Jan 18, 2018

Quick Reviews #13 | A Stranger in the House by Sheri Lapena // Turtles All the Way Down by John Green

A Stranger in the House by Sheri Lapena

Synopsis: Karen and Tom Krupp are happy—they’ve got a lovely home in upstate New York, they’re practically newlyweds, and they have no kids to interrupt their comfortable life together. But one day, Tom returns home to find Karen has vanished—her car’s gone and it seems she left in a rush. She even left her purse—complete with phone and ID—behind.

There's a knock on the door—the police are there to take Tom to the hospital where his wife has been admitted. She had a car accident, and lost control as she sped through the worst part of town.

The accident has left Karen with a concussion and a few scrapes. Still, she’s mostly okay—except that she can’t remember what she was doing or where she was when she crashed. The cops think her memory loss is highly convenient, and they suspect she was up to no good. 

Karen returns home with Tom, determined to heal and move on with her life. Then she realizes something’s been moved. Something’s not quite right. Someone’s been in her house. And the police won't stop asking questions.

Because in this house, everyone’s a stranger. Everyone has something they’d rather keep hidden. Something they might even kill to keep quiet. 

Quick Thoughts: I was expecting a lot more when I picked this up, but A Stranger in the House was such a disappointment. The writing felt really choppy, the characters weren't interesting or likable, and the plot fell really flat after the initial excitement of the mystery wore off. I am not sure if I want to read any more of Sheri Lapena's work since this is her second book, and did not seem that great. I really wanted to love this but struggled to finish it.

Turtles All the Way Down by John Green

Synopsis: Sixteen-year-old Aza never intended to pursue the mystery of fugitive billionaire Russell Pickett, but there’s a hundred-thousand-dollar reward at stake and her Best and Most Fearless Friend, Daisy, is eager to investigate. So together, they navigate the short distance and broad divides that separate them from Russell Pickett’s son, Davis.

Aza is trying. She is trying to be a good daughter, a good friend, a good student, and maybe even a good detective, while also living within the ever-tightening spiral of her own thoughts. 

Quick Thoughts: I want to say that I did like this but I am only including it in this edition of quick reviews because I don't have much to say about it. This book was obviously hyped up because it was the newest John Green book and we haven't seen a book written by him in a while. I was excited but felt like nothing really happened in this book, and it wasn't life-changing as most people made it seem. But I can say that is most likely due to my lack of connection with the protagonist, as she suffers from anxiety and a lot of people were excited about an #ownvoices book on this topic. I still enjoyed it, just not as much as everyone else.

Jan 15, 2018

Review | Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick

Title: Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick
Series: N/A
Genre: Nonfiction - Autobiography
Publication: November 15th 2016 by Touchstone Books
Format: Audiobook
Source: Library
Rating: ★★★

Synopsis: Even before she made a name for herself on the silver screen starring in films like Pitch Perfect, Up in the Air, Twilight, and Into the Woods, Anna Kendrick was unusually small, weird, and “10 percent defiant.”

At the ripe age of thirteen, she had already resolved to “keep the crazy inside my head where it belonged. Forever. But here’s the thing about crazy: It. Wants. Out.” In Scrappy Little Nobody, she invites readers inside her brain, sharing extraordinary and charmingly ordinary stories with candor and winningly wry observations.

With her razor-sharp wit, Anna recounts the absurdities she’s experienced on her way to and from the heart of pop culture as only she can—from her unusual path to the performing arts (Vanilla Ice and baggy neon pants may have played a role) to her double life as a middle-school student who also starred on Broadway to her initial “dating experiments” (including only liking boys who didn’t like her back) to reviewing a binder full of butt doubles to her struggle to live like an adult woman instead of a perpetual “man-child.”

Enter Anna’s world and follow her rise from “scrappy little nobody” to somebody who dazzles on the stage, the screen, and now the page—with an electric, singular voice, at once familiar and surprising, sharp and sweet, funny and serious (well, not that serious).

Thoughts: I'd been eyeing this for a while, since it was published actually, but I don't normally read non-fiction so I didn't give it a shot until now because I was planning on going to watch Pitch Perfect 3 (which I didn't) and I am glad I got around to it.

While Anna Kendrick's life isn't particularly interesting, and she hasn't done too much in her acting career, she is a down-to-earth actress and reminded me that actors are just regular people too. She's so honest in this book about everything, from how she became an actress, to her upbringing, to guys and dating, etc. that when I was done, I felt like she and I were really good friends. I went and followed her on all her social medias and wanted to just say hi to her because it felt natural. Her biography exposed her life and personality, and I just want to chat with her every day.

I can't say that the whole biography was great. While it was awesome to learn about her, and listening to her audiobook was actually awesome because it was like she was telling me all these stories over a phone call, I felt that the writing was sort of all over the place. Her anecdotes kept flip flopping back and forth, and there was no actual time line she followed because she focused on sections of specific topics which kept bringing her back to events she had already discussed. The end of the book also had tons of small sections of things, and it almost felt like I was listening to a dictionary definition of that specific topic. The sections had a tiny story and then the next section began, and it sort of felt like filler because she needed more pages to get the book published.

Overall, I enjoyed it. It wasn't the greatest biography I've read but the experience of listening to the author read her own biography has left me wanting more and I have already picked up another. So thanks for that, Anna.

Jan 12, 2018

Review | Let it Snow by John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle

Title: Let It Snow by John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle
Series: N/A
Genre: YA - Contemporary/Holiday
Publication: October 2nd 2008 by Speak
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
Rating: ★★★

Synopsis: Sparkling white snowdrifts, beautiful presents wrapped in ribbons, and multicolored lights glittering in the night through the falling snow. A Christmas Eve snowstorm transforms one small town into a romantic haven, the kind you see only in movies. Well, kinda. After all, a cold and wet hike from a stranded train through the middle of nowhere would not normally end with a delicious kiss from a charming stranger. And no one would think that a trip to the Waffle House through four feet of snow would lead to love with an old friend. Or that the way back to true love begins with a painfully early morning shift at Starbucks. 

Thoughts: This was a cute read, to be honest. I didn't have high expectations because I am not big on anthologies, so I wasn't really expecting to enjoy this that much. But I did like it. All the stories had quirky characters, sweet short romances, lots of snow, and happy endings. A perfect combination to end off the holiday season.

The Jubilee Express by Maureen Johnson

This felt like the quickest story but not the shortest. Our protagonist, Jubilee, ends up on a train after her parents get arrested on Christmas Eve. That's about as much as I can share, but she goes on a mini adventure in search of warmth and to avoid cheerleaders. She makes some interesting decisions which I didn't were very smart, but everything turns out okay I guess, and it was simply a cute story.

A Cheertastic Christmas Miracle by John Green

I liked this story too, and it was a little different at the beginning, but I think had the sweetest little romance out of three. But I hated the whole "almost dying to get to cheerleaders because they're hot" plot so I think this one is my lowest rated one.

The Patron Saint of Pigs by Lauren Myracle

I think my favorite characters were in this one. Although, I felt that everyone was kind of unfair to the protagonist. Her friends kept telling her she was self-absorbed, etc. and I really didn't like them that much. But I thought the romance was really cute, but felt the plot was pretty far-fetched even though not much happens.

Final Thoughts: It was nice to see how the stories all came together at the end, although to be honest, they're a little forgettable and all the characters showing up at the end made me think, "Wait, who are they again? ohhh yeah." but that could be just my bad memory. Overall, it was a cute end of the year easy read that I'm glad I actually finished.

Jan 4, 2018

Quick Reviews #12 | Viscount Breckenridge to the Rescue by Stephanie Laurens // The Duke of Defiance by Darcy Burke

Viscount Breckenridge to the Rescue by Stephanie Laurens

Synopsis: Determined to hunt down her very own hero, one who will sweep her off her feet and into wedded bliss, and despairing of finding him in London's staid ballrooms, Heather Cynster steps out of her safe world and boldly attends a racy soiree.

But her promising hunt is ruined by the supremely interfering Viscount Breckenridge, who whisks her out of scandal-and straight into danger when a mysterious enemy seizes her, bundles her into a coach, and conveys her out of London.

Now it's up to the notorious Breckenridge to prove himself the hero she's been searching for all along...

Quick Thoughts: I'd been meaning to read this one for years, but when I finally got around to it, I was extremely disappointed with how boring and long it felt for such a tiny paperback. The premise was promising, with a kidnapping and a hero and an escape from captors, but the "mystery" was dull, the sexy scenes just as dull, and the whole story felt meh. Very predictable and not at all what I was expecting from a romance/historical fiction. It could be that I no longer enjoy this genre as much as I used to, and this just wasn't for me anymore. This could be read as a stand alone even though it is part of a series.

The Duke of Defiance by Darcy Burke

Synopsis: Difficult and defiant as a child, Bran Crowther, Earl of Knighton left England as a young man to pursue independence and adventure. He never expected to inherit the title and when duty calls him home, he still finds Society’s codes constricting and others’ expectations oppressive. Nevertheless, he needs a wife to be a mother to his young daughter, preferably a woman of intelligence and warmth who is, above all, immune to his idiosyncrasies—and to falling in love. 

Widow Joanna Shaw isn’t interested in a second marriage, not after the loveless, passionless union she endured. She’d much rather dote on her young niece and nephew since they will likely be the only children in her life...until she meets a precocious girl, in desperate need of a mother. But her father, the so-called Duke of Defiance, is as peculiar as he is handsome, and Jo won’t take another risk with her heart. Their rules, however, are made to be broken, even when the consequences could destroy them both.

Quick Thoughts: This one surprised me by how easily I got into the story, especially because I had tried starting it a couple times and hadn't really gotten around to actually reading it. Once I got a few chapters in though, I really dived into the story. The characters were great, different than other historical romance that I'd read, and I was really interested in where the story was going to go. It felt a little repetitive after a while though, and I have to admit I did skim a good chunk of the book. It wasn't bad, I just lost interest. This could be read as a stand alone even though it is part of a series.

Jan 3, 2018

New Year & Goals | 2018

It's already a few days into the new year, what the heck?! I can't believe this year came by so quickly. 2017 didn't go by super fast, but the end of the year sort of sped up and now it's a few days into 2018 and I am just sitting down to write my goals. I am going to make this a quick one, because other than random and extremely ambitious goals, I don't have too many "new goals" for the new year. It's mostly repeats or rollovers from previous years.

Reading Goals
- Read books that I own: I tried this last year, and didn't do so well.
- Read all the Netgalley ARC's I have: I've talked about this already.
- Read the Stephen King books I have planned to: I have a list.
- Read 100 books: I've done 52 books these last couple of years and really want to challenge myself this year.
- Limit book buying to 1 or 2 books a month, max: Because honestly, I can't not buy books.

Blogging Goals:
- Blog once a week: Trying this again.
- Catch up on reviews: I was so close.

Lifestyle goals:
- Continue my workout goals: This last year was the year I finally did it. I'd been trying so hard for so many years to be consistent about my fitness, and I always fell off track. 2017 was the year where fitness literally became priority. I workout weekly, keep track of food for the most part, and really have focused on strength instead of weight loss. It's been great.
- Limit spending: I tend to splurge a lot on things that I don't really need. I hit a bad bump in my finances at the end of 2017, had a breakdown, and vowed to be better. I don't ever want to feel so helpless about money again.
- Travel: I already have a trip planned for February but I want to camp at least once, and go on another cruise (for my birthday hopefully)
- Be happy: Always my #1 goal, even though I mention it last.

None of these are unrealistic, but some are very ambitious. I still think it's worth a try and I guess that's what new year resolutions are all about. Thanks for reading all that and I hope you had and have a happy new year :)

Jan 1, 2018

2018 Reading Goals | Netgalley ARC's

I've had a ton of books on Netgalley that I got accepted for review that I never read. I know. Shame. But I have slowly made some progress. My goal this year is to read ALL of the books I got accepted for and review them. There is only 19 on this list and that's not too many, really. I will updating this list as I get these read and the year progresses.