Thursday, May 28, 2015

Re-Read Review: Just Listen by Sarah Dessen

           Just Listen by Sarah Dessen 
Release Date: April 6, 2006
Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers  
Source: Borrowed/Gift 
Last year, Annabel was "the girl who has everything" — at least that's the part she played in the television commercial for Kopf's Department Store.

This year, she's the girl who has nothing: no best friend because mean-but-exciting Sophie dropped her, no peace at home since her older sister became anorexic, and no one to sit with at lunch. Until she meets Owen Armstrong.

Tall, dark, and music-obsessed, Owen is a reformed bad boy with a commitment to truth-telling. With Owen's help, maybe Annabel can face what happened the night she and Sophie stopped being friends.
Read my original review for Just Listen HERE! (And don't judge because that review was kind of totally bad). 

As I said in my original review, I read Just Listen for the first time in the 7th grade. I've read it a few times since but this re-read has to be the most interesting and different experience I've ever had. I think that Sarah Dessen is still one of the best contemporary authors out in the market today and her books are some of the best out there. There's something about the way Dessen handles tough topics, her characterization, and over all story arc makes reading her books an immense pleasure. Re-reading Just Listen solidified why I love Dessen so much. 

In Just Listen, there are two main issues Dessen writes about: sexual assault/rape and eating disorders. (Highlight them to see what I'm talking about. I don't want to spoil anyone who hasn't read this book!) In the last few years that I've read this book, I always understood the importance of talking about these two issues. They're such taboos in society today that even if they effect millions and millions of people, no one wants to talk about it. For me, as a female, both of these issues are close to my heart. But for the first time during the re-read that I saw Annabel in such an immensely different light that I had to stop reading a few times because I got some emotional. One of my very good friends had to deal with the first topic mentioned above for most of the school year last year and it was one of the saddest, scariest experiences I went through as just her friend. Just Listen gave me a bit of an understanding as to what people who've gone through this experience really feel. It was a far different experience than what I'm used to but I'm books like Just Listen exist. 

As I said, Dessen's characterization is beyond amazing. I think what I love most is how effortless it all seems. You know and understand what Annabel wants and feels jus through reading the pages. Her emotions and thoughts are so potent that it's almost like she's just your friend and you're reading her journal. Annabel's sadness, fear, and confusion surrounding her situation was a different experience (and a very, very sad experience) because I had seen someone go through the same thing. I could understand Annabel so, so much better after certain events that I don't really have words to describe them. Annabel wasn't the strongest girl around and she made mistakes, showcasing her flaws, but in the end, I wanted what was best for her at all times. 

Owen has to have his own paragraph because I love him that much. He was funny, sweet, weird and incredibly kind. And most of all? He wasn't judgmental at all. I think that Dessen book boys have ruined real life boys for me y'all. I just love how Owen and Annabel became friends and at first, there was nothing but friendship between them. I loved seeing the two of the connect over music and slowly, realize that their friendship was more than that. Most of all, Owen was so instrumental in helping Annabel open up about her experiences. However, it was his friendship, kindness, and non judgmental personality that helped Annabel realize how strong she really was. Basically, I love this romance and it always makes me so happy. 

But as much as I can praise the characterization, I have to give some praise to the writing and story itself. Dessen's writing doesn't suffocate from using big words that don't make sense in the context. In all honestly,  Dessen never uses big words or language that doesn't make sense. I think it's the way she contracts her sentences and diction are all just perfect. There's something almost lyrical about the way she writes. Also, Dessen's writing has such an incredibly calming effect. I like reading a lot of Dessen's books at night because they help me fall asleep faster. I also appreciate the way Dessen unfold her stories. Too much information is never given all at once and the story slowly unfolds to give all the facts to the reader. No matter how many times I've read this book, the moment Annabel tells people what happened to her always give me the same reaction as the very first time I read it. That is a very rare fleet I must say. 

Overall, there aren't enough words in the English (or Hindi) language that can truly express my love for this book. I've read all of Dessen's works (I still haven't gotten Saint Anything, her 12th book but I've read all of the other 11) and this one (along with The Truth About Forever) are my absolute favorites. Honestly, Sarah Dessen is as well known for a reason. Her books have so much heart, the focus on family and friendships is always amazing (and so central to anything she writes about) and her ability to handle any serious issues makes me feel all the things. If you haven't picked up this novel, I highly suggest you do so. 

Just Listen is one of two of my favorite Dessen novels (and I've read up until the most recent release!) so obviously it's going to get my highest honor. Is my review not enough to convince you to read this book? Well, if it's not, all I'm going to say it GET ON IT NOW! 
I can't believe I'm about to say this but I think I might actually like the new cover (below) just as much as the original one (above). Or maybe not, because the original cover gives more of a serious message where the new cover just seems more cute and fun. 

Gif credit: Cas 

Monday, May 25, 2015

Diversify YA Discussions

So way back in 2012, I challenged myself to read a certain list of books, one every day, and then create another list once I had read everything on that. Turns out, I failed miserably at that challenge: not only did I not read any books from that list that year, I still haven't read any of the books from the list! While I do plan on going back on that challenge soon, after much thought, I came up with another idea for this blog.

3 books from the original challenge, all of which I have yet to read! 

While I appreciate all of the talk that is going on around diversifying books, such as the amazing We Need Diverse Books campaign started last year, there are still lots of discussions I want to have. But instead of venting about such discussions on Twitter and not getting anything done, I've decided to create the Diversify YA Discussions feature on this blog! Maybe once a week or every two weeks I'll post about aspects of diversity I think we need to have more conversations about!

I really hope I can shed some light on some issues that are especially close to my heart. I hope you all come along for the ride! 

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Reading with a "Reviewer" Lens

About three months ago, or since 2015 started, I’ve been in an immense reading slump. It sucks and I’m super behind on my reading goal (which I will meet this year NO MATTER WHAT) so to help myself out, I’ve been thinking about my reading habits. I wanted to see what does and doesn't work with my habits and I realized that I read books completely differently since I began book blogging. No, not for different reasons (which in reality, I guess does contribute) BUT I read differently.
She understands my pain 
What I realized with dismay was that I no longer read books to simply read and enjoy them. Instead, I have a "reviewer" lens on when I open the pages of a book I'm excited to read regardless of how I got it (from a publisher or library or a store). Had I been reading the book for enjoyment, I would just read the words and get sucked into the world and become invested in the characters. Now, I look for correct punctuation, grammar, writing style, and just very technical aspects of book writing. This isn't important in the grand scheme of things. I don’t even want to be an editor so this makes no sense for me to do. This is NOT what caused me to become a reader and I really want to go back to that.

Now, I’m not saying that having a “reviewer” lens is a bad thing all the time. This has actually helped me understand what I like and don’t like in terms of the types of books I read. It has also helped me understand what issues are more important to me and how I want to handle that. Opinions are important and reading is a very subjective matter so having polarized opinions makes sense. BUT there’s a big difference between reading for fun and reading with a "reviewer lens and here are a few reasons why:

Enjoyment vs. Critical Review

Me when I enjoy a book vs. me when I read for review

Like I said at the very beginning, this is the saddest aspect for me. I no longer read books to simply enjoy them. A lot of the books I’ve reviewed on here might be some of my favorite books of all time had I read them before I began book blogging. Now, none of my options are lies and they’re all mine. However, I read these books knowing that I was going to review them so I turned off my Enjoyment Reader Mind and switched on my Critical Reviewer Mind. If none of this makes sense, here’s an example: Pride and Prejudice is one of my all time favorite books. I think most readers of this blog will know that. I read this book for the first time at the age of 11 and I loved it so much! At that time in my life, I loved how spunky Lizzie was and how amazing I thought Mr. Darcy was. Had I read it a few years later, when I was reviewing books, I probably wouldn’t love Mr. Darcy as much. I might say that he’s kind of a jerk (which he is) or how I wished Lydia would just grow up (I thought that at 11 too but I didn’t honestly care about her back then) or something else.

Of course, and I mentioned this as well, it’s not bad to read books critically. As I’ve come though honors and AP English courses in high school and just college in general, reading critically is important and vital. But I think that when it comes to something like this, I should turn of my Critical Reviewer Mind and read with my Enjoyment Reader Mind. And the biggest issue with all of this? I don’t know how. I don’t know how to turn off my Critical Reviewer Mind (and no, I don’t know why I capitalized the letters, I just did) and read with my Enjoyment Reader Mind. I feel like I’ve been doing this for so long (and I don’t plan on stopping for good any time; this is why I take so many breaks now between blogging) that this is like the back of my hand: I have it and I always will but I don’t always think about it (and this is by far the weirdest analogy I’ve made in this entire post).

Why do I read?

When I was younger, I would read up to four books in seven days. Once I got into a book, all I did was read. Any time it was too quiet in the house or I couldn’t be found, my family or friends would look to my room to see me reading on my bed. I just read everything and anything when I was younger and I continued doing this as I grew older. But by the time I got into book blogging, this changed. Initially, when I went to the library I would spend about one hour (that’s as much time I was usually given since my dad always had other things to do on the Saturdays we’d go) finding books I wanted to read. I usually didn’t have any prior knowledge unless I’d read and liked the author before or the librarian had recommended it to me and it was so much fun.

But soon, I went to the library looks for specific books. These were books the rest of the blogosphere was talking about or I’d been sent a review copy from the publisher. After some time, I began to read books in hopes of reviewing them. I wanted to look at these books in an analytical view point. I wanted to know if the plot was good or if I liked the characters. I needed, for some reason, to read any book with the hopes of reviewing it. I wanted to share my thoughts with people on this blog but I wanted to do it in a more...serious way. It's one of the reasons why it's hard for me to share my personality with everyone. Usually, I TALK IN ALL CAPS or gush about cute book boyfriends but I wanted to seem serious and that I was taking this job hobby seriously. Which brings me to the next point:

It's a hobby, not a job 

I just wanna have fun! 
I don't make any money from this blog and I never began this blog with the intention of making it my job but after some time, I began to take this blog a lot more seriously. Instead of having fun and sharing my love for the books I read, I became serious and wrote reviews as if it was for school project. I completely forgot that I was doing this for FUN and for STREE RELIEF but nope, instead, I made it harder than it had to be.

It's not to say that I don't take blogging seriously. I love being able to get books before they are released and sharing my thoughts with the blogosphere but it's different than making it my job. When it's my job, it adds more stress to my life than being what I do to relieve the stress I already have. I've been working really, really hard to get better at managing all of my commitments so that nothing over laps. 

What's the point of all of this? 

Y’all, I had to really, really think if I wanted to come back to blogging and to see if I still had the passion for blogging. After a while, it came down to asking what the point of all of this was. Was it because I loved books? Was the point that I wanted to share my love for the books I read with people? Was the point to help promote authors I loved? The answer to all of those questions was "yes" but was that enough? At the end of the day, I came to realize that it was. At the end of the day, I loved why I began to blog but sometimes, it became harder and harder to realize why. At the end of the day, reading with a "reviewer" lens is important and it has made me a better reader but it's not the entire point. The answer to all of the questions I asked above stemmed from my love for reading without the "reviewer" lens and that's where I want to go back to being at. I just want my love for reading to come back without my requirement to review anything and everything.

At the end of the day, reading because I love it is far more important to me than being forced to read it (which is kind of weird because I love required reading; unless the book sucks *cough*cough*WutheringHeights*cough*cough*). I began blogging because I loved writing, reading, and talking so combining all of these three things was perfect for me. I was also in a place where I needed a creative outlet and blogging has been such an important part of my life.

So, what do you all think? Have any of you had this happen to you? If so, how did you work to get out of this rut? Hopefully everything I've written in this post makes sense because its been something that has been weighing me down for a while now. 

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Review: The Orphan Queen by Jodi Meadows

           The Orphan Queen by Jodi Meadows 
Series: The Orphan Queen 1 
Release Date: March 10, 2014 
Publisher: Katherine Tegan Books 
Source: Publisher for review Hardcover
**I received this book from the publisher and this did not affect my review. All opinions are my own!**
Wilhelmina has a hundred identities.

She is a princess. When the Indigo Kingdom conquered her homeland, Wilhelmina and other orphaned children of nobility were taken to Skyvale, the Indigo Kingdom’s capital. Ten years later, they are the Ospreys, experts at stealth and theft. With them, Wilhelmina means to take back her throne.

She is a spy. Wil and her best friend, Melanie, infiltrate Skyvale Palace to study their foes. They assume the identities of nobles from a wraith-fallen kingdom, but enemies fill the palace, and Melanie’s behavior grows suspicious. With Osprey missions becoming increasingly dangerous and their leader more unstable, Wil can’t trust anyone.

She is a threat. Wraith is the toxic by-product of magic, and for a century using magic has been forbidden. Still the wraith pours across the continent, reshaping the land and animals into fresh horrors. Soon it will reach the Indigo Kingdom. Wilhelmina’s magic might be the key to stopping the wraith, but if the vigilante Black Knife discovers Wil’s magic, she will vanish like all the others.

Jodi Meadows introduces a vivid new fantasy full of intrigue, romance, dangerous magic, and one girl’s battle to reclaim her place in the world.
If you guys don't know, I love fantasy. I read all sorts of fantasy books--even middle grade--and I can't seem to ever get enough of them. When I came back from college, I found a package of books from HarperCollins and when I opened it, I found The Orphan Queen inside. I immediately opened the pages that night and within hours, I had finished this book. While I didn't absolutely love it to pieces, I really enjoyed this book. This is the first book by Jodi Meadows that I'm reading and it won't be the last! 

Something that might surprise people who have followed my blog for a while know that characters can either make or break a book for me. But in the case of The Orphan Queen, the world is what kept me going. I didn't absolutely love Wil or any of the other secondary characters, the world was absolutely fantastic. I loved the descriptions of the mountains and the rivers and the wraith wraithlands were absolutely terrifying. I think I liked the world the most because the world itself was a character. It played such a large role in the plot of the story that I couldn't help but love every aspect of it. I think this says a lot to Meadows ability as a writer to bring her world to life. 

But of course, I can't not talk about the various cast of characters that are present in this book. From Wil herself, to the Ospreys, Tobiah and Black Knife, all of these characters bring something important to the table. Wil, the strong willed princess hoping to reclaim her kingdom is the orphan queen but I have to say, I didn't think she did as much as I would have hoped she would. For some reason, even though I liked her a lot, I kept wanting more and more from her. With every word, every scene, I kept wishing something more happened. The Osprey's are a group of children who were orphaned along with Wil and they' re in hiding until they can come back into the limelight. In my opinion, should have gotten more time in the book because I think they would have added something great to the story but alas, this did not happen. They were a fun bunch and I wanted more form them. Patrick, in particular, for reasons, should have been more involved in the plot! Tobiah, in my opinion, was a character that wasn't necessary to the story but in a way, I'm glad he was there. Black Knife is a vigilante who comes to the rescue of the poor people in the city where the book is set and I liked him a lot. He added some fun to the plot. But there was something that really bothered my about this book:

The predicability for certain aspects of this book was frustrating because I wanted there to be more mystery surrounding them. Like I said, I wanted something more. Too much about this book was familiar for me to truly, truly love this book. Did I enjoy it? Yes, I did. Would I recommend it to people? Yes, I would. But I know that some people will think that this book was too familiar so please be aware of it. However, it's a good book and I think everyone should give it a chance! 

I liked this book. I would have loved this this book but it's missing a few things. I would re-read this book if I wanted something good to read. I would recommend it to some people but with reservations.

Y'all, this is a good book as you can tell from my review. Some aspects of the book didn't work for me because they were far too familiar but I think more people should give this book a chance! I wanted more adventure and more mystery but overall, it was not too bad.  
THIS COVER IS SO PRETTY OH MY GOSH I WANT IT SO BADLY. *ahem* I love the colors and the model's pose and the background just looks so stunning! There is so much about this cover that represents the events in this book and man, I honestly just love it. There is something about fantasy novels where the covers can be absolutely incredible. 

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Finding the Passion Again

Hello, there lovely readers! If you haven't noticed, I've been gone for a while from the blog. I've talked about my depression and how it's changed how I blog and way back in 2014, I talked I mentioned how college had shaped my blogging style and my definition of failure. But I've taken the time off to do what the title of this blog post says: find the passion for blogging again. 

When I began this blog way back in 2009, I was bored and sad and in a very bad state of mind. I needed something creative to channel my energy and blogging was introduced to me. Over the years, school and college has changed this for me and my depression has only gotten worse since then. I've since realized that my passion for blogging had been lost. Admitting that I had indeed hit an incredibly large wall was hard but once I came to terms with that fact that I did not love blogging as much as I once hard, I took the steps to get better. 

But my depression got the best of me and there was a point in the last few months ago, I didn't even want to think about opening a book. For so long, reading had been the only constant in my life and all of a sudden, I didn't even know who I was. If you know anything about depression, or if you suffer from it, you know that this is something that happens. Honestly, it was a scary time and I needed some time to get through it. Below, I've outlined the first steps I took to get back to where I am now! So here they are: 

1) Step away from it all 

This was the hardest step for me because I didn't want to admit that I had really lost my passion for blogging. Saying that I no longer wanted to review books and tell the world what I thought was not something I could come to terms with. And I think I'm making it sound like a bigger deal than I really was but I was 14 when I began this blog and now I'm 20 years old. Six years of my life have been put into this blog and even if some people think that my blog hasn't done well, I'm extremely proud of. But stepping away, truly stepping away from all of it, was hard but something I had to do. I didn't read any books or even think about blogging. Instead, I focused on my friends and school and other hobbies I had. 

2) Reevaluate why you're doing this

While I had steeped away from it all, I had to reevaluate why I was blogging in the first place. Why was blogging so important to me? Did I want to continue? In the end, I had to think for a long time if book blogging was truly where my passion still resided. Did I love what Life According to a Bibliophile stand for? After a while, I realized that I wanted to change some things about this blog that I had only said I would change. I had not taken the measures to make the changes and I figured out that if I chose to come back, what would this blog look like when I did. 

3) Discover the catalyst

Once I decided that I wanted to go back, I had to decide what the catalyst was that got me into blogging to begin with. What was the event or thing that got me to open a Blogger account, create this blog, and keep with it for so long. This was easier said than done but when I did realize what my catalyst was (my love for reading and sharing this love with others), I was able to better understand how to change my blogging ways so that I did not lose my passion. Discovering my passion for reading and blogging helped me understand why books were so important to me and would be for the rest of my life. There was something so incredibly therapeutic about this stage that I've come to become even more of a supporter for diversity in books and literacy for all people.  

4) Observe, observe, observe 

After everything, I decided that the only way I was going to get back into blogging would be to understand how others blogged and kept on blogging. So, I began to read blogs I loved and I wondered why I kept coming back to these blogs day after day. What was about these blogs that got readers to come to them? Why did people want to comment on these blogs? I also had to understand what I was doing on my own blog that had changed the way people see my blog. For example, I reapplied I should post regularly. Not that I needed to have a set schedule but just post enough on this blog would show people that I cared more about this blog. This also gave me inspiration for my own blog. Observing was important before I dove back into this!

5) Come back when you're ready

Once I had gotten past all of these steps, the only step left was to come back to blogging! And here I am! It sounds weird that I'm using my process to come back to blogging as a step to post on this blog more but I felt like I should share this information. It's been a hard to find my passion for blogging again and even though I am ready to come back, I don't know if I'm fully ready. I want to blog again and slowly I'll make my way to where the passion is fully ignited but for right now, I'm going to do the best that I can. 

And there ya go! These are the steps that I have taken to help me get back into the groove. If you've been around the blog for a few years, you know that I have had my issues with keeping my passion alive. Books and blogging have been a part of my life for far too long to just let it go. But this was more than just that. This had a lot to do with not letting my depression get the best of me, even if it's so incredibly hard for me to just get out of bed sometimes. Since I began this book blog, the following quote has been in my description box:
“There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate's loot on Treasure Island.” - Walt Disney
I want to get back to believing in this quote again. After all, I've traveled all over the world through books. I've had the chance to see how wars change the world and help anyone who needs it. Books do indeed have more treasure than anything else can ever imagine. 

Have any of you been in this position? Have any of you lost your passion for a hobby that has been a part of your life for such a long time? How did you all make it out of that rut? 

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Current Obsession: Daredevil

Hello, world! How are you guys doing? It's been so long since I've posted on this blog but I'm trying to make my way back! I'm going to post about why I've been gone in a few days but there was something far more pressing for me to talk about: my current obsession with a little show called Daredevil!

So I began the show as soon as it came on Netflix (which was April 10th of this year) but I soon found that school was become far too stressful for me to continue watching so I waited until the summer began to begin re-watching the show. I had gotten to around episode 4 when I had to let it go and I came back to it last night and guys, it was amazing! Even though I had seen the first three episodes, I fell back in love from the beginning! 

Here's the main cast (all images from IMDb)

Charlie Cox as Matt Murdock/Daredevil | Deborah Woll as Karen Page | Elden Henson as Foggy Nelson | Vincent D'Onofrio as Wilson Fisk

From IMDb:
A blind lawyer, with his other senses superhumanly enhanced, fights crime as a costumed superhero.
That of course doesn't give you what it's about but you get the basic idea. Plus, if you have read the comics than you already know what it's about! And because I do not wish to give it away, I will not talk about anything that might spoil it! So, why do I like this show so much when it is only 13 episodes long? Well, here are some reasons:

1) The acting is pretty great

I won't lie, I was skeptical at first but I find that Netflix does a great job with casting excellent people to portray their characters. Charlie is a great Matt and Daredevil and I've enjoyed seeing his character grow and develop. There's so much more about Matt/Daredevil that I want to know that I think will be revealed in the next season. In the first season, I think we jus scratched the surface but damn, there's so much good stuff coming up!

Vincent D'Onofrio is my favorite actor, however, because his portrayal of Wilson Fisk is by far the craziest, scariest, most amazing acting I have seen in such a long time! I think a lot of kudos should also go to the young actor who portrays him when he's younger. Henson's Foggy is fabulous and adds a great amount of comic relief to the story. I hope that in the next season, his character continues to grow. However, my girls Claire Temple and Karen Page haven't had that much development but I'm excited to see what's to come!

2) What is good or evil?

This is the question that has been going on in my head since I finished the season. As I mentioned above, D'Onofrio has done an amazing job portraying Fisk but hot damn the acting is so fascinating. Episode 8, I think, is what caused me to ask this question over and over again. You see so much of Fisk's background and you can't help but realize that when he was younger, the events that happened caused him to turn into the cruel human being he is today. But it's a constant battle inside his own mind if he is or isn't a monster. What happened in his past happened for one reason and even though Fisk thinks he has good intentions now as an adult, this is where the crazy comes in. For me, I knew that his traumatic past has caused a lot of pain and suffering to the adult but that never gives an excuse to hurt others. So obviously, this is a hard question to answer and even though it seems easy, you can't help but feel for Fisk as well.

3) The story is pretty amazing

Okay, I'm probably going to get my nerd card revoked for this next statement, but well, I never read comic books as a kid. Actually, I basically only read manga when I was younger but I haven't read a manga in so long. Basically, I don't do comics so I never know what is or isn't going to happen in any of these shows. Maybe for those of you who have read the comics (or any Marvel comic because I've come to realize that a lot of characters overlap) won't find the story as amazing as I do. Nonetheless, I love how fast paced the show in and how everything happens in such a constant pace. Normally it sounds like it would not be as much fun but for me, I love the way the story in unfolding. I love getting bits and pieces of Matt's and Fisk's pasts. It's so fascinating!

4) What determines your future? 

This question did not come up for me until episode eight came. As I've mentioned above, this episode shows a lot of what happens in Fisk's past life and I could not help but notice how similar his and Matt's past were. And this is what, in my opinion, showed to me that "what determines your future" is an important theme in this show. Both Matt and Fisk have had rough childhoods and even though they are not the same in any means, the basic themes are the same. But Matt's and Fisk's upbringings changed who the boys would be when they were adults.  Both had unconventional childhoods, tragedies that had powerful impacts on their lives, but still their younger lives were different.

For the sake of not giving too much away, Matt grew up believing in not using violence to get what he wants and to never give up when he did not get what he wanted. Fisk, on the other hand, had far more violence in his childhood that shaped his views on how to settle arguments and other lessons children learn when they are younger. Their paths, from what I can see, could have been far more different. Matt could have been evil and Fisk the superhero. But, again, could this have happened?

5) It's a good show 

This probably doesn't seem like a good reason as compared to the first four, but guys, this show is just such an amazing show. I think that Daredevil has proven to be an amazing show. I mean, in less than one month after its release, it was renewed for a 2nd season! The casting is pretty great and the acting is mind-blowing. There are so many other themes coming up in the show that I'm kind of dying for the wait. ALSO, and you guys are going to think this is weird for me to say, but there isn't much romance in the show and it has proved to be wonderful! There's some kissing and some tension (damn the sexual tension!) but for me, it isn't too much where the show can't develop. This entire first season focused on establishing the characters and the plot line and it did not focus so much on any romance where anything would take a backseat. Normally, I want, heck crave, the romance in a show but when it came to Daredevil, I was happy with the lack of romance. Sure I rooted for anything that happened, but honestly, I was happy without it.

And those are the five reasons I think you should watch this show. Of course, I understand that some of you might not have Netflix and I'm not sure there is anything I can do about that and I apologize with my heart! For those of you who haven't gotten a chance to check out this show and have Netflix, what are you waiting for?

Have any of you already watched the show? What do you think? Do you like it or hate it? Do you agree with what I've said above? Let me know in the comments below! And if you haven't already watched this show, get on it! 

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Review: The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord

Release Date: March 31, 2015
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Source: Publisher via NetGalley 
Brimming with heartfelt relationships and authentic high-school dynamics The Start of Me and You proves that it’s never too late for second chances.

It’s been a year since it happened—when Paige Hancock’s first boyfriend died in an accident. After shutting out the world for two years, Paige is finally ready for a second chance at high school . . . and she has a plan. First: Get her old crush, Ryan Chase, to date her—the perfect way to convince everyone she’s back to normal. Next: Join a club—simple, it’s high school after all. But when Ryan’s sweet, nerdy cousin, Max, moves to town and recruits Paige for the Quiz Bowl team (of all things!) her perfect plan is thrown for a serious loop. Will Paige be able to face her fears and finally open herself up to the life she was meant to live?
Have you ever had that moment when in a spark of boredom you open cover of a beautiful book in hopes of keeping entertained for a few minutes at least? And then you begin reading the book and with every word, every sentence you find yourself falling in love? Well, that's exactly what happened between me and The Start of Me and You. While I wasn't as impressed with Emery Lord's debut Open Road Summer, The Start of Me and You left my mind numb with emotion. I remember being unable to pick up another book after I read this one for so long. The Start of Me and You is more than a young adult contemporary or a grief book or a romance. This book is filled with so much character growth and emotion that it'll stay in your mind for days to come.

Before I say anything else, I want to point out that The Start of Me and You is about the romance or the grief. This book is about Paige Hancock and her journey to finding herself again. First and foremost, Paige's boyfriend died a year ago by accidentally drowning which has left Paige with PTSD and a fear of drowning. While I though that Lord would focus on the grief, I was surprised to see that as much as Paige is effected by the death, she is more upset by the fact that Aaron lost his life so young. And I think that this is an important distinction to make. This isn't to say that she wasn't affected by his death and that it doesn't seem to ever go away. She wants to no longer be afraid of the water and wants to make this upcoming year better than last. So she creates a list of things she wants to accomplish this year to make her life better.

Before I go into Paige's list however, I want to talk about the family dynamics Lord introduces in this book because they were just so good. For one, Paige's parents are divorced and this effects Paige's life. They don't indulge her in every one of her whims and they often don't get along with Paige. I thought that this was very well done because her parents aren't absent but they aren't overwhelmingly present in her life. It was a perfect balance. Of course when a certain plot twist happens, I liked the way Paige handled herself. In all terms of this aspect of the novel, I liked that Paige didn't handle it completely like an adult but she wasn't completely childish either. Along the same lines, I loved that Paige had a sibling who wasn’t absent throughout the entire novel. Cam, Paige’s sister, was so much fun to read about. She wasn’t always in the novel but it was the perfect amount. After all, Cam only adds to Paige’s story in this instance.

But my favorite family dynamic in this book was Paige's relationship with her grandmother (who is suffering from Alzheimer's). There was something so heartbreaking and touching about this relationship and it had a very personal effect on me. I loved how much Paige loved and cared about her grandmother. I loved how she knew she could always count on her grandmother to listen to her and advise her in the best way possible. This relationship was so incredibly well done guys that I don’t even have words. Too often I see people who don't care about their grandparents. For me, my grandparents live in India and I haven't seen them in almost seven years. I appreciated all of the moments Paige spent with her grandmother because those are the priceless moments I wish more people took advantage of. I won't lie, I cried a few times thinking of all the times I have and will miss with my own grandmother. Never take what you have for granted.

Of course, as much as I loved the family relationships, I also loved the friendships. Paige’s friends Tessa, Kayleigh, and Morgan were so important to Paige that I really want a book in the POVs of each girl. They were so involved in Paige’s life that it made me think of my own friendships: friends who are always there for you no matter what, though the good and the bad. But I think the same could be said for Ryan Chase and his cousin Max. Even though both are love interests of sorts, they are also Paige’s friends. No relationship in this book is built from random. There is friendship and trust and eventually romance but don’t think that romance is what this book is about. Remember, The Start of Me and You is about Paige and her growth. The romance, and I won’t even say with who (but you can guess can’t you? If not, let me tell you that he is so precious and my favorite part of the Pride and Prejudice picture; you’ll know what I’m talking about when you read the book!) because spoilers but it is so worth it.

Overall, The Start of Me and You was such an incredible book that words seem to fail me. I know some people will not love this book as much as I did but for me, there was more of a personal connection for me. I am die-hard romantic but I loved the lack of romance in this novel. The Start of Me and You is what contemporary YA is all about: love and loss and acceptance and growth and relationships. And as much as this book has all of these things, it has so much more. Please read this book because it might just be the best decision you'll make.

 I love this book like it was family. I know, in case of a fire, I'd save this book. It’s amazing, stunning, and mind blowing. I would re-read this book lots and lots of times. It might even be a favorite. I would recommend this book to EVERYONE, EVER. 

If my review didn't convince you of how much I loved this book then I'll say it here: I loved this book to pieces. I thought about it well after I turned the last page. I even cried reading this book because I could connect to certain aspects of Paige's life. This is a heart wrenching novel, yes, but it is also about the beauty of life and love.  

Saturday, March 28, 2015

YA Book Review: Open Road Summer by Emery Lord

Open Road Summer by Emery Lord
Release Date: April 15, 2014
Publisher: Walker
Source: Library
After breaking up with her bad-news boyfriend, Reagan O’Neill is ready to leave her rebellious ways behind. . . and her best friend, country superstar Lilah Montgomery, is nursing a broken heart of her own. Fortunately, Lilah’s 24-city tour is about to kick off, offering a perfect opportunity for a girls-only summer of break-up ballads and healing hearts. But when Matt Finch joins the tour as its opening act, his boy-next-door charm proves difficult for Reagan to resist, despite her vow to live a drama-free existence. This summer, Reagan and Lilah will navigate the ups and downs of fame and friendship as they come to see that giving your heart to the right person is always a risk worth taking. A fresh new voice in contemporary romance, Emery Lord’s gorgeous writing hits all the right notes.

I read Open Road Summer, Emery Lord’s debut novel, after everyone in the blogosphere had already read and raved about it. But better late than never I think. Anyways, from the beginning of the novel, I was sucked in. There’s something about road trip books that makes me so happy. Maybe it’s because I haven’t gone on a road trip with anyone but my family so I’m always looking for new adventures. And the added bonus of music? Yes, please!

So lets just get down to it: while I liked the main character Reagan O’Neil I didn’t love her. I know plenty of people liked her as a character but the way she treated other women in the book besides Lilah Montgomery her best friend upset me. Am I saying that I’ve never judged or said something about another women in my life? No, I can’t say that because it would be a lie. But I like to catch myself whenever I go down that route and that’s how I wish this issue had been handled. Instead of simply letting something like this go, I wish Emery Lord had addressed it. This is when I wish subjects like this were handled: as a learning point, not just something to add to the character and leaving it be.

Anyways, I had to get that out of the way. Otherwise, I loved the relationship between Lilah and Reagan. Both girls have different things they’re passionate about and I loved how each supported the other no matter what. I wanted more from Lilah and I understand that this isn’t a book about her but y’all she’s adorable. I think that they both balanced each other in the best way possible. Something else that really stood out for me was the rifts that occurred in the relationship. I liked seeing that friendships aren’t always fun and games; there are tough times that test a friendship and the end result shows how strong the relationship truly is.

Also, can we talk about the cute as heck romance? I’m like Reagan when it comes to romance: I like to think that I’m all cool and suave but I’m that extremely awkward girt. Reagan was far tougher in regards to Matt Finch (now I understand why all the girls on Twitter were gushing about him; he is so freaking cute!) and I loved it. I like when relationships aren’t always established when the road trip ends. Reagan and Matt became friends and the trust was established and for me, this made the relationship far more palpable.

Overall, I really, really liked Open Road Summer. A few things made it hard for me to really love this book but in the end, I closed the book with the biggest smile on my face. I know that I'm going to be rereading this book as soon as possible. There's just something so honest and beautiful about this book (even though a few parts were a little upsetting).
This book is pretty great but it’s missing something that would make it extremely special. I might re-read this book, possibly more than once. I would recommend this book to lots of my friends. 

Go out and read this book! It's super cute and so much fun! A perfect summer read (and any time of read to be honest) because oh my gosh, it's cute and fun and raw and sometimes iffy. But all in all, this is such a good book! 
This cover is so insanely pretty that I can't honesty fault it for the cliched look. It's just so PRETTY! I kind of want this cover in poster format so I can adorn my dorm room with it. Even though, yes, Open Road Summer is much more than a romance novel, I think this cover creates such a wonderful mood for the book. It seems so light and fun. 

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Review: For Real by Alison Cherry

           For Real by Alison Cherry 
Release Date: December 9, 2014 
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
No parents. No limits. No clue what they're in for.

Shy, cautious Claire has always been in her confident older sister's shadow. While Miranda's life is jam-packed with exciting people and whirlwind adventures, Claire gets her thrills vicariously by watching people live large on reality TV.

When Miranda discovers her boyfriend, Samir, cheating on her just before her college graduation, it's Claire who comes up with the perfect plan. They'll outshine Miranda's fame-obsessed ex while having an amazing summer by competing on Around the World, a race around the globe for a million bucks. Revenge + sisterly bonding = awesome.

But the show has a twist, and Claire is stunned to find herself in the middle of a reality-show romance that may or may not be just for the cameras. This summer could end up being the highlight of her life... or an epic fail forever captured on film. In a world where drama is currency and manipulation is standard, how can you tell what's for real?
Before I start I want everyone to know that I don’t watch reality television on a regular basis. I’ll watch a few episodes here and there if I’m really bored but otherwise, I don’t really care for it. There’s just something about reality television that I can’t stand to watch over and over. BUT when I found out that Alison Cherry was writing a young adult novel along the lines of The Amazing Race, I knew I had to check it out. Sadly, For Real was far from fun and romantic and beautiful places.

Lets talk about Claire, our main character and Miranda her older sister. Claire, from the beginning, I knew was going to be someone I wasn’t going to like. While she felt like her older sister didn’t treat her like her age, Claire didn’t do anything about it. I understand that standing up to an older sibling (especially an older sister) can be hard, spending the entire book whinnying about the lack of respect, I wish Claire had said something. There were plenty of times in the book where I wanted to slap Claire to wake her up from her dreams. I think that Claire had a lot of potential because she could have killed it at the game but nope.

Also, the characters in this book weren’t developed at all. There was no development to speak of and this was so sad. What’s a better way to grow as a person than through traveling the world? I just wanted so much more in terms of characters. Samir, the antagonist I guess was just a guy. And I can’t even remember the name of the love interest her was no uninteresting so there's that. If there's anything, I liked the idea of this story. It sounds like so much fun and for the girl that loves traveling (because I've traveled so much), the idea for such a reality show sounds like heaven. Heck, even I'd apply to be on it!

Overall, I was so bored with For Real. The countries weren’t interesting at all, the characters weren’t developed, and overall, I just wasn’t as impressed. There was so much room for growth but alas, I didn’t get any. I’m sure some really liked this novel but for me, it didn’t click.

I don’t think about this book. I don't want to recommend it to anyone. I might have even hated this book. I would not even think to recommend it to anyone. 

Sadly, this was another miss for me. I really wish I'd liked this book but frankly, this wasn't for me. Maybe it will be for others but for me, I kind of wished I hadn't read it. Maybe I should have DNF'd but even till the end, I was sorely disappointed. 
Okay, y'all, I like this cover a lot. It's cute and fun and goes with the book so well!