Betwixt the Books Recommends: Beachy Reads

Wherein Michaela and Gretchen discuss a handfull of books that they feel are great books to bring to the BEACH or just generally read during those hot summer months.

January Reading Wrap Up + PopSugar Reading Challenge Status

Thesis Thursday is taking a break this week because lol I’m not doing that work yet, I’m lazy as hell. Anyways. This post is as much for you as it is me, because I realized that while Michaela has been keeping track of her PopSugar reads while she’s been going along, I’ve been winging it. Even if I did make myself a wonderful TBR and everything. So. Here’s where we stand right now.

I read 9 books in January. 7 were young adult novels, 1 was historical fiction and 1 was general fantasy. Somehow, I also managed to tick off SIX different PopSugar challenge boxes as well! Here’s how:

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From the Notebook: (Some) Favorite Books to Re-Read

From the Notebook videos are back! This week I’m talking about all the books I re-read while I was home. I spent a lot of winter break sick or feeling awful after getting my wisdom teeth out, so this is really a list of some of my favorite books of all time. A lot of these are the books I always return to and that make me smile and make me happy. Enjoy the last video I filmed at my house for the foreseeable future!

Posts mentioned in this video:

Worth It Wednesdays: “Anna and the French Kiss” by Stephanie Perkins

Worth It Wednesdays is a weekly post where I feature my favorite YA titles. Find out more about it here!

anna and the french kissTitle: Anna and the French Kiss

Author: Stephanie Perkins

Goodreads Description: Anna is looking forward to her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a great job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. Which is why she is less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris–until she meets Étienne St. Clair. Smart, charming, beautiful, Étienne has it all…including a serious girlfriend.

But in the City of Light, wishes have a way of coming true. Will a year of romantic near-misses end with their long-awaited French kiss?

Why it’s worth it: When the blogosphere first blew up with this book, I shied away automatically. I tend to dislike YA contemporary romance, and this just sounded … trite. Like I’d read it a million times before. But more and more of my bloggy friends and people I liked around the internet kept saying I THOUGHT THAT BUT IT’S GOOD and I went … alright?

TURNS OUT THAT THEY WERE ALL CORRECT.

Anna is the kind of book that stays with you long after the pages have shut. It’s the kind of book that I re-read when I’m feeling the worst in my life. Does the description make it sound like dozens of other things? Yes. Is the plot similar in that way? Yes.

The thing about it, though, is the way that Perkins writes. There is no doubt in my mind about the reality of this story. The characters are REAL. Their issues are REAL. And there is none of this “main character perfection” or “love interest perfection” thing that happens sometimes in similar novels. Anna and St. Clair are messed up. They mess up over the course of the book. They fall apart and them come back together, TOGETHER.

Also, Perkins doesn’t let the book just be about the romance. There is a lot of real back and forth about friendships, and how crushes within friend groups can lead to grief and heartache. Yet, again, the friendships fall apart and come back together with a reality that is staggering. There isn’t a single character–within the main romance or not–that doesn’t steal your heart.

Maybe I’m biased. Anna did get me through one of the toughest periods of my life. But I thoroughly believe that a lot of it is also due to the fact that Perkins is just a damn good author. There are two companion books to Anna, and both are really good as well. Okay, I was only okay with Lola and The Boy Next Door but Isla and The Happily Ever After came back and stole my heart all over again. So yeah. Just read them.

Read it if you’re looking for: YA contemporary romance that won’t make you want to vomit, lack of a real love triangle, books about friendship, books about Paris, books about family, swoon worthy romance, books that will stay with you.

A Tourist Gotta Do What a Tourist Gotta Do

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In Scotland, Madison perfected the tourist look.

Honestly, I think me and my friends have been pretty good about not being THAT American. You know, those people wearing American flag pants or backpacks talking loudly on the tube. Actually, we’ve done really well at not being THAT tourist, wandering around wearing I LOVE LONDON sweaters or something.

Sometimes, though, you just have to cave in. You have to do THAT TOURIST THING because at the end of the day, we are overseas for four months and we are tourists. That’s just it.

In my attempt to be all chill about living in London, it IMG_1055actually took me a month to see Big Ben. I KNOW, right? Silly me. But honestly it’s just a clock, guys. And not as big as I thought.

10444678_10204876772298356_4421531040499595570_nAnother touristy moment of mine was heading out to Kew Gardens. These Royal Botanical Gardens are one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen – and SO BIG. In just one greenhouse, they showcase every kind of environment from deserts to rain forests that plants can be found in. And then there are rolling lawns for days. I call this a touristy moment because the second I walked in there, I lost my mind. I didn’t realize I’d been missing green so much, because I just started dancing and running around and generally being laughed at by everyone I was there with. Absolutely no shame.

I think there’s no question about my touristy moment at the Royal Observatory in IMG_1082Greenwich. We climbed the hill and paid the money to go stand in two hemispheres at once and take the requisite picture. In a way, what was cooler was that the museum that they have there had been taken over by steampunk artists, so the history was littered with steampunk garb and art by a bunch of different people. Completely worth it!

IMG_1140I also feel compelled to add in here the trip I just came back from, which was an overnight ostensibly to Stratford-Upon-Avon. On our way there, we stopped at Warwick Castle, which is a gorgeous bit of architecture that entertains you all day long with activities presented by people who really seem to love their job. We saw a trebuchet launch, a bird’s of prey show and an archery demonstration. Total tourist trap, but totally worth it.

While in Stratford itself, we saw a Royal Shakespeare Company production of Love’s IMG_1156Labour’s Lost, which was simply fantastic. The set alone was a marvel to behold. I still don’t like reading Shakespeare, but watching it performed has grown on me a great deal. We also wandered our way out to Shakespeare’s grave, of course, and paid to stare at that. Again, total tourist thing you just HAVE to do if you’re out there. Why not, right?

IMG_1169On the way back, we stopped in Oxford and basically just wandered around. We were all a bit tired by that point. Still, we went and stared at the church where they filmed the Great Hall scenes in Harry Potter and wandered around the college streets.

I’m sure there will be many more moments when I have to suck it up and strap my camera to my belt, map in hand, and I’m not going to regret them. We’re abroad to do those things that you do in a foreign country. Tourist traps are one of them. You just absolutely have to do some of these things. Otherwise, it’s just an opportunity missed that might not ever come around again. No shame from me!

Review: “Isla and the Happily Ever After” by Stephanie Perkins

IslaIsla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins

Goodreads Amazon

Love ignites in the City That Never Sleeps, but can it last?

From the glittering streets of Manhattan to the moonlit rooftops of Paris, falling in love is easy for hopeless dreamer Isla and introspective artist Josh. But as they begin their senior year in France, Isla and Josh are quickly forced to confront the heartbreaking reality that happily-ever-afters aren’t always forever.

Their romantic journey is skillfully intertwined with those of beloved couples Anna and Étienne and Lola and Cricket, whose paths are destined to collide in a sweeping finale certain to please fans old and new.

Five stars

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Top Ten Books That Will Make You Swoon

toptentuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the Broke and the Bookish!

Alright, folks, guess I got the Valentines themed one. This is amusing, because one blogger on this site is bitter about Valentines this year and one is not and GUESS WHO’S DOING THIS LIST! But no, actually, this list is still going to be really hard to put together. Gosh. Uh. Well, here’s some in no particular order!

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