Saturday, September 30, 2017

September Wrap-Up

This month was fantastic for awesome books, mostly thanks to all the free time I had during my family's annual beach vacation. Yay for YA!!! Maybe I'm finally out of my slump?

Books I Read

The Inexplicable Logic of My Life by Benjamin Alire Sáenz


It's not quite Aristotle and Dante levels of wow, but WOW. This author's ability to keep my interest throughout an unusually long contemporary with little plot is largely due to how good he is at writing characters. I love his characters, every single one of them. The friendship, family dynamics, love of dogs (dogs who don't die, might I add!), and food (homemade tortillas . . . *drools*) made this story something I missed reading when I was doing something else. It was such a cozy book to curl up with before bed, even if it made me cry like twelve times.

Made You Up by Francesca Zappia


It was wacky, unique, and not at all what I expected, but I really enjoyed it! I liked Alex and Miles a lot, even though they semi-hated each other at first. And I loved Alex's younger sister, Charlie. She was adorable. I can't remember ever seeing schizophrenia portrayed in any YA novel I've read before, so that was fascinating (and anxiety-inducing). THAT PLOT TWIST, THOUGH. No spoilers, but if you've read the book, you know what I'm talking about.

Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia


September was the month of Francesca Zappia, and this book did not disappoint. I LOVED it. I especially identified with Eliza as an introverted fangirl who spends lots of time online and on my phone, but, like Eliza, I'm actually being very social online! Some of my best friends were made through fan-fiction and forums, and they live in other states and countries and time zones, but they're still great friendships. The romance was super cute and the story reminded me a lot of Fangirl if it were set in high school. I highly recommend this one.

History Is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera


I finally read an Adam Silvera book after much hype from the internet, so thank you, internet, for a great recommendation! These characters were all kinds of broken and full of bad decisions, but I couldn't blame them for most of them, because they're in a terrible situation. Don't expect a light and fluffy read when you pick this up. It's dark and sad and will break your heart, but you'll love it anyways. Other than a plot that was a little too slow for my liking, I enjoyed this one a lot.

Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven


I should have loved this, seeing as it's Jennifer Niven and I adored All the Bright Places, but I . . . did not. I liked it. I liked Jack, even if he did some crappy things sometimes. I felt bad for him. I felt bad for Libby, too, and even though she's not a bad character, I couldn't connect with her. Something about her didn't feel real to me. She was too perfect and a little self-righteous. I didn't believe the romance and there was definitely a big plot hole or two. However, yay for diversity! It dealt with some really tough issues and I liked how it was handled. Not a bad read, overall.

One of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus


So. Many. Plot twists. I really should've seen some of them coming, but I didn't, and that's largely due to the really freaking great use of four unreliable narrators. Seriously, they're written so well that you can't help but love them and simultaneously suspect they're murderers. I heard it's being developed into a TV show, too, which is an excellent choice, because I binged this book late into the night and enjoyed every second of it.

Crosstalk by Connie Willis


God, I was so. Bored. If I hadn't read it for a book club, I would have called it a DNF a hundred pages in. But no, I forced myself through 600 PAGES of nonsense. I didn't like the main character, couldn't stand most of the side characters, found the romance forced, and wondered how in the world an author managed to make telepathy a snooze-fest. The concept was really cool and should have worked, but thanks to a wandering plot and poor editing, it was so hard to keep my focus on the book.

Lumberjanes, Vol. 1: Beware the Kitten Holy by Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, Shannon Watters, and Brooke A. Allen


This was adorable and I'm sad my library only has the one copy. Reading Lumberjanes was like reading a paranormal, outdoorsy version of my writer's camps. The quirky characters really made the story pop. Such a fun, cozy read.

Movies I Watched

No movies for me, just a bunch of really good books.

Quotes I Wrote

Didn't get to a whole lot of writing, either, but I did start planning my NaNoWriMo novel, which is turning into a much improved version of my novel from last year, which totally failed. But I'm okay with that, because this novel is shaping up to be much better.

Obsessions I Acquired

This cover of "Waving Through a Window" - aoisdjfoaiuweroajsdf Just when I thought I couldn't love Thomas Sanders and Dodie more than I already do, they do THIS. Petition for Thomas Sanders to play Evan Hansen on Broadway??? PLEASE?????? They're all so adorable.

Picture of the Month 

My friend Sam had a "Psycho" themed birthday party and the decorations were awesome. I didn't realize I was the only one in this picture making a normal face until afterwards.

Beach vacation!
Some books I was considering getting. I managed to pare down the possibilities eventually.
Scout tried on my brother's sunglasses.
Teaching my mom how to dab.
My dad and I spent an entire day making this Wonder Woman costume from scratch for Time Traveler's Day at the Renaissance Faire. It looked so cool once it was finished. I got a bunch of comments from the actors about the "woman of wonder" and several wide-eyed expressions from little girls. A cello player even started playing the Wonder Woman movie theme when I walked by.
We found the TARDIS!

How was your September?

Saturday, September 23, 2017

#IDareYou Book Tag

I stole this tag from Cait at "Paper Fury" (with her permission, of course). Feel free to take this for yourselves later, for your own blog or to do in the comments. Have fun!

1. What book has been on your shelves the longest?

If we're talking about a TBR shelf, probably something like Legend by Marie Lu. I bought it during my dystopian craze, but now that YA fiction is completely saturated with that genre, I'm waiting to read it until I gain interest again. I'm sure it's great, but I read so many dystopian books, I can't even think about reading another one right now.

2. What is your current read, your last read, and the book you’ll read next?

Current read: Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven (I like it okay so far, but All the Bright Places is so much better.)

Last read: History is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera (A little long, but oh-so-very good!)

Book I'll read next: One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus (A "Breakfast Club"-esque murder mystery? Yes please!)

3. What book did everyone like, but you hated?

I won't say I hated these books, but I disliked them enough to either not finish or barely finish them: The Book Thief, To All the Boys I've Loved Before, Catcher in the Rye, The Maze Runner, and Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children.

4. What book do you keep telling yourself you'll read, but you probably won't?

Demon Road by Derek Landy, but only because I CAN'T FIND IT ANYWHERE. Not a single bookstore nor library I've been to has carried it. Grrr.

5. Which book are you saving for retirement?

Why save any book for retirement when you can read it now?

6. Last page: Do you read it first or wait until the end?

What kind of monster reads the last page first???????????????

7. Acknowledgements: Are they a waste of paper and ink or interesting?

SO fascinating! I never used to read them, but I read them all the time now. I mostly scan them, but it's super fun seeing which authors are friends with each other, because it makes them seem like real people as opposed to a pair of disembodied hands at a keyboard. I also like to see which agent represents them if it's a book similar to one I'm shopping around, because I can query them.

8. Which book character would you switch places with?

Um, none of them. All of my favorite characters either end up dead, watch their friends and family die, or have to save the world and that is wayyy too much pressure.

9. Do you have a book that reminds you of something specific in your life?

I have tons. I love how books evoke emotions so strong, I'm instantly able to recall where and when I read them and what was going on around me when I did. It's super fascinating.

I read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone countless times on the stairs at night after my brother had gone to sleep. We used to share a room, so if I wanted light to read, I'd have to sneak out of my room and sit on the stairway. It was closed off from the downstairs, with a door leading to the living room, so sometimes I'd pause my reading and try to listen to what my parents were watching on TV.

Both Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda and The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli will always remind me of my birthday, because I read Simon on my sixteenth and Upside on my seventeenth.

Requiem by Lauren Oliver was read in the car on long rides to and from string orchestra when I was about eleven or twelve.

I read Starflight by Melissa Landers at a writer's camp. All of the kids there loved horror movies (I have no real interest in watching them), so at night when they camped out in somebody's room to watch, I'd hang out in my room and read until they were finished and we moved on to a different activity.

Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum was the exact fluffy read I needed when I was lying on the couch, super tired and very sick.

Alex and Eliza by Melissa de la Cruz and When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon were books I read on the train to New York City to see Broadway shows.

Cress by Marissa Meyer and We Were Liars by E. Lockhart were the only books not packed away in boxes when my family moved, so when I was in an empty house with no internet, I didn't have a hard time finding things to do. Both books were excellent.

Books I vividly remember reading over the years during my family's annual beach vacation: Paper Towns by John Green, The Krillitane Storm by Christopher Cooper, Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell, I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson, Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater, Made You Up by Francesca Zappia, and Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia.

On the topic of beach vacations, we always made a trip to the indie bookstore on the boardwalk before leaving. I remember one year I bought a copy of Divergent by Veronica Roth and read at least half of it, if not more, on the car ride home. I was instantly sucked into that world and the trip flew by.

I read most of Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas when extended family came out to visit. It was a great way to snatch up a few minutes here and there of much-needed introverted recharging.

We Know It Was You by Maggie Thrash was read while the "Beauty and the Beast" soundtrack played in the background so I could memorize the songs for the show I was in.

I distinctly remember finishing The Catcher in the Rye one morning in bed, slamming the book shut with a groan, and tossing it across the room.

I read most of Passenger by Alexandra Bracken during slow shifts at work (I work at a movie theater and it is dead on school days).

My family went to Washington D.C. for the cherry blossom festival, and since there was so much traffic on the way home, I was able to read most of The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky.

I read The Gathering by Kelley Armstrong in every spare moment during a homeschool group trip to Colonial Williamsburg.

This past Halloween, I went out on the front porch with a bowl of candy to hand out to the neighbor kids while I read Misery by Stephen King while the sun went down. It was an excellent way to spend the holiday.

My brother and I volunteered to help out at our local library's book sale, but it was so slow, I ended up spending most of my time reading Carry On by Rainbow Rowell.

10. Name a book that you acquired in an interesting way.

Nothing comes to mind right now. My books come in pretty usual ways: gifts, bookstores, giveaways/contests, etc.

11. Have you ever given away a book for a special reason to a special person?

I buy my friends books I think they'd like for most birthdays and Christmases.

12. Which book has been with you the most places?

Definitely any of my Harry Potter copies. I used to take paperbacks with me on every long road trip.

13. Any "required reading" you hated in high school that wasn't so bad two years later?

Since I'm still in high school, I can't answer this question yet. But I have a feeling some of the classics I felt pretty "meh" about I'll end up liking once I'm older.

14. Used or brand new?

Both! Brand new is nice and shiny, totally yours, and handy when you want to read a new book. Used copies are cheap and sometimes it's interesting wondering who underlined that quote or who wrote that message on the inside cover?

15. Have you ever read a Dan Brown book?

I'm reading The Da Vinci Code now.

16. Have you ever seen a movie that you liked more than the book?

If I have, I don't remember it. Most books are wayyy better.

17. A book that's made you hungry?

Anna and the French Kiss. I wanted so many crêpes! Also Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda for Oreos, The Upside of Unrequited for cookie dough (Becky Albertalli is on a mission to make me crave desserts), and The Inexplicable Logic of My Life for homemade tortillas.

18. Who is the person whose book advice you'll always take?

Cait, Lara Liz, and my mom.

19. Most read authors?

J.K. Rowling, Rainbow Rowell, Cassandra Clare, and A.S. King all come to mind.

20. Ship from two different books?

This is too hard to answer because most of my favorite characters who are extremely shippable I end up shipping with another character in the same book!

Tag, you're it! If you don't want to do the whole tag, you could always answer a couple questions I'm especially curious about in the comments: What are your answers for #9 and #20?

Friday, September 8, 2017

Bookish Bucket List

1. Meet J.K. Rowling

Ha. Ha ha.

2. Attend a book conference

YALLFest looks pretty darn amazing. And Rainbow Rowell attends a lot of these. I would LOVE to meet her!

3. Be an extra in a movie adaptation

I could be somebody walking in the background, or pretending to talk in a restaurant while the real action happens. Then there's the chance that I could meet the actors playing my favorite characters. Or maybe even meet the author. I just about died of envy when I heard about Margot Wood being an extra in the Simon movie.

4. Be followed on Twitter by one of my favorite authors

Then again, no matter how thrilled I'd be by this, a little part of me would panic every time I sent a tweet. "Oh god they're following me what did I say was that tweet spelled correctly I need to edit that WAIT I CAN'T EDIT TWEETS I'LL JUST DELETE IT AND START OVER."

5. Write a book blurb for a back cover

You know, those blurbs that only go to people like John Green and Stephen King? It would be awesome to write one of those. Especially since I'd probably write it for something I absolutely adore, so I'd get to help endorse the book and shove it into people's hands.

6. Work in a bookstore and/or library

Getting paid real money to be around books all day and recommend them to people??? This is basically a dream job.

7. Adapt a book for a movie, TV show, or Broadway musical

How. Cool. Would. This. Be.

8. Complete my TBR list so I can read books as they come out

Again . . . ha. Ha ha.

9. Stay up all night reading

This hasn't happened (yet), but I've come pretty close. I think I could do it if I had plenty of caffeine and the absolute perfect book at my disposal.

10. Read the whole Harry Potter series to my kids

Or read along to the audio. These are some of my favorite childhood memories, so I'd love to provide the same experience to my kids someday.

What's on your bookish bucket list? Leave a comment!

Monday, September 4, 2017

August Wrap-Up

Books I Read

Half Bad by Sally Green 


I was so excited to read this, because it looked like a super unique fantasy trilogy that everyone was in love with. It did have an interesting premise, a strong start, and a promising plot, but . . . the plot wandered, the last half dragged on, and it couldn't keep my attention because I was bored. I couldn't connect with the protagonist, either. I felt sorry for him at first, but I was so disinterested by the end, I didn't care all that much what happened. This book wasn't really for me. I probably won't continue.

Fun Home by Alison Bechdel


Wow, this was a fascinating read! I'll get my couple negatives out of the way, because it was a good book and that should be the focus. 1. The story jumped around in time a lot in what seemed mostly like a random order. Sometimes that works, but I didn't think it did with this book. 2. There was a lot told through narration, which made me wonder if a novel would've worked better than a graphic novel? I'm just more used to speech bubbles when I'm reading a graphic novel. But, it was a super interesting memoir about a dysfunctional family (with most of the dysfunction coming from the father). I loved all the connections Alison Bechdel made to literature, because there were a ton of parallels when it came to her life and literary stories.

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon


This was another one I'd heard nothing but good about and couldn't wait to read, but I was so disappointed. Very little kept me reading to the end, and that was because I'd 1. invested so much time already in this book and 2. was a little curious what happened because I did still like the characters. First of all, personal issue here, but I think using the third person for a YA contemporary romance is super odd. We hardly ever see anything but first person when reading YA contemporaries these days. Third person only works if you can still make me feel really connected to the characters, and I did not feel that way. Usually dialogue is able to make up for that, but the dialogue in this book was so unnatural. There were whole conversations that took place simply because it moved the plot forward, which is what dialogue is supposed to do, but it's also supposed to do that without the reader realizing it. Grr. I did love the diversity! It was really cool to read about Indian culture from two American-Indian teenagers with two very different perspectives! Buuuuut, it dealt with these issues in a really preachy, awkward way. I've talked with my teenage friends about social issues. We don't talk like that. The nerdiness was great and I loved the concept of a coding camp where everyone's in a competition to create an app, but for the whole six or so weeks they were at the camp they? Never?? Once??? Showed them???? In class????? Why. Why why why. That could've made things way more interesting and added a ton more tension (which was sorely lacking in the middle) rather than sending Dimple and Rishi to various restaurants for lunch every day. I love food, but food does not make up for a slow plot that wanders and repeats itself. One of the big saving graces to this book was that, however unrealistic several parts of it were, the romance was cute! Downright adorable! I totally shipped it. I mean, when a girl flings her iced coffee at a boy during their first meeting, it's all uphill from there. So, as you can see, I have a lot of feelings (mostly mixed) about this book, but it wasn't bad.

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood


Now this was a good book. It had a haunting plot, which was mostly creepy due to the fact that parts of it weren't far off from things that could happen today. It was gripping in a can't-take-your-eyes-away-from-this-trainwreck sort of sense. I loved the writing on a sentence level. Margaret Atwood had a beautiful descriptive style. The awkward and abrupt arrangement of scenes made it hard to reenter the book sometimes, but it's eventually explained why it's written that way. While it made sense, I can't decide if it made up for the fact that it wasn't enjoyable during the whole time I was trying to make sense of it. That, and the storyworld with a confusing hierarchy that's never quite explained. All in all, though, I'd definitely recommend reading it.

Movies I Watched



I love "Heathers" the musical, so I was excited to watch the movie inspiration behind it, but, fitting in with the common theme of high expectations not being met, I was a little disappointed. It being billed as a dark comedy is a little misleading. The musical, definitely, is a dark comedy. The movie is mostly just dark. Everyone was cast really well and definitely fit their characters, but I didn't connect with them as well as I did in the musical. I also missed the friendship Veronica had with Martha. It wasn't really shown at all during the movie. The ending also fell flat for me. Maybe I would've liked it a lot better if I didn't have anything to compare it to, but while it was entertaining and still had that over-the-top premise that made it so unique, I didn't like it as much as I thought I would.

"Catch Me If You Can"


This was so fun!! And good!! I love heist films and sympathetic criminals and all that great gray area (or not-so-gray area) stuff. The fact that the whole story was based off of a true story made it that much better. What a crazy movie filled with tons of twists. I was hooked the entire time. Anything Tom Hanks is in is bound to be 1,000 times better than it would be if he wasn't in it. Definitely watch this movie if you haven't already.

Quotes I Wrote

            “The answer to all our problems!” Jezebelle gestured vaguely with her bottle. “We have got to visit the mermaids!”
            “Dear God, no, absolutely not.” Lincoln stood up, pulling Jezebelle off the table. “You can have a family reunion some other time, preferably when I’m far, far away.”
            “Oh, don’t be such greasy wig.” Rufus waved a hand in Lincoln’s direction. “I love your family, Jez. We ought to pay them a visit.”
            “We’ve got nowhere to be.” Zahira shrugged and leapt onto the table, taking Jezebelle’s place. “Why don’t we go to Starryedge?”
            Lincoln crossed his arms. “Because it’s filled with a bunch of superstitious fish people who try to tell me wearing black shortens my lifespan by ten years?”
            “They’ve got a point, mate. Black is not your color.” Rufus wiggled a finger at Lincoln’s current outfit: layers upon layers of dark clothing. “Makes you look pale.”

-Captain Zahira and Her Wayward Crew

Obsessions I Acquired

Brittain Ashford's voice - Not only is she fantastic in "Natasha, Pierre, & the Great Comet of 1812" as Sonya, but she also has a band, Prairie Empire! All of her music is so good. I love how unique her voice is. Two seconds into any song and you know immediately it's her singing. Here's her solo from the "Great Comet" that could totally stand on its own as a single from the musical.


Picture of the Month 

Charlie and Mikey came out to visit again and we had a blast, as always!
My dad took my brother and me to see "Great Comet" and it was SUCH A COOL EXPERIENCE.
With Balaga!
Brittain Ashford, who's just adorable.
Dave Malloy, who sounds exactly like he does when he's singing.
Dana and I went to Lititz and goofed off, as you can see.
How was your August?