The 5 Books Annie Is Taking to College

Oh, the bittersweet end of summer.  Things are about to get wild for me because I’m heading off to college!  With that said, my life has been an emotional rollercoaster (when I’m assuming is to be expected).  I’m equal parts ecstatic and nervous with just a dash of terrified, but who isn’t?

One of the most prominent struggles is, of course, packing.  For someone who uses books as a safety blanket, I’ve had to decide which books in my collection I’m going to take with me and which I’m going to leave behind.  Picking which of my beloveds to take has been a challenge, but I’ve pared it down to a solid list of five.  I set a five-book limit for myself because I knew that, if I didn’t establish limitations, I’d end up wanting to take my entire bookshelf.  My freshman flat is roomy for a freshman flat, but it can’t hold an entire bookshelf.

Here are the five books I’m taking with me to college:

  • The Opposite of Loneliness by Marina Keegan:  This book is obligatory considering it’s my favorite.  The Opposite of Loneliness is a collection of essays and short stories written by the late Marina Keegan.  Keegan was an exemplary writer and student at Yale University before her untimely death at the age of twenty-two.  Keegan’s book is a reminder that life and time are fickle and fleeting, so we have to choice but to maximize our time and make the best out of our time here.  You can get a copy of this fabulous book here.
  • Cinder by Marissa Meyer:  I decided to take Cinder for the entertainment factor.  This book isn’t hard to read and doesn’t require an excess of thought, so it’s perfect for those days when I’m low on brain power after all-nighters and exams and all the lovely struggles that come with freshman year.  You can buy Cinder here.
  • It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini:  Ugh, I just love this book.  It’s Kind of a Funny Story is about Craig, a teenage prodigy who suffers a suicidal episode and checks himself into a psych ward.  What I love about this book is its humor and light amidst the proverbial darkness.  Craig is insightful and brutally honest and I want to be his best friend.  You can get a copy of It’s Kind of a Funny Story here.
  • The History of Love by Nicole Krauss:  The school year turns me into an emotional ball of stress and anxiety, so Lord only knows how much I need a good, cleansing, ugly cry every once in a while.  This book does the trick in all its ugly cry-inducing glory.  The History of Love is a masterpiece that ties together a series of separate lies in the most beautiful way and I can’t imagine going anywhere without it.  You can get a copy of The History of Love here.
  • Heist Society by Ally Carter:  Ah yes, the compulsory Ally Carter book.  This book is my go-to when I need to get out of a reading slump and we all know that I never leave the house without an Ally Carter book in hand.  (That’s a bit of an exaggeration, but you catch my drift.)  You can pick up a copy of Heist Society here.

Which of these books have you read?  What are your favorite books to take to college?

Don’t forget that my 500 followers giveaway is live right now!  Head on over to my post in which I freak out about having 500 to learn about the awesome, customized prizes you could win!  Head here to enter the giveaway.

Also, I’m running a survey to gather some information about you and your thoughts on Annie Likes Words, which you can access here.  Completing the survey and then logging it in Rafflecopter gets you FIVE automatic entries into the giveaway!

Finally, I’ve a Q&A post coming up, so give me some questions in the comments or on my Twitter and I’ll give you some answers!

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What Annie Read: All Fall Down Book Review

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All Fall Down by Ally Carter
Published July 20th, 2015
Scholastic Press

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Goodreads Synopsis: 

A new series of global proportions — from master of intrigue, NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author Ally Carter.

Grace Blakely is absolutely certain of three things:

1. She is not crazy.
2. Her mother was murdered.
3. Someday she is going to find the killer and make him pay.

As certain as Grace is about these facts, nobody else believes her — so there’s no one she can completely trust. Not her grandfather, a powerful ambassador. Not her new friends, who all live on Embassy Row. Not Alexei, the Russian boy next door, who is keeping his eye on Grace for reasons she neither likes nor understands.

Everybody wants Grace to put on a pretty dress and a pretty smile, blocking out all her unpretty thoughts. But they can’t control Grace — no more than Grace can control what she knows or what she needs to do. Her past has come back to hunt her . . . and if she doesn’t stop it, Grace isn’t the only one who will get hurt. Because on Embassy Row, the countries of the world stand like dominoes, and one wrong move can make them all fall down.

My rating: 3/5 stars.

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

When I received this book in the mail and so how tiny it was, I made a bet with my mom on whether or not I could finish it in one day.  Let’s just say she’s out a few dollars.

As aforementioned, the size was what struck me first and maybe this was for the worse.  I set my mind to devouring this book in a matter of hours (three hours to be exact), so I think I missed some of the witty charm that makes an Ally Carter book something special.

With that said, the book left something to be desired in all accounts.  It wasn’t poorly executed or poorly planned, but the quality of the book was about eighty-five percent of what I expected.  I imagined hard-hitting political drama (or as hard-hitting as young adult political drama can be) and characters with snark and sass and years of global education under their belts.  This book may not have exceeded my expectations, but it did get pretty close.

The characters felt a bit recycled from what Carter has written in the past.  I’ve read both her Gallagher Girls and Heist Society series multiple times (they’re my go-to’s when I’m in a slump) and I found tenants of her past characters in almost every major All Fall Down character.  I saw Gabrielle in protagonist Grace, Cammie Morgan in Meghan, Josh in Noah, Zach Goode in Alexei, Liz in Rosie, and many more cross-character similarities that made for a pretty confusing reading experience.

Grace was a well-developed character… with a few flaws.  Her reputation as the crazy daughter of Caroline Blakely, daughter of the American ambassador to the fictional Adria, was supposed to proceed her, but it didn’t.  For the girl who was supposed to be alone and lonely, she had a surprising amount of trusting friends.  It seemed too good to be true, as I’m sure it is.  I’m totally expecting her life to hit the fan in the second book.  Nothing is that perfect, even in book world.

My final bone to pick with this book is about the pacing, and I promise I’ll be brief: I felt that every plot point ended two pages too short.  I was left wanting more, but not in the edge-of-my-seat way.  Rather, I wanted more because the chapter felt unfinished.

Okay, let’s talk about what I liked after all that negativity.  The book was, overall, enjoyable and terribly entertaining.  Reading this was like walking down my proverbial middle school memory lane when I couldn’t be caught dead without an Ally Carter book in my hand.  (Who am I kidding–I still couldn’t be caught dead without an Ally Carter book in my hand).  Everything I love about her books was present.  The dialogue was sharp and witty, the characters had some spunk to them that was reminiscent of real life, and the plot was unique and intriguing.  Like with all her books before, Carter made me want to throw away my life and become the granddaughter of an international ambassador in some beautiful made-up European country.  Is that too much for a girl to ask?

Have you read All Fall Down?  What did you think of this book?

Don’t forget that my 500 followers giveaway is live right now!  Head on over to my post in which I freak out about having 500 to learn about the awesome, customized prizes you could win!  Head here to enter the giveaway.

Also, I’m running a survey to gather some information about you and your thoughts on Annie Likes Words, which you can access here.  Completing the survey and then logging it in Rafflecopter gets you FIVE automatic entries into the giveaway!

Finally, I’ve a Q&A post coming up, so give me some questions in the comments or on my Twitter and I’ll give you some answers!

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Annie Gives Book Recommendations Based on Hogwarts House

As y’all know, there is little I love more than giving book recommendations and rereading Harry Potter.  So today, I’m going to give book recommendations based on your Hogwarts House!  Fun, right?

Let’s kick this thing off and start with the infamous favorite: Gryffindor is the house of the daring and brave.  It values chivalry and strength in battle, but can also come with some arrogance and a tendency to be aloof.

For this house, I went with I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore.  This book is about an alien, who looks suspiciously human, who is sent to Earth to escape the perils of his ravaged planet.  Nine children were sent, all interconnected, and were protected so that they could only be killed in order.  One, Two, and Three have died.  Our protagonist is Number Four.  This book screams Gryffindor because of its thrilling action and quick pace.  The protagonist, who goes by the pseudonym John Smith, has an arrogance about him but suppresses it for his love interest, Sarah, and works to save himself and those he loves.  Totally Gryffindor, right?  You can get a copy of I Am Number Four here.

Ravenclaw is the house of the wise and clever.  Members of Ravenclaw value wisdom, creativity, intelligence, and knowledge but can be a little quirky or odd.

If you’re a Ravenclaw, I’d recommend reading A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro.  Beside the fact that the cover totally screams Ravenclaw, the wit and dry humor in this novel captures the wild intelligence of Sherlock himself.  A Study in Charlotte follows Charlotte Holmes and Jamie Watson, the descendants of the original investigative pair, as they try to debunk a murder on their boarding school campus while simultaneously trying to clear their names.  I have a full review of A Study in Charlotte coming soon, so keep a sharp lookout for that in the next few weeks.  You can get a copy of this book here.

Hufflepuff is the house of the patient and kind.  This house’s main tenets are hard work, dedication, fairness, and loyalty but have the reputation of being the “nice house” that won’t stand up for itself.

I’m slightly partial to this house because I myself am a Hufflepuff, so I picked a really good one for my housemates: Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon.  Everything, Everything is the story of housebound Madeline, adorable boy-next-door Olly, the understandable sparks that fly between them, and the things that go horribly wrong.  This book gave me that warm-and-fuzzy feeling from cover to cover, so I think it’s perfect for someone who is a little bit warm-and-fuzzy as well.  I have a full review of Everything, Everything  posted here if you’d like to know a little bit more about the book as well as read why I think this book is so stellar.  You can get a copy of the book here.

And finally, Slytherin.  Slytherin is the house of the cunning and prideful and values ambition, determination, intelligence, and resourcefulness.  Despite the reputation of being the “evil house,” Slytherins are not all evil but can be arrogant and aloof.

For all ye Slytherins out there, I recommend The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood.  This book is about Offred, a handmaid to the Commander and his sterile wife responsible for bearing them a child, and describes Offred’s life.  The tone of this book is so cold it could crack stone, just like a Slytherin’s determined stare.  If you belong to this house or just want to take a walk on the dark side, you can get a copy of The Handmaid’s Tale here.

What is your Harry Potter House?  What other books would you recommend for your fellow house members?

Don’t forget that my 500 followers giveaway is live right now!  Head on over to my post in which I freak out about having 500 to learn about the awesome, customized prizes you could win!  Head here to enter the giveaway.

Also, I’m running a survey to gather some information about you and your thoughts on Annie Likes Words, which you can access here.  Completing the survey and then logging it in Rafflecopter gets you FIVE automatic entries into the giveaway!

Finally, I’ve a Q&A post coming up, so give me some questions in the comments or on my Twitter and I’ll give you some answers!

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Annie’s July Favorites

Hello, y’all!  There’s nothing that I love more than watching favorites videos on YouTube (except, you know, writing), so I thought I’d try my hand at it and share some word-related and non word-related products that I’ve been loving this month.  I’m currently obsessed with…

  • Amazon Echo Dot: I purchased one of these little gadgets for my dorm room, but ended up putting it in my room at home because I’m obsessed!  Alexa is like a personal assistant: she plays music, she sets timers and alarms, she plays games, she’s just a good time.  For the quality of the Echo Dot, the cost is totally worth it.  You can get your own Alexa here.
  • A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro: Will there ever come a day when I don’t rave about this book?  Highly unlikely.  A Study in Charlotte is a retelling of the classic Sherlock Holmes and John Watson mystery, but focuses on their descendants Charlotte Holmes and Jamie Watson.  I love the dry wit and humor in this book and appreciate how the characters are shown with flaws.  I purchased my copy from Book Depository for a great price.
  • ShaelinWrites on YouTube: I recently discovered this fabulous YouTube channel run by Shaelin Bishop and am obsessed!  Shaelin’s videos are incredibly informative and address issues and ideas in writing with clarity and poignancy.  She has fabulous videos for writing, reading, editing, and general inspiration.  You can check out Shaelin here.
  • Telephone cord hair ties:  Y’all know how much I love a good scrunchie, but I was a bit skeptical when I ordered a few of these hair ties off of Instagram.  However, these ties put my doubts to rest almost instantly.  They stretch like nobody’s business but always come back to their original shape, meaning that they take a lot of weather and wear.  For a girl with thick hair like me, they’re perfect.  You can get some of your own here (and if you love scrunchies as much as I do, you can get my favorite ones here).
  • Lavender essential oil: The smell of lavender knocks me out, so I roll a little bit on my wrists, under my chin, and on my temples before bed if I’m not quite ready to go to bed yet.  This stuff is practically a recipe for instant sleep.  I use doTerra oil because they have great policies on the purity of their oils.  While it’s on the pricier side, the cost is well worth it: you can get the lavender rollerball that I use here.
  • John Mayer: This isn’t a new favorite for me, but John Mayer’s soft rock has been my favorite to listen to this past month.  I love the tenderness and power in his lyrics–they’re almost like stories in and of themselves.  I’m going to see him in concert in a few weeks (which I am super excited about!) so maybe that’s why I’m craving his music.

Are any of my favorites also your favorites?  What new stuff should I try this month?

Don’t forget that my 500 followers giveaway is live right now!  Head on over to my post in which I freak out about having 500 to learn about the awesome, customized prizes you could win!  Head here to enter the giveaway.

Also, I’m running a survey to gather some information about you and your thoughts on Annie Likes Words, which you can access here.  Completing the survey and then logging it in Rafflecopter gets you FIVE automatic entries into the giveaway!

Finally, I’ve a Q&A post coming up, so give me some questions in the comments or on my Twitter and I’ll give you some answers!

Okay, that’s all 🙂

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What Annie Read: Eleanor and Park Book Review

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Goodreads Synopsis:


Eleanor… Red hair, wrong clothes. Standing behind him until he turns his head. Lying beside him until he wakes up. Making everyone else seem drabber and flatter and never good enough…Eleanor.

Park… He knows she'll love a song before he plays it for her. He laughs at her jokes before she ever gets to the punch line. There's a place on his chest, just below his throat, that makes her want to keep promises…Park.

Set over the course of one school year, this is the story of two star-crossed sixteen-year-olds—smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try.

I rated Eleanor and Park 5/5 stars.

For a reason that I cannot quite explain, I was skeptical about this book.  I had absolutely no reason to be, but I was nonetheless.  Maybe the hype was a little too much for me and my cynical side made me think that the book wasn't worth the hype.  I really don't know.

Regardless, this book blew my expectations out of the water.  For this first time in a long time, I was uncomfortable.  Every word, every sentence was pure poetry so it wasn't an unpleasant reading experience, but this book pushed my boundaries and forced me to fall in love with an awkward teenage romance that was doomed from the start.  I had to imagine the main characters for who they were: an awkward, self-proclaimed "fat girl" with red hair and a random sense of style, and a skinny, short Asian-American boy who likes to wear eyeliner.  I had to embrace them for their quirks in the same way that they embraced each other and not dreamcast them to be "prettier" than they were.

The strengths in this book lie in the characters themselves.  Eleanor and Park, our leading gal and guy, were phenomenal.  (When I was writing this, I actually had to pause and think about a word I could use that would capture the explosiveness of their character development.  That's how phenomenal they were.)   They were so well-defined while also so ambiguous that they might honestly be some of my favorite characters.  Ever.  Do you know how many books I've read?  Saying that they're some of my favorites really means something.

What I also loved about Eleanor & Park was the reality in their intertwined stories.  There was no sugar-coating here: the story was raw and real and painful and beautiful and a million different adjectives at a million different times.  When Rowell wanted us to root for them, she crafted the story so we would root for them.  When Rowell wanted us to scream with frustration, she crafted the story so we would scream with frustration.  Every word was purposeful and carried a palpable intention.

As aforementioned, the plot made me uncomfortable in the best way possible.  I love me a contemporary novel, but I prefer to stick to books that I know will have a happy ending, or at least a comfortable resolution.  I had no such luck with this book and that was okay with me.  I felt that the plot had an ease about it that just made sense.  With this natural flow, we sometimes entered treacherous waters filled with bitter realities, but I didn't mind.  The plot was a reflection of, get this, life.  In this reflection, I found so much beauty and fulfillment that I wouldn't have experienced had the plot been filled with fluff.

Overall, this book was a knockout.  If you have a pulse and want to read a fabulous book, this one is for you.  Eleanor & Park is a book of the highest caliber and I'm sure I'll be ranting about its fabulousness for a long, long time.

Have you read Eleanor & Park?  What did you think of it?

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Annie’s July Update

Hello, friends!  Today I’m going to share a little bit about my month in terms of what I read, what I wrote, and what I did with my life other than obsessing over literature.  Let’s do this.

This month I was a good little reader.  I finally caught up to my Goodreads challenge and am feeling pretty stellar about it.  I went on a road trip with my church this month, which allowed for some fabulous uninterrupted reading time to knock several of these books out.  I read or finished reading:

My reviews for the last few books are on the way, so sit tight and they’ll be up in a few days!  If you want to know what books I purchased and received this month, you can check out my July Book Haul here.

In addition to reading like a champ, I also wrote like a champ.  Taking that church trip also gave me the opportunity to write off the grid for a week and my brain went wild with ideas.  According to my last update, my novel was at 45,000 words as of the first of July–it’s now 55,000 words.  Writing 10,000 words in a month is unheard of for me, so I’m pretty damn proud of myself for dedicating the time to my craft and continuing to work on my novel.

Just for some perspective on my word count capabilities, I wrote 25,000 words during my first semester and 10,000 words during my second semester (you can read about my independent study in Novel Writing, which allowed me to write all of these words, here).  It took me five months to write 10,000 words, but I managed to write 20,000 between graduation and now.  Like I said: unheard of.

In other news, I cut my hair this month!  It used to be thick, curly, and almost down to my belly button.  Well, the thick and curly thing is still a thing, but I cut it right above my shoulders for a kind of Rapunzel-after-Flynn-cuts-her-hair vibe when I wear it naturally wavy.  I’m still getting used to the feeling of the ends of my hair on my neck.

I don’t have any pictures of my hair (sorry!) BUT believe me when I say it looks good.  At least I think it looks good.

I’m also planning a giveaway once I reach 500 followers!  The giveaway will be held over on my Twitter, so head on over and follow Annie Likes Words on Twitter so you’ll have the inside scoop about how to win some stellar reads and book-related stuff.

That’s it for this short and sweet monthly update!  I’ll conclude with some links to my favorite posts from this month:

How was your month in reading and writing?  What should I read next?

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Annie Buys Books: July Book Haul

annie buys books

Hello!  Today I’m taking you on a little walk through my mailbox and sharing the books that I purchased this month.  If you listen closely, you can hear my empty wallet (and my abysmal NetGalley percentage) sobbing in the background.

For the books I purchased, this month was all about finishing series (and starting a few that I thought would be stellar).  Here are the books I purchased:

Book Depository:
A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro

ThriftBooks:
All Fall Down by Ally Carter
Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver
Breaking Dawn by Stephanie Meyer
The Chemist by Stephanie Meyer
City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare
Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver
Tulip Fever by Deborah Moggach
Where She Went by Gayle Foreman

In addition to the books I bought this month, I received a staggering amount of books for review.  Here’s what on my Kindle app at the moment:

ForReview:
My British Bear by Dawn Dagger
Captain Guinevere by Clara Bennett

NetGalley:
13 Minutes by Sarah Pinborough
Carnegie’s Maid by Marie Benedict
Final Girls by Riley Sager
Hello, Sunshine by Laura Dave
Holiday in the Hamptons by Sarah Morgan
Mask of Shadows by Linsey Miller
She, Myself, and I by Emma Young
A Short History of the Girl Next Door by Jared Reck

That’s it for this July book haul!  Have you read any of the books on this list?  Which book should I crack open next?

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Annie’s Actual TBR Pile

ANNIE'S ACTUAL TBR PILE

Hello y’all!  There’s nothing I love more than organization, so I thought I’d share a little slice of my book organization by talking about my actual TBR pile.

Since I rarely purchase books I’ve already read, I have a lot of hard copies that I still have yet to conquer.  Being the organizational freak that I am, I devised a way to separate the books I have and haven’t read by taking the books in the latter category and dumping them in a pile on my bedside table.

What started out as a pile with only a few books has grew to roughly 25 books in total, so the whole pile thing wasn’t working.  I recently rearranged them so they were alphabetized (because I’m an organizational freak) and fit on my table.  Not going to lie, there’s a ton of books on this list and I’m not quite sure how they all fit onto my tiny bedside table, but I’m not questioning it.

Here is a list of my actual TBR pile:

  1. 11/22/63 by Stephen King: I received this book as a birthday present with the intention that, after reading, I would watch the Hulu series.  No such luck yet, but I’m fifty pages in.  Only, like, 800 to go!
  2. And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie: What kind of thriller writer would I be if I didn’t acquaint myself with the greats?
  3. Bad Girls Don’t Die by Katie Alender: I bought this book years ago and got about two pages in before deciding that I didn’t like the narrator’s voice.  She was too simplistic, too whiny.  However, I’d hate to waste a perfectly good book.  I’ve been meaning to give it another read.
  4. Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver:really want to watch this movie and I feel like this book is going to be kind of like If I Stay by Gayle Foreman, so I’m pretty pumped to crack this one open.
  5. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath: I got about halfway through this book before I stopped reading it, but I’m not sure why I stopped in the first place.  I thoroughly enjoyed it, but life probably got in the way.  Regardless, I’ll get back to it someday.
  6. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak: I’ve had the same experience here as I did with The Bell Jar.
  7. Breaking Dawn by Stephanie Meyer: I recently purchased this book after realizing that I never finished out the series, but I’m planning to reread all the books and walk down middle school memory lane first.  Stay tuned–it might take a while.
  8. The Chemist by Stephanie Meyer: I’ve seen this book everywhere and a friend recently recommended it to me.  It’s also about spies (I think), so you know I’m game.
  9. City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare: I read the first book in this series a few years ago and haven’t gotten around to finishing it.  I’ll get there, though.
  10. Crossed by Ally Condie: God, what is it with me and all these unfinished series?  I suck.
  11. The Daughters Break the Rules by Joanna Philbin: Here we go again!  Annie starts a series and doesn’t finish it.  What else is new?  I don’t even have an excuse here because I own all the books.  As I said earlier, I suck.
  12. Flipped by Wendelin Van Draanen: This book looks so endearing and appears to be a quick read, so I imagine I’ll read it relatively soon.
  13. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins: I’ve been waiting for just the right time to read this book.  I’ll probably pick it up around Halloween when I need a good scare.
  14. I Was Here by Gayle Foreman: This book was in the bargain bin at BJ’s and I love Gayle Foreman, so I had to buy it.
  15. Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham: Lena Dunham is so freaking funny and I can’t wait to read her collection of essays.
  16. On Writing by Stephen King: I read the biographical part of this book but didn’t make it much further than that, so I’ll get back to it soon and finish it up.
  17. Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver: I just reread Delirium and can’t wait to read the second book in this series!
  18. P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han: I’m hoping that this book with have all the same charm and quirk as the book before it.
  19. Room by Emma Donoghue: Like with The Girl on the Train, I need to be in the right headspace to read a book of this magnitude.
  20. Someday, Someday, Maybe by Lauren Graham: I’m a Gilmore Girls junkie and suspect that this book will have the same humor and sharpness as Lorelai herself.
  21. Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt: This was a cover buy.  There’s nothing else to say here.
  22. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith: You can read about the circumstances that lead me to this book in my post, Musings on an Old Bookstore in Annapolis.
  23. Tulip Fever by Deborah Moggach: I watched the movie trailer for Tulip Fever and purchased the book right away.  It may not be a princess story (which you know I love), but it’s close enough and I’m pumped.
  24. Where She Went by Gayle Foreman: I read the first book in this series, If I Stay, many moons ago and still think of it as one of my favorite books ever.
  25. Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple: Again, a cover buy.

What books are in your literal TBR pile?  Of these, which ones should I pick up next?

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What Annie Read: Me Before You Book Review

what annie read me before you

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Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
Published December 31st 2012
Pamela Dorman Books/Viking

Find on // Amazon // ThriftBooks // Goodreads

Goodreads Synopsis:

Louisa Clark is an ordinary young woman living an exceedingly ordinary life—steady boyfriend, close family—who has never been farther afield than their tiny village. She takes a badly needed job working for ex-Master of the Universe Will Traynor, who is wheelchair-bound after an accident. Will has always lived a huge life—big deals, extreme sports, worldwide travel—and now he’s pretty sure he cannot live the way he is.

Will is acerbic, moody, bossy—but Lou refuses to treat him with kid gloves, and soon his happiness means more to her than she expected. When she learns that Will has shocking plans of his own, she sets out to show him that life is still worth living.

A love story for this generation, Me Before You brings to life two people who couldn’t have less in common—a heartbreakingly romantic novel that asks, What do you do when making the person you love happy also means breaking your own heart?

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

My Review:

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes is part of the pop culture vernacular: everyone knows the blockbuster movie that brought entire theaters to tears.  This book and its movie are probably best known for the ending that feels like a knife in the gut, but there is so much in between the bouts of heartwrenching sadness.

In this book, quirky, awkwardly confident Louisa Clark is fired from her job and takes a post caring for Will Traynor, a wildly successful businessman and daredevil turned quadriplegic.  Will is set on ending his life via assisted suicide and Louisa, the ever-cheerful and annoyingly optimistic, is his parents’ last attempt at changing his mind.

For such a heavy premise, the book was surprisingly light and airy.  From the first page, the banter and wit of Moyes’s cast of characters was enough to plaster a stupid smile to my face.  The relationships are rich and realistic and mirror life in a family just trying to scrape together enough pennies to pay rent and fill the fridge.

In the same frame of mind, the dynamic between Will and Louisa was entirely believable.  In books I’ve read where Little Miss Sunshine is sent to brighten up the grumbly grump’s life, I thought that the change in the grumbly grump’s personality was quite unrealistic.  I mean, really, can one person change that much?  Me Before You answers the question with confidence: yes, they can, and Louisa Clark can make it happen.  Will’s development as a character was perfectly timed and so well done.

What I loved most about this book was Louisa’s narrative voice.  She’s twenty-six (I think), unemployed at the beginning of the book, and sees no respite in sight because she didn’t go to college and is unqualified for several of the well-paying positions.  Despite her lack of higher education, Louisa is so smart.  She looks at life with an intelligence that is engrained, not adopted.  She may not have a college degree on her resume, but her wit and sense of benevolence place her way above the curve.

Overall, this book was a long, resounding yes.  Moyes handled the sad parts with grace and the happy parts with joy and everything was just yes.  I would recommend this book to anyone.  If you are reading this post, then you should read this book.  It was that stellar.

Have you read Me Before You?  How do my thoughts compare to yours?

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Annie Gets Awards!

annie gets awards

Hello there!  I’ve gotten a lot of nominations for awards lately and I thought I’d combine them all into one awkwardly long post of awards!  Without further ado, let’s get this party started.

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I was nominated for The Sunshine Blogger Award by Rayne @ Rayne at the Bus Stop, and Ally @ Ally Writes Things, so thanks so much to Rayne and Ally!  Their blogs are fabulous and they are just the sweetest, so be sure to head on over to their sites and check them out!

Rules:

  1. Thank the person(s) who nominated you in a blog post and link back to their blog.
  2. Answer the 11 questions sent by the person who nominated you
  3. Nominate 11 new blogs to receive the award and write them 11 new questions.
  4. List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo on your post and/or on your blog.

Rayne’s Questions:

1. What motivated you to start blogging?
I started blogging because I wanted to build a platform where I could market myself as an aspiring author while connecting with other writers and readers.  Of course my other motivation was to work on my writing 🙂

2. Do you have a favorite story to tell people? (Hint: That’s a queue to tell US that story.)
When I was about 2 or 3, I gave myself a “makeover” with kiddie scissors and toothpaste for hair gel.  Yeah, I’ve never had a future in cosmetology.

3. Who is your favorite author?
Marina Keegan–she wrote the stories and essays in The Opposite of Lonelinesswhich was published posthumously.

4. In what ways did this author inspire you in your own writing?
Keegan inspired me to tell the unpopular story.  She taught me that the ugly side of life makes a better tale.

5. What’s the greatest thing about your best friend?
Other than the fact that she’s just wonderful?  I love that we can spend months apart and then come back together like no time has passed.

6. Camp or stay at a hotel?
Either: I love camping but I wouldn’t say “no” to a stay at the Ritz.

7. Fantasy or contemporary?
Contemporary without a doubt.

8. If you could meet any fictional character, which would it be?
I feel like I would get along fabulously with Louisa from Me Before You by Jojo Moyes.

9. Do you have a special “spot” for reading?
Not particularly–I like to be comfortable when I read, but I also read a lot at night so I guess on my bed?

10. Do you ever binge-read?
Not as much as I wish I could.

11. Does music distract you while you’re reading or do you prefer it?
I prefer listening to music if I’m reading for enjoyment because it creates a lovely ambience, but when I’m reading for school or trying to read fast I like silence.

Ally’s Questions:

1. What are your favorite flowers?
Daisies, tulips, and hydrangeas are my favorites.

2. If you could guest write any TV show, what would it be?
Ugh I don’t know!  I’ve yet to try screenwriting and I’m not sure if I’d be any good at it, but either Riverdale (which I’m obsessed with at the moment) or Downton Abbey.  I love Jane the Virgin as well, but I don’t think I’m witty enough to write a show like that.

3. Which author would you like to have read over a piece of your work?
John Green without a doubt.  They actually filmed part of “Paper Towns” in my neighborhood, so I got to see the set and all.  As I was walking by one day, John Green was driving away in a van, so I waved at him and he waved back.  I also got to meet Nat Wolff and had him sign my copy of Paper Towns.  Long story short, John Green.

4. Chocolate or vanilla?
Chocolate.  Always chocolate.

5. Best book of 2017?
Must I pick?  Either The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood or Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon.

6. What was your favourite book you had to read for school?
The History of Love by Nicole Krauss.  This book is as close to poetry as prose gets.

7. Favourite sports team?
The Tar Heels!  No one in my family graduated from University of North Carolina, but I love them nonetheless.  We kind of won the championship in basketball this year (just saying).

8. What is your biggest pet peeve in books?
I hate static characters.  Characters deserve better than to stay the same.

9. Are there any clichés you never get tired of?
I love princess stories.  They’re horribly overdone, but I love them anyways.

10. If you could attend any fictional wedding, which would it be?
This question was way harder than it should have been, but I’ll say Mary and Matthew’s wedding from “Downton Abbey.”

11. What do you do in your spare time other than book or blog-related things?
I’m a competitive dancer as well, so I pretty much do that when I’m not writing or reading.  My team was selected to go to nationals in New York, so I’m pretty busy training for that.

My Nominees for the Sunshine Blogger Award:

Brooke @ Brooke Jade Writes
Elise @ Roaming Reader
Clara Bennett @ The Book Goddess
Sophie Li @ Sophie’s Corner
Veronica @ Veronica Marie
Dippy-Dotty Girl @ The Traveling Diary of a Dippy-Dotty Girl
Misty @ Misty’s Book Space
Vrinda @ A Bookish Human
Maggie @ Maggie Derrick
Pamela @ Starring Pamela
Mikaela @ The Well-Thumbed Reader

My Questions:

  1. If you could have dinner with anyone, dead or alive, who would you choose and why?
  2. Have you ever had a nickname?  If so, what is it and how did you get it?
  3. What is one thing about you that someone would be surprised to know?
  4. If you could only listen to one song for the rest of your life, which one would you choose?
  5. What piece of advice would you give your younger self?
  6. What are your favorite and least favorite colors?
  7. If you starred in a reality TV show about your life, what would it be called?
  8. When was the last time that you were truly, genuinely happy?
  9. What quote do you live by?
  10. Do you prefer to write in pen or pencil?
  11. What smell reminds you of home?

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I was nominated for The Liebster Award by Jo-Ann @ Inspiration Pie, so lots of thanks to Jo-Ann!

Rules:

  1. Thank the person who nominated you.
  2. Answer the 11 questions they gave you.
  3. Nominate 11 blogs.
  4. Give them 11 questions to answer.

Jo-Ann’s Questions:

1. What’s your favorite genre to read?
I like to say that my favorite genre is good books, but I enjoy young adult contemporary.

2. What other hobbies do you like to do besides reading and blogging?
As aforementioned, I dance but I also love to bake!  I’m pretty dedicated to baking chocolate chip cookies in my spare time.

3. What is your ideal vacation?
At this point in time, either New York City with my best friend or San Francisco with my mom.

4. Do you have any pets?
I do!  I have a dog named Daisy.  We’re not sure what breed she is since she’s a rescue, but we think she’s a black lab-beagle mix.

5. What is the last movie you saw?  Did you like it?
Beauty and the Beast!  I don’t go to the theater often, but I loved this movie so much that I bought it on iTunes for some ridiculous price the day it came out.

6. How long have you been blogging?
A little over six months, but I started to dedicate serious time to blogging at the beginning of June after my high school graduation.

7. What is the best book you’ve read in 2017?  What is the worst?
I also answered this question above, but I loved rereading Delirium by Lauren Oliver.

8. What book character is your twin?
Cammie Morgan from Ally Carter’s Gallagher Girls Series.  Well, she’s way smarter than me, but I’d like to think we have something in common.

9. Do you prefer to swim in a pool or the ocean?
Pool–I teach swim lessons at my local Y, so I’m in the pool pretty much every day.

10. What is your favorite genre of music?  Favorite musician/band?
My taste in music mirrors my taste in books: I like good music.  I’ve always loved John Mayer (who I’m going to see in concert!), Lorde, Vance Joy, and James Bay though.

11. Do you prefer the country or the city?
City!  I’d love to move to New York one day.

My Nominees:

  1. Allie @ Awesome Allie Blog
  2. Vijayalakshmi@ The Reading Desk
  3. Jordon @ Simply Adrift
  4. Kate @ Uncovering Stories
  5. Justine @ I Should Read That
  6. Ally @ Ally Writes Things
  7. Enni @ Hooves and Pens
  8. Emma @ A Dreamer’s Library
  9. Dani @ Perspective of a Writer
  10. Amanda @ Amanda Writes
  11. Chloe @ Chloe Akemi

My Questions:
For simplicity’s sake, I’ll stick with the same questions as above.  Here they are again:

  1. If you could have dinner with anyone, dead or alive, who would you choose and why?
  2. Have you ever had a nickname?  If so, what is it and how did you get it?
  3. What is one thing about you that someone would be surprised to know?
  4. If you could only listen to one song for the rest of your life, which one would you choose?
  5. What piece of advice would you give your younger self?
  6. What are your favorite and least favorite colors?
  7. If you starred in a reality TV show about your life, what would it be called?
  8. When was the last time that you were truly, genuinely happy?
  9. What quote do you live by?
  10. Do you prefer to write in pen or pencil?
  11. What smell reminds you of home?

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I was also nominated for the Versatile Blogger Award by Priyasha @ BOOKS & CO. and Sophie @ Sophie’s Corner; thanks, Priyasha and Sophie!

Rules:

  1. Thank the blogger who nominated you and share their link.
  2. Nominate up to 10 bloggers for the award and provide links to their blogs.
  3. Also, inform them about the nomination.
  4. Reveal 7 facts about yourself that we your readers may not know.

Seven (Word-Related) Facts About Me:

  1. I’m only taking five books with me to college.  My dorm room is going to be so tiny and books take up so much space, so I’m drawing the line for myself at five.  I’ve already started to pick with ones I’m going to take and it’s kind of killing me that I can’t take them all.  However, I’ve worked out a sort of library system with my mom so that she can mail me the books I want to read while I’m away.
  2. I prefer to go to bookstores, but I actually buy most of my books online.  You just can’t beat those ThriftBooks and Book Depository prices.
  3. When I write by hand, I prefer to use blue pen.  I think that this habit formed when I started writing timed essays in high school because I preferred reading essays written in blue pen.  I’m kind of a freak about when I use certain pens and blue always does it for me when I write longhand.
  4. When it comes to paperback or hardcover, I don’t have a preference.  As long as it has pages, I’m game.
  5. I totally judge books by their cover.  Sorry not sorry.
  6. I format my writing in different ways based on whether I’m writing or editing.  Okay the difference isn’t as dramatic as it sounds, but I have to write in Google Docs with single-space 12-pt. Times New Roman font, bold chapter headings, and the beginnings of new chapters/sections justified to the left margin.  However, I prefer printing out my manuscript and reading in double-space when I edit.
  7. The best Christmas present I ever received was a stack of books.  A few years ago, my mom went through my Pinterest, Goodreads, and bookshelf to see what books I wanted to read next…and then she bought them.  Like, all of them.  It was such a heartfelt present and I still love rereading those books because they remind me of that day and how much my family loves me.  (That was also the year I received a copy of Paper Towns that was signed by John Green, so needless to say that was a pretty good Christmas),

My Nominees:

  1. Zoe @ Stories on Stage
  2. Laura @ SerendipiDIY
  3. Poulami @ Daydreaming Books
  4. Marie @ Drizzle and Hurricane Books

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I was nominated for my second Mystery Blogger Award by Helene @ AngelSpartaness, so thanks so much to Helene!

This award was created by Okoto Enigma

Rules:

  1. Put the award logo or image on your blog.
  2. Thank the person who nominated you and link their blog in your post.
  3. Name the creator of the award and link their blog.
  4. List the rules.
  5. Answer your nominator’s questions.
  6. Tell your readers 3 things about yourself.
  7. Nominate 10-20 people.
  8. Ask your nominees 5 original questions of your choice.
  9. Share link to your best blog posts.
  10. Notify each of your nominees by commenting on their blog.

Helene’s Questions:

1. Do you have any pets? What kind of animals are they, what are their names, and why did you choose them/where did you get them from?
I have a dog named Daisy and we rescued her about seven years ago!  We picked her because she’s all black but has white feet, so it looks like she’s wearing socks.

2. If you could exist in any fictional world for only one year before coming back to reality, where would you live and why?
I would live at Hogwarts (sorry, I’m basic) because after a year, I think I’d have enough of the world of magic.

3. What are 3 things that you are most thankful for each and every day?
I’m thankful for my family, my friends, and the fact that the Lord decided to wake me up that morning.

4. Would you rather: Have the power to read minds, or have it so that everyone believed everything you told them, no matter what?
I would rather have the power to read minds because I would hate going through life feeling like I was manipulating everyone around me.

5. If you could go back in time and tell your 7-year-old self anything at all, what would you tell your child self?
Your first B in school is not as big a deal as you think it is.

Three (Non Word-Related) Facts About Me:

  • I’m obsessed with Chance the Rapper’s album “Coloring Book.”  I thought of this fact because I’m listening to Chance the Rapper while writing this, but this album is so good!  I love the mix of styles and…just everything.  You can check out what I’m listening to on Spotify here.
  • I was a four-year varsity swimmer in high school.  My school was small, which was great for improving my odds of getting on the team!  We had practices every day before school and, as a night person, that was pretty tough.  Nevertheless, I loved going to practice and forming close relationships with my teammates.  I’m hoping to swim club or intramural in college, so we’ll see.
  • I love replying to your comments.  Okay, I lied–this one is word, or blog, related.  Seeing that y’all comment on my posts makes my heart smile, so I do my best to get back to everyone because it’s what I want other bloggers to do for me.  So please let me know what you think of my posts, whether you agree, disagree, or just want to chat.  I’ll read it all 🙂

My Nominees:

  1. Garima @ Garima Shares
  2. Anna @ My Bookish Dream
  3. Kate @ All the Trinkets
  4. Rimpy @ Rimpy’s Reads
  5. Kelly @ The Bookmarker
  6. Ashley and Sabrina @ 5171 Miles Book Blog
  7. Eden @ Everything Eden
  8. Fay @ Bibliophile Soprano
  9. Fyza @ Culture Eighteen
  10. Julianna @ Blots of Ink & Words

My Questions:
For the sake of simplicity (and my sanity), I’ll just take the first five questions from above and repost them here.  You’d think for a creative writer I could come up with some better questions, but I’m all about streamlining this process.  Here they are again:

  1. If you could have dinner with anyone, dead or alive, who would you choose and why?
  2. Have you ever had a nickname?  If so, what is it and how did you get it?
  3. What is one thing about you that someone would be surprised to know?
  4. If you could only listen to one song for the rest of your life, which one would you choose?
  5. What piece of advice would you give your younger self?

Here are some links to my favorite posts:
Annie’s Unpopular Opinions, in which I share some, get this, unpopular opinions.
Annie’s Writing Survival Kit, in which I list all of my writing essentials.
Annie Answers Questions: A Celebratory Q&A, in which I answer your questions.

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Finally, I was tagged by Ivy & Em @ Two Girls, Two Mountains for the Book Blogger Test.

  1. Thank the person who nominated you and add a link to their blog.
  2. Answer the ten questions asked on this post.
  3. Nominate at least five people to do it also.
  4. Let your nominees know you nominated them.

My Answers:

1. What are your top three book pet hates?  (Are these like pet peeves?)
I hate static characters, books that are alphabetized incorrectly on my bookshelf, and people who borrow my books but never return them.

2. What is the perfect reading spot?
I love reading in comfy pajamas, turning up the AC so my room gets really cold, and burying myself under thick blankets on my bed.

3. Share three book confessions.
Okay, get your pitchforks ready: I dog-ear library book pages, I annotate every book I read, and I’m not afraid of water damage.

4. What was the last book that made you cry?
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, which I read a million and a half years ago.  It takes the works to get me to cry at a book.

5. How many books are on your bedside table?
27.  Yes, you read that right.  I keep all the books I’ve yet to read on my bedside table so I can separate “read” from “to-be-read.”

6. What is your favorite reading snack?
Goldfish.

7. Name 3 books you’d recommend to anyone.
The Opposite of Loneliness by Marina Keegan, The Help by Kathryn Stockett, and The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffeneger.  I feel like there are so many things to be learned from these books.

8. Share some pictures of your bookshelf.

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Here it is in all its mishmash glory (plus a bonus picture of the 27 books on my bedside table).

9. Describe how much books mean to you in three words.
Every damn thing.

10. What is your biggest reading secret?
This isn’t a secret, but when I was little, I would take a book with me everywhere.  Not much has changed since then, but my mom would have to take books away from me and make me go play with the other kids.  Social interaction was literally my punishment as a child.

My Tag…

  1. Inge @ The Belgian Reviewer
  2. Flexi @ Flexi Reads
  3. Taylor @ Taylor Reads Books
  4. Books, Books, and More Books
  5. Anny @ The Mystique Reader

That’s all, folks!  Thanks for sticking with me to the end of this unbelievably long post and thank you to Rayne, Ally, Jo-Ann, Priyasha, SophieHelene, and Ivy & Em for nominating me for these awards.  I’m honored more than you know.  Be sure to check out their blogs and the blogs of my nominees!  I chose some of my more recent followers and people with whom I recently connected, so go show some blog love and give everyone a page view or two.

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