Monthly Wrap-Up – January 2016

January was a fantastic reading month. I really pushed myself, because I want to read over 100 books this year, and excel at all my reading challenges. With that said, the format of my monthly wrap-up posts has changed so I can keep track of the books I’ve read for each challenge. Each challenge title is linked to that specific Goodreads shelf, so you can see at a quick glance what my ratings for each book were. I read 21 books total for January!

 

 

A Series A Month Reading Challenge – 1 (+ 1 extra)/12 series read

Charmed Thirds Early to Death, Early to Rise Something Deadly This Way Comes Fourth Comings Perfect Fifths

 

Contemporary Romance Reading Challenge –  15/11-15 books read

Dumplin' The Possibilty of Now Eleanor & Park Dreamland I'll Give You the Sun Arrows Since You've Been Gone Charmed Thirds The Last Little Blue Envelope Fans of the Impossible Life Firsts Did I mention I love you What You Left Behind Fourth Comings Perfect Fifths

 

#RockMyTBR Reading Challenge – 6 books read

Dumplin' Eleanor & Park Dreamland I'll Give You the Sun Firsts What You Left Behind

 

Backlist Books Reading Challenge –  12 books read

Eleanor & Park Dreamland I'll Give You the Sun Early to Death, Early to Rise Since You've Been Gone Something Deadly This Way Comes Charmed Thirds The Last Little Blue Envelope Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone Twilight Fourth Comings Perfect Fifths

 

Flights of Fantasy Reading Challenge –  4/30 books read

Early to Death, Early to Rise Something Deadly This Way Comes Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone Twilight

 

It’s New to Me Series Starter Reading Challenge –  2/11-12+ series started

Dumplin' Did I mention I love you

 

Read Tamora Pierce Reading Challenge – 0/8 books read

 

Debut Author Reading Challenge –  3/12-20 books read

Arrows Firsts Symptoms of Being Human

 

New To You Reading Challenge –  11/25 books read

Dumplin' The Possibilty of Now I'll Give You the Sun Arrows Since You've Been Gone Fans of the Impossible Life Firsts Did I mention I love you What You Left Behind Mosquitoland Symptoms of Being Human

 

Prequel & Sequel Reading Challenge –  32/51-75 points

Early to Death, Early to Rise Something Deadly This Way Comes Charmed Thirds The Last Little Blue Envelope Fourth Comings Perfect Fifths

 

EBook Reading Challenge (eARCs count) –  6/10 eBooks read

The Possibilty of Now Arrows Firsts Did I mention I love you What You Left Behind Symptoms of Being Human

 

Pick Your Genre Reading Challenge

Contemporary –  17/25 books read

Dumplin' The Possibilty of Now Eleanor & Park Dreamland I'll Give You the Sun Arrows Since You've Been Gone Charmed Thirds The Last Little Blue Envelope Fans of the Impossible Life Firsts Did I mention I love you What You Left Behind Mosquitoland Symptoms of Being Human Fourth Comings Perfect Fifths

Fantasy –  4/25 books read

Early to Death, Early to Rise Something Deadly This Way Comes Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone Twilight

 

Finishing The Series Reading Challenge –  4/7+ series finished

Dumplin' Early to Death, Early to Rise Something Deadly This Way Comes Charmed Thirds The Last Little Blue Envelope Did I mention I love you Twilight Fourth Comings Perfect Fifths

 

I Love Libraries Reading Challenge –  11/18 books read

Eleanor & Park Early to Death, Early to Rise Since You've Been Gone Something Deadly This Way Comes Charmed Thirds The Last Little Blue Envelope Fans of the Impossible Life Mosquitoland Twilight Fourth Comings Perfect Fifths

 

 Harry Potter (Re)Read Reading Challenge –  1/7 books read

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

 

I’m still doing the weekly memes Top Ten Tuesday, and Waiting on Wednesday. I’ve kind of lost steam on Stacking the Shelves, but I’m hoping to reintroduce it again this year.

Book Review: P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han

P.S. I Still Love You

Title: P.S. I Still Love You
Author: Jenny Han
Series: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before #2
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Publication date: May 26, 2015
Pages: 352
Source: Borrowed
Summary (via Goodreads): Lara Jean didn’t expect to really fall for Peter.

 

She and Peter were just pretending. Except suddenly they weren’t. Now Lara Jean is more confused than ever.

 

When another boy from her past returns to her life, Lara Jean’s feelings for him return too. Can a girl be in love with two boys at once?

 

In this charming and heartfelt sequel to the New York Times bestseller To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, we see first love through the eyes of the unforgettable Lara Jean. Love is never easy, but maybe that’s part of what makes it so amazing.

 

review6

 

As soon as I finished the To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before audiobook, I had to get this sequel from the library. After the cliffhanger ending in the first book, I had to know what happened next in Lara Jean’s story. And Jenny Han did not disappoint. I gave this book 5 out of 5 stars.

 

Book two picks up where book one left off. Lara Jean is such a great main character, and Kitty was super adorable once again. I pretty much devoured this book in two days after getting home from work. It was so good that I didn’t want to put it down. Sure there were a few flaws, like Lara Jean’s naivety at times and the overall predictable plot, but the swoony romance among other things made up for it.

 

Lara Jean is a boy magnet kind of, what with Peter and the “boy from her past”. Honestly, I don’t think she could go wrong with either one. They both have good and bad qualities. But I still love Peter, even though he has some douchebag moments. He made me swoon in the first book, and he made me swoon some in this second book. I think this book was less focused on romance than the first book, or maybe it’s just because the romantic parts were split between boys that I felt that way. Hmm. Something for deeper thought. But the romance that’s there is super cute.

 

A couple of my favorite lines: “Things feel like they’ll be forever, but they aren’t. Love can go away, or people can, without even meaning to. Nothing is guaranteed.” and “Why did God give me a mouth if I’m just going to say dumb stuff with it?”

 

Final note: An adorable end to this duology. I can’t wait to re-read these books for years to come, both in print and via audiobooks. I’m positive you’ll get a kick out of Lara Jean (and Kitty), so read these books if you haven’t already!

 

5 stars

Book Review: Open Road Summer by Emery Lord

Open Road Summer

Title: Open Road Summer
Author: Emery Lord
Publisher: Walker Childrens
Publication date: April 15, 2014
Pages: 352
Source: Borrowed
Summary (via Goodreads): After breaking up with her bad-news boyfriend, Reagan O’Neill is ready to leave her rebellious ways behind. . . and her best friend, country superstar Lilah Montgomery, is nursing a broken heart of her own.

 

Fortunately, Lilah’s 24-city tour is about to kick off, offering a perfect opportunity for a girls-only summer of break-up ballads and healing hearts. But when Matt Finch joins the tour as its opening act, his boy-next-door charm proves difficult for Reagan to resist, despite her vow to live a drama-free existence.

 

This summer, Reagan and Lilah will navigate the ups and downs of fame and friendship as they come to see that giving your heart to the right person is always a risk worth taking.

 

A fresh new voice in contemporary romance, Emery Lord’s gorgeous writing hits all the right notes.

 

review6

 

This book was really good. I read it after The Start of Me and You, which I loved hardcore, so it didn’t blow me away with awesomeness, but it was still a 5 star read for sure! After reading both of Emery Lord’s published novels, she’s on my auto-buy list forever. She’s such a great writer.

 

I think one of the reasons I didn’t love Open Road Summer quite so much was because I didn’t relate to Reagan entirely. She was a really interesting main character, but she was vastly different from me. Nevertheless, the story pulls you in. I really liked Lilah/Dee, and I loved Matt Finch. He was adorable. I finished the book in a few days because it was kind of hard to put down, especially towards the end. There was some drama, there was some tears (from me, obviously), and there was love for Matt (from me and Reagan).

 

Reagan was really into photography, which I think really helped with her character development. I love when characters put their hearts and souls into a hobby. There were some darker moments in the book where we found out about Reagan’s ex. Honestly, this book had a little bit of everything in it. I laughed, I cried (see paragraph above), I squealed, and I really wanted to scream sometimes. If a book can make you do all that, it’s got to be really good, right?!?

 

One thing I really love about Emery’s book are that she has “normal-ish” male romantic interests. They’re smart, sweet, funny, etc. Sure they’re hot too, but their personality is what really hooks me the most. Nice guys don’t always finish last. I added Matt to my book boyfriend list, because he’s fantastic. And checking now, I have 28 book boyfriends. You can never have enough book boyfriends in my opinion! 😉

 

Some of my favorite lines from the book were: “Matt proceeded to show us his entire stock of camera expressions: Surprise Mugshot, Blinky McStupid, and Double Chin for the Win.” and “When his hands drop from my body, it feels like withdrawal, like I could develop the shakes.” and “I can’t have him knowing that it feels like heartstrings are a real thing inside me and that he plucks them.”

 

Final note: Another great book by Emery Lord. Emery Lord FTW (for the win)! I’m positive you won’t be disappointed if you give this book a shot.

 

5 stars

Waiting on Wednesday [25]

waiting on wednesday2

 

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly awaiting.

 

There are so many books I’m excited about, so I’ll definitely keep doing Waiting on Wednesday. With that said, here’s my pick that I can’t wait for.

 

Beautiful Broken Things

Title: Beautiful Broken Things
Author: Sara Barnard
Publisher: Macmillan Children’s Books (UK)
Publication date: February 11, 2016
Summary (via Goodreads): I was brave
She was reckless
We were trouble

Best friends Caddy and Rosie are inseparable. Their differences have brought them closer, but as she turns sixteen Caddy begins to wish she could be a bit more like Rosie – confident, funny and interesting. Then Suzanne comes into their lives: beautiful, damaged, exciting and mysterious, and things get a whole lot more complicated. As Suzanne’s past is revealed and her present begins to unravel, Caddy begins to see how much fun a little trouble can be. But the course of both friendship and recovery is rougher than either girl realises, and Caddy is about to learn that downward spirals have a momentum of their own.


Why I Chose This Book:

This book sounds like it could be really good, based on the summary. None of my blogger friends have reviewed it yet, so I’m anxious to see how it turns out. Hopefully it ends up being as good as I hope it is! And I just love the cover…so simple, yet so beautiful.

 

What upcoming releases are you most excited about?

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Recent Contemporary Romance Reads

toptentuesday2

 

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Every week there’s a new topic for a top ten list.

 

This week’s topic is a Freebie Week! Pick a topic near and dear to your heart! Something you wished was on our official list! I chose to do Top Ten Recent Contemporary Romance Reads. I’m going to chose from books I’ve read in the last two months.

 

The Start of Me and You  Since You've Been Gone  I'll Give You the Sun  To All the Boys I've Loved Before  P.S. I Still Love You

1. The Start of Me and You  I absolutely LOVE this book! It’s one of my all-time favorites. Read it if you haven’t already. Paige is my soul sister.

2. Since You’ve Been Gone  Another book that I absolutely loved. I can’t wait to read Morgan Matson’s other books really soon.

3. I’ll Give You the Sun – This book was super unique. I instantly added it to my favorites after finishing it.

4. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before – I listened to this audiobook on a road trip. I was laughing and swooning in the car. Lara Jean is such a great main character.

5. P.S. I Still Love You – Almost as soon as I finished To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, I had to get the second book in the duology. And it didn’t disappoint. I love Lara Jean’s story.

Twenty Boy Summer  Open Road Summer  Dumplin'  Firsts  I Was Here

6. Twenty Boy Summer – This was my first book by Sarah Ockler, and I really liked it. I can’t wait to read her other books.

7. Open Road Summer – Emery Lord doesn’t disappoint. She’s a fantastic writer. I really liked this one, less so than The Start of Me and You, but it was still great.

8. Dumplin’ – This was my first read of 2016, and it was a great one. I can’t wait to read other books written by Julie Murphy.

9. Firsts – This was a little risque compared to a lot of the books out there, but it was really good!

10. I Was Here – Another audiobook I listened to while on a road trip. It was a little darker/edgier than many of the other contemporary romance books I’ve read, but I liked that it was different.

 

Have you read any of the contemporary romance books listed here? If so, what’d you think of them?

January SST: The Possibility of Now by Kim Culbertson Review + Giveaway

Sunday Street Team

 

Welcome to the Sunday Street Team! I received an ARC of this book in exchange for a honest review. I definitely enjoyed this book, and ended up giving it 4 out of 5 stars.

 

The Possibilty of NowTitle: The Possibility of Now
Author: Kim Culbertson
Publisher: Point
Publication date:
January 26, 2016
Summary (via Goodreads): Mara James has always been a perfectionist with a plan. But despite years of overachieving at her elite school, Mara didn’t plan on having a total meltdown during her calculus exam. Like a rip-up-the-test-and-get-escorted-out kind of meltdown. And she definitely didn’t plan on never wanting to show her face again.

 

Mara knows she should go back,only she can’t bring herself to do it. Because suddenly she doesn’t know why she’s been overachieving all these years. So Mara tells her mom she wants to go live with her estranged dad in Tahoe. Maybe in a place like Tahoe, where people go to get away from everyday life, and with a dad like Trick McHale, a ski bum avoiding real life, Mara can figure things out.


Except Tahoe is nothing like she thought it would be. There are awesome new friends and a chance to finally get to know Trick, but there are also still massive amounts of schoolwork. Can Mara find a balance between the future and the now, or will she miss out on both?

 


 

review6

 

I was excited when I got approved to read the ARC of this book via Edelweiss for Sunday Street Team. It was an enjoyable read. The characters seemed realistic to me, and I especially loved Logan. Mara was a pretty great main character, and I loved watching her transform during her time in Tahoe, finally learning to let go a bit.

 

The book had a few slow moments, but overall it was entertaining. As someone who has never been skiing or snowboarding (shocking since I live in Wisconsin), it was really cool to learn some of the terminology and techniques. A lot of the time is spent on the mountains throughout the book, and I felt like the scenery and experience was very well done.

 

I really liked Mara’s character, since I could relate at least somewhat to her stress. I felt the need to push myself in high school and college, and at times, it was a little overwhelming. Logan was super adorable, and he’s a lovely addition to my book boyfriend list. I really liked Isabel as well. We didn’t see a ton of her in the book, but where she was featured, she was fantastic. As for Mara’s parents, I liked Trick. He was a little hands off (I mean he’s been out of her life for around 14 years), and later in the book we find out why. I wasn’t a huge fan of Mara’s mother. She felt a little too pushy to me, but thankfully Mara’s stepdad helped balance out her character. Ollie was another great character, when we saw him.

 

There wasn’t a huge focus on romance for most of the book, mostly due to misunderstandings, but what was there was great. There were a couple points that I didn’t fully understand by the end of the book, so I guess I’ll be left wondering.

 

Here are a couple of lines I liked from the book: “‘What’s the point of doing something if you’re not trying to get good at it?’ He gives me a funny look. ‘To just experience it.'” and “‘Hey, it’s the second-best thing for a’–he glances at my book–‘calculus study session.’ ‘What’s the first?’ ‘Me.'”

 

Final note: A cute contemporary novel with some romance and lots of skiing. I’d definitely recommend to any contemporary fan. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed in this story!

 

4 stars

 


 

about the author

 

Kim Culbertson is the author of Catch a Falling Star; Instructions for a Broken Heart, a Northern California Book Award winner; and Songs for a Teenage Nomad. When she’s not writing young adult novels, she teaches high school creative writing. Kim lives with her husband and their daughter in Northern California. For more about Kim, visit www.kimculbertson.com.

 


 

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Friday Barnes Blog Tour + Giveaway

Meet Friday Barnes

 

I’m part of the Friday Barnes blog tour, and I’m so happy you stopped by. It looks like a super cute mystery, and I can’t wait to crack open a copy myself. Below is a piece of original artwork, and a giveaway for a copy of the book!

 

Each stop of the Friday Barnes: Girl Detective blog tour will feature a “puzzle” piece of original art from the book’s illustrator, Phil Gosier. Go to the Mac Kids Tumblr on January 24th to see the full image with all the pieces.

 

friday barnes art

 


 

SCHEDULE:

January 19: The Hiding Spot

January 20: The Book Monsters

January 21: Boundless Bookaholic

January 22: The Compulsive Reader

January 23: The Irish Banana Review

January 24: Mac Kids Tumblr

 


 

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Waiting on Wednesday [24]

waiting on wednesday2

 

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly awaiting.

 

There are so many books I’m excited about, so I’ll definitely keep doing Waiting on Wednesday. With that said, here’s my pick that I can’t wait for.

 

Blackhearts

Title: Blackhearts
Author: Nicole Castroman
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication date: February 9, 2016
Summary (via Goodreads): Blackbeard the pirate was known for striking fear in the hearts of the bravest of sailors. But once he was just a young man who dreamed of leaving his rigid life behind to chase adventure in faraway lands. Nothing could stop him—until he met the one girl who would change everything.

Edward “Teach” Drummond, son of one of Bristol’s richest merchants, has just returned from a year-long journey on the high seas to find his life in shambles. Betrothed to a girl he doesn’t love and sick of the high society he was born into, Teach dreams only of returning to the vast ocean he’d begun to call home. There’s just one problem: convincing his father to let him leave and never come back.

Following her parents’ deaths, Anne Barrett is left penniless and soon to be homeless. Though she’s barely worked a day in her life, Anne is forced to take a job as a maid in the home of Master Drummond. Lonely days stretch into weeks, and Anne longs for escape. How will she ever realize her dream of sailing to Curaçao—where her mother was born—when she’s stuck in England?

From the moment Teach and Anne meet, they set the world ablaze. Drawn to each other, they’re trapped by society and their own circumstances. Faced with an impossible choice, they must decide to chase their dreams and go, or follow their hearts and stay.


Why I Chose This Book:

This book sounds amazing. I love that the cover is minimalist, but catches your eye. I haven’t read many pirate books, but I’m definitely excited to read this one! And it’s gotten some really great reviews so far, so that makes me even more excited! I’ve gotten a review copy from Edelweiss, so hopefully I’ll get to read this in the next couple weeks.

 

What upcoming releases are you most excited about?