Since I’ve Been Gone

Hey guys!

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It’s been almost two months since I’ve had time to sit down and write a post. That’s way to long!!

Sadly I’m still super busy with school (and life in general), but I thought I’d check in and let you guys know what’s going on in my life… and what books I’ve had a chance to read in these past few months.

What’s been going on with me…

For those of you who don’t know, I am a senior in (a boarding) high school this year. That means A Lot of Stress™ and The College Process™

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Yay me.

Okay, in all honestly it’s not that bad. I’m getting really good grades, and I applied ED (early decision) to my top choice college. Now all I have to do is wait (which honestly is worse than anything else).

My school has trimesters, and the first trimester is ending tomorrow. I have my last final exam tomorrow morning (calculus… aaaahhhh), and then I have 10 days off for Thanksgiving break.

This fall I decided to play JV volleyball, and it was probably one of the best decisions I have ever made. I never played VB before, but it was so fun, and I’m so sad that it is over.

For the winter trimester I decided to try wresting. I had a couple practices this week and I am so sore that I can barely walk. But it is fun, and I’m looking forward to the upcoming season.

What I’ve been able to read…

Room by Emma Donoghue– What an emotional read! I watched the movie first, so I got all my crying (and there was considerable crying) out of the way, but the book still blew me away. I gave it four out of five hearts.

My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows– I was so excited to read this one because I’ve heard so many amazing things about it. Sadly, this was way over-hyped for me, and I ended up quitting at about 20%. This book just wasn’t for me.

180 Seconds by Jessica Park– Dammnnnnnnn. I didn’t really know what to expect from this one, but it definitely surprised me. There were some clichés that took away from the story IMO, but for the most part I really loved it. I gave this one four out of five hearts as well.

In 27 Days by Alison Gervais– This book was another one that was really good, but was very predictable. But it definitely was a great break to distract me from all of the school work. I also gave this one four out of five hearts.

Books I’m in the middle of now…

A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab– I started this one on audiobook a while back. I really like it so far, and I think I’ll end up finishing it at some point… but I don’t know when that will be.

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee– I just started this a couple days ago, and it is really good so far. I hope to tackle this huge book over Thanksgiving break!

The Breathless by Tara Goedjen– I started this book a few weeks before school started and honestly my motivation to read this book is pretty much non-existent at this point. The writing style is a little strange, and I think that’s what’s been throwing me off so much about this book so far. If I don’t pick it up again soon it’s probably going to be a DNF.

Looking forward…

Over Thanksgiving break I am going to stay with my best friend. I’m really excited to see her again! However, I have a lot of work to do over the break…

I hope to write reviews for the books I’ve read and do the tags that I have been tagged in.

I’m going to design some pages for the yearbook (I am an editor in chief this year!).

Do the homework I was assigned over the break (because apparently AP classes are allowed to do that).

Get some much needed sleep.

Eat some good food.

And then school starts up again on November 28th… which also happens to be my 18th birthday. So happy birthday to me…. 🙂

How have all of you been? What blog posts have I missed? What have you been reading? What has been going on in your lives? Let me know in the comments below!

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Semi-Hiatus, although it breaks my heart

Hey guys!

This post is really sad for me to write. I hoped, going into this school year, that I would be able to keep up with my blog and school and sports and clubs etc., but it’s been just a week and I’m already being overwhelmed.

I have a lot of most posts (reviews, interviews, discussions, etc.) that want to post, so when I find time to sit down and write something, I will. But the reality is I probably won’t be able to do much for the next few months as school starts to ramp up again. I might be able to post once a week, but I definitely won’t be able to post every day like I was over the summer.

I really appreciate all of my readers, and I hope you stick around until I can post regularly again. And I will do my best to keep up with everybody else’s blogs if/when I have spare time.

Thank you to everybody who has been with me so far on this blogging journey and I hope I can come back and blog regularly very soon!

 

Blog Tour: A Short History Of The Girl Next Door – Book Review and Author Interview! Also: Never have I ever cried so much while reading a book.

Hey guys! I am so excited to be a part of the blog tour for A Short History of the Girl Next Door! For this stop in the tour, I have a book review and an interview with the author, Jared Reck!

Before we get started, let me just thank Jared and his wonderful publicists for sending me an ARC of this book and including me in this tour! This book took me on one of the biggest emotional journeys of my book-reading life, and I will be forever changed for it. I am so excited to be able to share my love for this book with all of you!


Book Review

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A Short History of the Girl Next Door by Jared Reck
Expected publication by Knopf Books For Young Readers on September 26, 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 272
Goodreads
Amazon

The unrequited love of the girl next door is the centerpiece of this fiercely funny, yet heart-breaking debut novel.

Fifteen-year-old Matt Wainwright is in turmoil. He can’t tell his lifelong best friend, Tabby, how he really feels about her; his promising basketball skills are being overshadowed by his attitude on the court, and the only place he feels normal is in English class, where he can express his inner thoughts in quirky poems and essays. Matt is desperately hoping that Tabby will reciprocate his feelings; but then Tabby starts dating Liam Branson, senior basketball star and all-around great guy. Losing Tabby to Branson is bad enough; but, as Matt soon discovers, he’s close to losing everything that matters most to him.

This book was an emotional rollercoaster. I went from laughing through the first half to sobbing my eyes out through the second half. My heart was destroyed. My soul was crushed. I don’t know if I will ever recover from this emotional journey. I don’t know if I ever want to.

This book follows Matty, a freshman in high school who is in love with his life-long best friend. He tries to navigate his feelings all while dealing with being in high school, playing basketball, and dealing with his brain which never seems to let him do anything right. Matty is funny and sarcastic and hilarious. I was laughing out loud at every other sentence and loving it.

I loved all of the characters in this book. They were all so real, it felt like I was right there with them. I saw everyone and everything through Matty’s eyes. It was amazing. I fell in love with the characters. I fell in love with the story.

Then the unthinkable happens. Not gonna say what, because it would be giving away too much, but I couldn’t stop crying. Actual tears were pouring down my face. And they didn’t stop.

Don’t believe me? Here’s proof:

The way Jared Reck captures emotions is incredible. Sure, I cry at a lot of books, but I have never come across emotions as strong as these. My whole body was shaking. And even though the end of this book made everything a little better, I lay down for hours processing the emotional journey I had just gone through.

Honestly I would recommend this book to everyone. It was beautiful. It was strong and emotional. It was heart-breaking and hopeful at the same time. It is a story that I think everyone can relate to and benefit from.

I am going to give A Short History of the Girl Next Door five out of five hearts. I would give it more if I could.

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥


Author Interview with Jared Reck

Emma: Hi Jared! I can’t wait for the release of your upcoming novel, A SHORT HISTORY OF THE GIRL NEXT DOOR, in September 2017! Can you tell me where the inspiration for this novel came from?

Jared: Thank you, Emma! And thanks for having me—your review blew me away!

I wish I could say that SHORT HISTORY came from some big idea, but it didn’t. It really just started with a character.

I teach 8th grade ELA, which I run as a Writing Workshop, and every year we do a pretty in-depth unit on fiction writing. We always start the process by developing a believable main character using a simple questionnaire—about twenty questions answered in the voice of that character, almost like you’re sitting down across the table from your character and recording whatever he or she says to you. (I still start all my stories this way, with about 20-30 pages of character responses before I ever try writing the first chapter.)

About seven or eight years ago, I’d finished my first short story with my students—a 30-page story about a dweeby 8th-grade orchestra member sitting in in-school suspension—and I loved how it turned out. So when I sat down and started a new character with my students the next year, I ended up loving this kid even more: he was funny, and self-deprecating, and stuck inside his own head all the time, and he lived and breathed basketball. He was Matt.

So before I ever knew where I was going with the story—before I knew I’d even attempt to turn it into a novel—I had this character, this voice, that I loved. (I’m still not sure I ever figured out plot.)

Emma: You must be so excited to be releasing your debut novel! What challenges have you faced as a writer in your journey to this point?

Jared: Ordinary, everyday life.

Besides teaching full-time, I also worked through a Master’s program in Educational Leadership, I’m an elected School Board member (in the district where I live, not where I teach), I’m on my town’s Recreation Board, and with two daughters (one a senior in high school this year), my wife and I are constantly volunteering for the music booster club and the theater booster club and going to concerts and practices and sporting events and Girl Scouts and…yeah. Life.

Definitely not a struggle—I love being involved in all these things—just full. So, especially with this first book, it was hard to dedicate so much time away from family to work on something that may never go anywhere. And that was one of the biggest challenges—just having the commitment to keep going. To assuage all the crippling self-doubt with the thought that, even if this never gets published, I’ll still be a better human being for having done it—that I’d regret never finishing way more than never publishing.

Emma: You have said that teaching inspired your love for young adult literature. How have your students influenced your writing?

Jared: My students have always kind of been my first readers, little snippets at a time. In my classroom, I never ask my students to do anything I’m not willing to do, too, so I am always writing with them, whether it’s memoir or poetry or fiction or whatever. I model with my own writing throughout the entire process, and, honestly, I’m usually trying to make them laugh. So if I can read a passage and make a roomful of 8th graders laugh, I know I’m on the right track. They’re not always the easiest audience.

They also keep me grounded into how teenagers think, what they want, how they talk. It turns out, besides some updated slang, it’s exactly the same as when I was a teenager.

Emma: If you could boil down the message of A SHORT HISTORY OF THE GIRL NEXT DOOR into a few sentences, what would they be? What do you hope readers will take away from your story?

Jared: I love the idea in writing that in the specific lies the universal—that there’s beauty and emotion and connection in particular, ordinary, seemingly insignificant moments. In the book, that comes across as, “Any given moment just might be perfect.” Trick or Treat traditions, favorite candies, neighborhood home run derbies and Candyland with little brothers. Playing in the snow as kids. That shit matters, you know? How many of us, when we lose a grandparent, or a parent, or anyone that really matters to us, think “I really wish I could just go back and have one more cup of coffee together, munch on one of Grandma’s sugar cookies and talk”?

Okay, so I’m apparently not great at boiling down, am I?

Emma: What newfound wisdom can you share with all of the aspiring authors of the world?

Jared: Three things:

First, my all-time favorite writing quote, from Stephen King’s On Writing—I use this on day one of my classroom every year: “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. There’s no way around these two things that I’m aware of, no shortcut.”

Second, it’s okay to fake it. Seriously. I just finished writing my second novel, and I still feel like I’m faking it—like I still shouldn’t really call myself a writer. But even if you feel that way—and I bet most of us feel that way—go ahead and pretend like you’re a real-live writer anyway: join an organization like SCBWI, take a class or a workshop, find a writing friend or two, do your research, keep reading and writing, and pretend that you’re already so successful that you can write about whatever the hell makes you truly happy. (I wrote about Nerds, corked wiffle ball bats, and almost inappropriately good gravy.)

And third, where I’d go when I was struggling with self-doubt: One of my writing heroes, A.S. King, wrote a series of blog posts years ago about learning to write with your middle finger in the air. I still read them on a semi-regular basis—I’ll just leave them here with you.


Thanks for reading!!

And don’t forget to check out A Short History of the Girl Next Door on goodreads and amazon!

Book Review- Queen of Shadows

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* This review may contain spoilers for Throne of Glass, Crown of Midnight, and Heir of Fire

 

Queen of Shadows by  Sarah J. Maas
Published by Bloomsbury on September 1st, 2015
Genres: Young Adult, High Fantasy
Pages: 648
Goodreads
Amazon

The queen has returned.

Everyone Celaena Sardothien loves has been taken from her. But she’s at last returned to the empire—for vengeance, to rescue her once-glorious kingdom, and to confront the shadows of her past…

She has embraced her identity as Aelin Galathynius, Queen of Terrasen. But before she can reclaim her throne, she must fight.

She will fight for her cousin, a warrior prepared to die for her. She will fight for her friend, a young man trapped in an unspeakable prison. And she will fight for her people, enslaved to a brutal king and awaiting their lost queen’s triumphant return.

I’m having a hard time writing this review because of how much I loved the book.

You know when something is super amazing and it’s just too hard to find the right words to describe it? Well that’s this book. And pretty much every book in this series. But I’ll try….

Okay, so I’m gonna start from the beginning. Aelin is on her way back to Rifthold, leaving Rowan (who I LOVEEEEEEEEE) behind. AND SHE MISSES HIM AND IT’S SO CUTEEEEEEE. Also everyone is kind of in trouble because the King is evil and Perrington and the witches etc. etc. etc.

This book is pretty different from the first three for a few reasons:

1) Celaena is now called Aelin (something I thought would really annoy me but actually it’s kind of perfect because it’s like a whole different version of her and kind of perfect okay I’m going to stop now but I think you get the point).

2) There are more serious romantic relationships. Yeah, I know, I know, Chaol and Celaena in Crown of Midnight… but this kind of takes it to a new level. And there is a lot of NSFW scenes, which (despite me not liking romance-y books) were kind of perfect and adorable.

3) There is a lot more of a “resistance”/”rebellious force”. As in there is an actual group of people going against the King and hunting the Valg and stuff.
There are other things that make it feel a little different too, but those are the main things.

Like I was kind of saying in the first paragraph of this review, I love this book. There is no one thing that makes it great, but rather just the perfect balance of character driven and plot driven events, and how somehow there is so much going on yet it is easy to understand and it is just A GREAT STORY. It’s so entertaining and it just draws you in and doesn’t let go.

If you haven’t read this series already, please believe the hype. I stayed away from these books for so long because I was like “no way that can be that good” AND THEN THEY WERE THAT GOOD. Like yeah, they aren’t for everyone, but still. It doesn’t hurt to give them a try!

I am going to give Queen of Shadows five out of five hearts.

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

The Princess Bride Tag

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I was tagged to do The Princess Bride Tag by Michaela @ Journey into Books! If you don’t know who she is, you should definitely go check her out!!

Okay so I’ve never actually read The Princess Bride (I know, I know, I’ll get right on that), but I did watch the movie for the first time this year and I loved it!! So yes, I will be reading the book eventually.

So let’s do this tag!

The Princess Bride Tag

Westley: Favorite Romantic Hero

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Cas

PRINCESS BUTTERCUP: FAVORITE RAGS TO RICHES STORY

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Aladdin in The Forbidden Wish!! If you haven’t read this retelling yet, you NEED TOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!

DREAD PIRATE ROBERTS: FAV BOOK WITH PIRATES OR ONE YOU WANT TO READ

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I read this series forever ago, but I remember really loving it and I actually really want to read it again.

PRINCE HUMPERDINK: VILLAIN YOU LOVE TO HATE OR ONE THAT IS JUST FUNNY

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Really any villain from the Percy Jackson series. They are all either hilarious, or I love to hate them.

ROUS: BEST FANTASTICAL MONSTER

Do Fae count?

If not then Dragons or Deamons/Vampires

AS YOU WISH: A BOOK WITH A SWEET ROMANCE

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Anise and Lincoln!!!

MWARRIGE: NAME TWO BOOK CHARACTERS THAT YOU SHIP AND TWO THAT YOU DON’T

Ship: Audrey Rose and Thomas (aka Wadsworth and Cresswell) from Stalking Jack the Ripper

DO NOT SHIP: Alice and Max from Dreamology

FEZZICK, VEZZINI & MONTOYA: FAVORITE BOOK CRIME GROUP

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INIGO MONTOYA: BEST REVENGE STORY

Ummmm I’m coming up blank on this one… but I know I’ve read some good ones.

BOOK VS MOVIE: WHICH IS YOUR FAVOURITE? BOTH? WHY?

Like I said above, I’ve only seen the movie, which I loved. But I’ll let you know when I read the book!!

I tag:

Have you read or watched The Princess Bride?! What do you think about it?

Thanks for reading!!

 

 

Book Blogger Spotlight- Books and Babbles

Hey guys!!

I’m so excited for this post because it is the first in my new series of book blogger spotlights!!!

Today I am asking the wonderful Ayla @ Books and Babbles some questions about her blogging journey! She also is amazing (to the point where I suspect the use of magic) at taking pictures of books, and you’ll be able to see a few of her pictures too!!


Q: How long have you been blogging?
A: I’ve been blogging for a really long time! It’s actually been so long I don’t even remember when I started… I must’ve had over 10 blogs about the most random things before I started Books & Babbles in May 2016.
Q: Why did you start blogging?

A: I started my book blog because I had another blog I shared my reviews on and didn’t like it. It was supposed to be a lifestyle blog that turned into a book blog and that just wasn’t what I wanted for it. Then I decided to make a separate blog for all my bookish things and eventually it became my main blog. 🙂

Q: What advice can you give to other bloggers?

A: Do whatever you want! For the longest time I tried to do what others did and it wasn’t making me very happy at all. The book blogging community is so different from other niches/communities because as long as it’s about books, it’s all good! (And even if you do both books and lifestyle, it’s still good because, I mean, there’s books!)

Q: What is your favorite book or series and why?

A: This is a difficult one! Ehm… I really love The Orphan Queen duology by Jodi Meadows. (And I don’t know anyone who’s read these books!) And V.E. Schwab and Sarah J. Maas are my favourite authors, so I love pretty much every book they’ve written.

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Q: Have you ever bought a book for it’s cover?

A: Yes, all the time! I’m Dutch and I read mostly English so I have to order 99% of the books I want to read. Most of the time I chose the edition that I like best.

Q: Do you prefer buying books in person or online?

A: I’d love to buy my books in a bookshop, and I occasionally do so. But like I said, I order most online because it’s easier and much, much cheaper for me to get them online.

Q: E-books, audiobooks, or physical books?

A: All of them? Hahah! I definitely prefer physical books, because I just really love hardcover books, but I also read a lot of eBooks (which I get from Amazon on sale – Thanks, Bookbub!) and I love to listen to an audiobook every now and then, especially when travelling and I don’t want to risk damaging my book.

Q: Besides reading and blogging, what do you like to do in your spare time?

A: I listen to music all the time (also while reading and blogging), so I really love and enjoy music and going to concerts. I also love watching movies and TV shows and I love video gaming! I absolutely suck at it for sure, but I can get “lost” in my favourite videogame (The Legend of Zelda) just as much as when I’m reading a good fantasy book.

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Q: What is something that everyone should know?

A: I think this is a very unpopular opinion, but it’s okay if you don’t read books critically. Some people can call out problematic details of every book and say how this character is wrong and that character is even worse, etc… And for a long time I felt bad about not reviewing books like that myself, since I’m generally always positive about books. Then I realised everyone is entitled to their own opinions and some people like to be critical and others just like to read without thinking too much of it. It’s okay to not be critical, if you know what I mean.


Check Ayla out online:

Blog

Twitter

Instagram (and never miss one of her amazing pictures!!)

Thanks for reading!!

Book Review- Heir of Fire

Don’t miss the Epic Throne of Glass themed Giveaway ending TODAY!!

This review contains spoilers for Throne of Glass (book 1) and Crown of Midnight (book 2).


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Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas
Published by Bloomsbury on September 2nd, 2014
Genres: Young Adult, High Fantasy
Pages: 565
Goodreads
Amazon

Celaena has survived deadly contests and shattering heartbreak―but at an unspeakable cost. Now, she must travel to a new land to confront her darkest truth . . . a truth about her heritage that could change her life―and her future―forever. Meanwhile, brutal and monstrous forces are gathering on the horizon, intent on enslaving her world. Will Celaena find the strength to not only fight her inner demons, but to take on the evil that is about to be unleashed?

Before I read this book, I was told by a few people that it “wasn’t quite as good as the first two”. I disagree. I thought, if anything, this book was even better.

Celaena is broken. Nehemia is dead, her relationship with Chaol was shattered, and now she was sent North to the very Aunt that her parents tried to keep her away from. Even worse: she is forced to train and use her magic if she wants to have an audience with her Aunt.

Then there is Rowan. I happen to love him, even if he is a jerk throughout the first half of the book. Rowan has gone through just as much heartbreak as Celaena, and their relationship evolves beautifully (once you get past the beginning, but even that is necessary for what comes next).

Chaol and Dorian are back in Rifthold, and have challenges of their own. Also, Manon Blackbeak is introduced: the Heir of the Blackbeak witches. She is cut-throat and ruthless but also awesome. I didn’t really know how to feel about her at first, but I’ve grown to love her as much as the other characters in the book.

This book is certainly action packed and emotionally loaded, and if you’ve read and liked the first two books-Throne of Glass and Crown of Midnight-I definitely recommend you continue the series!!

I am going to give Heir of Fire five out of five hearts!

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥