Monthly Bookish Awesomeness: July 2015

In which I recap what went down in the last four weeks here and outside the blog.

July had been utterly wondrous. I met the lovely Robyn Schneider—as smart and funny and nerdy as her work. My dearest godson Carlisle, who is the adorablest, turned three. I was more actively present in our church than ever and still had the energy to help organize a bloggers/readers meet up. I had my visa interview. And on top of these I managed to blog regularly and finish six (6!) books. Time is a peculiar thing.

Books I Read

Extraordinary Means 02Fans of the Impossible Life 02The Night We Said Yes 02

Other Stuff I Posted

Book Birthdays

Paperweight   You and Me and Him 01   Go Set a Watchman 01

Happy book birthday to Paperweight (7th, HarperTeen), You and Me and Him (7th, HMH Books for Young Readers), and Go Set a Watchman (14th, Harper), which all found a place in the shelves this month!

Book Radar

Never Always Sometimes 01   Percy Jackson's Greek Heroes 01   Another Day 01   The Rest of Us Just Live Here 01

This coming month, I’m excited for Never Always Sometimes (4th, Harlequin Teen), Percy Jackson’s Greek Heroes (18th, Disney Hyperion Books) (!!!!!), Another Day (25th, Alfred A. Knopf BFYR), The Wild Ones (25th, Philomel Books), and The Rest of Us Just Live Here (27th, Walker Books).

Gold Star

#BOOKWORMSUNITE YOU GUYS!!!

It’s strange how we pulled this off but we did. Three weeks maybe. Three weeks was all it took to, in a whim, suggest a meet up, get an enthusiastic response, brainstorm, put the words out and make it happen. But stranger is the event itself. Stranger is people actually showing up. Stranger is people actually having fun. In fact, standing in that room, in a coffee shop roughly sixty miles from home, I’ve never felt more myself, more at ease with my own skin, amongst people I’ve only either met briefly before or known online. Some even were just introduced that afternoon. But I felt the camaraderie. It was heartwarming. And I’m grateful Dianne, Hazel, Inah, Faye and Aimee all said yes that fortunate day.

Shannelle 01Eriele 01image

Around the Interwebs

Now that I actually have a news feature, aptly called Unmissable Weekly, there will be less items in this section.

How was your month? What was the amazing book or film or music or dessert you consumed? Is there a post you think I should check out? Also, HAVE YOU READ Go Set a Watchman? Sound of in the comments below!

You can also stalk follow me elsewhere! On Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Goodreads, and Bloglovin.

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REVIEW: The Night We Said Yes by Lauren Gibaldi

The Night We Said Yes 02

Title: The Night We Said Yes
Author: Lauren Gibaldi
Format: ARC, 304 pages
Publication: June 16th 2015 by HarperTeen
Source: Gifted by my fellow blogger/friend (thank you D!)
Genre: Fiction—Contemporary, Realistic, Romance
Other classifications: High School Romance, Young Adult

Goodreads | Amazon | The Book Depository | Fully Booked

Synopsis

Before Matt, Ella had a plan. Get over her ex-boyfriend and graduate high school—simple as that. But Matt—the cute, shy bass player—was never part of that plan. And neither was spending an entire night saying “yes” to every crazy, fun thing they could think of. But then Matt leaves town, breaking Ella’s heart. And when he shows up a year later, wanting to relive the night that brought them together, Ella isn’t sure if re-creating the past can help them create a different future. Or maybe it can. . . .

Review

In his book Looking for Alaska, John Green had a handful of quotations that rang true with my own experiences in life. But one that easily comes to mind is “I wanted to like booze more than I actually do.” Sadly, this speaks too of my relation with The Night We Said Yes.

To be fair, I really like the premise of Gibaldi’s debut. The story takes place in two nights, exactly one year apart. It’s told from Ella’s perspective and it starts with her trying to move on from her ex-boyfriend Matt who bailed out with no more than a note and a lousy excuse. Except now he has returned. And while Ella is hesitant—for obvious reasons—she wants answers all the same. The novel then jumps back and forth in the timeline as Ella in the past falls for Matt while the Ella in the present figures out if she and her friends are ready to take Matt back into their group. This should have been a favorite. Friendship story. The titular night of saying yes to every(reasonable)thing. A non-linear narrative. Instead, it’s trite, which, again, would’ve been fine except the main character—also the narrator—is problematic.

“It was my favorite part of the night—when the evening’s events were still unknown and unpredictable. It was the sense of possibility that I loved, the idea that anything could happen next.”

I’d go right off the bat and tell you Ella is not for me. She wallows in sadness and is often overcome by the secondary characters. And I know that our high school selves are supposed to be subjects to heightened emotions but I can’t get past the fact that Ella (in the Now) was thinking about Matt and their failed relationship 95% of the time. Then we have Meg, the best friend, who clearly reads as a foil to the MC and Jake, her on-again-off-again boyfriend, who was almost fun—if only he had more layers. I must say, however, that Matt was enjoyable, especially pre-break up. But although the “Then” storyline entertained me, I was looking for something more, something to connect with, something to make me care about these characters. Alas, I was met by a two-dimensional plane.

“It’s as if my mind can’t process what would happen if he were to come back, so instead of reacting, it gives up, checks out, and leaves town.”

In addition, there are several scenes that are cloying if not downright groan-worthy and the stuff they said yes to were underwhelming. I was hoping (praying) the reveal might redeem the novel but when it was time for it—the reason why Matt had to leave—it was a bit of a letdown.

The Night We Said Yes is a light, summery read, but unlike many summers of my younger years, it’s bound to be in the dregs of forgettable made-up drinks.

2.0 out of 5

Author

Lauren Gibaldi

Lauren Gibaldi is a YA librarian at Orange County Public Library, where she hosts youth programs. She lives in Orlando, Florida, with her husband and daughter. The Night We Said Yes is her debut novel.

Facebook | Twitter | Tumblr | Website

Do you plan to read this one? Or if you already did, what’s your take on it? Do you stick to a story without much plot going on but that has a character(s) you can connect with? And if you happen to DNF books, which I don’t, at least I haven’t had the strong urge to, how many pages do you go in before deciding to say yes to walking away (okay, that’s hyperbolized, but see what I did there?)? Sound off in the comments below; I’d love to hear from you!

You can also stalk follow me elsewhere! On Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Goodreads, and Bloglovin.

Monthly Bookish Awesomeness: June 2015

In which I recap what went down in the last four weeks here and outside the blog.

#LOVEWINS YOU GUYS!

Daaang, we’re approaching the other half of the year already! Quite a lot has happened this month not only to me but also to the wider blogosphere (happy blogoversary Hazel @ Stay Bookish, Joséphine @ Word Revel, Jen @ Pop! Goes The Reader and Jamie @ The Perpetual Page-Turner!). June, it would seem, is a time for firsts: I went to my first book signing (which was so much fun!), had my first official author interview, had my first taste of a known author and reviewed an adult book on Bookish and Awesome.

Fair warning: this recap is sort-of-definitely-maybe-absolutely lengthy and if that isn’t your thing, you can just jump to the particular topic you’re interested in.

Also? THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU for all you did with the More Happy Than Not Tag! Your support is heartening!

Books I Read

imageimageimage

Other Stuff I Posted

Book Birthdays

The Summer of Chasing Mermaids 01   Between the Notes   Untitled-4   Emmy and Oliver 01

Happy book birthday to More Happy Than Not (Soho Teen), The Summer of Chasing Mermaids (Simon Pulse), The Witch Hunter (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers), Between the Notes (HarperTeen), Every Last Word (Disney Hyperion), The Night We Said Yes (HarperTeen), and Emmy & Oliver (HarperTeen), which all found a place in the shelves this month!

Book Radar

Paperweight   Go Set a Watchman 01

I only have two titles for Book Radar because, come on, Harper Lee! I’m waiting for Paperweight (7th, HarperTeen) and Go Set a Watchman (14th, Harper) (!!!!!).

Gold Star

“”No longer may this liberty be denied,” Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote for the majority in the historic decision. “No unison is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were.”” This Adam Liptak wrote for The New York Times on Friday, June 26th, as the U.S. Supreme Court ruling, by a 5-to-4 vote, made same-sex marriage a right nationwide. I say, yes, America! Finally! Then YouTube shared THIS and excuse me but I’m having ALL THE FEELS. Love, friends, indeed won. ❤

Around the Interwebs

Adam Silver and MORE HAPPY THAN NOT

More Happy Than Not 05

So, okay. It is no secret to regular readers of Bookish and Awesome how huge a fan I am of Adam Silvera and his debut More Happy Than Not, which came out this month. And, naturally, the dude owned his publication month. From interviews to open letters, I got you covered!

On why More Happy Than Not has not one but four (4!) awful patriarchal figures  On the case of missing fancy suits and why settling on being more happy than not isn’t so bad  On the memory Adam would most like to forget  On exploring nature vs. nurture in regards to homosexuality  On creating his own MFA program and writing his way to publication  On Adam’s favorite TV shows  On why people mistake homosexuality as a choice  On who would be great friends for Aaron Soto outside the book  On learning when something has to go, it goes  On top secret writing tips  On Adam’s writing style and process

How was your June? Any awesome book or film or music or dessert you consumed this month? Or do you have a post I somehow missed but you think I’d like? Let’s talk!

*That’s a legit thing.

You can also stalk follow me elsewhere! On Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Goodreads, and Bloglovin.

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Top Ten Most Anticipated Releases for the Rest of 2015

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish in which book bloggers list their top ten picks for whatever the current prompt is.

As if the pool of new releases from the first half of 2015 isn’t loaded enough with brilliant, incredibly moving books…

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*Click the cover to be directed to the book’s Goodreads page.*

Untitled-4   Go Set a Watchman 01   Another Day 01

The Night We Said Yes by Lauren Gibaldi (June 16th, HarperTeen)
There’s something quietly sublime that instantly jumped at me when I first came across this debut novel. Here’s me hoping it turns out to be that and more.

Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee (July 14th, Harper)
Notwithstanding all the shady accounts circling the publication of probably the most anticipated summer release of the year, which also happened to break the internet in February, I’m really looking forward to picking this one up. There’s no mention of Jem in the bajillion articles, but I hope he’s still part of the story somehow.

Another Day by David Levithan (August 25th, Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers)
For obvious reasons like, say, I love Every Day. In fact, I started sticking note pads on my wall after reading it.

The Rest of Us Just Live Here 01   Cut Both Ways 01   Fans of the Impossible Life 01

(Side note: look at those pulchritudinous covers in a row!)

The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness (August 27th, Walker Books)
THIS. I mean, if “What if you aren’t the Chosen One?” doesn’t get you on board, I’m not sure what else would.

Cut Both Ways by Carrie Mesrobian (September 1st, HarperCollins)
Dysfunctional family? Yes please! Plus, the synopsis reminds me of the Austin-Shann-Robby situation from Grasshopper Jungle.

Fans of the Impossible Life by Kate Scelsa (September 8th, Balzer + Bray)
You know how the world is tired of the token gay best friend, where said best friend gets to have the extraordinary defining quality of, well, “just gay”? That and that alone. Okay, Scelsa promises to smash this archetypal ridiculousness. Also, best friend stories—especially ones that don’t turn into romance—are up my alley. So.

Stand-Off 01   This Monstrous Thing 01   Carry On 01   The League of Unexceptional Children 01

Stand-Off by Andrew Smith (September 8th, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers)
Um, DUH?

This Monstrous Thing by Mackenzi Lee (Semptember 22nd, Katherine Tegen Books)
Maybe it’s that I am not close with my elder brother, maybe not, but narratives with a focus on siblings relationship are four-point-five-out-of-five in the Things Shelumiel is a Sucker for Rating System.

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell (October 6th, St. Martin’s Griffin)
Rainbow Rowell Rainbow Rowell Rainbow Freakin’ Rowell! (And again, cover score!)

The League of Unexceptional Children by Gitty Daneshvari (October 20th, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)
This will be the Underdog Anthem! Or whatever the bookish equivalent is. And just, for a minute, drool over that cover!

So now you know that when I told you last week that I have an affinity for HarperCollins titles I’m not giving you BS. And allow me a moment to call myself out; I have only one (1!) POC author. And while women writers are up on 70%, I still feel terrible because I can do better. I should do better.

What’s on your list? Are there titles I missed?

You can also stalk follow me elsewhere! On Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Goodreads, and Bloglovin.

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Monthly Bookish Awesomeness: May 2015

In which I recap what went down in the last four weeks here and outside the blog.

Hey y’all! So I know I’ve been away for more than a couple of weeks now—and I apologize—but I recently went through a surgery and a slightly unexpected weekend escape before that. I’m recovering well, though, and excited to be back blogging regularly soon!

May had been really wonderful. My  childhood best friends were in town, however briefly, and I spent the whole weekend with them before I had my operation, which went successfully. This month, I also got to read Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda (FINALLY!!!) and More Happy Than Not, which both exceeded my expectations. So yaaay times two! And oh. I watched Pitch Perfect! No, not the sequel. Oops. It was pretty aca-mazing.

First week of May, the lovely Hazel Ureta of Stay Bookish invited me over at her blog for Behind the Lens and I’m a happy snowman! Thank you so much, dear!

Books I Read

Grasshopper Jungle 01More Happy Than Not 02Half Bad 02

  • Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith – Smith is many things, but what he does best is writing complex teenage boys. I had problems with the narrative style but, overall, it’s a candid look on growing up.
  • More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera – This is a strong debut you guys, with characters as unforgettable as the book is unflinching in its portrayal of confusion, love, homophobia, friendship and a lot more. Silvera surely is set to win many, many fans.
  • Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli – There’s only one thing you need to know about this novel: Becky nailed the character voice. I mean, I can’t even. Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda is such a charming, smile-inducing read. The cast instantly feels familiar and you can’t help but root for them. WHO GOES OUT THE GATE PUBLISHING HER FIRST BOOK THIS GOOD?!!!
  • Uprooted by Naomi Novik – I have conflicting opinions about this. Very. But it’s reminiscent of Leigh Bardugo’s Shadow and Bone with fae-ish elements. And, somehow I requested this from Netgalley thinking it’s YA, but it’s not.
  • Noggin by John Corey Whaley – Gaaah. I’ve never cry heaved so hard. There was this one scene that’s just beautiful and sad and poignant and I lost it. The overall tone was very nostalgic and there were times the MC was too whiny for my liking but it still is one of those stories that you know will stay with you in a long while.
  • Vanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver – D (of Oops! I Read A Book Again) and I are currently buddy-reading this one. This is my first title from the author.
  • Half Bad by Sally Green – Yeah, I read this in April but wrote a review this month. Terrific character connections, blunt writing style and quietly compelling.

Other Stuff I Posted

Book Birthdays

Made You Up 01   Uprooted 01   Anything Could Happen 01   Extraordinary Means 01

Happy book birthday to Made You Up (Greenwillow Books), Uprooted (Del Rey), Anything Could Happen (Push), and Extraordinary Means (26th, Katherine Tegen Books), which all found a place in the shelves this month!

Book Radar

More Happy Than Not 03   The Witch Hunter 02   Every Last Word 01   Untitled-4

June will see both More Happy Than Not (2nd, Soho Teen) and The Witch Hunter (2nd, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers) coming out into the wild, woohoo! Along with Every Last Word (16th, Disney Hyperion), and The Night We Said Yes (16th, HarperTeen).

Gold Star

I’m introducing a new feature in my monthly recap! Gold Star, inspired by Gretchen Rubin’s Happier with Gretchen Rubin podcast, aims to spotlight a person, book, project or anything that makes the world a happier place (because I’m cliché like that). And this month’s Gold Star belongs to… The #BooksArentDangerous initiative! So basically, together with The NOVL, Margaret Stohl and Kami Garcia asked the bookish community to upload a photo using the hashtag. And for every picture posted, they will donate a book to First Book, to help underfunded schools and libraries. They reached their goal of 5,000 and I just think that, for readers like us, spreading the love of reading is such a fulfilling cause to be a part of. Fantastic job, ladies!

Around the Interwebs

I hope you all had an awesome May! For those of you who didn’t get to attend BEA15, did you torture yourselves by staying on Twitter (like I did)? And for those of you lucky bastards who went, what was your favorite part? Let’s talk in the comments below!

You can also stalk follow me elsewhere! On Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Goodreads, and Bloglovin.

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Don’t Judge the Book by Its Cover

But, really, don’t we all do? I mean, I certainly do not determine whether or not I pick up a book solely by its cover but it’s a factor. And a good deal at that. Pretty much just like how a query letter is the writer’s first impression on the agent/publisher, a cover is what draws us, readers, initially to the book. I love me some thoughtful, beautifully crafted cover designs. And today, I share my personal favorites from contemporary young adult titles. (In no particular order.)

Eleanor & Park   Paper Towns
Untitled-4   Paperweight
The Perks of Being a Wallflower   I'll Give You the Sun
Playlist for the Dead   Ciinamon Toast and the End of the World
 Between the Notes

Between the Notes

Look at how simple and lovely that Eleanor & Park is! Seriously, all of Rowell’s books have gorgeous covers. Olga Grlic, who does these amazingness, is a Cover Design Wizard! I also adore how minimalist the layouts for Meg Haston’s Paperweight, Janet E. Cameron’s Cinnamon Toast and the End of the World (I just love that toaster + toasts!) and Michelle Falkoff’s Playlist for the Dead are. Not to mention this edition of John Green’s Paper Towns with its seemingly childlike scribblings. Now, in the case of Robyn Schneider’s The Beginning of Everything, one look at this charming cover (trust me, it’s 1000% more attractive in person) had me thinking I’ll definitely have this book in my hands before I even checked out the synopsis. And it’s a win, so yaaay! Gimme some good illustrations and typography and I’m absolutely on board.

What about you dear readers and friends? What book covers have you been obsessing lately?

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