Sunday, November 29, 2015

November Wrap-Up and December TBR

The books I managed to read in November:
-How to Be Brave by E. Katherine Kottaras
-Rules for 50/50 Chances by Kate McGovern
-The Trouble With Destiny by Lauren Morrill
-Hello? by Liza M. Wiemer
-Wildflower by Drew Barrymore
-Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling
-Not If I See You First by Eric Lindstrom

To be honest, November was the most difficult month for me this year.  I didn't think that I would get more than 3 books read, because I fell into a depression and the last thing I wanted to do was pick up a book...or do anything that wasn't watching The Office.  Two weeks and 6 seasons later, here I am.  I think I was able to do pretty well.  It also helps that this month was the absolute best for book mail, and I think all of the 2016 ARCs got me even more excited to read.

Thanksgiving just passed, and I wanted to take a moment to thank you, my readers and friends.  I had no idea what I was doing when I created this blog 4 and a half years ago, and I certainly didn't know that I would actually keep up with it, unlike so many other abandoned hobbies and blogs I've tried out along the way.  This world has opened up so many exciting opportunities for me, and I'm grateful to have you guys to share my excitement with.

The books I plan to read in December:

I hoped that I could use December to catch up on any 2015 releases I skipped over, but I also want to get ahead of my reviews for 2016.  Plus, these books have been taunting me ever since I put them on my shelves, so I don't think I can resist much longer.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday #105

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine, which spotlights upcoming releases we can't wait to get our hands on! 

Title: Wink Poppy Midnight
Author: April Genevieve Tucholke
Release Date: March 22nd, 2016
Publisher: Dial

Every story needs a hero. 
Every story needs a villain. 
Every story needs a secret. 

 Wink is the odd, mysterious neighbor girl, wild red hair and freckles. Poppy is the blond bully and the beautiful, manipulative high school queen bee. Midnight is the sweet, uncertain boy caught between them. Wink. Poppy. Midnight. Two girls. One boy. Three voices that burst onto the page in short, sharp, bewitching chapters, and spiral swiftly and inexorably toward something terrible or tricky or tremendous. 

What really happened? 
Someone knows. 
Someone is lying.

The cover for this is absolutely beautiful, but the description has me so intrigued!  
I need to know more!

What awesome title are you waiting for this Wednesday?

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Review: Popular by Lauren Urasek

Title: Popular
Author: Lauren Urasek
Publisher: Sterling
Age Group: Adult
Category: Nonfiction
Release date: October 6th, 2015
Pages: 224 (Hardcover)
Rating: 4 out of 5
Source: Publisher
Goodreads | Amazon Author

With more than 15,000 4- and 5-star ratings, an average of 35 messages per day, and hundreds of thousands of profile views from interested suitors, Lauren Urasek was dubbed "the most popular girl on OKCupid" by New York magazine. She then started a popular Tumblr detailing her experiences with Prince Charmings (and Not-So-Charmings), and now tells all in a series of frank, funny essays about the ups and downs of dating in the city that never sleeps. She's run the gamut of the nominally "single and ready to mingle" males of New York City, from dudes who went in for a kiss within the first ten minutes to one who conducted an impromptu “girlfriend job interview.” And in between the horror stories and dating disasters, Lauren shares some real talk about what works—and what doesn't. Her tales of wooing and woe will leave anyone who's ever tried online dating rolling in the aisles. 

Lauren's 19 essays are punctuated by cheeky yet informative sidebars on: 
- 10 male accessories or clothing items that'll turn a girl right off 
- Red flags you should NEVER ignore 
- Quirky/weird/offbeat ways to find out whether a guy's not right for you 
- The 15 WORST usernames 
- A comparison between different online dating services (OKCupid, Tinder, Match, etc.) 
- And much more!

As a young woman who has recently experienced the ups and downs of online dating, Popular seemed like a book that I needed to read.  From the first page to the last, it's filled with hilarious and cringe-worthy stories, which helped me realized that no matter which city you live in, the people really aren't that different.  A lot of Lauren's experiences were scarily accurate to the dozens of less-than-stellar guys I've dates over the past year and a half.

It seems that online dating is more of a form of entertainment than an actual way to meet "the one".  Don't get me wrong, I know plenty of people who have found love online, but for some, it's going to take a lot of digging through the bullshit.  Unfortunately, I am one of those people.  Like some of the stories mentioned in this memoir, I've spent time with perfectly nice guys that I just didn't connect with.  I've also come across some of the worst people I've ever met.  Popular isn't just a collection of tragic dates.  In its own way, the experiences shared are surprisingly uplifting.

The book is filled with stories, lists, and contributions from other women around my age, which I enjoyed greatly.  I think that even those who haven't gone the same route to find a partner will be able to read Popular in one sitting, because each of the essays pull you in deeper.  Lauren's voice is that of a best friend or older sister.  She doesn't dance around the truth, and that may be my favorite thing about Popular.  I don't read nonfiction very often, but I definitely would if I found more books like this.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Review: The Trouble with Destiny by Lauren Morrill

Title: The Trouble with Destiny
Author: Lauren Morrill
Publisher: Delacorte
Age Group: Young Adult
Category: Contemporary
Release date: December 8th, 2015
Pages: 272 (eGalley)
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Source: NetGalley
Goodreads | Amazon Author

With her trusty baton and six insanely organized clipboards, drum major Liza Sanders is about to take Destiny by storm—the boat, that is. When Liza discovered that her beloved band was losing funding, she found Destiny, a luxury cruise ship complete with pools, midnight chocolate buffets, and a $25,000 spring break talent show prize. 

Liza can’t imagine senior year without the band, and nothing will distract her from achieving victory. She’s therefore not interested when her old camp crush, Lenny, shows up on board, looking shockingly hipster-hot. And she’s especially not interested in Russ, the probably-as-dumb-as-he-is-cute prankster jock whose ex, Demi, happens be Liza’s ex–best friend and leader of the Athenas, a show choir that’s the band’s greatest competition. 

But it’s not going to be smooth sailing. After the Destiny breaks down, all of Liza’s best-laid plans start to go awry. Liza likes to think of herself as an expert at almost everything, but when it comes to love, she’s about to find herself lost at sea.

It's clear that Liza's love for her high school band runs deep, as she's prepared to do anything in order to save them when funding threatens to take away all of their hard work.  They board the Destiny, and while some think it's just a mini vacation from their everyday lives, Liza's the only one who knows the truth, and she's determined to push her friends to play the best they can so they win the grand prize of $25,000.  As the week progresses, everything seems to go awry.  Liza, who is so used to being in control, realizes that she's in over her head.

Throughout the book, readers will see how determined Liza is, and while I understood and enjoyed her character myself, she was a little too forceful at times.  In her mind, any little mistake would certainly cost them the competition, and she was so tightly wound that it put everyone else on edge.  It doesn't help that her focus is split between the band and her old crush, who she just reunited with the moment she boarded the ship.   At first she was sure that she wouldn't let anyone or anything get in the way of their victory, but as her feelings grow for Lenny, and her ex best-friend, Demi, competes against her, her confidence wavers.

The romance was the most predictable part of the story, but that didn't make it any less enjoyable.  It did take a while for anything to begin happening between Liza and the love interest, but there's enough going on in the book to keep the reader entertained in the meantime.  As Liza's feelings begin to take over, she decides that winning the competition wouldn't be enough.  She wants to win the guy, too.  Getting so caught up in this, her dramatic side comes out and that may ultimately cost friendships and the money they need to save the music program.

Like Lauren Morrill's other books, The Trouble with Destiny is a cute, fluffy contemporary that you'll be able to devour in one sitting.  It's a sweet story and I think that younger readers will definitely be able to relate to the characters.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

November Book Haul

-The Merciless by Danielle Vega
(ARC from Du Livre)

-Dream Things True by Marie Marquardt
(Finished copy from Paperback Treasures)

-Not If I See You First by Eric Lindstrom
(Finished copy from The Novl newsletter)

-Instructions for the End of the World by Jamie Kain
-How to Be Brave by E. Katharine Kottaras
-Things I Can't Explain by Mitchell Kriegman
(Finished copies from St. Martin's Press)

-If You're Lucky by Yvonne Prinz
(Finished copies from Algonqin Young Readers)

-Shallow Graves by Kali Wallace
-The Isle by Jordana Frankel
-The Capture by Tom Isbell
(ARCs from HarperTeen)

-Firsts by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn
(ARC from St. Martin's Press)

-Once Upon a Kiss by Robin Palmer
-The Love that Split the World by Emily Henry
-Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys
-The Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman
(ARCs from Penguin Teen)


-Hello? by Liza Wiemer
-For the Record by Charlotte Huang
-Rebel Bully Geek Pariah by Erin Jade Lange
(eGalleys from Spencer Hill, Delacorte, and Bloomsbury)

-Seven Ways We Lie by Riley Redgate
-Tragedy Girl by Christine Hurley Deriso
-Fat Dad, Fat Kid by Shay Butler and Gavin Butler
(eGalleys from Amulet, Flux, and Atria)


-Mr. Fahrenheit by T. Michael Martin
-Seven Black Diamonds by Melissa Marr
(eGalleys from HarperTeen)

-Gena/Finn by Hannah Moskowitz & Kat Helgeson
(eGalleys from Simon & Schuster and Chronicle Books)

Monday, November 16, 2015

NaNoWriMo 2015: The Beginning

I've done the unthinkable.  This year was going to be like any other year.  I was just going to sit back, relax, and focus on a few important life things while other aspiring writers participate in NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month.  I've tried it once, in 2011, but I only ever got a quarter of the way toward the goal of 50,000 words.  Since then, I never thought that NaNoWriMo was for me.  I hate feeling rushed when writing, and for me, it takes a lot of the passion away from what would otherwise be an enjoyable experience.

After a rough couple of days, I began watching NaNoWriMo vlogs on YouTube and checking out updates on some of my favorite blogs.  Some of you have even finished within the first two weeks of November!  Writing has always been my #1 escape, and suddenly, I was feeling inspired to start writing 11 days into the month.  I still haven't gotten very far because there's been a lot of procrastination (I've been rewatching The Office) but I know exactly what story I want to tell.  It's something I've had on my mind for a majority of this year.  I know it's not likely that I'll hit 50k in 14 days, especially with Thanksgiving coming, but I'm glad to have the motivation to get a good chunk of it written down.

What is the story about, you ask?  
Without going into too much detail, my story is a contemporary romance that is heavily based on the phrase "it's not you, it's me".  My main character is trying to get over her first major heartbreak by meeting new people who aren't quite who they say they are.  This leads to awkward first dates, betrayal, and situations you wouldn't believe, but most importantly, she finds more confidence in herself to be the person she wants to be, not the person that everyone else is looking for.

If you're interested and want to be my buddy, here's the link to my profile-

Also, if you're participating, I'd love to hear about the story you're writing!

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Review: Rules for 50/50 Chances by Kate McGovern

Title: Rules for 50/50 Chances
Author: Kate McGovern
Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Giroux (BYR)
Age Group: Young Adult
Category: Contemporary
Release date: November 24th, 2015
Pages: 352 (ARC)
Rating: 4 out of 5
Source: Publisher
Goodreads | Amazon Author

Seventeen-year-old Rose Levenson has a decision to make: Does she want to know how she’s going to die? Because when Rose turns eighteen, she can take the test that will tell her if she carries the genetic mutation for Huntington’s disease, the degenerative condition that is slowly killing her mother. With a fifty-fifty shot at inheriting her family’s genetic curse, Rose is skeptical about pursuing anything that presumes she’ll live to be a healthy adult—including going to ballet school and the possibility of falling in love. But when she meets a boy from a similarly flawed genetic pool, and gets an audition for a dance scholarship in California, Rose begins to question her carefully-laid rules.

Rose has spent the last 6 years of her life watching her mother's motor skills deteriorate before her.  The thing about Huntington's disease is that there's nothing that anyone can do to about it, and the horrifying reality is that Rose has a 50/50 shot of getting the disease herself.  The worse things get, the more she begins to look into testing, which she can do as soon as she turns 18, although that's not necessarily recommended.  As readers get to know Rose and her family, we get a close look at the emotional struggles of caring for a sick loved one.

It becomes very clear that Rose's fear of the future is controlling every decision she makes now.  She doesn't want to get too close to anyone and she wants to make sure that she chooses a career that will make enough money to cover the cost of medical bills in case she does inherit the disease.  When Rose meets Caleb at a walk for genetic diseases, he turns her entire world upside down.  Suddenly she's beginning to let go of the idea that being alone is best.  He understands some of the things she's going through, since his mother and sisters are suffering from sickle cell anemia, another incurable disease.  The relationship between Caleb and Rose is a special one.  They both come from different backgrounds, and although he's been through a lot, he's unafraid to speak the truth and let himself feel.

Though Rose is a very likable character, she does seem a little selfish at times, refusing to believe anyone else truly understands her suffering.  Honestly, if I knew that I had a 50% chance of inheriting the disease that was tearing my family apart, I think I would be just as pessimistic as she is.  Fortunately, there are plenty of people in her life that care about her and try to show her that she still has so much to live for, no matter what the results say.  Lena, her best friend, is also an important character, because she makes it known that she will always be there for Rose through thick and thin.  Not everyone finds a friend like that, especially at a young age, and I wish we'd gotten to see more of those two together.

Rules for 50/50 Chances is a wonderful contemporary that focuses on the deeper meanings of life and death.  It's a journey of growth, love, and acceptance that many people will be able to enjoy.  Although it's a heavy topic, the author managed to make the story lighthearted and full of hope, showing readers that no matter what the future holds, you should always live your life to the fullest.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Review: How to Be Brave by E. Katherine Kottaras

Title: How to Be Brave
Author: E. Katherine Kottaras
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Age Group: Young Adult
Category: Contemporary
Release date: November 3rd, 2015
Pages: 288 (Hardcover)
Rating: 5 out of 5
Source: Publisher
Goodreads | Amazon Author

Reeling from her mother's death, Georgia has a choice: become lost in her own pain, or enjoy life right now, while she still can. She decides to start really living for the first time and makes a list of fifteen ways to be brave - all the things she's wanted to do but never had the courage to try. As she begins doing the things she's always been afraid to do - including pursuing her secret crush, she discovers that life doesn't always go according to plan. Sometimes friendships fall apart and love breaks your heart. But once in a while, the right person shows up just when you need them most - and you learn that you're stronger and braver than you ever imagined.

Georgia begins her senior year of high school with one tip from her mother: be brave.  She wants to be able to do things she's never done before.  She wants to do them for herself, and her mother, who never got the chance.  Those were her last words to Georgia before she passed away, so in order to achieve her mother's final wish, she creates a bucket list.  For the first time, Georgia wants to stand out.  She faces her bullies by trying out for cheerleading, she meets new people and even asks out the boy of her dreams.  Who knew you could accomplish so much if you just try?

How to Be Brave is one of those books that grabs a hold of the reader from the very beginning.  Personally, I could relate to Georgia, because my dad passed away from similar complications when I was around her age.  Losing a parent is one of the most difficult things you have to go through in life, and doing so at a young age seems even more unfair, because you still have a lot of growing to do without them.  The author captured every emotion perfectly, from the grief to the way Georgia and her father began the healing process.

With the help of her best friend, they begin to cross things off the list one by one.  Go skinny-dipping, kiss her crush, take tribal dancing lessons.  While they do, Georgia discovers a lot about herself.  She overcomes her self-esteem issues, fear, and pain along this journey, and it's quite emotional to watch.  There were many times where I had to blink past the tears in my eyes just to read the words on the page.  She learns to love herself and forgive others.  Not everyone is the person that they want others to see.

This book will break your heart and patch it back up again.  Over the journey, Georgia loses herself a bit, but she makes the right decisions to improve.  She's just a girl who is trying her hardest to live with the hand she's been dealt.  Georgia is far from perfect, but her story becomes about doing what's right for her.  How to Be Brave is an honest and incredible coming-of-age tale that I believe many people will be able to resonate with, for one reason or another.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Blog Tour: How to Be Brave by E. Katherine Kottaras (Excerpt & Giveaway)


An emotional contemporary YA novel about love, loss, and having the courage to chase the life you truly want.

Reeling from her mother's death, Georgia has a choice: become lost in her own pain, or enjoy life right now, while she still can. She decides to start really living for the first time and makes a list of fifteen ways to be brave - all the things she's wanted to do but never had the courage to try. As she begins doing the things she's always been afraid to do - including pursuing her secret crush, she discovers that life doesn't always go according to plan. Sometimes friendships fall apart and love breaks your heart. But once in a while, the right person shows up just when you need them most - and you learn that you're stronger and braver than you ever imagined.

Check out the interactive trailer here:

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Excerpt & Giveaway: The Greatest Zombie Movie Ever by Jeff Strand


The Greatest Zombie Movie Ever is so bad, it could wake the dead…

After producing three horror films that went mostly ignored on YouTube, Justin and his filmmaking buddies decide it's time to make something epic. In fact, they're going to make The Greatest Zombie Movie Ever. They may not have money or a script, but they have passion. And, after a rash text message, they also have the beautiful Alicia Howtz as the lead.

Hemmed in by a one-month timeline and a cast of uncooperative extras, but aching to fulfill Alicia's dreams, Justin must face the sad, sad truth: he may, in actuality, be producing The Worst Zombie Movie Ever.

Waiting on Wednesday #104

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine, which spotlights upcoming releases we can't wait to get our hands on! 

Title: Wanderlost
Author: Jen Malone
Release Date: May 31st, 2016
Publisher: HarperTeen

Seventeen-year-old Aubree has always idolized her adventurous older sister, even while utterly content to track Elizabeth’s antics from the cozy comforts of home, in the tender care of doting parents. So when Elizabeth gets herself in "a touch of trouble” and, for the first time ever, actually needs Aubree's help, Bree is flattered but insistent. 

There’s no way she can do what Elizabeth is asking. Impersonate her recent-college-grad sis all summer, just so Elizabeth can score the recommendation she needs to land her dream position? Nope, nope, not gonna happen. 

ESPECIALLY when Elizabeth’s summer job is leading a bus tour. A bus tour across Europe. A senior citizens' bus tour across Europe. 

And that's even before Bree finds out that the tour owner’s super-cute son (who is decidedly NOT elderly) will be a last-minute addition. 

Bree would have to be crazy. Or would she?

Winter hasn't even hit Wisconsin yet and I'm already dying for some sweet summer contemporary romance novels.

What awesome title are you waiting for this Wednesday?

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Review: Things I Can't Explain by Mitchell Kriegman

Title: Things I Can't Explain
Author: Mitchell Kriegman
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
Age Group: New Adult
Category: Contemporary
Release date: November 10th, 2015
Pages: 304 (Hardcover)
Rating: 3 out of 5
Source: Publisher
Goodreads | Amazon Author

She was a smart, snappy, light-hearted girl who knew it all at fourteen. Now a woman in her late twenties, her searching blue eyes are more serious, but mostly amused by the people around her. The gap-toothed smile that made her seem younger than she really was is gone, but she still lightens up the room. Her unpredictable wardrobe rocks just like when she was a kid, but her fashion sense has evolved and it makes men and women turn their heads. 

After leaving high school early, Clarissa interned at the Daily Post while attending night school. At the ripe old age of twenty- two she had it made – her own journalism beat (fashion, gender politics and crime), an affordable apartment in FiDi and a livable wage. She was so totally ahead of the game. Ah, those were the days! All three of them. Remember the Stock Market Crash of 08? Remember when people actually bought newspapers? 

All of Clarissa’s charming obsessions, charts, graphs, and superstitions have survived into adulthood, but they’ve evolved into an ever-greater need to claw the world back under control. Her mid-twenties crisis has left her with a whole set of things she can’t explain: an ex-boyfriend turned stalker, her parents’ divorce, a micro relationship with the cute coffee guy, java addiction, “To-Flue Glue,” and then there’s Sam. Where’s Sam anyway?

Clarissa Darling was a role-model for all types of teenage girls in the early 90's.  There was something about her personality that was so endearing to those who tuned in to watch her explain it all.  Now she's in her mid-twenties and living in New York.  She may not have all of the same views she once had, but she's still not afraid to express her opinions, and she does so through her writing.  In Things I Can't Explain, fans of Clarissa Explains It All will finally get to see what came of Clarissa's life and the people who were once in it.

As a 90's kid, I loved Nickelodeon.  One of my favorite shows was Clarissa Explains It All, because the main character was a spunky, honest individual.  The sitcom was short-lived, only lasting 4 years, but it made an impression on shows to follow.  After 20 years (seriously, it's been that long?), Clarissa's back in the form of a book.  Suddenly, I was a kid again, pulled back into her world of wacky fashion and homemade video games.  I had high hopes, but this Clarissa wasn't quite what I thought she'd be.

In some ways, Clarissa is still the same, with the charts and lists, the random facts and wordy monologues...she's even still best friends with Jody (who was so much more irritating than I remembered).  In other ways, I found her to be a little more pretentious than she was when she was 14.  Maybe it was the change of scenery or the situations she's found herself in, but I wasn't loving this change of character.  Still, she reeled me into the story quickly, along with my curiosity about her family and ladder-climbing friend, Sam.  Being in my 20's, I could also relate to certain issues she was currently dealing with, but around the midway point, the story began to lose my interest.

I'd say that Things I Can't Explain is definitely worth a read for those who are familiar with the show.  Honestly, I think even those who haven't watched Clarissa Explains It All (what are you doing?  you should get on that ASAP) could enjoy her story, but the references to the show will keep your inner 90's kid entertained.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Books I'm Grateful I Read Giveaway Hop

It's November, which means that the holiday season has arrived!  Thanksgiving is coming up, so I wanted to spotlight a few 2015 releases that I'm thankful for, since this is the year that I fell back in love with blogging.  

One winner will receive one of the books I've listed or a book of their choice up to $15.
Here are some of the books you can choose from:

The giveaway is international as long as The Book Depository ships to you.