Monday, July 6, 2015

Those Girls

Title: Those Girls
Author: Lauren Saft
Published: June 9th 2015 by Poppy
Source: ARC courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review

"Some girls will always have your back, and some girls can't help but stab you in it.

Junior year, the suburbs of Philadelphia. Alex, Mollie and Veronica are those girls: they're the best of friends and the party girls of the school. But how well does everybody know them--and really, how well do they know one another? Alex is secretly in love with the boy next door and has joined a band--without telling anyone. Mollie suffers from a popular (and possibly sociopathic) boyfriend, as well as a serious mean streak. And Veronica just wants to be loved--literally, figuratively, physically....she's not particular. Will this be the year that bonds them forever....or tears them apart for good?

Lauren Saft masterfully conveys what goes on in the mind of a teenage girl, and her debut novel is raw, honest, hilarious, and thought-provoking, with a healthy dose of heart."

I'm going to be upfront with you guys and tell you this will be a very unconventional review, especially for me. I hardly ever talk about my personal life on my blog, but this has been something that has been eating away at my soul for longer than I care to admit. Instead of breaking down THOSE GIRLS piece by piece, I'm going to write about toxic friendships and how this book inspired me to cut bad ties.

First off, I have to be honest and mention that this book wasn't one of my favorites. There's slut-shaming, unprotected sex, and just all-around terrible things that made me want to scream and tear this book in half. I will never, for the life of me, understand why girls are so awful to each other. The world isn't exactly fair, especially if you're a woman. Instead of calling each other sluts and whores, we should be empowering each other. To top that off, these girls are best friends? Really? Sex, parties, cheating, drugs, and I don't even know what else I'm leaving out, but sweet mercy, these girls need Jesus or something.

I definitely struggled with this book. Why would friends be so cruel to each other? Betray each other? What is wrong with these people. Then it hit me...

Some of my "friends" aren't exactly friends at all.

I've actually been dealing with issues involving multiple friendships ranging from feeling left out or their general lack of concern. Feeling left out is kind of tricky. I usually don't care if people do things without me. It's not like I'm inviting everyone to go to brunch, ya know? Here's the kicker though: If I know it's something that certain people would like to do or feel hurt if I left them out, I will most certainly invite them. I would hate for them to do it to me, and I genuinely despise hurting other people's feelings. Call it Catholic guilt, but hurting someone's feelings is not an option. The times I've left people out has been because I've had to limited number of people I can invite or thought the other person wouldn't enjoy it. Not everyone loves pub crawls or knows everyone I know, right? I understand situations like that. There are those, and then there are situations like this:

These girls leave me out of everything, and I hate to say it, but it f*cking hurts my feelings. Even when I invite them out, they ignore my texts and don't respond. I remember this one time I invited some of these girls to the movies. None of them responded, so I just figured they were busy or didn't want to go. On the day I wanted to go to the movies, at the same time I suggested, they posted a group photo of themselves online, at the movies all smiles and good times. Maybe I'm looking too much into this, but it kind of seems like they left me out on purpose. The pain I felt was real and a little foreign since I hadn't been that hurt in so long.

If I thought this was a fluke, I was proven that it wasn't multiple times now. One of them actually threw a Fourth of July BBQ and invited everyone in our "clique" but me. I only know this because again, posting photos online. Hurtful, right? My favorite part was when she texted me on Sunday to see how I was doing, I think knowing I knew what went down on Saturday, and trying to do damage control. "Oh ya know, it feels like you took a giant crap on my soul but other than that, not too shabby!".

Whenever I do see these girls (which isn't often), all they want to do is talk about themselves and how their lives are going. They're "Veronicas". They don't ask what's going on with me, ask how Chris is doing or even truly know what's going on in my life. Then, if they find out something great that happened to me (I got a raise, promotion, whatever), they get hurt at ME for not telling them. When? When you asked me what's going on in my life, and I tried to tell you, but you interrupted me to talk about you again?

Do they even know me anymore?

They sure care enough about me to ask to borrow my things, ask for favors, or ask me to go out of my way for them. It's seems to be more about what I can do for them than wanting to be my friend.

They also care enough to tell each other personal, private things I've told them and asked them not to share. Do you know how much that kills me? It wasn't your story to tell!

Sweet mercy, my life is a YA novel! Am I Janis Ian from Mean Girls?

I've actually talked to a couple of my other friends and even my husband about this. They told me to call them out, but I don't think I can do that. I hate confrontation. I've had that awkward friendship break-up before, and things were said that I meant at the time but wish I could take back. I'm not that bitch girl anymore.

"'Girls are horrible. I think that’s normal. I think that’s why you’re all friends.'"

Sad but sometimes true. Maybe the fault is with me. Maybe I haven't been a good person or friend and should try harder.

Thus, I tried. I tried to save these friendships by inviting them out once more, by reaching out to them and asking if they wanted to hang out. Say when, and I'll make it work. To me, these relationships were worth saving, especially considering I've known some of these girls for more than half of my life. I told myself that if I just reached out enough, tried enough, we'll be able to move past this and rekindle our lost friendship. Fix is before it's too late. JUST DO IT!

You know what kinds of responses I received?

Either things like they're busy and will let me know (but never did) or none at all.

Friendship is a two way street. The crushing, hard, sad reality is if the other person isn't willing to try or even (at this point) want to make it work, then you can't fix it.

After reading THOSE GIRLS, I woke up and realized how incredibly angry I am. These truly are toxic friendships. They're the kind that take and take but never give. I don't think I have it in me to do this anymore.

As I'm writing this, I'm once again overcome by emotion and hurt. The truth is, I have cried many tears over these friends strangers, and I don't want to anymore. With that said, it doesn't mean I'm going to go out of my way or be mean to them. I'll remain kind and cordial, but I don't think our actual friendship can be repaired.

Thank you, THOSE GIRLS, for waking me up and reminding me what my true friends and husband have been saying for years- That I need to move on, because some girls are simply mean. Friendship break-ups are the worst, but it's better than constantly being hurt by the same people over and over again.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Waiting On Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking The Spine. It features each bloggers most anticipated books. This week my pick is PASSENGER by Alexandra Bracken.

"Violin prodigy Etta Spencer had big plans for her future, but a tragedy has put her once-bright career at risk. Closely tied to her musical skill, however, is a mysterious power she doesn't even know she has. When her two talents collide during a stressful performance, Etta is drawn back hundreds of years through time.

Etta wakes, confused and terrified, in 1776, in the midst a fierce sea battle. Nicholas Carter, the handsome young prize master of a privateering ship, has been hired to retrieve Etta and deliver her unharmed to the Ironwoods, a powerful family in the Colonies--the very same one that orchestrated her jump back, and one Nicholas himself has ties to. But discovering she can time travel is nothing compared to the shock of discovering the true reason the Ironwoods have ensnared her in their web.

Another traveler has stolen an object of untold value from them, and, if Etta can find it, they will return her to her own time. Out of options, Etta and Nicholas embark on a perilous journey across centuries and continents, piecing together clues left behind by the mysterious traveler. But as they draw closer to each other and the end of their search, the true nature of the object, and the dangerous game the Ironwoods are playing, comes to light -- threatening to separate her not only from Nicholas, but her path home... forever."

Why I Can't Wait: If you've ever read either BRIGHTLY WOVEN or THE DARKEST MINDS books, you know that Alexandra is a gift storyteller. Her books are so imaginative to where I wonder if she can actually travel to difference universes and turn them into books. Music, time-traveling, and possible magic? Sign me up! Plus, did you see that cover? Crazy gorgeous!

Expected publication: January 5th 2016 by Disney-Hyperion
Add it on Goodreads

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Top Ten Books I've Read In 2015 So Far

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the fabulous ladies at The Broke and the Bookish. So, the Top Ten Books I've Read In 2015 So Far, eh? Let's have a go at it!

1. THE WINNER'S CRIME (The Winner's Curse #2) by Marie Rutkowski. There's a reason this was the first book that came to mind and another why this trilogy is easily becoming one of my favorites. It's just so, so good, and leaves me with so many feelings. I've never been so happy to be this frustrated in...well, ever.

2. CHASE ME (Broke and Beautiful #1) by Tessa Bailey. Karen actually recommended this one to me, and I always buy every book she recommends (they're far and few). You guys, this book is hilarious and sexy and oh so delicious. I devoured it.

3. THE DEAL (Off-Campus #1) by Elle Kennedy. Another book Karen recommended, and I loved. You're on a roll, bestie. Keep them coming. But seriously, if you take anything away from this post, let it be a copy of this book.

4. SAINT ANYTHING by Sarah Dessen. This novel is as addicting as eating popcorn during a movie. Am I the only one who has read this and has been craving pizza ever since? Maybe I'll order pizza for lunch.

5. I'LL MEET YOU THERE by Heather Demetrios. Gosh, I loved this book. Thinking about some of the scenes now is getting me a bit misty-eyed. No, it's just allergies...I'M FINE!

6. JESSE'S GIRL (Hundred Oaks) by Miranda Kenneally. How does Miranda consistently write these amazing, funny, fun, swoony books? Her books are like a roller coaster that only goes up. I don't think it has ever taken me more than a day to finish one of her novels, and JESSE'S GIRL is a great example as to why.

7. CONFESS by Colleen Hoover. I really adored this one, so it's truly no surprise that Colleen is easily becoming one of my auto-buy authors. I highly recommend getting a physical copy of CONFESS, because the art work is fantastic. Almost as good as the actual story.

8. EMMY & OLIVER by Robin Benway. You guys know I love me a good YA contemp with beauty, raw emotions, and everything in-between. So, so good.

9. THE GIRL AT MIDNIGHT (The Girl At Midnight #1) by Melissa Grey. This novel is kind of like a mixture of CITY OF BONES and DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONES, but also something that's entirely it's own. It's really freaking good, you guys. For real.

10. THE ORPHAN QUEEN (The Orphan Queen #1) by Jodi Meadows. I just want to crawl inside Jodi's mind and wander around for a bit. Where does she come up with these amazing stories? I would also like the shake the hand of the person who designs her cover art. Beautiful writing, beautiful cover, beautiful everything.

There you have it! What's the best thing you've read in 2015 thus far?

Monday, June 29, 2015

Review: Forever For A Year

Title: Forever For a Year
Author: B.T. Gottfred
Expected publication: July 7th 2015 by Henry Holt and Co.
Source: ARC courtesy of the publisher for an honest review

"When Carolina and Trevor meet on their first day of school, something draws them to each other. They gradually share first kisses, first touches, first sexual experiences. When they’re together, nothing else matters. But one of them will make a choice, and the other a mistake, that will break what they thought was unbreakable. Both will wish that they could fall in love again for the first time . . . but first love, by definition, can’t happen twice.

Told in Carolina and Trevor's alternating voices, this is an up-close-and-personal story of two teenagers falling in love for the first time, and discovering it might not last forever."

Thoughts: Are kids nowadays really having sex at 14? That seems so young, right? Or maybe I'm simply old and times are changing?

At any rate, this isn't the reason I'm giving the book 1 star. I just couldn't stand the two main characters and constantly felt annoyed by one or the other. The writing was good, not as juvenile as the characters, but characters make or break a book, and these two broke it for me. I understand being young and stupid, not listening to your parents because you feel so self-assured, however, these two teens were just...I don't know. There's a difference between wanting to grow up, enjoying the perks of a grown-up relationship, and being cautious and wary. Both Carolina and Trevor were reckless when it came to their relationship. I feel like Trevor's mom warned him how things could be, and he just blew her off. Yes, I know teenagers often don't listen to their parents, but they really should when it concerns seriously topics such as sex. It's very disrespectful and made me dislike Trevor. That and his pressuring Carolina to have sex. Again, I know this is how teenage boys can be, but he was written as this sweet character with feelings, and he ended up just being a huge disappointment and kind of a tool.

I found myself skimming through the book rather than reading it, mainly because I was so tired of the whining or Carolina and Trevor's bratty nature or because of all of the sex. So much sex, and don't even get me started on the issue of unprotected sex. The fact that they discussed safe sex but were still careless and again, reckless, drove me absolutely bonkers. How can someone preach safe sex and not have it? I'm sorry to say I found myself rolling my eyes and becoming increasingly angry.

Still, with that this said and done, I wanted to know how it would all end. I became invested. Now that I know, I wish I didn't, because the ending actually made me loathe the two of them even more. They're hurtful, selfish, and only think of their own needs and emotions. Please tell me not all teenagers are like this.

On a scale from 1 to even, I can't. This novel left a distaste in my mouth I couldn't brush off. I will say that I think the author is a gifted writer, one reason being that I haven't felt such intense emotions regarding a novel in quite some time. Though I pointed out the issues I had with FOREVER FOR A YEAR, it's not saying that everyone will hate it. Some people may love it. We're all different, ya know? Sadly, it's just not the book for me.


1 Star

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Emmy & Oliver Blog Tour: Review + Giveaway

Title: Emmy & Oliver
Author: Robin Benway
Published: June 23rd 2015 by HarperTeen
Source: ARC courtesy of the publisher for an honest review

"Emmy’s best friend, Oliver, reappears after being kidnapped by his father ten years ago. Emmy hopes to pick up their relationship right where it left off. Are they destined to be together? Or has fate irreparably driven them apart?

Emmy just wants to be in charge of her own life.

She wants to stay out late, surf her favorite beach—go anywhere without her parents’ relentless worrying. But Emmy’s parents can’t seem to let her grow up—not since the day Oliver disappeared.

Oliver needs a moment to figure out his heart.

He’d thought, all these years, that his dad was the good guy. He never knew that it was his father who kidnapped him and kept him on the run. Discovering it, and finding himself returned to his old hometown, all at once, has his heart racing and his thoughts swirling.

Emmy and Oliver were going to be best friends forever, or maybe even more, before their futures were ripped apart. In Emmy’s soul, despite the space and time between them, their connection has never been severed. But is their story still written in the stars? Or are their hearts like the pieces of two different puzzles—impossible to fit together?

Readers who love Sarah Dessen will tear through these pages with hearts in throats as Emmy and Oliver struggle to face the messy, confusing consequences of Oliver’s father’s crime. Full of romance, coming-of-age emotion, and heartache, these two equally compelling characters create an unforgettable story."

Thoughts: You guys, EMMY & OLIVER is a fabulous example as to why I'm an adult still reading YA novels. There aren't enough words to describe how much I absolutely adored this novel from the beginning until the bittersweet end. Just replaying the book in my head is making me want to reread it and experience it all over again.

I love that the book starts off with the day Oliver goes missing. They were just kids, and it was a day like any other day (with the exception of that precious note). No one knew that whenever they saw Oliver run to his father's car, it would be the last time they'd see him for years.

Whenever Oliver returned, things weren't exactly easy for him nor Emmy. It reminded me how awful high school and teenagers can be. With that being said, at least they had each other even if they didn't know they did. Oliver and Emmy's relationship progressed perfectly going from awkward, rekindling, friendship, and then something more. Oh, and the feels? So many different feelings. I'm so glad I didn't read this book out in public, because onlookers would most likely assume I'm an unstable crazy lady. I went from smiling to being heartbroken to laughing then swooning, and then (as if I wasn't feeling enough) being on the verge of tears. Too much yet not enough at the same time.

Now, I will say that the flashback chapters were nice, but I also could've lived without them. They often came out of nowhere and though charming, it somewhat threw the pacing of the book off for me. The best way I can think of to describe it is when you're telling someone a story, and someone else interrupts you in the middle of you telling said story to tell their own story. It's like that though less annoying.

Overall, I'm just going to reiterate once more how amazing this novel is. I'm so jealous of anyone who hasn't read this yet and gets to experience it for the first time. Without a doubt, this is one of my favorite contemporary books I've read this year, and I've read a ton lately!


5 Stars

Giveaway time:

Thanks to the fabulous tour host and people at Harper Teen, we're giving away two incredible upcoming ARCs-

*WHAT WE SAW by Aaron Hartzler

Not going to lie, I'm crazy jealous of whomever wins this prize! Enter by filling out the Rafflecopter form below.

Be sure to catch the rest of the blog tour for more chances to win!

6/22 - The Midnight Garden
6/23 - Mundie Moms
6/24 - Reading Teen
6/25 - Addicted 2 Novels (YOU'RE HERE!)
6/26 - Andi's ABC's
6/29 - Stuck In Books
6/30 - Swoony Boys Podcast
7/1 - Step Into Fiction
7/2 - Supernatural Snark
7/3 - Fiction Fare

a Rafflecopter giveaway

About Robin Benway:

I'm the author of "Audrey, Wait!", "The Extraordinary Secrets of April, May & June", and the AKA series. My new book "Emmy & Oliver" will be released on June 23, 2015. I live in Los Angeles with my extremely stubborn shih tzu, Hudson. I've gotten a lot better at cooking. I still love coffee. We should be friends.

Connect with Robin:
*Robin's website

*Barnes and Noble
*The Book Depository

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Hello, I Love You Blog Tour: Guest Post + Giveaway

You guys, I have to start by telling y'all how absolutely amazing HELLO, I LOVE YOU is. I'm not saying this because I'm part of the blog tour. I'm saying this because it's true, and you can really see Katie Stout's passion through every word she writes. It's as fun as that gorgeous cover is!

Anyway, I have the honor of hosting Katie herself as she talks about her travels and how it has inspired her writing. Without further ado, here's Katie!

I love to travel, and I’ve been incredibly fortunate in my life to have been all over the world, from Hong Kong to Budapest to Cape Town. Some of the biggest adventures of my life have happened in other countries, and I have zero doubts that my travel experiences have affected and inspired my writing.

My first trip overseas was to Hanoi, Vietnam, when I was 9. We had family living over there, and I visited with my mom and sister. It was an eye-opening experience, and I never quite shook my interest in other cultures and countries.

In high school and college, I traveled wider, to Thailand, Ecuador, China, Laos, Myanmar, South Korea, and Colombia. But it wasn’t until I graduated college and joined the Christian missions charity Operation Mobilization that I really started scratching off countries on my travel bucket list. In the span of two years, I went to England, Germany, South Africa, Singapore, Scotland, France, Zambia, and a ton more other places. It felt like I lived in airports.

I remember seeing Beth Revis get asked somewhere (I think on Tumblr?) what was her biggest piece of advice for writers, and she said it wasn’t to read or write a lot (both of which are important) but to live—to have adventures and experience new things. That’s where stories come from, and that’s what fuels your muse.

I couldn’t agree more.

Traveling has changed my life. It’s put me in really difficult situations, like when I rode on a bus in Myanmar for 36 hours through the jungle, and amazing ones, like sitting at the base of the Eiffel Tower at 11 o’clock at night watching it light up or riding a pony in the Andes Mountains in Ecuador.

Traveling has shown me that my American, middle class way isn’t the only way—or even necessarily the best way.

Traveling has given me empathy and broken my heart for the many different kinds of hurting people around the world.

Traveling has introduced me to amazing foods—Pad Thai in Chiang Mai, chicken tikka in London, schnitzel in Heidelberg, ceviche in Quito, and milk tea in Hong Kong.

Traveling has given me stories to tell. It constantly inspires me to explore, to be creative, and above all, to be brave.

I love this quote from Augustine, an ancient philosopher and theologian, who said, “The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page.”

Let’s all read more pages in the world’s book!

Budapest, Hungary

Vientiane, Laos

Etosha National Park, Namibia

Glencoe, Scotland

Seoul, South Korea

About The Author:

Katie M. Stout is from Atlanta, Georgia, and works for an international charity that sends her to fun places like Spain and Singapore. When she's not writing, you can find her drinking an unhealthy amount of chai tea and listening to Girls' Generation, Teen Top, and all her other favorite K-pop tunes.

Giveaway: Thanks to the fabulous people at St. Martin's Griffin, I am giving away a copy of HELLO, I LOVE YOU to one very lucky winner. All you have to do is fill out the Rafflecopter form below. The giveaway is only open to US participants, so good luck!

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Monday, June 15, 2015

Vote Allegiant

HarperTeen is doing is funtastic promotion where you can actually vote on which scene you'd like to be included in ALLEGIANT'S special edition copy on sale October 6th. I voted for Evelyn's Vote, but all three sound amazeballs.

What are you waiting for? VOTE!