Summer Book Haul

In August I will be traveling to Portugal to see my family, thus, I have been stockpiling books for the trip! Just yesterday, my library was having a huge book sale, so I naturally went and spent all of my money on books. Although I’m now broke, the sale was so worth spending my money on! (As a side note, since I don’t know very much information about these books, I am using the summaries from Goodreads.)

Perfect Chemistry

When Brittany Ellis walks into chemistry class on the first day of senior year, she has no clue that her carefully created ‘perfect’ life is about to unravel before her eyes. She’s forced to be lab partners with Alex Fuentes, a gang member from the other side of town, and he is about to threaten everything she’s worked so hard for: her flawless reputation, her relationship with her boyfriend, and the secret that her home life is anything but perfect.

Alex is a bad boy and he knows it. So when he makes a bet with his friends to lure Brittany into his life, he thinks nothing of it. But soon Alex realizes Brittany is a real person with real problems, and suddenly the bet he made in arrogance turns into something much more.

In a passionate story about looking beneath the surface, Simone Elkeles breaks through the stereotypes and barriers that threaten to keep Brittany and Alex apart.

I am so excited to start this book! I honestly have no idea what the plot line is, but I have seen so many book-tubers rave about this novel.

races

It happens at the start of every November: the Scorpio Races. Riders attempt to keep hold of their water horses long enough to make it to the finish line. Some riders live. Others die.

At age nineteen, Sean Kendrick is the returning champion. He is a young man of few words, and if he has any fears, he keeps them buried deep, where no one else can see them.

Puck Connolly is different. She never meant to ride in the Scorpio Races. But fate hasn’t given her much of a chance. So she enters the competition — the first girl ever to do so. She is in no way prepared for what is going to happen.  

Although I personally did not enjoy Maggie Stiefvater’s Shiver trilogy, one of my friends read The Scorpio Races and LOVED it, so I decided to pick it up.

the summer

Belly measures her life in summers. Everything good, everything magical happens between the months of June and August. Winters are simply a time to count the weeks until the next summer, a place away from the beach house, away from Susannah, and most importantly, away from Jeremiah and Conrad. They are the boys that Belly has known since her very first summer–they have been her brother figures, her crushes, and everything in between. But one summer, one terrible and wonderful summer, the more everything changes, the more it all ends up just the way it should have been all along.

I just started reading this book, and I already love it!  Jenny Han’s writing style is very quick and addicting!

confess

Auburn Reed has her entire life mapped out. Her goals are in sight and there’s no room for mistakes. But when she walks into a Dallas art studio in search of a job, she doesn’t expect to find a deep attraction to the enigmatic artist who works there, Owen Gentry.

For once, Auburn takes a risk and puts her heart in control, only to discover Owen is keeping major secrets from coming out. The magnitude of his past threatens to destroy everything important to Auburn, and the only way to get her life back on track is to cut Owen out of it.

The last thing Owen wants is to lose Auburn, but he can’t seem to convince her that truth is sometimes as subjective as art. All he would have to do to save their relationship is confess. But in this case, the confession could be much more destructive than the actual sin…   

I just finished  Ugly Love by Colleen Hoover (review coming) and I LOVED it!  Colleen Hoover’s writing style sucks you in, therefore, I can’t wait to read Confess.

this is all

Using a pillow book as her form, nineteen-year-old Cordelia Kenn sets out to write out her life for her unborn daughter. What emerges is a portrait of an extraordinary girl, who writes frankly of love, sex, poetry, nature, faith, and of herself in the world. Her thoughts range widely: on Shakespeare and breasts, periods and piano playing, friendship and trees, consciousness and sleep, and much more besides. As she writes of William Blacklin, the boy she chooses as her first lover, or Julie, the teacher who encourages her spiritual life, Cordelia maddens, fascinates, and ultimately seduces the reader. This is a character never to be forgotten from a writer at the height of his powers.

I haven’t really heard anything about this novel, thus I’m hoping I found a hidden jem!

borders of time

Leslie Maitland is an award-winning former New York Times investigative reporter whose mother and grandparents fled Germany in 1938 for France, where, as Jews, they spent four years as refugees, the last two under risk of Nazi deportation. In 1942 they made it onto the last boat to escape France before the Germans sealed its harbors. Then, barred from entering the United States, they lived in Cuba for almost two years before emigrating to New York. This sweeping account of one family’s escape from the turmoil of war-torn Europe hangs upon the intimate and deeply personal story of Maitland’s mother’s passionate romance with a Catholic Frenchman. Separated by war and her family’s disapproval, the young lovers—Janine and Roland—lose each other for fifty years. It is a testimony to both Maitland’s investigative skills and her devotion to her mother that she successfully traced the lost Roland and was able to reunite him with Janine. Unlike so many stories of love during wartime, theirs has a happy ending.

I’m one of those dorks who loves anything history, and since this novel takes place during World War II (one of my favorite time periods), I’m super excited to start reading it.

second+chance+summer

Taylor Edwards’ family might not be the closest-knit—everyone is a little too busy and overscheduled—but for the most part, they get along just fine. Then Taylor’s dad gets devastating news, and her parents decide that the family will spend one last summer all together at their old lake house in the Pocono Mountains.

Crammed into a place much smaller and more rustic than they are used to, they begin to get to know each other again. And Taylor discovers that the people she thought she had left behind haven’t actually gone anywhere. Her former best friend is still around, as is her first boyfriend…and he’s much cuter at seventeen than he was at twelve.

As the summer progresses and the Edwards become more of a family, they’re more aware than ever that they’re battling a ticking clock. Sometimes, though, there is just enough time to get a second chance—with family, with friends, and with love. 

I read Morgan Matson’s Since You’ve Been Gone and I adored the characters, plot line, and writing style.  Thus, I am ready to dive into another one of her summer themed books!

what I thought was true

From the acclaimed author of My Life Next Door comes a swoony summertime romance full of expectation and regret, humor and hard questions.

Gwen Castle has never so badly wanted to say good-bye to her island home till now: the summer her Biggest Mistake Ever, Cassidy Somers, takes a job there as the local yard boy. He’s a rich kid from across the bridge in Stony Bay, and she hails from a family of fishermen and housecleaners who keep the island’s summer people happy. Gwen worries a life of cleaning houses will be her fate too, but just when it looks like she’ll never escape her past—or the island—Gwen’s dad gives her some shocking advice. Sparks fly and secret histories unspool as Gwen spends a gorgeous, restless summer struggling to resolve what she thought was true—about the place she lives, the people she loves, and even herself—with what really is.

A magnetic, push-you-pull-me romance with depth, this is for fans of Sarah Dessen, Jenny Han, and Deb Caletti.  

Huntley Fitzpatrick’s My Life Next Door was adorable, yet still had a tragic spin, thus, I’m hoping What I Thought was True has that same layer of depth to it.

hunted

HUNTED is the electrifying sequel to the bestselling debut BRANDED, A Sinners Series, by Abi Ketner and Missy Kalicicki.

It’s been three months since the revolt against the Commander’s fifty-year-old regime failed.

Under a new ruler, things were supposed to change. Get better.

But can anyone really be trusted?

Lexi and Cole soon find out, as life takes an unexpected turn for the worse.

In this ever-changing world, you must hunt or be hunted.

Lives will be lost.

Dreams will be crushed.

Fears will be realized.

Secrets will be exposed.

When Cole is once again faced with losing Lexi at the hands of a monster, one encounter will change everything.

Forever.

I did a review of Branded on this blog, so you might remember that I really enjoyed it!  The only downside to starting Hunted is that I really don’t remember the details of Branded, so I might have to re-read Branded before I start Hunted.

So, these are all the books I got from the sale! If any of you have read these books, let me know in the comments what you thought of them.

An Abundance of Katherines By: John Green (Book Review)

AN-ABUNDANCE-OF-KATHERINES-by-John-Green

When it comes to relationships, Colin Singleton’s type happens to be girls named Katherine. And when it comes to girls named Katherine, Colin is always getting dumped. Nineteen times, to be exact.

On a road trip miles from home, this anagram-happy, washed-up child prodigy has ten thousand dollars in his pocket, a bloodthirsty feral hog on his trail, and an overweight, Judge Judy-loving best friend riding shotgun–but no Katherines. Colin is on a mission to prove The Theorem of Underlying Katherine Predictability, which he hopes will predict the future of any relationship, avenge Dumpees everywhere, and finally win him the girl. Love, friendship, and a dead Austro-Hungarian archduke add up to surprising and heart-changing conclusions in this ingeniously layered comic novel about reinventing oneself.  


An Abundance of Katherines was absolutely wonderful! I was a little hesitant upon reading this novel because a lot of people say it is their least favorite John Green book. Therefore, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I adored it!  I didn’t love it as much as I loved Looking for Alaska, but I think I enjoyed it more than The Fault in Our Stars.

An Abundance of Katherines is quirky, but not in a over-done, annoying way.  It was not quirky for the sake of being quirky, but rather, in a unique and fascinating sort of way.  For example, there are footnotes on almost every page of the novel, and random facts and details that one would expect coming from Colin Singleton, a child prodigy.  Furthermore, each of the characters have their own unique features.  For example, Collin is obsessed with anagramming (which I didn’t even know was a thing until this novel), and his best friend, Hassan is a judge-judy loving Muslim.  I am a sucker unique small details, and this book is full of them!

John Green deserves an award (although the dude probably has tons of awards taped to his refrigerator) for making Colin Singleton a likeable character.  Although Colin is unique, he definitely is a self-centered, egocentric twit sometimes.  There were a few moments where I wanted to throw the book across the room because of how but-face-esque Colin was acting, but ultimately, I grew to love his character.  By the end of the novel, Colin has learned from his defects, and finally recognizes that his life doesn’t have to revolve moping about getting dumped by girlfriends named Katherine.

Although I grew to like Colin, Hassan by far was my favorite character in the novel.  Any scenes with Hassan never failed to make me laugh.   He is the hilarious yet supporting best friend everyone wants.  His jokes made me crack up in uncontrollable spurts of laughter.  Once, when reading on the beach I started laughing so hard that a person near me stared at me like I was some kind of crazy psychopath.   But what can I say, Hassan simply makes everything better.

The only aspect of this novel that was a bit off-setting for me was the ending.  It seemed rather abrupt and a bit forced for me, but all in all this was not a large enough defect to alter my love for the book.

John Green has yet to disappoint me, an Abundance of Katherines is LOVELY.  It is quirky, fun, and thought provoking!  If you have yet to pick up this novel, you REALLY SHOULD go out to Barnes and Noble right now to pick one up!

147c1-5stars

The Longest Ride by: Nicholas Sparks (Review)

The longest Ride

Ira Levinson is in trouble. Ninety-one years old and stranded and injured after a car crash, he struggles to retain consciousness until a blurry image materializes beside him: his beloved wife Ruth, who passed away nine years ago. Urging him to hang on, she forces him to remain alert by recounting the stories of their lifetime together.

A few miles away, at a local bull-riding event, a Wake Forest College senior’s life is about to change. Recovering from a recent break-up, Sophia Danko meets a young cowboy named Luke, who bears little resemblance to the privileged frat boys she has encountered at school. Through Luke, Sophia is introduced to a world in which the stakes of survival and success, ruin and reward — even life and death – loom large in everyday life. As she and Luke fall in love, Sophia finds herself imagining a future far removed from her plans — a future that Luke has the power to rewrite . . . if the secret he’s keeping doesn’t destroy it first.

Ira and Ruth. Sophia and Luke. Two couples who have little in common, and who are separated by years and experience. Yet their lives will converge with unexpected poignancy, reminding us all that even the most difficult decisions can yield extraordinary journeys: beyond despair, beyond death, to the farthest reaches of the human heart.


While, The Longest Ride was not my favorite book, I still would recommend it.  As the summary above mentions, the novel follows Sophia, Luke, and Ira, three very different people whose lives interweave.

Sophia and Luke’s story is what you expect from a Nicholas Sparks book.  It is uber romantic and adorable, which is perfect for fellow helpless romantics.  I love to read about heart warming relationships, so Sophia and Luke’s story was my cup of tea.  Also, Sparks played off of the whole cliché “opposites attract” tastefully by making Sophia and Luke’s relationship deeper than simply a physical attraction.  Through their witty banter, Sparks portrays them as an embodiment of a young couple, and he does so realistically.  Their struggle to discover their place in the world whilst trying to fit each other into their lives is a dilemma that most people can find relatable.

A second thing that I really enjoyed in this novel, was Ira’s story.  As Ira struggles with surviving his lethal car crash, he often refers to flashbacks and time spent with his lover, Ruth.  As much as I loved Sophia and Luke’s relationship, I found Ira and Ruth’s relationship more fascinating.  I loved learning of all their little quirks like collecting art.  Furthermore, it was interesting to observe  the commitment they had for one another despite the obstacles that came in their way.

However, while I did enjoy Ira’s story, the shifting between Ira’s story and Sophia and Luke’s story was my biggest issue with this book.  There were times when I read an enthralling excerpt from Sophia and Luke’s story, but then had to wait 20 pages to get back to it because it went into Ira’s narration.  Despite my love of Ira and Ruth’s relationship, I didn’t love where the chapters with Ira’s narration were placed, it often seemed quite random and jumpy.  I understand the point was probably to include Ira’s perspective after an exciting moment with Sophia and Luke (so readers want to continue reading), but I didn’t find this effective.  Sure, perhaps it made Sophia and Luke’s story more enjoyable, but I think it weakened Ira’s story, when his story was just as significant.

Furthermore, I wish there were more connections explaining why Ira’s story related to Sophia and Luke’s story.  By the end of the novel, it is obvious how the characters’ lives are intertwined, yet throughout most of the novel, I had no idea why Ira’s story was even included.  Sure I loved it, but I often felt like Ira’s story was a separate book, or that it should have been.  Of course there were interesting connections such as how Sophia and Ruth were both very interested in art, and other comparable details, yet, it is quite difficult for a reader to understand why these stories are connected and what the purpose is.

As a whole, I did enjoy The Longest Ride, but it will never be placed on my favorites shelf.  I would recommend it to people who love romance books and love Nicholas Sparks.

3 stars

Update: What happened to me?!!

Hey everyone, its Ashley.  It has been much too long since I have uploaded a review on my blog! School has been hectic these last few months with AP tests, SATs, ACTs, and doing a bunch of college visits.  Therefore, I haven’t had much time to read, and reading no books = having no reviews. But, summer is coming, and I have actually had time to read, gasp, I never thought this day would come again.  Today I just finished the Longest Ride, so look out for a review on it!! Also, in order to prevent this whole debacle (making SAT vocab words count, hell yes) from occurring again, I plan on doing more book TAGs, so that even if I do not necessarily have time to read, I will still be able to put content out for you guys!

Its Kind of a Funny Story: By Ned Vizzini

its kind of a funny story

Ambitious New York City teenager Craig Gilner is determined to succeed at life – which means getting into the right high school to get into the right job. But once Craig aces his way into Manhattan’s Executive Pre-Professional High School, the pressure becomes unbearable. He stops eating and sleeping until, one night, he nearly kills himself.

Craig’s suicidal episode gets him checked into a mental hospital, where his new neighbors include a transsexual sex addict, a girl who has scarred her own face with scissors, and the self-elected President Armelio. There, Craig is finally able to confront the sources of his anxiety.

Ned Vizzini, who himself spent time in a psychiatric hospital, has created a remarkably moving tale about the sometimes unexpected road to happiness.


Wow, I have had the best luck picking out FANTASTIC books recently.  There has not been one book in the new year that I haven’t absolutely adored.  Its Kind of a Funny Story is a poignant, powerful, and humorous story that will not disappoint you.

Its Kind of a Funny Story follows Craig Gilner, an intelligent teenage boy under immense pressure.  Craig attends an extremely prestigious highschool in New York that has put so much pressure on him that one day he contemplates suicide.  However, in a spir of a moment decision, he checks himself into a mental hospital instead.  I found Craig’s story extremely relatable.  Not because I have ever experienced depression, but rather, because as a person in 3 AP classes I could relate to his stress about school.  Schools ask more and more out of their students, and Craig’s story proves how dangerous this is.   Vizzini emphasizes that kids need not spend every waking hour stressed out because this leads teenagers on a destructive path.

Its Kind of a Funny Story is indeed a funny story. Craig’s witty comments often left me with a smirk on my face.  Yet, underneath this novel’s humorous surface lies a profound layer brimming with insightful themes and messages.  This novel not only gives insight on the sentiments and emotions that contribute to depression, but also proves that depression does not defy a person.  People can rise above depression- a truth Ned Vizzini recognizes in his novel.

When researching about this book online, I discovered that Ned Vizzini actually suffered from depression.  Ned Vizzini spent some time in a psychiatric ward, an experience that he drew inspiration from to craft Graig’s story.  Tragically, Ned Vizzini committed suicide, a fact I discovered when looking at a review for this novel on Goodreads.  Although I can’t speak of Vizini’s other works, Its Kind of a Funny Story is a humorous, yet very insightful take on depression.  If you have yet to read the novel, I highly suggest picking it up, it truly is a funny story, but the humor does not take away from the meaning of the novel.

five stars

Speak: By Laurie Halse Anderson (Book Review)

speak

Melinda Sordino busted an end-of-summer party by calling the cops. Now her old friends won’t talk to her, and people she doesn’t even know hate her from a distance. The safest place to be is alone, inside her own head. But even that’s not safe. Because there’s something she’s trying not to think about, something about the night of the party that, if she let it in, would blow her carefully constructed disguise to smithereens. And then she would have to speak the truth. This extraordinary first novel has captured the imaginations of teenagers and adults across the country.  


Speak sticks with you.  There are books that you read, enjoy, then place back on your bookshelf to collect dust.  You don’t think about these books again.  You forget the characters, the world, and the beautiful prose.  You forget the emotions you felt while reading the book.  You forget the novel’s message.  It becomes simply another book you gaze at indifferently, having enjoyed being along on its ride, but not really gaining anything from the journey. Speak is not this type of book. You will not forget it. Speak is honest.  Authentic.  Real.  Speak is powerful and sad, yet triumphant.  I read the book two weeks ago and I am still thinking about it.

Speak follows Melinda Sordino, a troubled freshman in high school.  She is haunted by her inner demons which leave her a prisoner trapped in her mind.  When reading the novel, it is obvious that Melinda attains serious problems, but it is not until the middle of the book when you discover what she has endured.  Although Melinda is in a difficult position, this novel is not one big depressing blob.  But rather, Anderson crafts Melinda’s character so she attains a sarcastic and sassy voice.  Although there are moments that you cry for Melinda, there are moments that you laugh because of her wit, and are proud of her when she finally speaks.  Also, throughout the novel, it is wonderful to observe Melinda get stronger.  By the end of the novel she is not a frail little damsel in distress who needs to be saved, but rather, she can save herself because she has started to mend herself back together.

Laurie Halse Anderson’s writing in this novel is superb.  Speak is broken down into short chapters and short paragraphs which make the book seem to fly by.  Also, by organizing the novel in this way, Anderson prevents the audience from being overloaded with emotional content.  Each section has powerful yet sad emotional moments, but since these moments are spread out throughout the chapters it doesn’t feel like any information is dumped on you.

When going into Speak, I knew it discussed heavy issues.  Laurie Halse Anderson is what I would call a quintessential issue writer, meaning that in almost every YA book she writes she writes about problems haunting adolescents.  Although I am not going to say exactly what issue Speak deals with because I don’t want to spoil anyone, Anderson handled and dealt with this issue with honesty and respect.  I personally don’t think I would have responded the same way as Melinda did, but her story was incredibly believable and real.  Melinda’s story is applicable to thousands and thousands of kids and teenagers, so I can only hope that it helps those affected to speak.  Because they need to be heard.  And we need to listen.

Due to this book’s increased popularity, I would be very surprised if you have not read it already, but if you haven’t you must read it.  This is mandatory reading in my opinion.  This novel can teach us so much about people like Melinda and how we can help them.  It teaches us to not make assumptions about anyone because we don’t know what they are suffering from. Or if you are like Melinda, maybe it will help you find your voice, and attain justice.  You deserve it.

147c1-5stars

The Perks of Being a Wallflower: By Stephen Chbosky (Book Review)

perks of being a wallflower

Charlie is a freshman.

And while he’s not the biggest geek in the school, he is by no means popular. Shy, introspective, intelligent beyond his years yet socially awkward, he is a wallflower, caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it.

Charlie is attempting to navigate his way through uncharted territory: the world of first dates and mix tapes, family dramas and new friends; the world of sex, drugs, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, when all one requires is that perfect song on that perfect drive to feel infinite. But he can’t stay on the sideline forever. Standing on the fringes of life offers a unique perspective. But there comes a time to see what it looks like from the dance floor.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a deeply affecting coming-of-age story that will spirit you back to those wild and poignant roller-coaster days known as growing up.


Wow!! I couldn’t have picked a better book to start off 2015 with!  This novel perhaps is not only one of the best YA books I have ever read, but one of the best books I have read, period. The Perks of Being a Wallflower is quirky, poignant, and deals with numerous issues.  Chbosky’s novel is not another empty young adult book read merely for entertainment, but rather, it is a profound book which is threaded with themes and messages.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower attains all the fundamentals of a coming of age story.  However, Chbosky expertly depicts the voice of struggling teen, making it stand out against other coming of age stories.  Furthermore, nothing in this novel is distorted by romanticism or unrealistic fantasies, rather, it provides an extremely authentic glimpse into the life of the main character, Charlie.

Charlie is an incredibly unique and insightful main character.  Charlie is an innocent boy who lives a disturbingly unfair life.  He often cries and is emotionally unstable, but Chbosky does not make him weak.  Charlies is not a fragile character who can be shattered into a million pieces, but rather, he is developed as a strong character for not giving up on his life even when the world seems to be fighting against him.  Perusing the book, I knew that Charlie has problems, but when I learned what his issues were I was broken.  I laughed and cried with Charlie along his journey, therefore, it is heartbreaking to see just how cruel the world has been to such an earnest boy.

As a short, concise book, the Perks of Being a Wallflower deals with heavy issues.  I actually cannot think of any problems that were not discussed in this novel.  Chbosky tackles drugs, alcohol, homosexuality, teen pregnancy, and more all in one book!  I would normally think that there were too many issues crammed into one book, but this novel is an exception.  Chbosky deals with each problem honestly making everything feel real.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is written as a series of letters from Charlie to an anonymous friend over the course of his freshman year. This style of writing made the book faster and easier to read, although it already is super short! Also, it made the novel feel real.  We never learn who this anonymous friend is, thus, it feels like Charlie is specifically writing to his readers. Moreover, I loved observing how Charlie’s writing actually improved from the start to end of the novel.  It is these small details that Chbosky includes that make this novel so stupendous.

Overall, I think EVERYONE should read this book.  I know I will read it time and time again, picking up on something new each time.  If you haven’t already done so you must pick up this book now!

147c1-5stars