Chocolate and books are two of my most favorite things ever so I obviously had to do this tag! Instead of posting it as a blog tag as I’ve seen, I decided to post a video response for my answers. I was not tagged but I got the idea from Ariella at Comics and Cookies and Gwen at The Book Nosher.
In addition to all the online hype I’ve heard about The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins, I’ve also been hearing it from the girls at my lunch table at work. Because of a combination of their raving (and my freaking out about spoilers when they all started speculating), the fear of missing out and a mild interest I decided to read it as quickly as possible. The Girl on the Train follows an alcoholic named Rachel who spends the majority of her time on the train and becomes entangled in a mystery when a woman goes missing. It’s best to go into the story knowing as little as possible so you can watch the clues unfold before your eyes.
The Girl on the Train is a quick paced read (I read it in about 2 days without having a ton of free time) and the story is very intriguing. I’m a sucker for novels that force me to analyze clues and try to solve the mystery at hand. I had my suspicions and I was not disappointed with the end result. A lot of the hype I’ve heard has compared the book to Gone Girl which I haven’t read, so I cannot speak to that, but I can say that The Girl on the Train is a psychologically thrilling story.
My one major quip with The Girl on the Train is that it was hard for me to read from Rachel’s point of view. Because she’s an alcoholic, she’s an extremely unreliable narrator and that made it challenging for me to believe her accounts of different situations. It’s also hard to read about someone who is so self destructive. Alcoholism is a serious issue and I know it’s not easy for those afflicted with it to just stop drinking, but as a sober person witnessing Rachel’s choices, it made me really sad for her. She recounts some of her nights and the cringe-worthy decisions she’s made regarding drinking, but she just keeps doing it anyway. As I was reading, I realized there were no characters in the book that I related to at all (which is totally okay!) but I wouldn’t want to know any of them in real life either.
Final Thoughts: The Girl on the Train is a psychological thriller about a girl on a train who becomes involved with the mystery of a missing woman. It deals with certain issues such as alcoholism which makes it challenging to read at times and leaves the reader with a very unreliable narrator.
A debut psychological thriller that will forever change the way you look at other people’s lives.
Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. “Jess and Jason,” she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost.
And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel offers what she knows to the police, and becomes inextricably entwined in what happens next, as well as in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?
A compulsively readable, emotionally immersive, Hitchcockian thriller that draws comparisons to Gone Girl, The Silent Wife, or Before I Go to Sleep, this is an electrifying debut embraced by readers across markets and categories. (via Goodreads)
I’m so excited to have Sam Maggs here on the blog today with a guest post about Fangirl fashions in honor of her new book which debuted earlier this week, The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy. I’ll be posting a full review later in the month, but I can tell you right now that Sam’s book is an absolute MUST READ for all Fangirls. She covers topics like cosplay, feminism, fanfic and most importantly, how to beat internet trolls. Also, IT’S SO PRETTY. I showed off the inside cover of the book during my April Book Haul and May TBR videos and I still cannot get over how gorgeous this book is. (Sam actually interviewed me and my best friend Melissa for the book and she posted our advice on the QuirkBooks blog last week!)
Favorite Fangirl Fashions
We might still be asking #WheresNatasha, but there’s no doubt that life for a fashionable fangirl has gotten a lot easier lately. Gone are the days of being relegated to wearing oversized men’s shirts with boring prints; thanks to some innovative and brilliant women, we’ve got clothing for every shape and size lady fan. Here are some of my very favorite fangirl fashions!
Started by Ashley Eckstein (who you might know better as Ahsoka Tano), Her Universe carries clothes from Star Trek to Star Wars, Doctor Who, Marvel, and more. They offer a wide range of sizes, so you never have to worry about fit, and their items are incredibly well-made. Plus, Ashley is an absolute delight and truly cares about female fans more than anyone else I know.
WLF is a huge online retailer that has really stepped up for lady fans. When everyone else was flaking out after Ultron, WLF came out with their very own line of items for girls who love the Avengers (and who doesn’t?). They also sell items for fans of Adventure Time, Bee & Puppycat, Bravest Warriors, Marvel, Jem, Lumberjanes, and even The Mary Sue!
Favorite Item: The Captain Marvel Sweater.
Whoa, yes, I know you haven’t shopped here since your goth phase in high school (it’s cool, we all had one). But seriously, you need to go back, because they are all about fandoms these days. They have some great Sailor Moon merch, but my two favorite lines from them right now are Penny Dreadful and Orphan Black. I need it all.
Favorite Item: The Penny Dreadful Scorpion Print Dress
A super-small company run by two fans, GoldBubble is the best competitor to BlackMilk out there – and they really care about their fans, too. I have a great pair of Han Solo leggings from these guys, and so does my mom – they fit all different fangirls! They sometimes put out super limited edition items (like a BB8 dress for Star Wars Day) so keep an eye on their site.
Favorite Item: The Sherlock-inspired Bored A-Line Dress
Your nails have to look good too, right ladies? This adorable company based in Seattle makes nail wraps for basically every fandom, and they’re super easy to use – just peel, stick, file, and you’re good to go (though I like to seal mine with a top coat). To make them last longer, pick up a humidor and stick your extra wraps in there they’ll last ages! They also have eyeshadows and lipsticks on offer too, so check it all out.
Favorite Item: Borderlands The Pre-Sequel Glitter Nail Wraps
Did I miss your favorite fangirl fashion? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter @SamMaggs!
Don’t forget to pick up a copy of The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy!
And if you see Sam at a convention, be sure to say hi! If you’re nice, she might even sign your book for you :-D
Behind the Scenes by Dahlia Adler is a fun contemporary read that I would recommend to anyone who loves to read celebrity gossip. The story follows a girl named Ally who gets mixed up in a big PR stunt in Hollywood. Ally never had any desire to get involved in Hollywood antics, always leaving that to her best friend Van, but she reluctantly takes a job as Van’s assistant when she worries about being able to pay for college. Ally gets close to the teen heartthrob Liam Holloway who was just cast as the lead actor alongside Van in a new teen drama called Daylight Falls. Before the show is picked up during upfronts, Van and Liam’s publicist decides to plant a story in the media that Liam and Van are dating and they have to act the part publicly, while Ally watches uncomfortably.
Ally as a character drove me nuts. She had a very strong sense of her morals and she absolutely stuck to her guns about not wanting to get attention from Hollywood but man was she frustrating at points. I really loved the friendship between Ally and Van and the loyalty Ally demonstrates for her friend. She never criticizes her life choices or judges her and she’s always there to give an honest opinion when Van needs her. And that goes both ways. I also thought the romance was adorable but again, frustrating. Liam is so much more than the stereotypical teen actor and he always does what he thinks will make Ally happy but it’s hard for her to see when she’s constantly being interviewed about the fake relationship between her boyfriend and her best friend.
As if the teen drama isn’t enough, Ally is also trying to cope with her father’s weekly hospital visits for treatments for his terminal disease. After overhearing a conversation between her parents regarding their finances, she decides to take on a position working as Van’s personal assistant in an effort to relieve some of the stress they’re all dealing with. Ally puts a primary focus on her family and it’s endearing to see that she’s not swayed by the temptations of a Hollywood lifestyle. She values intelligence and she would rather hang out at home and watch a movie than go to a big party.
Final Thoughts: Behind the Scenes by Dahlia Adler is the book equivalent of a teen drama (think The O.C., 90210,and a hint of Gossip Girl). There’s never a dull moment in the life of Ally whether it’s family, friend or relationship related. Ally is frustrating at points and the book dragged a little bit for me in places but overall I could see it being a fun beach read.
High school senior Ally Duncan’s best friend may be the Vanessa Park – star of TV’s hottest new teen drama – but Ally’s not interested in following in her BFF’s Hollywood footsteps. In fact, the only thing Ally’s ever really wanted is to go to Columbia and study abroad in Paris. But when her father’s mounting medical bills threaten to stop her dream in its tracks, Ally nabs a position as Van’s on-set assistant to get the cash she needs.
Spending the extra time with Van turns out to be fun, and getting to know her sexy co-star Liam is an added bonus. But when the actors’ publicist arranges for Van and Liam to “date” for the tabloids just after he and Ally share their first kiss, Ally will have to decide exactly what role she’s capable of playing in their world of make believe. If she can’t play by Hollywood’s rules, she may lose her best friend, her dream future, and her first shot at love. (via Goodreads)
Something Real by Heather Demetrios is about a girl named Bonnie who has had no choice but to live the majority of her life in front of a camera for all of America to view. She was even born on camera and now, after a small hiatus and a promise from her mother that she will never put her through reality television again, the show, Baker’s Dozen, has returned. Bonnie is one of twelve children and all she’s ever wanted is a normal life away from everything she had grown accustomed to. She is constantly seen on tabloids and people who are strangers to her judge her decisions and gossip about her personal life so it’s very understandable that she would want to escape that lifestyle.
I really enjoyed reading Something Real, particularly because of the way Demetrios forces the read to examine society. I am one of a fraction of people who have spent a few months of my life living on the set of a reality television show and being followed by cameras 24/7 and I can honestly say that the way Demetrios portrayed everything is very similar to my own experience. It was actually hard to read at times because when the evil producer Chuck would threaten Bonnie I felt like I was having flashbacks to working with some of my producers. Not that they were all evil, there was one producer I worked with that I really liked who I suppose would be the equivalent to Bonnie’s Sandra. Producers are constantly withholding information from the cast because they’re trying to make the best show possible. I think you might have to be some type of sociopath to work as a producer in reality tv and be able to lie to people’s faces so easily (I think I may write a more in depth blog post about my own experiences with this some time in the future).
The novel focuses primarily on the Bakers’ a) Bonnie who has clearly suffered psychological damage as the result of the show, c) her brother Benton who is gay but not publicly so, c) their sister Lexie who is hungry for fame. There are several siblings of Bonnie’s who are underdeveloped but it would’ve been impossible to give them more page time without taking away from the siblings the story centered on. I also felt like their underdevelopment is a testament to Bonnie’s relationship with them because there are so many siblings that it makes sense for her to communicate the most with those who are similar in age. I can also say that I despise Bonnie’s mother. She makes poor decisions without even considering the rest of her family.
In Something Real there is a wonderful parallel drawn between Bonnie’s situation and George Orwell’s 1984 which absolutely enriched the story. The class discussions really made me think about the way people would act if they were left to their own devices as opposed to constantly being monitored. I have no clue how Bonnie withstood as much time her classroom as she did given her current situation. Her crush also makes a good point that even though society today isn’t being followed around by cameras, everyone monitors everyone else online through social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Final Thoughts: Something Real by Heather Demetrios is a thought provoking YA novel about the state of society and the impact of reality television. The main character Bonnie will never lead a normal life after spending her entire youth in front of a camera and having all of her personal situations broadcast for America to see. Bonnie is desperate to leave the show without destroying her relationship with her family but it just doesn’t seem like she’ll be able to find a way to do so.
There’s nothing real about reality TV. Seventeen-year-old Bonnie™ Baker has grown up on TV—she and her twelve siblings are the stars of one-time hit reality show Baker’s Dozen. Since the show’s cancellation and the scandal surrounding it, Bonnie™ has tried to live a normal life, under the radar and out of the spotlight. But it’s about to fall apart…because Baker’s Dozen is going back on the air. Bonnie™’s mom and the show’s producers won’t let her quit and soon the life she has so carefully built for herself, with real friends (and maybe even a real boyfriend), is in danger of being destroyed by the show. Bonnie™ needs to do something drastic if her life is ever going to be her own—even if it means being more exposed than ever before. (via Goodreads)
Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases we’re eagerly anticipating. This week I’m choosing Tiny Pretty Things by Sona Charaipotra and Dhonielle Clayton. The moment I heard the book described as Pretty Little Liars meets Black Swan, I knew I had to read it! I’ve always loved reading about competitive ballerinas (perhaps since I am so inept at dancing) and Tiny Pretty Things sounds like the perfect mix of mystery and intrigue. Tiny Pretty Things is scheduled for release on May 26th so we won’t have to wait too much longer to read it!
Black Swan meets Pretty Little Liars in this soapy, drama-packed novel featuring diverse characters who will do anything to be the prima at their elite ballet school.
Gigi, Bette, and June, three top students at an exclusive Manhattan ballet school, have seen their fair share of drama. Free-spirited new girl Gigi just wants to dance—but the very act might kill her. Privileged New Yorker Bette’s desire to escape the shadow of her ballet star sister brings out a dangerous edge in her. And perfectionist June needs to land a lead role this year or her controlling mother will put an end to her dancing dreams forever. When every dancer is both friend and foe, the girls will sacrifice, manipulate, and backstab to be the best of the best. (via Goodreads)
Melissa Grey and I have teamed up again to bring you some DIY nail art for one of our favorite books of 2015, A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas! ACOTAR is a fairytale retelling of Beauty and the Beast mixed with Tamlin (which is even the lead male characters name). You can read my full review for A Court of Thorns and Roses here. I am one of those people that is totally guilty of judging books by their covers so before I even had an inkling of the plot synopsis, I knew I needed ACOTAR because 1) Sarah J. Maas is AMAZING and I am obsessed with her Throne of Glass series and 2) the cover of ACOTAR is absolutely GORGEOUS. If you follow Melissa and I’s tutorial, please tweet us photos of your nails because we would love to see them!
*This book was sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This is no way swayed my opinions.*
**Warning! If you haven’t read To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before which is the first book in the duology by Jenny Han, there will be spoilers ahead. You can read my review of the first book instead if you haven’t started the series yet!**
I can barely even begin to describe how excited I am to have gotten my hands on a bound manuscript of P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han which is the second book and the conclusion to her To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before duology. Ever since I finished the first book I’ve been CRAVING more of the Song sisters and I couldn’t be happier to say that the conclusion did not disappoint. P.S. I Still Love You continues Lara Jean’s story after all of the letters she has written to the boys she has loved during her life get sent out and she is forced to deal with the fallout. There will be spoilers ahead so if you haven’t read To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before you should stop reading this review, go read the book because it’s AMAZING and then come back here :-)
While reading the first book I determined that Kitty is hands down my favorite Song sister and while I haven’t changed my opinion, I grew so much more attached to Lara Jean in the second book that it came really close. I have to reiterate how enjoyable it is to read about such an inseparable trio of sisters. Margo is the oldest Song sis but ever since she left for college in Scotland, Lara Jean, the middle child, takes on more of a parental role in caring for their little sister Kitty and also for their father. All of the Song’s make family a priority and they’re all willing to go out of their way for one another. (Side note: Lara Jean is always baking the most delicious sounding desserts and I would give anything to be able to eat a meal at their house). The characters Jenny Han created are so real that I actually feel like I know them. Han turns this series that is seemingly a YA romance into something that deals heavily with the relationships between family members in a way that is so perfect that it’s like cake for your mind.
At the beginning of the second book, things between Lara Jean and Peter are just heating up before they’re faced with a series of obstacles to overcome. Both Lara Jean and Peter make mistakes and another flame from LJ’s past gets thrown into the mix. The romance between she and Peter is sweet, innocent and frustrating at times but in the most endearing way possible. Lara Jean spends a big portion of the book examining her past and present relationships (romantic, family-wise, and friend-wise) and I love that she gets the majority of her advice from an older woman who lives at the senior care facility that Lara Jean volunteers at.
Final Thoughts: P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han is the perfect contemporary novel. The characters are so well developed and it is an absolute pleasure to spend time in Lara Jean’s head and also to be afforded the luxury of being a part of the Song sisters in some small way. The book flawlessly captures the bond between sisters, the innocence and excitement of first loves and all of the speculation that goes along with growing up. I would be lying if I said I didn’t hug this book several times while pausing between chapters.
Lara Jean didn’t expect to really fall for Peter.
When another boy from her past returns to her life, Lara Jean’s feelings for him return too. Can a girl be in love with two boys at once?In this charming and heartfelt sequel to the New York Times bestseller To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, we see first love through the eyes of the unforgettable Lara Jean. Love is never easy, but maybe that’s part of what makes it so amazing. (via Goodreads)
Here are 5 of the books that I’m planning on reading in May! I’m so happy with my TBR for this month but I’m planning on reading much more. There is going to be the 13th Bout of Books readathon and I’ve decided to take part it in so hopefully that’ll motivate me to nix Netflix for at least a week. What are you planning on knocking off your TBR pile this month? I feel like it’s going to be a great reading month!
After a month or two of not being able to read My Faire Lady by Laura Wettersten, I was so excited to finally find the time to grab it from my TBR pile and get into the summer mood by living vicariously through Rowena, the newest employee at King Geoffrey’s Renn Faire. Sadly, I was not too impressed with the story. I previously mentioned in my April Wrap Up video that in the very beginning of the book two of the main characters poke fun at a people dressed as Lord of the Rings characters and it just rubbed me the wrong way. I’m not sure if that caused me to be slightly biased about the rest of the book, but it’s a definite possibility.
While I wasn’t very invested in the characters, I do think the book sends a great message about doing what you love. The main character Rowena is very invested in her artwork but she never considers telling her parents because they seem to have other plans for her. She puts a ton of pressure on herself to live up to what she thinks her parents expectations are without ever really talking to them about it. Rowena is well intentioned but doesn’t always think before she speaks which leads to unnecessary misunderstandings with her friends. I do however have to say how much I loved her roommate and friend Suze. Suze is a strong minded character who goes after what she wants but she’s still caring and she’s very close to her family.
The love triangle Rowena finds herself in is most frustrating. I wanted to jump into the book and her to see the boy who clearly likes her versus the awful dude who treats her poorly. Rowena tries to mend her broken heart (she ended up working at the Renn Faire after her boyfriend cheated on her and she quit her job at the mall to avoid him) by distracting herself with other boys which I don’t think is the best idea in those types of situations. While she does focus a lot of her attention on guys, Ro also spends some time further developing her skills as an artist. I do love how Rowena expresses herself through art and how well Wettersten was able to articulate her passion for the reader.
Final Thoughts: My Faire Lady by Laura Wettersten is a quick contemporary read about a girl who starts working as a face painter at a Renn Faire. She finds herself in the middle of a love triangle and she spends her summer opening herself up to opportunities she hadn’t previously thought possible. The story is not something that really stuck out to me but it was an enjoyable read in the moment.
Rowena Duncan is a thoroughly modern girl with big plans for her summer—until she catches her boyfriend making out with another girl. Heartbroken, she applies to an out-of-town job posting and finds herself somewhere she never expected: the Renaissance Faire.
As a face-painter doubling as a serving wench, Ro is thrown headfirst into a vibrant community of artists and performers. She feels like a fish out of water until Will, a quick-witted whip cracker, takes her under his wing. Then there’s Christian, a blue-eyed stunt jouster who makes Ro weak in the knees. Soon, it’s not just her gown that’s tripping her up.
Trading in the internet and electricity for stars and campfires was supposed to make life simpler, but Ro is finding that love is the ultimate complication. Can she let the past make way for her future? (via Goodreads)