Since You've Been Gone Review

Title: Since You've Been Gone
Author: Morgan Matson
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Genre: Contemporary, Realistic Fiction 

*Spoilers in white. Highlight to read.*

Blurb: (from goodreads) It was Sloane who yanked Emily out of her shell and made life 100% interesting. But right before what should have been the most epic summer, Sloane just…disappears. All she leaves behind is a to-do list.

On it, thirteen Sloane-inspired tasks that Emily would normally never try. But what if they could bring her best friend back?

Apple picking at night? Okay, easy enough.

Dance until dawn? Sure. Why not?

Kiss a stranger? Um... 

Emily now has this unexpected summer, and the help of Frank Porter (totally unexpected), to check things off Sloane's list. Who knows what she’ll find?

Go skinny-dipping? Wait...what?

Me: I've been wanting to read this for a while now and I'm so glad I finally got around to doing it. 

The Ups: The friendship between Sloane and Emily was so amazing without being over the top or sappy. It felt very real, and the connection they had was crucial to the book and it made the story much more interesting. I love realistic fiction/contemporary books because I like to imagine this happening at a different place on Earth right now. I think that what makes things feel like real life are the little details, embedded here and there. This book had so many of those little things, and I adored them. The playlists that Emily and Frank would run to, the play Bug Juice, the lists that Sloane left Emily, the sharpie tattoos. All of those details added to the book. 
(and the good ole' 1D reference) 
I really like Sloane's list and how Emily followed it, and as she crossed things off, she felt herself change. I think that that was a really awesome character development, especially when Emily could feel herself becoming braver and more comfortable with other people. I would love to make to-do lists like that and stick by them...especially with a best friend. 
I really enjoy friendship stories, and all in all, the relationship between Sloane and Emily, while not portrayed directly, was very strong and I really think that both of them brought out the best in each other. 

The Downs: Frank Porter. Okay, as a character, I loved him. I really did. I think he was a great person, and he had so many interesting quirks about him. But seriously. The plot line involving him was cliche, overdone, predictable...just annoying. 
Spoilers: SERIOUSLY. He just had to leave his girlfriend. For Emily. He couldn't just be single. Nope. I'm pretty sure I've read that same plot at least 10 times. 

Overall: A great character development and friendship story, but the romance was unoriginal. 

Rating: 3 kisses! 

The Book Fangirling Blog Award

Hey guys! So recently I was awarded the Book Fangirling Blog Award by the awesome Ranu over at The Araliya Bookshelf, and I am super excited to share my answers with you all! I love getting the chance to get to know everyone a bit better, and sharing a bit about myself, and I think this award is super awesome because Hannah @BookFangirling created it herself. 
So here we go...

Q:Who is your OTP? (If you have more than one, please do mention all!)
A:I'm not much of a "ship-per"...I know I know I'm a disgrace. But I do love Belly and Conrad from the Summer series by Jenny Han,  Eleanor and Park, and of course Lizzy Bennet and Mr. Darcy. 
Q: Which book published this year is so awesome that you'd recommend it to anyone and everyone?
A: I haven't found a book that AMAZING that has been published this year yet, but All the Bright Places, P.S. I Still Love You, Saint Anything...they're all pretty good. Now in 2014, I'LL GIVE YOU THE SUN. GO READ IT NOOWWW. (Also, I am extremely excited for Andrew Smith's new book Stand Off that comes out on Sept. 5th, so that book might just be the one) 
Q: Name a blog you have discovered recently (within the last week or so) that you absolutely love.
A: Ryley @ The Paperback Princess. I discovered her blog through another blog, and I love the design and all her posts! 

Q: Which female main characters are your favourite, and why?
A: Too many to count! I love female protagonists. Let's see...Of course Hermione is at the top of the list, along with Celaena Sardothien from Throne Of Glass, Lara Jean Covey from To All The Boys I've Loved Before, and Anne Shirley from Anne of Green Gables. 

Q: Which book has put you in the worst bookhangover/ the ending made you tear out your hair with feels?
A: Harry Potter of course! Mainly because I realized I would never be able to experience the books for the first time again, and that made me extremely sad. I'll Give You the Sun, Eleanor and Park? So much feels. 

My Questions: 
1. What is a classic that you absolutely adore?
2. Any book-ish guilty pleasures (ex: reading chick-lits obsessively)?
3. If you could live in any book world, which one would you choose? 
4. Who is an author everyone loves but you haven't read yet?
5. Name three blogs that you check regularly. 

My Nominees: 
Claire @ Cover to Cover
And anyone who else that is interested! 

That's a wrap! Such a fun award! 

We Should Hang Out Sometime Review

Title: We Should Hang Out Sometime
Author: Josh Sundquist
Publisher: Little, Brown
Genre: Memoir, Humor 

Blurb: (from goodreads) A bright, poignant, and deeply funny autobiographical account of coming of age as an amputee cancer survivor, from Josh Sundquist: Paralympic ski racer, YouTube star, and motivational speaker.

Josh Sundquist only ever had one girlfriend.
For twenty-three hours.
In eighth grade.

Why was Josh still single? To find out, he tracked down the girls he had tried to date and asked them straight up: What went wrong?

The results of Josh's semiscientific, wholly hilarious investigation are captured here. From a disastrous Putt-Putt date involving a backward prosthetic foot, to his introduction to CFD (Close Fast Dancing), to a misguided "grand gesture" at a Miss America pageant, this story is about looking for love--or at least a girlfriend--in all the wrong places.

Me: Witty, hilarious, cringe-worthy, second-hand embarrassment...Ahh I loved this book. 

The Ups: John Sundquist is HILARIOUS. I adored the subject of this book and the ridiculousness and yet the relatability of wanting to know what old crushes thought about you was unbelievably funny in itself. The humor with which he works in the subject of his amputated leg, his "girlfriend" getting an actual boyfriend (news flash, it wasn't him) and his disastrous "dates" is light, breezy, and very conversational. 
I finished this book in the span of an hour and a half. At first, I felt bad that I had just breezed through it, but then I realized maybe that was how it was supposed to be read. 
Because in that short time I learned a few life lessons: 
  • Love is hard, and usually sucks. 
  • However, unfortunately for us, we tend to gravitate toward completely unattainable people. (Ahem, book boyfriends)
  • That one sentence you said to your crush or that text you overanalyzed? They really don't care.
  • When in doubt, one should scour their past and then conduct absolutely crazy and rather stalker-sh experiments and then record their priceless results. 
Okay...these lessons may be a bit of an exaggeration, as much of the book is. But needless to say, I fell in love with Josh Sundquist. And I think the main idea of the book, while it may be about romance, is self-discovery and confidence, and how that affects your life. 

The Downs: I do feel bad for the poor girls in this book...all of their actions are recorded from a slightly biased point of view for the world to read.

Overall: Funny, endearing, and absolutely priceless. Recommend it to everyone, even people who aren't non-fiction fans. 

Rating: 5 kisses! 

Hope you liked the review, and the little life lessons along with it! 

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings Review

Title: I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings 
Author: Maya Angelou
Publisher: Random House
Genre: Classics, Memoir, Non-Fiction

Blurb: (from goodreads) Sent by their mother to live with their devout, self-sufficient grandmother in a small Southern town, Maya and her brother, Bailey, endure the ache of abandonment and the prejudice of the local "powhitetrash." At eight years old and back at her mother’s side in St. Louis, Maya is attacked by a man many times her age—and has to live with the consequences for a lifetime. Years later, in San Francisco, Maya learns that love for herself, the kindness of others, her own strong spirit, and the ideas of great authors ("I met and fell in love with William Shakespeare") will allow her to be free instead of imprisoned.

Poetic and powerful, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings will touch hearts and change minds for as long as people read.

Me: One of the most artistic, honest books I have ever read.

I think that this book, and Maya Angelou, for that matter, is so monumental for many, many reasons. To address something that I haven't discussed very much on other blogs, I have not read that many books written by African American authors, not on purpose, but perhaps because of lack of availability and education. It's great to see a breakthrough of black authors nowadays, but at the time this book was published (1969) it was a risky, new, brave accomplishment. 
It was an accomplishment in the historical sense, but it really is an incredible work of art. The vividness with which Angelou depicts her memories, and her painfully honest take on her youth is amazing. She address topics such as rape, the separation of whites and blacks in society, the imprisonment of Japanese-Americans, prostitution, alcoholism, and everything in between exactly as she sees it. 
There is not a blind side towards anything and I think that that is the true beauty of this classic. It gave such a new perspective to me on life as black female in the 40s-50s and even now. I felt such a deep connection to all the characters and individuals, even if they were not the best people. Following who seemed to be an ordinary girl grow into an intelligent, fierce woman was beautiful. 

This is truly a side of a story not many people will get to know or even hear about unless the read this book. And it's worth it. 

(Extra plus: English teachers LOOVEE this book, so you might want to get on their good side) 

Rating: Beat My Scale! 

Talkin' About: Book Festivals

Book Festivals
There may just be nothing in this world that gets me more excited and happy than a book festival. While that may be saying something about my mental state (I'm just a teeny tiny bit book crazy), I love them. so. much. 
I have now attended 4 different book festivals, and met Sarah Dessen. Scott Westerfeld, Jenny Han, Kiera Cass, Gayle Forman, James's a long list. 
Basically a book fest is a huge festival where authors come and speak at panels, sign books, and there is a huge number of attendees that buy books and get them signed, and walk around the festivals going to the panels. Oh, and occasionally you get free stuff. Everyone is essentially a huge book geek. It is my sense of heaven. 
(Not to mention how freaking cool it is to shake hands with James Dashner and think this is the hand that touched the hand of Dylan O'Brien that touched the hand of 70,000 other celebrities)
Anyway, Texas Teen Book Festival is coming to Austin again this September with a great selection of authors, and I am so pumped. I wanted to know if any of you have attended any book festivals, and what your experience was like. 
Also, comment below if you get more excited about meeting your favorite author than a celebrity...maybe that's just me. 

Broken Hearts, Fences, and Other Things to Mend Review

Title: Broken Hearts, Fences, and Other Things to Mend
Author: Katie Finn
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends
Genre: Realistic Fiction 

Blurb: (from goodreads) Hot sun. Blue waves. New romances. Old secrets.

Gemma had her summer all planned out, but it takes a sharp turn when she gets dumped and finds herself back in the Hamptons after a five-year absence.

Being there puts her at risk of bumping into Hallie, her former best friends (that is, before Gemma ruined her life). But people don't hold grudges forever. Do they?

Gemma intends on making amends, but a small case of mistaken identity causes the people she knew years ago—including Hallie and her dreamy brother, Josh—to believe she's someone else. As though the summer wasn't complicated enough already.

Filled with summer sun, boys, and friendships gone sour, Katie Finn's first novel in the Broken Hearts and Revenge series sizzles and delights.

Me: A light, summer read that I breezed through. 
I feel like I need to start with the downs first on this review, so here goes:

The Downs: This book was so incredibly predictable. I literally had the entire plot line figured out in my head from the end of the sixth chapter (which isn't saying much, as the chapters are very short). I don't know if it was supposed to be a complete plot twist at the end, but it wasn't very surprising...and then the cliffhanger. I felt like I'd read through the entire book to have some sort of resolution at the end that instead left me having to wait to read the next book to get some sort of decent ending. 
That being said, I felt like the entire situation was a bit ridiculous. It seemed like the entire plot just happened so that the author could create this story, and it wasn't realistic. 

The Ups: But while all this may sound bad, I surprisingly liked the book. It definitely felt like a summer/beach read, so that was nice, and stupid as it was, the drama was captivating. I also have this love/hate relationship with predictable books because part of me loves to see that what I guessed was right. Sometimes it's fun to get everything right, even though it was extremely easy. 
I think that I was in the mood for a book I could speed through and not have to think about, and this provided me with that, so although there were a lot of technical problems, I'm not too unsatisfied.

Overall: Predicable, and unrealistic, but good for a light read. 

Rating: 3 kisses!

Saint Anything Review

Title: Saint Anything
Author: Sarah Dessen
Publisher: Viking Juvenile
Genre: Contemporary, Realistic Fiction 

Blurb: (from goodreads) Peyton, Sydney's charismatic older brother, has always been the star of the family, receiving the lion's share of their parents' attention and—lately—concern. When Peyton's increasingly reckless behavior culminates in an accident, a drunk driving conviction, and a jail sentence, Sydney is cast adrift, searching for her place in the family and the world. When everyone else is so worried about Peyton, is she the only one concerned about the victim of the accident?

Enter the Chathams, a warm, chaotic family who run a pizza parlor, play bluegrass on weekends, and pitch in to care for their mother, who has multiple sclerosis. Here Sydney experiences unquestioning acceptance. And here she meets Mac, gentle, watchful, and protective, who makes Sydney feel seen, really seen, for the first time.

The uber-popular Sarah Dessen explores her signature themes of family, self-discovery, and change in her twelfth novel, sure to delight her legions of fans.

Me: I don't know about you, but I love Sarah Dessen. I have a weak spot for her books. I've heard a lot said about them because they are "repetitive", but I think it takes talent and effort to keep coming up with these books and making big hits out of all of them.

The Ups: I think that Saint Anything was definitely one of her more insightful, deep novels. It dealt with a lot of topics, and dealt with them well. Sydney just as one character experienced guilt for something she didn't do, anger at her mother's blindness towards her brother's flaws, and dealing with her own security of always being invisible. But all the characters had struggles and problems that were prominent in the story. It made the book much more meaty and gave a lot of chew on. 
As always, I love Sarah Dessen's writing. I will agree that her books have a similar tone and feel to them, but I like that that sets her off from other authors. I feel like there should be a "Sarah Dessen" genre...
(btw, totally random, I've just started getting really into glee. Comment if you love it :))

I liked the story line to this book, and all the different character relations going on. I really liked the character of Layla, and how incredibly unique she was. She wasn't afraid to stand up for herself and the people she cared about, but she also acknowledged her flaws. 
It was great to speed through this book. I was entranced into Sydney's world, which is what usually happens with me and Sarah Dessen books. I was up all night finishing and it was totally worth it! 

The Downs: I feel like Sydney wasn't my favorite protagonist of Sarah Dessen, but I definitely connected to her. I think that she could have been a little more exciting to read about, or portrayed in a better way, but I liked her well enough. 

The only thing was, this book didn't have a spark for me. It was good, it was thought-provoking, but it wasn't the best. 

Overall: A good one, but not the best of this author. 

Rating: 4 kisses! 

I Mustache You Some Questions TAG

Hi guys! I was tagged by the wonderful Skye@A Geek With Books to answer some questions...why the mustache I have no idea. I've seen this around, and I'm excited to finally getting to do it! Here we go...
Four Jobs I would Like to Have:
  • Publisher/Editor- Reading books all day. Critiquing them. Sounds like a job I could go for. 
  • Makeup Artist- Guilty pleasure! Playing around with makeup is so fun. 
  • Chocolate Taster- I wonder if this is actually a job...sampling chocolates and reviewing them :) 
  • Naming Nail Polish Colors- Because they seriously need to upgrade those people. 
Four Movies I have Watched more than Once:
  • All the Harry Potters. I've watched them like 20 times. 
  • The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants- my go-to chick-flick...with all the feelllssss 
  • Les Miserables the Cast Recording- like the musical. Not the Hugh Jackman one because the singing is horrifying. 
  • The Book Thief- deserves so much more recognition as a book and a movie. Go watch it now. Literally. Unless you don't want to cry...then don't. 
Four Books I would Recommend: 
  • If you're feeling sci-fi/action- Steelheart and Firefight by Brandon Sanderson
  • If you're feeling contemporary- A.S. King books or I'll Give You The Sun
  • If you're feeling romance/girly- Any Sarah Dessen book (again, guilty pleasure!) or Jenny Han books.
  • If you're feeling historical, like me sometimes- THE BOOK THIEF. CANNOT STRESS ENOUGH. 
Four Places I have Visited: 
  • London, Paris, Rome- okay that's three places all together but it was on the same trip so HA
  • Canadian Rockies- Utterly stunning. I do not have words to describe it.
  • Australia- I don't actually remember anything (I was 4) but it sounds cool hehe.
Four Things I don't Eat: 
  • Mushrooms- *barf*
  • Grapefruit- *double barf*
  • Alfredo sauce stuff
  • White chocolate- is not real chocolate. 
Four of My Favorite Foods:
  • Dark Chocolate- basically the real world form of heaven. 
  • Apples
  • Korean food- tastes like home :)
  • Ramen noodles- always, my love.
Four Things I'm Looking Forward to This Year:
  • Back To School(?)- Not really, but it's kinda major. 
  • Halloween is sooon!
  • And then Christmas!!
Four People I've Tagged:
I know that a lot of people have done this so I'm sorry if you already have...
...Or anyone else who is feeling it! Hope you enjoyed, and comment below your answers to some of these questions! 

P.S. I Still Love You Review

Title: P.S. I Still Love You
Author: Jenny Han
Genre: Realistic Fiction, Romance
Publisher: Simon and Schuster

Blurb: (from goodreads) Lara Jean didn’t expect to really fall for Peter.
She and Peter were just pretending. Except suddenly they weren’t. Now Lara Jean is more confused than ever.
When another boy from her past returns to her life, Lara Jean’s feelings for him return too. Can a girl be in love with two boys at once?

In this charming and heartfelt sequel to the New York Times bestseller To All the Boys I've Loved Before, we see first love through the eyes of the unforgettable Lara Jean. Love is never easy, but maybe that’s part of what makes it so amazing.

Me: Lara Jean fell in love with Peter...and I fell in love with Jenny Han yet again. 

The Ups: First of all, "admire" is not enough to sum up my feelings for Jenny Han. I've read every single book of hers, even Shug, and I adore the Summer series (let's be real, who doesn't). But this. This was just off the charts. How does she do this to my heart?

Lara Jean is perfect. I love her with all my heart. I relate so much to her feelings and the way she feels and thinks about certain are exactly the way I would think. She is my soul mate. I loved all the Korean references especially the one about jung...
“There's a Korean word my grandma taught me. It's called jung. It's the connection between two people that can't be severed, even when love turns to hate. You still have those old feelings for them; you can't ever completely shake them loose of you; you will always have tenderness in your heart for them.” 
Being of South Korean heritage myself, all the food names and hanbok and everything felt like a mini shout-out to people like me, or Lara Jean. The jung quote hit me in the heart though, because it is a concept and a word that is unique to the Korean language.
From the first book, I had hated Peter Kavinsky. There's a little bit more love blooming for him in my heart though. He's coming through. However, I loved John Ambrose more. That's all I will say. No spoilers. (WHY DO I ALWAYS FALL FOR THE OTHER GUY)
I love the warm feeling in my heart that all of Jenny Han's books give me. All the girly details are so freaking adorable, like the baking and style of Lara Jean. Style goals. And the writing is heartfelt and comfortable, like a cup of hot chocolate. 
There will be books that thrill me, scare me, that feel like a crazy roller coaster ride, but I know I'll always fall back on the books that feel like home to me-Jenny Han's. 

The Downs: Are there ever downs?

Oh jk. I still hate Genevieve. The situation she's in does not forgive anything. And Peter should have dealt with that better. No more spoilers. 

Overall: Such a great sequel to the first book, and I fell in love with the characters all over again. 

Rating: BMS!