Book Review: Summer Days and Summer Nights

Summer Days and Summer NightsAuthor: Stephanie Perkins (and various others – each listed by their story below)

Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin

Publication Date: May 17, 2016

400 pages, hardcover

Check out the full synopsis on Goodreads.

After reading My True Love Gave to Me, a collection of short stories edited by Stephanie Perkins, last year, I was super excited to hear that she was doing another collection. Everything from the cover to the list of contributing authors had me looking forward to a wonderfully sweet and fun collections of romance-y stories perfect for summer. It wasn’t quite what I was hoping for. There were several stories that I LOVED (Leigh Bardugo’s was probably my favorite) but quite a few that I did not like. I’ve broken it down by story below.

“Head, Scales, Tongue, Tail” by Leigh Bardugo: Pretty cool! I like romantic stories that have a bit of fantasy mixed it. I totally love Eli. Bizarre but in the absolute best way. Just further proves how much I love Leigh Bardugo’s writing. What a perfect way to start the anthology.

“The End of Love” by Nina LaCour: Her writing is so wonderful and sweet. This one was lovely. So good to have LGBTQIAP+ representation, but like LaCour’s Everything Leads to You, it’s not an issue in the story. It just is.

“Last Stand at the Cinegore” by Libba Bray: Meh. I wanted to like it more than I did. Kinda cheesy, and not in a good way. The plot is a bit muddled and the humor didn’t make me laugh.

“Sick Pleasure” by Francesca Lia Block: Not really what I was expecting. Not exactly bad either. You feel like you’re in a daze for the whole story and it’s not really all that happy. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing?

“In Ninety Minutes, Turn North” by Stephanie Perkins: Obviously cute but rather predictable. I adored North and Marigold in the first book, so I was looking forward to seeing them again, but the story was one of those “Will they/won’t they?” kind of stories, which was pointless. I obviously love Stephanie’s writing, but it wasn’t as good as I was hoping.

“Souvenirs” by Tim Federle: Sadder than I was expecting but I liked it. Realistic. I’ve decided that I just really like Tim Federle’s writing style. I know a few people who don’t like the way he writes or his characters, but I’m drawn to them. I’m not sure if I can really articulate why. They have a bit of dry humor and personality that I like.

“Inertia” by Veronica Roth: What an interesting concept. It was the only story in the book that was sci-fi, which was cool. I don’t think I really connected to the characters in the way that I should have, but the idea was too cool to not like it.

“Love is the Last Resort” by Jon Skovron: Super unique. I could see this as a movie in the vein of The Grand Budapest Hotel. I don’t know if you guys have ever watched that movie or other Wes Anderson movies, but the dialogue and plot are kind of…awkward and strange but in this wonderfully funny way that totally works. At least for me.

“Good Luck and Farewell” by Brandy Colbert: Lots of feels in this one. I liked the diversity, families, and love – both romantic and not. I haven’t read anything by Brandy before, but it makes me want to pick up Pointe.

“Brand New Attraction” by Cassandra Clare: I’ll be honest. I didn’t even finish this story. I don’t know why Cassandra Clare has this weird obsession with incest, but it grosses me out. Direct quote from the story: “He reminded me of a cup of coffee: wet, hot, and bitter. I tried to decide if it was immoral to lust after your step-cousin. I figured it wasn’t. We weren’t actually related. No shared blood.” Just…why?

“A Thousand Ways This Could All Go Wrong” by Jennifer E. Smith: Cute and awkward and adorable. I love Jennifer E. Smith’s books, and I could definitely see this one being an entire novel. I wish it was, tbh. I liked that the love interest was different.

“The Map of Tiny Perfect Things” by Lev Grossman: Unique and interesting. The end wraps up too quickly though. Must like Veronica Roth’s, the idea behind this one made me like it so much because of how unique it was. A cute romance too.

Favorites: Leigh Bardugo’s, Jennifer E. Smith’s, Jon Skovron’s.

Least Favorites: Cassandra Clare’s (DNF), Libba Bray’s.

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Interview with Jennifer E. Smith (& Giveaway!)

Recently, my new blogger friend Brittany from Brittany’s Book Rambles and I buddy read Jennifer E. Smith’s new book, Hello, Goodbye, and Everything in Between (my review) and loved it. I was fortunate enough to interview Jen at last year’s Decatur Book Festival, and now I am fortunate enough to bring you a follow up interview about her latest book. Brittany also has a fun interview from Jen over on her blog! AND I’ve got a little fortune FOR YOU. I won the April #NOVLBox curated by Jen, which contained copies of all three of her main books (The Statistical Probability of Love at First SightThe Geography of You and Me, and This Is What Happy Looks Like), all three of which I already owned (I LOVE Jen). So I’m going to share the love! Stick around to the bottom of the post and click over to Rafflecopter to enter to win all three paperback copies!

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Last year at the Decatur Book Festival, we talked about how Hello, Goodbye is more of a goodbye versus your other books which are one big hello. Can you talk about the differences in writing that – how this relationship was already in full swing versus at the very beginning, etc.

Hello, Goodbye, and Everything in Between by Jennifer E. SmithYes, it was a lot of fun to write a book that was set up a bit differently than my last few.  With STAT, HAPPY, GEOGRAPHY, the characters are just meeting each other, and the book is really about the first steps of their relationships, the getting to know each other part.  But this one is about a couple that’s been together for two years, and they’re getting ready to part ways.  So it’s a deeper relationship right off the bat, which means more emotion, more baggage, more intensity.  And no matter how the night ends, they’re both leaving for college in the morning, which means they’re going to have to say goodbye.  The question is just whether it’s goodbye for now or goodbye forever.

Can you talk briefly about the journey you’ve been on from last year (when there wasn’t even a title to the new book) to almost publication date?

I think at this time last year I had finished the book itself, though we were probably still editing it. But that year between getting to the end of the book and waiting for it to come out is always an odd one.  On the one hand, the heavy lifting is over, and you’re just working out the details.  On the other, you’re excited for people to start reading the book, so it feels like a very long time to wait until it’s officially out in the world.

We had a tough time with the title on this one.  It’s the first time in a while that I really couldn’t think of anything, and it took a very long time and a whole lot of brainstorming to get to HELLO, GOODBYE, AND EVERYTHING IN BEWEEN. I absolutely love it, but it’s a little weird for me too, since this is the first time I didn’t come up with one of my titles myself.  My editor and her assistant thought of this one, and I’m very, very grateful to them.

As for the cover, that was a fun process. The picture on this one is actually a real engagement photo, which I think makes it feel that much more realistic. I always feel really lucky to have the covers that I do, since I really love the style, but I think this one is particularly great.

For those who haven’t read the new book, can you give us a little insight into Clare and Aiden’s relationship and why they’re making the decision to either split up or try for long distance?

Well, they’ve been together for a couple years, but they’re about to head off to colleges at opposite ends of the country – Clare to New Hampshire and Aidan to California – and while neither of them really wants to break up, the idea of staying together in the face of all that distance seems daunting.  Clare is more pragmatic; she thinks it makes sense to end things now on their own terms, rather than slowly drifting apart, which she thinks is inevitable.  But Aidan is an optimist, and he believes they can survive it, even when so many others don’t.  At the start of their last night, they still haven’t managed to agree on what to do. So they basically have twelve hours left to decide…

Distance (and travel) are always a big influence in your books. Splitting characters apart allows for a lot of developments for the characters and their relationships. What is it about distance that appeals to you in regards to your writing?

Honestly, I think a big part of it is that I don’t like to write bad guys. I prefer to let time and fate and circumstance be the obstacles in my stories.  But I’m also fascinated by those same themes – time and distance, chance and serendipity – and so they’re a lot of fun for me to explore, and I tend to keep returning to them in different ways.

What draws you to the contemporary/romance genre?

Mostly, I think it’s just what I tend to gravitate toward as a reader, so it was only natural that I’d end up writing it too. That said, I don’t really think of my books as romances. I realize they have couples on the cover – and hearts! – but the family elements to the stories are really important to me too, so I think of them more as just realistic fiction.

Has your writing style/preferences evolved as you’ve continued to write books?

I hope so! I’d like to think I’m always growing and evolving as a writer.  But the crazy part of this process is that every single time I sit down to start something new, it feels like I’m learning to do it all over again for the very first time, which can be thrilling in its own way, but also really challenging.  If there are any shortcuts to this whole writing thing, I certainly haven’t figured them out yet!

And like I asked last year, what book(s) are you reading right now?

I just finished A LITTLE LIFE, which absolutely wrecked me, and I can’t stop thinking about it. It might be one of the most impressive novels I’ve ever read.  It’s a really tough read, but so, so beautiful. I loved it.

I also just read BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME, which is so important, and I think everyone should read it at some point.

I’ve read a few great YA books this summer too: P.S. I STILL LOVE YOU by Jenny Han, ME AND EARL AND THE DYING GIRL by Jesse Andrews, and SIMON VS THE HOMO SAPIENS AGENDA by Becky Albertalli, among others.

And I’m in the middle of READY PLAYER ONE right now, which I’m enjoying so far!

One more fun one: if you could have been the original author on any book, which would it be and why?

HARRY POTTER, of course!

Thanks, Jen!

Make sure you head over to Brittany’s blog to see the other part of the interview!

ABOUT JEN

Author Photo_Jennifer E Smith

Jennifer E. Smith is the author of The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, The Storm Makers, You Are Here, and The Comeback Season. She earned her master’s degree in creative writing from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, and currently works as an editor in New York City. Her writing has been translated into 28 languages.

Website | Twitter | Tumblr | Facebook Goodreads

THE GIVEAWAY

(THANK YOU TO THE NOVL FOR SENDING ME THESE BOOKS IN THE NOVL BOX!)

Terms & Conditions:

  • This contest is open to US residents only.
  • The giveaway will run until September 24, 2015 at midnight CST.
  • You must be 18 years or older, or have parents’ permission to enter.
  • I will check all of the entries for the chosen winner. If any of them have been given and you haven’t actually done them, you will be disqualified.
  • If the winner does not respond to my e-mail within 48 hours, I will choose another winner.
  • I am not responsible for any items lost in the mail, and I cannot replace anything that is lost. I’m sorry.

Giveaway Enter

ARC Review: Hello, Goodbye, and Everything in Between by Jennifer E. Smith

Hello, Goodbye, and Everything in Between by Jennifer E. SmithAuthor:  Jennifer E. Smith
Genre: young adult, contemporary, romance
Publisher: Poppy
Publication Date: September 1, 2015
256 pages, hardcover (246 ARC)

Check out the full synopsis on Goodreads.

NOTE: I was provided with an ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to Hallie and Little, Brown Books for Young Readers for sending me an advanced copy of this book. 

This book is SO cute, you guys. Jennifer E. Smith is my go to author for sweet, adorable stories that will leave me feeling all melty inside, and Hello, Goodbye, and Everything in Between is no exception.

Jen’s writing style is my favorite thing about her books; it’s easygoing, beautiful, and genuine. Jen’s a pro at breaking your heart in the best way. I really loved the focus in this one on how hellos and goodbyes don’t necessarily have to be literal hellos and goodbyes. Hello, Goodbye, and Everything in Between is different from Jen’s other books in that the couple has actually been together for a couple of years before the story even begins versus having a meet-cute at the beginning that leads to a (possible) relationship. I enjoyed seeing Jen switch gears a bit and write a relationship from a different angle.

It was a bit hard for me to relate to Clare, which is somewhat surprising in that I try to be as logical as I can when making decisions as well, but she came across as kind of selfish and a little dramatic. I wasn’t as emotionally involved with her as I was with Aiden, honestly. I really liked his character; he seemed sincere and just so earnest in his love for Clare, and it was adorable. I also liked Scotty, who is a bit of a secondary character, but quite enjoyable to read about.

I had a few issues with the book during the characters’ last night together, but the ending? Man, that was a wonderful ending. I don’t want to give anything away, but the ending is insightful, realistic, honest, and my favorite part of the entire book. I like what it means for the characters, and it just felt so genuine and true to life. (I will say that I wish there was a sequel – at least a novella or something!)

The bottom line: Although I had a few issues during the middle of the book, I loved this one, like I’ve loved all of Jen’s other books. I don’t think I’ll ever NOT love one of her books. Can’t wait for the next one.

Rating: 8 – freaking fantastic

Top Ten Tuesday: Anticipated Releases for the Rest of 2015

Top Ten Tuesday

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

Top Ten Most Anticipated Releases For the Rest of 2015

Dumplin' by Julie Murphy     The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness     Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon     The Day the Crayons Came Home by Drew Daywalt, illustrated by Oliver Jeffers     Beastly Bones by William Ritter

Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy // The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness // Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon // The Day the Crayons Came Home by Drew Daywalt, illustrated by Oliver Jeffers // Beastly Bones by William Ritter

The Rose Society by Marie Lu     A Thousand Nights by E.K. Johnston     Never Always Sometimes by Adi Alsaid     Hello, Goodbye, and Everything in Between by Jennifer E. Smith     The Raven's Prophecy Tarot by Maggie Stiefvater

The Rose Society by Marie Lu // A Thousand Nights by E.K. Johnston // Never Always Sometimes by Adi Alsaid // Hello, Goodbye, and Everything in Between by Jennifer E. Smith  // The Raven’s Prophecy Tarot by Maggie Stiefvater

This was SO hard! I have 139 books on my 2015 Releases shelf on Goodreads, and while some of them are already out, a lot of them aren’t. What books are you anticipating in the last half of 2015?

Babes and Books Review: The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight

Babes & Books

Recently, after having some excited Twitter chats and starting a Goodreads group to have super long convos about books we’ve all read and loved, Rachel at Confessions of a Book Geek, Brandie at Brandie is a Book Junkie, and I started what we are cheekily calling Babes and Books, an irregular joint reviews in a super conversational format that allow us to have fun and coordinate our TBRs. You might’ve seen our first review (Never Never by Colleen Hoover and Tarryn Fisher) though it wasn’t branded with our Babes and Books name – that was a recent development. Our first official read was The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith – though this one is from only Rachel and me. Enjoy the rambling!

Check out the full synopsis of the book on Goodreads.

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. SmithStef: Out of the three Jennifer E. Smith books I’ve read (this one, The Geography of You and Me and This is What Happy Looks Like) this is my favorite. I think it’s because I felt the most similar to Hadley – I couldn’t relate to the divorce thing, but I related to HER, if that makes sense? I also know what it’s like to fly alone to a place you’ve never been, where you know no one, and to go out and try to find where you’re going. You feel lost, excited, terrified, happy, nervous. I loved that aspect of it – the trip, the adventure. I also am head over heels for Oliver. He’s so swoony! Smith really knows how to write love. I thought it was well-paced, well-written, and a lot of fun.

Rachel: I’ve only read one Smith book before, The Geography of You and Me, and I gave it the same rating I’m going to give this one. When I step back and look at it, it’s difficult to pin-point much that jumps off the page as being “wrong” with her books, but they just don’t reach me on a deeper level. Smith’s writing style is enjoyable (and her book titles AMAZING!), her writing is adorable and sweet – like it’ll give you cavities sweet, but there’s something about the stories that just don’t blow me away. I love that her characters always have something going on in their lives that they’re trying to deal with (death, divorce, moving etc.), as it adds a sense of realism, but equally, that’s usually taken away by the unlikely and slightly obscure scenarios they find themselves in – like falling for someone in 24 hours. There’s something whimsical and fairy-tale like about it, which while enjoyable, prevents me from falling in love with this novel the same way Hadley fell for Oliver.

It the book were set over a longer time-frame, it would obviously lose its 24 hour love-at-first-sight bonus, but it might have helped develop the story to the point where I could take it more seriously. For example, I’d love to know what happens when Oliver and Hadley return to America. I think this is the kind of book I’d have LOVED and gobbled up as a young teenager in love with the idea of love, but as an older reader it didn’t blow me away. It’s not one I’d shout about from the rooftops, put it that

Stef: I absolutely love her titles too! When I interviewed her last year (link), she said she has started to have trouble coming up with them – because she’s become known for having long and intricate titles. I asked her to come up with one for her life and she said – This is What the Statistical Probability of Happiness Looks Like. I absolutely love her writing style. Your cavity-description is spot on. Most of the time, I don’t like books like that, but sometimes you just WANT that, and I always find myself uncontrollably smiling when reading her books. I love that the characters have depth as well. It’s more realistic that way. Her characters feel so real, even when what’s happening doesn’t necessarily feel real. I don’t really know if I believe in a love like this, in falling love within only 24 hours, but when reading Statistical Probability, I believed it. Does that make sense? I think the way that Smith writes her characters and their emotions hooks me and sweeps me away and I didn’t even really think about the fact it was only 24 hours.

I NEED to know what happens when they get back to the States, but I think that’s why I like it – it’s hopeful but not definite. Maybe they don’t work out. Maybe they are just friends. Either way, I loved them together.

I actually think I wouldn’t have liked it if I’d read it when I was a teenager. I didn’t like contemporaries (other than the RARE Sarah Dessen) when I was in high school. I wasn’t a huge fan of romances when reading, but I’ve grown to enjoy them more as I’ve gotten older. Funny that you would’ve felt the opposite.

Rachel: I definitely feel that you should only read her books when you have a sweet craving, otherwise it may fall a little flat. When I read The Geography of You and Me I was coming out of a two week slump because of a book I was struggling through and eventually DNF’d, and Smith was just the kind of light relief I needed. When I was reading this, I didn’t really question the characters’ emotions until towards the end when the grand gestures came into play. It just felt a bit… stalkerish/odd to do something like that? But hey, maybe if we had more courage we could meet an Oliver too!

Oh gosh, I’d have gobbled this right up as a teen, even when I was reading this I felt nostalgic for younger me, I was innocent and less cynical about love and I’d have adored this, most likely dreaming one day that this could happen to me! I think this is a case where reading YA as an adult is impacted/affected by life experience!

Have to say – I definitely fancied a bit of Oliver!

Stef: I completely agree that her books can’t really be read all the time. I have to be in the mood for it too. If I’m not in the mood for the sweetness, I’ll end up not liking it because it’s just too much. Her books are light and sweet and adorable, and sometimes you really need that and sometimes you just don’t.

I do think Hadley’s actions were a little weird, but I suppose if you’ve had that kind of connection with someone, you might do something like this. I’ve never had that kind of connection with anyone so it was a little strange to me, but I suspended my disbelief for a little while and just went with it. Oliver is so swoony!!

Rachel: I probably am the nutter who would make a grand gesture and the other person would be all confused going, “Uh, thanks and all, but I never liked you anyway”… awkward!

Stef: Hahahaha! I’d probably be the same. The guy would be side-eyeing me like “Wtf? Freak.” Lol.

What did you think of the first Babes and Books review? Have you read TSPOLAFS? 

TITLE INFO

Author: Jennifer E. Smith
Genre: Young adult, contemporary
Publisher: Poppy
Publication Date: January 2, 2012
236 pages, paperback

Waiting on Wednesday: Hello, Goodbye, and Everything in Between by Jennifer E. Smith

Not sure why this didn’t post yesterday. Sorry, guys! Here’s my WoW post a day late!

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

I know Hello, Goodbye, and Everything in Between doesn’t come out for a LONG time, but I wanted to get you excited for a new Jennifer E. Smith book and let you know I’m giving away a copy of her book The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight over on Twitter. All you have to do is retweet this tweet and follow me for a chance to win!

Hello, Goodbye, and Everything in Between by Jennifer E. SmithPublisher: Poppy

Author: Jennifer E. Smith

Release date: September 1, 2015

Synopsis from Goodreads:

On the night before they leave for college, Clare and Aidan only have one thing left to do: figure out whether they should stay together or break up. Over the course of twelve hours, they’ll retrace the steps of their relationship, trying to find something in their past that might help them decide what their future should be. The night will lead them to friends and family, familiar landmarks and unexpected places, hard truths and surprising revelations. But as the clock winds down and morning approaches, so does their inevitable goodbye. The question is, will it be goodbye for now or goodbye forever?
This new must-read novel from Jennifer E. Smith, author of The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, explores the difficult choices that must be made when life and love lead in different directions.

Why I’m excited: This sounds absolutely adorable but also full of hard decisions and difficult situations. I love that Jennifer E. Smith’s books are always much deeper than you might expect from a sweet book, and I’m sure I’ll love it just as much as her others. Looking forward to meeting Clare and Aidan! Plus, I love the title and that cover!

If you don’t want to wait to read one of Jennifer’s books, why not enter my giveaway for a copy of The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight over on Twitter?

Bout of Books 12 – Top 10 Recommendations Challenge

Today is Day 2 of Bout of Books! Trees of Reverie is hosting the Top 10 Recommendations challenge, and since I actually work in a library, I thought I kind of have to participate, don’t I? 🙂

The Challenge: You’ve just started to work at a bookstore (or library) – what are your top ten go-to book recommendations?

All of the books I’ve chosen are ones that I’ve actually recommended to people at my library for various reasons. Some are favorites and some are just generally good reads. Here we go!

The Humans Anna and the French Kiss This Is What Happy Looks Like The Black Hour The Book of Strange New Things

The Humans by Matt Haig – for everyone. Seriously. Read it. (I know you’re all surprised)

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins – perfect for a lot of our YA readers but also for some of our older patrons who like books by authors like Debbie Macomber

This is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith – for basically the same reasons as above

The Black Hour by Lori Rader-Day – I read and loved this one and have recommended it to several patrons that enjoy crime fiction

The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber – one of my new recommendations because I read and LOVED this. It’s unique and interesting. Different from my normal read.

The Passage Saga, volume 1 Cover The Young Elites The Incredible Book Eating Boy Cover Fortunately, the Milk Cover

The Passage by Justin Cronin – patrons who enjoy vampires but the creepy, scary kind have been told to read this by me on several occasions. 🙂

Saga by Brian K. Vaughan and illustrated by Fiona Staples – for people who want to try comics. This is how I got into comics and I’ve never looked back.

The Young Elites by Marie Lu – because this was probably my favorite read of the year

ANYTHING by/illustrated by Oliver Jeffers – because stick legs

Fortunately, the Milk by Neil Gaiman and illustrated by Skottie Young – for Neil Gaiman fans. For fans of silliness. For fans of fun.

A few others:The Raven Boys

Anything Maggie Stiefvater has written

Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour

The Maze Runner by James Dashner

Through the Woods by Emily Carroll

Gone by Michael Grant

What would you recommend?

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I read in 2014

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

Top Ten Books I Read In 2014 (Overall, By A Particular Genre, 2014 Releases)

This is one of the hardest TTT posts I’ve ever had to do. I read SO MANY good books this year. Because of that, I’m going to list more than ten books. Sorrynotsorry. I’m going to give you a list of books published before 2014 that I read this year and a list of books published during 2014. Hope that’s okay! All of the titles are linked to my reviews.

Published BEFORE 2014

It's Kind of a Funny StoryLola and the Boy Next DoorMaze Runner cover image
The Incredible Book Eating Boy CoverThis Is What Happy Looks LikeThe Day the Crayons Quit Cover

It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini
Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins
The Maze Runner by James Dashner
Every single book I read by Oliver Jeffers (you can find all my reviews under this tag – sorry it has some other stuff in there too)
This Is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith
The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt, illustrated by Oliver Jeffers

Published DURING 2014

Since You've Been GoneThe Young ElitesBlue Lily, Lily BlueLet's Get Lost
Love Letters to the DeadRivers by Michael Farris SmithRain Reign

Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson
The Young Elites by Marie Lu
Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater
Let’s Get Lost by Adi Alsaid
Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira
Rivers by Michael Farris Smith
Rain Reign by Ann M. Martin

Well, look at that. I only went THREE over. I will stop there because I could probably list about 50, but I don’t think you guys would be too happy with that. What are the top books you read this year?

Top Ten Tuesday: Top new-to-me authors I read in 2014

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

Top Ten New-To-Me Authors I Read In 2014

I read so many amazing authors in 2014! I had a fun time compiling this list. I can’t believe I just came across these authors this year. It feels like I’ve always loved them. 🙂 All book titles are linked to my reviews.

Stephanie PerkinsStephanie PerkinsAnna and the French Kiss

Morgan MatsonSince You’ve Been Gone

Oliver JeffersThe Incredible Book-Eating Boy

Robert Kirkman – The Walking Dead [volume 1]

Marie LuThe Young ElitesAdi Alsaid

Adi Alsaid Let’s Get Lost

Jennifer E. SmithThis Is What Happy Looks Like

Stacey O’NealeMortal Enchantment

Rainbow RowellAttachments

Lori Rader-DayThe Black Hour

What new-to-you authors did you read in 2014?

Book Review: This Is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith

This Is What Happy Looks LikeTitle: This Is What Happy Looks Like

Author: Jennifer E. Smith

Genre: Contemporary, YA

Publisher: Headline

Publication Date: October 2013

Paperback: 404 pages

Stand alone or series: Stand alone

How did I get this book: Bought

Check out the summary on Goodreads

What I thought:

I enjoyed this one so much that I bought myself a copy of it because I know I’ll want to read it again (also, I’m glad I had it so I could get it signed when I met and interviewed Jen!).

I’ve read some reviews of this book that criticized it because supposedly nothing happens. This is not true. No, it is not action packed and full of twists and turns and blah blah blah. But it is a sweet, adorable book that fills you up from the inside with all its cute. I smiled a lot while reading this book and I love that. It made me feel content. I wasn’t worried about the fact that it wasn’t a rollercoaster of action because I just felt good while reading it.

Ellie gets an email from a mysterious “G” who’s sent the email to her on accident. The two end up chatting back and forth from across the country and a connection grows between them. When Graham Larkin, a relatively new celebrity, shows up in Ellie’s small town to film his new movie, it turns out Ellie’s mysterious “G” is Graham – who moved his movie’s filming location to Ellie’s small town after she told him where she lived. Okay, a little stalker-ish but unbelievably cute.

I really liked both of these characters; Ellie didn’t take any crap from Graham or let him off the hook for anything just because he was a celebrity. She teased him for it and he just loved it. Their banter was hilarious and cute and I loved reading it. The characters both felt whole to me, fully developed with separate personalities, so it was easy to tell whose chapter was whose (each chapter is written in third person but with a focus on either Ellie or Graham). I think I connected a little more with Ellie, probably because I’m not a famous person and I’m a girl. Haha. But I enjoyed both of these characters.

The emails between Graham and Ellie were my favorite part though. The book starts off with their first email exchange and some of their emails back and forth for the next several months. Once the actual chapters begin, we get at least one new email between the two at the beginning of each chapter. I really like when authors have other means of communication between characters (letters, emails, texts, diary entries, etc.). I think it adds another layer to the book to allow us to get to know the characters even more.

Okay, occasionally I felt a little like, “Why is this scene necessary?” or “Dang, this is so cheesy,” but not once did I want to stop reading. Sometimes you just need a book that is so unashamedly adorable and cheesy and sweet, and This Is What Happy Looks Like was just that for me.

POTENTIAL SPOILER. SORT OF. Some people didn’t like the ending of this book, but I really did. Real life isn’t wrapped up with a nice little bow. Everything doesn’t get resolved. There are always problems to be solved and things to work around. I found the ending to the book to be really refreshing.

The bottom line: If you’re looking for a book with really adorable characters, no insta-love, and some sweet romance, check this out. Good for people who love movies or small towns, open endings or lovely beginnings. If you don’t need a book that has action on every page but rather gives you a feeling of contentedness and makes you smile, This Is What Happiness Looks Like is probably for you. I know I said sweet about 275384245 times in this review, but this book is just that. Rot-your-teeth-out, give-you-diabetes sweet.

Rating: 7.5 – between pretty good and freaking fantastic

Reading next: Of Monsters and Madness by Jessica Verday