CURRENT GIVEAWAYS:
None right now

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Lefty's Lowdown: Aftercare Instructions by Bonnie Pipkin

(standalone)
Published: June 27, 2017 by Flatiron
Source: I received an electronic galley for review from the publisher via Netgalley, but all opinions stated in this review are 100% my own..
Summary from Goodreads:
In the tradition of Jandy Nelson and Rainbow Rowell, a big-hearted journey of furious friendship, crazy love, and unexpected hope after a teen's decision to end an unwanted pregnancy

“Troubled.” That’s seventeen-year-old Genesis according to her small New Jersey town. She finds refuge and stability in her relationship with her boyfriend, Peter—until he abandons her at a Planned Parenthood clinic during their appointment to terminate an unwanted pregnancy. The betrayal causes Gen to question everything.

As Gen pushes herself forward to find her new identity without Peter, she must also confront her most painful memories. Through the lens of an ongoing four act play within the novel, the fantasy of their undying love unravels line by line, scene by scene. Digging deeper into her past while exploring the underground theater world of New York City, she rediscovers a long-forgotten dream. But it’s when Gen lets go of her history, the one she thinks she knows, that she’s finally able to embrace the complicated, chaotic true story of her life, and take center stage.

This powerfully immersive and format-crushing debut follows Gen from dorm rooms to diners to house parties to auditions—and ultimately, right into readers’ hearts.
 I was absolutely not prepared for this novel. It's one of those books that sounded interesting, so I requested it, but was not actually excited to read it. I should have been excited, though, because this book was fantastic! It had me hooked from the very beginning and I consumed it whole. It's emotional and complicated and angsty as heck. This is not a book you need to sleep on.

If there's one thing you need to know about me, it's that I love books that so fun stuff with formatting. And Aftercare Instructions does something I've personally never seen before in a book: The chapters alternate between standard formatting and playwright formatting. And boy did it work well! The sections that are standard formatting tell the Now story, following Gen as she tries to piece herself back together after her boyfriend Peter abandoned her while she was getting an abortion. The sections with the play formatting takes us back Before. When Gen and Peter's relationship first started to develop, and the two different sections collide to form one complex, heartbreaking narrative.

It was a strange experience, because as I was reading, I was falling in love with Past Peter, despite the knowledge that he did something really shitty to Gen Now. My feelings while reading this book were all over the place, because I wanted her to get back together with Peter but I also wanted her to move on with the cute, charming new guy she meets at a party. I got tangled up in Gen's life, and I felt like I was struggling and making decisions right alongside her. I really connected to her and experienced her growth with her.

Now, of course, this book deals with the subject of abortion, which is touchy for a lot of people. Personally, I admired the way Pipkin portrayed abortion as messy and complicated. It's not a simple choice that leaves you the second the fetus gets removed. But Pipkin also doesn't paint a portrait of someone's morals based on this decision alone.

This was such an edgy, emotional read, perfectly suited for those who like dark, heavier contemporary books. It got me thinking a lot and I sincerely hope that the people who need a book like this are able to find it.

My rating: 
5/5

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Top Ten Books I've Read In 2017 So Far

I CAN'T BELIEVE WE'RE HALFWAY THROUGH 2017 *PANICS*

Luckily, I've read some truly delightful books this year already, and I have plans to read so many more in the second half of the year. I've done my best to rank my top ten favorite books that I've read so far this year, but ranking books is hard, okay?

Heartless by Marissa Meyer - This was the first book I read in 2017 and it is still first in my heart. I will forever be in love with the characters and the world and everything that this book is. (MY REVIEW)

Caraval by Stephanie Garber - This is a recent read for me, actually, but it wormed its way into my heart reallllll quick. I read all 400 pages on one sitting because I was hardcore hooked from the very beginning. This was an emotional roller coaster and I never knew who to trust or what was real. It was magnificent.

Once and for All by Sarah Dessen - Sarah Dessen never fails to wow me. (MY REVIEW)

Aftercare Instructions by Bonnie Pipkin - This one took me by surprise! But it was complicated and a angsty and stole my heart.

Noteworthy by Riley Redgate - I can't sing this book's praises enough (see what I did there). Hooray for a cappella and questioning gender roles! (MY REVIEW)


The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh - This book left me with a lot of questions, but from the second the romance was introduced I was absolute trash for it. This novel was addicting as heck.

Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson - This isn't my favorite Matson novel, but it still had so much emotion and lovely characters!

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz - It took me a hot minute to get into the writing style, but once I did I was absolutely hooked. I really enjoyed getting to know Ari and Dante and watching them find themselves.

Geekerella by Ashley Poston - This novel is incredibly cute, fun, and charming. A great summer read, and perfect if you're looking for a book that will make you flat out happy. (MY REVIEW)

The Selection by Kiera Cass - What can I say? This series is trope-y and addicting and I am not ashamed to say I devoured it, okay?

Monday, June 26, 2017

New To My Wishlist #4

Welcome to a new feature at The Left-Handed Book Lover! Basically, this feature is meant to showcase books I really want to read, whether they were released years ago or don't come out for another six months. Enjoy!

Published: February 13, 2018 by Balzer + Bray 
Summary from Goodreads: 
Ana is a scoundrel by nurture and an outlaw by nature. Found as a child drifting through space with a sentient android called D09, Ana was saved by a fearsome space captain and the grizzled crew she now calls family. But D09 — one of the last remaining illegal Metals — has been glitching, and Ana will stop at nothing to find a way to fix him.

Ana’s desperate effort to save D09 leads her on a quest to steal the coordinates to a lost ship that could offer all the answers. But at the last moment, a spoiled Ironblood boy beats Ana to her prize. He has his own reasons for taking the coordinates, and he doesn’t care what he’ll sacrifice to keep them.

When everything goes wrong, she and the Ironblood end up as fugitives on the run. Now their entire kingdom is after them — and the coordinates — and not everyone wants them captured alive.

First of all, I am Ashley Poston trash. I will read anything she writes. Also, this sounds friggin epic, my dudes. It's a space opera! And look at that cover. Massive heart eyes.
In a Perfect World by Trish Doller
Published: May 23, 2017 by Simon Pulse
Summary from Goodreads: 
Caroline Kelly is excited to be spending her summer vacation working at the local amusement park with her best friend, exploring weird Ohio with her boyfriend, and attending soccer camp with the hope she’ll be her team’s captain in the fall.

But when Caroline’s mother is hired to open an eye clinic in Cairo, Egypt, Caroline’s plans are upended. Caroline is now expected to spend her summer and her senior year in a foreign country, away from her friends, her home, and everything she’s ever known.

With this move, Caroline predicts she’ll spend her time navigating crowded streets, eating unfamiliar food, and having terrible bouts of homesickness. But when she finds instead is a culture that surprises her, a city that astounds her, and a charming, unpredictable boy who challenges everything she thought she knew about life, love, and privilege.

I read a really raving review for this book, which is what originally piqued my interest, but re-reading the summary got me intrigued all over again. I've never read anything set in Egypt, and I've also heard that this sheds a lot of light on privilege. I'm sure reading this will be both emotional and informative.
Every Heart a Doorway by Seanen McGuire
Published: April 5, 2016 by Tor
Summary from Goodreads: 
Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children
No Solicitations
No Visitors
No Quests

Children have always disappeared under the right conditions; slipping through the shadows under a bed or at the back of a wardrobe, tumbling down rabbit holes and into old wells, and emerging somewhere... else.

But magical lands have little need for used-up miracle children.

Nancy tumbled once, but now she’s back. The things she’s experienced... they change a person. The children under Miss West’s care understand all too well. And each of them is seeking a way back to their own fantasy world.

But Nancy’s arrival marks a change at the Home. There’s a darkness just around each corner, and when tragedy strikes, it’s up to Nancy and her new-found schoolmates to get to the heart of the matter.

No matter the cost.

A ton of people rave about this book, especially a ton of people whose opinions I trust. I never really paid much attention to what it was actually about, but the more I learned about it, the more I realized how up my alley it sounds!

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Literature/Writing Classes I Wish I Could Take

This is kind of a weird post. But I'm posting it anyway. I'm an English and creative writing major, and as I was picking out my classes for next semester, I started thinking about the limited courses available at my Arkansas college, and all the courses I wish I could take. A lot of these are really specific classes, but they're topics I'd love to delve into. I'm sure these classes exist somewhere, but, ya know, not at my school.

LITERATURE CLASSES: 

1) Strong Female Characters
2) Family Dynamics in YA
3) Friendships in YA
4) Villains
5) Book-to-Film Adaptations
6) Traveling in Literature
7) Sidekicks
8) Tropes in YA

WRITING CLASSES:
1) Worldbuilding
2) Pacing
3) How to Write One-of-a-Kind Characters
4) Dialog Writing
5) Query Writing
6) TV Show Writing
7) How to Write Plot Twists
8) Writing Comedy
9) Side Characters with Depth
Honestly, there are so many other things I'd be interested in learning about as well, but these are the ones I could think of right now. Imagine how much you'd learn and how fascinating it would be to really dig into these subjects.

DO ANY OF THESE SOUND INTERESTING TO YOU? IS THERE SOMETHING I DIDN'T MENTION THAT YOU THINK WOULD MAKE A REALLY INTERESTING CLASS?

Friday, June 23, 2017

Lefty's Lowdown: Once and for All by Sarah Dessen

Once and for All by Sarah Dessen
(standalone)
Published: June 6, 2017 by Viking Books for Young Readers
Source: Purchased
Summary from Goodreads:
As bubbly as champagne and delectable as wedding cake, Once and for All, Sarah Dessen's thirteenth novel, is set in the world of wedding planning, where crises are routine.


Louna, daughter of famed wedding planner Natalie Barrett, has seen every sort of wedding: on the beach, at historic mansions, in fancy hotels and clubs. Perhaps that's why she's cynical about happily-ever-after endings, especially since her own first love ended tragically. When Louna meets charming, happy-go-lucky serial dater Ambrose, she holds him at arm's length. But Ambrose isn't about to be discouraged, now that he's met the one girl he really wants.

Sarah Dessen’s many, many fans will adore her latest, a richly satisfying, enormously entertaining story that has everything—humor, romance, and an ending both happy and imperfect, just like life itself.
If you didn't know, Sarah Dessen is one of my favorite authors on the planet and this was one of my most anticipated releases of the year. I just knew that with Sarah Dessen comes summer and adorable romance and heaps of self-discovery. And I was not let down! ONCE AND FOR ALL has the typical Sarah Dessen essence, but it also feels different than her previous works. Sweet and poignant and fun, but also relevant to current events.

What really attracted me to the premise of this book is that it deals largely with the wedding planning industry, which I'M FASCINATED BY. Honestly, I watch one episode of Say Yes to the Dress and I've already got three different weddings planned for people who don't exist. But I digress. I just adored the way Dessen showed the behind-the-scenes of the perfect (and usually not-so-perfect) wedding, and the way that shapes Louna, our protagonist.

Something else I really enjoyed while reading was that this book has two different story lines playing out: Louna's past, in which we  follow along as she falls in love for the first time and her whole world crashes around her, and Louna's present, in which she is finally moving on and shedding her cynical ways. I fell in love with the two different narratives, and I was equally engrossed in both of them.

In her past, we meet Ethan, who is sweet and charming and stole her heart instantly. We see their relationship's glorious beginning--one night of pure connection--and my heart was absolutely humming as I read. However, it was also aching, as we know things do not end well between the two of them. If anyone has seen the musical The Last Five Years, I was getting that sort of vibe from it. I was really rooting for their relationship and falling in love right alongside them, despite its tragic conclusion. I've seen some people complain about the insta-love between them, and how their relationship moved much too quickly, but that was sort of the point, in my opinion. Sarah Dessen shows us that while these magnificent connections exist with people, that's not the only love there is.

In her present, Louna meets Ambrose. Now, it took me a while to warm up to him, but again, I think that's the point. He's like a ball of energy and disregard. What I really admire about his character is that Dessen made the love interest annoying. Intentionally. Usually when a romantic prospect is "annoying" it's because he's so arrogant and smug, but this is different. He's a little bit obnoxious and I have mad respect because HOW DO YOU EVEN PULL THAT OFF. You morph into Sarah Dessen, that's how. As the story progressed. he really grew on me. He's more than just his obnoxious behavior. By the end of the novel, I NEEDED him and Louna to get together. Not a want--a need. They both developed so much by the end of the novel and I knew they were right for each other, that they would make each other better and continue to grow.

I do have one complaint. This is the reason that I couldn't give the book 5 stars, despite how incredible it was. And it seems small, but it made a huge difference, and it's simply that I wish we had more MOMENTS between Louna and Ambrose throughout the novel. More unsolicited sexual tension, ya know? I wanted Louna to more actively deny her feelings and I wanted Ambrose to hint at his more than he did.

Really, though, this novel was just lovely. I teared up at the end--not because it was sad, but because it felt like a piece of my heart had just concluded. I have so many thoughts and feelings that aren't even possible to articulate, but once again, Sarah Dessen has blessed us with an emotional gem of a book. I will definitely return to this one in the future.

My rating:
4.5/5

Monday, June 19, 2017

2017 Reader Resolutions--Update!

At the beginning of the year, I posted my reader resolutions for 2017:


Now, we're about halfway through the year, so it's time to talk about how these resolutions are coming along (hint: not well).



1) READ 50 BOOKS
Okay, so I'm doing all right on this one. I've read 18 books so far this year, putting me only 5 books behind my goal. I started the summer off at 10 books behind. This still seems feasible to me.

2) BE CONSISTENT
Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha


hahaha

hah

I don't even want to talk about this.

3) STRIVE FOR QUALITY
If we disregard my failure at resolution number 2, I think I'm doing okay with this. For the brief amount of time that I have been posting, I've been fairly pleased with the content I'm producing. I've had some reviews and other posts that I'm proud of, and I've also come up with some new ideas that I cannot wait to implement!

4) READ MORE POPULAR BOOKS/NEW RELEASES
I'm working on this, actually! Out of the 18 books I've read so far, 6 of them were published this year! (And the 2 that I am currently reading were published this year). Out of the remaining 12 books, 10 of them are quite "popular." Also, several of the books I plan to read are new releases as well. I'm feel like I'm doing well on this one.

5) READ MORE SERIES
I'm doing better on this one than I did last year, but that doesn't mean I'm doing well. I've read one trilogy so far and two sequels. Will I read more series this year? Stay tuned because I honestly don't know.

6) INTERACT MORE
Again, pretending I didn't fall of the face of the planet for a few months, I'm doing okay with this. But only on my blog and twitter. I'm making an effort to reply to comments on my blog and comment on other blogs. I'm also trying to be more active on twitter and reply/rt/like people's stuff. I got a lot of work to do on youtube and instagram, though.

7) BRANCH OUT IN MY READING
Ummmmmmmmm this isn't happening. Like, at all. Of the 18 books I've read, 11 of them have been YA contemporary. I'd hardly call that branching out. To be fair, I had to read a some stuff for class that was out of my comfort zone, like certain short stories and literary theory essays. Also, next semester I'm taking a graphic novels class so that will help me branch out more.

8) READ MORE CLASSICS
I've read exactly 0 so far this year. BUT. I've bought SEVERAL, and I got a couple for my birthday so I'll probably read them soon, right?? Isn't that how tbr piles work?????????? *denial* And I'll be taking an American literature class next semester, so I'm sure there will be a few classics in there.

Moral of the story: I'm doing a pretty mediocre job living up to these goals I set for myself. But there's still half a year left. Who knows what will happen in that time!?

HOW ARE YOUR READING/BLOGGING/BOOKISH/LIFE GOALS COMING ALONG?

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Sunday Post #31


  • I had such an excellent week, friends! Aside from working and the occasional gallivanting with friends, some exciting things happened. 
  • Firstly, I bought my plane ticket to Florida for the last 3 weeks of July. I'm so excited to spend time with my siblings and also spend SO MUCH TIME at the beach/by the pool. 
  • Also, this week I found out Hippo Campus, a band I absolutely adore, is having a concert near me in October and my friend and I are planning on going. I'm so so so pumped. This news had me buzzing for days. 
  • And finally, I should have some exciting book mail coming my way in the next few weeks, and just knowing what's headed my way makes me so happy. 
Books read this week: 


Reviews: 
- I'm Not in the Band by Amber Garza 
Follow Me Back by A.V. Geiger

Features/misc.:
Life's A Beach Book Tag (Original)
8 Ways To Spread Positivity In The Book Community


Reviews: 
- Once and For All by Sarah Dessen
- Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz

Memes: 
- Top 10 Series I've Been Meaning To Start But Haven't
- Sunday Post #32

Features/misc.:
- Reader Resolutions Update
- Literature & Writing Classes I Wish I Could Take

(Currently typing this from my phone, so I don't have photos to add.)

Purchased:
- The Wrath and the Dawn by Renew Ahdieh

For review:
- Infinity by Jus Accardo
- Rosemarked by Livia Blackburne
- Autonomous by Andy Marino
- Zero Repeat Forever by Gabrielle Prendergast