really knows how to put on a good show (though sometimes she did a little too much inspirational talking for my taste before songs but they were probably things the younger crowd needed to hear from someone they look up to!)

–  OH MY GOSH SHE DID THE BEST VERSION OF LOVE STORY. It was like this re-imagined 1989-esque version of it and it was incredible. She recorded it here if you wanna listen:

– We got these cool little bracelets that flashed with different colors while she was singing. After the show was over if you tap them they still light up with different colors!

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– Some awesome special guests: Rachel Platten (literally she sang Fight Song with Taylor which is the only song of hers I know!!) and Mariska Hargitay who I LOVE from Law & Order. (I will say I’m a little jealous that I was not there the night before when Echosmith joined her on stage!

– I loved looking at all the awesome costumes and t-shirts the Swifties were wearing! Some ballerinas and cheerleaders and people who made Instagram polaroids. AND TWO GIRLS DRESSED UP AS STARBUCKS CUPS. It was awesome.

– I loved how even when she’s playing to a crowd of 50,000 she still has that personal touch that makes you feel like she’s playing to a small crowd and how you feel like you really know her. It’s no wonder she’s got some of the most devoted fans ever.

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– I loved how she included her bffs — in between some of the songs there were these cute videos with all of her bffs about what it’s like being friends with Taylor and just about female friendship and empowerment in general.

– HER OUTFITS WERE ON POINT.

– Vance Joy opened for her so I was happy to see him again because Will and I LOVE him (Will was a little jealous I got to see him again) but I will say his stuff is a little slower and less GET PUMPED FOR TAYLOR kind of music.

– Experiencing my first BIG Taylor concert with one of the biggest fans I know, my friend and fab book blogger Katie, who drove from CANADA to PHILLY to see her!

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It was SUCH a fun night and I’m so happy that I was able to go — it was my Christmas present from Will! I’m still TOTALLY on a Taylor Swift high right now and I think Will might kill me if I have 1989 on repeat all day.

A Sentimental Value

Recently I talked about books that changed your life and are important to you — like the words on the pages, the story, the characters — but the other day I started thinking about books that are just important to you, for what is inside, but also just the actual physical book itself.

I was thinking about it when I was working on  a prompt for a daily Instagram challenge. The prompt was “favorite childhood book.” I have quite a few childhood favorites (ones that I still own) but immediately I thought about my beloved Nancy Drew books.

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I will never forget the day my mom gave these to me. I was pretty young and I remember she climbed through our creepy attic while I waited at the door because I was afraid of mice being in there. I HATED OUR ATTIC. She rummaged through a couple of boxes until she found them. They were hers. And before that they were her mom’s. I don’t remember why exactly she grabbed them for me. Maybe I was looking for more material to read? Maybe I had already been into Nancy Drew? Maybe she wanted to introduce me to them? I can’t really recall the why but I will never forget the memory for some reason. (I have the strangest memory because I remember the most random things but can’t remember things Will told me yesterday).

I remember feeling like I was part of a secret club now that I was grown up enough to read my mom’s Nancy Drew books. My sister didn’t read so I felt like it was truly something JUST my mom and I shared. They felt so old to me. So fragile. And I remember handling them with great care. There’s some sort of magic that just comes with something that has been passed down from grandmother to mother to child.

I devoured that whole series and bought many more of them but the only ones I still have in my possession are actually these ones. Most of you long-time readers know that my mom passed away in 2006 and so these books have a value that I can’t ever put on them. I mean, I seriously would probably grab these in a fire (along with the blanket I have them sitting on which is made of some of my mom’s most iconic t-shirts I remember her wearing) because THEY MEAN SO MUCH TO ME. They were my mom’s. We shared a love for reading and I know that her giving me those helped me to be the reader I am today.

I’ve talked before about how I’m pretty ruthless about getting rid of books after I read them (only favorites or books that I would reread or signed books FROM beloved authors even if I didn’t LOVE the book). I don’t collect books or ARCs or different editions. But sometimes books stay on my shelf for sentimental reasons. I don’t have many books that stay for that reason but the ones that do really mean a lot to me.

When I think about what other books mean a lot to me a couple signed books come to mind. Books personalized to me from favorite authors. (MY GAYLE FORMAN BOOK FROM MY BIRTHDAY) Things like that. And as much as they mean so much to me, they just can’t ever come close to my beloved Nancy Drew books.

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There’s just something about having a piece of my mom that comes with a vivid memory of being given those books and knowing they were hers and she wanted to give them to me. To look at those worn pages and know that once upon a time she flipped through them (because sometimes through the years you get so used to someone as being NOT ALIVE that you have to remind yourself of all the years of living they really did). Of the connection those books brought us because there were very few ways I felt like I truly understood her but her love for reading was one of those things.

 

So what about you guys? Do you have any books that have sentimental value to you? That are important to you in a way that isn’t JUST about what is inside?

Top Ten (Actually 15) Most Anticipated Release for The Rest of 2015

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

This week’s topic: Top Ten Most Anticipated Books For The Second Half of 2015

You can check out my most anticipated debuts for 2015 and my 18 2015 releases I can’t wait for post to see more of what releases have me excited. These lists were heavily concentrated with books from the first half of the year but I did have two that I want to point out from there (but don’t want to repeat on this list) — Everything, Everything & Tonight The Streets Are Ours.

2015 book releases

Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas – OMG I NEED THIS IN MY HANDS NOW. LIKE NOW. If you have been following this blog, you know it’s my favorite series of all times right now soooo GET ON IT. YOU HAVE TIME TO READ BOOKS 1 through 3. THIS BABY IS COMING TO ME RIGHT AT MIDNIGHT ON MY KINDLE PLUS I AM ORDERING A PHYSICAL COPY.

Vengeance Road by Erin Bowman:  WILD WEST. That is all.

Dumplin by Julie Murphy: Really enjoyed Julie Murphy’s debut and this one sounds excellent…plus FIERCE COVER. I’m so excited for a fierce book about body image and more!

Never Always Sometimes by Adi Alsaid: I LOVED Adi’s debut Let’s Get Lost so I cannot wait for this one! Sounds like an adorbs contemporary romance!

Walk On Earth A Stranger by Rae Carson: Historical fantasy…Gold Rush era…sounds awesome!

A Madness So Discreet by Mindy McGinnis: Loved Not A Drop To Drink so I’m excited for a new book from Mindy! Historical fiction! Insane asylum setting!

These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly: This YA historical fiction/mystery sounds excellent!

Fans of the Impossible Life by Kate Scelsa: “This is the story of a girl, her gay best friend, and the boy in love with both of them.” It had me at the first sentence of the summary.

Not If I See You First by Eric Lindstrom: This is actually a new one on my radar that I heard of at BEA and it has now jumped up to my most anticipated. The MC is blind and the way the team at Little Brown was talking about made me want to read it ASAP.

Illuminae by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman: This book looks so cool!! I have an ARC of it and just flipping through pages I can tell it will be like nothing I’ve ever read.
What We Left Behind by Robin Talley: I really liked Robin’s debut and this one sounds so good — set in the first year in college and follows Gretchen, who identifies as a lesbian, and Toni, who identifies as genderqueer— as their relationship struggles between the long distance relationship and Toni’s shifting identity.

Everything Underneath by Marcy Beller Paul: This sounds soooo good. Toxic friendships! Mystery/thriller vibe!

The Rose Society by Marie Lu: THE SEQUEL TO THE YOUNG ELITES. GIMME.

What We Saw by Aaron Hartzler: This sounds incredibly powerful and important! Plus I met the author at BEA and he is awesome!!

Wolf By Wolf by Ryan Graudin: Code Name Verity meets Inglorious Bastards!!

 

So tell me…what books are you anticipating for the rest of the years??

Reshelved

Time for another edition of Reshelved in which I share what books I’ve put down lately and which ones I sadly had to take back to the library unread! Check out past Reshelved posts here!

 

Put Down

 

 

 

Emancipated

Emancipated by M.G. Reyes: Man, the premise of having emancipated teens all living together could have meant for some major shenanigans…and maybe they happened but I didn’t stick around to find out. The little I read unfortunately bored me and I was not digging all the POVs particularly because the characters all felt like cardboard-y kind of cliches that just don’t work for me at all. I put it down VERY early on so no idea if the mystery element would have grabbed me at any point.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Magonia

Magonia by Maria Dahvana Headley: I was so sad I wasn’t into this one!!! I love strange and unique books so it was disappointing that I wasn’t into this one. I got 31% into it and I just wasn’t feeling it at all. Didn’t care about any of it and I was just like either it’s my mood or it’s just a little too strange and offbeat for me. Wasn’t sure but I knew I was stalling to pick it up so it was time to let it go.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Rogue By Any Other Name

 

A Rogue By Any Other Name by Sarah MacLean: This is not at all a book I put down because of the actual book! The audio was just not working for me. The narrator was REALLY good — especially with the voices — but I was listening when I was driving and I could NOT at all concentrate as well as I needed to with her British accent. AND I LOVE BRITISH ACCENTS. I kept missing things and it was unfortunate. SOO I will be picking this up as physical book sometime soon but had to DNF the audiobook version. I LOVED HER NARRATION THOUGH. SO TALENTED. Just couldn’t concentrate.

 

 

 

 

 

Went Back To The Library Unread

(not because I didn’t WANT to read them but I stink at reading things when I’m supposed to)

I did SO bad with my library books recently because I took them out at the same time as I did Froi of the Exiles and because that’s huge (and amazing) it took me forever to read which combined with busy month of May…I couldn’t even think about touching them. SAD. I even renewed them and still didn’t get to them.

 

 

More Than This

 

 More Than This by Patrick Ness: I’m sooooo bummed I didn’t get to this before it had to go back. He was at BEA this year and all I kept thinking about is how everyone loves him and I’ve never read his books :((   DEFINITELY planning on getting this again soon.

 

 

 

 

 

 


How To Save a Life

 

How To Save a Life by Sara Zarr : I WILL READ THIS ONE DAY. It looks so like a Jamie book and has been on my list for forever. May was just not the month for me and getting books read.

 

 

 

 
Vivian Apple At The End of the World

 

Vivian Apple at the End of the World by Katie Coyle: I got this out from the library for book club but then OH DUH I realized I couldn’t make book club that month so I just never ended up reading it. I haven’t decided if I will get it back out again. Have you guys read it?? What do you think??

 

 

 

 

Did you feel differently about any of the books I put down? Or similarly? Which books should I make a priority to grab again from the library??
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