Welcome to a California Summer | June Wrap-Up & TBR Update

You guys. Where we’re at in California is SO HOT. We’ve been told that if you can survive July and August then you’ll make it, but I’m all like JUNE HAS BEEN UPPER 90s/LOW 100s EVERY DAY SO HOW COULD JULY AND AUGUST BE WORSE. Guess we’ll see.

monthly tbr

Also read/reading:

Books finished this month: 4 (with 2 DNFs)
Books currently reading: 3

Man, I really need to get back on track with my ARCs.

Overall TBR:

TBR at the beginning of the year = 383
TBR at the beginning of June = 460
Books added to TBR = 18
Books read/deleted from TBR = 6
Total on TBR now = 472

How did your reading go this month?
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9 Best NetGalley Reads

I’ve been blogging for a while now and have requested MANY books from NetGalley. Over that amount of time, I’ve read quite a few duds unfortunately. That being said, I’ve also read some AMAZING books and have been introduced to some great authors and series as well.

Favorite NetGalley Reads

Here are nine of my favorite reads that I got approved for on NetGalley. I’ll just include a quick TL;DR review for each title with a link for my full review (so you’ll get to see some of my OG reviews haha).

180 Seconds by Jessica Park – Subtly diverse characters created an authentic atmosphere for our main character to develop realistically with her mental health.

Full Review

Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin – Action, action, action with likable characters. You’ll start reading for the motorcycle race and you’ll keep reading for Yael.

Full Review

Invictus by Ryan Graudin – The most realistic time travel I’ve ever seen with super likable characters that just make the book so much deeper and more emotional.

Full Review

Iron Cast by Destiny Soria – This book had such a great atmosphere and the two main characters are seriously #friendshipgoals.

Full Review

Don’t Date Rosa Santos by Nina Moreno – This book will make you wish you had an abuela. The Cuban culture is so authentic throughout that it makes my heart hurt.

Full Review

Little White Lies by Jennifer Lynn Barnes – The main character is tough as nails and I like how the book focused on her development as a character and her relationship with the women in her family instead of some rando boy.

Full Review

You Were Here by Cori McCarthy – The variety in the chapters was really fun despite the heavy topics explored in this book.

Full Review

Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine – An amazing start to a great series with a fantastic cast of diverse characters and evil librarians. Highly recommend this whole series.

Full Review

You’d Be Mine by Erin Hahn – Flawed main characters have a surprising amount of depth. The author did a great job of creating emotion when I wasn’t expecting it.

Full Review

I ate so much toast while reading this book | The Rest of the Story by Sarah Dessen

The Rest of the StoryEmma Saylor has never really spent time with her mom’s family (except for that one Summer when she was four, but she doesn’t really remember that). But when all other options fall through, Emma finds herself heading to Calvander’s–the motel on the lake that her mom’s family owns and operates. As she arrives and the Summer progresses, Emma (or Saylor as her mom’s family calls her) finds out things she never knew about her mother and herself.

TL;DR – Another great Summer read from Sarah Dessen. It doesn’t blow your socks off, but it’s comfortable and the new setting of the lake is fun and I can’t wait to see what else she does with it in the future.

Purchase: Kindle | Hardcover

While this book isn’t going to break into my top five Sarah Dessen books, I still found it enjoyable. Saylor (or Emma) is a likable character even if she’s quite similar to past Dessen protagonists. She battles with identity in the form of her name throughout the book (reminiscent of McLean in What Happened to Goodbye) but I’ll refer to her just as Saylor throughout the rest of the review. I liked the cast of secondary characters even if some felt mildly superfluous (Taylor, April, and Vincent). I might be wrong, but I think this is our first Dessen protagonist who has a large extended family? That we get to see anyway. And I liked that dynamic. I’m someone who comes from large extended families on both sides, so I enjoyed seeing the cousin interactions. I didn’t always love Bailey (she’s pretty self-centered) and we don’t see a ton of Jack, but I loved Trinity. I thought she was a really fun and dynamic character and I would have loved more interactions between her and Saylor. I also thought Gordon was extremely precious and I wanted more of her as well.

As for the characters on the Emma side of things, her friends Bridget and Ryan, again, seemed mildly superfluous. I love that Dessen’s characters usually have strong female friendships, but this time that was mostly shown through the cousins instead of Saylor’s school friends. Tracy was nice enough and I like that she didn’t try to insert herself into things. Nana rocked. I thought she was going to be stuffy and annoying, but she’s actually the best. Saylor’s dad however…I had such a hard time with him for 95% of the book. I never felt like I totally understood his perspective and some of his actions completely enraged me. That being said, I still felt like he was a good guy and I was glad that Saylor had a good father in her life.

I’m realizing now that this is like three paragraphs on characters when I usually just do one, but there were a ton of characters and this book was seriously character driven. Anyway, here we go: Roo. I liked Roo as a person–I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I love how almost all of Dessen’s romantic leads are GOOD GUYS. Like seriously, just nice boys. So from that perspective, I really liked Roo and I liked that Roo and Saylor had history. However, I don’t feel like we got to see Roo and Saylor spend much time with each other. In contrast, in The Truth About Forever (my ultimate Sarah Dessen fave), Macy and Wes spend a TON of time together and the reader gets to see it. But because of how busy Roo always was among the other things that Saylor was dealing with, they didn’t spend that much time together. So while I still bought their relationship, I didn’t feel super invested in it.

Lastly, I’ll just go over a few minor things that bugged or didn’t make sense. There was a lot of reflecting and introspection in this book. Like, Saylor would be out on the porch reflecting on an experience she’d had earlier with Mimi or something. But like…why not just write the scene? Why have it be a flashback? With all of the reflecting and such, the timeline seemed really screwy. I would be reading and think that an entire week had passed only to find out that it had been like…two days. Another thing is that I don’t understand why Calvander’s is so short staffed? I mean, it’s the Summer so it seems like they’d have at least two seasonal hires (which they’ve had in the past). I think maybe that should have been explained. Even if Mimi was just like, “Oh, we couldn’t get anybody this year!” Something like that. Another random thing is that I felt really confused by the Sergeant. Like, why did he even “exist” as a character? We literally never see anything from him but that dang toaster! Anyway, I just found him to be very confusing. The last thing is that I was EXTREMELY disappointed in the number of cameos in this book. I know that none of our previous characters have visited the lake before, but that doesn’t mean they can’t visit it now!

In the end, I still really enjoyed this book even if it’s not quite a top five for me. It’s still a solid Dessen book and I really enjoyed the new setting that she’s created with the lake. I’m excited to see what she does with it in the future. Definitely would recommend!

Overall Rating: 4
Language: Moderate
Violence: None
Smoking/Drinking: Moderate
Sexual Content: None

17 Best Book Deals for 6/27/19: Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, Swing Time, The Eyre Affair, and more

As of this posting, all of these deals are active, but I don’t know for how long!
Less than $1

Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova

The Forgotten Guide to Happiness by Sophie Jenkins

Less than $2

Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel by Sara Farizan

Swing Time by Zadie Smith

The Tiger’s Wife by Téa Obreht

Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel

Fear the Drowning Deep by Sarah Glenn Marsh

The Door in the Hedge: And Other Stories by Robin McKinley

The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde

Less than $3

Isaac’s Storm: A Man, A Time, and the Deadliest Hurricane in History by Erik Larson

The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang

Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin

Something Blue by Emily Giffin

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

We Set the Dark on Fire by Tehlor Kay Mejia

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford

Circling the Sun by Paula McLain

On Slow and Steady Blog Growth | My Book Blogging Journey

Hello everyone! Some of you have been on this journey with me since practically the beginning, but I think most of you are pretty new (to me, at least). I’ve officially been a book blogger since March 2015 which means I’ve been doing this for almost 4.5 years (yikes). I originally started my blog because I was at a time in my life when I was reading A TON of books, but not retaining much about them. I had just graduated with my undergrad and was working part-time, but my husband was still in school/doing homework, so I had a lot of free time on my hands (thus the much reading).

I was frustrated that I would read a book, but then couldn’t remember anything about it. So I started this blog so I could have a place for my reviews and could hopefully remember more about what I was reading. I had (briefly) run a personal blog before this (super embarrassing and long deleted) so I sort of knew what I was doing, but not really.

My blogging journey since then has had a lot of ups and downs. I would go through spurts where I would post EVERY DAY (sometimes more than once) but then others where I wouldn’t post for weeks. This is what my yearly blog stats currently look like:

Yearly

2016 was clearly my most productive year, but that’s also when I started Library School and I had to do blog posts for some of my classes. Thus, a lot of those views are actually from classmates and don’t really count since, you know, they were doing it for a grade.

My next (and biggest) dip came right after I had my baby in April 2018. Some of you might remember that he came 5.5 weeks early and then we promptly moved up to live with my parents in Seattle for an internship. That summer was a HUGE dip in reading and blogging and it’s been hard to get back in a rhythm since. As soon as I whip out a book, my baby MUST come over and see what I’m doing, so it’s been harder to get reading time in. Despite that, in the beginning of 2019 I recommitted to this blog.

But then, life happens again. Another turbulent April. My grandmother unexpectedly passed away, we had three weddings around that time as well, plus my husband was graduating from Grad School, and then the next month I was trying to wrap everything up at work since we were moving to a completely different state…it was a lot.

Now we’re here. Life has calmed down significantly as we find our new rhythm in California and as I figure out what it’s like to be a full-time stay-at-home mom. I’m hoping to be able to dedicate time to reading and this blog again on a more consistent basis (fitting blogging and reading in at naptime/bedtime).

From a mildly seasoned blogger, I just want to convey the message that it’s okay if your blog isn’t growing as fast as you want it to or think it should. I cannot count the number of posts I’ve seen where someone is like, “OMG I’ve been blogging for 6 months and just hit 1,000 followers thxsomuch!!!” Which is fine, good for them. Honestly, I have no idea how they do it. I’ve been blogging for years and currently have 918 followers–at least half of which I’m SURE are either bots or inactive accounts. Here’s a look at my monthly views since this blog’s inception:

Monthly

So if you’re a new (or old) blogger and you feel like things aren’t happening for you just…don’t get discouraged, okay? Remember why you started your blog in the first place. It’s a journey and it can be frustrating, but in the end you started your blog for a reason and I’ve found significant comfort in regrounding myself in that reason.

I have no idea how my stats compare to other blogs, but those are real numbers and I’m only looking to compare my blog to where I’ve been in the past. This June has been looking much better than last June, so that’s enough for me.

5 Best Reality TV Shows for the Summer

This is a departure from my usual, I know, but in addition to reading books, I also love watching TV! My husband and I have a few reality TV shows that we especially love to watch over the Summer.

Best Summer Reality TV

The Amazing Race

If you love traveling but you’re also broke (it me) then this is a show for you! You get to see a ton of cool places while the contestants travel and their challenges are also fun to watch. Their current season is about to wrap up, but if you have time and want to get a CBS All Access subscription (I know, it’s annoying) then you can watch all the back seasons as well as this current one. I liked this current season especially because the contestant were past Amazing Race teams as well as teams from previous Survivor and Big Brother seasons. Which brings me to…

Big Brother

CBS just does reality TV right (we’re also HUGE Survivor fans). The new Big Brother season starts TONIGHT. Since we don’t actually have real TV, we’ll be watching it tomorrow, so no spoilers! I was actually surprised when my husband got into Big Brother too. He already liked Survivor and The Amazing Race, but I thought he’d think Big Brother was dumb since it’s so much more about the social drama. Much to my delight, he’s just as into it as I am! I LOVE the drama and the social politics and it always gives me such pleasure when people are super petty when voting for the winner at the end. Karma, baby.

America’s Got Talent

I’ve been sort of in and out with AGT the past few seasons, but this Summer, I’m solidly in. I really love Terry Crews and I’m excited for all of the fun dance/magic/comedy/variety acts that they have this year.

Songland

Who else has been watching this gem? It’s new this year and my husband and I have been LOVING IT. It’s fascinating to see the transformation that songs go through from conception to being recorded by an artist. I really hope this show comes back next summer because it’s amazing!

So You Think You Can Dance

My OG Summer obsession…seriously though, I went to the Season 4 live tour and had their poster in my room (aka I liked tWitch before he became Ellen’s DJ). I’m SO glad that they don’t have Vanessa Anne Hudgens back as a judge this year and I hope that D-Trix isn’t just a judge for the auditions. I love the new audition stage plus the 360 cameras. The live show format has changed over time, so I’ll be interested to see what they do this year. I liked last season where the contestants got paired up with each other as in the OG seasons, so I hope they do that again.

What TV shows are you watching this Summer? What are some of your favorite shows in general? Let me know in the comments! And if you want to talk about any of these shows I AM HERE FOR IT.

This book was a ticking time bomb | Happy Messy Scary Love by Leah Konen [ARC]

Happy Messy Scary LoveOlivia loves horror movies and wants to be a horror screenwriter one day. Unfortunately, she sabotaged herself when she was applying for a prestigious NYU screenwriting summer program so now she’s left with nothing to do over the summer except hang out at her family’s cabin. At least she has her Reddit pen pal to keep her company. She thinks that’s the plan until her mom surprises her with a summer job at a ziplining company knowing full well that Olivia is TERRIFIED of heights. Not only that, but now her Reddit pen pal wants to swap photos. And the summer is only beginning.

TL;DR – So many lies that were easily avoidable and are just not going to end well for anyone involved.

I’m just going to start by saying that I felt like I was too old for this book. There were so many times when I was face palming at Olivia’s poor choices. Now, part of the problem is that this is a book so you KNOW certain things are going to happen. Ordinarily, I might not have had much of a problem with Olivia sending a picture of her friend Katie to Elm, but since this is a book you know that she and Elm WILL meet in real life and that Katie WILL also show up at some point. The same applies to other decisions made throughout the book.

The characters were just okay for me. I didn’t find Olivia to be a super sympathetic main character (perhaps because of all of her poor choices) and Jake wasn’t really a compelling love interest. Their relationship would have been a lot more fun if Jake knew that Olivia was Carrie from the beginning, but then of course we wouldn’t have had a story. Olivia’s parents/aunt were kind of non-characters? I mean, they were there and every once in a while would play a role, but honestly they could’ve been any nondescript adult character. Same with the other employees at the ziplining company–they could’ve all just been “generic summer camp employees”. Katie at times was a really great and supportive friend for Olivia, but then at other times she was TERRIBLE. I wasn’t convinced by their friendship–they both seemed pretty selfish and I don’t actually see how their friendship works.

The plot wasn’t wholly original, like I said, there were many things that you KNEW were going to happen. So while this book was still a ticking time bomb (waiting for all of Olivia’s lies to catch up with her) the book still lacked suspense. You KNOW that Jake is going to find out everything and waiting for the “when” isn’t super suspenseful. One thing I didn’t like is that there was no acknowledgement of how Jake might feel being torn between two girls (Carrie and Olivia). Even though the reader knows they’re the same person, he doesn’t, so I feel like that should have played into it more. Like, he should have had more conflict hanging out with Olivia or he should have been pulling away from Carrie or something like that. Also, it’s ridiculous that Olivia based many of her screenplay characters on her coworkers and then sent it to Jake expecting him not to recognize anyone? Like, come on.

Overall, this book was just pretty meh for me. It took me a lot longer to get through it than it should have. I liked the setting and the overall premise was fine, but don’t be expecting any surprises, because there are none.

Overall Rating: 3
Language: Moderate
Violence: Mild
Smoking/Drinking: Mild
Sexual Content: None

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