contemporary, romance, young adult

Book Review: Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson

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Title: Since You’ve Been Gone
Author: Morgan Matson
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Length: 464 Pages, Hardback
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Rating: 4.5 Folded Pages

Blurb:
Emily is about to take some risks and have the most unexpected summer ever in this new novel from the bestselling author of Second Chance Summer and Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour.

Before Sloane, Emily didn’t go to parties, she barely talked to guys, and she didn’t do anything crazy. Enter Sloane, social tornado and the best kind of best friend—someone who yanks you out of your shell.

But right before what should have been an epic summer, Sloane just…disappears. No note. No calls. No texts. No Sloane. There’s just a random to-do list with thirteen bizarre tasks that Emily would never try. But what if they can lead her to Sloane?

Apple picking at night? Okay, easy enough.

Dance until dawn? Sure. Why not?

Kiss a stranger? Wait…what?

Getting through Sloane’s list will mean a lot of firsts, and with a whole summer ahead of her—and with the unexpected help of the handsome Frank Porter—who knows what she’ll find.

Go Skinny Dipping? Um…

Review:
I read this as a break between all the heavy fantasy and science fiction books I was reading (basically after Days of Blood and Starlight and before Winter). It was perfect to mellow out with before reading Winter. I finished it in a day because I just couldn’t put it down.

I really, really loved Emily. Seriously, you guys have no idea how much I love her. She’s just like me if I’m being honest. Super shy and kind of awkward. Unable to easily make friends. Paralyzed but doing things outside of her comfort zone. Where was this book when I was teenager to help me discover myself? I’m a little biased I realized. Emily did get on my nerves sometimes like her indecisiveness and another bit that I won’t spoil because it’s a big part of the book.

But still, even at 22, I find the message this book sends great and helpful. I found myself thinking if Emily can go outside her comfort zone so can I.
Sloane reminds me of a friend I had in middle school and most of high school and it made me really reflect on that friendship as well. I love when books and characters make me think and challenge my views and this book definitely did that. I found myself hating Sloane in some parts and loving her in others.

The friend group Emily falls in with is pretty great as well. I love how the relationships feel like the happen organically. They aren’t forced and I can see most of them occurring in real life. It was very fulfilling to read.

This is the best contemporary novel I’ve read in a while and it’s definitely making me rethink my choice to not read Second Chance Summer.

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Fantasy, romance, young adult

Book Review: Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor

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Title: Days of Blood and Starlight
Author: Laini Taylor
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Length: 528 Pages, Hardback
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult, Romance
Rating: 3.5 Folded Pages

See my review of the first book, Daughter of Smoke and Bone, here.
Warning: Possible spoilers for book 1 in the series.

Blurb:
Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love and dared to imagine a world free of bloodshed and war.

This is not that world.

Art student and monster’s apprentice Karou finally has the answers she has always sought. She knows who she is–and what she is. But with this knowledge comes another truth she would give anything to undo: She loved the enemy and he betrayed her, and a world suffered for it.

In this stunning sequel to the highly acclaimed Daughter of Smoke & Bone, Karou must decide how far she’ll go to avenge her people. Filled with heartbreak and beauty, secrets and impossible choices, Days of Blood & Starlight finds Karou and Akiva on opposing sides as an age-old war stirs back to life.

While Karou and her allies build a monstrous army in a land of dust and starlight, Akiva wages a different sort of battle: a battle for redemption. For hope.

But can any hope be salvaged from the ashes of their broken dream?

Review:
So I actually listened to first 200 pages or so on Audiobook but it was too boring that way and switched to hardback. I think that kind of sets the tone for how I feel about the book.

I was super excited to see what happened next between Karou and Akiva and all their friends and the two worlds but this book was SO SLOW. Both on Audiobook and paper book. Some parts were lightning quick and others just dragged and dragged and dragged. I spent the first half of the book wondering when something would happen and when the point of view (POV) would stop changing.

The first book didn’t feel so jumpy when there were POV changes but I think Taylor went a little crazy in the second book with unnecessary character jumps and it made the book feel that much slower.

Eventually, around the 250 page mark, it really picked up and I wasn’t able to put it down. Still, the first 250 pages shouldn’t be that slow in the second book of a fantasy series. This book could have gotten a solid 4.5 folded pages if it wasn’t so excruciatingly slow in the beginning.

However, it’s definitely worth reading once the plot picks up. Also, the book ends with a massive cliffhanger so I’m eagerly awaiting my hold on the third book. Overall, I think it was good but it could have been so much better and I’m disappointed Taylor didn’t manage to do it because her writing is beautiful.

chicklit, contemporary, romance

Book vs Movie: Austenland

austenland book v movie

Ask and ye shall receive zainabshykh. Here is the (spoiler free) comparison of Austenland!

Overall, I enjoyed both the movie and the book even though the movie definitely took liberties. I understand why they had to but I do think it took a bit of the fun and quirkiness out of the whole thing. Anyway, let’s get to it.

Book

You can see my full review of Austenland here, but a quick summary of what I like and didn’t like about the book will follow if you don’t feel like reading it.

I definitely enjoyed the book. It was basically well written Jane Austen fanfiction and I will always love a good fanfiction. I do think aspects of it were completely unbelievable but they lended to the quirkiness and fanfiction-y feel of the book. Jane was relatable albeit a little silly and the other characters added nicely to the quirky, fun feel. It was enjoyable and light and just what I needed at the moment.

Movie

The movie didn’t quite hang on to the cute, quirkiness the book had. It was there sometimes but other times it definitely fell flat. That isn’t to say that I didn’t enjoy the movie, I definitely did, but I do think it could have stood by sticking to the novel a little more closely.

Comparison

My least favorite aspect change was how they completely changed Lady Amelia Heartwright’s character. She was definitely not nearly as annoying in the book. I preferred the version where Jane was cautious but eventually they became “friends” as much as anyone can in that environment. It also made the small twist at the end much more enjoyable. I knew it was coming while watching the movie but I know I would have more satisfaction from it if the relationship between Jane and Amelia wasn’t turned into a typical Hollywood girl relationship of competition.

One thing they absolutely got right was the casting for Miss Elizabeth Charming. I hadn’t mentally casted anyone for that role but as soon as I saw Jennifer Coolidge I died laughing and also knew it was absolutely perfect. She’s so good at being ridiculous and she definitely brought Miss Charming to life.

I also wish there was more obvious development between Jane and her love interests. I feel like they didn’t focus enough on it. I also didn’t like how they changed the ending. I definitely think the ending of the novel is much more convincing.

Verdict

I think it’s safe to say, that for me at least, I definitely preferred the novel to the movie. I don’t think this should surprise anyone since it’s incredibly hard to convert a book to a movie. You just can’t get all the details the book does and it generally leaves the viewer feeling like something is missing if they’ve read the book.

Either way, I still thoroughly enjoyed the movie. It was a good adaption for sure and I understand why there are differences. I just wish the changes didn’t make it have less impact. But that could just be me.

What are your thoughts? They might be different if you watched the movie first or haven’t read both. I’d love to hear what you thought.

 

 

Fantasy, paranormal, romance

Series Review: Southern Witch Series by Kimberly Frost

southern witch series

Title: Would Be Witch, Barely Bewitched, and Halfway Hexed
Author: Kimberly Frost
Publisher: Berkley
Length: 308 Pages, 322 Pages, 339 Pages, Ebook
Genre: Fantasy, Romance, Paranormal
Rating: 4 Folded Pages, 3 Folded Pages, DNF’d

Would Be Witch Blurb:
In the small town of Duvall, Texas, the only thing that causes more trouble than gossip is magic.

The family magic seems to have skipped over Tammy Jo Trask. All she gets in the way of the supernatural are a few untimely visits from the long-dead, smart-mouthed family ghost Edie. But when her locket—an heirloom that happens to hold Edie’s soul—is stolen in the midst of a town-wide crime spree, it’s time for Tammy to find her inner witch.

After a few bad experiences with her magic, Tammy turns to the only one who can help: the very rich and highly magical Bryn Lyons. He might have all the answers, but the locket isn’t the only thing passed down in Tammy’s family. She also inherited a warning…to stay away from anyone named Lyons…

Review:
I picked these books up on the ebook system my library offers. I was craving a romance heavy fantasy and these books looked perfect. There’s five books in the series so far and I fully read the first two but I couldn’t get through the third unfortunately.

Tammy Jo has endearing moments especially in the first book. I liked her character. She was flawed and fun and a little bit stupid but I could handle it. The second book her character ebbed more on the stupid and in the third book I couldn’t handle it as it just got worse and put the book down forever.

I’m not sure how but as she learned more about her powers she lost intellect. Maybe this has a plot point somewhere, but for me, I can only take so many stupid actions by characters before I get completely fed up and put the book down.

I’m sad because I really loved the first book. It was fast paced and funny. Even with the not so great love interests (one a controlling asshole and the other a manipulative asshole) I enjoyed the storyline and even the over the top tropes of the guys in her love triangle.

Speaking of the love triangle, by the end of book 2 it was very obvious which of the assholes was better. She had more chemistry and dependence on the less assholely of the two and yet she still wavers between them and was still doing so in the beginning of the third book. One of the guys wasn’t even in the picture at that time because he left on some soul searching journey or something.
I’m angry that these books got progressively worse because the first one was SO good. I really liked it and I wish Tammy Jo had progressed forward instead of backward. That would have saved this series from ending up on my “never finish” list. There’s 5 books in the series so far and I’m not sure if she plans to write more but I know I’m never going further than this with the series.

chicklit, contemporary, romance

Audiobook Review: Austenland by Shannon Hale

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Title: Austenland
Author: Shannon Hale
Narrator: Katharine Kellgren
Publisher: Macmillan Audio
Length: 6 hours, 20 minutes
Genre: Romance, Contemporary, Chicklit
Rating: 4 Folded Pages

Blurb:
Jane is a young New York woman who never seems to find the right man-perhaps because of her secret obsession with Mr. Darcy, as played by Colin Firth in the BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. When a wealthy relative bequeaths her a trip to an English resort catering to Austen-obsessed women, however, Jane’s fantasies of meeting the perfect Regency-era gentleman suddenly become more real than she ever could have imagined. Is this total immersion in a fake Austenland enough to make Jane kick the Austen obsession for good, or could all her dreams actually culminate in a Mr. Darcy of her own?

Review:
I’ve been meaning to read this for a while and after listening to Daughter of Smoke and Bone I needed something light and this was perfect! I actually finished listening to it in about 4 hours because I sped up the audiobook and I really enjoyed it.

Jane was both endearing and annoying but I tend to like my heroines with flaws so it worked for her. She was naive and a bit silly for a woman in her 30s but very believable. I enjoyed her character over all and thought she was really funny.

The beginning of the story was kind of hard to get into though. Her aunt understanding her just from seeing the DVDs and gifting her the vacation made it hard to suspend my disbelief but once I got passed it I was in the story just like any other contemporary.

I didn’t see the plot twist coming actually which is honestly such a good thing. Normally I can spot contemporary plot twists a mile away. There were two actually, but the one I did see coming.

I can’t really talk about the other characters without spoiling anything but most of them felt really 2D, which I found okay for a story like this. Because almost all the other characters were supposed to be actors I think it’s better that they didn’t feel real. I think it made the plot twist a lot harder to see actually.

 

The narrator did a great job as well. She had an American accent for Jane but was able to do the British accents for the other characters very convincingly. She read a bit slower than I normally like but thank goodness you can speed up an audiobook for things like that.

I definitely recommend giving this book a try if you’re on the edge about it. Maybe I enjoyed it so much because the book I read before it was so heavy but it’s definitely a perfect light read. I almost wish I had read it at the beach over the summer.

My Bookshelves

Reorganized my Shelves! (Sheflie #2)

So last weekend, I had the sudden urge to rearrange my room and my books. One of my bookcases was only half usable and my shelves looked super messy and it was just not fun times. I took pictures of it to share with you all!! I don’t actually have a lot of books. I have 12 shelves between my two bookcases and only 4 of the shelves are completely full of books.  Anyway, See pictures below!

reorganizing 01

Step one: Put the entirety of my bookshelves on my bed. I felt bad about this part. It’s very difficult to smush books like this. What if they had gotten irreparably bent up??

I forgot to take a picture of step two which was moving one of the empty book cases. There used to be a shelving unit holding clothes between the two cases so I moved them.

Step three: Put stuff back on shelves. below are pictures of each shelf with small descriptions!

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The top of book case 1. I painted that Chicago Skyline btw and I’m very proud!
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Top shelf on bookcase 1. These are the books and lit mags I got from my Great Grandma. Also, my BA in English writing and some sentimental but blurred pictures.
reorganizing 04
Second shelf of Bookcase 1. These are my TBR books or books I want to reread soon.
reorganizing 05
Third Shelf of Bookcase 1. These are nonfiction books and photo albums. I’d say 80% of this are English or Crtive writing books.
reorganizing 06
Fourth shelf of Bookcase 1. V boring. Just Misc. stuff.
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Whole lot of nothing. Fifth Shelf.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Bottom shelf of bookcase 1. This has my yearbooks (blurred out names just in case), folders, notebooks, video game guide books and my old laptop.
reorganizing 09
Top shelf of Bookcase 2. This has coloring books and materials, my kpop CDs, PS2 games and candles. Also a nice picture of my and my dad.
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Here’s where my fiction books start. They are organized alphabetical by Author’s last name. this shelf is A-J.
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Third shelf of bookcase 2. K-Rot fiction books. Also my super cute Tangled mug holding bookmarks and my little cousin being a dork.
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Fourth shelf of bookcase 2. This has fiction books Row-W. Also the clock my friend stole from one of the classrooms at our University. It’s broken. And my awesome Beauty and the Beast mug filled with more bookmarks.
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Fifth shelf of Bookcase 2. Not sure if this is an everyone thing or a my family thing but these are my memory boxes. They hold birthday, graduation, Christmas card and other special things I wanted to keep. The brown box is actually the box my first laptop came in.

The last shelf of bookcase 2 is empty as well so I didn’t take a picture

Anyway, now looking at my shelves makes me super happy. They’re cute and decorated and organized. I’m not sure if you guys enjoyed this but I think shelfies are an acceptable post.

Fantasy, romance, young adult

Audiobook Review: Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

daughter of smoke and bone

Title: Daughter of Smoke and Bone
Author: Laini Taylor
Narrator: Khristine Hvam
Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.
Length: 12 hours, 33 minutes
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult, Romance
Rating: 4 Folded Pages

Blurb:
Karou leads two lives. One is in the tangled streets of Prague, as an orphan and art student; the other in a clandestine workshop, overflowing with jars of teeth and wishes, run by the ram-horned magician, Brimstone—the closest thing to family Karou has ever known. She doesn’t know where she came from, but she’s about to find out. When Karou meets stunning, haunted Akiva, she finds a love whose roots drink deep of a violent past, and an ancient war that is far from over. Master storyteller Laini Taylor imagines a wholly unique fantasy about a forbidden love, an epic battle, and hope for a world remade.

Review:
Honestly, I had absolutely no idea what this book was about going into it. I just knew that I’d seen it all over book blogs and booktube and the cover was pretty. I was looking for an audiobook on my library website and it was available instantly so it worked. I’d never read the blurb until I had to find it to write this review.

I was very pleasantly surprised by it! It’s very interesting and the story feels fresh. Even the insta-love feels fresh because of how Taylor built the story around it. It’s still insta-love and kind of gets so cheesy I found myself thinking oh get a room while listening to it but I still enjoyed the romance aspect.

The book itself felt like three separate books. I’m not sure if I would have felt the same if I wasn’t listening to the audiobook version but I didn’t mind that it felt kind of separate. It’s quite a long book to listen to so I think the feeling of 3 books in one made the pacing feel faster.

I really love Karou. She’s bad ass but isn’t afraid to feel her emotions (most times). There were times where I was annoyed with her actions/decisions but that happens with every character. I do think her personality changed it bit drastically in certain parts but circumstances in the book may be able to account for that.

My favorite character is by far Zuzana, she’s feisty and definitely the voice of reason in the story. I’m not sure how I feel about Akiva. Sometimes I think he has a personality and other times he feels as flat as a sheet of paper. I hope he’s fleshed out more in future books.

The narration for this audiobook was amazing. Hvam uses different accents and tones for different characters and it totally immersed me in the story. She’s very good at various accents as well. Her pacing was perfect as well.

I really enjoyed this book and I’ve already started Days of Blood and Starlight. I really enjoy the titles in this series, too. They feel majestic.

Wrap Up/TBR

January 2016 Wrap up and February TBR

January 2016 wrap up and february tbr

 

January has been a very successful reading month!! I’m so excited I seem to finally be completely out of my reading slump. I am taking reading much slower. I think I burnt out over the summer. I was so excited to finally have all the free time in the world for fun reading instead of just school reading. Anyway, it’s been a good month. Here are all the reviews that happened. 😀

January Wrap Up

Books Rated 5 Folded Pages:
Books Rated 4-4.5 Folded Pages:
Books Rated 3-3.5 Folded Pages:
Books Rated 2-2.5 Folded Pages:
Books Rated 1-1.5 Folded Pages:
  • None!!
Books I’ve given up on:
  • None! Though I’m close to giving up on A Kiss in Time by Alex Flinn

Total books for January: 9

February To Be Read

This is a VERY loose TBR. In that, this is kind of what I’m planning on reading soon but in no means will go out of my way to read right now. I don’t want to feel pressured to read.

Biography, graphic novel

Graphic Novel Review: Persepolis 2: The Story of a Return by Marjane Satrapi

amazon haul

Title: Persepolis 2: The Story of a Return
Author: Marjane Satrapi
Translator: Anjali Singh
Publisher: Pantheon
Length: 192 Pages, Paperback
Genre: Autobiography, Graphic Novel
Rating: 5 Folded Pages

Blurb:
In Persepolis, heralded by the Los Angeles Times as “one of the freshest and most original memoirs of our day,” Marjane Satrapi dazzled us with her heartrending memoir-in-comic-strips about growing up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution. Here is the continuation of her fascinating story. In 1984, Marjane flees fundamentalism and the war with Iraq to begin a new life in Vienna. Once there, she faces the trials of adolescence far from her friends and family, and while she soon carves out a place for herself among a group of fellow outsiders, she continues to struggle for a sense of belonging.

Finding that she misses her home more than she can stand, Marjane returns to Iran after graduation. Her difficult homecoming forces her to confront the changes both she and her country have undergone in her absence and her shame at what she perceives as her failure in Austria. Marjane allows her past to weigh heavily on her until she finds some like-minded friends, falls in love, and begins studying art at a university. However, the repression and state-sanctioned chauvinism eventually lead her to question whether she can have a future in Iran.

As funny and poignant as its predecessor, Persepolis 2 is another clear-eyed and searing condemnation of the human cost of fundamentalism. In its depiction of the struggles of growing up—here compounded by Marjane’s status as an outsider both abroad and at home—it is raw, honest, and incredibly illuminating.

Review:
Satrapi’s autobiographical graphic novels are amazing. There’s no other way to put it honestly. I did end up enjoying part 1 better. I found her childhood more interesting and informative than her teenage years into adulthood.

I can’t find much else to say about Persepolis 2. Even though I enjoyed part 1 more, this book was just as intriguing and eye opening as the first. I enjoy the way Satrapi uses narration, dialogue, and art to fully display her story and the range of emotions she was catapulting through as a lone teen in a foreign country.

I hope she makes a 3rd part. I want to see how her story continued. I want to see her success and how she came to write both parts of Persepolis.

Book Haul

January 2016 Book Haul~

It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these. September was the last one actually. I did buy 2 books in December but it wasn’t worth a haul. Anyway, I’m back and I’m super excited with the books I bought this month before going back on a book buying ban. (IT WILL HAPPEN).


Barnes and Noble!

My grandma gave me a gift card to BN for Christmas (Sadly the only book related Christmas gift I got, T-T). Of course I ended up spending way more than the gift card but it was totally worth it. 😀

Barnes and noble haul

From top to bottom:

  • The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern- Goodreads
  • Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan – Goodreads
  • A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray- Goodreads
  • Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge – Goodreads
  • In the Afterlight by Alexandra Bracken – Goodreads
  • Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi – Goodreads – Reviewamazon haul
Amazon!!

 

I usually try to avoid buying books from Amazon to be honest but after reading part 1 of Persepolis I couldn’t wait to get my hands on part to so I ordered it almost as soon as I finished the first part.

 

 

 

Half Price Books!!!

half price books haul

I went to Half Price Books to sell some books I didn’t like or books I knew I would read. I made $8 off about 10 books which is actually a really good exchange for the store but then I ended up spending almost $60 on 7 more books so it’s really kind of a moot point.

  • Disney Princess Art Therapy (let me know if you guys might like reviews of adult coloring books because I color a lot tbh)
  • The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness – Goodreads
  • The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness – Goodreads
  • Four by Veronica Roth – Goodreads
  • Blameless by Gail Carriger – GoodreadsReview
  • Heartless by Gail Carriger – Goodreads
  • Timeless by Gail Carriger – Goodreads

Do you have an January Book Haul? Post a link in the comments and I’ll go check it out!