March 16, 2016

Will You Accept This Rose?



Release Date: April 2012 | April 2013 | May 2014 | May 2015
Publisher: HarperCollins; HarperTeen
Pages: 336 pages | 336 pages | 323 pages | 346 pages
Source & Format: Gifted; Kindle
Series: The Selection #1-4

Summary for The Selection (from Goodreads)
For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth. To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels. To live in a palace and compete for the heart of gorgeous Prince Maxon. 

But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn't want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks. 

Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she's made for herself—and realizes that the life she's always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined.

Thoughts on The Selection series
I was at the bookstore with my best friend a few years ago, and she picked up The Selection. The cover caught her eye, and I mentioned that I'd heard it was reminiscent of The Bachelor. We used to watch the show together every Monday night in college, laughing hysterically and getting sucked into the drama. She didn't buy the book that day, but she texted me later saying she'd purchased the e-book and was hooked!

Since then, I made sure I texted her when I saw news about the series around the blogosphere - cover reveals, release dates, etc. When my birthday rolled around this year, she asked if there was anything on my wishlist. I'd been curious about the series after hearing her talk about them (and after Alexa binged them), so I mentioned that I'd love these books. She was thrilled that I wanted to read them, and pretty soon I had all four waiting on my Kindle. I didn't want to let them linger for too long, so I decided to start the first book one morning... and I ended reading all four books in about 24 hours. Oops?

Alexa described this series to me as "book crack," and she's exactly right. Objectively, there are a lot of things that are... questionable... about this series. They're not the most well-written books, and the characters and scenarios sometimes made roll my eyes and shake my head. And yet, the fact that I read all four so quickly must speak for itself. This series is addicting, and I had so much fun reading it!

3 Things I Loved:
  • The concept: I found the idea of a competition for the chance to marry royalty totally fascinating! What I didn't anticipate - but found delightful - was that there's more going on behind the scenes. There are big things happening in this world, and the juxtaposition between that and the pursuit of the Prince (or Princess, in The Heir) was so enjoyable. The series was never too serious or too fluffy.
  • The entertainment: Listen, there's a reason I read this series as fast as I did! These books are addicting. While they don't necessarily close with cliffhangers, the end of each book left me reaching for next in the series immediately. I had to know what would happen next. So, while the writing wasn't the strongest, I do admire Cass' ability to have me racing through each installment.
  • The Prince: Oh my goodness, Maxon Schreave was my favorite from the moment he stepped on the page. My brain was literally like, "Aspen who?" I loved that he was so much more than America expected, and I found myself looking forward to every scene that he was in. I loved that he wanted to do what was best for his country - but still follow his heart. What a sweetheart!
2 Things I Liked:
  • The heroine: I wasn't always America's biggest fan. There were things I admired about her (the way she wasn't afraid to take a stand, etc.)... but there were things that drove me insane, too. I had to keep reminding myself that she was a teenager, and I couldn't expect her to act like an adult. The same was true for Eadlyn, the heroine of The Heir, though she was difficult to like in different ways.
  • The world: The world was one of the weaker elements in this series - solely because there was so much more that could have been developed! I didn't realize that the political climate (and history of the country) would play a role in this story, but I loved that it did. There was just enough included that I was intrigued - but not enough to really leave me satisfied! I would have loved if it was a bigger aspect. 
1 Thing I Loathed:
  • The angst: Holy cow, I wanted to light these books on fire a few times. I think I was most frustrated while reading The Elite, though I was definitely going crazy during a few chapters in The Heir. In the first three books, it was the love triangle that nearly killed me. I understood America's interest in both boys, but I hated how she handled it. So much back and forth! It made it hard for me to take the books seriously.
While I'd describe the series as uneven overall, I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. They provided a fun and dramatic escape - just what I needed after a few weeks where I didn't spend much time reading! I needed something addicting and entertaining, and they fit the bill perfectly. If that's the mood you're in, I'd recommend picking up these books! There's more to them than meets the eye.

March 15, 2016

Spring in My Shelf

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. Every week they post a new topic and invite everyone to share their answers. I'm so obsessed with lists - so I obviously love this feature!

Top Ten Books On My Spring TBR


For Review

1. Britt-Marie was Here by Fredrik Backman - Britt-Marie was a character in Backman's My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry, and I'm looking forward to getting to know her even better. I love this author!

2. One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid - I'm a huge fan of Taylor Jenkins Reid, which puts this book at the very top of my TBR pile. The summary sounds so intriguing - and possibly heart wrenching, too.


From My TBR

3. Mosquitoland by David Arnold - My secret sister gifted me this book last year, and I've been excited to read ever since I sampled the first chapter and spent time admiring the book's cool cover and endpapers.

4. Drums of Autumn by Diana Gabaldon - After finishing the first season of the Outlander TV show earlier this year, I dove into Voyager for more Claire and Jamie. I loved that installment, and now I'm ready for this one!

5. The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah - I was browsing my Goodreads shelves to put together this list, and I stopped scrolling when I saw this cover. I don't know why I haven't read it yet - it sounds like something I'll love.

6. Bloody Jack by L.A. Meyer - I was researching audiobooks recently and found a recommendation for this series. I bought the first book on a whim and have already started listening to it. I'm absolutely hooked so far!


From My Pre-Orders

7. The Passion of Dolssa by Julie Berry - All the Truth That's In Me is one of my all-time favorite books, and I've been anxiously awaiting the release of a new YA book by Berry ever since. I can't wait to dive in!

8. When We Collided by Emery Lord - I've loved both of Lord's books so far, which made this a definite pre-order for me. I'm a little unsure based on the summary, but I trust that Lord's writing will win me over.

9. Who's That Girl? by Mhairi McFarlane - McFarlane is one of my favorite adult fiction authors, and I celebrated when I realized she had a new book out this year. I can't wait for my Book Depository pre-order to arrive.

10The Winner's Kiss by Marie Rutkoski - EEEK! I absolutely adore this series, and I am dying to get my hands on this conclusion... even though I'm scared of what it will put my heart through. My emotions aren't ready!

What's on your TBR this spring?

March 14, 2016

Yours Truly, Somebody Nobody {Tell Me Three Things Pre-Pub Blog Tour}

Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum

Release Date: April 5, 2016
Publisher: Random House; Delacorte Press
Pages: 336 pages
Source & Format: Publisher; ARC
Add on Goodreads

Summary (from Goodreads)
What if the person you need the most is someone you’ve never met? Everything about Jessie is wrong. At least, that’s what it feels like during her first week of junior year at her new ultra-intimidating prep school in Los Angeles. Just when she’s thinking about hightailing it back to Chicago, she gets an email from a person calling themselves Somebody/Nobody (SN for short), offering to help her navigate the wilds of Wood Valley High School. Is it an elaborate hoax? Or can she rely on SN for some much-needed help? 

It’s been barely two years since her mother’s death, and because her father eloped with a woman he met online, Jessie has been forced to move across the country to live with her stepmonster and her pretentious teenage son. 

In a leap of faith—or an act of complete desperation—Jessie begins to rely on SN, and SN quickly becomes her lifeline and closest ally. Jessie can’t help wanting to meet SN in person. But are some mysteries better left unsolved?
1. Julie wrote one of my all-time favorite books, The Opposite of Love. I bought the book on a whim while I was in college, and I've returned to it again and again over the years. I can't tell you exactly why I love the book and its heroine so much - just that I do. It's the kind of book that I'm hesitant to recommend solely because I want to keep it to myself. That book turned me into a Julie fan for life!

2. I'm absolutely in love with the way Julie writes. I still remember when I flipped to the first chapter in The Opposite of Love. There was something about that opening line - Last night, I dreamt that I chopped Andrew up into a hundred little pieces, like a Benihana chef, and ate them, one by one.” - that told me I had to take the book home. And I'm pleased to say the writing has been my favorite thing about all three of Julie's book!

3. I'm thrilled that Julie has written both adult and young adult fiction! I've always been a fan of adult fiction, but it was blogging that helped me develop a love for young adult fiction. After reading The Opposite of Love and After You (Julie's adult fiction books), I was desperate for another book by her. It was a happy surprise when I learned she was releasing a young adult book! I truly hope it introduces more readers to her work.

1. The potentially tricky concept actually worked! When I heard Julie was coming out with a new book, I had a major dance party. When I read the summary, I was excited and a little nervous. The premise - the heroine receives an email from someone calling themselves Somebody/Nobody (SN) with an offer to be an anonymous guide to her new school - seemed like something that could be really intriguing... or really cheesy.

Thankfully, Julie pulled it off! I shared Jessie's skepticism when she got that first email (was it an elaborate hoax to humiliate her?!), but I found myself anxiously anticipating each new email and IM as I turned the pages of the book. The way their friendship developed had me itching for the moment when SN's identity was finally revealed! The concept could been awkward, but it ended up being one of my favorite things about the book.

2. I loved the different relationships. I'll admit - my favorite relationship was the one between Jessie and Somebody/Nobody, but that's partly because their banter made me smile so much! I could totally understand why Jessie started to let her guard down while talking to SN, and I was definitely hoping that would SN would turn out to be a certain somebody from Jessie's school... This relationship had me grinning from ear to ear!

I loved the friendships. I appreciated the honesty from Jessie's best friend from home, Scarlett, and how they supported one another and worked through their issues. I enjoyed watching Jessie make two new friends in Los Angeles, too! There was tension in Jessie's relationship with her dad and with her new stepmother and stepbrother, but I liked that family relationships were important in the story - even when they weren't perfect!

3. There's so much honest emotion in these pages. Tell Me Three Things brings together two very different emotional experiences in such a seamless and believable way. Jessie is grieving after her mom died of cancer - and after her father remarried and moved her across the country. In a lot of ways, she feels abandoned and alone. I ached for her! I felt like Julie did such a wonderful job of depicting Jessie's grief in a realistic way.

At the same time, Jessie begins to develop a friendship with SN... and a crush on someone at school. So, the sadness permeating the book because of her loss is intertwined with the joy of falling in love. I found myself tearing up and giggling while I was reading! I was so emotionally invested in the story, and I loved how Julie paired first loss and first love. (PS - I read the last chapter five times. That's how happy it made me!)

1. In the Venn diagram of my life, my imagined personality and my real personality have never converged.

2. Perfect days are for people with small, realizable dreams. Or maybe for all of us, they just happen in retrospect; they're only now perfect because they contain something irrevocably and irretrievably lost.

3. She will never see who I grow up to be -- that great question of who I am and who I am meant to be -- finally asked and answered.
*I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review consideration. This did not affect my opinion of the book or my review.

March 10, 2016

Three Cases of Family Secrets & Ghosts from the Past

Passenger by Alexandra Bracken

Release Date: January 5, 2016
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Pages: 486 pages
Source & Format: Borrowed; ARC
Series: Passenger #1
Add on Goodreads

Thoughts on Passenger
I'd been curious about Passenger from the first moment I read the summary and saw the cover, even though I'd never read anything by Alexandra Bracken before. I was fascinated by the concept of a girl who learns she's able to travel through time and discovers a number of secrets about her family's past. As a historical fiction lover, it sounded like it might be right up my alley! When Alexa offered to loan me her copy, I couldn't resist. As soon as I started reading, I was hooked. 

The time travel, though complicated, wasn't too hard to grasp. However, it did take a little time to introduce the way this world worked, which made the beginning slightly slower than the second half of the book. I absolutely loved the setting, especially because it changed frequently. Bracken immediately immersed me in each new destination, and I loved getting to visit so many different places and time periods. It could have easily been confusing or undeveloped, but Bracken managed to pull it off perfectly.

Reading from multiple POVs can sometimes drive me crazy, but I loved being able to hear from both Etta and Nicholas. They were very distinct characters, and I enjoyed them separately - and together. Because yes, there's definitely some swooning going on in these pages. Their relationship grows as the action builds, so the two elements complemented each other nicely. I also appreciated that Bracken didn't just keep it light - she addressed important aspects of the past (like prejudice, feminism, race, etc.). That definitely added depth to this story! All in all, I loved the book and cannot wait to see where the story goes from here. I have a feeling things are only going to get better (though maybe worse for these characters...) in the second book!

So Quotable
“It's our choices that matter in the end. Not wishes, not words, not promises.”
Emmy & Oliver by Robin Benway

Release Date: June 2015
Publisher: HarperCollins; HarperTeen
Pages: 352 pages
Source & Format: Bought; Kindle
Add on Goodreads

Thoughts on Emmy & Oliver
I'd heard a lot about Robin Benway before I finally picked up her duology (Also Known As and Going Rogue) last year. While I found them quite entertaining and funny, they weren't super memorable reads for me. However, Emmy & Oliver came out that summer, and it seemed like I everywhere I turned I was hearing it praised. So, it was on my radar - but I wasn't convinced that I needed to read it. But when it went on sale for Kindle, I decided to take the plunge.

Not long ago, I couldn't decide what I was in the mood to read and figured I'd just sample a few books until something grabbed me. I started reading Emmy & Oliver... and I realized that I was almost a third of the way through the book before long. I couldn't put it down! The premise of the book is intriguing - Emmy and Oliver were best friends and neighbors, inseparable until Oliver's dad kidnaps him. He's vanished without a trace, and it's ten years before anyone finds him. Returning home is hard, both for Oliver and for everyone who knew him. And Benway depicted it all so perfectly that I couldn't believe I'd almost passed on this book.

I loved how this book explored the challenges of Oliver's return - how much had changed, the complex emotions he felt for both of his parents, the way his disappearance had affected the friends that had been left behind, and the way everyone struggled to know how to react. I found it so believable, and I really sympathized for all of the characters involved. And though it's a heavy topic, Benway infused a lot of humor and joy into the story. It was the perfect balance of heartache and happiness. I thrilled as Emmy and Oliver's friendship blossomed, and I teared up as they opened up to one another. Benway had me so emotionally invested in these characters! I know I haven't said much about certain aspects of the book, but that's because the emotion of it was what truly won me over. I couldn't put it down, and I absolutely recommend it!

So Quotable
“Could you please stop dripping your sarcasm all over my car’s interior?”
A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro

Release Date: March 1, 2016
Publisher: HarperCollins; Katherine Tegan Books
Pages: 336 pages
Source & Format: Edwelweiss; e-ARC
Series: Charlotte Holmes #1
Add on Goodreads

Thoughts on A Study in Charlotte
I must confess - I requested this book on Edelweiss because I fell in love with the cover. I've never read any Sherlock Holmes (though I've seen the movies with Robert Downey Jr. and the TV show with Benedict Cumberbatch), so I wasn't necessarily drawn to it for that connection. However, I'd had a great experience with another YA series inspired by Sherlock Holmes (the Every series by Ellie Marney), so I was hoping this would be another win for me.

Now that I've read it, I have another confession: I honestly don't know quite how I feel about it. When I first started reading it, I considered setting it down. I wasn't connecting to the characters, and I just couldn't seem to find my groove with the writing. But I decided to stick it out a little longer, and I soon realized that I was almost halfway through the book. The main reason I kept reading? I wanted to see how the mystery would be solved! But I kept getting annoyed along the way. The characters frustrated me. The writing wasn't bad, but there were so many places where information was just dumped on the reader. The book depicts drug addiction, but it does so in a way that I found confusing. It was almost like people in the story didn't take it seriously enough, and there didn't seem to be a realistic resolution to that storyline. I don't know - I just found that my issues with certain aspects drew me out of the story. 

In addition, I'm not sure it really brought anything new to the table - though I can't really say for sure since I haven't read the books that inspired it. Ultimately, I probably just wasn't the right reader for it. If you're curious about it or a fan of Sherlock Holmes, it's probably worth giving it a shot. Personally, I don't see myself continuing this series in the future. I'm just not invested enough in the characters to want to find out what happens next!

So Quotable
I don't need someone to fight for me. I can fight for myself.” 
*I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review consideration. This did not affect my opinion of the book or my review.

March 8, 2016

Three Types of Recommended Reads

I've been thinking recently about book recommendations. It's a topic I've written about before because, unlike many readers, I have complicated feelings about them. I want to love having someone recommend a book to me, but there's something about a targeted recommendation - someone saying "I think you should read this book!" - that makes me pause. I'm not completely sure why I feel that way, though I have my suspicions. That being said, I've read a few books recently that fall into three common recommendation categories. I thought it would be fun to look at each category and see how I felt about the books I read from each!

First, you've got the Recommendation That's Already on My Radar. This is probably my favorite type of book recommendation - and the one I'm most likely to read! Sometimes I'll see a book cover I like, read a summary that interests me or find a new book by an already-read author, and I'll add that book to my Consideration shelf. I typically let them hang out there so I remember to look for it at my library (no cost or commitment!) or until I can get more information about it (like reviews from trusted readers). I love when someone recommends a book that I was already interested in, especially because it motivates me to read it sooner!

That was the case with Princess of Thorns by Stacey Jay. I read and loved Of Beast and Beauty last year, so I immediately added Jay's newest book to my Consideration shelf. It sounded so interesting and had the biggest element that I'd loved from the other book - a twist on a fairy tale! I had a feeling that I'd eventually read it, but Alexa's glowing recommendation (and repeated pushes to read it) sealed the deal. When my Secret Sister gifted me a copy, I knew I had to dive right in! Thankfully, it was everything I was hoping for and more. I loved how Jay used the story of Sleeping Beauty as a jumping off point for her complex world and incredibly fascinating story. The heroine, Aurora, is fierce, intelligent and ready to face any obstacle. Along the way, she meets Niklaas - a stubborn and arrogant prince with his own agenda... and possibly a heart of gold hidden under that prickly demeanor. Their chemistry was AMAZING, and I couldn't get enough! I loved the way their friendship and fights brought them together in their individual quests and then in their joint need to defeat the villain(s). Add in Jay's gorgeous writing, and this book definitely earned my so obsessed with rating!

Next, there's the Recommendation That Requires Some Convincing. This is, typically, my least favorite type of recommendation. It's the book that doesn't really interest - and that I'd likely never pick up on my own - if someone wasn't pushing me to read it. My disinterest can stem from any number of reasons including a dislike of the genre, a lackluster previous reading experience with that author, a storyline/trope in the book that rarely works for me, etc. Unless I really trust the recommender's taste, I'm not likely to give this book a chance. I might appreciate the thought behind the recommendation, but I'll just let it slip from my mind with no feeling of guilt or obligation.

But what happens when I decide to actually give it a shot? That's what happened with Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty. I'd previously read The Husband's Secret and thought it was okay. I didn't dislike it, but it wasn't a very memorable read for me. Because of that, I never felt a strong desire to read Moriarty's most recent book. I'd heard great things, but I didn't plan on reading it. But I didn't count on my friend Cassie and Kelly begging me to pick it up! Both absolutely adored it - and both promised me that it was even better than The Husband's Secret. Cassie gave me a copy for Christmas, and I read it soon after. I could see why they'd recommended it! The plot was compelling - opening with a pretty vague reference to tragic event and then flashing back to show you what led up to that fateful moment. As with the book I'd already read by Moriarty, Big Little Lies has multiple narrators. But in this book, I connected to the characters in a way I hadn't before which made me much more invested in the story and its resolution.  It was definitely a more memorable read! I found the ending very anticlimactic (and it's still not the kind of book I ever see myself re-reading), but I was glad I listened to my friends. I so enjoyed it, and it reminded me that it's good to give authors multiple chances!

And then there's the Recommendation That's Based on Reading History. This type of recommendation can certainly come from friends, but I think of it more as those suggestions from Goodreads or online retailers based on your browsing or purchase history. Since this type of recommendation doesn't come from a person, I love it because I have the freedom to ignore or investigate it as I see fit. I love that I don't have to worry about whether someone will ask me a few weeks later if I've read the book they recommended! That being said, losing the personal element does mean that it's more likely it won't fit your taste. I'm sure most people have browsed the "Recommended for You" section on Amazon or Barnes & Noble and wondered how in the world some books made the cut. Predictive analytics don't always get it right!

When they do, however, it's such a satisfying feeling. I was looking for new editions of Pride and Prejudice on Barnes & Noble's website a few months ago, which resulted in a recommendation of Unequal Affections by Lara Ormiston. It's a retelling of that beloved novel and asks an interesting question - What if Elizabeth Bennett had accepted Mr. Darcy's original proposal? Instead of taking back you through the very beginning of their acquaintance, it starts with that infamous proposal at the Hunsford parsonage and explores what might have happened if Lizzie had admitted she didn't love him but had agreed to marry him anyway. I've always loved reading retellings of my favorite classic, even though I rarely love the books themselves. I just can't resist giving them a shot! I was curious about this one because I liked the idea of the premise but wondered about the execution. Thankfully, I was delighted with the result. This is definitely my favorite Pride and Prejudice retelling! I rarely felt like Lizzie or Darcy acted out of character, and Ormiston raised challenges and portrayed conversations that I'd never considered. She brought to light new aspects of Darcy and Lizzie's relationship while still retaining what I've always loved about them. I think what I loved most about Unequal Affections is that it was true to the spirit of Pride and Prejudice, but it brought something new to the story. It was creative, engaging and so much fun to read. I already bought the audiobook for my future re-read - a sign that I'm absolutely so obsessed with this book!

Do you like when books are recommended to you?
Is there a specific type of recommendation that you prefer?

March 7, 2016

February 2016: On My Shelves + Recap


We're already well into March, and I'm just now posting my February recap - proof that I've been a lot more unplugged lately. I enjoyed February, but I'm excited to finally have some spring weather soon!

1. Happy Birthday to Me! - My birthday was February 1, and I used some gift cards and money that I received to buy two new purses and a keychain wallet. I'd had my eye on the Madewell Zip Transport Tote for a while, but I blame the awesome sale on the Kate Spade website for the other two purchases!

2. Bullet Journaling - After reading a blog post about bullet journaling (linked in the What I Bookmarked section below), I decided to give it a shot. And I think I'm in love! I've only been doing it for two weeks or so, but I love having ALL my lists, notes, to dos and more in one place. It's so convenient!

3. Baby Gift from Kelly - I loved opening this sweet gift for my baby boy! Kelly is always traveling the world, and I love that she's hoping to inspire a little wanderlust with this cute onesie from Spain. Nick and I both graduated from UGA, so you better believe this bib made us grin. I'm thankful for such a thoughtful friend!

Read 9 Books | Favorites:
Voyager by Diana Gabaldon
Emmy & Oliver by Robin Benway
Cartwheeling in Thunderstorms by Katherine Rundell
“It has always been forever, for me, Sassenach.”
Voyager by Diana Gabaldon

“Could you please stop dripping your sarcasm all over my car’s interior?”
Emmy & Oliver by Robin Benway

“Books crowbar the world open for you.” 
Rooftoppers by Katherine Rundell

 “I think, actually, everyone starts out with some strange in them. 
It's just whether or not you decide to keep it.”
Rooftoppers by Katherine Rundell
Discussion/Feature: February 2016: Favorite Factor
1. Do We Need New Love Songs? by Jay Wolf on Darling Magazine - If I was choosing one post to highlight this month, it would be this one. It's quite possibly the best post I've read about love and marriage - EVER. It's a powerful reminder of how loving someone through the best and worst is hard but so, so worth it.

2. One Weird Trick That Makes a Novel Addictive by Catherine Nichols on Jezebel - I love Jane Austen and Charlotte Brontë, so I found this article fascinating. I hadn't heard of this technique before - though it made sense as I read through the examples provided. I'll look at both authors with new eyes the next time I re-read!

3. The Big List of Book Lists by Anne from Modern Mrs. Darcy - It's probably no secret that I love this blog, especially since I bookmark something from it almost every month. But I just can't help myself! Anne's book lists are some of my favorites, so I was thrilled when she posted this master list with links to all of them.

4. How to Bullet Journal by Kendra from The Lazy Genius Collective - I have to credit this post with prompting me to learn more about bullet journaling and linking to this article. But both posts finally helped me understand this method - and gave me the motivation I needed to finally try! Now, I'm completely hooked.

Favorite Song: "Get Up, Get On" by Jill Andrews on The War Inside
I didn't realize that Jill Andrews came out with a new album last September,
so I had that on repeat for most of February. This is one of my favorite songs on it!

The Intern (2015) starring Robert De Niro and Anne Hathaway - I wanted to watch The Intern since I first saw the trailer for it, but I never got a chance to see it in theaters. So when I spotted it at Redbox, I immediately rented it. Nick watched it with me, and we both loved it. It wasn't what I expected - in the best way possible!

From Alexa: Truthwitch by Susan Dennard + this print that you can see in the photo of my gallery wall!

From Betty: Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo + an adorable notebook and crafty goodies!

From Ellice: Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery


From Estelle: A Summer to Die by Lois Lowry + a cute zip pouch and lip balm/scrub 

From Kelly: The Perilous Gard by Elizabeth Marie Pope and Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen



Bought on Book Depository: Looking for Alibrandi, The Piper's Son, Saving Francesca, Froi of the Exiles and Quintana of Charyn by Melina Marchetta 

Bought on Book Outlet: Cartwheeling in Thunderstorms, Rooftoppers and The Wolf Wilder by Katherine Rundell

Bought at Target: Pax by Sara Pennypacker

From Nick: Curious Faith by Logan Wolfram

For Review: Britt-Marie Was Here by Fredrik Backman, Somewhere Out There by Amy Hatvany and One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid

February 29, 2016

Favorite Factor: February 2016

Cassie and I are sharing four books with you: two recent favorites (and the factors that made us love them) and two upcoming reads (and the factors interest us). We hope you'll find the perfect book for you!
Life After Life by Kate Atkinson

Release Date: March 2013
Genre: Literary/Historical
Factor I Loved: Writing + Plot

Reason You Should Read:
Back in 2013, I kept hearing a ton of buzz for Life After Life. It seemed like everywhere I turned, people were talking about this book! The premise intrigued me, so I decided to put it on my Christmas wishlist. I was gifted a copy that year, but the book languished on my shelves ever since. It wasn't until I was working on my 2015 End of the Year Survey that I realized it was the one book on my shelves that I wanted to be absolutely sure to read in 2016. It ended up being one of my first reads of the year, and I'm so glad I finally picked it up! Part of the appeal of Life After Life is the concept: Ursula Todd is born on a cold and snowy night in 1910, but as she grows, she also dies, repeatedly, in a number of ways. There is a pattern to the unpredictability of life - for every time she is reborn, her life turns out a little differently. When I first started reading the book, I'll admit that I was super confused. But the longer I read, the more immersed and engaged I became in the heroine and in her life. Atkinson manages to avoid making the book feel repetitive. Instead, I thought the plot and the writing were incredibly imaginative and wonderfully gripping! I read the entire 500-page book in day, despite the sometimes weighty and complex subject matter. I'm already planning to read the companion novel, A God in Ruins, at some point this year. Although it's not an easy read, I cannot recommend it highly enough!

Voyager by Diana Gabaldon

Release Date: December 1993
Genre: Historical
Factor I Loved: Characters + Relationships

Reason You Should Read:
I think it's time to admit that I've fallen under the Outlander spell. I read the first book back in 2014 and loved it (in spite of some major reservations about certain aspects of it). I noted in my review that I was unsure of whether or not I wanted to continue the series. But when I found Dragonfly in Amber at the used bookstore for $3 a few months later, I couldn't resist. I quite enjoyed it, even though I'll probably always find aspects of these books slightly ridiculous. And yet... I keep coming back for more. When I finally finished watching the first season of the TV show earlier this year, I found myself craving more of these characters. So, I picked up Voyager and prepared for an epic and entertaining journey. I was hooked from the very first page! I don't know if it was the timing, my mood or simply that this story worked better for me, but I absolutely loved reading this book. In some ways, it might be my favorite of the series so far! At the end of Dragonfly in Amber, Claire learns some shocking news. Much of the beginning part of Voyager deals with the repercussions of what Claire has learned, as well as what's happening in the past that she left behind. She's forced to make a seemingly impossible decision, and I loved seeing her weigh her options, finally make her choice and then follow her as she saw it through. There were a few parts (particularly toward the end) that I found really odd, but it was a huge win for me overall. I loved the romance, adventure and shifting setting - and I can't wait to see where Gabaldon takes these characters next! I'll definitely be picking up Drums in Autumn soon.
Rules of Civility by Amor Towles

Release Date: July 2011
Genre: Historical
Factor of Interest: Setting

Reasons I Want to Read:
I've had Rules of Civility sitting on my shelves since Christmas 2011. If you read my thoughts on Life After Life above, you're probably noticing my terrible pattern of letting the books I receive for Christmas sit on my shelves for far too long. I remember asking for this book because I heard great things about the writing, and the setting appealed to me because I'm typically a fan of this time period in books. Unfortunately, I let it fall off my mental radar... However, it was mentioned recently on my favorite podcast, which reminded me that I've really got to read it soon. Everything that was said about it made it sound right up my alley!

Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld

Release Date: April 2016
Genre: Contemporary
Factor of Interest: Plot

Reasons I Want to Read:
I'm a huge fan of Pride and Prejudice retellings, even though they're very hit or miss. I usually spend too much time comparing them to the original, and yet I can't stop coming back to them! I'm a little more nervous than usual with Eligible because I tried to read something by Sittenfeld previously and hated it, but the reviews for this one seem mostly positive so far and that has me intrigued! And I'm a sucker for this cover - I love that it's still eye-catching in its simplicity. I look forward to seeing how Sittenfeld updates Austen's beloved story for modern times - and whether or not she's able to retain the charm of the original. I hope she pulls it off!

Want more? Check out Cassie's post!
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