Monthly Wrap-up: June

List of June reads. Some really good ones, some good ones, some not-so-good. A very productive blogging month for me, of which I'm proud because of all the life craziness that happened.

Libba Bray - Beauty Queens (audiotape) 
Meg Cabot - Underworld (Abandon #2)
                   - Awaken (Abandon #3)
Sarah Dessen - The Moon and More
Jennifer Echols - Dirty Little Secret
Abbi Glines - Forever Too Far (Too Far #3)
                   - Breathe (Sea Breeze #1)
Polly Holyoke - The Neptune Project
Laura Howard - the Forgotten Ones (Danaan Trilogy #1)
Julie Kagawa - The Eternity Cure (Blood of Eden #2)
Jo Readman - George Saves the World by Lunchtime
Rainbow Rowell - Eleanor & Park
Jennifer E. Smith - This is What Happy Looks Like
Rick Yancey - The 5th Wave (Fifth Wave #1) 
Cheyanne Young - Motocross Me

Weekly Wrap-Up: June 23-29

BLOG TOURS! Lots of them this week!

The Neptune Project - Polly Holyoke: 4 stars. See review here.
The Forgotten Ones (The Danaan Trilogy) - Laura Howard: 4 stars. See review here.
Motocross Me - Cheyanne Young: 4 stars. See review here.

Currently Reading:
Awaken (Abandon #3) - Meg Cabot: Yeah, I couldn't hold myself back. I've totally read the ending. I regret nothing.

New to my bookshelf this week:
The Grass Is Always Greener (Belles #3) - Jen Calonita: I have been waiting forever for my library to order this and it finally came in!
Shadow & Bone (Grisha #1) - Leigh Bardugo
Perry's Killer Playlist - Joe Schriber: I haven't heard of this one, but I saw it at the library and was intrigued by the title, cover, and description. Plus, it's set in Italy, which I love.
Two and Twenty Dark Tales - Nina Berry: Anthology time!

Blog Tour: Motocross Me by Cheyanne Young

Rating: 4/5 stars
Pub Date: June 26, 2013
Publisher: 336Love
Genre: young adult contemporary
Format/Source: advanced digital review copy from the publisher
Status: Standalone

I received this drc from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This post is part of the Motocross Me blog tour, hosted by Shane from Itching for Books. Check out the rest of the tour here. At the bottom of the post is a tour-wide giveaway hosted by Shane.

When Hana Fisher moves to the small town of Mixon, Texas to live with her dad, she dreads having to work at the boring pile of dirt he fondly calls a motocross track. But when she gets there, she finds the rinky-dink dirt bike track from her childhood has grown into the most respected racing track in the state.

Now popular by association, Hana endures the pain and sweat of working in the summer heat in order to fit in with a sport she’s growing to love. She gets a real family, a best friend and not just one, but two of the fastest racers trying to win her heart.

When Hana abuses her status as the track owner’s daughter to help the gorgeous Ryan Russo cheat in the biggest race of the year, she risks more than just losing her job. Every good thing in her life is at stake now- her friends, her dad’s trust, and Ash Carter- the kind-hearted racer who may not be as alluring as Ryan, but is proof that nice guys don’t always finish last.

Blog Tour: The Forgotten Ones by Laura Howard

Rating: 4/5 stars
Pub Date: April 28/May 15, 2013
Publisher: Self-published
Genre: New adult, contemporary fantasty (fairies)
Format/Source: ebook, bought through Amazon's Kindle store
Status: Book 1 of The Danaan trilogy

Thanks to Julie and the ladies of AToMR Tours for setting up this tour!
Full schedule found here.

Allison O'Malley's plan is to go to grad school so she can get a good job and take care of her schizophrenic mother. She has carefully closed herself off from everything else, including a relationship with Ethan, who she's been in love with for as long as she can remember.

What is definitely not part of the plan is the return of her long-lost father, who claims he can bring Allison's mother back from the dark place her mind has gone. Allison doesn't trust her father, so why would she believe his stories about a long forgotten Irish people, the Tuatha de Danaan? But truths have a way of revealing themselves. Secrets will eventually surface. And Allison must learn to set aside her plan and work with her father if there is even a small chance it could restore her mother's sanity.

Blog Tour: The Neptune Project by Polly Holyoke + Giveaway

RATING: 4/5 stars
PUB DATE: May 21, 2013
PUBLISHER: Disney/Hyperion
GENRE: middle grade, dystopian, sci-fi

1. I received a copy of The Neptune Project from the publisher at TLA in exchange for an honest review.
2. My review is part of The Neptune Project Blog Tour, hosted by Shane @ Itching for Books! Thanks to Polly Holyoke, who encouraged me to join the tour, and Shane for having me! The tour schedule can be found here.


With her weak eyes and useless lungs that often leave her gasping for air, Nere feels more at home swimming with the dolphins her mother studies than she does hanging out with her classmates. Nere has never understood why she is so much more comfortable and confident in the water than on land until the day she learns the shocking truth—she is one of a group of kids who have been genetically altered to survive in the ocean. These products of the "Neptune Project" are supposed to build a better future under the waves, safe from the terrible famines and wars and that rock the surface world.

But there are some big challenges ahead of her: no one ever asked Nere if she wanted to be part of a science experiment; the other Neptune kids aren't exactly the friendliest bunch, and in order to reach the safe haven of the new Neptune colony, Nere and her fellow mutates must swim across hundreds of miles of dangerous ocean, relying on their wits, their loyal dolphins and one another to evade terrifying undersea creatures and a government that will stop at nothing to capture the Neptune kids ... dead or alive.

Fierce battle and daring escapes abound as Nere and her friend race to safety in this action-packed marine adventure.


Top Ten Tuesday #3: Best of 2013

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme created by The Broke and The Bookish. Each week the girls at B&B think up a fun theme, and participating bloggers post their favorite 10 books in that category. This week's theme is

Best Books of 2013 (so far)

A note: I've read some pretty wonderful novels this year. Like amazing, gorgeous, well-written, thought-provoking, sob-inducing pieces of literary genius. Sadly, I had to cap this list at ten. All are rated 5 stars, but I had to leave some 5 stars out and also some amazing 4 star books. So these are the books that made me think the most. That made me feel the most. That broke my heart the most. That healed me the most. That taught me the most. That made me fall in love the most. These books are...the most. At least of 2013. Well, the beginning of 2013. Consider this my fervent recommendation that you read them immediately. Also, these are in order from earliest read to most recent, not in order of ranking. I'd rather flog myself with a copy of of the OED than rank them any more than I already have. Speaking of, since these all garnered 5 stars from me, I decided to give a silly rating based on what is noticable about each book.

1. Just One Day by Gayle Forman. WHERE was this novel when I was a freshman in college?! Seriously, this is like the most true rendition of college, ever. If you haven't read One Day yet, prepare yourself for ALL TEH FEELS. Love, heartbreak, depression, sorrow, joy, loneliness, self-realization... I mean, this is the woman who brought us If I Stay so that should tell you something right there. I absolutely can't wait for Just One Year.
Rating: 5 out of 5 vacation romances with European actors

2. Through the Ever Night by Veronica Rossi. There's a well-known and loathed phenomenon known as the curse of the second book, meaning when the first book is awesome, the second is expected to be awesome and often falls prey to those high expectations. Well, clearly Veronica said, "Screw that," and wrote herself another fantastic story. More Perria! More drama! More romance! More danger! More everything! Mostly more Roar! *fangirls go wild* Even when I was mad at Veronica (unfortunately I read a really ridiculously sad part 5 minutes before meeting her and felt utterly betrayed and could only ask her WHY [she laughed at/with me]), I loved her. PS Cover for Into the Still Blue and 3 chapters were just released!
Rating: 5 out of 5 boys wearing tight leather pants
3. The Indigo Spell by Richelle Mead. Richelle laughs in the face of the second book curse because clearly, it's never happened to her. As brilliant as her first books are, her second books never disappoint and TIS is no exception. All I can say is, "ADRIAAAAAAN!" :P And Sydney. Seriously, Sydrian makes me so happy, I can't even say. Fiery Heart is going to be friggin awesome. Nover 19, get here fast!
Rating: 5 out of 5 steamy tabletop make-out scenes

4. Perfect Scoundrels by Ally Carter. I won't call it the curse, but I wasn't as into Uncommon Criminals. Scoundrels, though, is a fantastic book 3 for the series with no end in sight. I think it's because Ally really mixed it up this time since Hale was a mark. Ally is a great writer with a wonderful imagination. I have no idea where she gets these crazy schemes, but I love reading about them. Clearly she's at the top of the NSA watch list because her novels are like the how-to on pulling off the perfect crime. Good thing her other series is the how-to on catching criminals! :D
Rating: 5 out of 5 adorable billionaires

5. Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare. GUH. If your heart wasn't ripped out of your chest several times while reading this, I'm just not sure about you as a person. I mean the feels, there were so many! First the.....and then the......and then the EPILOGUE. *dies* Also, chapter 19: Chicka. Chicka. YEAH!!!! That is all.
Rating: 5 out of 5 hottest love triangle action ever (No, not THAT. Pervs)

6. Revenge of the Girl with the Great Personality by Elizabeth Eulberg. I was shocked when i read some less-than-thrilled reviews, but I guess some people just have vastly different taste than I do. I thought Revenge made a great point about judging people by their looks, whether they're not so attractive or whether they're good-looking, and by the tag "great personality". Seriously, I had a coversation with Real Guys about that phrase and it wasn't pretty. More in depth review here.
Rating: 5 out of 5 references to pageant reality shows

7. I Now Pronounce You Someone Else by Erin McCahan. This is not a well-known book, and none of my friends on any platform have read it so I wasn't sure what to expect reading this one; I only did because its setting matched a challenge I'm doing. Certainly the blurb doesn't do it justice. That whole pretending-to-be-someone-else nonsense is NOT the plot. Pronounce is about love and growing up and how sometimes, you do outgrow love if it happens early in your life. Also, a breakup doesn't always happen because the guy is a jerk. Sometimes, he's really nice, but it just doesn't work out. It's sad, but it's a powerful message. You may not like it as much as I did, but I do recommend giving it a try.
Rating: 5 out of 5 wishes for a Happily Ever After after the end
8. Unravel Me by Tahereh Mafi. another writer who laughs in the face of the dreaded second book and instead uses the book to torture the ever-living crap out of her fans, especially those who have already declared allegiance to one love interest. DARN YOU, TAHEREH! IT's a really good thing I didn't read Unravel right before meeting Tahereh because I may have tried to kill her if I had. #TeamAdam, all the way, baby! FYI, Veronica is on our team, while Team Warner has a psychopath. I think we all know how this is going to end: Battle Royale, with the boys shirtless. I'm so okay with this, it isn't funny. Warner is a maniac, but at least he IS gorgeous! I am so going to the bad place for that....
Rating: 5 out of 5 swearwords (in a good way)
9. Burning by Elana K. Arnold. I came across Burning on Netgalley and fell in love with the cover. Then I fell in love with the blurb. I tossed out a request and was shocked when I was granted a digital review copy. I can't say enough good things about Burning. This book is gorgeous all the way through. Like Pronounce, this is a lesser-known book and the ratings are just not a good indication of how lovely it truly is. Just give it a shot. There was something in Burning that really resonated with me so I want to tell everybody abuot it! Full review here.
Rating: 5 out of 5 insane summer hippie festivals

10. Winger by Andrew Smith. Like with Burning, I can't say enough good things! Winger was touted as this hilarious coming-of-age novel about an underage high school junior who is this genius delinquent of a rugby player. However, I really wasn't expecting so much substance. Call me happily surprised! This will not be my last Andrew Smith novel because his writing is superb. Full review here.
Rating: 5 out of 5 empty tissue boxes because this book actually made me cry more than Clockwork Princess did. I know, RIGHT?!

11. The Eternity Cure by Julie Kagawa. Okay, so I'm cheating by adding a bonus book. HOWEVER, I made this list before I read The Eternity Cure, and after I read it, I couldn't not have it on this list. But I couldn't kick off any of the other books either so here we are. I'm really impressed with how well Julie pulls off her dystopian-vampire world in an industry flooded with vampire and dystopian novels. I definitely called a few of the bigger twists, but I don't think utter secrecy is Kagawa's goal.  I think her mastery of writing and characters and especially character relationships has only increased since The Immortal Rules. You'll be begging for #3 by the end.
Rating: 5 out of 5 blow-your-mind fight scenes

Weekly Wrap-Up: June 16-22

Somehow I managed to squeeze in 3 and a half books this week. Oh, yeah, and I'm still moving. And working. But mostly moving. Seriously,  I'm kind of astonished.

The 5th Wave (The Fifth Wave #1) - Rick Yancey: 5 stars. Really, really good book. Yanceey is just a phenomenal textbook writer. That being said, I had a really hard time not thinking of The Host while reading this book.
The Eternity Cure (Blood of Eden #2) - Julie Kagawa: 5 stars. *sobs* WHY, Julie Kagawa, do you do this to me!
United We Spy (Gallagher Girls #6) - Ally Carter: 5 stars based on the exerpt I read (the partial ARC Disney-Hyperion gave away during BEA)
Dirty Little Secret - Jennifer Echols: 5 stars. Jennifer's flair for romance and realistic and relatable characters + Nashville, which I consider my second or third home = utter joy.

Currently Reading:
The Neptune Project - Polly Holyoke

New to my bookshelf this week:

I bought books by Aimee Carter, Tessa Gratton, Julie Kagawa, Tahereh Mafi, and Ransom Riggs this week because they're coming to Dallas in a couple weeks. Giveaway, anyone? :D

Moving Day Giveaway

 Giveaway is CLOSED. 
Check here for open giveaways.

So I've been pretty quiet on here the last couple weeks because I've been so swamped with work and moving. While moving all my stuff from one house to the other, I realized...I have a lot of books. Like...a lot. Enough for a second personal library (my first being still at my parents' house as I have zero room to carry all my childhood books with me right now). And as much as I like books, I really need to get some gone. Not all because I have other giveaways planned for coming months, but some. I think 6 is a good start.

So here's the deal: Open to US/Canada (for shipping reasons) until the end of June. 3 winners. First winner will get 3 books. Second winner gets 2 books. Third winner gets one. Best part: YOU CAN CHOOSE WHICH BOOKS YOU GET.

The booty: I have a mix of arcs and signed books and yes, you can mix and match.

The Boyfriend App by Katie Sise
Truth of Dare by Jacqueline Green
SYLO by D.J. MacHale (July 2)
Golden Boy by Tara Sullivan (June 27)
The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen
Icons by Margaret Stohl

Paranormalcy by Kiersten White
The Nightmare Affair by Mindee Arnett
Legend by Marie Lu
Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake
Cinder by Marissa Meyer
Beautiful Creatures by Margaret Stohl

These are signed, but I'm not sure which ones. I'll update once I figure out which:
at least one of the Gemma Doyle trilogy by Libba Bray
a couple of the Perfect Chemistry series by Simone Elkeles

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Top Ten Tuesday #2: Summer TBR List

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme created by The Broke and The Bookish. Each week the girls at B&B think up a fun theme, and participating bloggers post their favorite 10 books in that category. This week's theme is

Top of my summer TBR list

1. Awaken by Meg Cabot. MC has been one of my favorite authors since forever. I kind of gave up on the Princess Diaries when I got a little too old for them, but I've never outgrown my love of all things Cabot. The Abandon trilogy is no different. Not my favorite, but still exciting enough for me to be freaking out over book #3. ESPECIALLY after hearing some crazypants spoilers. After my required reading for a few upcoming blog tours, Awaken is #1 TBR.
Release date: July 2nd

2. Dirty Little Secret by Jennifer Echols. Jennifer is another absolute favorite of mine. After meeting her at TLA, I'm just beside myself with fangirly joy. Some of it may have splashed all over Jen, for which I'm deeply ashamed and yet...not. Anyway, DLS is set in Nashville, which is hometown #2 for me, so I can't wait to visit in Jen's latest surely awesome romantic drama. Blog tour on July 8th and maybe, just maybe, you'll find a giveaway sometime around then too...Stay tuned!
Release date: July 16th

3. Artemis Fowl: The Eternity Code: The Graphic Novel by Eoin Colfer, Andrew Donkin, Giovanni Rigano & Paolo Lamanna. If you pay attention to my Weekly and/or Monthly Wrap-Up posts, you may have noticed a ridiculous amount of graphic novel adataptions in my read and tbr lists. I'm really drawn to them right now. The art in the Artemis Fowl gns isn't my absolute favorite, but the cartoony drawings do fit better with the story than the realistic or manga-ish art I usually prefer. The Eternity Code is my favorite out of the AF series so I'm pretty stoked about seeing this adaptation in particular. Team Butler!
Release date: July 9th

4. The Eternity Cure by Julie Kagawa. Keeping with the eternal theme, I've been looking forward to this since The Immortal Rules. It must be tough to do a vampire novel on the downward spiral of the vampire wave, and tough to do a dystopian novel in the crest of the dystopian wave, but Kagawa has made a real winner with the Blood of Eden series. I like it so much better than The Iron Fey, even (blasphemy to Kagawa's fans, I know). Took my library a while to get this in, which is why I haven't read it yet. This one and Til the World Ends are tbr-asap, but I'm afraid I might not get to it before I have to take it back to the library. :(

5. Scarlet by Marissa Meyer. Really liked Cinder and people say Scarlet's even better so bring it on! This whole slightly steampunk/futuristic/fairy tale twist thing Marissa's got going on is fantastic. You wouldn't think all these genres would fit, but they do fit oh so well. Probably will be read toward the latter half of summer, or a couple days before I have to return it to the library, whichever comes first.

6. Hourglass by Myra McEntire. I need to read this AND Timepiece quickly because I've heard such lovely things about them so I'd like to be able to get to them before/around Infinityglass's release. 

7. Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo. Talk about talked about. I hear Leigh Bardugo's name and The Grisha all over EVERYTHING. I snagged a copy of Siege and Storm at TLA so I really need to be a good reader/blogger/person and read the series already.

8. Life After Theft by Aprilynne Pike. Another author whose reputation precedes her, but I haven't yet read any of her novels. So many friends, bloggers, and blogger friends swear by Aprilynne Pike's novels that I need to jump on this one quickly as well!

9. Nantucket Blue by Leila Howland. This title was raved about and nabbed very quickly at TLA. Color me convinced. I listen to recommendations, especially when they come as in-force as the books on this list. Nantucket is no exception.

10. Defy the Dark edited by Saundra Mitchell. The other non-novel format you can find most often on my read/tbr lists is the anthology. I lovelovelove anthologies right now. I think it's freaking fantastic that my favorite authors are writing more stories more often. Especially Beth Revis, who keeps popping out Across the Universe novellas like they're freaking candy. Well, I WANT CANDY HAPPYTHANKYOUMORE PLEASE. Ahem. Anywho, can't wait for this one. Hopefully my library will order it in a timely fashion.
Release date: TODAY!

Bonus book: Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson. My brother is a DIE-HARD Sanderson fan so I grabbed this for him at TLA. He hasn't had much time to read it, but my brother-in-law (just like my brother in all ways) flew through it and pronounced it the Best Thing Ever. Another end-of-the-summer read, but I still want to get to it before fall.
Release date: September 24th

What's new & what's missing: A letter to my readers

Dear readers,
I've added a new feature to my blog in the past week, and meanwhile, something old has been retired. What are they?

What's old and outdated and now gone?
You may or may not notice I took GFC off the sidebar. That's because Google, who owns and operates Blogspot, is changing the way people can follow blogs. GFC is nice in theory because I can physically see how many people follow my blog, which makes this a good number to use to report followers for various and sundry reasons with which I'm sure you all are well acquainted or at least understand. However, Google is now pushing some of its other features instead of the old reader feature that was associated with GFC. I'm not thrilled about this change because I like GFC. However, to try to keep MHALBB up with blog trends, I decided to go ahead and change things now, before GFC is completely phased out in order to give myself time to test drive new and hopefully better methods for blog following.

What's new and exciting (I hope)?
In following some bloggers I admire and look up to, I've added a widget for Bloglovin. Yeah, it's a huge button so you can't raelly miss it. When I thought I'd have GFC and Bloglovin, I had a smaller widget, but i wanted this to be more obvious as a follow option now. Not gonna lie, I don't use my Bloglovin profile much, but it's pretty decent site with highly excellent email notification settings. Part of the problem with the evolution of GFC is that there isn't much purpose/function for it now that Google is really pushing Google+ and other widgets. With Bloglovin, you can customize how often you receive notifications about the blogs you follow and where you receive them. I'm all for that.

What does this mean for you, dear follower/reader?
Well, if you followed me via GFC, you still are. I've just taken off my widget. While I'm talking to you, seriously, THANK YOU to all of you who did follow via GFC. You guys have no idea how much it's meant to me to gain followers over the past few months. I like to think I'd blog even if no one was reading, but not gonna lie, it makes me feel good to think that you have been.

Now I'm switching to a new follow service so I'd appreciate it if you'd switch with me, but please don't feel like it's a must. I hate having to join new things just because someone tells me to so don't feel like I'm pushing you. If you don't want to try the new thing, that's cool. I'm keeping email up as a follow option if you're not up for the new stuff. Or you can just visit me without a follow. I'll still love you!

Okay, so for now, I'm limiting my options to email, Bloglovin, and Twitter. I don't want to spread myself too thin, which is why I don't have a Facebook for the blog or anything like that. I like to concentrate my attention on the most important and hopefully effective platforms available. Also, whatever is the least time-consuming because sometimes I get busy in real life, but I don't want to abandon the blog. Anywho, I'm gonna give Bloglovin a shot so you can follow that way or not. This is kind of a trial for me here so let me know how you feel about it via comment or email (spnfanATgmailDOTcom is the blog email). If Bloglovin doesn't work out, I'll try to find something better. Speaking of which, if you know of another great follow service, please also let me know via comment or email. I'm open to suggestions and advice!! Thanks again for your readership and please have patience with me as I experiment here.

Lots of love & good books,

PS During the time that I have Bloglovin, I will be using that as a method for giveaway entry so there will be at least ONE perk to getting a Bloglovin profile, but like with all giveaway entry methods, it won't be required. I decided I don't like forcing you guys to HAVE to choose one particular method if you don't prefer it. :)

Weekly Wrap-Up: June 9-15

Again, not a lot of reading--or blogging--this week because I'm in the process of moving. This will be the case for this upcoming week as well.

This is What Happy Looks Like - Jennifer E. Smith: 4 stars. Like most people, I discovered JES with The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight and fell in love. Happy is similar in style, with two unlikely teens forming a friendship that blossoms into more, and it will warm your heart just as much.
Forever Too Far (Too Far #3) - Abbi Glines: 2 stars. Ugh. Just UGH. I hung in with Rush and Blaire during the first two books which were too tragically similar, but this third rehash of the SAME FREAKING ISSUE just set me over the edge. I wanted something new to the story, but Glines didn't deliver. Shame on me, though, because I knew it in advance and still read it.

Currently Reading:
The 5th Wave (The Fifth Wave #1) - Rick Yancey: 47% completed. Heralded as the book of the summer at TLA and lauded as wonderful by everybody, 5th Wave is so far enjoyable, but I'm having major flashbacks to Stephenie Meyer's The Host. Not necessarily a bad thing as The Host is one of my favorite novels of all time, but 5th Wave isn't quite as original as I was expecting. Still good, though. And while some things are glaringly obvious, I'm having a hard time expecting what's coming next so major props to Yancy for that!

New to my bookshelf this week: I still need to finish the books I've got on tap for a couple blog tours, some arcs from TLA, and my library books, but I did pick up a couple more books this week.

Someday, Someday Maybe - Lauren Graham: Yes, THAT Lauren Graham. I'm sold by her name alone. If she's half as talented an author as she is an actress, this book will be frigging brilliant. Probably shouldn't have quite such high expectations, but Meg Cabot, whome I ADORE, said it was great so I'm going off that too.
Arclight - Josin L. McQuein: Comes pretty highly recommended
Beautiful Creatures: The Manga - Kamie Garcia, Margaret Stohl & Cassandra Jean: Haven't read the Caster Chronicles, but I'm interested. As a fan of TMI/TID, I'm already a HUGE fan of Cassandra Jean. The art in this adaptation is eons better than most others I've read.
The Reluctant Assassin - Eoin Colfer. After Artemis Fowl, I'll read anything by Colfer. Probably won't get to this for a while, but when I do, I know I'll love it.
The Restless Dead: Ten Original Stories of the Supernatural - Deborah Noyes: I love me some ya anthologies!

Top Ten Tuesday #1: Beach Reads

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme created by The Broke and The Bookish, and because of my love of lists, I realized I should probably join in! Each week the girls at B&B think up a fun theme, and participating bloggers post their favorite 10 books in that category. This week's theme is

Top Beach Reads

To me, the beach is the ultimate vacation from the world. I don't go to crowded beaches so the image of a beach connotates seclusion and relaxation. I love going on girls-only beach trips with my best friend and her family, and it's the penultimate getaway. We're all readers so when we go, we take about 10 books apiece!
Some of last year's selection, but some books had already been repacked and put in the car. 
Anyway, I *mostly* prefer light-hearted, usually summer-y contemporary reads for the beach.

 1. Beauty Queens by Libba Bray. This sassy novel is about, well, teenage beauty queens who are stuck on a deserted (they think) island. It's absolutely hilarious and totally a great read for a beach trip!
Rating: 5 stars

2. Jennifer Echols's entire ya collection, especially Endless Summer (The Boys Next Door + Endless Summer) and Forget You. Some of Echols's novels aren't set at the beach and some aren't set during summer, but there's something very summery- and beachy-feeling about them.
Rating: 4-5 stars depending on which one (most are 5)

3. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants quadrilogy by Ann Brashares. My original summer/beach read. You can't read these books and not be instantly transported to the beach, be it with Bridget in Mexico, Lena in Greece, or all four girls in Rehoboth. Sisterhood was one of my first ya reads ever and reading any of the four brings instant nostalgia and least as far as that wanderlust points me in the direction of surf, sand, and sun.
Rating: 5 stars for 1-3, 3 stars for 4

4. Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen. Any beach-read list is completely remiss without a Dessen novel. Ride is my second favorite of the bunch, and always makes me want to run off to the North Carolina beach (I lovelovelove the Outer Banks and Colby is totally just like any town in OBX).
Rating: 4 stars

5. The Mediator series by Meg Cabot. Not set during the summer, but New Yorker Suze Simon is transplanted to the shores of northern California. This is a paranormal series with lots of ghosts and hauntings and fake vampires and murder, but it's a great series. I love all of Meg's books, but Mediator is at the very top.
Rating: 5 stars

6. The Last Song by Nicholas Sparks. Okay, spare me the nonsense about how much you don't like Sparks because you think he's a sellout. Whatever. Like you didn't devour A Walk to Remember before hating Sparks became A Thing. I actually really love The Last Song and it's a perfect beach romance for me. The movie wasn't bad either. Miley didn't suck and HEL-LO Liam Hemsworth!
Rating: 4 stars

7. Forgive My Fins by Tera Lynn Childs. Requisite mermaid book. I love how sweet TLC's books are. They're innocent but still chock full o'romance. Her mermaids are lovely, and I dig the tail color thing.Here's to hoping for more novels set in the Fins 'verse because I don't think Fins Are Forever was an ending.
Rating: 3 1/2 stars

 8. Invincible Summer by Hannah Moskowitz. This is a more serious beach read. While I'm not saying the other books included on this list lack substance, Invincible Summer and the three following have a bit more than most. Invincible takes place over four summers and shows how even though we all love the beach, sometimes it's also the worst place ever. Please don't let that scare you from reading it, though. I promise it's worth it!
Rating: 4 stars

9. My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick. There are actually only a couple scenes in this that are actually set at the beach, but this is a fantastic summer read. It definitely pulls the heartstrings, though!
Rating: 4 stars

10. Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler. I'm betting this book is on a lot of beach lists for TTT today. This is summery. It's beachy. It's beautiful. It's captivating. It's heartwrenchmeltbreakdestroyrestoring. Go and read it now if you have not yet.
Rating: 4 stars

Weekly Wrap-Up: June 2-8

Slow reading week. Lots of physical labor at work, and that was exhausting. Disclaimer: I'm also moving so the next two weeks won't be chock full of reading goodness either. :(

Eleanor & Park - Rainbow Rowell: 4 stars. I wasn't moved by this as deeply as some other readers, but I still very much enjoyed it.
Breathe (Sea Breeze #1) - Abbi Glines: 2 stars. Not my favorite.
The Moon and More - Sarah Dessen: 3 stars. The ending saved this from being 2 stars. I just couldn't identify with Emaline's story.

Currently Reading:
This Is What Happy Looks Like - Jennifer E. Smith
Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me (And Other Concerns) - Mindy Kaling

The 5th Wave (5th Wave #1) - Rick Yancey

New to my bookshelf this week: (kinda went crazy at Half Price Books...)
The Geography of Girlhood - Kirsten Smith
The Girl with the Iron Touch (Steampunk Chronicles #3) - Kady Cross: Can't WAIT to read this one. I adore this series!
The Name of the Star - Maureen Johnson
Love, Football, and Other Contact Sports - Alden R. Carter: I've already read this one and I loved it. I found a good copy at Half Price Books and simply had to buy it!
The Day Before - Lisa Schroeder
North of Beautiful - Justina Chen Headley

Review: Winger by Andrew Smith

Rating: 5 out of 5 boxes of tissues on the scale of Best Books Ever That Made Me Sob Inconsolably
Pub Date: May 14, 2013
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Genre: young adult, contemporary, humor, guy fic
Format/Source: ARC obtained at TLA
Status: Standalone

Ryan Dean West is a fourteen-year-old junior at a boarding school for rich kids. He’s living in Opportunity Hall, the dorm for troublemakers, and rooming with the biggest bully on the rugby team. And he’s madly in love with his best friend Annie, who thinks of him as a little boy.

With the help of his sense of humor, rugby buddies, and his penchant for doodling comics, Ryan Dean manages to survive life’s complications and even find some happiness along the way. But when the unthinkable happens, he has to figure out how to hold on to what’s important, even when it feels like everything has fallen apart.

Filled with hand-drawn info-graphics and illustrations and told in a pitch-perfect voice, this realistic depiction of a teen’s experience strikes an exceptional balance of hilarious and heartbreaking.

Disclaimer: This arc was obtained at TLA. I was given a copy by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Wow. While I was visiting the Simon & Schuster booth during TLA in April, I was talking to one of the guys and he shoved a copy of Winger at me and told me that I simply had to read it because it was so wonderful. I am SO glad he did. 1. This gave me a book to take with me to Andrew Smith's signing, where I met him and the lovely A.S. King, and 2. This book is freaking brilliant. I mean it. I think this is top 5 for this year, if not all time, and is most definitely the most heartbreaking this year if not all time.

Review: Elegy by Tara Hudson

Rating: 4/5 stars
Pub Date: June 4, 2013
Publisher: HarperTeen
Genre: young adult, paranormal romance (subgenre: ghosts & demons)
Format/Source: ARC, giveaway prize
Source: Book 3 of the Hereafter trilogy

A stalker ghost, misguided Seers, and spellbinding wraiths—Amelia Ashley has faced them all. Now her greatest hope is to spend the rest of her afterlife with her living boyfriend, Joshua. But the demonic forces return to give her an ultimatum: turn herself over to the darkness or watch them murder one living person per week until she does.

Amelia fears she might really be doomed, until the forces of light give her another option. She can join them in their quest to gather souls, with a catch: Once she joins them, she can never see Joshua again.

Faced with impossible choices, Amelia decides to take her afterlife into her own hands—and fight back.

Disclaimer: I received this ARC directly from Tara as a prize for winning her side-giveaway during the 2012 Winter Young Adult Scavenger Hunt. It was not given in exchange for a review, but I want to do one anyway. By the way, if you don't know what the YA Scavenger Hunt is YOU ARE MISSING OUT BY LIVING UNDER THAT ROCK.

We interrupt programming to bring you breaking news (to some of you) about the YA Scavenger Hunt. The YASH is a 3-4 day long event when 50-ish ya authors get together to give back to the readers. They post exclusive content (extra stories, behind-the-scenes, super top-secret excerpts, etc), which is available during the whole hunt. At the same time, each author donates a book to the prize pack. The authors are split into two or three teams, and you hunt through the blog posts to find a code, which, if you get correct, will enable you to enter to win said prize packs. In addition to all that good stuff, most of the authors post personal giveaways on their blogs, giving everybody bonus attempts to win awesome books and swag. It's so much fun, and it's a fantastic way to meet fellow readers and find new books to read. Go here to check out the YASH website. Sign up for the emails so you don't miss the next one!

and now back to your regularly scheduled review! Which is actually going under the cut because I'm going to talk about some spoilers for books 1 and 2, Hereafter and Arise. Follow at your own risk.

Weekly Wrap-Up: May 26 - June 1

I read (present tense, in this sentence, if you were wondering) some incredible books. Maybe I tend to grade books too highly, but I really think all the 5 stars I handed out this week were well-deserved because I read (past tense) some truly lovely novels.

The Killer's Cousin - Nancy Werlin: 3 stars. Weird. Interesting concept, but...weird.
Burning - Elana K. Arnold: 5 stars. Gorgeous, gorgeous book. Review AND giveaway here.
Goddess - Josephine Angelini: 5 stars. PERFECT ending. Review forthcoming.
Winger - Andrew Smith: 5 stars. Utterly heartbreaking, the most sorrowful book I've read all year, and that includes Clockwork Princess. This is a must-read for everyone, everywhere. Review forthcoming.
New Moon: The Graphic Novel, Vol. 1 - Stephenie Meyer & Young Kim: 3 stars. I love Young Kim's artwork, I just wasn't big on some of the choices for this particular gn. Edward's disembodied head was odd as it floated around the frames.
Beauty Queens (audiobook format) - Libba Bray: 5 stars for the novel, 5 stars for the audiobook. This book is stunning. Audio review forthcoming!
Underworld (Abandon #1) - Meg Cabot: 4 stars. A solid follow-up to Abandon. Meg Cabot can hardly do wrong, as far as I'm concerned (except for Jinx, but I don't like to talk about that). Can't wait to dive into Awaken (which I can soon because Scholastic sent me an arc!!!!!!!!)

Currently Reading:
Levitating Las Vegas (Levitating Las Vegas #1) - Jennifer Echols. I adore Jennifer and all of her books. Like Meg, it's rare for her to have a miss in my eyes, but thus far I just haven't been drawn into LLV the way I was with her other novels. :( And it really makes me sad because I know this is Jen's favorite novel!
House of Night: Legacy - PC Cast & a whole slew of graphic artists. Meh. I kind of fell out of the House of Night franchise when I got tired of waiting for the next EIGHT novels. Not a fan of the art, and the stories are just kinda blah.
Eleanor & Park - Rainbow Rowell

New to my bookshelf this week:
Transparent - Natalie Whipple. Comes really, really highly recommended by some of my favorite authors. The last time I had authors recommend a book this much, I read The Hunger Games. Consider me sold.
A Really Awesome Mess - Trish Cook & Brendan Halpin.
The Eternity Cure (Blood of Eden #2) - Julie Kagawa. I've been anxiously waiting since The Immortal Rules. Kagawa's vampires are awesome!
The 5th Wave (5th Wave #1) - Rick Yancey. Apparently the Must-Have It Book of the Summer. Technically I already have a copy, but I lent it to my mom. I've been waiting for my library copy for weeks!
Who Done It? - Jon Scieszka & a bunch of other awesome ya authors. I adore anthologies, and this seems like a good one. That is all.