Wednesday, May 24, 2017

NA Books On My Immediate TBR

For some reason, I'd fallen a bit out of love with NA in the past year or so. I've barely read any, and that makes me sad, because while it has its issues, I still love it. These characters are my age, and they are going through stuff that is much more relatable to me than in YA novels. But for some reason, I just kind of stopped reading it. Like it was at least half of my read count in my earlier blogging years. And last year I read maybe the Addicted series and that was it except for a few more?? It's SAD.

I know this genre needs to step it up big time. I want to see more diversity, SO MUCH MORE. It's very needed here. I also want to see toxic as fuck tropes gone (especially the bad boy who gets away with everything bc of his ~tragic past~, ugh), and more healthy, less problematic relationships. But I've definitely found some amazing gems over the years. Yet there are still so many New Adult stories I haven't yet, ones that people have shouted about and ones that I've had on my TBR/kindle foreeever. 

***of books I own***


I have SO MANY MORE on my kindle, it's a problem honestly. But these are the ones I want to read the most. I want to get back into NA this year. I took, not really a break from it, but I guess I gravitated toward YA more in the last like two years. But I miss devouring new adult stories. I at least want to read most of these this year, especially a few that I REALLY can't believe I haven't read yet. Also was just having a discussion with friends about NA vs. adult, so some of these might not be clear-cut. OOPS. 

Sadly this list is lacking in diversity, so if you've got recs, I'd SO appreciate them!! But I did find some lists on Goodreads for diverse NA and wanted to share them with y'all. Some of these books are definitely on my TBR.


So which of these should I read ASAP? What are some of your favorite NA books? Let's talk! :)

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

A Beautiful Story About Faith and Friendship

Title: The Names They Gave Us
Author: Emery Lord
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children's
Release Date: May 16th, 2017!
*I picked up a physical ARC at ALA midwinter.

From Goodreads...
When it all falls apart, who can you believe in?

Everything is going right for Lucy Hansson, until her mom’s cancer reappears. Just like that, Lucy breaks with all the constants in her life: her do-good boyfriend, her steady faith, even her longtime summer church camp job.

Instead, Lucy lands at a camp for kids who have been through tough times. As a counselor, Lucy is in over her head and longs to be with her parents across the lake. But that’s before she gets to know her coworkers, who are as loving and unafraid as she so desperately wants to be.

It’s not just new friends that Lucy discovers at camp—more than one old secret is revealed along the way. In fact, maybe there’s much more to her family and her faith than Lucy ever realized.



My Review!
You know those books that touch your heart? The ones with tiny details that add up to a story that you cannot help but feel with your very soul? That was The Names They Gave Us. It was utterly, truly a wonderful book that reminds you to breathe and tells you that it’s okay not to be okay and makes you remember to keep close all the little moments of joy and happiness in your life. The people who bring you laughter and peace and who make you feel complete, who paint your life in all kinds of colors. Those you touch and those who touch you. The everyday memories that make up a lifetime of of who you are as a person.

While a very emotional book, it is filled with humor and light and life. The thing about having a loved one who is sick or losing a loved one, is that it makes you very aware of how precious life is. But with grief, you can’t even always see that, or care about it. Lucy was all prepped for a summer of helping her parents run their church camp, and spending all her days with her mom, who is going through chemo. But her mom pushes her to Daybreak instead, because she wanted Lucy to not let this define her summer or her life. She wanted Lucy to keep laughing and living even when it seemed impossible to do it.

Honestly, this is my favorite Emery Lord book yet. And a huge reason for that is because of Lucy Hansson. Generous and kind, but so angry and bitter. She was hurt that her mom pushed her away, but Lucy ultimately saw why she did it and was happy about it. Because she had the best summer ever: teaching and counseling young girls, bonding with a group of people who pull her into the fold as if she’d been there all along, crushing on a fellow counselor who is so supportive and gives her a shoulder to cry on. And through it all, she questioned God and her place, but she would not let it steal her time.

I tend to stay away from religious stories nowadays, which is almost comically ironic given that I grew up in the church. But. I have a very, very complicated relationship with religion, some of the things I was taught and raised to be, and the people who hide behind their beliefs and spew hate in the name of Christianity. So, I tend to also stay away from talking about religion, and most here wouldn’t even know I was a Christian. That I am, but with my own beliefs. I don’t go to church anymore because it doesn’t suit me, but I really loved how like nostalgic this book made me. And how mirrored my teen years were to Lucy’s in a few ways. It made her story SO relatable to me.

I know people might be worried that it is preachy, but it wasn’t, I promise. Religion is only one part of the book. The Names They Gave Us simply showed the ups and downs of life. It was a story about a girl whose faith faltered, who hung a star on a tree and asked for her mom to be able to grow old, but who learned what it means to keep going even when you don’t know if you have the strength. She was reminded that you should always treasure the small moments, the ones that shape your life and those around you. And she had people in her corner to help steady a foundation that was shaken but still standing. Fabulous parents, close friends, and a boy who makes her feel alive.

RATING:

Monday, May 22, 2017

Checking In for the End of Spring

I don't do a monthly recap on the blog, partly because I'm lazy and partly because there isn't usually much to say. But I was inspired by Jamie's If We Were Having Coffee feature (which was inspired by someone else!) to start doing more personal posts on here. And what better way to do that than to recap my month in LIFE instead of just books and blogging? So Checking In will be a monthly feature on here that will help you guys get to know ME better, and hopefully you'll start sharing your own stories with me. :)

*****

HELLO, EVERYONE. I put this Checking In off until after my trip to the cabin, and then I just got lazy about writing, because not much changes in my life, so I feel like I don't have much to say? But I'm currently listening to a podcast between Victoria Schwab and Yin Chang, and I can't read while I do it and I'm tired of cleaning my room (still not completely done and I've been working on it most of Sunday), and I need to write a post. This podcast is so fun, btw. I'm loving the discussion of writing and sexuality, and I just freaking love Victoria and her books and I'm still crying over the ending of A Conjuring of Light

I'm still working, but we've had a bit of a slow time, so I've been called off a few days. Which yay because another day to catch up on like blogging and reading, but boo because I'm saving up for a new car right now and I'm very much like GIMME MONEY. My mom, little brother, and I made a trip to the cabin. (Fun fact: this picture was taken at the cabin, and I've used it since for my Checking In graphic). This place is owned by a family friend, and they rent it out throughout the year, and we go at least twice. Generally once in the fall, once in the spring. And it is just so fantastic. Though I don't do anything differently than I normally do on the weekends, I have no internet. So I can actually unplug, which is hard for me to do at home, even with my mood nowadays.

I haven't been super social on Twitter lately, or my blog at all. And I'd apologize except it's been good to be away, especially when shit happens. Often in the past I would travel so far down the rabbit hole that it would affect my mental health, and I needed to strike a balance between being informed and being involved. (Not personally involved, but so involved I'd spend hours scrolling through my feed for the latest showdown). So that is a reason why, but I've also got this job where I'm working a few days a week, 2 p.m. to midnight. I'm not around during the time where Twitter is alive, and people are up and chatting. It's a little hard, but since the election, it's been really nice to have that time away. I miss everyone, though. I want to get more involved again this summer. :)

So yeah anyway, the cabin was fab, of course, and I had a lot of fun playing around with Instagram. I plan to write a post about this social media app specifically, but I'm not a huge fan of it. I think I would be if I had the space to actually take pictures. But I don't, not really, and it's sad, because I really did enjoy playing around with angles and backgrounds at the cabin, and I've got quite a few pictures still stored up in my phone for later. I'm not into the community at all, tbh, but I think it can be a fresh creative outlet when you're tired of your blog or video channel. I just personally prefer Instagram accounts that aren't completely about books. I like leaving my account as a personal and a bookstagram. My feed is a bit of a mess, but it makes me happy.

I'm trying to think of more things that happened in the last month-ish, but I can't. I did go to a karaoke night with my cousins who work with me and a bunch of our coworkers. That was SO fun, and even though I didn't sing, I had a great time hanging out with these people in a more social setting (and getting a few drinks!), and I think next time I might be brave enough to do a duet with one of my cousins. I guess she's planned another karaoke night for this Friday, but I'm not sure if I'll sing yet. (Will keep you guys updated). We've got changes coming at work, including getting a new supervisor (but it's someone we all know so that's a good thing) and people are stressed, but I don't see it being bad. I've got hope that our shift will get better in the coming summer.

Speaking of summer, UGH. I'm not a fan of this season at all. I've had some of my worst memories in these months, and my mental health takes a nosedive. But I'm determined, especially now that I finally cleaned off the exercise bike in my room, to take care of myself physically. I'm planning a New Orleans vacation next year with friends, so I've got an end date goal for this, and I *need* to work at it from here on out. But I also think it would just help a lot if I get to a place where I feel good about my weight and body appearance, since that is a huge stress on me mentally. So this summer is about taking care of myself, and ALA annual with my fave Shannon!!!

This will probably be my last trip for the year as I'm saving up for a car, but I'm excited for a redo in Chicago and to see one of my best friends again. We're still finalizing the details, but we're for sure doing it, and I hope to see some of you there! That's my big thing, as well as keeping up with this job, which I enjoy a hell of a lot. I've made some friends (still mostly people I just talk to at work, but I've had many personal conversations with one of them, and I'm gaining more confidence re: socializing the more I'm there). I don't always like what happens there or the decisions that are made, but it's better than the previous job I had and it's SOMETHING, you know? I just wish it wasn't so far away, but I'm still carpooling with my uncle so it's not so bad.

I've got like 9 or 10 posts *planned* for the rest of May, so I'm hoping to actually get them finished and published. I'm tired of these under-15 blog post months. I hate it! And this weekend, my mom is having a yard sale. So that's partly why I've been cleaning my room, because I've had to sort through books and movies and such. Little by little, I will get this place back in order! And I'm pretty glad one of my mom's sisters is going to help out with it because then I won't have to as much. Haha. It's been a fairly busy month for us, so I'm hoping summer winds down a bit. Let's hope it's a good one for us all! :D


How has your guys' spring been? Did you do anything exciting? Let's talk! :)

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

#ReadADessen Campaign: Along for the Ride

Last month, I made a playlist of feel-good songs after reading Keeping the Moon, which had been my very first Dessen novel. And this time I'm back with a personal summer quest inspired by Along for the Ride. Huge thanks to Penguin for the copy of the book and inviting me to participate in this cool campaign celebrating her new novel, Once and for All. #PRHPartner

 *****

Title: Along for the Ride
Author: Sarah Dessen
Publisher: Speak
Release Date: June 16th, 2009!
*Physical review copy kindly provided by Penguin Teen.

From Goodreads...
It’s been so long since Auden slept at night. Ever since her parents’ divorce—or since the fighting started. Now she has the chance to spend a carefree summer with her dad and his new family in the charming beach town where they live.

A job in a clothes boutique introduces Auden to the world of girls: their talk, their friendship, their crushes. She missed out on all that, too busy being the perfect daughter to her demanding mother. Then she meets Eli, an intriguing loner and a fellow insomniac who becomes her guide to the nocturnal world of the town. Together they embark on parallel quests: for Auden, to experience the carefree teenage life she’s been denied; for Eli, to come to terms with the guilt he feels for the death of a friend.

In her signature pitch-perfect style, Sarah Dessen explores the hearts of two lonely people learning to connect.

*****

A Quest of My Own
A big part of the book are these nights that our two insomniacs spend together. At first, it’s just a way to pass the time, and Eli shows her the nightlife that exists in Colby and nearby. But eventually, they end up on a quest to give Auden the carefree and “wild” childhood she never got. She’d grown up fast, basically was forced into independence early on because of how her parents were. And yeah, she likes academics and gaining more knowledge and achieving goals. But she missed out on a lot. On close friendships and silly activities, on socializing and learning how to ride a bike. It’s a second chance, a way for her to live a little. It inspired me to create a sort of quest of my own. Maybe I won’t get to do any of these this summer, but I can sure try to achieve a few of these goals! Also I picked a lot of things that are typically summer activities, but that doesn’t mean I can’t do them at any time. Like Auden knows, it's never too late. :D

1. Learn how to swim. If Auden can find the courage to learn how to ride a bike when she’s a teenager, then I can do the same with swimming. I’ve never been a HUGE fan of water, but I do like going to the lake sometimes. I mean, you can’t really live in a state known for its great lakes and *never* go in them. And also, I would really like to learn to get over my fears.

2. Teach myself how to braid. I don't know how! ISN'T IT WEIRD? I guess I just never cared to learn, and I am far too lazy to actually do something with my hair after I wake up. But I always liked it when others did it for me, and how it looks, so I want to teach myself.

3. Plan and execute a road trip with friends. I’ve never been on a TRUE road trip, one where it’s all open roads and random stops along the way, exploring small towns and finding new places to fall in love with. So I really, really want to do this one day with friends. It would be the best.

4. Play in a beach volleyball tournament. If this is a thing??? I miss playing and no one ever wants to do it at the 4th of July family picnic at the lake. Even if it’s just a fun thing, and not like competitive, that’d be so cool.

5. Emergency dance party! This one might seem silly, but I've never danced just for the sake of dancing. But in the two Dessen novels I've read, the characters often did dance parties, and it sounded so fun, to just let go and shake off a rough day or situation. No judgment. Just dancing.

6. Sing at karaoke night. I've been to a karaoke night only once, and it was not that long ago with some of my fam and coworkers. But I didn't sing because I felt waaaaay too self-conscious about it. Next time, though, I might do a duet with my cousin. I want to be brave and not care how bad I am!


What is on YOUR summer quest/bucket list? Would you do any of these six items too? Also, have you read Along for the Ride? Did you like it? Let’s talk! :)

*****

Enter for a chance to win one (1) set of Sarah Dessen’s books in paperback (ARV: $132.00). NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Enter between 12:00 AM Eastern Time on April 17, 2017 and 12:00 AM on May 29, 2017.  Open to residents of the fifty United States and the District of Columbia who are 13 and older. Winners will be selected at random on or about June 1, 2017. Odds of winning depend on number of eligible entries received. Void where prohibited or restricted by law. 

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Some of the Best Moms in Fiction

Legit had no idea the TTT today was a mother-related freebie, so I'm linking up to it! As always, it's hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. :)
 

Yeah, I’m a little late with the Mother’s Day post, but I also didn’t think about it UNTIL Sunday, but at that point, I couldn’t do anything about it because I was without internet. I spent my weekend at the cabin we rent a couple times a year (generally once in the fall, once in the spring), and my mom chose this time to do it. We didn’t do a big thing. Just got lunch and hit up a couple stores in town and on the way back. I also have a clock to give her, but I never know when to do it, since her birthday is this month too. We celebrate them both at the same time usually, so yeah. That was how we spent Mother’s Day, but I still really wanted to do this post. Especially since we should celebrate awesome moms and mom figures more than once a year. ;)

Molly's moms, her whole family really, are adorable. They are so loving and inclusive and they just want the best for their kids. I loved all the scenes with her moms and the rest of the family. They are a hilarious bunch!


They played such a huge role in Julia's life, even when she was keeping secrets from them and getting into trouble. But they were there for her through everything, and I loved that they were so present in her life.

Lucy's mom is just the best, and I loved that she pushed Lucy to spread her wings a little but also kept her close. She was unfailingly kind and was the epitome of what it means to be Christian. I also wanted to mention Rhea, the owner of camp Daybreak. She's a mom, but not just to her son. She takes such good care of the kids who pass through her summer camp. She gives warm hugs and helps bandage scraped knees, knows all their stories and their deepest pain and keeps their secrets safe. I could not talk about Lucy's wonderful mom without also talking about this amazing lady who deserves recognition for being there for the kids who have been neglected and forgotten. 

Starr's mom is fierce and loving and completely here for her babies. She gave 100% support when Starr needed room to decide what she wanted to do about her friend's death but stayed with her daughter throughout everything. She was such a mama bear, ready to take down anyone who tried to hurt her kids, even if was her against the world.

Miss Molly Weasley. The ultimate fictional mom, tbh. I didn't always like how she treated Sirius, nor that she tried so hard to protect Harry that she smothered him a little. But that boy had been through so much that I think he deserved a lot of big hugs and sweaters made with love anyway. She was so protective of her cubs, and Hermione and Harry, and she always fought for them.

MAURA. My favorite wild spirit mother with a penchant for giving her daughter a lot of room to run around and make mistakes and grow from them. But she was always there at Blue's side, ready to help her up when she fell. She wasn't perfect, but she loved her daughter with her whole heart and wanted nothing more than her happiness.


It's been a LONG time since I've read the book, but I remember Ellen being a wonderful mother figure to Pixie and Levi. She was the owner of the inn that they both worked at, and she was always there to lend advice when needed and she was basically the home for the lost and wandering.

Some of the women in this series! I couldn't just name one. There are mothers, but there are also mother figures who mean a lot to the main characters. These ladies pick each other up when one falls, spare their shoulders to collect tears of pain and anger and sadness, and of joy and happiness too. They're fighters and friends and they are the thread that holds everything together.


It's kind of tragic that these moms are all from mostly contemporary books. Sadly, dead or disappeared parents are a big Thing in fantasy and paranormal and science fiction and dsytopian. One of my reader wishlist items is more present parental figures, especially in genres outside of realistic fiction. The absent parents trope, while can make for a way to give your characters conflict and unresolved issues, is overused. I'm sure there are also more moms I'm forgetting who should be mentioned. I should start keeping track of the good ones more often than I do, as well as guardian figures in general who remain safe spaces for characters in worlds meant to hurt them.


Who are some of YOUR favorite mamas in literature? Would any of these fab women make your list? I hope everyone had a good Mother's Day!