February 6, 2015

Valentine’s Reads

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Everyone loves a good Nicholas Sparks book/movie at this time of year, but if you are looking for something a little different to read this Valentine’s Day, check out these cute, light reads with delightful characters and romances that will leave your heart racing.

valentines

 

A Little Something Different – Sandy Hall

something different

Lea and Gabe are perfect for each other. They like the same Chinese takeout food, laugh at the same jokes, and are even in the same creative writing class. See, perfect? What’s not so perfect? They are both too shy and aloof to pursue their mutual crush. Something has to be done, and the people who see them every day take it upon themselves to get Lea and Gabe together. Sandy Hall’s debut novel gives us a glimpse at Lea and Gabe’s relationship and how sometimes you need a little push to get what you want.

This story is told from fourteen viewpoints, like classmates and teachers and even a bench. However, neither Gabe nor Lea narrates, which makes it really unique.

This book is so cute and funny and I highly recommend it.

 

The Girl Who Invented Romance – Caroline B. Cooney

romance

Sixteen-year-old Kelly Williams has spent her life watching from the sidelines as her friends, her brother, and her parents play the game of love. Kelly takes notes of all their attempts and failures and decides to create a board game that really captures how people behave when they are struck by Cupid’s arrow. Caroline B. Cooney captures all the complexities of romance and love in this cute, page-turning story.

 

Love Story – Jennifer Echols

love story

Erin Blackwell is ecstatic to be majoring in creative writing at the school of her dreams. She plans on starting a new and exciting life in New York City that will help her forget about her past life in Kentucky. An unwanted reminder of that life appears in the form of Hunter Allen, a stable boy from her family’s ranch, who Erin has vowed to despise…so why does Hunter keep popping into her mind and become the main romantic man in her writing assignments for class? Jennifer Echols gives a sweet and sexy story that will hook you in from the first sentence.

February 4, 2015

Classic Corner | Pride and Prejudice

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Ah, Pride and Prejudice. Who ever would have guessed this would be the classic pick of the month? Sorry not sorry. You have to have one of those classic love-hate-love stories when we are in the month of love.

Pretty much everyone in the world knows Jane Austen’s classic story. And if you don’t…I don’t know what to say.

p&p back cover

 

Truthfully, I had never read the book until now. I didn’t even see a movie adaptation until last summer while on a road trip with my family.

I think what really sparked my interest was when I stumbled upon a little vlog series on YouTube called “The Lizzie Bennet Diaries,” which was a modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice created by Hank Green and Bernie Su. I don’t really know how I found out about it because it was never requested on my homepage, nor was it mentioned on Tumblr, but somehow I knew about it, and was obsessed with it.

In August 2014 Bernie Su along with Kate Rorick released Lizzie’s secret diary that held all the things we never saw on screen, including a letter Darcy gives Lizzie explaining his relationship with George Wickham.

lbd

I am so excited to dive into this story! I don’t know why I kept putting it off because I did really want to read about Darcy and Elizabeth for a long time. Whatever the reason, I’m reading it now and that’s what’s important :)

January 22, 2015

Book Review | Guitar Notes

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In a school practice room, Tripp breaks out a borrowed guitar and the music carries him away to another world. On the days Tripp isn’t in the room, Lyla is busily working on becoming the next award-winning cellist. However, Lyla is curious in other things outside of the cello and finds herself reaching for Tripp’s guitar on occasion. She begins tucking notes to Tripp in the strings of his instrument. The guitar notes quickly change from snippy comments to a close friendship neither was planning on. Though they come from different backgrounds and groups, two loners will form a relationship

Okay, so the synopsis I typed up might sound a bit cheesy, but trust me, this story is anything but. Lyla and Tripp’s relationship is so interesting. You can tell that these characters have a good bond and it wasn’t this rushed friendship/romantic relationship, which happens quite a lot in the young adult genre. Love at first sight is always cute, but it’s more fun to see the buildup of the relationship.

Thinking about it now, the relationship between Lyla and Tripp reminds me a lot of If I Stay by Gayle Forman. Both the main characters in that story and this one were brought them together by the music and I feel like it’s that bond over something so wonderful and powerful that ultimately makes their relationships so great.

My favorite things in this book were the songs by Lyla and Tripp at the end of the book. It’s very rare for an author to incorporate songs written by musically gifted characters, and it’s even more rare for the whole song to be included instead of a chorus. And the fact that the guitar chords were actually listed was just so unique.

Honestly, the writing in this was fantastic. I didn’t even know that this was by a debut author while I was reading. Hats off to you, Mary Amato! Keep up the good work :)

I would highly recommend this novel to anyone who loves music, and particularly if you liked the musical elements in If I Stay.

January 18, 2015

Book Review | We Were Liars

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liars

I have to say that this is one of those books you have to go into not really knowing anything about the book. However, I know some people don’t like that so I will include a brief premise of the story below so you can get a good idea of what to expect.

We Were Liars is a contemporary young adult novel by E. Lockhart that follows Cadence, the eldest granddaughter of the highly distinguished Sinclair family. Every summer Cadence and her cousins, who refer to themselves as “Liars,” spend vacation on their family’s private island, swimming and goofing around. But this summer is different. The aunts are crying, and the Liars seem to be avoiding Cady since her accident two summers before. Cadence knows that everyone is keeping a secret from her, and she is determined to find out what happened the night of her accident.

The premise of this book sounded pretty interesting and it was getting a lot of hype prior to its release so I was eager to pick this one up. Sadly, I was a little disappointed with the actual book. I found myself getting easily distracted while reading this, and that’s never a good sign with any story. I’ve read the Ruby Oliver quartet by E. Lockhart as well, and while wasn’t my absolute favorite series, I still enjoyed it and found myself interested in the plot. We Were Liars didn’t hold that same interest. The characters felt underdeveloped, and the story sometimes felt a little repetitive, though it did begin to pick up towards the middle.

Really, the biggest problem for me was the title. It’s catchy when you first glance at it, but I never understood why the older Sinclair grandchildren referred to themselves as Liars in the first place. I didn’t feel like that was explained very clearly.

I do want to give this story another shot so I plan on picking it up in the future, but it’s not one that I would immediately reach towards on a rainy day. I think that this is a book that other people might enjoy, especially if you like mysterious accidents and secrets and stuff like that.

January 11, 2015

Book Review | Revenge of the Girl with the Great Personality

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Revenge of the Girl with the Great Personality follows Lexi, a high school girl crushing on a popular guy who only sees her as a friend. Lexi is often labeled as a girl with a great personality, or, as she describes it, undateable. Dared by her best friend, Lexi gives herself a makeover, thought she doubts that makeup will change how people see her. That is until she is suddenly noticed by the popular guys. Lexi is suddenly approached by cute guys and invited to parties, but after getting a taste of the popular life, she begins to wonder if this is the life she really wants.

Lexi is also a buddy fashion designer with her sights set on moving to New York City, but at the moment her fashionable talents are only put to use by making little kid pageant outfits for her younger and snobbier sister, Mackenzie. Mackenzie’s pageants have put a financial strain on the household, which puts a strain on Lexi’s relationship with her mother since their mother feels Lexi should be contributing to Mackenzie’s pageant funds and Lexi feels that pageants are stupid and a waste of money.

This story definitely shone more light on the beauty pageants for little kids and the extremes some parents will take to live vicariously through their children. The mother very much reminded me of some of the parents on Toddlers and Tiaras (I will admit I’ve watched a few episodes). They don’t care how much money they spend or how ridiculous it is to dress up their children like they are forty-years older than their actual age, not as long as they get to parade their child around and show how much better their kid is to someone else’s.

My least favorite character in this book was the mother, which was obviously the goal. She made me so unbelievably angry. She had no regards for her children, especially not Lexi. She was always putting so much emphasis on appearances. Her refusal to acknowledge their financial problems was insane, and I don’t know what mother would ever feel it was okay to steal money from their child who earned it, even if you claim you are going to pay them back.

Now let’s talk about Lexi’s transformation in the book. Almost every girl goes through this phase either in middle school or high school where they feel like they aren’t good enough to get guys to notice them if they act like themselves. They feel like they have to have the clothes and the makeup and look as adorable as possible in order to catch the attention of the cute boy. Lexi came across to me as a girl who had pretty high self-esteem when it came to who she was and what she wanted out of life, but she was beaten down by her mother constantly saying Mackenzie was the prettier sister. It also didn’t help that Lexi’s crush was dating a beauty queen with the perfect hair, makeup, and clothes. I think this comparison to the pageant world and Lexi’s real life put a strain on how she viewed herself and that’s why she felt like not making any effort. As the book progressed, though, Lexi seemed to become more confident when it came to her appearance, especially when she stopped trying to be one of the popular kids and accept who she was with or without makeup . Makeup is a great way to enhance your features and give you confidence, but it shouldn’t be a mask to hide behind. It should just make your true colors come through even brighter.

 

– SPOILER BELOW –

The ending was a nice refreshing change. I’m a sucker for happily ever after and often don’t like it when the girl doesn’t get the guy, but the way Elizabeth Eulberg made this story play out, it made sense for Lexi to be on her own. In fact, I was hoping for her to be on her own and move to her dad’s or somewhere that wasn’t home with the mother.

– END OF SPOILER –

 

I love Elizabeth Eulberg’s books. Her characters are always so interesting and it is easy to get caught up in their world. I would probably give this about a 4 out 5. It was a fun read that I would definitely pick up again. If you are looking for something a bit different in the contemporary YA genre, I recommend that you give this a try.

January 9, 2015

Series Review | The Lying Game

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the lying game

The Lying Game series by Sara Shepard stars identical twins Sutton and Emma who were separated at birth and do not know of the other’s existence. A nice, rich family adopted Sutton while Emma was off living with their maternal mother for the first five years of her life. After her mother abandoned her, Emma was placed in the foster program and lived in multiple homes that she would run away from.

The story starts with Emma’s skivvy foster brother finding a video online of a girl who looks identical to Emma. After doing a bit of digging, Emma gets in contact with Sutton agree to meet up, but Sutton never shows at their meeting spot. Sutton’s friends find her and she pretends to be Sutton, hoping it’s a joke. The next morning Emma learns that Sutton is dead, and that she needs to keep pretending to be Sutton or else she will meet the same fate. Emma goes to report Sutton’s disappearance to the police, but they dismiss her, thinking it is another Lying Game, Sutton’s game of over-the-top pranks. Emma is forced to go through the charade of being Sutton. None of Sutton’s friends or family notice that “Sutton” is acting differently, but a classmate, Ethan Landry, does. Emma enlists Ethan’s help as she searches for Sutton’s murderer amongst the close family and friends.

There are six books in the series all told from what appears to be the POV of the deceased Sutton is narrating the story while following her lost twin sister, Emma. However, we also can see how Emma is thinking. The narration confused me at first -and truthfully it still does- but once you start getting into the plot, you forget about it.

The ghost of Sutton who narrates does not remember the events on the night of her murder, but as the series progresses and Emma finds more clues, Sutton begins having small flashbacks.

Overall, I greatly enjoyed this series, as well as the adaption ABC did of the show, though the plot lines are very different between the books and the show (as there always is) with Sutton still being alive and constant side dramas sprouting up.

Pick up the first book and/or watch the series on Netflix. You wont regret it :)

January 6, 2015

Book Review | Better Off Friends

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better off friends

Better Off Friends by Elizabeth Eulberg stars Levi and Macallan, longtime best friends who secretly begin to develop feeling for each other, but hide it from the other in order to preserve their friendship. Told from a dual perspective, the story follows Levi and Macallan from their meeting on the first day of seventh grade until their junior year of high school, along the way experiencing heartbreak and tests of their friendship, and learning that home isn’t always a place: it’s a person.

I kept hearing this described as the YA equivalent to ‘When Harry Met Sally,’ and I was not disappointed. This was one of those books that had you hooked from the beginning, and made you wish you had a Levi in your life.

I thought that Better Off Friends was one of those stories where it’s obvious to everyone that these characters were going to end up together eventually, but the bigger focus of the story was on their friendship. We were given a view into how tightly knit their friendship was from the beginning and how much they helped each other grow as people, with Macallan opening up about the loss of her mother and Levi’s struggles fitting in at school.

The thing I personally loved the most was how passionate Macallan was when it can to her family, especially her uncle who had a slight disability. I could totally relate to Macallan in how she stood up for the people she cared about. Having a few family members with mental disabilities, I hated when people picked on others who needed a little more assistance than we did. I applaud Elizabeth Eulberg for incorporating this into her story.

My only problem was how invested I got in the characters and it was so disappointing the closer I got to the finish. I tried to prolong it as long as I could because I wasn’t ready to let go, but like all good things it has to come to an end.

Better Off Friends deserves 4 out of 5 stars. I highly recommend this to anyone looking for a light, cute book.

January 6, 2015

Classic Corner | Little Women

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Hey there Literature Lovers!

Since it’s been about a week since the new year began, everyone has started up with their resolutions. Now, I’ve never been big on the whole resolutions thing. Yes, it’s a new year and a new start, but you had 364 other days to start exercising and getting healthy in the previous year. Why does January the first have to mean something different?

That being said, this isn’t so much a resolution for the year as it is a goal for myself. I used to love reading classic books (well, some more than others) because they give you an idea of what the time period was like.

I have so many classics stacked in my TBR pile, and I really would like that number to dwindle down this year. While I’m doing that, I figured, “Hey, why not share it?” So I’ve decided to do a monthly mention of a classic novel. I may read more than one per month in order to get the number down, but this way it could be fun mentioning some of my favorites.

This month I wanted to turn the spotlight on Little Women by Louisa May Alcott.

little women        little women back cover

I had to read Little Women for summer reading back in middle school, and from what I remember I thought it was pretty good. I wasn’t completely obsessed with it, but I thought the characters were interesting and the story wasn’t too dull, but I haven’t picked it up since. However, I found this gorgeous edition back in December while out with my mom, and decided I wanted to reread it.

For those of you unaware of what Little Women is about, I’ll give you a brief premise. The story revolves around the four March Sisters: Amy, Beth, Meg, and Jo. The March family is next to destitute, which the girls are less than pleased about. Their father sends them a letter telling his daughters to not complain about the situation and bear their burdens in a cheerful manner. The sisters experience lots of little adventures, like attending fancy parties and meeting a handsome neighbor called Laurie, along with typical sisterly squabbles.

I’m looking forward to starting this again. I might watch the movie with Winona Ryder and Susan Sarandon before I start just to refresh my memory of the plot a bit more.

I’m curious to know what classics you like. Feel free to leave a comment below!

Love always,

Lauren

January 1, 2015

Most Anticipated Releases of 2015

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2015 is finally upon us, giving us a whole year of new opportunities, new adventures, and, of course, lots of new books, and believe me, there are a lot of goodies coming out this year. These are the ones I am personally looking forward to the most.

 

Fairest: The Lunar Chronicles: Levana’s Story (January 27, 2015)

This is a spin-off novel in The Lunar Chronicles series that documents the untold story of Queen Levana. I love fairy tale retellings, especially those that give a glimpse into the villain’s past. It’s always interesting to see what made a person choose the path they did. I’m so glad this is coming out later in the month because I’m eager to pick it up.

The Selection Stories: The Queen and The Favorite – Kiera Cass (March 3, 2015)

This is the second novella compilation in The Selection Series. The Queen stars a young Queen Amberly as she competes for the hand of the prince. The Favorite follows America Singer’s best friend Marlee who came to palace in hopes of becoming Prince Maxon’s wife, but instead finds herself falling for another. I’m looking forward to these novellas because it’ll give us some other sides of the story that weren’t as detailed in the three main books.

The Wicked Will Rise – Danielle Paige (March 31, 2015)

This is the sequel to Dorothy Must Die, a retelling of The Wizard of Oz that shows the events after Dorothy returns to Oz and how her dictatorial rein over the land leads to destruction. Narrated by Amy Gumm, “the other girl from Kansas,” we will see who is who is good and who is wicked.

Miss Mayhem – Rachel Hawkins (April 7, 2015)

This is the sequel to Rebel Belle, which follows Harper Price, a Southern Belle who becomes a Paladin, an ancient type of guardian with super strength, agility and highly lethal fighting capabilities, and she is charged with protecting David Stark, her least favorite person in the world. Miss Mayhem will continue Harper’s story as she fights to protect David, learn more about her capabilities, and compete in a prestigious pageant (Ya know, typical girl stuff).

Saint Anything – Sarah Dessen (May 5, 2015)

I have a feeling this is going to be one of my favorite summer reads! Sarah Dessen’s books are the perfect poolside companions. This is her twelfth novel, which stars Sydney, a teenager whose world has been shaken up and finds comfort with a family who accept her no matter what. She also meets Mac, a boy who makes Sydney feel like she is finally being seen for who she truly is.

The Heir – Kiera Cass (May 5, 2015)

This new addition to The Selection series follows America’s daughter as she goes through her own selection process.

Royal Wedding: Princess Diaries Volume XI – Meg Cabot (June 2, 2015)

Another summer read I am highly looking forward! Meg Cabot is one of my absolutely favorite authors. Her writing style is very witty and it’s easy to get in the mindset of her characters. I started reading The Princess Diaries series back in 2002 and could not put them down. I was so sad when the final volume of Mia’s diaries was published. I could not contain my excitement when I learned that Meg Cabot was releasing a new story all about Mia’s wedding! It’ll be so nice revisit these characters and see how they have progressed over the past few years.

Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard: The Sword of Summer – Rock Riordan (October 6, 2015)

I really enjoyed the Percy Jackson series and am currently working my way through the Heroes of Olympus. Rick Riordan has such a great sense of bringing these characters to life, and incorporating all the different mythological elements. I’m excited to see how he portrays Norse mythology in this new series, and there have been a few rumors that Percy may make an appearance in there somewhere. I don’t really know about that, but I would love to see some mentions of (or a guest appearance by) Thor. Anyway it goes, this is sure to be a promising read.

Winter (The Lunar Chronicles – November 10, 2015)

Winter is the forth and final book in the Lunar Chronicles series by Melissa Meyer that will feature Snow White.

 

Melissa Meyer is also releasing the first book in a new series featuring the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland entitled Heartless, which is set for a Fall 2015 release, but no exact date has been released.

 

The final book I am anticipating is the forth and final book in the “All The Wrong Questions” series by Lemony Snicket. No actual release date has been set yet, but I would venture a guess of it coming out around the end of September just like the first three stories in the series.

 

I can already tell this is going to be a great year for all the bookworms out there!

 

Love always,

Lauren

 

December 31, 2014

Hello world!

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I’ve been wanting to start my own blog for quite a while now, and I finally decided it was time to set up a place to call my own.

This small slice of the Internet is dedicated to literature and those who love it. A place to review books, discuss writing, and share a collective appreciation for the written word, as well as various other creative outlets, like photography and music.

So welcome, Literature Lovers!

 

Love always,

Lauren