Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Books I Read In June

Here's my June book wrap up post! I managed to get this post out a little earlier than usual (since usually try to get my books posts out at the beginning of the next month), but this month I decided to change it up. This month I read all YA contemporaries, with the one exception of An Ember In The Ashes. So here's my thoughts on the books I read, and I did talk about some spoilers in this post.

An Ember In The Ashes by Sabaa Tahir - I've seen so much hype surrounding this book and I was really looking forward to reading it. I ended up really liking this book, and I weirdly liked the first half of the book more that the second (usually I like the second half more). The plot was so well developed and I'm really intrigued by how complex and thought out the universe is. The sequel is scheduled to come out next year, and I want it now so I can see how this story continues to develop.

And We Stay by Jenny Hubbard - This book was just okay to me. It was extremely well written and the subject matter was so intense but I had trouble getting into the story and connecting with the main character.

The Boy Next Door by Katie Van Ark - As a figure skating enthusiast, I really enjoyed this book. I really like books told in alternating perspectives, and with this one I liked reading from Gabe's point of view a little more than Maddy. Overall I felt the story and Gabe and Maddy's relationship was really well developed, but I felt that it didn't end realistically. One of the things that surprised me about this book, was how well developed the family relationships were and I really loved that aspect of this book.

My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick - I read this book right after reading The Boy Next Door, and there ended up being several similarities, but I did end up really liking this book. I really loved reading about the Garretts family, and I really liked the dynamic of the family. I did have a problem with the ending, I felt that it was abrupt and not conclusive. There is a sequel coming out in August I hope that some of the things I had problems with will be wrapped up.

The Fill-In Boyfriend by Kasie West - I love me some Kasie West, her other YA contemporary books are so adorable and beautiful. So I had high expectations going into this one and they were met. Fake relationships are such a cliche, but I honestly really love them. The relationship between Hayden and Gia was so sweet and I really loved how Gia's character developed. This might actually be my favorite out of her three contemporaries.

Backlash by Sarah Darer Littman - I wanted to really like this book but overall it was just okay to me. I thought the premise of cyberbullying is really interesting, but I think it felt a little like a PSA. I also initially had trouble connecting to the four main narrators, but I did end up liking Liam's a lot more than the others.

My Life With The Walter Boys by Ali Novak - This book centers around Jackie, who is sent to live with the Walter family, after her family dies in a car accident. It took a while for me to get into this book, because there are TWELVE Walter kids and I had to trouble trying to figure who was who. I wasn't a huge fan of the love triangle, but I did really like the banter between Jackie and Cole. I really liked the dynamic of the Walter family and the minor characters of the family, like Nathan and Danny. I was really thrown off by the ending, and I felt like there needed to be more. There is a sequel that scheduled to come out next year, and I'm looking forward to reading it.

Amy and Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson - This book follows childhood acquaintances, Amy and Roger, as they travel cross country across the US. book was incredibly cute. I really liked how Matson developed the relationship between Amy and Roger, I also like how Amy's character developed and how much she had changed from beginning to end. I really liked how Matson went on the same trip as Amy and Roger and put in special moments (pictures, playlists, and receipts) to add to their journey.

Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson - This book centers around Taylor and her family after they learn that her father has cancer. This book is so beautiful, I absolutely fell in love with this story. I could tell from the beginning that this book was going to be a tear jerker, and I was sobbing by the end of it. I love how this book handles the family's relationships, romance, and tragedy. I ended up becoming really attached to the characters, they're story is beautifully written and developed.

Extraordinary Means by Robyn Schneider - I read Robyn Schneider's novel The Beginning of Everything last month and I liked it. I was looking forward to reading her new book, and I had hopes that it would have a happier ending than The Beginning of Everything. *Spoiler alert* it didn't and I had a sense of dread for the characters each time I turned the page. I actually liked this book better than The Beginning of Everything, I really enjoyed the characters and the relationship between Lane and Sadie. I really liked how well thought out the medical side of this book was, as the main characters are in a research facility/boarding house for an drug resistant TB. Overall I really liked this book and am interested in reading what Robyn Schneider puts out next.

And those are the books I read this month. I plan on reading two trilogies this month, the Summer trilogy by Jenny Han and the Shatter Me trilogy by Tahereh Mafi, and working through some of the unread books that I own. - Jessica

Friday, June 26, 2015

New York State of Mind (1/2)

Yesterday I got back from a short trip to NYC, and while I was there I took a majority of my pictures on my phone. It was my second time traveling to New York, and I was eagerly looking forward to visiting some places that I didn't get to last time. Since we only had two full days of exploring, my sister and I tried to get as much done as possible. My sister recorded that we walked about 30 miles over four days! I also had a few firsts while on this trip: I rode a taxi and the subway for the first time, and I got to see my first Broadway show! Although the trip was very short, and tiring, I had a lot of fun and I can't wait to revisit.

1. This poster with lyrics from Taylor Swift's song "Welcome to New York", was a lovely way to be welcomed into the city. // 2. An empty subway after it's last stop. // 3. The Chrysler Building from outside Grand Central Station. // 4. This shot is from the New York Public Library, which is a beautiful building.

5 & 6. Washington Square Park, which is absolutely beautiful. // 7. Random shot from MoMA.

8 & 9. These shots were taken at the 9/11 memorial. Visiting the memorial was a breathtaking and emotional experience.

10. I made the spur of the moment decision to see Finding Neverland on Broadway, and I was surprised at how much I love it. // 11 & 12. I also went to see Hedwig and the Angry Inch I was sitting in the center of the second row, and it was one of the best experiences of my life. 
There's all my phone pictures from my trip! I didn't take that many photos with my dSLR but I do have several that I want to share in my next post. - Jessica

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Room Makeover Wishlist

One of the things I really want to do this summer is give my room a makeover. Here are a few of the items that I'm looking at getting for my room. 

1. Billy Bookshelf from Ikea - I've been talking about getting new bookshelves nonstop lately. My current bookshelf is just not cutting it anymore and I have several stacks of about 60 books next to my bed that need a proper home. I really like how functional Ikea's Billy line is, right now I plan on getting at least two units and in the future I'll be able to add on to it.

2. Metal Storage Cubby from Urban Outfitters - Along with my current bookshelf, my current nightstand isn't cutting it anymore. My bed is really tall and my current nightstand is an awkward height in comparison so I really need a tall nightstand with plenty of storage.

3. Svirvel Table Lamp from Ikea - I really want a reading lamp for my nightstand and I really like the simplicity of this one.

4. Hejsan Pen Cup set from Ikea - I really like these for additional storage either for my bookshelf or nightstand. All of the furniture I've been looking at has been monochrome so these add a nice pop of color.

5. Storage Crate from the Container Store - I have this vinyl shelf in black and I love it, but recently my record collection has grown too large to fit on it. So I've been looking at getting some additional storage to house my collection.

So those are the things that I really want for my room makeover! I'll definitely be blogging some of the process on here. Next week I'll be going to New York, so my next couple of posts will be pictures from my trip! - Jessica

Monday, June 1, 2015

Books I Read in May

May ended up being a really good reading month for me. I ended up reading 11 books and I added several books to my favorites pile. So here are the books that I read this month, and my some-what-spoiler-free thoughts on them:

The Book Of Lost Things by John Connolly - I've wanted to read this book for ages and I was so happy that I finally got the chance to. This book is so well written and I really loved the dark, fairy tale twist to the story. This book really puts growing up into perspective and I was surprised at how adult this book was. I honestly expected it to be more for children, since it's listed age range is from 10 to 14, but I wouldn't recommend it for that age range since it deals with such mature content and dark subject matter.

The Heir by Kiera Cass - This book was on my list of most anticipated reads, and I really enjoyed it. This is the fourth book in The Selection Series, and after reading the third book I had a lot of questions about the state of Illea, which I'm glad were addressed in this book. Overall I enjoyed the story, and I liked revisiting the characters from the first three books. I really like how Eadlyn was characterized, I love reading about female characters who are strong-willed and confident, but she also had A LOT of flaws. It was really interesting to see her grow and understand her privileges and I look forward to reading the last book to see how she continues to grow. I honestly can't wait to read the last book because this one ended on a huge cliffhanger and I just want to know what will happen next.

I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson - This book is told in alternating perspectives of twins, Noah and Jude, who each only know half of their story. I love how this story is told, the alternating perspective pieces everything together and drives the story. This book is beautifully written, it's one of those books that as soon as I finished it, I wanted to flip back to the beginning and reread it again.

The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson - After I finished I'll Give You the Sun I was in desperate need of some more Jandy Nelson books and this one did not disapoint. This book resolves around Lennie and her family after her sister unexpectedly dies.  I really like how the concept of grief was dealt with in this story, and how Lennie is confused and reluctant to let go of what has happened. Jandy Nelson is an amazing writer and her books are crafted so beautifully, I need her to write more books so that I can read them all. 

Vicious by V.E. Schwab - Last month I read A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab and I loved it, and I actually ended up loving this book even more. I really enjoyed the superhero, comic vibe that I felt while reading this book. I really love how it made me think about the qualities that define good guys and bad guys, and how we view them. Overall this book was extremely well written and I loved the characters. Now that I've read Victoria Schwab's adult fiction books, I can't wait to read her YA novels. 

Just Ella by Margaret Peterson Haddix - This is book is a Cinderella retelling and picks up right after the classic story. I didn't really like this book... it took away the fairy tale parts of the original story and I felt the characters were too one dimensional. 

The Distance Between Us by Kasie West - I've been in the mood for contemporary YA novels and Kasie West delivered exactly what I needed with this book. I don't think I expected to love this books as much as I did, I actually ended up reading it in one sitting. The story is just so sweet, I really enjoyed Caymen's sarcastic sense of humor and her relationship with Xander.

On the Fence by Kasie West - Pretty much immediately after I finished The Distance Between Us, I started reading this book. I was a little surprised to see that some of the characters from that book were in this one, and from the page that they were in it brought some closure to Caymen and Xander's story. Overall I liked this book, but it didn't blow me away like The Distance Between Us did. It took a while for me to get into this book, and up until the end it felt a little cliche. Kasie West also released a new book last month, that I intend to read this month!

P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han - I read the first book, To All the Boys I've Ever Loved, last month and I absolutely loved it. I was extremely looking forward to reading this book, and I was not disappointed at all. The narrator, Lara Jean, is definitely one of my favorite characters. With most YA novels I have trouble connecting with the characters, but I relate to her so much that she feels like a normal person. Overall the story was beautiful, I loved the characters, and the ending was wrapped up so well. I honestly see myself rereading this series in the near future, because everything about it is beautiful.

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews - I became really interested in this book after I watched the movie trailer, and I ended up liking it. The best part about this book was the narration, the narrator, Greg, is hilarious and he had a lot of personality. I wish I had been able to get in to the story a little more, but overall it was a fun read.

The Beginning of Everything by Robyn Schneider - I've seen several comparisons between this book and John Green's books, and it read exactly like one of his books. It's extremely well written and I liked the characters, but I was disappointed by the ending. I had seen the major plot twist coming and the ending just didn't feel conclusive to me.

Annndddd there are the books that I read in May! I expect June to be a good month, as I will hopefully have quite a bit of free time to read now that I don't start my summer semester until July. As always, feel free to follow me on Goodreads to see my reviews on these books and I see my progress for June. - Jessica