Wednesday, July 1, 2015

june wrap-up

It's so hard to believe that June is over, it absolutely flew by for me. I've been in London for all of June, which has been an amazing experience for me, and in being here I have spent a lot of time in various cafes and bookstores, mostly reading. As such, I have managed to read 15 books this month (a couple of them were for class, but I enjoyed them all the same) and also, I posted five reviews on here. So, all in all, it was an amazingly productive month for me, both in reading and on here! So, without further ado, here is my June Wrap-Up.

1. To All the Boys I've Loved Before – Jenny Han (reread) ☆☆☆☆☆

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is the story of Lara Jean, who has never openly admitted her crushes, but instead wrote each boy a letter about how she felt, sealed it, and hid it in a box under her bed. But one day Lara Jean discovers that somehow her secret box of letters has been mailed, causing all her crushes from her past to confront her about the letters: her first kiss, the boy from summer camp, even her sister's ex-boyfriend, Josh. As she learns to deal with her past loves face to face, Lara Jean discovers that something good may come out of these letters after all.
I re-read this one in anticipation for its sequel, which was released at the end of May. I am happy to say that the second time through, this book was just as adorable and enjoyable as I remembered it being. I love Lara Jean's world, I wish that I could be friends with her and have her bake me things all the time. Honestly one of my favorite contemporaries, I just adore the way that Jenny Han describes everything, and the romance is completely adorable as well. I have a full review of this and its sequel up here.

2. P.S. I Still Love You – Jenny Han ☆☆☆☆☆

Lara Jean didn’t expect to really fall for Peter.
She and Peter were just pretending. Except suddenly they weren’t. Now Lara Jean is more confused than ever.
When another boy from her past returns to her life, Lara Jean’s feelings for him return too. Can a girl be in love with two boys at once?

In this charming and heartfelt sequel to the New York Times bestseller To All the Boys I've Loved Before, we see first love through the eyes of the unforgettable Lara Jean. Love is never easy, but maybe that’s part of what makes it so amazing.

This was one of my most highly anticipated books of the year, considering how much I loved the first book in this duology. Though this was a bit shorter than I would've wanted (as is the usual case with contemporaries and me), I still had a blast reading this one. It took the adorable factor to the next level, but it also put in some tougher subjects, like the double standard for boys and girls and making tough decisions. All in all, I think that this leaves our characters in a good place. Again, the review for this one is here.
3. The Winner's Curse – Marie Rutkoski – ☆☆☆☆

Winning what you want may cost you everything you love.
As a general’s daughter in a vast empire that revels in war and enslaves those it conquers, seventeen-year-old Kestrel has two choices: she can join the military or get married. But Kestrel has other intentions. One day, she is startled to find a kindred spirit in a young slave up for auction.
Arin’s eyes seem to defy everything and everyone. Following her instinct, Kestrel buys him—with unexpected consequences. It’s not long before she has to hide her growing love for Arin. But he, too, has a secret, and Kestrel quickly learns that the price she paid for a fellow human is much higher than she ever could have imagined.
Set in a richly imagined new world, The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski is a story of deadly games where everything is at stake, and the gamble is whether you will keep your head or lose your heart.

This was a surprise for me. It was a lot different from anything that I was expecting, in the best way. The world is really rich and well-developed, and I liked the way it completely kept me on my toes throughout. The romance is kind of a slow burn that builds into an unthinkable passion, which is always a pleasure to read. I have so much respect for Kestrel, the main protag, because she is a complete badass in her own way. As in, she doesn't fight with swords and arrows, but with words and misdirection. This is definitely a new favorite series for me.

4. The Winner's Crime – Marie Rutkoski– ☆☆☆☆☆

(spoilers for the Winner's Curse!)  Book two of the dazzling Winner's Trilogy is a fight to the death as Kestrel risks betrayal of country for love.
The engagement of Lady Kestrel to Valoria’s crown prince means one celebration after another. But to Kestrel it means living in a cage of her own making. As the wedding approaches, she aches to tell Arin the truth about her engagement... if she could only trust him. Yet can she even trust herself? For—unknown to Arin—Kestrel is becoming a skilled practitioner of deceit: an anonymous spy passing information to Herran, and close to uncovering a shocking secret.
As Arin enlists dangerous allies in the struggle to keep his country’s freedom, he can’t fight the suspicion that Kestrel knows more than she shows. In the end, it might not be a dagger in the dark that cuts him open, but the truth. And when that happens, Kestrel and Arin learn just how much their crimes will cost them.

SUCH a stunning follow up to the first novel in this trilogy! I ended up liking this one more than the first one, which is saying something because I really enjoyed the first installment! It was so intense, I was so nervous for the fate of the characters all during this, and was so frustrated when their decisions led them down the path of most resistance. I cannot WAIT for the third book in this one, it is sure to be a wild ride. I have a full review of this one up here
5. Bridge of Snow (The Winner's Trilogy Novella)  – Marie Rutkoski ☆☆☆

Ignore the stirrings of war. Let the carriage to a royal ball wait. There is a story to be told: of a starless night, a mother and her sick son, and a mortal who falls in love with the snow god, and will do anything to have her...
I don't know if this can really be considered one of the books that I read this month, seeing as how it is only sixteen pages, but it is so beautiful and sad that I had to put it on here. This is a prequel novella to The Winner's Curse, taking place when the male protag is only a small child. It is a truly gorgeous little story, and I really wish it was longer! 


6. Emma: A Modern Retelling – Alexander McCall Smith ☆☆☆

The summer after she graduates from university, Emma Woodhouse returns home to the village of Highbury, where she will live with her health-conscious father until she is ready to launch her interior-design business and strike out on her own. In the meantime, she will do what she does best: offer guidance to those less wise than she is in the ways of the world. Happily, this summer brings many new faces to Highbury and into the sphere of Emma's not always perfectly felicitous council: Harriet Smith, a naïve teacher's assistant at the ESL school run by the hippie-ish Mrs. Goddard; Frank Churchill, the attractive stepson of Emma's former governess; and, of course, the perfect Jane Fairfax. This modern-day Emma is wise, witty, and totally enchanting, and will appeal equally to Alexander McCall Smith's multitude of fans and to the enormous community of wildly enthusiastic Austen aficionados.
I bought this book for my mother, and she asked me to read it before she did "to make sure it had a suitable ending." A task which I took up happily. However, I found myself more than a little frustrated with this one. I felt that the exposition took up too much of the book, and the main action of the story was crammed into the last fifty pages. The language in this book is a little strange, sort of old-fashioned in a modern world.

7. The Summer of Chasing Mermaids– Sarah Ockler  ☆☆☆☆

The youngest of six talented sisters, Elyse d’Abreau was destined for stardom—until a boating accident took everything from her. Now, the most beautiful singer in Tobago can’t sing. She can’t even speak.
Seeking quiet solitude, Elyse accepts a friend’s invitation to Atargatis Cove. Named for the mythical first mermaid, the Oregon seaside town is everything Elyse’s home in the Caribbean isn’t: An ocean too cold for swimming, parties too tame for singing, and people too polite to pry—except for one.
Christian Kane is a notorious playboy—insolent, arrogant, and completely charming. He’s also the only person in Atargatis Cove who doesn’t treat Elyse like a glass statue. He challenges her to express herself, and he admires the way she treats his younger brother Sebastian, who believes Elyse is the legendary mermaid come to life.
When Christian needs a first mate for the Cove’s high-stakes Pirate Regatta, Elyse reluctantly stows her fear of the sea and climbs aboard. The ocean isn’t the only thing making waves, though—swept up in Christian’s seductive tide and entranced by the Cove’s charms, Elyse begins to wonder if a life of solitude isn’t what she needs. But changing course again means facing her past. It means finding her inner voice. And scariest of all, it means opening her heart to a boy who’s best known for breaking them . . .

I love fairy tale retellings, and this was one that was so absolutely different from any other one that I've read. I've spoken extensively of how much I love this book, especially in my full review here, so if you want to know more about it, I encourage you to read it.

8. Beowulf – Seamus Heaney translation  ☆☆☆

The national bestseller and winner of the Whitbread Award. Composed toward the end of the first millennium, Beowulf is the classic Northern epic of a hero’s triumphs as a young warrior and his fated death as a defender of his people. The poem is about encountering the monstrous, defeating it, and then having to live on, physically and psychically exposed in the exhausted aftermath. It is not hard to draw parallels in this story to the historical curve of consciousness in the twentieth century, but the poem also transcends such considerations, telling us psychological and spiritual truths that are permanent and liberating.
Beowulf is an easy classic to read, especially in this translation. I didn't hate it, I didn't love it, so its a solid three stars. 

 9. The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe – C.S. Lewis ☆☆☆☆

They open a door and enter a world

NARNIA...the land beyond the wardrobe, the secret country known only to Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy...the place where the adventure begins.

Lucy is the first to find the secret of the wardrobe in the professor's mysterious old house. At first, no one believes her when she tells of her adventures in the land of Narnia. But soon Edmund and then Peter and Susan discover the Magic and meet Aslan, the Great Lion, for themselves. In the blink of an eye, their lives are changed forever.

It was so great to revisit this old favorite. I'm taking British Fantasy Literature over this summer and this is one of the required readings for it. I had forgotten how enchanting and, really, short, it is. I absolutely love it though, definitely a book that stands the test of time.

10. The Wrath and the Dawn – Renee Ahdieh ☆☆☆☆☆

A sumptuous and epically told love story inspired by A Thousand and One Nights
Every dawn brings horror to a different family in a land ruled by a killer. Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, takes a new bride each night only to have her executed at sunrise. So it is a suspicious surprise when sixteen-year-old Shahrzad volunteers to marry Khalid. But she does so with a clever plan to stay alive and exact revenge on the Caliph for the murder of her best friend and countless other girls. Shazi's wit and will, indeed, get her through to the dawn that no others have seen, but with a catch . . . she’s falling in love with the very boy who killed her dearest friend.
She discovers that the murderous boy-king is not all that he seems and neither are the deaths of so many girls. Shazi is determined to uncover the reason for the murders and to break the cycle once and for all.

This is a book that was super hyped up, but I wasn't super interested in reading it until about ten of my friends texted me absolutely raving about it. I finally had to give into the peer pressure, and I'm so glad that I did. It was one of the most well-crafted stories that I've read this year, with an absolutely incredible world as a backdrop to an engaging story. I have a full review up here

11. The Fill-In Boyfriend – Kasie West ☆☆☆

When Gia Montgomery's boyfriend, Bradley, dumps her in the parking lot of her high school prom, she has to think fast. After all, she'd been telling her friends about him for months now. This was supposed to be the night she proved he existed. So when she sees a cute guy waiting to pick up his sister, she enlists his help. The task is simple: be her fill-in boyfriend—two hours, zero commitment, a few white lies. After that, she can win back the real Bradley.
The problem is that days after prom, it's not the real Bradley she's thinking about, but the stand-in. The one whose name she doesn't even know. But tracking him down doesn't mean they're done faking a relationship. Gia owes him a favor and his sister intends to see that he collects: his ex-girlfriend's graduation party—three hours, zero commitment, a few white lies.
Just when Gia begins to wonder if she could turn her fake boyfriend into a real one, Bradley comes waltzing back into her life, exposing her lie, and threatening to destroy her friendships and her new-found relationship.

I had read Kasie West's On the Fence earlier this year and ended up actually really enjoying it, so I was looking forward to reading this one when it came out a couple months ago. However, this one fell a little flat for me, especially in comparison to On the Fence. That's not to say that it wasn't an enjoyable read, because it was really cute, but I didn't enjoy it as much as her other book.

12. The Start of Me and You – Emery Lord ☆☆☆☆☆

Following her pitch-perfect debut Open Road Summer, Emery Lord pens another gorgeous story of best friends, new love, & second chances.
Brimming with heartfelt relationships and authentic high-school dynamics The Start of Me and You proves that it’s never too late for second chances.
It’s been a year since it happened—when Paige Hancock’s first boyfriend died in an accident. After shutting out the world for two years, Paige is finally ready for a second chance at high school . . . and she has a plan. First: Get her old crush, Ryan Chase, to date her—the perfect way to convince everyone she’s back to normal. Next: Join a club—simple, it’s high school after all. But when Ryan’s sweet, nerdy cousin, Max, moves to town and recruits Paige for the Quiz Bowl team (of all things!) her perfect plan is thrown for a serious loop. Will Paige be able to face her fears and finally open herself up to the life she was meant to live?

I finished this book and was in tears, both happy ones and sad ones, and then I went back to the beginning and read it again, which is something that I have never done before. I was so moved by the story of Paige, by her relationships and growing experiences, and so while this one is definitely a really cute summery romance story, it is also a lot deeper than that. This is definitely a new top five favorite contemporary for me, and I have a full rave-review up here!

13. The Improbable Theory of Ana and Zak ☆☆☆☆

The Improbable Theory of Ana and Zak is Stonewall Book Award-winning author Brian Katcher’s hilarious he said/she said romance about two teens recovering from heartbreak and discovering themselves on an out-of-this-world accidental first date.
It all begins when Ana Watson's little brother, Clayton, secretly ditches the quiz bowl semifinals to go to the Washingcon sci-fi convention on what should have been a normal, résumé-building school trip.
If slacker Zak Duquette hadn't talked up the geek fan fest so much, maybe Clayton wouldn't have broken nearly every school rule or jeopardized Ana’s last shot at freedom from her uptight parents.
Now, teaming up with Duquette is the only way for Ana to chase down Clayton in the sea of orcs, zombies, bikini-clad princesses, Trekkies, and Smurfs. After all, one does not simply walk into Washingcon.
But in spite of Zak's devil-may-care attitude, he has his own reasons for being as lost as Ana-and Ana may have more in common with him than she thinks. Ana and Zak certainly don’t expect the long crazy night, which begins as a nerdfighter manhunt, to transform into so much more…
I had a really great time reading this novel, it was something different and completely its own. It was quirky and a bit ridiculous, but that was what made it so much fun. It tells the story of a slacker fanboy and a straight-a, uptight girl over the course of one insane night at a comicon sort of thing. It was insane and hilarious, and I read it super quickly, because I wanted to know what was going to happen.

14. Open Road Summer – Emery Lord ☆☆☆☆☆

After breaking up with her bad-news boyfriend, Reagan O’Neill is ready to leave her rebellious ways behind. . . and her best friend, country superstar Lilah Montgomery, is nursing a broken heart of her own.
Fortunately, Lilah’s 24-city tour is about to kick off, offering a perfect opportunity for a girls-only summer of break-up ballads and healing hearts. But when Matt Finch joins the tour as its opening act, his boy-next-door charm proves difficult for Reagan to resist, despite her vow to live a drama-free existence.
This summer, Reagan and Lilah will navigate the ups and downs of fame and friendship as they come to see that giving your heart to the right person is always a risk worth taking.

A fresh new voice in contemporary romance, Emery Lord’s gorgeous writing hits all the right notes.

After reading and adoring Emery Lord's other novel, I had to get my hands on this one immediately and read it as quickly as possible. And I am happy to say that I loved this one just as much as I loved the Start of Me and You. I was a little skeptical of this because I don't really like country music, but that didn't really take center stage. I loved the friendship in this one, and the concept that a person can help you grow as you fall in love with them. Emery Lord is definitely a new favorite author, I will now read anything else that she puts out.

15. The DUFF – Kody Keplinger (reread)  ☆☆☆

Seventeen-year-old Bianca Piper is cynical and loyal, and she doesn’t think she’s the prettiest of her friends by a long shot. She’s also way too smart to fall for the charms of man-slut and slimy school hottie Wesley Rush. In fact, Bianca hates him. And when he nicknames her “the Duff,” she throws her Coke in his face.
But things aren’t so great at home right now, and Bianca is desperate for a distraction. She ends up kissing Wesley. Worse, she likes it. Eager for escape, Bianca throws herself into a closeted enemies-with-benefits relationship with him.
Until it all goes horribly awry. It turns out Wesley isn’t such a bad listener, and his life is pretty screwed up, too. Suddenly Bianca realizes with absolute horror that she’s falling for the guy she thought she hated more than anyone.
I watched this movie the other day, then felt that I had to reread the book out of pure loyalty to it. I really enjoy this one, the second time perhaps a bit more than the first. There are a couple parts that kind of annoy me, which is why it is 3 instead of 4 stars, but it is a really great read.

Hope you all are having a good summer!



  1. I had to read the Seamus Heaney version of Beowulf for my Brit Lit class! I didn't think it was an easy read per say, but to me, his translation made it bearable and...dare I say it...INTERESTING. XD

    I actually had The Winner's Curse on my June TBR, but I never got around to it because I kind of felt iffy about it. Based on your praise for it, I'll make sure to add it to my TBR this month! :)


    Blog: Indoor Sojourner

  2. I had to read the Seamus Heaney version of Beowulf for my Brit Lit class! I didn't think it was an easy read per say, but to me, his translation made it bearable and...dare I say it...INTERESTING. XD

    I actually had The Winner's Curse on my June TBR, but I never got around to it because I kind of felt iffy about it. Based on your praise for it, I'll make sure to add it to my TBR this month! :)


    Blog: Indoor Sojourner

    1. Hahaha you're right, it wasn't easy per se, but the Heaney translation was *easier* than an alternative for me! I wasn't really sold on the synopsis for The Winner's Curse when it first came out, but honestly there is so much more to it that doesn't come across in the description! I hope you like it if you get around to it. Thanks Annie :)


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