May 24, 2016

Review: Suffer Love by Ashley Herring Blake

Suffer Love by Ashley Herring Blake
 5/3/16 by HMH Books
for Young Readers
YA - Contemporary
Suffer Love is messy. It explores messy relationships, dysfunctional families and the ups and downs of what it means to love someone. What made the book stand out to me is that every single person is flawed and no one makes the “right” choice. Instead everyone is doing the best they can, which often times didn’t feel good enough. And that’s life. It’s a reality I’m glad the author didn’t shy away from and I can see many readers relating in some shape, way or form to everything that unfolds here.

We get the dual perspectives of Hadley St. Clair and Sam Bennett. Hadley’s been living with the knowledge of her father’s year-long affair, which she found out about in the most horrible way. Her parents are “trying” to work it out but her mother’s barely veiled contempt only succeeds it making Hadley feel more alone. She deals by making out with different guys in her class, allowing the moments to temporarily help her forget without getting too attached. Then she meets Sam and the connection between them is immediate. Then he realizes that her family’s current problems are linked to his own and he knows he needs to keep it a secret. And we all know that can only lead to disaster.

It was so eye-opening to watch how Hadley and Sam and their two different families dealt with their struggles. It just goes to show that no one is perfect but that there’s so much power in love, forgiveness and honesty. It’s impossible not to feel for both Hadley and Sam, not to mention the rest of the people in their lives (I adored Sam’s little sister!).

Do I recommend? 
Yes! It’s extremely well-written with a memorable story and moving characters.

May 23, 2016

Happy Thoughts

It's been three months since my last "Happy Thoughts" post and I'm long overdue! I love doing these because it's really relaxing and motivating to take a moment to just focus on everything going right in your life. Especially when it's usually so much easier to feel overwhelmed by the bad.

So, here's what's putting a smile on my face these days!

cheating on my "no soda during the week" rule 
seeing Misty Copeland & Stella Abrera dance for the first time 
wearing dresses and flats to work again
group text messages with friends (Inner Circle!)
my brand new fridge = a working freezer = ice cream!
the awesomeness of GoT, Orphan Black, Grey’s + The Flash
books that give me all the feels 
my new plants are still alive and thriving 
weekend manis + pedis (with my BFF or on my own)
hugs and phone calls with my mom 
movie outings with my cousins 
trying out new recipes from SkinnyTaste and loving them
feeling good about work and my career
a new notebook for bullet journaling 
Yuna's new album which I adore
thinking about my Dublin trip 
and trying to plan more trip and little getaways for the year

What are your happy thoughts?

May 20, 2016

Stacking the Shelves (34)

Weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews 

I only bought four books this month total! (I'm not counting the e-book.) I'm feeling really good about this especially since three of them I had already read and the other was A Court of Mist and Fury. I also got some book mail that I'm looking forward to reading! I'm becoming increasingly picky about what I add to my TBR and again, I feel good about that. I'm determined to get my stack of unread books to an all-time low.

Now, onto the books!


What new books have you guys gotten lately?

May 19, 2016

Review: The Crown's Game (The Crown's Game #1) by Evelyn Skye

The Crown's Game by Evelyn Skyepub 5/17/16 by Balzer + Bray
Young Adult - Fantasy
Received ARC via Edelweiss
What a debut novel! I've mentioned before that reading a lot of fantasy back-to-back this year has been a bit of a genre overload, so I was worried about starting The Crown’s Game. My worries were unfounded though because I was completely swept into the magical, Russian-inspired (!) world that Evelyn Skye created. It tells the tale of two enchanters — Vika Andreyev and Nikolai Karimov — and the ancient duel of magic they must participate in to become the Imperial Enchanter to the Tsar. There can only be one winner and the other must die by the game’s end.

We switch back between Vika and Nikolai’s point-of-views and I immediately could not choose a winner. I wanted both of them to win the duel and fall hopelessly in love (trust me, you will too!). But their lives, this game and the people orchestrating this entire event make everything complicated and dangerous for them both. One of my favorite parts of the story was seeing what Vika and Nikolai are capable of. Each were raised to develop their magical skills but Vika was raised by a loving father on a small island while Nikolai was an orphan taken in by a cold but knowledgeable tutor. They’re both powerful in their own way and conjured up magic that the author took great pains to describe. And it paid off! Magic is like a third character in this book and I loved imagining their enchantments.

My other favorite part were the characters themselves. Vika and Nikolai are intelligent, kind and imaginative and it’s no surprise they are drawn to each other from the start. But both have entanglements to the crown — mainly in the form of Pasha, the prince who falls for Vika and Nikolai’s best friend. (Love triangle alert! But it’s one I didn’t mind.) I thought all the different plots came together really well and kept the story constantly moving forward until the very end. Which I guarantee will have you clamoring for the next book in this series.

Do I recommend?
I do! It was super enjoyable to immerse myself in this world and story and I’m looking forward to seeing what happens next.

Collaborative feature with Alexa! 

What would your enchantment be?
This is really tough! I know I'd want to do something fun and even kind of silly. Like maybe an enchantment where everyone in the kingdom would only have to think about what kind of clothes to wear or a new hair color and it would magically happen. If I could do that, it would make getting ready in the morning so much faster.

May 18, 2016

Review: Shuffle, Repeat by Jen Klein

Shuffle, Repeat by Jen Klein
pub 5/3/16 by Random House Books
for Young Readers
YA - Contemporary
Music, opposites attract, a guy and a girl who've known each other forever. Plus the author is a writer on Grey's Anatomy (still one of my favorite shows!). I mean, there was seriously no way I wasn't going to fall in love with this book. And to prove that I did: I read it in one sitting and as soon as I finished I went onto Amazon to pre-order (it came out on May 3rd). Clearly, I loved it!

Shuffle, Repeat is told from June's point-of-view but there would be no story without Oliver and we see that right from the get-go. Their moms have been best friends forever and since June doesn't know how to drive, they've made an arrangement to have Oliver drive June to school every day. From the moment she sits in his car, it couldn't be more apparent how different they are. They don't like the same music at all (I immensely enjoyed their bickering about it) but their biggest difference of opinion came from how they each viewed high school (oh man, this was even better!). For June, high school is just something to get through because it's a pre-cursor to "real life". For Oliver, he's all about making the most of the experience. The book becomes this battle of wits as they try to convince the other they're right. I loved what they were able to teach the other, particularly in June's case, because I think we all need reminding sometimes that we do now does, in fact, matter.

I adored June and Oliver. Even though it seems like they fit into some stereotypical teenage tropes, they don't and we see more than just the blossoming relationship between them. She's got a diverse set of friends and (dun dun dun), a boyfriend. There's a lot about expanding your circle of friends, being more open, stuff with her family (and his) and just a lot of growing up and learning about yourself in the process. Likewise, Oliver isn't some popular guy at school. He's genuinely nice, friendly and goofy. Totally the guy you'd want or hope to fall for at that age. (Heck, even my age now!) I was really impressed by how the author juggled multiple storylines, a ton of characters and made them all fit together by the end.

Do I recommend?
So much yes. The writing, the pacing, the characters – all totally on point. I can't wait for more from this author!