Friday, February 28, 2014

Monthly Wrap Up — February

Here's what I did this month!

Not a ton because school's back in full swing and midterms are basically kicking my butt, but it's my last semester! The end is in sight! (Also I read quite a few that don't get released for a while, so I'm saving reviews for when it's closer to their book birthdays :) )

Watch List

 Basically this month was pure cover lust and me wanting them ALL. Seriously, I think I may die soon if I don't get to read these (fortunately, I downloaded the Chapel Wars from NetGalley, so I'll be able to read that one soon, but the others I have to wait on)

Instagram Likes
My most liked Instagram photo from this month was:

I just started Shatter Me, and I'm loving the style so far! (I have this thing where I don't start series until they're all out. Waiting kills me. So I bought the whole series when Ignite Me came out. I know, I'm weird.)

And just as a special thank-you for reading, I'm going to give away an ARC I got this month and already read! Enter below :) DFTBA!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday Book Drinks (2)

Welcome to the second installment of Friday Book Drinks, where I make a drink that is perfect alongside a YA book!

This week I've had 5 midterms all at once, so I didn't have time to get out to the store to actually make a drink, but don't worry! I still have one for you, and it's cheap and low-maintenance.

I'm pairing Sweet Water beer with Jennifer Echols' Dirty Little Secret.

I know many of you (okay, all of you) don't know this about me, but I really like beer. It's my drink of choice right behind whiskey (I grew up in Kentucky, okay?). And Sweet Water is one of my favorites, but it's extremely hard to find in some places up north. I first had it when we went on vacation to Alabama, and Louisville bars have finally started carrying it on tap, which is excellent news!

Why Did I Pick These?
I read this book last year, so it's been a while, but Jennifer Echols is always one of my go-to authors for a book I know I'll love and really feel good about when I finish it. That's how this beer is to me as well. The one pictured is one of my favorites, but they're really all good, and you can't go wrong with any of them. They, to me, are what you drink on summer nights in the country while I sing along with my cousins on the guitars to old country songs. And what better to pair it with than a book about Nashville and country singing? Nothing, that's right!

Have you had this drink before? What do you think of it? (Sorry I didn't make a modification this week for those younger, but look to last week's if you want one!)

Monday, February 24, 2014

The Distance Between Us

The Distance Between Us by Kasie West
Publication Date: July 2, 2013
Publisher: HarperTeen
Pages: 320
Keywords: forbidden love, friendship, family
Format Read: paperback (Christmas gift)

Seventeen-year-old Caymen Meyers studies the rich like her own personal science experiment, and after years of observation she’s pretty sure they’re only good for one thing—spending money on useless stuff, like the porcelain dolls in her mother’s shop. So when Xander Spence comes to pick up a doll for his grandmother, it only takes one glance for Caymen to figure out he’s oozing rich. Despite his charming ways, she’s smart enough to know his interest won’t last. Because if there’s one thing she’s learned from her mother’s warnings, it’s that the rich have a short attention span. But Xander keeps coming around, despite her best efforts to scare him off. And she's beginning to enjoy his company. But her mother would much rather Caymen hang out with the local rocker who hasn’t been raised by money. Just when Xander’s attention and loyalty are about to convince Caymen that money isn’t a character flaw, she finds out that money is a bigger part of their relationship than she’d ever realized.

I actually didn't read this one until after I had finished On the Fence (which was my first approved Edelweiss book! Needless to say, I was overjoyed!). I loved that one so much, I grabbed my untouched copy of this and started reading.

I actually didn't like this one as much, but I still really loved it. The whole doll store setting was intriguing, and that's what initially captured my attention, that this was kind of an outdated sort of store going under, but there were still a few people who came in every now and then. I think what struck me most about the plot was how wonderful the juxtaposition of the old and the new was. Xander and Caymen are such stark contrasts of each other, but they worked so well, just like much of the plot. The store was old, but Caymen attempts to start a website. Caymen doesn't have a cell phone and Xander has pretty much anything he ever wants. "The Crusty Toads" had the glorious feel of an '80s grunge band but were fangirling over getting to use a high-tech studio space.

And I'm not one for instalove. I mean, I really hate it. So I think that's the only thing that had me questioning how much I really liked this book. But even that didn't stop me from loving it. Really. This was one of those exceptions where everything worked and I loved it and just wanted everything to be happy. And there was a teeny twist at the end that surprised me, which was very pleasant.

Read When: You are in the mood for a genuinely good, feel-good, it's all good book. This is one of those. Great all the time. And it will put you in a better mood. Seriously.

This cover is adorable. I love it a lot, and it looks so pretty on my shelf. But why would Caymen be all rich and fancied up on the front? It doesn't make sense. Especially after you read the book and find out she wears t-shirts and jeans all the time and buys things secondhand. I mean, I love thrifting. Seriously, I've been doing it since I was a kid, and you can find some great stuff. But this? No way. But I overlook it because the cover is so freaking cute anyway. :)

Friday, February 21, 2014

Friday Book Drinks (1)

Here it is — the highly anticipated (you know... by no one...) feature I'm going to try out here!

Now kids, if you're not 21, you shouldn't make the following. I'm just talking to the legal. (But don't worry, there is a modification for you all down below so you can pretend.)

I'm going to be pairing up drinks you can try out with YA books! Makes a lot of sense, right? I figure though since half of us are probably no longer teens still reading teen books this could be a lot of fun!

And first up this Friday, I'm dreaming of warmer days ahead with Huntley Fitzpatrick's What I Thought Was True. The drink I'm pairing with it is called a Pomegranate Sunrise. It's pretty inexpensive to make, and you should have a couple of these (at least) in your kitchen already.

This book comes out on April 15, and if it's not on your radar yet, it NEEDS TO BE. I've already reviewed it, but I am definitely looking forward to other people reading it so we can finally chat about it. 

The How-To:

So you're supposed to use pomegranate syrup and the sugar to make a sort of molasses type substance, but it said to find that at a middle eastern store. Since I'm in Evansville, Indiana, there is no such thing, so I had to improvise.

What I did was mix a half cup of pomegranate juice with a half cup of sugar, heat it up in a sauce pan until it gets thicker and a little bit more syrup-y.

Then you mix all the other stuff together, add ice (if you want) and pour the "syrup" over it. You can put a little mint leaf on top (you're supposed to) but my store was out, so alas, no mint :(

Note that the recipe above is for TWO drinks. That's why I halved it. It was in the middle of the afternoon when I made it :)

Why Did I Pick These?

The first is the obvious one, because this takes place in a seaside town, and the pretty drink matches the pretty feel of the beach.
But it's more than that. The mint and the sweet fruits in this drink make me think of the woman Gwen takes care of all summer — sophisticated, cool, and refreshing. She's got kind of a whimsical and unique flavor, and that's exactly what this drink is. Fun and summery with a fruity, minty taste for a one-of-a-kind drink.

Here is my version! I think it turned out pretty good (it was DELICIOUS), I was pleased with the color fading, though I thought it'd be a little pinker. It was like a bubbly, carbonated, tangy mimosa sort of drink.

Modify It!

If you're of the under-21 group, here's a modified version you can still enjoy and make a pretty drink with the rest of us!

2 cups tangerine juice
A dash of lime juice
4 oz. pomegranate juice
1 oz. simple syrup
garnish with mint
Place tangerine juice, lime juice, and simple syrup in a pitcher filled with ice, and stir to combine.
Divide the mixture between two glasses
Slowly pour pomegranate juice over the back of a spoon into the tangerine mixture, creating a layered effect. (Disclaimer: I haven't tried this one, so you're on your own as far as figuring out the taste :)

Do you like my new Friday Feature?! You should tweet pictures at me or use Instagram, my username for both is @happybooklovers. I want this to be interactive, so I'd love you all to participate! use hashtags #FridayBookDrinks and send them my way! I'd love to feature them and retweet/post etc.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Being Sloane Jacobs

Being Sloane Jacobs by Lauren Morrill
Publication Date: January 7, 2014
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Pages: 256
Keywords: hockey, ice skating, summer
Format Read: eARC via NetGalley (Do you see how many NetGalley reads in a row I've had up? I'm so excited I'm knocking some out!)

Meet Sloane Emily Jacobs: a seriously stressed-out figure skater who choked during junior nationals and isn't sure she's ready for a comeback. What she does know is that she'd give anything to escape the mass of misery that is her life.
Now meet Sloane Devon Jacobs, a spunky ice hockey player who's been suspended from her team for too many aggressive hip checks. Her punishment? Hockey camp, now, when she's playing the worst she's ever played. If she messes up? Her life will be over.
When the two Sloanes meet by chance and decide to trade places for the summer, each girl thinks she's the lucky one. But it didn't occur to Sloane E. that while avoiding sequins and axels she might meet a hockey hottie—and Sloane D. never expected to run into a familiar (and very good-looking) face from home. It's not long before the Sloanes discover that convincing people you're someone else might be more difficult than being yourself.

After a mishap with my Kindle—the book deleted literally in the middle of me reading it and I panicked and ran around for about a day in distress because I was loving this so much—I finally finished this one. Basically I finished it with a gigantic smile on my face.

That was the general feel of the whole book. First of all, I LOVE hockey. I love the sport, I love stories about the sport, I love the fighting and the jerseys and the guys, and I love it all. So I was stoked when I realized that was half the book's focus (I don't like reading the backs or descriptions of books. I just go for it).

I loved that there were multiple layers to this story, and that there weren't easy answers for some of them. I mean, aside from the whole switching places thing, there were complex issues with each character, and their family lives brought on entirely new challenges for them to face. They learned about dealing with tough roommates and opponents and how to handle it with grace and class (and a few harmless pranks, because you can never get enough of those).

What I most loved was (and brace yourselves, here's some cheesiness ahead) how much they learned about the opposite world. Each girl changed as they realized their lives they'd led weren't the only tough ones, and everyone was constantly dealing with something, whether it's a tough knee injury or a fear of failure on the ice.

Read When: You've watched too many Winter Olympics in Sochi and just can't get enough of the ice sports. Or you are looking for a cute romance in the winter time to make you hate it less.

I think, from my understanding of it anyway, this cover was made to match Morrill's other cover, which is here. So in that sense, I definitely get it. But since I don't read descriptions, this was one of those covers that I had NO CLUE what the book was going to be about. I kind of thought it would just be a sweet contemporary romance, with like, two characters, not four, and definitely no ice sports. Did not see that coming. But still, it's cute, and I like it. Just took me for a little surprise.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

13 Little Blue Envelopes

13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson
Publication Date: December 21, 2010
Publisher: HarperTeen
Pages: 322
Keywords: travel, Europe, art
Format Read: paperback

Inside little blue envelope 1 are $1,000 and instructions to buy a plane ticket.
In envelope 2 are directions to a specific London flat.
The note in envelope 3 tells Ginny: Find a starving artist.
Because of envelope 4, Ginny and a playwright/thief/ bloke–about–town called Keith go to Scotland together, with somewhat disastrous–though utterly romantic–results. But will she ever see him again?
Everything about Ginny will change this summer, and it's all because of the 13 little blue envelopes.

Confession time: I have never read a Maureen Johnson book. I really don't know how it happened, but it just did. So when I found this at Half Price Books for literally $1.50 I knew it was time.

The premise of the book I think is what is most interesting to me. There's a mystery aspect to it that compels the reader to want to know what the other letters say. In addition, there's the cute traveling and romance aspect, but the flirty bit takes a side stage to Ginny's main adventure, which is to learn more about her aunt, and in turn, herself, which was a refreshing change from what I was expecting (I thought it was going to be hardcore love at first sight teenager love).

I loved how truthful the travel was. I studied abroad in England for a semester in 2012. It is expensive. And hostels are gross. They're convenient and cheap. But gross. So when Ginny had to deal with shared bathrooms and fares for sheets and disgusting lockers, I was laughing and nodding my head, smiling at Maureen because I've been there. It is that way. It's not all glamour and fun and adventurous person abroad. I loved that Ginny smelled after awhile because hygiene becomes not a thing. I loved that she ran away from a hostel. I loved that expensive stuff happened and it freaked her out and that money became an issue at points because she didn't have any.

This book was super fun to read and a welcome distraction from the insanity that is polar vortex 2014. I had a lot of happiness from it, and though it wasn't superb or genius or anything, it was fun to read and enjoyable.

Read When: You want a good, solid travel story that is also fun, cute, and reminiscent of summer.

  The thing I actually don't like is the cover. It's very early 2000s, and I don't think it reflects the feel of the book at all. (My design class this semester has to redesign a book cover, so I may tackle this at some point in the future). The girl on the front does not give off the image that Ginny portrays, and I would like to see a little hardship travel stuff on the front. I think this one is just too busy and not serious enough for the book.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Help me, I'm Swooning

Of course I want to participate in the Top Ten post that's about books to swoon over! All the swooning! (Also have you ever thought about how funny/awesome the word "swooning" is? So weird!)

1. The Mediator series : Meg Cabot : This is the first book series I truly remember adoring. My freshman year of high school, I passed my copies around to my friends and we drew little hearts and underlined our favorite bits and my copies are in such a loved, falling apart state. Jesse de Silva. My perfect man (er… ghost). 

2. The Truth About Forever : Sarah Dessen : This was another first love of books. Wes made me dream of a time that was better (or you know, not high school) and a world in which painting and art and creativity was a lovely thing that could be embrace and accepted. It made me dream that I could be a starving artist. And man, Wes made me swoon.

3. Where The Stars Still Shine : Trish Doller : Pheeeewwww. Fan please. I really loved this one. And I loved it for many reasons, one of them being its swoony boy material. It was like, more than YA love, which was excellent. Like, thank you Trish (can I call you Trish? …she says to the author who probably won't see this…) for making it more than our-eyes-meet-we're-in-love. It was real. And real swoony. 

4. A Great and Terrible Beauty : Libba Bray : This one hits top marks for overall excellence, ability to make me cry (I'm talking full on ugly sobbing), ability to make me fall in love with the book (and simultaneously make me hate it), and swoon material. Kartik. Enough said. Man alive.

5. Along for the Ride : Sarah Dessen : Yep, Sarah Dessen is making the list twice. Because Sarah Dessen. I was a sucker for this one because of the insomnia, and that was a thing I did with one of my best friends. He took me to have pancakes in the middle of the night because sleeping sucked. 

6. Anna and the French Kiss : Stephanie Perkins : You didn't think I was going to leave poor Etienne off the list did you? Oh man, I can't wait to read her other ones because of how swoony this one was. :)

7. Ruby Red : Kerstin Gier : I really fell hard for this book and this series and Gideon. He was everything I wanted in a fictional boy. Stubborn, relentless, jealous, pretty, and caring. Perfection.

8. Left Drowning : Jessica Park : I think this is an under-the-radar NA book that more people DEFINITELY need to know about. I loved it. Click the picture to see my review. And Chris left me swooning a LOT. This wasn't like a sleazy NA romance rip off thing either, it actually had substance and was believable and I fell in love with a lot of the characters and was extremely emotionally attached.

9. Heist Society : Ally Carter : I mean, it's pretty self-explanatory. Family of art thieves and sneaking around and traveling the world? This equals supreme swooning when you add Hale, gorgey thief boy who loves MC, into the mix.

10. Taste Test : Kelly Fiore : This is another one I haven't seen a ton about, so I'm not sure if people know about it. It's a reality-tv cooking teen show, with lots of fun characters. Generally a light read, but there were definite moments that made me swoon and love this guy. Mainly the tension and his supreme flirting were pretty great.

What do you think? Swooning? Nope? Link up to yours and I'll go check them out!

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Reshelved (1)

I recently put down two books I started, and I wanted to cover some stuff on why I haven't had many reviews up lately (hint, it's because I don't like to do full feature reviews for something I didn't finish. It's not fair to the book.) So here I am, making good on at least one of my resolutions to put down books I am not enjoying (I simply have way too many to be stalling trying to finish ones I'm not into).

These books simply weren't for me. They may be up your alley, though.

Sea Change by S.M. Wheeler
Publication Date: June 18, 2013
Publisher: Tor Books
Pages: 304
Keywords: fantasy, fairytale, ocean
Format Read: Hardcover from publisher (thank you!)

The unhappy child of two powerful parents who despise each other, young Lilly turns to the ocean to find solace, which she finds in the form of the eloquent and intelligent sea monster Octavius, a kraken. In Octavius’s many arms, Lilly learns of friendship, loyalty, and family. When Octavius, forbidden by Lilly to harm humans, is captured by seafaring traders and sold to a circus, Lilly becomes his only hope for salvation. Desperate to find him, she strikes a bargain with a witch that carries a shocking price.
Her journey to win Octavius’s freedom is difficult. The circus master wants a Coat of Illusions; the Coat tailor wants her undead husband back from a witch; the witch wants her skin back from two bandits; the bandits just want some company, but they might kill her first. Lilly's quest tests her resolve, tries her patience, and leaves her transformed in every way.

Why I Put It Down :
The beginning started off from what seemed like 3/4 of the way through a story, like I should already know a lot of background information on the characters and what was happening. I felt extremely lost as I kept reading, and was never really hooked on the story. Nothing was explained either, like how or if the kraken could actually talk and if only Lilly heard him. Or anything about their relationship or her journey. It was overall very hard to follow and I'm still not entirely sure what was going on in the story in general.

Where You'll Find Me by Erin Fletcher
Publication Date: January 7, 2014
Publisher: Entangled
Pages: 211
Keywords: parties, romance, forbidden love
Format Read: eARC via NetGalley

When Hanley Helton discovers a boy living in her garage, she knows she should kick him out. But Nate is too charming to be dangerous. He just needs a place to get away, which Hanley understands. Her own escape methods (vodka, black hair dye, and pretending the past didn't happen) are more traditional, but who is she to judge?
Nate doesn't tell her why he's in her garage, and she doesn't tell him what she's running from. Soon, Hanley's trading her late-night escapades for all-night conversations and stolen kisses. But when Nate's recognized as the missing teen from the news, Hanley isn't sure which is worse: that she's harboring a fugitive, or that she's in love with one.

Why I Put It Down : 
I did not like the main character from the start, and if you've read any previous reviews from me, you know that's not why I don't like books. I did not warm to the style the MC's voice was in. It was choppy, confusing, and I never quite followed why she made some of the decisions she did. In addition, the plot line was very confusing, and I had to ignore so many things like how on earth did no one notice a person living in the garage or how no one had noticed him missing for a while. The characters didn't seem particularly connected or engaged or interested in anything or any other person in the story, and I found myself wondering why they were even in the story in the first place. 

If you've read either of these, please leave comments letting me know what you thought. Should I give them another chance or leave them on my shelf? (Or possibly do a giveaway for someone that wants to see for themselves how they feel about them?)

Monday, February 3, 2014

The Naturals

The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Publication Date: November 5, 2013
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Pages: 320
Keywords: mystery, government, murder
Format Read: eARC via NetGalley

Seventeen-year-old Cassie is a natural at reading people. Piecing together the tiniest details, she can tell you who you are and what you want. But it’s not a skill that she’s ever taken seriously. That is, until the FBI come knocking: they’ve begun a classified program that uses exceptional teenagers to crack infamous cold cases, and they need Cassie.
What Cassie doesn’t realize is that there’s more at risk than a few unsolved homicides— especially when she’s sent to live with a group of teens whose gifts are as unusual as her own.
Soon, it becomes clear that no one in the Naturals program is what they seem. And when a new killer strikes, danger looms closer than Cassie could ever have imagined. Caught in a lethal game of cat and mouse with a killer, the Naturals are going to have to use all of their gifts just to survive.

This one's been on my NetGalley TBR for quite a while, and I was suddenly in the mood to pick this up. It was a fast read — I completed the whole thing in a few days. And I liked it. It moved quickly, the characters were interesting enough, and I had at least a couple guesses of what happened before I eventually figured it out.

The characters seemed a bit stereotypical to me — there was the tough, center-of-attention main character, the brooding love interest, the cute, flirty love interest, the girl competing for said love interest's interest, and the weird chick off in the corner.

My biggest issue I ran into while reading this is that the reader has to have a great deal of suspension of disbelief. I didn't understand why teenagers were being used in the FBI to solve these murders, I didn't understand why no one knew about it, and where were these kids' parents the whole time? There were a few that ended up being explained, but I eventually just had to move past it and accept it for what it was.

It was a decent book that held my interest until the end, but I wasn't impressed or blown away by any of it.

Read When : You're looking for a YA crime novel, particularly if you're a Criminal Minds fan. It's kind of up that alley, but teenagers.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Monthly Wrap Up

I'm trying something new here, so we'll see if I keep it up through the year :) I've seen a lot of folks do monthly recap sorts of things, and I think that's a spectacular idea to be able to look back on what I've read, since sometimes, reading so many books makes you forget about some of them.


Watch List
These are books I've added to my TBR list this month. AKA books I really want to read. A lot.

 I actually purchased The Impossible Knife of Memory from our Half Price Books, and guys, it's SIGNED!

Life Update
  I joined LiterallyApp as one of their beta users. It's not a great site yet, but hopefully with some improvements it'll work as a really cool source for book bloggers and readers to connect. If you want to be my friend, my username is happybooklovers.
As I go to school and live in southern Indiana, I'm one that was plagued with the polar vortex 2014. I really like snow. Like, a lot. But I'm ready for not winter. Not even spring, just temperatures above the single digits and a little bit of sunshine would be nice.