Thursday, April 17, 2014

To All the Boys I've Loved Before

by Jenny Han
4/5 stars
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2014
352 pages
YA Contemporary

Source: Received an ARC through Amazon Vine in exchange for an honest review.

The title of this book sounds super romantic-like it would be filled with romantic confessions to all the boys she's loved before. Happily though this book is about so much more with insight into the whole crazy growing up process and, to my special delight, a focus on the sister-sister relationship in a healthy family setting.

Lara Jean has written five love letters to the boys who have variously claimed her heart. These letters are extremely personal, never meant to be read by any of the boys. However in a cruel twist the letters are mailed out to the boys, throwing her life into turmoil.

Frighteningly one of those letters goes to Josh, the ex-boyfriend of her beloved older sister Margot who has left for college abroad, putting Lara Jean and younger sister Kitty to take care of each other and their widowed father. Another letter goes to the very popular Peter who agrees to masquerade in a fake relationship with Lara Jean to make his ex jealous.

Though my summary of this book leans heavily on the boys part of the title, I was so pleased that family/sisters ends up taking up so much page time. Plus Lara Jean even has a few friends and interactions with classmates. What I mean is that there is a lot to grab your attention if you're looking for more in your contemporary than just romance (which I almost always am; yes, sometimes you just need to read about two people falling in love but in general I want a lot more plot threads.)

The romantic parts are really sweet though. Lara Jean really has to wrestle with her feelings for Josh and Peter as well as even a few other boys. I was pretty sure what was going to happen but was committed to the ride. My one disappointment with this book was how the ending felt so unresolved. Turns out there is a good reason for that-this is the first in a duology and presumably the second book will wrap up everything and leave me feeling satisfied.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Check-In

Yay-I managed to get a review up yesterday! (I need to praise myself for every little thing nowadays...) I still have two more reviews to get up, for books received through Amazon Vine. However while I've been doing a bit more reading these days, I'm not reading YA nor do I feel very motivated to review these adult books. I read a Rhys Bowen and Mercedes Lackey, two authors I have long adored but have trouble reviewing. They were comfort reads and they helped to briefly perk me up. Right now I am reading Kate Atkinson's Life After Life which is weird and I don't anticipate reviewing it nor would I necessarily recommend it to anyone.
I guess what I'm trying to say is that I'm still struggling to get back into reviewing/commenting mode but at least I am reading and I do have things to write about.

Like how I took last Friday off to hang out with my sister on her last day of spring break. We saw Captain America 2 (she is a huge Marvel fan) and just relaxed. More interestingly  I reorganized my nightstand, bathroom, and closet (all sorely in need of some attention) and it helped me spend a bit of time thinking about how I want this quarter to look.

I've read about how it takes about thirty days to instill or break a new habit so in year, you could make or break 12 good or bad habits by focusing on one each month. I have chosen an overall theme for the quarter and smaller goals for each month.

Quarter Goal: JOY-as I've shared, I have not felt great, which has spilled over into blogging but has also seriously impacted my relationships and life in general. I have spent a lot of time just staring at walls lately and it's pretty sad. So I wanted to focus on some basics to change the direction of my life so that hopefully I will be more joyful when the second half of the year comes around.

April: Fitness-I am attempting to run at least 1 mile every day in April (3 miles on weekends) with an eventual goal of running 3 miles in 30 minutes. Right now a 15 minute mile is a bit of a challenge for me...I mostly just want to get in the habit of running this month. Maybe it will take me all year to reach the 30 minutes but I've never been a big runner and I think the running every day is more important than the distance covered.

May: Future-there are two things I'm thinking about in regards to this; one is financial and private while the other is returning to my novel. Yes, I am a cliche blogger who wants to write a novel. However my main goal is to see if I can write a long form piece of fiction and stick with it until it is complete instead of abandoning it when I get bored. It is not for publication nor really for anyone to ever read. I just want to do it for myself (I don't know why the novel gets lumped into future but it made sense to me on Friday.)

June: Philanthropy-I am very aware of how blessed I am and I believe that we are blessed so that we can bless. I volunteer with a children's program throughout the school year and donate financially to charities but I wanted to explore other opportunities in this month and find other ways to be of service.

Does anyone else make up goals for themselves using this month by month structure? Has anyone read Life After Life? I'm about halfway through and I'm following the plot but I think I'm missing a lot of the richness that has earned it such raves.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Cress

by Marissa Meyer
5/5 stars
Feiwel and Friends, 2014
550 pages
YA Science-Fiction Fairy Tale

Source: Library

Though Cinder did not impress me the way I had hoped it would, Scarlet completely changed the way I felt about this series, bringing me to the point of rabid fandom. Though I knew I wanted to check out third book Cress, I was also nervous. Meyer seemed to be adding new characters in every go-around and I worried it would feel too packed and some would end up overlooked. Happily that was not the case for me because I thoroughly enjoyed this third installment and am eagerly anticipating Winter's release next year.

*SPOILERS FROM THE FIRST TWO BOOKS*

As in the previous books, this one weaves in a new fairy tale, this time "Rapunzel" as you might be able to guess from the cover. Our titular character is Cress, who is an ostracized Lunar girl, raised in captivity and considered valuable for her technological skills. Our intrepid crew of Cinder, Scarlet, Wolf, and Thorne have grabbed her attention and despite her mistress's demand to find them, Cress has instead protected them. A chance communication leads to a bungled rescue mission with the five scattered: Cinder and Wolf crash land and reunite with Dr. Erland, Cress and a now blind Thorne crash in the Sahara, and Scarlet is captured by the Lunars. Meanwhile Kai is desperately trying to protect his people as his marriage to the evil Lunar Queen draws near. So basically there's a lot going on.

I really fell for Cress in this book. She's so innocent and naive, a total dreamer and I could fully sympathize with her longing for a hero as she decides Thorne fits the bill. But don't underestimate her! She's got the brains and nerve to play a big role in Cinder's plan to thwart Kai's marriage and I anticipate her being very important in book three. Of course, with the emphasis of Cress we spend a lot less time with the other characters particularly Scarlet who is completely separated from the characters we know. However I continue to be impressed with how Meyer skillfully weaves threads and ties everything together. I look forward to seeing the grand finale in Winter.

On the one hand, this book did seem a little long. Have you seen it in person? It's a veritable doorstop. And I'm not always sure that each scene furthered the main plot. But on the other hand, there are so many character scenes especially between Thorne and Cress that add to the richness of the world. I just want to hang out with them and follow all of their little adventures that contribute to the overarching plot. Did anyway else feel this push and pull while reading?

Overall: You should read this BUT only if you've read the first two books as I'm not sure how much sense it makes otherwise. Then you can join the rest of us in counting down the days until the conclusion arrives!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Ramblings and the Week to Come 30MAR14

Update:
Whoa-another post already! I'm still working on getting back into blogging but thought I could at least put up another "checking in" post. Yesterday I posted my first review in a while (Evertrue by Brodi Ashton) and boy was it hard to get back in the groove. I really struggled to form sentences and it's a bit shorter than I expected it to be. Oh well-I know that I am forever a work in progress...

Fun, Fun, Fun:
Last month, the gals at Rather Be Reading notified me that I was featured in the blurbs for Tiffany Schmidt's Send Me a Sign in paperback. I knew I'd want a copy but I only finally got around to buying one and snapped a picture to share below. I've never seen my pseudonym used before for praising a book. For my full thoughts, be sure to check out my review!

What I've Been Reading:
I started Marissa Meyer's Cress and am working my way through this behemoth. I am also reading Maximize Your Potential edited by Jocelyn K Glei, which is really speaking to me as I think about my career aspirations. I doubt that I'll be reviewing it as I usually struggle to write coherently about non-fiction but at least I'm getting some reading done. I was at the library today and also picked up the latest Rhys Bowen mystery and some Mercedes Lackey books. I think I partly overwhelmed myself with too many e-ARCs. I loved seeing them accumulate on my reader but then it was just too much. Expect to see far fewer in general moving forward as I attempt to regain my equilibrium.

Week to Come:
As many as three reviews if I get my act together so we'll see :)

What have you been reading?

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Evertrue

by Brodi Ashton
3/5 stars
Balzer + Bray, 2014
355 pages
YA Paranormal

Source: Library

I'll admit that I didn't start this book in the best mood, being somewhat mired in a blogging/reading/real-life funk. However I was sure this would be just the book to pull me out of that due to how much I enjoyed its predecessors Everneath and Everbound. However as you can see from my rating, such was not the case. It's not that the book left me upset or wanting to throw it against the wall (which has been the case with some conclusions to trilogies); it just seemed to fizzle out.

How do I mean? Whereas I found the plotting engaging in the previous books, here everything seemed to move at a glacial pace. Though Nikki and Jack basically retain their characters, with Jack pumped up more aggressively than before due to events in book two, Cole has an abrupt personality change that completely threw off the tone of the book to me. While I was never a fan of Cole (and kind of wanted to throw book two against the wall after what he did), I felt he was really done a disservice by the events of this book. I've seen some fans of his decry this direction so I don't feel the need to add my voice to that chorus but when even a Jack fan finds Cole's treatment egregious...

Something I did really like was Nikki and Jack's plotting to destroy the Everneath. They narrow it down to three steps, three incredibly difficult steps, and spend much of the book attempting to discover if these three things can be accomplished before mounting an effort. Their explorations into these different facets of the Everneath were fascinating even though I still struggled sometimes with picturing everything-this has remained constant throughout all three books.

Overall: A bit of a disappointing conclusion to me-whatever initial fascination this series held wore off early on in this book and I never recaptured that feeling to my disappointment :( I'm glad I completed the trilogy for sure but I'm not sure it was entirely worth the wait.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Where has Bookworm1858 been?

Hi all! I know it's been a long time (in fact this is the first post I've made in March!) There are two main reasons for this:
1. My work stuff continues to be crazy. It was supposed to die down after March 1 but we're pushing ahead through April 1. Then everything is supposed to become more settled-I'll believe it when I see it!
2. Some personal things have happened as well-not anything I want to discuss with the whole world but very impactful on me.

Consequently I haven't had much free time so I haven't read much-I think I've read three books this entire month, all of which I do plan to review...eventually. When I do have free time, I have tended to either play Freecell or stare at a wall. It's been tough for me but even just writing this post has me more excited about giving blogging more time. I have still been reading posts and comments for me though I haven't commented very much.

I thank everyone who has reached out to me-it means so much to me! I am *hoping *to get up a review later this week and then two more next week plus another check-in post. I also want to stop by your posts and get caught up on your life. I miss you all and I'm sorry I haven't been as present as I've been in the past.

Much love,

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday: Don't Call Me Baby


Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine


Got another contemporary title for y'all here, one that deals with something very of our time:

Don't Call Me Baby by Gwendolyn Heasley
Published by HarperTeen
Releases April 22, 2014
All her life, Imogene has been known as the girl on THAT blog.

Imogene's mother has been writing an incredibly embarrassing, and incredibly popular, blog about her since before she was born. Hundreds of thousands of perfect strangers knew when Imogene had her first period. Imogene's crush saw her "before and after" orthodontia photos. But Imogene is fifteen now, and her mother is still blogging about her, in gruesome detail, against her will.

When a mandatory school project compels Imogene to start her own blog, Imogene is reluctant to expose even more of her life online...until she realizes that the project is the opportunity she's been waiting for to tell the truth about her life under the virtual microscope and to define herself for the first time.

Don't Call Me Baby is a sharply observed and irrepressibly charming story about mothers and daughters, best friends and first crushes, and the surface-level identities we show the world online and the truth you can see only in real life.
I remember seeing Heasley's debut Where I Belong but never getting a chance to read it so this will end up being my first exposure to her writing. Of course, I have a longtime love of contemporary stories but the mother/daughter relationship and technology angle are really appealing to me from the synopsis above. Nowadays this is how a lot of people are growing up! I'm super grateful that my mom took loads of pictures of me and is filled with stories about my childhood but I'm even more grateful that they haven't been shared online with strangers because I would find that super embarrassing.

Does this sound interesting to you? I was able to download a copy from Edelweiss and will be publishing a review closer to the release date so we can discuss :)

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