SUMMER IN SF: The Anatomical Shape of a Heart Review

Summary (from the publisher):

Beatrix Adams knows exactly how she’s spendinga1yjeqqypnl the summer before her senior year. Determined to follow in Da Vinci’s footsteps, she’s ready to tackle the one thing that will give her an advantage in a museum-sponsored scholarship contest: drawing actual cadavers. But when she tries to sneak her way into the hospital’s Willed Body program and misses the last metro train home, she meets a boy who turns her summer plans upside down.Jack is charming, wildly attractive, and possibly one of San Francisco’s most notorious graffiti artists. On midnight buses and city rooftops, Beatrix begins to see who Jack really is—and tries to uncover what he’s hiding that leaves him so wounded. But will these secrets come back to haunt him? Or will the skeletons in her family’s closet tear them apart?

 

My Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

My Thoughts:

It’s no secret that I am a huge fan of Jenn Bennett’s books- did I mention here before that Serious Moonlight and Starry Eyes are two of my all-time favorite YA contemporaries? And that I have much for love for Alex, Approximately? AND that I am so happy that I have my hands on a ARC of The Lady Rogue??That being said, it was time to read the only published YA book of hers I haven’t read, The Anatomical Shape of a Heart.

Less than 300 pages long, The Anatomical Shape of a Heart is the perfect way to escape to summertime San Francisco. We follow eighteen year old and rising high school senior, Beatrix, and her budding romance with graffiti artist, Jack. Beatrix is a very responsible and fairly independent protagonist. I’ve read a few books that take place in San Francisco, but Jenn Bennett really sets the scene between SF’s artistic scene, and yes, its public transportation system (thank you to Stephanie Perkin’s Lola and the Boy Next Door for giving me some prep on BART!). A personal like, but I also loved Beatrix’s summer job as a grocery store cashier. This has been one of my own summer jobs and being that so many teens find themselves working in the same place, it was such a cool and relatable element.

One of my favorite elements of Jenn Bennett’s books is the characters’ maturity. Beatrix is a fairly independent and responsible protagonist, which for better or worse, gave more space for her relationship with Jack to grow. Regarding intimacy, Jenn Bennett does not shy away from intimate scenes and romance. While there wasn’t too much heavy romance in The Anatomical Shape of a Heart, I loved the mature discussions about sex between Beatrix and Jack. As someone who has been reading new adult more and more, I love seeing positive conversations about sex grow in YA.

Read More »

MEET THE BLOGGER: Where & How I Write

This spring semester, I had to write about where I write for my writing and communication studies class. Thinking about where and why I like to write my school assignments made me think about where I enjoy blogging! Today I’ll be discussing my favorite writing spaces for blog posts, as well as how I write- ranging from how I dedicate time to blog writing, what programs I use, etc.

Where I Write

My desk: My desk both at home and at school is my go-to writing spot. I prefer my desk at home more just because I have more space to spread out (and yes the books on my desk definitely help my inspiration). I also find myself turning to my desk for when I need to schedule my blog posts for the upcoming week. I primarily write here for when I’m in the mood to write, but laying in bed and watching YouTube is calling me instead. Basically, it puts me in the ‘I seriously need to or want to write’ mood. I find myself having to go to my desk the most when it comes to creating reviews, since they can both the easiest- for when I loved a book so much and I can’t stop screaming about it- and hardest- for when I loved a book so much but can’t seem to put my feels into somewhat coherent words- blog posts. I do my best to take notes while I read, especially for reviews books, but I like writing reviews ASAP after I finished reading said book.

Bed: At home, using my bed as my writing space comes from my love for my bed and being cozy. At home, I love leaning against my Ugg pillow. At school in a college dorm room, your two sitting options are often limited to your desk chair and bed (another great reason to invest in a good mattress pad and good pillows for all 4 years). That being said, writing in bed vs. my desk adds some variety and I tend to associate my desk more with school work than ‘fun’ writing. I find myself the most productive writing in bed- and on the couch- for when I’m in the mood to write, but don’t feel pressured to write. However, I’ve actually gotten better about writing in bed for when I seriously need to write. This usually happens at night-time when I don’t feel like going to bed yet and want to be productive. Blankets and hot chocolate make for the best companions when writing in bed.

Outside: During the nice weather months, I try to find any excuse to be outside, especially after the winter. At school, I enjoy writing at a picnic table in my residential area or at a table outside the library. The nice thing about writing outside the library is that there are outlets available outside. At home, I like writing at our patio table or in a chair with my laptop in my lap and feet up. My only and uncontrollable dislike about sitting outside, especially at school, is that I like to have relative quiet while I write.

Notebook Vs. Keyboard: I haven’t physically written full blog posts in my blogging notebooks. I find myself only physically writing some ideas for my blog posts after I’ve read a book and want to jot down my thoughts or have sudden inspiration for blog post. This is usually out of laziness, aka me not wanting to turn on my laptop. That being said, I use my laptop to write blog posts.

IMG_0713

Writing Ahead/Making Sure I Have Blog Posts:

I rarely, if ever, write a post that needs to be scheduled for the following day on said day. I typically schedule the upcoming week’s posts the Thursday, Friday or Saturday beforehand, which means I need to have at least 3 blog posts prepared. Having posts ready causes scheduling, and blogging really, a much less stressful process. It’s especially handy when I have a week or two, mostly during school, where I don’t have time to blog. There are obviously exceptions to having posts ready at least a week in advance, like books for reviews that have a quick turnaround or monthly wrap-ups. I tend to put off wrap-ups until the very end of the month when I know I won’t be reading too many more books that month.

When I Write/Time:

I never have a specific time for writing, but I often will plan my days around if I need or want to make time for writing. I’ve never really timed myself writing, but I usually aim to set aside one hour if a post needs to be written (reviews can often take me 40 minutes-1 hour, while I can knock out two other types of posts within that time). It’s definitely not a thing I complain about, but I often find myself losing track of time when I’m really in the writing mode (which often leads to the creation of at least 3 posts).

Editing: I tend to not revise my blog posts right when I finish them in Microsoft Word. Instead, I’ll reread and revise posts when I’ve copied them into WordPress when I’m scheduling them for publication. The only issue within this strategy is that the finalized blog post often does not get saved back into Word and then on my external hard drive.

Saving: I write my blog posts in Microsoft Word. I use an older Mac- I believe it’s the 2012 or 2013 MacBookPro and yes, I love the disc drive- and while it runs pretty well still, I live in fear that I’ll lose my files. After writing a blog post, I then copy it in Google Drive. I tend to use the same strategy when it comes to my schoolwork, mostly because I just like Word better than Google Docs. I definitely need to be more proactive about doing so, but at the end of every month, I save that month’s blog posts to my external hard drive. I either just save my original drafts or I copy and paste the published posts from the blog.newfireborderWhere is your favorite blogging or writing spot? Do you have any specific blogging or writing strategies? Share in the comments! 

TAKE ME TO ALASKA: The Simple Wild Review

Summary (from the publisher):

Calla Fletcher wasn’t even two when her mother took her and fled the Alaskan wild, unable to handle the isolation of the extreme, rural lifestyle, leaving behind Calla’s father, Wren Fletcher, in the process. Calla never looked back, and at twenty-six, a busy life in Toronto is all she knows. But when Calla learns that Wren’s days may be numbered, she knows that it’s time to make the long trip back to the remote frontier town where she was born.71gyLEGAECL

She braves the roaming wildlife, the odd daylight hours, the exorbitant prices, and even the occasional—dear God—outhouse, all for the chance to connect with her father: a man who, despite his many faults, she can’t help but care for. While she struggles to adjust to this rugged environment, Jonah—the unkempt, obnoxious, and proud Alaskan pilot who helps keep her father’s charter plane company operational—can’t imagine calling anywhere else home. And he’s clearly waiting with one hand on the throttle to fly this city girl back to where she belongs, convinced that she’s too pampered to handle the wild.

Jonah is probably right, but Calla is determined to prove him wrong. Soon, she finds herself forming an unexpected bond with the burly pilot. As his undercurrent of disapproval dwindles, it’s replaced by friendship—or perhaps something deeper? But Calla is not in Alaska to stay and Jonah will never leave. It would be foolish of her to kindle a romance, to take the same path her parents tried—and failed at—years ago. It’s a simple truth that turns out to be not so simple after all.

 My Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

 My Thoughts:

New adult books happily took up some of my May reading life. While YA will forever be my favorite and go-to genre, I’ve been reaching for new adult lately for the maturity (yes, romance included) and characters closer to where I am in my own life. K.A. Tucker’s The Simple Wild crossed my TBR radar earlier this year, as many of us bloggers like reading about characters who are also bloggers. Twenty six-year old Calla is uprooted from her comfortable life in Toronto, where she helps run a fashion and lifestyle blog, to the Alaskan wild to get to know her estranged father.

Aside from Calla being a blogger, what really sold me to pick up The Simple Wild was its Alaskan setting. This unique setting is often not done too much, but when it is, I often love those books, like the gem that is Bonnie Sue Hitchcock’s The Smell of Other People’s Houses. The Simple Wild delivers on this setting, as K.A. Tucker transports readers to small town and village life in the fictional Bagnor, Alaska. The remote and nature-filled setting felt really peaceful and quaint (aside from all of Calla’s dreaded mosquitoes of course). This setting really allows Calla to understand her father and perhaps why he never left Alaska. The close knit community also helped welcome Calla into their lifestyle- no lattes with soy milk fortunately or unfortunately included.

Read More »

Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag: 2019 Edition

When are us book bloggers not freaking out over our books? I love the Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag for giving us the opportunity to reflect on some of the books we’ve read this year. I’ve been debating on sharing my favorite spring reads, but when Kristin of Kristin Kraves Books recently did the tag, I knew it was the perfect time to revisit one of my favorite books tags. I can’t believe I haven’t done this tag since 2017- I’m really not sure what 2018 self was doing when it came to not doing this tag!

Best Book You’ve So Far Read in 2019:

IMG_2660

The most difficult question of them all, but I’m going with Jenn Bennett’s Serious Moonlight! In short, I loved the Seattle setting, the romance, the humor, the family dynamics, THE EVERYTHING.

Best Sequel You’ve So Far Read in 2019:

IMG_3532.jpg

This is also a pretty hard question because I’ve read more series continuations than I realized! That being said, we’re cheating with two okay, maybe three books. For best sequel, aka book #2, it has to be Brigid Kemmerer’s A Heart So Fierce and Broken, which I fortunately have an ARC of this 2020 release. Since A Heart So Fierce and Broken was one of more recent reads, I also can’t not mention one of my first books of the year, Imprison the Sky by A.C. Gaughen. I am really looking forward to seeing what happens with her Elementae series.

For series continuation/later sequel, it’s Elle Kennedy’s The Goal, aka my favorite book in the Off-Campus series.

img_2373IMG_3352

Read More »

NECESSARY NEW ADULT READS: Off-Campus Series Review

Lately in my book community circle, I’ve seen much love for the first book in Elle Kennedy’s Off-Campus series, The Deal. Add that to my and everyone else’s undying love for Casey McQuistion’s Red, White, and Royal Blue, which had made me look for more new adult books. While I’ve read new adult, like Jacquelyn Middleton’s books and K.A. Tucker’s The Simple Wild, I haven’t read too much new adult outside RWRB (which I love) and Colleen Hoover (whose books I have grown to dislike for their toxic masculinity).

Enter Elle Kennedy’s Off-Campus series, following a variety of characters who attend the fictional Ivy-League Briar College. Many of the characters are on the Briar Hockey team, which as an IRL hockey fan (#LGR), I love seeing the sport incorporated into this series.

As a new adult romance series, Elle Kennedy definitely doesn’t shy away from the romance scenes. As a mostly YA reader, the romance was really refreshing and done well. Kennedy dives into the male perspective, since all 4 books are told from both the female and male love interests. Her writing style is really easy to fall into, and each book is perfect for binge reading over the course of a day. While this series doesn’t necessarily contain the the world’s best writing, there is a lot of focus on the romance and relationship development. Most of the characters have some sort of backstory outside the romance that does affect the main relationship to some extent. Nevertheless, the Off-Campus series gives readers characters and relationships that they will absolutely root for. The chemistry between the couples, friends and other characters additionally provides many laugh-out-loud moments.

I have mini reviews for each book in their publication order below.

IMG_3266

The Deal

Rating: 4/5 Stars

After agreeing to tutor him, The Deal follows the evolution of Hannah and Garrett’s relationship as classmates to something more. The Deal has a bit of a stereotypical set up, as the two come from very different worlds. Hannah is a talented music major who sticks with the performing arts crowd and has difficulty attending college nightlife as a result of being raped in high school. The star of the ice hockey team, Garrett is the Briar bad boy, but can’t seem to escape the shadow of his superstar hockey player father. However, that didn’t stop me from being addicted! From the start, Hannah and Garret’s chemistry and humor was spot on. My favorite scene was their first tutoring session:

“There’s a beat, and then his bottom lip quivers. ‘This might be the wrong time to tell you, but…I can’t read’ ” (59).

“This is Garrett’s tutor. You’re annoying me. We’re done in thirty minutes. I’m confident you can keep your pants zipped until then.” (60).

“ ‘How do you feel about Lynyrd Skynyrd? Or do you only like bands where the guys coordinate their outfits?’ ” (62).

Read More »

My Favorite Bookshelf Decorations

While the books on the shelves do the same, bookshelf decorations speak to the reader’s personality. This post is inspired by an April 2019 Top Five Wednesday topic entitled ‘Collectibles on Bookshelf’. At the time of this topic, I think I didn’t have time to write during that point in the semester (aka the start of finals season). From candles to Funkos to photos and more, I absolutely love all of my decorations, but I do have my favorites.

I’ve discussed my Funko collection previously on the blog and while I love them all, listed below are my current favorites.

IMG_3537

Luna Lovegood with Gryffindor Hat- I have the classic Luna Funko, but I always had my eyes on the Funko with her Gryffindor Hat. Once Barnes and Noble had her in stock again, I knew I couldn’t pass up the chance to have one of the best HP Funkos. I keep all of my HP Funkos on my Harry Potter bookshelf, but I love Luna so much that she sits on my contemporart shelf with my Parks and Rec Funkos.

Wonder Woman Funko- Wonder Woman is again one of my favorite Funkos, but I really love having her on my fantasy shelf and convenietly next to the DC Icons series.

IMG_3536MELA8740

Parks & Rec Funkos- Okay all of my Parks and Rec Funkos are getting the spotlight here, aside from my Bert Macklin Hot Topic exclusive that stays in the box. Leslie would be able to relate to many of the strong female protagonists in the books behind her.

Read More »

CONTEMPORARY HEARTS: May Mini Reviews

Book reviews are among my favorite blog posts to write. However, I sometimes struggle articulating reviews for books that I might’ve really enjoyed, but don’t know what exactly to say about them. I’ve read the following books in April and May, and they include: a book by a much beloved contemporary author, a 2018 release that hasn’t received too much attention, a vey much hyped and loved book, and a VERY current read.

IMG_3118 (1)

First & Then by Emma Mills

Rating: 4/5 Stars

After really enjoying This Adventure Ends, I decided to go back and read Emma Mills books in publication order. Not only was I just genuinely excited to pick up her first book, First & Then, but its Friday Night Lights meets Pride and Prejudice premise had me sold at the get-go. You’ll know from my wrap-ups that Friday Night Lights is one of my most recent all-time favorite TV shows that has transformed into a more recent obsession with football documentary series. While I wouldn’t call it Friday Night Lights, I enjoyed First & Then’s football aspect. I thought it was really accessible to readers who may or may not be familiar with the sport.

First & Then is not really a plot-driven story, but rather focuses on relationship growth. Devon is figuring out relationships with many people in her life: her cousin, Foster, who has just moved in with her family; Cas, her best friend, who she’s always had feelings for; Ezra, the star running back, who unexpectedly chooses Devon as his gym class partner. Devon also must do some self-exploration, trying to figure out if she even wants to go to college. I didn’t mind that First & Then is quiet and on the shorter side, but I felt that the plot needed more. Although this book is very much about character and relationship growth, nothing much really eventful happens aside from the formation of Devon’s one relationship. I recommend this book for readers looking for quiet YA or a quick read on a beach or pool day this summer.

newfireborder

IMG_6321Tell Me No Lies by Adele Griffin

Rating: 4/5 Stars

 I had wanted to read a book by Adele Griffin for a long time. I decided on Tell Me No Lies mostly for its late 1980s backdrop, and yes, its gorgeous cover. Its mixed reviews on Goodreads made me put it off reading it for a little longer than I should have, but I am trying to somewhat prioritize books on my physical/owned TBR. Ultimately, I ended up really enjoying Tell Me No Lies! I really liked Adele Griffin’s writing style, especially for the book’s atmosphere. Our protagonist, Lizzy, rebels from her suburban and over-achiever life during her senior year and explores night life and the art scene in Philadelphia with the new girl in school.

Read More »