9.15.2014

Recent Reads, 28/40: The Fever

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I’m a little bummed that this photo translated to a grainy shot on the computer. The cover of this book is so gorgeous in such a strange way…probably one of the best photograph covers I’ve seen in a long time.

Anyway, book 28 was The Fever by Megan Abbott. This is my second Abbott read, the first being Dare Me (you can read about my thoughts on that one here), and after reading my response to that one, it’s fair to say that Abbott hooked me the same way she did with the last book. She has a way of writing, dark, beautiful, and suspenseful, that makes you want to keep turning the page. This was just over 300 pages, so it only took a few days to complete, especially since I kept turning the pages and promising myself one more chapter.

The story is written from 3 different perspectives (third-person) much like The Leftovers, another quietly creepy book I read this year. Deenie Nash, a teenager just blooming into her sexuality, Eli is her older brother, a popular guy that most girls fawn over, and Tom, their father and a teacher at their high school. The book begins when Deenie’s best friend Lise suffers from a strange seizure before class starts. It lands her in the hospital, and tests aren’t showing why it happened. Then, Deenie watches as more girls start to experience similar symptoms without any explanation.
The parents are left searching for an answer while Deenie can’t help but feel like it’s her fault.

It’s the illness, and the unexplained and spreading nature of it, that makes this book hard to put down. Secrets are kept throughout the novel, throwing you off the tracks until it’s time to reveal them. I really enjoyed it. I will say that the end sort of felt like a cop-out, in a way. It wasn’t what I expected, and I was a teensy bit let down.
Still, it was completely engaging, and I would recommend it to anyone looking for a little mystery.

9.11.2014

Recent Reads, 27/40: A Little Something Different

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So I don’t remember where I initially heard of A Little Something Different by Sandy Hall.
All I remember is finding it on Amazon, pre-ordering it, and adding it to my Goodreads To-Read list.
It came in the mail at the end of August, and that was that.

An interesting fact about this is book is that it is was published by a website called Swoon Reads, an imprint off of Macmillan publishing where people can submit and read YA love stories. Some people, as with Sandy Hall and a few others, actually end up with a publishing deal! Pretty neat, right?

Anyway, the title of the book is perfect, because this love story, which by all means could perfectly fit the template of every romantic book you’ve read or movie you’ve seen, is told through 14 different perspectives and not one of them is either of the characters falling in love. In fact, a couple of the characters aren’t even HUMAN.
Lea and Gabe are perfect for each other, and everyone can see it but them. There is an undeniable chemistry from the moment they meet, but it takes them both a while to realize that.
Meanwhile, their friends, teachers, baristas, and a park bench all can see it as clear as day.

I liked this cute and easy read because it was what I expect in a fun love story without falling into every single cliché.
Adding the voice of different people, from cynical love haters to the friends who root them on, makes this story special.

9.08.2014

Fine, September. Let’s Do This.

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I just have to say that I’m currently writing this while sitting on the front porch in a rocking chair, drinking iced green tea. It’s really nice. I want to remember that if I look back on this post in the future.

It is currently the 8th of September, which means we are a full week into the beginning of the end of the year.
All the beer distributors have their Oktoberfest and pumpkin beers ready, and, of course, Starbucks has their Pumpkin Spiced Latte and Dunkin’ has their pumpkin-spiced everything. Halloween decorations are available (and even decorating) most stores, and the kids are back in school.

I love Autumn. I do. It’s a more recent development for me, something that’s come with “adulthood”. Since I don’t have a 3 month summer vacation anymore, I can appreciate the fall season in a different way…it’s the same life, but with pretty foliage and mulled (and spiked) cider (another thing I couldn’t enjoy as a kid). But there’s something about this whole summer being nearly over that’s got me in a funk.

Working crazy shifts any given day of the week might be why, but I didn’t really feel summery this year. There were only a handful of dips in the pool, two beach days, maybe one cookout. Every free weekend I had was because of an obligation (a bunch were fun ones, like weddings) that didn’t include lazing around in a bathing suit. I feel like I didn’t get to LIVE my summer. I didn’t go to the hometown auction or drink bottles of summer shandy on the back porch with my friends. I can’t help but feel like one of the greatest times of the year went by and I hardly noticed. There’s also something about August that puts me in a mood. Maybe it’s because I know the clock is ticking on summer fun.

Things have been changing around in my life, and it’s good and weird and a little stressful and a lot exciting.
So I’m going to try and make peace with the summer that has passed in order to make room for the upcoming fall.
Luckily, there are tons of things to look forward to, like…

Cardigans and button down shirts. Booties. Pumpkin coffee and pumpkin muffins and pumpkin pumpkins (I won’t have anything pumpkin for at least another week…sorry guys, it’s too early!). Crisp, clear autumn days. The mind-blowing colors of the leaves. Cuddly movie nights in. Better hair (no humidity). Halloween decorations and maybe a party and maybe a fun costume. Walks in cemeteries and plenty of photo opportunities. Chili and sour cream and cornbread.

I guess I am ready, after all.

9.02.2014

Recent Reads, 26/40: Since You’ve Been Gone

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Book 26 of my 40 book challenge was Morgan Matson’s Since You’ve Been Gone.

This book was a lot of fun. I really enjoyed reading it. I think I first heard of it because there was a contest on Instagram via Iconosquare that tied in with the book. After reading the premise, I was sold.

Emily is the kind of girl who prefers to hide behind others, allowing them to shine so she can stay out of the spotlight. Her friendship with Sloane is perfect for that…Sloane is fearless and beautiful, always making conversation with new people, dressing in fantastic vintage clothes, and pushing Emily outside of her box. Emily is prepared for another amazing summer with her best friend…but Sloane and her family have appeared to flee town without telling her.
Eventually, Emily gets a letter from Sloane in the mail (no return address, of course) with a list of 13 things Emily should do this summer. They range from simple (apple picking at night) to ballsy (go skinny dipping) and Emily, who normally would be scared to do any of these things, gets up the courage to do them in an attempt to find Sloane, and she ends up finding herself and some new friends along the way.

This was a really fun read. I think it accomplished what it was set out to do…be a fun book about growing up, friendship, learning about yourself, and finding courage. It’s also a great summer book. When I first started, I was worried that it would bore me (the chapters were longer than I expected, and I just wasn’t falling in right away), but I couldn’t stop reading once the actions on the list got juicier and her friendships continued to develop.

Morgan Matson has two other books with great Goodreads ratings…I look forward to reading them soon!

P.S. I love the addition of photography inside of the dust jacket…what a fun touch!

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8.27.2014

Recent Reads, Double Feature: Books 24 & 25

Usually, I like to do separate posts about my books, but I finished two books before sitting down to write.
Why not do a little combo post?

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Book 24 was The Girls from Corona del Mar by Rufi Thorpe (it’s also the most recent book that Katie and I have read together). I had heard about it (it’s Thorpe’s debut novel) from a good review in Entertainment Weekly (surprise).

The book tells the story of two friends, Mia and Lorrie Ann, from Mia’s perspective. We learn about their friendship as teenagers, as Mia tells Lorrie Ann that she has scheduled an appointment for an abortion. The basic idea is that Mia is the bad seed in the relationship, which she welcomes with open arms, as she admires the beauty and perfection of Lorrie Ann and her family life. Throughout the novel, as time goes on, Mia is transfixed by the fact that, despite how wonderful a person Lorrie Ann is and how terrible and selfish Mia believes she is, Lorrie Ann’s life has been completely encompassed in bad luck.

The story is ultimately about what it means to be a woman, a mother, and how relationships change as we age.
I found this book to be a fairly quick read, and a lot of the conversations had between the two friends bring up a lot of interesting arguments. I’m not shouting from the rooftops about this novel, but I am glad I read it.
Can’t wait to talk about it with Katie!

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Book 25 is Panic by Lauren Oliver. Not only is this the second Lauren Oliver book I’ve read, it’s also the second Lauren Oliver book I’ve read this year. You may recall that I had many great things to say about Before I Fall.
She has a trilogy of books, and now Panic is her most recent novel, a stand-alone book.

Panic is the story of Heather, Dodge, and a game called Panic that occurs every summer in a small, boring town called Carp. There’s nothing else to do, so the seniors give money that ends up accumulating until the summer after their graduation, and then the winner takes the pot. The thing about Panic is that the stakes are always high. People have died in the past completing the challenges. Heather joins Panic on an impulse…she feels as though there is nothing left to lose.
Dodge, meanwhile, has been plotting revenge via entering the games for years. The story switches between Heather’s life and Dodge’s life, both third-person narrative.

I think this book had a lot of potential. The high-stakes game provided the occasional thrill, but it definitely could’ve been more exciting. And the end, which I don’t want to ruin, was so anti-climactic. It felt abrupt and so happily-ever-after. I think it was guaranteed to have a good ending, everything falling into place but…it felt forced and random.

A challenge update: I’m 63% done (1 book behind)!
My only problem is narrowing down the books I want to read. Over 50 unread books on the Kindle, so many unread books (old and new) that I’ve bought. And, of course, the library…sigh….

8.25.2014

Jenna & Ed: A Wedding

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This past Saturday, some dear friends of mine tied the knot in a super-fun wedding!

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From the start, I knew this was going to be a fair themed reception. I haven’t been to a “themed” wedding before, not that the ceremony itself actually had a theme. Obviously, there are color schemes and centerpieces that try to correlate with each other, but this was a genuine theme and it was executed perfectly!
They chose the theme, if I recall, because they love going to county fairs.

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We were at table 1, dubbed the “Dunk Tank” and everything was surrounded with cute tickets. The details were everywhere, very admirable. I also loved our little favors…yummy lollipops!

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If you know me, you know I love bunting flags. I like to make my own out of felt, and they are just so fun and festive! The cake was decorated with them (and there were some above them at the ceremony!) which is just too cute.
Close-up on the cake topper:

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The execution of the event was perfect, in my opinion. It was a party, really, and I think that’s something receptions often lack. Weddings are fun, but they can sometimes feel like obligations, in a way. The usual list of events, the same songs at each one. The DJ played amazing music, and that resulted in my dancing ALL NIGHT LONG (I swear, I didn’t sit down save for a couple of bathroom breaks and stops for ice water). I had a BLAST. And that’s what I hope will happen one day, at my future wedding. Of course, I wouldn’t have the same theme, but I want the fun, and I definitely want a reception that shows myself and my future husband through everything.

Now, a boatload of photos with friends!
(My phone died and I didn’t get a photo with the bride…still beating myself up about it!!)

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Literal best friend, partner-in-crime, bestest person in the world.

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Catie, Maria, and I photobombed by Ed and Jared, true playas all night.

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Interesting fact: I haven’t seen Lauren since February.
Feels like yesterday, but it has been way too long and I can’t wait to try and fix that.

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Seeing Nicole for the first time in forever was awesome…again, must make plans to see her soon!

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I’ve talked about Katie on the blog, but her she is! This is my “book club” buddy! I am so glad we’ve been spending so much time together, and that we were able to dance the night away!

I have so much photo-snagging to do for August PL layouts.
If you’re interested in seeing more of the wedding, check out Instagram, #obernowski2014 for so many great photos of the couple, the decor, and the crazy fun people!

Congrats again, guys!

8.17.2014

Recent Reads, 23/40: Grasshopper Jungle

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I’ve been wanting to write my review for book 23, Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith, all week, but I didn’t have the dust jacket to take a good photo. I’ve been at Brad’s all week, and the cover has been at home and I just couldn’t wait any longer. So this photo will have to do…maybe I’ll update it, but it’s not really that important.
(Although I like the cover!)

Grasshopper Jungle is the story of 16 year old Austin Szerba, who is documenting the history of the end of the world.
Austin and his best friend, Robby Brees, spend their afternoons and weekends skateboarding in an alleyway they dubbed “grasshopper jungle” in the small town of Ealing, Iowa, where nothing exciting happens and everything basically sucks. One day, Austin and Robby are beaten up and their shoes are thrown on the roof of a secondhand store. When the boys go to retrieve it, they sneak into the shop and into the locked backroom, where many a weird thing is stored. It leads to a globe of phosphorescent mold being stolen by the same jerks who beat the kids up…and that mold holds a plague that will bring about the end of the world as we know it, creating 6-foot tall preying mantises out of anyone who comes in contact with the strain. As all of this is happening, Austin is dealing with the common problems of a 16 year old boy. He’s horny, he’s bored, and he’s in love with his best friend and his girlfriend, Shann Collins, adding sexually confused to his hormonal mix.

This was unlike anything I read. It’s sci-fi mixed with teenage drama, but in a very mature sense. Austin never sounds too big for his britches, an important thing for me in young adult novels. In fact, there’s a very repetitive nature to the way he speaks, and I like that. Just a reminder of what has been happening, as if he really is documenting the history of this devastation in notebooks.

I would definitely recommend this to anyone look for something different.
If you need anymore egging on, read this great review from Entertainment Weekly.