Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Psych Major Syndrome Review

Psych Major Syndrome by Alicia Thompson
Release Date: August 11, 2009
Publisher: Hyperion
Pages: 336
Keywords: college, contemporary, romance
Format Read: hardcover via publisher (thank you!)
Goodreads | Book Depository
Presenting Concerns:
The Patient, Leigh Nolan (that would be me), has just started her first year at Stiles College. She has decided to major in psychology (even though her parents would rather she study Tarot cards, not Rorschach blots).
Patient has always been very good at helping her friends with their problems, but when it comes to solving her own...not so much.
Patient has a tendency to overanalyze things, particularly when the opposite sex is involved. Like why doesn't Andrew, her boyfriend of over a year, ever invite her to spend the night? Or why can't she commit to taking the next step in their relationship? And why does his roommate Nathan dislike her so much? More importantly, why did Nathan have a starring role in a much-more-than-friendly dream?
Aggravating factors include hyper-competitive fellow psych majors, a professor who’s badly in need of her own psychoanalysis, and mentoring a middle-school-aged girl who thinks Patient is, in a word, naive.

Psych Major Syndrome
Welcome to the next installment of finally clearing some books I've had for an embarrassingly long time off my shelves!

This book suffers from a case of disagreeing book jacket cover info. Not necessarily disagreeing, but the synopsis on the book and online push the psychology major aspect of it, leading the reader to believe it's going to focus heavily on her school life and learning things about what she wants to do or applying it to her life somehow. This does not seem to be the case.

Instead, most of the story revolves around her boyfriend and her interactions with his roommate and her own roommate (who I really liked, and I want her and Reagan from Fangirl to be BFFs). There's the occasional mention of her Intro to Psych class (which, I know from taking one, is kind of a joke and not a class actual psych majors are in most of the time).

Aside from that, the book is pretty stereotypical in its unfolding of plot events. Boyfriend is a jerk constantly, makes reader confused at why they're dating in the first place, boyfriend's roommate is mysterious and moody (we all know where that will go), and girl's roommate is wise and tells it like it is early on, but it takes the MC way too long to realize it herself.

I did like that this was a college setting, I'm always looking for more of those, but it was still very high school dramatic when it came to everything else. Decent enough to read the whole way through, but it's one I would borrow from the library instead of purchasing.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Bookish Favorites #1

I find things all the time that make me drool because I want to own them, and I definitely can't afford them right now. So I wanted a place to compile all the pretty bookish things that I plan on (someday) having in my possession.

This will be a sporadic post (aka a when I feel like it kind of thing), and I hope to share quite a few things you haven't seen before!

How much fun would it be to have these alphabet books on your shelf? What would you spell if you had these?
(via Anthropologie)

These hilariously immature Penguin book matchboxes would make excellent stocking stuffers this year.
(via Etsy)

I know most of us have heard of Frostbeard, but I still don't have any of their candles, and I'd really like to try one out soon.
(via Etsy)

How cute are these grammar teacups?
(via Etsy)

What would you buy first? Does anyone own these things? If so, can I come hang out at your house?

Saturday, November 22, 2014

17 First Kisses Review

17 First Kisses by Rachael Allen
Release Date: June 17, 2014
Publisher: Harper Teen
Pages: 352
Keywords: friendship, grief, high school, romance
Format Read: ARC via publisher (thank you!)
Goodreads | Book Depository
No matter how many boys Claire kisses, she can’t seem to find a decent boyfriend. Someone who wouldn’t rather date her gorgeous best friend, Megan. Someone who won’t freak out when he learns about the tragedy her family still hasn’t recovered from. Someone whose kisses can carry her away from her backwoods town for one fleeting moment.
Until Claire meets Luke.
But Megan is falling for Luke, too, and if there’s one thing Claire knows for sure, it’s that Megan’s pretty much irresistible.
With true love and best friendship on the line, Claire suddenly has everything to lose. And what she learns—about her crush, her friends, and most of all herself—makes the choices even harder.
I'm thankful that I read this one despite all that I heard about it prior to beginning it (Jamie's discussion about it prompted me to pick it up again, and I'm glad I listened to her post).

I feel like there was a lot that was deceiving about this book. Claire (formerly known as CJ) used to be a tomboy who refused to wear dresses, but she got scooped up into the popular crowd at school and quickly befriends Megan, which starts a lot of this book, and I think it's important to know that about Claire going into the story.

Some of the biggest complaints about the book include slut-shaming language and terrible friendships, and that's why a lot of people put this book down. While tons of paragraphs made me cringe at what the girls were saying about other girls, there was never a moment that seemed unrealistic about what people were saying. I remember high school pretty vividly, and while I actively avoided the popular scene (I was neither a picked-on kid nor a picker-on, I was a theatre kid who stayed far away from everything else), it was language I heard all the time and thought was just a part of life. It doesn't mean I didn't like it. But this is an issue with society and behavior, not the book.

As the story moves along, there is quite a bit revealed about Claire's character, in addition to some revelations about others. We find out that every single character in the book deals with multitudes of problems, which I thought was brave and also realistic on Allen's part. It made the characters much more dynamic, and though I hated several of them, it also garnered sympathy from me. It also made me think a lot about how I judge people in life. I'm guilty, and I think we all are at some point. Allen puts those issues to the forefront and makes you think about how actions and words are affecting other people, even when you really don't like a person. 

It was all a bit dramatic in its plot unfolding, and (okay, I can't be the only one, surely) I really didn't even like Luke at all, but the book definitely had its merits in what it was trying to discuss. I was NOT a fan of one part of the ending, and had several options for Claire I wanted to lay out for her, but I did understand why it happened the way it did. It was realistic, and it was what any high schooler would do. I know I did it quite a bit. I was, however, a fan of
*View Spoiler*

I would recommend reading this, but go into it knowing you will hate quite a few characters, their language, etc. It's not meant to be politically correct or shame people, it's supposed to bring those issues out and show people what it does.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Top Ten FAIL: Sequel Day

As we all know, the Broke and the Bookish hosts Top Ten Tuesday, and I'm terrible at consistently posting weekly features. I just do posts when I feel like it.

So I planned this out, and I'm typing this about a week before this Top Ten post, and I get on and see it's sequels I can't wait to get to.
But here's the thing: I SUCK AT SERIES.
I didn't used to be so terrible. In fact, a long time ago, trilogies were my favorites (like, way back before blogging and tons of trilogies were a thing). I liked how long they were and how I could keep reading about a character. Now, I don't often review books if they're not the first in a series, and I'm mostly ready to move on to something else by the end of the first one.

So I feel like I can't actually even make a list because I've been so bad at series lately, I won't even start them for fear of not finishing them.
So my list is going to be a random number of series I've half-started or have sitting on my shelves that have been sitting there for years because I know I won't finish them.

1. Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

So I've read the first one. Really liked the style and the story. Then 7 months later I picked up Unravel Me. I've had the second sitting on my nightstand for literally 3 months and my bookmark on page 12. Oops. I just keep picking up other things instead. **Edit** Since writing this post a few days ago, I got so ashamed that I barely read the second one, I made it my blogger mission to finish this series before the end of the year. I have made ACTUAL PROGRESS. As of now, 10:11 p.m. Monday night, I'm on page 148. That sounds like pretty good progress to me. :)

2. Cinder by Marissa Meyer

This is one I haven't even started, but I have the whole series. I bought them on Book Outlet a while back for a huge discount, and they're still sitting wrapped up on the top of my shelf. I haven't even sorted them.

3. Pivot Point by Kasie West

I've read both her standalone books and LOVED both of them. I own both of these books. Why I haven't read them yet is beyond me.

4. Matched by Ally Condie

I've read the first (I read this YEARS ago, and have a review somewhere, but it's terrible and makes me cringe and laugh at my past self blogger), and then won the series in a contest. I was so excited I could finally finish the series, and guess what I did? Yep. Put them on my shelves and read other stuff instead.

And finally, the big one. The one I (sort of) got yelled at when I tried to sneakily comment on Twitter that I hadn't read the series. Specifically Jamie & Andi. (Sorry guys!! I promise I'm working on it!)

5. Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

I actually HAVE an ARC of Heir of Fire, and I remember how much everyone was freaking out when they surprised us with them in the mail. I felt super lucky to get one, and even checked the first two out of the library. Along with 26 other books. Which got read first. And the series went back to the library. I swear I didn't mean to ignore them, it just sort of... happened.
Also, if someone would let me know what's up with the covers of these books, that'd be great. Which ones came first? I'm confused.

Surely I'm not the only one terrible at series! Let me know in the comments which ones you can't believe I've read or which ones you're with me on meaning to get to!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Mystery Unfolds: Made for You Review

Made for You by Melissa Marr
Release Date: September 16, 2014
Publisher: HarperTeen
Pages: 356
Keywords: murder, mystery
Format Read: ARC via trade
Goodreads | Book Depository
When Eva Tilling wakes up in the hospital, she’s confused—who in her sleepy little North Carolina town could have hit her with their car? And why? But before she can consider the question, she finds that she’s awoken with a strange new skill: the ability to foresee people’s deaths when they touch her. While she is recovering from the hit-and-run, Nate, an old flame, reappears, and the two must traverse their rocky past as they figure out how to use Eva’s power to keep her friends—and themselves—alive. But while Eva and Nate grow closer, the killer grows increasingly frantic in his attempt to get to Eva.

I was a big fan of the Wicked Lovely series in high school (it was one that got me back into YA reading), so when I saw this show up on an Epic Reads teatime, I was basically doing the gimme hands.

It was so different than anything I expected, and I was captivated. I normally can't stand multiple points of view because I can't tell the narrators apart. Marr did an excellent job of switching between the three characters, and each voice I felt was distinct. Grace, Eva's best friend, was analytical and questioned a lot. Eva was descriptive. And Judge had a whole different level of distinct voice. He's the one obsessed with Eva. I loved that one of the perspectives openly admits that he tried to kill Eva in the first chapter. It gave such a suspenseful twist knowing what he was thinking but not knowing who he was.

I felt accomplished and proud when I hit 3/4 through the book and guessed who it was, but I realized once I turned the page that Marr wanted readers to find out exactly at that point and not a moment before. I was questioning everything and fully immersed in this strange world of southerners (okay, not so strange) and mystery.

It moved rather slowly for a murder/suspense type book, but it was a good slow. The plot didn't go too fast, and I felt like things happened realistically rather than at "book pace," where events seem to magically happen over the course of a day and a half. Eva had some recovery time in the hospital, and school dates were planned out, and it all made sense.

This was my favorite Marr book yet, and I will definitely keep an eye out for more things she writes in the future. I was a huge fan of the contemporary setting with magical elements.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

I'm Being Critical

Basically this is how I've been feeling for the past few months or so: I'm being overly critical of books.

Now, I know as a blogger it's my job to be critical, but I feel like I just haven't connected with a book in a really long time. Like, since Isla long, which I read MONTHS ago. Sure, I've read books I've liked. But more often than not, it seems like when I'm writing up my review and posting links at the end, a book I've given two stars (or less) has been rated about 4 on Goodreads.

In my early days of blogging, I pretty much gave everything a five-star review because I was just like "BOOOOKSSS I LOVE THEM." But I wanted people to trust my opinions, so over the years, I've started thinking a lot about what I say about a book in a review. I'm lucky if I get a four-star review a month.

I don't know if it's me being way too critical of what I'm reading, or if it's truly been the books. I just wanted to put this out there and ask you guys if you have critical stages, where you feel like everything you read makes you side-eye it and want to go back to your trusty favorites.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

I'd Rather Hang With the Nerds: Hexed Review

Hexed by Michelle Krys
Release Date: June 10, 2014
Publisher: Delacorte
Pages: 384
Keywords: magic, witches, high school
Format Read: eARC via NetGalley (thank you!)
Goodreads | Book Depository
A stolen book. A deadly plan. A destiny discovered. 
If high school is all about social status, Indigo Blackwood has it made. Sure, her quirky mom owns an occult shop, and a nerd just won't stop trying to be her friend, but Indie is a popular cheerleader with a football-star boyfriend and a social circle powerful enough to ruin everyone at school. Who wouldn't want to be her?
Then a guy dies right before her eyes. And the dusty old family Bible her mom is freakishly possessive of is stolen. But when a frustratingly sexy stranger named Bishop enters Indie's world, she learns that her destiny involves a lot more than pom-poms and parties. If she doesn't get the Bible back, every witch on the planet will die. And that's seriously bad news for Indie, because according to Bishop, she's a witch too.
Suddenly forced into a centuries-old war between witches and sorcerers, Indie is about to uncover the many dark truths about her life—and a future unlike any she ever imagined on top of the cheer pyramid.
The beginning of this book had me mostly worried: The MC is a cheerleader, and her BFF rose to popularity with her, but now they're having a falling out since Indie is dating Devon, the super hot, super popular football star, whom they both had a crush on a while back. It was pretty superficial, and Indie was openly embarrassed and mean to her mother, who runs the town's magic shop called "The Black Cat." I mean, I get it. High school can be rough, and you want people to like you. But to say out loud that your mom is crazy when she loves you more than anything else? That's cruel.

Fortunately, the magic part takes off pretty quickly. Indie's mom's sacred book goes missing, and in about 10 pages, Indie is introduced to the crazy world of flying and spellcasting - actual magic. Now, she's not afraid to enlist her neighbor Paige's help, even though she was previously mortified to be seen with her. And here's the thing; main characters do not have to be likeable. They DO have to learn and develop and hopefully improve something about themselves. There were so many instances Indie could have stepped up and done the right thing, and girl made some serious mistakes. All over the place. She made Paige (super un-cool girl, she reminds you all the time) leave her friend's house where she was spending the night to go on an investigative mission, and then insults her because Indie doesn't want to be seen by anyone from school going to a party with her.

All that aside, the magic stuff was okay. I enjoyed the back story of why things were happening the way they were, and I really got a kick out of the bad guys duo (I can't remember their names, but one of them was bald, and one was called Fred-something I think?). Baldie and Fred were pretty funny, even though they had zero reason for doing the things that they did - stealing Indie's mom's book and blaming Indie for putting a spell on it, when they could clearly tell she had no powers. And even if she did, she wasn't old enough yet. Which they should know. Because leather-jacket kid (yes, there's a romance, duh) knew and told her all about it.

It was a pretty quick read, but I was very indifferent to all the characters except Indie's mom and Paige, who seemed to be the only actual thinking characters in the entire book. It was filled with so many plot holes, though, that I just can't possibly feel interested in reading any more in this series.