Monday, March 31, 2014

Monthly Wrap Up — March

So the big thing this month is that I got a Tumblr! You should check it out, there are a ton of beautiful photos of books and libraries that I've been finding, and basically I'm just drooling over all of them.


     




Instagram Likes


This was my favorite quote I came across in books this month, and possibly one of my favorite passages of all time. It is from Amy McNamara's "Lovely, Dark and Deep."


That's it for the month! I hope to be picking up soon, because I feel like I didn't read a whole lot or comment on blogs a lot, but school has been CRAZY. Last semester, and I graduate May 10. Did I also mention I got into the Disney College Program? So if I'm not hired for a publishing job (*wink*wink* publishers I'm looking at you!), I will be heading to Orlando on May 19!

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Vlogging!

This is a thing I did! Look at it! Hooray for being with the youths in technology!



Friday, March 28, 2014

Friday Book Drinks (3)

That's right! It's back! After a spring break (that was oddly filled with snow) hiatus and a midterms meltdown, Friday Book Drinks is back in business. And, in the spirit of being a college student, this one has only a few ingredients and is extremely easy to make!


This week's picks are Kelly Fiore's Taste Test and a drink called Take 3. If you haven't read the book (you totally should, it's super cute. My review is linked to the title), a little background info. It's about a reality TV cooking competition of teen chefs. And GO.

Aside from the excellent coordinating names, I think these two work well together because the Take 3 is a kind of light, airy drink, but it's mostly clear. Taste Test fits with that. This seems like a drink the competitors would not only make but also have fun trying. The whole mystery is that you can't really tell what it's going to taste like until you test it.

And now for the drink:


Basically you just pour the Cynar, liqueur, and lemon juice into a cocktail shaker, mix it all up, and pour over ice. Top it with the seltzer and an orange slice if you want (I did), and enjoy! Told you it's super easy to make.

If you want more info about the book, I'm going to put some links here, and if you make the drink or any of my Friday Book Drinks, you should TOTALLY send me pics via Twitter or Tumblr or Instagram. I use them all! #FridayBookDrinks and my username for all 3 is @happybooklovers.

TASTE TEST INFO:
Goodreads, my review, Book Depository, author's website.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Don't Even Think About It

Don't Even Think About It by Sarah Mlynowski
Publication Date: March 11, 2014
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Pages: 336
Keywords: telepathy, high school, popularity
Format Read: eARC via NetGalley (thank you!)
Get It: Book Depository
We weren't always like this. We used to be average New York City high school sophomores. Until our homeroom went for flu shots. We were prepared for some side effects. Maybe a headache. Maybe a sore arm. We definitely didn't expect to get telepathic powers. But suddenly we could hear what everyone was thinking. Our friends. Our parents. Our crushes. Now we all know that Tess is in love with her best friend, Teddy. That Mackenzie cheated on Cooper. That Nurse Carmichael used to be a stripper.
Since we've kept our freakish skill a secret, we can sit next to the class brainiac and ace our tests. We can dump our boyfriends right before they dump us. We know what our friends really think of our jeans, our breath, our new bangs. We always know what's coming. Some of us will thrive. Some of us will crack. None of us will ever be the same.
When I started this book I was extremely confused. Narrated in the plural first person, the book comes from the point of view of the entire class, but then seems to shuffle around as the book goes on. There are roughly 20 (ish?) people in the class that are affected by this telepathy issue going on, and my main problem with the book was that it was extremely difficult to keep up with who was who, who liked who, who had family problems, and so on.

There was a significantly high level of suspension of disbelief for this book, too. I mean, telepathy from a flu shot? But okay. I'll buy it. Then, they figured it out LITERALLY on their first guess. In about a paragraph. And logically, it had to be it. Of course. So if you move past that, there was still a lot going on, and I have a ton of unanswered questions I don't want to get into here for fear of spoiling.

I was also a little irritated about the sheer number of stereotypes in this book. Every single member of the class fit into some sort of mold in some way or another. And the adults. And pretty much everyone in the book.

But I mean, it was still cute, I guess, I did finish it and the plot held my interest enough to make me want to know how it all panned out. I imagine it'd be good for a younger crowd, but there were a couple points (some random f-bombs came out of nowhere) that seemed too old, but the general feel of the book did not match up with that.

Did anyone else feel kind of strange about this book? I don't know, I was mostly disappointed it wasn't holding up to a lot of thinking or questioning.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Tumblr Initiation

After many failed attempts, I think I've finally grasped the concept of Tumblr. From my understanding, some people use that directly as their blog source, but that's not what I plan on doing on mine. It's going to be short snippets of reviews that come directly from here. So if you follow me here, you're not missing anything, but Tumblr is cool so you should go check it out.
If you don't follow me here...

THE BUTTONS ARE RIGHT OVER THERE, JUST SAYING. ---->

But that leads me to my main point. As a kick off for my new Tumblr page and a thank you to my loyal people (and also because I'm still attempting to purge my shelf of extra books), here's some things you can win!
(Still US only, sorry Intl guys. Some day...)

One winner will receive their choice of three books out of this picture!


Reshelved (2)

This is the second 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. So these just weren't for me, but I still want to give them publicity because maybe you all read them and thought differently or they sound spectacular to you.

Fates by Lanie Bross
Publication Date: February 11, 2014
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Pages: 336
Keywords: greek, mythology, fantasy
Format Read: eARC via NetGalley (thank you!)
Get It: Book Depository
One moment. One foolish desire. One mistake. And Corinthe lost everything.
She fell from her tranquil life in Pyralis Terra and found herself exiled to the human world. Her punishment? To make sure people's fates unfold according to plan. Now, years later, Corinthe has one last assignment: kill Lucas Kaller. His death will be her ticket home.
But for the first time, Corinthe feels a tingle of doubt. It begins as a lump in her throat, then grows toward her heart, and suddenly she feels like she is falling all over again--this time for a boy she knows she can never have. Because it is written: one of them must live, and one of them must die. In a universe where every moment, every second, every fate has already been decided, where does love fit in?
Why I Put It Down : 
I wanted to like this one. I really did. I saw several great reviews on Goodreads, so when I began it and was immediately lost and confused, I continued reading because I was convinced there must've been something I was missing. Corinthe had one job. ONE JOB. To get rid of Luc, a human she literally knew nothing about. She had no problem doing it tons of times before, and I just didn't react to the instalove that was happening here. She had too much going for her to get back home that I didn't believe she couldn't kill him. So, at 35% on my Kindle, I had to stop. I wasn't invested in the plot, and the world was too confusing for me to properly be invested in it in the first place.

The Secret Diamond Sisters by Michelle Madow
Publication Date: February 25, 2014
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Pages: 382
Keywords: glamor, fame, popularity
Format Read: eARC via NetGalley (thank you!)
Get It: Book Depository
Savannah. Courtney. Peyton.
The three sisters grew up not knowing their father and not quite catching a break. But it looks like their luck is about to change when they find out the secret identity of their long-lost dad—a billionaire Las Vegas hotel owner who wants them to come live in a gorgeous penthouse hotel suite. Suddenly the Strip's most exclusive clubs are all-access, and with an unlimited credit card each, it should be easier than ever to fit right in. But in a town full of secrets and illusion, fitting in is nothing compared to finding out the truth about their past.
Why I Put It Down : 
I had seen a bunch of bloggers reading this one, so it seemed good enough to start. I got to 56% before I decided I just didn't care at all, and I was tired of wasting my time. I wasn't invested in any of the characters. It jumps around between 4 (? maybe more?) different people, and everyone has different thoughts, and it's a really strange way of narrating the story. I feel like we never progress anywhere because we constantly are flashing back to someone else's side of the same event that just happened. And all of it was highly unbelievable. Yes, I'm aware it's fiction and it's a story, but there still has to be a certain level of belief, or you should prove to me why I should believe this is a thing, even if I know it's not. This book just didn't do that for me. 

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?

Monday, March 24, 2014

Reality Boy

Reality Boy by A.S. King
Publication Date: October 22, 2013
Publisher: Little, Brown Books
Pages: 336
Keywords: television, therapy, family
Format Read: eARC via NetGalley (thank you!)
Get It: Book Depository
Gerald Faust knows exactly when he started feeling angry: the day his mother invited a reality TV crew into his five-year-old life. Twelve years later, he is still haunted by his rage-filled youth--which the entire world got to watch from every imaginable angle--and his anger issues have resulted in violent outbursts, zero friends, and clueless adults dumping him in the special education room at school. No one cares that Gerald has tried to learn to control himself; they're all just waiting for him to snap. And he's starting to feel dangerously close to doing just that...until he chooses to create possibilities for himself he never knew he deserved.
This was my first experience with an A.S. King book, and I had heard they were all pretty amazing. So far, my findings are correct. This one was good, y'all.

Characters that aren't perfect are the most interesting to read about. And it's interesting because I feel like so many books feature protagonists with ideal characteristics, or redeeming qualities that are really good, and nothing ever too terrible that makes you question what's happening or what's going on. But it's so much more real when the characters are real, and that's what struck me most about this book.

Gerald is just a guy struggling with his childhood and a family that doesn't know how to deal with its problems upfront. The story is told in first person, so we are inside Gerald's head, and sometimes his thinking didn't always make sense to me, but I was always rooting for him, even when I definitely did not agree with his actions. That's a sign you've got a strong writer that stands out from the rest — difficult characters that people root for anyway. Every person in the book is flawed in a huge way, and I loved that each person had to deal with it or not deal with it. Some did and some didn't. Because that's the way life works.

This was a stunning work that dealt a lot with psychological aftermath of what the media does to a family and to individuals, as well as an exploration of family struggles when members are unstable. The prose was beautiful, and Gerald's thoughts were spot on and human, and I loved pretty much every page of this book.

And the cover is amazing. Use of color — OUTSTANDING.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Shatter Me

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi
Publication Date: November 15, 2011
Publisher: Harper
Pages: 338
Keywords: dystopia, rebellion, war
Format Read: paperback I own
Get It: Book Depository
Juliette hasn’t touched anyone in exactly 264 days.
The last time she did, it was an accident, but The Reestablishment locked her up for murder. No one knows why Juliette’s touch is fatal. As long as she doesn’t hurt anyone else, no one really cares. The world is too busy crumbling to pieces to pay attention to a 17-year-old girl. Diseases are destroying the population, food is hard to find, birds don’t fly anymore, and the clouds are the wrong color. The Reestablishment said their way was the only way to fix things, so they threw Juliette in a cell. Now so many people are dead that the survivors are whispering war – and The Reestablishment has changed its mind. Maybe Juliette is more than a tortured soul stuffed into a poisonous body. Maybe she’s exactly what they need right now. Juliette has to make a choice: Be a weapon. Or be a warrior.
So I have this thing where I don't like to read trilogies until they're all published. I'm wildly impatient. So I bought these the day Ignite Me came out. Yes, it did take me that long to read these. So here I am.

The first thing I loved was the writing style. The way that some lines were scratched out and we could kind of see what she truly wanted to say versus what she knew she needed to keep on the surface. It was so interesting to be able to go back and forth and truly see Juliette's thoughts.

But to the more interesting part—the men. I want so many answers as to why certain people can touch her and certain people can't, and while I'm okay with the vague description of the horror that people experience when she touches them, I want more answers! And I know they may come in the next books. I'm just extremely impatient.
And... here I go. I don't trust Adam. I don't know what it is about, but I don't like him. And I don't like Warner either.

So this isn't totally a full review I guess, but it's hard when I'm only one in the series. So I'll get further in and keep you all updated on my thoughts.

:)

"The sun is an arrogant thing, always leaving the world behind when it tires of us."

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

On the Fence

On The Fence by Kasie West
Publication Date: July 1, 2014
Publisher: Harper Teen
Pages: 320
Keywords: sports, summer, friendship, romance
Other Books Read: The Distance Between Us
Format Read: eARC via Edelweiss
Get It: Book Depository
Charlie Reynolds can outrun, outscore, and outwit every boy she knows. But when it comes to being a girl, Charlie doesn't know the first thing about anything. So when she starts working at a chichi boutique to pay off a speeding ticket, she finds herself in a strange new world. To cope with the stress of her new reality, Charlie takes to spending nights chatting with her neighbor Braden through the fence between their yards. As she grows to depend on their nightly Fence Chats, she realizes she's got a bigger problem than speeding tickets-she's falling for Braden. She knows what it means to go for the win, but if spilling her secret means losing him for good, the stakes just got too high.
This was my first experience with Kasie West (I did read it before TDBU, even though I reviewed that one first. I actually read that one because of how much I liked this). And that should properly give you an idea of how much I adored this book. I actually liked it more than TDBU once I read that one.

I'll start with the characters. Charlie is the only girl with three brothers and her father. She grew up without a mother, and the only thing she's ever known is rough-housing, making weird bets, and playing sports. I very much identified with this character. I have one little brother, but my dad's side of the family is very close and I have about 6 guys (between 1-4 years older than me) I grew up playing basketball and backyard football with. We tromp through the woods at our lakehouse, go mudsliding in the rain, and sneak whiskey out to the cliffs during the summer. I grew up playing every sport imaginable (I challenge you to find one I didn't play), ultimately sticking with soccer but juggling everything all at once up until that point.
So I loved this family. They all felt very real and very unique as individuals. West gave us enough information and character development for each sibling to feel like their own person and not just lumped together as "the brothers."

The actual storyline was adorable as well. Predictable for the most part (I was extremely surprised by a serious twist at the end, so heads up for that), but with enough interesting characters and places and events that I was still really invested in what was happening in their lives.

I also appreciated the awkwardness between some of the scenes. The characters were very human, and weren't sure what to do when they said or did uncomfortable things, and I really loved that. I know I've said it a lot, but it was so realistic, and I was so tied to all the people in this story.

Read When: Basically read it now. But if you want a when, it'd be a perfect summer time book outside sipping sweet tea. 

This looks quite a bit like the cover for The Distance Between Us, but my thing is, the girl in the book is really athletic and anti-girly things. So why is the girl on the front in a dress? Still, super cute and I like it anyway.

Friday, March 7, 2014

The Summer I Found You

The Summer I Found You by Jolene Perry
Publication Date: March 1, 2014
Publisher: Albert Whitman Teen
Pages: 256
Keywords: high school, military, hospital
Format Read: eARC via NetGalley (thank you!)
Get It: Book Depository

All they have in common is they're less than perfect. And all they're looking for is the perfect distraction. Kate's boyfriend has just broken up with her and she's still reeling from her diagnosis of type 1 diabetes. Aidan planned on being a lifer in the army and went to Afghanistan straight out of high school. Now he's a disabled young veteran struggling to embrace his new life. When Kate and Aidan find each other, neither wants to get attached. But could they be right for each other after all?

I actually forgot that I downloaded this from NetGalley until AnnaReads mentioned she had read it in one of her posts, and I remembered how pretty I thought the cover was, so I promptly went and started it. And I was kind of blown away.
I'm always on the skeptical side of books from smaller publishing houses I haven't heard of. Not that I don't believe they can put out good books, but because the bigger ones normally snatch the spectacular ones up. But I was very impressed with this one.

In one way, it seemed like your typical unexpected romance — mostly predictable, cute characters, a few rough patches but ultimately things are great. But there was quite a bit more that the book offered. The characters felt so real — they were dealing with real issues, they weren't perfect, and they weren't sure how to go about fixing things they'd messed up.

I loved how real the book felt and how things were not perfect. Their friends I especially liked, and I loved that Aidan was confused about what he wanted to do, and Kate was struggling with herself. Overall I was just very invested in the story and the characters because they felt so real to me, and they didn't try to pretend to be anything they weren't. Sure, I kind of knew how it was going to pan out, but I didn't really care because it seemed realistic the whole time.

Read When: You want a book to go quickly, but also want some realistic characters with human flaws and idiosyncrasies. And a few good steamy scenes. :)

 Seriously, though. What's up with the title? She's in school the whole time, so why is summer in the title? Anyone know?

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Loyal Followers vs. Speed Readers

I don't know about you all, and I don't know if you know this, but I've been at this blogging thing since 2009. Don't believe me? Check out the archives over on the right.

It's hoards longer than a ton of super popular blogs out there. I haven't been able to figure out how to get mine noticed more. And this year, I've adopted social media for it and interacted more and more with the blogging community. And I've discovered something. That's not what I set out to do.

I started the blog to keep track of what I've read, what I've loved, and to talk about books. That's it. ARCs are a plus, and my library has expanded so much I can't fit my books in my room anymore. I love that. But the best part? I've met so many great people, I've discovered my passion in life (I'm desperately trying to enter publishing as a career), and I've truly enjoyed expanding and bettering my blog over the years.

Which brings me to the point I wanted to make.

My blog views spike when I host titled giveaways.

What do I mean by that? When I specifically title something as a "giveaway," I get all these people suddenly "reading" my blog who I've never seen anywhere before and who don't really leave quality comments. They're speed reading through and don't really care about what I'm saying about the books.

And to my loyal readers — I know I don't have many (and welcome, to all you new ones), but I genuinely appreciate you all. I've met some pretty cool book friends here on Internetland, and I really like having you all around. I love your comments, and I always make an effort to keep up reading your blogs and commenting on your posts because I genuinely love talking about books.

So thanks for sticking around :)

And as far as giveaways go, I think I'm going to stop titling them as such. I like to save my books for people who truly want them.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Summer on the Short Bus

Summer on the Short Bus by Bethany Crandell
Publication Date: April 1, 2014
Publisher: Running Press Kids
Pages: 256
Keywords: summer, camp, popularity
Format Read: ARC via author/publisher in exchange for honest review (thank you!)
Get It: Book Depository

Cricket Montgomery has been thrown under the short bus. Shipped off to a summer camp by her father, Cricket is forced to play babysitter to a bunch of whiny kids—or so she thinks. When she realizes this camp is actually for teens with special needs, Cricket doubts she has what it takes to endure twenty-four hours, let alone two weeks.
Thanks to her dangerously cute co-counselor, Quinn, there may be a slim chance for survival. However, between the campers’ unpredictability and disregard for personal space, Cricket’s limits get pushed. She will have to decide if suffering through her own handicapped hell is worth a summer romance—and losing her sanity.

This cover is so cute. And I had high hopes, I did. I love summer camp, and I love summer camp books. But the execution didn't hold up for me.

I am aware that this is not supposed to be a politically correct novel. And it wasn't. But it still shocked me. Like, made me physically cringe and turn away and put the book down for a while shock me. I was that mad. I was mad at the character, I was mad at the plot, and I was mad at everything, really, in general. But I kept reading because I wanted it to get better.

But there were quite a few issues I had with this along the way. There were tons of really specific pop culture references from like, my 8th grade year. So 2005? High School Musical and Hollaback Girl were a couple of them. But it wasn't just random references, it was really specific details that you wouldn't know unless you've watched/heard it multiple times. And kids with support needs are not that behind in pop culture references. I worked at a summer camp with similar circumstances, and our kids were super up-to-date and knew more than I did about what was cool.

In addition, these were TERRIBLE camp counselors. They could just sneak away and leave the kids alone in the cabin in the middle of the night? Swear in front of them? Make jokes and not act as though they are standing right there? It was totally ridiculous and unbelievable, I can't believe anyone would trust their children with these kids.

The other major issue I had was the time span. The book implies this is an entire summer. She acts like it is an entire summer. The book takes place over the course of two weeks. TWO. WEEKS. This was like worse than instalove. Fastest story I've ever read, actually. And she complained so much, but it was two weeks. And all that happened, there's no way she went through that many changes in two weeks.

Read When: Honestly, my recommendation would be to skip it. This put me in a serious book slump, and I don't like to be in book slumps. :(