None right now

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Sunday Post #8

  • It's been a pretty good week (not in blogging or reading--still sucking it up there). A couple days ago, I got offered an opportunity to spend my spring break in Atlanta doing service work for the homeless community. It's a really great chance, and I'm really excited about it. 
  • Oh, and I died my hair. It's a really pretty deep red color and I love it. 
Blackhearts by Nicole Castroman
Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

Top Ten Tuesday: Series I Will Always Fangirl Over

Emily at Forever Literary posted about four bloggers who inspire her. I love this because it's promoting positivity in our community, plus it gave me a few more awesome blogs to check out! 

Lillie at Little Lillie Reads started a feature called Tuning the Tale in which she provides a playlist of her making for a book, then lists some of the song lyrics to explain  why she picked the songs she did. I just adore features like this! Not only do I suck at matching songs to books, but I love finding new music to check out! 

What has your week in books and blogging looked like? 

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Lefty's Lowdown: Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

Published: 1817
Source: I rented this from the bookstore for class.
Summary from Goodreads: 
"Northanger Abbey" tells the story of a young girl, Catherine Morland who leaves her sheltered, rural home to enter the busy, sophisticated world of Bath in the late 1790s. Austen observes with insight and humour the interaction between Catherine and the various characters whom she meets there, and tracks her growing understanding of the world about her.

In this, her first full-length novel, Austen also fixes her sharp, ironic gaze on other kinds of contemporary novel, especially the Gothic school made famous by Ann Radcliffe. Catherine's reading becomes intertwined with her social and romantic adventures, adding to the uncertainties and embarrassments she must undergo before finding happiness.

Coming from an English major, this might be a blasphemous statement, but the truth is that I don't actually like a whole lot of classic literature. Jane Austen is one of the few authors before my century that I enjoy reading. That being said, I don't exactly have experience reviewing classic books, so this isn't going to be my typical review.

Readability: This book is not really hard to understand, though I did have to read slowly and occasionally re-read passages. It required a bit of work, but I still enjoyed it! 

Style: Austen is a satirist, so this novel was full of wit, humor, and frequent digs at society. This was the first novel she ever wrote, but it is still surprisingly modern. Austen is so freaking clever and funny.

Characters: I don't know about anyone else, but characters are always my favorite part of any Jane Austen novel, and this one is no exception. Catherine is a really interesting protagonist. She starts off as a very naive, inexperienced, passive character. She has a hard time distinguishing reality from a Gothic romance, and she assumes the best intentions in everyone. But, considering Northanger Abbey is essentially a coming-of-age story, Catherine experiences a significant amount of growth. 

And then there is Mr. Tilney. *swoons* I personally think Henry Tilney is entirely too underrated. He is everything we love in a modern love interest. He's extremely intelligent and he likes to mock the strict expectations of society, yet he is still a gentleman. He can tease Catherine and his sister, but he is never mean. He cares about art and other people's feelings. He's perfect. Everyone else can have Mr. Darcy...I'll take Mr. Tilney. 

The other characters in the novel are very interesting to read about. I don't want to say too much about them, because one of the joys of this novel is uncovering the characters' true intentions. In my lit class, we discussed how, in that time period, there were not exactly a whole lot of opportunities two people to be alone and get to know each other (especially a male and a female), so Austen has to rely on subtle details to reveal the true nature of her characters, which helps us to be more observant, sharper readers. I just think this is so fun! 

My biggest complaint about this book is that the ending is very rushed. The whole resolution to the novel is very glossed over and it took me a few tries to realize exactly what was happening because so little light is shed on the events.

Classics are weird, because even though I loved this book, it's not the type of thing I can just shove into everyone's hands. If you're a classics fan or an Austen fan, though this is one of her lesser-known works, it is still one of her greats. If you're not too big on classic works of literature, I still recommend giving this one a shot, because I'm not either, but it was still immensely fun and interesting.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Lefty's Lowdown: Blackhearts by Nicole Castroman

Blackhearts by Nicole Castroman
Published: February 9, 2016 by Simon Pulse
Source: I received an eARC for review from the publisher, but that hasn't influenced my opinion of the book in any way at all!
Summary from Goodreads: 
Blackbeard the pirate was known for striking fear in the hearts of the bravest of sailors. But once he was just a young man who dreamed of leaving his rigid life behind to chase adventure in faraway lands. Nothing could stop him—until he met the one girl who would change everything. This is their story.

Edward "Teach" Drummond, son of one of Bristol's richest merchants, has just returned from a year-long journey on the high seas to find his life in shambles. Betrothed to a girl he doesn’t love and sick of the high society he was born into, Teach dreams only of returning to the vast ocean he’d begun to call home. There's just one problem: convincing his father to let him leave and never come back.

Following her parents' deaths, Anne Barrett is left penniless and soon to be homeless. Though she’s barely worked a day in her life, Anne is forced to take a job as a maid in the home of Master Drummond. Lonely days stretch into weeks, and Anne longs for escape. How will she ever realize her dream of sailing to CuraƧao—where her mother was born—when she's stuck in England?

From the moment Teach and Anne meet, they set the world ablaze. Drawn to each other, they’re trapped by society and their own circumstances. Faced with an impossible choice, they must decide to chase their dreams and go, or follow their hearts and stay.
I'll tell you right away, this novel was not what I expected. I knew going into it that it was not meant to be a pirate story.  Nicole Castroman has stated several times it is important to remember this is a pre-pirate novel. She wanted to explore what Blackbeard's younger days were like and what led him to his swashbuckling lifestyle. So, I thought this was going to detail his dark descent into corrupt morals. That's not what this was, not really, and in some ways I'm disappointed about that, but I also adore this book for exactly what it is. The more I think about it the more I love it. 

Blackhearts is told from two different points of view: Anne, the miserable maid from the West Indies who works in the Drummond household, and Edward "Teach" Drummond, a teenage guy suffering under the pressure of his father's expectations. Both of our main characters are extremely interesting and well-developed. I enjoyed reading both of their stories a lot and I became very emotionally invested in both of them, but I was probably a bit more partial to Teach's narration (I tend to like male narrators better). BUT LET'S TALK ABOUT TEACH! Holy frick on a stick, I fell head over heels in love with him over the course of this novel. Honestly, I was definitely picturing Hook from Once Upon a Time while I was reading this, and I'll most likely picture any pirate I ever read about as Hook. But anyway. Teach. When we're first introduced to him, we do not get a good impression, but he definitely grows and changes throughout the story. He obviously loved Anne so very much and it was adorable! I also liked how fierce Anne was. She was not going to take crap from anybody, even though she was a maid, a woman, and a person of color. She respected herself far too much to let anyone treat her poorly, and I loved it! I'm not sure it's very accurate, but accuracy doesn't matter all that much to me. 

For some reason I'm having a hard time figuring out what to write for this review (it's difficult to describe why this book is so great), so I'm just gonna drop a list of all the other things I loved about this book. 

Ship ship ship - And I mean the romantic ship, not the pirate ship (lol I'm the funniest). Anyway, I ship Teach and Anne so hard. I read that some people were worried about insta-love, but trust me, that will not be a problem. Blackhearts has a slow-burning, intense romance that grows and grows until you want to push their heads together and make them kiss like Barbie dolls. They actually hate each other at first, but they soon realize they complement each other well, they bring out the best in each other, and they help each other realize what's really in their hearts. GUYS JUST TRUST ME WHEN I SAY IT WAS GOOD.

The arranged marriage aspect - I don't know why, but I always enjoy reading about arranged marriages. It adds so much drama  and tension! Teach is betrothed to Miss Patience, a baron's daughter, and for many years, he is content with that. But then he sets sail for a year and when he comes back he realizes he wants more than a pretty face and a title, but neither of their fathers are willing to break the engagement because it is beneficial for both of them. 

A social hierarchy - Again, I;m not sure why, but I find social stratification so freaking interesting to read about. Characters on the quest for money and titles, or characters seeking to escape the pressures of money and titles. 

The ending - Okay, I didn't like the ending, but I enjoyed it because I'm a masochist and I like pain. Because the ending hurt like hell. It wasn't unexpected. I spent the whole novel knowing that something along these lines would happen, but hoping they wouldn't. What's worse is that the novel does not even end on a dark note. It ends with a hopeful tone, but that makes it even more sad because if you know anything about Blackbeard, you know that it will never work out in these characters' favor. This was the kind of ending that sat heavy on my heart at first, and I couldn't stop thinking about it, and the more I thought about it, the more sad it made me. 

I don't know if this is even a comprehensible review. I honestly feel like it's all over the place, but that's because my feelings are all over the place (in a good way). There is just some sort of indescribable quality in this book that made me fall in love. This book and these characters will always live in my heart, and I have a feeling I'll revisit them in the future. I'm not typically a historical fiction person, but Nicole Castroman creates a story anyone will love. 

Here are some of my favorite moments: 

"You shouldn't say such things," she said, placing the book on the bedside table.

"Why not?" Teach asked.

"Because I am not a princess." She picked up the supper tray, preparing to leave.

He grinned, unabashed, clutching his hand to his chest. "Oh, forgive me. You're quite right. You're not a princess."

Anne shook her head at him, trying to suppress a smile.

"You're a queen. From now on I shall refer to you as Queen Anne." (location 962)

"Well?" Teach asked.

She could only shake her head and cast a quick glance at him, noting the satisfaction in his features. "I don't know what to say," she said at last.

"'Thank you'? Or 'I shall endeavor to trust you in the future'?"

A grin tugged at her lips. "I would not go so far as that." (location 1434)

"Will you please join us for supper this evening?" Teach asked. "I cannot endure another meal along with Miss Patience."

"And if I choose not to?"

Teach snorted. "I'll come to your room and drag you to supper myself."

"You wouldn't dare make a scene to that extent."

"When it comes to you, Anne, I would dare a lot of things." (location 2415)

My rating:

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Top Ten Series I Will Always Fangirl Over

Hello lovelies! This week's TTT topic was a freebie, and because I hate mentally exerting myself I went for an easy topic: series I will always fangirl over. As I was deciding what series to include, I realized A) as of the past couple of years, I've not read (or completed reading) that many book series, and B) the series I have read have been pretty good but thinking back on them doesn't give me the warm fuzzies. That being said, most of the series I picked are series I read back in middle school but still love with all my heart.

The Uglies series by Scott Westerfeld - This was one of the first book series I ever fell in love with! I was in, like, 6th grade the first time I read this, and I still think it's just as brilliant as I did then.

The Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead - I have said (exclaimed) this so so so many times, but I will honestly never stop. This series is my #1, my ride-or-die, my all-time favorite. The characters, the worldbuilding, the writing. Everything about it owns my heart.

The Pushing the Limits series by Katie McGarry - Katie's books are just amazing in every single way and I think everyone should experience these beauties.

The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare - Despite what the movie and TV show make it seem like, these books are actually amazing. The world is engrossing and the characters are addicting.

The Shatter Me series by Tahereh Mafi  - Between the unique writing and the wonderful romantic tension, this series had no problem winning my fangirl squees.

The If I Stay series by Gayle Forman - I'm not sure if this really counts as a series, but there are two books, so I say it does. Anyway, these books are emotional and adorable and absolutely captivating.

The Caster Chronicles by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl - There are 4 novels in this series, all of which are pretty thick. It seems like a hefty journey to embark on, but it's so worth it. The lush southern gothic setting and the cast of characters we get to know throughout the series make it all worth it.

The Infernal Devices series by Cassandra Clare - What can I say? Clare knows how to write 'em.

The Delirium series by Lauren Oliver - Beautiful and heartbreaking and poignant and unique. I recommend this series to literally all my friends.

The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins - I's The Hunger Games....

Are any of these series on your list of favorites? What are some other series you want to gush about all day? 

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Sunday Post #7

  • I feel like this has been SUCH a long week. But it has been good! I did barely any reading outside of classwork, but I'm not surprised. I'm taking 17 hours, so my homework plate is pretty full. Buttttt, I did get a new tattoo this week. 

It's supposed to be the New York skyline, but not everyone sees that, apparently. 
  • I also started bullet journaling this week. So far, I'm digging it. It's actually really relaxing to sit down every morning and figure out my day, drink my coffee. If you don't know what bullet journaling is, I suggest you google it!

Unhooked by Lisa Maxwell

Top Ten Books I've Recently Added to my TBR
Wow, looking at it now, I realized how much I sucked it up in blogging this week, too. Yikes. 
Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
Blackhearts by Nicole Castroman

Top Ten Tuesday: Freebie week (I still haven't decided what my topic will be)
Sunday Post #8

Discussion: Romance in Reading (this was supposed to happen last week, but...)

Nada. Oh well! 

Gaby at Latte Night Reviews wrote a book/movie comparison for If I Stay by Gayle Forman. I love to read other people's thoughts on movies that have been adapted from books. Gaby made some really good points and brought up some issues that I agree with completely. 

Cristina at Girl in the Pages discussed her experience meeting Alexandra Bracken and Susan Dennard. I really enjoyed reading this because it gave a little insight into how much work both authors put into the research for their novels, which I think is cool! 

In light of some of the recent drama that has occurred, Geraldine at Corralling Books wrote a wonderful post about how all book reviews are biased. I believe that a lot of what she said is really important for bloggers and review readers. And I think it is something that a lot of review writers will be able to relate to. 

What has your week in books and blogging looked like? 

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Lefty's Lowdown: Unhooked by Lisa Maxwell

Unhooked by Lisa Maxwell
Published: February 2, 2016 by Simon Pulse
Source: I received an eARC for review from the publisher via Edelweiss, but that hasn't influenced my opinion even a little bit.
Summary from Goodreads: 
For as long as she can remember, Gwendolyn Allister has never had a place to call home—all because her mother believes that monsters are hunting them. Now these delusions have brought them to London, far from the life Gwen had finally started to build for herself. The only saving grace is her best friend, Olivia, who’s coming with them for the summer.

But when Gwen and Olivia are kidnapped by shadowy creatures and taken to a world of flesh-eating sea hags and dangerous Fey, Gwen realizes her mom might have been sane all along.

The world Gwen finds herself in is called Neverland, yet it’s nothing like the stories. Here, good and evil lose their meaning and memories slip like water through her fingers. As Gwen struggles to remember where she came from and find a way home, she must choose between trusting the charming fairy-tale hero who says all the right things and the roguish young pirate who promises to keep her safe.

With time running out and her enemies closing in, Gwen is forced to face the truths she’s been hiding from all along. But will she be able to save Neverland without losing herself?
 HECK YES. I have major, super duper heart eyes for this book. This is the YA pirate book I have been waiting for my entire life. There's adventure and smoochies and magic and pretty much anything you could ask for from a twisted up Peter Pan retelling. Admittedly, I'm not overly familiar with the tale of Peter Pan, but I know enough to see how Unhooked aligns with the original tale. Maxwell's version is dark and utterly engrossing.

Soooo there are so many awesome things happening in this book, I don't even know where to start. Full disclosure, the beginning was a bit slow, but of course it was necessary. We're introduced to our narrator, Gwendolyn, whose mother is dragging her to yet another town to live, claiming there are monsters, only this time is different because Gwen had started to feel really comfortable at their previous town. She'd settled in, and she even made a best friend--Olivia, who decided to tag along for a couple weeks to help them get settled at their new house in London. We see Gwen struggle to figure out what she wants, not what her mom wants for her life. And then she finds herself in Neverland, and that's when the pacing picks up and shit gets realllllll good.

Gwen turns out to be a kickass narrator. She's kinda damsel-y in the beginning, but not in a way that's weak, more in a way that she was just dropped into a strange land and has no idea where she is or what the ef is going on. Even still, we can see that Gwen is stubborn as hell, determined, and she's not going to take any of Captain's crap. SPEAKING OF CAPTAIN. Mm mm mmm. He's the villain, a roguish pirate in every sense of the word, or at least it seems. He's dangerous, ruthless, and he has a very strange effect on Gwen. Except, guys, noooooo. Captain is compassionate and caring, and he is very hard on himself. I love him, and I love him and Gwen together. Talk about chemistry!!! Every interaction between them is absolutely sizzling. Both of these characters are complex and well-developed and such. fantastic. characters. If I'm being honest, though, all the characters in this novel are wonderfully crafted. Pan, Olivia, Fiona...They come alive on the pages.

This whole book comes alive. The world that Maxwell has created is luscious and detailed and definitely a little creepy. This is not the Neverland you read about as a child, folks. And Lisa Maxwell's writing is absolutely beautiful. Whether you like it or not, you will, without a doubt, get sucked into this fairy tale.

I can't even tell y'all enough how much I loved this novel. It was the first novel I actually started this year, and I read the entire thing in one sitting. It was sexy and positively captivating. It's a little reminiscent of Once Upon A Time in Neverland, I will most likely fangirl about this book for the rest of my life because it is amazing and you need to read it.

My rating:
5/5 would read again


Lisa Maxwell is the author of Sweet Unrest, Gathering Deep (Flux, Fall 2015) and Unhooked (Simon Pulse, Spring 2016). When she's not writing books, she's an English professor at a local college. She lives near DC with her very patient husband and two not-so patient boys.

website ~ twitter ~ facebook ~ tumblr

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Top Ten Books I've Recently Added to My TBR

Amy and Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson - I just recently read and completely fell head over heels in love with Matson's Since You've Been Gone and I have vowed to read everything she has ever and will ever write.

Revenge and the Wild by Michelle Modesto - I just heard of this one today and instantly added it to my TBR because it sounds really freaking awesome. A western fantasy novel? Heck to the freaking yes.

Breaking the Rules by Katie McGarry - I'm not sure why the hell it took me so long to figure this out, but I just recently discovered that Echo and Noah have a second book and I could not deal with my excitement. OTP OTP OTP

The Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler - I've heard tons of wonderful things about this book. and I know from personal experience how amazing Sarah Ockler is, so when I heard about her new novel, I immediately added it to my TBR. Bonus: The word "Mermaid" is in the title so of course I have to read it.

Sweet Unrest by Lisa Maxwell - After being blown away by Lisa Maxwell's Unhooked (coming in February) I immediately checked to see if she had written anything else and SHE HAD! I can't wait to read more by this author!

Level Up by Cathy Yardley - I'd never heard of this book before I read a review of it a few days ago, and I heard there were mentions of SuperWhoLock so of course I was sooooo in. I'm ready to geek out with this one.

Uprooted by Naomi Novik - There were lots of fantastic, raving reviews of this one. Plus dragons.

Nowhere But Here by Katie McGarry - IF YOU CAN'T TELL I'M OBSESSED WITH KATIE and I can't believe I hadn't heard about her new series until a couple months ago.

Firsts by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn - I have seen a ton of great reviews for this, and when I read the summary, I knew I needed to read it.

Mechanica by Betsy Cornwell - I loooove fairy tale retellings. And this one sounds like a good one. Also, look at that cover!!!!

What books have you recently added to your TBR? 

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Sunday Post #6

  • This was the first week of the new semester, and while it was exhausting, it was still good! So far, I like my classes. I'm taking a screenwriting class, so that's pretty cool (but also kinda scary because I don't know how to write a movie). Buttttt it's a three-day weekend, so I'm happy about that!
  • Yesterday I volunteered at my school to help put together meals for homeless people and people who maybe can't afford food. We packed over 37,000 meals in less than 40 minutes, and it was actually a lot of fun! We danced and we sang and we helped people in need. Doesn't get much better than that. 
Since You've Been Gone by Morgan Matson

Flashback #3: The Truth About You and Me by Amanda Grace

Book Tours: 
Cover Reveal: In the After by Elisa Dane
YA Author Rendezvous Blitz: Bethany Wicker on Supporting Characters
Unhooked by Lisa Maxwell

Top Ten Books I've Recently Added to My TBR
Sunday Post #7

Discussion: Romance in Books

I bought two novels for my British literature class this week.

Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen - I'm actually really excited to read this one. I love me some Jane Austen.

The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro

I hate myself because I find all these wonderful posts and then I forget to save them on Bloglovin and I forget who wrote them and so I can't share them with the world! 

The one post I did remember to save was The YA Book Traveler's  review and book trailer for Blackhearts by Nicole Castroman. She loved the book like I did and the trailer she made for it was perfect! I encourage you to go check it out. 

What has your week in books and blogging looked like?

Friday, January 15, 2016

Flashback Friday #3: The Truth About You and Me by Amanda Grace

Hello everyone! Welcome to The Left-Handed Book Lover's Flashback Friday. I'm not sure if this feature has been done on other blogs. I haven't seen it, but if it has been, let me know so I can give some credit!

FF is a feature here where I talk about books I read a while ago but still want to give major love to. This feature is designed to give some exposure to books that may have been forgotten about or that some people haven't heard of, even though they're really great!

This week's FF goes to...
The Truth About You and Me by Amanda Grace
Published: September 1, 2013 by Flux
Genre: YA contemporary
Summary from Goodreads: 
Smart girls aren't supposed to do stupid things.

Madelyn Hawkins is super smart. At sixteen, she's so gifted that she can attend college through a special program at her high school. On her first day, she meets Bennett. He's cute, funny, and kind. He understands Madelyn and what she's endured - and missed out on - in order to excel academically and please her parents. Now, for the first time in her life, she's falling in love.

There's only one problem. Bennett is Madelyn's college professor, and he thinks she's eighteen - because she hasn't told him the truth.

The story of their forbidden romance is told in letters that Madelyn writes to Bennett - both a heart-searing ode to their ill-fated love and an apology.


I read an eARC of this before it was released in 2013. I remember reading the entire novel in one sitting, just devouring every single word. 


I'm not going to lie, there have been some mixed reviews for this novel, but I personally adored it. It is one of those novels that you kind of know what is going to happen but you just read on hoping it won't. For whatever reason, I love books like that. Maybe I'm just weird? There were parts when my heart was thumping so hard because it was so tense and I was just waiting for everything to hit the fan. Everything about this book was intense and held me captive the entire time I was reading. I got emotionally attached to the characters (extremely) and the writing flowed so well! If you're into contemporary books, this is a fantastic read!

Here are three reasons you should read this book:

1) It was very emotional! I was actually sobbing as I read it.

2) It's told in second person, through letters, which was actually really cool. You'd think second person would take you out of the story a little bit, but it really doesn't.

3) There's a taboo student-teacher relationship. I have a weird thing about reading taboo relationships. They are my absolute favorite. Maybe you're the kind of person who isn't into that thing? Then this book probably isn't for you. But I personally found it so incredibly interesting to read about.


Amanda Grace is a pen name for Young Adult author Mandy Hubbard (PRADA AND PREJUDICE, YOU WISH). She lives near Seattle, Washington, with her husband and young daughter.

Other books by this author: But I Love Him
In Too Deep
No One Needs To Know

Thursday, January 14, 2016

YA Author Rendezvous Blitz: Bethany Wicker on Supporting Characters

Let us introduce YA Author Rendezvous – a group of independent Young Adult, Middle Grade and Children’s Book authors who have banded together to bring their stories to as wide an audience as possible. Visit them online and find some great reads!

Today we’re featuring YA Author Rendezvous author, Bethany Wicker!

Favorite YAAR Supporting Characters

Everyone gets to know and fall in love with the MC, or Main Character. I, however, tend to fall for supporting characters. In our group YAAR, short for Young Adult Author Rendezvous, there are several great characters to choose from, but I’d like to talk about a few of my favorites.

We’ll start with Unexpected Alpha, by Bethany Wicker (yours truly.) I’m in love with Marie, the best friend of the MC. She provides comedic relief. I may be biased because she’s based off my best friend in real life, Mariah, but her bubbliness is hard to hate. She also becomes a badass werewolf when necessary.

Next up, The Institute Series by Kayla Howarth. I’m SO IN LOVE WITH DREW! Sorry, went a little fan girl. He betrays Allira in the beginning, but fights so hard to make things right throughout the series that Kayla made it had to not fall for him. Who doesn’t love a bad guy who tries to make things right in the end?

Then, there’s Joshua’s Island by Patrick Hodges. Who doesn’t love Kelsey? Sure, she gets her own novel in Ethan’s Secret, but before that she was a supporting character. She was so hardcore, stood up to the bullies, and stood for what’s right. She helps Joshua in so many ways to develop the courage he needs to stand up for himself.

The Awaken Series, by Michelle Bryan has several intriguing characters: Finn, Po, Tater, and my favorite, Jax. He’s SO ATTRACTIVE, hold on, need to shift away from fan girl mode. He comes to Tara’s aid when you least expect it and continues to help her on her journey. His snide comments are a bonus and there’s no instant love between them, which always ruins a good story.

Dawn of the Rebellion, by Michelle Lynn is up next with Drew. Yes, another Drew. I swear it isn’t the name! Drew’s originally Gabby’s boyfriend, but when she’s taken, Dawn and Drew set out to rescue her. Their relationship blossoms slowly and you see his true character come to life, and it’s very desirable. I’m not going to spoil anything but I cried at the end… read and see why.

Lastly, there’s Rise of the Shadow Seekers, by Korey Ward. My favorite of the trio is Nelson. I loved him from the moment he was introduced. He defended Alex from the bullies, but his looks scream otherwise. He’s broad and intimidating, but doesn’t use it for his own gain. Instead, he helps Alex in his quest and quickly becomes one of his first friends. A friend that anyone would want.
There are plenty characters out there that I didn’t have enough room to give credit to, but check them out in the YAAR library and be on the lookout for those enchanting supporting characters.

Author Bio:

Bethany Wicker resides in Louisiana and is a pediatric nurse who loves to read and write any chance she gets. Her sun conure, Apollo, green cheek conure, Rocket, and her two dogs, Jasper and Drake, usually keep her company while she writes, throwing in ideas of their own. She has a loving husband, Lucien, and an amazing family who support her passion for writing. Her inspiration comes from her friend Mariah and the support from her fellow authors from YA Author Rendezvous. She loves young adult fiction of all sorts and thanks God for giving her the strength to finish novels of her own. She is obsessed with Disney, Cherry Coke, and White Chocolate Mochas, especially from Starbucks. She also loves food and is always excited to try new things.

For more YA Author Rendezvous Authors, visit their website!

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Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Lefty's Lowdown: Since You've Been Gone by Morgan Matson

Since You've Been Gone by Morgan Matson
Genre: YA contemporary
Published: May 6, 2014 by Simon & Schuster
Source: made it available to read for free for a limited amount of time, but that doesn't affect my love for this book.
Summary from Goodreads: 
It was Sloane who yanked Emily out of her shell and made life 100% interesting. But right before what should have been the most epic summer, Sloane just…disappears. All she leaves behind is a to-do list.

On it, thirteen Sloane-inspired tasks that Emily would normally never try. But what if they could bring her best friend back?

Apple picking at night? Okay, easy enough.

Dance until dawn? Sure. Why not?

Kiss a stranger? Um...

Emily now has this unexpected summer, and the help of Frank Porter (totally unexpected), to check things off Sloane's list. Who knows what she’ll find?

Go skinny-dipping? Wait...what? 

WOAH, Morgan Matson quickly earned herself a new fangirl in me with this book. I'd never read anything by her before, but I'd seen some high praise for this novel, and I loooove contemporary books, so I was excited to see this on Well, I am absolutely blown away! It was fun, it was immensely engrossing, it was emotional, it was real, it was amazing.

Our narrator, Emily, is used to being Sloane's overlooked other half. She doesn't mind all that much, because since Sloane became her best friend, her life has become a billion times more interesting and she's come out of her shell. But then Sloane and her family skip town without giving word to anyone, not even Emily. Emily's life pretty much revolved around Sloane's friendship, so she's barely a person after Sloane's abrupt disappearance. The only thing that gives her life is a list from Sloane that comes in the mail--a list with 13 ridiculous, super-out-of character tasks for Emily to complete over the summer. Emily, believing that this list is the key to finding her best friend, vows to complete every task. Her quest to cross out items on the list leads to unexpected friendships, romances, and self-discovery.

I have SO MANY thoughts and feelings about this book (having finished it less than a half hour ago), but I'll start with all the incredible characters that Matson introduces us to. They're all very real, very distinct characters. Even the characters we didn't see a whole lot of. Emily is a likeable and relatable narrator. I can't speak for everyone, but I know that I have certainly felt like I was living in the shadow of a friend, like I cared way more for that friend than she did for me. I know what it's like to cherish a friendship so much, you never want to do anything that will scare them away. I also felt like, at first, Emily displayed some characteristics of serious social anxiety and I just felt that on such a spiritual level. It was such an accurate portrayal of how daunting and exhausting social settings can be for some people (me), so I really appreciated that. She grows SO FREAKING MUCH by the end of the novel and I was so happy for her. She's far from perfect, she makes pretty big mistakes, but I loved getting to witness her evolution. I'd want her to be friends with her!

Then there's Frank, who absolutely stole my heart. When we were first introduced to him, all I could think was, "Frank. Frank is his name. A very un-sexy, un-swoonworthy name. Who is named Frank????" (Sorry to all the Franks out there). But, name aside, Frank is adorable, intelligent, determined, and endlessly kind. I CHALLENGE YOU TO NOT LOVE HIM. He was dorky and funny, and basically my ideal guy, if I'm being honest. I loved the way he complemented Emily! The tension between them was fantastic!¡ The other great characters are Frank's faithful companion Collins, Emily's surprising new friend Dawn, and Emily's little brother Beckett. They all have so much personality. Matson is clearly a pro at introducing delightful characters and developing them and bringing them to life.

Another thing that was really great about this novel was the plot and pacing. I tend to favor quest plots in contemporary novels, where the character spends the book working to accomplish something. And I liked how this novel was a series of accomplishing little, very different things to accomplish something bigger. It made the pacing perfect! Every chapter held a different adventure. It was lots of fun and made it very very hard to put down (but once 5 am came and I could barely keep my eyes open, I kinda had to).

Now, one of the most important and prominent aspects of this novel is friendship, which I love. There are so many different friendship dynamics in this novel, and it was extremely interesting to read about them all. Friendship between two girls, friendship between two guy, friendship between a guy and a girl, friendship between two siblings, friendship in a group setting. The one I found especially interesting, though, was the friendship between Sloane and Emily. Though Sloane is largely absent throughout the story, we get flashbacks and memories, giving us a very good idea of their friendship In a way, they had a great friendship. They were practically connected at the hip, they rarely fought, they trusted each other (for the most part), they had fun together, they could talk about anything and everything. It sounds pretty damn wonderful. But--and this is never explicitly stated, it's just my perception--it seems a bit toxic. It definitely hindered Emily. She was trying to be what Sloane wanted her to be. She let herself sink into the shadows. She idolized Sloane. I've had that friendship (in fact, I'd say I still do), and it really doesn't feel like a bad thing, and it doesn't feel like something you want to escape, even when you realize the truth of the friendship. I just really appreciate and respect how accurately this was demonstrated in Since You've Been Gone.

I love the way this book ended. Not everything was wrapped in a pretty little bow, but there's still hope. It feels like there is still so much left for these characters to figure out and work through, and I love that because it just makes them feel like real people.

If I haven't already made it abundantly clear, let me reiterate one last time: I am 100% in love with this novel. The characters are beautifully crafted, the story kept me hooked, and there were some very touching moments in this book. I definitely got up in my feelings at some points. I'd without a doubt compare this to the works of Sarah Dessen, which is honestly one of the best compliments I could give a book. I definitely plan on reading every other book Morgan Matson has/will ever write.

My rating:

Morgan Matson was born in 1981 and grew up in New York City and Greenwich, Connecticut. She attended Occidental College in Los Angeles but halfway though a theater degree, she started working in the children's department of Vroman's Bookstore and fell in love with YA literature.
Following college graduation (and the proud bearer of an incredibly useful theater/English degree) she moved back East to attend the New School, where she received her M.F.A in Writing for Children.
Amy & Roger's Epic Detour, inspired by Morgan's three cross-country road trips, was published in May 2010. It was named an ALA Top Ten Best Book, a PW "Flying Start" book, and was shortlisted for the Waterstone's Book Prize.

In the meantime, Morgan moved back to California, went back to school again and in 2011 received an M.F.A. in Screenwriting from the University of Southern California.

Her second book, Second Chance Summer, was published in May 2012. It was inspired by her experiences spending summers growing up in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania. It was named to the ALA Best Fiction for Young Adults list, and selected as a School Library Journal Best Book of 2012.

Her third book, Since You've Been Gone, will be published on May 6th, 2014.

Morgan's work has been published all over the world, and translated into 10 languages so far.
She lives in Los Angeles, though she loves to travel and does it whenever she can. She is currently writing another book, to be published in 2016.
website / goodreads / tumblr / facebook / twitter / insta


Amy and Roger's Epic Detour
 Second Chance Summer
The Unexpected Everything (Coming May 3, 2016)

Monday, January 11, 2016

Cover Reveal: In the After by Elisa Dane

In the After by Elisa Dane
Published by: Swoon Romance
Publication date: February 2nd 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
Sadie Reynolds is a liar with secrets. At school, she’s part of the popular crowd known as AE, despite being broken inside. She hides it well. She has to. The slightest bit of imperfection will land her in the same shoes as her Geeky neighbor named Ian.

Ian and his only friend are the object of Sadie’s friends’ ridicule, ire, and entertainment. The AE rule the school with intimidation and retribution against anyone who would dare question their supremacy.

Sadie steers clear of most of it, terrified someone will find out her secret. She isn’t the least bit perfect. In fact, she suffers from PTSD stemming from the murder of her mother right before her eyes when she was a child. She can barely cope from day-to-day, hiding her truth and trying to fit in. But she knows it’s only a matter of time.

Hayden is a “Waverly,” a kid with the misfortune of living in the small farming town of Waverly that borders the very affluent Lexington Parrish. The AE doesn’t mix with “Waverlies.” Ever.

Desperate to get away from her oppressive friends, Sadie crashes into Hayden at a bonfire and the attraction that sparks between them is nothing short of electric. But Hayden’s an outsider and when things heat up, Sadie will be forced to choose between her friends and her new boyfriend.

Only Queen Bee Britt isn’t having it. She will not allow Sadie to cross her. Sadie can either do what Britt wants her to do or she will reveal Sadie for the PTSD freak that she is.

Sadie does some soul searching about who she is and who she wants to be. She can’t live her life like this. Not any more. One fateful night will help her see how much things have to change.

She’s determined to no longer allow the AE to rule her life. She will be strong, stand up for Ian and love who she wants in Hayden. Determined and invigorated, Sadie goes to school feeling hopeful for the first time in forever.

But, the unthinkable happens.

Shooters attack dozens of students before the two eventually take their own lives, leaving the school a decimated shadow of what it once was.

Suddenly who lives where, wears what or loves whom seems like the least of Lexington Parish’s problems as everyone and everything changes forever in the after.

IN THE AFTER by Elisa Dane is a hard-hitting and heart-warming story of tragedy, love, loss and redemption. It is recommended for readers 14+.

I actually really like this cover! I think the circle thing is neat. I wouldn't mind changing the font of the author's name, but that's just me. This book sounds like it will be really good, though. 

Author Bio:
ELISA DANE is a self-proclaimed book junkie. A lover of handbags, chocolate, and reality television, she's a proud mother to three All- Star cheerleaders. Writing is her absolute passion, and it's her mission to create stories that will not only take you on a romantic journey that will warm your heart, but help you find a new respect and interest in the sport of All-Star cheerleading.

Elisa is no stranger to the publishing world. She writes steamy paranormal romance under her real name, Lisa Sanchez. Her adult works include the Hanford Park series (Eve Of Samhain, Pleasures Untold, and Faythe Reclaimed), Obsessed (an erotic suspense), and a paranormal novella, Cursing Athena. Elisa lives in Northern California with her husband, three daughters, and a feisty Chihuahua who stubbornly believes she's human.

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What do you think of the cover? Does this book sound interesting to you??

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Sunday Post #5

  • So, I got back from Florida on Tuesday, and I'm still trying to get back into the flow of blogging. I didn't really blog/read while I was there because I was focusing on hanging out with my family. It was sooooo wonderful. It was an amazing trip, and I wish it could have lasted forever. 
  • I'm headed back to school this week. Where did winter break even go? I'm looking forward to seeing my friends again, but not looking forward to the whole school work thing. 

This Song Is (Not) For You by Laura Nowlin

Top Ten Tuesday: Backlist Books I Resolve to Read in 2016

The Eclectic Corner #2: 90210
Social Media
Like I said, I'm still trying to get back into the swing of things after my vacation (and with the new semester starting) so I've got a very vague idea of what's going to happen on the blog next week. Everything is very subject to change! 

I've gotten so bad at predicting which reviews I'll be posting. The new semester is starting next week, so I'm going to shoot low and go for one review.

Since You've Been Gone by Morgan Matson

Book tours: 
Cover reveal for In the After by Elisa Dane via Xpresso Book Tours (Monday, 01/11/2016)

Sunday Post #6

Flashback Friday #3

I got nothing, but that's okay with me! 
What has your week in books and blogging looked like?