March 31, 2015

Soumya's March Wrap-Up

Hey guys!
March has seemed to take forever, but April is now here! And more importantly, Spring Break is almost here. So, it's time for another wrap-up. March was an interesting month - I'll elaborate more on that towards the end of this post - but I'm excited to see what April has to offer.

I. READING IN GENERAL
I read 37 books this month. That's just as much as last month even though I had more time, but I've been in a slump all month long, so I guess it's understandable. Goodreads is being weird and didn't record the fact that I read three Mara Dyer books, not one, so those pictures aren't below, but I swear I read them. Who knows that happened? But, in bigger news, I've now read over 100 books! I can't believe I'm already halfway to my goal of 200 books. I read a few series and trilogies this month, but it was mostly standalones. I think that's partly because I was in such a slump I could barely focus on one book, let alone a trilogy or series. I didn't do that much in terms of exciting book related things this month...oh, I did visit one bookstore, but I didn't buy anything. I also didn't watch any book themed movies or meet any authors last month. I hope April is more exciting, and I may be headed to Yallwest in two weeks, but I'm not sure.

Here are all the pictures of the books I've read this month. Girls Like Us is my most recent read and Brave New World is the oldest.
 

II. THE 2015 READING CHALLENGE

So....uh, it embarrasses me to say this, but I made no progress whatsoever on this reading challenge. I know, I know, I'm so bad. Dobby will go punish himself now. I got a really hard challenge (#18 Drink or Dessert) which shouldn't be hard, but I've kind of been lacking on inspiration lately. Next month will be better, I promise.

III. MY FAVORITE AND LEAST FAVORITE

It is time to choose! There were some phenomenal books that I read this month, but some terrible ones as well. So, this should be easy.

MY FAVORITE: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

I've been wanting to read this book for a really long time, but I've never been able to locate a copy. I finally found one a while back and I read Mara Dyer. I was so pleasantly surprised! I loved the writing style, plot, characters (especially Noah Shaw) and there was also some great character development and some mean girls (which makes everything 100x more interesting.) I laughed, I almost cried, I tensed up, I got scared. This book is fantabulous - you will feel all the feels. 5 stars! Go read this book. Even if you've already read it.

MY LEAST FAVORITE: 
Black Ice by Becca Fitzpatrick

This book was really disappointing. I'm not a giant fan of Becca Fitzpatrick, but her previous books have been ok. This one was terrible, and I don't say that lightly. It was waaay predictable, creepy in a bad way, and I couldn't stand the characters. The plot was somewhat nonexistent, and I abandoned this book with only 30 pages left because I just couldn't stand it anymore. Usually, even if a book is terrible, I can get through it. This book was not one of those. I really don't recommend this book even if you like Becca Fitzpatrick.

IV. LIFE

This post, as you've probably noticed, is significantly shorter than the previous wrap ups. That's because a) I didn't do much this month and b) It's been like 3 weeks since I've posted so I'm rusty and c) I'm cranking this out in one day. I didn't buy any books this month or do anything remotely booklike and interesting, so I'll just move on to all the other stuff I did this month when I was busy not reading or posting. March was a pretty fun month. We had a school dance that I had a lot of fun at, and I spent a lot of quality time with my friends, whether it was going to performances, parties, or just hanging out. I watched a lot of The Middle this month and also fell in love with Brain Games, Shark Tank, and also Fresh Off The Boat. That show is life. I started listening to lots of indie pop - my favorite songs right now include 'Work This Body' by Walk The Moon, 'Stole The Show' by Kygo (not indie pop) and 'All Eyes on You' by St. Lucia. I also discovered a few new bands that I like, such as MGMT and Tonight Alive. Other stuff that's been going on include plans for an elaborate April Fool's Day prank :) and I just got braces! They happen to be hot pink and beautiful, but painful. Anyone else relate to the pain of braces? Let me know and tell me other stuff down in the comments! Hope you enjoyed this post!!

That's all for today. Sorry for not posting in forever :/
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Ten Books I've Recently Added To My TBR List

Hi guys! It's been a while since I've done a Top Ten Tuesday post in a while, or any posts for that matter. I could say it was because I was busy with school, but that would be lies. To be perfectly truthful it was Netflix. I may or may not have marathon-watched seasons one and two of The 100 and seasons one through three of Once Upon a Time while I was gone... Yeah, okay, I know it's not healthy. But Netflix shame aside, my Spring Break is coming up soon, so I might be able to post but I am going on vacation and probably will get lazy. So, no promises.

Anyhow, today's Top Ten Tuesday post prompt is ten books I've recently added to my To-Be-Read List. Like any other reader, my TBR is practically infinite because I am always adding new books.


The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B by Teresa Toten
Adam Spencer Ross is almost fifteen, and he’s got his hands full confronting the problems that come with having divorced parents and new stepsiblings. Add to that his obsessive-compulsive disorder and it’s just about impossible for him to imagine ever falling in love. Adam’s life changes, however, the instant he meets Robyn Plummer: he is hopelessly, desperately drawn to her. But is it possible to have a normal relationship when your life is anything but?
You know how when you walk into a bookstore and there's always that table full of new shiny hardcovers and popular books? Well yeah, I saw this book on that table and was attracted to the cover. It's so yellow! The title also sounded pretty freaking cool. But anyways, I read the synopsis and it sounded really interesting. Then I checked it on Goodreads and it has really good reviews, so I added it!


The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley by Shaun Hutchinson
Andrew Brawley was supposed to die that night. His parents did, and so did his sister, but he survived.

Now he lives in the hospital. He serves food in the cafeteria, he hangs out with the nurses, and he sleeps in a forgotten supply closet. Drew blends in to near invisibility, hiding from his past, his guilt, and those who are trying to find him.

Then one night Rusty is wheeled into the ER, burned on half his body by hateful classmates. His agony calls out to Drew like a beacon, pulling them both together through all their pain and grief. In Rusty, Drew sees hope, happiness, and a future for both of them. A future outside the hospital, and away from their pasts.

But Drew knows that life is never that simple. Death roams the hospital, searching for Drew, and now Rusty. Drew lost his family, but he refuses to lose Rusty, too, so he’s determined to make things right. He’s determined to bargain, and to settle his debts once and for all.

But Death is not easily placated, and Drew’s life will have to get worse before there is any chance for things to get better.

A partly graphic novel.
I saw this book around quite a bit, like on goodreads and in some bookstores, but could never remember the title. Eventually I came across this book again and checked out the synopsis, which sounded so intriguing! And the part that specifically says "A partly graphic novel" definitely got my attention. It's also been getting super good reviews so I added it!

The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness
What if you weren’t the Chosen One?

What if you’re not the one who’s so often the hero in YA fiction; who’s supposed to fight the zombies, or the soul-eating ghosts, or whatever this new thing is, with the blue lights and the death? What if you were like Mikey? Who just wants to graduate and go to prom and maybe finally work up the courage to ask Henna out before someone goes and blows up the high school. Again. Because sometimes there are problems bigger than this week’s end of the world and sometimes you just have to find the extraordinary in your ordinary life. Even if your best friend might just be the God of mountain lions...
Okay, sad thing is I have yet to read a single Patrick Ness book. He's a pretty popular author and I've heard plenty of good things about his books. But, I just haven't gotten around to it. I added this book because I loved the cover and hey, it's by a popular YA author so why not?


Hello, I Love You by Katie M. Stout
A teen escapes to a boarding school abroad and falls for a Korean pop star in this fun and fresh romantic novel in the vein of Anna and the French Kiss.

Grace Wilde is running—from the multi-million dollar mansion her record producer father bought, the famous older brother who’s topped the country music charts five years in a row, and the mother who blames her for her brother’s breakdown. Grace escapes to the farthest place from home she can think of, a boarding school in Korea, hoping for a fresh start.

She wants nothing to do with music, but when her roommate Sophie’s twin brother Jason turns out to be the newest Korean pop music superstar, Grace is thrust back into the world of fame. She can't stand Jason, whose celebrity status is only outmatched by his oversized ego, but they form a tenuous alliance for the sake of her friendship with Sophie. As the months go by and Grace adjusts to her new life in Korea, even she can't deny the sparks flying between her and the KPOP idol.

Soon, Grace realizes that her feelings for Jason threaten her promise to herself that she'll leave behind the music industry that destroyed her family. But can Grace ignore her attraction to Jason and her undeniable pull of the music she was born to write? Sweet, fun, and romantic, this young adult novel explores what it means to experience first love and discover who you really are in the process.
Okay, I think I found out about this book after I saw a cover reveal or something or other. I really liked to cover, so of course I checked out the synopsis and ratings. It has four star ratings on goodreads. IT SOUNDS ABSOLUTELY ADORABLE. Added.

Me Being Me Is Exactly as Insane as You Being You by Todd Hasak-Lowy
A heartfelt, humorous story of a teen boy’s impulsive road trip after the shock of his lifetime—told entirely in lists!

Darren hasn't had an easy year.

There was his parents’ divorce, which just so happened to come at the same time his older brother Nate left for college and his longtime best friend moved away. And of course there’s the whole not having a girlfriend thing.

Then one Thursday morning Darren's dad shows up at his house at 6 a.m. with a glazed chocolate doughnut and a revelation that turns Darren’s world inside out. In full freakout mode, Darren, in a totally un-Darren move, ditches school to go visit Nate. Barely twenty-four hours at Nate’s school makes everything much better or much worse—Darren has no idea. It might somehow be both. All he knows for sure is that in addition to trying to figure out why none of his family members are who they used to be, he’s now obsessed with a strangely amazing girl who showed up out of nowhere but then totally disappeared.

Told entirely in lists, Todd Hasak-Lowy's debut YA novel perfectly captures why having anything to do with anyone, including yourself, is:

1. painful
2. unavoidable
3. ridiculously complicated
4. possibly, hopefully the right thing after all.
I heard about this book through some sort of publishing newsletter and I was interested by the fact that it's written entirely is lists. It hasn't gotten stellar reviews, but I'm curious about how it'll work out.

Other Books I've Recently Added:

Okay, that's it for this post! Hope you found some new books to add to your TBR!
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March 5, 2015

Review: All The Bright Places

 Title: All the Bright Places
 Author: Jennifer Niven
 Pages: 355
 Published: October 7th, 2014 by Penguin
 Series: Standalone
 Buy on the Book Depository
add to goodreads
An exhilarating and heart-wrenching love story about a girl who learns to live from a boy who intends to die.

Theodore Finch is fascinated by death. Every day he thinks of ways he might die, but every day he also searches for—and manages to find—something to keep him here, and alive, and awake.

Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her small Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister's death.

When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school—six stories above the ground—it's unclear who saves whom. And when the unlikely pair teams up on a class project to discover the "natural wonders" of their state, they go, as Finch says, where the road takes them: the grand, the small, the bizarre, the beautiful, the ugly, the surprising—just like life.

Soon it's only with Violet that Finch can be himself—a bold, funny, live-out-loud guy, who's not such a freak after all. And it's only with Finch that Violet forgets to count away the days and starts living them. But as Violet's world grows, Finch's begins to shrink.

This is a heart-wrenching, unflinching story of love shared, life lived, and two teens who find one another while standing on the edge.

Hey guys!
This review is going to be a bit less fangirly and gif-filled than the others, mostly because I have way serious feelings about this book. I had really high hopes for this book - it seemed like a cutesy love story but with some serious undertones. One of the calibers of a review for me is how much fun was the book to read? I don't mean fun in the bouncy-house and balloon sense but more in the sense of enjoyability. It was an exhilarating read and I really liked it, but there was a lot of stuff didn't like about it either. So, here I go! I'm gonna do a good chunk of the review spoiler-free, but when I compare it to TFIOS at the end, there will be spoilers for both TFIOS and All The Bright Places. I will warn you guys in advance though! This is probably going to be as dramatic as a soap opera, so bear with me.

Anyways, this book starts off with a strange encounter between Violet and Finch. Finch is clearly 'broken', and he is what everyone considers a freak and a weirdo. He's never completely fit in but has come to terms with it. On the other hand, Violet is the girl who seems to have it all - popularity, tons of friends, a boyfriend, stellar grades, and a position on the cheer team. But an accident tears Violet's life apart until she is just as broken on the inside as Finch is on the outside. This book does have recurring themes of coming to terms with yourself, but they aren't the main ones.

I loved the way Finch and Violet's relationship slowly progressed. That was fun to read, and while it was the teensiest bit predictable, it was predictable in a good way. It was predictable in the sense that there was so much happening you didn't even have to worry about anything outside Finch and Violet. At the beginning of the book, their relationship was the universe. But it slowly began to dwindle and I began losing attention.

I also felt like this book painted Indiana in a sarcastic light. The author seemed to say, "There's nothing worthwhile to see in Indiana. The coolest things we have are hills." It was funny at first but again, got tiring quickly.

One thing I didn't get was why Finch's world became smaller and smaller as Violet's grew. I mean, it's obvious why Violet's world grew. But why did Finch's shrink? He was clearly better off during the middle-ish of the book then he was in the beginning. There was some alluding to it, but not enough.

As I'm writing this review, I realize I'm ranting on and on about the stuff I didn't like in this book. Granted, there was quite a bit of it. But I really did like this book. It moved me and sent me on an emotional roller coaster ride. The main reason I didn't love this book was because I had soaring expectations for it, and compared to them the book was just OK. But this is a beautiful book and I definitely recommend reading it if you're into books like I'll Give You The Sun. This review doesn't really do the book justice, but it just highlights what I thought of it. That's it for this review! You can read all the spoilery bits down below if you'd like, or go pick up the book and then rant to random strangers about it.

*SPOILERS AHEAD - CLOSE EYES OR PROCEED WITH CAUTION*
If you look on the Internet or on Goodreads for reviews of this book, everyone is comparing it to TFIOS. Before reading the book, I could tell why, but it became even clearer as I read and and after I finished it. So the girl's name is a color. The guy's name is super old-fashioned and poetic. Both of the teenagers are super deep. Both stories take place in Indiana. They have this relationship that starts because of a coincidence but somehow both teenagers are perfect for each other. They have a disease (cancer, mental instability) and in the end, the guy dies. I saw that coming in TFIOS because Hazel kept moping about how she was going to die. Of course life made Augustus die instead. It was tragic and John Green became our least favorite person for about a second before he became the best again. But in All The Bright Places, the freaking synopsis hints at the fact the guy is going to die. "Finch's world grows smaller?" Seriously? The synopsis give the ending away. So I wasn't shocked at all when Finch died. I would have loved if it made me cry like TFIOS did, but it didn't....I also felt like there wasn't much of an emotional connection to Finch or Violet, as a reader. It also annoyed me that Violet got this random epiphany and figured everything out. It was unbelievable. However, I did like the travelling Violet does as a way of figuring out herself  and a way of letting go of Finch. The ball of paint, especially, really struck a chord with me. If not for the rule of painting it over before you left, Violet may have read Finch's message to her. That part did make me tear up. Overall, I really liked this book, even with it's similarities and differences when compared to TFIOS.

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