Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Looking Back in February 2015 — Celebrations

At the beginning of February, Stephanie and I visited Franci Cakes on her opening day to celebrate and show support by purchasing some delicious cupcakes. I was also able to celebrate a good friend's 22nd birthday (which is why both of my girls are double-peacing it in the second photo, hahaha) with strawberry beer!

Loved: The Conspiracy of Us by Maggie Hall, I Was Here by Gayle Forman, The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski
Liked: Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys, The DUFF: Designated Ugly Fat Friend by Kody Keplinger, Seconds by Bryan Lee O'Malley

Number of books and pages read in February: 6 // 1,901 pages
Number of books and pages read in 2015: 12 // 3,282 pages

The 100 (The CW)
Are you surprised this is on here? Probably not. After hearing all about this show on Twitter, I knew I had to give it a try. I flew through the first season in two days (thank you, Netflix) and am now all caught up. Reasons to watch this show: AWESOME lady heroines, crazy plot, cute males ... need I say more?

  • After finding out that Shawn Mendes is performing at the Taylor Swift concert I'm going to in August, I looked up a couple of his songs and fell in love with The Weight.
  • Watching Adam Levine and Gwen Stefani sing My Heart is Open together at the Grammys gave me the shivers.
  • Imagine Dragons came out with a new album and I have been in love with Shots.
  • Shut Up and Dance by Walk the Moon was my go-to song of the month!

What was your favorite book of February? Have you seen The 100 yet, or are you trying to avoid all the "hype?"

Monday, March 2, 2015

Up and Coming: March 2015 Releases

Up and Coming was created so I could share four soon-to-be-published-this-month books I think deserve more attention. (In other words, these are the books you should be adding to your TBR pile!) I'll be doing these at the beginning of each month, so feel free to do the same if you'd like :)

My Best Everything by Sarah Tomp

Genre(s): Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Publication Date: March 3, 2015
Publisher: Little, Brown
Luisa “Lulu” Mendez has just finished her final year of high school in a small Virginia town, determined to move on and leave her job at the local junkyard behind. So when her father loses her college tuition money, Lulu needs a new ticket out.

Desperate for funds, she cooks up the (definitely illegal) plan to make and sell moonshine with her friends, Roni and Bucky. Quickly realizing they’re out of their depth, Lulu turns to Mason: a local boy who’s always seemed like a dead end. As Mason guides Lulu through the secret world of moonshine, it looks like her plan might actually work. But can she leave town before she loses everything — including her heart?

The summer walks the line between toxic and intoxicating. My Best Everything is Lulu's letter to Mason — though is it an apology, a good-bye, or a love letter?
I'm not sure what it is about this book that makes me want to read it. Maybe it's because Ellice from Paper Riot gave it a lovely review, or maybe the fact that it's written in second person. All I know is that I'll be reading this as soon as I get a chance to!

Liars, Inc. by Paula Stokes

Genre(s): Young Adult, Contemporary, Mystery
Publication Date: March 24, 2015
Publisher: HarperTeen (HarperCollins)

Other books by Stokes: The Art of Lainey
Max Cantrell has never been a big fan of the truth, so when the opportunity arises to sell forged permission slips and cover stories to his classmates, it sounds like a good way to make a little money and liven up a boring senior year. With the help of his friends Preston and Parvati, Max starts Liars, Inc. Suddenly everybody needs something and the cash starts pouring in. Who knew lying could be so lucrative?

When Preston wants his own cover story to go visit a girl he met online, Max doesn’t think twice about hooking him up. Until Preston never comes home. Then the evidence starts to pile up — terrifying clues that lead the cops to Preston’s body. Terrifying clues that point to Max as the murderer.

Can Max find the real killer before he goes to prison for a crime he didn't commit? In a story that Kirkus Reviews called "captivating to the very end," Paula Stokes starts with one single white lie and weaves a twisted tale that will have readers guessing until the explosive final chapters. 
Yes, it does sound a bit like Pretty Little Liars. But when you give me a synopsis like this, I have to find out what happens and how Max goes about finding the actual murderer. Unless MAX is the actual murderer. You never know ...

Written in the Stars by Aisha Saeed

Genre(s): Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Publication Date: March 24, 2015
Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books (Penguin Books USA)
This heart-wrenching novel explores what it is like to be thrust into an unwanted marriage. Has Naila's fate been written in the stars? Or can she still make her own destiny?

Naila's conservative immigrant parents have always said the same thing: she may choose what to study, how to wear her hair, and what to be when she grows up — but they will choose her husband. Following their cultural tradition, they will plan an arranged marriage for her. And until then, dating - even friendship with a boy - is forbidden. When Naila breaks their rule by falling in love with Saif, her parents are livid. Convinced she has forgotten who she truly is, they travel to Pakistan to visit relatives and explore their roots. But Naila's vacation turns into a nightmare when she learns that plans have changed — her parents have found her a husband and they want her to marry him, now! Despite her greatest efforts, Naila is aghast to find herself cut off from everything and everyone she once knew. Her only hope of escape is Saif ... if he can find her before it's too late.
The cover is what first captured my attention, but the setting and family ordeal has pushed this book to the top of my "must read" list. To be honest, I'm more interested in seeing how family dynamics plays a role in Naila's life than how her relationship with Saif turns out.

Black Dove, White Raven by Elizabeth Wein

Genre(s): Young Adult, Historical Fiction
Publication Date: March 31, 2015
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Other books by Wein: Code Name Verity, The Winter Prince
Emilia and Teo's lives changed in a fiery, terrifying instant when a bird strike brought down the plane their stunt pilot mothers were flying. Teo's mother died immediately, but Em's survived, determined to raise Teo according to his late mother's wishes — in a place where he won't be discriminated against because of the color of his skin. But in 1930s America, a white woman raising a black adoptive son alongside a white daughter is too often seen as a threat.

Seeking a home where her children won't be held back by ethnicity or gender, Rhoda brings Em and Teo to Ethiopia, and all three fall in love with the beautiful, peaceful country. But that peace is shattered by the threat of war with Italy, and teenage Em and Teo are drawn into the conflict. Will their devotion to their country, its culture and people, and each other be their downfall or their salvation?

In the tradition of her award-winning and bestselling Code Name Verity, Elizabeth Wein brings us another thrilling and deeply affecting novel that explores the bonds of friendship, the resilience of young pilots, and the strength of the human spirit.
I am so embarrassed to admit I haven't read Code Name Verity yet. I'm sure Elizabeth Wein is an amazing author, which is why I'm willing to give Black Dove, White Raven a chance. I don't know much about Ethiopia and 1930s America but I'm hoping that reading this will spark my interest in learning more. I'm also crossing my fingers for this to be a strong friendship story!

Popular books I'm also excited for: The Winner's Crime by Marie Rutkoski, Vanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver, The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord

Which March releases are you most looking forward to reading? Have you been lucky enough to read any of them yet?

Friday, February 27, 2015

New on the Shelves, Vol. 2

I have this problem with needing to read new releases as soon as possible, even by authors whom I've never read anything by. Luckily, my library has this snazzy tab on their website called "suggest a title" — and suggesting ALL the books is exactly what I've been doing. I was able to borrow two January releases (All Fall Down by Ally Carter and Love, Lucy by April Lindner) as well as A Little Something Different by Sandy Hall.

I wasn't able to resist buying Landline by Rainbow Rowell when I saw it on Book Outlet's website (I really need to start avoiding that page ...). I've wanted a copy since it came out last July but couldn't bring myself to spend $16, so I am ECSTATIC that I found it for a great price.

The other three books that bought - because I can't just buy one book - were To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han, Since You've Been Gone by Morgan Matson, Nowhere but Home by Liza Palmer. I've heard nothing but good things about Liza Palmer from Hannah at So Obsessed With!

Lastly, I received Making Pretty by Corey Ann Haydu in the mail after winning a giveaway on Goodreads. I've only ever won one book (Ten Girls to Watch by Charity Shumway) so this was REALLY exciting!

Did you purchase or receive any new books this week? Have you read any of the books I mentioned? Do you suggest titles for your city's library?

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

I Was Here by Gayle Forman

I Was Here by Gayle Forman

Genre(s): Young Adult, Contemporary
Publication Date: January 27, 2015
Publisher: Viking Juvenile (Penguin Books USA)
Format: Hardcover // 270 pages

Other books by Forman: If I Stay, Just One Day

Filed under: friendships, mental healthsuicide
Cody and Meg were inseparable. Two peas in a pod. Until ... they weren’t anymore.

When her best friend, Meg, drinks a bottle of industrial-strength cleaner alone in a motel room, Cody is understandably shocked and devastated. She and Meg shared everything — so how was there no warning? But when Cody travels to Meg’s college town to pack up the belongings left behind, she discovers that there’s a lot Meg never told her. About her old roommates, the sort of people Cody never would have met in her dead-end town in Washington. About Ben McCallister, the boy with a guitar and a sneer, and some secrets of his own. And about an encrypted computer file that Cody can’t open — until she does, and suddenly everything Cody thought she knew about her best friend’s death gets thrown into question.
I'm not someone who picks up books dealing with suicide. In fact, I avoid it. Not because it's too dark and depressing, but because I know I wouldn't have an emotional connection with whatever story the book about suicide is trying to tell. I've never been close to anyone who has committed suicide or attempted to, and I don't know how painful it is to lose a close friend. However, I was able to understand Cody very strongly.

I Was Here begins with an email that Meg sends to Cody, her best friend, stating that she took her own life. Cody is confused, because she knows Meg. At least she thought she did. And Meg wouldn't do something like that. Cody learns new things about Meg after Meg's parents ask her to retrieve Meg's things in her room at college, which pushes her to figure out exactly why Meg would do such a thing.

"You had a pile of rocks, and you cleaned them up pretty and made a necklace. Meg got jewels, and she hung herself with them." (p. 151)

Straight from the start, we see that Cody was a crap friend to Meg once she left town to go to school. They were like sisters growing up, two peas in a pod, and they were supposed to leave for college together. When Meg left and Cody stayed behind, Cody started ignoring her. So when Cody finds out that Meg killed herself, I understand why she was desperate to figure out why. I understand the confusion, the hurt, the desperate need to do something as if it would change anything. A lot of the things that Cody does are a bit irrational, but it makes sense in her situation.

It's really weird for me to say that I loved this book, especially because it wasn't GREAT. There were a lot of little things that bothered me, like the romance. Right when Cody meets this one boy, it's obvious that something would happen between them — and it would've been fine, but I didn't think it went well with the story I Was Here is trying to tell. (Also, I couldn't fall in love with him. However, not to stray away from my point, I did find some things about him likeable. SOME.)

The way Forman writes the internal conflict that Cody battles is honest and genuine. My heart shattered when I found out that Meg is actually based off Suzy Gonzalez, a real girl who ingested potassium cyanide and died in a hotel. I can't tell you whether or not I'd recommend it because this story is upsetting and will cause you dismay, but I will say that it is worth reading.

I Was Here spoke volumes to me and I hope, if you decide to read this, that it speaks to you too.

I know it's only been out for a month, but have you read I Was Here yet? What are your thoughts on Cody and how she goes about finding an answer? If you haven't read it yet, would you consider doing so?