Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Random Ramble: Summer (Rachel)

Summer is halfway over for me, and the season feels like it's gone by so fast. It's my favorite season, not weather-wise (that would be fall) but activity-wise, because school's out and there are so many fun things to do in summer! I have so many fond memories of summer, and so many traditions and things I do every year. I thought I'd make a list of some of my favorite things about summer. (I'm sure I'll think of more as soon as I publish this post, so a part two might be in my future. :D)

Sarah Dessen Books

There's a reason why her fans say "It's not summer without Sarah Dessen." Sarah Dessen has written several books that take place during summer, and she is definitely the best (well, according to me, she is!) at writing summery books. Her books make me believe that summer can be a magical time, a time to transform, a time to be someone else if you want to. They make me feel like summer is a season that stands out from the rest as being a season that will stretch on forever. When I read a Sarah Dessen book, I get all these warm fuzzy feelings in my stomach about how infinite and amazing and magical summer can be. I've been reading Sarah Dessen's books for about five years now, and I always spend my summers rereading them and falling in love with them all over again. I honestly don't know what summer would be like without Sarah Dessen books.

Friendship Bracelets

When I was about eight, I received a book on how to make friendship bracelets as a gift. Since I was always a rather quiet child who loved crafts and activities I could do by myself, I was excited to teach myself how to make them. Over the next few years, I learned how to make a bunch of different bracelets and patterns, and I never stopped making them. They became a sort of summer tradition for me. I'd start off the summer with bare wrists, and end them with dozens of worn-out bracelets circling my arms, giving me really awkward and uneven tan lines. I've already made a ton of bracelets this summer season, and I can't wait to make more. It's weird, since I've been making them for about eight years...half my life! I guess it's a silly tradition, but I love it. I wouldn't be me if I didn't make friendship bracelets till my fingers bled. (I'm serious about the fingers-bleeding thing. I get intense about my bracelets!) I don't even remember how to experience summer without making bracelets!

Ice Pops

I guess this tradition seems random and childish and non-important, but for some reason, I have really fond memories of ice pops. You know, the ones that come in the plastic that you have to cut the top off? And then you push them up so you can eat them and your fingers feel like they're going to freeze and fall off and there's always that little bit of juice left over for you to drink at the end?! Those ice pops were an important part of my childhood, and I think that even if I'm eighty years old, seeing one of those things will instantly transport me to age ten or so. The only problem with this ice pop nostalgia-fest thing is that I could seriously eat ten in a row without stopping. They're just so delicious!

The Beach

When I was little, I actually used to hate the beach. I didn't like the sand. So it wasn't until I was...gosh, nine maybe, that my family started going to the beach often. I live in New Jersey, about an hour from the coast, so it's easy to do day trips to the beach whenever we get the chance to. I feel so sorry for the people who don't live close to any beaches, because they're missing out on the quintessential summer experience! Going to the beach is always such a magical feeling for me, which sounds a little dramatic, but it is. When you step out of the car and get that first whiff of salt water...*sighs* It's the best feeling ever. I used to be the kid who ran right into the water and didn't get out until it was time to leave, but I gradually transitioned into the teenager who hops in the water, only to hop right back out and lay out on a towel with a book. I love being surrounded by sand and the ocean and other beach goers (the beach is the PERFECT place to people watch!) and I hope I get the opportunity to visit this year.

What are your favorite things about summer? Do you have any specific activities or experiences that you do every summer? Let me know down in the comments!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Megan Rambles About Anatomy of a Boyfriend and Anatomy of a Single Girl

Today I've decided to review two books in one post! I decided to do this for two main reasons: 1. Anatomy of a Boyfriend and Anatomy of a Single Girl are a duet and 2. Honestly I am a lazy teenager and typing one blog post is easier than typing two. Anyway! Here are the summaries for both of these amazing books!
Anatomy of a Boyfriend by Daria Snadowsky
From Goodreads:Before this all happened, the closest I'd ever come to getting physical with a guy was playing the board game Operation. Okay, so maybe that sounds pathetic, but it's not like there were any guys at my high school who I cared to share more than three words with, let alone my body.

Then I met Wes, a track star senior from across town. Maybe it was his soulful blue eyes, or maybe my hormones just started raging. Either way, I was hooked. And after a while, he was too. I couldn't believe how intense my feelings became, or the fact that I was seeing—and touching—parts of the body I'd only read about in my Gray's Anatomy textbook. You could say Wes and I experienced a lot of firsts together that spring. It was scary. It was fun. It was love.

And then came the fall.

Anatomy of a Single Girl by Daria Snadowsky
From GoodreadsAfter everything that happened—my first boyfriend, my first time, my first breakup—jumping back into the dating game seemed like the least healthy thing I could do. It’s not that I didn’t want to fall in love again, since that’s about the best feeling ever. But as a busy college premed still raw from heartbreak, which is the worst feeling ever, I figured I’d lie low for a while. Of course, as soon as I stopped looking for someone, an impossibly amazing—and devastatingly cute—guy came along, and I learned that having a new boyfriend is the quickest way to recover from losing your old one.

The moment we got together, all my preconceptions about romance and sex were turned upside down. I discovered physical and emotional firsts I never knew existed. I learned to let go of my past by living in the present. It was thrilling. It was hot. It was just what the doctor ordered.

But I couldn’t avoid my future forever.
In Daria Snadowsky’s daring follow-up to Anatomy of a Boyfriend, eighteen-year-old Dominique explores the relationship between love and lust, and the friendships that see us through.

While I never really got into Judy Blume books when I was younger, I've heard these books being compared to them a lot. They share the same open and honest writing style and I definitely think Judy Blume fans will love these books!

Anatomy of a Boyfriend takes place during Dom's senior year of high school and freshman year of college. She's facing a lot of big changes in her life. With college applications and SATs just barely out of the way, now Dominique is getting ready to go to college, move out, and start her own life. Then of course there's her first boyfriend, her first love, and the first time she's ever had sex. The way Daria Snadowsky handled all of these firsts was raw and emotional. The sex scenes weren't glorified. They were awkward and uncomfortable to read at times which made them seem that much more realistic. This book is definitely something I would recommend that any teenager read, especially teenage girls because there is a lot to learn from the way Daria Snadowsky handled such a controversial topic.

Anatomy of a Single Girl begins with Dom in college. It's the summer after her freshman year and she's hoping to have a summer full of memories with her best friend, Amy, while avoiding her ex-boyfriend. Dominique is still trying to handle the pain of breaking up with the guy who was her first everything and the last thing she wants is to run into him in town. This book was much less about how Dominique felt about the guy she was with, and more about how she felt about herself. The sex scenes were focused on her emotions which made them less awkward to read. By the end of the book I was really proud of the progress that Dom had made. She was taking big steps towards becoming a really independent strong woman and she knew what she wanted in life. This book was actually probably my favorite of the two because I really loved the way Dominique decided to just focus on herself and make the decisions that she thought would make her happiest in the long run. I feel like she really grew as a character by the end of the book.

I am really glad that I read these books when I did. I'm getting closer and closer to college, which is a really scary (but also exciting) thing for me and I feel like the lessons that Dom learned will be really helpful in the coming years. With many, many firsts in my future, I'm glad these books will be there to help guide me.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Bad Book Habits Video (Rachel)

I've been hard at work on my new YouTube channel, and my most recent video is one that I thought you bloggy people would enjoy! I was tagged in the Bad Book Habits Tag, so I had to list my five worst habits that have to do with books. I think all readers have at least a few bad book habits, so I'm sure you guys are familiar with some of mine!

Let me know what your bad book habits are in the comments, or maybe even in your own video/blog post! Thanks for watching! :)

Friday, July 26, 2013

Mini-Rambles: Summer Reads (Rachel)

Since it's summer, I've been reading way more books than usual. In June, I read 19 books, and so far in July I've read about 11 books. This is especially exciting considering the fact that January through May was a really bad reading time for me. I was only reading about 5 books a month, which is half of what I consider my "normal" reading routine at 10 books a month.

Anyway, so since I've been reading so much, I've been having a difficult time keeping up with my reviews/rambles. There are just so many that need to be written! So today I'm going to be doing a few mini-rambles of books I liked, but don't really have that much to say about. I don't want to try to stretch out my opinions into a full-length review when I could just say everything that needs to be said in a paragraph.

This little collection of books is made up of what I think are great books for the summer. They're all fun and easy reads that can be read on the beach in a single sitting. I'm not head-over-heels in love with any of these, but I did enjoy my experience reading them and I think they're worth picking up.

How My Summer Went Up in Flames by Jennifer Salvato Doktorski
Goodreads summary
How My Summer Went Up in Flames is a fun road trip book. I don't know about you guys, but I have never not enjoyed a book about a road trip. The main character is sent on a road trip with three teenage boys as a way to get out of town and away from her ex-boyfriend, who's filed a restraining order against her. It's a kind of ridiculous but hilarious premise that's so much fun to read about. The characters visit some of the most random and quirky places in the United States on their road trip, and it's an entertaining journey. There is a little bit of romance in this book as well, because what's a road trip without a some romantic tension? If you're looking for a fun and light summer read that doesn't require too much emotional investment, I recommend giving this a chance. I flew through this book in one or two sittings, and it's the perfect book to read by the pool on a hot summer day.

Two-Way Street by Lauren Barnholdt
Goodreads summary
Two-Way Street is another fun road trip book. It's told from the alternating point-of-views of two characters, and the story alternates from the characters on the road trip after they break-up and the characters a few months earlier, when their relationship was just beginning. This format was a really interesting way to tell the story, and I especially liked getting to know the perspective of each of the characters. These two characters find themselves on a road trip to school together, something that was arranged before they'd broken up, and they can't get out of it now. The two of them are awkward and uncomfortable around each other, and it's really interesting to watch the story unfold as the reader learns about what happened to get them to the point they're at in the present. The characters are two people you can't help but root for, and as I was reading, I kept hoping that they would find a way to work it out and be happy together. I read this whole book in a few hours, because it's one of those stories that I was unable to put down after reading the first page. Again, if you're looking for a fun read for the summer, I recommend this one.

This Is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith
Goodreads summary
This book is not about a road trip, but it does take place in a small Maine town during the summer. When one character accidentally sends an email to the other character, the two continue emailing each other and form an entirely email-based relationship. But plot twist: the guy is a famous actor, and his new movie is filming in the girl's small town. The two of them meet in real life, and, well, stuff happens. This is What Happy Looks Like is a light and fun read that I got through in one sitting, even though it's relatively big at just over 400 pages. I was unable to resist the appeal of a cute summer romance, and this book was so entertaining. I especially love the setting: a little town in Maine full of tourists on vacation and locals who all know each other. It reminded me a bit of Stars Hollow (any Gilmore Girls fans out there?!) because of the charming small-town vibe. I was also intrigued by the movie star angle. It was fun to read about a celebrity in comparison to a totally normal girl in a small town. I didn't love this book as much as Jennifer E. Smith's The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, but it was still quite good. If you enjoyed her other book, I think you'll like this one too.

Please let me know in the comments what you think of this format. I'm thinking of doing collections of mini-rambles a few more times this summer, just so I can try to keep up with all the books I've been reading!

I hope you're all having a wonderful summer filled with awesome books! Have you been reading any fun summer reads? Please let me know! I'm always in the mood for a recommendation. :)

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Megan Rambles About If I Should Die

If I Should Die by Amy Plum
From Goodreads:I will not lose another person I love. I will not let history repeat itself.

Vincent waited lifetimes to find me, but in an instant our future together was shattered. He was betrayed by someone we both called a friend, and I lost him. Now our enemy is determined to rule over France’s immortals, and willing to wage a war to get what they want.

It shouldn’t be possible, none of it should be, but this is my reality. I know Vincent is somewhere out there, I know he’s not completely gone, and I will do anything to save him.

After what we’ve already fought to achieve, a life without Vincent is unimaginable. He once swore to avoid dying—to go against his nature and forsake sacrificing himself for others—so that we could be together. How can I not risk everything to bring my love back to me?

Warning. There may be  minor spoilers for Die for Me and Until I Die below!

I'm going to start this review by saying that I am so incredibly sad that this series has ended. When I first read Die for Me I fell in love with Amy Plum's Revenants and the Paris city depicted in the books. It made me want to jump on the next plane to France even though I know basically no French, am a broke teenager with a book buying addiction, and would never be allowed to travel overseas without parental supervision. 

After the ending of Until I Die I was basically holding my breath for the last book in the trilogy. I wasn't sure how on earth Amy Plum was going to solve everything that needed to be solved in the final book and my expectations were extremely high. If I Should Die definitely didn't disappoint! It was the perfect end to the series!

All of my favorite characters were back and better than ever! As a result of the ending of Until I Die Kate is on her own and has to learn how to not only defend herself but also how to fight back as she fights desperately to get Vincent back. I loved that this book was still focused on their romance but Kate proved that she wasn't just a damsel in distress. She can take care of herself. Her sister Georgia also really stepped up to the plate in this book and she provided some comedic relief while helping her sister big time. 

There was also a lot of closure for all of the characters in this book. Amy Plum did a really excellent job of giving all of the characters an ending that answered most of the questions that I had. Not all of  the endings were happy, but they were satisfying all the same. 

This book was also full of so many twists and turns that I couldn't keep up with it. The plot was fast paced and action packed, leaving me surprised multiple times. Just when I thought the rest of the focus of the book was going to be on one thing, BAM! There would be a twist that sent the plot in a complete different direction. It made the book interesting and I just wanted to keep reading until I was done. 

There were tears, there were laughs, and I was left feeling really satisfied with the ending to one of my favorite series. If I wasn't a big Amy Plum fan before, I am now! I think this was the best book in the series and I'll definitely be reading any future Amy Plum Projects!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Rachel Rambles About The Moon and More

The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen
From Goodreads:
Luke is the perfect boyfriend: handsome, kind, fun. He and Emaline have been together all through high school in Colby, the beach town where they both grew up. But now, in the summer before college, Emaline wonders if perfect is good enough.

Enter Theo, a super-ambitious outsider, a New Yorker assisting on a documentary film about a reclusive local artist. Theo's sophisticated, exciting, and, best of all, he thinks Emaline is much too smart for Colby.

Emaline's mostly-absentee father, too, thinks Emaline should have a bigger life, and he's convinced that an Ivy League education is the only route to realizing her potential. Emaline is attracted to the bright future that Theo and her father promise. But she also clings to the deep roots of her loving mother, stepfather, and sisters. Can she ignore the pull of the happily familiar world of Colby?

Emaline wants the moon and more, but how can she balance where she comes from with where she's going?

Sarah Dessen's devoted fans will welcome this story of romance, yearning, and, finally, empowerment. It could only happen in the summer.

Before you read any further, I must warn you that Sarah Dessen is one of my favorite authors ever. I'm obsessed with her books, she's my writing hero, and she's the entire reason I read Young Adult books and love writing. I think everything she writes is amazing by default, so I'm incredibly biased and will automatically love anything she writes. Clearly, this is not going to be a negative review.

Now that we've established the fact that I'm not going to have anything bad to say about this book, let's move on. :)

The Moon and More is about a girl named Emaline who works at the family realty business, renting out homes to tourists in her beach hometown. Those familiar with Sarah Dessen's other novels will recognize the town of Colby as the setting of a few of her other books. In those books, the characters come to Colby as tourists. But Emaline lives in Colby full-time and the tourists are her clients. This provides an entirely different perspective of Colby that readers haven't seen in any of Sarah Dessen's other books. I thought it was fascinating to see how Emaline's view of Colby is so wildly different from the views of other characters in other Dessen books. Growing up in Colby and watching countless tourists vacationing for short periods of time, visiting but never staying, makes Emaline feel like she is watching other people have the time of their lives, while her life stays the same. All these tourists get to experience all the magical transformations that come with being on vacation, but Emaline always feels like she's living in "someone else's summer." She's just the realty employee, part of the backdrop, instead of being the main character in her own life. I think most books would show the story from the perspective of the people on vacation, so it was fascinating to experience the book from the perspective of the employees, the permanent fixtures.

My favorite thing about The Moon and More is Emaline. I think she's a great main character, and I believe she might even be my new favorite Dessen main character. She's smart and focused and easy to relate to, and while she does make plenty of mistakes, they're realistic mistakes that make sense in the story. I never found myself wanting to reach into the book and shake her like I have with some of Sarah Dessen's other main characters, so I think that's a pretty good sign. Emaline just feels real, and I liked reading about her life. 

Another thing I love about The Moon and More is the family. I've had a hard time liking the families in many of Sarah Dessen's books, but I think Emaline's family is easy to like. Emaline has good relationships with her mom, dad, and sisters, as well as her grandmother. Emaline's sisters get on her nerves at times and they all bicker and fight, but they love each other. I think Emaline's relationship with her sisters is a realistic portrayal of what having sisters is like. (I would know, since I have two myself. :D) 

I've noticed in many of Sarah Dessen's books that the protagonist's mom is usually a really unlikable character, but that's not the case in The Moon and More. I love Emaline's mom. The two of them don't always get along, but I like that her mom lets her have some space to make her own mistakes and learn from them. They have their differences and disagreements, but they're really close and supportive of each other.

Morris is another great character. He's Emaline's best friend, and while it took me awhile to start liking him, by the end of the book I absolutely adored him. I also love Emaline's relationship with her half-brother, Benji. The two of them didn't know each other very well at the beginning of the book, so it was interesting to read about them getting to know each other throughout the novel.

I actually don't have that many things to say about the boys, Luke and Theo, other than they aren't what I expected. I was pleasantly surprised with the way things turned about between both Emaline/Luke and Emaline/Theo. Each boy is portrayed not as a swoon-worthy love interest, but as a real teenage/young adult guy with plenty of flaws.

The Moon and More feels different from Sarah Dessen's other books. It's hard to say exactly what it is, but I think it feels more mature, in a way. Emaline is the oldest character Sarah Dessen has yet to write, and she's not dealing with high school issues anymore. Emaline is an adult, with struggles that a young woman faces. Also, while many of Sarah Dessen's books have adorable romances that you can't help but hope end in happily ever afters, The Moon and More has more realistic relationships that are messy and don't work out in the end. I think these differences show that Sarah Dessen has grown and changed as a writer, and while I don't think either one of her writing styles is better than the other, it's nice to see that she can surprise readers.

I apologize for the lengthy ramble, but I can't help but fangirl over one of my favorite authors. :) If you're a fan of Sarah Dessen's other books, then I think The Moon and More will surprise you, in a good way. If you've never read a Sarah Dessen book before, I think The Moon and More is a good place to start.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday (26)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine.

Allegiant by Veronica Roth
From Goodreads
One choice will define you.

What if your whole world was a lie?
What if a single revelation—like a single choice—changed everything?
What if love and loyalty made you do things you never expected?

The explosive conclusion to Veronica Roth’s #1 New York Times bestselling Divergent trilogy reveals the secrets of the dystopian world that has captivated millions of readers in Divergent and Insurgent.

After the way Insurgent ended, I absolutely can't wait for Allegiant! Plus, LOOK AT THAT COVER. I know this book is going to be action packed and probably shocking too. Even though I'm super excited for this book, I really don't want to see Veronica Roth's trilogy end either.

What are you waiting on this week? Leave links below to your WoW posts and I'll make sure to check them out! 

Monday, July 15, 2013

Rachel Rambles About Rise

(Beware of spoilers in the summary! My review is spoiler-free for the entire series, but don't read the summary unless you've read the first two books in the series!)

Rise by Anna Carey
From Goodreads:
How far will you go when you have nothing left to lose?

When she lost her soul mate, Caleb, Eve felt like her world had ended. Trapped in the palace, forced to play the part of the happy, patriotic princess of The New America—and the blushing bride of her father's top adviser—Eve's whole life is a lie. The only thing that keeps her going is Caleb's memory, and the revolution he started.

Now, Eve is taking over where Caleb left off. With the help of Moss, an undercover subversive in the King's court, she plots to take down The New America, beginning with the capital, the City of Sand. Will Eve be able to bring about a new, free world when she's called upon to perform the ultimate act of rebellion—killing her father?

In Rise, Eve must choose who to leave behind, who to save, and who to fight as Anna Carey's epic tale of romance and sacrifice in the chilling dystopia of The New America comes to a stunning conclusion.

I'd put off reading Rise for quite some time, not because I had no interest in reading it, but because I didn't want the series to end. Rise is the last book in the Eve trilogy, and over the years, I feel like I've formed a deep connection with this series, so I knew it would be hard to say goodbye to these books.

What impresses me most about this series is how each book takes Eve to a totally new place. In the first book, Eve is innocent and naive and a little clueless at times, but as the book progresses she begins to grow and learn and transform into a stronger person. In Once, she continues to transform, becoming even stronger and tougher. And by the time she gets to the place she is in Rise, she's seen it all, and there's nothing she can't handle. I don't think I've ever seen a series feature such a dramatic transformation for the main character as this one. The changes Eve experiences are subtle and gradual, and it's fascinating as a reader to watch those changes happen. In the first book, I wasn't a big fan of Eve at all, but by the time I read Rise, I was so proud of everything she's been through and how well she's handled it that I could cry for her.

Each of these books has a wildly different setting from the others, which is another thing I think is done really well in this series. Rise begins at the King's palace, where Eve gets a taste of true comfort and luxury for the first time since she left the School in the first book. But as the book goes on, Eve leaves the palace and ventures into the run-down, abandoned part of the country where she has to work to get food in her stomach and some kind of shelter over her head on a daily basis. There is a stark contrast between these two lifestyles, and it's especially fascinating to see how well Eve adjusts to both of them. She's gotten so used to having to adjust to a new lifestyle every time she arrives at a new place, and it's almost like she doesn't even notice the difference between living in a grand castle and being on the run in the woods.

There are several side characters in this book that are featured prominently, including a few new characters that hadn't appeared in the other books. Readers get to see a little more of Charles, and a lot more of Clara. Clara was a character I didn't think all that much of before Rise, but she proves to be a strong and brave character that is extremely likable. Eve and Clara's friendship becomes really strong during this book, and I was happy to see Eve have a friend like that, after she's lost so many of her friends. Pip and Ruby, Eve's old friends from School, make an appearance, and it was wonderful to see them. Beatrice is one of my favorite characters. She becomes like a mother figure to Eve, who needed a mother figure so badly. And then there are all the girls Eve saves from the School. She drags them all along with her into dangerous and rough conditions that they'd never experienced before, so naturally they all have a hard time adjusting. This is another excellent example of Anna Carey's ability to show characters experiencing a gradual transformation. The girls start out naive, whiny, and confused, but the journey Eve takes them on transforms them into strong and mature young women.

Since this book is the last of the series, the ending is really important. And let me tell you, the ending is completely epic. It does not answer all of the unanswered questions from the series, nor does it give all the characters a happy ending. I'm glad it doesn't though, because this book is about a dystopian society, and it would feel like a lie if everything was wrapped up nicely. The ending is perfect, in my opinion. It's open-ended but hopeful, and it hints at the possibility of a (somewhat) happy ending for Eve at some point in her future. This is one of those books that I would love to read an epilogue about, maybe something that takes place years after the end of the book, just because I want more of this story and I want to know that the characters are in a good place. But I'm content with the ending, and I think it's the only way the story could have ended.

Rise is my favorite book in the Eve trilogy. It's darker and more serious than the others, and Eve is the strongest and bravest she's ever been. This entire series has impressed me so much, and I consider it to be one of my favorite dystopian series. The books in this trilogy each stand on their own really well, but together, I think they're just brilliant. I'm so sad the series is over, but I'm satisfied with the way Eve's story ended.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Megan Rambles About Meant to Be

Meant to Be by Lauren Morrill
From Goodreads:Meant to be or not meant to be . . . that is the question. 
It's one thing to fall head over heels into a puddle of hazelnut coffee, and quite another to fall for the—gasp—wrong guy. Straight-A junior Julia may be accident prone, but she's queen of following rules and being prepared. That's why she keeps a pencil sharpener in her purse and a pocket Shakespeare in her, well, pocket. And that's also why she's chosen Mark Bixford, her childhood crush, as her MTB ("meant to be").
But this spring break, Julia's rules are about to get defenestrated (SAT word: to be thrown from a window) when she's partnered with her personal nemesis, class-clown Jason, on a school trip to London. After one wild party, Julia starts receiving romantic texts . . . from an unknown number! Jason promises to help discover the identity of her mysterious new suitor if she agrees to break a few rules along the way. And thus begins a wild goose chase through London, leading Julia closer and closer to the biggest surprise of all: true love.Because sometimes the things you least expect are the most meant to be."If you're into swoony romances with a little bit of history thrown in, you'll love Meant to Be."--HelloGiggles.com "Fun, fresh and irresistibly romantic. STB (SURE to be) loved!"--Sarah Mlynowski"Readers of Jennifer E. Smith and Stephanie Perkins will revel in this debate about love ruled by the stars or as a matter of the heart."--Shelf Awareness

I actually read this book awhile ago, but as usual I am way behind on reviews, so I apologize for the lateness of this review. I love a good contemporary romance and this book was no exception. From the beginning I knew I was probably going to love this with it's adorable premise and London setting, there isn't much more I could ask for. Meant to Be definitely did not disappoint!

Julia was a main character I couldn't help but fall in love with. She was unbelievably clumsy and I just felt so bad for her with each embarrassing moment. Watching her grow and come out of her shell during the book was really interesting. Also, the way Julia slowly warmed up to Jason was really well written. Since she starts out pretty much hating him at the beginning of the book it was really realistic for her to not just jump into a relationship with him. It took time for it to develop.

Jason was also an entertaining character. At the beginning he was just a typical class clown, constantly trying to crack a joke and entertain everyone around him. He is the exact opposite of Julia, putting having fun above the rules that she considers so precious, and yet in a lot of ways he is also the best thing for her. Throughout the book Jason also shows that there is more to him than just a few good jokes.

With the London class trip setting and characters that made me smile, this cute contemporary read had me wanting nothing more than to jump into it and follow Jason and Julia along on their crazy adventure. I spent the entire book just waiting for the two of them to just get together. While the plot may have been slightly predictable at times I still couldn't help but fly through this book. With a wonderfully vibrant European setting, a great main character, a cute boy, and lots of class trip shenanigans, there wasn't any way to not love this book!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Writing and Finishing Things and Camp NaNoWriMo (Rachel)

As some of you may already know, Megan and I are participating in Camp NaNoWriMo this month. I love writing. It's one of my favorite things to do, and my dream is to write books for a living one day. And I'd say that I've done quite a bit of writing during the past few years. I have a ton of short stories and beginnings of novels and half-finished drafts. I can't even begin to tell you how many book ideas and characters I have floating around in my head. Some of them have made it onto a piece of paper or computer screen, and others are still in my head, where they'll stay unless I suddenly feel the urge to pull them out and start writing about them.

I love starting books. I've started so many of them, and I love the beginning of a story when you're trying to figure out who the characters are, and you're not exactly sure why you're writing this or what's going to happen or where the story will go. That's my favorite thing about writing, probably.

My problem is that I never finish anything.

Seriously. Out of all the documents on my computer that contain drafts of books, not a single one of them has a beginning, middle, AND an end. It might have one or two, but never all three. I always find myself unable to continue with a story. I have a million excuses. I say that I'm just not feeling the story anymore or I don't have time to write it or I don't like it anymore or some new and shiny idea came along and it's way better. But none of these excuses justify the fact that I never finish anything.

So this year, for Camp NaNoWriMo, my goal is to actually finish something.

In November, the book I started writing was...different from all the other books I'd started. Something about it felt really special to me, and it was the first idea I've had that I've really seen a ton of potential in. For example, the draft of the half-finished novel I wrote during my first NaNoWriMo was something that, when I revisited it a few months later, I didn't like at all. There were so many problems with it, and I realized I had no desire to finish it anytime soon. I could maybe see myself completely rewriting it one day, but as of right now, I'd rather not even look at it.

But the book from November (the working title is Red, by the way. I'll call it that from now on) was totally different. I had every intention of finishing the draft after NaNoWriMo ended and I'd hit 50,000 words. But then school kind of got in the way, and I spent December through June in a state of constant stress because of school. I was in a really bad place, and any writing I would have done during that time period would have reflected just how bad and stressed and unhappy I was feeling, and I feel like I could have ruined any possibility of ever finishing the book if I had tried to write it during that time.

But then summer came along, and I opened up my draft of Red and started reading it. It had been such a long time since I'd last looked at it, so it almost felt like I was reading someone else's novel for the first time. And as I was reading, I found that I was...enjoying it. I mean, there were a ton of mistakes and things I would need to change and revise and make better, but for the most part, I liked Red. I thought it was good. I was proud of it. And I realized that I wanted to actually finish it.

Usually, when I read something I wrote a few months ago, I just cringe at how terrible it is. What was Past Me thinking?! I always say. This sucks! So Red was one of the first things that stood the test of time. I'm actually sort of grateful that I didn't look at it or try to finish it for so long. The time away from it was good for me. I forgot about it and moved on, and when I finally read it again, I was looking at it through fresh eyes. The fact that I still liked the story and where I was going with it means that there's something special about this book, and I want to continue writing it.

So that brings me to Camp NaNoWriMo. I'm participating in it for the first time this year, and my goal is to finish this draft. By the end of July, I hope to have written "the end" and for the first time in my life, finished a first draft of a book. I feel like I love the story and the characters and my vision of this book enough to actually finish it, and I don't think I'll fail. Even if I don't finish it all this month, I think I'll definitely be motivated enough to finish it sometime soon.

Once I finish the draft, I want to go back and revise it. And then revise it again. And again. As many times as it takes, because I already know there are a ton of things I'll need to fix. And then I want to give the book to my friends, who are dying to read some of my writing, but only when I'm really proud of it. And then, after that, I don't really know what I'll do. My goal with this book is to get it to a place where I feel like it's finished. If that means writing a bunch of different drafts, then okay. And when I finally say that I'm finished? Well, then I'll probably do nothing. It will probably just sit on my computer, gathering metaphorical dust as I move on to write other new things. But it will be finished. I'll know that I'm capable of actually writing a book. And that's really all I want.

(Although, now it looks like Red WON'T actually be finished and it might need a sequel. So. Yeah. Um, I wasn't really planning on a sequel, but okay then. We'll see how this goes.)

Feel free to leave encouraging words and virtual chocolate and tissues and hugs in the comments. Finishing this draft is probably going to be a long and emotional journey, and I can only hope that it will end with me running around my house to the Rocky theme song.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday (25)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine.

Perfect Lies by Kiersten White
From Goodreads:
Annie and Fia are ready to fight back.

The sisters have been manipulated and controlled by the Keane Foundation for years, trapped in a never ending battle for survival. Now they have found allies who can help them truly escape. After faking her own death, Annie has joined a group that is plotting to destroy the Foundation. And Fia is working with James Keane to bring his father down from the inside.

But Annie's visions of the future can't show her who to trust in the present. And though James is Fia's first love, Fia knows he's hiding something. The sisters can rely only on each other - but that may not be enough to save them.

I'm a huge fan of Kiersten White, and I thought Mind Games was amazing, so of course I'm dying to read the sequel! The cover is SO COOL.

What are you waiting on this week? Leave links to your WoW posts below so I can check them out!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013


I decided that I'm going to participate in the BookTube-a-thon!

For more information about the BookTube-a-thon, you can watch Raeleen's video and Ariel's video.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Megan Rambles About The Madness Underneath

The Madness Underneath by Maureen Johnson
From GoodreadsWhen madness stalks the streets of London, no one is safe…

There's a creepy new terror haunting modern-day London.
Fresh from defeating a Jack the Ripper killer, Rory must put her new-found hunting skills to the test before all hell breaks loose…

But enemies are not always who you expect them to be and crazy times call for crazy solutions. A thrilling teen mystery.

Warning: There will be slight spoilers for The Name of the Star below!
When I first read The Name of the Star I loved how creepy it was and the fact that it was a completely unique ghost story with an amazing cast of characters who were equal parts entertaining and bad ass. 

To say I had high expectations going in to The Madness Underneath would be completely accurate. I expect a lot out of every Maureen Johnson book that I read because I know she is capable of writing amazing things. This book definitely didn't disappoint. 

After getting attacked by the Ripper ghost in the bathroom of Wallingford and almost dying, Rory's parents made her leave the school. When the book starts she is staying with her parents, seeing a therapist about the attack and bored out of her mind. Since she can't exactly tell her therapist that she was attacked by a ghost without getting locked up, Rory spends her sessions just sitting there staring into space. I really felt for her throughout the entire book because all she wanted was to get back to her friends.

Luckily for her, Stephen, Boo, and Callum want her back too. So with a little bit of manipulation they convince her therapist, and Rory's parents that the best thing for her is to come back to Wallingford and finish the year. So Rory dives back into the extremely stressful life of dealing with school and ghosts and her now extremely worried parents. At the time I was dealing with the end of the school year and finals too, so again, I just felt bad for Rory. She really struggled with feeling hopelessly behind in this book and that was definitely something I went through this year. 

I also really liked the relationship between Rory and Jerome too. They were constantly bantering and calling each other "disgusting" instead of doing normal couple things like saying "I love you". This was a really interesting relationship dynamic to read and it was a great change of pace. 

In the sequel, I really liked Stephen's character too. He and Rory spent more time together and I liked getting to see another less uptight side of him. Callum, Boo, and Jazza were also all back in this one and I loved them just as much as I did the first time.

Now, I just have to take a moment to say how NOT OKAY I am with the ending of this book. It was super intense and unexpected and shocking and WOW. Just wow. I need the third book like yesterday because of that cliffhanger ending. Maureen Johnson that was just absolutely evil. 

While this book had a slightly different feel than The Name of the Star, I still liked it just as much. Where the first book was much more action packed throughout, this book felt more like a steady, mysterious build-up to a huge explosion at the end. This book was a lot more suspenseful and it left me on the edge of my seat until the very last page.

P.S. Have you followed Rachel and I on Bloglovin' yet? If not, make sure you do because Google Reader is apparently going away soon! 

Rachel Rambles About The Loop

The Loop by Shandy Lawson
From Goodreads:
Ben and Maggie have met, fallen in love, and died together countless times. Over the course of two pivotal days—both the best and worst of their lives—they struggle again and again to resist the pull of fate and the force of time itself. With each failure, they return to the beginning of their end, a wild road trip that brings them to the scene of their own murders and into the hands of the man destined to kill them.

As time circles back on itself, events become more deeply ingrained, more inescapable for the two kids trapped inside the loop. The closer they come to breaking out, the tighter fate’s clutches seem to grip them. They devise a desperate plan to break free and survive the days ahead, but what if Ben and Maggie’s only shot at not dying is surviving apart

The Loop is a fast and exciting book that I read in one sitting. The story moves quickly, without giving the characters any time to pause or rest, and because of the way the story is told, the reader doesn't get a break either. The action and adventure never slow down, which makes for an intense and exciting reading experience.

The loop the main characters are stuck in is both fascinating and frustrating. Maggie and Ben do everything they can think of to change their fate, but no matter what, their fate doesn't seem like it will ever change. The stakes are high as the two of them attempt to evade death, and my heart was racing just like theirs as I eagerly turned the pages.

The Loop is an epic, fast-paced, action-packed book full of danger and suspense. For such a short book (just barely 200 pages), a lot happens in The Loop. There are no dull moments or breaks in the action and intensity. I devoured this book, and I think other readers will have an extremely difficult time putting The Loop down once they start reading it. The story captured my attention on the first page and didn't let go until the last page.

If you're looking for something fun and fast, I think you should pick up a copy of The Loop. But be sure to carve out a few hours for reading it. Trust me, you're going to want to read it in one sitting!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

June Wrap-Up (Rachel)

I uploaded a video to my YouTube channel about all the books I read in June.

Books mentioned:
The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen
The Distance Between Us by Kasie West (review:http://readwriteramble.blogspot.com/2...)
The Gallagher Girls series by Ally Carter
Parallel by Lauren Miller
A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray
The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket
Anatomy of a Boyfriend/Anatomy of a Single Girl by Daria Snadowsky (review: http://readwriteramble.blogspot.com/2...)
The Battle of the Labyrinth by Rick Riordan
How My Summer Went Up in Flames by Jennifer Salvato Doktorski
You Look Different in Real Life by Jennifer Castle (review:http://readwriteramble.blogspot.com/2...)
Crash by Nicole Williams
Born of Illusion by Teri Brown
Two-Way Street by Lauren Barnholdt
Keeping the Moon by Sarah Dessen

Pulseit: http://pulseit.com/

Waiting on Wednesday (24)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine.

Split Second by Kasie West
From Goodreads:
Life can change in a split second.

Addie hardly recognizes her life since her parents divorced. Her boyfriend used her. Her best friend betrayed her. She can’t believe this is the future she chose. On top of that, her ability is acting up. She’s always been able to Search the future when presented with a choice. Now she can manipulate and slow down time, too . . . but not without a price.

When Addie’s dad invites her to spend her winter break with him, she jumps at the chance to escape into the Norm world of Dallas, Texas. There she meets the handsome and achingly familiar Trevor. He’s a virtual stranger to her, so why does her heart do a funny flip every time she sees him? But after witnessing secrets that were supposed to stay hidden, Trevor quickly seems more suspicious of Addie than interested in her. And she has an inexplicable desire to change that.

Meanwhile, her best friend, Laila, has a secret of her own: she can restore Addie’s memories . . . once she learns how. But there are powerful people who don’t want to see this happen. Desperate, Laila tries to manipulate Connor, a brooding bad boy from school—but he seems to be the only boy in the Compound immune to her charms. And the only one who can help her.

As Addie and Laila frantically attempt to retrieve the lost memories, Addie must piece together a world she thought she knew before she loses the love she nearly forgot . . . and a future that could change everything.

Pivot Point was one of the best books I've read this year, and the sequel sounds like it will be freaking amazing! I have high hopes for Split Second, and I have a feeling that Kasie West is going to meet my  high expectations...if not exceed them!

What are you waiting on this week? Leave links to your WoW posts below so I can check them out!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Rachel's New YouTube Channel

Hello everyone! I've been wanting to start my own YouTube channel for quite awhile now, so I'm really excited about the fact that I finally did it!

The channel is called evilclementine, which I realize is a bit of a weird name, but it's a sort of inside joke between Megan and me, and it's become the username I use for every social media website I join. Maybe one day I'll explain what it means... :D

Anyway, so the channel is going to mainly be a BookTube channel, but I'll probably have some more personal, non-book stuff on there occasionally. I have a bunch of videos currently in the works, and I can't wait to put them on the internet. Look for a June Wrap-Up video later this week!

Here's the video I put on the Read. Write. Ramble channel explaining the new channel:

I kind of have no idea what I'm doing, so hopefully I'll get a hang of this video-making thing soon. :P

Click here to check out the new channel!