Happy One Year! Giveaway

September 17, 2014 ● BY ● TAGS: Giveaway33 comments

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September is a big month around Paper Riot—not only is it my birthday (thank y’all so much for all of the lovely birthday wishes, by the way), it also marks my anniversary with this lovely blog. In a way, I can’t believe it has been a year since I posted my very first review. But in other ways, as Judith and I were discussing earlier, it feels like it has been so much longer than a year. I feel like she and I have been friends for such a long time. I wouldn’t trade the past year for anything— since I’ve signed on as co-blogger at Paper Riot, I get to fangirl about some great books (which is one of my absolute favorite things!), and I’ve met some people who I now consider my very best friends.

Judith, over the past year, you have gone from being one of my best “Internet friends” to one of my best friends period, who lets me talk about anything from books to boys to work to family. I love you, lady. Thank you so much for your friendship and for letting me share your blog and fangirl about books together!  

I won’t mention all of you by name for fear that I’ll leave someone out, but you all know who you are. To everyone who has talked books with me on Twitter, welcomed me into the book blogging family, and just become a good friend to me over the past year, thank you!!! I treasure my friendship with each and every one of you.

I wish I could give one of my favorite books to all of you; I’ll have to settle for something a little more affordable though! As a thank you, I decided give away two books. Here’s how it will work: I’ve made two lists: one containing my favorite adult books that I’ve reviewed at Paper Riot over the past year, and one with my favorite YA books. The first winner will get to choose a book from the adult list, and the second winner will get to choose a book from the YA list. The giveaway will be open internationally. You have until 11:59 pm on September 30 to enter.

ADULT/NEW ADULT LIST

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Nowhere But Home by Liza Palmer
Bittersweet by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore
I Shall Be Near to You by Erin Lindsay McCabe
One Plus One by JoJo Moyes
The One and Only by Emily Giffin (review coming soon)
Veronica Mars: Thousand Dollar Tan Line by Rob Thomas
Conversations with the Fat Girl by Liza Palmer
Ten Tiny Breaths by K.A. Tucker
Hopeless by Colleen Hoover

YOUNG ADULT LIST

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Like No Other by Una LaMarche
Where the Stars Still Shine by Trish Doller
How to Love by Katie Cotugno
Open Road Summer by Emery Lord
Breathe, Annie, Breathe by Miranda Kenneally (or any of the Hundred Oaks books)
Life by Committee by Corey Ann Haydu
Love and Other Foreign Words by Erin McCahan
What I Thought Was True by Huntley Fitzpatrick

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Better Off Friends by Elizabeth Eulberg
Take Me On by Katie McGarry
Dangerous Girls by Abigal Haas
Only Everything by Kieran Scott
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han
Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy
The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith
Such a Rush by Jennifer Echols

Everyone go fill out the Rafflecopter below, and good luck! I’m looking forward to another great year with all of you! <3

For a trip down memory lane, here’s a link to my very first post in which I introduce myself!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Review: Falling into Place

September 15, 2014 ● BY ● TAGS: Review, 2 comments

Review: Falling into PlaceTitle: Falling into Place
Author: Amy Zhang
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Release Date: September 9, 2014
Genre/Age Group: Contemporary, Young Adult
Source: Edelweiss
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: 3.5 Stars

On the day Liz Emerson tries to die, they had reviewed Newton’s laws of motion in physics class. Then, after school, she put them into practice by running her Mercedes off the road. 

Why? Why did Liz Emerson decide that the world would be better off without her? Why did she give up? Vividly told by an unexpected and surprising narrator, this heartbreaking and nonlinear novel pieces together the short and devastating life of Meridian High’s most popular junior girl.

Mass, acceleration, momentum, force—Liz didn’t understand it in physics, and even as her Mercedes hurtles toward the tree, she doesn’t understand it now. How do we impact one another? How do our actions reverberate? What does it mean to be a friend? To love someone? To be a daughter? Or a mother? Is life truly more than cause and effect?

my thoughts

I didn’t quite see this book coming. Falling into Place by debut author (and high schooler!) Amy Zhang is a quiet novel, one that slowly creeps up on you, takes your breath away with its complexity, and before you know it, makes you sob into your pillow in the middle of the night. I don’t think it’s for everyone, though. The story is told rather matter-of-factly by a mysterious narrator, and at first, stays pretty superficial. While the writing is beautiful (and I mean really beautiful, because Zhang’s words are lyrical and rich and I loved it), I suppose it can also be boring because not much happens. Wait, that’s not entirely true. Plenty of things happen, but they are told in a bit of a numb way, because that’s how Liz feels about the world. As a reader, I definitely felt distanced at times. But I was also intrigued from the start. I fell in love with the writing and I kept wanting to know more about what drove Liz over the edge. I couldn’t put it down.

It’s interesting because I’m still not sure what, exactly, I read. Falling into Place is about the attempted suicide of Liz Emerson, who is the main character but not the narrator of the story. When Liz drives her car off the road, it sets in motion an exploration of what happened to her before the crash, and what happens to her family, friends and classmates after. It’s told through countless of flashbacks and moments in the present time and it all works. I’m not always a fan of too many flashbacks because it can make a story seem unbalanced, but Amy Zhang totally made it work. Throughout the story, we learn how every little thing Liz (and people in general) did effected others, and ultimately, all events in her life led to Liz’s attempted suicide. It’s not a happy story. In fact, it’s very, very dark, and its darkness weighed me down because I could really relate to it and maybe that’s what made me feel this book so much.

What drives this book, though, is its incredibly complex characters. Even though I’m still not sure if I like Liz or not (her likeability is very questionable), I admired her complexity. I kept being thrown between being incredibly upset by the things she did because she was cruel and seemed to enjoy hurting other people more than anything else, and being incredibly upset by Liz’s depression and and hurting for her and just wanting her to be okay because I know what it feels like to be depressed. I cried was when Liz finally admitted that she was sick. I also cried when everyone else seemed to ignore her cry for help. Like I said, it’s a dark book. But the mysterious narrator also shows other perspectives, and shows us how well-written the other characters are. I love this because they are all characters that so easily could have been flat, but weren’t. I didn’t love any of them, but I did understand them.

There are so many things in this book that made me shake my head, because as a reader, you know how it’s going to end. There are unhealthy relationships and unwilling addictions and so, so many bad choices. It’s hard to read because you are not able to stop it, even though you know they’re bad decisions. But it wasn’t annoying. It added to the characters and their story. Like I said, not all of the the characters were very likeable but I like how they were all vulnerable and hurting and real. Through the flashbacks, we find out about the people in Liz’s life, and mostly about her best friends Julia and Kennie. I thought their friendship was great because it was unconditional. They all had their weaknesses and they didn’t always like each other, but they always loved and stood up for each other, and it was lovely to watch. I also liked Liam, because he saw people for who they really were and didn’t pretend.

As for the unknown narrator, I thought it was rather obvious after a while, but it was interesting. It really added to the mystery of this story, even if it didn’t make sense at all. All in all, I felt many things while reading this book: intrigue about what happened, blandness towards the characters at the beginning, despair when I found out more about Liz, and ultimately, a little lost after I finished. This, however, was not in a good way. The ending wasn’t bad, but it didn’t give me the closure I wanted. It just didn’t really work for me, and unfortunately, this clouded my reading experience. Somehow, the story didn’t feel quite finished. I felt like there was a part missing. I mostly wish that between Kennie’s story and the ending, Liz’s mom should have told her story. She wasn’t present enough for me, especially since she caused such a huge part of Liz’s depression. It felt like this novel had been building up to something that ultimately didn’t came.

Of course, the novel isn’t written in a logical way and maybe this fits the story, but I would have preferred something to give me closure, rather than feel like I’m being left floating in the air. Still, I think Falling into Place is a very impressive debut that really resonated with me. I admire Amy Zhang for her beautiful writing and her complex characters and her way to tell a dark story. I can’t wait to read more from her!

memorable quotes

Taken from the ARC.

“I get a glimpse as I walk by, a glimpse of the shock and tears, and it’s so strange, the silence, the sniffling. How Liz would have hated it. She would have known that most of them aren’t crying for her. They’re crying for themselves, for fear of death, for the loss of faith in their own invincibility, because if Liz Emerson is mortal, they all are.”

“I didn’t know what to do,” he says in a hollow voice. “I heard that she was in the hospital, and – god, Julia. We had a fight on Sunday, okay? I tried to apologize and she told me to go away. Do you know how guilty I’ve been feeling? God, don’t you think I regret all the things I said to her?”
Julia stares at him for a moment. Then, without warning, she punches him in the face so hard that his chair falls backward. And with Jake curled up on the floor, shocked and wincing, his hands cupped over his eye, Julia says in a hard voice, “This is not about you.”

“I watched her try to face her fears alone, too proud to ask for help, too stubborn to admit she was afraid, too small to fight them, too tired to fly away. I watched Liz grow up.”

Review: Rites of Passage

September 12, 2014 ● BY ● TAGS: Review, 3 comments

Review: Rites of PassageTitle: Rites of Passage
Author: Joy Hensley
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: September 9, 2014
Genre/Age Group: Contemporary, Young Adult
Source: Edelweiss
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: 3.5 Stars

Sam McKenna’s never turned down a dare. And she's not going to start with the last one her brother gave her before he died.

So Sam joins the first-ever class of girls at the prestigious Denmark Military Academy. She’s expecting push-ups and long runs, rope climbing and mud-crawling. As a military brat, she can handle an obstacle course just as well as the boys. She's even expecting the hostility she gets from some of the cadets who don’t think girls belong there. What she’s not expecting is her fiery attraction to her drill sergeant. But dating is strictly forbidden and Sam won't risk her future, or the dare, on something so petty... no matter how much she wants him.

As Sam struggles to prove herself, she discovers that some of the boys don’t just want her gone—they will stop at nothing to drive her out. When their petty threats turn to brutal hazing, bleeding into every corner of her life, she realizes they are not acting alone. A decades-old secret society is alive and active… and determined to force her out. At any cost.

Now time's running short. Sam must decide who she can trust...and choosing the wrong person could have deadly consequences.

my thoughts

I am not always emotionally invested in books, but holy hell, did Rites of Passage make me feel. From the start, this book put me on an emotional roller coaster and punch me in the gut with feelings. Admittedly, most of my feelings were angry ones, because a lot of the things happening in this book are bad. I would say it’s a book about bullying, but that might be too light. What happened to the main character is torture, and god, did it make me want to smack someone. At one point, I actually did punch the wall. My hand is not too happy about that. But I like books that make me feel, even if it’s anger, because I read so many books and often I just feel okay about them. But Rites of Passage was different. I was completely invested in the plot and the main character and the romance and I just needed things to be okay for Samantha and I needed someone to punch Matthews in the face. I love it when books make me feel things like that.

The first thing I loved about Rites of Passage is that it’s so different from other books I’ve read, because the setting and storyline are so very unique. I loved the military aspect and I loved learning more about it. Even though it was implied that we already had some knowledge of it, because Sam was raised in a military family (she knew all the ins and outs before starting at Denmark Military Academy), it was still explained really well. I really liked Sam as a character, because she is both fierce and vulnerable, but mostly fierce. As one of the first girls at the military academy, she obviously has to deal with the shit all the guys throw at her, but she fights through it. I think the main reason I was so invested in this story was that I wanted, needed, Sam to be okay and get through the torture, and also because I just really wanted to hurt the guys who did that to her, badly. God. I just keep repeating myself.

There’s a romantic aspect, but it’s developed rather late in the story – slow burning and dragging and forbidden, like I like my romance to be.  I often have issues with romance and I’m very, very picky about the kind I like, but for some reason, I thoroughly liked this one. The forbidden aspect and the fact that these characters had to keep their distance made me anticipate them getting together even more, and oh, I liked it so much. Mostly because, rather than a rushed romance, this one felt really well built-up, with characters who, despite their quick attraction to each other, really do understand each other. I think that some people may feel like it was a little underdeveloped and to some extent, I agree, but I don’t really care, because I was really invested in it. The love interest is adorable, mostly because he cares so much and he blushes. I also like that the romance didn’t take over the plot like so often happens.

My biggest issue with Rites of Passage was the ending, because as much as I enjoyed the book, the ending was rather abrupt and the reader is left off on a negative note. For a book that was so negative and pretty heavy in the first place, I was hoping for something lighter at the end. Of course, that is not real life and happily-ever-afters feel forced often. Unfortunately, there is a (kind of?) cliffhanger, that felt misplaced here. I feel a little betrayed, which may be me overreacting, but I was so emotionally invested in this book that I hate that the ending is changing my reading experience – but it did. The ending was going really well but View Spoiler » It felt so misplaced, and so the ending left me quite upset and even made me lower my rating. I’m a bit disappointed, and I hope there will be a sequel. Still, I obviously recommend this book to fans of fierce female leads, combat training and many, many feelings. It’s so good!

memorable quotes

“The smell of bacon makes me think of home before everything turned to shit. When Dad was stationed stateside and Amos, Jonathan and I used to play forts outside, even during the hot summers in Louisiana. After Mom lost her battle to make me a girly-girl and when all of us were equal. Before Dad and Amos started bonding over the military. When life was good.”

“Accepting help doesn’t mean anyone will think any less of you. It means your recruit buddies care about you. It means I care about you.”

“Everyone makes choices about how they live their lives, the way they’re going to move toward success. You have chosen an honorable route. Honorable people, people of character and moral uprightness, can be intimidating.”

Epic Recs: September 2014

September 10, 2014 ● BY ● TAGS: Epic Recs7 comments

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Oh hi, remember this? Amber and I used to do this thing called Epic Recs where we challenged each other to read a certain book each month, and then everyone joined in and it was super fun, and then we… stopped? The thing is, we got really busy, I kind of forgot about it, and one thing led to another (not in that way) and suddenly, Epic Recs was gone. Except not really, because we’re back. We both like to force people to read books, so this is still the best excuse to test our book pushing. Also there have been some enthusiastic and rather threatening comments in the past couple of weeks, so you guys clearly like this feature. Welcome (back) to the book pushing book club!

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Top Ten Underrated Books

September 9, 2014 ● BY ● TAGS: Top Ten Tuesday12 comments

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Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and The Bookish

We’re a little late because we weren’t originally planning on doing this list, but then we realized that this topic was actually amazing, and, well, here we are! We both love to make other people read books we loved, but unfortunately, some of our favorite books are very underrated. Here are 10 that you definitely MUST read.

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