Saturday, May 30, 2015

Quarterly Wrap-Up (January-April)

Here are all the books I've read in the months of January through April. It's obvious that school and life took up a lot of my time, but I've read A LOT in May!

Have you read any of these books? What were your thoughts? Let me know down below in the comments.:)

Thursday, May 28, 2015

My True Love Gave to Me Anthology

My True Love Came to Me Anthology

3.31 stars (basically 3 stars)

Yes, I’m uploading a review for a Christmas anthology in the summer. Which is slightly insane, but I love Christmas and I was only three stories into the anthology by the time holiday season cheer and the longing for New Year passed. I decided to keep reading this anthology throughout these months and I’ve done a horrible job of it. I have been reading this book for six months. I’m a horrible e-reader, but I am a student so I can’t be blame for these faults. I was incredibly excited when I received this book from St. Martin’s Press on Netgalley. 1) St. Martin’s Press is a huge publisher and I’m not well-known in the scope of blogging, reviewing, or the Internet so I was shocked to have been approved by them. 2) Some of my all-time favorite authors grace this anthology (Laini Taylor and Gayle Forman). 3) There are some really popular YA authors featured in here, which is a good marketing ploy. While this anthology is full of Christmas spirit it also doesn’t have a lot of stories that blew me away. Some of the stories are cute, but not fleshed out enough to feel like a concrete story worth a high rating. Like always with anthology reviews, I’ll discuss each short story in this reading process. 

Midnight by Rainbow Rowell
4 stars
This story is about two friends who meet at a New Year’s Party and it has paved their relationship through high school, now that they are both in college everything feels different. This one was just really cute and fluffy. Nothing amazing happens, but Rowell’s jokes and humor are reminiscent of Fangirl while holding down a strong vibe for each of these characters.
Recommend it: Yes, I think it’s a solid short story full of humor and the characters are decently fleshed out in a short amount of time.
Interested in Author’s Works: I have read Fangirl and liked it (I know I don’t love it like the rest of the human population. Oops…). I definitely do plan on reading Rowell’s other works because I like her humor and the easy contemporary feel to her writing.

The Lady and the Fox by Kelly Link
2.5 stars
I’m honestly not sure how to describe this short story, but I’ll try my best. Basically, Miranda spends the holidays at this fancy-smancy house with some rich friends. She is poor, but has always been close to the son of the host. She’s standing outside and she sees this guy (I think he was sitting on the fence or tree, not sure, but it was something weird). He is basically a slave to a lady due to a curse. A lot of weird stuff happened in this story in a short amount of time. I’m honestly not sure how to explain any of it. I enjoyed reading it, but there wasn’t enough depth or closure to this short story. I also think that the plot needed to be fleshed out a bit more because was just confused throughout most of the story.
Recommend it: No, I think you could pass on this story and it wouldn’t hinder you from missing out on something great. I do think if you are a fan of witches that this would probably be a very entertaining read.
Interested in Author’s Works: I’ve actually never heard of Kelly Link before and I’m honestly not itching to dive into her full-length novels anytime soon.

Angels in the Snow by Matt de la Pena
3.5 stars
This story is about a poor Mexican boy house sitting and ends up meeting a girl in the apartment complex worth spending Christmas with. This is actually really cute, but the writing felt a little bit off. I also didn’t feel like the characters were fleshed out enough. One second they weren’t sure about each other and the next it was like a Nicholas Sparks scene from The Notebook.
Recommend it: Yes, I think it’s a solid read. It will keep you entertained and if you are a fan of contemporary, then this will probably be something you don’t want to pass up.
Interested in Author’s Works: Maybe. If something of his is praised to me then I would definitely consider giving it a shot.

Polaris is Where You’ll Find Me by Jenny Hahn
4.5 stars
This is the story about a girl who was adopted by Santa Clause and has to deal with her love for an elf. It is so cute! This story reminded me so much of Elf, but with a female protagonist.

These elves are also tall, super tall. So, of course, our heroine will get feelings for one of these hunky toy makers. I wish this story was a novel because I would definitely read it. Plus it was a cliff hanger. Jenny Hahn, I’m expecting your next novel to be about elves and Christmas!
Recommend it: YASSSSS!
If this brief summary of my feels isn’t enough to convince that a story about a girl who lives at the North Pole and is in love with an elf, then I don’t know what will.
Interested in Author’s Works: I am actually a pretty big fan of the Burn for Burn trilogy (which I still haven’t completed) and am interested in reading most of her titles. I really enjoy her writing style and her story telling abilities.

It’s a Yuletide Christmas, Charlie Brown by Stephanie Perkins
4.25 stars
This is about a girl who loves to make videos (animation, if I remember correctly) and has been stalking a hunk at a Christmas tree lot because of his voice. This story was really deep. I wasn’t expecting this story to take the turns it did at all, but I really liked that it did. It’s funny, adorable, but it is also really home-hitting with deep, personal topics. Plus this couple had the funniest banter.
Recommend it: I think I definitely would! If you want a cute contemporary with dark topics sprinkled in, this is probably something you will really enjoy.
Interested in Author’s Works: I have actually started (and never finished) Anna and the French Kiss. I intend to and I think I may actually enjoy it once I give it another shot if it’s similar to this!

Your Temporary Santa by David Levithan
2 stars
This is about a boy pretending to be Santa to surprise his boyfriend’s younger sister, but he runs into a few snags. The writing was good and I enjoyed the quirky thoughts and laughable scenes sprinkled into this one, but the story was really boring and lacked something that would give it the spark that some of these stories had.
Recommend it: Not really. If you are a fan of Levithan, then yes. Otherwise you won’t be missing anything.
Interested in Author’s Works: Surprisingly, yes. Mainly because I’ve had a few books of his recommended to me and they are popular.

Krampuslauf by Holly Black
3 stars
Krampuslauf is this popular Pagan holiday and in the town the story is set in there is this big parade in honor of this horrifying god. The main character and her two best friends are plotting against this rich guy who has been leading on her best friend (cheating, but the friend is the other woman). The main character has this weird tendency to make up fake things, names, and stories. Her recent fake boyfriend was Joachim. Then demons gods enter the picture and this story just gets intense. This story was really cool. I loved the concept, but I wasn’t in love with it enough to be able to fly through it. Something about this short story was off. Besides from it being overtly weird, I did enjoy it. I did not enjoy it enough to rate it super high.
Recommend it: Yes, give this story a shot because the plot is really good, I just wasn’t a fan of the writing style/ execution.
Interested in Author’s Works: Yes and I think I may enjoy Holly Black’s longer works instead of short stories, but this has definitely made me excited to give her a go!

What the Hell Have You Done, Sophie Roth? by Gayle Forman
3.5 stars
This is about a Jewish girl stuck in a really small and boring town because of college. At a Christmas concert she meets this handsome black boy who gives her one of the best nights of her life. I really have to hand to Gayle Forman for using diverse characters stuck in a town full of white people. It made this story different because of that. I love Gayle Forman, that is no surprise, but I didn’t love this story. That actually makes me want to cry because I’m saying I didn’t love something Forman wrote, but I did enjoy it. This story left me wanting more. It had a lot going for it, but towards the end the writing and plot became jilted and ended because I assume it was becoming too long.
Recommend it: I recommend anything Gayle Forman writes, even if I wasn’t in love with this story that doesn’t mean you won’t be.
Interested in Author’s Works: I think it’s obvious I’m a fan girl of Gayle Forman and I only have two novels and a novella left to read by her.

Beer Buckets and Baby Jesus by Myra McEntire
2.5 stars
This is about a boy whose pranks have finally landed him in big trouble and he’s working at the Christmas play as a way of saying sorry. This story is like A Walk to Remember.

Which happens to be one of my favorite movies ever and if Nicholas Sparks wasn’t also the creator of The Notebook it would be my favorite Sparks movie. While the appeal of the bad boy and pastor’s daughter is very present, it was also not nearly as romantic or beautiful. The story was weird because the events that messed up the play were just so random and out there, but it was an entertaining read.
Recommend it: Maybe, but if you want pastor’s daughter + bad boy then just go watch A Walk to Remember. You can thank me later. ;)

Welcome to Christmas, CA by Kiersten White
4 stars
This story is about a Mexican (Yay diversity!) girl stuck in a very nowhere town in California called Christmas. She works at a diner that her mom’s boyfriend (who she dislikes) owns and one day a cook worthy of magical cooking skills changes her whole mindset. This story is cute. Christmas sounds like it would be a great place for me to get food and I’m all down for that. The protagonist was frustrating and kind of a bitch, but she was just a standoffish person and there’s nothing wrong with that. Twilight jokes about vampires watching you sleep being okay are not funny (and they never will be).
Recommend it: Yes, I think it’s a really adorable story that is worth the read.
Interested in Author’s Works: Her Paranormalcy series sounds super cute so I’ll be giving that a shot sometime in my life.

Star of Bethlehem by Ally Carter
1 star
This is about a girl who gives away her plane ticket to New York to a complete stranger and goes to her destination, which turns out to be a farm in the middle of nowhere with a hunk who has a pretty cool family. This story is just too stupid and childish. I know some people will probably think it’s adorable, but I’m not one of those people. I feel maybe one star is harsh, but then I think about how many times I rolled my eyes while reading and I don’t feel that way anymore. The story is cheesy and melodramatic. This was like reading a horrible Disney TV movie. I’m just not impressed.
Recommend it: No.
Interested in Author’s Work: Yes and I’m probably going to regret it if her writing is as immature and insipid as this story. I guess we’ll find out.

The Girl Who Woke the Dreamer by Laini Taylor
5 stars *Laini Taylor always gets all the stars*
This is how you write a short story, people! Laini Taylor is one of my favorite authors ever and even her short
stories deliver beautiful plots, sublime writing, and fantastic, whimsical characters. This story follows a girl named Neve who is an orphan. On the island she lives there is a very complex system of dystopian like qualities. The minister of the town gives sermons that equivalent Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God. On December 1, courting season begins. A man will offer you a gift on your porch and if you accept a courtship, the man leaves a gift on your porch every day until Christmas Eve. Neve is not happy to be the minister’s next wife and possibly the fourth tombstone in a line in the cemetery. She calls out to the Dreamer, a name that is forbidden, summoning a true god. This story is amazing. I basically highlighted all of it because it is perfection. So here are all of the quotes that gave me feels. You’re welcome.
"She talked to herself all the time now; she used her voice to slice the heavy air into strips so it wouldn’t smother her.”

“Live bitter, so the crows will have no taste for you when you’re dead.”

“That was how it worked: You woke on the first of December to find- or not find- a token of affection on the porch. A paper cone of sweets or a whittled bird or a posey, maybe. To reject the suit, you left a dead flower in the spot for the fellow to find the next night. Acceptance was tacit. You did nothing, just rose each morning to see what your future husband had left for you, twenty-four days in a row until the Christmas Eve gather in Scarman’s Hall. That’s where the couples came together under a lacework of paper snowflakes and frosted lamps and sealed their fates with a dance. You set your hand in his and that was it: contract sealed with the clamminess of a girl’s despairing sweat.”

“She was the goddess of… herself. And he could not look away from her.”

“He was dragon and bird and wolf and orchid and lightning bolt- and he was man, too. A thousand facets, he was like a jewel of infinite dimensions.”

“She had woken the Dreamer, and now it was her turn to wake.”

Basically, the moral of this story is that Laini Taylor is the true goddess here.
Recommend it:Read it, now! Behold the amazingness that Laini Taylor exudes. I mean I guess it’s worth reading.
Interested in Author’s Works: The Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy is an all-time favorite of mine. It’s one of my favorite YA trilogies ever.

I recommend giving this anthology a shot. Mainly because it has Laini Taylor in it, but I think it’s a decent short story collection.

Cover Thoughts: I love the cover. It features each of the couples from the stories in the anthology and I think that it’s absolutely adorable. The UK cover is absolutely stunning though.

Thank you, Netgalley and St. Martin's Press for providing me with a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.
Have you read this anthology? What were thoughts? Do you plan on reading it? Let me know down below in the comments!

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Unwept by Tracy and Laura Hickman (DNF Review)

Welcome to another addition of Sarah is a busy person who never writes reviews or blogs. I'm so sorry I'm always absent, but this summer I hope to be around more.

18490661Unwept by Tracy and Laura Hickman

First in the Nightbirds series

2 stars (DNF)

Ellis finds herself amidst a strange town with no recollection of who she is or what is going on around. Something feels off in the town she finds herself in and she can’t help, but feel as if she’s inside a nightmare. I was incredibly excited when I was approved for this on Netgalley because 1) the cover is absolutely gorgeous, 2) the summary is intriguing, and 3) it seemed like a book I would love. Sadly I didn’t even make it to the 50% mark of Unwept. I found myself enjoying the opening chapter. I thought it was creepy and the dream sequence left me feeling excited for more. This feeling quickly left me feeling unsatisfied. The tone of Unwept is very uncertain and while I don’t mind this tone I don’t like the feeling of being trapped while reading and that’s exactly how I felt. I felt like the opening chapter- trapped in a coffin and it was as if I couldn’t get out. I quickly began to dislike the book because the town felt like one giant coffin. I also didn’t understand the dual point-of-view aspect that was slowly thrown in. I wasn’t sure if this was because there are two authors and they wanted to take a gander at writing from different perspectives, but whatever the real reason behind it is- I don’t care. This book is as dull as the characters introduced. The characters are talking pieces of cardboard who exhibit no sign of emotion; even the main character who should be the most interesting character in the story. I DNFed and I’m sadly disappointed. Maybe one day I will give this another shot, but it seems very unlikely.

Cover Thoughts: This is another case of beautiful cover, crappy content. This cover is just so gorgeous. I love it. 

Thank you, Netgalley and Tor Books for allowing me the chance to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Have you read this novel? What were your thoughts on it if so? Have you read any disappointed reads lately? Let me know down below!

Friday, May 1, 2015

Flynn Fest- Gone Girl, Dark Places, & Sharp Objects

I'm incredibly behind on reviews and I'm not always in the writing mood because of all the essays I've been currently writing. Do not fear! I have three reviews right now for three fantastic Gillian Flynn novels, but it's a video!


Have you read any of Flynn's novels? Do you plan on reading any? Have you seen Gone Girl's movie adaptation? Let me know down below in the comments.:D

Short Stories That I Enjoyed in the Last Two Weeks

Hey, everyone! I've been away for a while. I moved into my apartment, started my intern teaching tenth graders at a local high school, d...