Friday, August 16, 2019

Review of The Hazel Wood, by Melissa Albert

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Seventeen-year-old Alice and her mother have spent most of Alice’s life on the road, always a step ahead of the uncanny bad luck biting at their heels. But when Alice’s grandmother, the reclusive author of a cult-classic book of pitch-dark fairy tales, dies alone on her estate, the Hazel Wood, Alice learns how bad her luck can really get: Her mother is stolen away—by a figure who claims to come from the Hinterland, the cruel supernatural world where her grandmother's stories are set. Alice's only lead is the message her mother left behind: “Stay away from the Hazel Wood.” 

Alice has long steered clear of her grandmother’s cultish fans. But now she has no choice but to ally with classmate Ellery Finch, a Hinterland superfan who may have his own reasons for wanting to help her. To retrieve her mother, Alice must venture first to the Hazel Wood, then into the world where her grandmother's tales began—and where she might find out how her own story went so wrong.

I'd had a copy of The Hazel Wood sitting on my TBR for about a year, before I went to BookCon and met Melissa Albert. She was so sweet, and so personable, and actually cared enough to have a conversation with me, despite the line of fans snaking behind me. I had such a pleasant experience that I decided I HAD to read her book. (Well, I didn't read it that moment because I went to see her in June and it's now August but #closeenough)

I was shocked, to say the least.

For being such a kind-hearted person, Melissa Albert writes some dark stuff, guys.

A lot darker than I usually like my books. See, I'm more of a "they lived happily ever after and everyone that I like lives" kind of gal. 😂 But I ended up loving The Hazel Wood anyway!

The Hazel Wood is written in my favorite genre--contemporary fantasy. This essentially means that while the book is set in our world, there's still a heavy flavor of fantasy stirred in.

I wasn't a huge fan of the main character, Alice, when the story began. She came off as abrasive and just a *tad* mean. But she was also super snarky, and I can appreciate that. Also, note my use of "when the story began." As The Hazel Wood progressed, I watched Alice develope across a beautifully crafted character arc, and I totally respect her journey.

My favorite character out of the whole book was most definitely Finch. First of all, because his last name is Djan-Nelson-Abrams-Finch, and I've always wondered what would happen if two people with hyphenated surnames got married and had a kid--and now I finally have an answer. But also because I can totally relate to his yearning to travel to fantastical worlds that only exist between pages. Finch, despite his hardships throughout the novel, ended his journey by fulfilling the dream that nestles inside of every book-lover.

The world building was superb. The characters were real people. And the writing flowed like a river. (Side note on that, I've never been a huge fan of metaphors because the poetry unit in my English class scarred me forever--but Melissa Albert pulled it off beautifully.)

You can read a preview of The Hazel Wood here, if you're interested.

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And now that my review is done--a small personal update from me that you're welcome to skip over, lol.

Yeah, I know I've been absent for a few weeks. I'm not going to make excuses, but I am going to explain myself.

Over my unplanned hiatus I wrote over 20k words in one week which was really awesome but at the same time really not awesome because then it hurt to type.

And then tennis season started. DUN DUN DUN.

I know, I know--I am breaking all writer/reader stereotypes by trying a sport. The operative word being "trying" because I still can't serve or get a backhand for the life of me. And then I had to miss two days of much-needed practice to do training because I'm going to be helping with freshman orientation. My partner and I have to keep track of nineteen kids, guys. NINETEEN. And there are only four girls in there, so RIP me.

So if I'm ever absent for a really long amount of time again, chalk it up to either me getting sucked into a new school club, or me flailing around on the tennis court. (Either way, I can assure you I'd rather be blogging. BUT I'M TRYING TO BRANCH OUT, GUYS.) 

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See you guys (hopefully) next Monday! (I know that today isn't my normal posting day, but I was too excited that I finally had some content to wait, lol.) 

Monday, July 29, 2019

July Recap

One month of popsicles and sweating my eyes out later, and I'm still alive. Here's what I did:

Books Read:

Mothership, by Isla Neal and Martin Leicht

Looking for Alaska, by John Green

. . . That's it. I've been terrible at getting reading done this summer.

TV Show Addictions:

Stranger Things Season Three!!

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I wasn't a huge fan of the plot in this season, but I still loved getting to go back to Hawkins and see my fav characters again, and some new ones too. I loved Erica in this season--she was so snarky! But that ending? Left me in TEARS.

Miscellaneous Things:

-Went mini-golfing with some friends

-Almost hit some random dude with a golf ball

-Made ice-cream

-Went swimming in a creek

-Went to a free writing class

-Became obsessed with NCIS

-Started a new writing project (which I'm almost done with)

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On the blog: 

Versatile Blogger Tag

Five Feet Apart Review

How was your July? Anyone dreading August as much as I am?

Monday, July 22, 2019

The Versatile Blogger Award

The Rules

1. Thank the blogger who tagged you

Thanks Nicole! (If you guys haven't checked out her blog yet--you totally need to!)

2. Link back to the person who tagged you

Just click Nicole's name, and you'll be at her blog. :)

3. Share seven facts about yourself 

4. Nominate 15 bloggers

Alright, let's do this!! (This was surprisingly difficult for me, lol. I had to enlist my brother and mom for help. "Hey guys, what are seven cool things about me?" 😂)

1. I love sushi!

I know that a lot of people think that sushi's gross, but I've been eating it for as long as I can remember. 

2. I have a pet bearded dragon

Some of you might already know this, because I think it's on my "about" page. His same is Scooter, and I've had him for seven years now. And he is adorable. 😍

3. I hate blood, but love crime shows

^^Me, running from the slightest gore

That's pretty contradictory, considering that crime scenes usually involve blood. Especially shows like NCIS, which I'm currently binging. I've been learning to ignore it, lol. 

4. My favorite color is blue 

5. Coincidentally, my first pet was a betta fish brilliantly named Bluey 

(Lucky for my characters, I have since gotten better at naming things.)

6. I hate math with a passion 

7. I've been to five continents

The only two I have left are Australia and Antarctica, and while I plan on crossing Australia off my bucket list, I don't ever plan on going to Antarctica, haha. Way too cold for me!

And now for tagging 15 bloggers . . . 


I know that I'm supposed to tag 15 of you

But if you could save me the anxiety of "what if someone already got tagged or what if someone doesn't want to do the tag etc, etc" and just consider yourself tagged (if you want to be) I will be forever in your debt. 

All GIFs via Giphy

Monday, July 8, 2019

Five Feet Apart Review

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Stella Grant likes to be in control—even though her totally out of control lungs have sent her in and out of the hospital most of her life. At this point, what Stella needs to control most is keeping herself away from anyone or anything that might pass along an infection and jeopardize the possibility of a lung transplant. Six feet apart. No exceptions. 

The only thing Will Newman wants to be in control of is getting out of this hospital. He couldn’t care less about his treatments, or a fancy new clinical drug trial. Soon, he’ll turn eighteen and then he’ll be able to unplug all these machines and actually go see the world, not just its hospitals. 

Will’s exactly what Stella needs to stay away from. If he so much as breathes on Stella she could lose her spot on the transplant list. Either one of them could die. The only way to stay alive is to stay apart. But suddenly six feet doesn’t feel like safety. It feels like punishment. 

What if they could steal back just a little bit of the space their broken lungs have stolen from them? Would five feet apart really be so dangerous if it stops their hearts from breaking too?

Five Feet Apart was good. It was unique. It evoked lots of emotion. (ie, leaving me in tears at 11 o'clock at night)

But, I think that, with the movie coming out and everything, this book got too hyped up for me. I mean, come on: it was Cole freaking Sprouse.

I hadn't watched the movie before, because I wanted to fall in love and imagine the characters on the page before I saw them on a screen. I think this was a wise decision, because this book was just jam-packed with internal conflict.

This allowed for more character development, and grounds for a relationship when the characters opened up to each other.

Which brings me to one of the only problems that I had with Five Feet Apart--how quickly the characters opened up with each other. If I'm grasping the timeline correctly, the characters only knew each other for a few weeks maybe three? CHECK THIS. And after a week or two, they just started telling each other things like: "Yeah, so-and-so was really close to me but then they died and now I have all of this emotional baggage."

This made for fast pacing, which I DID appreciate, don't get me wrong, I just felt like it was a little unrealistic.

But that's enough negativity.

One of my favorite parts of the book was the characters--especially Poe. Poe is a side-character, and doesn't have nearly enough page-time as Will or Stella do. But I absolutely loved his personality and his snark.

There were a good amount of subplots in the book--which I most definitely can appreciate. I liked how each of the subplots affected the characters, and propelled the plot along--just as a good subplot should do.

I think that, above all, the book and the movie were fantastic ways to bring awareness to cystic fibrosis.

You can read a free excerpt of Five Feet Apart here.

And if you want to watch the trailer, I have that right here:

So, have you seen the movie (or read the book) yet?

Monday, July 1, 2019

June Recap// Loving summer!!

Happy July first!! We made it through June, and summer is officially in full swing. I could not be more excited!!

Books read:

Five Feet Apart, by Rachael Lippincott

We'll Always Have Summer, by Jenny Han

Geekerella, by Ashley Poston

Things Fall Apart, by Chinua Achebe

New TV show addictions:


(Yes, this is seriously the first time I'm watching Friends)


-Young and Hungry 

On the blog:

Introduction to a new blogger, Lily Cat

How to Survive BookCon: 5 Essential Steps

100 Days of Sunlight Review

Miscellaneous Things:

-Went cherry-picking


-Finished my summer homework waaaaay early

-Got eight inches of my hair chopped off


-Made macaroons

-Went to a day of sports camp (whaaaaaa??)

-Ditched every other day of sports camp (that's more like it)

-Lost a turtle in the house

-Found said turtle

-Began editing my novel (!!!!)

And . . .

New additions to the pet fam!!!!

Meet: Mo, Dusty, and Gerald!

From left to right: Gerald (m), Dusty (m), Mo (f)

(Yes, we named a goat Gerald.)

(Sorry Gerald.)

Gerald is a Nigerian Dwarf goat, and Mo and Dusty are both pygmy fainting goats, which means that if Mo or Dusty get scared, they just fall over. Pretty much exactly like this:

Gotta love them, lol.

Anyway, how was your June? Did you do anything exciting?

Monday, June 17, 2019

100 Days of Sunlight Review

So, if you've been around the blogosphere for a little while, chances are, you've heard of Abbie Emmons. She gives awesome writing advice over on her blog and on her YouTube channel (which you should totally check out, by the way). Also, she's coming out with her debut novel!!

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It's called 100 Days of Sunlight and it looks like this:

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I think I will be forever staring at this cover like 😍😍😍

When 16-year-old poetry blogger Tessa Dickinson is involved in a car accident and loses her eyesight for 100 days, she feels like her whole world has been turned upside-down. 

Terrified that her vision might never return, Tessa feels like she has nothing left to be happy about. But when her grandparents place an ad in the local newspaper looking for a typist to help Tessa continue writing and blogging, an unlikely answer knocks at their door: Weston Ludovico, a boy her age with bright eyes, an optimistic smile…and no legs. 

Knowing how angry and afraid Tessa is feeling, Weston thinks he can help her. But he has one condition — no one can tell Tessa about his disability. And because she can’t see him, she treats him with contempt: screaming at him to get out of her house and never come back. But for Weston, it’s the most amazing feeling: to be treated like a normal person, not just a sob story. So he comes back. Again and again and again. 

Tessa spurns Weston’s “obnoxious optimism”, convinced that he has no idea what she’s going through. But Weston knows exactly how she feels and reaches into her darkness to show her that there is more than one way to experience the world. As Tessa grows closer to Weston, she finds it harder and harder to imagine life without him — and Weston can’t imagine life without her. But he still hasn’t told her the truth, and when Tessa’s sight returns he’ll have to make the hardest decision of his life: vanish from Tessa’s world…or overcome his fear of being seen.

And I was lucky enough to snag an ARC of it about a month ago. (Yes, I know, this review is LONG overdue.)

Let me just start out by saying that I loved the characters! Weston is SUCH a sweetheart, and I especially adored reading about his relationship with his brothers. And with Tessa, which I hardcore shipped. Their banter gave me life.

I also really liked that Tessa was a blogger. I haven't read too many books where the main characters keep blogs, so it was nice to have a character with that shared interest. During the scenes where she or Weston was navigating Blogger, I was like: "Hey! I do that too!!"

Lots of beautiful poetry samples were also included in 100 Days of Sunlight, which really helped me start to relate to Tessa more, and developed her overall "voice." (Also, I just enjoyed reading the poetry. 😜)

Weston and Tessa's story moved at a quick pace, and it made for a quick read. I never really felt like the story dragged in any places, which is definitely something that I look for in books. (Those of you who have been reading my blog know that I'm super picky with pacing.)

I think that the quick pacing might be partially due to the fact that most of the conflict was internal, not external. (Which, I guess, is probably pretty standard for contemporaries, because it's not like the characters have to be facing down dragons or warding off evil step-sisters.)

Whether this is a good thing or a bad thing really depends on your preferences as a reader. I personally enjoyed it, because the lack of external conflict left the story feeling very light and fluffy. I read this during the school year, when teachers seemed like they were having contests of who could fit in the most tests before Summer vacation, and let me tell you, it was like a cool breeze on a hot day.

I ended up finishing 100 Days of Sunlight in less than 24 hours, and one of the only things I can really say for the negative is that I want more 😭. *slight spoiler but not really* I wish that we got a little bit more story of Tessa and Weston actually together, and not just the events that lead up to their eventual relationship status. (I know that this isn't really a spoiler because I'm sure we all assumed that they would end up together by the end of the novel, but I wanted to be safe. Can you tell I'm paranoid about someone being mad I spoiled the ending?)

To make a long story short: this book is very sweet and you should definitely check it out (it comes out August 7th, 2019). And even if you're not into contemporaries, give Abbie's blog a look (which I have linked at the top).

Did any of you get ARCs too? Or are you planning on reading it after it comes out?

Monday, June 10, 2019

How to Survive BookCon: Five Essential Tips

One of the most enjoyable things I've done (as a book fanatic) has been going to BookCon 2019. This year was my first time ever going--and although it was super fun, it was also a little stressful, trying to figure everything out inside the crowded convention center. So, if you're planning on attending any future BookCons, here are a few things you might want to keep in mind. :)

1. Get in line early

My mom and I had tickets to a book signing with Marissa Meyer. This didn't start until 3:45, but on a whim we decided to check to see if a line was forming around 3:00. By the time we got there, there was already a line forming, and it was beginning to snake around. If you want, you can wait until closer to the actual signing time to start lining up, but by getting there early, you can spent most of the time sitting as opposed to standing--which, if you've been walking around all day with bags full of books, is a much better alternative.

Also, if your author posts something about giving away samples of an upcoming book at BookCon, you should really want to get in line early. Marissa Meyer gave away samplers of the first 75 pages of Supernova at her signing--but only for the first 100 people.

2. If you see a line forming, don't be afraid to hop on

Lines get real long, real quick, as I just mentioned, so if you see some people crowding around a booth--join them! Just ask someone what the line is for, and if you're interested stay in line. If you're not, move along to the next thing.


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If you're going to stay at BookCon all day--bring snacks!! There are a few food vendors inside the Javits center, but beware: all food is ridiculously overpriced. The sandwich my mom and I split cost more than one of the hardcover books I bought. (And I'm sure we'd all much rather be spending that money on books, anyway.)

4. Look through a schedule beforehand, and mark the things you want to do

Again--this was my mom's idea. (What would I do without her?) BookCon will post through their app the times of ARC drops and unofficial book signings ahead of time. So, the night before, Mom and I looked through and picked everything we were vaguely interested in, and put it on a spreadsheet, along with the time that it was happening, and the booth number where we would need to go.

It was SO much easier to just look at the sheet, and see what and where we should go, than to be wandering around the convention center, looking for anything that seemed entertaining.

5. Don't have high expectations

I know this is kind of a weird one, but all of the scathing reviews for BookCon that I've read have been by people who were angry they couldn't get as much free stuff as they wanted. When my mom and I went, we had no certain mentality that "I HAVE TO GET THIS ARC OR I WILL DIE!!" Okay, that might be a little on the extreme. But by just going with the expectation of attending the signings you bought tickets for, you won't be disappointed by things that aren't guaranteed.

In fact, if you have this mindset, I think it would be hard not to leave without being happy. Because although you might not wind up with an armful of free books, you'll still be able to find a ton of discounted ones, and a butt-load of free bookmarks. (And for someone who loses bookmarks so easily--that one's definitely a bonus. 😂)

Has anybody else been to BookCon, or any other book convention? (If so, do you have any recommendations for which ones I should attend next?)

Review of The Hazel Wood, by Melissa Albert

Seventeen-year-old Alice and her mother have spent most of Alice’s life on the road, always a step ahead of the uncanny bad luck biti...