Annie’s August and September College-Themed Favorites

Have I mentioned that I started college recently?  Did you catch the sarcasm there?

As I’m writing this post, I’ve been in college for five (six?) weeks and am thriving.  I love the autonomy that comes with creating my own schedule and absolutely adore my flatmates, not to mention the dining hall food isn’t shabby at all.  Long story short, I love it here and am so glad to be attending such an amazing school and living on such a gorgeous campus.

The first week was a little rough because I was pretty homesick, but once I found a good group of friends and got settled in my dorm, I started to really enjoy myself and take advantage of all the opportunities my university offers.  I’ve gone to so many interesting cultural events, including seeing former Prime Minister David Cameron speak (which was amazing!) and getting my first henna tattoo.

In addition to trying so many new things, I truly feel like a new person.  Who I am at my core is unchanged, but I am surrounded by people who allow me to be my unabashedly true self and it is so freeing.  I have honestly loved and will honestly cherish every second.

With all of this lifestyle transition comes a transition of the stuff I use every day.  Without a commute to school and hours of time spent in the car between activities, not to mention a significantly smaller living space, my every day essentials have drastically changed.  I’ve found myself going for items that are more for function over fashion, but I love products that are both.  I’m also digging things that have multiple uses and take up as little space as possible because sharing a dorm room is definitely tight.

Here are a few products I’m loving this month:

Monaco Ankle Booties from Cleo Madison
Cleo Madison // Booties
What I love about these shoes is that they are the perfect mix of style and comfort.  I live in the back corner of campus, so I have to walk fifteen minutes each way to get to my classes.  Comfortable walking shoes are a must and these booties definitely do the trick!  They go so well with any outfit and are perfect to throw on before my 8 AM when I want to look put-together but just rolled out of bed.  I also love the boutique where these booties are from.  Cleo Madison is an online modest clothing boutique with adorable and affordable selections.
I received these booties in exchange for an honest review of the product.

DIY Gold Drip Mason Jars
Jars // Paints
I use these little jars to hold pens and pencils on my desk and they’re absolutely perfect and incredibly easy to make.  I bought some gold paint from Target, placed the jars upside down on a paper plate, and poured the paint over the jars.  Simple to make and absolutely adorable!

SafeTrek
Download the App
Even though my campus is incredibly safe and has fantastic campus police, you can never be too careful walking at night.  I avoid walking alone after dark if at all possible, but sometimes the situation requires it.  In these instances, I use SafeTrek to make sure I get home without a scratch.  All you have to do is open up the app and press the big purple button.  When you release the button by removing your finger, you have ten seconds to type in a predetermined password.  If you don’t type in your password within the ten seconds, the police are sent to your exact location.  SafeTrek is $3.00 per month and totally eases my mind walking around campus!

Plates and Bowls from IKEA
Large Plates // Small Plates // Bowls // Polka Dot Bowls
Eating from takeout containers and dining hall plates can get a little tiring, so I bought a few little plates and bowls to use when I feel inclined to eat like a normal human being.  This pieces all came separately, but they go so well together and are incredibly easy to clean (which I know because my flat has no dishwasher).  They’re the perfect reminder for when I forget how to use proper dishes and silverware.

St. Ives Radiant Skin Face Scrub
Amazon // Target
Walking to and from class in the North Carolina heat is definitely the culprit of this girl’s greasy skin, but this scrub is perfect for combating oil and keeping my face silky smooth.  I love the tiny exfoliants in this scrub: they’re not too harsh, but pack just enough punch to make a difference.  The scent is also fruity and light and gorgeous and if it smells good, what’s not to love?

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon
Amazon // Goodreads // ThriftBooks
You know I had to throw a book in!  This book has become my safety blanket; I never leave the dorm without it.  I am currently reading When Dimple Met Rishi and absolutely love it.  Whenever my BIO 101 homework or a looming paper has me down, I crack this book open for a dose of sunshine and adorableness.  There’s been so much hype surrounding this book and I’m happy to report that Menon’s adorkable romance passes muster.

“Once Upon A Time” on Netflix
IMDB // Netflix
What’s life at college without a Netflix break every now and then?  I’ve been rewatching “Once Upon A Time” on Netflix as a way to destress and relax after a long day of stress and nonrelaxation.  This show centers around the lives of fairytale characters who were sent to our world by the Evil Queen’s curse.  All the characters live in quaint Storybrooke, Maine, with no memory of their lives before arriving in Storybrooke.  The cheese factor is astronomical, but I love this show nonetheless.

In conclusion, here are some of my favorite blog posts from the past few months:
Annie Gives Book Recommendations Based on Hogwarts House, in which I geek out about Harry Potter and give book recommendations.
Annie’s Friends Give Book Recommendations, in which my bestest gal pals share what books they think you should read next.
[LET’S CHAT] How Do You Find The Time To Blog? in which Mikaela from The Well-Thumbed Reader talks about time management for bloggers.

What products have you been loving recently?

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Annie’s Fall TBR

Nothing makes my bibliophilic heart smile more than the drop in temperature.  The leaves fall, the cozy cable knit sweaters come out, the autumnal candles get lit after months of sitting and waiting for the air to turn cold.  Life turns into an autumn-themed Pinterest board (at least I wish it did) as the chill forces us to stay inside and cuddle up with our favorite literary friends.  What could be better?

It may still be warm in North Carolina, but what’s life without a little imagination?  This fall, I’ve got quite a few books to tackle and I’m totally ready for it.  Here’s what I’m planning on reading:

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They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera
Amazon // Goodreads // ThriftBooks
Something about fall makes me want to read tearjerkers like this book.  They Both Die at the End is a book about Rufus and Mateo, who learn from an organization called DeathCast that they are going to die.  Today.  Have you started crying yet?  Good thing I’ve got plenty of fuzzy blankets to snuggle and mop up tears while reading.

 

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Cruel Crown by Victoria Aveyard
Amazon // Goodreads // ThriftBooks
This novella bind-up features two prequels to Red Queen that I can’t wait to finally read!  The first two books in the series were fantastic (you can read my Red Queen review here and my Glass Sword review here) and I’m sure these novellas will shed a new kind of light on the literary world I already love.

 

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Sublime Karma by Peyton Garver
Amazon // Goodreads // ThriftBooks
This young adult contemporary romance sounds perfect for a snuggly Saturday, a warm blanket, and some fuzzy socks.  I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review and can’t wait to read how protagonist Brie’s story unfolds.

 

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Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
Amazon // Goodreads // ThriftBooks
Nothing like a good paranormal romance to make it feel like fall!  Beautiful Creatures is about Ethan Wate, a boy stuck in his South Carolina hometown and itching to get anywhere else.  And then comes Lena Duchannes, the mysterious girl with an even more mysterious past.  This will be a reread and I can’t wait to get started!

 

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Emma by Jane Austen
Amazon // Goodreads // ThriftBooks
I purchased a copy of this Jane Austen classic when I was visiting New York in August, so this book in particular has a special place on my TBR.  For someone who loves to read, I haven’t found many classics that I loved and am hoping this book will be the one!

 

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Turtles All the Way Down by John Green
Amazon // Goodreads // ThriftBooks
If you need me after October 10th, I’ll be fangirling over John Green’s newest release.  I normally wait until release day to purchase a new book, but I preordered a signed copy of this book and am anxiously waiting its release.  The story of Aza, a teenage girl with obsessive-compulsive disorder, sounds like the perfect autumn tale to tug on the heartstrings.

 

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Twilight by Stephanie Meyer
Amazon // Goodreads // ThriftBooks
Ah yes, we’ll also be revisiting my middle school obsession this season.  I haven’t read Twilight since my vampire craze in seventh grade and am looking forward to rereading a book that meant so much to me once upon a time.

What books are you reading this fall?

Also, I’ll be hosting a giveaway once I reach 100 followers on Instagram, so don’t forget to follow and stay tuned for giveaway announcement!

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Annie DNF’ed a Book

Today’s been a day of new experiences.  I attended my first college football game (my school, Elon University, won in case anyone’s wondering!), bought my first pepper spray (college safety is important), and DNF’ed my first book.  Whew, what a day!

I’ve read a lot of discussion posts lately that address the great DNF debate: as readers, do we have the literary right to elect to not finish a book?  If we aren’t enjoying a book, should we push through and finish or just say “no thanks?”

In the past, I’ve been on the push-through-and-finish side.  As a writer, reading is fuel to the proverbial fire, so reading a wide variety of books helps writers write.  Even when I’ve read books I didn’t like in the past, I continued because reading “bad” books is productive too.  In truth, I love reading a book and thinking through how I would write it better.

However, I’ve never sought out bad books just to appease my ego.  I also love reading books that stretch me, books that make me think in ways I’ve never thought before.  Books that pose a challenge inspire me to write at a higher level and motivate me to improve my craft.

So why did I DNF a book today?

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The book in question is The Program by Suzanne Young.  I’ve had this book on my Goodreads TBR shelf for quite a long time and when I found a discounted version on ThriftBooks, I couldn’t resist.  The cover is striking and gorgeous.  The synopsis, which I’ve included below, was enticing.  This looked like the kind of book that would transport me to a world where my BIO 101 homework no longer existed.

Here is the Goodreads synopsis of The Program:

In Sloane’s world, true feelings are forbidden, teen suicide is an epidemic, and the only solution is The Program.

Sloane knows better than to cry in front of anyone. With suicide now an international epidemic, one outburst could land her in The Program, the only proven course of treatment. Sloane’s parents have already lost one child; Sloane knows they’ll do anything to keep her alive. She also knows that everyone who’s been through The Program returns as a blank slate. Because their depression is gone—but so are their memories.

Under constant surveillance at home and at school, Sloane puts on a brave face and keeps her feelings buried as deep as she can. The only person Sloane can be herself with is James. He’s promised to keep them both safe and out of treatment, and Sloane knows their love is strong enough to withstand anything. But despite the promises they made to each other, it’s getting harder to hide the truth. They are both growing weaker. Depression is setting in. And The Program is coming for them.

Sounds freaking awesome, right?  I couldn’t wait to start reading and practically jumped out of my skin when it came in the mail.  I was so excited that I actually stopped myself from ripping open the packaging so I could do an unboxing on my Instagram.  (Shameless plug: make sure you follow Annie Likes Words on Instagram so you can keep up with my day-to-day literary adventures!)

The first chapter or two were a nice transition into the world of Sloane, our protagonist.  Depression and teen suicide are an epidemic, so the government instituted The Program to “correct” teenagers who contract depression.  Thus far, it was all smooth sailing.  Well, the characters had it pretty rough, but it was smooth sailing for me as a reader.

And then we met James.  James was Sloane’s devoted boyfriend of two years and self-determined protector of Sloane and their mutual friend (and perpetual third-wheel) Miller.  James was a pretty-boy and knew it, which I’m not entirely opposed to if the trope is executed tastefully.  However, Sloane seemed to confuse his love for himself with his love for her.  I understand how the two could intermingle sometimes, but the relationship didn’t feel genuine.

Sloane was under the impression that James was the sun, moon, and stars.  He was her everything because she was his everythingI love a good sappy romance, but seriously?  The boy couldn’t hold a conversation without referencing his rock-hard abs.  I’m sure he loved Sloane, but his love for himself superseded everything.

About sixty pages in, the exposition stopped and we reached the first plot point.  Sloane and James are furiously racing to a friend’s house after receiving a call from him, during which he admitted to taking a drug known as QuikDeath.  Sadly, they were too late.  Sloane started to cry, which is all but forbidden in their world because it marks the onset of depression, but James isn’t having it.  So he slaps her.

And that’s when I slammed the book shut.

I understand the complexities of why James hit Sloane.  She was crying, risking exposure, and he didn’t wasn’t to lose his love to The Program.  But was physical violence really necessary to send a message?  Coupled with his rampant egocentrism and arrogant attitude, I couldn’t take it anymore.  I officially thew in the towel on The Program, turned off the lights and drew the curtain.  Time of DNF: 9:00 PM.

I might have enjoyed the book if I’d continued reading it.  I might come back to it later and give it another chance, but I’ve got plenty of other books to read at the moment and I don’t want to waste my time with a book that offends and confuses me.  I’ve got plenty of other books to keep me company.

Do you DNF books?  What’s the last book you didn’t finish?

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Annie’s Take on Outlining (and Why She Doesn’t Like It)

Let’s not beat around the bush: I don’t like outlining.  If you’ve been with me long enough, you’ve certainly read about my distaste for the practice.  If you’re just joining us on this little journey of mine and didn’t know my stance on outlining, now we’re all on the same page.

In real life, my tendencies lie on the organized side of the spectrum.  My daily routine is comprehensive and is, more often than not, pretty much the same.  I like routine and color-coded schedules and matching my socks.  Life is a little easier when everything has a time and a place.  At least it is to me.

All that flies out the window when I sit down to write.  When I open up my laptop and steep my tea and fasten my thinking cap, I rarely know what’s going to happen.  I had no plan for this very blog post, but I typed out a title about five minutes ago and look where we are.  There’s something freeing about writing with no expectations, no limitations on your creativity.  You just write and decide to see what happens.

I’ve outlined and I’ve foregone outlining in past projects.  I’ve tried my hand at both extremes and found that I operate on the extreme that requires as little planning as possible.  Writing should be organic and roll off the tongue, so why should stories follow a syllabus?  Why not develop the story as feels natural?  Create with no restrictions and sop up the mess later if need be.

The arguments in support of outlining are strong and almost convincing.  Almost.  Outlining drastically reduces the number of rewrites required.  It all but eliminates writer’s block (you can read about my approach writer’s block, and why I don’t believe in it, here) because you know what to write next.  You prevent the possibility of writing yourself into a corner or creating immense plot holes that you can’t quite seem to fill.  When you outline, you tell yourself a condensed version of the story and then flesh it out to perfection.

Outlining is a great tool to have in your writing toolbox.  Like all tools, its use is determined by the task at hand.  You use hammers for nails and screwdrivers for screws and saws for, I don’t know, cutting stuff.  A hammer does you no good if you’re trying to cut a two-by-four in half.

Outlining is the same.  For someone who likes to discover the story as I write it, outlining is tedious and restricting because I feel immense guilt when I stray from the path.  The ending scene of my current project is crystal clear in my head, but I have no earthly idea how I’m going to get there.  My plan is to figure it out as I go.  I’m fine with that.

As aforementioned, outlining can cut down editing time.  That’s true in most cases, but the time spent crafting a perfect outline could easily be transferred to the time spent editing without an outline.

Some of my favorite writing advice concerning the great outline debate is that stories are not plot-driven, but character-driven.  If your characters do their job, their choices dictate where you go.  Present them with options and follow where they tell you to go.  Characters should read like real people and real people don’t conform to outlines.  We may have our schedules and planners, but life is constantly throwing wrenches in our color-coded plans.  We have no idea what’s coming down the pike and this mortal cluelessness translates when you write sans outline.

However, I do find it useful if I’m in a rut and unsure of where to go next.  If I struggle with trusting my vision, coming up with something helps me regain my focus, even if that something definitely wouldn’t happen.  A crappy idea scribbled onto a napkin is easier to handle than an empty Word document.  Something is always better than nothing and if that something is an outline, so be it.

Despite my preferences, you should always do what works for you.  If you are religiously devoted to your outline, awesome.  If you’ve never made an outline in your life and don’t intend to start now, awesome.  If you’re like me and dabble in the practice when the occasion calls for it, awesome.  The important thing here is that you’re writing, whatever it takes.

What are your thoughts on outlining?

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Annie’s Friends Give Book Recommendations

They say diamonds are a girl’s best friend, but this girl’s best friends are books.  Over the years, I’ve come across other girls just like me, ones who will forget their keys or their wallet but never fail to have a book in their purse (probably because “must be big enough to hold a book” is a requirement for all purses).  So I reached out to some of my pals and asked them what books they totally love and think you’ll totally love as well.

Here are the books that my friends recommend:

Mary is a biology major at Baylor University and her dog, Sampson, is the cutest pup ever.  Mary recommends:

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
“I loved Big Little Lies because it kept me interested. It was such an interesting book because it was funny yet depressing at the same time. If you are looking for a page turner then Big Little Lies is for you!”

The Hypnotist’s Love Story by Liane Moriarty
The Hypnotist’s Love Story is more of a slow, vacation read. The plot was unique and different and had a good ending. If you are looking for a book to fill your free time, then The Hypnotists Love Story is for you!”

Kat is a freshman at Sewanee: University of the South and loves poetry more than anyone else I know.  Kat recommends:

Exit West by Mohsin Hamid
“I’m going to be honest, this book initially drew me in because of the cover.  I’m a sucker for beautiful design, and I had already seen positive reviews floating around the internet, so when I bought this book, I started reading it immediately.  It’s rare that I simply ignore my huge TBR pile for a brand new book, but the magic of Exit West kept me captivated and I didn’t regret my decision for a second.”

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
“If you’re a reader that is thinking of trying out the ‘classics’ genre for the first time, this would be a great book to start out with.  It’s quite exciting!  There’s romance, death, drama, and a few mid-life crises.  If the plot doesn’t draw you in, Oscar Wilde really is a fantastic writer, so I would suggest at least reading a few chapters of this book to see where it takes you!”

Olivia is a freshman at the University of Delaware and wants to combine her loves of art and chemistry by working as an art conservationist.  Olivia recommends:

The Thief Lord by Cornelia Funke
The Thief Lord by Cornelia Funke was a fun weekend read because it’s more of kids book but still exciting.”

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman is cool and I always wanted to know what was gonna happen next and I felt soft and whisky and floaty while reading it.”

Lily is a freshman at Appalachian State University.  Lily and I met in fourth grade and the rest is history–we’ve been friends ever since.  Lily recommends:

The Summer I Turned Pretty, It’s Not Summer Without Youand We’ll Always Have Summer by Jenny Han
“Basically it was a love story that showed the real life problems that occur and get in the way of love. It’s real and powerful.”

Eva is a freshman at Wake Forest University and is a living, breathing Pinterest board: she’s perfected the cool-girl aesthetic and has gorgeous, tousled hair to match.  Eva recommends:

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
“This is a classic coming-of-age novel that I loved for its innocence doubled with the dark side of racial tensions… I want to be a lawyer so the legal side of Scout’s story is fascinating to me!”

The Selection by Kiera Cass
“The Selection is a great series of fun-loving princess-y drama and it’s both captivating while still maintaining a more complex level of diction.”

Quiet by Susan Cain
“I just read Quiet for my college and it is an AMAZING look into introverts and how they are beneficial to society. Being an introvert myself, this novel taught me to embrace my reserved personality and to appreciate the Quiet.”

Payson is currently taking a gap year and plans to enroll at North Carolina State University next year.  Payson and I met when we were little in our neighborhood play group and have stayed connected ever since.  Payson recommends:

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Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin
“I am a huge sucker for cheesy romance novels.  I enjoy reading books that are simple, easy to read, and take me out of my own head and into someone else’s.  I definitely challenge myself when it comes to reading, but when I am looking for pure bliss in a book I can always turn to Emily Giffin…  You’ll get through this book so quick because you never want to put it down!”

HUGE thanks to Mary, Kat, Olivia, Lily, Eva, and Payson for contributing to this post!

Share this post with a friend who always gives the best book recommendations!

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Annie’s Guide to Dorm Shopping

Hello friends!  As promised in my August monthly update (which you can read here), I’m going to share a little bit about how I shopped for college.

College preparation is overwhelming.  There are so many variables to consider: where you’ll be living, who you’ll be living with, what type of housing you’ll get, whether you’ll live off or on campus, et cetera.  On top of that, you have to be considerate of your roommate and how he or she would like to decorate the room.  It’s a lot to consider in a short amount of time, but it can be done if you do it right.

Here are some of my tips to tackle dorm shopping:

1. Make a list.  By that I mean make a big list.  I combed the internet for recommended packing lists and took inspiration from each to create one long list of things I needed to buy.  In the end, my list was six single-spaced pages long.  Pay attention to the minutia: list out every single thing you want to buy.  It looks much more intimidating than it is.  Which brings me to my second point…

2. Use Pinterest for inspiration.  There are so many college packing lists out there and it’s wise to use the resources available.  In addition to packing advice, you can also find loads of cute dorm room pictures to use if you’re unsure of your dorm style.  Here are some links to my college-themed Pinterest board and my dorm-themed Pinterest board.

3. Shop around your house first.  Now that you have your long and lovely list and abounding Pinspiration, it’s time to really get shopping.  Start at home.  Look around your house for small things you can take that you won’t miss when you come home.  For example, I took my pencil cups from my desk and some of my decorations off of my bookshelf, but I bought new sheets and blankets so I could leave mine at home.  Shopping around your house will also bring little pieces of home with you, making your room even more welcoming and familiar.

4. Buy food when you get there.  Even if you’re on a meal plan, it’s a good idea to have something to munch on during your late night study sessions.  However, waiting until you get to school to buy your food it a good idea because your food will be nice and fresh.  My go-to’s?  Goldfish, spearmint gum, white cheddar Cheezits, and Annie’s fruit snacks (yes, the brand is actually called Annie’s).

5. Make a doubt list.  If you’re wondering whether or not you should buy something, you should probably wait.  You’ll have plenty of opportunities to shop once you get to college, so don’t waste space by packing something you’re not even sure you’ll use.  And if you’re like me, you’ll take one (or four) trips to Target or Walmart on move-in day.

6. Invest in Amazon Prime.  I can’t rave enough about how wonderful Amazon Prime is… and they have a student discount!  If you have an .edu email address or another form of documentation that you are, in fact, a college student, you can get Amazon Prime FREE for six months.  But wait: there’s more.  After the six months are up, you get Prime for half-off.  Instead of coughing up $100, you only have to cough up $50.  And did I mention they have included two-day shipping?
*Side note: this was not an ad for Amazon Prime; I just love their service!

7. Buy some school supplies before and some after you get to college.  Buy a single-subject notebook for each class and one binder for every two classes, plus some arbitrary pens and pencils, but I’d stop there.  Your professors may have specific requirements for each class, so wait until after syllabus week to purchase the rest of your supplies.  With that handy-dandy Amazon Prime subscription, this won’t be a problem.

What are your dorm shopping tips?

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Annie’s August Update

Hello y’all!  Today I’m sharing a little about my month and announcing some pretty fun news regarding Annie Likes Words and myself, so let’s get started.

When I wrote this post, I’d been living in my flat for one week of my freshman year at college!  I attend a small liberal arts college in North Carolina and am studying English with a double concentration in creative writing and teacher licensure.  My plan is to graduate in four years with an education in creative writing and the required licensure to teach high school English.  I think that this plan perfectly combines my love of English, my love of education, and my love of sharing my love.

With this change has come an opportunity for me to reassess on all accounts.  A month or so ago, I wrote about my blog burnout (click here to read) and shared with y’all that I would adopt a more relaxed schedule in efforts to make blogging fun.  This kind of has to do with that.

I am not taking a hiatus.  I’m still going to be hanging around, writing posts when I have a spare moment, taking requests for review and following up on those requests.  As much as I would love to dedicate my entire day to writing and reading to my little heart’s content, I have to put school first… so I can get a degree and then read and write to my little heart’s content.

While my schedule is going to be much more inconsistent, I will do my best to notify you on my Instagram and Twitter when posts are about to go live so you can enjoy them as much as I do.  Long story short, head to my socials to get the scoop on when I’m planning a post.

Another facet of this refocusing is this: I’m going to start writing more about my life, particularly my college experience as I adjust to dorm life.  I’ve learned so much in one week, so I can’t begin to imagine the things I’ll learn and the ways I’ll grow between now and May.  I want to share this journey with you and maybe give someone younger than me the wisdom I wished I had.

My tagline is “A Girl and Her Books.”  I’ve spent a lot of space talking about the books, so now I’m going to start talking about the girl a little more.  The books aren’t going away, but the girl is starting to share their spotlight.

To kick off this shift in focus, Annie’s Guide to Dorm Shopping is going live within the next week!  I’ll post the exact date and time on my Instagram and Twitter soon, so follow me on both and you’ll never miss another post!

With that said, let’s get back to the books.  Here is a brief summary of my month in literature.

 

Books I Read:

The Daughters Break the Rules by Joanna Philbin
Amazon // ThriftBooks // Goodreads // Review Coming Soon!

Captain Guinevere by Clara Bennet
Amazon // ThriftBooks // Goodreads // My Review

My British Bear by Dawn Dagger
Goodreads // My Review

Make Your Home Among Strangers by Jennine Capó Crucet
Amazon // ThriftBooks // Goodreads // Review Coming Soon!

 

What I’m Reading Now:

On Writing by Stephen King
Amazon // ThriftBooks // Goodreads

The Hawkweed Prophecy by Irena Brignull
Amazon // ThriftBooks // Goodreads

The Circle by Dave Eggers
Amazon // ThriftBooks // Goodreads

 

Books I’m Reading Next:

Sublime Karma by Peyton Garver
Amazon // ThriftBooks // Goodreads

11/22/63 by Stephen King
Amazon // ThriftBooks // Goodreads

The Hawkweed Legacy by Irena Brignull
Amazon // ThriftBooks // Goodreads

Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin
Amazon // ThriftBooks // Goodreads

 

In conclusion, here is a list of posts from the past month.

8/2: Annie Has Blog Burnout and Wants to Talk About It
8/3: Annie’s July Update
8/5: What Annie Read: Eleanor & Park Book Review
8/7: 11 Things You Should Never Say to a Writer
8/7: Annie Has 500 Followers and is Freaking Out About It!
8/9: Annie’s July Favorites
8/10: Annie Gives Book Recommendations Based on Hogwarts House
8/12: Annie’s Approach to Writer’s Block
8/14: What Annie Read: All Fall Down Book Review
8/16: The Five Books Annie is Taking to College
8/18: What Annie Read: Captain Guinevere Book Review
8/21: Annie’s Favorite Book Covers
8/22: What Annie Read: My British Bear Book Review
8/23: Annie is Giving Away Books!
8/25: What Annie Read: A Study in Charlotte Book Review

 

How was your month in reading?  What books are you reading next?

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What Annie Read: A Study in Charlotte Book Review

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A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro
Published March 1st, 2016
Katherine Tegen Books

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Goodreads Synopsis:

The last thing Jamie Watson wants is a rugby scholarship to Sherringford, a Connecticut prep school just an hour away from his estranged father. But that’s not the only complication: Sherringford is also home to Charlotte Holmes, the famous detective’s great-great-great-granddaughter, who has inherited not only Sherlock’s genius but also his volatile temperament. From everything Jamie has heard about Charlotte, it seems safer to admire her from afar.

From the moment they meet, there’s a tense energy between them, and they seem more destined to be rivals than anything else. But when a Sherringford student dies under suspicious circumstances, ripped straight from the most terrifying of the Sherlock Holmes stories, Jamie can no longer afford to keep his distance. Jamie and Charlotte are being framed for murder, and only Charlotte can clear their names. But danger is mounting and nowhere is safe—and the only people they can trust are each other.

I rated A Study in Charlotte 5/5 stars.

This review, like all of my reviews, is spoiler-free.

Oh boy.  Where do I start with this book?  I’ll start with this: it’s amazing.

Jamie Watson and Charlottes Holmes are the descendants of the original detective duo and have the same wit and deductive capabilities as their ancestors.  Jamie, a boy on scholarship for his half-hearted rugby skills at Sherringford Prep, encounters the ever-so-enchanting Charlotte, whose penchant for the morbid and creepy is almost as striking as her raven black hair.  The stars seemed to align when Jamie and Charlotte met, but not for the better: within days, a Sherringford student turns up dead in his room.  And our leading guy and gal are on a suspect list that’s two names long.

I mentioned this book in Annie Gives Book Recommendations Based on Hogwarts House for it’s wit (I also mentioned how gorgeous the cover is in my post on my favorite book covers), which is this book’s most notable feature.  Jamie’s charming, dry look at life was captivating.  He’s thrust into a place that feels entirely foreign, but he approaches it with an uncharacteristic willingness.  He’s such a sport about dealing with the familial tensions created by moving to Sherringford as well as the whole Charlotte Holmes situation–she’s not exactly a walk in the park.  Overall, Jamie was a likable character, an easily supported protagonist, and what felt like a reliable narrator.  He looked at life with a certain clarity that comes with being mature beyond your years.

Charlotte had a similar maturity, but she was chaotic where Jamie was methodical.  I think Charlotte is best represented by the way Jamie describes the jar of teeth found in her lab: odd, extremely concerning, probably hazardous, but mesmerizing all the same.  Charlotte was a hurricane of sharp cracks of wit and superhuman deductive power.  She was a force of nature, but her destructive tendencies applied to herself as well.  She was just as flawed as the rest of us, even though she could deduce blood type without sticking a vein.

One of my favorite aspects about the book was that it was laden with just enough clues to make you, the reader, feel like a detective yourself.  Charlotte’s philosophy throughout the entire book was to not theorize before you’ve collected all the facts.  This methodical acquisition of facts, which we learned about as Jamie and Charlotte discovered them, gave me the chance to start putting theories together myself: maybe it was Mustard in the hall with the knife… or Violet with the dumbbell in the theater… or Green with the pistol in the observatory.  With the way Cavallaro wrote about their investigation, I felt like I was playing a game of Clue, using strategy to deduce whodunnit.

The setting was equally as fabulous.  I went to a private high school (and am going to a private college, which I’m moving into today!) so the formal yet quirky atmosphere that accompanies academia has a special place in my heart.  Sherringford Prep, where our two protagonists attend class (well, they ended up skipping a lot), was a prestigious institution in the rolling hills of Connecticut known for educating the sons and daughters of the high and mighty, but I found that the school itself was a bit like Charlotte.  The exterior was pristine, the facade was glimmering and well-built, but the school ran rampant with corruption and nasty habits.  There were drugs and violence and underground gambling, all showing that exteriors and interiors rarely match.

My one complaint is… well, I don’t really have a complaint.  I thought long and hard about something that I’d perhaps want to change, but I truthfully cannot conjure up an idea in the slightest.  Overall, this book was as pristine as Sherringford’s campus appeared to be.  The characters were dynamic and interesting, the dialogue was fresh and packed with cracking wit charm, and the book as a whole was like reading one of the  classic Sherlock novels with which we all fell in love.

Have you read A Study in Charlotte?  What did you think?

Don’t forget that I’m running a survey to gather some information about you and your thoughts on Annie Likes Words, which you can access here.  I want you to love my blog as much as I do, so let me know what you love, what you’re not a fan of, and what I can be doing better as a reader, blogger, and writer.  I look forward to reading your feedback!

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Annie Is Giving Away Books!

ONLY ONE DAY LEFT to enter my Writing Survival Kit giveaway!  I’m hosting this giveaway to celebrate reaching 500 followers, which I’m still freaking out about!  You can get the full details of the giveaway here.

To refresh your memory, here is a list of all the lovely goodies you could win:

  • A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro
  • A book of your choice ($15.00 USD Book Depository limit)
  • A custom canvas or print from Alliteration Lettering
  • 3 customized bookmarks from Alliteration Lettering
  • 2 spiral-bound journals
  • 1 pack of BIC RoundStic blue pens

There are 10 different ways you can enter and each entrant can have up to 33 entries, so what are you waiting for?

Click here to enter my Writing Survival Kit giveaway!

One fabulous way to get FIVE entries into the giveaway is to complete my survey, in which I ask you a few easy questions about what you think of Annie Likes Words.  And did I mention that filling it out gets you five automatic entries?  Yeah, that’s a thing.

I’ve gotten a surplus of helpful feedback so far and I want to hear what you think because you, my audience, are my primary motivation to keep this blog running.  I love sharing my thoughts with you and I want you to share your thoughts with me.  And you get five entries into the giveaway.  What’s not to love?

Click here to fill out my survey!

That’s all!  Let me know in the comments if you have questions.

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What Annie Read: My British Bear Book Review

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My British Bear by Dawn Dagger
Expected Publication: September 1st, 2017
Self-published

I received a free copy of My British Bear from the author in exchange for an honest review.  This review is part of a blog tour for My British Bear.

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Goodreads Synopsis:

After two months of hell living with her uncle, Maria is ready to give up. She’s already lost everything, and has no one to hold on to. Stuck in a small town where she knows not a single person, and physically abused by her uncle, she sees no hope. The only respite she gets from the hits on all sides is the small coffee shop down the road.

After an unlikely accident resulting in meeting a backwards British kid who is too polite and awkward for his own good, Maria starts to see a light in the darkness, but she’s also afraid of it.

She has her heart broken before, a hundred times in a hundred ways, and she doesn’t know if she’s ready to love, ready to let go, or even ready to face the reality of things. She doesn’t know if she’s ready to open up again and be happy.
She doesn’t know if she’s ready to live. 

I gave My British Bear 2/5 stars.

This review, like all of my reviews, is spoiler-free.

My British Bear tells the story of a young girl Maria, who has a chance encounter with British-born Brooks and is enchanted by his dashing looks and charming sense of humor.  In addition to struggling to comprehend her emotions, Maria lives in an abusive household and is caught between what her heart and her head are telling her to do.

This book had a lot of promise for me: a struggling character facing insurmountable challenges, a cute romance, a quirky cast of characters.  I wanted to love this book, but it didn’t live up to my initial perceptions.  Let’s talk about why.

I didn’t connect to Maria, the protagonist, probably because I didn’t enjoy her narrative voice.  For someone assumedly in high school, she had an immature tone that lead me to believe she was younger than intended.  I especially had a problem with a girl who spoke like a middle schooler contemplating love like she’d known her quasi-boyfriend for half her life.  Immature narrators and themes involving serious love are fine on their own, but I found they didn’t mix well.

Beside Maria and Brooks, the rest of the characters seemed flat.  Brooks and Maria’s gaggle of school chums were a fabulous device for comparing Maria to the picture-perfect image of a normal high schooler and were an even better device for representing her reintegration into normal high school activities, but they weren’t good for much else.  All of their friends seemed like cookie-cutter versions of the same character, but with different names and descriptions.  After a while, they all blended together and became indiscernible.

One of the major plot threads in this book is the abusive relationship between Maria and her uncle.  This subplot was supposed to tug at my heartstrings and make me feel for Maria, but I harbored a startling lack of sympathy for her.  Abuse is a heavy topic with multiple facets to explore and consider, but I felt that this book didn’t hit it out of the park.  I understand that every case of abuse is different, but this book seemed to show a sensationalized version, something that highlighted the causes but didn’t show the effects.  I wanted Maria to be vulnerable and open and honest and she was anything but.

The relationship between Maria and Brooks was frustrating on multiple levels.  First, I found that immense emphasis was placed on the fact that Brooks was British.  All we needed was one paragraph at the beginning or a few lines of colloquial dialogue to understand his heritage, not the constant barrage of reminders that he hailed from Great Britain.  In addition, a majority of their interactions felt forced.  Often, I felt that they were reading monotonously from a script rather than exchanging witty banter.

Like Maria’s narrative voice was uncharacteristically immature, Brooks had a similar childlike nature.  I found it hard to believe that he, who was supposed to be a hunk, slept with a bunch of stuffed animals on his bed.  There’s nothing wrong with stuffed animals–I still have the stuffed animal I slept with as a child–but it clashed with his existing character development so much that I found it unbelievable.  The teddy bears were an allusion to Brooks himself, which makes sense in theory, but didn’t exactly translate in the narrative.

Overall, this book was not for me.  I didn’t relate to the characters, found the narrative voice immature, and expected much more from this book than I got.

Have you read My British Bear?  What did you think of the book?

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