Listen Up! (17)

Listen Up! is a feature on my blog in which I share my favorite tunes for the week (or every other, depending on how much new music I discover each week). One thing most of you probably don’t know about me is that I LOVE music. I’m that girl that always has her headphones in and I spend hours online looking up new bands. Because I love music so much AND I said I was going to do whatever the hell I want with my blog, I figured I’d share some of my most listened tracks for every week or so. I listen to all different genres, so hopefully you’ll like some of my choices and maybe discover some new music for yourself!

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Wild Child by Enya

I first have to say that I have refused to even think about Enya for a longggg time because I associate her music with some pretty unpleasant memories. I am really not an Enya fan. BUT I AM OBSESSED WITH THIS SONG. I’ve mentioned in the past that I love practicing yoga, and this is one of the songs that I currently have on my practice playlist. I don’t know what it is, but it’s so whimsical and it makes me happy and calm.

Margaret Downe by Aidan Knight

I saw James Vincent McMorrow a few weeks back and Aidan Knight was the opening band/musician. Aidan sang this track off-mic which was amazing, but this it’s this song’s lyrics that really shine. This song tells a heartbreaking, yet beautiful story. Also, Aidan’s voice is one of the most beautiful voices I’ve ever heard.

Golden by Parade of Lights

You know those happy songs that make you want to dance around your room and suddenly everything feels better? That’s how I feel about this song.

All Eyes on You by St. Lucia

This song isn’t new or anything, but I have had it on repeat so much recently and I have no clue why. At the moment, I’d probably say it’s my favorite song.

Ain’t It Fun by Paramore

I have been a Paramore fan from the very beginning, but their latest release took me quite a while to get used to. I’m definitely on board with it now; I love how much they’ve grown as a band over time. And is this not the cutest lyric video?

Alright, those are my picks for this week! Now, because I am ALWAYS up for new music, let me know what you have been listening to lately in the comments!

Review: The Chance You Won’t Return by Annie Cardi


Released: April 22nd, 2014
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Source: galley from publisher (thank you!!)

Summary from Goodreads:
Driver’s ed and a first crush should be what Alex Winchester is stressed out about in high school – and she is. But what’s really on her mind is her mother. Why is she dressing in Dad’s baggy khaki pants with a silk scarf around her neck? What is she planning when she pores over maps in the middle of the night? When did she stop being Mom and start being Amelia Earhart? Alex tries to keep her budding love life apart from the growing disaster at home as her mother sinks further into her delusions. But there are those nights, when everyone else is asleep, when it’s easier to confide in Amelia than it ever was to Mom. Now, as Amelia’s flight plans become more intense, Alex is increasingly worried that Amelia is planning her final flight – the flight from which she never returns. What could possibly be driving Mom’s delusions, and how far will they take her?

My Thoughts

I have no clue where to begin with this review. There were so many aspects of this book that I absolutely loved, so I guess I’ll just jump right in.

The main reason I picked up this book was because it deals with mental illness. This is a topic I’m highly interested in and I’m always on the lookout for YA that portrays mental illness in a realistic and non-stigmatized way. The story in this book is centered around Alex, a teen who’s trying to live her life while also coping with the fact that her mother isn’t who she once was. Because of stress, her mother develops delusional disorder and comes to believe that she is Amelia Earhart. This is obviously devastating to Alex and her family, and there’s a lot of confusion in terms of how to move forward with their lives after this.

What I took away as being the biggest message in this book is the importance of communication. Alex’s family pretty much ceases to communicate, at least in a healthy manner, after their mother is diagnosed. They don’t know how to act around her and they don’t know how to act around each other. That’s so understandable, and dare I say, normal, in situations like this. But it is really, REALLY important to keep communicating, especially in high stress situations like this. Alex also basically stops talking to her friends because she’s afraid to tell them what’s going on. She has Jim, her awesome boyfriend, but even he doesn’t really know what’s going on. This threatens Alex’s relationships with everyone, and it’s really difficult to watch, but though Alex struggles through it, she does eventually learn to open up.

Also yay for not vilifying mental health professionals!

I found all the different relationship dynamics to be pretty awesome. There’s Alex and her siblings, who try to help each other but also have their issues. There’s a love interest who is like…super nice and awesome, but misunderstood? I don’t know how to describe him. But it’s pretty cool to see Alex and Jim get to know each other through driving lessons, of all things.

I will say that this book has a veryyyyy slow and slightly awkward start, which is why it took me like two weeks to read, but it’s definitely worth it. This one comes out next week, and I’d recommend you pre-order a copy or put it on your wish list!

Rating: 4/5 stars

Top Ten Bookish Things I’d Like to Own

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the lovely girls over at The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is all about the ten bookish things we’d like to own. I thought this topic would be a ton of fun because it gave me the chance to do a little online “window” shopping! Who doesn’t like to do that? (Ok, maybe there are people out there that don’t. But I do, so the question worked). Here are the ten bookish items I’d love to have:

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  1. Bookish Coaster Set from Out of Print - I don’t currently have a reason to need coasters, but I feel like some day in the future I will. These are so much more interesting than your normal run of the mill coasters.
  2. The Great Gatsby Handmade Bookmark - I’ve mentioned in the past that I collect bookmarks, and I really love having ones that I can attach some sort of meaning to. Not only is this one gorgeous, it’s got one of my favorite quotes EVER. This is one I’d definitely love to add to my collection.
  3. Deathly Hallows Inspired Cookie Stamp - I didn’t even know cookie stamps were a thing, but aren’t these so cool?! I don’t bake cookies ever, but I probably would if I owned these just so I could use them.
  4. Bookish Bandit Tote in Caterpillar - I love tote bags. They’re perfect for going to the library or the park or the beach. I thought this one was super cute. I would totally use it for carrying lots of books wherever I go.
  5. Ideal Bookshelf 484: Travel - This is a print for your wall. There are various designs/types of books, but this is the one I liked best because all the books are related to travel in some way, and it’s my dream to travel the world.
  6. Romeo & Juliet Book Clutch - No list of mine would be complete without something from Kate Spade. Sadly this item isn’t currently being sold, but it was love at first sight when I saw it. The design is so quirky!
  7. Literary Greeting Cards - I LOVE writing letters to my friends and while I normally buy cheap greeting cards (no shame), I’d splurge for these because they’re so gorgeous.
  8. Tundra Wall Cubby - COOLEST BOOKSHELF I’VE EVER SEEN.
  9. Evelina Botanical Journal - I’ve journaled for most of my life and while I tend to use simple black composition notebooks, I’m always on the lookout for cute journals. This one caught my eye as soon as I saw, and I know it’s one I’d really love writing in.
  10. Required Reading Bon Shopper - Another Kate Spade item. I LOVE IT.

What bookish items do you guys with you owned? Am I missing anything? Let me know in the comments!

Review: The Last Best Kiss by Claire LaZebnik


Released: April 22nd, 2014
Publisher: HarperTeen
Source: egalley from publisher (thank you!!)

Summary from Goodreads:
Anna Eliot is tired of worrying about what other people think. After all, that was how she lost the only guy she ever really liked, Finn Westbrook.

Now, three years after she broke his heart, the one who got away is back in her life.

All Anna wants is a chance to relive their last kiss again (and again and again). But Finn obviously hasn’t forgotten how she treated him, and he’s made it clear he has no interest in having anything to do with her.

Anna keeps trying to persuade herself that she doesn’t care about Finn either, but even though they’ve both changed since they first met, deep down she knows he’s the guy for her. Now if only she can get him to believe that, too….

My Thoughts

Looking at this cover, had I not had an egalley of the book, I can say with 100% certainty I would not have read it. To me, this cover screams ‘FLUFF ALERT’ and as we all know, I do not like cute and fluffy books. At all. But after reading a few reviews and seeing that most of my friends who love fluff were not a fan of this book, I was like OK maybe this is the one for me.

The Last Best Kiss is apparently a retelling of a Jane Austen book (idk which one), but I haven’t read anything by Austen so that didn’t matter to me when I was reading the way it might to some others. The beauty of this book rests completely within its realism. You know those stories where it feels like you really get to know a character and his/her life? The people she interacts with on a daily basis, what makes her smile, the nuances of living? This is one of those. Some may find that a bit dull, but those are the kinds of stories I love. You see the growth and change between the characters, especially between Anna and Finn.

Some people might find Anna unlikable (which I hate as a descriptor btw), but I think it’s important to remember that she’s a teenage girl. There are times when she hurts people (Finn) because she’s afraid to stand up to her friends. I think we’d all be lying if we said we never did that at least once growing up. So yeah, she makes some mistakes, but by the end of the story its clear that she realizes that what she did was wrong and tries very hard to make it better. I mean, the whole story revolves around her making this huge mistake with Finn and then later getting the chance to try to redeem herself and all the growth that comes with that. And that’s exactly what she attempts to do so you’ve gotta give her at least some credit.

The other major theme of this book that I thought was done well is the whole idea of the importance of communication. Like, that is super important in ALL relationships whether it’s a romantic or platonic one. Both Finn and Anna totally fail in this department for most of the story and that makes it difficult for them to even be friends. There were multiple times where I was like, “JUST TALK TO EACH OTHER” because things would’ve been a whole lot easier for the both of them.

Ok and let me just talk about Finn for a minute. This boy is cuteeeee. And he’s nerdy, but in that “I get really excited about things that I’m passionate about” nerdy which is the best kind if you ask me. If I could have the adult version of him I would be set for life.

So if you can’t tell, I REALLY liked this book. Like, I am going to go check out LaZebnik’s other books because I liked her writing and characters and storytelling so much. This book comes out next week so preorder or put it on your wishlist or something because it’s awesome.

Rating: 4/5 stars

Let’s Take a Vacation! A Bookish Vacation, That Is.

You guys, I have the itch to travel. BADLY. Growing up, I was fortunate enough to be able to travel to many different places, both in the US and internationally. Every year my family would go on vacation to some tropical destination or road trip somewhere, and in high school, I got to go to Europe for three weeks. Travel is in my blood. Since I’ve been in college, I haven’t really been able to do much travel because I go to school year round and also money. Now that I’m about to graduate, I’m thinking of the trips I’d like to take in the distant future when I have a real job and actual money. Someday. Until then, I have to travel vicariously through books. Lucky for you guys, I’m going to play tour guide for the day and take you on an international trip through some of my favorite YA (+1 adult) books!

bookishwanderlustThe first stop on our trip is to sunny California! Set in the fictional Zanzibar Bay, Twenty Boy Summer will take you on an emotional roller coaster through grief and love. Make sure to hit up the beach for some hot guy watching and find your very own sea glass to take home! You’re going to want to remember this. Once you’re all finished eating your sushi, we’ll catch a plane to Central America! Here, Wanderlove will have you backpacking through Belize while you go on a journey to discover yourself. Watch out for the jungle bugs though, because they are NOT pleasant. When you’ve finished touring the Mayan ruins, we’re going to fly on over to Europe! Paris, France, to be specific. Visit the Eiffel Tower and view some french films with Anna and the French Kiss! If you find yourself getting hungry, I would personally recommend trying some crepes! I like ham and cheese ones (trust me, authentic French ham & cheese crepes are AMAZING), but there’s also the ever popular dessert crepes. We’ll now be heading over to Italy, where Girl at Sea will take you on a sailing journey through the Mediterranean! The boat has some interesting crew, but you’ll be on a secret mission that I’m sure you’ll never forget. Next on our tour is Greece! Love in the Time of Global Warming will take you on a dangerous trip similar to that of Odysseus’s, but fear not, because you’ll have some unlikely friends along the way. Who’s up for an adventure?? The last stop on our trip will be to the Nigerian shores in Little Bee. While this leg of the trip is terribly tragic, it’s also a powerful stop and will leave you with memories you’ll never forget. 

I hope you all enjoyed your bookish travels and we hope to see you again soon!

 

Review: Open Road Summer by Emery Lord


Released: April 15, 2014
Publisher: Walker Books for Young Readers
Source: eGalley from publisher (thank you!)

Summary from Goodreads:
After breaking up with her bad-news boyfriend, Reagan O’Neill is ready to leave her rebellious ways behind. . . and her best friend, country superstar Lilah Montgomery, is nursing a broken heart of her own. Fortunately, Lilah’s 24-city tour is about to kick off, offering a perfect opportunity for a girls-only summer of break-up ballads and healing hearts. But when Matt Finch joins the tour as its opening act, his boy-next-door charm proves difficult for Reagan to resist, despite her vow to live a drama-free existence. This summer, Reagan and Lilah will navigate the ups and downs of fame and friendship as they come to see that giving your heart to the right person is always a risk worth taking. A fresh new voice in contemporary romance, Emery Lord’s gorgeous writing hits all the right notes.

My Thoughts

Not gonna lie, when I first heard everyone raving about this book I was skeptical. Nearly all of my closest blogging friends were saying that this book was amazing and I’d love it, etc. There have been instances in the past when I’m really excited about a book because of what my friends have said and then I come to find that I actually really don’t like it at all. When it comes to contemporary YA, I’m pretty picky. I’ve read A LOT in this genre, so my standards are high. When it came to Open Road Summer, my expectations were about as high as they get.

I am so, so happy to be able to say that I LOVED THIS BOOK. If you know me at all, you know that the most exciting part of the year for me is when the summer contemporaries are released. Since it’s Spring, that time has now begun, and this book was the perfect kick-off. There are so many amazing elements that make up this story that I’m going to break them down into categories.

The Focus on Friendship

While this story is very much a romance, it also places heavy emphasis on the importance of friendships. Reagan is the best friend of country superstar Lilah (aka Dee) Montgomery. She’s going on tour with Dee to get away from home and her not so awesome past. You could say she’s a bit of a reformed “bad girl,” I guess. Reagan and Dee have been best friends for forever, through thick and thin. The way their relationship is portrayed throughout the story felt so realistic and healthy to me. Female friendships seem hard to come by in YA, so I was very pleased by what a central role their friendship played in the story. They care so much for each other, but they also fight, as best friends do from time to time. I know not everyone has a best friend relationship like these two, but I love that Lord chose to show that girls can be close with other girls. Like, that is completely normal and I think female friendships are some of the most important relationships in girls’ lives, especially when they’re teens. WE NEED MORE FRIENDSHIPS LIKE THIS.

The Romance

I could wait until the end of this review to talk about the romance in this book, but I won’t torture you. Two words: MATT. FINCH. This guy is the main love interest for Reagan and omg am I in love. He’s a musician that comes on tour with Dee and is her pretend boyfriend to divert attention from a publicity scandal, but those two couldn’t be further from romantically involved. They’re just friends. Matt’s relationship with Reagan is another story. First off, the way Matt and Reagan’s relationship forms is SO REALISTIC. It was truly refreshing to read about a romance that isn’t instalove (which I think is sad because that’s how all romances should be IMO). Like, it takes time for them to even get past the flirting stage. And once they do become a thing, they don’t instantly have sex or love each other. They get to know each other and learn each other’s flaws and take it slow. I just want to say a big THANK YOU to Emery Lord for that one because I am so sick of instalove and unrealistic representations of relationships. Also Matt is totally hot and sweet and RESPECTFUL, which is basically the trifecta of an awesome guy. I so wish he was real because he’s like the perfect boyfriend.

Character Growth

Reagan’s growth throughout the story probably stood out more to me than anything else. At the beginning of the story, I don’t think Reagan really knows who she is. She made a lot of bad decisions leading up to the start of the story, and is trying to become a better person. A lot of her time is focused on being a good friend to Dee and keeping to herself, rather than being the wild girl always in trouble. She defines herself by her past mistakes and that gets in her way with connecting with other people. But with the help of both Dee and Matt, she’s able to open up and thaw. Because Matt’s different from the guys she’s used to, he really helps change the way she looks at both herself and relationships. Over time, the focus becomes less on taking care of Dee and keeping to herself, to letting others in and forgiving herself. It was really neat to see the way she changed throughout the story because it did take a lot of time and it wasn’t always easy.

If I haven’t convinced you yet that you should definitely read this book, let me just say that YOU SHOULD DEFINITELY READ THIS BOOK. I mean, a hot guy, summer, road trip with awesome friends who are also country artists? What else could you ask for?

Rating: 5/5 stars

The ABCs #4

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The ABCs is a new meme hosted by Andi from Andi’s ABCs to feature the fun accessories, books, and clothing we’re into that day/week. It’s a fun way to combine fashion, books, and blogging. It’s also open to non-bloggers via Twitter and Instagram, so make sure to check out Andi’s blog to find out more! One thing most people know about me is that I LOVE shopping. I honestly probably love it more than I do reading, so this is a perfect way for you guys to get to know me a little better and see some of the things I’m interested in.

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1. Audrey Brooke Hylda Leopard Pump - I’m short. I like heels so that I’m not quite as short. I’m dying to own a pair of leopard print shoes because they go along with a lot of my clothing. These ones are SO beautiful.

2.  Jonathan Adler Elephant Bookends - If you’ve been to Barnes & Noble (if you haven’t, WHAT?!) then you’ve seen these. I have a few wall shelves, so bookends are a must. I used to have these porcelain ones that have injured me on multiple occasions, so I’m not really fond of them. These elephant ones are super cute. SUPER CUTE.

3. Abercrombie Adin Necklace Dress - I have no shame in saying that Abercrombie is my favorite place to shop. Their clothing has always been my favorite, both in style and color scheme. Fun fact: Over half of my wardrobe is navy. I LOVE wearing navy. Also, white and grey. Sometimes I’ll throw some color in there, but it’s all the same theme, I guess you could say. I also loveeee dresses, and I think this one is perfect. It’s got a built in necklace/detailing which saves from having to wear an extra accessory. By the time you guys read this, this dress shall be mine.