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Best of 2016 & Looking Ahead

12.31.2016
2016 has been long. I'm not a very optimistic person, so I don't really see the light at the end of the tunnel for 2017, but I'm glad we'll get a clean slate, in a way.

I got a new job in 2016 working with monkeys and kind of maybe sorted out what I want to do with my life? Who knows. But my grandpa died in October, too, and he was a huge part of my life. I've lived with him since I was born, he owned the house I grew up in, and now we're cleaning out his stuff and mine and my dad's and getting ready to sell and it's hard. Everything is changing and the uncertainty of next year is really scary.

But I also got a cat! She has a genetic condition that makes her kneecaps constantly pop out of their sockets, and we've had to take her to the vet way too many times already for things unrelated to her knees, but she's soft and adorable and so sweet and I love her. She's also OBSESSED with drinking out of the sink.



I didn't read very much in 2016. I tried, but I've been getting so bored and distracted so easily lately. But of what I DID read, here are my favorites from 2016.

My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows


The comical, fantastical, romantical, (not) entirely true story of Lady Jane Grey. In My Lady Jane, coauthors Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows have created a one-of-a-kind fantasy in the tradition of The Princess Bride, featuring a reluctant king, an even more reluctant queen, a noble steed, and only a passing resemblance to actual history—because sometimes history needs a little help.

At sixteen, Lady Jane Grey is about to be married off to a stranger and caught up in a conspiracy to rob her cousin, King Edward, of his throne. But those trifling problems aren’t for Jane to worry about. Jane is about to become the Queen of England.

This book made me laugh out loud so many times. These three authors just work so well and cohesively and it was so nice to read such a cute and fun book that wasn't all dark and heavy and depressing. I got to see them in Chicago (I was super awkward and embarrassing and wish I had said more) and their reenactment was hilarious.

This Adventure Ends by Emma Mills

Sloane isn't expecting to fall in with a group of friends when she moves from New York to Florida—especially not a group of friends so intense, so in love, so all-consuming. Yet that's exactly what happens.

Sloane becomes closest to Vera, a social-media star who lights up any room, and Gabe, Vera's twin brother and the most serious person Sloane's ever met. When a beloved painting by the twins' late mother goes missing, Sloane takes on the responsibility of tracking it down, a journey that takes her across state lines—and ever deeper into the twins' lives.


Filled with intense and important friendships, a wonderful warts-and-all family, shiveringly good romantic developments, and sharp, witty dialogue, this story is about finding the people you never knew you needed.
I connected with Sloane SO MUCH in this book and recommend it to anyone who likes contemporary. (There's also a ton of sarcasm and banter that I think you will LOVE.)

Girl Against the Universe by Paula Stokes


Maguire is bad luck.
No matter how many charms she buys off the internet or good luck rituals she performs each morning, horrible things happen when Maguire is around. Like that time the rollercoaster jumped off its tracks. Or the time the house next door caught on fire. Or that time her brother, father, and uncle were all killed in a car crash—and Maguire walked away with barely a scratch.
It’s safest for Maguire to hide out in her room, where she can cause less damage and avoid meeting new people who she could hurt. But then she meets Jordy, an aspiring tennis star. Jordy is confident, talented, and lucky, and he’s convinced he can help Maguire break her unlucky streak. Maguire knows that the best thing she can do for Jordy is to stay away. But it turns out staying away is harder than she thought.
From author Paula Stokes comes a funny and poignant novel about accepting the past, embracing the future, and learning to make your own luck.
Maguire made my heart hurt because Paula Stokes CAN WRITE EMOTIONS SO WELL. What I love about this book the most is that it has such a positive portrayal of therapy and of mental illness in a way that wasn't super dark and depressing which is what I personally need to read.

The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson

Andie had it all planned out. When you are a politician’s daughter who’s pretty much raised yourself, you learn everything can be planned or spun, or both. Especially your future. Important internship? Check. Amazing friends? Check. Guys? Check (as long as we’re talking no more than three weeks).

But that was before the scandal. Before having to be in the same house with her dad. Before walking an insane number of dogs. That was before Clark and those few months that might change her whole life. Because here’s the thing—if everything’s planned out, you can never find the unexpected. And where’s the fun in that?


Whoops, another contemporary. There are dogs. Adorable dogs. Adorable people. Basically, in 2016 I liked light and happy books because everything else sucked. 


Looking Ahead

In 2017, my main goal is obviously: READ MORE. I'm going to be busier and busier so I'm not sure what's going to happen, but I'm going to try. 

I also want to get back into fantasy. It was really hard for me this year because fantasies are longer and more in depth usually, and so it requires way more focus for me, and I just couldn't. It would take me weeks. It took me over two months to finish A Court of Mist and Fury. Contemporaries, on the other hand, I could breeze through. 

I need to finish some series, particularly Crooked Kingdom and The Raven King

Here are some of the other books I really want to read in 2017, some old, some new. 


I would love to hear what you're most excited to read in 2017! (Not included in this is Before She Ignites by Jodi Meadows which was DRAGONS and I AM IN DIRE NEED OF IT.)

Waiting on Wednesday: October

10.05.2016
Ah, yes. It's that time again. The first Wednesday of the month, where I overload my blog with books that don't come out for forever and basically TORTURE MYSELF. Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine!

To recap: In September, I selected The Book Jumper by By Your Side by Kaisie WestIt Started With Goodbye by Christina June, and Lessons in Falling by Diana Gallagher for my WoW! 

Pitch Dark by Courtney Alameda
Expected Publication: June 27th, 2017 by Feiwel and Friends

Tuck Durante is a shipraider, combing space for Earth artifacts from a war that ended 500 years ago. When his parents' ship crashes in the dead zone and the crew goes missing, Tuck hires a ragtag rescue team.

Meanwhile, curator Lana Gray is fighting to keep the US PANAMJohn Muir—and the remnants of its crew—alive. Their space capsule housing Yosemite National Park was hijacked. The hijacking turned ninety-five percent of her crew into nightmarish creatures called mourners who flay, dismember, or decapitate with nothing more than sharp-pitched shrieks.

Now, despite their differences, Lana, Tuck, and their crews must work together to save the John Muir. In space, nobody can hear you scream...but on the John Muir, the screams are the last thing you'll hear.
Okay, first of all, that cover gives me definite Halloween vibes so I'm kind of sad this is going to be published in June. But also: SPACE. SPACE PIRATES, BASICALLY. SPACE PIRATES FIGHTING SCARY MONSTERS AND FALLING IN LOVE, THANK YOU VERY MUCH. (But also ohmygod I'm going to need to have my life together by June 2017) 

Lucky in Love by Kaisie West
Expected Publication: July 25th, 2017 by Scholastic
Maddie doesn't believe in luck. She's all about hard work and planning ahead. But one night, on a whim, she buys a lottery ticket. And then, to her astonishment -- She wins!

In a flash, Maddie's life is unrecognizable. No more stressing about college scholarships. Suddenly, she's talking about renting a yacht. And being in the spotlight at school is fun... until rumors start flying, and random people ask her for loans. Now, Maddie isn't sure who she can trust.

Except for Seth Nguyen, her funny, charming coworker at the local zoo. Seth doesn't seem aware of Maddie's big news. And, for some reason, she doesn't want to tell him. But what will happen if he learns her secret?

With tons of humor and heart, Kasie West delivers a million-dollar tale of winning, losing, and falling in love.
 
Is this real life? Are we really getting two Kasie West books within four months? IS THIS A DREAM??

Witchtown by Cory Putnam Oakes
Expected Publication: July 18th, 2017 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 

When sixteen-year-old Macie O’Sullivan and her masterfully manipulative mother Aubra arrive at the gates of Witchtown—the most famous and mysterious witch-only haven in the world—they have one goal in mind: to rob it for all it’s worth.

But that plan derails when Macie and Aubra start to dig deeper into Witchtown’s history and uncover that there is more to the quirky haven than meets the eye.
Exploring the haven by herself, Macie finds that secrets are worth more than money in Witchtown.
Secrets have their own power.
 
YET ANOTHER MISSED OPPORTUNITY FOR AN OCTOBER PUB DATE BUT WHATEVER. Witches, my friends. WITCHES. I love it. I want it. Immediately. 

The Freemason's Daughter by Shelley Sackier 
Expected Publication: April 11th, 2017 by HarperCollins
The Outlander series for the YA audience—a debut, full of romance and intrigue, set in early eighteenth-century Scotland.

Saying good-bye to Scotland is the hardest thing that Jenna MacDuff has had to do—until she meets Lord Pembroke. Jenna’s small clan has risked their lives traveling the countryside as masons, secretly drumming up support and arms for the exiled King James Stuart to retake the British throne. But their next job brings them into enemy territory: England.

Jenna’s father repeatedly warns her to trust no one, but when the Duke of Keswick hires the clan to build a garrison on his estate, it seems she cannot hide her capable mind from the duke’s inquisitive son, Lord Alex Pembroke—nor mask her growing attraction to him. But there’s a covert plan behind the building of the garrison, and soon Jenna must struggle not only to keep her newfound friendship with Alex from her father, but also to keep her father’s treason from Alex. 

Will Jenna decide to keep her family’s mutinous secrets and assist her clan’s cause, or protect the life of the young noble she’s falling for? 

In Shelley Sackier’s lush, vivid historical debut, someone will pay a deadly price no matter which choice Jenna makes.
Okay, don't eat me, but I haven't actually watched Outlander. I watched two episodes my freshmen year of college but then exam week hit and I just never went back, and now I'm too afraid to go back because IT SOUNDS LIKE THERE'S SO MUCH ANGST. But this sounds really intriguing and I'm excited to read it! 

And there you have it! Are you excited about any of these? What are you waiting on this Wednesday?

There's No Shame in Happy Endings

10.03.2016

Some of you who follow me on Twitter might know that I'm really into happy books right now. Heartwarming books where no one dies, where every page isn't full of angst, where the chances of me crying are slim. (But not zero, because I can cry at pretty much anything if I'm in a mood.) This typically means contemporaries. And not contemporaries about super serious topics.

And these books? They typically have happy endings. AND I LOVE THAT.

I hate when a series ends super open-ended. I hate when characters die and IT DOESN'T EVEN SERVE A PURPOSE. At least one that I can see. And I get it - everything in life doesn't get wrapped up in a neat and pretty bow. An unarmed man waiting for his child gets shot and just no longer exists. That's reality.

But I don't read books for reality, is the thing. Sure, I get annoyed when certain things aren't realistic, even in fantasy - the author has to write in a convincing matter. And I do like certain things to be open-ended. If the main character's mom or dad left her when she was little, I don't except them to be a family again by the end of the book. I don't think every detail needs closure. But most of them? Yes. That's what I like. I can see the other side, I get it. I just don't feel that way. If it's too open-ended, I just feel like there was no point, like I've wasted my time.

But more importantly: character death. 

ARC Review: This Adventure Ends

9.19.2016
This Adventure Ends by Emma Mills
Expected Publication: October 4th, 2016 by Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
Source: NetGalley
*I received a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. This has in no way affected the opinions stated below.
Sloane isn't expecting to fall in with a group of friends when she moves from New York to Florida—especially not a group of friends so intense, so in love, so all-consuming. Yet that's exactly what happens.

Sloane becomes closest to Vera, a social-media star who lights up any room, and Gabe, Vera's twin brother and the most serious person Sloane's ever met. When a beloved painting by the twins' late mother goes missing, Sloane takes on the responsibility of tracking it down, a journey that takes her across state lines—and ever deeper into the twins' lives.

Filled with intense and important friendships, a wonderful warts-and-all family, shiveringly good romantic developments, and sharp, witty dialogue, this story is about finding the people you never knew you needed.


Okay, first of all, if you haven't read her debut, First & Then, GO PICK THAT UP NOW. AND WHILE YOU'RE AT IT, GET THIS ADVENTURE ENDS BECAUSE YOU NEED IT.

Okay, moving on. I was very excited to read this book, especially since I've been on my recent contemporary binge, and I can easily say it delivered, and then it flew lightyears beyond my expectations.

Emma Mills has an uncanny ability to write dialogue. I can't tell you how many times I laughed. I'm in absolute awe of the way she fills this book with wit. Seriously. THE SASS AND THE BANTER NEVER END. Those of you who love witty and sarcastic characters will absolutely adore Sloane - and her first meeting with Gabriel.

This Adventure Ends honestly has one of the best first chapters I've ever read. Besides the fantastic wit that I've already mentioned (and will never stop talking about), Sloane absolutely TEARS DOWN a dude with just a few words, and I was in love by page, like, 5 or something.
"Geez. That was - was that a New York thing? Do they teach you that stuff there?" Yes. Here is your MetroCard, and this is how you publicly dismantle insufferable dicks.
I feel like I need to personally thank Emma Mills for Sloane. She's just got such a unique voice and her sarcasm/wit are the perfect kind - funny, dry, but not harsh. She's 17 and doesn't know what she's going to do with her life. She sings - she's dedicated, she's good - but is that really where she wants to take her entire life? Or does she want that one thing to just be for her? And she spends the majority of the book hunting down this painting just because she wants to help her friends, to give them something meaningful to hold onto. I LOVE SLOANE.
"Frank Sanger is for everyone." I look up at the sky as she taps away on her phone. "Maybe I'm the opposite. Maybe I'm for no one."
And there is just. SO much more to talk about. Sloane's father is so much fun. He's almost as quirky and witty as Sloane. He's a writer who's been struggling to find inspiration lately, and he starts to write fanfiction. I'll admit that I skimmed over the fanfiction bits because I wasn't interested in the premise, BUT, you guys, I LOVE THIS. The portrayal and positivity of fanfiction and being in a fandom here is SO BEAUTIFUL. JUST WHEN I THOUGHT I COULDN'T LOVE THIS BOOK ANYMORE.

Friendship is obviously very central to this novel, and not just between Gabe, Vera, and Sloane. They have a nice little group that I was honestly kind of jealous of, and the dynamics between all of them are killer. I especially loved the friendship between Sloane and Remi and the way they conspire together.
I don't even know where to start. Sad is just the tip of the iceberg.
I think my only real issue was that I needed Gabe and Sloane to have a few more conversations. I certainly liked them and rooted for them, but I just needed them to have a little more depth than they did, I suppose. That's not to say that it was love at first sight or that they developed way too fast, because neither of those are true! Their relationship felt so genuine and sweet, I just thought they could have benefitted from a few more conversations about the things they like, etc.

tl;dr: This Adventure Ends is a funny and witty tale about friendship and learning how to grow close to people. It has a perfect cast of characters, and Emma Mills writes in such a unique voice that you're drawn in immediately. 4.5 stars. 


*Please note: quotes not final. 

Books That Need to be TV Shows Immediately

9.14.2016
So TV was the choice of topic in last week's Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. But I (unsurprisingly) missed it and I LOVE TALKING ABOUT TV. So here I am.

There's been a lot of talk in the community about YA adaptions, especially after the Throne of Glass adaption news came out. And a lot of it has been negative. I realize that she's been under fire for her rep lately, but I did not see a single tweet about the adaption that was concerned with that - it was all just I DON'T WANT IT although I did see a few people who were cautiously optimistic. I'll be the first to admit that I haven't enjoyed many YA adaptions on TV. (Although I LIKED THE NINE LIVES OF CHLOE KING WAY BACK WHEN, DAMMIT. Not that I ever read the books. And you know what? I LIKE SHADOWHUNTERS. I REALLY DO. I don't even like the book series but I enjoy the show. Is it the best thing over? No, of course not. But I have seen WAY shittier TV.) But I want people to stop shitting on YA adaptions. This is YOUR COMMUNITY. And all I ever hear is "no I don't want this adaption it's going to suck." And you know what? Maybe it will. But I am so, so tired of the negativity. I want Hollywood and every other studio to keep trying. I want them to keep making YA adaptions, because some day, they're going to get it right. And you might be ruining that. The second they announce an adaption, 90% of what I see is moaning and groaning. The other 10% is mostly authors who are being super supportive of their author friends!

This wasn't meant to turn into a rant, but another thing: I'm tired of people complaining about things being too different from the book. Now, if they're changing a character's ethnicity or identity, I understand that that's a totally different situation. If they're doing a complete 180 on a character's personality in a negative way, I get it! If they start killing off every good character and every POC, you have every right to be mad, not that you need me to say that. But if you're mad because they're changing basic stuff, adding new characters, etc. I just. Why. TV and especially cinema are a different medium than books - sometimes they do things differently. Sometimes because they have to, sometimes because they think it works better. And honestly, I never want to see exactly what I read. I already read it! BUT, if you don't like changes in adaptions, I'm not trying to say that you're wrong for that. I'm just trying to say that changes are inevitably going to happen, and if you don't like it? 

Here's a concept: if you don't like the adaption, don't watch it. Just let other people enjoy it.

Anyway. Like I said. I want them to keep trying. If they screw it up? No harm done, really. You still have the book. SO HERE ARE SOME BOOKS I NEED A TV SHOW FOR.

The Marauders (JK Rowling)


Sunday Street Team: A Shadow Bright and Burning

9.11.2016
Thanks so much to Nori and Random House!
A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess
Expected Publication: September 20th, 2016 by Random House
Source: NetGalley
*I received a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. This has in no way affected the opinions stated below.
I am Henrietta Howel. The first female sorcerer. The prophesied one. Or am I?

Henrietta Howel can burst into flames. When she is brought to London to train with Her Majesty's sorcerers, she meets her fellow sorcerer trainees, young men eager to test her powers and her heart. One will challenge her. One will fight for her. One will betray her. As Henrietta discovers the secrets hiding behind the glamour of sorcerer life, she begins to doubt that she's the true prophesied one. With battle looming, how much will she risk to save the city--and the one she loves?

Now, through no fault of its own, it took me over a month to read A Shadow Bright and Burning. It is a little long - at least compare to what I've been reading lately, which is really just contemporaries - but I've been having a hard time just picking up a book and reading it, no matter how good. And so this did lead to a little confusion on my part, particularly about who Blackwood even was or what the Ancients were, human or otherwise. And that did lessen my enjoyment a little, but like I said, that one is definitely my fault.

The author's writing style really does a fantastic job of drawing you into the world. This version of England is a perfect setting for the story and the way that it's described is truly magical. I could see it all so perfectly, and it might sound cheesy, but I could really feel the city, the people, the house.

Sexism plays a pretty significant part in this novel. Henrietta has an intriguing affinity for fire (as in, well, she can literally set herself on fire) but females? Being sorcerers? It doesn't happen. And that's something that plagues Henrietta throughout the novel, something that she comments on several times. It isn't just pushed aside and ignored. Henrietta struggles in her lessons as a sorcerer, and the fact that she's female draws even more attention to that. People makes comments, she makes a few speeches about it, and I really admired her strength in that respect.
Sometimes I wished that I could actually burn. 
Besides her responses to some of the blatant sexism that occurred, I really admired Henrietta for her struggle with maybe not being the one from the prophecy. She's so determined to prove to people that she's good, that she's capable, that they didn't make a mistake in bringing her to train with sorcerers. It's almost heartbreaking.

I was pretty neutral on the romance throughout. Yes, there's kind of a love triangle, and I can't say that I know for sure where it's going to end up. But the good news - I liked both of the love interests! I didn't love them, and I wanted more information about them, but I thought they were equally good love choices for Henrietta and both really respected her. BUT THEN. Somehow in the last 20% or so they both went really, really downhill for me, and the romance began to feel so ridiculous. Which sucked. The other good news - romance definitely isn't the focus of this novel!

I don't normally like to comment on plots too much (besides maybe pacing) for fear of spoilers, but here's what I will say: the plot in A Shadow Bright and Burning is interesting and magical and there was even a twist or two, but I didn't see anything terribly unique to it. However, the writing really brought it to life.

tl;dr: A Shadow Bright and Burning has a heroine who's so easy to connect and sympathize with that I'm confident you guys will love her. While I didn't find any astounding originality, the descriptive writing was beautiful and unique and really drew me in. 3.75 stars but I don't have a cat for that.


About the Author:
JESSICA CLUESS is a writer, a graduate of Northwestern University, and an unapologetic nerd. After college, she moved to Los Angeles, where she served coffee to the rich and famous while working on her first novel. When she's not writing books, she's an instructor at Writopia Lab, helping kids and teens tell their own stories.


Giveaway:

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Waiting on Wednesday: September! (Contemporary Edition)

9.07.2016
Ah, yes. It's that time again. The first Wednesday of the month, where I overload my blog with books that don't come out for forever and basically TORTURE MYSELF. Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine!

To recap: In August, I selected The Ship Beyond Time by Heidi HeiligGiven to the Sea by Mandy McGinnisDaughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller, and Vicarious by Paula Stokes for my WoW! I have The Ship Beyond Time and Daughter of the Pirate King now and I COULD NOT BE MORE EXCITED. 

This month unintentionally ended up featuring (almost) all contemporaries! 

The Book Jumper by 
Expected Publication: January 3rd, 2017 by Feiwel and Friends

Amy Lennox doesn't know quite what to expect when she and her mother pick up and leave Germany for Scotland, heading to her mother's childhood home of Lennox House on the island of Stormsay.

Amy's grandmother, Lady Mairead, insists that Amy must read while she resides at Lennox House—but not in the usual way. It turns out that Amy is a book jumper, able to leap into a story and interact with the world inside. As thrilling as Amy's new power is, it also brings danger: someone is stealing from the books she visits, and that person may be after her life. Teaming up with fellow book jumper Will, Amy vows to get to the bottom of the thefts—at whatever cost.
I AM SO IN LOVE WITH THIS COVER. I just can't stop staring at it. Also, SCOTLAND. I don't think I need to say anything else.

End of Summer Preorder Giveaway! (INTL)

9.05.2016
It's not quite the end of summer. It's still going to be in the high 80s this week (ew) and the bugs haven't started dying out yet (EW), but the semester is starting which means summer is dead which means my soul is also dead. Or hibernating, at least. I LOVE fall, I love the leaves and SWEATERS and blankets and the drinks. I do not love school.


But! Soon the Halloween movies will start. And then the CHRISTMAS MOVIES WILL START. And if you know me, you know nothing makes me happier than Hallmark Christmas movies (besides cats). And I will use Halloween and Christmas as an excuse to watch Harry Potter again.

Anyways. To celebrate (read: mourn) the end of Summer, I'm giving away a preorder of one of the books shown below! International, as long as The Book Depository ships to you, though that means you won't get it on release day, sorry! Ends September 30th, 2016.


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ARC Review: How to Make Out

8.29.2016
How to Make Out by Brianna Shrum
Expected Publication: September 6th, 2016 by Sky Pony Press
Source: Edelweiss
*I received a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinions stated below.
Sixteen-year-old Renley needs three thousand dollars for the math club’s trip to New York City, and she knows exactly how to get it: she’s going to start a how-to blog where people pay for answers to all of life’s questions from a “certified expert.” The only problems: 1) She doesn’t know how to do anything but long division and calculus. 2) She’s totally invisible to people at school. And not in a cool Gossip Girl kind of way.

So, she decides to learn to do . . . well . . . everything. When her anonymous blog shifts in a more scandalous direction and the questions (and money) start rolling in, she has to learn not just how to do waterfall braids and cat-eye makeup, but a few other things, like how to cure a hangover, how to flirt, and how to make out (something her very experienced, and very in-love-with-her neighbor, Drew, is more than willing to help with).

As her blog’s reputation skyrockets, so does “new and improved” Renley’s popularity. She’s not only nabbed the attention of the entire school, but also the eye of Seth Levine, the hot culinary wizard she’s admired from across the home-ec classroom all year.

Soon, caught up in the thrill of popularity both in and out of cyberspace, her secrets start to spiral, and she finds that she’s forgotten the most important how-to: how to be herself. When her online and real lives converge, Renley will have to make a choice: lose everything she loves in her new life, or everyone she loves in the life she left behind.

You know those times when you wait a week and a half to write your review? And all you've got is some vague thoughts and memories of it? ("Yes, but that's why you take notes!" you say. Indeed! But MY NOTES ARE JUST AS VAGUE.) And I think that pretty much sums up my thoughts about How to Make Out: fun but not very memorable just because it didn't, like, tug at my heartstrings or anything.

I love the premise of this book. Renley needs money to go to New York, so she makes a how-to blog where she charges for answers once she gets it running. Which she appears to do very, very fast. I found this bit to be very unrealistic - why would somebody pay for her answer on how to make out or how to tie a tie when all of those answers are available online for free? I would think it was super sketchy if someone was making me pay for that, but I digress. It's fiction. I got over it. (But IF ONLY WE ALL GOT FOLLOWERS AS QUICKLY AS SHE DOES? I have literally never made a cent from this blog in 5 years like. Come on. Here she is making money for a trip to New York.)

Of course, when someone asks Renley how to make out, she has to go to her best friend/neighbor and get him to teach her because she has no idea what she's doing. I loved the scenes between them and the dynamic, how close they are. But here's the problem - Drew is in love with her, and she knows that. She knows all about it. He knows she knows. And yet she still asks him to do this for her, still asks him to help her with Seth, the guy she's interested in. (Who has a girlfriend. It's messy.) She basically always ignores his feelings for her. On top of that, Drew has girls in and out of his bedroom constantly, Renley doesn't like it, etc. etc. It was kind of annoying.

That being said, I want to repeat that I really loved the dynamic between them. They had a great friendship otherwise and seriously great chemistry and I was really rooting for them. I SHIPPED IT.

Renley and Seth, however? No chemistry. Nada. Can I just throw him out a window to get him out of the way? You know, in a nice way?

Renley makes a lot of mistakes throughout the course of the novel. And yes, it can get annoying, and yes, sometimes I wanted to scream at her, but I appreciated it - she wasn't anywhere near perfect. I've definitely made a lot of mistakes, and they're not always teeny tiny ones you can forget about the next day. I think some people might get really frustrated by her, but she's a teenager and by the end, she seems to have learned her lesson. I wish that part had been just a bit longer so it showcased her growth more, but the point is that she does learn. I don't really like the way it happens because it's completely forced on her rather than her learning and growing on her own, but whatever.

tl;dr: How to Make Out is a super quick and fun contemporary (with its fair share of deeper emotions) with an adorable best friend who I myself might be a little bit in love with. 3.5 stars.



#BBCP16: Harry Potter Goes on a Date...

8.19.2016

Team Periwinkle's project for the BBCP (created by Nori to incite creativity on our blogs this summer) is Match Made in the Pages! Last week, I created a profile for Harry Potter. This week, I use your suggestions to set him up on a date because THE POOR BOY NEEDS SOME NORMALCY.

Your suggestion? Inej Ghafa! (It was really only mine and Cait's suggestion but shhhhh.)


I think Harry and Inej would sit in front of the fire in his living room because Harry would want a quiet date after SAVING THE ENTIRE WIZARDING WORLD AND MORE. Of course, there would be banter, because he is Harry Potter, The Boy Who Sassed.


Harry wouldn't tell her about all the people he's lost. Inej wouldn't tell him about where she came from. I think she might tune out a few times (possibly thinking about another man who possibly goes by the name of Kaz Brekker. LET ME DREAM.)

But they would laugh. They would keep their conversations on the surface. AND THEN. Inej would casually pull out her daggers, tossing them around, upon which Harry would proceed to:


BECAUSE YOU KNOW WHAT? BEING AN AUROR IS ENOUGH STRESS, THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

Don't forget to check out the other members of Team Periwinkle, who have made REAL DATES for their characters. (Honestly you guys I just want Harry Potter to have a nice nap and live a quiet life in a little cottage near the sea but THEN HE WENT OFF TO BE AN AUROR AND RUINED IT.)

Cilla | Annalise | Nori | Michelle Reg

#BBCP2016: Send Harry Potter on a Date!

8.12.2016

For the record, I am definitely a Harry/Ginny fan. But this is pure fun and HARRY POTTER JUST NEEDS SOME LOVE, GUYS. HE NEEDS MORE GOOD THINGS.

Team Periwinkle's project for the BBCP (created by Nori to incite creativity on our blogs this summer) is Match Made in the Pages! YOU suggest characters (preferably from other novels) to set Harry up with on a blind date, and next week, I'll use those characters to create some date scenarios.

I feel like Harry would avoid the "tell us about yourself" question. Is that just me?

The Basics
Name: Harry Potter
Eye color: Green. I've been told they're exactly like my mother's. (Just a time or two, though.)
Hair color: Is uncontrollable a color? 

What's your favorite place in the entire world? 

Hogwarts, my school. It's the first place I ever felt at home, even if the staircases move at very inconvenient times. 

What's your favorite way to spend a Saturday? 

Sitting out by the lake (at a safe distance) with my friends, far away from any danger, Great Squid or dark wizards included. 

What do you value most in life? 

Quiet. Peace. A Voldemort-free school year with my friends and a teacher who maybe isn't delusional? I really enjoy the times when I just get to be with my friends and laugh and be worry-free. 

What do you do in your free time?

....Quidditch? Try not to die? 

What do you fear most? 
My friends getting hurt or losing their families just because they're associated with me and trying to protect me. 

HARRY IS SO SWEET, NO? So, tell me, who would you set him up on a blind date with? I think Inej could be a match for him, but I think she needs to go out and save the world while he just wants the world to stop ending. GIVE ME MORE OPTIONS, FRIENDS.
Be sure to check out the other posts form Team Periwinkle, and to check back next week to see who Harry's going on a date with! (Not at Madame Puddifoot's, I promise.)  

Cilla | Annalise | Nori | Michelle Reg

Review: Girl Against the Universe

8.11.2016
Girl Against the Universe by Paula Stokes
Published: May 17th, 2016 by HarperTeen
Source: Traded (hardcover)
Maguire is bad luck.

No matter how many charms she buys off the internet or good luck rituals she performs each morning, horrible things happen when Maguire is around. Like that time the rollercoaster jumped off its tracks. Or the time the house next door caught on fire. Or that time her brother, father, and uncle were all killed in a car crash—and Maguire walked away with barely a scratch.

It’s safest for Maguire to hide out in her room, where she can cause less damage and avoid meeting new people who she could hurt. But then she meets Jordy, an aspiring tennis star. Jordy is confident, talented, and lucky, and he’s convinced he can help Maguire break her unlucky streak. Maguire knows that the best thing she can do for Jordy is to stay away. But it turns out staying away is harder than she thought.

From author Paula Stokes comes a funny and poignant novel about accepting the past, embracing the future, and learning to make your own luck.
Honestly, I don't know that I have much to say about this besides: READ IT. IT IS LOVELY AND I WANT YOU TO READ IT.

This was actually my first Paula Stokes book and I can promise you I'm going to be reading the rest of them. Maguire is terrified of crowds. Of being in a car with anyone who isn't her mother. She can go to school but she's constantly looking all around her for potential hazards, because she thinks that wherever she is, there's also pain and danger - but for other people, not her. And that's what she's always worried about: other people getting hurt just because she's around them. Her father and brother were killed in an accident she escaped unscathed from, and again a few years later there was a roller coaster crash where she was the only one left uninjured.

Naturally, this means she avoids being around people as much as possible. She struggles with mental illness, with PTSD and OCD, and what I really loved is that Paula Stokes portrays this in a way that really lets you understand Maguire without going to a deep and dark place that makes you miserable. I know some people do like that, but honestly, I don't like the heavier stuff. Maguire's struggles aren't written the way that The Last Time We Say Goodbye or some other YA's are, but that's why I liked it. I didn't cry. (Until the author's note and acknowledgments, but MOVING ON.) Girl Against the Universe is full of fun and hope and healing without dragging me down into a bad headspace, if you know what I mean?

We see a lot of Maguire in therapy, which I loved. I know that it doesn't work out for everyone but it was such a positive portrayal and Maguire really started to challenge herself. And I loved that it showed that you don't have to be contemplating suicide, you don't have to be at what others may perceive was "rock bottom" to seek help and really benefit from it. Your struggles and your illness are still just as valid.

Also, tennis! Lots of tennis. I've never been into it but I never found myself bored or wanting to skim through the tennis parts, and it's really instrumental in Maguire's progress. And, of course, it's the sport that Jordy plays so it's a nice common point between him and Maguire.

And the thing is, Jordy's in therapy too. They're both working to get better and they're both helping each other in so many ways without it being too codependent and unhealthy. Their relationship is built on friendship and honesty and it was so sweet and THINKING ABOUT THIS BOOK JUST MAKES ME SO HAPPY.

And! I can't forget! Family. Maguire's mom is so supportive and understanding and Maguire's relationship with her stepfather starts to grow too and IT'S ALL SO CUTE AND NICE AND I LOVE IT ALL.

tl;dr: Girl Against the Universe is such a positive portrayal of dealing with mental illness and developing relationships and EVERYTHING ABOUT IT MAKES ME HAPPY. 4.5 stars.



Waiting on Wednesday: August

8.03.2016
Ah, yes. It's that time again. The first Wednesday of the month, where I overload my blog with books that don't come out for forever and basically TORTURE MYSELF. Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine!

To recap: In July, I selected The Thousandth Floor by Katharine McGee, Poison's Kiss by Breeana Shields, Long May She Reign by Rhiannon Thomas, and Flashfall by Jenny Moyer for my WoW!

The Ship Beyond Time by Heidi Heilig
Expected Publication: March 28th, 2017 by Greenwillow Books

The breathtaking sequel to the acclaimed The Girl from Everywhere. Nix has escaped her past, but when the person she loves most is at risk, even the daughter of a time traveler may not be able to outrun her fate—no matter where she goes. Fans of Rae Carson, Alexandra Bracken, and Outlander will fall hard for Heidi Heilig’s sweeping fantasy.

Nix has spent her whole life journeying to places both real and imagined aboard her time-traveling father’s ship. And now it’s finally time for her to take the helm. Her father has given up his obsession to save her mother—and possibly erase Nix’s existence—and Nix’s future lies bright before her. Until she learns that she is destined to lose the one she loves. But her relationship with Kash—best friend, thief, charmer extraordinaire—is only just beginning. How can she bear to lose him? How can she bear to become as adrift and alone as her father? 

Desperate to change her fate, Nix takes her crew to a mythical utopia to meet another Navigator who promises to teach her how to manipulate time. But everything in this utopia is constantly changing, and nothing is what it seems—not even her relationship with Kash. Nix must grapple with whether anyone can escape her destiny, her history, her choices. Heidi Heilig weaves fantasy, history, and romance together to tackle questions of free will, fate, and what it means to love another person. But at the center of this adventure are the extraordinary, multifaceted, and multicultural characters that leap off the page, and an intricate, recognizable world that has no bounds. The sequel—and conclusion—to the indie darling The Girl from Everywhere will be devoured by fans of Rachel Hartman and Maggie Stiefvater. Includes black-and-white maps.
MARCH 2017. KILL ME NOW. The Girl From Everywhere was my absolute favorite debut of this year, so obviously I have to shove the sequel front and center because I AM DYING AND I NEED IT AND I MISS NIX AND KASH. 


12.31.2016

Best of 2016 & Looking Ahead

2016 has been long. I'm not a very optimistic person, so I don't really see the light at the end of the tunnel for 2017, but I'm glad we'll get a clean slate, in a way.

I got a new job in 2016 working with monkeys and kind of maybe sorted out what I want to do with my life? Who knows. But my grandpa died in October, too, and he was a huge part of my life. I've lived with him since I was born, he owned the house I grew up in, and now we're cleaning out his stuff and mine and my dad's and getting ready to sell and it's hard. Everything is changing and the uncertainty of next year is really scary.

But I also got a cat! She has a genetic condition that makes her kneecaps constantly pop out of their sockets, and we've had to take her to the vet way too many times already for things unrelated to her knees, but she's soft and adorable and so sweet and I love her. She's also OBSESSED with drinking out of the sink.



I didn't read very much in 2016. I tried, but I've been getting so bored and distracted so easily lately. But of what I DID read, here are my favorites from 2016.

My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows


The comical, fantastical, romantical, (not) entirely true story of Lady Jane Grey. In My Lady Jane, coauthors Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows have created a one-of-a-kind fantasy in the tradition of The Princess Bride, featuring a reluctant king, an even more reluctant queen, a noble steed, and only a passing resemblance to actual history—because sometimes history needs a little help.

At sixteen, Lady Jane Grey is about to be married off to a stranger and caught up in a conspiracy to rob her cousin, King Edward, of his throne. But those trifling problems aren’t for Jane to worry about. Jane is about to become the Queen of England.

This book made me laugh out loud so many times. These three authors just work so well and cohesively and it was so nice to read such a cute and fun book that wasn't all dark and heavy and depressing. I got to see them in Chicago (I was super awkward and embarrassing and wish I had said more) and their reenactment was hilarious.

This Adventure Ends by Emma Mills

Sloane isn't expecting to fall in with a group of friends when she moves from New York to Florida—especially not a group of friends so intense, so in love, so all-consuming. Yet that's exactly what happens.

Sloane becomes closest to Vera, a social-media star who lights up any room, and Gabe, Vera's twin brother and the most serious person Sloane's ever met. When a beloved painting by the twins' late mother goes missing, Sloane takes on the responsibility of tracking it down, a journey that takes her across state lines—and ever deeper into the twins' lives.


Filled with intense and important friendships, a wonderful warts-and-all family, shiveringly good romantic developments, and sharp, witty dialogue, this story is about finding the people you never knew you needed.
I connected with Sloane SO MUCH in this book and recommend it to anyone who likes contemporary. (There's also a ton of sarcasm and banter that I think you will LOVE.)

Girl Against the Universe by Paula Stokes


Maguire is bad luck.
No matter how many charms she buys off the internet or good luck rituals she performs each morning, horrible things happen when Maguire is around. Like that time the rollercoaster jumped off its tracks. Or the time the house next door caught on fire. Or that time her brother, father, and uncle were all killed in a car crash—and Maguire walked away with barely a scratch.
It’s safest for Maguire to hide out in her room, where she can cause less damage and avoid meeting new people who she could hurt. But then she meets Jordy, an aspiring tennis star. Jordy is confident, talented, and lucky, and he’s convinced he can help Maguire break her unlucky streak. Maguire knows that the best thing she can do for Jordy is to stay away. But it turns out staying away is harder than she thought.
From author Paula Stokes comes a funny and poignant novel about accepting the past, embracing the future, and learning to make your own luck.
Maguire made my heart hurt because Paula Stokes CAN WRITE EMOTIONS SO WELL. What I love about this book the most is that it has such a positive portrayal of therapy and of mental illness in a way that wasn't super dark and depressing which is what I personally need to read.

The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson

Andie had it all planned out. When you are a politician’s daughter who’s pretty much raised yourself, you learn everything can be planned or spun, or both. Especially your future. Important internship? Check. Amazing friends? Check. Guys? Check (as long as we’re talking no more than three weeks).

But that was before the scandal. Before having to be in the same house with her dad. Before walking an insane number of dogs. That was before Clark and those few months that might change her whole life. Because here’s the thing—if everything’s planned out, you can never find the unexpected. And where’s the fun in that?


Whoops, another contemporary. There are dogs. Adorable dogs. Adorable people. Basically, in 2016 I liked light and happy books because everything else sucked. 


Looking Ahead

In 2017, my main goal is obviously: READ MORE. I'm going to be busier and busier so I'm not sure what's going to happen, but I'm going to try. 

I also want to get back into fantasy. It was really hard for me this year because fantasies are longer and more in depth usually, and so it requires way more focus for me, and I just couldn't. It would take me weeks. It took me over two months to finish A Court of Mist and Fury. Contemporaries, on the other hand, I could breeze through. 

I need to finish some series, particularly Crooked Kingdom and The Raven King

Here are some of the other books I really want to read in 2017, some old, some new. 


I would love to hear what you're most excited to read in 2017! (Not included in this is Before She Ignites by Jodi Meadows which was DRAGONS and I AM IN DIRE NEED OF IT.)

10.05.2016

Waiting on Wednesday: October

Ah, yes. It's that time again. The first Wednesday of the month, where I overload my blog with books that don't come out for forever and basically TORTURE MYSELF. Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine!

To recap: In September, I selected The Book Jumper by By Your Side by Kaisie WestIt Started With Goodbye by Christina June, and Lessons in Falling by Diana Gallagher for my WoW! 

Pitch Dark by Courtney Alameda
Expected Publication: June 27th, 2017 by Feiwel and Friends

Tuck Durante is a shipraider, combing space for Earth artifacts from a war that ended 500 years ago. When his parents' ship crashes in the dead zone and the crew goes missing, Tuck hires a ragtag rescue team.

Meanwhile, curator Lana Gray is fighting to keep the US PANAMJohn Muir—and the remnants of its crew—alive. Their space capsule housing Yosemite National Park was hijacked. The hijacking turned ninety-five percent of her crew into nightmarish creatures called mourners who flay, dismember, or decapitate with nothing more than sharp-pitched shrieks.

Now, despite their differences, Lana, Tuck, and their crews must work together to save the John Muir. In space, nobody can hear you scream...but on the John Muir, the screams are the last thing you'll hear.
Okay, first of all, that cover gives me definite Halloween vibes so I'm kind of sad this is going to be published in June. But also: SPACE. SPACE PIRATES, BASICALLY. SPACE PIRATES FIGHTING SCARY MONSTERS AND FALLING IN LOVE, THANK YOU VERY MUCH. (But also ohmygod I'm going to need to have my life together by June 2017) 

Lucky in Love by Kaisie West
Expected Publication: July 25th, 2017 by Scholastic
Maddie doesn't believe in luck. She's all about hard work and planning ahead. But one night, on a whim, she buys a lottery ticket. And then, to her astonishment -- She wins!

In a flash, Maddie's life is unrecognizable. No more stressing about college scholarships. Suddenly, she's talking about renting a yacht. And being in the spotlight at school is fun... until rumors start flying, and random people ask her for loans. Now, Maddie isn't sure who she can trust.

Except for Seth Nguyen, her funny, charming coworker at the local zoo. Seth doesn't seem aware of Maddie's big news. And, for some reason, she doesn't want to tell him. But what will happen if he learns her secret?

With tons of humor and heart, Kasie West delivers a million-dollar tale of winning, losing, and falling in love.
 
Is this real life? Are we really getting two Kasie West books within four months? IS THIS A DREAM??

Witchtown by Cory Putnam Oakes
Expected Publication: July 18th, 2017 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 

When sixteen-year-old Macie O’Sullivan and her masterfully manipulative mother Aubra arrive at the gates of Witchtown—the most famous and mysterious witch-only haven in the world—they have one goal in mind: to rob it for all it’s worth.

But that plan derails when Macie and Aubra start to dig deeper into Witchtown’s history and uncover that there is more to the quirky haven than meets the eye.
Exploring the haven by herself, Macie finds that secrets are worth more than money in Witchtown.
Secrets have their own power.
 
YET ANOTHER MISSED OPPORTUNITY FOR AN OCTOBER PUB DATE BUT WHATEVER. Witches, my friends. WITCHES. I love it. I want it. Immediately. 

The Freemason's Daughter by Shelley Sackier 
Expected Publication: April 11th, 2017 by HarperCollins
The Outlander series for the YA audience—a debut, full of romance and intrigue, set in early eighteenth-century Scotland.

Saying good-bye to Scotland is the hardest thing that Jenna MacDuff has had to do—until she meets Lord Pembroke. Jenna’s small clan has risked their lives traveling the countryside as masons, secretly drumming up support and arms for the exiled King James Stuart to retake the British throne. But their next job brings them into enemy territory: England.

Jenna’s father repeatedly warns her to trust no one, but when the Duke of Keswick hires the clan to build a garrison on his estate, it seems she cannot hide her capable mind from the duke’s inquisitive son, Lord Alex Pembroke—nor mask her growing attraction to him. But there’s a covert plan behind the building of the garrison, and soon Jenna must struggle not only to keep her newfound friendship with Alex from her father, but also to keep her father’s treason from Alex. 

Will Jenna decide to keep her family’s mutinous secrets and assist her clan’s cause, or protect the life of the young noble she’s falling for? 

In Shelley Sackier’s lush, vivid historical debut, someone will pay a deadly price no matter which choice Jenna makes.
Okay, don't eat me, but I haven't actually watched Outlander. I watched two episodes my freshmen year of college but then exam week hit and I just never went back, and now I'm too afraid to go back because IT SOUNDS LIKE THERE'S SO MUCH ANGST. But this sounds really intriguing and I'm excited to read it! 

And there you have it! Are you excited about any of these? What are you waiting on this Wednesday?

10.03.2016

There's No Shame in Happy Endings


Some of you who follow me on Twitter might know that I'm really into happy books right now. Heartwarming books where no one dies, where every page isn't full of angst, where the chances of me crying are slim. (But not zero, because I can cry at pretty much anything if I'm in a mood.) This typically means contemporaries. And not contemporaries about super serious topics.

And these books? They typically have happy endings. AND I LOVE THAT.

I hate when a series ends super open-ended. I hate when characters die and IT DOESN'T EVEN SERVE A PURPOSE. At least one that I can see. And I get it - everything in life doesn't get wrapped up in a neat and pretty bow. An unarmed man waiting for his child gets shot and just no longer exists. That's reality.

But I don't read books for reality, is the thing. Sure, I get annoyed when certain things aren't realistic, even in fantasy - the author has to write in a convincing matter. And I do like certain things to be open-ended. If the main character's mom or dad left her when she was little, I don't except them to be a family again by the end of the book. I don't think every detail needs closure. But most of them? Yes. That's what I like. I can see the other side, I get it. I just don't feel that way. If it's too open-ended, I just feel like there was no point, like I've wasted my time.

But more importantly: character death. 

9.19.2016

ARC Review: This Adventure Ends

This Adventure Ends by Emma Mills
Expected Publication: October 4th, 2016 by Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
Source: NetGalley
*I received a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. This has in no way affected the opinions stated below.
Sloane isn't expecting to fall in with a group of friends when she moves from New York to Florida—especially not a group of friends so intense, so in love, so all-consuming. Yet that's exactly what happens.

Sloane becomes closest to Vera, a social-media star who lights up any room, and Gabe, Vera's twin brother and the most serious person Sloane's ever met. When a beloved painting by the twins' late mother goes missing, Sloane takes on the responsibility of tracking it down, a journey that takes her across state lines—and ever deeper into the twins' lives.

Filled with intense and important friendships, a wonderful warts-and-all family, shiveringly good romantic developments, and sharp, witty dialogue, this story is about finding the people you never knew you needed.


Okay, first of all, if you haven't read her debut, First & Then, GO PICK THAT UP NOW. AND WHILE YOU'RE AT IT, GET THIS ADVENTURE ENDS BECAUSE YOU NEED IT.

Okay, moving on. I was very excited to read this book, especially since I've been on my recent contemporary binge, and I can easily say it delivered, and then it flew lightyears beyond my expectations.

Emma Mills has an uncanny ability to write dialogue. I can't tell you how many times I laughed. I'm in absolute awe of the way she fills this book with wit. Seriously. THE SASS AND THE BANTER NEVER END. Those of you who love witty and sarcastic characters will absolutely adore Sloane - and her first meeting with Gabriel.

This Adventure Ends honestly has one of the best first chapters I've ever read. Besides the fantastic wit that I've already mentioned (and will never stop talking about), Sloane absolutely TEARS DOWN a dude with just a few words, and I was in love by page, like, 5 or something.
"Geez. That was - was that a New York thing? Do they teach you that stuff there?" Yes. Here is your MetroCard, and this is how you publicly dismantle insufferable dicks.
I feel like I need to personally thank Emma Mills for Sloane. She's just got such a unique voice and her sarcasm/wit are the perfect kind - funny, dry, but not harsh. She's 17 and doesn't know what she's going to do with her life. She sings - she's dedicated, she's good - but is that really where she wants to take her entire life? Or does she want that one thing to just be for her? And she spends the majority of the book hunting down this painting just because she wants to help her friends, to give them something meaningful to hold onto. I LOVE SLOANE.
"Frank Sanger is for everyone." I look up at the sky as she taps away on her phone. "Maybe I'm the opposite. Maybe I'm for no one."
And there is just. SO much more to talk about. Sloane's father is so much fun. He's almost as quirky and witty as Sloane. He's a writer who's been struggling to find inspiration lately, and he starts to write fanfiction. I'll admit that I skimmed over the fanfiction bits because I wasn't interested in the premise, BUT, you guys, I LOVE THIS. The portrayal and positivity of fanfiction and being in a fandom here is SO BEAUTIFUL. JUST WHEN I THOUGHT I COULDN'T LOVE THIS BOOK ANYMORE.

Friendship is obviously very central to this novel, and not just between Gabe, Vera, and Sloane. They have a nice little group that I was honestly kind of jealous of, and the dynamics between all of them are killer. I especially loved the friendship between Sloane and Remi and the way they conspire together.
I don't even know where to start. Sad is just the tip of the iceberg.
I think my only real issue was that I needed Gabe and Sloane to have a few more conversations. I certainly liked them and rooted for them, but I just needed them to have a little more depth than they did, I suppose. That's not to say that it was love at first sight or that they developed way too fast, because neither of those are true! Their relationship felt so genuine and sweet, I just thought they could have benefitted from a few more conversations about the things they like, etc.

tl;dr: This Adventure Ends is a funny and witty tale about friendship and learning how to grow close to people. It has a perfect cast of characters, and Emma Mills writes in such a unique voice that you're drawn in immediately. 4.5 stars. 


*Please note: quotes not final. 

9.14.2016

Books That Need to be TV Shows Immediately

So TV was the choice of topic in last week's Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. But I (unsurprisingly) missed it and I LOVE TALKING ABOUT TV. So here I am.

There's been a lot of talk in the community about YA adaptions, especially after the Throne of Glass adaption news came out. And a lot of it has been negative. I realize that she's been under fire for her rep lately, but I did not see a single tweet about the adaption that was concerned with that - it was all just I DON'T WANT IT although I did see a few people who were cautiously optimistic. I'll be the first to admit that I haven't enjoyed many YA adaptions on TV. (Although I LIKED THE NINE LIVES OF CHLOE KING WAY BACK WHEN, DAMMIT. Not that I ever read the books. And you know what? I LIKE SHADOWHUNTERS. I REALLY DO. I don't even like the book series but I enjoy the show. Is it the best thing over? No, of course not. But I have seen WAY shittier TV.) But I want people to stop shitting on YA adaptions. This is YOUR COMMUNITY. And all I ever hear is "no I don't want this adaption it's going to suck." And you know what? Maybe it will. But I am so, so tired of the negativity. I want Hollywood and every other studio to keep trying. I want them to keep making YA adaptions, because some day, they're going to get it right. And you might be ruining that. The second they announce an adaption, 90% of what I see is moaning and groaning. The other 10% is mostly authors who are being super supportive of their author friends!

This wasn't meant to turn into a rant, but another thing: I'm tired of people complaining about things being too different from the book. Now, if they're changing a character's ethnicity or identity, I understand that that's a totally different situation. If they're doing a complete 180 on a character's personality in a negative way, I get it! If they start killing off every good character and every POC, you have every right to be mad, not that you need me to say that. But if you're mad because they're changing basic stuff, adding new characters, etc. I just. Why. TV and especially cinema are a different medium than books - sometimes they do things differently. Sometimes because they have to, sometimes because they think it works better. And honestly, I never want to see exactly what I read. I already read it! BUT, if you don't like changes in adaptions, I'm not trying to say that you're wrong for that. I'm just trying to say that changes are inevitably going to happen, and if you don't like it? 

Here's a concept: if you don't like the adaption, don't watch it. Just let other people enjoy it.

Anyway. Like I said. I want them to keep trying. If they screw it up? No harm done, really. You still have the book. SO HERE ARE SOME BOOKS I NEED A TV SHOW FOR.

The Marauders (JK Rowling)


9.11.2016

Sunday Street Team: A Shadow Bright and Burning

Thanks so much to Nori and Random House!
A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess
Expected Publication: September 20th, 2016 by Random House
Source: NetGalley
*I received a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. This has in no way affected the opinions stated below.
I am Henrietta Howel. The first female sorcerer. The prophesied one. Or am I?

Henrietta Howel can burst into flames. When she is brought to London to train with Her Majesty's sorcerers, she meets her fellow sorcerer trainees, young men eager to test her powers and her heart. One will challenge her. One will fight for her. One will betray her. As Henrietta discovers the secrets hiding behind the glamour of sorcerer life, she begins to doubt that she's the true prophesied one. With battle looming, how much will she risk to save the city--and the one she loves?

Now, through no fault of its own, it took me over a month to read A Shadow Bright and Burning. It is a little long - at least compare to what I've been reading lately, which is really just contemporaries - but I've been having a hard time just picking up a book and reading it, no matter how good. And so this did lead to a little confusion on my part, particularly about who Blackwood even was or what the Ancients were, human or otherwise. And that did lessen my enjoyment a little, but like I said, that one is definitely my fault.

The author's writing style really does a fantastic job of drawing you into the world. This version of England is a perfect setting for the story and the way that it's described is truly magical. I could see it all so perfectly, and it might sound cheesy, but I could really feel the city, the people, the house.

Sexism plays a pretty significant part in this novel. Henrietta has an intriguing affinity for fire (as in, well, she can literally set herself on fire) but females? Being sorcerers? It doesn't happen. And that's something that plagues Henrietta throughout the novel, something that she comments on several times. It isn't just pushed aside and ignored. Henrietta struggles in her lessons as a sorcerer, and the fact that she's female draws even more attention to that. People makes comments, she makes a few speeches about it, and I really admired her strength in that respect.
Sometimes I wished that I could actually burn. 
Besides her responses to some of the blatant sexism that occurred, I really admired Henrietta for her struggle with maybe not being the one from the prophecy. She's so determined to prove to people that she's good, that she's capable, that they didn't make a mistake in bringing her to train with sorcerers. It's almost heartbreaking.

I was pretty neutral on the romance throughout. Yes, there's kind of a love triangle, and I can't say that I know for sure where it's going to end up. But the good news - I liked both of the love interests! I didn't love them, and I wanted more information about them, but I thought they were equally good love choices for Henrietta and both really respected her. BUT THEN. Somehow in the last 20% or so they both went really, really downhill for me, and the romance began to feel so ridiculous. Which sucked. The other good news - romance definitely isn't the focus of this novel!

I don't normally like to comment on plots too much (besides maybe pacing) for fear of spoilers, but here's what I will say: the plot in A Shadow Bright and Burning is interesting and magical and there was even a twist or two, but I didn't see anything terribly unique to it. However, the writing really brought it to life.

tl;dr: A Shadow Bright and Burning has a heroine who's so easy to connect and sympathize with that I'm confident you guys will love her. While I didn't find any astounding originality, the descriptive writing was beautiful and unique and really drew me in. 3.75 stars but I don't have a cat for that.


About the Author:
JESSICA CLUESS is a writer, a graduate of Northwestern University, and an unapologetic nerd. After college, she moved to Los Angeles, where she served coffee to the rich and famous while working on her first novel. When she's not writing books, she's an instructor at Writopia Lab, helping kids and teens tell their own stories.


Giveaway:

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9.07.2016

Waiting on Wednesday: September! (Contemporary Edition)

Ah, yes. It's that time again. The first Wednesday of the month, where I overload my blog with books that don't come out for forever and basically TORTURE MYSELF. Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine!

To recap: In August, I selected The Ship Beyond Time by Heidi HeiligGiven to the Sea by Mandy McGinnisDaughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller, and Vicarious by Paula Stokes for my WoW! I have The Ship Beyond Time and Daughter of the Pirate King now and I COULD NOT BE MORE EXCITED. 

This month unintentionally ended up featuring (almost) all contemporaries! 

The Book Jumper by 
Expected Publication: January 3rd, 2017 by Feiwel and Friends

Amy Lennox doesn't know quite what to expect when she and her mother pick up and leave Germany for Scotland, heading to her mother's childhood home of Lennox House on the island of Stormsay.

Amy's grandmother, Lady Mairead, insists that Amy must read while she resides at Lennox House—but not in the usual way. It turns out that Amy is a book jumper, able to leap into a story and interact with the world inside. As thrilling as Amy's new power is, it also brings danger: someone is stealing from the books she visits, and that person may be after her life. Teaming up with fellow book jumper Will, Amy vows to get to the bottom of the thefts—at whatever cost.
I AM SO IN LOVE WITH THIS COVER. I just can't stop staring at it. Also, SCOTLAND. I don't think I need to say anything else.

9.05.2016

End of Summer Preorder Giveaway! (INTL)

It's not quite the end of summer. It's still going to be in the high 80s this week (ew) and the bugs haven't started dying out yet (EW), but the semester is starting which means summer is dead which means my soul is also dead. Or hibernating, at least. I LOVE fall, I love the leaves and SWEATERS and blankets and the drinks. I do not love school.


But! Soon the Halloween movies will start. And then the CHRISTMAS MOVIES WILL START. And if you know me, you know nothing makes me happier than Hallmark Christmas movies (besides cats). And I will use Halloween and Christmas as an excuse to watch Harry Potter again.

Anyways. To celebrate (read: mourn) the end of Summer, I'm giving away a preorder of one of the books shown below! International, as long as The Book Depository ships to you, though that means you won't get it on release day, sorry! Ends September 30th, 2016.


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8.29.2016

ARC Review: How to Make Out

How to Make Out by Brianna Shrum
Expected Publication: September 6th, 2016 by Sky Pony Press
Source: Edelweiss
*I received a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinions stated below.
Sixteen-year-old Renley needs three thousand dollars for the math club’s trip to New York City, and she knows exactly how to get it: she’s going to start a how-to blog where people pay for answers to all of life’s questions from a “certified expert.” The only problems: 1) She doesn’t know how to do anything but long division and calculus. 2) She’s totally invisible to people at school. And not in a cool Gossip Girl kind of way.

So, she decides to learn to do . . . well . . . everything. When her anonymous blog shifts in a more scandalous direction and the questions (and money) start rolling in, she has to learn not just how to do waterfall braids and cat-eye makeup, but a few other things, like how to cure a hangover, how to flirt, and how to make out (something her very experienced, and very in-love-with-her neighbor, Drew, is more than willing to help with).

As her blog’s reputation skyrockets, so does “new and improved” Renley’s popularity. She’s not only nabbed the attention of the entire school, but also the eye of Seth Levine, the hot culinary wizard she’s admired from across the home-ec classroom all year.

Soon, caught up in the thrill of popularity both in and out of cyberspace, her secrets start to spiral, and she finds that she’s forgotten the most important how-to: how to be herself. When her online and real lives converge, Renley will have to make a choice: lose everything she loves in her new life, or everyone she loves in the life she left behind.

You know those times when you wait a week and a half to write your review? And all you've got is some vague thoughts and memories of it? ("Yes, but that's why you take notes!" you say. Indeed! But MY NOTES ARE JUST AS VAGUE.) And I think that pretty much sums up my thoughts about How to Make Out: fun but not very memorable just because it didn't, like, tug at my heartstrings or anything.

I love the premise of this book. Renley needs money to go to New York, so she makes a how-to blog where she charges for answers once she gets it running. Which she appears to do very, very fast. I found this bit to be very unrealistic - why would somebody pay for her answer on how to make out or how to tie a tie when all of those answers are available online for free? I would think it was super sketchy if someone was making me pay for that, but I digress. It's fiction. I got over it. (But IF ONLY WE ALL GOT FOLLOWERS AS QUICKLY AS SHE DOES? I have literally never made a cent from this blog in 5 years like. Come on. Here she is making money for a trip to New York.)

Of course, when someone asks Renley how to make out, she has to go to her best friend/neighbor and get him to teach her because she has no idea what she's doing. I loved the scenes between them and the dynamic, how close they are. But here's the problem - Drew is in love with her, and she knows that. She knows all about it. He knows she knows. And yet she still asks him to do this for her, still asks him to help her with Seth, the guy she's interested in. (Who has a girlfriend. It's messy.) She basically always ignores his feelings for her. On top of that, Drew has girls in and out of his bedroom constantly, Renley doesn't like it, etc. etc. It was kind of annoying.

That being said, I want to repeat that I really loved the dynamic between them. They had a great friendship otherwise and seriously great chemistry and I was really rooting for them. I SHIPPED IT.

Renley and Seth, however? No chemistry. Nada. Can I just throw him out a window to get him out of the way? You know, in a nice way?

Renley makes a lot of mistakes throughout the course of the novel. And yes, it can get annoying, and yes, sometimes I wanted to scream at her, but I appreciated it - she wasn't anywhere near perfect. I've definitely made a lot of mistakes, and they're not always teeny tiny ones you can forget about the next day. I think some people might get really frustrated by her, but she's a teenager and by the end, she seems to have learned her lesson. I wish that part had been just a bit longer so it showcased her growth more, but the point is that she does learn. I don't really like the way it happens because it's completely forced on her rather than her learning and growing on her own, but whatever.

tl;dr: How to Make Out is a super quick and fun contemporary (with its fair share of deeper emotions) with an adorable best friend who I myself might be a little bit in love with. 3.5 stars.



8.19.2016

#BBCP16: Harry Potter Goes on a Date...


Team Periwinkle's project for the BBCP (created by Nori to incite creativity on our blogs this summer) is Match Made in the Pages! Last week, I created a profile for Harry Potter. This week, I use your suggestions to set him up on a date because THE POOR BOY NEEDS SOME NORMALCY.

Your suggestion? Inej Ghafa! (It was really only mine and Cait's suggestion but shhhhh.)


I think Harry and Inej would sit in front of the fire in his living room because Harry would want a quiet date after SAVING THE ENTIRE WIZARDING WORLD AND MORE. Of course, there would be banter, because he is Harry Potter, The Boy Who Sassed.


Harry wouldn't tell her about all the people he's lost. Inej wouldn't tell him about where she came from. I think she might tune out a few times (possibly thinking about another man who possibly goes by the name of Kaz Brekker. LET ME DREAM.)

But they would laugh. They would keep their conversations on the surface. AND THEN. Inej would casually pull out her daggers, tossing them around, upon which Harry would proceed to:


BECAUSE YOU KNOW WHAT? BEING AN AUROR IS ENOUGH STRESS, THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

Don't forget to check out the other members of Team Periwinkle, who have made REAL DATES for their characters. (Honestly you guys I just want Harry Potter to have a nice nap and live a quiet life in a little cottage near the sea but THEN HE WENT OFF TO BE AN AUROR AND RUINED IT.)

Cilla | Annalise | Nori | Michelle Reg

8.12.2016

#BBCP2016: Send Harry Potter on a Date!


For the record, I am definitely a Harry/Ginny fan. But this is pure fun and HARRY POTTER JUST NEEDS SOME LOVE, GUYS. HE NEEDS MORE GOOD THINGS.

Team Periwinkle's project for the BBCP (created by Nori to incite creativity on our blogs this summer) is Match Made in the Pages! YOU suggest characters (preferably from other novels) to set Harry up with on a blind date, and next week, I'll use those characters to create some date scenarios.

I feel like Harry would avoid the "tell us about yourself" question. Is that just me?

The Basics
Name: Harry Potter
Eye color: Green. I've been told they're exactly like my mother's. (Just a time or two, though.)
Hair color: Is uncontrollable a color? 

What's your favorite place in the entire world? 

Hogwarts, my school. It's the first place I ever felt at home, even if the staircases move at very inconvenient times. 

What's your favorite way to spend a Saturday? 

Sitting out by the lake (at a safe distance) with my friends, far away from any danger, Great Squid or dark wizards included. 

What do you value most in life? 

Quiet. Peace. A Voldemort-free school year with my friends and a teacher who maybe isn't delusional? I really enjoy the times when I just get to be with my friends and laugh and be worry-free. 

What do you do in your free time?

....Quidditch? Try not to die? 

What do you fear most? 
My friends getting hurt or losing their families just because they're associated with me and trying to protect me. 

HARRY IS SO SWEET, NO? So, tell me, who would you set him up on a blind date with? I think Inej could be a match for him, but I think she needs to go out and save the world while he just wants the world to stop ending. GIVE ME MORE OPTIONS, FRIENDS.
Be sure to check out the other posts form Team Periwinkle, and to check back next week to see who Harry's going on a date with! (Not at Madame Puddifoot's, I promise.)  

Cilla | Annalise | Nori | Michelle Reg

8.11.2016

Review: Girl Against the Universe

Girl Against the Universe by Paula Stokes
Published: May 17th, 2016 by HarperTeen
Source: Traded (hardcover)
Maguire is bad luck.

No matter how many charms she buys off the internet or good luck rituals she performs each morning, horrible things happen when Maguire is around. Like that time the rollercoaster jumped off its tracks. Or the time the house next door caught on fire. Or that time her brother, father, and uncle were all killed in a car crash—and Maguire walked away with barely a scratch.

It’s safest for Maguire to hide out in her room, where she can cause less damage and avoid meeting new people who she could hurt. But then she meets Jordy, an aspiring tennis star. Jordy is confident, talented, and lucky, and he’s convinced he can help Maguire break her unlucky streak. Maguire knows that the best thing she can do for Jordy is to stay away. But it turns out staying away is harder than she thought.

From author Paula Stokes comes a funny and poignant novel about accepting the past, embracing the future, and learning to make your own luck.
Honestly, I don't know that I have much to say about this besides: READ IT. IT IS LOVELY AND I WANT YOU TO READ IT.

This was actually my first Paula Stokes book and I can promise you I'm going to be reading the rest of them. Maguire is terrified of crowds. Of being in a car with anyone who isn't her mother. She can go to school but she's constantly looking all around her for potential hazards, because she thinks that wherever she is, there's also pain and danger - but for other people, not her. And that's what she's always worried about: other people getting hurt just because she's around them. Her father and brother were killed in an accident she escaped unscathed from, and again a few years later there was a roller coaster crash where she was the only one left uninjured.

Naturally, this means she avoids being around people as much as possible. She struggles with mental illness, with PTSD and OCD, and what I really loved is that Paula Stokes portrays this in a way that really lets you understand Maguire without going to a deep and dark place that makes you miserable. I know some people do like that, but honestly, I don't like the heavier stuff. Maguire's struggles aren't written the way that The Last Time We Say Goodbye or some other YA's are, but that's why I liked it. I didn't cry. (Until the author's note and acknowledgments, but MOVING ON.) Girl Against the Universe is full of fun and hope and healing without dragging me down into a bad headspace, if you know what I mean?

We see a lot of Maguire in therapy, which I loved. I know that it doesn't work out for everyone but it was such a positive portrayal and Maguire really started to challenge herself. And I loved that it showed that you don't have to be contemplating suicide, you don't have to be at what others may perceive was "rock bottom" to seek help and really benefit from it. Your struggles and your illness are still just as valid.

Also, tennis! Lots of tennis. I've never been into it but I never found myself bored or wanting to skim through the tennis parts, and it's really instrumental in Maguire's progress. And, of course, it's the sport that Jordy plays so it's a nice common point between him and Maguire.

And the thing is, Jordy's in therapy too. They're both working to get better and they're both helping each other in so many ways without it being too codependent and unhealthy. Their relationship is built on friendship and honesty and it was so sweet and THINKING ABOUT THIS BOOK JUST MAKES ME SO HAPPY.

And! I can't forget! Family. Maguire's mom is so supportive and understanding and Maguire's relationship with her stepfather starts to grow too and IT'S ALL SO CUTE AND NICE AND I LOVE IT ALL.

tl;dr: Girl Against the Universe is such a positive portrayal of dealing with mental illness and developing relationships and EVERYTHING ABOUT IT MAKES ME HAPPY. 4.5 stars.



8.03.2016

Waiting on Wednesday: August

Ah, yes. It's that time again. The first Wednesday of the month, where I overload my blog with books that don't come out for forever and basically TORTURE MYSELF. Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine!

To recap: In July, I selected The Thousandth Floor by Katharine McGee, Poison's Kiss by Breeana Shields, Long May She Reign by Rhiannon Thomas, and Flashfall by Jenny Moyer for my WoW!

The Ship Beyond Time by Heidi Heilig
Expected Publication: March 28th, 2017 by Greenwillow Books

The breathtaking sequel to the acclaimed The Girl from Everywhere. Nix has escaped her past, but when the person she loves most is at risk, even the daughter of a time traveler may not be able to outrun her fate—no matter where she goes. Fans of Rae Carson, Alexandra Bracken, and Outlander will fall hard for Heidi Heilig’s sweeping fantasy.

Nix has spent her whole life journeying to places both real and imagined aboard her time-traveling father’s ship. And now it’s finally time for her to take the helm. Her father has given up his obsession to save her mother—and possibly erase Nix’s existence—and Nix’s future lies bright before her. Until she learns that she is destined to lose the one she loves. But her relationship with Kash—best friend, thief, charmer extraordinaire—is only just beginning. How can she bear to lose him? How can she bear to become as adrift and alone as her father? 

Desperate to change her fate, Nix takes her crew to a mythical utopia to meet another Navigator who promises to teach her how to manipulate time. But everything in this utopia is constantly changing, and nothing is what it seems—not even her relationship with Kash. Nix must grapple with whether anyone can escape her destiny, her history, her choices. Heidi Heilig weaves fantasy, history, and romance together to tackle questions of free will, fate, and what it means to love another person. But at the center of this adventure are the extraordinary, multifaceted, and multicultural characters that leap off the page, and an intricate, recognizable world that has no bounds. The sequel—and conclusion—to the indie darling The Girl from Everywhere will be devoured by fans of Rachel Hartman and Maggie Stiefvater. Includes black-and-white maps.
MARCH 2017. KILL ME NOW. The Girl From Everywhere was my absolute favorite debut of this year, so obviously I have to shove the sequel front and center because I AM DYING AND I NEED IT AND I MISS NIX AND KASH.