Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: 10 Things Books Have Made Me Want To Do

I thought this week's TTT post on The Broke & The Bookish would be hard at first, but then I started thinking and it all just came to me. (Don't you love when that happens?) Books are made to make you think and wonder and want, so here are a few that have made me want to DO MORE. Most of these link back to my reviews, so be sure to check those out for a more in-depth analysis of each book and WHY I want to do more.

1. Amy & Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson --this book is begging you to go on an epic roadtrip! All of Matson's books make me want to have an amazing summer too.

"Tomorrow will be better."
"But what if it's not?" I asked.
Then you say it again tomorrow. Because it might be. You never know, right? At some point, tomorrow will be better." 

2. The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson --yes, I had to add 2 of her books. They're just so darn good! This one made me want to do an awesome scavenger hunt with my sisters. So much, that I actually already created a list (for our mall) and plan on doing it soon. :)

3. The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson --it made me want to create things. Anything...crafts, words, music, passion. I want to be that passionate about things, people, feelings.

"Or maybe she thinks other forms of nourishment are more important."

4. I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson --yep, I had to include both of her books as well. I don't know what it is about her writing, but she ignites that spark of creativity like no other author I've ever read.
(Kandinsky: "Composition 8")

5. Just One Day by Gayle Forman --go on a big trip by myself and become someone else, even if it's just for one day. 

I may have pretended to be someone named Lulu, but I had never been more honest in my life. Maybe that's the thing with liberation. It comes at a price.

6. The Disenchantments by Nina LaCour --start an 80s rock girl band and go on an epic roadtrip tour up and down the coast.

7. Cannery Row by John Steinbeck --ugh this book, it gets my heart and it wrings it all up and lays it out in the sunshine to bask in the glow and warmth of its words. I want to live that simple life like Mack & the boys, be inspiring and respected like Doc, run an enterprising and successful whorehouse like Fauna okay not that last one lol. And OMG why didn't I know there was a movie??!

8. Kristy's Great Idea: The Baby-Sitters Club #1 by Ann M Martin --start a baby-sitters club, duh!

9. For Real by Alison Cherry --go on an Amazing Race-esque adventure with my sister.

10.Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto --become a Crafter (capital C) again.

"The sensation that my brain cells were multiplying was exhilarating."

11.The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern --tell stories, create beautiful artwork and sculptures. Actually, I started handsewing (I do not sew at all, so this was a miracle in itself) a Blythe dress/costume based on this book. I should really finish that and take some pictures soon!

Friday, July 22, 2016

Double Review: "Belzhar" and "The Bell Jar"

Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer
originally 4 stars, now 2.5-3

I first heard about and met Meg Wolitzer at a Half Price Books author event and after hearing her talk about this book, I had to go pick it up. It was such an interesting concept and I'm a sucker for boarding school stories, so I was pretty excited about it. You could almost call this a retelling of Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar, which is why I decided to read the classic after this and am reviewing them together now.

The basic story is about a girl, Jam, who goes through a horrible, life-changing event and is sent to a boarding school for troubled youth. First of all, yes, her name is Jam. I kind of liked it but I know it irritated some people (my middle sister for one, who I gave this to after I finished it). Jam's boyfriend, the fiendishly handsome and British Reeve, dies suddenly and Jam can't cope with it. It's been a year and her parents have done everything they can think of so the school is their last hope. Of course, Jam is resistant to any help at first until she is enrolled in a special writing class with a few other hand-chosen people. All of these students have suffered extra horrible losses and problems in their lives and their teacher feels they need extra help.

Their teacher requires them to read Plath's book, along with her other work, and keep a personal journal for the semester. She provides these journals and the group soon realizes there is something extra special about them. As they progress, the group gets closer and begins to talk about their individual traumas and heal. All except Jam. She bonds with the group, yes, but still refuses to talk about the day Reeve died. We get plenty of flashbacks showing their relationship but that's it. I felt for her, I really did, the pain she was feeling was real and intense. But. However. And then. A thing happens and the story changes and I felt betrayed as a reader. (I'm trying to be as general as possible here to avoid spoilers for those who still want to read it.)

Have you ever had that feeling of betrayal while reading a book? I felt it a bit in Harry Potter when we find out Snape's true story but I was happy for that reveal. I was not happy about this one. And it completely changed how I viewed this book. My sister felt the same way. So take that with a grain of salt if you still plan on reading this one.

“We're talking about the novel, right? But maybe we're not. 
We're talking about ourselves. And I guess that's what can start to 
happen when you talk about a book.”

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
3.5 stars

This is a classic that I'm finding hard to review. Actually, I'm finding it hard to call it a classic, but it is, don't you think? Does it belong with To Kill a Mockingbird and The Grapes of Wrath? Would it be considered a modern classic, even though it's set in the 1950s and seems incredibly outdated reading it now? Semantics aside, I am glad I read it and think it's a story that many people can relate to and will benefit from reading.

Considered an autobiography of sorts for Plath, this book tells the story of Esther Greenwood and the summer she has a mental breakdown. I felt very still and very empty, the way the eye of a tornado must feel, moving dully along in the middle of the surrounding hullabaloo. Esther is in New York, working for a fashion magazine on a scholarship/contest she won. She tries her hardest to fit in with all the other fashionable girls, but deep down she knows she's a fraud from a small midwestern town. This eats at her soul until she starts to crack.

We see Esther falling apart, eventually attempting suicide, and being sent to a mental hospital, where she undergoes electroshock therapy. Her story is told honestly and with little embellishment, because it's not needed. It's horrifying enough on its own, with just the facts. Yes, this is a hard story to read but it's worth it.

eta: I originally had this review scheduled for Wednesday, but I didn't get it written in time. I wish I had because it was the perfect day with the news of the movie coming out!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

TILT: Book Wear

I really want like ALL the bookish tshirts but I limited myself to two on today's Things I Love Thursday. I don't have any right now, I am seriously lacking! My sister keeps trying to convince me to buy a Silhouette Cameo machine so I can make my own shirts, but it's $260.00...she's crazy!

(if you do not want your item shown, please contact me)

Out of Print Library Card Socks on Bridge & Burn --so cute! I have a weakness for fun socks too.

I Just Want to Read My Books & Ignore All My Adult Problems on Teespring --don't we all? don't we all.

Books Make Me Happy. You, Not So Much on DiverseThreads --I could wear this to work, right? Sure.

The Little Prince Book Ring on Mandragola --I love it when the jewelry actually opens up and has tiny writing in it. Makes me happy. :)

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

TTT: 10 Books Set Outside the US

I'm not sure how hard this week's Top Ten Tuesday topic on The Broke & The Bookish will be, but we'll see how far we get! I have a feeling most of these will be set in England, what do you think?

1. Anna & The French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins--set in France. this one was easy, it was the first I thought of and I'm sure it will be on everyone's list. I still need to buy a hardbound copy of this (I gave mine to my sister lol).

2. For Real by Alison Cherry--set around the world, lots of different countries. If you love The Amazing Race, this is absolutely the book for you!

3. Anne of Green Gables by LM Montgomery--set in Prince Edward Island, Canada. I don't know if it really matters that this series is set in Canada, but I'm going to count it anyway lol. I love this book so much! I really need to finish the series soon.

4. The Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett--set in England. I forgot how much I loved this book until I reread my review! I need to try to find the movie again.

5. Harry Potter--you know where it's set and I don't have to tell you why I chose it. ;)

6. Saga series by Brian K Vaughan--set in outer-space & lots of different worlds. It's not called an "intergalactic love story" for nothing.

7. Me Before You by Jojo Moyes--set in England (I think?). I loved this book and the movie so much. I think the setting really helped in this case too. Especially the castle and Lou's breakdown (one of the scenes that I wish they had put in the movie).

8. The Lunar Chronicles series by Marissa Meyer--set in New Beijing, France, Africa, the moon, and a bunch more. Obviously, the places are super important for these books. Especially the moon.
(pic from when I got to see Marissa Meyer talk at my local library) 

9. Shades of London series by Maureen Johnson--set in London, duh. ;) The first book is my favorite, a retelling of the Jack the Ripper murders. Bonus: the girl is in American going to a boarding school in London, love!

10.Just One Day by Gayle Forman--set all around Europe (and a bit of US). I just put the first one in the series, because I loved it so much more than the second. (Willem's story) But, put together as a whole, with the short story, they are wonderful. This is a book all about growing up and finding out who you are and adventure and love.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Review: "Jem & The Holograms vol 1: Showtime" and "vol 2: Viral"

Jem & The Holograms vol 1: Showtime and vol 2: Viral 
by Kelly Thompson
4 out of 5 stars

I'm an 80/90s girl and proud of it. I played with Barbies until I was...way too old lol. Punky Brewster and Cyndi Lauper were my fashion icons. My pink boombox with double tape deck and my Nintendo were my most prized possessions. And yet, I never really watched Jem & The Holograms. I did love the Jem coloring book that my grandparents kept in the "grandkids" room; it was my favorite book to color in with my 64 count Crayola box with sharpener. (Am I the only weirdo who color-coded their crayons? Probably. That's fine though. I could always find Tickle Me Pink and Cerulean when I needed them. :))

When I heard that it was getting a reboot last year in comic book form, I decided to give it a shot. I picked up the first single issue and loved it. When the first volume came out in October, I immediately bought it, along with the single Christmas issue, which was later published in volume two. And I have to say, I was really pleasantly surprised. I think the creators have done a great job of keeping the feel and heart of the original while updating it for this generation. I must note also, I did try to go back and watch the cartoon on Netflix and it was soooo bad and cheesy I just couldn't do it lol. I got through 2-3 episodes and gave up. I still would like to try the new movie too, even though I heard it was awful. :/

If you're not an 80s girl and don't know the original story, here's a brief synopsis: Jerrica Benton and her sister, Kimber, want to start a band with their 2 friends Shana & Aja. There's just one problem: Jerrica, the lead singer, is terrified of performing in front of people. When Jerrica's dad (a music producer) dies suddenly (no mention of a mom), he leaves her with a big secret that can help skyrocket their music career. Thus, Jem & The Holograms are born. The books follow their musical journey and personal lives. Of course, there's a rival band, The Misfits, led by the volatile Pizazz, she of the green spiky hair and bad attitude.

Okay so now you know what it's about, let's talk about some of the characters. There will probably be minor spoilers after this so if you want to read it fresh, stop here!

Jerrica/Jem is actually one of my least favorite characters. She's kind of a Mary Sue, a bit boring and one-dimensional. Kimber, on the other hand, is my definite favorite. She's sassy and fun and optimistic. And she has pink hair and loves My Little Pony. :) Also, she has a thing for Misfit's keytar player, Stormer. It's really nice to see a same-sex relationship be so normal and accepted, just like the other relationships in the books. Namely Rio and Jerrica. I'm not sure if I like Rio or not, even after the 2nd volume. He seems skeezy. Anyway, not only do we have an LGBT relationship, but there's also plenty of race and body diversity throughout. Shana and Stormer are fluffy girls with major style. (I so want Stormer's orange dress!)

As far as the overall story and artwork, volume one is definitely stronger than volume two. Volume two felt like a lot of filler stories and the different art style for each issue was confusing. I absolutely loooooved the Muppet Babies arc though. Such a great throwback! The Christmas issue was also lots of fun. Poor Shana had to go out with a hipster lumberjack lol. Overall, I loved them both though and can't wait to get volume three.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Review: "Princess Jellyfish vol 1"

Princess Jellyfish vol 1 by Akiko Higashimura
4 out of 5 stars

I'm fairly new to manga and I don't know that I will ever read that much of it, but I am so so glad I gave this one a chance. I can't remember where I first heard about it, but when I did, I knew it would be perfect for my youngest sister's birthday this past May. She is a sparkly princess who loves all things Japanese and she's one of the nonreaders, so I always try to get her something she will really like and want to read more of. When I received this book in the mail, I decided to read it first. It just looked so fun and happy. Well, I ended up loving it so much, I bought my own copy and just this week pre-ordered volume 2. :)

The story starts off with Tsukimi, who is 18 years old and lives in Tokyo in an all-female apartment building. Each of the women considers herself an otaku/fujoshi or "an obsessive fan who hoards information and merchandise of their favorite things". So I'd be a book otaku. :) They also live as amars, which is basically a nun-like life and a "life with no use for men".

Tsukimi is obsessed with jellyfish, thanks to her mother, who died when she was little. She tries to go to a special jellyfish photography exhibit in the opening chapter but is overwhelmed by all the princesses or "stylish" people. These people can cause an amar to go catatonic, especially if they are of the male persuasion.

Tsukimi battles against her anxiety to save a jellyfish she has named Clara (I would totally buy Clara merchandise) and is unexpectedly helped by the most stylish of princesses. But this princess has a big secret, one that could ruin Tsukimi's life if it got out to her fellow housemates. Despite that, Tsukimi and Kuranosuke become unlikely friends. Many hijinks follow. There is a secondary story about developers wanting to buy Tsukimi's apartment building, which is owned by Chieko's (the nesting doll) mother. And there is a bit of a love triangle situation but I'm guessing it will be explored more in the next volume.

Overall, this is a really lovely, lighthearted story about friendship and growing into something/one new. It has the potential to be something deeper though and I'm excited to read the next volume. The artwork is wonderful, there is so much detail that you really have to read each page first and then go back again to look at what's going on in the background. There are also some great little side stories about Clara, the jellyfish mascot, and a bit of autobiographical panels about the author's life which are really great. I know this is a sort of short review, but I don't want to give too many of the surprises away. You'll just have to take my word for it. :)

Thursday, July 14, 2016

TILT: Book Posters #14

Time for more bookish artwork on Things I Love Thursday, so let's just get started shall we?

(if you do not want your art featured, please contact me!)

It's better to have your nose in a book, than in someone else's business...found on Indulgy and so so true! It is a lot easier to stay out of trouble when you are involved in a wonderful book and have no idea what is going on in the real world lol.

Why can't people just sit and read books and be nice to each other? quote by David Balducci, print by EvieSeo. Yes! Maybe we just need to read a nice picture book to some of these politicians and that will make them calm down. ;)

Mathilde-Bookworms United by C A-F--I love the simple colors and shapes used in this.

Pro eReader by Paper Pie--you don't see many (any?) eReader bookish art prints. This one is lovely. You can almost feel the breeze coming through that open window.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Let's Talk Books: Manga Edition!

(do you like my new meme?)

I'm fairly new to manga and I don't know that I will ever read that much of it, but I do find it interesting and I've recently become obsessed with Princess Jellyfish (review will be up this week), so I thought it'd be fun to talk about it a little here. My two younger sisters (15 & 16) are big manga and anime fans. I am in no way an expert, so I'm going to pick their brains a bit on why they like it so much and maybe get some recommendations for newbies like me and possibly you. And share your thoughts, comments, recs below!

First, let's start with some basics. Manga, pronounced "mahn-guh" if you want to be like the cool kids, is the book version. Anime, apparently pronounced "ah-nee-may" huh, is the tv/digital version. Don't be like me and call it the wrong thing and then say "whatever" when someone corrects you. ;)

Panels has a great post about beginners guide to reading manga, so you should definitely check that out. (Actually, they have lots of interesting articles to get you started on your manga journey.) Basically, manga are read backwards, right to left, including the panels on the page. It's super hard to wrap your head around at first, especially if you're a mega-reader like me. But it gets easier as you go.
(From Princess Jellyfish)

Manga and anime are almost always interchangeable. That's how B, my middle sister, started: she watched anime first and when they cut short or didn't finish the story, she started reading the manga version. Her first manga was Ao Haru Ride (Blue Spring Ride in English), which I just started reading on the Manga Rock app. M, who just turned 15, picked up Naruto from our brother and then got into the anime more from there. She has watched a whopping 4500 episodes between Kissanime, Gogoanime, Netflix, & Hulu!

And now let's get some recommendations. Remember, these will go for either anime or manga. And if you have your own recs to add, comment below. I want to hear about them!

In general: Ouran High School Host Club
Brief Description (pulled from Goodreads): One day, Haruhi, a scholarship student at exclusive Ouran High School, breaks an $80,000 vase that belongs to the 'Host Club', a mysterious campus group consisting of six super-rich (and gorgeous) guys. To pay back the damages, she is forced to work for the club, and it's there that she discovers just how wealthy the boys are and how different they are from everybody else.

Sports: Haikyu!!
Brief Description: After losing his first and last volleyball match against Tobio Kageyama, "the King of the Court," Shoyo Hinata swears to become his rival after graduating middle school. But what happens when the guy he wants to defeat ends up being his teammate?!

Tearjerker: Your Lie in April
Brief Description: Kosei Arima was a piano prodigy until his cruel taskmaster of a mother died suddenly, changing his life forever. Driven by his pain to abandon piano, Kosei now lives in a monotonous, colorless world. Having resigned himself to a bland life, he is surprised when he meets Kaori Miyazono, a violinist with an unorthodox style. Can she bring Kosei back to music, and back to life?

Action: Attack on Titan
Brief Description: In this post-apocalyptic sci-fi story, humanity has been devastated by the bizarre, giant humanoids known as the Titans. Little is known about where they came from or why they are bent on consuming mankind. Seemingly unintelligent, they have roamed the world for years, killing everyone they see. For the past century, what's left of man has hidden in a giant, three-walled city. People believe their 100-meter-high walls will protect them from the Titans, but the sudden appearance of an immense Titan is about to change everything.

Comedy: Monthly Girls Nozaki-Kun
(Somewhat) Brief Description: To the eyes of classmate Chiyo Sakura, high school student Umetarou Nozaki--brawny of build and brusque of tongue--is a dreamboat! When Chiyo finally works up the courage to tell Nozaki how she feels about him, she knows rejection is on the table...but getting recruited as a mangaka's assistant?! Never in a million years! As Chiyo quickly discovers, Nozaki-kun, the boy of Chiyo's dreams, is a manga artist...a hugely popular shoujo manga artist, that is! But for someone who makes a living drawing sweet girly romances, Nozaki-kun is a little slow on the uptake when it comes to matters of the heart in reality. And so Chiyo's daily life of manga making and heartache begins!

Horror: Ghost Hunt
Brief Description: The decrepit building was condemned long ago, but every time the owners try to tear it down, “accidents” start to happen–people get hurt, sometimes even killed. Mai Taniyama and her classmates have heard the rumors that the creepy old high school is haunted–possibly by ghosts from the Second World War. So one rainy day they gather at the told school to tell ghost stories, hoping to attract one of the suspected spirits.

Romance: Kimi Ni Todoke
Brief Description: Sawako Kuronuma is the perfect heroine...for a horror movie. With striking similarities to a haunting movie character--jet-black hair, sinister smile and silent demeanor--she's mistakenly called Sadako by those around her. But behind her scary façade is a very misunderstood teenager. Too shy to fit in, all she wants to do is make some friends. But when the most popular boy in class befriends her, she's sure to make more than just that--she's about to make some enemies too!

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: 10 Facts About Me

I am so bad at these kinds of lists, but I'm going to try my hardest for The Broke & The Bookish's Top Ten Tuesday. :) So in no particular order, 10 facts about me. And if you want to know something specific, please ask! I'm an open book. (Get it? Book? heh.)

1. I'm left-handed. I didn't learn how to use right-handed scissors until 9th grade, when a science teacher took pity on me and showed me how to hold them differently so I could use them. I'm still not very good at it. Along with those 2 facts, I am horrible at cutting straight lines or circles. My kindergarten teacher failed me lol.

2. I have been rereading the entire Baby-Sitters Club series since I started this blog (one of the main reasons I started it) way back in 2011. I make all of Claudia's outfits in Polyvore, which is my favorite part. You can see my master list here of all my reviews and other posts concerning the BSC. I haven't gotten very far, just finished #53. I'm going to try to get better at that these next few months though.

3. I recently changed my blog name from Give a Hoot, Read a Book to See Jenn Read (to match all my social media). I didn't realize that this would break all my links, everywhere. :/ (It also broke my search feature and I can't figure out how to fix it!) I am very slowly fixing those. Very slowly. I need to spend a quiet afternoon at the library and work on that.

4. I have 3 sisters (1 bio, 2 step), 1 stepbrother (technically 2, but I don't ever see 1), 1 stepsister-in-law (again, technically 2 lol). I love them all, lots and lots, and would do anything for them. And I'm super proud of all of them. *gushing*

5. I haven't had a Dr Pepper (or any fully caffeinated drink besides tea) in 2 years exactly this week. I hate it. Dr Pepper was my coffee in the morning and I was seriously addicted to it. Yeah, I feel better blah blah blah...but I miss it!! These Timehops pop up routinely lol.

6. I am a born and raised Texan. I live between Dallas & Fort Worth. I do not own any of the following: a cowboy hat or boots, a horse, a pickup truck, a gun, a confederate flag. I do not want any of the previous except maybe cowboy boots. :) My mom did own a truck though. I've never seen a Cowboys game, although I did have a Girl Scouts sleepover in the old stadium once. I do listen to country music, along with rock, rap, pop, classical, and lots more. I will NOT be voting for Trump. I love bbq and Tex-Mex. I do not drink sweet tea, gross. I say y'all. A lot.

7. I'm one of those weirdos who really loves Taco Bell. I could eat it 3 times a week and not care. And this is the part that drives my sister crazy: I get the exact same thing every time lol. Chicken quesadilla meal with a bean burrito (no sauce, no onions).

8. Even though my sister and I are 4 years apart (I'm the 2nd one back in this pic with all 3 of my sisters), people think we're twins all the time. And we don't even think we look that much alike lol. (I think it's more how we act.) We can always tell when people are going to ask, because they'll start looking back and forth between us with this confused look. We always say we're going to say "yes, we are twins" but we never do. Facebook also constantly tries to tag me as her, but not the other way around!

9. If you forced me to name a favorite book right this minute, I would probably say Harry Potter. But then I would want to add Anne of Green Gables or Amy & Roger's Epic Detour or Strangers in Paradise or Cannery Row or or or....don't make me choose!

10.Since I can't come up with a last fact, I'll point you to my bio page to read more, semi-interesting, things about me. :D

Monday, July 11, 2016

Review: "The Truth About Stacey: The Baby-Sitters Club Graphic Novel #2"

The Truth About Stacey: The Baby-Sitters Club Graphic Novel #2 by Raina Telgemeier
3.5 out of 5 stars

I went to pull up my original review of this book and just now realized that they didn't do the actual first 4 books as graphic novels. I can't believe I didn't see that before now. They skip over Claudia & The Phantom Phone Calls, Dawn & The Impossible Three, and Kristy's Big Day. I wonder why? I mean, yeah, those weren't the best books but it's still kind of weird. And now I really wish they would do the first Super Special!

Okay, back to the graphic novel. I'm sure you know the story already, but here's a quick recap: Stacey has a secret that's not really a secret because we learnt about it in the first book and so did her new Stoneybrook friends. She's diabetic. Also, some older girls try to start their own baby-sitting service but they suck so the BSCers win again. This goes into a lot more detail than the book about what diabetes is and how it affects Stacey, which was pretty interesting. (And why I bumped it up half a star.) Especially for a kid just getting diagnosed. I would definitely give this to them as a resource.

(click to make bigger)

The artwork is great, like the first, with one exception. There's a flashback part with Laine and Stacey and they're supposed to be in 4th grade for some reason but they look exactly the same as their 7th grade selves. Not a huge deal, but when you're a BSC fanatic you notice this stuff lol.

The girls' outfits on the cover are pretty on-point, except for that darn purple streak in Claudia's hair. I guess the artist decided to make that a "thing" for her but it still bugs me lol. Also, we get to see more back characters like Janine, Stacey's parents, the Johanssens, Jamie Newton (who gets his little sister, Lucy), Laine (who looks like a total dweeb to me), Pete Black, and a few others. Overall, a great companion to the series and I can't wait to read the next two! I was waiting until I actually reviewed this one. ;)

Friday, July 8, 2016

Triple Review: YA Contemporary

I started writing these mini reviews last summer fall, when I actually read the books. Arg...just trying to get back into the groove of blogging again though so I thought I'd finish these up.

Dumplin' by Julie Murphy
3 out of 5 stars

It's hard to say whether I liked this book or not. I feel like you have to be a fat girl to read it, first of all, or you won't get it. But then it kind of made me ashamed of being a fat girl. This was such a hyped book and unfortunately, it kind of let me down.

Willowdean (Dumplin' to her mama) is a chubby girl in a small beauty pageant town in Texas. Her best friend is skinny girl Ellen, she doesn't care who sees her in a swimsuit, and she laughs at all the pageant girls working out in the morning. And yet, she argues with Ellen over her new "twiggy bitch" friend, gets embarrassed when she's actually seen in her swimsuit out of the water, and doesn't take the pageant seriously at all when she decides to enter. When she meets a cute guy at work who wants to kiss her, she freaks out over him touching her hideous body. It's these hypocritical moments that really made me dislike the book. "But that's me. I'm fat. It's not a cuss word. It's not an insult. At least it's not when I say it." *Spoilers: highlight to read* And then there's the love triangle. Yuck. /*Spoilers* So yeah, this book just really got me down. :( It did have a redeeming Baby-Sitters Club reference though. :)

Hello, Goodbye, and Everything in Between by Jennifer E Smith
3 out of 5 stars

This was a good read, not great. I enjoyed the premise at first: Clare & Aidan are leaving for college, thousands of miles apart, and have one more night together to make lasting memories. But then we find out they are making these memories to decide whether to break up or not and it all just feels kind of tainted. We follow them thru 24 hours as they go to all the places that made up their relationship but I still don't feel like we actually saw their relationship. Clare is clinical and cold at times, kind of hard to like even. Aidan is more laid back and willing to try to make their relationship work but she doesn't seem to want to try. However, she doesn't want Aidan seeing other girls either so it can't really work both ways.

"We keep thinking there are only these two choices: 
We either grow apart or grow together.
But maybe we can just kind of each grow on our own, and see how it goes.
And then later, if it's right, we'll come back to each other and start again."

I actually really enjoyed best friends Scotty & Stella a lot more than the main characters. They seemed more real and fleshed-out than Aidan & Clare. I would love to see a follow-up book dedicated just to them.

Never Always Sometimes by Adi Alsaid
3.5 out of 5 stars

Dave & Julia are best friends who set out to make their senior year the best ever. How do they plan to do this? By going back to a list of "nevers" they wrote in middle school and doing every one of them. Such things as "never dye your hair a color of the rainbow", "never hook up with a teacher", "never date your best friend". I'm sure you can see where this book is going already. (Don't worry, the teacher doesn't get fired.)

“As long as we don't get turned into something that looks more like high school, more like everybody else and less like us, I'll be okay.”

For a book about breaking cliches, it is full of them. I'm not sure if that was intentional or not. Julia is a manic pixie dream girl straight out of a John Green novel and Dave is in love with her. Until he suddenly isn't, which is just about the time that Julia realizes she loves Dave. Yeah.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

TILT: Summer Bookish Fun!

Summer is in full swing here in Texas, with record high temperatures and freak pop-up thunderstorms. Perfect time to...stay inside, in the air conditioning, with a good book. Or possibly lounge in the pool. But make sure to slather on that sunscreen and only bring a book you don't care gets wet by annoying splashing children. (I know they're not being annoying on purpose, usually, but it seems that way.) So I've gathered up a few things to make your summer perfect on today's Things I Love! (click to make bigger)

(If you do not want your picture here, let me know & I will remove!)

I am so into the crazy pool floats this year! I may have to actually go buy one now after seeing this mega list on AshleyBrooke. Also, if you have a Five Below in your area, you should definitely go there, they're only $5! (It's my new favorite store after Daiso lol.)

In need of a fun, lighthearted book? Check out my Summer Romance Formula tag and find a new favorite read.

A library in Canada came up with a great way to stay inside where it's cool and still have fun. Check out their Facebook page for the full-sized bingo card.

Once you pick up your bingo books, why not make yourself a little cave in the coldest room in the house? (If you know the source of this pic, let me know!) I suggest comfiest pjs, lots of cool cotton sheets and blankets, possibly a fort situation with fans blowing in. Warning: may attract wayward pets and children, possibly significant others. Perhaps a sign: "this is a one person cave, get your own!" ;)

I love this list of 33 Ways to Have a More Bookish Summer on BookRiot so much that I am considering doing some of them myself. Perhaps for August, when everything seems stale and summer has lost its appeal. Who's in with me? I wonder if they have a hashtag for it already on Instagram or Twitter.

Finally, here is a great list of places to read this summer by Scholastic. I like "in a fort on a rainy day" and "at a secret place" the best.

What's your favorite way to have a bookish summer? Give your best tips below!

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Review: "Kristy for President: The Baby-Sitters Club #53"

Kristy for President: The Baby-Sitters Club #53 by Ann M Martin
3 out of 5 stars

Kristy looks super weird on this cover. Like they spray-tanned her first, to match Emily Michelle. And David Michael too (I'm guessing that's who that is). This book starts off on a Friday at school, where Kristy is headed to another boring assembly (don't know what for), which is interrupted by a fire drill. Then it's lunchtime and we start right off with Disgusting School Lunches by Kristy Thomas. (Warning: don't read if you are about to eat or have just eaten lol.)

"Splatter art," I [Kristy] agreed. You know, like in those horror movies..."

Mary Anne picked up her fork and started to cut the meat loaf. Just as she cut it, I shrieked. Mary Anne gave a little shriek herself and dropped the fork. I lowered my voice mysteriously. "I think it's still alive."

I picked up my own fork and took another look at the meat loaf. It was gray, and the tomato sauce was pale red and watery. The mashed potatoes next to it had a sort of oozy quality. And I wasn't so sure I liked the color of the broccoli. It looked like something that had been attacked by Bunnicula, the vampire rabbit.

This led to the girls discussing the upcoming student elections and how Kristy should run for President and change the food if she hated it so much.

She [Dawn] pointed to the soggy piece of angel food cake on my tray, which was beginning to look a little too much like the mashed potatoes. "Your motto could be 'Let us eat cake.'"

That sets Kristy's little "take charge of all things" wheels spinning and she begins to seriously consider it. Even though she's already super busy and really doesn't have time for it. She's even almost late for her baby-sitting job for the Newton's. Luckily, Jamie is too preoccupied with his new bicycle that's coming to care. A "real" bicycle, not a baby one. Before we get more into that, let's see What Claudia & Stacey are Wearing.

Claudia was wearing lime green bicycle pants, a long, long bright pink shirt, and a cropped lime green striped shirt over that. She was also wearing black hightop leather sneakers with pink butterfly barrettes clipped to the laces. She had two feather earrings in one ear (lime green, of course), and a tiny pink heart in the other. [Her hair] was pulled up on top of her head and fell down to one side.

[Stacey] is also a way cool dresser. Like that Monday, she was wearing a black skirt and tights that were two colors: one leg was red and the other was black. And her shoes were shiny black and laced up to the ankles. She was also wearing this enormous black turtleneck sweater with red flecks in it, and one round red earring and one square black one. Her hair, which was in a mid-perm stage around her face, was pulled back with this silver lamé band. She looked smashing.
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At the meeting, Claudia brings up the class play, which is Mary Poppins. Everyone immediately starts bashing it, saying how childish it is. But I'm pretty sure it's Stacey's favorite movie (after Parent Trap oops no, that's Dawn's fave) and she doesn't say much, but it's still kind of weird. Kristy goes on a rant about it, which turns into a speech, which leads to her finally saying she's running for President. Oh and Mallory is running for 6th grade secretary, but really, who cares?

Kristy is up and running with her candidacy...Claudia comes up with some K+ slogans (see what I did there?) and becomes her campaign manager. Kristy is pretty sure she's got it in the bag. Her other competition is the reprehensible Alan Gray, Grace Blume (Cokie Mason's sidekick), and Pete Black (Kristy just says he's immature, whatever that means.) The girls plaster the school with Kristy's posters and get fierce with their competition. Kristy goes a little overboard during Campaign Day and tosses this little gem out: "Grace," I said. "The best woman - and the best candidate - is going to win. So why don't you just go somewhere and get some more practice at being a loser?" Oooh, harsh. The stress is getting to her, for sure.

Oh! We get another Claudia outfit with bonus comparison to Janine the Genius. Claudia was dressed fairly conservatively: white jeans, red shoes with big bows, a tropical jungle shirt with each button shaped like a piece of fruit, and her hair pulled to one side over her shoulder with a banana barrette. But Janine, with her short hair and bangs, her pullover sweater, and plain skirt and loafers, made Claudia look extremely exotic.
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Now let's get back to Jamie and his brand new bicycle. I got a new bicycle a couple of months ago too. :) (Shown here with The Unexpected Everything because it matched lol.) I was like Jamie actually, in the beginning. I haven't ridden a bike in at least 20 years a really long time. I not-so-jokingly said I wanted training wheels but my sister said no. But I managed to get on it and ride the first day! I was pretty proud of myself. I'm still pretty wobbly on it and straight-line challenged but I'm getting there. Okay, anyway, Jamie! He is not doing so well and will barely move, even with the training wheels. He stops for every crack, stick, and leaf on the sidewalk and has to get off the bike to turn around. Then he decides training wheels are for babies and removes them, which of course makes everything worse. He finally agrees to put them back on after the "big kids" in his neighborhood stop and tell him how they all started with them too.

And how's Kristy faring with her campaign? Well, it's just lucky she's not running in the real presidential election. (Although I'd still vote for her (or even Alan Gray) over one or two of our nominees right now.) Her grades begin to slide, she has to retake a science test that she didn't even study for, she cancels Krushers practice, and considers, for a brief moment, taking a break from the BSC. Finally, she realizes the only logical thing is to drop out of the campaign. As soon as she makes that decision, she feels better and everything becomes easy again.

And oh my lord, we get a 3rd Claudia outfit and 2nd Stacey one! What's so special about this book?? Hope you enjoy these as much as I do making them!

Stacey had pulled her hair back into a braid with a silver hat pin stuck through it. She was wearing purple capri pants, soft black flat ankle boots, black-and-white-striped socks, and a black-and-white-checked shirt, only the checks were all different sizes. She had square silver earrings in her ears.

Claud's hair was down, but she was wearing a hat. On the green hat ribbon was pinned a "Kristy+" button. Her tights were orange and her dress was tie-dyed [I'm kind of in love with the dress I picked for this lol] every color you could think of. She was wearing her feather earrings, and she'd drawn a star on her face next to her right eye.
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