Monday, March 31, 2014

Book Review: Saving June by Hannah Harrington

Release date: January 1st 2011
Info about the author: Goodreads - Twitter - Website
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Age Group: YA
Pages: 336
Buy the book: Amazon - Book Depository

Rating: 5/5

Description (from Goodreads):

‘If she’d waited less than two weeks, she’d be June who died in June. But I guess my sister didn’t consider that.’

Harper Scott’s older sister has always been the perfect one — so when June takes her own life a week before her high school graduation, sixteen-year-old Harper is devastated. Everyone’s sorry, but no one can explain why.

When her divorcing parents decide to split her sister’s ashes into his-and-her urns, Harper takes matters into her own hands. She’ll steal the ashes and drive cross-country with her best friend, Laney, to the one place June always dreamed of going — California.

Enter Jake Tolan. He’s a boy with a bad attitude, a classic-rock obsession and nothing in common with Harper’s sister. But Jake had a connection with June, and when he insists on joining them, Harper’s just desperate enough to let him. With his alternately charming and infuriating demeanour and his belief that music can see you through anything, he might be exactly what she needs.

Except June wasn’t the only one hiding something. Jake’s keeping a secret that has the power to turn Harper’s life upside down — again.

My thoughts:

Suicide of someone close to me being an issue that I've personally gone through (and will keep going through for the rest of my life), books like this always bring up memories and feelings I try to bury as deep as possible. Due to that, and the reason that I have tended to think that these YA suicide books are not very realistic portrayals of the type of grief that cannot really even be described in words, I have tended to avoid them in general. I feel like in order to be able to write realistically about suicide and the grief that builds inside those close to the victim is something someone personally has to go through in order to understand it (or write about it). I don't know what is the case with Harrington, but she really was able to hit close with this one, bringing up feelings buried deep inside.

Harper is used to being the "second best" to her parents next to her perfect sister June. Out of the blue, June commits suicide, and after Harper finds her, she is the only one left. When her divorced parents decide that the fair thing to do is the divide June's ashes between the two of them, Harper knows it is time to act. She steals the urn and plans to spread the ashes in California, a place June had always dreamed about. With the company of Laney, her best friend, and Jake, a music lover clouded in mystery, Harper begins a journey hoping it will bring closure to both June and herself. 

I've not many times been faced with a book that I have difficult time getting in to for emotional reasons. But this one hit so close to home that for a while it was just emotionally too straining for me to read it. I really like Harper - she is strong, but confused, not knowing how to handle her grief. She is not sure whether she should feel angry or sad, or both. There are not many characters out there that I've related to as much as I was able to relate to Harper - she wants answers, but at the same time she is scared to face the truth. Like many people who have dealt with suicide, she blames herself even though she deep down knows that there is probably nothing she could have done. 

The book never really explains why June killed herself. I feel like in many YA suicide books the reasons for the act have been so concrete and so well constructed that they don't really feel very realistic. All we know is that June killed herself because she was sad. The type of sadness and desperation that a person must feel in order to commit suicide is something that probably cannot even be explained - it might be one big thing, or a combination of small things that have piled up and started to feel to heavy. Eventually, there is no other way out. Some say that suicide is one of the most selfish things, maybe even the most selfist thing, a person can do, and I wholeheartedly agree with that. But in some sick, twisted way suicide is also probably one of the most bravest things a person can do - the result hurts the people that are left behind, but at the same time you get closure for something that has been hurting you. 

With Harper having other issues she has to deal with, the relationship between her and Jake really takes its time to develop, which I really liked. Jake knew June in different way than Harper, but he understands the sadness and feeling of loss Harper is going through. Sometimes people have the weird need to compare who is the saddest and whose grief is the largest. In my family my grandmother is always the one who at the moment of loss says that she is the one who is the saddest and who has lost the most. But can you really measure grief? I don't think so. Of course the loss of a child is most probably hardest on the parents. But what about the loss of a friend? Is your grief smaller and less important if you are not related to the one lost? And can you grief for someone you did not personally know? Harrington's novel really digs into this, discussing the different levels of grief as well as the ways people cope with them. 

Saving June is extremely heartbreaking and I at least found myself crying during the final couple of chapters without a stop. There is an element of romance there, but as mentioned, it is not one of those super romantic, kind of instalovey books I sometimes read myself as well. The love in this book hurts, but it also helps the characters grow. Essentially, it is a story about anger, about the want to die, but also about the desire to keep going even though it hurts like hell. It also opens your eyes to a grief that I hope not many of you have to go through during your lifetime. All dead is sad, of course, but imagining the sadness and complete isolation someone who commits suicide must have been feeling always breaks my heart. 

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Stacking the Shelves (#3)

"Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!"
For more info, click here
The Elite (Selection #2) by Kiera Cass (Published in April 23rd 2013 by HarperTeen)
Thirty-five girls came to the palace to compete in the Selection. All but six have been sent home. And only one will get to marry Prince Maxon and be crowned princess of Illea.
America still isn’t sure where her heart lies. When she’s with Maxon, she’s swept up in their new and breathless romance, and can’t dream of being with anyone else. But whenever she sees Aspen standing guard around the palace, and is overcome with memories of the life they planned to share. With the group narrowed down to the Elite, the other girls are even more determined to win Maxon over—and time is running out for America to decide.
Just when America is sure she’s made her choice, a devastating loss makes her question everything again. And while she’s struggling to imagine her future, the violent rebels that are determined to overthrow the monarchy are growing stronger and their plans could destroy her chance at any kind of happy ending.
Prisoner of Night and Fog (Prisoner of Night and Fog #1) by Anne Blankman (Expected Publication April 22nd 2014 by Balzer + Bray/Headline) (Review copy from Net Galley)
In 1930s Munich, danger lurks behind dark corners, and secrets are buried deep within the city. But Gretchen Müller, who grew up in the National Socialist Party under the wing of her "uncle" Dolf, has been shielded from that side of society ever since her father traded his life for Dolf's, and Gretchen is his favorite, his pet.
Uncle Dolf is none other than Adolf Hitler.
And Gretchen follows his every command.
Until she meets a fearless and handsome young Jewish reporter named Daniel Cohen. Gretchen should despise Daniel, yet she can't stop herself from listening to his story: that her father, the adored Nazi martyr, was actually murdered by an unknown comrade. She also can't help the fierce attraction brewing between them, despite everything she's been taught to believe about Jews.
As Gretchen investigates the very people she's always considered friends, she must decide where her loyalties lie. Will she choose the safety of her former life as a Nazi darling, or will she dare to dig up the truth—even if it could get her and Daniel killed?
From debut author Anne Blankman comes this harrowing and evocative story about an ordinary girl faced with the extraordinary decision to give up everything she's ever believed . . . and to trust her own heart instead.
(I already read this one, and I mean, SO GOOD! Loved the historical accuracy and details, and it was so fast paced and exciting. The review will be posted in a couple of weeks.)
Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy (Published March 18th 2014 by HarperCollins/Balzer+Bray)
What if you’d been living your life as if you were dying—only to find out that you had your whole future ahead of you?
When sixteen-year-old Alice is diagnosed with leukemia, her prognosis is grim. To maximize the time she does have, she vows to spend her final months righting wrongs—however she sees fit. She convinces her friend Harvey, whom she knows has always had feelings for her, to help her with a crazy bucket list that’s as much about revenge (humiliating her ex-boyfriend and getting back at her arch nemesis) as it is about hope (doing something unexpectedly kind for a stranger and reliving some childhood memories). But just when Alice’s scores are settled, she goes into remission.
Now Alice is forced to face the consequences of all that she’s said and done, as well as her true feelings for Harvey. But has she done irreparable damage to the people around her, and to the one person who matters most?
Julie Murphy’s SIDE EFFECTS MAY VARY is a fearless and moving tour de force about love, life, and facing your own mortality.

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton (Published March 25th 2014 by Candlewick Press)

Magical realism, lyrical prose, and the pain and passion of human love haunt this hypnotic generational saga.
Foolish love appears to be the Roux family birthright, an ominous forecast for its most recent progeny, Ava Lavender. Ava—in all other ways a normal girl—is born with the wings of a bird. In a quest to understand her peculiar disposition and a growing desire to fit in with her peers, sixteen-year old Ava ventures into the wider world, ill-prepared for what she might discover and naïve to the twisted motives of others. Others like the pious Nathaniel Sorrows, who mistakes Ava for an angel and whose obsession with her grows until the night of the Summer Solstice celebration. That night, the skies open up, rain and feathers fill the air, and Ava’s quest and her family’s saga build to a devastating crescendo. First-time author Leslye Walton has constructed a layered and unforgettable mythology of what it means to be born with hearts that are tragically, exquisitely human.
A Great and Terrible Beauty (Gemma Doyle #1) by Libba Bray (Published December 9th 2003 by Simon and Schuster)
A Victorian boarding school story, a Gothic mansion mystery, a gossipy romp about a clique of girlfriends, and a dark other-worldly fantasy--jumble them all together and you have this complicated and unusual first novel.
Sixteen-year-old Gemma has had an unconventional upbringing in India, until the day she foresees her mother's death in a black, swirling vision that turns out to be true. Sent back to England, she is enrolled at Spence, a girls' academy with a mysterious burned-out East Wing. There Gemma is snubbed by powerful Felicity, beautiful Pippa, and even her own dumpy roommate Ann, until she blackmails herself and Ann into the treacherous clique. Gemma is distressed to find that she has been followed from India by Kartik, a beautiful young man who warns her to fight off the visions. Nevertheless, they continue, and one night she is led by a child-spirit to find a diary that reveals the secrets of a mystical Order. The clique soon finds a way to accompany Gemma to the other-world realms of her visions "for a bit of fun" and to taste the power they will never have as Victorian wives, but they discover that the delights of the realms are overwhelmed by a menace they cannot control. Gemma is left with the knowledge that her role as the link between worlds leaves her with a mission to seek out the "others" and rebuild the Order. A Great and Terrible Beauty is an impressive first book in what should prove to be a fascinating trilogy.
Rebel Angels (Gemma Doyle #2) by Libba Bray (Published January 1st 2005 by Delacorte Press)
Ah, Christmas! Gemma Doyle is looking forward to a holiday from Spence Academy, spending time with her friends in the city, attending ritzy balls, and on a somber note, tending to her ailing father. As she prepares to ring in the New Year, 1896, a handsome young man, Lord Denby, has set his sights on Gemma, or so it seems. Yet amidst the distractions of London, Gemma’s visions intensify–visions of three girls dressed in white, to whom something horrific has happened, something only the realms can explain...
The lure is strong, and before long, Gemma, Felicity, and Ann are turning flowers into butterflies in the enchanted world of the realms that Gemma alone can bring them to. To the girls’ great joy, their beloved Pippa is there as well, eager to complete their circle of friendship.
But all is not well in the realms–or out. The mysterious Kartik has reappeared, telling Gemma she must find the Temple and bind the magic, else great disaster will befall her. Gemma’s willing to do his intrusive bidding, despite the dangers it brings, for it means she will meet up with her mother’s greatest friend–and now her foe, Circe. Until Circe is destroyed, Gemma cannot live out her destiny. But finding Circe proves a most perilous task.
The Sweet Far Thing (Gemma Doyle #3) by Libba Bray (Published January 1st 2007 by Delacorte Press)
IT HAS BEEN A YEAR OF CHANGE since Gemma Doyle arrived at the foreboding Spence Academy. Her mother murdered, her father a
laudanum addict, Gemma has relied on an unsuspected strength and has discovered an ability to travel to an enchanted world called the realms, where dark magic runs wild. Despite certain peril, Gemma has bound the magic to herself and forged unlikely new alliances. Now, as Gemma approaches her London debut, the time has come to test these bonds.
The Order - the mysterious group her mother was once part of - is grappling for control of the realms, as is the Rakshana. Spence's burned East Wing is being rebuilt, but why now? Gemma and her friends see Pippa, but she is not the same. And their friendship faces its gravest trial as Gemma must decide once and for all what role she is meant for.
Zac and Mia by A.J. Betts (Published July 27th 2013 by Text Publishing)
The last person Zac expects in the room next door is a girl like Mia, angry and feisty with questionable taste in music. In the real world, he wouldn’t—couldn’t—be friends with her. In hospital different rules apply, and what begins as a knock on the wall leads to a note—then a friendship neither of them sees coming.
You need courage to be in hospital; different courage to be back in the real world. In one of these worlds Zac needs Mia. And in the other Mia needs Zac. Or maybe they both need each other, always.
What did you add to your shelves this week? Please let me know in the comments, and if you have read any of these, let me know your thoughts about them!

Friday, March 28, 2014

Book Review: Elixir by Hilary Duff

Release Date: October 12, 2010
Info about the author: Goodreads - Twitter - Website
Age group: YA
Pages: 327
Buy the book: Amazon - The Book Depository
Rating: 2/5

Description (from Goodreads):

Clea Raymond has felt the glare of the spotlight her entire life. The daughter of a renowned surgeon and a prominent Washington DC politician, she has grown to be a talented photojournalist who takes refuge in a career that allows her to travel to the most exotic parts of the world. But after Clea’s father disappears while on a humanitarian mission, Clea’s photos begin to feature eerie, shadowy images of a strange and beautiful man—a man she has never seen before.

When fate brings Clea and this man together, she is stunned by the immediate and powerful connection she feels with him. As they grow closer, they are drawn deep into the mystery behind her father’s disappearance, and they discover the centuries old truth behind their intense bond. Torn by a dangerous love triangle and haunted by a powerful secret that holds their fates, together they race against time to unravel their pasts in order to save their lives—and their futures.

My thoughts:

Clea is used to the life in the limelight. Her mother is politician known around the world, and her father has gained fame as a surgeon. Since she was a little girl, her life has been followed by the tabloids and the other media. Clea loves photography (which she knows is somewhat ironic because people take unwanted photos of her all the time), and she uses a pseudonym to work on several different photography assignments. When her father disappears suddenly and is later of declared dead, Clea tries to go on with her life. After a trip to Europe with her best friend, Clea starts to go through the several photos from the trip and notices a figure who somehow has ended up in all of her favorite pictures from the trip. And when she takes pictures from her home, she notices that the man is also in those photos. Soon, this gorgeous man she has never seen before also invades her dreams and Clea starts to feel like she might have known him before, during another lifetime.

When the mysterious man from the photos and the dreams suddenly shows up and says he has answers for the disappearance of Clea's father, they embark together on a mysterious journey to get answers. Clea does not know what she should feel towards this mysterious guy, especially since she might have feelings for her friend Ben too. As they spend more time together and gain answers, Clea realizes that the connection she has with the mystery man is much more developed that the one she has with Ben. But which one can she trust? And will she ever discover what really happened to her father?

I am still a huge Hilary Duff fan! I LOVED Lizzie McGuire and the Lizzie McGuire film, in all of its cheesiness, is still one of my most treasured film experiences (just because I was SO excited when it came out). Elixir has been on my TBR pile since I first heard about it, but I just never have got around reading it before now. I am not usually that into reading fictional novels written by celebrities - I have read the first book in Lauren Conrad's series and I think it was okay (generic, but not like completely horrible), whereas the novel written by Nicole Richie was just horrible. But because of my love for Hilary Duff, I tried to read this with open eyes.

Elixir was not horrible. The writing was okay (I don't know how much credit from that should be given to Duff and how much to the contributor Elise Allen). The pacing of the story could have been better - at some points the story was rushed too much and not all events etc. were explained properly, in my opinion. Also the development of the relationships was a bit abrupt, especially when it comes to Clea and Sage aka the mystery man. Even though Clea was clearly impressed by the way Sage looks and so on, I did not really feel any chemistry between them, and I ended up rooting for Clea and Ben. What I liked about Clea was the fact that she was not this tabloid princess party girl the main characters of for example Conrad's and Richie's novels were. I also really liked the dream sequences and wished those would have been more extended. And the link to Shakespeare that kind of popped up in the middle of the story could also have been interesting if it would have been explained with more detail.

The ending of the novel was definitely was abrupt and left a lot of questions for the sequel to answer. I am not going to run to the bookstore and get it, but if I come across it somewhere, I will probably buy it and read it. All and all, Elixir is quite predictable and written to the mold that many YA paranormal romances are written to with instalove and all, but if you are looking for a quick, quite fast paced and somewhat exciting read, you should consider giving Elixir a chance.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Book Review: Being Sloane Jabobs by Lauren Morrill

Release Date: January 7th 2014

Info about author: Twitter  GoodreadsWebsite

Publisher: Delacorte

Age Group: YA

Pages: 352 (Hardcover)

Buy the book: AmazonBook Depository

Rating: 3/5


Description (from Goodreads):

Meet Sloane Emily Jacobs: a seriously stressed-out figure-skater from Washington, D.C., who choked during junior nationals and isn’t sure she’s ready for a comeback. What she does know is that she’d give anything to escape the mass of misery that is her life.
Now meet Sloane Devon Jacobs, a spunky ice hockey player from Philly who’s been suspended from her team for too many aggressive hip checks. Her punishment? Hockey camp, now, when she’s playing the worst she’s ever played. If she messes up? Her life will be over.
When the two Sloanes meet by chance in Montreal and decide to trade places for the summer, each girl thinks she’s the lucky one: no strangers to judge or laugh at Sloane Emily, no scouts expecting Sloane Devon to be a hero. But it didn’t occur to Sloane E. that while avoiding sequins and axels she might meet a hockey hottie—and Sloane D. never expected to run into a familiar (and very good-looking) face from home. It’s not long before the Sloanes discover that convincing people you’re someone else might be more difficult than being yourself.
My thoughts:
Okay, first of all – a YA book with ice-hockey players???? YES PLEASE! Some of you might not be aware of this, but I am quite hockey fan myself. I’ve been one for over 10 years – the moment I walked to that ice-hall for the first time, I was in love. I am from Finland, which is quite a hockey country, and the city I come from has a team in the Finnish hockey league. When I still lived in Finland I used to go to pretty much every single game, and now that I live abroad I watch/listen to every game online (we are currently in the medal games for the championship, which is super exciting).
Sloane Emily Jacobs, a D.C. girl with a senator father and privileged upbringing was once considered as one of the most promising figures of the US figure skating world. But after she choked in the junior nationals couple years earlier, she had stopped skating. But now it’s time for comeback, even though Emily is not sure whether she can do it, especially after all that has happened with her father. With her family problems, being sent to Montreal to a fancy figure skating camp seems like a blessing.
Sloane Devon Jacobs, a Philly girl with problematic family situation and somewhat rough background has a promising ice-hockey future ahead of her until she looses her cool and gets suspended from her team. As a result, she realizes that her summer plans with her good-for-nothing boyfriend change for a hockey camp in Montreal.
Sloane Emily and Sloane Devon bump into each other in Montreal the night before they are supposed to go to the camps and come up with a plan to pretend to be each other. Sloane Emily, a figure skater goes to hockey camp, whereas Sloane Devon goes to the figure skating camp. They both know how to skate, but otherwise, at first, they have no idea what they are supposed to do. Sloane Emily faces her roommate, a big and somewhat scary female hockey player while Sloane Devon has to deal with her prissy roommate Ivy. And while Sloane Emily flirts with the most eligible and handsome male hockey player of the camp, Sloane Devon bumps into an old acquaintance from her Philly hockey circles. 
I really liked the whole Freaky Friday/Parent Trap premises for this book. The different backgrounds and athletic pasts of the girls are quite well established, though I hoped Morrill would have taken a bit more time to establish the family relationships of these girls because they eventually gain such an importance in the novel. Also, I’m sucker for anything that is set in D.C. and I wish there would have been a bit more about Sloane Emily’s life in D.C., especially because it would have probably included some politics as well due to her father being a senator. But I guess that could have been a whole another story.
For the ones who are looking for cute romance, this might not be the best pick. Though there are some cute, romantic moments out there, the story is more focused on the growth on the girls and their achievements. Since ice-hockey players are my weak spot number 1, I hoped there would have been more in the book about these hot hockey players. 
It has to be given that Being Sloane Jacobs is a bit predictable, but I feel like that’s the case with quite many contemporary romance type of books. I hoped that Morrill would have taken a bit more time to establish the ending to make it a little less cliche. But despite everything, I still found this very enjoyable and honestly, I was just happy to read anything ice-hockey related.
Being Sloane Jacobs is a great pick for sports fans, but you can definitely read it even if you have no interest for either ice-hockey or figure skating. It is a story about personal growth and about challenging yourself. It’s a story about finding yourself while doing something you never enjoyed. It’s about losing your prejudices and just living to the fullest.
Review written while listening to:
Bad Things - Bad Things (Deluxe Version) - End of the Road, Hunter Hayes - Baby You're My Summer Jam - Somebody's Heartbreak, Chad Brownlee - His Own Terms (Ballad of Eldon McCain)
Do you know any other (YA) books with hot ice-hockey players? Because if you do, pleasepleaseplease leave me a comment!

Wishlist Wednesday #3

Wishlist Wednesday is a book blog hop where we will post about one book per week that has been on our wishlist for some time, or just added (it's entirely up to you), that we can't wait to get off the wishlist and onto our wonderful shelves

For more information, click here.

Plus One by Elizabeth Fama (expected publication April 8th 2014 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR))

Divided by day and night and on the run from authorities, star-crossed young lovers unearth a sinister conspiracy in this compelling romantic thriller.

Seventeen-year-old Soleil Le Coeur is a Smudge—a night dweller prohibited by law from going out during the day. When she fakes an injury in order to get access to and kidnap her newborn niece—a day dweller, or Ray—she sets in motion a fast-paced adventure that will bring her into conflict with the powerful lawmakers who order her world, and draw her together with the boy she was destined to fall in love with, but who is also a Ray.

Set in a vivid alternate reality and peopled with complex, deeply human characters on both sides of the day-night divide, Plus One is a brilliantly imagined drama of individual liberty and civil rights, and a fast-paced romantic adventure story.

Okay. First of all, THE COVER IS SO GORGEOUS. LIKE I WANT THIS BOOK INTO MY HANDS RIGHT NOW! Also, the synopsis sounds so exciting and all. And I'm kind of intrigued by the fact too that at least right now they it doesn't indicate that it's a start to a series or anything like that.... But anyways, it looks and sounds AMAZING AND I WANT IT.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Bloggiesta Spring 2014

I participated in Bloggiesta a couple of years ago (probably like 4 years ago and it just feels like couple years) and found it very helpful - I was able to do some cleaning on my blog, write some reviews, work some type of schedule etc. So when I saw that this is happening again, I instantly knew that I have to give it a go since there are a couple of blog-related things I've been meaning to do for a while now.

If you want to participate, click here. If you want an idea of what you here.
could do during bloggiesta, click

So here's my TO DO LIST for the duration... Let's see how many of these I actually end up doing.

  • Write reviews for the books I've read and not reviewed yet (this is most likely going to me 2 or 3 books total)
  • Clean up labels/tags and create some sort of system for them (those are A MESS)
  • Participate in some of the mini challenges (I'm not gonna set myself a number because I feel like these should be for fun instead of forcing myself to do something)
  • Do a Twitter account for the blog (I use my personal Twitter mostly for stuff like university and ice-hockey and I feel like I should just do a separate one for book/blog updates and stuff)
Leave me a comment if your participating so I can check out your goals/plans for the long weekend! I hope to catch up with some of you during the Twitter chats.

Top Ten Tuesday (#4)

If you want to participate, please click here

Top Ten Things On My Bookish Bucket List

1. Read A Clash of Kings

I read Game of Thrones last year around May after my uni term ended and I've been planning to do the same with A Clash of Kings. I really enjoyed the first book in the series, but I feel like I really need to be able to focus on the books while reading them which is the reason I don't even attempt to start them when I was screenings and readings for uni. I'm hoping maybe even reading the third book in the series as well during the summer (or the first half of the third book or however they're divided), so I could catch up with the show at least a bit. 

2. Choose a classic to read for the summer

A couple years back I read Anna Karenina during my summer holiday and since then I've been trying to tackle at least one classic novel during the long holiday I have from uni. Last summer I read more of contemporary classics, so I'm thinking this summer I need something a bit older. I love Austen and Bronte, so maybe you have some suggestions for me that are similar?

3. Finish with the Divergent series

I loved the first book, the second book was alright, but I still haven't read the third book (and no one has actually managed to spoil it for me either). I'm thinking of maybe buying it for when I travel back home for summer so I could read it in the plane. 

4. Take some time to go through my books at home and see if there are books I could donate/giveaway etc.

When I moved away from home to uni (my home is in Finland and I study in Scotland), my mom packed all of my books to these boxes and put them in the storage. There are probably around 500 books there, most of them titles I don't even remember. I still have a year to go in here, but once I move back to Finland, I will probably get my own place sooner or later, and I'll want to have to books with me. I feel like there are a lot of titles there from the different phases I went through as teenager, titles I'll never read again. 

5. Read something that has been translated into Finnish

Since my exchange student year back in 07-08, I've been doing pretty much all of my reading in English. Sometimes, when I was "forced" to read something in Finnish, I remember complaining about the bad translations. I want to pick up something I have loved in English and see how it reads in Finnish. Maybe A Fault in Our Stars or The Perks of Being a Wallflower... (btw, that's the Finnish cover to A Fault in Our Stars.... It's kind of ugly, right?)

6. Read something that has been critically acclaimed in Finland

Since I don't live in Finland, I don't really follow the Finnish literary world either. Every year they give this literary prize called "Finlandia" prize for a writer, and I think I should maybe pick the winner from this year/last year. I read a book called Puhdistus (Purge) a couple years ago by writer called Sofi Oksanen and really enjoyed it (it has been translated to several different languages and I think you should all give it a go!)

7. Read a Finnish classic

Since I'll be doing my dissertation on classic Finnish cinema, I should probably read something from the Finnish classic literature canon (I haven't read yet). If you happen to be Finnish/fan of Finnish literature, please give me recommendations.

8. Re-read my favorite Moomin Books

It is the 100th anniversary of the birth of Tove Jansson, a writer who has maybe had a bigger influence on my life than J.K.Rowling, since it is her that came up with the wonderful and lovable Moomins, no doubt the best fictional characters out there. If you haven't read these books, you definitely should! And if you have a chance to give a go to the animation series inspired by these stories and characters, please do so! I still watch moomins at least once a week from Youtube - always brings a smile on my face.

9. Read something non-fiction

I've been reading only fiction recently (my escape from all of my university reading), but I feel like I should read something (non-film related) non-fiction, since I know there are some amazing titles out there I might not just be aware of. If you like to read non-fiction, please recommend me some titles you've enjoyed.

10. Network more efficiently with other bloggers/make blog friends etc.

I feel like there are so many similar minded people out there I could make awesome friends with (either "in real life" or through Internet) and I'm sad I haven't done so before. I don't have that many reader friends around me here, so I need to rely on Internet to make those connections. I've been so good with making those connections when it comes to television shows (I mainly use Tumblr for that), so why not try to do the same with books. I keep seeing people who have become penpals or something like that with people they have "met" through their blogs, and I want something like that as well. 

Discussion Post: I Love Television

I received an email asking whether I could post something about my favorite ongoing TV shows. Well, yes, of course I can. I haven't had a TV for the past three years or so, but during that time I've become more and more obsessed with several different televisions shows. Some I have watched from Netflix, some from other online streaming services. So here's a list of the ongoing TV shows I love (already finished/cancelled shows are a whole other thing, but I can post about those as well if someone's interested).

Brooklyn Nine Nine (FOX)

When I first heard about this show, I instantly knew that I have to watch it! I've been a fan of Andy Samberg since I saw him for the first time on SNL - he's funny, adorable and I really like his sense of humor. The first couple of episodes of this one still searched for the direction the show would take and it has managed to get better and better every single week. I am so happy it was renewed for second season, because I have completely fallen in love with these characters and the cast.

New Girl (FOX)

It took me a couple of episodes to fall in love with this show (and Zooey Deschanel), but once that happened, there has been no way to back out. Filled with hilarious incidences and an amazing cast playing interesting and funny characters, this show will definitely make you smile. And Nick Miller - why aren't you real?

The Mindy Project (FOX)

Do you like romantic comedies like When Harry Met Sally? If yes, then you will love this one. This show created by Mindy Kaling, who also plays the lead, is hilarious and will definitely give you the feels. If you are watching this one, you know what I am talking about (MINDY AND DANNY OH MY GOD!)

Parks and Recreation (NBC)

If someone asks me what show makes me the happiest at the moment, I would instantly say Parks and Recreation. The moment I hear the opening theme, I forget all my problems and just enjoy spending 20 minutes or so with these amazing characters. Leslie Knope is my queen! And why is Ben Wyatt fictional?? Ron Swanson is one of my favorite fictional characters of all time! THE HAPPIEST SHOW ON EARTH.

Modern Family (ABC)

The humor of this show might not be as witty as for example in Brooklyn 99 or Parks and Recreation, but I still very much enjoy this show. It is filled with interesting characters and I love the family dynamic of the show and the relationships between the characters. I love Phil <3 p="">

How I Met Your Mother (CBS)

I can't believe this show is almost over! I binge watched seasons 1-4 and then started to watch it as it aired, and I can't believe soon I won't be able to have a new episode of it on weekly basis. I love the running gags, nerdy Ted, Marshall and Lily, Barney's bro-code, Robin's independence and sense of humor, the reoccurring characters like The Captain... I'll miss this one!

The Big Bang Theory (CBS)

I used to be obsessed with this show, but I feel like recently I haven't enjoyed it as much. Maybe it's because I have started to watch so many other sitcoms that in comparison the humor is not as good... or maybe the quality of the writing has just gone down. Well, in any case, it was just renewed for three more seasons, and I'll keep watching, just because I used to love it so much.

Scandal (ABC)

This show is new on my list - I binge watched through season 1 and 2 in one weekend and then caught up with season 3. I love the intensity, the characters (FITZ IS SO HOT) and the plot-twists. It might not be the most realistic show out there, but it does give me the political drama fix I need.

Grey's Anatomy (ABC)

I've been watching this show since episode 1 of season 1, and I am still hooked. The setting, the characters, the relationships, the intense and occasionally insane plot-twists. Watching this on Friday (the day after it airs in US) is always a perfect start for my weekend).

Hannibal (NBC)

This show really is something... The cinematography is INSANELY GORGEOUS, the actors are so talented, and the way the story is adapted to TV is just so well done. Not for the faint of heart, but if you don't mind a bit of violence and gore, this one is one to watch!

Orange is the New Black (Netflix Original Series)

So addicting, so well done, filled with a cast of interesting characters that some are still a completely mystery to us after season 1. The ending of season 1 was so intense I can't wait to see what happens next. Season 2 will premiere during the summer and I am seriously counting the days to be able to binge watch the whole season!

Orphan Black (BBC America)

This show has been hyped quite a lot in the media, but still there are a lot of people who are not aware of its existence. If you don't feel a connection with the synopsis of the show, watch it just for Tatiana Maslany, who is insanely good in this one! Now's the perfect time to catch up with this one - there's still bit over a month until the second season starts.

Community (NBC)

The 4th season of this show was bit of a disappointment for me, but now that Dan Harmon is back, it has been amazing once again! So funny, a bit weird, and with an amazing ensemble cast! Watch it!

Bates Motel (A&E)

I was not gonna watch this at first, thinking that it will just be a lame teenager version of Hitchcock's brilliant film. But once I gave it a go, I realized that it actually is very imaginative, and not too filled with teenager angst I've gotten tired with. I love how the show is set in a foreign setting, but still the clothes of Norma and Norman are very much linked to the Hitchcock film. Very entertaining and creepy.

True Detective (HBO)

The cinematography of this show will blow your mind away! Not maybe the most action packed show out there, but Harrelson and McConaughey are very charming and charismatic and I love how the show is almost like a puzzle you want to solve, but you're not given a change to do it, not until the characters are willing to give you more information. Very cinematic and well made!

Broad City (Comedy Central)

One of the best new shows I've watched in a long time! This one is so incredibly funny my words won't do it justice. It is centered around two hilarious, normal women who have an amazing friendship and who are not afraid to be themselves!  Please just do yourself a favor and watch it! I seriously can't get enough of this show.

Portlandia (IFC)

I loved Fred Armisen on SNL and started to watch this just to see more of him. Set in Portland, this show is a collection of little sketches filmed around different types of shops etc. within the city. The humor in this show is kind of weird/absurd and really witty. This might not be for everyone and I feel like this is one of those shows you'll either really love or really hate.

This post just made me realize I watch way too much TV. I hope I'm not alone.... So what are some of your favorite current TV shows? Is these a show you could recommend for me? (Like I really need more shows to watch....)

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Book Review: I Wrote This For You by pleasefindthis

Release date: December 14th 2011
Info about author: Goodreads - Twitter - Website
Publisher: Central Avenue Publishing
Age group: Adult
Pages: 194
Buy the book: Amazon - Book Depository

Rating: 5/5

Description (from Goodreads):

I need you to understand something. I wrote this for you. I wrote this for you and only you. Everyone else who reads it, doesn’t get it. They may think they get it, but they don’t. This is the sign you’ve been looking for. You were meant to read these words.

My thoughts:

I stumbled into this book while watching a bookhaul of one of the booktubers over at Youtube and after hearing what it was about, I kept it at the back of my mind for a long time and once I came across it again, I decided that I need to read it. And I'm happy that I did, because I found it very touching.

Basically I Wrote This For You is a collection of photographs and short stories/thoughts about love, loss, happiness and other feelings related to human life and emotions. The individual segments of text are accompanied by photographs - some more fitting to the text than others. Though I found some of the photographs really beautiful, it is really the words that excel in this book (there's a version available with only the words not the photos at both Amazon and Book Depository). In general, this book is very difficult to review because I feel like everyone takes something else out of it, but all I can say is that I was really touched by it and really did end up crying while reading some of the segments of the book.

To give you an idea of what this book is about, I'll post a couple of my favorite segments below.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Stacking the Shelves (#2)

"Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!"
For more info, click here

North of Beautiful by Justina Chen (Published in January 2009 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)

As he continued to stare, I wanted to point to my cheek and remind him, But you were the one who wanted this, remember? You're the one who asked-and I repeat-Why not fix your face? 

It's hard not to notice Terra Cooper.

She's tall, blond, and has an enviable body. But with one turn of her cheek, all people notice is her unmistakably "flawed" face. Terra secretly plans to leave her stifling small town in the Northwest and escape to an East Coast college, but gets pushed off-course by her controlling father. When an unexpected collision puts Terra directly in Jacob's path, the handsome but quirky Goth boy immediately challenges her assumptions about herself and her life, and she is forced in yet another direction. With her carefully laid plans disrupted, will Terra be able to find her true path?

Written in lively, artful prose, award-winning author Justina Chen Headley has woven together a powerful novel about a fractured family, falling in love, travel, and the meaning of true beauty.

Half Bad by Sally Green (published March 3rd by Penguin)

Half Bad by Sally Green is a breathtaking debut novel about one boy's struggle for survival in a hidden society of witches.

You can't read, can't write, but you heal fast, even for a witch.

You get sick if you stay indoors after dark.

You hate White Witches but love Annalise, who is one.

You've been kept in a cage since you were fourteen.

All you've got to do is escape and find Mercury, the Black Witch who eats boys. And do that before your seventeenth birthday.

Perfect Ruin by Lauren DeStefano (published October 1st, 2013 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers)

On Internment, the floating island in the clouds where 16-year-old Morgan Stockhour lives, getting too close to the edge can lead to madness. Even though Morgan's older brother, Lex, was a Jumper, Morgan vows never to end up like him. She tries her best not to mind that her life is orderly and boring, and if she ever wonders about the ground, and why it is forbidden, she takes solace in best friend Pen and her betrothed, Basil.

Then a murder, the first in a generation, rocks the city. With whispers swirling and fear on the wind, Morgan can no longer stop herself from investigating, especially when she meets Judas. He is the boy being blamed for the murder — betrothed to the victim — but Morgan is convinced of his innocence. Secrets lay at the heart of Internment, but nothing can prepare Morgan for what she will find — or who she will lose.

The Selection by Kiera Cass (Published April 24th 2012 by Harper Teen)

For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth. To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels. To live in a palace and compete for the heart of gorgeous Prince Maxon.

But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn't want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks.

Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she's made for herself--and realizes that the life she's always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined.

Something Real by Heather Demetrios (published February 4th 2014 by Henry Holt BYR)

There’s nothing real about reality TV.

Seventeen-year-old Bonnie™ Baker has grown up on TV—she and her twelve siblings are the stars of one-time hit reality show Baker’s Dozen. Since the show’s cancellation and the scandal surrounding it, Bonnie™ has tried to live a normal life, under the radar and out of the spotlight. But it’s about to fall apart…because Baker’s Dozen is going back on the air. Bonnie™’s mom and the show’s producers won’t let her quit and soon the life she has so carefully built for herself, with real friends (and maybe even a real boyfriend), is in danger of being destroyed by the show. Bonnie™ needs to do something drastic if her life is ever going to be her own—even if it means being more exposed than ever before.

Maybe Someday by Colleen Hoover (Published March 18th 2014 by Atria Books)

At twenty-two years old, aspiring musician Sydney Blake has a great life: She’s in college, working a steady job, in love with her wonderful boyfriend, Hunter, and rooming with her good friend, Tori. But everything changes when she discovers Hunter cheating on her with Tori—and she is left trying to decide what to do next.

Sydney becomes captivated by her mysterious neighbor, Ridge Lawson. She can’t take her eyes off him or stop listening to the daily guitar playing he does out on his balcony. She can feel the harmony and vibrations in his music. And there’s something about Sydney that Ridge can’t ignore, either: He seems to have finally found his muse. When their inevitable encounter happens, they soon find themselves needing each other in more ways than one…

Winger by Andrew Smith (published May 14th 2013 by Simon & Schuster)

Ryan Dean West is a fourteen-year-old junior at a boarding school for rich kids. He’s living in Opportunity Hall, the dorm for troublemakers, and rooming with the biggest bully on the rugby team. And he’s madly in love with his best friend Annie, who thinks of him as a little boy.

With the help of his sense of humor, rugby buddies, and his penchant for doodling comics, Ryan Dean manages to survive life’s complications and even find some happiness along the way. But when the unthinkable happens, he has to figure out how to hold on to what’s important, even when it feels like everything has fallen apart.

Filled with hand-drawn info-graphics and illustrations and told in a pitch-perfect voice, this realistic depiction of a teen’s experience strikes an exceptional balance of hilarious and heartbreaking.

Nantucket Blue by Leila Howland (published May 7th 2013 by Disney Hyperion)

For Cricket Thompson, a summer like this one will change everything. A summer spent on Nantucket with her best friend, Jules Clayton, and the indomitable Clayton family. A summer when she’ll make the almost unattainable Jay Logan hers. A summer to surpass all dreams.

Some of this turns out to be true. Some of it doesn’t. 

When Jules and her family suffer a devastating tragedy that forces the girls apart, Jules becomes a stranger whom Cricket wonders whether she ever really knew. And instead of lying on the beach working on her caramel-colored tan, Cricket is making beds and cleaning bathrooms to support herself in paradise for the summer.

But it’s the things Cricket hadn’t counted on--most of all, falling hard for someone who should be completely off-limits--that turn her dreams into an exhilarating, bittersweet reality.

A beautiful future is within her grasp, and Cricket must find the grace to embrace it. If she does, her life could be the perfect shade of Nantucket blue.

I Wrote This For You by pleasefindthis (Published December 14h 2011 by Central Avenue Publishing)

I need you to understand something. I wrote this for you. I wrote this for you and only you. Everyone else who reads it, doesn’t get it. They may think they get it, but they don’t. This is the sign you’ve been looking for. You were meant to read these words.

I had a pretty good week bookwise, I could say. Have you read any of these? What did you add to your shelf this week - let me know in the comments/leave a link to your STS.