January 19, 2018

Random Friday: Things That Make Me Laugh

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Do you have go-to things when you're feeling down that you know will make you laugh and cheer you up? Here are four things I turn to.

1. Vine comps
Vine may be gone, but its end meant that people compiled videos on Tumblr and YouTube of their favorite Vines. They get a bit repetitive, and I've seen some of my least favorite Vines too many times. BUT there are good ones, and they're great fun.

2. John Mulaney's comedy
John Mulaney is an American treasure. 

3. Good sitcoms
Looking at you, Full House and The Cosby Show. (Although I acknowledge the latter is a problematic fave now that all that stuff about Bill Cosby has come to light.)

4. History jokes
I'm a history nerd, so I love a good history joke/pun. I have a whole Pinterest board devoted to them.

So what types of things make you laugh?

January 18, 2018

Review: A Quiet Kind of Thunder

A Quiet Kind of Thunder by Sara Barnard
Grade: C+
An e-galley was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Summary: Steffi has been a selective mute for most of her life. The condition’s name has always felt ironic to her, because she certainly does not “select” not to speak. In fact, she would give anything to be able to speak as easily and often as everyone around her can. She suffers from crippling anxiety, and uncontrollably, in most situations simply can’t open her mouth to get out the words.

Steffi’s been silent for so long that she feels completely invisible. But Rhys, the new boy at school, sees her. He’s deaf, and her knowledge of basic sign language means that she’s assigned to help him acclimate. To Rhys, it doesn’t matter that Steffi doesn’t talk. As they find ways to communicate, Steffi discovers that she does have a voice, and that she’s falling in love with the one person who makes her feel brave enough to use it. But as she starts to overcome a lifelong challenge, she’ll soon confront questions about the nature of her own identity and the very essence of what it is to know another person.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: I usually don't mind books where there isn't a significant plot - that's why contemporary is one of my favorite genres - but there were just enough things in A Quiet Kind of Thunder that kept me from loving it, apart from the quiet plot.
I really liked that Steffi had anxiety and selective mutism and Rhys was deaf. Deaf culture is so beautiful to me, and I appreciate that it's starting to be featured in more books. How the two of them got started reminded me a little of Eliza and Wallace in Eliza and Her Monsters, mainly because those two wrote notes instead of talking a lot and that's also how Rhys and Steffi communicated.
I liked Steffi all right; she didn't feel like a particularly special character. Rhys was also a bit bland. I would've liked more with Tem, Steffi's best friend. And I wanted some flashbacks with Steffi's stepbrother, so I would understand the emotion in that relationship.
Like I said before, there isn't really a plot. A Quiet Kind of Thunder was more about character growth and romance. Once again, that isn't a bad thing. I think I expected just a little bit more out of it, though. I would've liked just a little more focus on Steffi's part on her goals and desires when it came to university and career just because plenty of sixteen and seventeen year olds worry about those things. Also, at times, I felt Steffi spoke with more ease than the synopsis led me to believe. Of course I expected an arc to develop, so I figured she'd have fewer problems as the book went on, but it still didn't seem to be as much of an issue at the beginning. 
More language than I anticipated. There's also a sex scene that was more descriptive than I was used to in YA, and then there was some underage drinking.

The Verdict: Not a terrible read by any means. 

Will I be adding this book to my library?: I don't think so.

January 17, 2018

Why I Love Eliza and Her Monsters

Confession: this book wasn't on my TBR list until five months before it released (which, for me, is a short time). I knew about but hadn't read the author's debut novel; it didn't sound like my thing, so I was tentative going into this book.

I bought it without reading it because I had this inkling that it would be an Emma Book, and, wow, was I right.

But why do I love Eliza and Her Monsters so much?

1. "You found me in a constellation."
Of course that phrase only has meaning if you've read the book, but it's so poetic and lovely.

2. Eliza's growth.
Eliza has anxiety, which is palpable on almost every page, and my heart ached for her (while also recognizing some of my own behavior). There's no magical cure, but she manages to grow and find new boundaries.

3. Her brothers' growth
Her two brothers, Church and Sully, are such great siblings. They don't quite understand Eliza at first, but they stand up for her when it matters most. Plus, they're young teenage boys. I have a good feeling they'll become even better beyond the scope of the story.

4. Wallace's sisters
This is such a character-driven book, and although Wallace's sisters aren't super important, they still had strong moments and developed personalities.

5. Emmy and Max
Eliza's two friends when the book starts are ones she met online. I loved how Francesca Zappia showed just how rich and deep that type of friendship can be. Plus, Emmy and Max had personalities and lives of their own, and I liked that they weren't there just to serve the purpose of supporting Eliza.

6. Creating
There is so much talk about creating and writing and the burn-out that can happen. As someone who had to revise 250 pages of fiction last semester while also writing more (particularly in my unfinished book that was part of those 250 pages) and doing homework for other classes, I know burn-out. Over Christmas break, I wanted to write for myself, but I couldn't. My creativity was dead for a while, which was not a fun feeling.

Most of the YA community has at least heard of Eliza and Her Monsters, but if you haven't, it's a must-read.


January 15, 2018

Review: Nice Try, Jane Sinner

Nice Try, Jane Sinner by Lianne Oelke
Grade: D+
An e-galley was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Summary: The only thing 17-year-old Jane Sinner hates more than failure is pity. After a personal crisis and her subsequent expulsion from high school, she’s going nowhere fast. Jane’s well-meaning parents push her to attend a high school completion program at the nearby Elbow River Community College, and she agrees, on one condition: she gets to move out.

Jane tackles her housing problem by signing up for House of Orange, a student-run reality show that is basically Big Brother, but for Elbow River Students. Living away from home, the chance to win a car (used, but whatever), and a campus full of people who don't know what she did in high school… what more could she want? Okay, maybe a family that understands why she’d rather turn to Freud than Jesus to make sense of her life, but she'll settle for fifteen minutes in the proverbial spotlight.

As House of Orange grows from a low-budget web series to a local TV show with fans and shoddy T-shirts, Jane finally has the chance to let her cynical, competitive nature thrive. She'll use her growing fan base, and whatever Intro to Psychology can teach her, to prove to the world—or at least viewers of substandard TV—that she has what it takes to win.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: Ughhhhhhh. This book could've been so much fun but it missed all the marks from the first page. I'm sure a lot of readers will call Jane unlikeable and appreciate her for that, but I couldn't find anything interesting about her. Part of that was due to the narration style. All of the dialogue is written like a script, which keeps reader distanced from the characters. I also couldn't tell which conversations were real and which were in Jane's head. (I think the psychiatrist was all in her head? But I'm not certain.) It was also very much like a diary, which was too much. Also I'm really over books written as diaries and letters because they feel inauthentic. (How does everyone remember exact conversations and all the actions of their day?) Holly and Raj ended up not being that important, but I barely remember any details about them. Chaunt'Elle lasted longer, but I don't know anything concrete about her either. And Tom's connection to Jane never felt right to me. I couldn't figure out who he was in her life.
Setting was never established well. Also, I didn't appreciate how Christianity was portrayed.
Waaaaaayyyyyyy too much foul language.

The Verdict: I don't understand all the hype for this book.

Will I be adding this book to my library?: No.

January 14, 2018

Rewind & Review #101

~I've officially started my last semester of college. #yikes
~It's been pretty chill so far? (Lol, weather included.) My practicum won't start until Tuesday, so I had a lot of free time this past week.
~I got to go to Joseph-Beth on Thursday. I've definitely missed that bookstore.
~I'm taking a history class, a literature class, and a writing independent/directed study. Pretty easy semester, class-wise.

Books I Received for Review
Monday's Not Coming by Tiffany D. Jackson (from HarperCollins via Edelweiss)

Books I Bought
The Forbidden Orchid by Sharon Biggs Waller
Even the Darkest Stars by Heather Fawcett

Books I Read
American Panda by Gloria Chao 
Foolish Hearts by Emma Mills (reread) [Finished 2017 off with these two books!]
Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins (reread)
Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins (reread)
Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins (reread)
Sunset Lullaby by Robin Jones Gunn (3 stars)
Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett (reread)
The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton
Fifteenth Summer by Michelle Dalton (reread)
In a Perfect World by Trish Doller (reread)
Tout Sweet by Karen Wheeler (DNF)
This Is Our Story by Ashley Elston (4 stars)
In Search Of Us by Ava Dellaira
I See London, I See France by Sarah Mlynowski (reread)
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis (reread)
The Ship of the Dead by Rick Riordan (3 stars)

Blog Posts You Might've Missed in the Last Few Weeks
  (from 1/1-1/6)
   (from 1/7-1/13)

January 13, 2018

Books That Encourage My Wanderlust

I've officially caught the travel bug, and the following books haven't helped me whatsoever in this desire.

1. The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee
Road trip through Europe!

2. Wanderlost by Jen Malone
Another European road trip.

3. I See London, I See France by Sarah Mlynowski
So much Europe.

4. Paris, My Sweet by Amy Thomas
All the French bakeries.

5. The Girl from Everywhere by Heidi Heilig
Hawaii, China, fictional places, different times...

6. A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray
Different dimensions are just as worthy of wanderlust.

7. Wish You Were Italian by Kristin Rae
A giant love letter to Italy, especially Cinque Terre.

8. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
Paris. <3

9. Hello, I Love You by Katie M. Stout
South Korea!

10. Heist Society by Ally Carter
Paris, London, and more. ^.^

Are there any books that make you want to travel?

January 11, 2018

Professor Emma Teaches How to Be a Spy

Not sure how qualified I am to teach this class (although that information could be classified, haha), but I've got a good set of books to guide this class.

1. Gallagher Girls series by Ally Carter

2. The Fixer by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

3. Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

4. Fallout by Gwenda Bond

5. Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers

6. The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner

What books would you include if you taught this class?

January 9, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Meant to Read in 2017

As always, there are several books I didn't get to read in 2017. (I blame my local library mostly because they don't get books until they've been out for, like, four months. No matter how many book requests I submit.) But here's hoping I get to them in 2018!

1. Rosemarked by Livia Blackburne


3. A Poison Dark and Drowning by Jessica Cluess

4. Mansfield Park by Jane Austen
This one's all my fault. I own it and everything.

5. Calling My Name by Liara Tamani

6. This Is Our Story by Ashley Elston
A holdover from 2016. But! I ended up buying this one with a Christmas giftcard, so I'll get to read it very soon.

7. The Ship of the Dead by Rick Riordan

8. Interference by Kay Honeyman
Another holdover from 2016. However, neither library has it, so I'm up a creek without a paddle unless I want to buy it without having read it. (Which I caved and did after Christmas.)

9. Renegades by Marissa Meyer
I preordered a copy and everything, so there's no excuse. 

10. Windwitch by Susan Dennard

What books did you mean to read in 2017 but didn't?

January 7, 2018

Review: You'll Miss Me When I'm Gone

You'll Miss Me When I'm Gone by Rachel Lynn Solomon
Grade: B-
An e-galley was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Summary: Eighteen-year-old twins Adina and Tovah have little in common besides their ambitious nature. Viola prodigy Adina yearns to become a soloist—and to convince her music teacher he wants her the way she wants him. Overachiever Tovah awaits her acceptance to Johns Hopkins, the first step on her path toward med school and a career as a surgeon.

But one thing could wreck their carefully planned futures: a genetic test for Huntington’s, a rare degenerative disease that slowly steals control of the body and mind. It’s turned their Israeli mother into a near stranger and fractured the sisters’ own bond in ways they’ll never admit. While Tovah finds comfort in their Jewish religion, Adina rebels against its rules.

When the results come in, one twin tests negative for Huntington’s. The other tests positive.

These opposite outcomes push them farther apart as they wrestle with guilt, betrayal, and the unexpected thrill of first love. How can they repair their relationship, and is it even worth saving?

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: I wanted to love You'll Miss Me When I'm Gone. Unfortunately, it falls into that place of "I sort of liked it."
Tovah's journey and connection with her Jewish faith were my two favorite parts. I appreciated how she didn't get everything she wanted but still ended up in a good place. I loved how much Judaism meant to her. Tovah is one of the most religious characters I've seen in YA, and nothing about her felt inauthentic or forced.
Adina, however, tended to get on my nerves. I expected her to act out, but the ways she acted out made me uncomfortable. I'm trying not to spoil too much, but basically her romance felt so squicky to me.
I liked the journey with the girls' mother, and I loved hearing about her past.
There's a fair amount of foul language, much more than I expected. There was also far more sexual content than I prefer in my YA fiction.

The Verdict: Definitely a quiet story. Good, thought-provoking, but not great.

Will I be adding this book to my library: In all honesty, no.

January 6, 2018

Rewind to 2017: What Got Me Through Life

Usually I just do this post as books that got me through life, but there was also some great music, TV shows, and movies that helped me power through this mixed bag of a year.


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All books I highly recommend.


Divide cover.png Black-and-white image of Taylor Swift with the album's name written across it
Niall Horan Flicker.png

My three favorite singers.

TV Shows

Stranger Things logo.png
(Which I've been cruising through since my plane rides at Thanksgiving.)

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Miraculous- Tales of Ladybug and Cat Noir logo.png
(Season two isn't on Netflix yet, but shhh.)


Only one, but it's a good one...

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Were there any specific books, music, TV shows, or movies that helped you get through 2017?