May 31, 2015

Rewind & Review #38

Rewind & Review

I made it through finals week! But just barely. I had so much packing to do amidst my tests and studying for them. My mom came on Tuesday, and we left Friday to return home. What should've been an eight hour trip (between driving to the airport, waiting for our plane, the flight, and then driving home) became a fourteen hour saga. Because of airline errors and weather, we didn't fly to Chicago. Instead, the airline abandoned us in Fort Wayne, Indiana. My mom and I got a rental car and then drove the four hours to get home.
But now I'm home and doing plenty of reading and writing and baking chocolate chip cookie pie, pull-apart pizza bread, mini pumpkin muffins, funfetti sugar cookies, and pancake mini muffins.
My four best friends graduated from high school the 16th, and I went to the ceremony. It was kind of weird being there, since that was me last year. Then I went to two of their parties and that was fun.
And in really great news, our house sold! There are still a few things that have to be worked out to guarantee the sale goes through but, Lord-willing, the closing will be by June 30th. Please keep this whole process in your prayers, and be praying that we can find a home in Virginia quickly and the packing and moving will go smoothly.
Book haul video at the bottom of the post. :)

Books I Received for Review
Anne & Henry by Dawn Ius (via Simon Pulse/Edelweiss)
The Fixer by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Silver in the Blood by Jessica Day George (via Bloomsbury/NetGalley)
Hello, Goodbye, and Everything In Between by Jennifer E. Smith (via Little, Brown Books for Young Readers/NetGalley)
Alive by Chandler Baker
Ana of California by Andi Teran
A Curious Tale of the In-Between by Lauren DeStefano
Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella
Nowhere But Here by Katie McGarry
Omega City by Diana Peterfreund
Conviction by Kelly Loy Gilbert
The Notorious Pagan Jones by Nina Berry
Dream Things True by Maria Marquardt (via Read Between the Lynes)
First & Then by Emma Mills (on loan from the awesome Rachel at RBTL)
Don't Ever Change by Beth M. Bloom (from Becoming Book

Books I Won/Traded for/was Gifted
The Game of Love and Death by Martha Brockenbrough (from my Secret Sister)
Jewel of the Thames by Angela Misri (e-book from my Secret Sister after I got through finals week)
Written in the Stars by Aisha Saeed (via trade)
Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch (via trade)
Parallel by Lauren Miller (via trade)
I Am Princess X by Cherie Priest (via trade)
Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein (via trade)
Hello, I Love You by Katie M. Stout (via the publisher)

Books I Bought
Anna et le French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
The Heir by Kiera Cass
The Fill-In Boyfriend by Kasie West
The Stars of Summer by Tara Dairman
This Side of Home by Renee Watson
Sophomore Year Is Greek to Me by Meredith Zeitlin
Swept Away by Michelle Dalton
Prodigy by Marie Lu
The Crown of Embers by Rae Carson
The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh
Nil Unlocked by Lynne Matson
River Secrets by Shannon Hale
The House of Hades by Rick Riordan
Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han

Books I Read
(not including all the books I read for review)
Taste Test by Kelly Fiore (4 stars)
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley (2 stars)
The Fill-In Boyfriend by Kasie West (4 stars)
The Heir by Kiera Cass (3.5 stars)
Liars, Inc. by Paula Stokes (3.5 stars)
The Stars of Summer by Tara Dairman (4 stars)
This Side of Home by Renee Watson (reread)
The Game of Love and Death by Martha Brockenbrough (4 stars)
Swept Away by Michelle Dalton (4.5 stars)
Ask Again Later by Liz Czukas (reread)
Unleashed by Sophie Jordan (3 stars)
Minion by John David Anderson (3 stars)
The Queen of Bright and Shiny Things by Ann Aguirre (4 stars)
Spain or Shine by Michelle Jellen (3 stars)
Getting the Boot by Peggy Guthart Strauss (2 stars)
The Sound of Munich by Suzanne Nelson (3.5 stars)
Girl Overboard by Aimee Ferris (3 stars)
Prodigy by Marie Lu (4 stars)
Revenge, Ice Cream, and Other Things Best Served Cold by Katie Finn (4 stars)
The Finnish Line by Linda Gerber (3 stars)
The Great Call of China by Cynthea Liu (4 stars)
Crimson Bound by Rosamund Hodge (DNF)
Pardon My French by Catherine Hapka (3 stars)
The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh (5 stars)
P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han (4 stars)
Sophomore Year Is Greek to Me by Meredith Zeitlin (3 stars)
Now and Zen by Linda Gerber (2 stars)
Lies I Told by Michelle Zink (4 stars)
Jewel of the Thames by Angela Misri (4 stars)

Blog Posts You Might've Missed
   (From 5/4-5/9)
   (From 5/10-5/16)
   (From 5/17-5/23)
   (From 5/24-5/30)
Upcoming Blog Posts in the Next Few Weeks (subject to change)
  • DNF Review: Proof of Forever by Lexa Hillyer
  • TTT: Books I Want Adapted
  • Interview with Katie M. Stout, Author of Hello, I Love You
  • Fifteen 2015 Reads Check-In
  • Review: Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone
  • Clearing My Shelves
  • Review: After Hours by Claire Kennedy
  • TTT: More 2015 Releases I'm Anticipating
  • Review: The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest by Melanie Dickerson
  • Random Friday: Places for Summer Vacation
  • Dear Incoming College Freshmen

May 30, 2015

Review: Devoted

Devoted by Jennifer Mathieu
Grade: A
Release date: June 2, 2015
This e-galley was provided by Roaring Brook Press in exchange for an honest review.
Summary: Rachel Walker is devoted to God. She prays every day, attends Calvary Christian Church with her family, helps care for her five younger siblings, dresses modestly, and prepares herself to be a wife and mother who serves the Lord with joy. But Rachel is curious about the world her family has turned away from, and increasingly finds that neither the church nor her homeschool education has the answers she craves. Rachel has always found solace in her beliefs, but now she can’t shake the feeling that her devotion might destroy her soul.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: I'm always leery how Christianity will be treated in books. Often, I don't find that it's viewed positively or portrayed correctly. So going into Devoted, I was nervous but hopeful. The Quiverful movement is at an extreme end of the spectrum, and I knew it would need to be handled carefully but addressed full-on. Devoted was an eye-opening book that was surprisingly pleasing. Rachel is a wonderful character. She isn't super naive but she does realize how wrong certain beliefs can be. I loved how she found a balance between extreme Christianity and atheism. To escape her controlling family and cult, she befriends Lauren, a girl who previously left the Calvary Christian Church group. Lauren is about 24 and a vet tech who has recently moved back from Houston to the small town of Clayton. It warmed my heart to see how she took Rachel under her wing. She's not perfect; she's made mistakes and my heart went out to her since she feels she can no longer believe in God or pray. It made my heart ache that she couldn't disassociate a loving God with a father who was so blind. Because of the Quiverful cult, Lauren is an atheist but I think she came to respect why Rachel could still believe. When the escape from Calvary Christian happened about halfway through the book, I worried the rest of the plot wouldn't carry smoothly. But it did! I read Devoted in one day and enjoyed every minute of it. The whole book felt very real with sincere emotions and realistic outcomes. None of the endings were happily ever afters, but there wasn't overwhelming sadness or dismal results - just hope for the future and a sense of freedom and strength. I appreciated that there wasn't much of a romance (hints of one, but nothing big). I liked that there was no forced marriage for Rachel but the reform camps were touched upon. Overall, I was just very impressed and touched by Devoted. (And more importantly, I was glad that Christianity wasn't vilified. Homeschooling wasn't viewed completely positively, perhaps, but I think it can be excused, given the circumstances.)
Some foul language - mostly on Lauren's part - and talk of physical abuse, sleeping together, and drugs and drinking. 

The Verdict: Do yourself a favor and read this book. Wow.

Will I be adding this book to my library?: I think so. I'd like to.

May 29, 2015

Random Friday: Summer 2015 Reads

Want to participate in Random Fridays? Just do the following: 
  • Include the above image in your post and link back to my post.
  • Blog about this week's topic.
  • Add the link to your Random Friday at the bottom of this post.
Time to talk about the summer releases I'm anticipating most! I've read a couple of these already for review, but they were books releasing this summer that I am most excited for.

1. Hello, I Love You by Katie M. Stout

2. Emmy & Oliver by Robin Benway

3. Ana of California by Andi Teran

4. Silver in the Blood by Jessica Day George

5. The Fixer by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

6. The Road to You by Alecia Whitaker

7. The Nightmare Charade by Mindi Arnett

8. Shadows of Sherwood by Kekla Magoon

9. One More Wish by Robin Jones Gunn

10. A Night Divided by Jennifer A. Nielson

May 28, 2015

So You Like... #14

When I was trying to pick the theme for this So You Like..., I looked back through old posts and saw someone had requested Shakespeare plays. I didn't fulfill this request...until now. (Sorry for the delay, Sarah!) If you've read a certain play, you should try the recommended book and vice versa! I always recommend the Shakespeare Made Easy versions - they have the original text and modern English side by side.

(as always, covers link to the Goodreads pages)

If you liked...



(For that revenge plot.)

If you liked...



16059149 18667862
(Magnolia is like a reverse Romeo and Juliet with parents who want their kids to end up together and the kids hate each other. Like No Other is one of my favorite star-crossed lovers stories!)

If you liked...



(Because of the crazy magic and the love triangle that reminds me of the love square in Shakespeare's play.)

If you liked...

Twelfth Night (Shakespeare Made Easy)


22501055 11983940
(For the girl-in-disguise-as-a-guy plots!)

If you liked...

The Taming of the Shrew (Shakespeare Made Easy)


(For the "taming" of Lainey.)

If you liked...



(Because the girl in the romance is in disguise. I know this is a stretch, but it makes sense to me, okay.)

If you liked...



(It makes sense to me. It's probably not the best fit, but whatever.)

Did you find any new recs because of this post? And what would you like to see as the next So You Like... topic?

May 26, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Books in My Travel Bag

Disclaimer: the topic was technically books in your beach bag, but I did that just last summer, and I thought travel bag was a bit more fitting since we're moving soon (or planning to; God has a funny way of making us fit with His plans instead of Him working with ours). So, instead of the beach, these are the books I will/would be reading during that couple-day drive to our new home in Virginia. The first three are books I have yet to read (and the very first is one I have an ARC of); the rest are ones that just seemed fitting to read during a sort-of road trip.

1. Tonight the Streets Are Ours by Leila Sales

2. Three Day Summer by Sarvenaz Tash

3. Sophomore Year Is Greek to Me by Meredith Zeitlin

Open Road Summer
4. Open Road Summer by Emery Lord

5. Time Between Us by Tamara Ireland Stone

6. Just One Day by Gayle Forman

7. You Are Here by Jennifer E. Smith

8. Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch

9. Wish You Were Italian by Kristin Rae

17453983 19352031
10. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins (both the English and French editions)

11. The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord

12. Don't Touch by Rachel M. Wilson

13. Since You've Been Gone by Morgan Matson (Literally, I think this book makes just about every list I make.)

So what books are in your beach/travel bag? Are there any you think I should add to mine?

May 25, 2015

DNF Review: The Cage

The Cage by Megan Shepherd
Grade: DNF
Release date: May 26, 2015
This ARC was provided by Read Between the Lynes in exchange for an honest review.
Summary: When Cora Mason wakes in a desert, she doesn't know where she is or who put her there. As she explores, she finds an impossible mix of environments—tundra next to desert, farm next to jungle, and a strangely empty town cobbled together from different cultures—all watched over by eerie black windows. And she isn't alone.

Four other teenagers have also been taken: a beautiful model, a tattooed smuggler, a secretive genius, and an army brat who seems to know too much about Cora's past. None of them have a clue as to what happened, and all of them have secrets. As the unlikely group struggles for leadership, they slowly start to trust each other. But when their mysterious jailer—a handsome young guard called Cassian—appears, they realize that their captivity is more terrifying than they could ever imagine: Their captors aren't from Earth. And they have taken the five teenagers for an otherworldly zoo—where the exhibits are humans.

As a forbidden attraction develops between Cora and Cassian, she realizes that her best chance of escape might be in the arms of her own jailer—though that would mean leaving the others behind. Can Cora manage to save herself and her companions? And if so . . . what world lies beyond the walls of their cage?

When did I stop reading?: Chapter 33.
Why didn't I finish?: It wasn't really one thing in particular that made me stop about halfway through. I just finally gave up.

The Long(er) Review: I couldn't get into it. The plot was too weird for me. There was too much wandering, too much wondering, not enough getting things done. Plus, Cora was forming a weird attraction to Cassian and that definitely made me want to say, "Peace out!" None of the human characters were making rational decisions. The POV jumps didn't work for me. Mali was a fascinating character, since she was raised in such a different environment, but she didn't work well enough for me.

The Verdict: As someone who pretty much enjoyed Shepherd's The Madman's Daughter trilogy, this book was quite the letdown.

May 24, 2015

Rewind to 2014: Books That Got Me Through Life

I've mentioned several times that I started college this past fall. It was a big transition for me, since my school is 439 miles from home. Not to mention, I was homeschooled for eight years of my life, so getting used to a structured class schedule and living with complete strangers was something else. There were also a lot of other things going on in my life (see this post). But thankfully, there were books that I could turn to - whether for support or to escape from reality for a little while. Four were new reads but the others were rereads, and that's a big reason why I love rereading books.

The very first book that came to mind when I started thinking about this post was

Thanks to a blogger friend, I got to read TSOMAY very early (like six months early). And I actually read it the weekend the fall-out happened. A lot of people would probably negatively associate the book if that happened to them, but for me, it's a positive one. Paige is a kindred spirit, and Max is my top book boyfriend. I know that I can always read The Start of Me and You when I'm feeling down (or even when I'm feeling super happy).

That same weekend, right before everything happened, I read Top Ten Clues You're Clueless.

Top Ten Clues You're Clueless by Liz Czukas
It was so fun and light, and the happiness helped me get through life.

When a character is going through a rough time, too, it's easy to empathize with them and then to come back to that book when I need support. Don't Touch touched me in a lot of ways and while I didn't struggle in the same way that Caddie did, I felt less alone when I reread Don't Touch.
Don't Touch by Rachel M. Wilson

And then sometimes, you need a book so radically different from our world so you can forget your problems for a little while. That's where the next two books come into play.
10508431 17399160
Tuesdays at the Castle by Jessica Day George
Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch
I borrowed Tuesdays at the Castle from my roommate one weekend, and I read my preorder of Snow Like Ashes the day I got it. Both are wonderful fantasies that let me escape.

There were four other books I remember rereading that lifted my spirits on several occasions. These first two were especially good for that.
11071466 18189606
Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson
Since You've Been Gone by Morgan Matson
I'm so glad I discovered Morgan's books last spring.

Finally, the last two rereads that made me laugh and smile.
17375024 6609714
My Faire Lady by Laura Wettersten
The Lonely Hearts Club by Elizabeth Eulberg

So have there ever been any books that helped get you through the ups and downs of life?