Book Review: Wildflower

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wildflower

Title: Wildflower
Author: Alecia Whitaker
Release Date: 07/01/14
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Wildflower was one of my most anticipated reads of 2014, but when I started reading it I wasn’t a fan. I made it 10% of the way through the story before I couldn’t take any more and had to put it down. It wasn’t that I didn’t like the story, the story of Bird, her parents, and her two older brothers on the road with her family’s folk/country band was fine, it wasn’t even uninteresting, it just wasn’t quite compelling enough to keep my attention. This is actually the problem I had with Whitaker’s first book, The Queen of Kentucky. I liked that book, but it was a very character-driven story that didn’t have anything in it to keep me turning the pages.

About a month and a half after I put Wildflower down I came back to it. I had been so excited to read it, and I wanted to know how it played out, so I decided to give it another shot. I’m glad I decided to revisit Bird’s story, but, full disclosure, as much as I came to like the story, there still wasn’t enough to it to really make me excited about it and or leave me dying to know what was going to happen.

While Bird is still on the road with her family she’s homeschooled and they literally travel from place to place in their van performing at different bars and clubs. One night her dad gets sick and can’t do lead vocals so Bird takes over for him. Even though she’s nervous at first she eventually settles in and gives a great performance. That night there happens to be a Nashville A&R executive in the crowd and he invites Bird’s dad to come and talk to him about Bird. The family thinks it will be a deal for them, but he only wants Bird. While this does create some resentment with Bird’s brothers, by and large the family is happy for Bird and supportive of her pursuing a solo career.

When Bird signs a record deal the family ends their life on the road and settles down in Nashville. Bird is excited to start recording songs, but as her album gets fast-tracked and she spends her days in the recording studio, gets makeovers, and does promotional stuff she starts to feel a lot of pressure and it all becomes less fun than she expected. Luckily Bird, who’s never really had friends, becomes friends with the daughter of a songwriter she’s working with. The time she spent with the daughter, Stella, were some of my favorite scenes in the book, it was just nice to watch Bird being a normal girl. Even when Bird wasn’t with Stella the part of the story that takes place in Nashville was more compelling than the earlier parts of the book. The long hours Bird spent in the studio and doing promotional stuff and her attempts to balance her new and old lives did get repetitive at times, but for the most part it was a pretty interesting account of a girl finding her way into being a celebrity.

There’s also a kind of romance in the story. Bird has known Adam, a fellow road musician, for many years, but she thinks he only sees her as his friend’s younger sister. She uses Adam as her muse to write songs and, with Stella’s encouragement, she starts to text and call Adam to build their own separate relationship. The romance was definitely more on the back burner and it was also a very chaste, innocent relationship. I read somewhere (forgive me for forgetting where) that this is the first in a series. There aren’t other books listed on Goodreads so we’ll see, but, if it is, it would make a lot of sense because this story didn’t really go anywhere and was left over open-ended.

Bottom Line: Even though I liked Bird from the start and eventually even came to like her family, there’s still something that held me back from really connecting with Wildflower. The story of Bird becoming a star was interesting, but still, like The Queen of Kentucky, it was lacking a hook to really draw me into the story. If you’re more ok with character-driven stories then I don’t think that will be a problem, but if you want more of a problem to be solved or change to occur than you might be disappointed with the story.

I received an electronic review copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss (thank you!). All opinions are my own.

One Year Ago: Waiting on Wednesday: No One Else Can Have You


Top 10 Tuesday: Books I Really Want To Own But Don’t

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Top 10 Tuesday is a meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. You can see all the topics here.

By this point we all know that I don’t buy books. Especially books I haven’t read. So this topic pretty much doesn’t work for me, but no worries, I’m making to work. Rather than “Books I Really Want to Read but Don’t Own Yet” I’m doing “Books I Really Want To Own But Don’t” which is a slightly traumatic topic for me, but I will muddle through. I also had a difficult time coming up with 10, how crazy is that?

Books I'd Like to Own

1. Holier Than Thou by Laura Buzo: This is one of the best stories I’ve read about how chaotic and amazing life right after college is. I wish desperately that it would be published in the US.

2. When You Were Here by Daisy Whitney: I loved Danny’s story and it’s one I’ve been wanting to re-read for a while.

3. All the Truth That’s In Me by Julie Berry: I honestly don’t know if I would re-read this, but it’s such a unique, interesting book that I would be proud to see it on my shelf.

4. Roomies by Sara Zarr: A great story about life on the cusp of college, I can definitely see myself re-reading this.

5. How to Kill a Rockstar by Tiffanie DeBartolo: Another book that I’d really like to re-read. Tiffanie DeBartolo is such a master with words and characters, it’s so sad she’s only published two books, but at least it’s easier for me to own all her books!

6. The Piper’s Son by Melina Marchetta: Just a masterpiece, I need to own this sooner rather than later.

7. Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour: When I returned this book to the library I was actually sad. Another book I can easily see myself re-reading.

8. Breathe, Annie, Breathe by Miranda Kenneally: I enjoyed the other Hundred Oaks books, but I’ve never wanted to own them, but Annie’s story really resonated with me and I’d love to have this one on my shelf.

9. Attachments by Rainbow Rowell: Another book I would like to re-read, I enjoyed it the first time I read it, but I feel like I would learn more going back and re-reading it.

10. The One and Only by Emily Giffin: I just loved this book, it made me so uncomfortable, but in such an amazing way. And I actually own a lot of Emily Giffin’s other books.

One Year Ago: Top 10 Tuesday: Most Memorable Characters


Book Review: Zac and Mia

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Title: Zac and Mia
Author: A.J. Betts
Release Date: 09/02/14
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

I haven’t read The Fault in Our Stars. I felt like I had to get that out there before I review this book. Yes, The Fault in Our Stars is obviously the cancer book, but cancer is a big topic that, as Zac frequently reminds us, affects one out of two people worldwide so I’m personally of the mind that the world, even the YA world, can handle more than one (or two or three) cancer books.

I’m glad I got that off my chest. Zac and Mia is a complicated book for me. When I first started reading I definitely wasn’t sold on the story. At the beginning it’s pretty much just Zac, stuck in an isolation room, with his mother and a rotating cast of hospital staff. He’s had a bone marrow transplant and he has to be in a germ-free environment for a number of days (I think it was 50) before his new marrow is making enough white blood cells to be able to combat pathogens. That sucked. It sucked for Zac and it sucked for me reading it (obviously it sucked more for Zac). Even though Zac is funny and charming and geeky and optimistic it was still a struggle to feel so stuck and alone. And yes, that is how Zac felt, but still, it dragged and for a while I wasn’t sure if I would be able to keep reading.

Even after Mia moved in next door to Zac the story was still a struggle. Since Zac can’t go talk to Mia and Mia can’t come in to talk to Zac they communicate by knocking on the wall between their rooms (neither knows morse code so it’s not terribly effective) and through a few slightly confusing notes passed between by the nurses. Eventually they become friends on Facebook but even their chats there are stilted and not exactly thrilling. Mia has osteosarcoma in her ankle and Zac looks at her as being incredibly lucky even though Mia, who’s always been a bit of a party girl, feels anything but.

The story is divided into three parts, the first is solely from Zac’s perspective, the middle from Zac and Mia’s alternating perspectives, and the final only from Mia’s perspective. Even though I had a difficult time getting into the story it was still very well written and I was intrigued by Zac’s voice. Once we get to know Mia in the middle part I was slightly taken aback. By the time we meet her she’s busted out of the hospital and run away from home. She’s lying and stealing and isn’t a particularly empathetic character. If Zac and Mia reminded me of any book it would be Side Effects May Vary. Mia’s anger, terrible decisions, and general unlikability reminded me a lot of Alice in that book, although overall Zac and Mia isn’t quite on the level of Side Effects May Vary.

Once the switch to alternating between Zac and Mia’s perspectives I was more drawn into the story. It never fully clicked, but at least with Mia, even if she was a huge rhymes-with-witch (though I liked her), things were happening. Much of the story still happened in Mia and Zac’s heads and I did wish for more action and more talking, but I did come to enjoy and was interested in the story a lot more than I was for the first third.

As I was reading I kept going back and skimming Goodreads reviews because I wanted some hint of what happened at the end of the story. Did they both die? Did one of them die? I didn’t even care who may or may not have died, I just wanted to know because I felt like I needed a better take on the overall tone of the book. As I was skimming those reviews I came across one (a negative one) that noted that the story isn’t a romance. Up until that point (and I was probably more than halfway through by this time) I hadn’t even noticed that it wasn’t a romance and I loved that. Guys and girls can be friends and although there was some attraction of Zac to Mia and Mia wanting him to find her attractive because that’s how she’s used to finding validation, there was no kissing or romance in the book.

As implied above I kept playing out different scenarios for how the book would end. Lots of different things went through my mind, but what actually happened was a surprise to me and I really enjoyed that. It was also a really fitting ending given the tone of the story and I was left with the pleasant feeling that Zac and Mia were both given their due.

Bottom Line: Even though the beginning dragged and I wish the rest had had a little more action and conversation, I still enjoyed reading Zac and Mia. It’s one of those books that, even with my issues, makes me look forward to seeing what A.J. Betts does next because the concept, characterization, and overall way the story played out were all really strong.

I received an electronic review copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss (thank you!). All opinions are my own.

One Year Ago: Book Review: All Our Yesterdays


My Week in Books

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This is actually two weeks in books since I didn’t get to do a post last week while I was away. But while I was away I read zero books, started zero books, borrowed zero books from the library, and didn’t download anything from NetGalley/Edelweiss so really this is one week. Confusing… ;)

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Summer of Yesterday by Gaby Triana: Such a pleasant surprise, if you’re looking for something to round out your summer reading I highly recommend it. I reviewed it last-last Thursday.

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After I Do by Taylor Jenkins Reid: I LOVED this book. Review to come, but seriously, just read it if you haven’t already. I loved it so much I went and bought three copies, one for me and two for friends.

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Forever Interrupted by Taylor Jenkins Reid: I liked this, but I wish I hadn’t read it right after After I Do because they have such different feelings to them. But I was just so excited for more Taylor Jenkins Reid.

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Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas: I liked this more than Throne of Glass, but I don’t know, I loved the novellas but Sarah J. Maas’s novels just aren’t clicking for me. Review to come!

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Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins: I’m the only person on this earth who didn’t enjoy Anna and the French Kiss, but Stephanie Perkins keeps getting better. I loved getting to know Isla and Josh and I devoured this book in just a few hours yesterday. My review will be up next month.

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Breaking His Rules by Allison Packard: I loved this story, but absolutely hated the writing so I guess I can’t really recommend it? I have some thoughts to work out, review tk.

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Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas: I haven’t actually started this one yet, but it’s going to be my next read because (crazy!) it comes out next week!

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Maybe This Christmas by Sarah Morgan

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Virgin by Radhika Sanghani
I Love I Hate I Miss My Sister by Amelie San

Happy last week of August, everyone! Enjoy the last (unofficial) week of summer!


Book Review: Can’t Look Away

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Title: Can’t Look Away
Author: Donna Cooner
Release Date: 08/26/14
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

This seems to be the year that YA authors are exploring fame in our reality TV and internet-crazy days. After reading and enjoying Something Real and Don’t Call Me Baby I was excited to give Can’t Look Away a try and see Donna Cooner’s take on fame. Can’t Look Away didn’t measure up to those two books, which are among some of my favorites of 2014, but it still has its merits.

First, Can’t Look Away is a quick book, I probably read it in just over two hours, but it’s not lacking in depth. Torrey, the main character, has become famous through a series of vlogs she created about fashion and beauty. Torrey, who’s only 15 years old when the story starts, has learned to deal with the haters, but after her younger sister is killed in a tragic accident the haters and trolls come out in full force and Torrey has to decide if the vlogs are something she wants to continue.

Added on top of her vlog crisis and her sister’s death is her family’s move from Colorado to Texas. Her mom couldn’t handle driving past the spot where her sister died or being reminded of her sister all the time so Torrey’s family moves to Texas, where her father has family. Torrey starts a new school, where she’s worried about people recognizing her for her vlog and make the connection to her sister. However, she is very eager to join the popular crowd, where she feels she belongs, but she’s intrigued by a boy, Luis, whose family owns the local funeral home, even though he’s shunned and mocked by the popular group.

As I was reading there kept just being little things that bothered me. Torrey’s vlogs are really popular, but I questioned if people would really be so interested in a teenage vlogger, who only has a few hundred thousand hits on her videos, so much that someone would hide in the floral arrangement at her sister’s funeral to get photos of her grieving. I have no doubt that the trolls would be out in full force, but to do something like that? That’s like Hollywood celebrity levels of fame. Also, there’s a video posted online at one point that really hurts Torrey’s reputation and feeds the trolls, but then that video is magically taken down and is nowhere to be found. I don’t think I’m an internet expert, but that just seemed very far-fetched to me. The internet is forever. Finally, the financials of the whole thing. Torrey is buying very expensive clothing and makeup to feature in her vlogs, where is she getting the money? From her parents? Because that’s appalling. And are her vlogs making any money? It doesn’t take that many views for YouTube to start paying you a small amount for the ads that air before your video. Is that how she’s paying for her wardrobe? But who’s managing the money and tax stuff for her?

All of those things really hurt the book in my eyes. I don’t know if it’s because I’m older and these aren’t things that teens would think about (although I certainly don’t sell teens short). Overall I did think this was more of a younger YA read. Torrey turns 16 at the start of the book, but, despite her success, she still seemed very young. There were times where her behavior was pretty terrible, like plotting when to make her return to her vlog to make her look most sympathetic or lying about giving the family statement at her sister’s killer’s trial to make herself look better. Torrey was a sympathetic character, but some of her actions, probably due to her age, were disturbing.

Enough of the bad, there were several strong things about this book. Even though I struggled with some of the aspects of Torrey’s vlogs it was still really impressive that she built a brand and a following at such a young age. Most of the story actually had to do with Torrey’s family and her new school than her vlog, which was good, because Cooner handled both of those things well. Torrey’s parents aren’t terribly present, her mother is very depressed and has a difficult time being the mother that Torrey remembers. Her father tries, but he travels a lot for work. Even though her parents were lacking, they were lacking in a way that was realistic and made sense given her family’s circumstances. Quite a bit of the story is actually flashbacks to when Torrey’s sister was alive. Torrey and Miranda never really got along and much of what Torrey remembers is the two of them arguing which, knowing what happens to Miranda, was painful to read about at times. But it was nice to get to know Miranda and really see how her loss impacts Torrey.

A lot of Torrey coming to terms with Miranda’s death has to do with Luis and his family. As Torrey gets to know Luis she also gets to know his mom and aunt and all three of them teach her about their culture and Dios de los Muertos, or the Day of the Dead. Torrey, who isn’t handling Miranda’s death well, takes a lot of comfort in some of the customs she learns and the ideas about how people pass on and can also come back to this world. It was a really interesting way to watch someone cope with loss and it worked really well in the story. Also, yay for a minority love interest, diversity in books is always appreciated.

Bottom LineCan’t Look Away wasn’t the exploration of internet culture I was looking for, but it did have its strong points. Donna Cooner did a good job telling the story of a girl who’s sister has passed away and how she manages to move on. Overall this falls on the younger end of the YA spectrum and might not have the crossover appeal of other YA books, but it’s still an entertaining read.

I received an electronic review copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley (thank you!). All opinions are my own. 

One Year Ago: Book Review: Dangerous Girls


Checking In On My Resolutions

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Seeing as we’re nearly eight months into 2014 I thought it might be a good idea to check in with some of the resolutions I made back in January. What’s the point of making them if you’re not going to hold yourself accountable, right? Let’s go through them:

1. Read Fewer Books
Progress: I think I’m doing well. I didn’t start off the year very well, but January was a slow month for me so I had a lot of reading time. If I stick to the pace I’m on I’ll read about 195 books in 2014 which is indeed less than the 222 I read in 2013.

2. Read One Non-Fiction Book Each Month
Progress: Complete fail. I started one in January with the best of intentions, but I think I’ve made it like 2% of the way through and then I never stated something new because I was still “reading” the other one. Something to work on.

3. Pick a Few Backlist Books to Read Each Month
Progress: I haven’t really gone about this one with intention, but according to Goodreads I’ve read 38 books published before 2014 this year and I’m happy with that.

4. Read More Mindfully
Progress: I think I’ve done well with this. I’ve become more selective about the review copies I request and I’ve also DNF quite a few books this year. Lately I’ve been asking myself if I think a book really has the potential to be four or five stars and if it doesn’t I usually don’t read it. In 2013 I gave 10 books five stars and this year I’ve already given seven books five stars.

5. Keep Blogging Fun
Progress: I’m happy with how I’m handling blogging. This will always be a hobby for me, it’s not something to make me money or get me a job. I’ve kept the pressure low and had fun this year. When things got stressful back at the end of June and beginning of July I didn’t blog for almost two weeks. I didn’t like doing that, but it was the best decision for me.

6. Eat More Mindfully
Progress: I’ll give myself a 80% on this. I go through phases where it’s more difficult, but I’ve done very little of the binging that I used to do fairly frequently.

7. Do a One-Handed Push-Up
Progress: Utter fail, but, in my defense, I’ve been having wrist issues for much of the year. They’ve finally started to feel better though so I’m hoping to revisit this.

8. Learn to Knit Socks
Progress: Absolutely none. However, my local knitting store only has classes on Saturdays and I’ve worked Saturdays all year. But now that I’ve started my new job, where I don’t work Saturdays, I’m hoping to tackle this one.

9. Move More Mindfully
Progress: For a while earlier this summer I was going for walks every day on top of my workout, but it’s hard. I’ll give myself a 50% for this one. I try to move around the house more and park farther away and walk places when I can, but it’s a challenge. I was so spoiled when I lived in NYC.

10. Stop Procrastinating
Progress: This is the one I failed at the most (or at least bothers me the most). I feel like I’ve slightly improved, but I’m still a terrible procrastinator. These things take time though, right? And I can always work on it tomorrow. (Sigh.)

One Year Ago: Book Review: Fangirl


Book Review: Flat-Out Celeste

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Title: Flat-Out Celeste (companion to Flat-Out Love)
Author: Jessica Park
Release Date: 05/22/14
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

If you’ve read my review of Flat-Out Love you know I wasn’t entirely pleased with the book. But I did fall in love with Celeste so the minute I finished Flat-Out Love I knew I had to download Flat-Out Celeste and see where the wacky, awkward, loveable Celeste ended up as a teenager.

Flat-Out Celeste is a lot like Celeste herself, it’s a little strange and weird, but it’s also completely adorable and I literally couldn’t put it down (I went from reading at home, to reading at work, to reading at home). When the story picks up Celeste is in her senior year of high school and although she’s no longer dependent on Flat Finn, she’s still an outcast struggling to find her way. But Celeste is smart and keenly observant and reading the story through her eyes, even when she was being awkward and weird and lonely, was such a joy. At the beginning of the story she’s planning to apply to Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and the like, but then she receives an email from a student liaison at Barton College in California. Justin Milano is, believe it or not, pretty much just as awkward as Celeste, but, pretty much from the moment he emailed her, completely endearing.

Let me stop here and say that if I had known that Celeste and Justin meet and correspond over email I might not have picked up Flat-Out Celeste. One of my main gripes with Flat-Out Love was that the emails and messages that Julie and Finn exchange broke up the story and I was so much more interested in what was happening in real life, particularly Celeste, that Julie’s online life just took away from what I liked about the story. So when Justin first emailed Celeste and she emailed him back I groaned internally (what a waste of $3.99!), but said I’d give it some time to see how it played out.

My fears were unfounded because how it played out was wonderful. Even though Celeste and Justin email, they meet pretty early on in the story in such a hilarious, awkward, Celeste and Justin way. After their meeting they go back to emailing, but they also text, talk on the phone, and since Justin comes home for Thanksgiving and for a while over Christmas, they also get to see each other fairly frequently. Plus, unlike Julie and Finn’s relationship I was really into Celeste and Justin’s relationship and that made all the difference.

Over the course of the story Celeste begins to come into her own by being Celeste. At the beginning of the story she tries to create an identity by being someone else and trying hot yoga or auditioning to be a singer in a skate punk band (which were both hilarious experiences), but eventually Celeste realizes she just needs to be Celeste and that was so amazing to see. And while Justin had something to do with it, he didn’t have everything to do with it. Celeste and Justin actually talk a lot about guys saving girls and vice versa and reading about both of their transformations was more about watching them grow as people rather than change in order to be with someone else.

Flat-Out Celeste is a sweet, touching story, even though she’s grown up in many ways Celeste is still dealing with the trauma in Flat-Out Love and her continued social isolation. The book could have been a sad story about a lonely girl, and maybe some people will read it like that, but I always felt like Celeste had a really good head on her shoulders and would be ok. It’s also, despite the difficult situations, a completely hilarious book that I literally couldn’t stop laughing at while reading. I’ve read a bunch of funny books lately and this one is up there with some of the funniest books I’ve read of all time.

This is going to be a first for me, but I want to talk about the swoons. I’ve written many book reviews and I don’t think I’ve ever discussed swoons before so trust me, this is rare. As an adult, who’s been through real life love and not love and heartbreak, etc. I’m not really into the swoony moments in books. As a somewhat cynic they seem contrived and not realistic, but I definitely had some swoony moments while reading Flat-Out Celeste. I talked about how much I liked Celeste and Justin’s relationship for the humor and what they give to each other, but there were also some great, not cheesy, sweet, swoony moments and even this cynic ate them up.

Bottom Line: After being somewhat disappointed by Flat-Out Love I’m so happy I gave Flat-Out Celeste a shot (and how could I not, Celeste is clearly amazing). The heart, the humor, the awkwardness, and the intelligence of Celeste just shines through and makes this such an enjoyable read. And the romance, oh the romance, it has its ups and downs and oddities, because Celeste and Justin are odd (like all of us), but it’s so adorable. I can’t recommend this book enough, even if you haven’t read Flat-Out Love.

One Year Ago: Waiting on Wednesday: Into the Still Blue and Gayle Forman Read Along: Where She Went: Week 1


Top 10 Tuesday: Books People Have Been Telling You That You MUST Read

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Top 10 Tuesday is a meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. You can see all the topics here.

This list is pretty much interchangeable with last week’s list. Which sucks because picking 20 flipping books was really difficult. But I did it. There are a combination of books people are always telling me to read and books that I see bloggers and reviewers recommend a lot and feel the pressure!

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1. Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver: My goal this year was to read a Lauren Oliver book and since I don’t feel like starting a trilogy I should be listening to all the praise for this one.

2. Me Before You by Jojo Moyes: Is there anyone who’s read this and hasn’t liked it? Because if there is I haven’t met them.

3. One and Only by Viv Daniels: When this came out a read a bunch of good reviews. I’ll be honest and say that if I could take it out of the library I probably would have read it already, I just haven’t been able to bring myself to buy it.

4. Fall for Anything by Courtney Summers: The only Courtney Summers book I haven’t read. I’ve also had people tell me its their favorite of hers.

5. How to Say Goodbye in Robot by Natalie Sandiford: Another one where I’ve read a bunch of stellar reviews.

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6. Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo: Of numbers 6-10 on this list this is probably the one I’m most likely to read, but still, magic? I don’t know, but I see them everywhere!

7. Cinder by Marissa Meyer: Cyborgs? Oy, but so many people who are also not into cyborgs seem to love them.

8. Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor: This comes so highly recommended, but I read the description and just shake my head.

9. The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater: I’ve been intrigued by this one since an old roommate and good friend read the ARC and raved about it, but I saw Stiefvater speak at a conference and was just so turned off by her personality, including when she signed a book for me.

10. Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling: Never say never, but I will never read these books. Which is probably silly because I might be one of the only people in the world (or book people) who know literally no spoilers for the series.

One Year Ago: Top 10 Tuesday: Things That Make Your Life as Blogger/Reader Easier


Book Review: The Rosie Project

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Title: The Rosie Project
Author: Graeme Simsion
Release Date: 10/01/13
Genre: Adult Contemporary
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Somehow, don’t ask me how, I had never heard of The Rosie Project before I saw Jaime review it. While I wouldn’t say it’s 100% the type of book I normally read, it’s adult! It has a male main character! It sounded fun, came highly recommended (not just from Jaime but lots of other Goodreads friends), and seemed like a nice break from my normal YA.

Here’s the thing about The Rosie Project, Don is weird. Not just a little weird, like super, duper weird. And if you’re not up for dealing with Don’s weirdness or you’re going to judge his weirdness then I think you’re going to really struggle with this book. But, if you’re read to dive into Don’s world, oddities and all, then you are in for a very special ride that I highly recommend taking as soon as possible.

Don is a professor of genetics at a university in Australia. He’s a very successful geneticist, but as a professor, friend, and boyfriend he’s not so great. Don is incredibly literal, struggles with social nuances, and has a lot of trouble breaking from routine. At the beginning of the book Don fills in for his friend Gene to give an Asperger’s lecture and afterwards Gene’s wife, another friend of Don’s, asks him if anything seems familiar about Asperger’s (hint, hint), but Don doesn’t many the connection. That’s the type of personality Don has. Despite his rigidity and social cluelessness I found Don to be utterly endearing and adorable. I was completely taken in by his quirks and unintentionally funny statements (although there were times when thought his cluelessness went a little to the extreme) and really just wanted to be Don’s friend.

Most of the premise of the story revolves around Don trying to find a wife. After never being successful dating Don decides the easiest way to find the ideal mate is to go about it scientifically. He makes a lengthy questionaire to weed out potential women with questions on if they smoke or drink and how they feel about personal and political issues. Don brings his questionaire to speed dating sessions, posts it online, and even goes on a group date. When no woman meets Don’s exacting standards he recruits his friend Gene (a married man who’s made it his mission to sleep with women from every single country to compare styles) to pick out a woman from the completed questionaries.

Enter Rosie, who Gene sends to Don, and Don is skeptical about, but goes on a date with any way. Even though Don and Rosie’s first date goes (hilariously) wrong, Don is still intrigued by Rosie and by the idea that she’s trying to track down her biological father who she’s never met before and whose identity her mother never told her before her mother passed away when Rosie was younger. Don and Rosie team up to try to figure out Rosie’s paternity, knowing only that her mother got pregnant the night of her medical school graduation party.

Don and Rosie’s mission to find Rosie’s father was amazingly hilarious. They take on different identities to get close enough to obtain DNA from potential fathers and Don even learns new skills, like bar tending, to get closer to the men they’re hoping could be Rosie’s father. I’m not someone who likes typical physical comedy and humor that comes out of mistaken identities, but there’s something about Rosie and Don together that was just magic. I read the entire book with a smile on my face and laughed so much I was worried my family was going to have me committed for laughing creepily to myself while alone in my bedroom.

Over the course of their investigation Don and Rosie spend a lot of time together and, even though Rosie smokes and drinks and doesn’t seem to be Don’ intellectual equal he starts to wonder if he might be attracted to her. The very clincal, scientific Don doesn’t think he’s capable of loving someone and he can’t quite pick up on the signals from Rosie so there are a lot of crossed signals and missed opportunities in the book. Again, these are things that usually drive me crazy, but they worked here. As much as I wanted Don and Rosie to just stop acting silly and get together watching them get together was so much fun that I couldn’t really mind.

There was one tiny thing about the story that left me wondering. There’s a pivotal thing that centers around a simplified understanding of how eye color is genetically passed on. It’s explained that Gene taught Rosie’s mother’s medical class the wrong thing, but Gene is much younger than Rosie’s mom and even though he was a student at the same time, he was much earlier in his academic career so I didn’t quite understand how Gene would be teaching something to Rosie’s mom. Anyone?

Bottom Line: If you’ve never heard of the Rosie Project before you’re excused for never having read it, but, seriously, go read it now. And if you’ve heard about it and have it on your TBR, but haven’t picked it up what are you waiting for? This is a fun, completely hilarious, sweet story about two people falling in love and discovering who they are, emotionally and genetically. I’m so happy I gave it a read and I hope you will too.

One Year Ago: Book Review: The Distance Between Us


These Are a Few of My Favorite Things

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Many people who read this blog know that I am a minimalist. I have a limited budget and I would much rather spend my money on experiences–dinners and drinks with friends, vacations, cultural things–than accumulating clothes, books, or knickknacks. That said, there are things I cannot live with out, that I love and need and am willing to spend money on. I love when bloggers share their favorite things and, in something a little different for me, I’m going to start sharing mine from time to time.

Food (3)

1. Godiva Milk Chocolate Salted Toffee Caramels: I have a huge sweet tooth, but I don’t like to pig out on sweets. So I like to buy individually wrapper candies and I have two with lunch every day. These are some of my favorite (I buy them at Target) and they’re pretty low in calories for what they are (I think two are 80 calories).

2. Eat Well Embrace Life Edamame Hummus: A friend brought this hummus to a party a few months ago and now I am addicted. It’s flipping delicious. I can find it in BJ’s and Stop and Shop.

3. Vaseline Lip Therapy Rosy: I used to see this on Pinterest and I was always intrigued. I am not a fan of the scent or look of roses, but I sought this out in Target one day and after I got over the size (it’s so small!), I bought it, tried it, and now I’m obsessed. I may or may not have bought Target out of all their stock one day and gifted it to every one I know.

4. Alba Botanicals Daily Shade: Aging is pretty much my number one concern in life. I am obsessed with anti-aging things and with sunscreen. If I’m at the beach or spending the whole day outside I wear real sunscreen, but for every day, in the car, running in and out of stores/work/etc. I wear this. It’s a great moisturizer, plus I’m protected from the sun! I buy mine at Whole Foods, surprisingly they have the best price I’ve found.

5. Anastasia Eyebrow Pencil: I love makeup, but I never felt like my face looked finished until I started wearing eyebrow pencil. I was worried it would be a jarring change, but I started out lighter and gradually went darker and I love it. It gives me a nice complete look.

6. Marina and Demme Face Wipes: I have fairly nice skin, but one day the owner of the studio where I work out said she had wipes in the bathroom we could use to clean off our super sweaty faces before we left. I religiously wash my face in the morning and at night, but sometimes I would come home from the gym and not wash my face for hours. Once I started using the wipes at the studio I immediately noticed a change in my skin. I went and bought my own (TJ Maxx usually has them for $3.99) and I wipe my face off after every workout now.

7. Sparkly Soul Headbands: If you are like me and have very fine hair you know what it’s like to never have a headband stay on your head. I spent so many workouts readjusting my headband or just ripping it off, but then I tried these and they are a miracle. I prefer the “thin” ones, but I have a few of the thick and they’re great too. I wear them 5-6 days a week to workout and I bought my first one years ago and I’ve NEVER had one slip off my head. Amazing.

8. BaliElf Carino Leather Sandals: I live in these shoes in the summer. I love the BaliElf brand (I have a bag from them, too) and these sandals are so high quality and comfortable. I got mine last May and I’ve worn them almost daily in the spring, summer, and fall, around cities and while traveling and they pretty much look good as new.

One Year Ago: Book Review: Also Known As