Comparing Before and After: Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy

dumplin

I chose this for my WoW pick(hosted by Breaking the Spine) back on July 17th 2015. Not too long ago. Back then, I was excited for:

“It sounds like it could be a good positive body image type of book. There are parts that make me nervous. Does she try to change her body for a boy? Will there be shaming of the skinny girls by the main character? But I’m hopeful that this will turn out to be a great, positive, feel good about yourself, type of read.”

After reading and posting a review, I was very happy with the way the book turned out. I loved the characters, I loved Will’s story arc, and I loved that the romance wasn’t the main focus of the book. I thought there were a lot of good messages throughout the story and I loved the friendship and Dolly Parton influence.

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Waiting on Wednesday

New WoW

This is a feature started on Breaking the Spine that puts the spotlight on upcoming books.

This week’s pick is:

starflight

Starflight

Release date: February 2nd 2016

Goodreads: Life in the outer realm is a lawless, dirty, hard existence, and Solara Brooks is hungry for it. Just out of the orphanage, she needs a fresh start in a place where nobody cares about the engine grease beneath her fingernails or the felony tattoos across her knuckles. She’s so desperate to reach the realm that she’s willing to indenture herself to Doran Spaulding, the rich and popular quarterback who made her life miserable all through high school, in exchange for passage aboard the spaceliner Zenith.
When a twist of fate lands them instead on the Banshee, a vessel of dubious repute, Doran learns he’s been framed on Earth for conspiracy. As he pursues a set of mysterious coordinates rumored to hold the key to clearing his name, he and Solara must get past their enmity to work together and evade those out for their arrest. Life on the Banshee may be tumultuous, but as Solara and Doran are forced to question everything they once believed about their world–and each other–the ship becomes home, and the eccentric crew family. But what Solara and Doran discover on the mysterious Planet X has the power to not only alter their lives, but the existence of everyone in the universe..
.

Why I’m excited: I read the synopsis and I got Firefly feels. So it must be read! It’s space, there’s twists, there’s an eccentric crew as family, I am so in!

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Weekly Reading Recap

14836299-stack-of-books-books-stacked

This seems almost pointless to do the day after the monthly wrap-up but here it is. I have a pretty easy work week this week so I’m going to aim for a little harder blogging week.

Currently reading: what we saw

Finished reading: redeemedunsouledmisguided angelkeyswalk on earth a strangerfans of the impossible liferevealed

Reviewed: not after everythingtruest

What I’m hoping to get to next week: pillars of ponderaywrath and dawn to read

boys most likely tofans of the impossible lifewalk on earth a stranger to review.

What this means for my challenges:

  • Added 7 books overall: currently at 245 books read
  • Added 1 contemporary YA: currently at 89 books read
  • Added 5 paranormal/fantasy: currently standing at 122 books read
  • Added 1 debut 2015 author: currently standing at 48 books read
  • Added 1 dystopian: currently standing at 33 books read
  • Added 1 male author: currently standing at 26 books read

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August Wrap-up/September TBR

There’s so many books out this month that I have no idea how I’m going to choose which ones to read now and which ones can wait until later, because October is pretty packed with great releases as well. Even reading a book a day makes me feel like I’ll never catch up!

August Wrap-up:

one plus one One Plus One – Jojo Moyes. 3.5/5 stars. I didn’t enjoy this one as much as Me Before You but it was still good. The same quirky style was present along with characters that were easy to like.

vow Lenobia’s Vow – PC/Kristin Cast. 3/5 stars. A good novella in the series.

because you'll never meet me Because You’ll Never Meet Me – Leah Thomas. Review coming. 3.5/5 stars. It took me a while to get into this one with its letter story-telling format but once I did, I really enjoyed it.

dumplin Dumplin’ – Julie Murphy. Review. 4/5 stars. I liked this one a lot more than Side Effects May Vary.

vanishing girls Vanishing Girls – Lauren Oliver. Review may be coming. 3.5/5 stars. It was good but there always seems to be a disconnect between me and Lauren Oliver books for some reason. I have a hard time getting fully absorbed into them.

awakened Awakened – PC/Kristin Cast. 3/5 stars. It’s a good series but I’m finding nothing too surprising about it.

steelheart big Steelheart – Brandon Sanderson. 4/5 stars. Why did I put this one off for so long? It was action-packed, I really liked the characters, and I can’t wait to see what happens next.

neferet;s curse Neferet’s Curse – PC/Kristin Cast. 3/5 stars. Another novella in the series. Good addition.

rest of us just live here The Rest of Us Just Live Here – Patrick Ness. 4/5 stars. Review coming. This one took me a few chapters to get into but once I got into the way it was formatted, I thought it was cool and had some great characters.

hello i love you Hello, I Love You – Katie M Stout. Review. 2/5 stars. I was maybe expecting too much when it was compared to Anna and the French Kiss but it really fell flat.

kalona;s Kalona’s Fall – PC/Kristin Cast. 3/5 stars. Another novella! There was a few of them this month.

destined Destined – PC/Kristin Cast. 3/5 stars. Getting closer to the end of the series. Still no huge surprises.

sanctum Sanctum – Madeleine Roux. 4/5 stars. Creepy. This one had a few surprises. I have a love/hate relationship with books that make me chant ‘please don’t die’ at my favourite characters.

hidden Hidden – PC/Kristin Cast. 3/5 stars. My goal was to finish this series by the end of the month. I almost made it.

entwined Entwined – Heather Dixon. 3.5/5 stars. I did enjoy it but it wasn’t my favourite retelling. There were some slow parts that took me out of the story.

vengeance road Vengeance Road – Erin Bowman. Review. 5/5 stars! Umm perfection? I love westerns, I make no apologies for that. This was a western.

blue bloods Blue Bloods – Melissa De La Cruz. 3.5/5 stars. I think I’m going to like this take on vampires. I enjoyed the first book at least.

hello goodbye Hello, Goodbye, and Everything in Between – Jennifer E Smith. Review. 4/5 stars. It was cute and I really liked all the interactions between the characters. Very bittersweet about growing up and leaving home.

masquerade Masquerade – Melissa De La Cruz. 3.5/5 stars. Another book in the series and I enjoyed it just as much as the first. This is a good sign.

truest Truest – Jackie Lea Sommers. Review. 4/5 stars. The characters and all the issues they were dealing with made up for the slight cheating that I was worried about going into this book.

revelations Revelations – Melissa De La Cruz. 3/5 stars. My least favourite of the series so far. Found this one a little slow but it was still good.

ash and bramble Ash and Bramble – Sarah Prineas. Review coming. 3.5/5 stars. I really liked the spin and how dark it was. There were times when it felt a bit slow and long.

van allen The Van Allen Legacy – Melissa De La Cruz. 3.5/5 stars. The first book in the series is still my favourite but this one gave it a run. This one’s my favourite cover of them all so far.

not after everything Not After Everything – Michelle Levy. Review. 4.5/5 stars. It was gritty and real and it made me hurt so much while reading it.

boys most likely to The Boy Most Likely To – Huntley Fitzpatrick. Review coming. 4.5/5 stars. If anyone tries to tell me Tim Mason doesn’t exist, you are obviously lying.

fans of the impossible life Fans of the Impossible Life – Kate Scesla. Review coming. 3.5/5 stars. This book made me rage at some of the adults and want to cheer others. The three different formats of the POVs was a little off-putting.

revealed Revealed – PC/Kristin Cast. 3/5 stars. Not my favourite of the series. Though it could be I’m not meant to be binge reading since by now, it feels like more of the same. I might enjoy it more outside of a binge read.

walk on earth a stranger Walk on Earth a Stranger – Rae Carson. Review coming. 4.5/5 stars. I love Rae Carson and this book just added to the reasons.

keys Keys to the Repository – Melissa De La Cruz. 3/5 stars. A novella in the series. It was good and an easy read.

misguided angel Misguided Angel – Melissa De La Cruz. 3.5/5 stars. I think this one just won favourite honours, right after the first in the series. That one is still in the lead.

unsouled Unsouled – Neal Shusterman. 4/5 stars. This is another series that has me chanting ‘please don’t die’ to characters. I love all the different POVs we get in the series that give insight into so many characters besides the main three.

September TBR:

what we sawcharmedpillars of ponderaylegacy of kingsmadness so discreet

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Top Ten Tuesday

toptentuesday

Top Ten Tuesday was started by The Broke and the Bookish. Every Tuesday there’s a different topic. This week is Top Ten characters I didn’t click with.

10. harry potter Hermione from Harry Potter. At least at first. I came into the whole phenomenon late so I knew Hermione was the book lover character in the series. I think I was expecting this instant connection through love of books but instead I got a kind of annoying know-it-all. It took time for her to grow on me.

9. breaking dawn big Bella Swan from Twilight. Does this one need explaining?

8. side effects big Alice from Side Effects May Vary. She just wasn’t a very good person.

7. my blood approves Alice from My Blood Approves. Another girl caught up in the vampire world and making stupid decisions because she thinks she’s in love after a day.

6. fifty shades Ana from Fifty Shades of Grey. Yeah, just no. We won’t be playing nice and being friends.

5. great Naomi from Great. She was pretty judgmental and annoying.

4. taking chances big Harper from Taking Chances. There were many times I just wanted to scream at her to act like a decent person. You’re a cheater hurting a great guy, you have no moral high ground.

3. law of loving others Emma from The Law of Loving Others. This might be another case of expecting something different but I just couldn’t agree with anything she was doing and she had me rolling my eyes a lot.

2. dear killer big Kit from Dear Killer. This is a character I’m glad I didn’t connect with, considering she’s a serial killer. She was just a little too all over the place for me.

1. hello i love you Grace from Hello, I Love You. She just never tried to really be open to a new culture and new experiences even though she was living in a new country.

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Book Review: Not After Everything by Michelle Levy

not after everything

Not After Everything

4.5 stars

Tyler had it all: a hot girlfriend, football scholarship to Standford, plenty of friends. He was king of the school Then his mom kills herself and he turns his back on all of it. Getting too close to people means they might find out his secret: that his father is abusive and refuses to pay for anything Tyler needs – including food. Tyler finds a job working in a photo studio and it’s a great job. The only problem is Jordyn, a girl he used to be close friends with who now seems to hate him also works there. The photo studio, and Jordyn, end up being a reprieve from his everyday life and Tyler finds himself falling for Jordyn. With his dad more brutal than ever, how can he risk bringing Jordyn into his life?

This book was so hard to read. There were many violent scenes that had me flinching and so tense while reading, many scenes that had me in tears, many scenes that had me wanting to strangle Tyler’s father. It was real and gritty but also touching and hopeful. It was a book that I just couldn’t put down.

Tyler was a great narrator. He made me feel for him. There were many times when my chest was tight and I was holding my breath because I was so scared for him and what he was going through just shouldn’t happen. It was hard to see him pull away from his friends and hobbies he liked because he didn’t want anyone to know his secret. He could be a jerk to people but it was to push them away, to protect himself, and that just made it hurt more. His growth from self-protecting jerk to caring, vulnerable Tyler was slow and subtle and absolutely believable.

The character interactions were great. I loved the banter between Tyler and Jordyn and how it grew into something more. It started with tense snark but as they got to know each other and accept they had to work together, it developed into something more playful and flirty, and eventually into something supportive. I liked the interactions between Tyler and his former best friend Marcus as well. Marcus obviously still cared about Tyler, and Tyler about Marcus, but the tragedy changed Tyler and neither boy really knew how to react to the change in their dynamic. It was sad that a close friendship could come apart but I thought it was realistic. Same with Tyler and his girlfriend Sheila.

The pacing of the book was absolutely fantastic. There was never a spot where I had time to think ‘this seems like a good time to stop because it’s 2 am’. I had to know what was going to happen next. I was entranced by it. I didn’t even know it was 2 am until the book was over because the world did not exist outside of reading time.

I could say a whole lot more but I don’t want to spoil anything so I’ll leave things with: loved it!

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Book Review: Truest by Jackie Lea Sommers

truest

Truest

Release date: September 1st

4 stars

A new family has moved to the small town where Westlin Beck has lived all her life. Silas is different from the boys in Green Lake and when her father volunteers Silas to be her partner in the car detailing business West and her best friend usually run all summer, she finds herself drawn to him – and his whole family.

I wasn’t too sure what to expect going into this book. The synopsis was pretty light on detail and I was worried I wouldn’t be able to get too into the book if there was a lot of cheating and excuses being made. But I ended up really getting into it and enjoying it.

There were two things that really stood out for me about the book. The connection some of the characters had to books was one of them. They were fellow bookworms and it was great to see them so passionate about it. The second was Silas’ relationship with his sister. I won’t say much because it would be spoiling but I really liked the way it was handled.

I really liked West. She made some bad decisions, and I definitely don’t agree with how she handled her growing feelings for Silas when she was still with her boyfriend, but it provided her with an opportunity to grow as a character and start expressing her opinion more. I could empathize with her feeling left behind when her best friend left for camp for the summer and her boyfriend was too busy on the farm to have much free time.

I was surprised at how much I liked West and Silas as a couple. Usually it’s hard for me to enjoy a couple’s interactions when one of them is seeing someone else, but I enjoyed watching their partnership turn to friendship into an eventual relationship. I also really liked how involved both West’s and Silas’ families were in the plot. I liked the interactions and that they seemed like good families going through rough times.

By the cover and synopsis, I was expecting more of a light, fluffy summer read type of a book, and the book did have its more lighthearted moments, but there were a lot of issues that the plot brought up as well. Growing up, growing apart, faith, how different people express their faith, family, mental illness, alcoholism, friendship, grief, and it did it all without feeling overwhelming or loosing the main plot.

An expected light summer read turned out to be a lot deeper than expected and I couldn’t be happier about that.

*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Exposing My-Shelf: Shelf Thirteen

I am notorious for being very, very particular about where my books go on my shelves. I have reasons why they’re placed where they are. They might not make sense to anyone else but they make sense to me, so that’s all that matters. Every now and then my reasons will change or there will be an influx of new books(looking at you April/May/September) that will make it necessary for the system to be tweaked. Every Friday(hopefully) I’ll be posting a picture of one shelf and explaining the reasoning behind it. By the time I’ve posted every shelf section, it’ll be time to re-arrange and start all over again.

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Shelf contains:

Anna Dressed in Blood – Kendare Blake

Girl of Nightmares – Kendare Blake

Not a Drop to Drink – Mindy McInnis

A Handful of Dust – Mindy McInnis

Reboot – Amy Tintera

Rebel – Amy Tintera

Pivot Point – Kassie West

Split Second – Kassie West

Juliet Immortal – Stacey Jay

Romeo Redeemed – Stacey Jay

This is a shelf that houses some of my duologies that aren’t contemporary. As far as I know, for this moment at least, these books are just duos and there’s not more to come. I could have missed something, there could still be more coming, but for now, they belong on this shelf.

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Comparing Before and After: Vengeance Road by Erin Bowman

vengeance road

This was my choice for WoW(hosted by Breaking the Spine) back on April 8th 2015. Not too long ago but it feels like so much longer since I was really, really looking forward to getting to read this one. Back then, I’d said:

“I love the old west. I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned that once or twice:) A girl determined to get justice for her father and get answers about her family, brother cowboys, danger, and a True Grit comparison, I’m in.”

After reading and posting my review, I am so, so glad this book didn’t disappoint. It had the old west feel that I love, cowboys I fell in love with, a great female lead, questionable morals, saloons, just everything I was expecting from a book set in the old west and having a True Grit comparison. Also, I am in love with this cover.

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Waiting on Wednesday

New WoW

This is a feature started on Breaking the Spine that puts the spotlight on upcoming books.

This week’s pick is:

word for yes

The Word for Yes

Release date: February 16th 2016

Goodreads: After their parents’ divorce, Jan, Erika, and Melanie have to get used to the new world order: a father who’s moved to another continent and a mother who throws herself into moving on. Jan, off at her first semester of college, has plenty to worry about, including an outspoken roommate who’s kind of “out there” and an increasingly depressed and troubled long-distance boyfriend. Her younger sisters, left at home in New York City, and dealing with all the pressures of life in high school, aren’t exactly close. Erika is serious and feels awkward and uncomfortable in crowds, though her beauty tends to attract attention. Melanie is socially savvy and just wants to go out—to concerts, to parties, wherever—with her friends. The gap between all three girls widens as each day passes.
Then, at a party full of blurred lines and blurred memories, everything changes. Starting that night, where there should be words, there is only angry, scared silence.
And in the aftermath, Jan, Erika, and Melanie will have to work hard to reconnect and help one another heal.
At once touching and raw, Claire Needell’s first novel is an honest look at the love and conflicts among sisters and friends, and how these relationships can hold us together—and tear us apart.

Why I’m excited: As someone with three sisters who haven’t always been close, this calls to me. It sounds like a book that could leave a deep impression on me and I look forward to seeing the sisters reconnecting and healing together.

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