bookmark_borderBook Review: What Comes of Eating Doughnuts…

What Comes of Eating Doughnuts With a Boy Who Plays Guitar

  • Original Title: What Comes of Eating Doughnuts
            With a Boy Who Plays Guitar by Nicole Campbell
  • Edition: Paperback, 220 pages
  • Published: June 17th, 2015 by CreateSpace
  • Characters: Courtney Ross, Ethan Fisher, Vanessa Roberts
  • Rating: 4/5
  • Goodreads

Description: Courtney Ross has lived her whole life doing everything by the book. She’s a top student, the captain of the cheer squad at her Scottsdale high school, and a nervous wreck most of the time. For summer vacation before senior year, she finally has her chance just to relax. She will be spending it with her best friend, Vanessa, in her tiny hometown of Gem City, Ohio. Courtney’s hoping for a chance to breathe, and maybe even for some of Vanessa’s carefree nature to rub off on her. What she doesn’t expect is Ethan Fisher. Courtney knows she’s in trouble the minute she sees him holding a guitar at her “Welcome Back” party. Her instincts prove to be correct as she gets to know him, and she finds her head spinning. What will this mean for the girl who always plays by the rules?

In her first full-length novel, Nicole Campbell delivers a perfect beach read for the older Young Adult crowd. Readers will re-live their first relationships (the good, the bad, and the overwhelming), or imagine the spark of what the future might hold in this story full of the type of intensity only found in young love.

Due to mature themes and mild language, recommended for readers 16+

I received a copy of this novel from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Since I’ve become an adult, I’ve avoided contemporary and romance novels like a plague for many reasons. Most important among them are the terrible dialogue and lack of plot that are typically a staple. When I was younger I was obsessed with Sweet Valley High novels though. I really enjoyed being able to escape into the sunny, simple, carefree life of Sweet Valley, California and its perfect protagonists’ love lives and superfluous drama.

Fast forward many, many years later, and I found myself completely captivated by Gem City, Ohio and its inhabitants. It was a nice change of pace to all the serious drama and high fantasy I’ve been indulging in lately. Courtney Ross, the book’s main protagonist, is a typical 17-year old girl who goes out to have a carefree summer with her best friend in her hometown, but instead ends up falling head-over-heels for the gorgeous Ethan Fisher, who does in fact play guitar. While their relationship progressed very quickly in my opinion (but I’ve never been in love, so wtf do I know), it was very cute and not too over-the-top. My favorite characters though are the secondary characters, Vanessa and Luke! I was worried that Vanessa would be extremely unlikable based on the initial introduction of her, but she actually turns out to be the kind of best friend we all wish we could have. And Luke is hilarious! I think he steals the scene every time he’s on the page.

It’s not a plot heavy book, and the characters aren’t incredibly complex though they are likeable and interesting, but it’s a fun read. In case you were wondering, yes, there are some times the dialogue made me say, “Why are you saying this?” It wasn’t a huge distraction. Teenagers wouldn’t be teenagers if they weren’t a bit cheesy and dramatic. I would definitely recommend it if you’re looking for a story that’s short and sweet. What Comes of Eating Doughnuts With a Boy Who Plays Guitar rekindled a lot of nostalgia for my Sweet Valley days. I look forward to going back to Gem City and finding out what happens with Courtney and Ethan next and definitely getting some more Luke action!

About the Author

Nicole Campbell is an English teacher turned author, mother to a beautiful three year old boy, and wife to a self-proclaimed techie. Teenage life consisted of a host of adventures for her, many of which serve as inspiration for her writing. Find her online at Nicole Campbell Books, Goodreads, and Instagram.

bookmark_borderARC Review: Where You’ll Find Me

Where You'll Find

  • Original Title: Where You’ll Find Me by Natasha Friend
  • Edition: Advance Reader’s Edition Paperback, 266 pages
  • Published: March 8, 2016 by Farrar Straus Giroux
  • Characters: Anna Collette, Frances Collette, Marnie Collette, David Collette, Shawna the Eyebrow Plucker, Sarabeth the Irish Stepper
  • Rating: 4/5
  • Goodreads

Description: In this powerful and buoyant YA novel, a thirteen-year-old girl learns to navigate the shifting loyalties of friendships in middle school and deals with challenges at home.

The beginning of the eighth grade is not what Anna thought it would be. Her lifelong best friend has ditched her for the cool kids, and her mom is in the hospital after a suicide attempt. Anna finds herself where she least expects to: living with her dad, his young new wife, and their baby, and starting a new year at school without a best friend. With help from some unlikely sources, including a crazy girl-band talent show act, Anna learns that sometimes you find what you need to pull you through in the most unlikely places.


I received this Advance Reader’s Edition as a prize from Alexa Loves Books.

Okay, I don’t typically enjoy middle grade books because the writing is usually too simplistic, so I wasn’t necessarily thrilled about this book when I read the synopsis and saw that Anna was only 13 years old, but surprisingly, I really, really enjoyed this story! The main protagonist, Anna Collette, is mature for her age but not unbelievably so. She reminds me a lot of myself at her age, a little more mature than the people around me, intelligent but unmotivated and distracted, and sarcastic as f**k (that last bit hasn’t changed much). Additionally, I was very close to Anna’s age when my mom was also diagnosed with bipolar disorder, so I have that personal text-to-self connection to Anna and I truly relate to her struggle. I think Natasha Friend did an excellent job representing what it feels like to be that age and process those emotions. There’s a few paragraphs in the advanced reader’s edition that compare her mother to a burner control knob. It sounds silly out of context, but I thought that the comparison was very powerful and accurate…

If my mother had a burner control knob, I could set her however I wanted. If, say, she started staying up too late, watching QVC and ordering a bunch of wine glass necklaces, I could turn her down to 6. If I found her in the bathtub with a washcloth over her face, listening to Anatevka on her boom box, I’d turn her up to 4. Talking too fast? Down a notch. Monotone voice? Up a notch.

Continue reading “ARC Review: Where You’ll Find Me”

bookmark_border2016 Love-A-Thon // Bingo

The Love-a-Thon is an event dedicated to spreading positivity and love. It’s time dedicated to visiting other bloggers/Instagrammers/BookTubers, leaving a comment or two, making new friends and fostering positivity among the members of our amazing community. As in the previous years, the event will include mini challenges, Twitter chats and giveaways galore!

Hosted by: Alexa of Alexa Loves Books, Cee of The Novel Hermit, Hazel of Stay Bookish, Mel of The Daily Prophecy

2016 Love-A-Thon Bingo

The objective of the Bingo challenge is to complete at least 3 of the tasks on the Bingo card. I want to do as many as possible. I will update my progress on this post as I go along! Shoutouts to Melanie @ It’s A Bookish Thing for the styling of this post.

VISIT 5 NEW BLOGS:

  1. Writers for Misfits
  2. Eye Heart Romance
  3. For Book’s Sake
  4. Books N’ Calm
  5. Word Revel
  6. He Said Books Or Me
  7. Pop Crunch Boom

JOIN ONE OF THE TWITTER CHATS

    Participated in

  1. Chat #2 – Hosted by Cee @ TheNovelHermit

PARTICIPATE IN ONE OTHER CHALLENGE

  1. Mix & Match
  2. Book Spine Poetry
  3. An Invitation to Tea

FIND 3 NEW INSTAGRAM ACCOUNTS

  1. zerisse
  2. forbooksake
  3. TBD

LEAVE A COMMENT ON SOME OF YOUR FAVE BLOGS

  1. TBD
  2. TBD
  3. TBD

TWEET 3 OF YOUR FAVE AUTHORS

  1. John Green
  2. Maggie Stiefvater
  3. Cassandra Clare

WATCH 3 VIDS FROM NEW YOUTUBERS (AND FOLLOW!)

I’m not doing this challenge because I’m just not a fan of YouTube. :kanyeshrug:

DEDICATE A BLOG POST: TBD

COLOR HUNT: TBD

bookmark_border2016 Love-A-Thon // Introduction

The Love-a-Thon is an event dedicated to spreading positivity and love. It’s time dedicated to visiting other bloggers/Instagrammers/BookTubers, leaving a comment or two, making new friends and fostering positivity among the members of our amazing community. As in the previous years, the event will include mini challenges, Twitter chats and giveaways galore!

Hosted by: Alexa of Alexa Loves Books, Cee of The Novel Hermit, Hazel of Stay Bookish, Mel of The Daily Prophecy

I was introduced to the 2016 Love-A-Thon via a post on Alexandra’s beautiful blog Twirling Pages and I immediately wanted to take part in it. Luckily, sign-ups are still open and I’m very excited to be participating in this year’s event, which is also my first! Below is my introduction post with some amazing questions provided by the lovely hosts which were a lot of fun to answer!

1. What’s your name? I go by Elle, which is pronounced like the letter “L”, which is also the first initial of my real name.

2. Where in the world are you blogging from? I’m currently in my hometown of Birmingham, Alabama, but I live in Phoenix, Arizona.

3. How did you get into blogging in the first place? I’ve always been blogging in some for or another since I was a teenager. I always wanted to create a book blog, but I didn’t think that it was possible until I found bookstagram. As I started to interact more and more with my followers there and chat more about books, I discovered that I finally wanted to take the leap.

4. How did you come up with your blog name? I just wanted something that was cute with alliteration and obviously bookish. haha

5. What genre do you read and review the most on your blog? I’m a huge fan of young adult novels. I have a slight obsession with Dean Koontz, but that’s about it. I will read any genre if I come across a book that appeals to me, but there’s something very entertaining about most young adult novels, especially fantasy and dystopian series.

6. What other types of posts do you do on your blog, apart from reviews? My blog is fairly new so it’s mostly reviews and rants and raves. I’d like to post more blogging tips and lifestyle posts as well.

7. Best blogging experience so far? I don’t want it to seem like I got into blogging for the wrong reasons, but it was really cool the first time I received a review request. I’m hoping Love-A-Thon will be great experience to add to the list!

8. Favorite thing about the blogging community? I love meeting new people and hearing all the diverse opinions on books and book related shows and movies. Honestly, I’ve discovered so many amazing new books that I never would have heard of or considered if it wasn’t for bookstagram and the blogging community so I’m very thankful for that.

9. Name the 5 books you’re most excited for this 2016!

  • Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare (March 8, 2016)
  • Bluescreen by Dan Wells (February 6, 2016)
  • The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater (April 26, 2016)
  • Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (July 31, 2016)
  • Over Your Dead Body by Dan Wells (May 3, 2016)

10. Name the 5 books you want to read this 2016 that you didn’t get to in previous years!

  • The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Marr
  • The Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo
  • Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
  • The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
  • Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green & David Levithan

11. What’s an underrated book or series that you think everyone should read? The Partials Sequence by Dan Wells is a great read! I’m a huge fan of the author and I would recommend any of his books.

Partials Sequence
12. Which book boy or girl would be your book boyfriend/girlfriend? The Raven Boys… all of ’em, even the dead one.

13. Who would you recruit for your apocalypse squad (5 characters max) I only need two and they’re amazing…

  • Hermoine Granger from the Harry Potter series / Let’s admit it, Harry and Ron would have died 100 times if Hermoine wasn’t there to save their asses.
  • Tris Prior from the Divergent series / She’s strong, fearless, and selfless. Despite her love for her family and Four, she always did what was necessary for the good of humankind.

14. Apart from reading, what are your other hobbies or interests? I listen to a lot of music and watch a lot of Netflix.

15. Apart from book shopping, what else do you like shopping for? I have a huge collection of blu-ray movies. They’re kind of my other obsession.

16. At a party, the DJ suddenly changes the song – and it’s your song. What song would be playing? Right now, it would be anything by the band Beachweather.

17. Pick out either a book you want turned into a film/TV show, or a film/TV show you want turned into a book. Although I didn’t love Shatter Me as a book series, I really loved the plot and I think it would be an awesome television show or movie series if it were done right (and with a few changes).

18. What would your dream library look like? I love that this one is bright, open, and multi-functional. I really hope to have a large library and office in my home one day.

Dream Librarysource: zillow

19. Author you want to meet and sit down to tea with? J.K. Rowling! I want to know everything that’s inside her head and hear more stories about the Wizarding World.

bookmark_borderBook Review: Dorothy Must Die

Dorothy Must Die

  • Original Title: Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige
  • Edition: Hardcover, 452 pages
  • Published: April 1, 2014 by HarperCollins
  • Characters: Amy Gumm, Nox, Gamora, Gert, Dorothy Gale
  • Rating: 3/5

Description: I didn’t ask for any of this. I didn’t ask to be some kind of hero.

But when your whole life gets swept up by a tornado – taking you with it – you have no choice but to go along, you know?

Sure, I’ve read the books. I’ve seen the movies. I know the song about the rainbow and the happy little bluebirds. But I never expected Oz to look like this. To be a place where Good Witches can’t be trusted, Wicked Witches may just be the good guys, and winged monkeys can be executed for acts of rebellion. There’s still a yellow brick road – but even that’s crumbling.

What happened? Dorothy.

They say she found a way to come back to Oz. They say she seized power and the power went to her head. And now no one is safe.

My name is Amy Gumm – and I’m the other girl from Kansas.

I’ve been recruited by the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked.

I’ve been trained to fight.

And I have a mission.

So, I was drawn to Dorothy Must Die solely because of the premise. I am a huge fan of retellings and I’m a fan of The Wizard of Oz, so this book was a definite must read. It did not dissappoint!

Amy Gumm is the primary character in this story, and she wishes to escape from her poor, sad life in Kansas. When a tornado comes, her wish is granted and she’s transported to Oz, but it’s very different from the Oz we all know and love. As Amy explores this new and wicked Oz, she discovers all the horrors imposed by Dorothy, who returned to Oz and usurped the status quo. Soon Amy meets the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked, a group of once wicked witches who have banned together to fight Dorothy and restore the balance to Oz.

I admit that the first few chapters were not very engaging, but I did give Danielle Paige a pass because this is her debut novel and creative writing is very different from her background of screen writing. Sometimes the writing is a bit bland, but the actual story is entertaining and interesting enough to ignore some minor flaws. The story moves along at an acceptable pace and there’s plenty of action, suspense, and drama to satisfy. While there’s a twinge of romance, it’s not the primary focus and it definitely doesn’t define our heroine.

I’m looking forward to reading the sequel, The Wicked Will Rise. I would definitely recommend this series to anyone who enjoys a little twist on a classic.

bookmark_borderBookish Tips: Beautiful Bookstagram Staging

Most young bookworms, like myself, are fascinated with bookstagram and booklr. The sheer amount of accounts that pop up daily is astounding, and I say the more, the better. The great thing about bookstagram is that almost no two accounts are the same. Even though you may see a plethora of the same books, everyone’s staging is unique. If you’re looking to start or improve your bookstagram photos, here’s a few tips I’ve learned along the way.

FIND A NATURAL LIGHT SOURCE

Have you ever taken a photograph outside and been absolutely amazed at how crisp and professional it looks? Well, natural lighting creates the same effects for your bookish photos too. If you can, go outside and take pictures. If you’re like me and live in an apartment in the big city, you may not have the space to go set up outside, so open up those windows and let the light in. (If your window is obscured by another tall building, again, like mine, you’ll get the best natural lighting between noon and 3 when the sun is the highest.)

Take a look at the two photos below. The first I took late one day after work. I really wanted to keep up with my daily book challenge, so I sacrificed natural light and did my best by turning on all the lights in my apartment. The second photo is a reshoot that I took the next afternoon, using natural light near an open window. It’s the same books, same props, same background, and I even arranged the books and props almost identically. Look at the difference. The first photo is yellow and dark and grainy, while the second photo is very light, crisp, clean, and colorful.Artificial vs Natural Lighting

CHOOSE YOUR BACKGROUND

Background is a little more simple. My personal favorites are either the torn out pages from an old poetry book, or a plain white background. Most bookstagrammers have a theme and they stick to it. I say try out a bunch of different themes and eventually you will find something that you love. My feed is a reflection of me, which is code for, “It’s a mess.”  But it’s my mess, and I love it.

SET UP YOUR PROPS AND STAGING

The last key to staging a beautiful photo is choosing what props you will use, or maybe you’re going to keep it clean and simple and have no props. Popular props include flowers and candles, bookish related mugs and pillows,  postcards, artwork, and art supplies. It really is amazing the things that bookstagrammers use as props though. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to find beautiful things. All of my flowers are artificial bouquets purchased from the Dollar Tree… actually, all of my props come from the Dollar Tree or Target’s One Spot. I really try to buy items that I can and will use in my everyday life and decor, not just as props for a photo (notice that my candles have been lit).  If you are using props, especially a lot to get the messy effect like I use, try to make your props and books as cohesive and coordinated as possible. If there’s red books in the photo, I like to use my red and white flowers and props. If there are yellow books, or yellow accent in the book covers, I like to use my yellow flowers and props–you get the idea.  If you are using a background with a bold pattern or color, it’s really going to make coordinating your books and props harder though, so keep that in mind.

Most importantly, follow other bookstagrammers and booklrs that you admire. Take note of their techniques and try to emulate [but not steal] their style. Remember, to have fun! Bookstagram is a great place to make friends and discover new books. Try not to focus too much on your follower count and likes because that will just make you crazy! Bookstagram is like a field of dreams: if you post it, they will come.

 

bookmark_borderBook Review: Ignite Me

Ignite Me

Description: With Omega Point destroyed, Juliette doesn’t know if the rebels, her friends, or even Adam are alive. But that won’t keep her from trying to take down The Reestablishment once and for all. Now she must rely on Warner, the handsome commander of Sector 45. The one person she never thought she could trust. The same person who saved her life. He promises to help Juliette master her powers and save their dying world . . . but that’s not all he wants with her.

I am so conflicted. I feel like 3 stars is a lie, but I really, really liked the last 50-60 pages or so. It was a strong finish to an otherwise insufferable series.  Those last few amazing chapters don’t make up for how tortured I felt reading the other 350 pages of Juliette now agonizing over her feelings for Warner or her drawn out speeches about how she didn’t really love Adam after all and how she’s changed so much. It doesn’t make up for two previous books of waiting for something amazing to finally happen. (I felt compelled to finish the series once I started. It wasn’t unbearable–just enough for me to hate myself a little bit more every time I turned the page, but not enough to make me quit.) It infuriates me that this is such an amazing premise, and when there was action, it was GOOD action, but it was so few and far between. All of the characters had amazing powers that were rarely seen. The scene in the courtyard was spectacular!  I can’t wait to see that in the inevitable film or TV series this will become.  But why was there not more of that in this whole series? Why was Juliette such an unlikeable heroine?  I’m also confused about the timeline. I gave Juliette a lot of concessions because I thought she’d been locked in asylum for years. It was only 274 days? Really? The whole world had come undone in less than a year? And why was Warner more appealing as a villain than a hero? He was my favorite, and quickly became unlikeable too…though that might be just through his association with Juliette. And even as hurt and angry as he was supposed to be, it was totally out of character for Adam to be so hateful, verbally abusive, and possessive.

Reviews for previous titles in the series:

  • Original Title: Shatter Me (Shatter Me, #1)
  • Edition: Paperback, 338 pages
  • Published: November 15, 2011 by HarperCollins
  • Rating: 2/5

Juliette hasn’t touched anyone in exactly 264 days.

The last time she did, it was an accident, but The Reestablishment locked her up for murder. No one knows why Juliette’s touch is fatal. As long as she doesn’t hurt anyone else, no one really cares. The world is too busy crumbling to pieces to pay attention to a 17-year-old girl. Diseases are destroying the population, food is hard to find, birds don’t fly anymore, and the clouds are the wrong color.

The Reestablishment said their way was the only way to fix things, so they threw Juliette in a cell. Now so many people are dead that the survivors are whispering war – and The Reestablishment has changed its mind. Maybe Juliette is more than a tortured soul stuffed into a poisonous body. Maybe she’s exactly what they need right now.

Juliette has to make a choice: Be a weapon. Or be a warrior.

  • Original Title: Unravel Me (Shatter Me, #2)
  • Edition: Paperback, 461 pages
  • Published: February 5, 2013 by HarperCollins
  • Rating: 3/5

Juliette is still haunted by her deadly touch. But now that she has teamed up with other rebels with powers of their own, she’ll be able to fight back against The Reestablishment to save her broken world. With the help of these new allies, she’ll also finally learn the secret behind Adam’s—and Warner’s—immunity to her killer skin.

This is my most unpopular opinion to date, but I didn’t enjoy Shatter Me and Unravel Me. (I haven’t read Ignite Me yet.) Yes, Unravel Me was better as everyone suggested, but only marginally. The biggest complaint I have with the books is Tahereh Mafi’s writing style. I applaud the fact that she’s trying to do something new (compared to other current young adult authors), but it really is overkill. Some of her similes and metaphors don’t even make sense. And Lord knows if I have to read about the color of Adam’s eyes again, I’m going to throw the whole series in the trash! Also, I know the timeline has been several months, but Juliette is showing no signs of being less irritating or self-involved. I understand that she’s been locked away, alone, and untouched all her life, but there’s a war happening yet all she can think about is her love life? Warner is my saving grace in this series. I find any chapter with him is very entertaining. Overall, I like the story. I would love this series if it was more well written, with less focus on the “love” story, and some legit character development for Juliette.

bookmark_borderBoxing Day Book Outlet Haul

My Boxing Day book haul from @BookOutlet has finally arrived. I’ve already read the Caster Chronicles series via Kindle, and I really enjoyed them so I couldn’t pass on having these beautiful hardcovers for so cheap! The rest of this haul is a gamble, but I hope I find a new favorite among them. I will say the J.J. Abrams book is stunning visually. I will take more pictures of it’s contents.

The Haul (Links to Goodreads):

bookmark_borderWhat’s your favorite genre?

My favorite book genre  is young adult, but specifically fantasy or anything that involves magic, witches and wizards, vampires, faerie, angels, and other creatures! I really love that you can step completely into a fantasy world and let your imagination run wild. It’s the ultimate escapism!

QOTD: What’s your favorite genre and why?

bookmark_borderWhat are you currently reading?

I’m STILL currently reading Carry On. If you follow me on Instagram, you already know I’ve been “reading” this for weeks (I didn’t pick up a book at all during my 2 week Winter Break). I’m also reading Dorothy Must Die as an eBook and The Sorcerer’s Stone though so I’m giving myself a pass for being extremely slow.

QOTD: What are you currently reading? What are your reading goals for the year?