Friday, October 6, 2017

Review: "We Are Okay"

 We Are Okay by Nina LaCour
4 out of 5 stars

I love Nina LaCour's books. The Disenchantments is one of my favorite books period and I just really love her writing style in general. I picked it up on impulse at Barnes & Noble one day (I hardly ever buy books there anymore, so this was pretty special) because the cover caught my eye and then the author. The actual book is really beautiful. The artwork grabs you in and it has a slight texture to it that makes it feel expensive. Even the inside cover is pretty. This is a book meant to be displayed on your shelf.

All that said, I had a really hard time rating this one. I really loved the words and how she used them but I also needed more to the actual story, so it was kind of difficult to decipher how I really felt about it. Maybe writing this review will help!

Marin is the only person left in her college dorm over Christmas break and she's kind of fine with that. She's been running and hiding from her past for months and it's a relief to not have to pretend everything is okay. We don't get a clear idea of what she's running from, not right away. And honestly, I don't think we ever get the full scope of what's happened. That's part of why I had issues with it. Marin was raised by her grandfather, who is this amazing character on his own. He dies shortly after the book starts but even to the end, we don't really know what happens. The story goes back and forth from the present, in snowy New York, to about six months prior, in sunny California.

"I remember the whole beginning as a succession of flights and drops, a little seesaw of the right throbs and the wrong." (from The Turn of the Screw, which I am now interested in reading!)

Marin's mother was a surfer, who died in the ocean when Marin was 3. She doesn't remember anything about her, Gramps won't talk about her or show her pictures, but random strangers will stop Marin on the beach to tell her stories and give her seashells. It's almost like her mother's ghost is following her around. Ghosts are a prevalent theme throughout. But she has her best friend Mabel to keep her sane. Until she can't anymore and Marin flees to the other side of the country. Mabel comes to visit her on break and tries to convince her to come home to Cali, but Marin won't/can't. She can barely handle being with Mabel for 3 days.

"Not enough hope. Everything is despair. Everything is suffering. What I mean is don't be a person who seeks out grief. There is enough of that in life."

I just realized, just this minute, why I do love this book so much. It reminds me of Jandy Nelson's books, especially I'll Give You The Sun. There's unmistakable sadness in both but also beauty, in words and thoughts. They also both explore artwork and make you think and want to do something. The girls discuss Frida Kahlo's painting The Two Fridas (which I was lucky enough to see recently at the Dallas Museum of Art) and it's beautiful.

"...the whole one is trying to pull the wounded one back to her, as if she could undo what's happened. Or the wounded one is guiding her old self into her new life. Or it could be that they've separated almost entirely from each other, and they are holding hands as a last moment of connection before they break apart completely."

So yes, I've decided it deserves the 4 stars I initially gave it. This is a quiet book, you don't think much is happening, but it still moves you, makes you feel. And when you finish it, you'll continue to think about it for days. That's what makes a book good right? If you're still thinking about it, even negatively, it's doing its job.

I was okay just a moment ago. I will learn how to be okay again.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

TILT: Halloween Goodies!!

Okay, I'm going to be honest...I am always obsessed with Halloween. I love it. But this year, it's over the top. I'm more excited about Halloween than Christmas (for now lol). I'm so excited to decorate my new apartment. My sister is coming over this Friday for a Halloween night of fun. I'm trying to convince her to watch Purge: Election Year but it'll most likely be Hocus Pocus. :D So I decided to just go with it and give y'all my favorite things I've found this year for Things I Love Thursday!

I have found so many good Halloween decorations: Target, Big Lots, and Dollar Tree have been my favorite places. (You can check out my Instagram for pics when I decorate this weekend!)

(Here's a good preview of Target's collection)

I made this Harvest/Halloween trail mix last night for work and it is so yummy! I didn't even bother baking it like the recipe calls for, just tossed it in a bowl and shook it all up. Took literally 2 minutes. Also, I got cinnamon Rice Chex, which really helped the flavor, since I wasn't adding the drizzle. Highly recommend!

Okay, are these little kitty pumpkins not the cutest things you've ever seen? I have to make some. I bought a pumpkin already, just need to steal get some ribbon from my sister. I'm not even going to bother with the big pumpkin. Just make a bunch of different sized cat ones. >.<

Are you obsessed with Halloween? Share your favorite finds/links/recipes below! Oh and your favorite spooky reads, I haven't even started on those yet. I have a few ideas, but can always use more recommendations.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: 10 Book Boyfriends

I'm a little biased because I think I have the best book boyfriend in real life already. :) But I guess I'll stick to fictional guys for The Broke & The Bookish's Top Ten Tuesday this week. You can check out my first post on this topic, way back in 2013, and I'll try not to duplicate any of the guys for this one.

1. I could have made all the guys in CL Stone's Ghost Bird series #1-9, but I'll just put them as 1 group together lol. I wouldn't be able to pick my favorite anyways, they're all awesome in their own way.

2. Colby from The Disenchantments by Nina LaCour-I love that his story ends up not being just about the girl, but about how he grows and becomes more himself in the end.

3. The Will from the Saga series graphic novels -there's just something about him I love. Oh, maybe it's Lying Cat. :)  (Baby Lying Cat is by Dumpy Little Robot and I neeeeed her!! No fibbing!)

4. The guys in Krista & Becca Ritchie's Addicted/Calloway Sisters series but especially Lo -he's always there for Lily, even when his own addictions threaten to overtake him. He always makes sure she's taken care of. Plus, he's into comics and super heroes.

5. Matt Finch in Emery Lord's Open Road Summer -country music, roadtrips, best friends, tragic back story, broody guys...can't get any better than that!

6. Levi from Fangirl by the fabulous Rainbow Rowell -he missed my first list by a year, but he should definitely be at the top. Do I even need to explain this one? No, I didn't think so...I'll just leave my favorite quote for you instead.
"Look at you. All sweatered up. What are those, leg sweaters?" [Levi]
"They're leg warmers." [Cath]
"You're wearing at least four different kinds of sweater."
"This is a scarf."
"You look tarred and sweatered."

7. Clark in The Unexpected Everything -really I could put any of the guys in Morgan Matson's books, right? But Clark is a super nerd, a secret writer (just like in my favorite Christopher Pike book hah), there's a scavenger hunt in the book, and this was the last one I read. So Clark it is.

8. George in A Room With A View by EM Forster -had to include at least one classic, but I haven't read many lately (need to change that, I think) so it was kind of hard. 
"You love the boy body and soul, plainly, directly, as he loves you, 
and no other word expresses it. 
You won't marry the other man for his sake."
"It isn't possible to love and to part. You will wish that it was. You can transmute love, ignore it, muddle it, but you can never pull it out of you. 
I know by experience that the poets are right: love is eternal."

9. Mark Darcy from Bridget Jones -I reread these last year and had completely forgotten how much I loved them. (And the movies) Darcy is one of those perfect men that can't possibly exist, except he's a little bit cynical and condescending so you know he actually could be real. And Colin Firth is Mark Darcy, isn't he?

10. I've run out of book boyfriends oh noooo!! So, tell me your favorite that I may have missed on here!

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Review: "Mallory Hates Boys (And Gym): The Baby-Sitters Club #59"

Mallory Hates Boys (And Gym): The Baby-Sitters Club #59 by Ann M Martin
3 out of 5 stars

Okay, honestly I'm kind of with Mallory on this one. Gym in middle/high school sucked. Gym in elementary was only moderately better, unless you had a sadistic gym teacher that made you beat her to the jungle gym or you had to run laps. Oh and she didn't hold back either. She didn't care if you were in 1st or 5th grade, she'd still give it her all! Wow, I might still be a little bitter. Moving on!

The book starts out with Mallory putting her new vocabulary word, "pandemonium", to the test when she arrives home. The Pike clan is in full crazy mode and Mal is anxious about her study date with the wonderful Australian, Ben Hobart. Liking a guy is so weird. There's just no way to explain why suddenly you're so crazy about someone. Unfortunately, her brothers & sisters pretty much ruin the date so they head over to Ben's house, where she raves about how good and polite his 3 brothers are. Then she's almost late to a BSC meeting and we get a Claudia outfit along with a special What Dawn Was Wearing.

Claudia was wearing a pair of soft, balloony, purple pants; a neon green long-sleeve leotard top; a wide, red braided belt; and a pair of soft, red ballet shoes. Her hair was swept into a French braid with wispy tendrils hanging loose. From one ear dangled a long earring made up of small papier-mache tropical fruit. In the other ear, where she had two holes, Claudia wore two small papier-mache hoops. (This earring set is her own creation.)

2 things: I had purple pants exactly like that in 5th grade. We called them (MC) Hammer pants and I wore them with a white tshirt tucked in and black patent leather shoes with big silk laces. I was dibbly fresh and wore this outfit at our talent show, where my friend and I danced to Tevin Campbell's Round & Round. (I just listened to again, so good still lol.)
And also, it would have been nice to have some continuity from the previous book and have her wear her cat & dog earrings.

Today [Dawn] was wearing black stirrup pants, a long, fleecy red-and-pink rose-print top and black high-top sneakers. She has two holes pierced in each ear. In those she wore four matching sparkly rose earrings. (Seems more like a Stacey outfit than Dawn, but whatevs.)

Logan is at the meeting, because he & Mary Anne were studying together, and there's a big point of his mom calling for a sitter because Logan doesn't want to be asked all the time. Just like Mallory. I was never given a choice to baby-sit my sister or not. And I definitely didn't get paid for it. After the meeting, Jessi & Mallory are walking home and Jessi reminds her that they are starting the volleyball unit in gym on Monday and they'll be co-mingled with the boys. Mal immediately freaks out. I was expected to appear in front of a bunch of boys in my gross, disgusting gym suit (which is really just a tshirt & shirts) and demonstrate that I was probably the most klutzy, uncoordinated girl in the sixth grade. And she pretty much does that for the rest of the book.

On Monday, she decides to wear a one-piece denim jumpsuit that she'd gotten for her last birthday and never worn. Not because I hate it or anything. It's just not me. It's a little too high-style or something. I'm sorry. Isn't that exactly what she's been begging for for the last 59 books?? I decided to do a special for this outfit: what Mallory thinks she looks like and what she probably looks like. Always fun. :)

Every book that has even the slightest hint of physical activity makes Mallory panic and immediately come up with plans to get out of it. In this one, she begs her parents to let her stay home, pretends to faint in the locker room (no one is around), WALKS OFF THE COURT after getting hit with a ball (I don't blame her for that one), gets detention on purpose for a week when she sits out each day (and hides the papers from her parents. Trust me, that never works for long.) It's all a bit ridiculous.

The side plot is that all the boys they baby-sit for are suddenly little monsters. Just the boys, not the girls. Mallory comes up with this long convoluted theory that makes no sense; something about if they were raised in Stoneybrook and went to gym class there, they were super aggressive animals. Meaning, Logan and the Hobart boys are excluded. This doesn't pan out though, when Mal and Ben agree to switch brothers for the evening and the Hobarts turn into little hellions while Nicky & the triplets are perfect angels. She can't believe it. But what do you expect when they go to a house like the Pikes where there are basically no rules?

Back in gym class, Mal keeps walking off and the gym teacher finally sits down and talks to her. She asks her to just try and she'd get the boys to back off on their attack. Also, she makes Mal wash all the pinnies one afternoon gross. Mallory agrees to try, her parents find out about the detentions (and don't punish her whaaattt??!), and finally the volleyball unit is over. Next up? Archery! Is anyone surprised at all that Mallory is good at it? So good that her teacher tells her to try out for the archery team and she makes it. I wonder if that will come up again in later books. And her brothers make her a congrats cake, ruining her "boys suck" theory. The end. And hey, I've got another Super Special already after this one! Woo!!

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Book Haul

I'm pretty excited about the books and comics I got last weekend, so I decided to do a mini haul post to share them. And I want you to share with me what your last book purchase/haul was! So comment below. :)

Girl Online: Going Solo is the last book in YouTuber Zoe Sugg's series. I enjoyed the first 2, they're light fluffy fun, so I'm happy to read the last one. I'll be reviewing the whole series when I finish this one and will probably end up giving them all to my sister, since she's actually the one who loves Sugg's videos and got the first book lol. 

After reviewing the 2nd Princess Jellyfish omnibus and having read the 3rd this May, I really needed the next volume. And purely aesthetic, the books are so pretty!! They're lovely pastel sherbety colors and will look amazing on my bookshelf when I get them all eventually.

Do you like my lawn gnomes? They're named Gary, Garry, and Steve. :D I only went to the comic book store to pick up my pull list, but I can always guarantee I'll come out with 3 or 4 extra. This time was no exception.

On my pull list were Motor Girl & Shade: The Changing Girl. I've already talked about these here but I highly recommend them both! And Motor Girl is a short one, only 10 issues, if you don't want to get too invested in a long series.

Then I saw this new Jem & The Holograms Annual and had to pick it up. I am just really loving this reboot so much. (Review of 1st 2 volumes here.) This annual is apparently a fanfic type story which sounds really fun. Can't wait to read it.

Brian K Vaughan's Runaways was the first comic series I ever read, as a teenager way back in the 90s. When I found out that one of my very favorite authors, Rainbow Rowell, was going to do a reboot/sequel of it this year, I was beyond excited. I haven't decided yet if I'm going to reread the original series first or not (I only have volume 1 right now) but I know I will love this new take.

And last but not least, we have the newest Baby-Sitters Club graphic novel, Dawn & The Impossible Three. I really loved Raina Telgemeier's take on the first 4 so I'm interested to see what a new artist will do with the upcoming books. The only thing I'm not sure about, is that they seem to be combining Dawn and Mallory's first books, which is a little odd. And they've still skipped Claudia & The Phantom Phone Calls!! But we'll see how it is. And I am still hoping/wishing/begging for them to do the first Super Special! How amazing would that be??

Monday, September 25, 2017

Review: "Love & Gelato"

Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch
3 out of 5 stars

Love & Gelato was sweet but lacked substance and left you wanting something solid afterwards. How's that for a metaphor? ;) Okay, but really...this was a decent book, I wanted a bit more out of it, and desperately wanted gelato in Italy while reading it. So prepare accordingly. Trust me!

The book centers on 16 year old Lina, who has just lost her mom to cancer a few months prior. Her mom's last wish was for Lina to go to Italy and get to know her father, the amazingly sweet and tall Howard. She's not too thrilled about it, especially when she finds out he lives and works in a graveyard. Of course, the cute boy down the road makes it all better right? Right.

The love story is light and fluffy, but I didn't really care about it too much. Honestly, Anna & The French Kiss is a far superior "American in a foreign country" love story. Lina's relationship with Howard and her journey thru her mom's old journal are the real interesting parts. And of course, the touristy and eating bits. Those were drool-worthy descriptions.

It was like walking through a scene from an Italian movie. The street was lined with clothing stores and little coffee shops and restaurants, and people kept calling to one another from windows and cars. Halfway down the street a horn beeped politely and everyone cleared out of the street to make way for an entire family crowded onto a scooter. There was even a string of laundry hanging between two buildings, a billowy red housedress flapping right in the middle of it. Any second now a director was going to jump out and yell, Cut!

“So... Italian gelato. Take the deliciousness of a regular ice-cream cone, 
times it by a million, then sprinkle it with crushed-up unicorn horns.”

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Review: "Stacey's Choice: The Baby-Sitters Club #58"

Stacey's Choice: The Baby-Sitters Club #58 by Ann M Martin
2 out of 5 stars

This is such a classic BSC cover. Their outfits are a little understated for their personalities, but it's still quintessential BSC. And that is the best thing I'll say about this book, unfortunately. I've hit a string of duds lately. But they're also not as well-known to me, which is kind of nice.

The story opens with Stacey and Mallory walking home from school and enjoying the crisp autumn air. I am so ready for fall and Halloween, it is not even funny! I've been stockpiling Halloween decorations for my new apartment for weeks now. It's going to be awesome. :) And now I'm trying to remember if there are any BSC Halloween books? Why can't I think of any? Anyway, the girls are walking home, Stacey loves math, Mallory has a lot of siblings, etc. Stacey gets home and her mom is there and looks really tired and worn down. She went on two job interviews and goes to take a nap. I always remember her mom working at Bellair's but she doesn't get that job til the end of this book. So I obviously read plenty of books after this one.

Stacey's "Old Dad" calls her and tells her he got a huge promotion at work, with a raise, and they're having a big dinner for him. He wants Stacey to come to the city for the weekend and be his date and even tells her to buy a new outfit. Which is as good a time as any to do What Stacey Wore to the dinner.

"Zingy's! That's all punk stuff!" (Mary Anne)
"I like to think of myself as the Sherlock Holmes of fashion," [Stacey said] "I'll put together the perfect outfit at Zingy's. Trust me. It'll be perfect for me and my dad."
By the time I left I was carrying a shopping bag in which were folded a hot pink (fake) silk jacket which fell to my knees, new black leggings, pink-and-black socks, and a black body suit. I planned to wear the outfit with black flats, and to dress it up with some jewelry and maybe a couple of barrettes in my hair.

The girls go shopping at the mall for Stacey's outfit and hit the new restaurant, The Rosebud Cafe. (Another thing I remember being there forever.) This is another classic BSC moment, the girls at the mall. It brought back memories of the hundreds of times I went to the mall with friends and my sister. Mall rats of the 90s unite!! :D

Okay, so let's get to the main story-line finally. "Stacey's choice" Stacey is at school when she gets called to the office over the loud speaker (tre embarrassing). The secretary tells her that her mom collapsed during an interview and that Mrs Pike is on her way to take Stacey to the hospital to see her mom. She's frantic, of course, and thinks the worst. But Mrs McGill just has pneumonia. Which okay, is pretty bad, but I feel like Stacey went waaay overboard. She stays home from school, sets up a schedule of adult sitters when she does have to go back to school, and decides to cancel her trip to NYC. Which of course pisses her dad off. And Stacey says some ugly stuff: "Maybe if you weren't a workaholic, there'd be something more in your life. But you're married to your job." ooh, harsh!!

In baby-sitting news, all the neighborhood kids are obsessed with ordering free/cheap crap from magazines. Like a stamp licker, bust developer, moondust, you know...crap. It's all fun at first, especially when they start getting the stuff in the mail. Who doesn't love fun mail?? But then they run out of money and they finally realize they don't need all this junk or it doesn't work or they're not that special with their moondust. And hey, they really want a yo-yo, the cool new fad. So they gather all their junk together and come up with a travelling road show, with skits and dances, to pawn their useless crap on other people. No one wants it of course, but they do pay for the performances. (The Pike triplets rap. I see a Vanilla Ice-esque career in their future.) In the end, the kids make back their money and get their yo-yos and everyone's happy.

Back with Stacey, she finally decides to go to NYC for the dinner on Friday night and come straight back home Saturday morning. Good compromise, right? Well, the train is late, there's traffic, Stacey has to iron her outfit, and they get to the dinner about 15 minutes late. Stacey gets up multiple times during the dinner to check on her mom and then wants to leave at like 10:00, before the fun even starts. Her dad is naturally annoyed, but Stacey doesn't care. There's a weird part at the train station where Stacey questions what happens to the homeless people when they die and no one ever hears about it. Morbid much? Stacey gives a guy five bucks and her dad tells her she "can't take care of everybody"; she replies "but I can try". Wow, subtle Stace.

A week or two go by, Stacey's mom is all better, Stacey hasn't talked to her dad, and Claudia buys the kids' wrinkle-away lol. (Trust me, it's never too early to start preventative measures!) Stacey realizes she shouldn't have had to choose between her parents and makes up with her dad. The end. Oh! There's baby pictures in the back of this one, I guess they started doing that now. Kind of fun.