Thursday, February 27, 2014

Review: BETTER OFF FRIENDS by Elizabeth Eulberg

Title: Better Off Friends
Author: Elizabeth Eulberg
Publication date: February 24, 2014
Publisher: Point (Scholastic)
Source: an e-galley provided by the publisher for an honest review

For Macallan and Levi, it was friends at first sight. Everyone says guys and girls can’t be just friends, but these two are. They hang out after school, share tons of inside jokes, their families are super close, and Levi even starts dating one of Macallan’s friends. They are platonic and happy that way.

Eventually they realize they’re best friends — which wouldn’t be so bad if they didn’t keep getting in each other’s way. Guys won’t ask Macallan out because they think she’s with Levi, and Levi spends too much time joking around with Macallan, and maybe not enough time with his date. They can’t help but wonder . . . are they more than friends or are they better off without making it even more complicated?

From romantic comedy superstar Elizabeth Eulberg comes a fresh, fun examination of a question for the ages: Can guys and girls ever really be just friends? Or are they always one fight away from not speaking again — and one kiss away from true love?


First line: I was probably the first kid ever excited for summer to be over.

This book. I had so much love for this book that I felt like my heart was going to start pumping out cupcake batter and the Happy Days theme song. There were annoyances throughout, but the conversation made everything worth it. 

I do have to warn you right from the start that the ebook may be a little wonky. Hopefully they fixed it from ARC to publication, but if you bought the ebook, the formatting might be off. Every chapter ends with a adorable banter between the two characters, Levi and Macallan, usually reflecting on what was just told in the chapter. In the e-galley, it was hard to understand the switch since there isn't any heads-up before they switch from one tense to the other. Thankfully, I quickly got the hang of it and it never ruined my reading pleasure. In fact, it was my favorite part of the entire book.

The dialogue at the end sounds as if it's present-day Levi and Macallan and it shows why I love the chemistry between the two and why I love the conversations throughout the book. It has banter. Think of any positive word that's synonymous with wonderful and you just described the banter. At least, that's how it was for me. Many authors in YA do try to have their characters banter, be witty, and have this natural chemistry. Unfortunately, they fail. But fortunately for us, Elizabeth Eulberg doesn't! Unless Elsa from Frozen struck your heart with ice and you had no one to love, you will smile. You can't do anything, but smile, to be honest. 

Levi moved from California to Wisconsin and on the first day of school, Macallan gets stuck with showing him around their junior high. They end up eating lunch together and with Macallan having to come over to his house every Wednesday (because neither her dad or uncle can pick her up that day), they eventually do become best friends. Through alternating POVs, every other chapter, and narrating from middle school to high school, we see their friendship progress. But does it actually progress into a relationship or not? 

After bantering, what did I love the most about this book?

Family. Levi's parents are still happily married and completely normal, while Macallan's mom died and her mentally disabled uncle lives with her and her dad. After Macallan cooks one night for the both families, it becomes a tradition to have a family dinner together on Sunday nights. If authors ever complain about how it's hard to incorporate the positive family relationships without boring readers because they don't know how to or make it cliche, I will forever point to this book. The families aren't perfect. Levi's and Macallan's families aren't even blood, but they form a familial connection together that makes me sigh happily. 

Best friends. Why did I never have a guy best friend? I have guy friends, most of them acquaintances, but never have a really close guy best friend and now I feel like I accomplished nothing in life. Wouldn't life be more fun with one? The chemistry between Macallan and Levi is incredibly cute that it's almost sickening. They're the type of best friends that everyone wishes they could be a part of, especially since they're best friends with the opposite sex.

The feel. Take note, the feel is different than the feeeeeels. The feels (note: it's plural) are the emotions involved and it causes the swooning to happen. It can squeeze your heart, make you twirl, and cause your toes to clench. The feel (note: no s on the end) is basically the atmosphere of the book. It's like walking around two different colleges. Each one has a certain feel to it. Better Off Friends had a fantastic feel. It was the perfect romantic-comedy movie in book form. Think 13 Going on 30 meets When Harry Met Sally with some additional love sprinkled on top. 

There are a few annoyances that I hate even mentioning since I loved the book so much, but when I try to figure out if I should read something, I always want to know the good and the bad. 

The other friends. Oh, I don't have a problem with the other friends specifically, but how Macallan in particular handled them. When Levi made his way into Macallan's life, he actually worked his way up into the #1 Best Friend slot. So? Well, she already had two close friends. Soon, I didn't care about one of them, but I was concerned about Danielle, the loyal one.  She was always there for Macallan, supportive and loyal. We did see them spend time together, but I felt like Macallan used her at times when she and Levi hit a rough patch. Using friends annoys me, in fiction or in real life. When this issue popped up, I lost a little sympathy for Macallan since I was only worried that Danielle was being ditched.

Macallan. I did like Macallan overall, but she wasn't my favorite. From somewhat ditching Danielle to even acting self-righteous at times, I groaned at her attitude in parts of the book. Eulberg still made her likable with other characteristics, actions, and circumstances she was put in though. But I can think of a few people who will rate this book lower for her attitude in places. 

Minor things that don't even matter anymore. 'Nuff said.

The whole point of this book is that it makes you wonder if guys and girls can really be just friends. Would Levi and Macallan be better off friends? Or should they become more? I won't spoil this for anybody, but I did sway in my own thoughts of how they should end up. By midway, I was firmly set in my decision...and I won't tell you what that was. Amazingly, even though it resembles a chick flick, it doesn't have a lot of romance. They date other people, they flirt some, there was the tiniest bit of action early on, but the majority of the book was about friends. Best friends. To put it simply, I liked that. 

No, wait, I loved it. 

Verdict: A really cute, really fun, really everything book that left me jealous of Macallan and reminded me why I love best friend stories.

Note: Any quotes may be changed in publication.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday Rewind: Posts That Reflect Me

Hosted by The Broke and the Bookish
This week, the lovely ladies at The Broke and the Bookish gave us a chance to pick a previous Top Ten topic that we want to either do again or do one we weren't able to participate in originally. As this post title says, I decided to pick a topic I hadn't done before: posts that I think best gives you an insight to me.

1. Hello, My Name Is... I think this is a pretty obvious one considering this was the post that broke down the last privacy barrier between me and all of you. I revealed my full name and it felt freeing, actually.

2. This vs That Book Preferences. Again, this should be fairly obvious since I compare common book preferences and then say which ones I prefer. Of course, I add other preferences in as well.

3. 10 Steps of Fangirling. I fangirl. A lot. Can there be such a thing as a lot a lot? Because I feel that  fangirl is one of my most used words in my vocabulary. So I shared the steps of fangirling with you all and hopefully made another fangirl come to be in this world.

4. Review: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. You had to have known that this was coming after #3. Because I fangirl, I instantly loved the book that epitomizes fangirling, but includes other fantastic elements as well. My favorite quotes, some great gifs, and squealing were definitely involved when creating this review.

5. Stop! In the Name of Love...Please. The post in which I call out my most hated tropes in YA fiction. If you want to know what to avoid writing about so that I'll like your book, this post will definitely help.

6. Review: Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge. I think reviews tell the most about a person, but this one does in particular for me because not only did I have a GREAT reading experience, but I also had a blast writing the review. This book was full of the things I loved: retelling, mythology, swoons, Disney, mystery, flawed characters, love, and twists.

7. Any Top Ten Tuesday. What I love about Top Ten Tuesdays is that you can see a condensed version of everyone's opinions on a certain topic. Favorite characters, settings you want to see, blogging things you love, books you swoon over, favorite authors...all topics that reveal more about the reader within each blogger. Pick a Top Ten Tuesday in my blog history and you just revealed another part of me.

8. The Song of the Lioness audiobook series by Tamora Pierce. I listened to this series over the summer as I sold my soul to my mind-numbing job and I really think it saved me from drastic measures. Since it's been around a long time and each book was spectatcular, I talked about it as a series in whole and non-spoiler alert: I loved it. How could I not? It includes gender-bending, which I adore.

9. The Blogging Age. This is probably my most proudest post since I think it elicited a lot of comments and really got people thinking. After having trouble with BEA, I realized that my age may be a disadvantage in the blogging community, which is ironic since I'm a teen blogging about teens.

10. Gallagher Girl Appreciation: Love, Quotes, and GIFS. If  you've read any positive Top Ten Tuesday post, my review of United We Spy, or any other snippet of me fangirling, then it's very possible that it shows my extreme love for this series. It's still contemporary, but I read this before blogging, in the age of Sarah Dessen-type books. I loved all things about spies, but I never found a book about them and this was kind of a big deal. That one random pick-up at a library actually started a fandom for me.

For every post I listed, I thought of this.
What posts reflect you the most? Which topic did you choose for Top Ten Tuesday?

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Rewind & Review: February 10 - February 23

Hosted by Shae Has Left the Room
I was *thisclose* to not having a Rewind & Review this week since I had no time to write it and it was a CRAZY weekend. Absolutely ridiculous. But I was able to put it all together. All I needed was the Rocky theme song.

Books for Review:

Books I Bought: 

Number of Books I've Completed: 2...I think.

What I'm Reading Now/Next:
  • Fire by Kristin Cashore (still)

Previous Blog Posts:
  • I revealed to a a friend (*waves*) that I have a blog. She's now talking about starting a blog since she's thought about it before. 
  • I was accepted into my dream school! 
  • On Friday, I visited colleges. In one city, it rained so hard that the "puddles" in the street had currents. In another city (about 2 hours away from my house), it rained and our car broke down on a major road during rush hour. Awesome. After 5+ hours, we finally left and I didn't fall asleep in my own bed until 3am. THEN I travelled back up with my dad to get the piece of junk (our van). Fun stuff this weekend, you guys.
  • Emma offered to send me a signed copy of Better Off Friends after she goes to a signing! 
  • Lost my basketball game by 1 point, making us play a playoff game before State Championships. Oy vey.

Upcoming Blog Posts:
  • TBA (oops) 

It was an eventful, but not very productive two weeks for me so here's hoping the next two weeks are better! Happy reading!

To buy any of the books mentioned in this post, click this button: 
Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

Thursday, February 20, 2014

DNF: Maybe One Day by Melissa Kantor

Title: Maybe One Day
Author: Melissa Kantor
Publication date: February 18, 2014
Publisher: HarperTeen
Source: an e-galley provided by the publisher via Edelweiss for an honest review.

Zoe and her best friend, Olivia, have always had big plans for the future, none of which included Olivia getting sick. Still, Zoe is determined to put on a brave face and be positive for her friend.

Even when she isn't sure what to say.

Even when Olivia misses months of school.

Even when Zoe starts falling for Calvin, Olivia's crush.

The one thing that keeps Zoe moving forward is knowing that Olivia will beat this, and everything will go back to the way it was before. It has to. Because the alternative is too terrifying for her to even imagine.

In this incandescent page-turner, which follows in the tradition of The Fault in Our Stars, Melissa Kantor artfully explores the idea that the worst thing to happen to you might not be something that is actually happening to you. Raw, irreverent, and honest, Zoe's unforgettable voice and story will stay with readers long after the last page is turned.


I really wanted to like this one. I loved the cover, the publisher, and was feeling the premise. How could I not like this? 

Top Three Reasons Why I DNF'd:

  1. Boredom. I was so bored. It was entirely forgettable and the only time I did remember it was when I was filled with dread because I knew I had to read it. I couldn't connect with the main character, I couldn't feel invested into the situation or the cancer, I couldn't feel the emotions. I felt as if all the emotions the characters supposedly possessed were stilted. I couldn't feel anything. Not a thing, except for...
  2. Annoyance. Kantor might have been trying the risky route of having an unlikable main character. It's very possible. I, however, felt the vibe that we should be sympathizing with whatever her name is Zoe and I couldn't. Not. One. Bit. Pretentious, self-centered, and stupid were the first three adjectives that popped up in my mind. She stuck her nose up at the cheerleaders, who were horribly stereotyped, and behaved like a self-centered brat when she found out her best friend had cancer, and oh yeah! She wished her best friend's brother had cancer instead. Okay, I understand there's shock happening and I can't say 100% for sure that I wouldn't have the same thought BRIEFLY if it was me, but she rationalized it. She came to a point that she thought she was correct in her thinking. WRONG. 
  3. Realism. This goes back to Zoe's stupidity. What high school student doesn't know what leukemia is? Anybody? That's right, everyone knows...except Zoe. Then Olivia finds out she has cancer after an unrealistically short time, the doctor makes a special trip just to talk to explain to Zoe, and remember, Zoe doesn't even know what leukemia is. I can't stop groaning. 

There are many, many other bloggers who have loved this book. They were hit in the gut with feels or experienced something more pleasant than I did. I salute them and wish I was them, but alas, I didn't enjoy it. I kept telling myself that maybe one day I'd finish (get it? Maybe one day I'll finish Maybe One Day? Ha, so punny).

I have seen a lot of bloggers talk about why they don't DNF or how their resolutions are to DNF more. I'm not saying that I go on a DNFing spree, but especially lately, I've realized the importance of my time. Reading is supposed to be fun. I should be able to look forward to my reading time instead of looking for something else to do so that I could avoid a book (yes, that actually happened). I want to enjoy reading and utilize my time so that I don't waste it on a book that I dread. So I have no regrets for my decision here. 

Verdict: Well, this is awkward since it's a DNF.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Reasons Why I Love Being a Blogger

Hosted by Top Ten Tuesday
There are blogging-burnouts, occasional drama-fests, and crazy schedules that come with being a blogger. But there are also many reasons why it's great to be a blogger. Of course, it's great to just be a reader too! Amazingly, I was able to limit myself to 10 this week and be a rule follower.

1. Blogger friends. Before I started blogging, I heard my sister talking about the people she was talking to in the blogosphere and I actually thought it was weird. You're talking to strangers? Really? But I quickly realized how great bloggy friends are. They bookishly connect with you in a way that most "in real life" people can't comprehend.

2. Interaction with authors. One of the greatest things about blogging is that you have more interactions with authors. A reader may be able to as well, but I know I interacted, connected, and talked more with authors once I started blogging. They went from being untouchable celebrities in my mind to a friendly pals.

3. Meeting new people. This relates back to the previous two points in a way because usually those new people are bloggers and authors. I love discovering new people—from bloggers to authors to only readers to publicists—and connecting with them in some way.

4. Community. The blogosphere hosts a wide variety of perks within. There's the connection with other people I've been harping on, but I also love participating in events, such as RBWL, and blog hops and Twitter-y things. I don't always have as much time for Twitter as I wish, but there are fun happenings over there a lot. Fun that I would never know about if I wasn't a blogger.

5. Tastes have expanded. I'll be writing a post about this soon, but one of the things that amazed me when I became a blogger is how much my tastes have expanded. I love that, because I joined in the blogosphere, I was introduced to new genres and authors and loves.

6. ARCs. They can be a headache for many bloggers, but I think every one of them appreciates and loves ARCs. ARCs are definitely perks and I'm grateful to receive them. Which leads to...

7. Publicizing. When talking about books, you're publicizing them. A rant, a fangirling post, a mini-review, a intellectual review, a Top Ten Tuesday, a Waiting on Wednesday, a month in review post...all of these posts publicize at least one book, negatively or positively. I love that. I love seeing commenters say that they never heard of it before or that I influenced them in some way. I love knowing that in a very small way, I can publicize a book and an author.

8. Judgement-free outlet. We all have differing opinions, and while I have seen horror stories (in which shaming, bullying, and drama occurs), I have only had positive experiences in the feedback of my input. Basically, I use my blog as an outlet for my thoughts (of course) and there's no judgement. I know that I have to be careful to respect others and in return, someone can have an opposite opinion, but then that can lead to a great discussion. I love discussions.

9. For all readers: the perfect transport. Some of the points above may apply to non-blogging readers as well, but I know that this point definitely does. Reading is the perfect transport, which I talked about in my first ever post (which is so embarrassing). From aristocratic Europe in the 1800s to a small, contemporary beach town to a whole different universe in the distant future; you can experience all of these situations. What's better than that for a girl who dreams of traveling?

10. For my selfish moment of the day: future/college. I'll be honest, as I always like to be, and say that one of the reasons I love being a blogger is that it helps with my future. College applications, resumes, college essays. My blog impressed the Scholar program, the senior publicist I talked to wanted to see it, and I wrote about it for my college application essay. Something I love doing helps me with my future and that makes me love it even more.

Why do you love blogging or reading?

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Review: CRUEL BEAUTY by Rosamund Hodge

Title: Cruel Beauty
Author: Rosamund Hodge
Publication date: January 28, 2014
Publisher: Balzer + Bray (HarperTeen)
Source: an ARC from Epic Reads because they're AWESOME.

Graceling meets Beauty and the Beast in this sweeping fantasy about one girl's journey to fulfill her destiny and the monster who gets in her way-by stealing her heart.

Based on the classic fairy tale Beauty and the Beast, Cruel Beauty is a dazzling love story about our deepest desires and their power to change our destiny.

Since birth, Nyx has been betrothed to the evil ruler of her kingdom-all because of a foolish bargain struck by her father. And since birth, she has been in training to kill him.

With no choice but to fulfill her duty, Nyx resents her family for never trying to save her and hates herself for wanting to escape her fate. Still, on her seventeenth birthday, Nyx abandons everything she's ever known to marry the all-powerful, immortal Ignifex. Her plan? Seduce him, destroy his enchanted castle, and break the nine-hundred-year-old curse he put on her people.

But Ignifex is not at all what Nyx expected. The strangely charming lord beguiles her, and his castle-a shifting maze of magical rooms-enthralls her.

As Nyx searches for a way to free her homeland by uncovering Ignifex's secrets, she finds herself unwillingly drawn to him. Even if she could bring herself to love her sworn enemy, how can she refuse her duty to kill him? With time running out, Nyx must decide what is more important: the future of her kingdom, or the man she was never supposed to love.

First line: I was raised to marry a monster.

You have to know something before you read this review or before you pick up the book: nothing can prepare you for the greatness of this book. I'm sorry, but it's true. If you have an experience like mine, you will find yourself completely in love with this book and confused as to why you didn't think you would be. It's not that I didn't have high expectations—I really did—or that I didn't read incredibly positive reviews—I read a lot—or that I was bracing myself just in case—okay, I might have a little bit, but not that much. I was simply blown away by my love for this book. 

Because her father made a foolish decision to bargain with "The Good Lord," Nyx has to marry the evil ruler with a "secret" agenda to murder him, which will absolutely lead to her death. She deals with resentment towards her favored twin sister, her aunt (who's shacking up with her widowed father), and her cold-hearted father (but who only acts that way to her). Then she has to marry the monstrous lord. Of course, we all know at least the outline of her journey because everyone is familiar with Beauty and the Beast. So we know.

Or do we? 

Beauty and the Beast is a common retelling, I think especially in YA fiction, and usually incorporates the same elements: girl sacrifices herself for her father, mysterious house, "evil" beast, enchanted mirror, forbidden rooms, trouble at home, and the beast needs help. Deep down, we can all be reassured that everything will work out because that's how it's supposed to go. Rosamund Hodge doesn't give us that reassurance, ladies and gents. Many times, I felt my whole body go tense because I hoped and wished that everything would turn out right. I constantly reminded myself that this is not Beauty and the Beast so Cruel Beauty can do whatever it wants and twist me around its little finger because there are no guarantees. It might have been only me, but one of the parallels involved (and probably an obvious twist to others) astounded me. I was in awe because I didn't connect the dots until I was way into the story. 

Then there's the fact that the I was die-hard in love with the characters. I don't think I could have loved Nyx more. I feel like I always praise complex characters, but that's because complex characters are interesting and connectable. Nyx felt torn between her bitterness/resentment and her love for her sister. She felt evil inside, but strived to save her world. She craved her father's care, but resented him too. She was torn between so many decisions and feelings that I sympathized with her more than I have with another character in a long time. 

"I'm here!" I shouted. "Your bride!" Congratulations on your marriage!" 

Ignifex was amazing as well with his equally dry wit and snarky attitude. Both were dangerous, both unpredictable, and both played off each other wonderfully well. 

I don't feel too particularly safe in talking about this ship and the other elements involved since I don't want to take anything away the amazing journey. There is a sort-of-kind-of love triangle involved, but don't fear! When I heard other people refer it as a love triangle of sorts and then I started reading, I thought that there was no "kind of" about it. But there is. Kind of. *winks* 

Ignifex sat down. "If you start wondering how this house works, you'll likely go mad. That could be amusing, I suppose. Especially if it's the kind of madness that causes you to run naked through the hallways. Do feel free to indulge in that anytime." 

I applaud Rosamund Hodge for everything. Absolutely everything. And I don't think I'm going overboard with my praise. Great mythology, those twists I was talking about, and then there's this fantastic thing called world-building. I'm telling you, I was in love. 

I thought something else was incredible as well. Hodge may not have realized it (or anybody else for that matter), but she incorporated many Disney movie elements. Below, you will be attacked by gifs from Disney movies that I was reminded of while reading Cruel Beauty

As you can see, it felt like Hercules and Beauty and the Beast had a baby that had features resembling its relatives Frozen, The Little Mermaid, and Peter Pan (yes, that scary shadow dude is Peter Pan's shadow). For a Disney lover like myself, this made it even more fun to read.

Verdict: Blown-away by this fantastic "retelling" mixed with mythology and probably subconciously added elements of Disney. Very thankful for Epic Reads!

Friday, February 14, 2014

The Dos and Don'ts of YA Romance

Imagine you're reading a book that you're liking and connecting with, it's feeling good and you're bobbing along, ready to see what happens next. Then WHA-BOOM. Something annoying happens and it's lost. All of it. The connection, the interest, the patience, the respect, and the increasing love. It comes to a screeching halt and then disappears. That wha-boom can come from many things and vary from person to person. Sometimes the wha-boom isn't really a wha-boom at all, but is a build-up of repeated offenders. But there is one aspect of a story that gets a beating more than others—in my opinion, at least—and that's romance. In YA, romance is a fickle thing and can conjure up more groans from me than any other part (the narrative and realism are very close). So I decided to make up a list of my personal dos and don'ts of YA romance (hence the title).

DO: Let it simmer
I want the slow-burning kind of love! I do enjoy a whirlwind romance now and then, but I realized that I'm in desperate need for a friend-turned-lover kind of relationship. Let that tension build! It builds up my emotions, the feels, the angst, and while it's not a quickie romance, it's still very exciting.

DON'T: Insta-love it
Of course, the opposite of tension-feeling and realistic love is insta-love. Who likes instant-anything? I'd much rather cook my oats then have those nasty packets, so why would I want to make my fictional romance instant as well? 

DO: Talking is a beaut
I don't want to be bogged down by dialogue and I love affection just as much as the next person (ahem, Alienated), but it would be nice if they talked more than they lay hands on each other. This is a bit like insta-love in the way of not feeling authentic. I don't FEEL the romance when all there is between them is lust.

DON'T: Overuse the understanding card
A big problem I have, especially in contemporary, is when the girl protagonists talk as if their love interest is so amazing and so special because he "understands" her like no one else. He can understand you, but don't keep saying it over and over as if I'm a stupid reader and you're trying to convince me of something. Hearbeat by Elizabeth Scott, anyone?

DO: Incorporate other "life stuff," but DON'T force conflict
We have a twofer! Here's the thing. Personally, I need something to be going on besides the romance. It can involve the romance, but make me care. Be cautious! I see many books just add conflict because they know they need it, but it's not developed well so I still don't care. And now I'm just annoyed.

DON'T: Clinginess
When I read about a love interest who clings, like guys who border on being abusive because they're controlling, I really feel like squirming and yelling, "GET OFF OF ME." Yes, they're on the other person, but I feel suffocated and frustrated just looking at it. And from what I hear from Twilight readers, I'm looking at you, Edward.

DO: Caring is sharing
When I say that, I mean that when you show that the two lovers truly care about each other (deeper than the quick, superficial stuff), it spills over and makes ME care. So really, the caring is being shared around. Rae Carson's Hector and Elisa , anyone?

DON'T: Make her be a flip-flopper
Flip-flopping usually happens to girl protagonists during a love triangle. Even though there should NOT be a love triangle anyways (so overrated, Lauren can tell you why), if you do have one, don't make her flip-flop between the guys. I get the heart's conflict, but when she constantly says she's in love with one and then says it to the other, I really wish that both guys would dump her. She deserves to be forever-alone.

What are your dos and don'ts for YA (or any category) romance?

Happy Valentine's Day! Go to my list here to have recommendations for great swoon-worthy books!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Swoon-worthy Books

Hosted by The Broke and the Bookish
Did somebody say SWOONS? I do swoons. I swoon for fictional characters, I swoon for non-fictional (not as fun), I like swooning, I like reading about swooning, I swoon in groups...swoon is just a fun word and a fun thing to do. Ironically enough—I blame the pressure of it all—I kept blanking on items for this list so I know I left out key books.

Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge
I just finished reading this one and I might have been giggling like a schoolgirl.

Unravel Me by Taherah Mafi

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
My heart.

Alienated by Melissa Landers
I don't think anyone could read how the L'heirs show affection without swooning.

Forever Princess by Meg Cabot
The tension between Michael and Mia throughout made me knot up. But it was all worth it when it came time to the carriage scene. 

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
So much awkward love.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
[insert one of many oven/fire/bread jokes here]

The Crown of Embers by Rae Carson

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
Mal. The Darkling. Then we get Sturmhond in the sequel! Three options means triple the swoon-age!

Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas
I had a lovely, yet heartbreaking time while reading about Celeana and Chaol. 

Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers
The great thing about this is that she creates another swoon-worthy couple in the sequel.

Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen

Everneath by Brodi Ashton
It was hard to not be Team Cole in this one, I didn't even try.

As you could see, while I felt like I had trouble remembering important swoon-y books, I went over 10. No regrets. 

What are some books that made you swoon?

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Rewind & Review: January 27 - February 9

Hosted by Shae Has Left the Room
What a crazy two weeks it's been. It's actually been more of a blur, really, but that seems to be the pattern for me these days. Another great pattern that I hope continues: I've been picking more "win" books than "loser" books! 

Books I Was Given:

Books for Review:

Number of Books I've Completed: 2 *cue sad sound effects*

What I'm Reading Now/Next:

Previous Blog Posts:
  • The feedback and comments I got from The Blogging Age discussion was AMAZING. Really, I actually wasn't sure about the post and then whap, I was slapped with great, insightful comments. And Jamie, who I consider the blogging queen, thrilled me to pieces. 
  • I had an interview for a Scholar Program at a university I'm looking at and they offered me a spot RIGHT THEN. I thought that was pretty cool, but I still need to decide if I want to join.
  • I haven't been on Twitter much thanks to school sucking all the time out of my life. 
  • You know how I was off of sweets during January? Well, I definitely made up for it this past couple of weeks. I don't know if I'll ever be able to do it again. 
  • Did anyone else freak out about The Fault in Our Stars trailer? I DID.
  • I just wanted to say that Joanne Rock is one of the nicest authors out there. I feel like I give her virtual hugs all the time. 

Upcoming Blog Posts: *
  • Top Ten Tuesday - Swoon-worthy Books
  • Shippin'
  • Review: CRUEL BEAUTY by Rosamund Hodge
  • Top Ten Tuesday - Blogging Loves
  • A Whole New World
*Subject to change

The hoopla of Valentine's Day is coming up, brace yourselves. Happy reading!

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Thursday, February 6, 2014

Review: BRIGHT BEFORE SUNRISE by Tiffany Schmidt

Title: Bright Before Sunrise
Author: Tiffany Schmidt
Publication date: February 14, 2014
Publisher: Walker Children's (Bloomsbury)
Source: an e-galley provided by the publisher for an honest review

When Jonah is forced to move from Hamilton to Cross Pointe for the second half of his senior year, "miserable" doesn't even begin to cover it. He feels like the doggy-bag from his mother's first marriage and everything else about her new life—with a new husband, new home and a new baby—is an upgrade. The people at Cross Pointe High School are pretentious and privileged—and worst of all is Brighton Waterford, the embodiment of all things superficial and popular. Jonah’s girlfriend, Carly, is his last tie to what feels real... until she breaks up with him. 

For Brighton, every day is a gauntlet of demands and expectations. Since her father died, she’s relied on one coping method: smile big and pretend to be fine. It may have kept her family together, but she has no clue how to handle how she's really feeling. Today is the anniversary of his death and cracks are beginning to show. The last thing she needs is the new kid telling her how much he dislikes her for no reason she can understand. She's determined to change his mind, and when they're stuck together for the night, she finally gets her chance. 

Jonah hates her at 3p.m., but how will he feel at 3 a.m.? 

One night can change how you see the world. One night can change how you see yourself.

First line: "You've dropped something."

I don't know what I was expecting, but the plot turned out to be what I was and wasn't expecting, all wrapped up in one. These types of plots—where two people are stuck together for a night and their opinions about each other change in less than 24 hours—are tricky. It balances on a thin rope of being unrealistic and involving insta-love. But Bright Before Sunrise succeeded in not being annoying or too implausible. 

What makes this work:

Connection. It's an overall cute story, alternating between Jonah's and Brighton's narratives, displaying the times at the beginning of each chapter. What impressed me was that I was able to connect with both of these characters, even though they were vastly different. Jonah comes from Hamilton, which is represented as the projects, and has an extremely frustrating home life as well as a toxic girlfriend. Brighton, on the other hand, is the poster child for the sunny Cross Pointe and never lets herself have a break. I looked forward to both of their narratives, but I think I favored Jonah's more, partly because he had a backbone. 

Humor. There can be different layers of cute, from a cute that can seem a bit patronizing (like a pat on the head) to a cute that makes me smile. This was the latter. Since I did connect with both characters, they easily made me smile because I got it.

Having him in my bathroom seems way too intimate. I get naked in that shower every morning. The way-too-flimsy-but-neverseen-in-public bathrobe Evy gave me for Christmas is hanging on a hook behind his head.

Realism. You know where most stories with these kind of plots tend to go south? It's when their feelings suddenly change or when the whole story is focused on their romance. This is a contemporary novel and many contemporaries have romance as a focus, but it shouldn't always be that way. The author does a great job in making their relationship progress at a nice pace. It's only 12 hours, I know. But it doesn't feel like 12 hours. Whenever they found themselves more comfortable or reached a new hour or new step in their relationship/friendship, it was done with ease and realism. THAT is how it's done. What helped was that they were both working towards separate goals: Jonah with his achy-breaky heart and revenge, Brighton with her can-do attitude and participation goal. While Jonah hesitated with his plan to show his newly ex-girlfriend the truth (simultaneously embarrassing her), he developed feelings for Brighton. Not overpowering love that so many books seem to do, but slowly developed care. 

Another great example of realism in the book was the ending. Since it's the ending, I can't tell you why, but believe me, it was refreshing. 

Flaws. With Brighton as a main character, the story easily could have followed down a doomed path of "perfect" characters. I thank the author for not ruining her book that way. At one point, Brighton chose poorly, and stupidly didn't act as she should have. But before it became too late for the situation to be fixed, she wised up and had a tiny payback of her own. That's what should happen. Characters are supposed to be flawed. Who wants a Mary Sue? Brighton was overwhelmed with the night's events and emotions, which made her not make the smartest decisions. But she fixed it. She made me go from helpless to proud. I'll repeat myself, that's how it's supposed to happen. Flaws are involved. Brighton has a hard job of keeping up with her Miss Perfect image. Jonah deals with his crappy home life and a situation he hates being in. Both of them deal with irrational choices and overcome their own personal flaws. All of those "imperfections" come together to make a great book with dimensionality. 

Looking back, I don't know what I was expecting. It doesn't matter though because I got what I needed.

Verdict: A fast-paced story involving cuteness and depth as well as a natural relationship progression.

Note: Quotes may change from ARCs to publication.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday - Books That Made Me Feel

Hosted by The Broke and the Bookish
I don't cry for fiction. When the two ladies behind my row were balling and my mom and sister were crying during Up, my eyes were embarrassingly dry. During the heart-wrenching scene in Toy Story 3, I felt moisture prickling at my eyes, but it never appeared on my face. I never cried during The Hunger Games series UNTIL I read it for the sixth time, emotional music was playing, and I looked at my younger sister during that part in Mockingjay...then, and only then, did the tears fall. I am, however, an emotional person. Any gifs used or exclamations used are representations of my inner heartbreaking feels. So this list may or may not make you cry, but they did make me feel.

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
The gif says it all.

Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson
Another cancer book, another book that made me weepy inside. 

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

If I Stay by Gayle Forman
I feel like I mention this book all the time, but there's a valid reason, considering her whole family dies in one accident. And she has to decide if she should stay or go. I can't even imagine. 

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas
This brought on feelings of sadness and anger and even disbelief. It was pretty emotional for me.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
WWII Nazi Germany and narrated by Death. Rainbows and sunshine obviously won't be involved.

These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner
That one part almost made me throw the book against the wall.

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

Out of Sight Out of Time by Ally Carter
You wanted to hug Cammie throughout, but my insides especially started teary near the end. 

What books make you feel emotional?