Monday, November 16, 2015

Review: "Kristy's Great Idea: The Baby-Sitters Club Graphic Novel #1"

Kristy's Great Idea: The Baby-Sitters Club Graphic Novel #1 by Raina Telgemeier
5 out of 5 stars

I've seen these graphic novels before in the store but it wasn't until the new color version came out this year that I decided I had to have them. And I am so glad I did; they are definite buys for any diehard BSC fans! Obviously, we all know the story by now: "...make one call and reach a whole bunch of [sitters] at once." Four friends get together and change childcare in Stoneybrook forever; daycares and au pairs everywhere weep. If you need more detail, head on over to my very first BSC review and enjoy! :)

The artist does a great job bringing these girls to life. They're age appropriate (even more than the book covers, in my opinion) and the attention to detail is almost perfect. I say "almost" because there were a few things that slipped by. My biggest complaint was Claudia's outfits and purple streak in her hair. I really wish they had drawn her exact outfits from the book and I don't recall her ever having colored hair. (I'd say that's a little too permanent for her parents.) Her room is also a lot neater and plainer than in the books, but I guess that would get tiresome to draw every time. And a minor detail: in the end, Stacey adds up their sitting money to $52.75 instead of the original $26.75, which seems a lot more accurate to me anyway. In the book, I can't remember if it tells how Mary Anne's mom died? Here they say cancer.

Other than these small things, the graphic novel is very true to the book and just adds a richness to the story with the pictures. I loved seeing all the background characters come to life. We get such a clear picture of the 4 girls but sometimes the family members and sitting charges are a little fuzzy. Karen Brewer and Morbidda Destiny were probably my favorite. (I always pictured Boo-Boo as a black kitty though.) I think I'm more terrified of the witch now than just reading the book lol. I'm super excited to read the next book. Wouldn't it be awesome if they did the first Super Special?

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Author Meeting: Jandy Nelson! + Meg Wolitzer & Ally Condie

After getting to meet all the fabulous authors at the North Texas Teen Book Festival back in March and Rainbow Rowell in June, I was pretty happy with my year, book/author-wise. Then I found out that Jandy Nelson was coming in November to the big Half Price Books in Dallas and I was ecstatic. I had such a deep connection to both her books and I just knew I had to meet her. I feel like she's not talked about much yet in wider circles and she should be. So I dragged my sister off to the bookstore once again and had an amazing time. :)

(L-R: Jandy Nelson, Meg Wolitzer, Ally Condie)

Surprisingly, I haven't read any of the other two authors' books: Meg Wolitzer and Ally Condie. Unsurprisingly, after I left the event, I had to add them both to my to-buy list lol. We got to HPB pretty early because I was afraid it was going to be massively crowded like Rainbow's, but I was actually the first one there! So I wandered around while I waited and added stuff to my Christmas list. :)

Once the event got started, it was lots of fun. All 3 of the authors (and the moderator) were great and had so many interesting things to say. Ally is very quiet and Meg was so funny trying to explain her "adult" book she was writing. You can watch Jandy talk about creating the twins in I'll Give You the Sun over here on my Facebook page. (And like it while you're there, maybe?) Then we all got in line to get our books signed. I brought my two books for Jandy, obviously, and didn't have anything for the other two, though I did thank them for coming and let Meg know I would be picking up her book, Belzhar, soon. I actually got it at the library already and finished it yesterday and now I'm super annoyed I didn't go ahead and buy it! (I got Atlantia too.) While talking to Jandy, I let her know how much her books spoke to me and even sparked my creativity, in ways that I never had with a book, and she was really interested in that (or at least pretended to be lol). Hence, her first signature. I love when authors have the time to personalize their signings and talk to people. It makes it a lot more fun and memorable. If you get a chance to see these authors, definitely do it!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: 10 Book to Movie Adaptations I Need to See

I always love and have lots of fun with this Broke & The Bookish topic. You can check out my 10 Most Anticipated Books to Movies from 2013 and also my 10 Best Book to Movie Adaptations for more fun. And of course the Book vs Movie tag below for my actual reviews. I'm going to split today's topic up a bit just because.

Let's start with some that I haven't seen yet but totally still need to:

1. The Fault in Our Stars --I know!! I can't believe it either! My middle sister went and saw it without me and I just never got to it.

2. The Book Thief --I didn't really have anyone to go see this with. :(

3. Paper Towns --this one actually looks better to me than TFIOS. Way less crying. (Her eyebrows though, they squick me out a bit lol.)

And a couple that I'm not sure if I should see (weigh in below!):

4. Divergent --I loved the first book but they just went downhill after that. Do I really want to set myself up for that disappoint? (Like Twilight?)

5. Maze Runner --I thought the books were just okay.

6. Percy Jackson --I really enjoyed these books, but I heard the movie wasn't that great. At all.

A few lot upcoming that I am looking forward to very much:

7. Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them --I don't care if JK Rowling is just doing it for the money or not: more Harry Potter world all the time please!

8. The Selection --sure it'll be super cheesy and pandering to young girls who only want to be princesses, but meh...pretty dresses! Lol.

9. Eleanor & Park --OMG YES PLEASE!!! All of Rainbow Rowell's books need to be made into movies TV series for years. :)

10. Pride & Prejudice & Zombies --this should be loads of fun. I really enjoyed the book.

11. The Statistical Probability of Falling in Love --this was actually my least favorite of Smith's books so far, but I do think it'll make a cute movie.

12. Looking for Alaska --do you think they'll make every John Green book into a movie eventually? It's kinda crazy. Oh wait, they're doing Let it Snow too, which I would really like lol. So they're just missing Will Grayson, Will Grayson. (Who else wants to see the Tiny Cooper Musical come to life??)

Monday, November 9, 2015

Review: "Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters"

Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters by Ben H Winters (and Jane Austen)
4 out of 5 stars

I read this book way back in January. I know, the shame oh the shame. But I really enjoyed it and still wanted to talk about it, so here we are. I can't say that I have a love/hate relationship with Jane Austen's books because I usually just end up feeling kind of "meh" about them. Actually, I went back and checked and I've literally given every book of her's 3 stars, so yeah average all the way for me. I was pretty sure I wouldn't like this remake of Sense & Sensibility too much and especially not more than Pride & Prejudice & Zombies. Luckily, I was wrong on both counts and liked it infinitely better than both.

The quiet story of S&S benefits greatly from the dash(wood) of adventure from the mutated sea creatures. In the water lies danger. In the water, only doom. The essential story is still here: Mrs Dashwood, a widower, must care for her 3 daughters and try to get the 2 eldest married off before it is too late. When she receives a letter from an old relative, the monster-hunter and adventurer Sir John Middleton, offering her family a home on a dangerous island, she takes it, willing to do anything to get away from her dreaded daughter-in-law. The women leave at once for the island, fighting off killer sea monsters along the way.

And the men are all here, in all their faulted glory. Colonel Brandon suffered from a cruel affliction, the likes of which the Dashwood sisters had heard of, but never seen firsthand. He bore a set of long, squishy tentacles protruding grotesquely from his face, writhing this way and that, like hideous living facial hair of slime green. His appearance, besides the twitching tentacles that overhung his chin, was not unpleasing, despite being an absolute old bachelor; for he was on the wrong side of five and thirty.

Mrs Jenning's "high society" takes place in a submarine station dome four miles below sea level. The girls must wear float-suits at all times and travel via gondolas thru the canal streets. While there, Elinor and Marianne endure being snubbed by the men in their lives, get attacked by giant killer lobsters, and unearth the horrid secrets of the odious Miss Lucy Steele. All while mending a broken heart. It's tragic really. The climactic ending scenes do great justice to both the original story and this mash-up...adventure, romance, and a dash of humor. 

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Review-palooza Continues: 3 "Adult" Summer Books

This batch of books are still continuing the summer/roadtrip/vacation theme, but have a more adult/serious feel to them. They didn't really go with the fluffiness of the others, so they got stuck together basically lol.

The Last One by Tawdra Kandle
3 out of 5 stars

Okay, this first book is definitely in the "adult" category. Not young adult at all, maybe one of those "new adult" books? The main character is college aged so I suppose that counts. There are definitely sexy times in this one, so don't be like me and read it at work because you will get embarrassed lol.

Meghan is about to start her last year of college and still doesn't have an idea of what exactly she wants to do when she graduates. She feels like she's drifting thru life so decides to sign up for an ArtCorps program for the summer, which will allow her to teach art in under-funded areas. (Sounds like fun!) She'll stay in one of the local people's homes and decide whether teaching is for her or not, and best of all, get away from her real life and family.

Sam is the perfect, straight-laced, "do things right and take care of your family" guy that Meghan has the bad fortune of making a horrible first impression on and then having to spend the summer with. He has worked hard to get his family farm up and running again after his parents died, while also taking care of his sister Ali and her 8 year old daughter. He doesn't have time for romance or flighty college girls, but when Meghan arrives, he realizes that maybe he should make time.

Mosquitoland by David Arnold
4 out of 5 stars

This is a book that will make you feel. When you finish it, you will either love it or hate it, there is no in between. For me, I loved it. Mim is a deeply flawed character. We can see those flaws but still love her for or in spite of them. In her own words, she is "not okay". The author tackles mental illness, self-medicating, Down Syndrome, and a slew of other "serious topics". But he does it with an honesty and self-humor that is refreshing.

When Mim finds out that her mom is seriously ill, she runs away from her dad & stepmom and begins an epic roadtrip back home. On the way, she meets a host of eccentric and sometimes terrifying characters that change her life in one way or another. This is so much more of a spiritual roadtrip than a physical one, for both Mim and the reader, and you will both be in tears by the end.

For Real by Alison Cherry
4 out of 5 stars

Amazing Race is one of my and my sister's (my sister and I's? Help, grammar police!) favorite shows. To find a book that mimics that theme was so exciting and then when I actually loved it? A miracle! Claire and Miranda are sisters and love each other, but they are exact opposites in every way. Claire is shy, quiet, awkward, loves watching reality shows. Miranda is outgoing, popular, gorgeous. But when Miranda needs to get revenge on a cheating boyfriend, Claire has the perfect plan. It just involves dropping everything and going on a race around the world together with millions of people watching on their tv's.

The behind-the-scenes moments were just as fascinating as the race. I never really thought about it, watching reality shows, but I'm sure they all do dozens of reshoots for each one hour show we watch. Can you imagine having to eat slugs 4 times because the camera angle was wrong? ew. So Claire and Miranda go off on this epic journey, but right from the start, things are not as great as they expected. No spoilers, of course, but there are some fun twists and surprises here. And boys, oh yes, boys.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Roadtrip-Palooza: 5 Reviews in One!!

I'm continuing my catch-up with more mini-reviews today! This batch is all summer sun & fun, but with that essential roadtrip/vacation twist. Oh yes, the roadtrip. Another one of my favorite things to read about. My sister and I have discussed taking an epic roadtrip one summer, but if you want to do it right, it can be really expensive! Boo...maybe eventually. Until then, let's discuss these books!

Five Summers by Una LaMarche
3 out of 5 stars

I always wanted to go to summer camp. My favorite movie is still The Parent Trap (original, natch). I love Camp Nowhere too. The Baby-Sitters Club super special where they go to Camp Mohawk is one of my favorites. So you'd think I'd be all over this book about four best friends and their adventures at summer camp. I kind of was, but not as much as I'd hoped. Honestly, I don't even remember a lot about it, which is kind of sad.

The 4 girls haven't been all together in 3 years and are excited to reunite for a weekend at camp. Your "summer self" is sometimes different from your "rest of the year self" and these girls are no exception. They each have secrets about themselves that they don't want to let out. So of course, they all get exposed. There's romance and fighting, friendships come and go, plenty of cute boys, and an epic "capture the flag" game. A lot of reviewers compared this to Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. I'm sorry, it just doesn't live up to that group of BFF's for me.

Rules of Summer by Joanna Philbin
3 out of 5 stars

I'll be spending this summer in the Hamptons. Rory is excited for her summer job, "errand girl" to a rich family (the Rules), but it doesn't turn out quite how she imagined. She doesn't fit in with these people and they never let her forget it. Especially Isabel, daughter and queen of the Hamptons. The book alternates between the two girls and I actually really ended up liking Isabel in the end. There's a lot more to her than just the party girl.

Of course, no summer vacation would be the same without a little romance. Each girl falls for a guy who might not be right for them, but when has that ever stopped us? As the summer goes on, the heat and secrets build up until it all explodes in their faces. I enjoyed this book, but it was just missing something to make it a favorite. And I'm not even really sure what that would be lol. There is a sequel, but I don't know if I'll bother reading it.

How My Summer Went up in Flames by Jennifer Salvato Doktorski
3.5 out of 5 stars

This was a cute book with a premise I hadn't really seen before. Rosie is a Jersey girl with a temper and when she "accidentally" sets her ex-boyfriend's car on fire, she has to pay the consequences. Big time: like restraining order and court dates. Her parents decide the best thing would be to get her out of town for awhile to give things time to cool down and not make the situation worse. So Rosie is shipped off on a cross-country trip with neighbor boy Matty and two of his best friends, nerdling brothers Logan and Spencer.

I wasn't always the kind of girl who wakes up on the first day of summer vacation to find herself on the receiving end of a temporary restraining order.
What can I say? First I lost my heart. Then I lost my mind.

You'd think a story with one girl + three guys in a small car for a week would mean lots of steamy scenes and love triangles squares, right? Luckily, this doesn't happen here. Well, okay, there is some romance but it's light and not the main point of the story, for once. We have plenty of time for Rosie to realize what a nutcase she was over ex Joey (and it does take a while, the girl is stubborn) and how she can grow out of this.

"Remember, no matter where you go, there you are."

Beach Blondes by Katherine Applegate
4 out of 5 stars

This is actually 3 books in one and was a mega impulse buy for me one day at Half Price Books. Normally, the cheesy cover would have thrown me off but I am so glad I gave it a chance. I wasn't expecting so many feels with a silly summer book. Because this is way more than just "fun in the sun" and summer romances. (Although it does have that too!)

Summer Smith (yep, her name really is Summer) is hating life right's February in Minnesota and her boots are full of cold, wet slush. There was no sun. There never had been a sun. It was made up by science teachers. So when her mom asks her if she wants to spend the summer in Florida at her aunt's mega-mansion, she jumps on it. Who wouldn't? On the plane ride there, the weird old lady next to her offers to read her tarot cards and tells Summer that she "will meet three young men, each very different, each very important in her life." Summer is a little weirded out but forgets all about it when she steps into the sunshine.

Diana is Summer's cousin and doesn't want to have anything to do with her relative, but when her mom goes off on a book tour (she writes romance books and has big hair lol) for a week, Diana is stuck entertaining Summer. Well, she's supposed to anyway. Doesn't mean she will. Diana's got lots of issues and her mom thought having perky Summer there would help lift her out of her funk. It doesn't.

Marquez is a local girl who takes Summer under her wing when Diana won't. Marquez wants to get out of their little town as soon as she can and pushes away from everyone who doesn't. She denies her artistic side for the practical "grownup" side that she thinks will help her succeed. Even when that means losing the guy she loves.

The book follows all 3 girls throughout the summer, weaving their individual stories together into one of friendship and healing. Each girl has something in their past that comes back to haunt them and of course, there's a guy for each girl. I can't wait to get the next books in this series (a standalone spring break story and another summer anthology).

Open Road Summer by Emery Lord
4.5 out of 5 stars

I wish I owned this book, so I could highlight all my favorite parts and reread it over and over again. Also, I really want my sister to read it eventually but she's the "nonreader" so it'll take a while. :) It's perfect for her though: a roadtrip with country music and hot cowboys!

Reagan and Dee are best friends. Dee is also a rising star in country music who goes by Lilah to her fans. She's going on tour for the summer and Reagan is coming along to get away from a bad-for-her boy and major breakup. (Also, a real break...her wrist.) Dee is fresh from her breakup with childhood sweetheart, Jimmy, who can't handle the spotlight he would be in with Lilah. The girls' friendship is pretty perfect and adorable. Dee is light where Reagan is dark and they bring out the best traits in each other and always have the other's back.

Until Matt Finch arrives. Matt joins the tour as Lilah's opening act and is quickly forced to act as her boyfriend due to publicity stunts, but it's Reagan's heart that he really wants. Prickly Reagan isn't falling for the sweet boy act though and resents him for horning in on her summer of BFF fun. It takes a lot to bring her around but when he finally does, it's something worth waiting for.

And then there's the music. Such an integral part of the story. It's kind of like reading the movie Pure Country. Have you seen it? If not, you are missing out and should go find it immediately!! And then you'll want to download the soundtrack. Trust me. Okay, now I want to go listen to it too lol.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Summer-palooza: 5 Reviews in One!!

I've got so many books to review, to get caught up, that I decided to combine a bunch into mini-reviews. As you can tell, this batch is all about the Summer Romance Formula. :) I purchased a ton of these back in the spring and read them all summer long. It was pretty enjoyable. So let's get going with some reviews, shall we? These are going worst(ish) to best!

Summer of Skinny Dipping by Amanda Howells
2.5 out of 5 stars

I had a hard time getting into this one. I didn't connect with the characters or their story very well and it was very slow in the beginning. Mia is 16 years old and on summer vacation to the Hamptons with her family and aunt, uncle, and 2 female cousins. She thought it was going to be the best summer ever, reconnecting with her favorite cousin and spending all her time basking in the sun. But her cousin is a drunk party girl, her mom & dad are having problems, and she's just gotten dumped by the guy she was "in love" with.

And then, here comes Simon. The strange, slightly too quirky (he quotes The Great Gatsby blegh) guy next door that the cool kids tolerate. Simon, of course, goes after Mia and she rebuffs him at every shot. She starts spending a lot of time alone on the beach at night to get away from her family and, of course, runs into Simon. They start having late night talks and eventually, Mia falls for him. I am glad that the author didn't do an insta-love at least, this relationship definitely grew over time. If you know anything about reading into the clues given, you will know that "something big" happens to the two lovebirds and boy, is it a doozy. No spoilers here, but it will either make you love or hate the book, no in between.

The Summer I Became a Nerd by Leah Rae Miller
3 out of 5 stars

Maddie is the typical blonde cheerleader but she has a dirty little secret...she likes comic books. Okay. I am a proud comic book reader and also a girl, so this just rubbed me all kinds of wrong. I don't care what you're reading: comics, 50 Shades, Berenstain Bears, whatever...if you're enjoying it, that's all that matters and NO ONE should make you feel bad for it. And that's why I had to mark this one down a star.

Okay, moving on. Maddie is eagerly awaiting the latest issue of her favorite comic and when it doesn't come, she decides to venture into the unknown: a comic book store. She meets cute nerdy guy Logan and he offers to loan her his only copy of the issue and the two start a tenuous relationship. Logan is great and his friend Dan is the typical chubby funny sidekick. It was Maddie I had the most problem with. She lied to her best friends nearly all summer when her relationship with Logan started growing, she sort-of cheated on her boyfriend, and she just didn't grow until the very end. It was a good moment, her "coming out" into the geek world, but I just don't know if it was enough for me to like her.

Summer of Yesterday by Gaby Triana
3 out of 5 stars

This is more of a time travel book than anything, but still has its summer romance moments, so I stuck it with this batch of books. Haley is 17 years old and had hoped to spend her summer with her friends and cute boys, but instead is dragged off to a Disney campground with her dad and stepfamily. I'm kind of surprised they were allowed to use all the Disney info. Haley had a mysterious seizure a few months before so her dad is being extra over-protective and she can't stand it. When she goes off on a scavenger hunt with some new friends her first night there, she discovers another side of the campground: 1982 River Country. Yep, you read that right: she has a seizure while exploring the abandoned water park and it somehow takes her 32 years into the past.

I kind of love time travel books, especially ones that go to the 80s or 90s, because, you know, that's when I grew up. ;) So reading about Walkmans, Jelly shoes, TV Guide, and E.T. brings out the nostalgia factor big time. Haley is understandably freaked out at first but then just decides to take it all in stride. I wait in a rocking chair, watching feathered hairstyle after feathered hairstyle pass me by. I see three rainbow-striped dresses, a dozen boys with socks up to their knees, and lots and lots of headbands on girls. *What* is that all about?

She meets a cute lifeguard named Jason who wears short shorts and runs into her mom and dad as teenagers. She somehow decides it's her mission to make sure they still get together, just like it really happened. Along the way, she falls for Jason, even though there's no possible way for them to be together. And she has some adventures: some scary and some fun. Does she make it back to her present/future? Well, you'll just have to read it and see. Lol...I will say that the ending was my favorite part and made me a little teary-eyed rereading it just now.

What I Thought Was True by Huntley Fitzpatrick
3.5 out of 5 stars

"Other people's stories are their own to tell." And that's how it goes in this book. From the past to the present and back and forth, we find out the true story of the conflict between teenagers Gwen and Cassidy. Gwen is trying to deal with her past as she struggles in her present, taking care of her autistic little brother (who sometimes stole the show), working for a rich old lady all summer, and trying to keep her family together. Cassidy is a "rich kid" making up for his past mistakes in school by being a "yard boy" for the summer. The two teens are forced to deal with their past relationship choices and decide if they want or can even have a future together.

There are a lot of different stories going on here and unfortunately, it sometimes made the book confusing and even drag on a little long. Gwen's cousin Nic and BFF Viv have been together for years and have always assumed they would grow old together, but everything can change in a summer. The difference between the rich and the poor, the locals and the tourists, the good and the bad, is a big part of this story too. Overall, a decent read but not quite on the same level as My Life Next Door.

On the Fence by Kasie West
3.5 out of 5 stars

This book was probably my favorite out of the bunch. It's got the romance for sure, but it also has a family story that will bring you to tears more than once. Charlie is the only girl in a family of 3 older brothers and her dad. Even her best friend and next-door neighbor, Braden, is a guy. So you can probably guess who she falls for right? I don't have to tell you? I knew y'all were smart.

Charlie is a tomboy to the core (playing football with the boys is a normal occurrence) but when she has to pick up a summer job at a frou-frou clothing boutique to pay off speeding tickets, she realizes that maybe being a girl isn't so bad after all. Not that she wants anyone, ever, to find that out. As the summer goes on, it gets harder for her to hide her second life and she starts having late night chats with Braden over their shared fence. (Not on some weird bridge like on the cover.) The two grow closer but also apart somewhat...they can't be that close without their relationship changing and that's terrifying for Charlie. She doesn't understand how anyone could see her as anything but "one of the guys".

"By a show of hands," Braden said loudly, "who here would've asked Charlie out in the last six months had they not been given the 'We will kill you if you look at Charlie' speech by the three lugs over there when she turned sixteen?"

Charlie has a lot of growing up to do and she doesn't know how to do it without her mom, who died when she was little. The relationship she has with her dad is good but it doesn't take the place of a mom and when she finds out a secret from her past, it threatens everything she knows.

Charlie "Why are you doing this to me? Why couldn't you just let me figure it out on my own?"
Braden "Because I don't want to see you hurt."
"Unless you're the one hurting me?"
"I'm not trying to, Charlie."

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Book Haul: Summer-Fall 2015

I haven't gotten a whole lot of new books since my last haul-palooza, but thought I'd share what I picked up over the summer thru fall. And I want to know: what's the last book you got, either from the library or bought? Tell me below! (Click any pics to make bigger!)

First up are two small, but good, library stacks. Unfortunately, I ended up not reading 4 of these before returning them! I just wasn't feeling them for one reason or another. Don't you hate that? (I'll just link back to the ones I did read.)
The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion --think Sheldon Cooper of The Big Bang Theory. I'd really like to pick up the sequel soon.
Never Always Sometimes by Adi Alsaid --review coming next week!
The Shadow Cabinet (Shades of London #3) by Maureen Johnson --I couldn't wait for my sister to get this so I picked it up at the library. The first one is definitely the best.
The Disenchantments by Nina LaCour --my review here, loved it!

Next up, two graphic novel hauls...all single issue comics. I've actually been getting into those more lately, I was strictly a trade paperback or volume girl before. But I really wanted to try these first 3 out, so I gave in. I'm really glad I did, because I loved all of them! Now I have to figure out a new organizing system. Yay! (not sarcasm lol.)
Gotham Academy by Becky Cloonan --I just realized I have a different cover for the first one, weird. I found #2-8 one night at Half Price Books but sadly didn't have any money at the time, so I put them back (in the correct spot). I came back a few weeks later, with money, and they were still there! It was meant to be. :)
Jem & The Holograms by Kelly Thompson --this series is NOT based from the movie (which I heard did horribly boo) but really a reboot of the original. I never watched the show much as a kid but did have a coloring book at my grandma & pop's that I always enjoyed. 
Groot by Jeff Loveness --I LOVE GROOT! So how could I not give this a shot?? And it was my favorite of the bunch. :) Don't let his simplistic vocabulary fool you, this guy can communicate!

And finally, two highly anticipated reads...
Dumplin' by Julie Murphy --I'll be reviewing next week, but check out this Baby-Sitters Club shoutout!
Carry On by Rainbow Rowell --I am right in the middle of this and OMG I LOVE IT SO FREAKING MUCH!! (yes, all CAPS were necessary!)

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: 10 Spooky Reads

Wow, I haven't done a TTT since June? That sucks. I always enjoy reading The Broke & The Bookish topics and this week's is a freebie, so I thought I'd do my top 10 spooky reads. I've actually never done this topic before, that I know of, so this should be fun! I love reading scary books during October, it really gets me in the mood. I'm kind of a weenie though, so these will probably be on the lighter side of scary lol.

1. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman --There was a hand in the darkness, and it held a knife. The perfect amount of spine-tingling and heartfelt love for the boy named Nobody. A great family read. (Coraline too!)

2. Edgar Allen Poe graphic novels --I recommend these over just reading the stories. You get a lot more of the meaning and background of the poems/stories. Plus, creepy pictures like this one.

3. Haunted by Eileen Maksym --if you're a weenie like me, you can still read this book. Just do it in the middle of the afternoon when the sun is shining and there are plenty of (living) people in the house, but make sure they can't sneak up on you! Oh and watch out for jumpy cats who like to stare at the wall behind you until you're sure there's a giant spider hanging over your shoulder. Yeah, don't read this with them in the room. But do read it! :)

4. Christopher Pike or RL Stine --the kings of teenage scare-itude (yes, I just made that word up). My favorites are Master of Murder and the Baby-Sitter series.

5. The Dollhouse Murders by Betty Ren-Wright --omg, I so need to reread this one this week! It was my very favorite ghost/scary story as a young child!

6. A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness --this is way, way more than just a scary story. Actually, you should maybe more scared of crying in public with this one!

7. Dollhouse (Dark Carousel #1) by Anya Allyn --this book legit terrified me. Apparently, the thing I'm most scared of is dollhouses lol.

8. Rachel Rising graphic novels by Terry Moore --people keep dying and coming back to life. Rachel has to figure out how and why. Lots of blood and gruesomeness in this one!

9. Hater series by David Moody --a virus has turned normal people into vindictive, vicious killers. Anyone can become a hater: your neighbor, your dad, you. This book has a zombie feel without actually being zombies. Lots and lots of blood (duh, just look at the cover!)

10.Texas Gothic by Rosemary Clement-Moore --an interesting blend of magic and old Texas history. And within that magic, there is something we don't see very often: witches mixed with science mixed with ghosts.
(not sure where this is from, if you know please comment!)

Monday, October 26, 2015

Another Picture Update...

You know how it goes...summer comes and you just want to be in the sunshine or the pool and all of a sudden it's been 2 months since you last blogged. Grr. But I'm still here, reading and trying to blog. So how about a quickie picture update post today? You may have seen these on my Instagram if you follow me there, but just bear with me. :) (Click pics to make bigger!)

First of all, I attempted vlogging for the first time and it was totally awkward and weird and I don't know if I'll try it again lol. But you can see an outtake here. I found this picture at my mom's house last weekend, I'm around 18 years old and was super mad at my mom for taking my picture while I was reading lol.

I loaned my two younger sisters some books. Isla & The Happily Ever After was a hit, to say the least.

I reread Twilight for the first time and actually enjoyed it. Still haven't decided if I'll continue the series though. What do y'all think?

I also rediscovered Jane Green (Bookends was great!) and Bloom County comic strips on Facebook. I experienced the worst problem a book nerd can have and lived through it ;) and spent my first day of my vacation at the library like a proper book nerd.

And I have lots and lots of reviews and posts ready for you lovely people in the next coming weeks! Starting with a book haul and a summer-palooza multi-book review this week. So don't go anywhere, k?

Monday, August 17, 2015

Review: "The Disenchantments"

The Disenchantments by Nina LaCour
5 out of 5 stars

I loved this book. So so much. First of all, it's a contemporary romance told from the point of view of the guy. How often does that happen? No really, I'd like to you have a favorite male main character book? Tell me about it below! Second of all, it's got an epic roadtrip and that is just about my most favorite thing ever! And finally, it's a music-driven story and those are a close second after roadtrips. Mostly because it gives me a chance to make a playlist and you know I love a good playlist. :) So be sure to check out my 8Tracks mix at the bottom and let me know how I did with the "mood".

Okay, on to the actual story. Colby and Bev are BFF's and about to graduate high school. But instead of heading off to college, they are going on an epic trip across Europe for a year. And to start the trip off, they are going on a month long tour with Bev's punk rock girl band (+2 other girls from school). This band, The Disenchantments, is not great but what they lack in talent, they make up for in determination and spirit. Colby goes along as manager, roadie, and van driver. Surprisingly, their parents are all okay with this. Especially Colby's. His dad and uncle had a band when they were younger so they think he is just following in their footsteps. His mom is off on her own spiritual journey in France and has lovely dreams that she tells Colby all about.

"I was walking along the Seine, like I do every day, and I looked up and all of my favorite French words were drifting across the sky on kites."

Colby and the girls are barely a single day into their roadtrip when Bev drops a bomb (spoiler, highlight to read): she's decided not to go backpacking around Europe and is instead going off to college in the fall. (/spoiler) Colby is shocked and bewildered and doesn't know what to do...with the tour, with Bev, with anything. And the story goes on from there, unwinding the how and why of Bev's secret and what it means for the two friends.

Honestly, I kind of hated Bev for most of the book. I think you were supposed to though. She was selfish and emo and just generally, an 18 year old. Colby has built her up in his mind as the perfect (almost manic pixie dream) girl and when that dream comes crashing down, it's a disaster. Because, of course he's in love with her. How could he not be? The other two girls in the band, sisters Meg & Alexa, are great secondary characters. Part punk, part hippy, they each have their own problems and idiosyncrasies and blended together nicely with Bev & Colby. And there is a virtual bevy of wonderful background characters. My (and most peoples') favorite is Jasper, the young tattoo artist who just wants to dance get out of his tiny town and explore the world. I would LOVE a companion novel about Jasper.

As the tour goes on, we get more and more of Bev & Colby's back story and a sense of who they really are. There is plenty of angst and self-pity, but it's all balanced out with beautiful sections about art and music and growing up and self-discovery.

We felt so small with the city lights stretching forever below us, and we yelled at the top of our lungs because we were just these small humans but we felt more longing than could ever fit inside us.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Review: "Stacey's Ex-Best Friend: The Baby-Sitters Club #51"

Stacey's Ex-Best Friend: The Baby-Sitters Club #51 by Ann M Martin
2 out of 5 stars

This one was kind of boring. Laine visits Stacey and is a total snob about everything. That's pretty much it, but since that doesn't make much of a review, let's dive a little deeper. Here we go.

It's snowing in Stoneybrook and Stacey is reminiscing about how much her life has changed in the last year, when Laine (her NYC BFF) calls. She calls Stacey "Anastasia" because it sounds more sophisticated and is all excited about her winter break coming up. Laine doesn't have any plans yet, except maybe go to a bunch of parties with her 15 year old boyfriend, King. I'm sure his real name is Walter or Herbert or something like that. He has long black hair with purple tips that he wears in a ponytail. Totally distant. (Oh wait, Laine didn't know what "distant" meant. Guess the BSC slang hasn't gotten to the big city yet.) Stacey suggests that Laine come to Stoneybrook and stay with her instead. Because that's what a teenager wants to do on their vacation: spend time at another school.

When Stacey tells the other BSCers about Laine coming, they're all excited and Mary Anne conveniently mentions that she'll be there for the Valentine's Dance. Which is being held on Friday the thirteenth, oh noze!! That's like total bad luck! (This would have been a prime time for another Cokie Mason mystery, but alas, the ghost writers didn't think of that.) All the girls have dates and then Kristy has a Great Idea, suggesting they throw a party for the kids they sit for. They decide to have all the kids make cards to trade, but using riddles instead of their real names. Throughout the book, we find out that nearly all the kids have crushes on each other. The sitters think that's adorable and encourage it. Because these second graders need encouragement to express their love. Yeah.

So Laine comes to stay with Stacey and she has to make her room totally fresh, which means getting rid of the kitten poster, Claudia's rag doll Lennie, her pig collection, and all the lame cassette tapes. And of course her outfit has to be perfect: a purple shirtwaist top over flowered leggings, cowboy boots (cowgirl boots? cowwoman boots?), a purple hair ornament made from shoelaces, and long dangly silver earrings. As soon as Stacey and her mom arrive at the train station and see Laine, she immediately feels dorky. [Laine] was hard to miss, considering she was wearing a jean coat with a fur collar (I sincerely hoped the fur was fake), black capri pants edged with lace, very chic black ankle boots, and on her head, a brilliant red over-sized beret.

Laine is not impressed with little, boring Stoneybrook or Stacey's lame sleepover. And she doesn't really want to go to the Valentine dance with some geeky 8th grader, especially after she meets them at school. Which she didn't want to go to in the first place. But Stacey gives her this heart-warming speech that changes her mind.

"...we used to be part of each other's lives. When I was living in New York and we went to the same school, we were practically sharing one life. Now our lives are so different. We talk a lot, but we hardly see each other. I feel as if I'm losing half of ME, and I'm trying to figure out how to get myself back. I miss you, Laine, I really do." aaawww....

So at school, Laine is horrified to find that they can't leave campus or go to the bathroom in groups and that the boys at SMS are huge geeks. Even though Stacey got the cream of the crop: Logan, Pete Black, Rick Chow, and Austin Bentley. Pete is completely enamored with Laine and tells her "[she has] hair like gossamer." Hah! Pete asks Laine to the dance and she agrees, after talking to King first. Oh, she calls King "Heart" and he calls her "Babe". Gross.

Over in baby-sitting news, the Hobart boys are disappointed when they find out that American kids don't wear suits and carnations to Valentine's parties. Poor kids. At the next BSC meeting, half the girls are mad at their dates and Kristy says boys are trouble. (Well yeah, you would think that.) Laine asks them if they're still going to be baby-sitting in the summer and Stacey is like, yeah duh. Laine suggests she get a "real job" like her, cashiering at a boutique. (What business owner in their right mind would hire a 13 year old?? I'm pretty sure that wasn't even legal back then.) Stacey gets peeved and is starting to wonder why she even invited Laine.

[Stacey talking about buying stuff on home shopping shows.]
Laine: "...[girl at school] always comes to school with J-U-N-Q-U-E."
Stacey: "Maybe she L-I-Q-U-E-S what she buys."
Oh snap! ;) Laine also tells Stacey she should go on a diet. Harsh.

It's finally the night of the dance, which means the book is almost over yay! Laine was dressed in black from head to toe. Black leotard, long black jacket, black leggings over black stockings [WHAT??], black shoes. Her jewelry was silver, though. [I'm sorry, I had to do a better version of this outfit, because I just did NOT understand it!!] Laine is horrified, yet again, when she finds out they are meeting the boys at the dance. And when Pete gives her a corsage. And when she says the pink heart decorations. And when she sees Pete's sneakers with his suit. (He'd be totally in style now.) And so on and so on.

Stacey finally has enough and yanks Laine off the dance floor and they have a big argument. Laine wants to go home (to New York) and Stacey agrees. She is over it. The whole friendship. A week later, she writes Laine a long letter basically about all the things she (Laine) did wrong and why their friendship is over. You know, typical junior high stuff. She even returns her half of her friendship necklace, so you know it's really over. I wonder if we'll see Laine again. I can't remember, but I'm guessing yes.

And that's it, except for the kids' Valentine party, which is a huge success of course. And Stacey dresses like a red elf: red leggings, red ankle boots, a bulky red sweater, and red barrettes. What's the deal with the city girls and their leggings and ankle boots???

Side note: I realized that I use the word "totally" waaaay too much! I had it 8 times in this review before I took some out! Oops.