September Wrap-up/October TBR


Chivalrous by Dina L Sleiman – Finished and reviewed
Finding Perfect by Kendra C. Highley – Finished and reviewed
The Demon Catchers of Milan by Kat Beyer – Finished and reviewed
I Crawl Through It by A.S. King – Finished and reviewed
This Ordinary Life by Jennifer Walkup – Finished and reviewed
A Thousand Nights by E.K. Johnston – Finished, review coming
It’s a Wonderful Death by Sarah J Schmitt – Currently Reading
Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin

For School
Red Riding Hood by Jerry Pinkney (picture book) – Finished
Little Red Hen by Jerry Pinkney (picture book) – Finished
The Tortoise and the Hare by Jerry Pinkney (picture book) – Finished
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (Novel) – Finished
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (Graphic Novel) – Finished (Vols 1 & 2)
The Iron Trial by Cassandra Clare & Holly Black – Finished
The Six by Mark Alpert – Currently Reading

I read a total of 8 books, 3 picture books, and 2 graphic novels. Overall, a pretty slow month for me, but hey, school started so…that’s taken some of my reading time.


My Secret to Tell by Natalie Richards
The Farmerettes by Gisela Tobien Sherman
No True Echo by Gareth P Jones
If You’re Lucky by Yvonne Prinz
Red Girl, Blue Boy by Lauren Baratz-Logsted
The Sister Pact by Stacie Ramey

For School
Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future by A.S. King
More Than This by Patrick Ness

Doll Bones by Holly Black
Wonder by R.J. Palacio

Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen
What You Left Behind by Jessica Verdi

Echo by Pam Muñoz Ryan

Top Ten Tuesday: Great Authors for Sarah Dessen Lovers


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.  Each week there is a new topic and this week’s topic is: Ten Books To Read If You Like {fill in the blank}

My favorite author of all time is Sarah Dessen. Between her books I’m always looking for other authors who can fill the void. I know I’m not the only one who feels this way, so here’s a list of authors for you to read after you’ve devoured Saint Anything (links are to GoodReads).

1) Jennifer E Smith – If you liked What Happened to Goodbye, read You Are Here

2) Huntley Fitzpatrick – If you liked  The Truth About Forever, read My Life Next Door

3) Kasie West – If you liked Along for the Ride, read The Distance Between Us

4) Sarah Strohmeyer – If you liked The Moon and More, read How Zoe Made Her Dreams (Mostly) Come True

5) Elizabeth Scott – If you liked This Lullaby, read Stealing Heaven

6) Morgan Matson – If you liked Someone Like You, read Since You’ve Been Gone

7) Susane Colasanti – If you liked Keeping the Moon, read Keep Holding On

8) Kim Culbertson – If you liked Saint Anything, read Catch a Falling Star

9) Sarah Ockler – If you liked Lock & Key, read The Summer of Chasing Mermaids

10) Deb Caletti – If you liked Dreamland, read Honey, Baby, Sweetheart

Okay, seriously, I spent WAY too much time putting this list together. I hope somebody appreciates it! 😉

BLOG TOUR: This Ordinary Life by Jennifer Walkup (GIVEAWAY)

ThisOrdinaryLife_FCThis Ordinary Life
by Jennifer Walkup
Publisher: Luminis Books, Inc.
Release Date: October 1st 2015

Goodreads|Amazon|B&N|Book Depository|Pinterest

Sometimes Hope is the Most Extraordinary Gift of All.

High-school radio host Jasmine Torres’s life is full of family dysfunction, but if she can score the internship of her dreams with a New York City radio station, she knows she can turn things around.

That is, until her brother Danny’s latest seizure forces her to miss the interview, and she’s back to the endless loop of missing school for his doctor appointments, picking up the pieces of her mother’s booze-soaked life, and stressing about Danny’s future.

Then she meets Wes. He’s the perfect combination of smart, cute, and funny. He also happens to have epilepsy like her brother. Wes is living a normal life despite his medical issues, which gives Jasmine hope for Danny. But memories of her cheating ex-boyfriend keep her from going on a real date with Wes, no matter how many times he asks her.

Jasmine can’t control everything. Not who wins the internship, not her mother’s addiction, not her brother’s health–not even where her heart will lead her. She wishes she could just have an ordinary life, but maybe what she already has is pretty extraordinary after all.

I was really interested in radio when I was in high school, so I was excited to pick up this book where the main character is also interested in radio. Jasmine seems like the kind of girl who really has her head on straight–and for good reason. Her mom has been kind of neglectful, so Jasmine has had to step into the parent role. Even though she’s trying to take care of her family, I liked that she still had time to be sweet with Danny. They seemed to have a really special relationship and it made me think of my own little brother.

Overall, I liked Jasmine quite a bit as a main character, but she had some traits that I disliked. She could be a little vindictive and bratty towards her mom. I understand that her mom isn’t doing what she’s supposed to be doing, but I don’t feel like there’s ever an excuse to be that rude to another human being. Another thing is that I don’t feel that the author showed us why Jasmine is so special. I get that she’s awesome with her brother and is very mature, but if you gave her a different family, what’s special about her? This made it so that I couldn’t quite see what Wes saw in her. It didn’t make sense to me why he was being so persistent with wanting to date her. I will say this about Jasmine though, I’m so glad that she never ONCE thought about taking her ex-boyfriend back. Way to stand up for yourself!

The story line and drama is mostly centered around the radio internship/epilepsy so I was glad that neither Wes nor Frankie added to the drama. There are times when I feel like an author has put too much drama into their book, but in this case I felt that there was a really nice balance. Overall, I liked the ending of the book. It’s not your typical happy ending, but it’s hopeful. Most of all, I love that this book brings attention to a disease that I, personally, did not know a lot about.

Overall Rating: 3
Language: Moderate
Violence: None
Sexual Content: Moderate
Smoking/Drinking: Heavy (alcoholic adult character).

Note: I received this book free from the author/blog tour in exchange for an honest review.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:Jennifer Walkup
Award-winning author Jennifer Walkup is most often found writing, reading, and spending time with her husband and young sons. A member of SCBWI and RWA, Jennifer also works as an editor and creative writing instructor, and is an advocate for Epilepsy awareness. This Ordinary Life is her second novel.

To hear about Jennifer’s upcoming books, sign up for her newsletter here.



Note: I received this book free from the Blog Tour in exchange for an honest review.

HW Assignment: The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (traditional & graphic novels)

Note: This post was used as a homework assignment and may contain spoilers.

This is the first time I’ve read anything by Neil Gaiman and I appreciated being able to read The Graveyard Book twice—once as a novel and once as a graphic novel. One thing that I appreciated about the novel in particular, was the light tone. One might expect the book to be scary since it’s about a boy living in a graveyard with a bunch of ghosts, but the tone of the book makes everything more whimsical. Even when Bod encounters the ghouls, the reader is never really scared. That translated somewhat into the graphic novels—none of the illustrations were particularly gruesome or frightening—but I do believe that it came across better through text.

One thing that I think the graphic novels excelled at was that it made it much easier to picture the characters. While reading the novel, I had a particularly hard time picturing the Sleer and the Ghouls, so having actual illustrations of those creatures helped me to better visualize the story. In addition, neither the novel nor the graphic novel ever says that Silas is a vampire. It’s perhaps implied in the novel, but in the graphic novel we can definitely see that, yes, he is a vampire which adds another layer to his character.

There were other ways that the graphic novel added to the story as well. First, the reader is able to see characters’ reactions to things that weren’t described in the book. In a novel, an author doesn’t have time to describe each character’s reaction to everything that is said, but the graphic novel does. In addition, I noticed some fun foreshadowing that was included by an illustrator. At this point in the book, Bod does not know that Miss Lupescu is a werewolf. However, the reader is let in on the secret if they look carefully.

Miss Lupescu

In this picture, the illustrator has made Miss Lupescu’s shadow the shape of a wolf. At this point in the novel, it is not obvious that Miss Lupescu is anything besides an older woman. With this illustration, the reader of the graphic novel is getting an insight that readers of the novel do not have.

Another thing that I particularly liked about the graphic novel version of The Graveyard Book is that each chapter is illustrated by a different person. This is different than other graphic novels like the version of Twilight, for example, which just has one illustrator over two volumes. I feel that this was done on purpose to keep the story and the characters from feeling too concrete. Gaiman doesn’t write them as “solid” characters and that comes across in his writing. This feeling also comes across in graphic novels like American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang. Even though the illustrator is the same throughout, the storyline is split between a few different stories and that also helps to keep things from feeling too concrete.

Lastly, I felt that the different panes and placement of dialogue bubbles at times added something to the story that wasn’t apparent in the novel text. Take the picture below for example:


Having Silas’ response to Bod’s question in its own larger pane gives emphasis to it even though it’s just one word. In the novel, it truly felt like Silas was just answering Bod’s question. In the graphic novel, however, it feels like Silas is answering so much more than the one question that Bod asked.

After reading these books, I’m definitely more interested in reading some of Neil Gaiman’s other novels/graphic novels like Coraline. In the article “Graphic Novels and Multi-modal Literacy: A High School Study with American Born Chinese” by Heidi Hammond, she states, “[Graphic novels fuse] art and text, combining print literacy and visual literacy to present a multimodal literacy experience” (pg. 23). I believe this is something that the graphic novel version of The Graveyard Book truly excelled at.

BOOK TAG: How I Read Book Tag

As is the case for most of these tags, I was tagged by Joey @Thoughts and Afterthoughts so go ahead, click that link, show his blog a little love.

How did you find out about new books to read?

Usually through other blogs or NetGalley. I also like to keep tabs on my favorite authors.

How did you get into reading?

I have always loved reading. I literally had to beg my mom to teach me how to read when I was three. She thought I was too young.

How has your taste in books changed as you got older?

I’ve become a lot more open to trying new genres and books. When I was younger, my reading preferences were very narrow. I’ve mentioned before that I would only read fantasy books that had maps in them. Yeah…I’ve moved on from that.

How often do you buy books?

Usually about once a month. The library that I volunteer at has a book sale corner that is restocked once a month. I can usually find a couple books that I want from there.

How did you get into book reviewing?

After I graduated from college, I had a lot of time to read but I felt like my reading had no purpose. I would finish a book, move on to another one, and then promptly forget everything about the book that I had just finished. I started this blog in order to keep track of what I’d read as well as to feel like my reading had purpose.

How do you react when you don’t like the end of a book?

It depends. If it just doesn’t have the happy ending that I wanted, then I feel a little hollow about it for a while. I might try to tell my husband about it and he’s usually pretty good at comforting me. If I feel like the ending is wrong or dumb, then I tend to get mad at the author (unfairly, I admit). I just have all of these thoughts about unreached potential and all that. That makes me mad/frustrated.

How often do you take a sneak peak at the ending to see if there is a happy ending?

Never. I would NEVER do this. I wouldn’t even THINK about doing this. I don’t even read reviews on books that I haven’t read yet because I don’t want to be spoiled!

So…here’s a tag. You should do it.

Top Ten Tuesday: Fall TBR


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.  Each week there is a new topic and this week’s topic is: Top Ten Books On My Fall TBR

Already Out:
1) The Boy Most Likely To by Huntly Fitzpatrick
2) P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han
3) Hello, Goodbye, and Everything in Between by Jennifer E Smith
4) Crimson Bound by Rosamund Hodge
5) The Wrath and the Dawn by Renée Ahdieh

Not Yet Released:
6) A Madness So Discreet by Mindy McGinnis (10/6)
7) Manners and Mutiny by Gail Carriger (11/3)
8) NEED by Joelle Charbonneau (11/3)
9) Ten Thousand Skies Above You by Claudia Gray (11/3)
10) Winter by Marissa Meyer (11/10)

I Crawl Through It by A.S. King [ARC]

Stanzi is two people in one. Gustav is building an invisible helicopter. China Knowles has swallowed herself. Lansdale Cruise can’t stop lying and so her hair grows and grows. There is a dangerous man in a bush, multiple bomb threats, and an adventure to a land of geniuses.23203744

Oh gosh…this book is pretty indescribable, but I’ll try anyway. First, I LOVE THE COVER. It’s so simple and I was immediately drawn to it. I can honestly say that I have never read a book like this. I’ve seen it described as surrealist fiction and that’s really the best word to describe this book: surreal. It’s hard to determine what the rules of this world are. On the surface, it looks exactly like our world, but things keep happening that make me go, “Wait…is this real? Or is it a character’s imagination?” The whole time I wasn’t exactly sure what was true and was fake. Did China really swallow herself? Or was this just a representation of how she feels? But then Stanzi mentions being able to see China digesting…and don’t even get me started on that helicopter. Is it really invisible? Why can some people see it every day but Stanzi can only see it on Tuesdays and China and Lansdale can’t see it at all? I have so many questions!

Even though this book left me slightly confused, I still really enjoyed it. I really liked the short chapters and the overall tone of the book. The narration switched between a few different characters, and I found myself enjoying each voice. The short chapters helped the story to feel fast-paced. I kept telling myself I had time to read just one more chapter before bed. Next thing I know, it’s 30 minutes past my bedtime! The characters were all really interesting. Even though they had some surreal qualities, they all seemed more or less real. They struggled with real things, had real emotions, and talked in a real way.

The surreal aspects of this story were pretty playful, but at the same time a lot of the subject matter was actually pretty serious. These characters had to deal with divorced parents, rape, and another thing that I won’t reveal because I don’t want to spoil anyone. I’ll just say that it’s a SERIOUS thing. This is the first book that I’ve read by A.S. King, but I’ll definitely be looking into more of her books!

Overall Rating: 4
Language: Moderate
Violence: Mild
Sexual Content: Heavy. Nothing happens “on-screen”, but there are brief references throughout. One secondary character is mentioned to be “the neighborhood dominatrix”.
Smoking/Drinking: Moderate

Note: I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Whippoorwill by Joseph Monninger [ARC]

Claire lives alone with her motorcycle-loving dad. She’s been watching the way her neighbors treat their dog and she’s finally ready to do something about it. One walk turns into a complicated relationship with the dog (Wally) and his side-burned, teenage owner (Danny). With Father Jasper’s book on how to train dogs, Claire finds that she’s not only learning more about Wally, but about herself as well.
I really, really liked this book. I’ve been having a struggle with some of the books that I’ve gotten from NetGalley because sometimes the tone is just WAY too casual. Casual in an immature way. This book had a casual tone, but it wasn’t immature and it just felt real! The narration would sometimes be a little scattered, but it felt like how someone would actually think–not so straight-forward. I felt this made Claire super relatable. She sounded like any teenage girl to me. She’s not perfect, she’s not this social outcast, and she doesn’t have some freakish skill. Her emotions and relationships felt so real. She’s just a normal girl who goes to a normal high school.

I loved Claire’s relationship with her dad. He’s described as being this rough-looking guy who is obsessed with his motorcycle and is in a motorcycle “gang”. Even though he appears tough, Claire describes him as being a sweet teddy bear-like guy. He’s trying his best to be both mom and dad to Claire, but he’s sometimes at a loss for what exactly she needs. He get so excited over small things–like eating subs from the best sub place ever– and it’s so obvious how much he loves Claire and would do anything for her.

Claire’s feelings for Danny change from scene to scene. I could see how this might bother some readings, but for me, I just thought it added to the realness of the character. Normally, I think people’s feelings do fluctuate like that. Too often in YA we see a relationship go from zero to sixty in two pages. Not that that doesn’t happen ever, but I think the majority of the time, it’s like how Claire feels about Danny.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. It’s real and deals with some tough issues like abuse, but it left me with a really good feeling.

Overall Rating: 5
Language: Mild
Violence: Heavy
Sexual Content: Mild
Smoking/Drinking: Mild

Note: I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

NetGalley ARC Mini-Reviews

Lately, I’ve been in this super-slump with my review writing. I just haven’t felt motivated to do it for whatever reason. I have done a few short reviews on NetGalley though, so here’s what I ended up posting over there!

Chivalrous by Dina L Sleiman51ng7yyaWTL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_

There was nothing overwhelmingly wrong with this book, but I was still left feeling underwhelmed. The characters were just okay, the plot was just okay, the world-building was just okay. Religion and faith in God is a main theme throughout the book. I don’t read a lot of Christian fiction, but this book felt like there was just too much of that. It was brought up too often and not in a realistic context. Overall, the book was just okay. 3/5

Finding Perfect by Kendra C Highley25877185

This is a sweet book that was pretty fun to read, but lacked any lasting kind of substance or unpredictability. The story moved quickly and had good pacing. The characters were a little too perfect in the roles that they played but were enjoyable nonetheless. I found Paige’s mother especially to be extremely unrealistic (who is actually like that?). Overall, the book was good but not great. It was an easy read with likable characters and not too much drama. 3/5

The Demon Catchers of Milan by Kat Beyer

25965346This book took a little while to get going. Once it did though, the story was interesting (if still a little slower-paced). I liked how Milan as a city was painted. Mia isn’t actually allowed to wander out into the city by herself, but Milan is still seen as this super romantic backdrop. Don’t even get me started on all of the meal scenes (mouthwatering). The plot itself was interesting enough, but I didn’t feel like I could connect with Mia. That made it hard for me to really care what happened to her. Also, her crush on Emilio? I’m sorry, but that’s not a far enough relation for me to feel okay for there to be ANY trace of romance there. Ick! Overall, the book was okay even for someone as creeped out by the paranormal as I am, but I probably will not be reading the sequel. 3/5

Top Ten Tuesday: Books That Represent My Childhood


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.  Each week there is a new topic and this week’s topic is a freebie, so I decided to list some of the books that I really loved when I was younger.

1) Nate the Great by Mitchell, Marjorie W., and Craig Sharmat – I convinced my brother one morning that I’d gone to a Nate the Great store and there was a new book called “Nate the Great and the Gullible Boy”. He totally bought it. Also, I always wanted pancakes while I was reading these.

2) The Magic Treehouse series by Mary Pope Osbourn – Seriously, best series ever.

3) Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh – The movie was so disappointing. I started my own notebook for a little bit, but it didn’t last unfortunately.

4) Walk Two Moons and The Wanderer by Sharon Creech – Sharon Creech was my fave author for a LONG time. I’m not sure why I was so attracted to her books, but I loved them.

5) Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo – My parents wouldn’t let us have a dog. I lived vicariously through this book.

6) Hatchet by Gary Paulsen – So much adventure!

7) Inkheart by Cornelia Funke – The first time I can really remember eagerly awaiting the next book in the series.

8) Mrs. Piggle Wiggle series by Betty MacDonald – I secretly wanted to try some of these bad behavior fixes…it would be so fun to eat off of miniature plates!

9) Every Roald Dahl book – My mom read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory with us, but I read The Witches, Esio Trot, James and the Giant Peach, and the Twits on my own.

10) Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes – This book was really traumatic to me because of that one scene where he melts his fingers together, but it still stands out in my memory.