Saturday, January 30, 2016

Stacking the Shelves (#42)

"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 information, click here

It has been a while since I last posted for Stacking the Shelves, but since Harper put out some awesome ARCs up to Edelweiss this week, I thought I would share what I got with you. In the mix there are also a couple of titles I've acquired since my last STS post.

Frannie and Tru by Karen Hattrup (May 31st 2016 by HarperCollins)

When Frannie Little eavesdrops on her parents fighting she discovers that her cousin Truman is gay, and his parents are so upset they are sending him to live with her family for the summer. At least, that’s what she thinks the story is. . . When he arrives, shy Frannie befriends this older boy, who is everything that she’s not–rich, confident, cynical, sophisticated. Together, they embark on a magical summer marked by slowly unraveling secrets. 

How it Feels to Fly by Kathryn Holmes (2016 by HarperTeen)

The movement is all that matters. 

For as long as Samantha can remember, she’s wanted to be a professional ballerina. She’s lived for perfect pirouettes, sky-high extensions, and soaring leaps across the stage. Then her body betrayed her.

The change was gradual. Stealthy.

Failed diets. Disapproving looks. Whispers behind her back. The result: crippling anxiety about her appearance, which threatens to crush her dancing dreams entirely. On her dance teacher’s recommendation, Sam is sent to a summer treatment camp for teen artists and athletes who are struggling with mental and emotional obstacles. If she can make progress, she’ll be allowed to attend a crucial ballet intensive. But when asked to open up about her deepest insecurities, secret behaviors, and paralyzing fears to complete strangers, Sam can’t cope. 

What I really need is a whole new body.

Sam forms an unlikely bond with Andrew, a former college football player who’s one of her camp counselors. As they grow closer, Andrew helps Sam see herself as he does—beautiful. But just as she starts to believe that there’s more between them than friendship, disappointing news from home sends her into a tailspin. With her future uncertain and her body against her, will Sam give in to the anxiety that imprisons her?

For fans of Center Stage, and with shades of The Breakfast Club, this is a compelling novel about body, mind, and the courage that it takes to become who you’re meant to be.

The Way Back To You by Michelle Andreani & Mindi Scott (May 3rd, 2016 by Katherine Tegen Books)

In this witty, heart-tugging novel, two teens take a spontaneous road trip across the Southwest to meet three strangers who received the life-saving organs of their late best friend—charting a journey of loss, hope, and love along the way.

Six months ago, Ashlyn Montiel died in a bike accident.

Her best friend Cloudy is keeping it together, at least on the outside. Cloudy’s insides are a different story: tangled, confused, heartbroken. 

Kyle is falling apart, and everyone can tell. Ashlyn was his girlfriend, and when she died, a part of him went with her. Maybe the only part he cares about anymore.

As the two people who loved Ashlyn best, Cloudy and Kyle should be able to lean on each other. But after a terrible mistake last year, they're barely speaking. So when Cloudy discovers that Ashlyn’s organs were donated after her death and the Montiel family has been in touch with three of the recipients, she does something a little bit crazy and a lot of out character: she steals the letters and convinces Kyle to go on a winter break road trip with her, from Oregon to California to Arizona to Nevada. Maybe if they see the recipients—the people whose lives were saved by Ashlyn’s death—the world will open up again. Or maybe it will be a huge mistake. 

With hundreds of miles in front of them, a stowaway kitten, and a list of people who are alive because of Ashlyn, Cloudy and Kyle just may find their way to back to her...and to each other.

Wanderlost by Jen Malone (May 31st, 2016 by HarperTeen)

Seventeen-year-old Aubree has always idolized her adventurous older sister, even while utterly content to track Elizabeth’s antics from the cozy comforts of home, in the tender care of doting parents. So when Elizabeth gets herself in "a touch of trouble” and, for the first time ever, actually needs Aubree's help, Bree is flattered but insistent. 

There’s no way she can do what Elizabeth is asking. Impersonate her recent-college-grad sis all summer, just so Elizabeth can score the recommendation she needs to land her dream position? Nope, nope, not gonna happen. 

ESPECIALLY when Elizabeth’s summer job is leading a bus tour. 
A bus tour across Europe. 
A senior citizens' bus tour across Europe.

And that's even before Bree finds out that the tour owner’s super-cute son (who is decidedly NOT elderly) will be a last-minute addition. 

Bree would have to be crazy. Or would she?

What did you add to your shelves this week?

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Book Review: After the Woods by Kim Savage

Publication date: February 23, 2016
Author links: Goodreads - Twitter - Website
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Pages: 320
Purchase links: Amazon

Description (from Goodreads):

Would you risk your life to save your best friend? 

Julia did. When a paroled predator attacked Liv in the woods, Julia fought back and got caught. Liv ran, leaving Julia in the woods for a terrifying 48 hours that she remembers only in flashbacks. One year later, Liv seems bent on self-destruction, starving herself, doing drugs, and hooking up with a violent new boyfriend. A dead girl turns up in those same woods, and Julia’s memories resurface alongside clues unearthed by an ambitious reporter that link the girl to Julia’s abductor. As the devastating truth becomes clear, Julia realizes that after the woods was just the beginning.

Kirkus calls After the Woods "A riveting exploration of what it's like when the enemy is much closer than you suspect." (starred review, Nov. 1, 2015)

The process of writing this review will most likely look something very much like this...


Those that frequent at my blog or read my reviews on Goodreads have probably noticed that YA contemporary is my jam! But while I read a lot of contemporary, the books I pick out usually tend to be more of a romantic nature or coming-of-age stories rather than mysteries and thrillers. I think in fact that this was only the second YA mystery/thriller I've read during 2015. If all YA mysteries/thrillers I've read before would have left me feeling like this, mysteries and thrillers would be the only thing I read.

When Julia sacrificed herself to save the life of her best friend Liv, she never thought she would be alive a year later. She never planned to be a hero, but her instincts kicked in, and she wanted to save the one person she loved her most. But now, a year later, Liv is not the same girl she used to be, and it almost seems like Liv was the one who had to go through the horrors of the kidnapping, not Julia.

Julia remembers her time from the woods only in flashbacks. When a body of a girl is found from the same woods Julia went through her personal hell, new memories start to surface, and though at points it feels like she would like to keep them suppressed, she wants to know what happened to her, especially after it starts to look like Liv might not have told Julia everything she knows about the events a year before.

Kim Savage's pacing is OUT OF THIS WORLD! The way she has put this story together kept me on my toes and aggressively pressing the next page-button on my Kindle, just so I could know more. Like Julia, who loves research and facts, I was dying to know what happened to her and how some of the people closest to her might have been involved. Pacing is one of those things that I don't even mention in most of my reviews, but seriously, the way that Kim Savage does it deserves ALL THE PRAISE. I haven't seen pacing as brilliant as this for a long time (probably the last book that made me this excited about pacing was All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr).

There was also a complete, absolutely fantastic surprise hidden within the pages of this book. It was something I didn't expect at all, but once it came to my attention, I looked like that heart-eyed emoji. THERE IS A GUY WHO PLAYS HOCKEY IN THIS BOOK! If you know me at all, I am obsessed with hockey. Alongside books, movies and television, hockey is my greatest passion. The moment I was informed that Kellan is a hockey player I literally reacted like Jason Sudeikis as a devil in that gif.

The relationship between Julia and Kellan is a great addition to the overall narrative of the novel and I really liked how well Savage was able to balance the two without making the book "only about the kidnapping" or "only about the romance". Kellan plays a role in Julia's attempt to remember what happened, but she also allows her to step out of her reality just for a while and forget what happened to her. In short, Kellan allows her to be a "normal" teenage girl with a crush for a while, not the girl who saved her friend and spent time with a kidnapper.

With mysteries, I usually end up figuring out the whole thing before the last page. If there are strange concepts of words in the novel, I take time off from reading and end up researching the heck out of everything I don't know. I am obsessed with knowledge and facts and research, and very often with mysteries, I spend much more time trying to figure out the mystery than enjoying the ride. With After the Woods, I was so immersed with the characters, the writing and the aforementioned incredible pacing that I didn't really focus on solving the mystery, but I rather wanted to follow the process that Julia goes through. It was a strange reading experience, to some extent, but also a very exciting one. The book remains mysterious until the last page and alongside it the pacing just keep doing its incredible job.

The moment I finished with After the Woods, my initial reaction was "I WANT MORE". More of Kim Savage's writing, more mysteries, more hockey playing guys with weird senses of humor. I was completely satisfied with the ending of After the Woods, but at the same time, I was incredibly bummed that it was over, because I had such a great time reading it. I am so incredibly excited to see what Savage comes up with next because this one left me uncontrollably flailing from awesomeness.



- Once again, I need to bring up the pacing of this novel because really, it is incredible. The way Savage brings together all of the elements of the story into this intriguing piece of literature is just... ALL I CAN DO IS FANGIRL.

- YA seriously needs more hockey guys because hockey guys are the best! Are you a fan of football playing love interests? HOCKEY GUYS ARE MUCH DREAMIER AND HAVE BETTER BUTTS. 

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday (#52) - The Season by Jonah Lisa Dyer & Stephen Dyer (July 12, 2016 by Viking Children's)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill over at Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating. 
For more information click here

She can score a goal, do sixty box jumps in a row, bench press a hundred and fifty pounds…but can she learn to curtsey?

Megan McKnight is a soccer star with Olympic dreams, but she’s not a girly girl. So when her Southern belle mother secretly enters in the 2016 Dallas debutante season, she’s furious—and has no idea what she’s in for. When Megan’s attitude gets her on probation with the mother hen of the debs, she’s got a month to prove she can ballroom dance, display impeccable manners, and curtsey like a proper Texas lady or she’ll get the boot and disgrace her family. The perk of being a debutante, of course, is going to parties, and it’s at one of these lavish affairs where Megan gets swept off her feet by the debonair and down-to-earth Hank Waterhouse. If only she didn’t have to contend with a backstabbing blonde and her handsome but surly billionaire boyfriend, Megan thinks, being a deb might not be so bad after all. But that’s before she humiliates herself in front of a room full of ten-year-olds, becomes embroiled in a media-frenzy scandal, and gets punched in the face by another girl.

The season has officially begun…but the drama is just getting started.






I pretty much love anything (books, movies, TV) set in South, so I am obviously VERY excited about this one. It kind of sounds like a mix of Julie Murphy's Dumplin' and She's The Man and I think that's absolutely wonderful and exciting!

What are you waiting for this week?

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday (#55) - Freebie Week: Ten Nonfiction Titles I Want to Read

For more information on Top Ten Tuesday click here

I usually have done these freebie lists about book boyfriends, but since there's a boyfriend topic coming up soon, I thought I would do something a bit more "serious" and make a list of ten nonfiction books I wish to read. I don't read nonfiction very often (expect when it comes to the texts I need to read for university) but when I do, I almost always end up enjoying the books in question. If you have nonfiction books to recommend for me, please do so in the comments!

1. The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls
2. Lucky by Alice Sebold
5. Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari

6. Night by Elie Wiesel
8. Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Book Review: Missoula - Rape and the Justice System in a College Town by Jon Krakauer

Publication date: April 21, 2015
Author links: Goodreads - Website
Publisher: Doubleday
Pages: 367
Purchase links: Amazon - Book Depository

Description (from Goodreads):

From bestselling author Jon Krakauer, a stark, powerful, meticulously reported narrative about a series of sexual assaults at the University of Montana ­— stories that illuminate the human drama behind the national plague of campus rape

Missoula, Montana, is a typical college town, with a highly regarded state university, bucolic surroundings, a lively social scene, and an excellent football team  the Grizzlies  with a rabid fan base. 

The Department of Justice investigated 350 sexual assaults reported to the Missoula police between January 2008 and May 2012. Few of these assaults were properly handled by either the university or local authorities. In this, Missoula is also typical. 

A DOJ report released in December of 2014 estimates 110,000 women between the ages of eighteen and twenty-four are raped each year. Krakauer’s devastating narrative of what happened in Missoula makes clear why rape is so prevalent on American campuses, and why rape victims are so reluctant to report assault. 

Acquaintance rape is a crime like no other. Unlike burglary or embezzlement or any other felony, the victim often comes under more suspicion than the alleged perpetrator. This is especially true if the victim is sexually active; if she had been drinking prior to the assault — and if the man she accuses plays on a popular sports team. For a woman in this situation, the pain of being forced into sex against her will is only the beginning of her ordeal. If she decides to go to the police, undertrained officers sometimes ask if she has a boyfriend, implying that she is covering up infidelity. She is told rape is extremely difficult to prove, and repeatedly asked if she really wants to press charges. If she does want to charge her assailant, district attorneys frequently refuse to prosecute. If the assailant is indicted, even though victim’s name is supposed to be kept confidential, rumors start in the community and on social media, labeling her a slut, unbalanced, an attention-seeker. The vanishingly small but highly publicized incidents of false accusations are used to dismiss her claims in the press. If the case goes to trial, the woman’s entire personal life often becomes fair game for the defense attorneys. 

This brutal reality goes a long way toward explaining why acquaintance rape is the most underreported crime in America. In addition to physical trauma, its victims often suffer devastating psychological damage that leads to feelings of shame, emotional paralysis and stigmatization. PTSD rates for rape victims are estimated to be 50 percent, higher than for soldiers returning from war.

In Missoula, Krakauer chronicles the searing experiences of several women in Missoula — the nights when they were raped; their fear and self-doubt in the aftermath; the way they were treated by the police, prosecutors, defense attorneys; the public vilification and private anguish; their bravery in pushing forward and what it cost them.

Some of them went to the police. Some declined to go to the police, or to press charges, but sought redress from the university, which has its own, noncriminal judicial process when a student is accused of rape. In two cases the police agreed to press charges and the district attorney agreed to prosecute. One case led to a conviction; one to an acquittal. Those women courageous enough to press charges or to speak publicly about their experiences were attacked in the media, on Grizzly football fan sites, and/or to their faces. The university expelled three of the accused rapists, but one was reinstated by state officials in a secret proceeding. One district attorney testified for an alleged rapist at his university hearing. She later left the prosecutor’s office and successfully defended the Grizzlies’ star quarterback in his rape trial. The horror of being raped, in each woman’s case, was magnified by the mechanics of the justice system and the reaction of the community.

Krakauer’s dispassionate, carefully documented account of what these women endured cuts through the abstract ideological debate about campus rape. College-age women are not raped because they are promiscuous, or drunk, or send mixed signals, or feel guilty about casual sex, or seek attention. They are the victims of a terrible crime and deserving of compassion from society and fairness from a justice system that is clearly broken.

Once in a while, I take the time to share these more serious reviews with you. The last time that probably happened with Dave Cullen's Columbine about the school shootings in Columbine high school, and now I will do it with Jon Krakauer's Missoula about rape in Missoula, Montana. Since the topic this book focuses on is extremely delicate and one that deserves serious attention, this review will lack my regular gif-heavy rants etc. 

Before I get to the things that I "liked" about this book, I want to acknowledge that I am aware that it is not flawless. It lacks the voices of the accused and Krakauer himself has admitted confirmation bias. It relies heavily on court proceedings, which might not be for everyone, and the image it paints of the rapists might seem monotonous. BUT... it also gives a voice for the victims and brings up an extremely important topic of which general public still seems to have a very flawed image of. So yes, there are flaws, but for me, this book was an extremely interesting, scary, harrowing and heartbreaking read about the situations way too many young women, women of my age and situation (students), are put into.

To say that I "liked" this book seems slightly wrong, because though I found it very difficult to put it down, I cannot really say I really "liked" what I read. The way these women account their stories and the ways they are treated by the police and the people around them made me so angry. We live in a culture heavy with victim shaming. If a girl drinks, or if she dresses up in a certain way, "she probably was asking for it". If her friend, a popular football player rapes her, she is probably just "making too much of it", because why would a popular guy who could have any girl he wants need to rape someone? 

I am a massive sports fan, and though my sport of choice is ice hockey, there are a lot of things in this book that made me think about the treatment of athletes and those who might have been mistreated by them. Just earlier this year, a very famous hockey player, a Stanley Cup winner Patrick Kane, was accused of rape. The case seems to be over now, and Kane was declared as not guilty, but the way the case was discussed in the media reminds me a lot of the ways the cases were discussed in this book. I am not a Patrick Kane fan, and I probably never will be, and when someone accuses someone of rape, I take the side of the accuser until the moment enough evidence has been gathered. I think there is nothing worse than victim shaming, but unfortunately that is what happened with Kane's case. Comments all over the Internet were shaming the victim, calling her names and stating that she is "yelling rape" just to get money. Kane was praised and the arguments were much on the line of "why would he rape because everyone would sleep with him anyway?". New York Post actually brilliantly discussed the actions of fans in this situation, stating 

"But the morally agnostic fans don’t care about justice, nor particularly much for a horrified young woman or a permanently impugned young man. Only that Kane is on the ice come Oct. 7, for the season opener against the Rangers."

The question that came into my mind while reading this book, and while reading about Kane's case, was how I would react if someone blamed one of my favorite players of rape. I love hockey to no end, and I am very protective of my favorite players, but at the same time, I WANT TO BELIEVE THAT NO WOMAN WOULD EVER VOLUNTARILY GO THROUGH VICTIM SHAMING AND BLAME AND EVERYTHING ELSE, just to get money. I know situations can be desperate, but I would like to think they are never that desperate. I am aware of the fact that there are cases out there in which the woman has lied and the accused has been convicted wrongfully, the case of Brian Banks. But as Krakauer proves through statistics, the percentage of wrongful accusations is EXTREMELY SMALL.

Krakauer's book focuses on what is called acquaintance rape, meaning a rape committed by a person known to the victim. He argues several times, through academic research, that rape is still very much thought as something done by spooky, scary strangers that attack women in the dark, where in fact it seems most of the rape cases, at least of those done in college towns like Missoula, are acquaintance rapes, committed by classmates, friends and potential romantic interests of the young female victims. With acquaintance rape, the criminal process is described as problematic, because despite rape kit evidence, the question of consent becomes very problematic. I would like to think that "no" means "no", but this book very quickly proved to me that this kind of situations "no" might not mean "no" after all, at least not according to those accused and those defending them. Maybe she was drunk and said "no" even when she really wanted it. Maybe the way she was dressed said "yes". Maybe he previous interest can be read as a sign of consent... There are so many sick, twisted ways the judicial system places blame on these girls, as a result of which more that 90% of rapists get to walk free.

To finish up with this review, I will present here some direct quotations from the book. There are so many ways I could have approached this review, but I think this is the best way to do it, to give Krakauer's voice a chance to present what his book is all about. Missoula: Rape and Justice System in a College Town is an extremely difficult book to read, but it is an extremely important book, one that will definitely make you think, one that will probably make you very angry and upset. It gives the victims of this horrible crime a voice and allows them to present their side to the story. I haven't read anything by Krakauer before, but his style of presenting facts really worked for me, and I will definitely check out his other books as soon as possible.


"Using data gathered in 2011, the CDC study estimated that across all age groups, 19.3 percent of American women "have been raped in their lifetimes" and that 1.6 percent of American women - nearly two and a half million individuals - "reported that they were raped in the 12 months preceding the survey.""

"Women don't get raped because they were drinking of took drugs. Women do not get raped because they weren't careful enough. Women get raped because someone raped them."
(From The Purity Myth by Jessica Valenti)

"They said you were moaning, so you couldn't have been passed out. We needed one more person to take your side and back up your story, and there wasn't one. I'm sorry, but there is nothing we can do."
(Police to a girl gang raped by a group of football players)

"Well, sometimes girls cheat on their boyfriends, and regret it, and then claim they were raped."
(Police officer to a victim of alleged rape)

"Why do your detectives seem more concerned about the defendant than the victim?"

"When cops and prosecutors fail to aggressively pursue sexual-assault cases... it sends a message to sexual predators that women are fair game and can be raped with impunity."

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday (#51): The First Time She Drowned by Kerry Kletter (March 15th 2016 by Philomel Books)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill over at Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating. 
For more information click here

The First Time She Drowned by Kerry Kletter

The beautiful struggle of a girl desperate for the one relationship that has caused her the most painCassie O'Malley has spent the past two and a half years in a mental institution—dumped there by her mother, against her will. Now, at 18, Cassie emancipates herself, determined to start over. She attends college, forms new friendships, and even attempts to start fresh with her mother. But before long, their unhealthy relationship threatens to pull Cassie under once again. As Cassie struggles to reclaim her life, childhood memories persist and confuse, and Cassie must consider whose version of history is real, and more important, whose life she must save.

A bold, literary story about the fragile complexities of mothers and daughters and learning to love oneself, The First Time She Drowned reminds us that we must dive deep into our pasts if we are ever to move forward. 






What are you waiting for this week?

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Midmonth Obsessions (#4) - January 2016

IT IS 2016!! January is already a little past its middle point, but I thought I would still post this up because there are some fun things I have fallen in love with since the last time I posted my midmonth obsession post.

If this is your first time stumbling into my midmonth obsessions post, welcome! For the past two months, I have shared some things I have been enjoying during the last 30 days or so here in my blog to give you a glimpse of the things I like beyond books.

1. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

AMAZING SHOW WITH A HORRIBLE TITLE! Please don't be like me and let the title keep you away from this gem. It is funny, relatable (the main character Rebecca is wonderfully and realistically awkward) and has awesome musical numbers. Rebecca Bloom got a Golden Globe for her role in the show, which hopefully means that this gem will stay on air for a while! The first season is now on mid-season break, so now would be a perfect time to catch up with the show before it continues next week on the 25th! 

(If you are in US, I believe you can watch it online from CW's website. There are plenty of streaming links available for those outside US!)

2. Pretty Little Liars

I continually kept telling myself that I was D-O-N-E with this show, but here I am, all caught up and waiting for this week's episode. This is one of those shows that just completely sucks me into its ridiculousness and drama. I watched seasons 4 and 5 in about a week and then caught up with the first half of season 6 as well in just a couple of days. I will try to keep up with it now, but if I don't, I foresee a binge at some point in the future.

3. One Tree Hill

I watched the first season of this show back in 2011 the summer before my freshman year in university. I loved it, but never ended up getting the second season (that was back when I didn't have a Netflix yet). After I finished my intense binge on Pretty Little Liars, I wanted something new to watch and this one kept calling for me from my Netflix queue. I finished with season 3 last night (that finale was INTENSE) and I can't wait to see what happens next.

4. The Girl Who Fell by Shannon M. Parker

So let me tell you something.... THIS BOOK WAS AMAZING! It is one of those books I wish I could have read when I was younger, and even though I have never gone through something even close to what Zephyr goes through, I still found her to be an extremely relatable and realistic character! There are also ice hockey players here, who, as you might now, are my number one weakness.

Add this awesomeness to your Goodreads to-read list from here! The Girl Who Fell will be published by Simon Pulse on March 1st, 2016.

4. #52FilmsByWomen Challenge

As some of you might now, I am a film graduate and a currently doing my post graduate degree on media studies. I tend to watch a lot of films and for a long time, I have been aware that most of those films are made by men. In fact, at the moment, my top five movies of all time is dominated by male directors. Though I love my top fives movies dearly, I would like to add female directed cinema to the list of films I cherish. So, what better way to do that than to participate in the #52FilmsByWomen challenge, which challenges you to watch a film directed by a woman once every week during 2016.

I haven't taken the weekly approach myself, but rather just watch female directed films whenever I feel like it. So far I have watched four and enjoyed all of them. If you want to follow my process and my ratings, check out the Letterboxd list I made for the challenge.

If you are interested to participate, you can pledge your participation here