August 31, 2013

Review: Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan


Title:
Two Boys Kissing
Author: David Levithan
Release Date: August 27th, 2013
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Page Count: 208
Source: ARC from Rachel Reads
Rating: Probably one of the most important books I've read in, like, ever.
New York Times bestselling author David Levithan tells the based-on-true-events story of Harry and Craig, two 17-year-olds who are about to take part in a 32-hour marathon of kissing to set a new Guinness World Record—all of which is narrated by a Greek Chorus of the generation of gay men lost to AIDS.

While the two increasingly dehydrated and sleep-deprived boys are locking lips, they become a focal point in the lives of other teen boys dealing with languishing long-term relationships, coming out, navigating gender identity, and falling deeper into the digital rabbit hole of gay hookup sites—all while the kissing former couple tries to figure out their own feelings for each other.

This follow-up to the bestselling Every Day showcases David's trademark sharp-witted, warm-hearted tales of teenage love, and serves as a perfect thematic bookend to David's YA debut and breakthrough, Boy Meets Boy, which celebrates its 10th anniversary in 2013.

[Summary Source: Goodreads]
THE REVIEW

So there are these two boys who used to date and want to set the world record for the longest kiss. Then there's Peter and Neil who are a couple but have some problems because, well, what couple doesn't? But they love each other. Avery and Ryan met at a gay prom and are trying to figure out what happens next. Cooper makes me want to cry. So does Tariq. And then there's the Greek Chorus that bridges the gap between the past generation and current generation of gay men.

Let's break this down:

It seems like a lot of different things and plot lines are happening in this book which, given the page count on this one might look like a bad thing. But it's not. It's really not. I mean, even the Greek Chorus might sound a little out there and it is a little strange at first, but as the book goes on, it's kind of brilliant. I honestly couldn't imagine this book being as impactful without it.

Plot aside, I could honestly go on and on about how perfect the prose is. Like, I pulled out the sticky tabs (something I never do) because the words on the page were so good and really made me think and, well, even though this book is a SHORT BOOK, it took me a rather long time to read because the words demanded more attention than normal words.

I also loved every single character in this book. The main characters really jump off the page and you really feel for them. Also, because there are so many main characters going through so many different things in so many different places, there's a global feel to this book. You can feel the shape of the world - which you don't really need to because the book is realistic fiction/contemporary, but you DO. But, what's really clever about this book, is that the secondary characters weren't given shape by their actions but by the thoughts of feelings of the main characters and the Greek Chorus itself.

So there's that character/world building praise jumble for all of you.

And, going back to the plot for a second, I didn't know there was a world record for kissing. I also really love romances that are just love stories, not necessarily pushed by something else. In fact, the main push of the plot - the kiss - is completed by two people NOT in a relationship anymore.

Now, aside from my awe over the plot, world building, prose, character development, etc., I honestly believe everyone needs to read this book. Given the way everyone - especially children/teens - are reacting to gay people in their schools, workplaces and communities, this is the book people really need to read. Like, if it were up to me, I'd make this book required reading for middle schoolers. There are things in this book that aren't talked about but should be talked about - things that aren't understood that need to be understood.

I feel like I could keep talking about the perfection and importance of this book but I'd really just be wasting your time. Instead you should just go, pick up this book and get to reading.

The long and short of it?

Plot: Interconnected brilliance.
World Building: Reality at it's best.
Character Development: All of the characters might as be real people - even when there's only 200 pages to develop said characters.
Prose: More brilliance. Seriously. Especially the way the Greek Chorus is written.
Would I Recommend This Book?: I don't like the term "must read" because everyone's different and all that jazz, but... well... I think this one's a must read. The subject matter is just too important.

Wait, seriously, why are you all still here reading this? Don't even think about leaving a comment. Just go. Unless you've already read this one. In which case: Let's talk.

August 30, 2013

Reading Too Much Might Be Numbing My Soul...

Fact: I don't like coffee. I just like saying Coffee Clutch in my best and deepest New York accent. Considering I'm a New Yorker, I'm pretty freaking good at it. So I've got my tea and I hope you have your heated beverage of choice, because it's time to gab the day away.

There are a lot of books out there. Like, a lot. I have close to 800 books on my Goodreads to be read shelf - even though I try to cut back all the time.

So what's the only logical solution to having too many books you want to read - y'know, aside from cutting back/reading the ones you REALLY want to read first and then figuring out the rest later? Basically, the only thing I could come up with it quit life and read always.
Considering I'm currently (f)unemployed, that's basically what I've done (even though the whole quitting life thing was pretty unintentional). Anyway, my point is, I've been reading A LOT recently. Which you think would be great, but, um... maybe it's not.
Here's the problem:

When I read a lot of books quickly, one right after the other, it's harder for me to be really impressed by a book. I mean, yeah, I'm probably more lenient with star ratings on Goodreads than most, so I don't feel like my reviews are really harming anyone or anything, but PERSONALLY, I find that I'm not feeling the feels as much as I did when I was more of a casual reader. Yeah, I'm getting my reading fix. I'm reading LOTS of books and loving all of these new stories in my life, but there are fewer and fewer books that are TRULY memorable - that hit me in the gut or cling to my back like an overenthusiastic toddler hopped up on sugar.
I feel like this is both a good and bad thing. Good because the books that REALLY deserve to stand out do just that. But maybe it's a bad because now books that might have stood out if I'd lazily read them a year ago just aren't doing that. And that makes me sad. Because I obviously want all of the books stand out. (Take THAT everyone who's ever said I'm a pessimist!)

I know this is kind of a whiny first world problems issue, but I almost feel like I've slighted myself and my reading experience by reading as much as I do as a blogger.
Because I really probably need it.
But, like, I'm not going to slow down or stop. I still have this insane compulsion to READ ALL OF THE BOOKS. I love watching the number of books read on my Goodreads grow week by week. And I love the stories I'm reading, even if I do forget the details of a lot of them as I go. Because, well, I guess the silver lining to all of this is that when I find a book that's the best of the best and really freaking good, I'll know it. And have a place (my blog/twitter) where I can public fangirl and book push.

Which is sort of why a lot of us are doing this, I guess.

Do you have a problem that looks like this one? Are fewer book hitting you as hard? If so, are you happy or sad about it? It can be a bittersweet thing, just be sure to let me know in the comments below!

August 29, 2013

What Should I Buy? (2)


GUESS WHAT? It's WHAT SHOULD I BUY time!

I started this feature a couple of weeks ago to help me figure out what to do with the Barnes & Noble coupons I get all the time. I figured setting up a vote would A) allow you guys have a say in what I read and B) alleviate some of the pressure of picking a book to spend my coupon on. I know I don't NEED a new book, but, hey, I really can't pass 15% off on top of the 10% off I get for being a member. Also, I'm addicted to buying books.

So. Come. Help me feed my addiction.

Oh, and PLEASE, remember, I'm looking for a vote that has a little more than just the title of the book and a "THIS WAS REALLY GOOD." Pitch it to me, a little. WHY should I read this book? WHY do you think I would like it? All help is useful. ALL HELP.

And I could use ALL OF THE HELP by SEPTEMBER 2ND (AKA when my coupon expires)

Okay. Over to you awesome people.

1. Pretty Girl-13 by Liz Coley
Why I want to read this book: This book sounds super creepy. I also like a good mystery. And then there's the based on the true story situation, which I like a lot. I don't know why, but the Elizabeth Smart story always freaked me out as a kid.

2. Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard
Why I want to read this book: I always have wanderlust (except for like a week after I get back from a trip). It's kind of a disaster, since I can't always travel, so I try to read books that either fulfill my wanderlust impulses or maybe convince me that staying at home and dealing with my life here is a good idea (because let's face it, part of my life of travel is the being away from here part).

***I went to The Strand the other day, found a cheap copy of Wanderlove and couldn't keep myself from buying it. I know this messes up the voting a little but so many of you voted for more than one book so far, so I think it'll be okay.***

3. The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson
Why I want to read this book: I feel like this is going to be the book everyone votes for. I'm a little nervous for that to happen, even though I know it's a REALLY feelsy book (which I love). Maybe it's because of the hype. Or maybe it's because the summary makes it sound like there's going to be a love triangle. I don't know. So help me be unafraid of this book if you vote for it please!


4. Let the Sky Fall by Shannon Messenger
Why I want to read this book: May I just say: TORNADOES. I don't know why I find stories with tornadoes fascinating but movies, books, shows... I don't know. I'm just intrigued. That being said, I really like natural disaster stories in general, but tornadoes are my favorite. I know. I'm the worst.

5. Past Perfect by Leila Sales
Why I want to read this book: I read This Song Will Save Your Life recently and really loved it. Also, the cover is super cute. ALSO ALSO, the summary sounds quirky and awesome. I mean, the setting is a historical colonial village. Different, quirky sounding things really are my favorite.

6. My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century by Rachel Harris
Why I want to read this book: Time travel? WHERE. CAN I HAZ IT? No, actually, I feel like this book is the dark horse of the vote. But I'm curious about the time travel aspect. And the emphasis but on CONTRABAND FUTURE STUFF in the summary. I always felt that should have been addressed on Doctor Who. Alas. Perhaps this book can fill the hole for me.
NOW I NEED YOUR HELP. PLEASE let me know which book you think I should buy with my coupon (and why) in the comments below! All input is GREATLY APPRECIATED. 

August 28, 2013

World of Books: Brittany + Chicago Suburbs, Illinois

Everyone has their neighborhood bookstore or their local library they call home. Maybe both even. I know I do - in TWO different cities. World of Books if a bi-weekly feature that allows me - and any of YOU - to share the bookstores and libraries you love so much. If you want to be featured on World of Books too, make sure to go HERE and fill out the contact form!

This week on WORLD OF BOOKS Brittany is going to tell all of you guys about all of the awesome book stores around the Chicago Suburbs!

1. Anderson’s Bookshop, Naperville, IL: 
Anderson’s is by far my favorite book store in all of the Chicagoland suburbs. They host so many author signings and some really great authors have come to town thanks to them! They’re located in downtown Naperville which is perfect for me because I live right over there (or, well… I did before I moved) and they also have a great YA section which I LOVE. They keep extra signed books on hand for people to purchase even if they weren’t at the signings too. The staff is great and I’m especially thankful for all of the people who support the YA crowd! 
They also have a nice selection of cards, games, and magazines (and… of course other age ranges of books like children’s and adult – you know I’m usually hanging out in the YA shelves though!) and they even have “Anderson’s Two Doors East” which specializes in gifts, toys, d├ęcor, and much more.
Find Anderson’s on Twitter, at their store website, OR on the site for their gift shop!

2. Bundles of Books and Gifts, Glen Ellyn, IL: 
Bundles of Books is a used book store that my friend Lisa found back in the day (which was about 2011, for those keeping track) and this is basically what started and fueled our reading addiction and what ultimately led me to start my blog! Back when cozy mysteries were my main reads, I used to hang out in their mystery section practically the whole time and my shelves are STILL full of tons of paperback mysteries. 

They don’t have a large YA section, but it’s there! These are also ALL used books so they’re only able to stock what people sell back to them. I can usually find a few good titles when I go in there though!
They also have a little gift shop in the front with homemade gifts (I’m assuming from local people – I haven’t actually perused it much) and often times, especially in the winter, they’ll have hot chocolate or cider or coffee for people who are walking the store! 

I actually still have a box of books I need to sell back to them but haven’t gotten around to it yet… The books you sell back you get store credit for, not cash, just as an FYI! I do like selling my books back to a used bookstore though because hopefully someone else will pick them up! 

3. The Frugal Muse, Darien, IL: 
The Frugal Muse sells both new and used books but the majority of them are used (I think the only thing I bought new there were my Song of Ice and Fire paperbacks). I actually haven’t sold any used books to them yet (it’s a little further out of the way than Glen Ellyn is for me) so I’m not totally sure how it works but their selection is pretty good! The store is BIG and has several different sections (they even get really specific – there’s a whole section just for Shakespeare!) including a pretty nice YA section! For being a used book store, their prices aren’t SUPER cheap, but they are cheaper than brand new books (hey, the store has to make a profit too) and I feel like they have a lot of popular YA titles and some smaller ones as well. 

They also have music and movies too! 

And now I want to go visit all of these awesome places in. With Brittany, preferably. Time for a trip to the Chicago Suburbs? Let me know if you want to join me in the comments below!

August 27, 2013

Bout of Books 8.0: Wrap Up


The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, August 19th and runs through Sunday, August 25th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure, and the only reading competition is between you and your usual number of books read in a week. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 8.0 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. - From the Bout of Books team

 So Bout of Books 8.0 is OVER and now I have to wait until January until the next one. Which is saddening. But I guess I should tell you all how I did with my goals this time around.

MY GOALS:

THE RESULTS

As always, I was really close to completing my goals and yet I failed. I had a really good time, though. I also worked on watching less TV and doing more reading instead. It was an interesting exercise. I will say, though, that I'd like to never mess up my Twitter chat goal again. I feel okay missing on the other two, but I do like the communal, conversational aspect of Bout of Books and I'm a little pouty that I failed on that one. I might just have to plan my schedule a bit better next time around. 

Anyway, thanks again to Amanda and Kelly. You ladies are the best. Really. I can't wait for my fourth Bout of Books!

To read my original goals post, click HERE.
To read my progress report post, click HERE.

Did you participate this time around? Did you have FUN if you did? If not, don't worry, the next Bout of Books 9.0 is in January. Let me know if you'll be participating in the comments below!

August 26, 2013

Review: The Beginning of Everything by Robyn Schneider


Title: The Beginning of Everything
Author: Robyn Schneider
Release Date: August 27th, 2013
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Page Count:
330
Source: ARC from BEA
Rating: A stunningly nerdy book - maybe even too nerdy?
Golden boy Ezra Faulkner believes everyone has a tragedy waiting for them—a single encounter after which everything that really matters will happen. His particular tragedy waited until he was primed to lose it all: in one spectacular night, a reckless driver shatters Ezra’s knee, his athletic career, and his social life.

No longer a front-runner for Homecoming King, Ezra finds himself at the table of misfits, where he encounters new girl Cassidy Thorpe. Cassidy is unlike anyone Ezra’s ever met, achingly effortless, fiercely intelligent, and determined to bring Ezra along on her endless adventures.

But as Ezra dives into his new studies, new friendships, and new love, he learns that some people, like books, are easy to misread. And now he must consider: if one’s singular tragedy has already hit and everything after it has mattered quite a bit, what happens when more misfortune strikes? 

Robyn Schneider’s The Beginning of Everything is a lyrical, witty, and heart-wrenching novel about how difficult it is to play the part that people expect, and how new beginnings can stem from abrupt and tragic endings.

[Summary Source: Goodreads]
THE REVIEW

Ezra's believes that people there's a point in everyone's life when something really bad happens and, whatever that thing is, it changes the person. For Exra's childhood best friend, that point was when he caught a decapitated head on his 12th birthday. For Ezra it was the night his girlfriend cheats on him at a party and a car blindsids him - an accident that destroys his knee and basically nullifies his status as jock/golden boy extraordinaire. So Ezra falls back to being friends with Toby, gets into a relationship with the new girl, Cassidy, joins the debate team and a whole host of other things Gold Boy Ezra would never do.

Let's break this down:

I think the only thing I didn't like about this book was how polished it felt. Like, all of the banter and the nerd references were a lot. I don't think I got every joke, which felt uncomfortable because, like, I believe that teens can be that smart but perhaps that was overkill. It was actually kind of overkill and made the book lose some of it's weight for me. I also felt like the intended (teen) audience might not understand all of the references, so that doesn't work so well for me either.

The rest of this book is really great, though.

I liked The Great Gatsby theme that an all the way through the book. I really liked that Cooper talked like Gatsby in Ezra's head. It was quirky and pretty hilarious throughout. That whole theme throughout the book was actually really well done. I thought it worked perfect - although I haven't read The Great Gatsy since high school. But this book kind of made me want to re-read it.

And then I liked all of the characters. A lot. Even Charlotte. Her brain makes sense, I guess. So do the brains of everyone else in the popular crowd. Except the whole not visiting Ezra in the hospital. I felt like that was maybe kind of a stretch, but a stretch, not completely impossible.

As for everyone outside of the popular crowd, everyone in Toby's group made me so happy I could burst. Like, I wish there'd been more kids like that in my class in high school. As I said before, I think they're maybe a little too intellectual and their jokes a little too perfect and/or obscure, but on a whole they really entertained. And they're really clever. The floating movie theater? Yeah. That's cool. Really, really cool. 

Then of course there's Ezra. What's interesting in all of this isn't that the accident knocked Ezra down a peg (if we're talking about the popularity totem pole). It's almost like Ezra took himself down a peg. There's even a point in the book when someone tells Ezra that he's got this whole brooding look to him that everyone thinks is so hot. The boy hadn't even realized that he was removing himself from his friend situation and not the other way around. Sure, his friends were insensitive idiots who invited him rafting or whatever, but it really wasn't just that. I think the accident was what Ezra needed to realize he wasn't happy where he was. 

There's also Cassidy. I suppose I should mention her. Her character was kind of confusing throughout, but I found her to be witty, spontaneous, sweet and honest throughout (until she wasn't, but I kind of see why that happened). Her character was important to Ezra - not because she changed him, since she didn't really - but because she encouraged that change. She also demonstrated that just because you think someone is the perfect person for you, sometimes they're not and that's okay. Which I think is a really important message in YA. 

Oh, and I saw that twist at the end coming. I wasn't clear on the details for a little bit, but the whole thing really made sense.

All in all, this book was kind of philosophical. The point of the book was not to get the characters from Point A to Point B. It's more about the journey. How did Ezra get from Point A to Point B and what did he learn along the way? And this whole philosophical journey? Well, it was one I'm glad I didn't miss. 

The long and short of it?

Plot: There's a lot of really clever things going on here. Some of it a little TOO clever, or perhaps too many clever things all in one, but still really, really good.
World Building: The way this story was told, with Ezra narrating from the future, was a nice touch. Although, the bit at the end fell a little flat for me.
Character Development: I really enjoyed Ezra's journey. It kind of made me wonder about the jocks I went to school with. Like, were any of them more than I thought they were?
Prose: A little too polished and just a bit TOO nerdy (never thought I'd say that), but it worked. And I really liked Ezra's voice overall.
Would I Recommend This Book?: If you like nerdy things, complicated concepts and introspective plots, this book'd work for you. Also, if you're into The Great Gatsby you should definitely give this one a read. 

Have you read this one? Has it convinced you to NEVER ride a roller coaster again - or at least never, ever disobey the rules at the amusement parks? Let me know in the comments below!

August 25, 2013

Veronica Mars Watch-Along Week 17

[Graphic designed by the lovely Judith of Paper Riot]
So, how does this work, super sleuths? Go check out the Watch-Along kick off post for the skinny. I'll give you a second just in case...

All caught up? Good.

In case you already know the basics and just forgot what episodes are up today, here's the list:
  • "My Mother, the Fiend"
  • "One Angry Veronica"
And for NEXT WEEK:
  • "Donut Run"
  • "Rashard and Wallace Go to White Castle"

Now. Onto words you guys care about.

THE NOIR
In the first episode, Veronica gets caught with the all of the keys to all of the locks in the school office. Therefore she is given detention. It is in detention that she finds her mom's old file, finds out her mom got into big trouble back in the day and decides to find out why (since her mom's file's been redacted). Basically, the whole thing starts because Veronica wants to know what kind of person her mom is and ends because everything leads to Trina being Celeste Kane's bastard child she abandoned on prom night and Veronica wants to humiliate Celeste.

Seriously, Veronica, listened to the animated Disney character.
Too bad Trina's really the child of the deaf lunch lady (who was a student with Veronica's mom back in the day) and the principal of the school. Oh, and Veronica's mom was actually friends with the lunch lady. Everything just messed up. Of course, at the end of the episode, we find out Mr. Clemmons set Veronica on the train so he could be promoted. SNEAKY, MR. CLEMMONS. VERY SNEAKY.


Although, none of this really has much to do with the bus crash, until the end of the episode when Veronica sneaks into Meg's room on the way to pick up the dead Abel Koontz's stuff. She slips in, sees that Meg is PREGNANT and then Meg wakes up.

Pretty eventful night, I'd say.

In the second episode, the big mystery is who stole the Lilly Kane/Aaron Echolls sex tapes. This mystery made me so sad, I'd just like to never speak of it every again and just hug Leo and Logan until the end of time.

PARENTAL PROBLEMS
Meg's awake. Duncan's the dad. Which is basically why Meg was such a jerk to Veronica at the start of the season. I can't really blame her. Anyway, now that we know how TERRIBLE Meg's parents are, I'm suddenly terrified for this baby. My terror multiplies by a trillion when Meg dies at the end of the episode.

I know, crazy, right?
So, like, Meg's parents are horrible, Duncan's parents are horrible, Meg's dead and Duncan's underage and his parents are undergoing legal troubles of their own. I really can't see this going very well.

Also, why does everyone in this show have terrible parents? Veronica's mom, Wallace's whole family situation is a mess, both of Logan's parents... I feel like Veronica should SHUT UP and just be grateful she has Keith.

LOGAN'S LIFE
I cry and cry and cry for this boy. Okay, he bought the tapes, but he wasn't the reason they were stolen in the first place. I'm mad at Leo because, well, DUH. But can you really blame Logan for wanting to stop it? I suppose he could have just turned Leo in, but Logan's more of a doer than a thinker. Not that I can blame him so much. LOOK AT HIS LIFE. What a mess.

THE BOYS

  • Duncan: Ugh. Gross. You got Meg pregnant, knew but didn't tell Veronica and you also apparently cheated on Veronica with Kendall. I so want you out of my life you gross, gross boy.
  • Wallace: YOU CAME BACK. THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR COMING BACK WALLYBEAR.
  • Logan: *pets*
  • Leo: Oh Leo. *sighs sadly*
  • Weevil: I like that Weevil and Logan are in cahoots now. It's fun.

FUN FACTS
Now that I've started watching New Girl, I can no longer see Leo as Leo. He will forever and always be Schmidt. It's terrible for my love of Veronica Mars, but amazing in general, so I'll take it. 

As usual, I want Duncan gone and Logan in the spotlight. Instead I lose Leo. How is this even fair? Where is the justice, Rob Thomas? And Meg? Seriously. Justice. Where? Be sure to talk to me about your feels in the comments below!

**ONE LAST REMINDER**
NEXT WEEK:

  • "Donut Run"
  • "Rashard and Wallace Go to White Castle"

August 24, 2013

Review: The Last Little Blue Envelope by Maureen Johnson


Title:
The Last Little Blue Envelope (Little Blue Envelope #2)
Author: Maureen Johnson
Release Date: April 26th, 2011
Publisher: HarperTeen
Page Count: 282 
Source: Borrowed from the New York Public Library
Rating: Richard parental power and Ginny's growth as a character make this book an awesome wanderlust read - much better than the first.
Ginny Blackstone thought that the biggest adventure of her life was behind her. She spent last summer traveling around Europe, following the tasks her aunt Peg laid out in a series of letters before she died. When someone stole Ginny's backpack—and the last little blue envelope inside—she resigned herself to never knowing how it was supposed to end.

Months later, a mysterious boy contacts Ginny from London, saying he's found her bag. Finally, Ginny can finish what she started. But instead of ending her journey, the last letter starts a new adventure—one filled with old friends, new loves, and once-in-a-lifetime experiences. Ginny finds she must hold on to her wits... and her heart. This time, there are no instructions.

[Summary Source: Goodreads]
THE REVIEW

Ginny lost the last little blue envelope. But then she gets an email that says some guy has the envelope and wants to meet her to finish the last task in said last envelope. So Ginny picks up and goes back to England to finish what she started.

Let's break this down:

Okay, to start with, I'm still not pleased with the absence of Ginny's parents BUT Richard does play something of a parent's role in this book and there's already a precedent of Ginny's parents being useless, so I was able to move past it.

But that's not the only reason I like the second book in this series than the first (although that did play a big part in it).

The other major reason I like this book more is because while book one was about shaking things up, pulling Ginny out of her stupor, book two is about what she decides to become once she realizes there's more than one option. Not to mention, Ginny finally takes control of the situation. Like, serious shenanigans ensue, but she finds a way to deal with it. Especially when Oliver blackmails her at the start of the book (because that shit cray).

The third reason I can think of that this book did it for me much more than the first is because the book starts with an injustice. Books that start with really terrible situations have a way of pulling me in from minute one. So, when Oliver starts the story extorting money from Ginny, I can't help but be sucked in. And then when everything happens with Keith, my insides freaked the heck out because HOW CAN SO MANY THINGS GO WRONG FOR ONE GIRL SO QUICKLY? (Even though all of the things going wrong at once is dead realistic.)

So this book. Better than the first because of all those reasons, but awesome on it's own merits as well. Like, I really love how I started book one loving Keith because of all his quirky, by the end of book two I was over him for the same characteristics. And while I started book two HATING Oliver, by the end I adored everything about it. Also, while I found Ginny kind of whatever in book one (it was really her adventures I loved) I really enjoyed how she really did take control in this book.

Basically what I'm saying is the character development here is stellar and totally believable.

It's also worth mentioning that I never once hated Ellis and I love Ginny for also pretty much never once hating her either.

And finally, Richard. I wish Maureen Johnson would write an adult companion book about Richard (plus possibly Peg, Ginny's aunt). I don't know what it'd be about, but I find him to be the most endearing man ever. I mean, a guy who puts up with all of Ginny's aunt's supposed craziness and Ginny's insane travel? He DESERVES 300-400 pages of his own. Also, he has a really cool job.

So, like, seriously, a short story about him finding ridiculous gifts for the Queen?

On a final note, while I really enjoyed all the countries Ginny visited in book one, I liked how book two is more focused on a few places and the journey getting to those places. There was meaning to each of those places and what Ginny took from each of them beyond just the casual: "Dear Ginny, I was here. Go there also. Love, Aunt Peg." That was nice. I definitely enjoyed that.

Also, seriously. Richard forced a cellphone on her and made her call him daily. SOMEONE GIVE THIS MAN A SHORT STORY.

The long and short of it?

Plot: Fewer places but more substance and character development, which I love.
World Building: See, now Ginny has a cellphone and a person on the other end who doesn't want her to end up dead in a ditch in some foreign country. This works for me.
Character Development: Ginny and Keith really develop and show through true colors in the second book of this series. And y'know what? Even the characters introduced in book two seem grow into themselves over the course of this short book.
Prose: Wonderful words that tell a really fun story.
Would I Recommend This Book?: This installment of the series is really good. If you're into quirky travel books with complicated relationships, I think it's worth it to start the series to get to the end (it's only two books and they're short, quick reads). But if you're not so into that stuff or get really mad when parents act irrationally, book one will probably put you off, so maybe you shouldn't bother.

Did you enjoy this sequel as much as I did? What did you think of Ginny's choices? How about Keith and Oliver's choices? I think those are just as interesting, so let me know in the comments below!

August 23, 2013

Let's Get Personal

Fact: I don't like coffee. I just like saying Coffee Clutch in my best and deepest New York accent. Considering I'm a New Yorker, I'm pretty freaking good at it. So I've got my tea and I hope you have your heated beverage of choice, because it's time to gab the day away.

Every now and again I'll read a book that I can REALLYREALLYREALLY relate to. There'll be this personal connection that either makes me smirk or sob or nod at every page. Usually it's because I've gone through something the character(s) in the book have gone through. Or maybe it's because I've felt the way the character(s) in the book felt, even if that feeling was caused by something completely different.

I've actually had this happen to me with 3 books over the last couple of months:

1. Nantucket Blue by Leila Howland
I actually wrote Leila an e-mail because I nodded at the whole friend break-up aspect of this book. Friend break-ups truly suck. They're confusing and depressing, even if said break-ups make sense or truly need to happen for one reason or another. It's all very stressful and unhappy. Which is annoying because I've gone through quite a few. 

2. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
This book's main character could have been named Gaby. Even though I don't have a twin and, as far as I know, no REALLY CUTE, understanding guys named Levi crushed on me in college. But, like, whoa Cath and I have a lot in common. I was a serious shut in in college. Like, my friends stopped inviting my places because they didn't think I'd want to come. By the time I hit the middle of sophomore year I wanted to transfer so badly. And I'm pretty sure this is the first time I've ever really admitted how close I came to acting on that desire. In the end, fear kept me where I was. Which I feel also fits with this book. So. Yeah. Cath, we should be friends. Or not. Because, like, no one needs a shut in enabler.

3. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
Again, no cute boys and definitely not Paris, but I totally, entirely and completely understand being in a complicated friend situation. (Sans the romance, of course. Why is my life always sans the romance and cute boys?)

I feel like I can talk more about number 2 (and I probably will when I get to writing my Fangirl review) because it's my story and only my story. But numbers 1 and 3 involve interactions with other people and I just can't. But both hit me hard and both made me think about my choices when I was in those situations. Actually, all three made me thing about my choices when I was in those situations. They make me wonder if I made the right choices and they made me wish I'd had those books when I WAS going through those situations. They could have been like guidebooks for me, y'know?

Jennifer Lawrence gets it.
And I think that's how these authors know they've done a good job with the writing. (Or at least that's how I know these authors have done a good job with the writing.)

But it's also how I (and everyone else) should know that YA is so incredibly relevant to the age group it's meant for (because I really, really, really could have at the very least used Anna and the French Kiss much earlier in my life) but also how relevant it is to me NOW, as a 23 year-old. Do I think/know adult fiction isn't relevant for me, too? No. I don't. But right now, my personality requires YA to help me untangle my brain. It's also wonderful at cheering me up, making me laugh, tugging the heart strings, making me all nostalgic, reminding me to be happy a bad part of my life is over or will be soon and a whole bunch of other really good things.

But I digress. This post isn't really about why YA is relevant and awesome. It's more about my personal experience with YA - and yours.
 
So, do me a favor and take a second to think of a book or two that REALLY resonated with you. Jot them down in the comments below. You don't have to say why. I'd just like to know. Maybe they could be good for someone else too!

August 22, 2013

Review: Belle Epoque by Elizabeth Ross


Title:
Belle Epoque
Author: Elizabeth Ross
Release Date: June 11th, 2013
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Page Count: 336
Source: Borrowed from the New York Public Library
Rating: Paris, photography, love stories, a very different sort of plot... what else could a girl ask for?
When Maude Pichon runs away from provincial Brittany to Paris, her romantic dreams vanish as quickly as her savings. Desperate for work, she answers an unusual ad. The Durandeau Agency provides its clients with a unique service—the beauty foil. Hire a plain friend and become instantly more attractive.

Monsieur Durandeau has made a fortune from wealthy socialites, and when the Countess Dubern needs a companion for her headstrong daughter, Isabelle, Maude is deemed the perfect foil.

But Isabelle has no idea her new "friend" is the hired help, and Maude's very existence among the aristocracy hinges on her keeping the truth a secret. Yet the more she learns about Isabelle, the more her loyalty is tested. And the longer her deception continues, the more she has to lose.

[Summary Source: Goodreads]
THE REVIEW

Maude is basically Belle but she's into cameras instead of books. And is supposedly less pretty. And needs to a job to support herself. So nothing like Belle except she too wants more than this provincial life. But who can blame her? Her pops wants to marry her off to the old butcher across the street so he can have free meat. Maude's not so down with that so she snags the money in her father's till and runs off to Paris where life is supposedly magical. But it's not. Which is clear based off the fact that Maude becomes a Repoussoir - an ugly/plain looking girl meant to make a pretty girl look prettier. Maude ends up snagging a HUGE account, but the girl she's playing foil to doesn't actually know Maude's a Repoussoir - Isabelle's mama hired her in secret. All goes well for a while. But then? Not so much.

Let's break this down:

Okay. It's official. I love Paris always. No matter what point in history you take me to, I'm pretty sure I'm always going to love this particular European city. My proof of the moment? THIS BOOK.

The premise of this book is actually really interesting and totally different. Yeah, we've all read books where the main character is insecure because she thinks she's ugly and then goes through a journey to find her inner beauty (which does happen in this book, in a way), but a book where you're valued for your ugliness in the strange, twisted way that Durandeau does is kind of... strange. And new.

And guess what - new is GOOD.

Everything that happens to Maude and that Maude does in this book might be a little obvious - her running away, the extreme hesitance to work for Durandeau, what happens when she lands her high profile job... - but watching her go through it all and seeing her progression from a plain looking girl to a girl who thinks she's ugly over to a girl who sees her own beauty is stunning. And the use of photography to get over herself? Truly delightful.

Now, while some of the plot points really are a little obvious (as mentioned above) and the prose gets a little stuck with all the French words dropped in (it was a little more than just the basics everyone knows), the psychological aspect of this book is so strong that none of the rest matters (and the prose, French aside, is truly wonderful).

I mean, imagine you're this downtrodden girl who runs away to Paris for her big romance. Then she gets there and it sucks and the only thing she can do to make a living is work for a man who rents her out to be ugly. So, like, the trauma there is pretty extreme. But it's not just that because Maude also has to LIE to this girl who actually becomes her friend AND to this really hunky bohemian she's met (think Christian from Moulin Rouge but a pianist instead of a writer). So Maude thinks she's ugly and knows she's a liar and she's miserable about both of these things but she can't stop because, hello, girl needs to pay rent. And she also starts to spiral out of control for other reasons as the book goes on. So it only gets worse.

But even as it gets worse, it somehow starts to get better within the worse. Maude learns about photography and the beauty that can be captured on film. And she learns about Paul's world, that is somehow more than just about paying rent and surviving. So even as she's messing everything up, Maude begins to understand the concept of beauty and really learns what she needs to learn in order to get herself out of her own mess. Which is what she ends up doing. How? I won't say. But it's good. REALLY GOOD.

Oh. Also. Paul? Wonderful. He's a boozy, insecure, hot mess and I'd like one to take home with me, please and thanks.

The long and short of it?

Plot: Maybe a little obvious at times, but truly wonderful.
World Building: This book was based on a short story by Emile Zola (there's an author's note in the back). Which is cool. But mostly I honestly believe something like this would happen. The emphasis on beauty both back then and today would totally lead to something as demeaning as Durandeau's agency.
Character Development: I loved the journey Maude takes. As someone who's been insecure about how she looks in the past (who hasn't had at least one moment of doubt?) this book really nails the concept of beauty on the head.
Prose: Aside from the random French words (why wouldn't they be speaking French?) the words that make up this story flowed wonderfully.
Would I Recommend This Book?: This is a book for Paris lovers, historical fiction lovers, photography lovers and readers who like something a just a little bit different.

Have you read this one? Maybe you're curious now. Or maybe you're just crying because you've been to Paris, understand my love and are upset you're not there with me RIGHT NOW eating macarons. Let's cry together in the comments below, shall we?

August 21, 2013

Waiting On: Where the Stars Still Shine by Trish Doller (32)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly feature hosted by Breaking the Spine

Title: Where the Stars Still Shine
Author: Trish Doller
Release Date: September 24th, 2013
Publisher: Bloomsbury Childrens
Stolen as a child from her large and loving family, and on the run with her mom for more than ten years, Callie has only the barest idea of what normal life might be like. She's never had a home, never gone to school, and has gotten most of her meals from laundromat vending machines. Her dreams are haunted by memories she’d like to forget completely. But when Callie’s mom is finally arrested for kidnapping her, and Callie’s real dad whisks her back to what would have been her life, in a small town in Florida, Callie must find a way to leave the past behind. She must learn to be part of a family. And she must believe that love--even with someone who seems an improbable choice--is more than just a possibility.

Trish Doller writes incredibly real teens, and this searing story of love, betrayal, and how not to lose your mind will resonate with readers who want their stories gritty and utterly true.

[Summary Source: Goodreads]
That cover, that summary... this book just screams READ ME, READ ME. I haven't read Something Like Normal (Trish Doller's other book) but I've heard from credible sources that I must get on that ASAP, so I think I'll put both Trish Doller books towards the top of my TBR list.


Are you guys also feeling this book? What other books have hit your radar recently? Let me know in the comments below!

August 20, 2013

Bout of Books 8.0: Progress Report

Welcome to my Bout of Books 8.0 Progress Report post. Because I am crazy and neurotic, I have separated this post from my Goals post. My Wrap Up post (to be posted in a week, when all of this is over) will also be a separate post. Although, I will be posting any and all of my challenges here, as they are part of my Bout of Books 8.0 Progress Report.

I hope that explanation made sense to you. I feel like it does to me but things often make more sense in my head that out of it. 

Anyway, in case you're wondering what Bout of Books is...
Bout of Books
The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, August 19th and runs through Sunday, August 25th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure, and the only reading competition is between you and your usual number of books read in a week. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 8.0 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. - From the Bout of Books team
Now, for my progress.

MONDAY
Number of books I've read today: 1/2 a book
Number of pages I've read today: 300
Books: 
1. Cress by Marissa Meyer - Just for the record, I was 100 or so pages into this one before Bout of Books started.

TUESDAY
Number of books I've read today: Finished one, halfway through another. 
Number of pages I've read today: 300
Books: 
1. Cress by Marissa Meyer - Started before Bout of Books began, finished today. Cress is a CHUNKY book (but with GOOD REASON). 
2. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell - I'm about a third of the way through this book and I'm loving ALL of it. 

WEDNESDAY
Number of books I've read today: Finished one, about a third of the way through another.
Number of pages I've read today: 342
Books: 
2. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell - THIS BOOK. *sobs*
3. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins - I'm just about a third of the way through with this and I can already tell I'm never going to want it to end.

THURSDAY
Number of books I've read today: Finished one, about a fourth of the way through another.
Number of pages I've read today: 323
Books: 
3. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins - I now understand what everyone is talking about.
4. The Beginning of Everything by Robin Schneider - I really like that this one's from a male POV. And promises geekery. Really.

Today I decided to do a challenge. The Book Road Trip Challenge hosted by In Wonderland, to be exact. And here are the instructions for said challenge:

I love going on road trips or any kind of trip for that matter and I always bring a TON of books with me. For this challenge, I'd like for you to come up with a list of the top 5-10 states/places you'd love to visit and find a book (you either read or want to read) that takes place in that state/place or a book by an author who lives or is from there. :]

So my list is as follows.

1. London: Meant to Be by Lauren Morrill
2. Scotland: Ferryman by Claire McFall
3. Paris: A Darkness Strange and Lovely by Susan Dennard
4. Prague: Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
5. Australia: Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta
6. Nantucket: Nantucket Blue by Leila Howland
7. North Carolina: All things Sarah Dessen
8. Lincoln, Nebraska: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell (I feel like I want to go here for the book and not the place, but WHATEVER.)
9. Washington: Twilight by Stephanie Meyer (This one is DEFINITELY not because I want to be in that book. I just can't think of another book that takes place in Washington right now.)
10. Carmel, California: The Mediator Series by Meg Cabot

That would be fun, don't you think?

FRIDAY
Number of books I've read today: Finished one, just started a second
Number of pages I've read today: 316
Books: 
4. The Beginning of Everything by Robyn Schneider - This was an interesting read... I liked it a lot but I felt like something was missing maybe?
5. Monument 14 by Emmy Laybourne - I like the POV here so far. It's male first person and I feel like I don't read a lot of those.

I'm gonna do another challenge today, okay? It's called The Bookish Madlibs Challenge hosted by The Space Between. Here be the rules:

I have made up a list of what words you need to supply, but they must all come from an actual book title, or be a character whose title or series you must list. You do not have to have these books in your possession, so go out and search the interwebs for the most fantastic books you can find, as long as I can verify they are real! You may even use a full or partial title instead of one word, if that title or phrase fits the category asked for, as I will show below. Please either post your answers below (Book list, and finished Mad Lib), or a link to your blog posts with the answers in the comments. You MUST include the list of book titles or you will be disqualified!

You can copy and paste this list into your entry, then replace each item with your book title and author:

A. Place name or type (from a book title) can be a proper name or noun like Italy or mountains
B. Fave Villain (from a book - list title/series)
C. Adjective (from a book title) (hot, cold, dark, etc.)
D. Number (from a book title)
E. Noun (from a book title)
F. Fave Hero/Heroine you wouldn't mind spending a LOT of time with (from a book - list title/series)
G. Dessert (from a book title)

Here we go...

A. NANTUCKET from Nantucket Blue by Leila Howland
B. THE DARKLING from Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
C. STRANGE from Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard
D. THIRTEEN from Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
E. BONE from Daught of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
F. LEVI from Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell (I feel like Levi might not be seen as a HERO, but, well, I love him and want to spend LOTS of time with him. So. Whatever.)
G. BROWNIES from Brownies and Broomsticks by Bailey Cates

If you haven't done this challenge yet and want to, you should probably NOT scroll down yet because, well, SPOILERS. If have done it or don't plan to play, please, carry on...

-
-
-
-
-

Help! I'm being held captive in NANTUCKET, by THE DARKLING!
It is very STRANGE here!
He is demanding THIRTEEN BONES to set me free!
I have just discovered that LEVI was captured too!
On second thought, please send BROWNIES, and don't worry if you don't hear from us for awhile!

Much Love,
Gaby

I can't see a single thing wrong with this scenario. Keep your bones, people, I'm staying in Nantucket with Levi and The Darkling. But do send those brownies.

SATURDAY
Number of books I've read today: Finished one, started another.
Number of pages I've read today: 310
Books: 
5. Monument 14 by Emmy Laybourne - I liked this one because it's post-apocalyptic light in a way I think we could all imagine, but I think it fell a little flat.
6. This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales - The last book I read where the main character's a DJ was Welcome, Caller, This is Chloe. I hope I love this one as much as I loved Chloe!

SUNDAY
Number of books I've read today: Finished one.
Number of pages I've read today: 245
Books: 
6. This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales - A wonderful book about what it's like to feel unloveable. I suppose one might call it a suicide book, but I like the calling it a book about feeling unloveable instead.

GRAND TOTAL
Pages: 2,136
Books: 6

Stay tuned for my wrap up post... 

Top Ten Things That Make My Bookish Life Less Stressful (32)

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish
I'm an anxious kinda gal who has this terrible tendency to procrastinate. I'm also incredibly impatient and something of an OCD perfectionist. Basically, I'm a complete and utter contradiction and need lots and lots of help to function as a human and keep the grey hairs at bay (I've pulled four in the last couple of week. I know they stay for everyone one you pull two grow in, but whatever, I'll just be bald). As such, I'm constantly looking for shortcuts. Here's a list of Ten Things That Make My Bookish Life Easier.

1. BARNES & NOBLE
Other bookstores too, but the best and closest to my apartment is Barnes & Noble. Bookstores are on this list for a bunch of reasons. 1. It's on my short list of places that actually calm me down. I walk in, hang out with my books, maybe sit and read a quick, fluffy romance and my day is suddenly better. 2. I can sample the books in person. Order something online or reading an Amazon preview just isn't the same as giving a physical item a trial run/read. 3. RECOMMENDATIONS. I can go to the store, talk to someone in the Teen Section, get into it and get a very personalized recommendation. Obviously I can get the same thing from my (blogging) friends, but a stranger's impression can also be very helpful towards managing my insanity.

2. GOODREADS
This is a given. If I need to explain myself, you clearly haven't been on Goodreads. So go get on that.

3. LOTS O' LISTS 
I'm a compulsive list maker. I make lists of books I need to review, books I intend to read, discussion topics, Top Ten Tuesday topics, blogging projects I'm working on and other random drivel. I keep my lists on my laptop though - I have a Mac and I use the Stickies app - because if I had hardcopies, I'd obsess and I just can't. But I do have it set up so the Stickies app opens up when I turn on my computer. So there's that.

4. A CALENDAR
My iCal app also opens as soon as I turn on my computer. It syncs to my phone and iPad. I always know what I have scheduled/what I want to have scheduled on hand. It calms me to see it all laid out instead of all crammed into my head. 

5. OODLES OF BOOKMARKS
I actually have a Ziplock bag full of bookmarks at home. I mostly use tickets or other bits of paper that have sentimental meaning to me - not formal bookmarks you'd buy or get as swag. It just means more. Anyway, I don't lose track of them the way I did as a kid anymore (I would buy the nice ones at the store and constantly misplace them) but I still have upwards of 50 potential bookmarks and it's nice to know I'll never lose my place. 

6. FRIENDS WHO READ
This refers to my blogging friends, my IRL friends who actually like books and even some of you. I might say: "I want to read this book." And someone might reply: "Oh, that's not a Gaby book." Or "That one wasn't very good." While I'm not one to not read a book because everyone says not to (I'm actually more likely to go ahead and read that book) I like going in with intel. Goodreads comes in handy for this, but so does going to the bookstore with bookish friends. Also, these friends who read? They're generally pretty good at lending me books/ARCs I don't have and even sometimes giving me books they don't want anymore. Which is also pretty awesome.

7. MY LIBRARY
Books I don't have to pay for and can borrow for 3 weeks at a time, not counting renewals? Sign me up. Oh wait, I've already signed myself up. In two different states. I LOVE YOU BOSTON AND NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARIES. YOU'RE GREAT. NEVER CHANGE. (Unless you're getting more books or renovating or getting more librarians or somehow acquiring more money. Then CHANGE AWAY.) Also, the online sites for both these libraries are awesome. 

8. TWITTER
Twitter sometimes makes my bookish life a little stressful (there's a lot of drama on the Interwebz) but mostly it's a really fun place where I connect with other awesome bookish people and find links/read about things I, as a bookish person, should know. It's also really fun to follow your favorite authors and "get to know them" (as much as you can in 140 characters). Or even follow publishers who like to interact with the readers. SOMETIMES THERE ARE EVEN GIVEAWAYS ON TWITTER. It's cool, to say the least. 

9. EBOOKS
I'm pretty sure I'm not alone in saying I LOVE PHYSICAL BOOKS. I even prefer them to eBooks. But when you're going on vacation or you're physically running out of floor space in your home or there's some amazing deal on Amazon or Nook, YOU JUST CAN'T SAY NO TO THAT EBOOK. Also, when you pair this whole eBook thing with the whole Library thing? Let's just say, when I was abroad, this saved me. Times a million.

10. MY EREADER
Given what number 9 is, I feel like number 10 had to happen. But guys, you know how indecisive I am. So Nook? Kindle? Nah. I have an iPad Mini. I can have Nook, Kindle, iBooks, OverDrive, 3M Library Cloud, Bluefire Reader and I don't even know what else. I don't have to curse at myself for not being able to get the best deal or not be able to download something because the little iPad Mini That Could very literally can. IT. CAN.

Are any of these things helpful to you too? Am I forgetting something? If you can think of something I missed, be sure to remind me in the comments below! 

August 16, 2013

Cover Preferences

Fact: I don't like coffee. I just like saying Coffee Clutch in my best and deepest New York accent. Considering I'm a New Yorker, I'm pretty freaking good at it. So I've got my tea and I hope you have your heated beverage of choice, because it's time to gab the day away.

Recently I've realized that I'm a bit of a Cover Snob.


[Although, I like to say I have PREFERENCES - as if a cover does or doesn't push my decision to pick up or put down a book. Whatever.]

Now, there are layers to my affliction.

The most obvious bit to this is that if I see a book with a cover I don't like, my eyes will gloss over it like it's not even there. Kind of like muggles with Diagon Alley.

[Yeah, I'm a nerd times ten.]

Now, sometimes if a friend tells me about a book with a cover my eyes find displeasing, I'll give it a shot. Or if said book is getting a lot of buzz I might look past the cover and get to reading. But if it's on the shelves? Fuhgeddaboudit.

[That's how you say "forget about it" in mobster/Brooklynese. In case you were wondering.]

This is what NYC spends money in. We're cool.
The next layer to my affliction happens once I bring a book with a pretty cover book home. I don't know what's wrong with me, but there are some covers, like the cover of Daughter of Smoke & Bone, that I know I find absolutely stunning but don't pick up for the longest time. I think it's because I think the cover is stunning but not COMPELLING. The cover is just kind of a brilliant piece of art and HELLO, have you ever BEEN to a museum? You DON'T TOUCH THE ART. So I stare and stare until I either tell myself to stop being stupid or someone yells at me and read the book behind the pretty cover (that I was almost positive I'd love anyway). Another example of me not wanting to disturb the pretty cover is Seraphina. Stupid freaking gorgeous covers.

[I find that I have this issue a lot with fantasy books. So basically, cover designers for fantasy books, you're making art. Put it in the Met and stop torturing me.]


But then there's this other problem that exists: the perception of beauty/cover awesomeness is 100% subjective. Today Rachel and I went to Barnes and Noble. She realized that she loves covers with flowers on them (among other things, of course). I'm not so into that, the same way I'm not so into covers that have people's faces on them (unless there's a really pretty dress involved, like Something Strange & Deadly or The Selection). I don't go for characters holding weapons or harsh coloring either (I could make a serious list of covers with the heroine holding a weapon, but I won't). And, honestly? If I didn't trust Sarah Dessen, Susane Colasanti and similarly awesome contemporary authors, I probably wouldn't read their books because their covers just kind of are for me. Like, they don't stand out.

I'm more into text walls (ex: How to Lead a Life of Crime and Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock) covers with gilded text (ex: Belle Epoque) and covers with beautiful coloring (ex: The Beautiful and the Cursed, the new covers of Stephanie Perkins's books and Ignite Me). I also really like romantic/dreamy covers (ex: Still Star-Crossed and Perfect Ruin) covers with graphics (ex: the back cover of Winger and everything by Rainbow Rowell) and mixed media covers (ex: Jennifer E. Smith's books). I ALSO really like covers where the models are holding hands (ex: The Distance Between Us and Amy & Rogers Epic Detour) because hand holding is cute and Doctor Who has led me to believe it's the most perfect gesture ever.

THIS IS ONLY THE FIRST EPISODE OF THE REBOOT.
Was Micky even in that shot before they started holding hands? Am suddenly scared.
Honestly, I have no idea why any of these cover themes do it for me. It's just what I'm into. And, the same way my friend and I might go to a bar and have different opinions on how hot a guy is, I might very well see a cover in a completely different light than someone else. Which might lead me to ignore a REALLY FREAKING GOOD BOOK that everyone else I know read a million years ago. (I feel like this also goes for guys. Like, everyone else might know that guy's a good guy but I won't even bother to get to know him because I'm dumb. And now I've taken this TOO FAR. I need to learn how to stop. Seriously.)

But enough of me. I wanna know what kinds of covers YOU gravitate towards. Are there any design choices you shun? Any themes you adore? Maybe covers mean nothing to you and it's the summary/title that speaks to you. Whatever it is, be sure to let me know in the comments below!