Something Like Normal - Trish Doller

I think 2013 will be known as the year that I read a lot of books with extremely high expectations, and was subsequently disappointed.  I suppose that these are the pros and cons of being involved in the bookish world.  On the one hand, I rarely dive into a book without knowing that some of my trusted bookish friends loved the book, but on the other hand, this also results in me having extremely high expectations for said book.  This used to work out quite well for me, as most of the books that I read were solidly researched and I was usually very certain that I'd like them before I even picked them up.  I was reading recently on someone's blog that it's for this reason that this blogger didn't have many low-starred reviews -- when you really research the book prior to reading it, then you almost always end up loving it.

Something Like Normal was one of those books.  I seemed like those who read it absolutely loved it, and I was starting to hear a lot of blogger buzz around her upcoming release.  I checked this one out of the library to take on holiday with me, thinking that a contemporary would be the perfect holiday read.

I liked the book, don't get me wrong, but I just don't think I loved it as much as I had hoped I would.  Perhaps it's the fact that the military culture just isn't as big in Canada, so I couldn't really relate to Travis' experiences.  Or maybe it's just the fact that I don't personally know anyone who's served overseas, which therefore made it a little harder to relate to the book.  With that aside, Travis is a really interesting and multi-faceted character and I really enjoyed watching his development throughout the book.  It's a short book, but a lot happens within a limited amount of pages.  In some ways, it seems like everything develops just a little TOO quickly because of the length of the book, but in other ways it's also good that the book just sucks you in and the story unravels at a quick pace until you've been spit out the other end, feeling like you've been caught in a whirlwind of Travis' emotions.

There are way too few male POV books in YA literature, so it is a refreshing change to read a book told from the guy's perspective.  Although I can't consider this book to be one of my all-time favourite reads, I can definitely still see why Trish Doller has won so many readers' hearts!

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In All Series-ousness - Check-in #1

I posted earlier about my issues with finishing a series that I've started.  I felt really good laying down the law for myself ... and then promptly gave myself ANOTHER bookish problem.  I looked at my to-read list, and put a bazillion books on hold at the library ... resulting in another teetering TBR pile that threatened to tip over on my nightstand and smother me in my sleep.

SO, I'm still working on this challenge, but have slowed down to only one or two series at a time. And it's working!!!!!!  I've knocked TWO unfinished series off my list so far:
  • Iron Fey Series by Julie Kagawa (Iron Daughter, Iron Queen and Iron Knight)
  • Ruby Oliver Series by E. Lockhart (The Boy Book, Treasure Map of Boys and Real Live Boyfriends)
Next up, I'm going to tackle some series that are actually ON my shelves collecting dust:
  • Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare (re-read Clockwork Angel, followed by Clockwork Prince and Clockwork Princess)
  • Bright Young Things by Anna Godbersen (Beautiful Days and The Lucky Ones)
I'll check in again when these two series are done!
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Blogging Blahs

I've been thinking about this post since I went to bed last night, and actually had a hard time falling asleep while I wrote parts of it in my head.  I'm going to just stream of consciousness write this out -- no editing, no backspacing.

I'm having a tough time with blogging lately.  It seems to be hard to find the time to blog, the time to write, the time to read.  Life has changed a lot since Marko entered our world and, although I still read a lot, it's harder to find the time to sit down in front of the computer and dedicate some time to blogging.  Perhaps it's the beautiful summer weather (I'm usually out for a walk when he takes one of his naps, then at home getting dinner ready/tidying the house/reading with a cup of tea during his second nap).  Perhaps it's just the fact that I'm not really feeling the blog much anymore.  I'm really not sure how I'm feeling these days.  It's a major case of the blogging blahs.

Last night, I put him down to bed just before 10 p.m., then thought I'd bang out a few reviews before I headed to bed myself.  So, I was up until MIDNIGHT (which is super late for me these days), just trying to get as much done in a short period of time.  Before I started writing my Iron Daughter review (which went up this morning), I read my original review for the first book in the series.  I was surprised at how different my writing sounded.  Then, I skimmed through a few more older posts from around the same time, and my review for Wither really hit home.  I couldn't believe how eloquent and well-thought out that review was, compared to the three that I wrote last night, where I just typed out some quick thoughts, did a quick proofread and then scheduled the post.  In only a year and a half, it's seems like my blogging style is less about posting something meaningful on the internet, and more about just having SOMETHING to post.  And that makes me sad.

To be completely honest, I have thought about shutting down my blog entirely, but there is still so much that I love about blogging and the community as a whole.  I've thought about seeing if there's another blog that I could join, so I could still write, but I wouldn't have to keep up the same posting ferocity that I do when I'm on my own.  That seemed like the best option at the time, since I could go back to putting more thought and time into my reviews, rather than feeding like a review writing machine with barely enough time to proof read.  Estelle @ Rather Be Reading told me that she'd read, and loved, Fingerprints of You, but hadn't written a review for the blog.  That comment has stuck with me for some reason -- I review EVERY book that I've read ... yet sometimes it would be nice to just read a book, and let it sit with me, but not review it.  I review all of them because I want to have enough content on here, especially since putting together a Top Ten Tuesday post seems to take much longer than writing a review.  That's the other post that jumped out at me last night ... I'd done a TTT that paired songs with books, and it just saddened me to see a post that I had clearly invested a lot of time and energy writing, which I just can't do these days.

But I don't know.  I just don't know.  I'm all over the place right now in my head and in my heart.

I'm also feeling overwhelmed by the sheer volume that I have committed to as the owner of THIS blog -- I have e-galleys to read and review for books that are coming out up to the end of November, so I know that I'm committed to those.  Some of the titles are ones that I am so incredibly excited about (like Wally Lamb's new book, We Are Water -- I actually whooped with joy when I was approved on Edelweiss!)  Sometimes I get anxious just looking at them all on my e-reader, and wondering why on earth I requested so many.  But they're mostly books that I just know I will love.  It's just the deadlines that are a bit stressful.  Plus, I've registered for two courses in the fall, so I will be a stay-at-home mom and a part-time student.

Who knows, maybe this will all be a little easier to handle once the fall weather sets in and I'm more eager to curl up on the couch with a book, a cup of tea and a warm blanket.  Or maybe this is the beginning of the end.  Who knows, but thanks for letting me rant a little and share what's going through my mind at this moment in time.
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Wild Awake - Hilary T. Smith

I'd heard mixed reviews from bloggers on this book; it seemed like a book that I would either adore or DNF.  The beautiful cover lured me in and I ordered myself a copy, really hoping that I'd fall into the adore category.  And I did.  Oh, how I did.

While I was still waiting for my copy to arrive in the mail, I saw a promotional post on Facebook with a map of Kiri's adventures.  My jaw dropped when I checked out the map; I hadn't even REALIZED that the book takes place in Vancouver!!!  (That's where I live, for those who don't know).  Even from page one, it was awesome seeing Granville Street and East Van in print and it just really brought the book to life for me.

The writing is GORGEOUS.  I've seen some critiques of Hilary T. Smith's writing who said that the writing style is odd.  I would have to agree with that statement; I definitely have never read another book that is even remotely similar to this novel.  The odd writing style, however, really brings Kiri's character to life, and I was absolutely swept along by her adventure.

I don't want to say much more for fear of ruining this exceptional book.  If you're looking for something unique and different than anything else out there, then I would definitely recommend this one.  As I've read from others though, this book may not appeal to everyone, just because of the subject material (drugs, mental illness, etc).
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The Treasure Map of Boys and Real Live Boyfriends - E. Lockhart

I'm ridiculously behind with reviews -- a positive side effect of having been away on holidays and doing lots of reading while away!

I have finished my first series from my series intervention that I posted about a few weeks ago!  This was the PERFECT series to get me back on the horse with regard to finishing what I had started.  I read the first Ruby Oliver book a few months ago, and liked it but wasn't head over heels in love.  After finishing the final two books in the series over the course of three days, I can honestly say this: Ruby is such an amazing character who will always hold a special place in my heart.  I absolutely adored watching her grow and change throughout the course of these books.

This series reminds me a little bit of the Jessica Darling series, except a softer, more subtle version.  Although I found Jess to be hilarious, there were also times where I felt that she just wasn't growing up, and making the same adolescent mistakes even when she should have been growing past those moments.  But Ruby really grew and changed as the series progressed, and I really loved being a part of her journey.  My only criticism is that the books are just a little too short, and the series was over too soon!
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The Iron Daughter - Julie Kagawa

I read the first book in the series, The Iron King, way back in February 2012, shortly after I started this blog.  I can recall enjoying it, but not loving it.  When I reread my review, I was surprised to see that I was so excited by the end of the book and had already placed the next three books on hold at the library.  Obviously, something got in the way of finishing the series, as these things seem to do, and I've only now found myself picking up the second book.

It took a little while to remember what was happening in Meghan's world.  Just like the first book, the beginning of the book seemed a bit slow, but it picked up by the end of the story.  Meghan's character does get on my nerves a little bit -- she's not the best lead female that I've read.  But there are enough redeeming qualities to the series for me to read on, and I'm determined to finish the series!
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A to Z Bookish Survey

Confession: I LOVED those e-mail surveys that used to go around in high school.  Even if it was one that I'd filled out before, I used to copy and paste into a new e-mail message, and happily spend an hour filling out all 2,478 questions (because, really, some of those things just went on and on!)  So when the wonderful Jaime @ The Perpetual Page-Turner posted her A to Z Bookish Survey, the sixteen-year-old inside me jumped for joy!

Author You've Read the Most Books From:

According to Goodreads, James Patterson.  Although, if I were to add all the Sweet Valley that I read as a child, I'm sure Francine Pascal would top the list.

Best Sequel Ever:

Through the Ever Night -- it's rare when book 2 is better than book 1, but I am so, so, SO excited for Into the Still Blue!

Currently Reading:

Wild Awake and it's SO good.

Drink of Choice While Reading:


E-Reader or Physical Book:

Both!  I thought I'd never become an e-reader person, but then things changed.  I will always read physical books, but I'm enjoying my e-reader for both library books and e-galleys.

Fictional Character You Probably Would Have Actually Dated in High School:

Simon from the Mortal Instruments ... I've always liked the shy, dorky boys ;)

Glad You Gave This Book a Chance:

The Girl of Fire and Thorns.  It's renewed my interest in fantasy, and I've actually PURCHASED a few fantasy titles since then.

Hidden Gem Book:

Wonder by R.J. Palacio (please, please, PLEASE read this one!!!)

Important Moment in Your Reading Life:

Hmm, maybe starting up this blog and joining the online book community?  I've always been a reader, so it's not like I have one of those moments where I can say it was THIS BOOK that made me love reading -- reading's always been a part of my life.

Just Finished

The Ruby Oliver series -- SO good ... final two reviews to come this week!

Kind of Books You Won't Read:

Non-fiction ... no thank you!  I can do a memoir if I'm in the right kind of mood, but that's about it.

Longest Book You've Read:

According to Goodreads, the Little House on the Prairie collection!  But, for a single book, it's Stephen King's The Stand.

Major Book Hangover Because Of:

The first time I read White Oleander -- that book was SO beautiful that I just couldn't get into anything else for weeks.

Number of Bookcases You Own:

In the living room, nine, plus one small bookshelf of kids' books.  Then there are four more in the computer room, but those are my husband's chess books.

One Book You Have Read Multiple Times:

The Poisonwood Bible -- once in high school for a book report, then twice more in university for two different courses.

Preferred Place to Read:

Curled up on the couch with a blanket, on a cold, rainy day.

Quote That Inspires You / Gives You All the Feels From a Book You've Read:

As he read, I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, then all at once.
~ John Green's The Fault in Our Stars

Reading Regret:

Sometimes I wish that I'd bought some of the series that I started reading at the library.  For example, I've read both of the books in the Shatter Me series, but they were from the library, so I don't own them.  I want to buy them, but then I feel weird for buying books that I've already read.

Also, sometimes buying a book from a series before the series is done.  Because then they change the covers and my books don't match, like Delirium vs. Pandemonium and Requiem.

Series You Started and Need to Finish:

I wrote an entire post about this -- my series intervention challenge that I've given to myself!

Three of Your All-Time Favourite Books:

Lauren Oliver's Before I Fall, The Harry Potter series (sorry can't follow the rules) and Morgan Matson's Second Chance Summer.

Very Excited for This Release More than All the Others:

Probably Cress by Marissa Meyer, since I'm DYING to read Scarlet, but have promised myself to wait until the full series is released.

Worst Bookish Habit:

Probably reading too quickly.  Sometimes I wish that I read a little slower, since I'm sure I miss things along the way.  Also, I forget what I've read really easily -- I don't know if that really counts as a habit though ... just poor memory skills!

X Marks the Spot -- Start at the Top Left of Your Bookshelf and Pick the 27th Book:

The Lost Girl by Mandanna -- but that's only because it's piled in front of some other books, so I counted it.  My books are all alphabetized, except books that I've received from Christmas onwards, which haven't been incorporated in yet.

Your Latest Book Purchase:

Hubby and I just went to Russell Books (our favourite used bookstore -- did you see my post at Queen Ella Bee Reads?) over the long weekend and I bought Melina Marchetta's Finnikin of the Rock and J.K. Rowling's Tales of Beedle and the Bard.

ZZZ-Snatcher -- Latest Book that Kept You Up WAY Late

With a six month old baby, I think I'm physically incapable of staying up too late reading, but I do remember staying up to read just one more chapter when I was pregnant and reading Insurgent.
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This Girl - Colleen Hoover

The summer of 2013 shall be hereafter known as the Summer of Colleen Hoover.  After I read Hopeless a few months ago, I have read the rest of Colleen's works, culminating in this final book of the Slammed series.  While I had some minor issues with Slammed (teacher-student relationships are icky for me), I enjoyed Point of Retreat much more.  I was thrilled when my request to review This Girl was approved on Edelweiss (my first request and first approval -- how exciting), and started reading my review copy immediately.

This Girl was good, but not excellent.  As always, Colleen Hoover tells a fantastic story -- I read the entire book in a day and a half.  After reading Losing Hope earlier this summer, I think I'm just tired of reading the same story that I've already read, even if it's told from a different perspective.  This Girl is from Will's perspective, like Point of Retreat, except in addition to being a continuation of the story, Will is also telling his side of the story of the events that occurred in Slammed.  There were moments where I thought it was interesting to hear his side of the story, and other moments when I just wished that there was more NEW moments in THIS story.  I also found it mildly irritating that, despite all of that Layken and Will have been through together, there were still moments when they'd get mad at each other over the events of the past.  I wanted to yell at them to get over themselves, focus on the future, and let bygones be bygones.  Seriously.

BUT WAIT.  Just when I was ready to assign a three-star rating to the book and chalk it up to a just so-so read ... the ending of the book happened.  And I was in tears.  But, without spoiling anything, this emotional reaction may also be related to recent events in MY life.  The ending is still really, really, really good and redeemed the rest of the book; however, I do hope that Ms. Hoover's next book will include brand new characters with a brand new story.

Note: I received an e-galley of this book from Edelweiss.  The fact that I received this book for review did not influence my review of this book in any way.
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