Best Books of 2014

As this year comes to a close I think its time to chat about our favorite books of the year. For me, this was a tough reading year. There were definitely some books I LOVED, but it feels like there was less that totally blew me away. Because of this I spent a megaton of time re-reading books (okay, I always do that, but still). This year I found myself more lost in love with certain classics, or certain series and stand alones I’ve read multiple times, and those books—ones like Jellicoe Road, Harry Potter and The Sorcerer’s Stone, Princess in Love, To Kill A Mockingbird, and the Jenny Han Summer series—often took center stage.


But fear not. I read some good new (or new to me) ones too.


The Stand Alones/ First in a Series

Better off friends

Better Off Friends by Elizabeth Eulberg

It was sold as a YA When Harry Met Sally and it really is all that and more. This was one of those books I wanted to start reading again immediately after finishing it.

 We were Liars

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

In a word, breathtaking.


To All the BoysTo All The Boys I’ve Loved Before (#1) by Jenny Han

This book was so cute, so fun, and something in it just resonated with me. I read it and adored it and then, within months, read it again and loved it just the same.

More Than ThisMore Than This by Patrick Ness

You really can’t go wrong with Patrick Ness. The big question here is why on earth did I wait so long to read this?


Wonder by RJ Palacio

I avoided this book forever because I worried that as a mommy it would be unbelievably difficult to read. And you know what? It was every bit as amazing as I’d heard and more. Yes, there were tears, but there was so much joy, so much warmth. This one dug a hole deep in my heart. I think it should be required reading for all kids.

these broken starsThese Broken Stars ( Starbound #1) by Aimee Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

I loved this book from the first pages. It was unique and intriguing, and it took me on an entirely different journey than the one I’d expected. And the swoons were pretty excellent. Like, really good.


The Sequels


Blue lilyBlue Lily, Lily Blue (The Raven Boys #3) by Maggie Stiefvater

I can’t get enough of the gorgeous prose, of these characters, or of the crazy bananapants problems they encounter. After the fourth and final installment I’m certain to be grieving their loss.

Gods and MonstersDreams of Gods and Monsters (Daughter of Smoke and Bone #3) by Laini Taylor

Oh, this series. See what I wrote above about grieving? All the feels. I can’t even explain it.


Ignite MeIgnite Me (Shatter Me #3) by Tahereh Mafi

Oh sweet holy moly, these books. And Warner, setting panties aflame across the nation. This was a good journey and though it was technically the end (and a good, solid end), Mafi wrote it in a way that left a whole new world of possibilities to explore.


Just Call My NameJust Call My Name (I’ll Be There #2) by Holly Goldberg Sloan

These characters slay me. Even though the first book ended so perfectly, I like that Sloan chose to explore some of the difficulties that follow Sam, Riddle, and Emily as they adjust to their new lives. Even happy endings take work.



Honorable Mentions:

Since You've Been GoneSince You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson- So adorably cute that I’ll be reading it again soon. It gave me happy feelings.


Second Chanc SummerSecond Chance Summer by Morgan Matson- Another case of why did I wait so long?

Biggest FlirtsBiggest Flirts (The Superlatives #1) by Jennifer Echols- All. The. Banter. I was into this book all the way, hook, line and sinker.


Happy Reading! If you’ve read something that knocked your socks off, please share it with me!

Just Call My Name

18607158Just Call My Name (I’ll Be There #2) by Holly Goldberg Sloan


Emily Bell has it all. She’s in love with a boy named Sam Border, and his little brother has become part of her family. This summer is destined to be the best time of their lives–until a charismatic new girl in town sets her sights on Sam. Now Emily finds herself questioning the loyalty of the person she thought she could trust most.

But the biggest threat to her happiness is someone she never saw coming. Sam’s criminally insane father, whom everyone thought they’d finally left behind, is planning a jailbreak. And he knows exactly where to find Emily and his sons when he escapes…and takes his revenge. (Goodreads)

Just Call My Name picks up soon after the close of I’ll Be There, the stellar debut novel by Holly Goldberg Sloan. After the emotional, nicely tied up ending of the first book we settle in with the characters we first fell for and find out exactly what happens when they get their happy ending.  The truth is, it’s a lot of work, especially for Sam and Riddle, who’ve never had a normal life, never had stability or security, and have only been able to rely on each other.

In Just Call My Name, the boys are settling into their new lives, Riddle with the Bell family, who have adopted him, and Sam in an apartment nearby (the Bells wanted to adopt Sam as well, but since he was about to turn eighteen they were told it wasn’t necessary). Riddle is learning to read, trying to fit in with the adoptive family he adores (and the new brother who seems a teensy bit jealous of him). Sam is attending college and walks to the Bell family home on a daily basis to visit his younger brother. He’s struggling more with the adjustment process, so used to constantly worrying over Riddle. This new happiness is foreign and he lives as though it may somehow slip from his grasp.

Emily has a job at a local restaurant, joined by the ever-annoying Robb. Don’t call him Bobby. No, no, no. It’s Robb. Two B’s. And he’s every bit as obnoxious as that extra B makes him sound–at first. He still has this odd fixation with Emily that borders on creepy and he just doesn’t get what she sees in Sam. Sam and Emily are treading slowly, but we are able to see that these two seem to have an unshakable bond, something even they don’t quite understand.

But remember that they are, in fact, teenagers. As such, one night as Sam waits outside the restaurant for Emily to finish her shift, he meets Destiny, a girl who works at the boutique next door. Destiny has a pretty rough background and can use the help of a few friends, but she makes Emily uncomfortable. Maybe it’s the fact that she’s so experienced in life. Maybe it’s the way she dresses, or her obvious interest in Sam. Whatever it is, Emily can’t shake the feeling that this girl is trouble.

And let’s not forget Clarence Border, that stealth, arrogant man, so evil and driven in his contempt for his boys and the way they’ve been “brainwashed” by the Bells. He manages to escape prison and sets out get Sam and Riddle back to teach them all a lesson about how traitorous they’ve been.

My Thoughts:

I loved this book. I fell in love with the characters the first time around, and I loved them equally here. Sam is a genuinely tormented young man, balancing the damage done by his father, the changes in responsibilities with his brother (entrusting him to the Bells), and his deep love for Emily,which often confuses him in how beautiful and overwhelming it can be. The closer he gets to her, the more afraid he seems to be of letting her see how damaged he really is.  This is where Destiny finds a slight connection with him. In some ways, they understand each other. Emily is understandably insecure, but she’s still the bright, brave girl we met the first time around. I had mixed feelings about Robb and Destiny (of course I hated her at first because DON’T EVEN), but they both earned my respect in the things they were willing to do for their friends. The star of the show though was Riddle who, through the love of his new family and that of his big brother, has grown more vocal, and has embraced his new life with bright curiosity. I dare you not to fall in love with this kid.

If I have any complaints about this book it’s the fact that Emily’s parents play such a small role. They were such an integral part of the last book and they are the reason Emily is the girl she is, which is evident in the way they’ve taken in the boys (especially considering how awkward it must be to have their adoptive son’s big brother who is an almost-adult dating their daughter). Otherwise, this was a great book and a good follow-up to a story I already felt immersed in.

Crush Intensity: 5/5 I love Holly Goldberg Sloan’s omniscient storytelling style that lets us into the minds of multiple characters. Excellent sequel.


Thank you to NetGalley and to Little & Brown for giving me an e-galley in exchange for an honest review.



Film Talk: If I Stay

I’m so sorry it’s taken such a long time to get this review up. I’ve tried in a multitude of ways to make an actual vlog because…there’s stuff to say. I mean, Jamie Blackley? Hubba hubba. But technology, at least of the video posting variety, is not my friend. I probably could have gotten my twelve-year-old to figure it out in two seconds, but there this thing called pride.

Have you seen the film, If I Stay yet? And if so, what did you think? I saw it at one of those early release Thursday night showings. There were no dudes in the theater, which, while not surprising, I found funny. I went with two dear friends who love the books, and we had our tissues in hand.

I have to say, I really liked it. I think it’s absolutely a fan’s movie. It is, of course, possible to enjoy it if you haven’t read the book, but as is true in all cases, the book is always better. Let’s break it down:


Mia and Adam

Mia and Adam

I thought this group was put together beautifully. I initially had my doubts about Chloe Grace Moretz as Mia only because I still see her as that foul-mouthed cutie from Kick Ass, but she held her own as this strong young woman who is literally grappling with life and death. Jamie Blackley was divine as Adam because, well, Adam is Adam, flawed and perfect all at the same time. He captured that desperate way Adam loves Mia, a heartfelt, soulful guy rolled up into a rocker on the verge of something big.

More than anyone else in the film—more than Kim, or Teddy, or Grandpa—I loved Mia’s parents, Kat and Denny. They were played so well by Mireille Enos and Joshua Leonard. I fell in love with these characters in each book, this quirky balance of aging rockers meet loving, hip, parents. They are innately cooler than their daughter, at least, in her eyes. And these actors nail it. They are Kat and Denny.

Mom and Dad encouraging Mia, as always.

Mom and Dad encouraging Mia, as always.

Dad and teddy

Dad and Teddy

Dad with Teddy as a baby. OMG. Be right back there’s something in my eye.


The Changes

Every movie does it. Sometimes it seems quite necessary, other times it makes no sense to me. In this film there are minor changes and some details left out, but nothing HUGE. Adam’s background is a little different and I guess that was supposed to make him seem edgier. After the accident there are some changes in terms of injuries and who is hurt at what times (meaning, Mia’s dad is not killed on impact). It didn’t feel necessary to me, but it didn’t really change things either.

I think they kept the most important scenes. I would have loved to have seen Mia reading Harry Potter with Teddy (that’s possibly due to the super Harry Potter nerd in me). The issue of Mia and Julliard was a much bigger deal, not only in whether Mia lives or dies, but before the accident, in terms of her relationship with Adam. Of course, the book doesn’t go into exhaustive detail about it really, we just know she and Adam have reached a difficult crossroads in their relationship just before the accident. Overall, it made him feel more demanding.

The Swoons

Yes, they’re all there. Jamie Blackley is quite adept as Adam. He hits the right note, balancing that aching love Adam has for Mia with this sexy confidence Adam has in all things. AS HE SHOULD. There are many lines taken directly from the book, and while they’re beautifully written in the novel, in some moments they feel a little cringeworthy. As with many book to film translations, it’s so different to read those words than to say them out loud.

And can we talk about the sex scene? I took issue with this part of the book, mostly because I was never entirely sure what happened (If you’ve figured it out, that’s great. Don’t e-mail me or anything).  It was really my only complaint about the novel (other than the band name which, thank God, has been changed in the film). But that whole “play me” business? Gone. They have a scene that alludes to sex and it involves chords in music, but it’s tastefully done and gets the point across without any cheese factor. That was definitely a positive change.

Also, I’ve heard some criticism of Mia and her uncertainty about her self worth, about where she fits into her family, and about whether or not Adam really loves her. I cannot tell you how much this aggravates me because, guess what? She’s a teenager. Not only that, she’s a human. I don’t know anyone who had the answers as a kid. As an adult, I’m still grappling.

The Music

Stellar. The fact that Jamie Blackley is a real musician played into it all, I’m sure, but I found myself wanting to go to a Willamete Stone show. Mia has this great moment where she’s explaining to Kim that sometimes after one of Adam’s shows she just wants to lick his face. Normally, I’d say that’s super-gross, but I have to say I SO GET YOU MIA. Maybe when my husband comes home from a tough day of teaching, I’ll lick his face. You never know what love will drive you to do, right?

Here’s a quick clip of the band:

Final Thoughts

I enjoyed this movie and yeah, I totally cried. There are some melodramatic  moments, but overall it was good. It wasn’t a perfect film, but at the end of the day, I found it to be a thoughtful tribute to a book fans loved.

Recently I’ve read a ton of reviewers who are doing the whole “it’s not The Fault in Our Stars thing. This irks me to no end. Outside of the fact that this film is based on a widely successful YA novel, they are completely different. I hate to see them compared in such a way because while yes, they are stories that grapple with death, and love, and life, they are not the same. For all those who want to bash If I Stay as though it’s some sad copy, please remember, If I Stay came first. I say this as an honest devotee to The Fault in Our Stars. Trust me, there’s room for both stories and both films.

Let me leave you with this, one of my favorite scenes in the book, beautifully translated into one of my favorite scenes in the movie. Here a short clip:





Film Talk: The Giver

My daughter asked me to read The Giver by Lois Lowry, one of her favorite books,  sometime last year. Of course, I loved it. It goes without saying then that I was so excited to finally see it on the big screen. Like any other fan, I watched the trailer over and over, watched every featurette, and scoured the internet for images from the film long before the release date.


We went to see it opening day (and ran into tons of kids from our school) and while there were some slight changes, and maybe a thing or two I would have done differently, I have to say, all four of us really, really loved it. In fact, virtually everyone we know who is a fan of the book that saw the film was very pleased.  So I’m not really understanding the criticism or why it hasn’t done well at the box office. With the kind of following those book have, I’m surprised.

Now, I understand that the book is always, always better than the movie. There’s no question about that. No one can match what’s in our own minds, no one can look or speak or react in the same way our brain dictates. But in this case I felt Jeff Bridges, who labored for years to make this film, made it with love and respect for the story and characters the fans hold dear.

The main issues I hear people griping about are:

1. Jonas’s Age- So, in the book he’s twelve. In the film he’s sixteen. I don’t know the reason for this change. I absolutely believe the story itself has a greater impact when it’s a twelve year-old who takes on the burdens Jonas does. BUT. Sixteen year old Jonas is not like every other sixteen year old you or I know. He is all innocence. In fact, Brenton Thwaites captures that wide-eyed sweetness so well. To me, he looked exactly as I pictured Jonas, only older. I totally freaked out when he was cast, too. I mean, he was way too old, right? Esoecially considering Twaites was twenty-four when he was cast! But I had a year to get over it. It’s not as though it was a surprise going in. And with time and with the images I saw, and finally, the film, he seemed like an excellent choice considering they’d decided to go with a teenage Jonas. Would I have preferred a twelve year-old? Definitely. But it did not make or break the film for me. What everything hinged on was Jonas, who he was, what he was willing to do, and the fact that he–still a child, especially when you consider his upbringing and naiveté concerning the world–was willing to go to the lengths he did.

Jonas and Gabe

2. The Love Story-  I am so sick of hearing this! We know that in the book, Jonas started having dreams and thoughts about Fiona, which he recalled led him to having to start taking his pills. His parents referred to these feelings as “The Stirrings” and assured him it was normal. Had Jonas been twelve in the film I think it would have made sense to leave it there. But he’s sixteen (see item #1). He’s not taking his injections (vs. pills in the book). It’s only natural that he develops an attraction to Fiona. Would I call it romantic love? No. It was the beginning of something. It was curiosity, and considering his age, it was far more authentic to do that than to ignore that hormonally and emotionally he was going to experience changes. If it was possible for him to feel love for Gabe or Giver, it was also possible for him to feel something–attraction, attachment, stirrings–for Fiona.

Fiona and Jonas


3. Meryl Streep’s Character Was Way Bigger- I have no issue with this. It makes sense to identify the evil and the control with one individual than with some ominous but vague threat. Also, when you’ve got Meryl Streep in a movie you capitalize on it.

Meryl Streep Giver


4. Been There Done That- This is the complaint that I struggle with most. Yes, we’ve seen YA dystopic worlds successfully turned into films in recent years. And we’ve seen legions of excellent (and not so excellent) book series that are all doom and gloom societies where it’s essential that one unlikely teen prevail over evil for the good of all. And yet Lowry was pretty much the YA writer from whom such ideas originated. Everyone, in some way stole from her genius, if only a little. So let’s give credit where credit is due. Maybe this movie took too long to make it to the screen, maybe not, but a strong story is timeless. It’s always good.

Lois Lowry

Lois Lowry


My Praise:

1. Jeff Bridges as Giver- Simply put, there could not have been a better man to play him. It’s been said that when he bought the rights to this book he envisioned his father playing Giver, and with all due respect to his father, I think Bridges was perfect.

Jeff Bridges, Giver


2. The Memories- I loved the imagery used, especially when Giver seeks to give Jonas strength for what he’s about to do. I’m not going to lie; I got choked up.

Giver images

3. Jonas- As I said above, I think Brenton Thwaites captured the heart of Jonas. He has great moments with Giver, with Gabe, and with Fiona.Giver and Jonas

4. Love- The scene where Jonas asks his father if he loves him. I really liked his father’s reaction (“I enjoy you”) and his mother’s reaction(which, honestly, it’s been a while. I don’t remember if it’s in the book), calling love “a word so antiquated it’s lost all meaning.” And I loved that he finally experienced love with Giver and with Gabe.

Giver parents

5. The End- I struggled with the end of the book because it was so ambiguous. Did they live? Did they die? Was it all some weird plan of Giver? Who knows? I didn’t know until the THIRD BOOK that Jonas and Gabe both survived.  I think the simple ending of the film still left it with clarity without truly changing the outcome.

As a fan of the book series, I really enjoyed this movie. Later this week we’ll discuss the film version of If I Stay.


Second Chance Summer

Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson


Second Chanc SummerTaylor Edwards’ family might not be the closest-knit—everyone is a little too busy and overscheduled—but for the most part, they get along just fine. Then Taylor’s dad gets devastating news, and her parents decide that the family will spend one last summer all together at their old lake house in the Pocono Mountains.

Crammed into a place much smaller and more rustic than they are used to, they begin to get to know each other again. And Taylor discovers that the people she thought she had left behind haven’t actually gone anywhere. Her former best friend is still around, as is her first boyfriend…and he’s much cuter at seventeen than he was at twelve.

As the summer progresses and the Edwards become more of a family, they’re more aware than ever that they’re battling a ticking clock. Sometimes, though, there is just enough time to get a second chance—with family, with friends, and with love. (Goodreads)

The Story:

Taylor’s family is returning to their summer home at Phoenix Lake, someplace they haven’t been in ages. It’s the place she spent every summer of her childhood, the place she first fell in love with Henry, where she forged what seemed like an indestructible friendship with Lucy, and where it all fell apart five years ago. Now Taylor is returning there with her family on the cusp of receiving life-altering news. She has to face the heartbreak that is inevitably waiting around the corner, and face those she left behind without a word that last summer on the lake. Here, Taylor gets to know her family again, she faces her fears instead of doing what she’s always done–run away–and she gets what we all need sometimes: a second chance.

My Thoughts:

What a beautiful, sweet, sometimes heartbreaking book. Morgan Matson perfectly captures all those emotions wrapped up in first love, best friends, and family drama, and even simple things like summer jobs or days lounging by a lake. This book is everything a summer novel should be.

Taylor is grappling with earth-shattering news. Her father has only weeks, month maybe, to live. And this man, oh, what a guy he is. Both in flashbacks and in present day timelines, it’s impossible not to love him and love the way he enjoys life. The moments he takes with each person in the family, the special breakfasts he and Taylor have a couple of times a week, are the sweetest, loveliest parts of this book. To me, this is where the true love story lies. But we can’t talk about that too much because THE TEARS.

But yes, there is another story. First, that of Taylor and Lucy, her old BFF. The dialogue, the flashbacks, the ease of these two girls, is pretty much YA perfection. Every moment of it feels real, feels true, like any moment you or I may have had with our childhood bestie. And Henry, that adorable first crush, who has grown into that adorable guy, his relationship with Taylor has such promise. The reason Taylor had her falling out with the two of them five years ago is not high drama. As an adult, I don’t think it’s a big deal, but I can see how, at the age Taylor was at the time, it seemed massive. And her heart feels so raw until she rights that wrong.

This is a wonderful book. I was so sad when it ended, for many reasons, but mainly because Matson introduced me to characters I fell in love with and placed them in a town I’d move to in a heartbeat. It made me wish those summers of my childhood could have lasted forever.

Crush Intensity: 4.5 I could read this book again and again–but I’d need lots of Kleenex!

Where’d I Get It: The library

We Were Liars

We Were Liars by e. Lockhart

We were LiarsA beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
True love.
The truth.

We Were Liars is a modern, sophisticated suspense novel from National Book Award finalist and Printz Award honoree E. Lockhart.

Read it.
And if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE. (Goodreads)



The Story:

The Sinclair family summers in a private island just off the coast of Massachusetts. They are so beautiful, so privileged, so exceedingly wealthy that not only to they have an island to themselves, there are several homes on the island (each named, of course), one for each daughter, and one main residence for the family patriarch. And no matter how much they have they are never without secrets, never without a dose of animosity, both to each other and to Grandfather, who rules the family with disapproving looks and silent financial threats.

On the outside the Sinclairs live an ideal life, but inside they are just as imperfect as any other family. Perhaps more.

Cadence “Cady” Sinclair is our MC. When we meet her she’s recovering from an accident, a head injury that’s left her with migraines and weakness and with no memory of how it occurred. It’s kept her away from the island for a couple of summers, and more importantly it’s kept her away from the people she loves most: her cousins Mirren and Johnny, and her first love, Gat. The four of them are bound by love and by family, and by a shared belief in the strength of their trust over the value of their money. Together they are the antithesis of what Grandfather and the aunts stand for.

This is the summer Cady finally returns to the island, to the memories of the accident, and to the family she’s longed for these last two years.


My Thoughts:

This book. Oh, I loved it. I realize it’s not for everyone. Lockhart has a style and prose that’s unique, and sometimes choppy. As a writer, she always speaks to me and I find her words to be direct and lovely, and this novel more than any other, is hauntingly beautiful, but quite tragic. It is a different turn for her, especially if you’re accustomed to novels like The Ruby Oliver series, or The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau Banks, but one thing is similar: Lockhart is first and foremost a wonderful storyteller who imagines quirky, beautiful characters who live in worlds just distant enough to feel foreign, but realistic enough for us to relate to on a deeply human level.

There is little I can say about this story without spoiling it, but read it. Trust me. You’ll be so glad you did.


Crush Intensity: 5/5 One of my favorite books this year.

Thank you to Random House for providing me with an advance copy for review.

Top Ten Tuesday- Best Books So Far This Year

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and The Bookish.


This week we are discussing our favorite books we’ve read in 2014…so far. Big problem for me since I’ve probably spent more time re-reading books this year than I have reading new books. And honestly, there have been few that have blown me away. Here are a few that i really, really enjoyed:


We were Liars1. We Were Liars By e. Lockhart- I am a huge Lockhart fan. This is different for her, but I loved it. It stayed with me for days. And yeah, the big secret may not be a shocker, but the way she tells the story and conveys the pain is so good it doesn’t matter.


Better off friends2. Better Off Friends by Elizabeth Eulberg- Books don’t get cuter than this one.


Ignite Me3. Ignite Me (Shatter Me #3) by Tahereh Mafi- Good lord, the steam. I love Warner. Love him. Though this is the end of the series, it feel like the beginning of so much more.


these broken stars4. These Broken Stars by Aime Kaufman and Meagan Spooner- A sci-fi, a Titanic vibe, a rock-solid romance and a strange, spooky twist.


More Than This5. More Than This by Patrick Ness- Melancholy and odd, Ness never, ever fails to disappoint. His worlds are painful and strange, but the characters are so human, so much like ourselves, it’s impossible not to relate.


What I thought Was true6. What I Thought Was True by Huntley Fitzpatrick- The epitome of a summer book. Good story, sweet romance, but substance as well.


Biggest flirts7. Biggest Flirts by Jennifer Echols- This one was cute and highly addictive. Is it life changing? No. But it’s not meant to be. It’s fun and I couldn’t put it down.


Scandal8. #scandal by Sarah Ockler- Different than her other books, but compelling and fun. I loved the cast of characters and how timely it is that they struggle with the weight of stupid decisions made in the spotlight of social media.


husbands secret9. The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty- This was a book club pick, Adult fic at its finest. I really enjoyed it. The epilogue is the best part.


That’s all for now. Have a great Tuesday!




Top Ten Tuesday- Books For Your Beach Bag

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and The Bookish.


This week we are chatting up summer reads. Personally, I think a good book is good any time, but there is something about a cute, happy story, or a book with a good romance, that just SCREAMS summer. Plus, you need something to do at the beach other than pretending to be busy when you’re actually people watching (am I the only one who does this?).

beach sign

Here are a few I’d recommend:

The Princess Diaries1. The Princess Diaries series by Meg Cabot- Let’s get the obvious one out of the way, shall we? But really, these books are funny, unbelievably cute, and you can read them in a single sitting. And then you’ll want to contact me and be like, OMG I get it now! I look like I swallowed a sock (see? You had to be there).

Summer I Turned Pretty2. The Summer series by Jenny Han– Well, duh. The name says it all. These books are perfect because they each take place over the course of the summers that Belly (trust me, you’ll get past the name) spends at the family beach house of Conrad and Jeremiah Fisher. These are the boys she’s loved all her life, in the house she’s grown up visiting every summer. When she turns fifteen both boys begin to see her as something other than a kid sister (she’s not their sister, because that would be gross). Also, I dare you not to love Conrad Fisher. He’s a little douchy at first, but trust me. You’ll fall for him slowly.

We were Liars3. We Were Liars by E. Lockhart– I loved this book. The review is still to come. It takes place on a private island owned by the Sinclair family. Yes, they are THAT filthy, stinking rich. But with that money, with that privileged family, comes sadness, and love, and an interesting twist.


Better off friends4. Better Off Friends by Elizabeth Eulberg– This book does not take place over the summer, nor is it set on a beach. But it’s being described as a YA When Harry Met Sally. Two best friends who fall in love. What could be cuter than that?

What I thought Was true5.  What I Thought Was True by Huntley Fitzpatrick– Definitely a summer book. This one takes place in a small seaside town. There’s a rich vs. poor element, there are family secrets and a protagonist with a past, and there’s a great love story. Fitzpatrick is particularly gifted at writing authentic love stories. Don’t miss this one.

My Life Next Door6. My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick– While you’re at it, don’t miss her debut novel either. It’s pretty perfect as summer love stories go.

Book of Broken Hearts7. The Book of Broken Hearts by Sarah Ockler– I loved this book. It is heartbreaking in many ways, but there is a beautiful love story here. There’s also a sweet romance, but at the heart of it is a story about a girl’s love for her ailing father.

the truth about forever8. Anything by Sarah Dessen- My personal favs will always be The Truth About Forever and This Lullaby, but you could probably pick any one and be happy. Her books are the essence of summer: good heroines and swoony guys, all set in a small town. She doesn’t shy away from issues, but she always leaves you feeling hopeful in the end.

Biggest flirts9. Biggest Flirts by Jennifer Echols– Oh, this one is cute and sexy and funny. I haven’t read all of her books, but this is by far the one I’ve enjoyed most. And I really, really love the two main characters. They have good chemistry and their banter is so cute that I kept finding myself with a big, stupid grin on my face.

This is What Happy Looks Like10. This is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith– Adorable. A. DOR. A. BLE. Just read it.


What’s Going in MY Beach Bag?

To All the BoysTo All The Boys I Loved Before by Jenny Han– I haven’t read this and must rectify this immediately because Jenny Han is a YA goddess.

Scandal#Scandal by Sarah Ockler– Ditto. I always love her books. She is a fantastic writer. And the premise is so timely (a girl gets caught kissing her BFF’s boyfriend and her life goes haywire thanks to social media).

Gods and MonstersDreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor– I hate saying goodbye. Sniff. This is an amazing series. I’m so sad it’s over.

ChampionChampion by Marie Lu– We’ve owned this for about fifty years, but I can’t bring myself to move on. I am so bad at leaving a series I love behind.

The OneThe One by Kiera Cass– Yeah, what I said about the last two books.


Have a great Tuesday and Happy Reading!



Selective Collective: We Were Liars Roundtable Discussion

Welcome to The Selective Collective, the feature where my blogging pals and I choose a new book and discuss every element, from page to page, start to finish.

Our book this month is We Were Liars by the utterly awesome E. Lockhart.

We were Liars

A beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
True love.
The truth.
We Were Liars is a modern, sophisticated suspense novel from National Book Award finalist and Printz Award honoree E. Lockhart. 

Read it.
And if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE. (Goodreads)

I LOVED this book. It’s very different for Lockhart, who normally makes me laugh and fist pump and want to give everyone around me a high five, but it was very good. Painfully so.

This month I have the distinct pleasure of hosting the roundtable discussion with my other SC friends.  In order to avoid any spoilers, we’re keeping it light and clear of any huge plot points.


1. We Were Liars is the story of Cadence “Cady” Sinclair and the summers she spends with her cousins, grandparents, and others, on the family’s private island. Her cousins, Johnny, Mirren, and Gat are her best friends, though they don’t spend real time together outside of the island. Have you ever had a relationship like that, someone who was close to you but who wasn’t truly a part of your everyday life?

As a blogger, I’m not physically close to most of my blogger friends, but we develop a close friendship and I have a really great friendship with so many of my blogger friends! That’s a bit different though, because they really ARE a part of my everyday life! 
Unfortunately, I’m at that point in my life where I have friends from my childhood and from high school that are still a big part of my past but I don’t really talk to them on a regular basis. It’s nice though, because every time we do get together, we can pick up right where we left off! Things may have changed, but our friendship is always still the same. (Brittany, The Book Addict’s Guide)
Well, obvs!  😛  First Daphne, my co-blogger.  Though we know each other from YEARS ago and still see each other from time to time we don’t really get together but chat constantly.  I text her more than anyone outside of my sister.  After her I’d say the rest of my SC gals – who I do text as well though not as often as Daph.  That is one of the great things about the blogging community, books may have brought us together but we truly care about each other and check in. (Kristina, Gone Pecan)
I have a friend from college who moved to NYC after graduation. We’ve seen each other maybe twice since then, which was about 7 years ago (for her… I graduated a year before she did). However, we talk daily. And not just for a few minutes, but pretty much all day long on gchat. While she’s not in my life physically, she’s one of the first people I go to with anything. I honestly believe we’ve gotten closer since we’ve been apart. (Candice, The Grown Up YA)

2. Summers on the island seemed to be spent going from house to house with the different cousins and aunts. Have you ever had a family vacation tradition, someplace you traveled to every summer, or something you did every summer like clockwork?

I always used to envy those kids who would go to a vacation house or camp every summer. I was never that kid. We’d make a trip to Palm Springs each year (which I loved, but just so you know, Palm Springs is a place you don’t want to be in July since it’s eleven thousand degrees on your average day). Now, as my kids grow, we try to create some summer traditions for them outside of the normal beach days and  movie outings. We take a camping trip every summer with our very dear friends and their young children. The spot varies, but hey, it’s real camping with tents and s’mores and campfires. No electronics or big luxuries in the great outdoors! On the home front we do dorky things like Christmas in July (Christmas movies and homemade cookie decorating all day around July 25) and Talk With An English Accent day.  We usually squeeze in a road trip each summer, too and our family looks forward to that.  (Tee @YA Crush)

3. So much of this novel is about the twisted, trouble life of an excessively wealthy family. Do you think the money itself was the problem, that life would have been simpler for them without it, or do you think the issue lies with the family itself and the way Grandfather led them?

I think the money contributed because they couldn’t have had the lifestyle without the money.  There relationships with each other would have been different because without the excessive wealth, they probably wouldn’t spend every summer together like they do.  I think the money had a great influence on the grandfather as well and his power over the money gave him power over the rest of the family, so yes, money was the problem in this case.  I was disgusted by the way the parents (adults) used the kids to try to ingratiate themselves with the grandparents.  ( Daphne, Gone Pecan)


I think it’s about 50/50. Money can very definitely often lead to problems, even in the best functioning families. You can definitely see a lot of typical money issues in the Sinclair family: greed, jealousy, pettiness, anger, hurt, revenge. Money can easily bring out the very worst in people. That being said, I think a lot of the Sinclairs’ problems stemmed from who they are. The grandfather might have started a lot of the issues with his own thirst for money and power, but I think each of the daughters formed their own issues separately from their upbringing. Each of their hurt and disappointments led to their own jealous behaviors and sparked quite a lot of animosity between the family. (Candice, The Grown Up YA)

4. If you inherited an insane amount of money what would you do?

If I inherited an insane amount of money, first of all, I would probably faint dead away because there’s no way it could be true. However, the next thing I would do is pack my bags and head to Italy to try to find myself a nice little casa in the Italian countryside, maybe with a vineyard, but definitely with a cook, someone’s grandmother.  Once that was accomplished, I would pay for my entire extended family to take a vacation at Disney World.  When that’s over, I’d take a nice relaxing vacation with my husband & kids in Fiji.  I just realized my dreams all include going places, not necessarily buying things.  Following that, I would probably buy things for my new Italian villa and buy all the Coach leather purses my new bedroom-sized closet could hold. (Daphne, Gone Pecan)

If I inherited money, I would do one thing first and foremost. TRAVEL. I would skive off work (is that a British word? I think I may only know it from Harry Potter) and just TRAVEL. Europe. Alaska. Hawaii. The rest of the US. Tropical vacations. That’s my dream! After wasting money on trips, I would definitely fix up my house a little bit more and do general home improvements… And you know… Help pay for the wedding! (Brittany, The Book Addict’s Guide)
Where do I start?  I’d start smart.  First, I’d buy myself a house.  Nothing massive but some cute, with a bit of land so I wouldn’t have neighbors too close.  Then I’d pay off any bills, car notes, credit cards, etc.  Next up, immediate family.  I’d help them out as best I could.  After that?  All bets are off!  I’d definitely do some traveling, maybe buy a vacation home somewhere? (Kristina, Gone Pecan)

5. Cady, Johnny, Mirren, and Gat refer to themselves as The Liars. This speaks volumes about what they observed within their own family. Without spoilers, what do you think they meant by that name?

While the four call themselves Liars, I think it’s funny how broad that title stretches. I think it mostly means that they were lying to themselves about who they are. Sure, the whole family puts on a front for society: wealthy, well-to-do, Democrat family who is hap hap happy. But I think they go a step further and put that front on for themselves, telling themselves that they are a happy family and that “they’re Sinclairs” as if that means something important. They are lying to themselves about who they are and who they aren’t. And that’s all I’m going to say because it’s about to get real spoilery up in here. (Candice, The Grown Up YA)


I think that on the outside the Sinclairs appear to have a life people dream about. They have summer homes–that’s plural–on a private island with servants and loads money, so much that they don’t event think about it. They’re so wealthy that each daughter has her own home on the island. This is in addition to the main house, where Grandpa lives. And it’s in addition to the lush lives they live in their gorgeous homes off the island. They NAMED their houses. Only exceedingly wealthy (or British) people do this. But Cady, Mirren, Johnny, and Gat aren’t blind. They see through the picture-perfect image. They see the crack in the family bond, the troubles with money and the inner turmoil of a family run by a slightly oppressive patriarch. So that beautiful life everyone thinks they live? It’s just like yours or mine. In fact, it’s not even as good as that. It’s filled with lies. It’s troubled, it’s complicated, and the money only makes it worse.  I have to say, I think their name, The Liars, suits them. (Tee, YA Crush)


Please be sure to visit my amazing blogging partners and check out their features today.

The Book Addict’s Guide- Author Q&A and Giveaway

Gone Pecan-Author-The Long Con

The Grown Up YA- Page to Screen

Teen Lit Rocks- Review


Many thanks to Random House, who sent us all copies of We Were Liars.



Well Hello…


It’s been a while, I know. Life has been busy, as I’m sure it has been for you. I’ve been book clubbing (we’ve read The Husband’s Secret, and most recently, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, which I hadn’t read in a very long time). I’ve been doing all those end of the year activities with my children at their school. I’ve been re-reading books I’ve read 15,000 times (Princess Mia, The Summer I Turned Pretty, If I Stay, The Sky is Everywhere), I’ve been getting my children into some of my favorite books by reading with them at night (The Knife of Never Letting Go with the Big, and Harry Potter and The Sorcerer’s Stone with the Little). And I’ve been reading some fun books (more on that to come).


Also, I’ve been spazzing about this. YOU GUYS. It was announced a couple of weeks ago and I’m still freaking out.

I also recently realized that I won’t be able to go see The Fault In Our Stars movie on opening night. I won’t even be able to see it until that Tuesday, which would really bum be out if it weren’t for the fact that I have some fun birthday plans that weekend (but I don’t know what they are because Vee and my hubby–so really, Vee–planned it all and it’s a surprise).

Also, here is a great place to find clips from the TFIOS film. Sigh. I already want to bawl.


And I know this is late, but I’ve never posted about this. The If I Stay trailer. All the feelings. I can’t watch it without crying, but like the TFIOS trailer, I’ve watched it eleventy times.


So, there are multiple reviews on the way.  I ‘m super-behind. Some of the ones coming are: We Were Liars; My Best Friend, Maybe; Fool Me Twice; What I Thought Was True; The Chapel Wars; The Winner’s Curse; Ignite Me; Bright Before Sunrise; and Better Off Friends. Plus, I have a stack of awesome books I’m working my way through right now.

Have a great Memorial Day weekend!