Blogmas Day #12: Three Gifts for Three Young Adult Books

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If you’re a huge fan of books, often times you’re a huge fan of bookish merchandize. Below, I found three gifts for three series in young adult fiction that would make great gifts any time of the year for fans of these series.

If they’re a fan of… The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

I love merchandise that looks like it could easily fit into a room’s decor without people knowing right away where it comes from. This scroll map of Elfhame on Etsy would be the perfect gift to decorate your room without sticking out among other decor.

If they’re a fan of… To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before 

Another interesting piece of merchandise that I found online was a hoodie that mimics Peter Kavinsky’s from the Netflix adaption on Etsy. This hoodie features a school logo on the front, as well as Kavinsky’s name and number on the back. I think this would be perfect for a fan of the books as well as someone who is a huge fan of Noah Centineo, who plays Peter Kavinsky in the movie.

If they’re a fan of… Renegades by Marissa Meyer

Candles are a popular gift in subscription boxes, and these candles inspired by the Renegades series would be a great gift for a fan of the series. This set of two candles includes a blue candle named Renegades and a red candle named Anarchists.

 

What are your favorite bookish gifts?

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July TBR

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A long time ago, I posted my April TBR. Looking at that TBR of four books (reading Shatter Me and Furthermore by Taherah Mafi and re-reading Cinder by Marissa Meyer and The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski), I did not accomplish anything. However, I did read some new books over the course of April, May, and June that I really enjoyed. Looking into July, I’m going to choose three books that I will hopefully read among the many books I hope to read in total during July. Here are my three picks:

  • Happily Ever After by Kiera Cass

Happily Ever After (The Selection, #0.4, 0.5, 2.5, 3.1, 3.5)

Happily Ever After is a collection of short stories relating to The Selection series. I recently purchased this book in a buy two, get one free deal from my local Books a Million store. I really enjoyed reading The Selection series over the summer as I watched The Bachelor franchise, so I think it would be fun to read while I’m immersed in another season of my favorite television show.

  • Shatter Me by Taherah Mafi

Shatter Me (Shatter Me, #1)

I recently saw this book in the bookstore and saw that this series recently got another book added. This seems like such a nostalgic YA series for a lot of people. I remember not picking this up in high school due to seeing negative reviews, but after seeing so much love for this series in the online book community, I definitely want to give it a try.

  • Burn for Burn by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian 

Burn for Burn (Burn for Burn, #1)

One of my goals is to start working through books I’ve owned for ages, but still haven’t read. Burn for Burn is a book that I picked up at a thrift store last year, but never got around to reading. Right now, I’m currently decluttering all my belongings since I’m redoing my book and I want to be able to sort books into books I would like to keep or books I want to pass on to my sister’s classroom library. Since this book takes place on an island, I thought it would be the perfect book to read during the summer!

 

What books do you plan to read in July?

Favorite Reviews of 2017

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This year, I read a little over 100 books… so I wrote a ton of book reviews! Here are five of my favorite book reviews that I wrote in 2017:

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I loved writing a review of Bittersweet because it was one of my favorite books to read in high school. It was so much fun to revisit it during the winter and talk about how wonderful it is as a winter read.

My Not So Perfect Life

On my blog, I primarily review middle grade and adult books. However, this year I wanted to venture out of my comfort zone and read books marketed towards different age ranges and in different genres than I usually read. Even though my feelings were mixed towards this book, I’m proud that I ventured out of my comfort zone and was able to share my feelings about it on my blog.

March: Book One (March, #1)

Like with the book above, I wanted to venture outside of my comfort zone while reading this year and that included graphic novels. My reviews of March and Nimona were my first graphic novel reviews on my blog and they motivated me to pick up several other graphic novels this year.

Always and Forever, Lara Jean (To All the Boys I've Loved Before, #3)

I loved reviewing Always and Forever, Lara Jean because it brought me back to a series that I hadn’t thought about for awhile. Even though I liked this first two books, I definitely enjoyed this book the most in the series so I loved sharing that on my blog. This book also holds a special place in my heart because it mentions a store in Williamsburg, Virginia that I visisted whenever I went on vacation with my family this past year!

The Summer After You and Me

I really enjoyed writing my reviews of How My Summer Went Up In Flames and The Summer After You and Me because I pushed myself to write a review in a different format than I usually write. This post was particularly fun because I reread a book from my high school years and compared it to the newest book by this author.

 

What were your favorite book reviews that you wrote during 2017 (leave a link below, I would love to read them!)?

Always and Forever, Lara Jean Review

always and forever lara jean

I will love this book always and forever.

Always and Forever, Lara Jean concludes Jenny Han’s contemporary series, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before. In the final installment, Lara Jean’s senior year is coming to a close. Lara Jean has everything planned out from her prom dress to her college plans. However, an unexpected event takes place that threatens all of Lara Jean’s plans.

When it comes to the To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before series, I’ve had mixed thoughts. I really loved the first book, but wasn’t crazy about a lot of the second book. I’m happy to say that I really loved Always and Forever, Lara Jean and it may be my favorite book in the series!

One of my favorite parts of this book is the main character, Lara Jean. To me, Lara Jean really stands out among many other young adult main characters. Right now, it’s very “in” to have a gritty female protagonist with characteristics considered typically masculine. Even though I love those main characters and recognize their importance, it’s refreshing to see a more traditionally feminine character who is equally a strong role model. I love how Lara Jean is apologetically herself, even if other characters see her as a grandma. Especially in this book, Lara Jean makes tough decisions that are similar to readers in this book’s target audience. I think Lara Jean serves as a great role model to readers and I really appreciate the depth that Jenny Han gave her.

Another reason I loved this book was how it realistically dealt with problems that every senior year in high school faces. I know if I read this book my senior year of high school, I would have related to most of the struggles that Lara Jean faced. I also appreciated that the solution to every one of Lara Jean’s problems never came easy and every decision forced her character to grow throughout the novel. Additionally, all the relationships between the characters grew and changed. As a result, this novel was very character-driven.

Always and Forever, Lara Jean also wraps up the To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before series nicely. My biggest problem with the second book in this series was I felt that two many new story lines were thrown in at the end of the novel, which made the reolution seemed rushed. This was not the case in this book. I loved seeing Lara Jean’s father marry Ms. Rothschild, Kitty grow up, and the various directions that Lara Jean’s high school friends headed. Even the side characters, like John Ambrose McClaren, are given resolutions which neatly wraps up all of the plots throughout the series.

Overall, Always and Forever, Lara Jean is an outstanding conclusion to the To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before series. For its realistic problems, character growth, and solid resolutions, I give this book five out of five stars.

August Wrap-Up

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Last month, I had a great reading month and read eighteen books. Usually in August, I start to slow down with my reading, but this year was an exception. During August, I read over fifteen books. A lot of the books I read this month were also four and five star reads for me, so I really enjoyed most of the books I read! Here are the book that I read in August (any books with reviews will be linked to the book’s title):

  • The Crown by Kiera Cass (★ ★)

The Crown (The Selection, #5)

  • Windfall by Jennifer E. Smith (★ ★ ★ ★ ★)

Windfall

  • March (Book One) by John Lewis (★ ★ ★ ★ ★)

March: Book One (March, #1)

It's Not Summer Without You (Summer, #2)

We'll Always Have Summer (Summer, #3)

  • Summer Days and Summer Nights edited by Stephanie Perkins (★ ★)

Summer Days and Summer Nights: Twelve Love Stories

  • Play On by Michelle Smith (★ ★ ★)

Play On (Lewis Creek, #1)

  • Defending Taylor by Miranda Kenneally (★ ★ ★)

Defending Taylor

  • Catching Jordan by Miranda Kenneally (★ ★ ★ ★)

Catching Jordan

  • Jesse’s Girl by Miranda Kenneally (★ ★ ★ ★)

Jesse's Girl (Hundred Oaks)

  • Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh (★ ★ ★ ★)

Flame in the Mist (Flame in the Mist, #1)

  • Lucky in Love by Kasie West (★ ★ ★)

Lucky in Love

  • Royce Rolls by Margaret Stohl (★ ★ ★)

Royce Rolls

  • The Great Shelby Holmes Meets Her Match by Elizabeth Eulberg (★ ★ ★ ★)

The Great Shelby Holmes Meets Her Match (The Great Shelby Holmes, #2)

Re-reads:

  • Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen (★ ★ ★ ★ ★)

Saint Anything

  • The Boyfriend League by Rachel Hawthorne (★ ★ ★ ★)

The Boyfriend League

The Unexpected Everything

  • Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson (★ ★ ★ ★ ★)

Since You've Been Gone

What was the best book that you read in August?

The Summer I Turned Pretty Trilogy Review

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The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han is a pretty okay series.

The Summer Trilogy follows Isabel “Belly” Conklin as she spends her summer at Cousins Beach with her mother, brother, and the family of her mother’s best friend. Summer isn’t just for the beach, but reconnecting with the two boys in the other family, Conrad and Jeremiah. However, this summer is different and Belly finds herself caught in a love triangle between Conrad and Jeremiah. Although Belly always loved Conrad, he never really reciprocated her feelings. On the other hand, Jeremiah likes Belly, but she never noticed him due to her longtime crush on Conrad.

I remember this series was incredibly popular when it was first released, but I never read any of the books. After reading Jenny Han’s other young adult contemporary series, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, and other some of her other works, I was really excited to pick up this series. Even though this series didn’t meet all of my expectations, I enjoyed it as a whole and think it is a great series to read during the summertime.

When I looked at this series as a whole, I would definitely say it gets better as you go along. The first book, while cute and fun, is slightly predictable and I didn’t get to know the characters as much as I would have liked. Fortunately, the series continues until Belly goes to college, so we see each character grow and gain more depth. Without giving away any spoilers, there are definitely major shake-ups in this series which force each character to mature in many different ways.

As for the characters, I have mixed feelings, especially towards the main character. Belly isn’t a very dynamic character, however she is a very authentic teenage character. Since the books are written in a very matter-of-fact way, Belly basically tells us what happens without much feeling, and it’s very difficult to get to know her as a character. The way Belly flops between love interests and how she fails to pick up on extremely obvious clues may irritate some readers, but it is also very true to her age. While Belly isn’t a very dynamic character, I think many teenage readers will identify with her and how she deals with family, friend, and romantic relationships throughout the book.

I also have mixed feelings towards the love interests. Compared to Belly, I think Conrad and Jeremiah are characterized much better and are also given much more depth. I really looked forward to reading chapters from their perspective, even though they mostly centered around their feelings towards Belly, when they popped up in the books later in the series. However, I never found myself completely invested in either love interest in the series. It’s pretty clear who will emerge victorious in the love triangle, but I felt like we never really got to see many great moments between Belly and the winner until the very end of the series.

While I gave each book in this series a different rating (three, four, and five stars), I give the series as a whole around three stars. While I really enjoyed reading these books (I read each book in one sitting), they don’t rank as my favorite contemporary series or my favorite books by Jenny Han. I think I needed some extra emotion in the writing or a greater connection to the characters to rate this story higher. However, I do recommend this series to anyone looking for an easy-to-read summer series.

Top Ten Recommendations for People who Don’t Usually Read Middle Grade

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s theme is a top ten recommendations freebie. For my freebie, I decided to focus on middle grade books. Usually, I read contemporary young adult books. In the past few years, I’ve really branched out with my reading. Some of my favorite books that I’ve picked up out of my comfort zone have been middle grade books. Middle grades books are humorous, full of heart, and filled with adventure. If you’re thinking about picking up a middle grade book, here are ten great places to start (any books with reviews will be linked to the title):

 Sincerely, Sophie; Sincerely, Katie

I picked up Sincerely on a whim at Dollar Tree from only $1. I anticipated a cute and a fluffy story, but the two books in this collection were a lot deeper than I expected! Sincerely deals with very relevant issues and handles them well. Each character is extremely deep, well-developed, and realistic. I recommend this for anyone looking for a deep, well-written, and incredibly realistic contemporary book.

Clara Lee and the Apple Pie Dream

Like with Sincerely, I picked up Clara Lee and the Apple Pie Dream on a whim at Dollar Tree because I recognized the author’s name. Similar to Sincerely, I expected a cute and fun read, but read a much deeper story than I affected. Clara Lee definitely leans on the younger end of middle grade, but it explores an incredibly deep topic in an understandable way for younger readers. I recommend this book to anyone looking for a book that features a diverse main character and an important message.

  • Red Thread Sisters by Carol Antoinette Peacock

Red Thread Sisters

I found Red Thread Sisters at my local library’s book sale at an incredibly low price. I was drawn in by the story line which promised an interesting story about a girl adopted from China as she adapted to life in the United States. Not only did this provide an interesting story, but it also provides a lot of informative information on the adoption process. Since the book’s author adopted her daughters from China, this book also is extremely accurate. I recommend this book to anyone looking for an extremely realistic middle grade book that features a diverse main character.

Moving Day (Allie Finkle's Rules for Girls, #1)

I recommend the Allie Finkle series to anyone who wants to laugh out loud. Even though this is geared towards younger middle grade readers, I didn’t read this book until my 20s and I still find myself laughing out loud when I read these books. I recommend this book to anyone who is a fan of humorous reads or any fan of Meg Cabot!

Jessica Darling's It List: The (Totally Not) Guaranteed Guide to Popularity, Prettiness & Perfection

Like Allie Finkle’s Rules for Girls, Jessica Darling’s It List is a laugh out loud middle grade series. I think this book will be perfect for people hesitant to read middle grade books because it may feature a character that you’ve already seen in a young adult series. (Plus, the movie is currently available on Netflix!) If you’re a fan of the young adult Jessica Darling series, this would be a great place to start in middle grade!

The Great Shelby Holmes (The Great Shelby Holmes, #1)

The Great Shelby Holmes is the perfect middle grade book for anyone looking for a mystery! In my opinion, this is one of Elizabeth Eulberg’s best books in terms of writing, characterization, and plot. Every aspect of this book is so clever. As an adult, I even struggled to figure out the mystery at the end! I recommend this book for anyone who wants something a little different than a contemporary read.

Judy Moody Declares Independence (Judy Moody #6)

There are some Judy Moody books that I love and other that I don’t love as much. Judy Moody Declares Independence would have to be my favorite in the series! This book explores history in such a fun and creative way. Additionally, it points out biases in history and introduces a famous female figure in history that is often overlooked. I recommend this middle grade book for anyone who loves history and a book with a message!

September Surprises (Main Street, #6)

The Main Street series is a wonderful contemporary series that focuses on a small town. In this series, you get to know the characters extremely well and each book takes places around a special time of the year. These books are written so beautifully and are written by an author that many people have read when they were younger. I would recommend this series to anyone looking for middle grade books with a classic feel.

Wonder

Wonder is such a heartfelt book with a message that everyone needs to hear. One of the great aspects of this book is that it includes so many points of view, so readers really can see how one person can affect so many. (Plus, the movie is coming out later this year!) Really, I recommend anyone to read this book.

The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, #1)

Percy Jackson and The Olympians is the perfect middle grade series for fantasy fans. Rick Riordan does a fantastic job of weaving mythology through this book and I absolutely love how he sets the story up. Percy is a hilarious main character and I love the little jokes thrown in the books that older readers pick up on. This is such a loved middle grade series, and it’s no surprise why!

 

What middle grade books do you recommend?

Books I Packed for Vacation

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Last week, I traveled with my family to Williamsburg and Virginia Beach. Since I would be spending a few days in the sun, I had to throw some books in my beach bag! There’s a few summer books that I wanted to read before the summer ends and before they were due at the library, so I decided to take a few of those on my trip. Here are the books that I took on vacation:

  • Summer Days and Summer Nights by Stephanie Perkins

I thought this short story collection would be perfect for the beach because it’s so summery! Since it contains short stories, the stories could be read whenever I was laying out in the sun.  With shorter stories, I could have the perfect mix of reading time and beach time!

  • It’s Not Summer Without You by Jenny Han

Like with Summer Days and Summer Nights, this story is very summery and even takes place on a beach! The first book in this trilogy was a quick, easy, and lighthearted read. This was the perfect book to take on vacation because it would be a fun and quick to read at the beach or before going to bed.

  • Windfall by Jennifer E. Smith

Even though this book isn’t particularly summery like the books above, it is another book that I have checked out at the library. I’m also excited to read this and Kasie West’s new book, Lucky in Love, because they have similar plots and I want to see how they compare.

What books did you take on vacation this summer?

August TBR

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Looking back on my July TBR, I’m not surprised that I only read one of the books that I initially planned. After my library brought in a slew of new releases, I found myself checking out six books at time. Even though I did have a great reading month (see my July Wrap-Up here), I didn’t end up tackling my TBR pile. Last month I planned to read the following books:

  • Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt
  • Burn by Burn by Jenny Han and Siobahn Vivian
  • Surviving High School by Lele Pons and Melissa De La Cruz
  • Ever After High: The Storybook of Legends by Shannon Hale
  • L.A. Candy by Lauren Conrad

Looking back at my choices, I can see why I didn’t pick up most of these books. Most of the books on my July TBR were school-centered and in the midst of summer, I leaned more towards beachy reads. I’ll probably save a lot of books on this list for September and October! The only book that I read on this list was L.A. Candy by Lauren Conrad, which I rated three stars.

Looking towards August, I’m going to try to fit in as many summer books as I can before back to school rolls around. Here are my picks for the last month of summer:

  • Summer Days and Summer Nights edited by Stephanie Perkins

Summer Days and Summer Nights: Twelve Love Stories

I’m trying to branch out and read different types of books, so this short story collection will be the perfect way to venture out of my comfort zone! I read the winter short story collection but Stephanie Perkins and loved reading it around Christmas time. Hopefully, I love reading this one during the summer!

  • It’s Not Summer Without You by Jenny Han

It's Not Summer Without You (Summer, #2)

I read the first book in this series in July, so I definitely want to finish this series before the summer ends! Even though the first book in this series wasn’t my favorite summer read, I feel like I will never finish this series if I wait an entire year to pick up the next book.

  • We’ll Always Have Summer by Jenny Han

We'll Always Have Summer (Summer, #3)

Similar to the second book in the series above, I want to finish this series before I forget the details. This series is perfect to read during summer, so hopefully I can finish it before the end of August.

  • Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson

Second Chance Summer

I planned on reading this book last summer, but never got around to it. Hopefully, I can get to it before this summer comes to a close! Morgan Matson is one of my favorite contemporary authors, so I know that I won’t be disappointed by this one.

  • Windfall by Jennifer E. Smith

Windfall

This isn’t necessarily a summer read, but it is a book that I recently checked out of the library. I want to finish this book before the due date!

 

What books do you plan to read in August?

July Reading Wrap-Up

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July always seems to be a great reading month for me and this July was no exception! This July I read eighteen books and finally pushed ahead to be ahead of schedule for my yearly reading goal. Here are the books that I read during July (any books with reviews will be linked to the title):

  • Sophomore Year is Greek to Me by Meredith Zeitlin (★ ★ ★ ★)

Sophomore Year Is Greek to Me

Milk and Honey

  • By Your Side by Kasie West (★ ★ ★ ★)

By Your Side

Wanderlost

  • L.A. Candy by Lauren Conrad (★ ★ ★)

L.A. Candy (L.A. Candy, #1)

  • The Summer After You and Me by Jennifer Salvato Doktorski (★ ★)

The Summer After You and Me

  • Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han (★ ★ ★ ★ ★)

Always and Forever, Lara Jean (To All the Boys I've Loved Before, #3)

  • Geekerella by Ashley Poston (★ ★ ★ ★ ★)

Geekerella

  • Stars Above by Marissa Meyer (★ ★ ★ ★)

Stars Above (The Lunar Chronicles, #4.5)

  • Wires and Nerve, Volume One by Marissa Meyer (★ ★ ★ ★)

Wires and Nerve, Volume 1 (Wires and Nerves, #1)

  • The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han (★ ★ ★)

The Summer I Turned Pretty (Summer, #1)

  • Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia (★ ★ ★)

Eliza and Her Monsters

  • The Heir by Kiera Cass (★ ★ ★ ★)

The Heir (The Selection, #4)

  • The Crown by Kiera Cass (★ ★)

The Crown by Kiera Cass

  • My Life with the Walter Boys by Ali Novak (★ ★)

My Life with the Walter Boys

Re-reads:

The Truth About Forever

  • How My Summer Went Up in Flames by Jennifer Salvato Doktorski (★ ★ ★)

How My Summer Went Up in Flames

  • Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell (★ ★ ★ ★ ★)

Fangirl