Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Review: What Light by Jay Asher

Release date: October 18th, 2016
Author links: Goodreads - Website
Publisher: Razorbill
Pages: 272

Description (from Goodreads):

From Jay Asher, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Thirteen Reasons Why, comes a romance that will break your heart, but soon have you believing in love again. . . .

"A beautiful story of love and forgiveness."
—Stephen Chbosky, New York Times bestselling author of The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Sierra's family runs a Christmas tree farm in Oregon—it's a bucolic setting for a girl to grow up in, except that every year, they pack up and move to California to set up their Christmas tree lot for the season. So Sierra lives two lives: her life in Oregon and her life at Christmas. And leaving one always means missing the other. 

Until this particular Christmas, when Sierra meets Caleb, and one life eclipses the other.

By reputation, Caleb is not your perfect guy: years ago, he made an enormous mistake and has been paying for it ever since. But Sierra sees beyond Caleb's past and becomes determined to help him find forgiveness and, maybe, redemption. As disapproval, misconceptions, and suspicions swirl around them, Caleb and Sierra discover the one thing that transcends all else: true love.

What Light is a love story that's moving and life-affirming and completely unforgettable.

Oh man... What Light was one of my most expected books of 2016, and I had a very hard time controlling my excitement when I got it as a review copy, but now that I am writing my review, my feelings are just kind of meh... I so desperately wanted to like it, but I constantly kept feeling like something was missing.

I love the concept for the story -- Sierra's family owns a Christmas tree farm in Oregon, and ever since she was little she has spent the month before Christmas in California. This means that she has had to leave her friends in Oregon behind, but luckily, her friend Heather has been waiting in California, and they have desperately tried to fit a whole year of activities into one month. 

At the beginning of What Light it is quickly established that this might be Sierra's last year in California. The business is not doing as well as her family would like, and manning the Christmas tree lot in California is not making enough money. Knowing that next year California might be out of the question, Sierra decides to put all in and enjoy her possibly last California-Christmas.

When Caleb, a boy with gorgeous dimples, shows up again and again and keeps purchasing trees from the lot, Sierra gets curious. Then she starts to hear rumors about Caleb's past. Is this a guy she should be spending time with? Can she see past Caleb's history and give him a chance?

The main problems I had with this book are the following:

  • I felt like I was unable to connect with any of the characters. While Sierra didn't really annoy me, she didn't really spark any positive feelings in me either. I did like the fact that she opens up for new experiences and does not judge before hearing arguments from both sides, but other than that, I felt like I was unable to feel anything towards her (and while reading a book like this, that is a problem for me!)
  • The events take place way too fast and I felt like the "L" word enters the game WAY too early
  • All of the supporting characters feel quite one-dimensional and underdeveloped. I, for example, would have liked to see more interaction between Sierra and Heather. 
  • The drama surrounding Caleb feels very rushed.

I love Christmas due to which I kind of regret picking this book up already in October because I believe I might have appreciated the story a bit closer to Christmas. The setting is very Christmassy and the characters engage in Christmas activities, and I think that with a box of Christmas cookies by my side, this reading experience might have been a bit more pleasant. 

If you are looking for a quick, occasionally cute Christmas read, maybe What Light is for you. Unfortunately, it didn't manage to fill my (very high) expectations for it. 


(2.5 hearts)

Thursday, October 13, 2016

"There Must Be Something In The Airwaves" (#2)

There Must Be Something In the Airwaves is a semi-regular feature here at ReadReadRead in which I share with you music I am currently blasting from my headphones and falling very much in love with. 

I am currently working on my master's thesis and spending a lot of time in my apartment writing/doing research on my laptop. I usually use Spotify for listening to music, but I noticed a while ago that I still haven't used my free trial of iTunes Music. After activating my free trial, I have tried to introduce myself to new artists and new albums by artists already familiar to me, and I thought today I would share with you some of the albums I've been listening to a lot in the past few weeks. 

Remember Us to Life by Regina Spector

All My Demons Greeting Me as a Friend by Aurora

Dig Your Roots by Florida Georgia Line

Ripcord by Keith Urban

Emotion - Side B by Carly Rae Jepsen

22, A Million by Bon Iver

Pageant Material by Kacey Musgraves

Cartwheels by Ward Thomas

What have you been listening to recently?

Friday, October 7, 2016

Looking Back (#1)

Ever since I've started blogging I've read an average of 100 books a year and reviewed about 90% them. Blogging has introduced me to awesome books, shocking books, life-changing books, disappointing books, and so much more. To shine a light on books that I loved, but maybe haven't talked about in a while, I thought I would look back and share with you a few books that impressed me in one way or another.

Magnolia by Kristi Cook
Read in December 2014 | Review | Goodreads

The Next Door Boys by Jolene B. Perry
Read in November 2011 | Review | Goodreads

A Midsummer's Nightmare by Kody Keplinger
Read in December 2014 | Review | Goodreads

Have you read any of these titles? If yes, what did you think of them? Are any of these on your TBR?

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Book Review: Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum

Release date: April 5, 2016
Author links: Goodreads - Twitter - Website
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Pages: 336

Description (from Goodreads):

Everything about Jessie is wrong. At least, that’s what it feels like during her first week of junior year at her new ultra-intimidating prep school in Los Angeles. Just when she’s thinking about hightailing it back to Chicago, she gets an email from a person calling themselves Somebody/Nobody (SN for short), offering to help her navigate the wilds of Wood Valley High School. Is it an elaborate hoax? Or can she rely on SN for some much-needed help?

It’s been barely two years since her mother’s death, and because her father eloped with a woman he met online, Jessie has been forced to move across the country to live with her stepmonster and her pretentious teenage son.

In a leap of faith—or an act of complete desperation—Jessie begins to rely on SN, and SN quickly becomes her lifeline and closest ally. Jessie can’t help wanting to meet SN in person. But are some mysteries better left unsolved?

Julie Buxbaum mixes comedy and tragedy, love and loss, pain and elation, in her debut YA novel filled with characters who will come to feel like friends.

This book broke my heart and then proceeded to put it right back together! 

I picked Tell Me Three Things from my local library shelf at a time I had not been reading for several weeks. Well, I had been reading, but only things related to my thesis. As a big waffle fan, I must say it was the waffle pieces on the cover that drew me towards this one, but as a fan of contemporary YA as well, the synopsis sounded like something I could enjoy. And oh boy, I really did enjoy it (I think having waffles while reading it could only have made it better!)

Jessie's mother has died and now she is forced to move across the country to California to live with his father than his new wife. Jessie feels like everything she has become to known has "hers" has been taken from her and cannot imagine how life in California could make any difference. Her new "stepmother" is aloof, her stepbrother seems to be ashamed of her, and new school is like something out of a teen drama - filled with drama and extremely difficult to navigate. 

When it seems like things could not get worse, she receives an email from a mystery guy that could chance everything. The guy, SN, is someone who goes to school with her but demands to remain anonymous. While Jessie is first freaked out by this anonymous messenger and is determined it is something trying to make fun of her (we're all seen teen movies with a plot like that!), she eventually realizes that she might need help just to survive at her new school. 

As Jessie befriends SN online, she slowly starts to find her place from school. She befriends Dri and Angie, starts to work in a bookstore with Liam and is paired up with the mysterious Ethan to work on an English assignment. As she spends more time with these people, the social circles of the school start to mix up and occasionally Jessie begins to find herself involved in drama she didn't want to be a part of. Luckily, SN is there to help her out and to cheer her up.

I absolutely loved Jessie as a character. She felt so real because throughout the book she is vulnerable, strong, brave, clueless, silly, funny, confused, determined, and so much more. As someone who has lost a parent, I was able to relate to the feeling of having to go through the worst possible thing that you could imagine happening to you as a teenager. While the parent I lost was my father, the emotions of absolute grief and realizing that your parent won't be there for the future milestones of your life were something I felt a real connection with. The struggle she goes through when she has to enter into a new kind of family setting is also something I found easy to relate with. I think all of this relatability made me very vulnerable while reading this book, and there were several times while reading this that I found myself sobbing alone in my bed. 

Don't get me wrong, though, Tell Me Three Things is not purely a sad book. There is actually quite a bit of happiness causing moments here, like the forming of new friendships, the rekindling of old ones, and witnessing intense crushes and maybe even falling in love. 

One of the best parts of this novel is the mystery of SN's identity. It probably does not come to anyone as a surprise who he actually is (at least it didn't come to me), but I enjoyed reading about the drama that surrounds its reveal and the feelings Jessie goes through as she thinks about how her relationship with SN might change if they actually meet each other. 

There are no love triangles here, so even those YA contemporary readers who hate love triangles might enjoy this one. 

Maybe it's because I had not read for a while, or because I was able to find myself from this book so easily that I ended up enjoying this so damn much. Overall, it is a well-written, incredibly paced young adult contemporary novel that can make you cry both happy and sad tears. At least for me, those are always the best kind of books.


Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Covering Covers (#2) - Upcoming YA Titles

Book covers can be like pieces of art. Sometimes I see a cover and my instant reaction is "I want to frame that and put it on my wall".
In order to share some of my favorite books covers, I created Coveting Covers

In my previous post, I shared with you covers of upcoming YA contemporary titles. Today's post also consists of YA titles, but today's books are not exclusively from the contemporary genre.

Bad Romance by Heather Demetrios (June 13th, 2017 by Henry Holt and Co.)

The Names They Gave Us by Emery Lord (May 16th, 2017 by Bloomsbury USA Childrens)

One of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus (May 30th, 2017 by Delacorte Press/Random House)

The Blazing Star by Imani Josey (December 6th, 2016)

The Disappearances by Emily Bain Murphy (July 4th, 2017 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

Aftercare Instructions by Bonnie Pipkin (June 27th, 2017 by Flatiron Books)

Shimmer and Burn by Mary Taranta (August 8th, 2017 by Margaret K. McElderry Books)

Perfect Ten by L. Philips (June 6th, 2017 by Viking Books for Young Readers)

Which covers manage to catch your eye? Are you looking forward to reading any of these?

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Coveting Covers (#1) - Upcoming YA Contemporary Titles

Book covers can be like pieces of art. Sometimes I see a cover and my instant reaction is "I want to frame that and put it on my wall".
In order to share some of my favorite books covers, I created Coveting Covers

This time, I will be sharing with you some of my favorite covers for upcoming YA contemporary titles. 

Windfall by Jennifer E. Smith (May 2nd, 2017 by Delacorte Press)

Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han (April 4th, 2017 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers)

Lucky in Love by Kasie West (July 25th, 2017 by Scholastic

Gem & Dixie by Sara Zarr (April 4th, 2017 by Balzer & Brey)

What Light by Jay Asher (October 11th, 2016 by Razorbill)

Geekerella by Ashley Poston (March 7th, 2017 by Quirk Books)

Did any of these covers manage to catch your eye? Which one(s), if any, are you looking forward to reading? 

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Romantic Movies for Book Lovers

I love bookish movies and especially romantic comedies/dramas that include some sort of bookish element are perfect to my tastes! 

Today, I will share with you some of my favorite Bookish Romance Movies. Some of these are really well known and probably ones you might have already seen, but I tried to include a few lesser-known films you can maybe add to your to- watch lists.

Crossing Delancey (1988, directed by Joan Micklin Silver)

Crossing Delancey tells the story of Izzy, a thirtysomething woman who works in a bookstore. When her grandmother's hires a marriage broker to find a husband for her, Izzy meets Sam and starts to question her thoughts about the "ideal" man for her.

+ Directed by a woman
+ The Manhattan setting is gorgeous
+ Interesting portrayal of Jewish customs
+ Interesting portrayal of generational differences

"I have plenty of friends, lots of women who are doing tremendous things with their lives and don't need a man to feel complete. It's not like I'm going to say "no" if someone walks into my life tomorrow, I'm not canceling out that possibility...but I'm not holding my breath."

10 Things I Hate About You (1999, directed by Gil Junger)

This modernization of William Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew is set in American high school and it focuses on the lives of Kat and Bianca Stratford and the young men that form relationships with them. 

+ Julie Stiles's Kat is not afraid to speak her mind and say things as they are
+ Heath Ledger

"I hate the way you talk to me, and the way you cut your hair. I hate the way you drive my car, I hate the way you stare. I hate your big dumb combat boots, and the way you read my mind. I hate you so much it makes me sick; it even makes me rhyme. I hate it, I hate the way you're always right. I hate it when you lie. I hate it when you make me laugh, even worse when you make me cry. I hate it when you're not around, and the fact that you didn't call. But mostly I hate the way I don't hate you. Not even close, not even a little bit, not even at all."

Amélie (2001, directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet)

Amélie tells the story of a young woman who, while helping others, breaks away from her isolation and falls in love. 

+ absolutely beautiful Paris scenery (the film was shot in over 80 Parisian locations)
+ It's whimsical, fantastic and the soundtrack is to die for

"Amélie has a strange feeling of absolute harmony. It's a perfect moment. A soft light, a scent in the air, the quiet murmur of the city. A surge of love, an urge to help mankind overcomes her."

Beauty and the Beast (1991, directed by Gary Trousdale & Kirk Wise)

A young bookworm named Belle offers to take her father's place in captivity and thus agrees to live in the castle with the Beast, a Prince who was cursed due to his arrogance.

+ You all already know this, but this movie is ABSOLUTELY MAGICAL
+ The soundtrack is one of the best things I've ever heard

"Take it with you so you'll always have a way to look back... and remember me."

Love by the Book (2014, directed by David S. Cass Sr.)

Emma is a hopeless romantic who has grown up believing in fairy tales and that one day she is going to find her prince charming. When two men, Landon and Eric, show up to her life at the same time she learns that maybe real-life fairy tales don't exactly have to be like the ones found on the pages of books.

+ It has similar elements of Jane Austen's Emma
+ It's a super cheesy and cute Hallmark Channel original movie

"Real life is one thing, fiction is another. My sister Jane and I were raised on a steady diet of fish sticks and fairytales... We lived on the pages of books, staging epic battles, going on magical adventures, and I was always the perfect princess, of course."

The Shop Around the Corner (1940, directed by Ernst Lubitsch)

Alfred and Klara work in a shop in Budapest and cannot stand each other. Around Christmas, Alfred is looking forward to meeting a mystery woman he has been exchanging letters with and is surprised when he learns who the woman he has fallen in love with really is.

+ If you like You've Got Mail you'll probably going to love this one (You've Got Mail is an adaptation of a play on which this movie is based!)
+ James Stewart is sooooooo charming

"Well, I really wouldn't care to scratch your surface, Mr. Kralik, because I know exactly what I'd find. Instead of a heart, a hand-bag. Instead of a soul, a suitcase. And instead of an intellect, a cigarette lighter... which doesn't work." 

You've Got Mail (1998, directed by Nora Ephron)

Business rivals Kathleen Kelly, the owner of a small bookstore called The Shop Around the Corner, and Joe Fox, the owner of a new big bookstore meet in an over-30s chatroom. They connect online, but absolutely despise each other in real life. 

+ Directed by a woman
+ Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan are amazing together

"When you read a book as a child, it becomes a part of your identity in a way that no other reading in your life does."


Have you seen any of these? What are some of your favorite bookish (romance) movies?