June Monthly Recap

~*~On The Blog~*~

This was definitely another solid month for me! I can't really complain. I'm getting back on track with blogging and loving every minute of it! Plus, I'm really taking advantage of the fact that I can get ahead this summer so that my blog will remain active throughout school. I reviewed a total of 7 books this month on top of hosting several guest authors and some bonus content. I'm just really proud of the time I can put into Lili's Reflections again. Have any of you noticed any changes?

Books Reviewed:
Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo - 5 stars
On The Fence by Kasie West - 5 stars
Landline by Rainbow Rowell - 4 stars
Midnight Thief by Livia Blackburne - 4 stars
The Half Life of Molly Pierce by Katrina Leno - 3.5 stars
The Body in the Woods by April Henry - 1 star

Books Reviewed on Tynga's Reviews:
The Sinister Sweetness of Splendid Academy by Nikki Loftin - 3 stars

The Broadway Review Update:
  • I introduced this new feature here if you want to check it out! This feature is dependent upon audience interest, so please comment on any of the reviews if you still want me to keep it! 
  • Last month, I announced that I was discontinuing this series. I lied... Since last month, a lot has changed. I realized certain things about myself and a lot of people around me and I'm throwing it all away. This is my blog, I'm going to blog for me, and, dang, I like Broadway. Thus, I will occasionally post about Broadway. It makes watching the Tonys even more fun! Plus, I saw a show on June 1st that I have been dying to talk about, so check out my thoughts on ALADDIN here!
Giveaways:
  • I'm giving away an audiobook of Rainbow Rowell's upcoming adult book, LANDLINE! You can check that out here.
  • I'm also giving away a signed copy of ONE MAN GUY, perhaps one of my most recommended summer reads and also the perfect LGBT book. Don't hesitate to win that book here!
  • My STRANGE AND EVER AFTER giveaway is still running here.
  • Please note that I have picked and contacted all winners for my other 5 blogoversary giveaways and THE BONE SEASON giveaway.
Discussion Posts:
  • Rating systems...I don't understand how some bloggers function without them! However, I have to admit, the evolution of rating systems is cringe worthy. Some of my first five star reviews are definitely no longer five star reviews.
  • I have decided that this summer is officially dubbed the summer of series. I have trouble finishing series because I'm scared the magic will be gone, but I'm going to use this summer to overcome that fear. See how I plan to do that here!
College Blogging 101 Posts: 
  • My post went up about why blogs are important to surviving college (and life). This is so true and I highly recommend checking it out here!
  • My good friend Alyssa from The Eater of Books stopped by to share a top ten post about how you can take advantage of your summer blogging-wise. I agree with everything she says here and the GIFs are fantastic!
  • Rachael from Rachael Turns Pages stopped by to talk about how social media can be so overwhelming it may effect your blog content in a negative way! You can find that post here.
  • I got really sick at one point this month and I apologize for that because it hindered me from keeping up with this feature.
Guest Posts and Bonus Content:
  • I launched the Take Back the Skies by Lucy Saxon blog tour for Bloomsbury! It was awesome. Lucy stopped by to talk about writing advice for young writers since she wrote this book as a teenager! If you're an aspiring writing, check that post out here.
  • I did the first part of my BEA Recap here!
  • The awesome folks at Macmillan Audio asked me to share a Landline Audio Clip with you attached to my audiobook giveaway!
  • My good friend Paula Stokes stopped by to discuss the heart of Lainey. She may not be likable, but she is an amazing role model. See why characters that have to grow on you are actually some of the best role models out there here!
  • I brought vlogging back to my STS posts! You can find my first vlog in 10 months here! Do you prefer vlogging STS videos or regular STS posts?

~*~What I've Been Watching~*~

Broadway Shows:
  • I saw Aladdin on the very first of this month! It was absolutely wonderful, and it was so nice to see the guy who played Genie win a Tony a mere week later! I loved this show so much that I decided to bring back The Broadway Review! I happen to love Broadway and I don't want to remove it from my blog.
TV:
  • The Challenge Free Agents ended. I have to admit, I'm a little bummed. I desperately wanted CT and Cara Maria in the finals. Also, I'm so sick of Bananas winning. Johnny the rookie was so close to bringing that home and I was definitely rooting for him. I'm a little shocked that Zach can be such a child...but then again, I'm sure I legitimately would have died if you asked me to do half of what he did.
  • Big Brother Season 16 premiered and I am so excited! I have Live Feeds for the first time and they are making all the difference. I really like Frankie, Donny, Christine, Nicole, Zach, and Victoria. I am not a fan of Devin, Brittany, or Joey. What are your thoughts on Big Brother?! Tweet me so that we can discuss during live episodes!
  • The 2014 FIFA World Cup has started this month and it is my first time watching it...ever. I am surprisingly enjoying it. I BELIEVE THAT WE WILL WIN!
  • I checked out the new singing competition Rising Star out of sheer curiosity. I participate if I happen to catch the check in n the app, but otherwise I tend to read a book while watching and I glance up every now and then. There's some super surprising talent, but there are many bores and well...Kesha sucks as a host. Ludacris is my favorite host if you ask me. He seems to be the only honest one who really knows what he is doing the entire show.
Movies:
  • I had some sister bonding time when my sister, Sydney, and I went to see How To Train Your Dragon 2. This movie was everything I hoped it would be and more. I cried, I laughed, I triumphed. Just ah, Toothless owns my heart! I definitely can't wait for the third movie and to see more of a few new characters. Also, I really want to read the books now since they are apparently nothing like the movie. Please please tweet me if you want to discuss because I can't get enough!
  • I saw The Fault In Our Stars the day before it came out with Tabitha! It was a very spur of the moment decision. I cried a little bit, I'll admit that. It is very true to the book and the dialogue is taken from the book, but the book is much better in my opinion. With that in mind, the movie is super enjoyable and I think that Ansel Elgort really did Augustus justice.
  • I finally watched Schindler's List for my online class. This movie, guys. THIS MOVIE. Everyone just needs to see it once in their life, even if you cry and get sick to your stomach at times.
  • To make myself feel better after watching the movie above, I watched John Tucker Must Die because, hello, it can't help but make you smile! I love the baddies but goodies <3
  • Lastly, I babysat and watched the new Disney channel original movie Zapped with Zendaya and some hot guy that does not look like he is in high school. It came out the day I babysat so the kids made it into an event. I am so sad that the quality of Disney Channel movies from my childhood has severely diminished.
Do you have a monthly recap or thoughts on anything I'm reading/reviewing/watching? Share your thoughts below! Every comment is greatly appreciated! <3

Stacking the Shelves #73...The One Where Vlogging is Back!


Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews.

This is my first filmed STS in a while (almost a year). It starts with me flailing over the best swag pack ever, there's more flailing with the books I picked up this week, then super-mega-I-can't-believe-it flailing over the amazing gift that I got from a friend at the very end. Basically, if you like awkwardness and bookish flails, watch the video below. haha


Swag Package (Thank you Heather Demetrios!)
Heather Demetrios sent me possibly the coolest swag pack ever for being part of her Blogger Caravan. Guys, EXQUISITE CAPTIVE is going to be amazing. Just you wait.

For Review From Bloomsbury (Thank You!)
The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon
The Fire Artist by Daisy Whitney

Edelweiss (Thank you Harper!)
Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch
Don't Touch by Rachel M. Wilson

Gifted (Thank you, Angie!)
Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo (signed and personalized! ahhh!) 
A ton of swag! <3

Library
Finding It by Cora Carmack

Don't forget to link to your STS posts below!

The Broadway Review: Aladdin

Date Seen: June 1, 2014
Seating: Row E, Balcony
Cost of Tickets: $66 each (3 tickets)
Ticket Source: Bought
Rating: Two Thumbs Up


James Monroe Iglehart, also known as the Genie, won the Tony for best performance by an actor in a featured role in a musical!

~*~Summary~*~

Graphic taken from the Aladdin Musical website.



~*~Journey to the Tickets~*~

There's really no huge story to explain for this one because this is one of the few occasions that I was so desperate to see a show, I bought my own tickets! My Aunt told me she wanted to see a show with me for my birthday, so she offered to get us both an Aladdin ticket. Further down the line, I had a friend tell me she really wanted to see this show too, so I ended up buying my own ticket and her ticket to treat her to this show. My Aunt bought me a handy-dandy playbill binder instead, which was awesome.

In the end, my plans with said friend did not work out, so I invited Tabitha and we had an awesome time. This was her first Broadway show and I'm glad it was such a smash. Definitely worth having to pay full price for tickets. Truth be told, I was willing to pay a little more, but because we were trying to buy tickets only a month before the showing, they were all booked up. It was a miracle we got these!

~*~Lili's Reflections~*~

I initially was taking a break from this feature, but this show was so amazing that I simply had to review it!

Honestly, this show is worth seeing for the costuming and set design alone. The talent is amazing, too, but wow...the costuming and set design are absolutely mind-blowing. Just look at the Genie's costume in the clip below! This is the Tony's performance of FRIEND LIKE ME.


That performance was amazing, right? But I gotta tell you, for those who have seen the show, this was a rather sad performance. In reality, FRIEND LIKE ME is the hugest number of the show and it is roughly eight minutes long. Eight minutes of Genie strutting his stuff and being absolutely hilarious. If you ask me, Genie sort of steals the show and Iglehart simply embodies Genie. He IS Genie. I can't imagine anyone else ever being Genie.

Aladdin is pretty hot too, don't you think? He was pretty awesome, though not on Genie's level. However, I have to say that I was disappointed in Jasmine. She was a little squeaky and didn't have the same level of intensity as the othor main actors. Luckily, out of the three, she is on stage the least. The actor that plays Jafar actually voiced Jafar in the Disney movie. He is the first actor to make the voice-actor-to-Broadway-musical-stage transition, and I have to say that I really enjoyed his presence. He was rather successful with his new endeavor, if I do say so myself.

The secondary characters were very easy to remember. Kassim, the main friend out of Aladdin's three best friends, even outshined characters at certain times because he was so in the moment. Loud, obnoxious, and obsessed with his looks, he's pretty funny. Though Genie brings the most laughs, all characters have some amazing punch lines and this comedy is most definitely hilarious. I was laughing more then I thought I would.

In the end, there's no other way to describe this musical aside from saying that it is entertaining. The costuming and set is a marvel in itself. The story is a beloved tale. The jokes are hilarious, and the performances are full of amazing dancers and singing. There are several surprises throughout the show and even a never-before-heard song by Menken. How they encompass so many sets on one stage is awesome, but I suppose there is one way to truly stress how enjoyable this show is: when I walked out of it, I glanced at my watch and gasped. It is on the longer side, but it sure as heck did not feel that way.

If you haven't figured it out yet, this is definitely a show to see. If you love pretty things, see it. If you are a Disney fanatic, see it. If you like to laugh, see it. If you love Broadway, see it. If none of these are things you typically do and you want to try something new, see it. And if you want to do it in an affordable manner, look up the lottery rules! They do have a lottery for this amazing gem, though it is rather hard to win because the show is so popular.

There is nothing left to say but BRAVO!

~*~*~

If you want to read my other Broadway Reviews, look here! 

If you want to learn more about ALADDIN on Broadway, click here

Thanks for checking out my newly brought back feature, THE BROADWAY REVIEW. As always, all comments and thoughts are greatly appreciated. <3

Review: On The Fence by Kasie West

Publication Date: July 1, 2014
Publisher: HarperTeen
Reading Level: Young Adult
Pages: 320 (eARC)
Source: Edelweiss
She's a tomboy. He's the boy next door…

Charlie Reynolds can outrun, outscore, and outwit every boy she knows. But when it comes to being a girl, Charlie doesn't know the first thing about anything. So when she starts working at a chichi boutique to pay off a speeding ticket, she finds herself in a strange new world. To cope with the stress of her new reality, Charlie takes to spending nights chatting with her neighbor Braden through the fence between their yards. As she grows to depend on their nightly Fence Chats, she realizes she's got a bigger problem than speeding tickets-she's falling for Braden. She knows what it means to go for the win, but if spilling her secret means losing him for good, the stakes just got too high.

Fun, original, and endearing, On the Fence is a romantic comedy about finding yourself and finding love where you least expect.
~*~Lili's Reflections~*~

There is literally nothing negative I can say about this book. I read it several months ago when I was at a low-point in college and this was the perfect pick-me-up. Kasie West is a genius when it comes to cute, fun, and hilarious contemporaries. I cannot wait to see what amazing masterpiece she gifts us with next.

One of the best things about this book is the family dynamic. Unfortunately, Charlie lost her mother at a very young age, so she is raised primarily by her father and three older brothers. Really there's four if you count their next-door neighbor, Braden, who is practically family. I loved Charlie's father because he really did care for her, even if he had trouble relating to his only daughter at times. And the banter among her and her brothers was absolute perfection. All they wanted to do was protect their little sister, even if they had funny ways of showing that at times. This is a family dynamic that is so incredibly it is comparable to the Garrett family from MY LIFE NEXT DOOR by Huntley Fitzpatrick.

Seriously, the characterization of all her family members is spot on. Heck, all of the characterization in this book is spot on. I can't say one negative thing. Even characters who I thought I wouldn't like found a way to get on my good side, secondary characters included. If there's one thing that West will never fail to deliver, it's a diverse cast of characters that's easy to love.

Charlie is pretty awesome. Because she was the only girl in her family, she grew up as a huge tomboy. She loves to be one of the guys, really, which is why it's so strange when her new summer job inadvertently introduces her to feminine things like fashion and make-up and giggling over cute boys who she'd typically demolish at sports. Her journey to being comfortable with her feminine side, something she never explored because of the fact that there was no feminine authority figure in her life, was really sweet. All of it started at the hands of an unlikely ally and friend who I adore as well. Despite feeling like a fraud initially and experiencing many insecurities because of this, Charlie slowly embraces the unknown to realize that she can be feminine and get down with the guys all at once. All she has to do is be herself!

Then, of course, there is the romance. This is an absolutely adorable love story and I wouldn't change a thing. The love bug pinched Charlie unexpectedly, but that's what makes it all the more real. The story is charming and full of surprising depth in regards to her journey of self-discovery. And this love story is so unique. I'd go as far as to say that this match was simply fated. I couldn't imagine either of these characters being with anyone else because they were literally made for each other.

This book has no flaws. It's perfect for romance lovers and those who love banter. It'll make you laugh, it'll make you momentarily serious, but most of all, it'll make you smile and swoon. What more could you ask for? Kasie West delivers a perfect summer read that'll leave you begging to get your hands on more of her amazing contemporaries.



5 stars

~*~Links~*~

FTC Disclaimer: I received no compensation of any kind in exchange for my honest review.

Review: The Half Life of Molly Pierce by Katrina Leno

Publication Date: July 8, 2014
Publisher: HarperTeen
Reading Level: Young Adult
Pages: 231 (ARC)
Source: Gifted
You take it for granted. Waking up. Going to school, talking to your friends. Watching a show on television or reading a book or going out to lunch.

You take for granted going to sleep at night, getting up the next day, and remembering everything that happened to you before you closed your eyes.

You live and you remember.

Me, I live and I forget.

But now—now I am remembering.


For all of her seventeen years, Molly feels like she’s missed bits and pieces of her life. Now, she’s figuring out why. Now, she’s remembering her own secrets. And in doing so, Molly uncovers the separate life she seems to have led…and the love that she can’t let go.

The Half Life of Molly Pierce is a suspenseful, evocative psychological mystery about uncovering the secrets of our pasts, facing the unknowns of our futures, and accepting our whole selves.
~*~Lili's Reflections~*~

I don't want to say much about this one because going in blind is what makes it so interesting, thus this will be a rather short review.

My motto for this book is "I am thoroughly confused yet extremely curious". Leno seems to intentionally leave you in the dark in the beginning of the novel so that you can discover what is going on alongside the main character. I really liked this approach, but at times I also found it to be incredibly frustrating. This has to do with the fact that everyone in the novel knew what was going on except for our main character, so even I had a hard time guessing ahead because I had as few hints as she did.

I totally understand why our main character got frustrated so many times. It sucks not knowing anything while everyone else knows what is going on and admits they know what is going on, but insists they can't tell you because you have to figure it out for yourself. When Molly finally discovers what is going on near the very end, it's absolutely mind-boggling that the author managed to pull this off. But up until that point, it's easy to get frustrated alongside her. The way that the author reveals a few of the slow steps towards discovering what exactly is going on in the unknown half life of Molly Pierce is frustrating because it's so much wondering and more wondering and more wondering and then--gasp!--it's suddenly revealed out of nowhere, so simply that you want to throw the book at the wall. Though the end result is worth the build up, some of the smaller things could have been more fleshed out. That's really my one issue, we spend so much time inside Molly's head and in her memories that at times the actual present day events go by a little too quickly.

All of these things are set into motion when Lyle, a boy that Molly does not think she ever met before, dies in her arms after chasing her down on his motorcycle and being clipped by a car. Very dramatic, right? It certainly catches your attention! What frustrated me immensely is that while I read, I learned more about Lyle. And, well, Lyle is even more frustrating than Molly. Everyone in Molly's world is frustrating because she's so frustrating. Lyle died, but Lyle didn't have to die if 1) he obeyed traffic laws and wasn't speeding or swerving on a motorcycle or riding the yellow line and 2) he used his head instead of his emotions. In contrast, his older brother Sayer (whose name I absolutely love) is very calm in comparison to Lyle's high volume passion and over-emotion. They were an interesting duo, though I don't feel like we got to know them enough.

Molly's family cares for her, so it's nice to have a good family in YA literature. And, I have to point out one thing: while I keep sitting here saying that Molly is frustrating, it's also really easy to feel for the girl. This story is here to showcase mental illness and how seeking help can really help you. The road isn't easy, which means that this is not an easy book emotionally and analytically despite its short length and quick pacing. When you realize what is going on, your mind is blown and you can't believe you were inside her head throughout this insane journey. Molly is not an easy girl to know, but her friends and her family plus her psychologist get her through everything. She's surrounded by good people, which is a relief.

In the end, I enjoyed this book. It wasn't what I expected it to be, but anyone who can guess where this is going must be a genius. I certainly had no clue that the book would be what it was, but after reading the acknowledgements and the dedication, I am so happy I read it. Give this one a chance if you like mysteries, messed up characters, psychological thrillers, and meaningful stories. It's a short read and one that you won't regret.


3.5 stars

~*~Links~*~

College Blogging 101: School's Out -- Now What? A Top Ten Summer Prep List!


College Blogging 101 is a weekly meme hosted by Lili's Reflections where a variety of hosts answer questions and give advice in regards to blogging in college. The purpose of this is to help upcoming college students and to create an open discussion forum. If you would like to write a guest post, please fill out this form. If you have a question you want answered, please fill out this form.
This week my dear friend Alyssa from The Eater of Books stopped by with a really awesome top ten list about what to do with your summer to prepare for blogging when school comes back around, but still have fun. This post is actually really adorable, guys! I love it!

~*~*~*~


It’s that time of the year – WE’RE FREE! 


Spring semester is finally over! WOOHOO! Summer is here for real – it’s time to party hard and soak up the sun! Or sleep all day and eat ice cream! Or travel to gorgeous European cities and make all of your friends extremely jealous by posting all the pictures on Instagram!
Unless you’re taking summer classes (why did I decide to do this to myself?!), or rocking a fabulous internship (work it, Lili!), or going on a two-month vacation (TAKE ME WITH YOU), then you’ve got the whole summer ahead of you. And you’ve probably already wondered, what can I do to help myself out in the future, in terms of my blog?
           
Well, fear not! I’ve put together a list of things you can do during the summer, to make things easier for yourself at the start of the fall semester. Ready? Here are my top ten blogging things to do over the summer:

10. Organize your books.

DON’T PANIC. I know it sounds daunting. But after a year of college, we’ve all accumulated a ton of books. Chances are, we probably have them everywhere, stacked haphazardly next to our beds, crammed into bookshelves, or still in mailing boxes. Take a little time to figure out what you’ve read, what you’re definitely going to read, what you don’t really want, what was sent for review, what was unsolicited, etc. It will be hard to part with any books, and it will be even harder to attempt to tackle the task of organizing your books, but it’s worth it. Don’t get buried!


 

9. Update your blog.

Update my blog? What does that mean, Alyssa? Well, update what you’ve been neglecting in the last few months. Add your recent (or not-so-recent) reviews to your review archive. Clean up your giveaways page and/or sidebar and post your current giveaways. Update your “About Me” page (if it needs to be updated). I’m not saying you need to redo your blog design or switch platforms or something – nope, just do small things, like what I mentioned! Yes? See, Jack Sparro understands!


8. Post reviews on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble.

Perhaps you usually do this, at least with Goodreads, right? But maybe you’ve fallen behind? It’s totally okay! Take the time during summer to add any/all reviews to at least Goodreads, and Amazon and Barnes & Noble, hopefully! Daunting, yes, but it’s doable! You could post, say, five reviews on the three sites per day. That alone might take you ten minutes at the most. Totally doable!


7. Update your social media profiles.


So you use Twitter a lot, but you often forget about your blog’s Facebook page. Post something! Add a new cover photo! Clear out your Goodreads friend requests! For me personally, I use Pinterest to post covers of each book I read, and their review link. I usually remember to do this every day a review goes up, but sometimes I’ll forget for a week or more. Don’t let the social media overwhelm you! Updating your social media profiles is definitely a great way to show your readers/followers that you’re reaching out in different ways!


6. Chat on Twitter.

Speaking of social media… Twitter is (in my opinion) the easiest, fastest, and most direct way to connect with bloggers, authors, readers, and other people in the book blogosphere and beyond. I know for a fact that the amount of conversation I had during the school year decreased drastically. I’m not alone, right? *glances around* SO. Strike up conversations on Twitter! Reply/respond to tweets, ask questions, reconnect! It’s really fun, and people remember this, even when you’re MIA because of midterms.


5. Comment on blogs.

There is no time during the school year, right?! Trust me, from one college student to another, it’s okay. During the semester, I commented on a few friends’ blogs a couple times a week, if so much. During the summer, I’ve been commenting a lot more. Here’s the thing: you don’t have to write an essay for a comment. Two or three solid lines of (specific) opinion is more than enough! And the other thing – don’t feel like you have to comment on ALL OF THE BLOGS all at once. I recommend commenting on one friend’s blog and one “new” blog every day (or thereabout). That way, you’re discovering new blogs while maintaining your relationship with your friends/their blogs!


4. Schedule meme posts.

Meme posts are usually extremely easy to schedule. If you already know the subject of content, then you can schedule like, ten at a time. Take “Waiting on Wednesday”. I do mine in chronological order, so if I just scheduled a post that featured a December 2nd release, then my next featured book will be a December 9th release (or something like that). You can easily schedule like, two or three “Waiting on Wednesday” posts at a time. I think “Top Ten Tuesday” has a list of every week’s topics? So schedule ahead! You’ll feel so accomplished afterwards.


3. Draft some posts.

So you can’t schedule every post. Some posts, like reviews, require work before they can be scheduled to be published. So, draft the skeleton of the post! For a review, get all of the necessary information (cover, summary, links, etc.) and draft the posts – minus the review. For meme posts that can’t be scheduled, get the banner or button, the host’s website link, and any other information, to draft the post. You don’t actually have to have the meat of the post ready yet, just the skeleton!


2. Read.

Read while you make the daily commute (Baltimore traffic sucks, people). Read while you’re on a plane to that lovely European city (and post a picture of the book on Instagram, while you’re at it). Read while you’re lying on couch staring at the ceiling wondering what to do because not every day of the summer is going to be a blast. Reading is one of the best things you can do for your blog, your TBR lists, your review count, and your NetGalley feedback to approval ratio. Heaven forbid I have a ratio higher than 76.0% O_O


1. Relax! ENJOY THE SUMMER!

Don’t forget it’s the summer! Several months of blissfully long days, never-ending nights, sleep, and REAL FOOD. Yes, blogging and reading are very important. But so is relaxing, recuperating, and getting ready to do it all over again in the fall.

But not yet.


~*~*~*~

Thank you for stopping by, Alyssa. This post was so much fun! As always, comments are greatly appreciated! <3 

How are YOU taking advantage of your summer blog-wise?

Stacking The Shelves #72


Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews.

Today was a good week! Unexpected, but awesome!

Gifted (thank you, Kelly!)
The Truth About Alice by Jennifer Mathieu

Traded (Thank you, Stephanie!)
Don't Look Back by Jennifer L. Armentrout
On The Fence by Kasie West 

What did you add to your shelves this week?

2014: The Summer of Series


So, a while ago I did this post on my inability to finish a series because I'm not ready to say goodbye. If you want to see me admit one of my most deepest bookish secrets, you can find that post here. I'm not talking a bunch of companion novels, I'm talking about a series with the full set of characters where someone is most likely going to die in the end. Probably not, but that's my biggest fear right there.


Since I began blogging, my ability to finish a series has gotten better. I'm slowly getting over the fact that it's okay to say goodbye because they're never really gone. Seriously, I think I get separation anxiety or something. But, in all actuality, my completed series count is still really pathetic.

So, this summer, I've decided to have a summer of series. I love getting review books and they're something that I will never neglect, but I want to read for me this summer. I find that when I read for myself, I'm much happier blogging.



I'm going to set up a goal for myself and at the end of August, when I move back to school, I'll see if I completed said goal successfully.


I want to read one full trilogy/series, start to end, each month.

Yes! You heard me right! In June, July, and August, I want to cover at least three series.

This is the plan...

~*~June~*~

The His Fair Assassin Trilogy  by Robin LaFevers

I have heard amazing things about this series and I picked up book three at BEA with the goal of finally reading it because I'm curious and I don't understand how Shae has put up with me this long without me having read it.

Because this post is going up about 2/3 through the month, I feel the need to update that I have already finished book one and have started book two. The summer of series is happening and it is well underway!

~*~July~*~

The Under The Never Sky Trilogy  by Veronica Rossi


 I've been threatened countless times to read this series, so it's time to get it done! I entered a few giveaways until I managed to win book three and now that I have all the books, it's time to get to work!

~*~August~*~

Since I have to leave for school again in August, I'm giving myself to permission to read a duology of my choosing. I'm willing to take recommendations for this one! I'm going to see where my reading tastes take me for August. Since I give myself permission for a duology, then I give myself permission to read two books from a previous started series to help catch up as well. I have my eyes on the following two series choice as options to finish out a series.

The last 2 books in The Pushing The Limits Series by Katie McGarry


The last 2 books in the Castle Glower series by Jessica Day George.


I want to finish a previously started series each month.

The plan was to complete three previously incomplete series. However, I noticed that I was going to complete two previously incomplete series anyway since two highly anticipated series enders release this summer. So, I'm really going to complete 5 series with their final book this summer: 2 whose last books are released this summer and 3 whose last book is already released and I want to be caught up. This is the plan:

   ~*~June~*~

Summer Series Ender #1: Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo 


~*~July~*~

Previously Started Series #1: Sentinel by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Previously Started Series #2: The Unbound by Victoria Schwab


~*~August~*~

Summer Series Ender #2: Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins
Previously Started Series #3: Finding It by Cora Carmack


I want to begin the process of conquering one of my biggest bookish fears.

Lastly...I want to attempt to start the series to end all series. I have to read Harry Potter from the beginning to the end. I have read every book but the last one. There is no way that one can read the last one after years. One must read them all immediately. So, I am finally going to re-read the series and record my thoughts on my blog...somehow. I'm still trying to discover how. Armed with the beautiful special edition boxed set, I have to begin this goal. I may not get them all done this summer, but I have to be at least half way through by summer's end in order to make significant progress on this goal. This is just one of those things that I have to do.

Does anyone else have trouble finishing series? I'm taking the bull by the horns, so to speak, and changing that!

Paula Stokes Stops by to discuss The Heart of Lainey & What Makes a Positive Role Model

 "A satisfying and sweet story." -Publishers Weekly

Soccer star Lainey Mitchell is gearing up to spend an epic summer with her amazing boyfriend, Jason, when he suddenly breaks up with her—no reasons, no warning, and in public no less! Lainey is more than crushed, but with help from her friend Bianca, she resolves to do whatever it takes to get Jason back.

And that’s when the girls stumble across a copy of The Art of War. With just one glance, they're sure they can use the book to lure Jason back into Lainey’s arms. So Lainey channels her inner warlord, recruiting spies to gather intel and persuading her coworker Micah to pose as her new boyfriend to make Jason jealous. After a few "dates", it looks like her plan is going to work! But now her relationship with Micah is starting to feel like more than just a game.

What's a girl to do when what she wants is totally different from what she needs? How do you figure out the person you're meant to be with if you're still figuring out the person you're meant to be?
Paula is a dear author friend of mine, and when we hashed out what her eventual guest post would be, I was beyond excited when we decided on character development. THE ART OF LAINEY has been one of my favorite contemporary reads ever. It is the perfect summer read, too! However, Lainey is a very polarizing character. While this was done intentionally, Paula is awesome enough to walk us through her characterization process and explain why different people interpret different character traits in unique ways. I loved learning why Lainey is the way she is because, though she can be frustrating at time, the girl has a lot of heart and is definitely a character younger girls can idolize. And when Paula lays it out this way, it's just impossible not to read the book and love it! Keep on reading to get to the true heart of Lainey!

~*~*~

The Heart of Lainey—Why I Think Lainey Mitchell is a Positive Role Model for Girls

I’m going to start by stating the obvious—some of you will disagree, perhaps
vehemently, and that’s fine. Don’t be hesitant to share those thoughts. Lainey isn’t me. Okay,
we share the same big heart, bad skin, fascination with mohawks, and unfortunate tendency to
let our emotions make us a little crazy sometimes, but that’s it. I was more like Bianca in high
school--liked but not popular, sporty but not a superstar, the kind of girl who spent most Friday
nights studying for her SATs. These days I’m more like Trinity, or I try to be ;-)

The reality is, sometimes the book in my head doesn’t make it to the page. And sometimes I
manage to write what I mean, but what readers read is totally different from what I intended.
And then sometimes readers get exactly what I meant, but still hate the book. I find it kind of
fascinating, the different filters we knowingly or unknowingly apply to our reading experiences.

But enough about me. Let’s talk about Lainey.

She’s flawed, but she’s trying to be better.

Enough with The Art of War. Enough with winning. People aren’t prizes. They’re not foreign
territories or the spoils of victory or whatever Bianca said I should equate them to. Micah clearly
wants Amber or he wouldn’t still be strategizing to win her back. And she’s better for him. She
knows how she feels and isn’t afraid of it. They like the same stuff. For once in my life, I’m trying
not to be selfish. Why does it have to be so difficult?

I loved Katniss Everdeen, but I never connected with her in the “that could be me/my friend/
someone I know” kind of way. Let’s face it: Katniss is basically a superhero. I WANT to be her,
the same way I want to be Hit Girl and Storm and Black Widow and the Invisible Woman, but
who knows if I would last ten minutes in that arena. You might not want to be Lainey, but you
might have been her at one point, or known a girl like her. Or you and your friends might have
different flaws. Me? I was painfully shy. I prided myself on getting all As in high school, but
actually took multiple failing grades rather than stand up in front of the class and give a speech.

Nowadays I have this flaw where if you hurt me, I just kick you out of my life. No arguing. No
dramatic confrontations. Rear-view mirror, baby. Life’s too short. It’s tempting to rank my own
flaws as more desirable than Lainey’s, but can we really quantify such things? I don’t think so.
My intent was for people to recognize Lainey’s issues, and the fact that she’s working on them
throughout the book. Basically to say “If this messed-up girl can get it together, so can I.”

She knows what she’s good at.

I think acting would be awesome, but I can’t imagine not playing soccer. It’s not like it’s the only
thing I’m good at—I get decent grades and stuff—but soccer gives me that rush of power.

Note to girls: it is not arrogant or stuck-up to acknowledge your abilities. I feel like, in the
U.S. anyway, women are expected to downplay their skills and successes as luck or “no big
deal.” This makes me crazy. It makes me crazy that even having multiple contracts with major
publishers, it’s still hard for me to say “Yeah, I’m a good writer.” Failure to acknowledge your
accomplishments is unintentionally offensive to everyone else striving to be where you are—
it’s like being that skinny girl in a room full of bigger people trying to lose weight who keeps
obliviously talking about how fat she is. It can also be a self-fulfilling prophecy. Spend enough
time talking about how you’re not very good at something and you’ll start believing it. Of
course it’s different if you’re using your successes to put other people down, but Lainey doesn’t
do that. Instead, she compliments Bianca on her improved soccer performance and tries to
convince her to try out for her select team.

She knows what she’s bad at.

It doesn’t matter if Micah’s ex is hotter than I am, so then why do I want him to like me better?
I feel a twinge of shame. Maybe I am shallow. Kendall is all about collecting ‘fan club members’
as she calls them, but I’ve never been one to lead on boys I wasn’t interested in. Again, I wonder
if being without Jason is wrecking my self-esteem.

Because Lainey starts out as prickly and hard to love, I layered in self-awareness to make her
more sympathetic as the story progresses. She recognizes herself being shallow. She admits
that she cares what other people think. She fights against her selfish impulses. When she finally
sees that Micah likes her, she’s too scared to reach out to him because she’s afraid of getting
hurt again.

She has a big heart.

For a moment, I consider sneaking past all three of them and out into the night. But no, I’m
the cause of this scene, and even if Micah might have earned a little of Kendall’s wrath, Amber
doesn’t deserve to be sliced and diced with her razor-sharp tongue.

Lainey snaps at Micah and Ebony early on in the book, but there’s no part of her that believes
she has the power to hurt either of them. When Micah throws her own words back in her face
and they sting, she pauses to reflect how her own words could draw blood. After that, she’s
frequently thinking about other people’s feelings throughout the whole book. She wants to
help Leo be more confident. She doesn’t want Trinity to be alone when she’s scared. The only
person Lainey ever considers hurting is the girl her ex starts dating, and that’s only until she
meets her and realizes that she can’t judge her, that it doesn’t even matter what kind of person
she is because Jason is with her now, and that’s life. When Lainey realizes she’s inadvertently
pissed off Bianca in the past, she’s crushed because she had no idea about what she did. Even
at the end of the book when she tries to tell Micah how she feels and gets humiliated, instead
of running away to hide she thinks of Amber’s feelings, even though she’s jealous of her.

She figures things out:

The whiskey burns my throat. “I am not Kendall’s clone,” I say. “Not anymore.”
But I was. She told me what to like and who to be, and I let her. Once I got popular, well, who
walks away from the feeling that everyone else wants to be you? Not me, apparently.
Who better to look up to than a girl who figures things out and becomes a better human being?
She realizes she’s been a sponge-person in a lot of ways, letting her friends tell her what to be
and who to like. She realizes that Jason is all wrong for her, that their relationship was safe and
comfortable, but not what she wants. And she doesn’t just sub in one boy for another, either.
That was deliberate. That’s why the book is not a love triangle book in my opinion. Lainey
walks away from Jason because he’s wrong for her without ever once assuming she has a ready
replacement.

So yeah, even though she’s far from perfect, I think Lainey deserves her story. And I think the
person she becomes by the end of this book is pretty solid, a girl that teens can admire. If you
give her a chance, she just might surprise you too.

~*~*~

Thank you so much for stopping by today to share your thoughts with us, Paula. To everyone reading this post, this book is a book that cannot be missed! If you're looking for the best summer read, look no more! You've found it right here!   

And, as always, every comment is greatly appreciated. <3