SUMMER LOVING, READING & FANGIRLING: June 2019 Wrap Up

Just as I wanted it to be, June was filled with ALL the books and TV-watching. The summer weather has finally started, with the exception of a solid week filled with rain where I live which sent me inside with coffee and a blanket.  I was able to consistently start reading in the pool- no worries, my books are safe on my reading raft and I’ve had a few beach days! This month, I also dove into some ARCs from Book Expo and lots of Netflix as per usual.

whatireadnew Forever, Interrupted by Taylor Jenkins Reid | 4/5 Stars

Forever, Interrupted was an enjoyable binge-read that I mostly read on my last day of Book Expo train rides. As someone who has read most of TJR’s books now, you can tell that this was her debut, but she still packed an emotional punch.

There’s Something About Sweetie by Sandhya Menon | 5/5

There’s a review coming very soon for There’s Something About Sweetie, but just know for now that this is one of my favorite 2019 reads.

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As Kismet Would Have It by Sandhya Menon | 5/5

There’s Something About Sweetie left me craving more of Sandhya Menon’s writing, which led me to the semi-sequel/novella to When Dimple Met Rishi. It was such a cute and funny read that once again makes me want more of these characters and more Sandhya Menon books.

A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer | 4/5

It took me about two hundred pages to really get into A Curse So Dark and Lonely, but I ultimately found that the hype was worth the read.

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QUEEN OF MY HEART: Queen of Ruin Review

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For the sake of spoilers, I will not be including an official summary for Queen of Ruin, the sequel to Tracy Banghart’s Grace and Fury.

My Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

My Thoughts:

Tracy Banghart’s Grace and Fury was unexpectedly one of my favorite 2018 reads. I didn’t know much going into this YA dystopian, but I fell in love with this story that focused on sisterhood and had many The Handmaid’s Tale vibes. Grace and Fury follows sisters Nomi and Serina, as Serina trains to be one of the Superior’s Graces, the shining example of the perfect woman. When the rebellious Nomi unexpectedly gets chosen as a Grace, and Serina instead gets sent to prison for Nomi’s secret and a crime she didn’t commit, the two sisters each must figure out their own survival, in hopes of reuniting with one another. That being said, I couldn’t wait to dive into Grace and Fury’s sequel, Queen of Ruin.

I reread Grace and Fury right before reading Queen of Ruin. The beginning of the sequel flows nicely from the first book’s ending. I wouldn’t say a reread of Grace and Fury is necessary to jump into the sequel, but I am glad I did to re-familiarize myself with this world’s terms and people.

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If you thought Nomi and Serina were rebels in the first book, think again when it comes to Queen of Ruin. While Nomi has to adjust to some of the violence, Serina has turned into a full-out female warrior. There’s definitely more action scenes in this installment, which ultimately added to Serina’s changed character and the story’s high stakes. All of the female characters in Queen of Ruin are more than ready to rebel and claim their rights in this world where women aren’t even allowed to read or write.

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Top Five Wednesday: Recent Additions to My Book Wishlist

Top Five Wednesday is on a summer hiatus and there will not be new topics over the next three months. However, I’ve decided to still participate in T5W a few times this summer and choose topics from before I joined the group back in 2017.

Everyone loves a good recent additions to your TBR post, but today’s post is all about the books I wouldn’t mind adding to my personal book collection. All the puns intended, I have pretty good shelf control. I am very fortunate enough where I receive ARCs from publishers and bookish events, and I have always been an avid library user. And let’s not forget that I am constantly running out of bookshelf space. I think I am going to do a post about my book buying habits somewhat soon, but in short, I really only buy books when:

  1. It’s written by one of my all-time favorite authors
  2. I read an early copy and absolutely need a finished one
  3. It’s a book that sounds like something I know I will love
  4. My library doesn’t have it-I’ve acutally gotten better about this one by using my iPad more and borrowing ebooks from the library

I’ve decided to include many different types of books in this Top Five Wednesday post , including some hard-to-find books, ARCs, and books inspired by cover lust.

 

You’d Be Mine by Erin Hanh- I probably look up Erin Hanh’s You’d Be Mine on a weekly basis in my library’s online catalog, in hopes that it will one day be on order. So many of my fellow bloggers have loved this 2019 gem, and I’m so sold on its country music premise. If my library doesn’t order this one, I plan on buying it the next time I have a Barnes and Noble discount or I may put it on my birthday wishlist.

I Was Born for This by Alice Oseman- Alice Oseman’s I Was Born for This hasn’t really been available here in the US. This one will likely come from a Book Depository haul or buying it secondhand on Amazon. I really loved Radio Silence so I have relatively high expectations for I Was Born For This. I also have this book on my predicting my 5 star reads list so that’s also another incentive in getting my own copy.

The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern- I think every blogger and their best bookish friend has this one of their wishlist. Unpopular bookish opinion here, but I was not the biggest fan of The Night Circus when I read it in 2017. However, not only does the excitement over Erin Morgenstern’s second book have me intrigued, but I absolutely love the premise. Almost any book that features books or libraries always has me sold. I think The Starless Sea will be the true test on if/how much I enjoy Erin Morgenstern’s writing.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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:

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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:

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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.

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