Book Review: What I Thought Was True

15832932Novel: What I Thought Was True by Huntley Fitzpatrick | Goodreads
Release Date: April 15th, 2014
Publisher: Dial Books for Young Readers
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher

From the author of My Life Next Door comes a swoony summertime romance full of expectation and regret, humor and hard questions.

Gwen Castle’s Biggest Mistake Ever, Cassidy Somers, is slumming it as a yard boy on her Nantucket-esque island this summer. He’s a rich kid from across the bridge in Stony Bay, and she hails from a family of fishermen and housecleaners who keep the island’s summer people happy. Gwen worries a life of cleaning houses will be her fate too, but just when it looks like she’ll never escape her past—or the island—Gwen’s dad gives her some shocking advice. Sparks fly and secret histories unspool as Gwen spends a gorgeous, restless summer struggling to resolve what she thought was true—about the place she lives, the people she loves, and even herself—with what really is.

A magnetic, push-me-pull-me romance with depth, this is for fans of Sarah Dessen, Jenny Han, and Deb Caletti.

YES THE NEW HUNTLEY FITZPATRICK! I’m a huge fan of My Life Next Door, Fitzpatrick’s debut novel, and this one possibly tops MLND. Huntley Fitzpatrick is a master at families, which is something I think should be explored more in YA literature, because it’s such a relatable topic. In WITWT, Fitzpatrick explores a child of divorced parents who got married young and are barely making it. Gwen Castle is the sarcastic, babbling, kind character that I love in YA. She felt so real – her regrets, her fears of people knowing the truth, and her desires to get away from her hometown – they’re all such relatable things that any teen deals with.

I especially connected to Gwen (and many of the other characters in the book) in their struggle to leave their hometown for college and to pay for that move. That’s something I’m going to face in the coming year or two, and so I really understood the feeling of being torn between the two that Gwen was experiencing.

Now for the romance. This was not your regular YA romance. Cass and Gwen have some… not so good history, to say the least, and they’re both still reeling from the hurt of that day. So when they’re thrown together, they aren’t exactly perfectly made for each other. But that doesn’t mean they don’t have feelings for each other! Huntley Fitzpatrick is so good at allowing relationships to grow naturally in a story and not rushing the characters along. Gwen and Cass had to individually deal with a lot of issues before they could work through the ones between the two of them.

That’s another thing I love about Fitzpatrick – she does the deep conversations and hard discussions SO WELL. Her teens are mature people who have real discussions. They talk things through. That seems to be really rare in YA, and I think it needs to be more prevalent. It teaches us how to have those hard conversations but that they are necessary in a working relationship.

So, all in all, I adored What I Thought Was True. It’s relatable, well-written, and the characters are incredible. It was a “I stayed up until 1AM reading” kind of book for me, which always means it’s a winner.

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Book Convention Survival Guide: Tips and Tricks

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We have entered the Spring and Summer convention season, and every season I talk to bloggers who are going to their first ever conference and are looking for tips. What kind of shoes? Where do I stay? What do I pack? So I’m going a couple of posts with a mish-mash of my tips, as I’ve been to a fair share and come at it from a different point of view than others: I’m a teenager! Today, I’m going to give my top Tips and Tricks to be a successful blogger at conventions.

Tip #1: Be polite to EVERYONE.

When at conventions it’s easy to get caught up in everything and get snarky (come on, we’re ALL a little low on sleep) and snap at publicists, bloggers, and people alike. Things to remember: these people are your friends. You need to be polite, nice, and leave everyone room to be themselves. This will get you a long way and make people like you a lot more.

Tip #2: Don’t grab every book in sight.

This is probably the hardest thing to avoid doing, and it something I’m still struggling with. After having gone to multiple conventions that lasted multiple days, I come home each time regretting having taken so much and never reading it all. I have ALA books from last summer I haven’t even read AND I gave some away. So be selective – you don’t need everything you see!

Tip #3: Find one or two people and stick together.

Prior to going to the convention find a couple of people you know through Twitter and make a pact to be a group. Meet up, go to lunch together, combat the lines together, grab books for each other. This allows you to divide and conquer when needed and always have someone to go to lunch with (because let’s face it, no one wants to eat lunch alone).

Tip #4: Share! Share! Share!

One of the best things about the postal service is you can ship books Media Mail for waaayyy cheaper. So take advantage and between your group of buddies (see Tip #3) grab one copy of something you’re interested in and share! Less books but just as much reading.

Tip #5: Don’t over do it in the Exhibit Hall.

One of the things I learned in ALA this past year was that although the Exhibit Hall ROCKS THE WORLD it also makes you exhausted and only adds to your book count (see Tip #2). So take a walk with some book buddies, head back to the hotel and drop off your books, go sightseeing, eat some yummy food, go shopping – get out of the convention center with some blogger buds and make memories!

Tip #6: Bring your phone charger. No. Matter. What.

Phones die SOOOO fast in the Exhibit Hall. I think this has something to do with the fact that everyone is texting and tweeting at the same time but who knows. Also – your phone will most likely be slow in the Exhibit Hall. Be prepared for this.

Tip #7: Talk to the publicists.

This should be a must for EVERYONE. Publicists are amazing and super nice people and trust me just as fangirly as you are and love books just as much. So ask them what their most anticipated read is for the coming season. Ask them what they recommend. Browse and ask about books your want to know more about. Compliment books you love from their booth. They’ll love you more. :)

Tip #8: Say “Hi!” to people you recognize from Twitter

We all see those people in the hall and go OMG I RECOGNIZE YOU FROM YOUR PROFILE PICTURE but then never go say hi. Do it. Be awkward. Laugh about your awkwardness. Make new friends. Be a social-able person even though this is what all of us struggle with the most.

Tip #9: Make dinner plans before going!

Find a group of friends and plan a dinner! I’ve been trying to do this for the past couple conferences I’ve been at, but I went to a lunch at BEA two? three? years ago and it was so fun. These are where memories are made! :)

Tip #10: Find a hotel close to the convention center.

If you can’t make it on the recommend list of hotels (conventions that are large usually have these and they’re awesome) then shoot for something close by. If you’re in city with good public transport, make it close to a stop. Be smart about where you choose, and something with a Continental Breakfast is always a plus because you will definitely be in a rush in the mornings.

Allright, that’s it for edition one of the Book Convention Survival Guide! Check back for another edition later this week or next week! (PS: I’m working on uploading my TT4L Haul. It’s coming!)

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Book Review: This Star Won’t Go Out

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Novel: This Star Won’t Go Out by Esther Earl | Goodreads

Release Date: January 24th, 2014

Publisher: Dutton Juvenile

Source: Publisher (Thanks Julie xx)

Format: ARC

A collection of the journals, fiction, letters, and sketches of the late Esther Grace Earl, who passed away in 2010 at the age of 16. Photographs and essays by family and friends will help to tell Esther’s story along with an introduction by award-winning author John Green who dedicated his #1 bestselling novel The Fault in Our Stars to her.

I am the kind of person for connects deeply to the books they read.

This Star Won’t Go Out was yet another book I sat down and read start to finish, simply because I felt so utterly connected to her. Although I didn’t know about Esther while she was alive, and only knew brief bits about her prior to this book, I knew about the impact she had had on both Nerfighteria and the world of young-adult literature. This book allowed me to get to know her in a certain way.

One of the elements of the book that really resonated with me was Esther’s relationship with Catitude. It reminded me in so many ways of not only Lit Up Review, where some of my best friends are housed, but also of my own version of Catitude, The Pom Pom Squad, which consists of myself, Jen, Vy, and Aneeqah, probably my closest blogging friends. I understand what it is like to feel so connected to people you have never hugged before. I’ve met my online friends IRL and that moment is something beautiful and unforgettable. I am so happy that Esther had people around her to love and support her, because she sounds like such a beautiful person. A person the world was blessed to have.

I connected to Esther in so many ways, especially because she passed at the same age I am now, so I understand a lot of the emotional things she was going through (not cancer, but the other things) and was able to see her through that light, which I think is powerful. This book is such a beautiful work, and I commend Penguin, Esther’s family and friends, and the countless people involved on a job well done.

We miss you, Esther. (Even if we didn’t know you.)

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Music Monday {8}

music mondays

On a Music Monday, I will introduce a couple of new songs that I’m enjoying with you all and put the Youtube video in so you all can check out the song. You can find the playlist on Spotify with all of these songs here.

1. Staying Up by The Neighbourhood

8tracks has been on repeat this week, and this song has been on multiple mixes. It’s such a fun song and matches my mood a lot.

2. Ms by Alt-J

This was on an 8tracks playlist and I fell in love. I haven’t been able to listen to a lot of Alt-J, but I like a couple different songs. This one is definitely one of my favorites!

3. Reunion by The xx

love The xx, and this is probably one of my favorite songs by them. I forgot about it until it came up the other day and fell in love all over again!

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Music Monday {7}

music mondays

On a Music Monday, I will introduce a couple of new songs that I’m enjoying with you all and put the Youtube video in so you all can check out the song. You can find the playlist on Spotify with all of these songs here.

1. Cardiac Arrest by Bad Suns

THE 1975 ANNOUNCED THEIR SUPPORT ACTS FOR THE US TOUR THIS SPRING AND THESE GUYS ARE ON IT. I discovered them because I wanted to do my research before the concert and I have been obsessed with Bad Suns. Their entire EP (Transpose) is incredible and I will listen to it on repeat. I AM SO EXCITED TO SEE THEM IN MAY WITH THE 1975.

2. Gold by Sir Sly

These guys are ALSO supporting The 1975, but will not be playing for their Austin show. *cue tears* Their EP is also on repeat, and I love the production on the vocals of the EP. Also, their music videos (I didn’t include the super cool one so go look at their Youtube) are super cool!

3. In My Veins by Andrew Belle (Feat. Erin McCarley)

Discovered on 8tracks and OH MY GOD SO GOOD. Also, I loved Erin McCarley’s single Pony (It’s OK) when I was like twelve, so I was excited to see her featured on this song!

Let me know what you think and have a wonderful Monday!

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Insecurities + Loving Yourself

Recently, I was on Tumblr (what’s new) and I stumbled across this post on my dash. I read the comments and realized that we as people have so many insecurities. Everything from our eyebrows, to the way we walk, to our dreams and our aspirations – we have all felt those moments where you feel that guilty… about being yourself.

And there’s something wrong with that. The fact that others (and or ourselves)  can make us feel guilty about something we most likely can’t change – and shouldn’t change – is wrong. It’s wrong because if we don’t believe in ourselves and we can’t see through all of those other people’s crap, then we’re giving them power over us. We’re letting them dictate what we can feel and how we see ourselves, both which really should be up to us and only us.

But then I thought – is there really any way to stop this? Is there any way for us to stop having insecurities? To stop others from pointing them out? The answer, unfortunately, is no. But there is, however, a way for us to actively change the way we see ourselves. And trust me – there is no easy way out or a one-size-fits-all version of this. But I’m going to share what has helped me, because this is something I’ve combatted all of my life, and only recently has gotten easier.

1. Embrace your imperfections and move on. There’s no point in dwelling on them. They’re there. Awesome. They’re not going anywhere. That sucks, but hey, guess what? That means more time for you two to get to know each other. Say hello every morning to whatever you don’t love the most about yourself, and move on. Don’t spend time squeezing your belly fat or pointing our every pimple on your face. Just move on.

2. Find something that makes you feel beautiful. This is different for EVERYONE and I think it changes over time. But find that thing and milk it. A note on this: for some people think makeup is bad, but I beg to differ. Makeup can make people feel strong, it can emphasize your beauty, and it’s fun. So if makeup is your thing, go for it, but know that you’re beautiful without it too. It doesn’t make you beautiful, you make it beautiful.

3. Surround yourself with people who make you feel empowered and leave behind anyone who doesn’t. Those people are missing out on someone incredible and it’s THEIR loss – not yours. Don’t feel obligated to spend time with people who make you make bad choices, who degrade you, or make you feel like you have to be someone you’re not. Find people who make you laugh, smile, and who you can be every part of yourself with without having to worry what they’ll think of you. Note: this takes time. It’s hard to find these people, and these people may change as you grow up, but never give up on trying. 

4. Find someone you can vent to and who will hear you without you feeling judged. I know this sounds trifle, but trust me, this is so valuableIf this is your parents, your siblings, your best friends, that’s awesome, but for me, it isn’t always. I’ve found people, both adults and teenagers, who see me for me and who love me because of it. Love those people and show them how much they mean to you, and don’t be afraid to reach out for help.

5. Show people you care. This also may sound trifle, but I’ve found in my fifteen – almost sixteen – years of living that there are so many people who don’t know people love them and all they need is a reminder some days. Find your way of doing this (mine is through baking sweets and sending sweet texts/letter/words of love and hugging people) and use it once a week. Tell the people you love how much they mean to you, and how much it means to you that they’re in your life.

Bettering yourself is hard, and it’s a continual process. It takes time, it takes a whole lot of effort, and it’s scary. It’s hard to take a leap of faith, that’s just a fact of life. But it’s so worth it. So try some of the things I’ve suggested, or come up with your own! And if you ever need some moral support, I’m always just a tweet/comment/email/ask away and I’ll reply. Promise.

Hugs and all the love in the world,

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Epic Recs – February 2014 Wrap Up + Review

Epic Recs

*hides face* I didn’t post my intro for this month. I KNOW I’M SORRY GUYS. Forgive me? Please? Either way, here’s my wrap-up. (FYI, I recommended the wonderful but Vixen to Vy!)

Epic Recs is hosted by Judith from Paper Riot and Amber from Books of Amber. “The aim of this was to force each other to read books that we have previously loved.” Check out their latest post here to find out more! This month, Aneeqah recommended The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken to me, and I fell in love. As she expected. Here’s my review:

10576365Novel: The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken | Goodreads
Release Date: December 18th, 2012
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Format: Hardback
Source: Library

When Ruby woke up on her tenth birthday, something about her had changed. Something alarming enough to make her parents lock her in the garage and call the police. Something that gets her sent to Thurmond, a brutal government “rehabilitation camp.” She might have survived the mysterious disease that’s killed most of America’s children, but she and the others have emerged with something far worse: frightening abilities they cannot control.

Now sixteen, Ruby is one of the dangerous ones.

When the truth comes out, Ruby barely escapes Thurmond with her life. Now she’s on the run, desperate to find the one safe haven left for kids like her-East River. She joins a group of kids who escaped their own camp. Liam, their brave leader, is falling hard for Ruby. But no matter how much she aches for him, Ruby can’t risk getting close. Not after what happened to her parents.

When they arrive at East River, nothing is as it seems, least of all its mysterious leader. But there are other forces at work, people who will stop at nothing to use Ruby in their fight against the government. Ruby will be faced with a terrible choice, one that may mean giving up her only chance at a life worth living.

I’ve known that Aneeqah is absolutely IN LOVE with this series for a while, but for some reason I wasn’t quite ready to give it a chance. Now, I’m regretting giving her that copy of Never Fade I mailed her during the summer at ALA Annual BECAUSE I WANT IT.

The Darkest Minds is in one word, addicting. Ruby is such a well developed, strong heroine that I couldn’t help but absolutely love her from the start. I really enjoyed how Bracken allowed Ruby to have fears and to have doubts about herself, because it made her more relatable and easier to connect to.

I’M REALLY WORRIED ABOUT THE LIAM SITUATION. If you’ve read this book then you know what I mean. I’m also quite pissed at Aneeqah for not requiring I have the second one right next to me because now I have to wait for it to come into the library. I’m desperate to see what happens next, because that ending was not satisfying in the least. I need more.

The plot! Oh my word! It was all over the place, but always moving up. Something new was always happening, and I absolutely loved that about it. I was never bored, and the explanation of Ruby’s world was scattered throughout the book so it wasn’t all at one moment (super huge plus with Dystopian).

Overall, I loved this book and demand that all of you read it. Right now. AND THANKS ANEEQAH FOR MURDERING MY HEART AND SOUL.

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