Monday, July 27, 2015

Reshelved (8)

Welcome to back to Reshelved! This is an installment of books I didn't finish. I don't like to do full posts because it's not fair to the book for me to not like it and review it if I didn't finish it. Some of these just weren't for me, some of them maybe I got bored with, but I still want to give them publicity because maybe you all read them and thought differently or they sound spectacular to you. Let's discuss in the comments what you thought about these if you've read them, or why they sound good to you!

I also recently discovered (I don't know how I didn't know this before) that Jamie has a Reshelved feature where she talks about stuff she didn't get around to and stuff she put down! I always hate when people don't credit my features & posts, so you can go look at her reshelved posts!

Magonia by Maria Dahvana Headley
Release Date: April 28, 2015
Publisher: Harper Collins
Pages: 320
Format Read: ARC from publisher (thank you!)
DNF at: page 142
Goodreads | Buy It!
Aza Ray is drowning in thin air. 
Since she was a baby, Aza has suffered from a mysterious lung disease that makes it ever harder for her to breathe, to speak—to live. 
So when Aza catches a glimpse of a ship in the sky, her family chalks it up to a cruel side effect of her medication. But Aza doesn't think this is a hallucination. She can hear someone on the ship calling her name.
Only her best friend, Jason, listens. Jason, who’s always been there. Jason, for whom she might have more-than-friendly feelings. But before Aza can consider that thrilling idea, something goes terribly wrong. Aza is lost to our world, and found by another. Magonia. 
Above the clouds, in a land of trading ships, Aza is not the weak and dying thing she was. In Magonia, she can breathe for the first time. Better, she has immense power—and as she navigates her new life, she discovers that war is coming. Magonia and Earth are on the cusp of a reckoning. And in Aza’s hands lies the fate of the whole of humanity—including the boy who loves her. Where do her loyalties lie?
I was just immensely uninterested in this whole, entire book. I was in the mood for a good fantasy, and I was ready to be totally into this one. I was mid way through the book and felt like the story hadn't even started yet. I was bored by the expository-ness of it all, the explanation, the background, everything. It felt like way too much explaining for not enough story and action. In addition, I wasn't compelled by any of the characters. When Aza is taken to the ships in the sky (I mean, what? I had huge problems with this because if you're going to combine our world with a fantasy one, it's got to be explained since most people don't know about it. After about 3 pages, I was expected to know totally what was happening.), I didn't feel for her since she was out of her world. I didn't care about Jason who was apparently sad. I didn't care about her parents. I felt like I didn't know any of the characters, nor did I want to know them.

My Best Everything by Sarah Tomp
Release Date: March 3, 2015
Publisher: Little, Brown
Pages: 400
Format Read: eARC via NetGalley
DNF at: 74%
Goodreads | Buy It!
Luisa “Lulu” Mendez has just finished her final year of high school in a small Virginia town, determined to move on and leave her job at the local junkyard behind. So when her father loses her college tuition money, Lulu needs a new ticket out.
Desperate for funds, she cooks up the (definitely illegal) plan to make and sell moonshine with her friends, Roni and Bucky. Quickly realizing they’re out of their depth, Lulu turns to Mason: a local boy who’s always seemed like a dead end. As Mason guides Lulu through the secret world of moonshine, it looks like her plan might actually work. But can she leave town before she loses everything—including her heart?
The summer walks the line between toxic and intoxicating. My Best Everything is Lulu’s letter to Mason – though is it an apology, a good-bye, or a love letter?
I really, really tried with this one. I'm not sure if it was my lack of connection to the characters or the letter-style writing (I really am not a fan of second-person "you" usage), but I could not get fully immersed into this book. I may finish it eventually if there's nothing else that appeals to me and my train gets stuck since it's still downloaded on my Kindle. I felt an immediate connection because of the backwoods, moonshining business characters. I was ready to fall in love and add this to my cute little collection of Kentucky (okay, so it's Virginia, but it's pretty close in terms of experiences) books. But I just didn't like it. I didn't really find anything appealing with Mason, and though I applaud Lulu's initiative and determination to get into college, I desperately wanted to shake her and shout, "STUDENT LOANS ARE A THING." Like, seriously. Problem solved. I took them out, and yes, they SUCK. But I needed to pay for my own schooling and I found a way to do that. Not a big deal. I just never felt like the stakes got high enough and couldn't take the story seriously.

Talk to me!

Have you read either of these? What did you think about them?
Should I give My Best Everything a second chance? Does it pick up in the last quarter?

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Even in Paradise Review

Even in Paradise by Chelsey Philpot
Release Date: October 14, 2014
Publisher: Harper Collins
Pages: 360
Keywords: family, boarding school, New England
Format Read: purchased hardcover
Goodreads | Buy It!

What's it about?

Charlotte is just an average scholarship student at a ritzy, private boarding school in New England, when a good deed changes her life. After rescuing the infamous Julia Buchanan from puking her guts out in the bushes outside Charlotte's dorm room, the two become inseparable. Charlie gets ushered into the world of upscale New England and is introduced to society's finest. She is falling madly in love with not just Julia, but the entire Buchanan family, and is swept away by their mysterious, strange life, which seems perfect on the surface, but that is far from the truth. 

My thoughts

This was one that I had seen many mixed reviews on, but I'm so glad I gave it a chance (and so glad the Strand had a hardcover for six bucks!). The storytelling was interesting—Charlie was looking back over her time with the Buchanan family and retelling how being a part of their family, even for a short time, molded her life. I always like when books are told this way, and Philpot's voice was excellent in providing a reminiscent tone while letting the reader know that this story was all happening in the past, and it would not be this way forever. 

Julia Buchanan was such an interesting character, but in the way that felt deliberately interesting, like Margo Roth Spiegelman or Jacinta. She felt a little cliched but still compelling to the storyline, and it makes perfect sense to me why characters are drawn to her. She's one of those characters that seems infinitely cooler and more graceful and dignified than the ordinary person while still being mysterious and whimsical. The appeal was not lost on me, though the trope of her character still seemed overused.

I was also totally into Sebastian's relationship with Charlie. He was equally compelling to Charlie for a lot of the same reasons Julia was—she didn't really understand the Buchanan life or family, and being swept away by all of them was such a unique experience for her. Their relationship felt real and evolving and not totally perfect, which I appreciated. It seems like non-romanticized relationships are hard to come by in YA, so I always take note when they do. The funny thing is that the Buchanan family was so romanticized to be this wild, crazy, out-of-this-world rich family and the romantic relationships (as well as the friendships) remained flawed and real and down-to-earth.

Talk to me!

What other characters fall under the "mysterious, compelling, beautiful girl" trope that you've read about?
Do you like the romanticized relationships or prefer flawed, probably not-happy-ending ones?

Monday, July 13, 2015

Suicide Notes From Beautiful Girls

Suicide Notes from Beautiful Girls by Lynn Weingarten
Release Date: July 7, 2015
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Pages: 320
Keywords: death, friendship, mystery
Format Read: ARC via publisher (which in no way swayed my opinion)

What's it about?

June, the main character of the novel, has pretty much changed everything about her life. She moved away from her past and got a steady boyfriend with a normal family, she's made new friends at school, and she's finally on track. But all that changes when her former best friend, Delia, is found dead in a barn. Suddenly, she can't stop thinking about her friend who was said to have committed suicide by burning herself. Delia's ex-boyfriend finds June and lets it slip that he doesn't think the suicide was a suicide after all. Now, June finds herself tangled up in Delia's secrets, lies, and mysterious death, and all she wants is answers. 

My Rating

This book really took me by surprise. It totally had a Vanishing Girls vibe to it, which I enjoyed because I really liked that book. But at the same time it felt very different because unlike VG, these two were not sisters. Though June was close with Delia, she wasn't connected, and she didn't know what Delia would have done next. She was going on a lot fewer clues than Nick and Dara's story. Following that dynamic—a character who had been separated from a friend for a while—was extremely intriguing because, like June, we didn't truly know Delia. I didn't know what she was motivated by, what her life was like prior to the book, or why she would have done some of the things suggested in the book. 

There were a lot of moments where—like June—I didn't totally know what was going on. I felt out of the loop, like there was a lot the characters weren't telling me, but I kind of liked it. It was true to life and it was a true first-person narration. June only knew what June was thinking, which left the reader out of the secret as well.

The book had one of those endings that left me feeling like I just didn't get it, but in a good way. Sometimes, a book that has an open-ended ending isn't done well, and it leaves the reader feeling frustrated. This ending was still confusing. I'm not sure I know exactly for sure what happened, but I like that it could go several ways. It left me thinking about how in life, we don't always get a neat little bow on the end of a story. It's messy, it's confusing, and sometimes, stories are never truly over.

Let's Talk!

How do you feel about open-ended endings?
Do you like when books keep you guessing or give you all the answers?

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Jesse's Girl: Blog Tour & Giveaway

Jesse's Girl by Miranda Kenneally
Release Date: July 7, 2015
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Pages: 304
Keywords: music, country, romance
Format Read: eARC via NetGalley

What's it about?

Maya is totally taken by surprise when, after telling her school she wants to be a musician, gets placed to shadow the famous Jesse Scott for career day. Turns out, his uncle is the school principal, and he thinks it would be a good idea for both Maya and Jesse to take this opportunity. Naturally, Jesse is frustrated he has to put up with a fangirl all day. Maya is super mad that Jesse assumes she's a fangirl when she really wants some guitar tips. But they both want to get away from the lame shadow day schedule the principal has set up for them. 

My rating

I was super into the unfolding of the romance. It was good pacing and I liked the back-and-forth nature of the characters. Jesse and Maya had an awesome dynamic, and I love that Maya didn't put up with Jesse's front he put up to "be the bad guy." And though I haven't read all of the Hundred Oaks series, it was fun to see some of the characters pop up and see that dynamic exist between other couples as well. Kenneally can also write a damn good kissing scene. I was super impressed with the chemistry created between the characters, and I was so going down with that ship.

This was just the light romance I needed for the hot summer in the city. It was fun, and I read it [almost] in one sitting. I liked the music aspect, but I wish less emphasis had been placed on the American Idol-esque show that Maya was desperate to compete on. I know she thinks because Jesse got his start there, that's the only way for her to move anywhere, but she was making a ton of connections otherwise, and I wanted her to see that she had other options other than impressing a few musicians on television.

There were a few things that knocked it out of the great camp, including some occasional stilted dialogue and exclamation points. At times, it seemed super cheesy, and it pulled me out of the book on several occasions. And I didn't like Jesse at the beginning (braces for backlash). I know, I know, he definitely grew on me over time, but the whole "bad boy rocker who's hard to get to" had been done, and it didn't feel too original or new. He definitely got better once I got about 20% into the book when we started to see his personality, but I did not like the exterior that was stereotypically portrayed.

Breathe, Annie, Breathe is still my favorite of the series, though I know I'm going to be reading the ones I haven't gotten to soon. It's so unlike me to go out of order, but with these, it's pretty easy to do. But I am so interested in Sam and Jordan, so I know I'm going to get to them soon.

Thanks to Xpresso Tours, the tour hosts are promoting the giveaway of a $50 iTunes giftcard (which is pretty cool, and you could go buy yourself this ebook along with the rest of the Hundred Oaks series). AND it's international! So go ahead and enter folks!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Let's talk!

Have you read any of the Hundred Oaks series? How do you feel about bad rocker boys?

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Social Media, Blogging, & a Giveaway

Did I not tell you that this summer would feature a lot of exciting events and giveaways?

But let's start with a little background story. I've been seeing a lot of bloggers (Estelle wrote this awesome piece) talk about how they really want this community to be a positive one, and for the most part, it is. But they also discuss the downside to social media and connecting with others 24/7 may not be the best thing in the world, especially when drama happens. We also have a lot of issues balancing blogging and networking against actually reading (ie, the thing that made us start the blog in the first place).

I've been a little absent on main social medias lately because of several reasons (and by absent, I mean posting a few times a week instead of daily). I'm trying to focus more on my love of reading than the media aspect to it, and I've been trying to have more conversations with people when I am on social media instead of sending massive amounts of emojis at people. Also, I have a grown-up job now, and it's surprisingly (okay, not really too surprising) tiring!

Which brings me to my focus. I've added several books to my "reading next" pile that I wanted to share. (It's different than TBR because that's a never-ending pile. This stack I am actually currently working on and/or have finished.) These books have helped me take a step back from things and focus more energy on reading. It's odd because they're about social media. I think seeing the downsides of what it can do have helped me see what I like to do in my IRL life as opposed to being glued to my phone.

The moral? Nothing like watching fictional characters' lives fall apart because of the internet to get you good and scared of social media!

 1. Weightless by Sarah Bannan
I'm a sucker for any story that involves the South, especially people out of their comfort zone in the south. Moving from New Jersey to Alabama is a shocker, but Carolyn is doing surprisingly well at the new school. That is, until all hell breaks loose after a risque video of her and another girl's boy makes the rounds. Once it's on the internet, it's here to stay.

2. serafina67 *urgently requires life* by Susie Day
 Man, this takes me back. This is a book I read a while ago. By a while, I mean in 2008 when it was published. I started blogging in 2009 when it was still a new thing and most people were confused as you tried to explain to them what it was. Serafina takes refuge in her shiny new (brick of a) laptop, and she blogs about her life, using it as a personal outlet. But she quickly discovers putting your secrets out on the interwebs doesn't make them secrets anymore—especially when her parents can see them.

3. Can't Look Away by Donna Cooner
This one made the rounds a while ago, but I just now got it from the library. Torrey Grey is a beauty vlogger, and she's a pretty famous one. But her sister dies suddenly in an accident, and everyone seems to turn on Torrey. Cyber attacks at her and her family on top of issues at her new school make dealing with her grief over her sister's death nearly impossible. I can't wait to start this one, and I have a feeling it's going to be a one-sitting kind of read.

4. My Invisible Boyfriend by Susie Day
I actually found this book while looking for fake-relationship books to complement my reading of The Fill-In Boyfriend. I then realized it was the same Susie Day that wrote Serafina's story, so naturally I found it at the library and grabbed a copy. Heidi thinks the key to popularity is simple—best boyfriend. Only problem is, she doesn't have a boyfriend. Soon, she's in over her head trying to keep up her fake beau's status alive and believable as a real human's.

Lucky for you, the lovely folks at St. Martin's Press have kindly offered up a copy of Weightless!
You must be 13 years or older to enter and you must have a US mailing address. 

Friday, June 26, 2015

Love Fortunes and Other Disasters Review

Love Fortunes and Other Disasters by Kimberly Karalius
Release Date: May 12, 2015
Publisher: Swoon Reads
Pages: 368
Keywords: romance, high school, fortune telling
Format Read: finished copy (signed!)
Goodreads | Buy It!
Love is real in the town of Grimbaud, and Fallon Dupree has dreamed of attending high school there for years. After all, generations of Duprees have successfully followed the (100% accurate!) love fortunes from Zita’s famous Love Charms Shop to happily marry their high school sweethearts. It’s a tradition. So she is both stunned and devastated when her fortune states that she will NEVER find love.
Fortunately, Fallon isn’t the only student with a terrible love fortune, and a rebellion is brewing. Fallon is determined to take control of her own fate—even if it means working with a notorious heartbreaker like Sebastian.
Will Fallon and Sebastian be able to overthrow Zita’s tyranny and fall in love?

I absolutely adore this cover. The whole book is beautiful, and I so wish that were just the start of my praises, but sadly, it's one of the high points of the book. The illustrations are so cute and fit so well with how I pictured this town, and I want to keep the book because it's so pretty, but I really really don't want it taking up precious space on my (NYC tiny) shelf.

The premise was pretty cool—an entire town ran by the love fortunes passed out by Zita, a mysterious, never-seen woman who always gets everything right. Her fortunes are so trusted that there aren't even other love fortune tellers in the area. The whole town centers their lives around their fortunes, and everyone looks up to this mysterious woman and trusts her completely.

But my issues with the book begin there. Everyone goes to get their love fortune once a year until they're married, I guess? It doesn't really explain when you stop going. They start, however, during their first year of high school. 14 years old. And these kids take it SO SERIOUSLY. Literally all they think about is getting married and having kids, and I spent the whole time wondering why the hell they even go to school. Sure, it seems like to learn and get a career, but on top of that, family trades seem incredibly important to all the characters, and most follow in the footsteps of their parents and older siblings. So I ask again, if their careers and planned and their marriage is planned, what is the actual point of school? It can't be learning because no one ever seems to do any school work aside from comment on how they should study for finals. We're told that this is simply because of "tradition," but no other explanation is given, so I simply didn't buy it.

But I tried to suspend the disbelief. I really did. I was behind the kids trying to overtake Zita. They had enough and the kids with bad fortunes decided they wanted to write their own history. The twins that incited the group seemed cool, but they popped up out of nowhere, and I had no reason to trust or believe them. They didn't even verify that they too had bad fortunes. I just had too many questions that the book absolutely did not begin to answer.

I was also really bugged about the logistics of the town and their relationships. The high school freshman had their own apartments. I would buy a dorm-style sort of thing, but it's implied they clean and cook and are tenants of actual apartment buildings. Hm. In addition, it's said that this is away from Fallon's hometown, yet her family seems to have this super crazy reputation of being crazy health inspectors. But they don't live in the town, and some people haven't heard of them, and their legacy seems to be health inspectors, but Fallon makes it to be like their family reputation is staked on her getting married (at fourteen, apparently?).

Aside from these main issues, the dialogue was cheesy (not in a great way) and it pulled me out of the story quite a bit from groaning. I felt like a super-grown up. Maybe I'm just too old for this? But even in high school, I would think it's completely ridiculous and groan-worthy to be this sappy and irritating. And at one point a character laughed at the idea of a true love's kiss. As if staking your entire future on a love fortune in high school was totally normal but it was absolutely ridiculous to think about true love's kiss? There were major consistency issues here.

Unless you're really into sappy romance plots and don't mind consistency issues with plot, I'd honestly skip this one. I kept thinking it was going to explain plot issues, and I was pretty disappointed with the result. 

Monday, June 22, 2015

The Devil You Know Review

The Devil You Know by Trish Doller
Release Date: June 2, 2015
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Pages: 256
Keywords: thriller, mystery, road trip, summer
Format Read: ARC via publisher (thank you!)
Other Books Read: Where the Stars Still Shine
Goodreads | Buy It!
Eighteen-year-old Arcadia wants adventure. Living in a tiny Florida town with her dad and four-year-old brother, Cadie spends most of her time working, going to school, and taking care of her family. So when she meets two handsome cousins at a campfire party, she finally has a chance for fun. They invite her and friend to join them on a road trip, and it's just the risk she's been craving—the opportunity to escape. But what starts out as a fun, sexy journey quickly becomes dangerous when she discovers that one of them is not at all who he claims to be. One of them has deadly intentions. 

Can I just say FINALLY. I love this cover because it takes itself seriously as a YA thriller. It's not a cheesy lovey-dovey kissy cover. That's not what this book is about, and I'm glad the design is something that conveys that.

We can get one thing out of the way—it's Trish freaking Doller. I love her books, and I will always be excited to read a new work she has coming out. She's got a super realistic way of seeing and writing the world that I intensely appreciate. Sex in her books is depicted realistically—it's not this magical, sparkly moment. It's messy, it's awkward, and sometimes heat-of-the moment. Cadie is in one of those situations, and I totally love that her situation seems much more real than most depictions of sex.

I also loved the creepy factor. I was intensely creeped out by pretty much everyone and everything in this book. And sure, there's a clear gross person at the end when things are revealed, but even now, after the fact, I still really don't feel comfortable with multiple characters, and I don't trust them. In fact, I wanted several people in the book to be absorbed by swamp monsters (the book takes places in the marshlands of Florida) because I was that creeped out.

It was a page turner. I didn't really know who to trust (I annotate my books, and I went back and looked, and my first guess of the correct outcome was around page 70), and even though I kind of knew what was happening, I was still so nervous because everything was so insanely creepy about this whole thing.

Even though I loved how fast-paced it was, there was one thing I simply could not get past: WHO WOULD GO ON A ROAD TRIP WITH TOTAL STRANGERS? Now that I've gotten that out of the way, let me explain. Cadie, understandably, is at a tipping point. She's tired of being the adult and she wants to be young and stupid. Hanging out and hooking up with a cute guy at a campfire party with friends is one thing. Leaving everything to go on a road trip with them is past having fun—it's idiotic. And I really am not victim-blaming because obviously she shouldn't have to assume that something crazy terrible is going to happen, but I mean... they teach stranger danger in kindergarten for a reason. Literally ANYONE should know not to road trip with strangers. For someone who is as responsible and level-headed as Cadie, I simply didn't believe, even for a millisecond, that she would ever do this. (And then her cell phone dies after her friend goes missing. HELLO?! Has she honestly never seen a horror movie? Or even have basic common sense?)

Feelings also went from overnight hookup, which I'm totally okay with because it's way more realistic, and shot straight out of the park to instalove, which made me groan. Ugh.

It's Trish freaking Doller, so it was really good. Fast-paced, page-turner, and I was totally into the story. The whole time I was reading, though, in the back of my mind I just KNEW this was insane and idiotic because I could not get over the fact that she just LEFT WITH STRANGERS. Oof.

What do you think? Do you understand the whole road-tripping with strangers thing? I sure don't!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Hello, I Love You: Blog Tour & Giveaway!

I have the happiest of posts for you today! Let's give a big hand and warm welcome to Katie M. Stout, author (who is ONLY 24, btw, and making me feel incredibly behind on my non-existent writing life) of Hello, I Love You, which was released on June 9. 

But first, let's set the mood with one of Katie's recommendations (a band rec, I have no idea about songs, but I listened to quite a few and really liked this one). It had me dancing with myself in the library room in my building:

First, we'll do a quick run down of what the book is all about. Grace is a rich kid running—she wants away from the mansion her record-producing father bought, her famous country singer big bro, and the mom who blames her for pretty much everything. So she runs to a boarding school in Korea.

She wants literally nothing to do with the rich music world she ran from, but her roommate's twin brother just happens to be the hottest new KPOP star out there. Of course, we all know what's coming...

Katie was kind enough to answer a few questions about herself, so thank you, and enjoy!

What does your daily life look like as a writer?
Well, I have a day job, so my writing days never look the same. Sometimes, I’ll sneak in some writing or editing time at my desk when my boss isn’t looking (shhhhh don’t tell!), and other times, I write at night or on the weekends. I don’t have daily writing goals. I’ll go like five days without writing, then add 6,000 words to my manuscript in one night. So basically, I have no way to answer this question. Hah!

What are three things you can't live without while writing?
1. Music or background noise
2. Caffeine of some kind
3. My computer (most of the time; sometimes, I like writing on my iPad mini)

Are you a big K-Pop fan? What are your favorite songs/bands we should listen to while reading Hello, I Love You?
I love KPOP! Old school CN Blue was my biggest influence while writing, so I’d say definitely listen to that. Also Shinee, because that ends up being one of the bands my main character really loves.

You've traveled and lived in many countries, can you tell us about your favorite places?
Sure! I’ve got a lot of favorite places, and I recommend different places to different people, depending on who they are and what they like. But my personal favorites are Scotland, Thailand, and South Africa.

When I lived in England, I was only five miles from the Scottish border, so I spent a lot of time visiting there. Edinburgh is one of my favorite European cities, and the Highlands are gorgeous. I lived three months in Thailand right after college, but I’ve been there nine times total. The culture is warm, and the food is amazing; it’s also gorgeous, from the mountains in the north to the beaches in the south. And South Africa just has amazing people, a laid back atmosphere, and LIONS (in game parks, but still); it was my introduction to Africa, and I still love it.

Why do you choose YA to write & read?
I’m one of the few YA authors who actually read YA as a teen, since it was already an established genre when I was in high school (I’m only 24). I loved it then, and I still love it now. I like that everything is new and exciting as a teen. Also, my teen years were hard, and I’d like to offer a little hope and a break from real life to my readers who may be struggling through high school now.

I had so much fun reading the answers to these questions, and I hope you did too! Make sure to visit Katie out on the interwebs (and tweet at her if you like).
Katie has a blog she regularly updates—and it's super adorable. She talks about her travels, her book, and her life.

And you can win your very own copy of Hello, I Love You. You must be 13 years or older to enter and must have a US mailing address. Address will be shared with publicist from St. Martin's Press who will be handling the mailing.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

What I've Been Reading: Comic Book Edition

Lately something changed and I found myself wanting to explore different types of storytelling I wasn't already reading. I mean, I'll truly never get tired of books, but after editing all day long, sometimes I come home and want to unwind by not looking at more walls of text. I still wanted to be entertained with stories (I'll never get over my Netflix problem), and I knew they had to be different forms I hadn't read before.

Enter comic books.
A few people I follow on Twitter have gotten into them as of lately, and there's this really great series called Adventures of a Comic Newbie the folks at Book Riot have put up. These inspired me to give comic books a shot after last year I discovered how much I loved graphic novels.

And I haven't been able to put them down. Which is why I've been blogging less than usual. I haven't been reading as many books because I'm obsessed with some comic series.
So I'm going to showcase them periodically because these (in my limited experience with comics) have been good crossover series for me, from books to comics, and I want to help others get started!

This ultra-femme series was created by Shannon Watters, Grace Ellis, and Noelle Stevenson. Feel like you've heard that last name somewhere? You have. Noelle is none other than the illustrator of the cover of Rainbow Rowell's Fangirl (Yes, you read that correctly). And this series has also been in mainstream news quite a bit recently because Lumberjanes has been optioned for a live-action movie (which has a white male writing the script, but let's hope the diverse cast of females stays put).

The story follows five girls in Roanoke Cabin at Miss Quinzella Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet's Camp for Hardcore Lady Types (say that as fast as you can, I double-dog dare you!), and if I were their counselor Jen, I would be hyperventilating right along with her. They're always up to something, though most of it is usually not their fault. So far, they've battled ancient Greek statues, solved Indiana Jones-like puzzles, warded off some rabid Boy Scouts, and had a seriously rad game of capture the flag involving some supernatural shit that I haven't figured out yet because my next issue hasn't gotten here.

I'm in love with this series for so many reasons: the art is awesome, the diversity all around is amazing, the characters are super funny and make obscure Shakespeare and Juliette Gordon Low references that actually make me lol, and it's super suspenseful! I'm already really nervous for when I do catch up to issue 15 and then have to ... you know ... WAIT for the next one to come out.

It's got totally rad girl power and some super female friendships (and possibly a budding romance? IDK I'm only halfway through and DYING to know) and some ridiculous and amazing plot lines happening. 

Basically it's what I'm recommending to literally anyone looking to shake up their reading rut a little bit and branch out and try something new.
It was easier to get into this style of storytelling than I expected, and I'm so glad I did.

How to Get It
That's the big question. I totally had no clue how to go about purchasing comics. To make it easier, publishers put out trades, which are compiled issues in a book form. The Lumberjanes Volume 1 trade is out now and compiles issues 1-4, and you can get it here. Past that, I began ordering individual issues for pretty cheap because the second trade isn't out (but you can pre-order it!), and I am subscribed to get every new issue from Midtown Comics. And I am so excited for new issues. Like, seriously cannot wait.

Have you ever read comic books? Have any questions for me about how to get started? I'm new just like lots of people, so let's discuss together!

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Last Year's Mistake Review

Small town girl moves away but can't shake someone from her past.

Last Year's Mistake by Gina Ciocca
Release Date: June 9, 2015
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Pages: 256
Keywords: high school, moving
Format Read: ARC via publisher (thank you!)
Goodreads | Buy It!
Kelsey and David became best friends the summer before freshman year and were inseparable ever after. Until the night a misunderstanding turned Kelsey into the school joke, and everything around her crumbled—including her friendship with David. So when Kelsey's parents decided to move away, she couldn't wait to start over and leave the past behind. Except, David wasn't ready to let her go...

Now it's senior year and Kelsey has a new group of friends, genuine popularity, and a hot boyfriend. Her life is perfect. That is, until David's family moves to town and he shakes up everything. Soon old feelings bubble to the surface and threaten to destroy Kelsey's second chance at happiness. The more time she spends with David, the more she realizes she never truly let him go. And maybe she never wants to.
I'm a little bored with this one to be honest. It seems like a typical YA cover, but there's no real relevance with the car or sitting on it. I mean, there are cars in the story, but it's not totally important, so I think it could have a better cover than this.

The overall pacing was great. The book flipped between the past and present, following paralleling year story lines, and the unfolding of events kept me hooked, wondering what possibly could have happened in the past to make events in the present so awkward (although it was sophomore year and senior year, so I feel like Last Year's Mistake should include more of the actual last year, but I don't feel super strongly on this).

I also really liked David and Ryan. David is the friend from Kelsey's past and Ryan is her boyfriend in the present. Though at the beginning Ryan seemed like a beefy human without a brain, I was glad to see I was wrong. I could totally see why Kelsey ended up liking him at her new school. He was kind and truly meant well, though he didn't always make good decisions—but then, no one in this book made good decisions. David also felt extremely realistic. He had all kinds of friends and truly wanted everyone to get along. He had a hard time dealing with his own issues and decisions just like anyone would, and I liked seeing him struggle with Kelsey's feelings and hostility toward him.

It was also true to the teenage lifestyle in keeping with the themes of making bad decisions and not communicating well. There was some slut-shaming in this book, which I'll get to in a bit. It was rough to read but felt realistic to what high schoolers say, and I appreciated the honest look at it.

About the slut-shaming. While calling girls skanks happens in high school, I did not sympathize with the main character in why she felt these things. Throughout most of the book, we're wondering what happened that year that was so bad to Kelsey, but her actions begin with automatically making assumptions without having an inkling of a cause behind them. The girls she was talking about had literally done nothing up until about three-quarters of the way through, and even then, there was one girl I still sided with because I don't think Kelsey was justified in hating her.

For the most part, I didn't have an issue with the writing, but every once in a while, there were some lines of dialogue that were so over-the-top cheesy and terrible and lines that no one would say that it jolted me out of the story. These bothered me, and they were mostly in the beginning of the book. Once I got about 50 pages in, I liked the book much more, and it felt like a bit of a false start with the stilted dialogue.

Overall, it was a really good best friends-maybe-something-more book. I'm always a fan of those, and I will probably always like those. However, the details of the book did not impress me. Stilted dialogue and strange decisions with seemingly no consequences (or characters that didn't care about any consequences?) that really brought me out of the reality of the book, despite the fun back-and-forth nature of the MCs.