March 26, 2015

Wicked Review: All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

Published: January 6, 2015
Publisher: Knopf
Acquired: Borrowed Paperback

Theodore Finch is fascinated by death, and he constantly thinks of ways he might kill himself. But each time, something good, no matter how small, stops him.
Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister’s recent death.
When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school, it’s unclear who saves whom. And when they pair up on a project to discover the “natural wonders” of their state, both Finch and Violet make more important discoveries: It’s only with Violet that Finch can be himself—a weird, funny, live-out-loud guy who’s not such a freak after all. And it’s only with Finch that Violet can forget to count away the days and start living them. But as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to shrink.
This is an intense, gripping novel perfect for fans of Jay Asher, Rainbow Rowell, John Green, Gayle Forman, and Jenny Downham from a talented new voice in YA, Jennifer Niven.

I would like to thank my friends, Jayvee of Writer for Misfits, for being such a dear with her All The Bright Places tweets that I checked it out because of her, and to Neil for lending me his copy of the book.

It was:
- Beautiful
- Gut-wrenching
- Amazing
- One hell of a ride
- Dramatic
- Intense

Theodore and Violet went to experience what their pretty Indiana has to offer them. What started as a requirement became one of the most beautiful journey's I have ever read. It's a journey to knowing yourself and the person you're with. Theodore has thought of killing himself numerous times but he can't quite get to it. Violet lost her sister and can't seem to get back on track. At one point in my life, I have had thoughts of killing myself. I've had "episodes" wherein I completely shut myself out from the world. But when Theodore met Violet, his world changed.

He let Violet in his messed up world of Post-It notes and carefree attitude. He has multiple versions of himself in the book. He tries to dress up and acts a certain way depending on his mood. He is often misunderstood, I think. He was labeled a 'Freak' by someone whom he saw as a really good friend. He was physically abused by his father who walked out of their lives and started a new family. I knew from the moment I read the book that Finch will be the one leaving the book. Each chapter is told in their POV and below their names are the number of days leading up that. His death didn't satisfy me. I felt like there was something missing. But if only Finch were real and I could get to the fictional purgatory where their souls rest, I'd ask him.

Violet, on the other hand, lost his sister to a car accident. Her relationship with her sister is something I'm envious of. Whenever Violet remembers Eleanor in her memories, I can't help but sort of tear up because I wish that my older sister and I grew up together. Violet's life before the accident was a vibrant one. She and her sister have a website of their own. She has a boyfriend. She's popular. She's passionate with writing. She's part of the cheerleading squad. It was almost perfect. Ever since losing her sister, she lost everything. She blames herself for it. She can't get back to writing. She met Finch. She met the real Finch. She knows who he is. She loved him to death.

Their love is quite scary and beautiful at the same time. Scary because it consumed both of them and beautiful because it's that kind of love that you can dream of and hope that it happens to you as well. This book tackled suicide, bipolar disorder and post traumatic stress disorder. Heavy topics, I know. But they are serious. Especially bipolar disorder. It's become a label. I asked a friend of mine who's a psychology major about bipolar disorder and it's serious. Only licensed psychologists/psychometricians/psychiatrists are the only one who can diagnose someone with bipolar disorder. Reading this book opened my eyes to this. I admit that I have used the term bipolar so loosely. I've called people that not knowing the real definition of the word and the implications of my actions before. This is a call for everyone to be more careful with their words and actions as well and to be more aware of people's feelings.

This is a wonderful read. I asked my friend Neil if I could extend my borrowing time because I plan to read it again and he said yes. I am thankful to Jennifer Niven for bringing this amazing YA debut into the world.

By the time I was ten, I had already written numerous songs, a poem for Parker Stevenson ("If there were a Miss America for men, You would surely win"), two autobiographies (All About Me and My Life in Indiana: I Will Never Be Happy Again), a Christmas story, several picture books (which I illustrated myself) featuring the Doodle Bugs from Outer Space, a play about Laura Ingalls Wilder's sister entitled Blindness Strikes Mary, a series of prison mysteries, a collection of short stories featuring me as the main character (an internationally famous rock star detective), and a partially finished novel about Vietnam. I was also an excellent speller from a very early age.

In 2000, I started writing full-time, and I haven't stopped... I've written eight books (two of those are forthcoming), and when I'm not working on the ninth, I'm contributing to my web magazine, Germ (, thinking up new books, and dabbling in TV. I am always writing.

March 14, 2015

Author Interview: Elizabeth Briggs (Chasing the Dream Series)

I have something special in store for you all today! One of my favorite NA authors just dropped by the blog! It's Elizabeth Briggs!

Now, I first heard of Elizabeth Briggs on Oops I Read A Book Again when she hosted the More Than Music tour. When I read More The Music, I fell in love with Elizabeth's stories. She wrote a novella, More Than Exes, and now she just released the second book of her Chasing the Dream series, More Than Comics.

Fun Questions:

The last TV show you watched?
- Parks and Recereation - we're rewatching the entire series on Netflix.

The first book you've ever read?
- I have no idea. My mom says it was Goodnight Moon. On my own? I remember devouring Nancy Drew novels as a kid.

The first thing you do in the morning?
- Take the dogs outside and grab a cup of coffee.

Any weird reading habits?
- If I have a print book, I ALWAYS read the last paragraph of the book before I read the rest. I also like to read Acknowledgements first.

How many times have you been to Comic Con?
- I've been going every year since 2008 so this year will be my 8th time!

The Interview:

How was the writing process for More Than Comics?
- More Than Comics was so fun to write! It originally started as a novella but the story kept growing and growing, and I really enjoyed digging into Hector's story. It's also my first book told from dual POVs, which was both challenging but rewarding to write.

What do you think of relationships that started online? Do you think they last longer?
- My husband and I met online over ten years ago, so I definitely think they can last! I've also met many of my closest friends online. It's one reason I wanted to write a book about it.

What do you think makes Tara McFadden stand out from Maddie and Alexis?
- Tara is more warm, optimistic, and friendly than my two previous heroines. She's not afraid to go after what she wants, even if she's not sure what that is sometimes. She's less awkward than Maddie, but just as big a geek. She's not as bold as Alexis, but she's just as independent. All three girls are smart, strong, and passionate about something. 

If you were given a chance to write your own graphic novel, which company would you choose; DC or Marvel?
- Marvel all the way!

Are any of the characters you've written ever exist in real life?
- All of them! I would LOVE to hang out with everyone in Villain Complex.

I just finished reading More Than Comics now that I'm done with my undergraduate thesis. And can I just say how wonderful that book is? IT IS SO GOOD. My review will be posted soon. Thank you so much, Liz, for agreeing to do this with me. It has been an honor!

March 5, 2015

Hot Dudes Reading

If you've been living under a rock, then I suggest you get the hell out of there. I have something for you. So, not only was the Internet abuzz with that ridiculous dress (if you don't know, then I suggest you get on with program), it picked up one of Instagram's hottest accounts, Hot Dudes Reading. Basically it's just an account showing hot dudes, well, reading. So far, it only has 35 posts and about 400K followers. You won't be disappointed with the amount of hotness that are men reading books. I mean, they're like so hot, okay? I'll count down my personal favorites from this account.

Go follow this account if you want some eye candy on your Instagram news feed. I swear, you won't regret it. Got any favorites? Let me know through your comments!

March 1, 2015

{Wicked Review} Books, Blogs, & Reality by Ryan Ringbloom

Published: October 24, 2014
Publisher: RyanRingbloom
Acquired: Digital copy

Life can suck…

When reality becomes overwhelming, seeking comfort in fictional fantasies keeps hope alive. And while this escape may be a little delusional, it’s also therapeutic.

Sharing secrets is daunting, but virtual friends don’t often judge and they are always ready to share a glass of wine…or three…while typing out life’s latest endeavors. 

Brooke believes obstacles only add to romance, not detract. Rachael longs for a more intense relationship, or so she thinks. Lizzie misses the excitement in her life, but sometimes new situations find you when you’re not even looking. And Jess believes a tiger can change his stripes. It can’t. 

Bound by a shared passion for blogging about happily ever afters, these four young women use keyboard therapy to work through their expectations, anxieties, and inadequacies, all with the hopes of achieving the perfection found in romance novels.

Completely blinded by what they think life should be, they navigate their unique paths in search of what they envision is right. But when reality taunts them with persistent curve balls, will they be strong enough to choose wisely? Or will their happy endings escape them?

Thank you to Giselle from Xpresso Reads for this review copy. This is no way affected my opinions towards the book.

So, let's get down to business. I LOVE this book! I mean, how can I not? It's about blogging and books and reality. It's starts with four girls-Brooke. Jess, Rachael, and Lizzie-and they have bonded through the internet, sharing the same love for romance novels and the woes of their lives.

Brooke Bloomfield:

Hers was the first I read. The book starts off with Brooke turning 23 and she shares her feels with a book they've read and the gifts Rachael sent over. Note that those gifts are R-rated and quite funny too! Brooke starts her new job as an accountant and falls madly in love with her boss, Jag Patel. Forbidden office romance! What I like about Brooke is that she's pretty simple. She's the mediator in the group. Her relationship with Jag is forbidden and both of them wants to take it to the next level. But when Jag tells her that a multi-culture relationship is hard to work out, Brooke takes a back step. This is in the latter part of the book. I mean, you read or watch relationships like this and it's screaming LOVE CONQUERS ALL. Yeah, sure, love conquers all but then you might want to take a step back and figure out the options. Since Jag Patel is Indian and they are known for upholding traditions, Jag emphasized this. But in the end, love did conquer all.

Rachael Miller

She is...crazy. The good crazy. She likes reading BDSM themed novels. She has a boyfriend, Kevin. While their sex is good, for Rachael, it's not great. Rachael kicks it up a notch, inviting Kevin do things to her that are stuff of her daydreams. Or so she thinks that is what she needs. I almost felt sad for Rachael when she broke down. She's the outspoken one in the group. She would always share tips on how to spice up the other girls' sex life. Rachael and Kevin's experiment on sex spirals downward. It is reminiscent of a popular story that I have read with this particular theme. Kevin, on the other hand, was strong. He was in love with Rachael. Rachael was in love with him. They lived happily ever after.

Jessica Davis

Jessica is the youngest among the four girls. She's still in college and is madly in love with Riley Matthews. Riley is the epitome of a bad boy. Who doesn't want to fall in love with a bad boy? We hear about them. We see them. We know who they are. Most innocent girls think that they can change a bad boy like Riley. She falls very hard, desperately wishing that she be the one to change Riley. She meets a guy named Mike, pretty ordinary and smart and polite. Basically, everything that Riley isn't. I almost want to scream at Jessica to fall in love with Mike instead. She realizes it all to be too late but in the process she has earned a friend.

Elizabeth Shea

Elizabeth is my favorite! Now, Elizabeth is across the Atlantic Ocean. She's married and has a cute kid named Thomas. While her friends think her life is like the ones in the books, it isn't quite that. She goes through what most mothers go through-pregnancy fats, mom jeans, yoga pants, and a rather dull sex life. I wouldn't know because I'm not married and I have no plans in the future. What I love about Elizabeth or Lizzie is her outlook in life. We hear stories about our friends getting married and getting their happily ever after. While that is really nice, it's not quite the reality for most people. EVERYTHING CHANGES. So, Lizzie finds solace with her new found online friend Dragonfly23. Lizzie thinks this is her high school friend James Pearce with a different name. So she spills everything to Drgaonfly23-how her relationship with her husband Edward is not going so well. It was then she realizes that Dragonfly23 is actually her husband Edward. A very important key in a relationship is not just good sex: COMMUNICATION.

All in all, not everything you read is true. It is so easy to get caught up with the things we read, with fantasies, that we forget that there is a fine line between fiction and reality. Ryan Ringbloom, with her flawlessly written characters, made me realize that and more.

Ryan Ringbloom is a YA/NA author who lives for anything Romance. The passion, love, angst, awkwardness… she loves all of it. When Ryan needs a break from reality she sneaks off to read a romantic story or write one of her own. Drinking coffee, reading Tweets and hugs from her five year old are the best part of her day.