Saturday, July 18, 2015

Forget Me Not // 3 - Caged in Winter, Wait for You, Losing It (The Week I Decided to Read a Lot of NA)


In an effort to share my thoughts on all the books I read, I started Forget Me Not in February 2015. I don't always have a lot to say about certain books, so I thought I'd gather three mini reviews and stick them together :)

Caged in Winter by Brighton Walsh

Genre(s): New Adult, Romance
Publication Date: November 4, 2014
Publisher: Berkley (Penguin Books USA)
Aspiring chef Cade Maxwell is immediately, viscerally attracted to Winter Jacobson. But it's not her mouthwatering curves he’s drawn to — it's the strange emptiness in her eyes. When Cade saves her from a drunken customer with grabby hands, he’s shocked at her response ...

Winter doesn’t need Cade's help. After a lifetime of getting by on her own, she's happy to rely on herself. She's exactly seventy-six days away from graduating college, and if she can hold it together that long, she'll finally be able to rise above the crappy hand she was dealt.

But now, every time she turns around, Cade is there, ready to push her, smile at her, distract her from her plans. Winter knows she can't afford to open up — especially to a man she's terrified to actually want ...
After Danielle from Love at First Page mentioned Brighton Walsh as one of her favorite romance authors, I decided to give Caged in Winter a try. It is essentially about a girl named Winter who lives on her own and is ready to leave her job the second she graduates. While working as a waitress in a bar, a drunken customer inappropriately touches her and Cade (a guy who just so happens to be watching) doesn't let it slide. Winter doesn't react the way Cade thinks she will and now he's determined to get to know her. But because of her past, she has a tough time letting people in.

As you can probably tell, the story is mainly about Winter and Cade. Will she end up letting him in, or will she ignore him forever? There isn't a lot happening throughout the book, but we are able to see Winter grow and change via the people she surrounds herself with. The dual point of view worked well for me — I like being able to see different sides of a situation and how it all works out, for better or for worse. I didn't really care for Cade until I saw how much he cared for Tessa, his sister, and Haley, Tessa’s daughter. (And BOY, was Haley precious! My heart melted when she asked Cade if he wanted her to color him a princess picture.) There were a handful of cringe-worthy moments, but not too bad overall.


Wait for You by J. Lynn
Genre(s): New Adult, Romance
Publication Date: September 3, 2013
Publisher: William Morrow (HarperCollins)
Traveling thousands of miles from home to enter college is the only way nineteen-year-old Avery Morgansten can escape what happened at that fateful Halloween party five years ago — an event that forever changed her life. What she never planned on was capturing the attention of the one guy who could shatter the precarious future she's building for herself.

Cameron Hamilton is six feet, three inches of swoon-worthy hotness, complete with a pair of striking blue eyes and a remarkable ability to make Avery want things she believed had been irrevocably stolen from her. Getting involved with him is dangerous. Yet ignoring the simmering tension that sparks between them - and brings out a side of her she never knew existed - is impossible.

But when Avery starts receiving threatening e-mails and phone calls, she's forced to face a past she wants to keep buried and acknowledge that someone is refusing to allow her to let go of that night when everything changed. If the devastating truth comes out, will she resurface with one less scar? And will Cam be there to help her?
There is something so irritating about a good-looking boy who is also arrogant, but Cam's gentlemanly ways compensated that. I love that he took care of Avery on numerous occasions and, while together, made sure he wasn't stepping out of bounds. The mention of how he "used to be a player" was totally unnecessary and did not contribute to the story in any way, aside from showing us he *really* knows the female body. Jacob and Brit, two of Avery’s friends, seemed tossed in the story purely for comedic purposes but I was thoroughly entertained so all is well in that area. I wish Avery's secret was better developed — it got me curious in the beginning but seemed to be a bit choppy and misleading, with the mean phone calls and all. By no means was the writing in this book phenomenal, but it held my interest.


Losing It by Cara Carmack

Genre(s): New Adult, Romance
Publication Date: February 26, 2013
Publisher: William Morrow (HarperCollins)
Sick of being the only virgin among her friends, Bliss Edwards decides the best way to deal with the problem is to lose it as quickly and simply as possible — a one-night stand. But her plan turns out to be anything but simple when she freaks out and leaves a gorgeous guy alone and naked in her bed with an excuse that no one with half a brain would ever believe.

And as if that weren't embarrassing enough, when she arrives for her first class of her last college semester, she recognizes her new theater professor.

She'd left him naked in her bed about eight hours earlier ...
I found a lot of similarities between Losing It and Wait for You, but I enjoyed Losing It a pinch more. To be honest, it's probably because the guy is British AND a young professor. Where can I sign up to be next? If this dude wasn't described as good-looking and worthy of swoon, most of his interactions with Bliss would be downright creepy. But I've come to expect that this is common in NA so I'm not bothered by it. I picked it to read for entertainment, not to make a critical analysis. (Does anyone really read NA like they read a piece of literary fiction, like To Kill a Mockingbird? If you do, what do you read for enjoyment?) Bliss has a TON of awkward and embarrassing moments, but if that doesn't sound like real life ... who are you? And can you teach me to be less awkward and embarrassing?

My only problem was the lack of conflict — things are set up to go down in flames but everything gets resolved nicely. I would have loved to see some real problems between Garrett and Bliss. Aside from that, Losing It seems like the perfect book to read if you're in a funk. If you're into this kind of stuff, I mean.


Do you like NA — and if so, do you normally rate it based on enjoyment alone?
What is your go-to genre for getting out of a reading funk?

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

June 2015 Recap


Besom font by Krisjanis Mezulis

Gosh, where do I even begin with June? If you've been reading my blog for the past month, you may remember that I moved to New York for the summer to intern at HarperCollins. It has been a dream come true (seriously) and not a single day has been dreadful. I am INCREDIBLY thankful for this amazing opportunity, and I can't wait to share what I've been doing — hopefully in the near future :)

HIGHLIGHTS


Find more photos of New York on my Instagram, @amarisinwonderland!

1. New York (basically the entire month of June was a highlight)
My parents had plans to visit my grandma in New York, so it was perfect timing for me to fly east with them. (I sound like a bird HAHA.) Being able to explore bits of the unfamiliar city with them made the transition a pinch easier, and they got to hear all about my first day in person. After they left, I had no problem finding things to do by myself — I am naturally okay with that, but I do wish I could walk around and discover new things with friends back home sometimes.

2. Meeting Mary E. Pearson, Marie Rutkoski, and Emery Lord at Books of Wonder
There are so many more YA bookish events on this side of the country! I was lucky enough to attend two during the first week of June — one to celebrate the paperback release for The Kiss of Deception, and the other as part of the Boldly Bookish Tour! I didn’t get to stay long for either because my parents were still in town, but I loved being able to see and hear all of the authors talking about their books.

WHAT I READ


Loved: Dumplin' by Julie Murphy
Liked: Daughter of Deep Silence by Carrie Ryan
Was okay with: Caged in Winter by Brighton Walsh
Found strange: Love is Red by Sophie Jaff

Number of books and pages read in June: 4 // 1336 pages
Number of books and pages read in 2015: 28 // 8108 pages

WHAT I WATCHED


Inside Out
To be completely honest, I didn't love Inside Out. (Please don’t whip out your notepad and start a list of reasons you hate me.) I am *HUGE* fan of Disney (movies, music, you name it - I love it) so I did have expectations going in — and they're usually exceeded, but with this one ... I just couldn't get into it. I found myself constantly waiting for something exciting to happen, and then it was all over. I was also very annoyed by Riley, the young girl who houses the emotions. It was a good movie, don't get me wrong, but not one I'd choose to re-watch.

Gilmore Girls (S3 + S4)
When I first started watching this show late last year, I was obsessed. And then I stopped when Jess left because, well ... Jess left. LOL. BUT I AM BACK ON THE GILMORE GIRLS TRAIN, Y'ALL, AND I'M LOVING IT. No episode escapes me without laughter, ESPECIALLY when it involves Kirk. I highly recommend this show to everyone!

POSTS I PARTICULARLY LOVED WRITING

  • 16 Titles To Add to Your Summer Reading List - Although I was planning for the look to be a little different, I was so happy that all these wonderful ladies agreed to contribute. It was fun to read everyone's responses and put it all together!

SONGS ON REPEAT



I didn't listen to much in June, not even the radio, but I heard this one on the airplane and loved it.

What were some of your favorite reads in June? Do you watch Gilmore Girls (and more importantly, how much do you love it?) What are some songs you've been listening to on repeat?

Friday, June 26, 2015

16 Titles To Add to Your Summer Reading List

Summer has arrived, and with that comes the determination to build the ultimate summer reading list. There's something about summer that makes me want to tackle all the books — perhaps because of the sunny weather and desire to travel. I asked a bunch of ladies if they'd be interested in sharing their favorite summer reads with you all, so here they are today! I also decided to chime in to make things even :p


1. Dirty Rush by Taylor Bell
My best friends in college were in a sorority, so I always wondered what that was like, and well ... Dirty Rush answered that question. It's a great, quick read for the beach, and it's not just for people in or affiliated with those in the Greek system!

2. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
I love books that keep me on the edge of my seat, and The Girl On The Train was definitely one of those. Such a quick read, so it would be perfect for the beach or a plane ride.

3. Hallucinations by Oliver Sacks
In this vivid anthology, neurologist Oliver Sacks examines case studies of hallucinations: a woman who "sees" Kermit the Frog in her left field of vision after brain surgery; a man with Parkinson's who "feels" peach fuzz on the surface of any item he touches; and Sacks' own (somewhat controversial) experiences with visions and misperceptions. Hallucinations is a nonfiction page-turner and a must-read for anyone interested in the human mind.

4. Slouching Towards Bethlehem by Joan Didion
The immediate subject of this collection of essays is California during the 1960's, but Didion's sharp, self-aware prose reveals insights about one's own surroundings and experiences. Slouching Towards Bethlehem is a powerful read for women in their twenties and aspiring writers. Two of my favorite essays are "On Self-Respect" and "On Keeping a Notebook."



5. The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
I don't always get through the entire series every summer, but because I usually have a lot of big cleaning or organizing projects to do, I love listening to these books on audio while I work. The narrator, Jim Dale (for the US edition), is the best storyteller I've ever heard! Between him and my favorite stories of all time, work is a breeze, and I find myself wishing I had more projects to do so I can keep listening!

6. I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
Another favorite summer read of mine is I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith. I reread it at least once a year, and the story is more enjoyable each time. I *love* historical novels, and this one has the best main characters ever. It's technically a book written for adults, but Cassandra is actually a teenager, and it has a very strong YA feel. Along with Austen's novels, this is the most enjoyable "character driven" novel I've ever read, and I can't get enough of it!

7. Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks
This is the perfect summer read! Imagine laying out on the beach and listening to the ocean as you read a love story. Everybody enjoys a good modern romance.

8. Katwalk by Maria Murnane
This book is a favorite of mine because of the storyline. Do you ever feel like picking up and starting over from scratch? That's kind of what happens to the main character. She travels alone and ends up discovering her true potential during her journey in a new place. If you're still finding yourself, try reading this book.



9. Open Road Summer by Emery Lord
When I think of favorite summer time reads, I always think contemporary. I'm not exactly sure why that is but that is what my mind jumps to when I think sunny weather! Open Road Summer was one of my favorites of 2014 and I still love it! It showcases such a strong friendship and so perfectly captures what it means to be a best friend. I adore seeing such fantastic friendships in books so Dee and Reagan's just spoke to me. It's also perfect for summer because you get to travel along with them on Dee's concert tour stops over the summer and the country music aspect is so well done! And of course I can't forget Matt Finch, the sweetest, most adorable guy ever. All this combined for such a great summery book!

10. Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas
If you're going on vacation in the summer or going to be on the beach, I always think of Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas. It sounds like an innocent spring break trip to Aruba so perfect to read while you're also on vacation right? ;) It's one of my favorite YA thrillers, it will take you for a hell of a ride! It kept me guessing the whole time.

11. Blackmoore by Julianne Donaldson
This is a sweet, ultimate escape of a romance — with believable characters and an achingly tense plot. I also felt for Kate's dilemma, which is a refreshing one for a heroine of a romance. This book is absolutely perfect for swooning in the sun!

12. Uprooted by Naomi Novik
I just read this book, and loved it so absolutely I had to share it for Amaris' post. It's a take on Beauty and the Beast, with a complex magical system and a brilliant, strong heroine. The story has so many surprises too — it kept me glued to the pages. This book has everything really — it's perfect for any season!



13. This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen
Besides just being my favorite summer read, this is my all time favorite book! I love the comical relationships between main character Remy and her girlfriends and Remy's love interest, Dexter, is oh so swoony!

14. Just One Day by Gayle Forman
There's something about journeys and traveling that reminds me of summer time! I love this book since protagonist Allyson visits London, Paris, as well as Amsterdam and she discovers much about who she is and wants to become!

15. Meant to Be by Lauren Morrill
Although Meant to Be takes place over spring break, it is certainly a book perfect for the summer time. It's cute, fun, a touch quirky AND it's set in London. LONDON, the place where cute British boys reside. Don't judge the cheesy title and cover — it's worth a read!

16. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling
Summer means time to relax (at least in my strange brain), and what better way to do so than with a hilarious memoir? No complicated plot lines or unnecessary drama, and yes, something you WILL be laughing your way through.

Alexa mentioned to me that Ginger (from GReads!) has been doing something similar for the past two years, so pop on over to her blog for more suggestions. I hope you were able to find something new to read this summer! BIG thank you to all the ladies who were willing to share :)

What was the last book you added to your summer TBR list?
Are you planning to re-read any of your favorite summer books soon?

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

A Wicked Thing by Rhiannon Thomas

A Wicked Thing by Rhiannon Thomas
Book 1 in the A Wicked Thing series

Genre(s): Young Adult, Fantasy
Publication Date: February 24, 2015
Publisher: HarperTeen
Format: Hardcover // 352 pages

Filed under: retellings
One hundred years after falling asleep, Princess Aurora wakes up to the kiss of a handsome prince and a broken kingdom that has been dreaming of her return. All the books say that she should be living happily ever after. But as Aurora understands all too well, the truth is nothing like the fairy tale.

Her family is long dead. Her "true love" is a kind stranger. And her whole life has been planned out by political foes while she slept.

As Aurora struggles to make sense of her new world, she begins to fear that the curse has left its mark on her, a fiery and dangerous thing that might be as wicked as the witch who once ensnared her. With her wedding day drawing near, Aurora must make the ultimate decision on how to save her kingdom: marry the prince or run.
Any book having to do with fairy tales is automatically placed on my “to read” list, and A Wicked Thing was no exception. I waited very patiently for this book to come out and once it did, I read it the second I brought it home from the library. I’ve seen a ton of authors take elements of fairy tales and incorporate them into their stories (for example, Marissa Meyer and The Lunar Chronicles) but continuing a fairy tale is something new to me.

A Wicked Thing takes place right after Aurora (or Sleeping Beauty, as we may be more familiar with) wakes up from “true love’s kiss.” Society has been waiting for her to rise and rule the kingdom, but she has no direction and doesn’t know whom to trust. She knows her story ends with “happily ever after,” but she sure doesn’t feel like that’s happening for her.

I guess all the hype that accompanies fairy tales (I’m looking at you, Disney) placed my expectations for A Wicked Thing fairly high. I was hoping for lots of action, plotting, and risky decision-making … but not much happened. Aurora is, unfortunately, locked in a room for the majority of this story and spends that time complaining about her situation. I understand she has absolutely no experience with what she’s dealing with, but she never does anything about it. People try to control her actions, and she doesn’t question it!

The few characters that Aurora interacts with seem either intentionally mysterious or underdeveloped. Are they good or are they evil? Or are they just poorly represented? (I may never know.) It didn’t really bother me that much, but it was hard to get a sense of who the characters are when things are tossed into the air like that.

Although I was a bit disappointed by the direction of the plot, I read through the story pretty quickly. It was still interesting enough for me to continue following Aurora and see what path she chooses to take. I can see the sequel having potential, but I’m not sure I will pick it up.


Are you a fan of fairy tale retellings? (If yes, please tell me your favorites!)
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