HELP WANTED: Popsugar Reading Challenge 2015

Alright, I am making one final push to finish the Popsugar Reading Challenge for 2015 (click here if you want to start planning for the 2016 reading challenge). Here’s a link to my 2015 list so far.

I need help with these three items:
A funny book
A memoir
A book a friend recommended

Keep in mind that I mostly stick to YA (especially now that I only have a month left to finish these). You can look at my Goodreads page to check if I’ve already read something. Please give me your recommendations!

November Wrap-up/December TBR


Dead Ringer by Jessie Rosen
Everything but the Truth by Mandy Hubbard – Read and reviewed
Did I Mention I love You? by Estelle Maskame – Read
Inherit the Stars by Tessa Elwood – DNF 33%
Abby and the Cute One by Erin Butler – DNF 17%
Not If I See You First by Eric Lindstrom – Read and reviewed
Tarnished by Kate Jarvik Birch – Currently Reading

Things We Know by Heart by Jessi Kirby – Read and reviewed
Hello, Goodbye, and Everything in Between by Jennifer E Smith – Read and reviewed
The Boy Most Likely To by Huntley Fitzpatrick – Read and reviewed
Edenbrooke by Julianne Donaldson – Read and reviewed
Fairest by Marissa Meyer – Read
P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han – Read and reviewed
NEED by Joelle Charbonneau – Read and reviewed
The Diary of a Haunting by M. Verano – Read and reviewed
Skyscraping by Cordelia Jensen – Read
Perfected by Kate Jarvik Birch – Read
A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness – Read, review coming
The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness – Currently Reading
Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson – Read and reviewed
This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen – Read, review coming

This month I read 15 books and 1 novella. I didn’t finish 2 books.


The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald
This Song is (Not) For You by Laura Nowlin
This is Where it Ends by Marieke Nijkamp
Worlds of Ink and Shadow by Lena Coakley

The Cage by Megan Shepherd
The Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow
Now and Forever by Susane Colasanti

Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matason

Amy is responsible for getting herself and her mother’s car from their old home in Raven Rock, California to their new home in Stanwich, Connecticut. The only problem is that after the accident, Amy doesn’t drive anymore. So Amy enlists her friend’s son, Roger, to act as driver for the trip. As they embark on their cross-country roadtrip, Amy and Roger find that they are both on quests that may cause them to take a little (or not so little) detour.

7664334Another excellent Morgan Matson book! I really loved that the book focused on Amy and Roger. We got to know both characters really well–it was almost as if the reader is the third passenger in the car. You definitely are able to feel sympathetic towards both characters. All of the secondary characters were great as well! They really added flavor to the book as a whole and kept it from being one-note with just our two main characters. At the same time, they didn’t take attention away from Amy or Roger. The characters had their moment, but didn’t leave the reader feeling like we’d rather stay with them than continue on with Amy and Roger.

I also really liked the playlists and pages from Amy’s travel journal. It really added another layer to the story and was a fun addition. It added variety and helped the reader to better visualize the places that Amy and Roger were visiting. It definitely made me want to go on a cross-country roadtrip!

Overall, this was a really fun and unexpectedly deep story. Amy is dealing with things that, really, no teenager should have to deal with. I don’t necessarily agree with how she treated her mom at times, but I think in the end Amy does realize that she wasn’t quite fair to her mom all of the time. I would definitely recommend this book!

Overall Rating: 5
Language: Moderate. A few scenes with brief, strong language.
Violence: None
Sexual Content: Moderate. Sex is mentioned a few times, but nothing explicit.
Smoking/Drinking: Moderate. One secondary character has a drug problem.

In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters

Mary Shelley Black (yes, named after the author) is a girl living in 1918. World War I is being fought across the sea and the Spanish Influenza has been wreaking havoc everywhere. After her father’s arrest, Mary Shelley heads to San Diego to live with her aunt. Once there, she is thrown into a world of spirit photography. With so many dying in the war and from the flu, many are desperate for any last contact with their loved ones. Mary Shelley doesn’t believe in these spirit photographers, but strange things have been happening to make her think that maybe she should.
51PB04sp+DL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_I started reading this book right as Halloween was approaching. I wanted to read something atmospheric, but not too scary (I’m a scaredy cat). This book was so perfect for that! I loved The Cure for Dreaming by Cat Winters so I was super excited to read this one which I believe is her debut. She writes some of the most interesting historical fiction that I’ve read. She has the historical aspect, but then she also integrates some bit of the supernatural or paranormal. She takes a craze (like spirit photography or hypnotism) and makes it seem so much more real. I loved the real photographs that were scattered throughout the book. Some of them really add to the creepiness factor, but overall it was just a good reminder that even though this is fiction, people actually had to live through the Spanish Influenza Pandemic. I seriously can’t even imagine it.

Mary Shelley was a great protagonist. She was strong and smart in a time when women aren’t really supposed to be either of those things. And not only does she have those qualities, but she’s unashamed of who she is. She clearly thinks other people are idiots if they think that she’s less capable or shouldn’t be so interested in science. Here are a couple of quotes that I particularly liked regarding that:

“Why can’t a girl be smart without it being explained away as a rare supernatural phenomenon?”

“’The road ahead may be rather upsetting for a sixteen-year-old girl. I’m afraid your delicate female eyes and ears will experience some ugliness.’
‘Oh, you silly, naive men.’ I shook my weary head and genuinely pitied their ignorance. ‘You’ve clearly never been a sixteen-year-old girl in the fall of 1918.’”

She is seriously the best character. The other characters were great too. Obviously I wasn’t there, but I feel like Winters did a really good job of creating authentic characters. Mary Shelley’s aunt immediately comes to mind. She was raised to be a housewife. But when the war hits and her husband dies, she’s forced to go to work at the shipyard. She’s toughened up because of this, but there are still times when she’s a proper lady and the reader catches glimpses of that.

Overall, I thought this book was really quite good. I also love that it was set in San Diego and on Coronado Island (that’s where my husband and I went on our honeymoon!). It’s such a pretty area, and it makes a great backdrop for this story. Definitely recommend especially if you have any interest in ghost stories.

Overall Rating: 4
Language: Mild
Violence: Heavy. Some gore described, but not explicit.
Sexual Content: Moderate
Smoking/Drinking: Mild

Top Ten Tuesday: Celebrating Thanksgiving with Fictional Families


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 fictional families I’d like to celebrate Thanksgiving with

This is a fun topic! You’ll find that I use the term “family” in more of an abstract sense for some of these.

1) The Weasley family. Okay, so technically they wouldn’t even be celebrating this holiday, but can you imagine what Thanksgiving dinner would be like with this rowdy bunch? Such fun.
2) The Avery family (from Fangirl). Okay, really I just want to hang out with Cath and Levi (and maybe Wren). Their dad seems pretty cool too.
3) With Le Cirque des Reves (from The Night Circus). Not technically a family, but they might as well be. This would be the most magical Thanksgiving ever.
4) The Folchart family (from Inkheart). Obviously in this scenario Meggie and I are best friends and do everything together so of course we’d be having Thanksgiving together (with Dustfinger in attendance of course).
5) The Bennet family (from Pride and Prejudice). Another family that wouldn’t actually be celebrating Thanksgiving, but would be fun to dine with nonetheless.
6) The Garrett family (from My Life Next Door and The Boy Most Likely To). So much chaos, but also so much family and fun.
7) The royal family (from The Selection–or more precisely–The Heir). You just know you’re going to be eating some good food if you eat with these guys. As good as the main courses would be, I’d probably just go for the desserts.
8) Wish Catering (from The Truth About Forever). Everyone in this crew is so quirky but also really fun. I would LOVE to spend an evening with these folks!
9) The Covey family (from To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before). You know they’re going to have some fun Korean dishes, but most of all–KITTY. Easily the best character in the book. Also, I’m sure Lara Jean will have made some yummy baked goods for dessert. Yum.
10) The Chatham family (from Saint Anything). I know, so typical of me to have two Sarah Dessen entries on my list. I can’t help it! The Chathams would be so fun and it would be awesome to just spend the night listening to some blue grass music.

Things We Know by Heart by Jessi Kirby

Quinn’s boyfriend, Trent, died in an accident 400 days ago. He was an organ donor and Quinn has met everyone who received one of his organs except for the boy who received Trent’s heart. On this 400th day since the accident, Quinn decides it’s time to find the heart recipient. She just wants to see him. What she doesn’t want is to talk to him or interrupt his life in any way. And she DEFINITELY doesn’t want to fall in love with him.


The premise of this book was a little disturbing to me. It almost felt wrong to have the protagonist fall in love with someone who had received an organ from her boyfriend. I was ready to feel a little creeped out and thought that the plot probably wouldn’t be very realistic. I’ll admit, I was wrong. Okay, okay, there was a little bit of insta-love going on. But besides that, the rest of the book seemed very real and plausible. Quinn did struggle with her feelings. She felt that maybe what she was feeling was a little wrong and betraying her boyfriend in a way. But she worked through it in a very realistic way and in a way that I could buy and feel comfortable with as a reader.

There was drama, obviously, but again, it wasn’t too over-the-top. The reader definitely can anticipate/predict some of the things that are going to happen throughout the entire book, but at the same time I wouldn’t say that the book is predictable in an unpleasant way. I liked seeing Quinn’s relationship with her family. Her dad, sister, and grandma in particular. I love just seeing that kind of dynamic in books because it makes characters seem more real to me.

Overall, this book was fun and romantic, but there was a darker, more serious undercurrent running throughout the book as well. You really get the whole array of feels and I think that’s what makes this book standout when compared to some other YA contemporary romances. I’m definitely interested in looking into some other titles by this author.

Overall Rating: 5
Language: Mild
Violence: None
Sexual Content: Mild. One scene in particular, not explicit.
Smoking/Drinking: Mild

Not If I See You First by Eric Lindstrom

Parker Grant is blind, but she doesn’t want your pity. She can do things for herself perfectly fine thank you very much. If you can’t handle her blunt way of talking, then too bad for you–she’s not about to hold your hand and stroke your ego. Parker wasn’t always like this, but when the person closest to her betrayed her, she turned into someone else. Now, he’s back and Parker has to decide how she feels about him and what he did to her.

22701879After reading both this book and All the Light We Cannot See, I feel that I have a better understanding of people who are blind. They’re not as helpless as one would imagine–they are definitely still capable people. I appreciated being given that perspective. That being said, this book was really just okay for me. First off, Parker isn’t actually that likable as a character. I feel like there’s a difference between being blunt and being rude and Parker was often just downright rude to other people. She jumps to conclusions and makes unfair assumptions about people. Her aunt, uncle, and cousins for example. She assumes that they decided to move in with her after her father dies because the house is nicer than the one they had. It’s not an immediate thought that maybe they moved and uprooted their lives for her. To help her out.

The plot of the book was pretty subtle–this book is definitely more character driven. We really get to examine different types of relationships. Parker has three notable friends: one has been her friend forever, one was really good friends with her when they were little but they’ve grown apart now, and one is a new friend. It’s interesting to see the different dynamics between the girls. At the same time, they’re all able to come together and offer different types of support when Parker needs it. I liked that this book portrayed Parker’s female friends as really positive influences instead of having them be catty and stuff like that.

Overall, the book was okay. I just end up feeling kind of “meh” about it and I think a lot of that has to do with me not really caring for Parker as a character.

Overall Rating: 3
Language: Heavy
Violence: Mild. Nothing explicit.
Sexual Content: None
Smoking/Drinking: Mild

Note: I won an early copy of this book from the NOVL Newsletter and also received an ARC copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Everything But the Truth by Mandy Hubbard [ARC]

Charles Buchanan (one of the richest men in the world) has moved into Sunrise House–the ritziest and most glamorous retirement home in Seattle. His grandson Malik visits him regularly. Holly is also often at Sunrise House because she lives there with her mom, the manager. When Malik and Holly meet, they really hit it off. Everything’s going well, except for the small fact that Malik thinks Holly’s there to visit her rich grandmother. And he thinks Holly’s name is Lucy.


This book was really surprising because I didn’t expect to like it as much as I did. It’s not perfect, by any means, but I was expecting the book and overall story line to be much more shallow than it actually was.

Let’s start off with the fact that I LOVE that it’s set in Seattle–my hometown. I loved reading about Alki Beach, Lake Washington, Gas Works Park, and Pike Place Market. Since I’m so familiar with the area, it was really easy to place the characters in the setting. The author is from the Seattle area herself so everything is pretty accurate, but I did have a couple of minor issues–I know I’m splitting hairs here, but I can’t help it! First, WSU. Sorry, but my blood runs purple and gold (both my parents graduated from UW and both of my siblings were also students). So the fact that our main character was going there? Not a fan. Second, (and this is so minor, I know) at the end of the book Holly mentions how she’s been at school for a couple of weeks and her friend Alex (who’s going to UW) is going to call to update her on her classes. Sorry, but the timing doesn’t work out there. WSU has semesters and starts classes at the beginning of September or the end of August. Meanwhile, UW has quarters and doesn’t start classes until the end of September (or beginning of October even). So…Alex wouldn’t be in classes yet. This book was just so close to being accurate! I was just disappointed.

Anyway, I know no one else cares about that kind of thing except for me so let’s get onto the book. As a reader, I experienced the typical agony that comes when two characters just won’t communicate with each other. Half of the book I was screaming at Holly, “JUST TELL HIM!!!” If she did, though, there would be less drama and tension, so I get it. Malik seemed like a good guy, but he was maybe a little too reformed? He had a troubled past and I find it hard to believe that there wasn’t any of that left in him. Lastly, the secondary characters were pretty great. I liked the senior citizens that were in the book (Charles and Henrietta) because I felt like it added a depth to the cast that a lot of books don’t have.

Overall, I was definitely surprised this book! It reminded me of home which was nice and the characters were all pretty believable. Even though I wouldn’t say this book had that much depth to it, I still had fun reading a clean and pleasantly predictable YA romance.

Overall Rating: 3
Language: None
Violence: None
Sexual Content: None
Smoking/Drinking: Mild. Mention of drunk driving.

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

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Quotes


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

“‘Doesn’t look like much, does he?’ murmurs Frederick. ‘Hardly a couple of ounces of feathers and bones. But that bird can fly to Africa and back. Powered by bugs and worms and desire.’” – All the Light We Cannot See

“In any moment, there were so many chances for paths to cross and people to clash, come together, or do any number of things in between. It was amazing we could live at all, knowing all that could occur purely by chance.” – Saint Anything

“We are thickly layered, page lying upon page, behind simple covers. And love – it is not the book itself, but the binding.” – Honey, Baby, Sweetheart

“No one gets something for nothing. We all should know better.” – NEED

“He sweeps his paddle out in a wide arc, and the soft-blue glow appears again, somehow more special now because of why it happens. Because when these tiny little things are afraid, they shine.” – Things We Know by Heart

“Maybe the world isn’t full of signs so much as it’s full of people trying to use whatever evidence they can find to convince themselves of what they hope to be true.” – Hello, Goodbye, and Everything in Between

“’You’re alive, Bod. That means you have infinite potential. You can do anything, make anything, dream anything. If you can change the world, the world will change. Potential. Once you’re dead, it’s gone. Over. You’ve made what you’ve made, dreamed your dream, written your name. You may be buried here, you may even walk. But that potential is finished.’” – The Graveyard Book

“The thing is that people only get hurt—really hurt—when they’re trying to play it safe. That’s when people get injured, when they pull back at the last second because they’re scared. They hurt themselves and other people.” – Second Chance Summer

“’It’s not about winning or losing, really,’” he’s saying. “’It’s just the showing up every day. It’s stepping up to the plate and whiffing, and then doing it over and over again, whether you get a hit or not. It’s getting up every morning and failing and being disappointed and getting beat up and being let down, and then doing it all over again the next day.’” – The Comeback Season

“We were all survivors—every last one of us who limped our way out to the sidewalks that afternoon and spit in Death’s cold face.” – In the Shadow of Blackbirds

NEED by Joelle Charbonneau

Over winter break a new social media site crops up exclusively for students of Nottawa High School in Wisconsin. It asks one question: What do you need?
Okay. This book was seriously trippy. Throughout the book, the reader has this unsettling feeling. Who is behind NEED? What is their endgame? Why are they doing this? You’re just asking yourself these questions the whole time and that fact that I had no idea who or why really creeped me out. Overall this story really reminded me of the short story Button, Button by Richard Matheson (or the movie The Box based on the same story). If you like books about human psychology and human nature and that kind of thing, I think you’ll like this.

Our initial (and primary) narrator is Kaylee whose brother needs a kidney transplant. The book uses several different narrators to tell the story and that can definitely get confusing–I found it difficult to remember who was who especially since some narrators only have two or three chapters. Even though it was difficult to keep names straight, I thought the book really benefited from having so many different perspectives. Obviously no two people are going to react to this website the same way. Some people just like getting “free” stuff, some people don’t think it’s worth it, some people have real needs that they’re hoping to get, and some people just like doing the tasks. It was also really interesting because none of the characters new how their tasks were connected, but as the reader we can see more of the bigger picture and can anticipate how things might turn out.

Charbonneau was really able to create this great atmosphere by setting the story over winter break. It’s cold outside, there’s snow on the ground–really it feels like anything could happen and you wouldn’t be surprised. It also creates the feeling that the people of this town can’t escape or get away. It’s too difficult to really drive anywhere with the snow on the ground so everyone is essentially trapped.

Overall, I thought this book was really good. There were a few things that I didn’t quite enjoy which is why it didn’t get five stars. The ending was a little weird…But even with that, I would definitely recommend it. It’s so different from The Testing series, it’s honestly amazing that it came from the same author. The book definitely had an overall message: You can’t get something for nothing. There are always consequences.

Overall Rating: 4
Language: None (that I remember at least)
Violence: Heavy. No overly explicit descriptions.
Sexual Content: Mild
Smoking/Drinking: Mild