Monthly Archives: August 2013

Tell All Your Friends

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Well, this post has been a long time in coming, I was just hoping to put it off… but I, River, am going to have to go on Hiatus.

These next three months are going to be very important for my husband and I, and will possibly decide our future (and if we can go to the USA next year) so I need to focus on things other than blogging.

When I left my old blog I told myself that I would stay away from drama, that I wouldn’t let my blog affect my offline life, and that I would have fun. I am having fun and I’ve been like, 95% drama free. But I’m not able to do with this blog what I want to do. Ever since I brought Sam on as my co-blogger I’ve been wanting to do MORE with this blog. And I know that she does too (she has some AWESOME ideas) but… I just don’t have time. I update this thing like, once a week (thank goodness for scheduling… which is something that I once said I’d never use since I think that blogging should be done in the moment, and then published, not scheduled) and even then I have like, an hour or two at most. I can’t read other people’s blogs, and commenting is out of the question.

So I’ve asked Sam to step in and keep the reviews posting while I focus on what I NEED to focus on. (Be nice to her!)

And in December when things have settled down, I’m going to come back to blogging and Sam and I are going to turn this blog into something really awesome and fun. So for now… I’ve changed the name (just incase you’re wondering what happened to the old title) but it’s just temporary. Sam and I are going to come up with something awesome.

So until then you can keep up with me on twitter and goodreads since I plan to still use twitter (tho probably not as much as I do now) and I’m NOT going to quit reading (so I’ll keep posting ARC reviews on goodreads).

Take care!!!

Contemporary Summer Fling: Going Vintage

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Title: Going Vintage
Author: Lindsey Leavitt
Rating: ★★★
Synopsis: When Mallory’s boyfriend, Jeremy, cheats on her with an online girlfriend, Mallory decides the best way to de-Jeremy her life is to de-modernize things too. Inspired by a list of goals her grandmother made in1962, Mallory swears off technology and returns to a simpler time (when boyfriends couldn’t cheat with computer avatars). The List:
1. Run for pep club secretary
2. Host a fancy dinner party/soiree
3. Sew a dress for Homecoming
4. Find a steady
5. Do something dangerous
But simple proves to be crazy-complicated, and the details of the past begin to change Mallory’s present. Add in a too-busy grandmother, a sassy sister, and the cute pep-club president–who just happens to be her ex’s cousin–and soon Mallory begins to wonder if going vintage is going too far.

Sam’s Review:

3.5

Going Vintage was a book I bought on a whim because I loved the concept of a girl ditching technology and trying to survive without. Sure, she does it it first because of her douche boyfriend, but watching her develop throughout the novel is surprisingly entertaining and hilarious.

Mallory’s voice for the most part is quite magnetic. She’s sassy, a bit full of herself, and she feels somewhat entitled in her behavior. Generally these are not qualities I enjoy in people (characters yes, people no), but for me it worked. Mallory’s ex is a complete douche, he’s equally as entitled as she is, and it’s just funny to watch them dance around that part of their behaviour throughout the story.

Enter in Oliver who is… okay, I suppose. His character felt very flat to me and I never found myself deeply caring about him the way I think Leavitt wanted the reader to. It’s weird but neither male lead swept me off my feet while I was reading the story, and I guess for me that was a bit of a drawback for the novel. Mallory is so cute with her merit-badges and lists, she’s quirky enough to keep the narrative moving without killing the overall pacing, and yet the romance aspects just didn’t jive with me. How this novel starts is SO PERFECT and funny, so I felt let down when I didn’t fall in love with Oliver myself. I’m not an insta-love gal (very much the opposite) and I love that their relationship has development, I just wish his character didn’t feel so… perfect at times.

One thing I wish this novel explored more was the family elements. Family plays a huge role in this story, yet certain situations felt resolved too quickly and neatly. The one with her mother spying on her? There should have been more to tying that thread up better. The one that I loved was her relationship with her grandmother and the other family. I thought that was fabulous all around.

Going Vintage will have its readers that will think its perfect. Despite my problems with the story, I really did love the narration, Mallory and just the sheer silliness of the story in spots. It’s a fun read, especially a good one when you’re not looking to put in too much brain power. It has cuteness and fluff and it does it very well. I’d definitely recommend it if you’re looking for a lighter read.

River’s review:

3.5

This is another ‘ditto’ review. I agree with EVERYTHING that Sam said, and totally feel the same. I love that we both gave it a 3.5 rating as well.

So a few more thoughts from me…

Something that I didn’t like about the book was how at the beginning Mallory doesn’t even seem like she WANTS to be with her ex-boyfriend. I mean, we get a list of reasons why she doesn’t want to make out with him and how she tries to get out of it. That really doesn’t scream ‘I am in love with my boyfriend of over a year’ to me. So I didn’t really have much sympathy for her when she found out that he was ‘cheating’.

Also, I loved the use of lists in the book, but Mallory’s lists SUCKED. They weren’t ‘list-y’ enough, if you get what I mean. Like, a list is supposed to be bullet points with short sentences to let you remember what you wanted to do. Her lists were all just… too long. Too full of information. Too not-list-like. It bugged me, and it’s probably stupid, but this book was BASED on a list, and I felt that these lists weren’t good enough (this is coming from a huge list-er).

And the whole Grandma story line… interesting, but it felt so out of place, and just… too much. We could have gone without grandma’s secret and just focused on her relationship with her Grandma (which I LOVED since I was VERY close to my own Grandma).

So overall, this book was cute, but fell a bit flat for me in some places, hence the lower rating.

This Song Will Save Your Life
The Moon and More
In Honor
Smart Girls Get What They Want
Also Known As
The Trouble With Flirting
The Distance Between Us

Well guys… this is the end! August is over, and summer is winding down. Our fling with contemporary novels might not be over, but I know that I am getting a little tired of the hot and ready for some cooler weather, hot spiced latte, and tall boots again.

Sam and I both hope you enjoyed this series! We hope to do more events like this in the future.

AND DON’T FORGET TO ENTER OUR GIVE AWAY!!! You could win one of these fabulous books!!!!

ARC Review: Just One Year

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Title: Just One Year
Author: Gayle Forman
Rating: ★★★★~★
Synopsis: After spending an amazing day and night together in Paris, Just One Year is Willem’s story, picking up where Just One Day ended. His story of their year of quiet longing and near misses is a perfect counterpoint to Allyson’s own as Willem undergoes a transformative journey, questioning his path, finding love, and ultimately, redefining himself.

River’s Review:

4 Stars

Guys, I have to say that I am SO sorry to everyone who told me to read JUST ONE DAY. I haven’t had the heart to put my review up on this blog (you can read it here on goodreads **WARNING SPOILERS FOR JUST ONE DAY***) because I really did not have a good time with Just One Day. I didn’t hate it, but the book, and Allyson made me EXTREMELY angry. So when I saw that I got an ARC of JUST ONE YEAR I actually cringed and made my co-blogger read it just to alleviate some of the guilt that came with getting a copy of a book that other’s would KILL for and that I didn’t really deserve or appreciate…

That said… I REALLY ENJOYED THIS BOOK. I still think Willem is an ass, but a charming one who seemed to have REAL REASONS for half of the crap he did. I understood his motivations a lot more, and even sympathized with him. I did not forgive him for what he did, but I came to accept what he did.

I think the thing that really made this book for me was that while Allyson was a driving force behind his actions, she was not the sole reason for everything he did. In JUST ONE DAY I felt that everything Allyson did revolved around Willem and that everything she did sprung from her obsession with him. But with Willem, Allyson was present, but she didn’t seem to be in the forefront.

And I totally accepted that while he did things for the sake of her, he was in turn finding and doing even BETTER things for the sake of HIMSELF.

Also, I loved Kate. She was amazing and much needed.

I still had issues with Forman’s writing (hands between legs this time around. At least give the thigh a little slide! Something! ugh, all the physical contact is so awkwaaaaaaard) it didn’t bother me as much in this either.

And this is why I gave the book 4 bright stars.

Sam’s Review:

5 Stars

Just One Day was easily a front runner for one of my favourite reads of the year, but I feel as though it was easily dethroned by its sequel, Just One Year. Written from the perspective of Willem, we see how one year takes complete control of him as he goes on a journey of self-discovery.

While Allyson frustrated me at times, I couldn’t help by be enchanted by Willem’s narration. Honest, sensitive, broken, he’s someone who is always looking for quick fixes in situations, or at least band-aids when things go awry. He can be a kind person, but equally be horrific and dismissive of the world around him, and yet Forman gives you all the reasons why. There’s no sugarcoating, there’s no pining, there’s just raw emotion, the “I-screwed-up-so-royally-I-don’t-deserve-a-second-chance” kind of emotion. The book is not entirely centered on Willem and Allyson’s relationship, but rather it uncovers just a small part of who this man really is.

As always, I’m easily enamored by Gayle Forman’s writing. She knows how to make you care about the characters, both primary and secondary, and she never sugarcoats the sensitive issues within the text. These people are screwed up, they wear their flaws on their sleeves, and yet you love them because you get to watch them rise, fall, and rise once more. Willem’s adventures, from his Bollywood experience, to his reconnection with his family, show so much growth and discovery, but it never makes Willem feel entirely at peace with himself. I enjoyed that aspects because there are some life situations that haunt us and never feel like they can fully be rectified.

Overall I thought this was a much better novel that its predecessor (which I also loved). I found my connection to Willem over Allyson was so much stronger and it felt much more meaningful as the story progressed. Willem is a messed up guy, but Forman makes you root from him, no matter the situation.

Contemporary Summer Fling: The Distance Between Us

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Title: The Distance Between Us
Author: Kasie West
Rating: ★★★★
Synopsis: Seventeen-year-old Caymen Meyers studies the rich like her own personal science experiment, and after years of observation she’s pretty sure they’re only good for one thing—spending money on useless stuff, like the porcelain dolls in her mother’s shop.

So when Xander Spence walks into the store to pick up a doll for his grandmother, it only takes one glance for Caymen to figure out he’s oozing rich. Despite his charming ways and that he’s one of the first people who actually gets her, she’s smart enough to know his interest won’t last. Because if there’s one thing she’s learned from her mother’s warnings, it’s that the rich have a short attention span. But Xander keeps coming around, despite her best efforts to scare him off. And much to her dismay, she’s beginning to enjoy his company.

She knows her mom can’t find out—she wouldn’t approve. She’d much rather Caymen hang out with the local rocker who hasn’t been raised by money. But just when Xander’s attention and loyalty are about to convince Caymen that being rich isn’t a character flaw, she finds out that money is a much bigger part of their relationship than she’d ever realized. And that Xander’s not the only one she should’ve been worried about.

Sam’s Review:

4.5 stars

Kasie West impressed me with Pivot Point earlier this year, but The Distance Between Us really proved to me that she is an author to watch out for. Her writing has such a personable quality to it that it’s easy to fall in love with her characters and relate to the situations which she presents themselves with.

I adored Caymen — her dry sense of humor, her awkward mannerisms, it’s so funny and genuine. She’s someone who reacts very naturally to a lot of situations. One thing I loved about her character was how sure she was of her own personality and traits, yet when it came to the world around her, she was unsure, yet honest with what she can and can’t have in her life. She reminds me a bit of myself in that her mother is her world, especially in time of loss and abandonment. I found a lot of her troubles resonated with me, and it was easy to connect with her.

I also loved the secondary characters as well, especially her mother and Mrs. Dalton in particular. I thought Mrs. Dalton was both humorous and quite the mentor at times, where as Susan (Caymen’s mother)… I just saw a lot of my own mom in her, so I had a lot of sympathy for her as the story progressed. Xander took awhile to grow on me, but I feel like West made that the point of this story. He wasn’t meant to be likable right away, and his behaviour towards the ending? I wanted to slap him. At the same time, I get what she was doing with his character and he did ultimately win me over. The only thing I didn’t like was how things were neatly wrapped up into a bow at the end, but I accepted it because I did want Xander and Caymen to be together because I do think they work quite well as a pair.

The Distance Between Us has such engrossing writing that it’s easy to keep turning the pages. It’s fast, engaging, and emotional ride, and it does an amazing job of making you feel connected to characters, particularly Caymen and Susan. This is a book I will no doubt crave a reread for, because the narrative is just that thoughtful. Kasie West is a talented writer who knows how to connect her audience, and I look forward to reading more of her work as she continues to grow as a writer.

River’s Review:

4 stars

Basically, ditto to Sam’s review. Only for me I’m not 100% on the Kasie West love train (more like 90% on it, lol). I liked her books, but neither of them blew me away like they have just about every-other-blogger-ever. Pivot Point was good, but there was WAY too much football for me. And I loved this book, but like Sam said, the ending was wrapped up a bit TOO neatly.

I DO think that her writing will grow a lot and I can’t wait to read her future books!

The best thing about this book though, was Caymen, hand’s down. I loved her voice.

This Song Will Save Your Life
The Moon and More
In Honor
Smart Girls Get What They Want
Also Known As
The Trouble With Flirting

AND DON’T FORGET TO ENTER OUR GIVE AWAY!!! You could win one of these fabulous books!!!!

Go away, I’m READING

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Prior to starting this blog many of you might not have been aware of just how much I read so… here’s some background. I read A LOT. I’ve read a lot my entire life. I have a clear memory of winning every single ‘read-a-thon’ in Elementary school (the ones where you kept track of your pages and won pizza). My ‘pages read’ line circled the classroom. Scholastic book fairs were HEAVEN. If my mom let me buy more than 3 books, my month was set.

Friday’s were ‘library nights’ and my sister and I would wait by the door, piles of finished books ready to be taken back. As soon as my mom would pull in the driveway we’d run out and jump in the car. I could have spent hours in the library, and I ended up reading just about everything they had to offer.

Going to the bookstore was, and still is, one of the joys in my life.

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I went to school for writing and have a degree in Creative Writing. My dream and life goal is to publish a book (or two… or more…) and I worked in a bookstore for two years. While my taste and interest in books has changed a lot over the years, I have never lost my love of reading. I just… got quiet about it. I don’t have that many friends who are into the kinds of books I am, and that’s okay!

But, outside of goodreads I just… stopped talking about books in public. Call it a mix of embarrassment, shyness and guilt if you want… but I didn’t want people to judge me and the things that I read. I mean, I forced Twilight down SO MANY PEOPLE’S THROATS (and I am sorry and at the same time not…), and the more YA blew up into the main stream and pop culture, the more I wanted to hide my love for it…

SO, two years ago I made it my New Years resolution to basically stop giving a fuck about what anyone thought about me. My short time spent as a fashion/lifestyle/model blogger really put a lot of things into perspective for me and I just… needed to change my way of thinking. Quitting my old blog was the best thing I could have done for myself. Moving away from Tokyo and into the middle of nowhere was difficult, but it was good for me in many ways. It still is. And in the end I stopped caring what other people thought about me. And that spilled into me not caring if people are going to judge me based on the things that I read… so now I talk about books A LOT.

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I ran across this Buzzfeed article yesterday: 17 Problems Only Book Lovers Will Understand. And number 2 hit me in the face. Ever since I started to read in ALL my spare moments (at work, on the train, etc.) I have noticed just how much people don’t seem to understand that when someone is reading a book it’s not an open invitation to strike up a conversation! Which then made me want to write this post where I will now address a question that has been popping up SO much lately that I feel… I needed to blog about it.

How do you have so much time to read?

I can’t believe how many people have asked me this in the past 8 months! It’s usually followed with ‘I wish I had as much free time as you, but I’m so busy with *insert hobby here*

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READING. IS. MY. HOBBY. It is not something that I do because I lack a ‘proper hobby’. I MAKE time to read just like you make time to play video games or sports or draw pictures or whatever YOUR hobby is. I don’t read to kill time or because I’m bored. I don’t read because I have no friends (tho, to be honest, at the moment I don’t really have any local friends, which could be a whole other post, and I wont get into that… but temporary placement guys. I’m not living here forever). I DON’T READ FOR LACK OF ANYTHING BETTER TO DO.

Yes I might read 3 books a week just like you might run 30km a week or paint 3 pictures a week or beat 3 video games a week. I don’t understand why reading is put into this category of being something that you just do when you’re bored/killing time/pathetic.

So stop being jealous of all my ‘free time’. I’ll have you know that I’m very busy when I’m not reading, thank you very much.

Contemporary Summer Fling: The Trouble with Flirting

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Title: The Trouble with Flirting
Author: Claire LaZebnik
Rating:
Synopsis: Franny’s supposed to be working this summer, not flirting. But you can’t blame her when guys like Alex and Harry are around. . . .

Franny Pearson never dreamed she’d be attending the prestigious Mansfield Summer Theater Program. And she’s not, exactly. She’s working for her aunt, the resident costume designer. But sewing her fingers to the bone does give her an opportunity to spend time with her crush, Alex Braverman. If only he were as taken with the girl hemming his trousers as he is with his new leading lady.

When Harry Cartwright, a notorious flirt, shows more than a friendly interest in Franny, she figures it can’t hurt to have a little fun. But as their breezy romance grows more complicated, can Franny keep pretending that Harry is just a carefree fling? And why is Alex suddenly giving her those deep, meaningful looks? In this charming tale of mixed messages and romantic near-misses, one thing is clear: Flirting might be more trouble than Franny ever expected.

Sam’s review: The Trouble With Flirting is my first foray into Claire LaZebnik’s work, and I have to say: she managed to win me over. As a retelling of Mansfield Park by Jane Austen, I feel like LaZebnik does a great job of breathing life into the characters with contemporary style. While I do not hate Mansfield Park, I admit to the fullest that I found it to be Jane Austen’s most difficult book to read. However, I feel like you get all the selfish, neurotic behaviors highlighted splendidly in this novel, just as you do in Austen’s classic.

Let’s me throw this out there: I didn’t feel like anyone is truly likeable in Mansfield Parkand this definitely gets carried over into The Trouble With Flirting. Selfishness and popularity are the true motivations of a lot of the characters, except for Franny (Fanny) Pearson. Franny just wants to enjoy what life has to offer and not constantly be reminded that because she’s poor and at the bottom of the food chain.

I loved LaZebnik’s portrayal of the cast. She reminds us how horrific, selfish and self-absorbed a lot of the characters are, but she humanizes them in such ways that you hate them, but you also understand their motivations and mannerism a touch more clearly. Franny seems like less of a doormat compared to Fanny, as she is able to speak her mind more and push herself to become a stronger, more well versed person, unlike FannyMansfield Park, where it takes a good chunk of the novel before she truly finds her balls. I admit though, I love the growth that Austen gives Fanny, because you understand and see how truly hopeless her situation is, unlike Franny, who doesn’t recognize that it’s hopeless, but rather she refuses to let it become that.

I will admit, I wasn’t huge on Alex or Harry. Although there’s a love triangle in this story, it’s one that I found myself enjoying. Franny is not perfect, she has two boys to choose from, one who is her middle-school crush, and the other who is a notorious flirt. Truthfully, I HATED Edmund in Austen’s classic, and I never liked that he simply “realizes he loves Fanny” (to me that comes across more like he simply settles for her), but here we see LaZebnik give Harry a bit more personality, and he doesn’t just settle for Franny, but he grows to love and accept who she is. Alex comes across more of a doormat compared to Harry, but I think LaZebnik justifies that behavior for him considering Isabella is kind of a diva, wanting the world to bend over backwards. I love how at the end of the novel Isabella exposes who she really is, and it’s so perfectly handled that I actually liked her character a lot in the end.

This may be my first Clarie LaZebnik’s work, and first Jane Austen retelling, but I know on both accounts it won’t be my last on either front. I feel like LaZebnik did an amazing job being completely true to the source material, while also taking liberties when necessary to make Mansfield Park work in the confines of her story. It has its slow moments, but once the story hits its stride, it soars. I loved LaZebnik’s portrayal of characters, I loved how she incorporated it into a contemporary story. The Trouble With Flirting is such an engaging and fluffy read, and I look forward to checking out the rest of Clarie LaZebnik’s books.

Did you read THE TROUBLE WITH FLIRTING? If you did what did you think? We’d love to talk about it in the comments! Also link us to your reviews! And don’t forget to check out last few Flings with:

This Song Will Save Your Life
The Moon and More
In Honor
Smart Girls Get What They Want
Also Known As

AND DON’T FORGET TO ENTER OUR GIVE AWAY!!! You could win one of these fabulous books!!!! 

Goodbye, Rebel Blue

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Title: Goodbye, Rebel Blue
Author: Shelley Coriell
Rating: ★★★★
Synopsis: Rebecca Blue is a rebel with an attitude whose life is changed by a chance encounter with a soon-to-be dead girl. Rebel (as she’s known) decides to complete the dead girl’s bucket list to prove that choice, not chance, controls her fate. In doing so, she unexpectedly opens her mind and heart to a world she once dismissed—a world of friendships, family, and faith. With a shaken sense of self, she must reevaluate her loner philosophy—particularly when she falls for Nate, the golden boy do-gooder who never looks out for himself.

River’s review: I received this ARC from Netgalley and I’m writing an honest review to say THANK YOU!!!

This book was really nice. I enjoyed the tone of it and the messages. I thought that all of the characters were good, but could have been fleshed out a bit more. I guess I felt that way about the entire book. I knew the message, but I wanted to have to dig deeper for a lot of it.

Rebel (Rebecca) Blue is a bad girl turned good when she tries to fulfill a dead girls bucket list. The list keeps getting pushed on her no matter how hard she tries to get rid of it and to prove that there’s no such thing as ‘fate’ or ‘destiny’ she decides to DO the list so she can get rid of it. This leads to a HUGE change in Rebel.

I enjoyed Rebel’s transformation. I really didn’t like her at the beginning. She was this ‘weird, artsy, sarcastic, bad-at-math, annoying’ trouble-maker who was just TOO AWARE of the fact that she was all these things. A lot of her bad attitude felt really forced. There was a lot of mention of things that made her ‘different’ and ‘quirky’ but… I just hate being hit over the head with HOW different someone is. It didn’t feel genuine. But as she worked through the bucket list and became not only a better person, but the person that she wanted so badly to be… that started to feel more real.

I really liked Macey and Nate’s little sister Gabby. Nate was decent, and the love interest was pretty nice compared to some other books in this genre. I LOVED that Rebel didn’t drop everything for Nate. LOVED IT.

And Rebel’s ‘bucket list’ was so perfect. I LOVED the way that was worked into the story. I also really liked the ending. It made me smile 🙂

If you’re a fan of Jessi Kirby or Sarah Dessen, I think you’d enjoy this book.