Thursday, August 30, 2012

My Thoughts: A Million Suns by Beth Revis

Published: January 10, 2012
Razorbill, 386 pages, hardcover
Source: purchased
GoodReads Summary: Godspeed was once fueled by lies. Now it is ruled by chaos. It’s been three months. In that time, Amy has learned to hide who she is. Elder is trying to be the leader he’s always wanted to be. But as the ship gets more and more out of control, only one thing is certain: They have to get off the ship.

Sophomore slump? Not even. I didn't think I could be more excited about a book than I was about Across the Universe. And it's still fantastic in its own respect, but A Million Suns, you guys. A MILLION SUNS.

Okay, so Across the Universe ended in a hell of a way. I didn't have to get a prescription of anxiety medication or anything, because I already had A Million Suns on board. And I dove into that with a fierceness, and a slight twinge of fear that it wouldn't live up. IRRATIONAL FEAR, that was. The murder mysteries continue, not to mention a mystery of its own. Amy and Elder (who I've successfully dreamcasted as Nathan Adrian, so the book was that much more exciting and/or sexy) work together to not only keep the ship in order now Godspeed is no longer under the influence of Phydus, but to find out Godspeed's Big Secret that so many past leaders have attempted to conceal.

And HOLY HELL, it's a freaking nuclear bomb of a shocker. I had several rounds of hardcore goosebumps when I read that fateful sentence. And that didn't just happen once. That happened three different times with three different bombs. The pacing of A Million Suns is unbeatable. Just when I thought Beth Revis couldn't shock me further, it happens and I need about 5-7 solid minutes of recovery time before I can proceed reading.

I like how we get a better look at the secondary characters. After I formed an emotional attachment to Harley in Across the Universe (sob!), I wanted to know more about Elder's childhood friends. I got my wish. And it doesn't even matter that they're not at the forefront of the story. They are all written so vibrantly, I can see them in my mind clear as day.

Amy and Elder absolutely shine in A Million Suns. They're lovely on their own, but together, still finding that precarious balance between obligation and love and lust and being "different". So beautifully written. I love the alternating points of view, it adds so much depth to the story that I cannot contain myself. The struggle that Elder goes through, trying to make his way as a leader when he's still growing himself? Heart-wrenching. Perfect. Flawed. Believable.

And now begins the horrible wait until January for Shades of Earth. Revis left A Million Suns with a hell of a cliffhanger and I have no doubt that Shades of Earth will be explosive.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Waiting on: Shades of Earth by Beth Revis

Amy and Elder have finally left the oppressive walls of the spaceship Godspeed behind. They're ready to start life afresh--to build a home--on Centauri-Earth, the planet that Amy has traveled 25 trillion miles across the universe to experience. But this new Earth isn't the paradise that Amy had been hoping for. Amy and Elder must race to uncover who--or what--else is out there if they are to have any hope of saving their struggling colony and building a future together. But as each new discovery brings more danger, Amy and Elder will have to look inward to the very fabric of what makes them human on this, their most harrowing journey yet. Because if the colony collapses? Then everything they have sacrificed--friends, family, life on Earth--will have been meaningless.

Mmkay, firstly: Gross. Hideous cover. I may have to e-book this one or borrow it from the library or something. WHY would they change such a beautiful, beautiful series of covers to THIS? And right before the last book in the series. Get it together, Razorbill. Make it stop.
More importantly, though, it's time for Amy and Elder to get on solid ground and fall deeply into love with one another on Centauri-Earth, because they both belong together forever and ever. And I cannot wait to find out exactly what awaits them on this planet. I hope it's monsters, because everything is more exciting with monsters.

Shades of Earth will be released January 13, 2013 by Razorbill.
Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday: I Must Confess..

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish and created by Jamie.

OH, I couldn't help myself but to participate in this one: Bookish Confessions.

1. Ever since the invention of the GoodReads Reading Challenge, I find myself a very, very depressed reader.
Don't you just despise that little graphic in the corner of your blog, mocking you, pointing at you, taunting you "YOU'RE 4 BOOKS BEHIND, JEN!" That's exactly how it makes me feel. Like a failure of a reader. But, Goodreads, something came up this week, I SWEAR. You don't have to belittle me and flaunt my shortcomings! Just like an abusive boyfriend or an overbearing parent, Goodreads fails to be uplifting when you're falling slightly short.

2. Speaking of Goodreads, I'm pretty obsessed with updating my reading status.
Maybe it's the sense of validation I get from seeing that I'm making progress, but there's something so fulfilling about tracking how far into this or that book I am.

3. I skim block paragraphs in lackluster books.
If a book is boring the heck out of me, you'd better believe that my eyes totally glaze over those long, torturous descriptions.

4. I am intrigued by low star ratings.
For whatever reason, I think I can find something magical in a book that everyone else missed. I'm more likely to read a book that has critical reviews than one that has a bunch of glowing reviews and is world-renouned. I cheer for the underdog, what can I say?

5. I cannot read books with the dust jackets on.
My reasoning for this is threefold: I don't want them to get damaged. I don't like that they're flip floppy when I'm trying to turn the pages and it falls off and I'm all "FFFUUUUU." And I don't particularly like people seeing the covers of books I'm reading in public. NO, I will not give you an explanation and how rude of you to ask when I'm clearly reading, thanks. No one likes those conversations.

6. Five star books are few and far between these days.
Maybe my standards are just impossibly high. Maybe books these days aren't as good as they were back in 2008 when I started vigorously reading again. Maybe it's because I'm always challenging myself with those low-starred books. But for a book to deserve those five stars, I need to feel that book IN MY SOUL. I need to daydream about it when I'm not reading it and I need to miss it when it's finished.

7. I sometimes buy an entire series of books without reading the first.
Not only does this take up space on my shelf, but there's no guarantee that I'll like the books. LOOKING AT YOU, BLACK DAGGER BROTHERHOOD.

8. Sometimes I just don't feel like reading.
And so I envelop myself in other obsessions. Ahem, True Blood. Eric Northman. AHEM.

9. I dream cast all my favorite books.
I have to pick a celebrity to represent those characters that I love. Sometimes, if a character is really vivid, I come up with my own picture of them, like with Irial from the Wicked Lovely series. But mostly, I'm unoriginal and pick a pretty face that already exists to be the star.

case in point: nathan adrian = elder from across the universe

10. I am queen of the DNF.

Even if it's a book I'm sort of enjoying, if it's not fitting the exact mood I'm in, I stop. Ain't no time for that.

Monday, August 27, 2012

My Thoughts: Across the Universe by Beth Revis

Published: January 11, 2011
Razorbill, 386 pages, hardcover
Source: purchased
GoodReads Summary: A love out of time. A spaceship built of secrets and murder.

Seventeen-year-old Amy joins her parents as frozen cargo aboard the vast spaceship Godspeed and expects to awaken on a new planet, three hundred years in the future. Never could she have known that her frozen slumber would come to an end fifty years too soon and that she would be thrust into the brave new world of a spaceship that lives by its own rules.

Amy quickly realizes that her awakening was no mere computer malfunction. Someone-one of the few thousand inhabitants of the spaceship-tried to kill her. And if Amy doesn't do something soon, her parents will be next.

Now Amy must race to unlock Godspeed's hidden secrets. But out of her list of murder suspects, there's only one who matters: Elder, the future leader of the ship and the love she could never have seen coming.
"Sci-fi? Yeah. No, thanks," said the Jen of yore. Last Tuesday Jen, however, decided that preconceived notion of sci-fi was balderdash. And you know what? I'm all the better for it. In fact, I cannot stop thinking about Across the Universe.

So let me get this straight. You're gonna get on a spaceship. Frozen, mind you. You're gonna travel for hundreds of hundreds of years in a basement of said spaceship while a bunch of freaky ass clones (because they ALL have olive skin and brown hair. Difference = BAD on Godspeed) mull about trying to create some semblance of their own temporary Earth as a means to survive the 300 year journey to Centauri-Earth (as opposed to Sol-Earth, as our planet is known) while being led by Eldest and Elder. Except all sorts of crazy shiz starts going on, you know, with the discovery of the frozen bodies in the basement and Elder finding Amy and kinda falling in love at first sight with her prettyness and red hair.

BUT that's the beauty of it. It's got the insta-love, but it doesn't. Elder and Amy are so wary of one another, because Amy is so jaded and Elder is so inexperienced. There's a kind of beauty and innocence about their romance that I haven't found in other books as of late. There's this desperation to them that makes me all kinds of heart-palpitaty. They're so cautious and sweet with one another, it ALMOST makes tears spring to my eyes.

When I say the action in Across the Universe is heart-pounding, I mean that. And not because I was on my second or third cup of coffee while reading. There are a couple factors that exacerbate this feeling:

1. Claustrophobia. They're on a ship. In space. Sure, maybe Godspeed's inhabitants don't find these to be dire situations, but as a former Earth inhabitant who was unfrozen against her will? It's not difficult at all to put yourself in Amy's shoes, being constrained to a little bubble in space. It makes me stir crazy, just thinking about it.

2. Sure, there are 2,300 other people on the ship, but they all kind of hate Amy. She looks funny to them, and this is unacceptable. But even though the majority of the ship's inhabitants are oddly Stepford wife-esque, there are a couple people--the "crazy" people--who have taken a sick interest in her.

3. The Season. You'll see.

4. Someone is trying to unfreeze all the Frozens, therefore killing them. MURDER MYSTERY IN SPACE. I can't take the excitement.

Beth Revis, where have you been all my life? This book did something magical to me. YA series that captivate me this much, to make me want to forego all other books until I blast through each book in the series, are few and far between. I cannot wait to read more about Amy and Elder, and the insanity that goes on aboard Godspeed.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Seventeen Things I've Learned From True Blood: Seasons One & Two

This will be chock full of spoilers, people. But I've got to get my thoughts out.

1. I should count my blessings every day that for the 5 years I was a waitress, I didn't get my neck snapped or my heart ripped out.

photo credit

2. The aunt from Twister has not aged a day. Good call moving out of Wakita, KS after that F5, Gran, though I think you would've been safer from violent, rotating vortices than in Bon Temps. That being said, I think Sookie should hook up with her cousin (I think cousin) Helen Hunt, because I think Vampire Bill would probably be a valuable addition to a storm chasing team.

3. Vampires cannot wash blood out of their hair while it's being foiled. And good thing, too. Long-haired Eric just didn't do the things that short-haired Eric does. (See: impregnates women worldwide on sight. When are you due?)

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4. Bon Temps residents are tolerable of pretty much any and everything. You are a crazy stoned social worker and you want to house me and feed me and find the right path in life? Go ahead and move into my best friend's house and trash it while she's on vacation. It's cool, as long as I can keep sleeping with the tall handsome guy named Eggs. (WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU, TARA?!) Honestly, the Maryann thing was the worst twist ever.

5. Lafayette's insults never get any less awesome.

6. Bill saying "Sookehhh" will never get any more attractive. Blergh. Also "I AM VAMPIRE." Lulz.

7. Best friends? What best friends? All the best friends in Bon Temps are either demon-possessed or murderers.

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8. Any scene with Sookie and Eric immediately makes up for the Maryann monstrosity and makes me all fluttery in my stomach.

9. Sam Merlotte will never, ever, ever, ever find love. And that is very sad, because he's the only person besides Terry Bellfleur who consistently shows up for work. AND he could be your boyfriend and man's best friend, but you don't have to buy dog food or take him to the vet! And he'll hire you on the spot, regardless of your sketchy history or, you know, lack of social security information. WHAT A NICE GUY. Is this crossing into weird territory? TOO BAD, because I love Sam Merlotte.

10. Hoyt Fortenberry is awesome and ALSO makes me feel very accomplished for 27 years old. I pay my own cell phone bill and live on my own, woot!


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12. Janis Ian is actually really pretty. (And she agrees. She thinks she's really pretty.) She also traded her goth stereotype for something a little more hippie, which is fitting. Except for the evilness. She's kind of an evil hippie.

13. WHY DID THE MARYANN THING HAPPEN? I hope it's over. Forever. Plus, there was a lot of Very Bad Nudity going on when she was around.

14. Even in TV, it's only the crazy "Christians" that get screen time, which is why everyone hates them. And preacher's wives are scandalous and have big hair, also because it's full of secrets.

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15. Jason Stackhouse could possibly be my favorite television redneck of all time. But he has a few weird "too close" brother/sister moments with Sookie.

16. Bill's maker is HORRIBLY annoying.

17. No matter the WTFery, the facepalming, the Very Bad Nudity, the Sam heartbreak (DAMNIT, somebody love Sam NOW!), the lack of acceptable number of Sookie and Eric scenes, the Tara idiocy, the Tara's mom's idiocy, I still cannot stop watching this train wreck of a show. I think I'm in for the long haul. Sigh. And I finally understand the Alexander Skarsgard fandom.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

My Thoughts: Firespell by Chloe Neill

Published: January 5, 2010
Signet, 256 pages, paperback
Source: Purchased
GoodReads Summary: New Girl.
New School.
Old Evil.

Lily’s parents have sent her to a fancy boarding school in Chicago filled with the ultra-rich. If that wasn’t bad enough, she’s hearing and seeing bizarre things on St. Sophie’s creepy campus. Her roommate, Scout, keeps her sane, but keeps disappearing at night. When one day Lily finds Scout running from real-life monsters, she learns the hard way that Scout is involved in a splinter group of rebel teens.

They protect Chicago from demons, vamps, and dark magic users. It’s too bad Lily doesn’t have powers of her own to help. At least, none that she’s discovered yet...

Although this one started out kind of sluggish for me--like, the first 100 pages--I am super happy I stuck with it.

Maybe I'm nostalgic for the days when the Morganville Vampires were mass market paperbacks (DAMN YOU, HARDCOVERS!) but Firespell has always been aesthetically pleasing. First, I am filled with the reassurance that they'll be quick reads. Second, I can hold this book up with one hand and not pull a muscle in my fingers (I'm literarily lazy.) Third, I like the cover. I can't hate on the mysterious pretty girl with her "I have a secret and I AM MAGICAL, but it's totally obvious but it's gonna take a long time for you to find out anyway, lulz" look on her face.

Chloe Neill can write some pretty fab female characters. This really did have a Morganville feel. You've got Lily, the new girl with attitude. You have the punky outcast BFF, Scout. The two hottie crushes, Jason and Michael, for the former and latter, respectively. And you have the mean girls who immediately target the new girl for no apparent reason whatsoever. VERY similar.

And yet it works.

There was a bit of hurrying towards the end of the book to throw everything together, but doors are opened for the plot to seriously branch out. I have high hopes for these Chicago-based books about secret societies of high school kids with a wide variety of magical powers. Though I'm gonna need the romance to be a little more developed than "I like his blue eyes." I get it: blue eyes rock. And I'm sure he's super cute and all. But I can't see that, so I'm gonna need some convincing.

Also, is it too much to ask for a character that can teleport? That's my magic power of choice and I think YA is sorely lacking in the teleportation genre.

And can they please look like Hayden Christensen?

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Waiting on: Game by Barry Lyga

Billy grinned. “Oh, New York,” he whispered. “We’re gonna have so much fun.”

I Hunt Killers introduced the world to Jazz, the son of history’s most infamous serial killer, Billy Dent.

In an effort to prove murder didn’t run in the family, Jazz teamed with the police in the small town of Lobo’s Nod to solve a deadly case. And now, when a determined New York City detective comes knocking on Jazz’s door asking for help, he can’t say no. The Hat-Dog Killer has the Big Apple–and its police force–running scared. So Jazz and his girlfriend, Connie, hop on a plane to the big city and get swept up in a killer’s murderous game.

I absolutely flat out fell in morbid, murderous love with I Hunt Killers a few months back. (Don't believe me? Let me regale you in my obsession.) Weird, right? Who loves stories about death and serial killers? This weirdo right here. But it's okay, because it's fiction, guys. Barry Lyga has a mesmerizing style of writing that makes you make the "HOLY FFFFFFFUUUUU" face but also keep turning the pages because WHO WILL DIE NEXT?

And I'd be lying if the title of this book didn't remind me a little bit of Jigsaw.

Uh, yeah. Sweet dreams.

Game will be released April 2013 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Tune in Tuesday (6): Dawes & The Apache Relay

Tune in Tuesday is hosted by Ginger at GReads! I share Ginger's fanatical love for music. Seriously, we text about songs all the time in the form of "OMG YOU HAVE TO LISTEN TO THIS IT'S LIKE HARMONIC NOOKIE FOR YOUR EARS." It's one of my favorite things about her, so I don't know why I don't participate in this feature more often.
Okay, so perhaps I'm partial because I saw them live last night. For those who don't follow me on Twitter, I may have tweeted excessively about the fact that I was seeing Mumford & Sons live. Best concert of my life, no contest. I may have cried a couple times. Well, two fantastic bands opened for them. Bands you may not have heard of just yet. I'm here to reconcile that.

Dawes - "If I Wanted Someone"
The harmonies. The guitar solo at 3:00. WICKED.

The Apache Relay - "Home is Not Places"
WOW. These guys rock out.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

My Thoughts: Gimme a Call by Sarah Mlynowski

Published: April 27, 2010
Delacorte Books, 301 pages, paperback
Source: purchased
GoodReads Summary: Devi's life isn't turning out at all like she wanted. She wasted the past three years going out with Bryan—cute, adorable, break-your-heart Bryan. Devi let her friendships fade, blew off studying, didn't join any clubs . . . and now that Bryan has broken up with her, she has nothing left.

Not even her stupid cell phone—she dropped it in the mall fountain. Now it only calls one number . . . hers. At age fourteen, three years ago!

Once Devi gets over the shock—and convinces her younger self that she isn't some wacko—she realizes that she's been given an awesome gift. She can tell herself all the right things to do . . . because she's already done all the wrong ones! Who better to take advice from than your future self?

Except . . .what if getting what you think you want changes everything?
I don't regret any of my life choices, because hey, they're the reason I am who I am today. But if I dropped my cell phone into a mall fountain and could talk to 14-year-old Jen? It'd be pretty damn tempting to give her all of life's answers from a wiser and more experienced point of view.

Which is exactly what happened to Devorah "Devi" Banks.

She lost her friends and her chance at an amazing college, all because she became totally enraptured by one stupid high school love. Haven't we all made stupid mistakes along this line? But lo and behold, she gets a chance to fix it! AND BOY, DOES SHE. It was really entertaining (and I got a little jealous) seeing how Senior Devi gave Freshman Devi ALL THE INSIGHT. You want to shoot for a Harvard scholarship? CHALLENGE ACCEPTED. Wait, you want to date THAT boy? No, he turns out to be a total drug addict. DENIED.

But honestly? Senior Devi is a bit of a control freak. And nit picky. And never satisfied with anything. I wanted to smack her around just a little. Beggars cannot be choosers, Senior Devi, and you are on my last nerve. There weren't enough days in the week for Freshman Devi to do all her bidding. And man, she took it like a champ.

This is an extremely fast, entertaining read. I didn't expect anything less from Sarah Mlynowski. I think this would definitely qualify as a younger YA book, but it was fresh and unique, so I am satisfied. It was like The Butterfly Effect but with more kissing and friends and less mailbox explosions and Ashton Kutcher being scary.

Buy Gimme a Call | Add to GoodReads

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Waiting on: Asunder by Jodi Meadows

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

Ana has always been the only one. Asunder. Apart. But after Templedark, when many residents of Heart were lost forever, some hold Ana responsible for the darksouls–and the newsouls who may be born in their place.

Many are afraid of Ana’s presence, a constant reminder of unstoppable changes and the unknown. When sylph begin behaving differently toward her and people turn violent, Ana must learn to stand up not only for herself but for those who cannot stand up for themselves.

Ana was told that nosouls can’t love. But newsouls? More than anything, she wants to live and love as an equal among the citizens of Heart, but even when Sam professes his deepest feelings, it seems impossible to overcome a lifetime of rejection.

In this second book in the Incarnate trilogy, Ana discovers the truth about reincarnation and will have to find a way to embrace love and make her young life meaningful. Once again, Jodi Meadows explores the extraordinary beauty and shadowed depths of the soul in a story equal parts epic romance and captivating fantasy.

I loved Incarnate. There was music, dragons, utopian societies that are foiled by an anomaly (I LOVE it when anomalies foil things!), and Sam. And also, Sam's scruffy chin. It's practically a character of its own. One definitely worth mentioning.

ANYWAY, I'm going to have to reread Incarnate in order to mentally prepare myself to be a pile of shambles after Asunder, because Jodi Meadows is so, so good at writing the pretty things that we all want to read.

Not as much of a fan of this cover as incarnate (are those flowers around her eyes?) but it's still absolutely mesmerizing. Just another of those pretty HarperTeen covers we've all come to expect.

Asunder will be published January 29, 2012 by Katherine Tegan Books.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

My Top Ten Most Mentally Unhinged Posts

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish and created by blogging mastermind Jamie.

It's been a crazy (almost) two years, but here we are. And I've written a bunch of crap that I'm proud of, not so proud of, and just plain flabbergasted over. These are amongst my favorites, because well, I feel like the best content is also the craziest.

1. My Photographic Reaction Post for the Harry Potter Series (in sepia tone!)
I don't even really know how I contort my face like that.

2. Top Ten Reasons Why I Would Suck as a YA Heroine
Nobody would read about me. NO ONE.

3. RT 2012 and Dark Days 2011.
Where I met my most favorite people in the whole world who all need to move by me like, NOW.

4. The ABCs of Vampire Academy and The Morganville Vampires
I like the alphabet and things that suck blood, apparently.

5. I SHOULD Read More Books, but These Things Distract Me.
I'd have met my goal by now if it weren't for my stupid iPhone (I love you, phone. Don't be upset.)

6. You Break My Spine, I'll BREAK YOUR FACE.
Sometimes I suffer rage blackouts.

7. Popsicle Stick Jen Goes to BEA.
Because my friends are awesome.

And, of course, some seriously unhinged fangirling reviews.

The Golden Lily by Richelle Mead
Monstrous Beauty by Elizabeth Fama
Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley
Frost by Marianna Baer

Monday, August 6, 2012

You, You, You Autumn Know: A List of Reasons Why I Need Fall NOW

DID YOU SEE WHAT I DID? Alanis Morrissette, anyone? No?

Anyway, this fall promises to be absolutely amazing in bookish ways and otherwise. And I am feeling LISTY today.

August 13: Mumford & Sons Tour
Yes, I am seeing them live. No, I may not make it out alive.

August 28: Enshadowed is Released
I've been waiting since, I don't know, BIRTH for this sequel, or so it seems. When I read Kelly Creagh's Nevermore back in 2010, my world changed. It made me want to sing the praises of this AND EVERY book to the wide world of the Interweb. And the release date was pushed back so many times that I thought I was going to lose my mind. Now April and I can rest at ease that this book is very much within sight. I think I'm going to request off for this day.

The Pumpkin Spice Latte Returns
Who ISN'T excited about this?

September 1: Michigan Football Opening Game
Granted I became a U of M fan via marriage, I'm still excited about this. If they win, my husband is happy. And that makes me happy. FINE, I like it a little bit.

Homemade Chili

September 27: Matthew Mayfield Concert
So many concerts, so much music that will make me cry like a baby.

A Reprieve from the Heat
This has been the hottest summer ever. I can't wait for cooler temps, open windows, and brisk evenings.

note: this is not a season 4 promo, but are you gonna complain? really?
October 11: The Vampire Diaries Season 4 Begins
Does everyone remember that one memorable makeout session that is SURELY not to be the last between You Know Who and the other You Know Who? That chemistry was WAY too hot to waste. And what about that cliffhanger?! WHAT WILL HAPPEN? I know I have been waiting impatiently all summer to see Damon do the eye/smirk thing again. That's what the whole show is about.

October 23: The Evolution of Mara Dyer is Released
DUDE. I've had the incredible privilege of reading/reviewing this in advance and it was everything. Everything I've waited for and more. I can't wait to have a physical copy in my hand to have and hold and reread, because you KNOW Michelle Hodkin changes it up until the very last minute. It's like reading it for the first time, TWICE.

Hoodie Weather
My favorite time of the year. I've tried turning up my A/C and wearing a hoodie this summer, but it was too friggin' expensive and I ended up hot anyway.

November 6: Bitter Blood is Released
Damn those Morganville Vampires, I love them so much. And especially Myrnin. But we're kind of running out of books, here. This is book 13 of 15 and I am ridiculously sad.

Fuzzy Socks. FUZZY SOCKS.
I am preparing for an surplus of fuzzy sock-related injuries at the hospital due to the inevitable sliding across hardwood floors. And I'm okay with it.

ERMAHGERD: I'm Back. (Also, My Personal Blog Commandments.)

I blame the summer for my hiatus. And may I just say that was like, the quickest summer ever? I thoroughly enjoyed it, but if I'm being honest, I'm ready for fall. Big time. I miss the mornings where I could wake up, brew a cup of coffee, wrap myself up in an oversized hoodie and pajama pants and There wasn't much time for reading this summer. More on that later.

I was out of town for a good 3 or 4 extended weekends since I took my hiatus. Mom's birthday, my sister's 21st birthday, a nice trip up to Michigan, and that's just to name a few of the awesome times I had. Plus Mr. Jen had the summer off from school (after completing his second Master's, of course. OVERACHIEVER!) so I spent every moment I could with him.

I've also had some downfalls. My cat child, Bo (aka the white one) had been diagnosed with moderate periodontal disease and tooth resorption. I guess those times I giggled when my vet told me I need to start brushing my cats' teeth are coming back to bite me in the ass. I've never heard of this, EVER. After doing my hypochondriac research, apparently the majority of cats develop gum disease by age two. WHAT THE EVER LOVING HELL. And as far as tooth resorption? It's a very painful, incurable condition where the roots of the teeth basically disintegrate until the entire tooth is just... gone. The body attacks the teeth. I now brush my cats teeth every single day.

Public Service Announcement: GET YOUR PET'S TEETH CLEANED.

So yeah, reading. My totals are as follows:

May: 10
June: 10
July: 6

Considering I still have 51 books to read by December 31 in order to meet my goal of 120 for the year, I'm not holding my breath on that one.

And finally, you may be wondering the real reason I took a break. I got tired of it. I was tired of the stress I put on myself to keep up with everyone else. I feel like I have crap content most of the time. I felt reading became a chore. I didn't feel like a "cool kid." I felt like no one really cared what I had to say, and I didn't care to say it. I became bitter and jealous. I lost sight of why I started this whole shebang in the first place. These are all huge blogger no-nos, and I was just knocking them all out like it was my job.

I was sad.

Luckily, my little sabbatical put things into perspective for me and I came out with a way more positive outlook. I will not be accepting or requesting nearly as many books. That is not what it's about and I'm ashamed at how easy it is to get sucked into that mentality. I have spent hard-earned money on so many pretties that have been shoved from sight because "OH MY GOSH I HAVE TO REVIEW THIS AND THIS AND THIS." Never again. If any of you catch me breaking these commandments, hold me accountable and send a little rage my way.

Makeshift Commandments

1. Thou shall avoid the green-eyed monster. (See: ARCs, traffic, comments.)
It's all about fun. It's all about books. It's all about talking about them with you guys. If one person reads my post, SUPER YAY. If not, perhaps tomorrow will be better.
2. Thou shall not throw pity parties.
Because nobody likes a whiner.
3. Thou shall not give a damn about consistency.
This is how I burnt out in the first place. I'll post whenever I feel like it.
4. Thou shall return as many comments as possible.
Or at least more often than I used to. (Ahem, SELDOM.) There are so many of you that I don't know and I WANT TO KNOW YOU.
5. Thou shall read each book like it's the last book on earth.
No more of this flying through books to get to the next one. No more worrying if I'll make my goal for the year. And if I don't love a book? I'll quit it. Because there's no time to be wasted on books that don't click with me. I want to savor these experiences, because what if some crazy ass patient pokes both my eyes out? (Audiobooks, yeah, yeah.) But then they rip out my eardrums, those precise bastards! I don't want to remember reading as something I felt I had to do. It's not a sprint. It's a leisurely marathon where I'm not actually running, but being carried through paradise while people like Hayden Christensen feel me grapes, cheese, and wine. (But sorry, Hayden. I'm married.)

You get the point.

Bottom line: I missed you guys. I missed this. Let's give it another go, yes?

Thursday, August 2, 2012

My Thoughts: Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire

Published: August 14, 2012
Atria Books, 416 pages, paperback
Source: NetGalley
GR Summary: The new Abby Abernathy is a good girl. She doesn’t drink or swear, and she has the appropriate percentage of cardigans in her wardrobe. Abby believes she has enough distance between her and the darkness of her past, but when she arrives at college with her best friend, her path to a new beginning is quickly challenged by Eastern University's Walking One-Night Stand.

Travis Maddox, lean, cut, and covered in tattoos, is exactly what Abby needs—and wants—to avoid. He spends his nights winning money in a floating fight ring, and his days as the ultimate college campus charmer. Intrigued by Abby’s resistance to his appeal, Travis tricks her into his daily life with a simple bet. If he loses, he must remain abstinent for a month. If Abby loses, she must live in Travis’s apartment for the same amount of time. Either way, Travis has no idea that he has met his match.
I feel sort of violated right now.

I had heard some pretty abominable things about this book. However, that only motivated me to download it immediately and give it a whirl. Perhaps I'd see something in this book that others overlooked. I had the same twisted curiosity about Beautiful Disaster that I felt for Fifty Shades of Grey. Kind of a "Challenge Accepted" thing.

After I flew through the first 200 pages with ease, I thought to myself, "okay. So this guy is messed up and promiscuous and violent. But so was The OC's Ryan Atwood and look how awesome he turned out. Maybe he's got some mommy issues and just needs a qualified good girl to show him how love can really be." After all, there were some pretty delicious scenes in the first half and I was anticipating good things to come. I thought maybe, just maybe, this was the extent of bad boy Travis' insanity and those ever-so-important Redeeming Qualities were just around the corner.

ryan atwood: crowned king of "broken boys with redeeming qualities"
(and he fights in season 4!)

Oh, no. No, no, NO.

Abby, what happened to you? The 19th birthday scene was despicable and embarrassing. Not to mention BFF America's encouragement to take 15 tequila shots and brushing it off like, "oh, yeah, basically she's a closet alcoholic, it's all good. Just enjoy the show." Not really something a good friend should do.

While I thought Travis and Abby's relationship was strangely endearing in the beginning, the former's psychotic jealousy, possessiveness, and violence became physically uncomfortable to me after awhile. This, coming from a girl who exceedingly enjoyed Twilight and liked to think Edward was The Perfect Specimen. (Do you see the extent of discomfort?) I didn't particularly like Abby. I thought she was pretty dumb throughout the majority of the book. But I wanted to gag, bound, and kidnap her to drive her far, far away from Travis. His behavior was legitimately frightening and I am rendered terrified that men like this exist.

And yet, Jamie McGuire can write a freaking book. I'm not kidding you when I say I snuck away to the bathroom several times to find an excuse to escape the Olympics (SHAME!) to read more of Beautiful Disaster. It was disastrous, yet these characters were so vividly painted in my mind. You know those books that play out like 3D movies instead of silent films? In my mind, Beautiful Disaster had a complete cast, score, and soundtrack.

I am so disturbed by my simultaneous love and disgust for various aspects of this book, but I cannot discredit the author's talent. Beautiful Disaster is more of a manual of EVERY SINGLE RELATIONSHIP RED FLAG IN EXISTENCE than an even borderline healthy romance. If that's what Jamie McGuire was shooting for, she hit this one out of the park.

I will undoubtedly be reading more by this author, because if she plans on doing a LOVE love story, there's no question she will write the ever loving hell out of it.