Happy Friday

How have two weeks passed already without any kind of posts whatsoever? Well, I’ve been pretty busy balancing everything in my life (everything being editing, babysitting, hanging out with people, eating food etc. etc. etc.). Fridays, which I guess have unofficially turned in to my blog post days (that and Monday) have been a bit busy lately too, so those are my excuses.

I do have a few posts up my sleeve – I just haven’t had a chance to sit down and write them yet, so hopefully that will happen in the next couple of weeks. I have a few new reads and a few old reads that I haven’t talked about yet to review, so keep an eye out.

But in the meantime, I thought i would share a few fun links I came across during my wanderings on the interwebs.

First of all there is this buzfeed article filled with bookish goodness. I approve of their use of Gilmore Girls, 10 Things I hate about You, HP, and Beauty and the Beast, so it has that going for it.

There is also this article from The Guardian on how much your brain absorbs with an e-reader as opposed to with a paper book, which the psychology minor in me found pretty interesting. Enjoy and I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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The Scent of Good Books

Happy Friday everyone! And happy October. It’s hard to believe its October, especially since I am just getting used to the fact that its not summer anymore. And Happy Mean Girls day (as a friend of mine reminded me this morning)!

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As usual I’ve been pretty busy lately, which has been good but it means I haven’t been keeping up with the blog as much I would like to. I do have a couple of posts and book reviews lined up, but today I am just going to leave you with a nerdy infographic about good book scents (the smell not the blog…) I’m not one for chemistry, but this is more about books and how cool they are. I bet when the chemicals in kindles begin to break down it doesn’t smell nearly as good!

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Double Book Review: Everyday and We Were Liars

Well, fall might be in full swing what with the cooler weather, the chunky sweaters that are starting to be pulled out of the closet again, and the pumpkin spice lattes, but today I am going to talk about Labor Day.

The end of the summer has been pretty hectic for me, and my blog has unfortunately gone on a bit of an impromptu hiatus, but I am glad to be back again and working on a more regular schedule. Anyway, my Labor Day weekend was great, filled with lots of good food, beach time, and relaxation in one of the most comfortable chairs I have ever sat in. Seriously, I would carry this thing around with me if I could. Many a good book was read and many a great nap was taken in this chair this summer.

My weekend started off with a three hour train ride, and a 20% off coupon at Barnes and Nobles, so I made a book stop on the way to work that Friday to get two books. I figured I didn’t have anything else planned for the train and I didn’t want to have a whole line up of tv shows to watch only to find out there was no wi-fi, so why not get some good reads.

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The first book I got was Everyday by David Levitan. I first saw this book at BEA in 2012 when I went with my NYU program, where it was being released as a galley. After reading the back of the book on its display board I got in the hugely long line to receive a signed copy, but not long after that we were told that they were out of copies. Boo.

So I swore to myself that I would get it in stores, but I didn’t see it for many months, and then when I did I was always getting other books, and I can be bad about reading all the books I buy if I buy more than one at a time. I didn’t want Everyday to be a book I bought on a binge and then never read, so never bought it. But then I did buy it and read it and it is amazing!

Everyday follows the story of A, a sixteen year old who wakes up every morning in someone else’s body, never the same one twice. Right off the bat I was interested in the story, since it is such a unique plot, and I really wanted to see how Levithan pulled this off. But one day A falls in love with a girl and everything changes.

That is pretty much the sappiest sounding recap, but it is a really great story. There is this person who has literally never had any kind of continuity in his life (A doesn’t really have a gender but I am going to say his for the sake of the review) until he meets Rhiannon. I found A to be a very convincing character despite (and because of) his unrealistic situation. He has literally experienced every type of sixteen year old – boy, girl, gay, straight, smart, dumb, jock etc. etc. etc. He has had all these different identities, but never experienced one of his own.

Levithan also does that thing where the author inserts overarching truths about life into the story. While these overarching truths can be well written, I have found that I can be a little wary of them sometimes, since it seems like the author is speaking beyond the character and it can take me out of the story a little bit. Either that or it can be cliched. All in all it can be a tricky thing to pull off. But I thought that Levitan succeeded with his little over arching truths, because of the broad range of experience A has had. Of course he would develop these beliefs about life, love, purpose etc. after everything that he has been through and all that he has seen. To me his observations were well done and on point.

Everyday can be a tricky story to talk about since it is so unconventional in its subject and the way it is plotted, but I really loved it, and if anyone else has read it and feels the way I do, or has different thoughts, please reply in the comment section below and we can continue the conversation. 🙂

The second book that I read over Labor Day Weekend, since Everyday took me about a day to read, was We Were Liars by E. Lockhart – another really unique, addicting read. I had seen the book around in stores, and the more I saw it the more I figured I should give it a read.

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We Were Liars is about the Sinclairs, a prominent New England family, who spends their summers on a private island off the coast of Cape Cod near Martha’s Vineyard. Cadence Sinclair Easton and her cousins, the Liars, always spend their summers together on the island, each family with its own house, and its own problems. We Were Liars focuses on “Summer 15”, and what happened then as the patriarchy of the family begins to fall apart.

We Were Liars is another book that is hard to review. It reminded me of Gone Girl in a way in that either you know what is happening in the book or you are trying to piece it together, and there is a definitive moment in the story when that role switches from one to the other. So I don’t want to give too much away, but again I really recommend this book.

The setting of the island played a big role in the story, since that was always what brought the family together, and i thought Lockhart did a really good job of getting the feel of the island paradise down, but also the sense of claustrophobia that comes with it. After all it is just these four families living on the island together. There is also a definite dark streak that runs through the narrative. Lockhart has a very unique, poetic way of telling the story which really grabbed me as a reader, but also made me doubt how reliable Cadence was as a narrator.

Anyway, I don’t want to give too much away again, but I really recommend this book as well. It was another 24 hour read for me, but it felt like it stayed with me much longer than that.

What did you all do over Labor Day weekend? Read any good books? Have any thoughts about these two? Let me know, and enjoy fall! I have yet to have a pumpkin spice latte – my theory is it can stay summer as long as I don’t get one, right? That’s definitely how it works…

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I Changed my Mind About Bitterblue

Helloo! I have been pretty busy non-stop for the past few weeks with babysitting, editing, and going down to PA for a friend’s wedding (which I still can’t believe happened) so this blog hasn’t been updated for a bit.

But today I am excited to be back an talking about a book I read earlier in the summer (after this I will finally be caught up with reviews so that’s exciting).

A few summers ago I read Graceling by Kristin Cashore and it’s companion novel, Fire, both of which were amazing. I also read Bitterblue, the sequel to Graceling, but I decided I didn’t like it, and I never ended up finishing it.

12680907Over the summer I’ve been rereading a few things, including Graceling and Fire, so I decided to give Bitterblue another chance. And I ended up loving it!

The first time I tried reading it, I didn’t have a lot of time to read so I would only read a few pages at a time before falling asleep, and I ended up losing track of the plot. I think that has a lot to do with my first impressions of the book. But this time I read it during my vacation time and I devoured the book in my favorite reading chair over the course of a few days and it was great!

If you haven’t read the first two books, I recommend doing that before reading this review because there will be some SPOILERS.

Bitterblue starts years after Graceling. Bitterblue is a young adult now in charge of her own kingdom that is still working to recover from King Leck’s tyrannical rule. Bitterblue, tired of signing papers in her tower with her team of advisors, decides to get to know her city on her own. When she sneaks out at night she finds a crazy cast of characters and many unanswered questions, like why is the city in such a state of disarray, and what are the majestic bridges leading nowhere? So she sets out to find out the answers to these questions on her own.

There are a lot of subplots to this story that don’t come together until the end, which may have had to do with why I lost track of the story on the first read, but I was really able to enjoy the structure of the book on the second round.

I also really liked Bitterblue’s court life and the way it was portrayed in Cashore’s world. I’ve always enjoyed court novels, probably has to do with all the Tamora Pierce books I’ve read. Court novels just lend themselves so well to intrigue, secrets, and gossip, which Bitterblue (the book, not the character) thrives on. It was also interesting to see Katsa and Po from an outsider’s point of view. During Graceling I thought they were super cute, but there were times during Bitterblue where they got a little clingy I thought. Bitterblue also has a closer relationship to Po, which makes sense since they are cousins, and becomes intimidated by Katsa at different points in the story, which is also understandable. Katsa is a force to be reckoned with. I really liked the way Po cared for Bitterblue, and it was nice to see another perspective of him beyond the mysterious character that he is portrayed as in Graceling.

The minor characters of the story are also well portrayed, and while I like Saf and Bitterblue’s relationship, I could also see her doing well in a relationship with Gidon. I’m not usually one to create my own ships for characters that aren’t cannon (other than Neville and Luna in HP – they BELONG together!), but I did like how Bitterblue and Gidon get along. She always felt comfortable with him, which was important considering everything else that was going on in her life. But she does well with Saf too, and I can see them getting along well in the future beyond the end of the book. Thoughts?

There are many puzzles and riddles throughout the book as Bitterblue tries to figure out what’s going on which made for a good read. There was a lot going on but the pace moved along well, and the story was always pushing forward.

I also liked the way Bitterblue tied the two previous books together, especially towards the end. It also painted a strong picture of Leck, even though he died two books ago. He remained a strong character throughout the three books without having too much “screen time”, which made for an interesting read.

Anyone else read Bitterblue out there? What are your thoughts?

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My 100th Post!! (and The Liebster Award)

Hello everyone, and welcome to my 100th post and summer makeover! It sounds corny but it’s hard to believe I’ve gotten this far, and I am so excited to see where this blog will go in the future! I have never really been too good at keeping something like this blog up, so the fact that I am here still is pretty exciting. It’s gotten to the point where I feel guilty if I get to the end of a week without posting. So whether you’ve read one post or you read every post (I don’t know if anyone actually does) – whatever you do thanks for sticking with me.

I would also like to use my special 100th post to accept The Liebster Award, which Shannon from Beauty and the Mess (http://beautyandthemessblog.wordpress.com) nominated me for a few months ago.

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I had seen the little Liebster Award stamp on different blog’s sidebars before, but I didn’t really know the details behind it, so this gave me a good excuse to go look up the rules. From what I could tell there were a few different variations to the rules, but the gist of the Liebster Award is to

(1) answer 11 questions about yourself

(2) ask 11 more questions to your nominations and

(3) nominate 11 blogs to pass on the award by linking to their blog and then letting them know about the nomination.

There was one version of the rules that I liked which said to also give 11 facts about yourself, so I am doing that as well, although it might be optional. I don’t know. The nominees are also blogs with under 200 followers (or 2,000 one version said (some of my nominees are over 200 but under 2,000 so I’m going to say I’m in the clear) to give a nod to the smaller blogs on the internet, and I am honored to be part of that group. 🙂

So here we go.

The Questions 

Here are the questions that Shannon asked me:

What’s your favorite animal?
 Definitely dogs. I love seeing all the different dogs in New York, and there is a dog park near my house that I stop by sometimes. There’s are benches and a regular park there too so I’m not always that person in the dog park without a dog, even though that has definitely happened.
 
What’s something on your bucket list?
Probably travel more. I have been getting some wanderlust recently, and I would love to do something about it. I don’t know where in particular. I would love to go to France and Istanbul again and Greece, which I’ve never been to before.
 
Read any good books this past year?
Yep. Just look at a few of my other posts to see some of them.
 
If you had a million dollars, what are a few things you would do with it?
I have answered this question so many times in French class whenever we studied the subjunctive, which deals with uncertainty so that’s the ultimate short essay question, but I never really thought about it much beyond that. I would love to use some of it for travel, and I would like to think that I would donate some and save some as well.
 
What’s your favorite TV show?
I’m bad at superlatives, but I was a huge fan of Gilmore Girls and LOST in high school. Right now I like Parks and Rec, Elementary, Castle, Doctor Who (Ten is the best – I love David Tenant!), Sherlock, Downton Abbey, Foyle’s War etc. but I’m always looking for new shows to watch. If anyone has any suggestions let me know!
 
What’s something you’re afraid of?
Heights. Also I have had many different dreams about elevators going too fast either up or down, but I’m not afraid of elevators really. And I’ve grown up taking elevators all the time so it’s nothing strange for me. Take that as you will.
 
If you could see anyone in concert, who would it be?
Since The Beatles were my first favorite band when I was little, and they have soo many songs, I would probably say them. When I was in college, I heard that Paul McCartney had gone on tour in 2008, and I didn’t know about it at the time so I didn’t go. But friends of mine did, and I was so jealous of them. I’m sure he went to NY and played at Madison Square Garden, and I could have gone to see him there!
 
What’s your favorite book?
Again I’m bad with the superlatives, especially when it comes to books, but Harry Potter will always hold a special place in my heart. But if you ask me this question at different times the answer changes beyond that.
 
If you could go bowling with any fictional character, who would it be?
Good question. Ginny Weasley always seemed like an awesome person to me. Maybe just the whole Weasley family. That would be great. Seeing their dynamic bowling would be amazing with all the kids and Molly and Arthur. And it would make Arthur’s day to do such a muggle thing as bowling. (Also this would be pre-book 7 for obvious reasons).
 
Why did you start a blog?
I started my blog a month or two before graduating 2 years ago so that I would have something to do post-graduation that would keep me on somewhat of a schedule since I didn’t know what I was doing after school ended at that point. Also I realized that after graduation I would be able to read for fun, which was something I hadn’t gotten to do as much of as I wanted to over the past 17 years because school. I kept it going for the NYU Summer Publishing Program as a professional online presence for the summer after graduation and just continued on after that.
 
What’s your favorite season?
Definitely summer 🙂 I live for the warm weather, the beach and sitting in parks.
 
The Facts
 
Here are some things you may or may not know about me:
 
  1. Most people change what they want to be when they grow up a lot as a child, but I always wanted to be a writer. Always. It morphed a bit in high school and college to working with books/editing but it never changed much beyond that, and I still love to write.
  2. I am a born and bred New Yorker, and I love the city even though I knew I didn’t want to stay in the city for college (which I didn’t). That being said, I love the weekends that I spend in the country too.
  3. I am left-handed, and have always been strangely proud of that fact.
  4. When I was 8 I wrote a story called Little Horses that was loosely based on Little Women – I say loosely because I hadn’t read Little Women yet. Little Horses was well over 100 pages long in my notebook (I want to say 180 something). It had a plot in that things happened but that was about it. 
  5. I randomly didn’t watch TV for a few years when I was a kid. There was no particular reason for this, I just didn’t.
  6. I love the beach. Any beach. Absolutely love it.
  7. I am currently working as a freelance editor and babysitter, and while I am still trying to figure out my life (as much as I don’t like the phrase 20-something that’s where I am right now) I am really enjoying the structure, freedom, and experience that these two jobs have given me.
  8. I am an avid Disney fan, but I never really liked Disney movies as a kid. I always thought they were too scary, too loud, or too sad.
  9. I tend to judge books very quickly, especially if I am not sure what to read next. If the first few sentences don’t grab me it’s hard for me to get any farther.
  10. I really liked The Sound of Music when I was little. As in I was completely obsessed with it. I probably watched it at least once a month, if not more, and I was also fascinated with World War II. Looking back on it, that seems kind of strange, considering I was about 9, but I blame Julie Andrews, American Girl, and the fact that I am a partial history geek.
  11. I was born on February 11th, and 11 is one of my favorite numbers along with 2 for obvious reasons.

The Questions II

  1. If you could travel anywhere on your next vacation where would you go?
  2. Why do you blog?
  3. What is your favorite thing to do in the summer?
  4. What is your favorite type of book to read?
  5. What is your favorite movie?
  6. What TV shows do you binge watch?
  7. Who is your favorite fictional character and why?
  8. Do you cry easily with books/movies? What book or movie made you cry?
  9. Are you an extrovert or an introvert?
  10. Who was your favorite high school teacher, college professor, or mentor that you have had?
  11. If you could meet anyone in the world (dead or alive) who would it be?

The Nominees 

I really enjoyed going through the blogs that I follow and finding new blogs to follow to nominate people. The nominees are:

  1. http://readandsurvive.wordpress.com
  2. http://bookscleverness.wordpress.com
  3. http://rookienotes.wordpress.com
  4. http://dollymadisondesigns.wordpress.com/
  5. http://theegotripper.com
  6. http://withinmylens.wordpress.com
  7. http://knowedits.wordpress.com 
  8. http://astoldbylaura.wordpress.com
  9. http://boscafelife.wordpress.com
  10. http://readingwithtea.com
  11. http://amandaliew.com

Here are some bonus cute puppy pictures for my 100th post. Happy Wednesday!

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Two Cute Twins Dog Wallpaper

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Ruin and Rising: A Great Ending

Hello everyone and happy Friday! And welcome to my 99th post!! I have been pretty busy these past couple of weeks between going to camp, babysitting, and editing which has been great! I love keeping busy but I also haven’t had much time to blog recently so I am making up for that today.

Other than Harry Potter, I don’t think I’ve ever actually bought a book on the day that it came out, but I started reading the Grisha series at the perfect time for the third book release back in June (still playing catch up a bit), and I was able to get it on its release date, which was pretty exciting. 🙂 I am sad that this review took me so long to get to, but I am really excited to finally talk about it and hear what anyone else thought about this final installment or the series in general. Leave your comments below!

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I must say I was a bit apprehensive about this book before reading it because I have read many trilogies where the third book isn’t as good as the first or second, and I really did not want that to happen with this series. But I can safely say that that was not the case with Ruin and Rising. At all. So don’t worry. It was amazing.

Many of the things that I enjoyed about Ruin and Rising were continuations of what I have already talked about in my last two reviews, so I won’t go in to as much detail with this review, but it was an amazing book and everyone should read it. The characters were complex, sarcastic, and real. The Darkling continued to be terrifying in his complexly enticing way, the Russian fantasy world setting continued to spellbound, and the action in the book kept me reading, even if the pacing was different from the previous two books.  Also if anyone hasn’t read the series be warned that there will be spoilers although I will try to keep them at a minimum. But feel free to check out my thoughts on the first or second books.

Ruin and Rising picks up shortly after Siege and Storm with Alina living underground as Ravka’s current patron saint, a life that has been touched on in the previous two books, but has never been fully explored until now. She is weak and broken after the events of the second book, but she is still on a mission to beat The Darkling by collecting Morozova’s third amplifier. 

Alina is also not the same character she was in the first or second books. After her stand off with The Darkling at the end of Siege and Storm she is much darker, and works to regain the power that she had before she was broken down, and find power that she never had (hence the Rising). She and The Darkling are now more similar than ever, and The Darkling is more powerful than before, which furthers the Mal/Darkling/Nikolai debacle which was about so much more than a love triangle. (thank you!)

I have a lot of feelings about the ending of this book that I would love to talk about here, but I don’t want to give too much away, which is why this review is on the shorter side. While I was reading avidly throughout the entire story, it was really the last couple of chapters that really got me going. Plot twists tend to do that. So if anyone has thoughts – good, bad, or ugly – on the series, the characters, the ending leave them below and we can talk! 

Also I am so excited to announce that this is my 99th blog post! I can’t believe I’ve made it this far, and I have loved blogging for the past 2 years (my gosh, that’s a long time…) Well, on to 100!

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Siege and Storm

Hello everyone and Happy Monday! Although it doesn’t feel like a real Monday for me because tomorrow I am packing my bags (actually I am doing that tonight) and heading up to camp to be a camp councilor for a week at FOCUS. The weeks that I am at camp are my absolute favorite weeks of the summer, and I have loved it there ever since I started going as a high schooler, so I am really excited for this upcoming week. 🙂

But before then I wanted to squeeze in one more review in an attempt to catch up with reviews on here since I am still behind. I was hoping to do two last week but that just didn’t happen between editing, babysitting, and getting ready for this week, but I am here now. 🙂

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Also I suggest that if you want to avoid some SPOILERS if you are thinking of reading this series (which you should definitely do!) read my review of Shadow and Bone instead.

So Siege and Storm. I still have a lot of feelings about this series, and I am really excited to revisit the books again, which I feel will be much sooner than I usually reread a series. Siege and Storm starts with Alina and Mal on the run from The Darkling and the power he has over Ravka. While they are away they meet some new characters, including Sturmhoud, a famous privateer. While Alina’s true identity as the Sun Summoner must remain hidden, she and Mal must find a way to battle the growing power of The Darkling, all while keeping Alina in control.

The typical flow of the second book of a trilogy tends to push the main character to his/her breaking point, Leigh Bardugo definitely follows that path here, but there is also so many other things going on that it didn’t seem overly done to me. Alina now wears the antlers of a stag as an amplifier, which gives her greater Sun Summoning powers, but also puts her under the control of The Darkling. Much of this book is Alina’s struggle to reclaim her own power, and to find out what that really means to her. It is clear that she is falling apart on this inside, but that is all masked well by her exterior, which made for some good conflict.

I have read a couple of other reviews of Shadow and Bone and Siege and Storm through my wanderings on the internet, and there seems to be a large group in the fan base who are Darkling/Alina fans. Granted I think The Darkling is a great villain. He is attractive, which makes other characters (and readers) drawn to him, he is good with words and knows what to say, and he is filled with drive and power. He makes a great villain and antagonist for Alina. And the fact that they had a fling in Shadow and Bone for a bit and that they are so similar (“like calls to like” with their Grisha powers) makes him all the more intriguing.

But in the second book he really does become downright creepy. Which was great for the plot and for pushing Alina to the edge, which is pretty much the purpose of this book. But that does not mean they should be in a relationship together. In fact it means they SHOULDN’T. I liked that Alina debates this so much throughout the series, because it forces her to question her own power and her identity as the only Sun Summoner, but their relationship is pretty much the definition of unhealthy.

He appears to her as hallucinations that only she can see. Danger! Danger! And he wants to use her power for his own good. More danger! More danger! These made for great scenes, and it made my skin crawl whenever he appeared. And it made me like Mal even more. Because he was an escape from the darkness around her, but it also drives a wedge in between them since there is this whole side of Alina’s life that he cannot relate to. It definitely complicates things which makes the story more intriguing and complex as well. So while I love The Darkling as a villain, I really cannot get behind the Alina/Darkling pairing, and I really don’t want to.

Speaking of pairings, Alina has many potential suitors in this book. I can become pretty cynical when it comes to relationships in young adult literature, especially if those relationships take the form of a love triangle. But with this book each character was really distinct and well developed so that they were all more than just a pretty face who had all the right things to say when Alina needed to hear them. Bardugo continued to make really convincing realistic side characters throughout the Grisha series, which I really appreciated. Each one had their own tone, their own sense of humor, and their own goals, which really made them stand out, whether they were potential love interests of Alina’s or not. And each love interest was more than that as well – it was a direction that Alina’s life could go down – Sun Summoner, commoner, queen. This added a lot more complexity to the story than just a pretty face would, and I really appreciated that.

While I found that the story wasn’t as tightly plotted as Shadow and Bone (which also makes sense for the middle book in a trilogy) the action and characters really kept the story going. Writing these reviews really makes me want to reread these again.

Has anyone else read Siege and Storm or any of the other books in the Grisha trilogy? What did you think?

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