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:

33385229

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.

 

25944381

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.

 

32939941

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.

 

6304335

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!

 

6969

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!

 

15837671

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.

 

41865

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!

Follow Me On // Instagram // Twitter // Pinterest // Goodreads //

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?

11366397

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?

Follow Me On // Instagram // Twitter // Pinterest // Goodreads //

signature 2

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:

42156

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!

Follow Me On // Instagram // Twitter // Pinterest // Goodreads //

signature 2

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?

Follow Me On // Instagram // Twitter // Pinterest // Goodreads //

signature 2

What Annie Read: A Study in Charlotte Book Review

51im2bhf5szl

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

Find On // Amazon // ThriftBooks // Goodreads // Brittany Cavallaro //

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!

Follow Me On // Instagram // Twitter // Pinterest // Goodreads //

signature 2

What Annie Read: My British Bear Book Review

35601026

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.

Find On // Goodreads // Dawn Dagger //

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?

Follow Me On // Instagram // Twitter // Pinterest // Goodreads //

signature 2

Annie’s Favorite Book Covers

I’m a firm believer in judging a book by its cover.  Covers set the precedent for the book and its content.  Covers create a bias from the second you lay eyes on the book: a good cover is intriguing, even if the book is the literary equivalent of nails on a chalkboard.  So I welcome you, fellow book-judger.  While you’re here, let’s talk about some book covers and why they’re my favorites.

Also, I tried my hand at photography here and I’m kind of digging it.  What do you think?

Here are some of my favorite book covers:

  • The Heir and The Crown by Kiera Cass: Don’t get me wrong: I love the entire Selection series, but these books in particular have a special place in my heart because they look so regal and…princessy.  I love it.  Eadlyn, the fierce protagonist and princess of Illea, looks so commanding and regal but young and girlish at the same time, which sums up the little duology well.  You can buy The Heir here and The Crown here.
  • A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro: The gorgeous graphic covers on these books are a direct reflection of the fantastic book itself.  The print appears proper and classic at first glance, but shows integral parts of the story once you look closer.  This cover is equal parts preppy and mischievous, just like the book’s protagonists.  You can get a copy of this lovely book here.
  • Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn: What makes this cover so interesting is its striking simplicity: is the design hair or shattered glass or…?  The cover is a mystery, just like the book itself, and leaves you questioning just how many different meanings are hidden among its page.  If you love the cover as much as I do, you can get a copy here.
  • Me Before You and After You by Jojo Moyes: I loaned my copy of Me Before You to my grandma (hi Grandma!) so I only have After You at the moment, but it’s just as gorgeous as a standalone.  The design, like Gone Girl, is simple, but simplicity has many forms.  With these books, simplicity is homey and heartwarming, reminding you of gabled houses in the English countryside, the quirky people who live there, and the joys and tragedies of their lives.  You can read my full review of Me Before You here and pick up a boxed set of these books for yourself here.
  • Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon: What isn’t there to love about this cover?  The design is explosive, featuring just a small sampling of the things that trigger protagonist Madeline’s lethal allergic reactions.  The contrast between frenzied color and empty negative space is striking and intriguing, just like the book itself.  You can read my full review here and purchase a copy of Everything, Everything here.
  • Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, and Winter by Marissa Meyer: These covers are beautiful, plain and simple.  They all uniquely feature their respective story, but they tie together seamlessly and look gorgeous sitting together on the shelf.  They’re the classic fairytales we’ve grown up reading with some slight modifications for the better.  And they’re just really pretty.  You can buy a box set of these books here.

What are your favorite books covers?  Do you judge a book by its cover?

Don’t forget that 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!

Also, I’m revitalizing my bookstagram, so check me out at @annielikeswordsblog to get a sneak peek at what I’m posting on Wednesday!

Follow Me On // Instagram // Twitter // Pinterest // Goodreads //

signature 2

What Annie Read: Captain Guinevere Book Review

514oqz4aq1l-_sx311_bo1204203200_

Captain Guinevere by Clara Bennet
Published November 21st, 2016

I received a copy of Captain Guinevere from the author, Clara Bennet, in exchange for an honest review.  You can check out Clara’s blog here.

Find On // Amazon // ThriftBooks // Goodreads // Clara Bennet //

Goodreads Synopsis:

Run! She has to run. Gwendolyn Patience has no intention of marrying a man she doesn’t love, but when her parents betroth her to the prince of Voyagea to unite their countries, her only option is to run. With the help of some new friends along the way, she commandeers a ship to sail away from her troubles, but instead she encounters the evil Ravenoth who has other plans for her. While trying to defeat the evil faerie, she finds the secret lies within herself. What she doesn’t expect is to fall in love with the very man she detests.

I rated Captain Guinevere 2/5 stars.

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

Before I begin this review, I’d like to give a little disclaimer.  Yes, I did give this book 2/5 stars, which is a low rating for me to give.  I’m just going to say it: I’m not a fan of medieval fantasy.  While there were a few issues (which I’ll discuss later) that had to do with the fundamentals of the writing, my distaste for this book stems largely from my distaste for the subject matter itself.  Medieval fantasy simply isn’t for me… and that’s okay.  If you prefer something a little more fantastic, this may be the book for you.  If you’re like me and want to keep it somewhat realistic, let’s chat about what I liked and didn’t like about Captain Guinevere.

When I received a copy of Captain Guinevere, I decided to go into it with an open mind.  With that said, I wanted to give this book a real chance before counting it out simply because of its genre.  I assessed the story for what it was and not what my preconceived notions might tempt me to believe.  Captain Guinevere is a unique story about a complex protagonist, packed with adventure, with a little bit of romance as the cherry on top.  Is there anything more we can ask from a book?

However, this novel had a lot of hasty beginnings and untidy endings.  For example, in the first few pages, protagonist Gwendolyn finds a magical book and learns about the girl trapped between the pages.  Gwen finds a way to release the girl by enlisting the help of a local witch, but I expected this storyline to go somewhere.  The book served solely as a delivery truck for a supporting character and I felt like I’d been cheated out of what could have been an interesting storyline filled with well-placed world development.

There was world development, but there seemed to be just a touch too much.  As someone who loves well-crafted settings, I’m shocked to even be writing this, but the world was overexposed.  There was an undeniable medieval vibe, but we were also on a different planet… where everyone spoke languages from Earth.  There was talk of people going to other planets in the book, but how did people from this antiquated culture travel from one celestial body to the next?  The setting was anything but cohesive and left me with more questions than answers.

My other bone to pick regarding the novel’s exposition comes with Gwen’s decision to forego marrying Prince Ignatius, who she claimed to be too possessive.  Choosing not to marry someone because of their tendency to be clingy is all fine and dandy, but we never got any evidence to back this claim up.  If Ignatius was possessive, how?  Why?  This was prime character development material but instead of building a realistic, flawed human being, we were left with a faceless cutout labeled “Possessive Male Protagonist.”

One thing I did enjoy about the beginning was a singular page (or two–I can’t quite remember) when Bennet portrayed Gwen’s thought process when deciding to run away from her betrothed.  Rather than typing out a string of “Gwen thought this, Gwen thought that,” Bennet italicized the whole page and simply followed Gwen’s train of thought.  This artistic choice was spot-on for conveying the decisions Gwen had to make without describing them in a monotonous way.

As a character, I liked Gwen.  She was headstrong and determined and passionate, but I felt that she changed personas far too often.  With her family, she was a brooding teenager.  When out shopping on her own, she acted like a curious child.  When aboard the ship she and her crew commandeered, she had the ferocity of a swashbuckling pirate.  I could hardly pin down who she was at her core.  The character development pieces were all there, but they pointed in different directions.

I did enjoy Gwen’s character when she was with her love interest, Shiloh.  He seemed to bring out the best in her, the softness she’d gained from years as a princess.  In the end, I loved where the romance ended up.  “Where does the romance end up?” you might be asking yourself.  Well, you’ll just have to read the book and find out.

Overall, this debut novel was somewhere in between a miss and a hit; I neither loved nor hated this novel.  As I said before, you may fall head-over-heels in love with this book if you’re a fantasy fan.  For me, it just wasn’t in the cards.

Have you read Captain Guinevere?  What did you think of the book?

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.  Completing the survey and then logging it in Rafflecopter gets you FIVE automatic entries into the giveaway!

Follow Me On // Twitter // Pinterest // Goodreads // Instagram //

signature 2

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!

Follow Me On // Twitter // Pinterest // Goodreads //

signature 2

What Annie Read: All Fall Down Book Review

22571275

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

Find On // Amazon // ThriftBooks // Goodreads // Ally Carter //

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!

Follow Me On // Twitter // Pinterest // Goodreads //

signature 2