In which I explain my absence

Hey guys! I realized today that I haven’t had a post on the blog since last Wednesday, and I felt I should give you an explanation.

Before last week, I’d been sick – with what felt like allergy/sinus stuff because of the stupid Mississippi weather – so I went to the doctor on Tuesday. And she sent me to the hospital. Woohoo. UGH. She said my asthma was exacerbated and my oxygen levels were low. I won’t go into too many details but the hospital visit was horrendous (the nurse pretty much badgered me; I was on observation but they only actually checked on me TWICE IN EIGHT HOURS; I had a blood test and three hours later someone else came to do a blood test because these people don’t communicate and he had no idea I’d already had one; I could go on and on). The doctor wanted me to stay the night and get some other tests but I asked to leave and he let me (NOT against medical advice).

The next day I was home waiting for that crappy hospital to forward my blood test results over to my normal doc so she could assess what needed to be done.

Turns out I didn’t need any of those tests anyway, and in the end, I had exacerbated asthma and chronic anemia (which stems from having an autoimmune disorder like alopecia). My doc gave me a prescription for some meds and breathing treatments through a nebulizer, and I am finally getting better. I can finally BREATHE again. Normally.

I know part of this happened because I wasn’t taking care of my asthma like I should, so I’m getting better at that. I’m taking iron for the anemia (just to tell you how low my iron was – one step down from the level I was at and I would’ve needed a blood transfusion. Yikes). I’m feeling good. So even though I had a horrible hospital visit, my doctor has helped. Yay! And the meds have definitely helped.

BUT (other than tomorrow where I already have a post scheduled) I’m going to take the rest of the week off. I’ll be back on Monday with our regularly scheduled programming, everyone, but I need a few more days to continue getting better and to focus (because other than this issue I’ve also been REALLY restless and agitated because of it, but that will be getting fixed this weekend with a roadtrip to Atlanta!).

So I hope you all have a wonderful rest of your week, and I’ll see you on Monday. ❤ ❤

Blog Tour | The Girl Who Fell by Shannon M. Parker | Review, Interview, & Giveaway

Hi, everyone! I am so excited to be part of THE GIRL WHO FELL blog tour! Today I’m going to be sharing my review of TGWF as well as an interview with Shannon M. Parker, who wrote this dark, wonderful story. But first, some information about the book!

The Girl who Fell by Shannon M. ParkerABOUT THE BOOK

The Girl Who Fell by Shannon M. Parker

Simon & Schuster/Simon Pulse | March 1, 2016

Synopsis:

His obsession.

Her fall.

High school senior Zephyr Doyle is swept off her feet—and into an intense relationship—by the new boy in school.

Zephyr is focused. Focused on leading her team to the field hockey state championship and leaving her small town for her dream school, Boston College.

But love has a way of changing things.

Enter the new boy in school: the hockey team’s starting goaltender, Alec. He’s cute, charming, and most important, Alec doesn’t judge Zephyr. He understands her fears and insecurities—he even shares them. Soon, their relationship becomes something bigger than Zephyr, something she can’t control, something she doesn’t want to control.

Zephyr swears it must be love. Because love is powerful, and overwhelming, and…terrifying?

But love shouldn’t make you abandon your dreams, or push your friends away. And love shouldn’t make you feel guilty—or worse, ashamed.

So when Zephyr finally begins to see Alec for who he really is, she knows it’s time to take back control of her life.

If she waits any longer, it may be too late.

Amazon | Barnes and Noble Book Depository | Kobo

MY REVIEW

NOTE: I was provided with an e-ARC of this book via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to Simon & Schuster/Simon Pulse (plus the lovely Brittany from Brittany’s Book Rambles for inviting me to participate in the tour) for letting me read this.

Yikes. This book. I felt like I was holding my breath the whole time I read The Girl Who Fell. From the very beginning, it’s like your gut clenched (the beginning is terrifying and mesmerizing in the best/worst way). You know from the beginning that something is wrong, that the person Zephyr is falling for is just wrong, so you’re terrified to find out how Zephyr will get from falling in love to being hurt.

Spongebob anxiety GIF

Alec is bloody terrifying and creepy and it’s so hard to understand him – though I don’t think I really want to. Even though I wanted to reach into the book and just SLAP Zephyr, I could see why she fell and why she let her guard down. And Zephyr is such a great character. She finds herself throughout the story and realizes she’s someone to fight for. I just loved her, especially in the end. I loved how despite everything she’d been through, there was a hope for a better future. It’s never too late to move forward.

Shannon did such a fantastic job with this topic, which is so so important. Physical and emotional abuse is scary, but Shannon handled it so well. Alec is believably manipulative and I liked seeing how this relationship affected Zephyr but also how it affected her friends and family.

My one complaint is that it’s a bit insta-lovey and they just move so fast, but that’s really part of the point of the book, so even though you guys know I am NOT an insta-love fan, it didn’t really hinder my experience.

The bottom line: The Girl Who Fell is a well-written, fast-paced novel about an important topic. Zephyr (and all of the characters, really) are well developed and distinctive. It’s easy to understand what happens to Zephyr even as you are wishing she’d realize what’s happening to her and put a stop to it. You’ll feel like you’re breathing for the first time in hours when you turn the last page.

THE INTERVIEW

Hi Stefani! It’s so nice to be here!! Thank you for inviting me today and thank you for your incredible blog! *fangirls a bit* Okay, a lot.

Describe yourself in three words: Lover of love.

Describe your book in three words: Dark kissing book.

I saw on your website that you’ve been to a TON of places around the world. If you had to choose, what is your favorite place in the world?
My favorite place in the world is standing next to my husband. Especially when he’s in Queensland, Australia.

What would you say is Zephyr’s motto?
“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” (Eleanor Roosevelt)

What is the best memory from your journey to becoming an author?
When my teen son said, “Mom, I’m so proud of you. You worked really hard for this.” That made me cry. A. Lot.

Other than your own, who is your favorite fictional character?
There are so many, this is impossible to answer! But I will say that one of my all-time favorite books is The Secret Life of Bees. So, Lily Owens. She’s spunky, clever and filled with pure love (and loss).

I also made several graphics with quotes from the books for the tour, and I’m really excited to share two of them here (the second of which is my favorite quote from the book). Make sure you check out the rest of the tour to see the others!

The Girl Who Fell Quote     The Girl Who Fell Quote

ABOUT SHANNON

Shannon M. ParkerShannon Parker lives on the Atlantic coast with a house full of boys. She’s traveled to over three dozen countries and has a few dozen more to go. She works in education and can usually be found rescuing dogs, chickens, old houses and wooden boats. Shannon has a weakness for chocolate chip cookies and ridiculous laughter—ideally, at the same time. The Girl Who Fell is her first novel. Find her at www.shannonmparker.com

Author Links: Website | Goodreads | Twitter | Instagram

THE GIVEAWAY
One signed hardcover of THE GIRL WHO FELL and swag

CLICK HERE TO ENTER

blog tour banner - the girl who fell

CHECK OUT THE REST OF THE TOUR

Tuesday, Jan 12: Blessie @ Mischievous Reads Dreamcast
Wednesday, Jan 13: Emily @  Emily Reads Everything Review
Thursday, Jan 14: Brittany @ Brittany’s Book Rambles Tour Group’s Favorite Quotes
Friday, Jan 15: Tika @ Fangirl Confessions Movie Playlist
Saturday, Jan 16: Kristen @ My Friends Are Fiction Review
Sunday, Jan 17: Melanie @ One Less Lonely Blog Review + Interview
Monday, Jan 18: Cyra @ Rattle The Pages Review + 5 Reasons You Need to Read TGWF
Tuesday, Jan 19: Jocelyn @ Novels and Necklaces Interview
Wednesday, Jan 20: Cat @ Let the Pages Reign Review
Thursday, Jan 21: Aentee @ Read at Midnight 5 Ways TGWF Destroyed YA Tropes + iPhone wallpapers
Friday, Jan 22: Brittany @ Brittany’s Book Rambles Review + Interview
Saturday, Jan 23: Joey @ Another After Thought Review
Sunday, Jan 24Stefani @ Caught Read Handed Review + Interview
Monday, Jan 25Hanna @ Two Sister’s Blogging Review
Tuesday, Jan 26Michella @ YA Books Girl Review + Playlist
Wednesday, Jan 27Michelle @ Dreaming of Alba Review
Thursday, Jan 28Jamie @ Books and Ladders Review + Interview
Friday, Jan 29Eileen @ BookCatPin Review
Saturday, Jan 30Brian @ Brian’s Book Thoughts Review
Sunday, Jan 31Sarah @ The YA Book Traveler Review + Interview

Guest Post | Kerry Kletter, The First Time She Drowned

Today I am so so excited to be hosting Kerry Kletter, author of one of my most anticipated debuts of 2016 – THE FIRST TIME SHE DROWNED, as well as her MC Cassie for an interview. I cannot wait to read her book, and this interview just made me even more excited for its publication date: March 15! Read the interview, learn more about the book and Kerry, and then add it to your Goodreads TBR/pre-order it!

———————————————-

ABOUT THE BOOK
The First Time She Drowned by Kerry KletterPublisher: Philomel Books // March 15, 2016

The beautiful struggle of a girl desperate for the one relationship that has caused her the most pain 

Cassie O’Malley has spent the past two and a half years in a mental institution—dumped there by her mother, against her will. Now, at 18, Cassie emancipates herself, determined to start over. She attends college, forms new friendships, and even attempts to start fresh with her mother. But before long, their unhealthy relationship threatens to pull Cassie under once again. As Cassie struggles to reclaim her life, childhood memories persist and confuse, and Cassie must consider whose version of history is real, and more important, whose life she must save.

A bold, literary story about the fragile complexities of mothers and daughters and learning to love oneself, The First Time She Drowned reminds us that we must dive deep into our pasts if we are ever to move forward.

Goodreads | Amazon | Books-a-Million |Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | The Book Depository
[FYI: None of these are affiliate links]

Describe yourself in 6 words.
Cassie: Barbed wire & broken glass & love-seeking eyes
Kerry: loyal, cheerful, emotional, empathetic, determined, worrier

Describe where you live in 6 words.
Cassie: Trapped inside walls in every way
Kerry: In my bed writing, mostly. J

What is your greatest fear?
Cassie: That I am unlovable
Kerry: Losing someone I love

Which historical figure do you most identify with?
Cassie: Salem witches
Kerry: You know, I think I feel entirely too ordinary to identify with any specifically! But more generally, the women I resonate most with in history were the rule-breakers. I’ve never been terribly good at following rules— particularly ones I find unfair, unjust or unnecessary.

What’s your favorite thing about yourself?
Cassie: I stand up for myself and my friends
Kerry: Same.

What is your motto?
Cassie: The truth shall set you free
Kerry: Leap and the net will appear.

 Name 3 of your favorite songs.
Cassie:
1) Someone Save My Life Tonight – Elton John
2) Freebird – Lynard Skynard
3) Try – Colbie Caillat

Kerry:
Hmm, how to choose?
1) In the Garden – Van Morrison
2) My Sweet Carolina – Ryan Adams
3) Jersey Girl – Bruce Springsteen (shout out to my roots!)

Who are your favorite writers?
Cassie: JD Salinger
Kerry: Well Cassie doesn’t read much but I do!

In adult literary fiction I love: Elizabeth Strout, Donna Tartt, Jo Ann Beard, Tobias Wolff, Mary Karr, Jennifer Egan, Jumpha Lahiri, Dave Eggers, Pat Conroy, Nicole Krauss, Emily St John Mandel etc.

In YA I love: Jennifer Niven, David Arnold, Nicola Yoon, Charlotte Huang, Sabaa Tahir, Stacey Lee, Becky Albertalli, Adam Silvera, Stephanie Kuehn, Lance Rubin, Moriah Mcstay, Laurie Halse Anderson, Marcus Zusak and Ruta Sepetys. That’s off the top of my head so I’m sure I will kick myself as soon as I hit send because I’ve forgotten ten people.

I’ve also been lucky enough to read some 2016 debuts as well that I’m so excited to talk about more during the year but for brevity’s sake I will say here that my number one new author obsession is Jeff Zentner whose The Serpent King (March 2016) is one of the most perfect books I’ve ever read.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
Cassie: to feel different inside, to feel worthy of love.
Kerry: I’m not a big fan of anxiety so I’d probably nix that tendency in myself. Or maybe impatience.

Describe your book in 6 words:
Language, loss, hopefulness, courage, complexity, friendship

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ABOUT KERRY
Kerry KletterKerry Kletter has had a lifelong passion for story. She holds a degree in literature and has an extensive background in theater, having appeared in film, television, and onstage. When not writing, Kerry can be found surfing, running, working with animals, or singing loudly in her car while stuck in LA traffic. A native of Ridgewood, New Jersey, Kerry now lives in Santa Monica, California, with her partner, screenwriter David Zorn. The First Time She Drowned is her debut novel.
Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten 2015 Releases I BOUGHT but Haven’t Read

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the Broke and the Bookish. Today’s theme was:

Top Ten 2015 Releases I Meant To Get To But Didn’t

I’m changing this up to Top Ten 2015 Releases I BOUGHT but Haven’t Read – because I suck. And I have problems with impulse control. And I have a problem with buying books I’m excited about but then don’t have time to read. Hopefully this list will help hold me accountable to reading them this year. Most of them are on my Rock My TBR Challenge to-read piles. (Titles linked to Goodreads)

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
Written in the Stars by Aisha Saaed
Challenger Deep by Neal Schusterman (actually bought for me by Becky Albertalli so it’s even worse that I haven’t read it)

We All Looked Up by Tommy Wallach
Vengeance Road by Erin Bowman (bought for me by my current #otspsecretsister)
A Madness So Discreet by Mindy McGinnis (ditto above)

Legacy of Kings by Eleanor Herman (won in a giveaway from the author)
These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly
Still Life Las Vegas by James Sie

Are there any 2015 releases you meant to get to or bought that you didn’t read?

Mini Audiobook Reviews: Scarlet, Cress, and Fairest by Marissa Meyer

Check out my review of Cinder, the first book in the Lunar Chronicles series, if you are interested.

Author: Marissa Meyer
Narrator: Rebecca Soler
Genre: Young adult, sci-fi, retelling
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends (book) / Macmillan Young Listeners (audiobook)


ScarletSCARLET (Book 2)

Check out the full synopsis on Goodreads.

Audiobook length: 11 hours and 19 minutes

Jesus. I just really didn’t like this one. After the incredibleness that was Cinder, I was completely underwhelmed by Scarlet, both the book and the character. The narration of Scarlet was whiny, and I’m not sure if that’s because the character was or just because the narrator read her that way. Either way, I was annoyed, and I almost stopped listening several times because of it. I found Scarlet to be completely obnoxious as a character. Plus, I just kept wanting the POV to switch back to Cinder so I could see what was happening with her. I did like Scarlet and Wolf together – probably because I thought it was a cool retelling of Little Red Riding Hood.

My favorite character is Thorne – I adore him.

I want to eventually reread this series in physical format, especially this one, because I think it’ll be nice to hear a different voice for Scarlet.

CressCRESS (Book 3)

Check out the full synopsis on Goodreads.

Audiobook length: 15 hours and 40 minutes

Cress redeemed this series for me. After the disaster (in my opinion) that was Scarlet, I really needed a book that would hook me back in.  And this one did not disappoint. This book has a bunch of POVs, but none of them felt unnecessary and they all blended together into one cohesive story. Meyer is really great at making each POV distinct as well, which is the main problem I usually have with multiple POVs. Plus, the narrator does a wonderful job with each character’s voice – they are all different. However, I’d just like to point out how annoying I still think Scarlet is. Although I do like her character a bit more in this one.

I think my favorite part is that I can see how much Meyer’s writing has evolved since the first book. The characters are sharper, the plot is tighter, the writing is even better. The characters are flawed and not flat, and I enjoyed getting to know each of them better in this book.

FairestFAIREST (Book 3.5)

Check out the full synopsis on Goodreads.

Audiobook length: 6 hours and 36 minutes

I don’t have much to say about this one except that Levana is certifiably insane. Although she really got on my nerves A LOT, Meyer does a fantastic job of developing this character into the crazy villain we know in the rest of the series. It was interesting to see how she got to be where she is and watch her crazy grow.

Have you read this series? Which book is your favorite? Look out for my review of the last book in the series – WINTER – soon.

Waiting on Wednesday: Bookishly Ever After by Isabel Bandeira

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine in which we share a book that we are eagerly anticipating!

Bookishly Ever AfterPublisher: Spencer Hill Contemporary

Author: Isabel Bandeira

Release date: January 12, 2016

Synopsis from Goodreads:

In a perfect world, sixteen-year-old Phoebe Martins’ life would be a book. Preferably a YA novel with magic and a hot paranormal love interest. Unfortunately, her life probably wouldn’t even qualify for a quiet contemporary. But when Phoebe finds out that Dev, the hottest guy in the clarinet section, might actually have a crush on her, she turns to her favorite books for advice. Phoebe overhauls her personality to become as awesome as her favorite heroines and win Dev’s heart. But if her plan fails, can she go back to her happy world of fictional boys after falling for the real thing?

Why I’m excited: IT’S A BOOK ABOUT ALL OF US BOOK NERDS. WHAT ELSE COULD I WANT? I mean, seriously, a book about a girl who loves books. HELLO. Phoebe sounds like all of us, and I cannot wait to read this book. Plus, Phoebe is channeling her favorite YA heroines, which, honestly, isn’t that what we all do every day? I mean, I do. Can’t wait!

Book Review: A Boy Called Christmas by Matt Haig

A Boy Called Christmas by Matt HaigAuthor:  Matt Haig

Genre: MG, Christmas

Publisher: Canongate Books

Publication Date: November 12, 2015

272 pages, hardcover

With illustrations by: Chris Mould

Check out the full synopsis on Goodreads.

Did you read up there where it says “Matt Haig”? You did? Have you ever visited my blog before? You have? Good, then you know how much I love that author. I pretty much mention one of his books every opportunity I can. Meaning I really don’t even have to do this review, right? You just KNOW I loved it. Actually, no. Any opportunity I can to word vomit my love for Matt Haig’s books is an opportunity I take.

You are about to read the true story of Father Christmas.
It is a story that proves that nothing is impossible.
If you are one of those people who believe that some things are impossible, you should put this book down right away. It is most certainly not for you.
Because this book is FULL of impossible things.

I adored this book. It’s the story of Nikolas, an 11-year-old boy who goes on the adventure of a lifetime. It’s full of magic and elves and pixies and snow. It was the perfect book to read to get me into the Christmas spirit. I’m one of those people who can’t listen to Christmas music until AFTER Thanksgiving, but this book just filled me with cheer and joy.

Nikolas was a poor, skinny boy who ventured north in search of his father, who’d gone off to find the city of elves. There is some sadness here, but there’s also joy and kindness, laughter and even some silly dancing. Gasp! It’s a beautiful story. Just an little tip: this would be a perfect Christmas gift!

The illustrations are amazing as well, the perfect touch. Here’s a few examples that Matt tweeted out:

The bottom line: Yet another book to add to my ever-growing Matt Haig obsession er…love. A perfect book to read with your kids at Christmas or with yourself to get you into the Christmas spirit. It’s fun and magical, and I loved it. It gives you that perfect sitting-in-front-of-the-fire-with-hot-chocolate feeling.

Shout out to the lovely people at Canongate Books for this copy! (Note: this did not sway my review in any way. You know it was already glowing because it’s Matt Haig)

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Books I’m Thankful For

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the Broke and the Bookish. Today’s theme was:

Thanksgiving themed Freebie — ten books I’m thankful for, authors I’m thankful for, Ten fictional families I’d like to celebrate Thanksgiving with, a personal non-bookish thankful list, etc. etc.

I love the idea of listing ten of the books I’m thankful for, because there’s been a lot of books I’ve read in my life that furthered my love of reading, helped me, comforted me, and loved me like I loved them. Here are ten of the many, many books I’m thankful for.

Thank you to:

What books are you thankful for?

My Dream Literary Collection | Invaluable.com

A few weeks ago, I was contacted by Invaluable.com, a really cool website with a HUGE collection of books (first editions, collectible editions, etc.) – plus other items – that they auction. They’ve asked a group of bloggers to write a post all about what they would like in their dream library. I thought that sounded super fun, because who doesn’t think about which ARCs or editions of books they’d LOVE to own?

——————-

I’m sure you’ll all be surprised when you see the very first thing I’d LOVE to own is a first edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling, which are sadly very rare. And super expensive when they come up. For example, the edition in the picture below sold at auction for around $40,000 a few years ago. WOAH.

BOOKS POTTER AUCTION

Another you’ll probably not be surprised about – I would LOVE to own a copy of The Little White Bird or Adventures in Kensington Gardens by J.M. Barrie, which is the amazing first appearance of Peter Pan. Look at this gorgeous first edition that is SIGNED by Barrie. The book was published in 1902 and signed in 1921. I NEED it.

The Little White Bird

I also found a beautiful first edition of Le Petit Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery that’s signed and numbered, which is freaking amazing. I adore this story and, like Peter Pan, it reminds to have a childlike curiosity about the world.

Le Petit Prince

FROM INVALUABLE:

I also browsed some of the past lots from Invaluable’s website and found some seriously amazing editions I’d love to put in my collection. For example,

LOT 197: I’m a huge fan of Robert Louis Stevenson. I found a GORGEOUS edition of Strange case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, which is the first book I ever read by him and one of my favorite books ever – it’s also a FIRST EDITION FROM 1886. WHY IS IT SOLD? I NEED IT.

Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde

LOT 118: They also had beautiful first editions of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. *drools* I feel like I would cradle these like a baby if I owned them. Hahaha.

Sherlock Holmes

LOT 222: And last but not least, I found a current auction for a first edition of The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald!! That would be amazing to own. I love that story SO much.

The Great Gatsby——————-

I could go on and on, but I’ll stop there. What books do you have in your dream literary collection? Make sure you head on over to invaluable.com to browse their auctions – they’ve got some really wonderful stuff there.

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Book Quotes from the Past Year

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the Broke and the Bookish. Today’s theme was:

Top Ten Quotes I Loved From Books I Read In The Past Year Or So

“When you were born, you cried while the world rejoiced. Live your life so that when you die, the world cries while you rejoice.” Mosquitoland by David Arnold

“I will be STRONGER than my sadness” My Heart & Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga

“Life is waiting for you. You might be stuck here for a while, but the world isn’t going anywhere. Hang on in there if you can. Life is always worth it.” Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig

“No, Lila had been running toward something. Something better. And even if she hadn’t reached it yet. She would.”

AND

“I’m not going to die,” she said. “Not till I’ve seen it.”
“Seen what?”
Her smile widened. “Everything.” A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

“Because there’s no denying it now. I’m in the world
And, too, the world is in me.” Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

“Don’t feel bad for one moment about doing something that brings you joy.” A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

“I fall a little bit in love with everyone.” Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

“Quick, make a wish.
Take a (second or third or fourth) chance.
Remake the world.”  I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

“So now live for real, Craig. Live. Live. Live. Live.
Live.” It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini

What are some of your favorite book quotes?