March 2015 Wrap-Up

March 2015 Wrap-Up

In My LifeWhew. March was busy, and overall a much better month than February. At the beginning of the month I went to a friend’s wedding, which is always exciting. I also mentioned in one of my wrap-up post that I was really productive in March & getting a lot of inconvenient stuff done. I’ve been decluttering my room(SOOO much stuff that can be donated, guys. I was finding things I haven’t used or needed since high school in every nook and cranny), and doing some of the bigger items on my life to-do list. I also had a very in-depth job interview(fingers crossed, guys), & some other just general life stuff. March was so stuffed I honestly don’t remember a good chunk of the things I did. It’s felt like such a long month about February flew by!

 

I watched

Everyone was talking about Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt so I decided to give the show a chance. . . and proceeded to watch the entire first season(13) episodes in one day. It wasn’t without its problems, but I really liked it! Comedic 30-minute shows generally aren’t my thing because I don’t find them funny in the slightest, but I found this one, despite the horrifying premise, charming. Not laugh-out-loud funny most of the time, but endearing all the same.

Also, I finally watched Enchanted. It didn’t make a huge impression, but it was a cute movie.

I listened

Since I figured out how to get Spotify to work in the land of slow internet, I’ve decided to make my monthly playlist on Spotify rather than iTunes, at least for now. Here’s March.

My favorites from this month’s playlist:

 

 

 

I read

5 star Reads:

Not Otherwise Specified by Hannah Moskowitz
All the Rage by Courtney Summers

4 star Reads:

 Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone by Kat Rosenfield
Fall for Anything by Courtney Summers
Make it Count by Megan Erickson
Make it Right by Megan Erickson

3 Star Reads:

 

2 star Reads:

 Fault Line by Christa Desir
Don’t Ever Change by M. Beth Bloom

1 star & DNF Reads:

Vanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver(DNF, which makes me sad)
Monstrous Beauty by Elizabeth Fama(DNF)
Magonia by Maria Dahvana Headley(DNF)

 

Favorites

Favorite Book

Alltherage

All the Rage by Courtney Summers. I’m planning on writing my review today & I don’t even know how I’ll be able to. It’s definitely my favorite book by Courtney Summers and it left me an incoherent mess.

 

Favorite Quote

Because teenage girls don’t pray to God, they pray to each other. They clasp their hands over a keyboard and they let it all out, a (stupid) girl’s heart tucked into another girl’s heart. — All the Rage

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Hmm probably the wedding I went to at the beginning of the month. It always makes me happy to get to celebrate happy friends + catch up with other friends I may not have seen in awhile. Though, March has felt like such a long month for me it doesn’t even feel like that happened this month!

 

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Top Ten Books I Recently Added to my TBR{Top Ten Tuesday}

Top Ten Books I Recently Added to my TBR{Top Ten Tuesday}

top ten tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, which features (you guessed it!) top ten lists on a given topic each week. This week’s topic is. . . .Top Ten Books I recently added to my TBR. I LOVE this topic because it’s basically “Let me show you all the awesome books I WANT to read!” For this topic I looked at books I added to my Goodreads “to-read” shelf recently, which means some of them aren’t coming out for years, but I’m still excited for them.

1. Damsel Distressed by Kelsey Macke

damsel distressed

I’ll be honest–I initially wrote this book off because of the cover. It just didn’t seem like something I would like. I didn’t realize it was a contemporary retelling of Cinderella told from one of the stepsister’s points of view. Color me intrigued.

2. After the Fall by Kate Hart

This one doesn’t come out until 2016, so there’s no cover or even specific release date yet, but it sounds good! Here’s the summary that’s on Goodreads right now:

The story of a girl who refuses to play the damsel in distress, even in the face of sexual assault, and the boy who has always hoped to rescue her, until she seeks comfort in his brother’s arms and a terrible accident changes everything

3. The Ruining by Anna Collomore

the ruining

I’ve been curious about this book for awhile, but had kind of kept writing it off. I saw a used copy for sale for $2 a few weeks ago, though, so I HAD to pick it up then. It’s a YA psychological thriller and I’m a sucker for those.

4. Maybe in Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Not really my normal kind of book, but I’m a sucker for parallel realities. Here’s the synopsis(it’s very Sliding Doors, no?):

From the acclaimed author of Forever, Interrupted and After I Do comes a breathtaking new novel about a young woman whose fate hinges on the choice she makes after bumping into an old flame; in alternating chapters, we see two possible scenarios unfold—with stunningly different results.At the age of twenty-nine, Hannah Martin still has no idea what she wants to do with her life. She has lived in six different cities and held countless meaningless jobs since graduating college. On the heels of leaving yet another city, Hannah moves back to her hometown of Los Angeles and takes up residence in her best friend Gabby’s guestroom. Shortly after getting back to town, Hannah goes out to a bar one night with Gabby and meets up with her high school boyfriend, Ethan.

Just after midnight, Gabby asks Hannah if she’s ready to go. A moment later, Ethan offers to give her a ride later if she wants to stay. Hannah hesitates. What happens if she leaves with Gabby? What happens if she leaves with Ethan?

In concurrent storylines, Hannah lives out the effects of each decision. Quickly, these parallel universes develop into radically different stories with large-scale consequences for Hannah, as well as the people around her. As the two alternate realities run their course, Maybe in Another Life raises questions about fate and true love: Is anything meant to be? How much in our life is determined by chance? And perhaps, most compellingly: Is there such a thing as a soul mate?

Hannah believes there is. And, in both worlds, she believes she’s found him.

This one comes out July 7, 2015.

5. Velvet Undercover by Teri Brown

Velvet Undercover

This book sounds so awesome, I don’t even know where to start. First, it’s a WWI book. I LOVE WWI as a time period and it makes me so sad there’s not enough books set in this time period. The first time I ever finished a novel-length story, it was a WWI story(it’s a hot mess, but that’s beside the point). Anyway, all the WWI books, all the time. Plus, the main character joins a women’s spy group. This one’s coming out October 20th(TOO FAR AWAY, for the record, but I shall try to wait patiently).

6. Inland by Kat Rosenfield

Inland

I bought a used copy of this book after reading & enjoying Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone, Kat Rosenfield’s first novel. This book actually has a really low average rating, but I think I’ll like it because I enjoyed Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone more than most people seemed to anyway. I’m not really sure what this book is about, but I saw on Goodreads several people shelved it as magical realism so that makes me excited.

7. 17 First Kisses by Rachael Allen

17 First Kisses

I read an ARC of of The Revenge Playbook and liked it so much I had to add 17 First Kisses to my TBR! It seems it might have some interesting things to say about friendship & romance.

8. A History of Glitter and Blood by Hannah Moskowitz

This book’s release date on Goodreads is currently set as August 4, 2015, so maybe they’ll be a cover soon. I haven’t read any books by this author so far, but I have a few on my TBR and this synopsis sounded SO interesting:

This is not a love story. This is not a work of fiction. Not some fairytale full of romance and heartbreak. Not some storybook where lessons are learned and everything turns out rosy.

This is a history. It is real. (As real as I could tell it.) There are cold facts and hard truth. There is bloodshed and sickness and glitter that scrapes your skin, cuts your lips, and gets all over everything. There is jealousy and lust and rage and boredom. There is pain. These things are true. And truth is hard to come by these days.

So, once there was a revolution. There were things we couldn’t predict. Choices we’d have to make. There was a city so beautiful we loved it too hard. And, once upon a time, there were four fairies in the city who hadn’t yet been maimed.

Fairies are not normally my thing, but how could I not give this book a shot?

9. Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

Another 2016 book. It sounds so dark & wonderful. Here’s the summary currently on Goodreads:

Three Dark Crowns tells the story of triplet sisters on a remote island ruled by powerful magic and ancient family lineages. Separated at birth, one of the sisters will grow up to be queen, but in order to ascend to the throne she must hone her magic for a dark purpose: assassinating her other two sisters before they kill her first. Book one is scheduled for release in fall 2016.

10. This Monstrous Thing by MacKenzie Lee

This Monstrous Thing

This one’s out September 22nd. Summary from Goodreads:

In 1818 Geneva, men built with clockwork parts live hidden away from society, cared for only by illegal mechanics called Shadow Boys. Two years ago, Shadow Boy Alasdair Finch’s life shattered to bits.

His brother, Oliver—dead.

His sweetheart, Mary—gone.

His chance to break free of Geneva—lost.

Heart-broken and desperate, Alasdair does the unthinkable: He brings Oliver back from the dead.

But putting back together a broken life is more difficult than mending bones and adding clockwork pieces. Oliver returns more monster than man, and Alasdair’s horror further damages the already troubled relationship.

Then comes the publication of Frankenstein and the city intensifies its search for Shadow Boys, aiming to discover the real life doctor and his monster. Alasdair finds refuge with his idol, the brilliant Dr. Geisler, who may offer him a way to escape the dangerous present and his guilt-ridden past, but at a horrible price only Oliver can pay…

Yup, definitely gotta read that one!

LET’S CHAT: Are any of these books on your TBR too?

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Book Review: Make it Count by Megan Erickson

Book Review: Make it Count by Megan Erickson

Make it Count

by Megan Erickson

Make it Count

Original Publication Date: June 3, 2014
Length: 336 pages
Publisher: William Morrow
Impulse
Obtained Via: Bought
#1 in Bowler University
View at the Traffic light:

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the story morning glory

Kat Caruso wishes her brain had a return policy, or at least a complaint hot-line. The defective organ is constantly distracted, terrible at statistics, and absolutely flooded with inappropriate thoughts about her boyfriend’s gorgeous best friend, Alec…who just so happens to be her brand new math tutor. Who knew nerd was so hot?

Kat usually goes through tutors like she does boyfriends—both always seem to bail when they realize how hopeless she is. It’s safer for her heart to keep everyone at arm’s reach. But Alec is always stepping just a little too close.

Alec Stone should not be fantasizing about Kat. She’s adorable, unbelievably witty, and completely off limits. He’d never stab his best friend in the back…

But when secrets are revealed, the lines of loyalty are blurred. To make it count, Alec must learn messy human emotions can’t be solved like a trigonometry function. And Kat has to trust Alec may be the first guy to want her for who she is, and not in spite of it.

howwasit

Make it Count was a great fun to read in between dense, heavy reads. On the “fluffy to angst” scale, Make it Count was actually a little less fluffy than I was expecting, but it was still pretty relatively free of heavy angst(not so much on the drama, though), and it was pleasant to read another good NA book(my second one of the year!)

For once, the synopsis on the back of the book is actually pretty much a great depiction of what Make it Count is about. Main character Kat has trouble in school, her not-at-all-serious boyfriend’s best friend Alec starts tutoring her, and sparks fly. There’s a good spoonful of drama that gets dished out along the way–a little more than I typically like in my romances–but not so much that it seriously negatively impacted my opinion.

This is my second book I’ve read written by Megan Erickson, and one of her great skills is writing couples I believe in right away. I was already super into Alec and Kat by the end of their first interaction, before he’s even her tutor. Kat might have trouble concentrating is classes, but she’s smart and clever and the dialogue between her and Alec flowed so naturally, I felt I was right in the middle of their conversations.

Also, it was great to see a character who struggled with coursework, but determined to succeed, in an NA book. So often that’s something just regulated to the back burner because the main characters are typically naturally good at school, but it made me SO happy to see someone like Kat in a book, particularly when Make it Count really started delving into her layers. I also LOVED getting to see Kat figuring out what she wants to do with life. Yes! More of that in NA, please(and I think we’re beginning to get that).

So yeah, Make it Count was a pretty delightful read. It didn’t really hit me in an emotional place, so it’s not going to become a favorite, but I really enjoyed reading it and would recommend it to someone looking for a NA story on the lighter side.

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Make it Count was a pretty all-around fun book, even if it sort of didn’t really hit a personal connection with me that I prefer to have while reading. If I did half stars, I’d probably give this one a 3.5, but I’m rounding up because there’s no technical or story reason not to. 4/5 cupcakes. 

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The Sunday Wrap-Up{76}

The Sunday Wrap-Up{76}

Sunday-Wrap-up-2

My Week

 My week was pretty low-key, which HOORAY. After last week I totally relished in having a slow, almost boring(but not really) week. I spent a good portion of Monday and Tuesday watching Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt(yeah, I got sucked in), and then the rest of the week doing my general daily tasks. Nothing exciting to report, but really, again after that last week I’m pretty happy about it.

On Book Blog Bake

Monday I reviewed The Cemetery Boys by Heather Brewer. It was an okay read, but I’ve mostly forgotten it.
Tuesday I shared some more O.W.L. Report mini-reviews.
Wednesday I participated in the Ultimate Book Tag. I had a lot of fun answering those questions!
Thursday I talked about the unpredictability of “me!” books.
Friday I reviewed Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone, which I ended up enjoying much more than I expected.

Favorite 5

 Cheat Sheet Justifications for Buying all those books! @ Between My Lines
Yup, I have definitely used some of these before–particularly the one about needing to order three more books to qualify for free shipping. That’s how Amazon gets you, folks.

Oh the Guests! Unlocking Long-Locked Doors by Julia Eshbaugh from Pub(lishing) Crawl @ Oh the Books
I really enjoyed this post about secrets and long-locked doors and writing.

Essential Reading: Seven Books Simon(from Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda) would Read and Love @ The Novel Hermit
Simon has been a book with a ton of buzz this year, for good reason(I’m so excited for my pre-order to arrive!) and this list compiled by author Becky Albertalli of seven books Simon would read and love is just perfect.

booksread

Make it Right by Megan Erickson
Not Otherwise Specified by Hannah Moskowitz

booksboughtreceived

 None!

 Question of the Week:

Okay, I admit to totally having an ulterior motive with this question, but I’m curious: What question would you love to see asked in an author interview if you were to read one?

 

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Book Review: Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone by Kat Rosenfield

Book Review: Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone by Kat Rosenfield

Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone

by Kat Rosenfield

Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone

Original Publication Date: July 5, 2012
Length: 304 pages
Publisher: Dutton Juvenile

Obtained Via: Bought
Standalone
View at the Traffic light:

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the story morning glory

Becca has always longed to break free from her small, backwater hometown. But the discovery of an unidentified dead girl on the side of a dirt road sends the town–and Becca–into a tailspin. Unable to make sense of the violence of the outside world creeping into her backyard, Becca finds herself retreating inward, paralyzed from moving forward for the first time in her life.

Short chapters detailing the last days of Amelia Anne Richardson’s life are intercut with Becca’s own summer as the parallel stories of two young women struggling with self-identity and relationships on the edge twist the reader closer and closer to the truth about Amelia’s death.

 

howwasit

 One girl lost forever to this stagnant place was enough.

It’s a shame that Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone isn’t more popular, because it’s a really wonderful–and dark–book.

Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone is sort of atypical as far as YA goes. It’s very literary, and I could easily see it being marketed towards adults rather than to a YA audience. Not because I don’t think YA can be great literature(because it can!), but because there’s a distance in the narrative that’s pretty uncommon for YA, even literary YA, and I see that more often in adult fiction. Here’s an example of what I mean by the distance:

In the days, months, years that followed, I would lie awake and drive myself crazy, wondering what might have been. I would imagine what things might look like now, if I had more time to think. If I had worked my shift, all busy hands and racing mind, and allowed passing time to illuminate the possibility that I had made a terrible mistake.

Becca’s narration might be first person past tense, but as you can see in the example above, it still doesn’t feel very immediate to the action. I really like that. Some readers might not, because Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone is much slower paced than you might expect from a murder mystery. In fact, I would hesitate to even describe it as a murder mystery because while there is a murder and yes, the details of it are a mystery, Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone focuses much more on the small town aspects and how the summer between graduation and college changes Becca.

There’s so much that Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone packs in. Growing up in a small town, I absolutely loved the depiction of small town life. There are a lot of books set in similar towns, and it’s a difficult balance to get right, I think, because people tend to either idealize small towns or paint them as these places full of groupthink only and negatively insular. Becca wants to break out of her small town, but there are still moments where Rosenfield really captures why some people are drawn to small towns. Becca and I, well, that’s not the draw for us, but we both understand that reasoning.

A place to live, and die, knowing you were truly home.

Since Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone is focused on Becca and her summer, another large part of that is her relationship with James. This was such an unique exploration of a relationship. Perhaps because of the narrative distance I mentioned above, Becca and James’ relationship feels so different from what I’m used to reading. It’s not written in a way that pulls you into their story, but yet it still manages to capture that feeling of first love, even when you know it’s slipping away. There was something just really bittersweet and beautiful about it, and really that’s a feeling that last all throughout Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone.

I feel I should note that, despite going on about how beautiful the writing in this book is, it’s also incredibly bleak. There are some gruesome images and some absolutely terrible things happen, even after the initial murder is discovered. These all contributed to the heavy, sticky atmosphere of the book, though, and never felt out of place.

I enjoyed Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone so much that it probably could have been a 5 star read for me if it were not for one thing: the switching between 1st person and 3rd person point of views. Becca’s chapters are in 1st person POV, while the few where Amelia Anne is the focus are all written in 3rd person POV. I’m not the kind of reader who likes to write anything off–there are some people who have very particular preferences about point of view and tense, whereas I tend to be willing to give anything a go. In theory, this is true for 1st person and 3rd person POV switching, but in actuality I have never read a book where this happens and I liked it or thought it contributed to the story, and Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone is not an exception. It made an otherwise flawless book feel rough and unpolished in the transition.

On the whole, though, I really enjoyed this book and will definitely be reading Rosenfield’s future books. I’d definitely recommend it, especially if you like Nova Ren Suma’s books–the writing styles are distinct, but similar.

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After reading, I’m really surprised Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone isn’t more popular. I suppose the slow pacing might have something to do with that, but I REALLY enjoyed this book and would highly recommend giving it a try. 4/5 cupcakes.

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