Thursday, August 18, 2016

Ignite Me by Tahereh Mafi | Rating: ★★★☆☆

“And we are quotation marks, inverted and upside down, clinging to one another at the end of this life sentence. Trapped by lives we did not choose.”

My first thought on the action-packed finale of the Shatter Me series isn't all that full of praise. Whereas the two which came before it were magical, steamy and thrilling, something about Ignite Me fell short for me. Lackluster would be the accurate way of processing it, really, and that is painful to say--as I loved the first two books. See, the prose was still full of magic and excellence and there was plenty of action and romance, but something about this installment left me feeling less than what I'd desired or come to expect. 

This isn't to say it wasn't good. It is the weak link in the series and that's a damn shame, because I liked where things were going until I didn't. I felt like a lot was rushed and left a weird feeling with me in terms of development. There were moments when the characters grew and reflected who they were in the first two books and then there were the frustrating moments in which you asked yourself, "Who are they?" at familiar faces. While some character growth was pleasing and made sense, there were other things that felt chopped up and off. You know, the very opposite of character growth and I hated it. 


Wednesday, August 17, 2016

The Girls by Emma Cline | Rating: ★★★★★

That was our mistake, I think. One of many mistakes. To believe that boys were acting with a logic that we could someday understand. To believe that their actions had any meaning beyond thoughtless impulse. We were like conspiracy theorists, seeing portent and intention in every detail, wishing desperately that we mattered enough to be the object of planning and speculation. But they were just boys. Silly and young and straightforward; they weren't hiding anything.

You know that feeling when you've read a book and you're completely engulfed in it, you don't notice the passage of time? There could be a literal storm pouring outside and you would barely notice it, because you couldn't stop flipping the pages. Someone could walk past you, playing the theme to Star Wars on a tuba, while wearing a tie-dyed gnome costume with reindeer antlers firmly on their head and you wouldn't have the slightest idea because, holy shit, I can't put this book down!? I know you guys know what I'm talking about and The Girls is that book for me.

Impossible to put down. Excellent pace. Phenomenal writing. Complex characters. Thrills. Quotable to the highest degree. A quality I noticed about The Girls right away was that it was otherworldly. It takes your breath away. Something about it causes your heart to speed up and down and go all over the place in the most deliciously maddening of ways. It can chill you to the bone just as much as it could warm you up. The Girls is haunting, it is everything. It is familiar and incredibly put together.


Losing Gabriel by Lurlene McDaniel | Rating: ★★★☆☆

It is no secret that I have been a fan of Lurlene McDaniel's work for over a decade. I am proud to say that I've read nearly all of her printed works from her career, which has spanned for multiple decades,  and to say I was excited for Losing Gabriel would be an injustice to the emotions I feel when McDaniel publishes new work. At all defining moments of my life, there have been a few authors whom I adore as much as I do her. Even in her weakest points, even when the stories feel lackluster or familiar, her words are home. Something deeply tangled into her stories helped shape who I became. 

I should clarify, right here and now, that while her stories opened many doors for me and sparked one of many interests, I am no longer in her targeted audience. Obviously. But the thing is, despite this, I was moved multiple times by Losing Gabriel. From start to finish, the story stirs something inside the readers and does so in the way that only Lurlene McDaniel can. I know what to expect when reading a novel by her: you need tissues and to prepare for the tears which surely will come. 

This one is no exception. 

If you don't have tears in your eyes by its final pages, I don't know what to say to you. 


Saturday, August 13, 2016

Stacking the Shelves #2

It's that time again! Happy weekend everyone and thanks to the little nuggets who took the time to reply to my very first Stacking the Shelves post from last weekend. For those of you who are new to Stacking the Shelves, you can read about joining in here and as always, huge shout out to our ever-so-lovely host Tynga's Reviews! As you know by now, the general ideal behind these posts is one large round-up of all the books from your week.

I don't know about you lot but my week was exhausting. It's time for the fair to be around my hometown and the week was spent dealing with the sudden surge of customers popping into work to escape the heat or traffic.

Which roughly means little to no free time, a lot of obnoxious and messy people making my workday hellish. I'm not exaggerating there--but that's not what this post is going to be about. I mostly crammed in reading time this week between breaks so I could have the weekend mostly to myself and to also have Sunday morning free to go to the fair with my friend and her daughter, as it's the last day it's in town.


The Thousandth Floor by Katharine McGee | Rating: ★★★★★

As a note, an e-galley of this novel was sent to me via Edelweiss by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not effect my opinions in any way.

There's something sparkly and new yet oddly undeniably familiar about The Thousandth Floor. Think of it as Gossip Girl set in the not so far future. I need to stress that this novel is one of those stories that the only way to read it wrongly is to expect it to be more than it is. It's a light but entirely vivid and delectable read that keeps you on your toes from start to finish. I liked the theme that 'the more things change, the more they stay the same'--the futuristic New York City that McGee paints us is incredibly different from our own, in terms of appearance, but is still filled with the same social climbing, reckless teens we've come to expect.

In place of the city that we love, stands a tower that goes up and up and up and up. And the tag line THE HIGHER YOU ARE, THE FARTHER YOU FALL, is perhaps one of the best descriptions of what is to come. We start off with a bang right away--a girl has fallen from the very top of the tower. This sets the stage wonderfully for a backdrop of luxury, technology and scandal. Katharine McGee's writing is similar to Cecily von Ziegesar and Sara Shepard except her words feel a bit more polished and eye-catching, which is a huge compliment coming from me considering I've been fans of the other two for the better part of a decade. Indeed, McGee's writing is delicious and fast paced; simple and an incredible ride for fans of the genre.


Hothouse Flower by Krista & Becca Ritchie | Rating: ★★★★★

“You’re a hothouse flower,” I tell her. “You can’t grow under natural conditions. You need adventure. And security and love in order to stay alive.”

Is anyone completely addicted to Addicted and The Calloway Sisters? It's relatively new territory to me because I find it so difficult to get attached to most new adult releases. I guess it's something of a rule for me but if one series were to be the biggest exception, it's Addicted. I can't remember the last time I was so attached to the characters and their mental health and relationships, but I'm very invested in how things end up for all the characters we meet.

There’s something about Krista and Becca Ritchie’s world of characters that draws you in from the get-go. Perhaps this is because, unlike a lot of novels in its genre, the characters are fully fleshed out and flawed to high degree but still remain as something to be admired. In Hothouse Flower, the second of The Calloway Sisters spin-off series, we follow the lives of fan-favorites Daisy Calloway and Ryke Meadows; their feelings for one another is at the forefront of the plotline as these two wild cards remain entangled in the lives of Lily, Lo, Connor and Rose. Elements of love, addiction, mental illness, pregnancy, family and risk fill the pages in a way that keeps readers on the edge of their seats.


Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Homecoming (The 100 #3) by Kass Morgan | Rating: ★★★★☆ (3.5)

Endings and beginnings are inseparable, like the moment before dawn and the moment after.

I waited so long to get my hands on this bad boy and now that I have it, and have read it, I can't decide what I'm feeling. On one hand, I am glad to see how the series has improved in terms of... well, everything

Kass Morgan's writing is so smooth and fast paced, and remains delightful and action packed with every chapter. Everything that was flawed about the series' first two novels has vastly improved and I have really, quite a lot more than I'd expected, enjoyed watching it grow. While many may argue that the show is better than this series (I disagree--with the exception of the grounder plots, Clarke's sexuality and Commander Lexa, which FYI, I'm still in denial about her death but that's nether here nor there) I think that both are on even footing in terms of good vs. bad. 

That being said, Homecoming was originally intended to be the finale of the trilogy that was the books and I'm glad to say that it isn't. Morgan will be returning with a fourth installment--hooray! It would have been a mistake to end the book series so quickly because in terms of endings and closure, this book was pretty lackluster. Many fans disagree with me heartily on that note, that it was a solid end to the books, but hear me out: I just don't feel it as an ending and think Morgan can, and will, do better. It's been such a joy reading and seeing her work grow and come to life. As I've already said, the growth and improvement has been far more pleasurable than I'd ever anticipated. 


What the Dead Want by Norah Olson | Rating: ★★★☆☆ (2.5-ish)

As a note, a printed galley of this novel was sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not effect my opinions in any way.  

With a premise as unique and chilling as What the Dead Want, it's easy to see why I was so excited to receive a copy to review. But overall, there were a lot of problems with the novel--for me--that felt like every page and promise lacked something. It felt like a world of wasted potential because there were so many things that could have made this spooky tale, well, sparkle.

Firstly, the summary was so eye-catching that it just felt like this was going to be it. Do you know what I mean? I went into What the Dead Want with a world of expectations that just weren't met--and maybe that was my problem, but the pacing was slow and lackluster and felt like it could have been so much more than what it was. I didn't necessarily hate the novel, but I certainly didn't love it and felt that there was so much that could have been improved. There was so much potential for a richly drawn world upon first glance but there was a lot that just didn't fit.

You see, there was this unique tone to its description that felt like it would be in a similar vein to Ransom Riggs' work and maybe--to an extent--improve on it. I liked the idea of fantasy and ghost stories in this one and went into it thinking, hey, this is going to be the perfect read for autumn. But all my hopes were brushed aside within the first quarter of the book. I don't think it was that the writing was bad--indeed, Norah Olson has a solid prose that could be built on and it had its moments of greatness.


Wattpad Wednesday: Twelve Stories to Check Out

Like all online writing communities, there are many hits and misses amongst the self-published fiction. People of all ages come together to read, write and review in the little corner of the internet titled Wattpad. From fanfiction to plain old fashioned fiction to the guiltiest of pleasures, Wattpad has something for everyone. If you're looking for something to fill in the gaps between whatever novels given you a book hangover, if you're looking for a new and ongoing story to read on your breaks, this site is one of the best to look to.

Readers can enjoy storytelling for free through their app or directly on their site. Convenient, fast and an easy way to past the time, when this site is good--boy, is it good.

This week, I have twelve stories for any Wattpad lover to check out. I plan on hosting a master post once every month or two with brand new selections to check out. Each of which are currently on my shelf to read or continue reading or that of which I have read in the past. These days, a ton of budding writers have gotten their start on the website, much like many from my generation began on FF.net or AO3. Regardless, there is so much to be found on this website. Romance? Check. Fan Fiction? Check and check.

The only question is: what are you going to give a go? Follow me down the rabbit hole and give one of these a shot--or discover more on your own, plug your writing or give me some recommendations.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Shopping Haul #1: Hobby Lobby

You know that feeling you get when you discover some place new? 

Or, in my case, when you rediscover something? All kinds of fuzzy buzzy and fluffy-ness? Okay, so I'm totally making up that phrase but it's all I can do to explain how lovely I feel right now. At this very moment. Warm and fuzzy seems adequate. It's just a wonder what beauty can do to a person, isn't it? Let's get down to business. Hobby Lobby is an arts and crafts store that has been around for ages and ages. I'm not going to lie to you: I've never been much of a fan of the place (for obvious reasons) and the last time I stepped foot in the shop was when I was a child and my mother and I were making a mad dash of the place to try and find a few items for a school project.

Every week (when schedules don't conflict) my mother and I spend the day out together, typically wandering everywhere and nowhere all at once. Sometimes we get drinks. Sometimes we wander newer antique/secondhand shops. Some days we just go to Macy's, Sephora or Ulta. Other days it's Target or something new altogether. You get the idea.

The summer has been filled with mostly her choice of outings: craft supply shops and/or other places involving the arts.

Because one of my childhood friends has been working at Michael's since we were both seniors in high school, I can't believe it's been so long since then, we usually only go there, but my mom surprised me by saying she'd rather head over to Hobby Lobby to see what has changed since she last visited. I should at least clarify, too, that while I'm not exactly familiar with the chain store my mom is a long time customer. So, at least one of us knew what we were getting ourselves into.

My wallet had no idea what hit it by the time we left. There's so much to look at there that I feel like I absolutely didn't even scrape the surface. Ah! Basically, I would look at something and have an internal debate that typically goes like so: "Jessica, NO!" to "Jessica, YES!" and well, you get the picture.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Monday Mailbox: What the Dead Want by Norah Olson

You know that part where I said I was only going to post my book mail and the things I purchase on Sunday? I lied. I lied big time. As a brief "I'm too excited to wait until Sunday for my Stacking the Shelves entry!" post, to hold you guys over until then, and by "you guys" I clearly mean myself, I present to you: What the Dead Want. Courtesy of Katherine Tegen Books, the novel was released on July 26th, 2016 and rounds out to 320 pages. I know, I know, I'm late to the party... I wonder if it got lost in the mail for a while there or if it was delivered, first, to a neighbor?

Who knows.

This little guy looks like just the right level of creepy and I'm more than ready to dig in. I'm so excited to see where the plot takes me--and look at how simple and nice the inside looks! It's not even a finished copy! Swoon.


Sunday, August 7, 2016

Stacking the Shelves #1

Continuing on with the next phases of my blog, I figured I'd give something a go and try out the gift to all book haul blog posts: Stacking the Shelves. Hosted by Tynga's Reviews, it is exactly what you think it is-- a fun way to keep fellow readers up to date on what's on your shelf and what you've recently purchased or borrowed. Because I'm not used to blogging about much here beyond my reviews and the occasional haul or spotlight, this may very well be a shaky post. I've got the general idea from the many wonderful bloggers I follow who post entries for Stacking the Shelves... so what could go wrong?

Well, a lot, if you're me. So you readers just may be in for a good old fashioned laugh. Cheers. I'm here all week?

This week has been rather uneventful besides work for me but I'm getting back in the swing of things when it comes to my reading habits, mostly thanks to the Harry Potter play and the publication of the script. The Cursed Child is, alas, at the moment getting a ton of poor reviews but I enjoyed it! But enough about Harry. My first entry for Stacking the Shelves is going to be crowded and it will probably a bit lackluster in comparison to others. Given my job, I've picked up more than a few secondhand releases.

For those who don't know, I work with antiques. Needless to say, I've picked up a few gems there. Pair this up with my love of thrift shops and purchasing many books there, we're pretty much good to go! I am including all the books that I have bought in the summer months just to keep you guys busy for a while, you know? I feel as if I don't have much free time these days due to my laptop still being dead as a doornail, but that's not the end of the world and in some ways it gives me more time to haunt my favorite bookstores/thrift shops.

Jessica logic. Roll with it.

Twelve Books to Read This Autumn

I can barely believe August is already here and that my favorite season is just around the corner. Autumn, as a lot of you know, is my favorite time of the year. As summer begins to fade into fall, and we ditch the unbearable heat, I often find myself with the desire to lounge around coffee shops with a hot drink, a warm treat, some good music and literature, and one too many Harry Potter references to count. Because I'm twenty-five going on nine, you know? It's okay. It happens. Roll with it. I have a genuine excuse in acting as such due to the release of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.

As for the rest? I've complied a list of twelve novels that are perfect for the fall and will leave you feeling breathless and cozy. Each of the selected are from a few varying genres but feel like they are amongst the best to check out as the leaves fall and we pull our sweaters close. The list is in no particular order.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Comic Corner Roundup: Right on, Riverdale!

Everyone knows Archie.

Or, at least, everyone has heard of Archie Comics and the nostalgia inducing world of Riverdale. Lifelong fans, such as myself, are positively in heaven right now as publication of several new issues (and series) have been on their way as well as the upcoming CW adaptation Riverdale, which includes some of our favorite kids from the cheery town of Riverdale in a newer, mysterious light. Think Twin Peaks in the Archie verse. How can you not be intrigued by this?

We've got a promise of a new and darker soapy take on the beloved characters in the show as well as the horror friendly issues of Afterlife With Archie and The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. It's safe to say we are positively spoiled right now with all these excellent releases. If those aren't your cup of tea, then there's a modern spin on the classic aspects of the series in the new Riverdale: Archie, Jughead and Betty and Veronica. That's only me listing a few of their titles, not to mention the goodies from the archive. So, I mean this quite literally, there's something in the Archie catalog for everyone.

A little background information. When I was a little girl, my mother would often make references to characters from print. Mostly, this would be Jughead. I grew up in a home with two parents who grew up with Archie and soon, I felt myself lead down the same path--my character of choice? Sabrina. Sabrina Spellman is, perhaps, one of the most iconic characters in their lineup and having grown up in the 1990s, I think it's safe to say that we all wanted to be Sabrina and have a talking cat. Which is why my first mention will be of the horror infused spin The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina.


The Invisible Life of Ivan Isaenko by Scott Stambach | Rating: ★★★★★

Holy shit. Holy. Shit. You. Guys. Where do I begin to describe this gem? Breathtaking? Smart? Moving? Dark? As compelling as it is exquisite? A modern literature masterpiece? A total god damned triumph? Shall I continue, or do you lot get the idea? I may be a bit over the top right now but I can't put into words how much I adored this novel and how unexpectedly delightful it was to read it. Do you know that feeling you get, within the first few chapters of a book, where you're like "This is it, man. This book is it!"

Something about it just draws you in from the start. Be it the prose, the atmosphere, and anything really, that is what it's like to read The Invisible Life of Ivan Isaenko. Scott Stambach paints a beautiful and rich story for readers to surround themselves in and by the end of it, leaves us all feeling incredibly moved. Beautiful crafted and eye opening, there's just something about the novel that will leave you breathless and unable to shake the story in which you've just read.

I loved every moment of it and every page. There's no question that it's one of the best release of 2016 and cannot be missed. I kind of want to hunt down Scott Stambach and high five him? Or maybe throw a pie in his face or something for messing with my emotions. It's hard to tell. Whoa. Okay, sorry. Little off track there. Also, no idea where the throw a pie in his face comment came from. It just felt groovy, I guess?

If you're reading this, Scott, I'd like to formerly apologize.



Sugar and Spice by Lauren Conrad | Rating: ★★★☆☆

If you're looking for a dishy, quick and non serious read for your bedside table, then you should look no further. Lauren Conrad's L.A. Candy trilogy is fun, dramatic and indulgent. Over the course of two previous books, we've witnessed a great deal of drama catered to young adults with a love for reality television. Lauren Conrad's writing is surprisingly fun and although it isn't the greatest release in young adult literature, it's still a blast from start to finish--so long as you don't take it or yourself too seriously. Sugar and Spice wraps things up nicely for fans and also sets the stage for a spin-off trilogy and proves once again to be the perfect beachy read. It's fictional paperbacks at its dishiest and full of scandals which will appeal to fans of Gossip Girl and The A-List.

Onto the goods. Not a lot of time has passed since five young women's lives were changed upon signing on to film their day-to-day lives for a reality series titled L.A. Candy. Jane, Scarlett, Madison, Gabby and Hannah have reached new levels of fame in different ways and after the explosive ender to the previous installment, Conrad is sure to have more tricks up her sleeves.

And she did! I will say that I feel as though this third and final installment to Jane's story was a bit lackluster compared to the other two. But at the same time, it was fitting. I think Lauren did a nice job of wrapping things up and having a proper send-off for some characters while also having set a foundation for The Fame Game.


Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany & Jack Thorne | Rating: ★★★★★

Like most fans, I had marked down my calendar for July 31st, 2016. Although I had known ahead of time that Harry Potter and the Cursed Child wasn’t a book, instead it was a script, and that a great deal of the story itself wasn’t penned by J.K. Rowling, I was so thrilled to be having a new Harry Potter story nine years after the final book was released. How could we not be? This was our childhood. Hogwarts is our home. Because of all the spoilers that had leaked to Twitter upon the plays previews, I had low expectations from the start and I think that is why I loved (yes, loved) The Cursed Child as much as I do.

Far from my favorite release in the series, The Cursed Child is every bit as darkly magical as the previous seven full-length-novels. It took me back to my childhood. It reminded me what it was like to be so bloody excited for a book release, I barely nodded off whilst reading it and stayed up far later than I’d normally. There was something in it being the first Harry Potter story to have purchased with my own money, as many people from my generation have expressed. Midnight release parties, Freeform’s beloved Harry Potter Weekend and more played out to the tune of my weekend during its release date.

I felt younger again. I felt happy. You know that feeling, right? Tingling in your veins as you finally get your hands on a physical copy of something you love. Most of us hadn’t felt it since 2007–and I can’t explain how wonderful the sensation was after being from it for so long. My review would have come sooner but as I don’t have a laptop (still) and I couldn’t articulate what it was I wanted to say, here we are almost a week after its release.