Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: My 10 Favorite Reads of 2015...So Far!

This week's TTT on The Broke & The Bookish has great timing, since I was planning on doing this topic soon anyway! We're talking favorite books of the year so far and I've had plenty. :) I'm already at 60% of my goal for the year, with 90 books, so I'll probably end up raising that again lol. And luckily, I've only had one dud...the infamous Sweet Valley High book. So let's take a closer look at my favorites and then I want to hear about yours!

1. I'll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson --I can't believe this is still my #1 for the year, being the very first read too! It was just so lovely.

2. Rose Under Fire (sequel to Code Name Verity) by Elizabeth Wein --I think I enjoyed this sequel even more than the first.

3. Mosquitoland by David Arnold --there's something about this quirky little book that I really loved. Mim & Walt were such amazing, damaged characters.

4. Roommates Wanted by Lisa Jewell --this book starts out very slow but keep going, it is well worth it! Toby Dobbs is lonely in his big, old house so he gets some roommates. Fifteen years later, he's ready to be alone again but the roommates aren't budging. Way more serious than it sounds. ;)

5. The Geography of You & Me by Jennifer E Smith --my favorite of her books now. This is a great romance but also a journey of adventures and finding yourself.

6. For Real by Alison Cherry --Amazing Race style adventures + sisters bonding + some romance = an awesome book! I'll be reviewing it in detail soon.

7. Open Road Summer by Emery Lord --a country music roadtrip? Yes, please!

8. The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson --I just finished this last weekend. My sister had insisted I borrow it because she loved it and I did too! Not just the mystery with Jack the Ripper-esque murders, but also the daily life of a London boarding school. It was all great!

9. Texas Gothic by Rosemary Clement-Moore --another suggestion by my sister! :) The blend of magic and old Texas history really made this an interesting read.

10.Sense & Sensibility & Sea Monsters by Ben H Winters --I know you're probably thinking "seriously??" on this one but it was actually really good! The original classic was fine but a little slow. With this remake, you get the prim & proper but also the scandalous and serpentine!

Monday, June 29, 2015

Review: "A Wrinkle in Time"

 A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
3 out of 5 stars

I never read this book as a kid. Just skipped right past it. And I can't decide if that's a good thing or a bad thing. Reading it as an adult left me confused and a little bit jaded. But I honestly can't see how a child could read this with any kind of comprehension of the plot. Since this is considered a classic, spoilers will be free-for-all, so beware if you want to give it a shot yourself.

The story starts out well enough with 15 year old Meg lamenting her high school career, or rather the lack of it. She's considered "weird" because her parents are highly intelligent scientists and her youngest brother (5 year old Charles Wallace) doesn't speak much in public. Meg is smarter than she seems or acts, as is Charles Wallace, but it's not helping them much. On "a dark and stormy night", the Murry family is visited by a strange creature named Mrs Whatsit, who mentions to their mother that the tesseract is a real thing. In case you're not up on your scientific studies, a tesseract is essentially, a wrinkle in time. Don't ask me to explain it further, there's math involved and I'm just not up for that. (This comic by Faith Erin Hicks probably explains it better than me!)

This is about when we get into the strange and unusual. Mrs Whatsit, along with her 2 friends (sisters?) Mrs Who and Mrs Which, take Meg, Charles Wallace, and a school friend of Meg's named Calvin on an amazing adventure thru time and space to save the Murry's father. He has been missing for quite some time and it is up to the children to find and rescue him from Evil, even though they have no idea what they are doing most of the time. There are fantastical creatures, 2 dimensional planets, Mediums with crystal balls, Dark Evil Things, and a planet where every person and thing is perfectly in sync with the next. It is on this planet that the children's father is being imprisoned by IT...a disembodied brain controlling everything around it. Pretty creepy.

Side note: does anyone remember the Galactic Milieu series by Julian May? I loved those books but got grounded (because of bad grades) from reading the last one in 9th grade and now I can't remember if I ever read it. I should pick those up sometime and reread them.
Another side note: was I the only one who got grounded from reading books? Lol...

Okay, moving on. The children free their father but in the process, lose Charles Wallace to IT. He is turned into a pod person and they escape to another planet before IT gets Meg as well. Meg is severely injured when they tesser (you know, move thru time) but is taken care of by the strange creatures on the planet, whom she calls Aunt Beast. I think this was probably my favorite chapter. The gentleness and quiet laughter from Aunt Beast was so refreshing for Meg and me.

"How strange it is that they can't tell us what they themselves seem to know."
"They are very young. And on their earth, as they call it, they never communicate with other planets. They revolve all alone in space."
"Oh, aren't they lonely?"

In the end, it is Meg who goes back to save Charles Wallace and she does so with love. Yep, love is the only thing IT doesn't have. Convenient, right? But that's okay, I still kind of teared up. The 3 children and their father tesser back home, where they are reunited with the rest of the Murry's in the vegetable garden.

"How did all this happen? Isn't it wonderful? I feel as though I were just being born! I'm not alone any more! Do you realize what that means to me?"

Friday, June 26, 2015

Review: "All Night Long: Sweet Valley High #5"

All Night Long: Sweet Valley High #5 by Francine Pascal
1 out of 5 stars

Before Reading: OMG, Jessica is dating Pornstache from Orange is the New Black!!! Look, proof!!! Also, why is she wearing her jean jacket on one shoulder?

The Main Plot in 50 Words or Less: Jessica dates an older guy and stays out all night. Liz covers for her. That's pretty much it.

The Second Plot in 20 Words or Less: Liz and Todd fight over Liz protecting Jess. The twins take a tourist guide license test. (Whatever that is.)

Opening Lines: "What do you think? Do I look sophisticated enough for Scott?" Jessica Wakefield stood poised before the full-length mirror in her twin sister's bedroom, chin thrown back, her lovely features arranged in a languid pout.

Closing Lines: Tomorrow, she promised herself, stifling the tiny stitch of fear in the pit of her stomach. I'll tell him tomorrow...

Best WTF Lines: There had been a dumb, leering smile on his face when he'd made the old joke about them being "double the fun". Elizabeth had nearly gagged. [me too]

It was a kind of grown-up pajama party, with everyone wearing nightshirts and nightgowns, and the floor strewn with mattresses for them to sit on instead of chairs.

...there was a manlike hardness to his bronzed build she found dangerous and exciting. ...she sensed it wouldn't be so easy fending him off if they were alone.

"...Scott sure likes 'em young...gotta watch out for them when they're that age. All tease and no tickle...jailbait, if you ask me..."

Happenings in SV: Jessica wants to go to a beach party with this college-aged guy, Scott, and Elizabeth doesn't think she should. Jessica goes anyway and gets in over her head. Everyone is drinking beer and smoking joints. (Jess does not partake.) Scott takes Jessica into the woods or something and tries to go further than she wants. She fends him off, Scott calls her a baby and leaves her there, after saying the party is an all-nighter and she's not getting home.

Elizabeth is furious when she doesn't come home the next morning, but covers for her. Todd thinks she's being used again and they argue over it, big time. Cara sees Liz (as Jess) talking to Todd and spreads tons of gossip about it. Of course, they get back together in the end. Blegh. There's a big surfing contest between Bill Chase and a new guy, Sonny Callahan. Todd sold Bill his surfboard to get the money for a Yamaha motorcycle. Liz is apprehensive about it. Bill wins the contest.

Fashion Icons: "This halter top would look really sexy with my red shorts," Jessica said, holding up a scrap of lacy white cloth as she smiled sweetly at her twin.

In her chamois bikini and cornrowed blond hair, the girl was a dead ringer for Bo Derek.
In her [Jessica] new red string bikini she was a match even for "Miss 10", if she did say so herself.

She [Elizabeth] slid into a pair of old jeans worn to velvety softness and yanked a long-sleeved T-shirt over her head. Quickly she combed her wet hair and secured it with a tortoiseshell clip on either side. She was jamming her feet into a pair of moccasins when the phone rang. 
Choosing a short, bias-cut skirt and matching striped top that was one of Jessica's favorite outfits, she (Elizabeth) hastily made the change, pulling the clips out of her hair and giving her head a shake. A dash of her twin's favorite cologne and some of her lipstick and she was read to go downstairs and greet the world as Jessica Wakefield.

She'd (Alice Wakefield) gotten up at dawn to go jogging, as she did every morning, and still was wearing her burgundy velour warm-ups and her running shoes. Her honey-blond hair was caught up in a ponytail, adding a youthfulness to her tanned, slender appearance that made her seem closer to her daughters' age than her own.

Dana was in one of her usual outrageous getups: an oversize t-shirt over a red-striped miniskirt; purple tights; and black suede ankle boots. An enormous gold loop dangled from one pierce earlobe; the other sported a tiny silver star.

Lila, in her metallic-blue one-piece, her wavy light-brown hair done up in French braids, was practically draped over his board as she feigned a keen interest in surfing.

Twin Hijinks: When Jessica doesn't come home, Elizabeth pretends to be her twin with her mom and at school. It works of course. She takes her tourist guide test for her too but bombs it horribly.

Other Thoughts: This book was so horribly disgusting, like the last one, but I had to give this a one star. Seriously, Scott is so gross. But I was so surprised the authors didn't take it all the way. It's weird that they really don't mention S-E-X in any of these early books. Oh yeah, they make out and Scott slips his hands down Jess' bikini bottoms, but that's it. **Trigger warning: Are you seriously telling me that this skeezy, college-aged, pornstache guy would stop when this little high-school girl tells him to?? There's no way. And the reason I gave it one star, besides the skeeze, was because the Scott storyline was basically 2 chapters and then he was gone. Like, he's on the cover!

The Next Book*: Will Todd's motorcycle drive them apart? Find out in Sweet Valley High #6, DANGEROUS LOVE.

*(not necessarily what I'll be reading)

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Review: "This One Summer"

This One Summer by Jillian & Mariko Tamaki
3 out of 5 stars

I had been looking forward to this book since I first heard about it last year. I finally purchased it this winter but wanted to wait until it actually felt like summer to read it. With the record breaking rain we had for most of April and May here in Texas, I thought that would never happen. Luckily, the rains have finally stopped (minus the weird pop-up sunshine storms and TD Bill) and it finally feels like summer here, so I can start reading all the "summer" books I've been gathering up.

This graphic novel really is a "novel" at 300+ pages but I still felt like I didn't get enough story at times. It's a very quiet story, not much action, and that may be disappointing to some people. But it is a great story about growing up and the many different relationships we have. And also that feeling that summer brings, of adventure and relaxation all at the same time.

Rose and her parents spend part of each summer at a beach cottage and this year is no different...until it is. I would *love* to spend a few weeks or a month or a whole summer at my own beach house. Soaking up the sun, splashing in the ocean, playing silly games and reading books all day and night, wrapping up in a blanket on the porch when a chilly thunderstorm rolls thru, no rules or regulations or work. Yeah.

Rose's parents have been having a rough time for awhile and while she had hoped the trip would help them, it doesn't. So she's excited to see her friend, Windy, and have some fun. I love Windy, she was definitely my favorite character in the whole book. Old enough to have an idea of how things work but still young enough to not get pulled down by "grownup" problems. She has a major sugar addiction and loves to dance to hiphop music. And she helps Rose stay young for a little while longer, when she needs it most.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: My Top 10 of Top Tens

This week is The Broke & The Bookish's 5 year blogiversary and they're celebrating by giving their favorite Top Ten Tuesday topics over the years. Congrats to them and thank you to Jamie & friends for starting up such a fun meme! :) I had a lot of fun looking thru my past posts and trying to pick out my favorites, it was actually kind of hard. So here we go, in no particular order! (Actually, they're sort of in date order lol.)

1. 10 Characters I'd Switch Places With -these all still stand true, although I think I'd swap Mary Anne for Mallory Pike, because it turns out I'm more in tune with her.

2. 10 Posts That Reflect Me -yep, this is still a good mixture of me: reviews and memes, young adult and classics, silly and serious.

3. 10 Literary Figures Who Should be President -because DUMBLEDORE. Also, I used a Mary Poppins song. :)

4. 10 Books/Authors I'm Thankful For -I get pretty sappy in this one, but it's all true. Harry Potter, John Steinbeck, Terry Moore, Baby-Sitters Club...it's all there, in me.

5. 10 Best Bookish Memories -this was seriously fun to think back about. I can also add now: getting my nonreader sister to read Harry Potter with me 2 summers ago, sharing all the young adult books with my middle sister & going to NTTBF with her, hearing my younger sister getting into reading more & asking about romance books this past weekend. :)
(middle sister, Stephanie Perkins!! & me at NTTBF)

6. 10 Books I Always Recommend -um...same list as #4 lol. But it's so true!!

7. 10 Book Boyfriends -because boys. :) I'd have to add the guys from the Ghost Bird/Academy series to that now because woo are they some hot guys!!
(you can buy this pin at TheCarbonCrusader!)

8. 10 Book Confessions -things get real here y'all. Stealing, witchcraft, dog-earing lol.

9. 10 More Books I'd Turn Into Movies/TV -I still want this list! And my "book to movie" posts always seem pretty popular.

10.10 Books I Have/Want to Reread From My Childhood -because I always love talking about childhood favorites.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Author Meeting: Rainbow Rowell

When I found out Rainbow Rowell, my number one favorite author for 2014, was going to be coming to a Barnes & Noble near me in early May, I knew that I absolutely had to go. And I also knew that I had to buy the special edition of Fangirl that they were going to have, even though I already had a copy. I have never really wanted to buy more than one edition/copy of a book until Rainbow Rowell's books. There is just something so special about her books and they keep coming out with these delicious, sherberty colors that I just want to gobble up. (Sorry, I'm kind of hungry.) Luckily, I'd gotten a B&N gift card for my birthday the week before, so I was all set!
My sister so kindly agreed to go with me (I really need to get some local book friends lol) and we got to the store about an hour and a half early. Unfortunately, that was not early enough to get one of the seat tickets, so I had to stand. It wasn't too bad though, I read some of my book while waiting and listened to the excited chatter around me. When Rainbow got there, everyone was cheering and so happy, it was great. And seriously? Rainbow is adorable. She's got this awesome curly hair and she wears great quirky clothes that would make Claudia Kishi proud and she is so nice and funny!
A video posted by Jenn (@seejennread) on
She talked for a bit about the new edition of Fangirl, read an excerpt from her short story for My True Love Gave to Me (which was so awesome), and then took questions from the audience. She wouldn't give us those last three words to Eleanor & Park, but she didn't completely rule out a sequel either! (Everyone squee'd at that!) Then she started signing books and we all had to line up like cattle, weaving thru the fiction section. It was a long line but went fast and luckily we had plenty of books to look at lol. And my sister didn't complain once about missing Castle. ;)

Author signings are another relatively new thing for me. Most signatures aren't a huge deal to me, I just don't care too much about it. So the ones I have gotten are very special: Neil Gaiman & Ann M Martin, Terry Moore, and now Rainbow Rowell. When I finally got up to the front, I thanked her for her wonderful books and mentioned how she was the first author I'd even considered buying multiple editions of (except for the Baby-Sitters Club hah!) and took a picture with her. (The B&N rep was taking pics and I think that worked really well. They were pretty well-organized which was nice.) Overall, it was a great evening! Oh and I got this wonderful new edition of Fangirl with new artwork and a ribbon bookmark. Isn't it pretty?

Friday, June 19, 2015

Special: Baby-Sitters Club All Grown Up: Jessi!

Boy, I thought Mallory was hard! She was a piece of cake (mmm...cake) compared to Jessi. Good news though, I was feeling super inspired after I wrote this one and wrote out the next two too. :)

Jessi's dance career continued to grow as she got older. Being the only black student at stuffy Mdme Noelle's dance school really paid off. She stood out and constantly got lead roles that she wasn't ready for, earning the admiration and death threats of her fellow students. After getting early acceptance into the American Ballet Theatre, she moved to New York City midway through high school and never looked back.
(click pic to make bigger)
(go here for links & details-ballet dancer pictured is Misty Copeland)

Jessi was excited to finally have some diversity in her life again and not have to start every conversation with "oh, and I'm black." Her sort-of boyfriend, Quint, attended the school too and they soon started dating again. She had a big group of friends and was happy. Her parents were a little concerned about what she would be doing after she couldn't dance anymore, but dancing was her life and she didn't want to hear anything else about it.

Her career continued to flourish and she became a principal dancer with the company. After living with Mallory for a year, she realized that non-dance people just didn't "get it" and was glad when Mal moved back home. Jessi immersed herself in the dance world and soon became quite a public figure. The BSCers were so proud of their little junior officer and went to her shows whenever possible. Becca was especially proud of her big sister and became the president of the We <3 Jessi fan club. Squirt (who's nickname unfortunately stuck with him) had classic "youngest sibling" jealousy but didn't let it get to him too much.

When Jessi's career began to slow down, she finally started thinking about her life and realized that she had to have music in it, no matter what. So she took some courses at the local junior college and discovered that those sign language lessons she got from the Braddock kids had stuck with her and sparked an interest in helping challenged kids. With the help of Aunt Cecelia's inheritance money and Mdme Noelle's connections, she started a dance and music class for deaf & blind kids in Stamford. Quint is a fellow teacher and the two are still romantically involved, although not quite ready to make it permanent. They go home regularly to Oakland to visit their families.

And that's it for our 2nd Junior Officer and the last "official" member of the Baby-Sitters Club. Be sure to check out the "All Grown Up" tag if you've missed any of the previous! And as always, let me know what you think...am I right on the money or did I get it totally wrong?

Thursday, June 18, 2015

TILT: Library Cats in Book Posters

Cats and books just sort of go together, don't you think? I mean, yes, sometimes a dog will cuddle up with you, but cats are like velcro to laps lol. Well, mine is anyway. So I thought I'd dedicate this week's Things I Love Thursday to kitty librarians, because I really want that to be a thing! :)

(if you don't want your art pictured here, please let me know!)
Also, I had a hard time with some of the artists, so please correct me if needed!

Kitty Library by Ms Cat -I don't know if I approve of cats sitting on the bookshelves, but how adorable is this print?

Kitty Librarian by Liselotte Eriksson -I feel like this would be Giles' (from Buffy) cat helper. Or Professor McGonagall's brother lol.

Kitty Reading on Pawel Pawlak -don't you love finding a quiet corner of the library to peruse your selections?

A Library of Cats on LecturImatges -the cat walking away with the stack of books is totally me!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Book Haul-palooza!!

This is what happens when you don't do a book haul post for 6 months...a huge massive post that makes you look like a book hoarder. :) I'm not going to link back every single book, but if you have a question on any, feel free to ask! This is a combination of library books checked out, library book sales, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Half Price Books, cash, credit cards, gift cards, eBooks, graphic novels, classics, young adult, adult, fiction, romance, paperback, hardbound, and everything else in between. (click on any of the pics to make bigger)


Let's start with the big stack! I finished/caught up a couple of series: Cinder, Gone, Lords of the Underworld, Black Dagger Brotherhood, Chew. That's always so satisfying, isn't it? The majority of this stack was young adult contemporary. I got quite a few from my Summer Romance Formula list I'd made awhile back and have already read a couple of them. And then there's the "random" stack: a few impulse buys, a few on my to-buy list (I can't wait to read First Frost, the sequel to Garden Spells! Sarah Addison Allen is one of my favorite authors.) I already read Rose Under Fire (companion to Code Name Verity) and LOVED it. More than the first even.

Next up was a stack from the library and I read and loved each and every one of these, which was so surprising! Mosquitoland lived up to the hype, What I Thought Was True & Open Road Summer were on the verge of being favorites, and I found a new favorite romance author in Lisa Kleypas.


And this is from last weekend's Friends of the Library sale...and what happens when you try to take your picture where your cat likes to sleep lol. I didn't find a whole lot there at first, which was disappointing, but I got a big stack of classics and a few impulse buys all for $8.00 (with the pins below) so I was extremely happy!

My birthday fell on "Free Comic Book Day" this year, so I had to go get some, right?? Unfortunately, I went to Half Price Books, who's selection was severely lacking. But I picked up the updated Baby-Sitters Club graphic novel with a gc, so it was all good. Isn't it cute? Can't wait to read it.

And last but not least, I've gotten around 18 eBooks since January! Most were free, it's really hard for me to pay for an eBook (especially more than $5). I'm reading the 4th book in the King series by Tawdra Kandle (I almost put Kindle lol) right now and enjoying it. Cinema Lumiere by Hattie Holden Edmonds was one that I was very pleasantly surprised by. It really grabbed me.

So there you have it...the ridiculous amount of books I've gotten that should, technically, last me til the end of the year lol. Now it's your turn: what have you bought/gotten recently? Link me to your haul, I want to see it! What should I read next out of all these books? What book can you not believe I DIDN'T get??

Monday, June 15, 2015

My Spring in Picture Form

Where have I been the last 2 months? Well, I've been here but sort of lurking in the backgrounds not feeling the blogging spark. But I'm happy to say that I think it's being reignited! I wrote a LOT of posts over the weekend and am actually feeling excited about some new ideas, so hopefully the slump is over for now.

I thought it'd be fun to do a quick catch-up post, in picture form, for you all just to see what I've been up to. Because, duh, I've still been reading! :) And I want to hear what you've been up to too, so catch me up below. All these pics are from my Instagram, so feel free to follow me over there if you want. (And click any of the pics to make bigger.)

I bought a LOT of books this spring (happens every year) so I'll be doing a massive haul post this week, but here's a shot of one stack...as you can see, I could barely hold them all lol.

I read 40ish books in April & May (!!)...some great (the Locke & Key finale), some good (The Wicked + The Divine), and some meh (I dnf'd my reread of Wicked, just couldn't get into it). I reread Cannery Row and loved it just as much as the first time. Also, got the cutest, nerdiest sneakers for my birthday!

 I wrote some happy mail, joined a Baby-Sitters Club Facebook group, and cleaned off my bookshelves (again). I also got to meet the amazing Rainbow Rowell, but that's going to be a whole separate post!


And at the end of May, I went to Dallas Comic-Con with my sister and did a cosplay/bounding outfit of Batman. :) Had lots of fun, got to see Nathan Fillion and Ming-Na Wen speak, and see lots of cool costumes.

And there you have it! My catch-up post is all caught up lol.