Wednesday, August 31, 2016

What I Read in August

Hello everyone,

Today is another update on my reading life. This August has been pretty darn busy, but I've still been able to get five books read and two audio books listened to. It was a pretty good reading month. I've discovered some amazing novels and I''m really excited to be sharing them with you! As always, follow me on my goodreads if you want more regular updates on what I'm reading. 

I don't have full reviews on audio books, because personally I don't really consider them reading. I mean technically, you really aren't reading it. You're just listening to someone else read it. Of course, it's still the same story as if you read that book. This month I listened to The Raven Boys and The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater and boy were they good. I loved the narration, it was a super fun audio. Most of all, I found the story and characters amazing and I cannot wait to finish this series, then go back and read the physical books. 

1. Amy and Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson 

 Amy Curry is not looking forward to her summer. Her mother decided to move across the country and now it's Amy's responsibility to get their car from California to Connecticut. The only problem is, since her father died in a car accident, she isn't ready to get behind the wheel. Enter Roger. An old family friend, he also has to make the cross-country trip - and has plenty of baggage of his own. The road home may be unfamiliar - especially with their friendship venturing into uncharted territory - but together, Amy and Roger will figure out how to map their way  
My thoughts:
I'm kind of bummed out about this book. Almost every contemporary novel I've read this summer has been a disappointment.  I've always heard such wonderful things about Morgan Matson and Amy & Roger's Epic Detour, but I think this book was a little hyped up and left me looking for more. Don't get me wrong, it was cute and fluffy, but I don't feel like their was any real substance to the book and it didn't leave any lasting impressions. 

My first real issue with this book was our main character. She was so annoying at times! This was all written from her POV, so at times it got a bit tiring. She was immature and unrealistic. I couldn't connect with her and she didn't seem like a very believable character. Every time she talked about what "Amy!" would do, it was so obnoxious. There's only one of you honey, if that's what you think you should do, please do it. 

The Plot was a bit better. I really enjoyed the whole road trip aspect. I've been on quite a few in my life, so it was a lot of fun to read a road trip book, one where I have even visited some of the places talked about. Each character's backstory was also pretty interesting, though I found Roger's reason to go on the road trip a bit unrealistic and a tad creepy. There were also a few things that bugged me throughout this book surrounding the relationships. Matson created situations that either aren't very healthy or just don't happen. 

One thing I did really enjoy with this book was the way it was formatted. I loved all the playlists and scrapbook pages. The writing was a bit odd, though. A lot of the dialogue seemed unnatural and I occasionally felt like things were being dumb downed. 

Overall, I felt like this was a fun, fluffy summer read and I enjoyed some aspects, but I was pretty disappointed after hearing such wonderful things about this book. I do realize this is Matson's first book, and an author's style changes with more experience, so I'm willing to check out another book of her's and see if my opinion changes.

My rating:
3/5 stars

Should you read it?
Meh, it's not a must read. 

Favorite quote:
 “The best discoveries always happened to the people who weren't looking for them.” 

2.  The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Moral allegory and spiritual autobiography, The Little Prince is the most translated book in the French language. With a timeless charm it tells the story of a little boy who leaves the safety of his own tiny planet to travel the universe, learning the vagaries of adult behaviour through a series of extraordinary encounters. His personal odyssey culminates in a voyage to Earth and further adventures. 

My thoughts:
Walking around the library surrounded by books, the last section I thought of entering was Children's Picture Books.

"Just read it Liz, you'll love it!" 

"'s a children's book."

Of course, I picked it up, and under the watchful eye of my friend, finished it. I owe her, because this was so darn cute. Not only were the illustrations wonderful and the story line adorable, it was so full of themes aimed for the older humans in this world. I loved what this book portrayed and the story that it shared. It amazed me how Antoine de Saint-Exupéry was able to create such a punch in only 80 pages. 

So if someone bugs you to read this children's book, don't complain or claim you're too old for such stories. Instead, think back to your childhood and enjoy a bittersweet story full of lessons all adults need to hear. 

My rating:
4/5 stars

Should you read it?

Favorite quote:
 “And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”

3. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

Oscar Wilde brings his enormous gifts for astute social observation and sparkling prose to The Picture of Dorian Gray, his dreamlike story of a young man who sells his soul for eternal youth and beauty. This dandy, who remains forever unchanged; petulant, hedonistic, vain, and amoral; while a painting of him ages and grows increasingly hideous with the years, has been horrifying, enchanting, obsessing, even corrupting readers for more than a hundred years.

Taking the reader in and out of London drawing rooms, to the heights of aestheticism, and to the depths of decadence, The Picture of Dorian Gray is not only a melodrama about moral corruption. Laced with bon mots and vivid depictions of upper-class refinement, it is also a fascinating look at the milieu of Wilde’s fin-de-siècle world and a manifesto of the creed “Art for Art’s Sake.”

My thoughts:
It's rare for me to pick up a classic in the dead of summer. Not because I do not enjoy classic literature, but because summer is often a busy time and when I think of classics, I think a lot of time and studying. But luckily, I did pick up The Picture of Dorian Gray off of a friend's recommendation, and totally fell in love. 

Is this book full of wonderful, virtuous characters? No. Does it teach you to always do what is right and turn your face from evil? Not really. But does it have an amazing plot, well written characters, beautiful writing, and an epic ending? Oh yes indeed. 

I will admit, this book can be a bit slow brewing. There's a lot of description and dialogue going on, and if you're not paying attention, you may get lost. But for me, I found this book exciting and, on almost every page, full of quotable passages. Oscar Wilde created such natural, yes beautiful to read conversations between the characters and I really enjoyed that. His writing has this grace to it, and he was able to move along the plot of this book so smoothly. So many things surprised me and kept me on the edge of my seat. I was always looking forward to see what was happening next

Speaking of that, can we please talk about the genius that is this book? Writing a novel based on a man who forever stays young and beautiful while his portrait grows more mangled and ugly with his evil deeds, that is gold. If that doesn't intrigue you, I'm not sure what will. What an eerie, great idea. 

And the characters, so well developed! They all had their own distinct voice and as the story went on, changed into their own person. Although there are very few moral characters in this book, it was interesting to take note of their viewpoints and understand the way they thought. Dorian Gray was especially interesting to see grow, as we start off with him as very innocent and young, and we see him grow more and more evil with every page. 

Throw in all the good elements I just spoke of with a perfect ending, and you have a five star book. There is nothing I despise more than a convenient, anticlimactic ending, but this book did not disappoint. I closed my book completely satisfied. So good guys, so very good!

My rating:
5/5 stars

Should you read it?:
Uh, yes you should. 

Favorite quote:
 "Because to influence a person is to give him one's own soul. He does not think his natural thoughts, or burn with his natural passions. His virtues are not real to him. His sins...are borrowed. He becomes an echo of someone else's music, an actor of a part that has not been written for him."

5. Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

Winter, 1945. Four teenagers. Four secrets.

Each one born of a different homeland; each one hunted, and haunted, by tragedy, lies…and war.

As thousands of desperate refugees flock to the coast in the midst of a Soviet advance, four paths converge, vying for passage aboard the Wilhelm Gustloff, a ship that promises safety and freedom.

Yet not all promises can be kept.

Inspired by the single greatest tragedy in maritime history, bestselling and award-winning author Ruta Sepetys (Between Shades of Gray) lifts the veil on a shockingly little-known casualty of World War II. An illuminating and life-affirming tale of heart and hope. 

My thoughts:
You know those books you read that you completely fall in love with? Whenever someone asks you how it was, you sputter out random stuff and then stare off into the distance in awe. It's so absolutely amazing, that you can't find the words to express why. Salt to the Sea is one of those books for me. Why I have not read from Ruta Sepetys till now is beyond me. Her personal connection with all her stories, her eye for detail, and the amazing voice she gives to her characters is just fantastic.

I'm kind of in awe of her ability to create such a story that impacts people so much. Sepetys has a video through Penguin Teen about each of her books she's written, describing her inspirations and the historical backgrounds. For each one, she has this amazing connection which really causes the book to become personal to her and really inspiring to you. The fact that some of her own relatives were in the same situations the characters in this book experienced, is very special. I think that's really cool she wrote a novel based on what people in her family went through. 

Ruta Sepetys writing style is stunning. Blunt, upsetting, but so very beautiful. She doesn't shy away from detail, even when it can be horrifying. She doesn't sugarcoat the awfulness that was World War II, and I think that's really important. She also created such great characters and dialogue between them. Everything seemed so real. The entirety of this book felt that way, like I was really there, experiencing the events alongside everyone else. It takes a very talented writer to do such a thing. 

Speaking of characters, oh my good golly! What fantastic character development. It can be hard for me to read first person narratives, especially with multiple POV's, but Sepetys did not disappoint. Each one was written with such care, and I really loved watching them journey through what was happening to them, and change as a person, even in such a short span of time. Although not every character was likable, I thought that was good. It created a mixture of emotions, and was quite honestly realistic. I also loved the diversity in this book, how each character has a different ethnic background and history. 

Most of all, this book ripped me apart, but in a wonderful way. The fact that this book was based on real life events broke my heart. The suffering, pain, and brutality that was in this book really happened to real people. I won't say what happens in the end of course, but if you know the historical context of this book, then you know what I'm talking about. The fact that we as humans were capable of such brutality and evilness is kind of terrifying, and extremely devastating. I well never be able to unread some of the passages in her book that really took my aback, but for that I'm thankful. 

Overall, I am in love with this novel and I think it's an extremely important read. Before I read this book, I had never heard of the tragedy that is within its pages. I think it's amazing the Ruta Sepetys took a unknown historical event and created such a beautiful story for people all over the world to read, cry over, and learn from. I cannot recommend this book more, it was absolute perfection. 

My rating:
5/5 stars

Should you read it?:
YES, a thousands times yes!!

Favorite quote:
 “What had human beings become? Did war make us evil or just activate an evil already lurking within us?”

5. Sea of Shadows by Kelley Armstrong

Twin sisters Moria and Ashyn were marked at birth to become the Keeper and the Seeker of Edgewood, beginning with their sixteenth birthday. Trained in fighting and in the secret rites of the spirits, they lead an annual trip into the Forest of the Dead. There, the veil between the living world and the beyond is thinnest, and the girls pay respect to the spirits who have passed.

But this year, their trip goes dreadfully wrong.

With all the heart-stopping romance and action that have made her a #1 New York Times bestselling author, and set in an unforgettably rich and dangerous world, this first epic book in the Age of Legends trilogy will appeal to Kelley Armstrong's legions of fans around the world and win her many new ones.

My thoughts: 
Summer use to be a time where I basically only read books full of cute romances, road trips, and summer adventures. It's funny how things have changed and I've become such a mood reader. This August, I was in the mood for some fantasy, and Sea of Shadows certainly delivered.

Kelley Armstrong infused a lot of different aspects in this book that I've never seen before and I really enjoyed that! I found the shadow stalkers really creepy and different, and I loved idea and whole background of the Keeper and the Seeker. I also really enjoyed how each girl had a bond-mate animal. Overall, I thought this book had some pretty unique parts to it.

Armstrong's writing was not the most amazing thing I've ever read, but I still thought she did a nice job keeping the story flowing and giving lots of description without being wordy. At times, the dialogue between characters seemed a bit out of place and ridiculous, but there were also some pretty funny lines that I gave a good laugh to. She sure didn't shy away from an action, though. I was always kept on my toes, wondering what might happen next.

For the characters, I had a few I really loved. Moria is such a kick butt, sassy, interesting character and a lot of fun to read from. I loved her interactions with the other characters and she always threw in such an entertaining flare. Although she could be overbearing and headstrong, she actually had her priorities straight. Ashyn on the other hand really annoyed me at times. Her entire town is gone and she's separated from her sister, yet she's worrying about if the guy traveling with her likes her. WHAT IS YOUR PROBLEM. Seriously girl, please think logically. I found her POV kind of boring and much preferred reading from Moria's chapters.

Another character I really enjoyed was Gavril. Oh my goodness, he is the greatest. I may or may not have a low key new fictional crush. Yeah sure he's kind of moody and confusing at times, but it is so obvious how much he cares for Moria. I love how sarcastic he is and his determination. I really enjoyed him as a character. Ronan on the other hand kind of annoyed me. He really doesn't seem important to the story and he's always hiding in the shadows. Whatcha up to Ronan? His whole romance (is it even that?) with Ashyn was really weird and I don't really ship them.

Overall, I enjoyed this book and I think it's a pretty strong start to the series. Because Ashyn's chapters were a bit boring at times, I didn't enjoy this book as much as I could, but I'm still excited to read on and continue with the series. A lot of stuff went down and I need some explanations.

My rating: 
4/5 stars

Should you read it?: 
Yeah, go for it!

Favorite quote: 
“Night was her time. The Keeper. Bond-mate of the cat. Protector of the night. Daughter of the moon.”

What books have you read this month? Have you read Salt to the Sea yet?? Because if not you must!

With love,


Friday, August 26, 2016

Travel Diary: Silver Lake + Artist Point

Hello beautiful people,

I'm so excited to share with you all a wonderful trip I just got back from. My family and Christine and her family joined together and set up camp for a few days of fun card games, sitting by the lake, and beautiful day trips. Christine and her family are some dear friends of ours and I had such a blast hanging out with them. If you haven't checked out her blog, you totally should! It's tons of fun. 

We stayed at a pretty decent sized campsite right on Silver Lake. It was a really nice place! Although I didn't go swimming while on this trip, they had a really nice beach for wading out into the water and a cool bridge you could jump off of. Sadly, I was a little too cold the first couple days we were there to actually work up the nerve to try. Never fear though, if you don't like swimming they also have different types of boats you can rent. 

I really enjoyed this campsite. It was nice because we were able to have electricity but also still feel like we were camping. Natalie, Christine and I all hung out in my trailer and watched Sense and Sensibility while eating chocolate and playing cards. It was pretty great! Our site also backed up onto a large field where us kids were able to pass around the football or baseball. It was a lot of fun hanging out with everyone and enjoying the time we had together. 

Christine's family brought their puppy! She was so adorable. Libby and Murphy are brother and sister, so it was a lot of fun having them both together. They seemed to enjoy the camping life and being together. Every time we went anywhere, people would get so excited to pet them. Rightfully so, puppies are so freaking cute. 

Our last day there, we drove over to Artist Point, which was about 50 minutes away from our campsite. It was so beautiful up there! As I've said before and will say again, I am beyond blessed to live in the state of Washington. It has so much variety and beauty and I'm in love with it. Almost anywhere you go, you can find a gorgeous piece of God's creation.

Poor Natalie and I are seniors this year, and every place we stop, our moms are like, "Oh this would be such a nice senior picture!" Sadly for them, we weren't quite dressed for the occasion, so instead they had to settle with just taking group pictures and shots of the mountain. I think it was a fair trade though. 

It's so much fun to bring Murphy new places and see him sniff around excitedly. He was quite enjoying himself as he explored and got cooed over every time someone passed. So many people asked if they could pet him, it was so cute. 

"Awww your dog is SO adorable." 

"I know, isn't he? I mean err, thank you! I think so too."

Again, can I say how beautiful it was up there? If you ever find yourself in the area, you need to take a drive up to Artist Point. The views of Mount Baker and Mount Shuksan are breathtaking. These picture can't even compare to the stunning sights you can see with your very own eyes. Everywhere you turn there's another wondrous sight to feast your eyes on and take a snapshot of.

On our way back down the mountain, we stopped at Nooksack Falls and looked around for a little bit. It was another beautiful spot, but in a completely different way. I loved how shady and green it was in there. There were so many huge rocks to sit on and just listen to the rush of the water and the chirping birds. Being in nature and listening to the different sounds just brings you a sense of peace. This was one of those spots.

What are some of your favorite places in the state/country you live in?

With love,


Sunday, August 21, 2016

My God Time + Worship Playlist

Hello Everyone,

Today I wanted to share something pretty special to me, and that is my devotion routine and worship playlist. After seeing Elissa's worship playlist, I was inspired to share mine as well. As a Christian, it's really important to me to spend time in God's word and build our relationship. My relationship with Him should be like anyone else, where I make time to talk and be in His presence. 

In the past, I've struggled with keeping a routine and my time with Jesus really differed depending on the day/week/month. I've found some really great resources and a system that really works for me though, so I'm hoping this can help you if you're struggling, or maybe you're just curious on how I go about it. Either way, I hope you guys can get something out of me sharing.

Alright, my number one tip is to check out She Reads Truth. This is a wonderful site where women from all over contribute in writing different series for other women to read, build community, and spend time in God's word. Their current plan is the study of Mark, but personally, I prefer to go through their past studies so I don't feel guilty or rushed if I miss a day. Currently, I'm going through their Ruth study. They also have another site for men, He Reads Truth.

Some more of my favorite studies from She Reads Truth include:

Fruit of the Spirit-My school was going through the Fruit of the Spirit in chapel. As one of the small group leaders, I decided to do this to prepare and gain a better understanding. It was really good! 

Hospitality-This is a study I did a couple of years back, but I remember loving it and learning a lot. Even now, when someone asks me what study they should do, I think of this one.

Hymns-Another oldie. We were studying a few hymns at church and I was wanting to continue, and I found this gem. They have quite a few hymn series and they are all really great.

The Life of Moses-This one is a little bit longer than the rest, but still wonderful! If you're looking to study the Old Testament more, this one is really fantastic. 

I love music! Often times I listen to it quietly in the background as I go about my devotions. Worshiping God in music is such a wonderful thing and doesn't need to be kept for the 20 minutes before the pastor comes up on Sunday mornings. If you don't like listening to music while studying the word, make a worship playlist for driving to work, or getting ready in the morning. It truly starts your day off write. Plus, there's nothing better than singing your heart out for Jesus.

A few of my favorite worship songs:

Holy Spirit
Bryan and Katie Torwalt, Here on Earth.

It Is Well With My Soul
The City I Long For, The City I Long For.

Speak O Lord
Keith and Kristyn Getty, In Christ Alone.

Dry Bones
Gungor, Beautiful Things.

All the Poor and Powerless
All Sons & Daughters, Brokenness Aside EP No. 1. 

Salt and Light
Lauren Daigle, How Can It Be.

Broken Vessels (Amazing Grace)
Hillsong Worship, No Other Name.

Great Are You Lord
All Sons & Daughters, All Sons & Daughters.

I Need Thee
Jadon Lavik, Roots Run Deep.

Lamb of God
Tenth Avenue North, The Struggle. 

for KING & COUNTRY, Run Wild. Live Free. Love Strong.

Sinking Deep
Hillsong Young & Free, This is Living. 

Follow my Spotify playlist for more.

Another way of studying the bible I love to do, is to just pick a book and read one or two chapters of it a day. If you're not one for online bible studies, or just like to do your own thing, this is a wonderful way to do it. After all, there is nothing better than reading straight out of God's word. I'm currently going through the book of Ephesians and really enjoying it! Normally, I write down I few verses in my journal that really stood out for me, and I then write my thoughts about them. Pretty simple.

A great resource for if you don't have your own bible, or just want a digital one, is Bible Gateway.  You can access this site online, or through its app. Not only does it have the entire bible in every translation you'd want, it also has great resources for more in depth studies, reading your bible in a year, or commentary on particular passages.

Another app/website I've really enjoyed is Sermon Audio. This is full of thousands of sermons from different pastors, well known and unknown. If you're looking for a breakdown of something you just read, or a sermon on a particular topic, this is definitely worth checking out.

What are some of your favorite way's to study God's word?

With love,


Thursday, August 18, 2016

My Favorite Quotes

"Our plans and designs should be so perfect in truth and beauty, that in touching them the world can only mar."
- Johann Wolfgang van Goethe

"I will wade out
till my thighs are steeped 
in burning flowers.
I will take in the sun
in my mouth,
with closes eyes."
- e.e cummings, I Will Wade Out

"The loneliest moment in someone's life s when they are watching their whole world fall apart, and all they can do is stare blankly." 
- F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby.  

"The old church tower and garden wall
Are black with autumn rain,
And dreary winds foreboding call
The darkness down again."
-Emily Bronte, The Old Church Tower. 

"Then, she began to breathe, and live, and every moment took her to a place where goodbyes were hard to come by, she was in love, but not in love with someone, or something, she was in love with her life. And for the first time, in a long time, everything was inspiring."
- r.m. drake

"We must not look at goblin men,
We must not buy their fruit:
Who knows upon what soil they fed
Their hungry thirsty roots?"
-Christina Rossetti, Goblin Market.

"It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to that I have ever known."
- Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities. 

"The human heart has hidden treasures,
In secret kept, in silence sealed;
The thoughts, the hopes, the dreams, the pleasures,
Whose charms were broken if revealed."
- Charlotte Bronte, Evening Solace.

"Love, she believed, had to come, suddenly, with a great clap of thunder and a lightening flash, a tempest from heaven that falls upon your life, like a devastation, scatters your ideas like leaves and hurts your very soul into the abyss."
- Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary. 

"If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant: if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome."
- Anne Bradstreet

"Because to influence a person is to give him one's own soul. He does not think his natural thoughts, or burn with his natural passions. His virtues are not real to him. His sins...are borrowed. He becomes an echo of someone else's music, an actor of a part that has not been written for him."
- Oscar Wilde, Picture of Dorian Gray. 

"Once a person knows a kiss and a kind word, you can't blame him for never wanting to live without them again."
- Robert James Walker

Hello// As a lover of all things books and poetry, you've got to know I am a collector of quotes and beautiful words. I have a notebook full of gorgeous writings and I derided to share some with you today. I would highly suggest keeping a collection of quotes, they're such a great source of inspiration. If you would like to see some more of my favorites, let me know. I would love to share them.

What are some of your favorite quotes?

With love,


Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Travel Diary: Baker Lake

Hello friends,

I'm back! The past four weeks have been crazy, but an awesome kind of crazy. Although summer have been flying by (say's everyone and their mother), it's been a great one. God has blessed me so much with all the wonderful experiences and amazing friends that have filled my summer. Today I'm here to show you one of the camping trips I've been on. I had such great time! My family and two other good family friends of ours all went camping at Baker Lake. It's a tradition that's been going on for five years now. We always reserve the same spot every year, a quiet place right next to the water. It's basically perfect. 

Did I mention that this place was beautiful? Since our campsite is right next to the water, we can push our kayaks easily into the lake and quickly paddle over to these amazing views of the mountains. I love kayaking in the morning with all the mist covering the mountains, but being out on the water is also stunning in the evenings when you can see the complete beauty of the hills. The first mountain you see, the large one with all the snow, is called Mount Baker, hence the name Baker Lake. All year round it's covered in snow and always makes for a pretty photo. 

When we're not kayaking, you can probably find us swimming or sitting by the fire. Our campsite has a rope swing and it's a blast! Although the water is a bit cold, I can't help but not swing into the lake at least once or twice. We also take out the inner tubes and swim around, because my family kind of sucks at swimming and we need assistance. It's kind of silly looking, so let's move on.

What would camping be without campfires? It would be a crime if you went back home without smelling like smoke. Also, it saves my skin from multiple red, itchy dots. Seriously, mosquitoes, I'm pretty sure, are demons in their physical form. They're awful! I've come to find I'm irresistible to them, so when there's a fire, I'm standing right there. I also read and played a lot of card games over the course of this trip. Thank you Lord for friends who don't tire of my predictable ways and stubbornness to not change them (or at least don't show they're tired of them).

Also, there's lots of forest that you can run around in while playing cops and robbers, or take a relaxing morning stroll. This is probably where all my mosquito bites come from, but it's peaceful nonetheless. It rains a lot here in Western Washington and I'm so thankful for it and the greenery it creates. I think forests and trees are beautiful, and if it wasn't for all the rain we get, our state wouldn't be nearly us lush and green.

This was Murphy's first official camping trip. He was a great camper and we all had so much fun playing with him, watching him test the waters, and taking him on our kayaks. He is so darn cute stuffed in those small boats, sometimes he'll even squeeze down into the tip of it and take a little nap. It's pretty adorable.

And there you have it, that's my camping trip to Baker Lake. It was a grand ole time and I'm excited to be sharing a piece of it with ya'll. Have you been on any fun trips this summer? Let me know down in the comments below.

With love,


Tuesday, August 2, 2016

What I Read in July

Hello everyone,

Can you believe it's already August? July has flown by and now the school year is only one month away. I'm slightly freaking out. Luckily, I had a decent reading month. I read five physical books, one graphic novel, and listened to two audio books. I'm not reviewing the graphic novels or audio books, just because they're a lot harder to write about than normal novels. If you would like to know my feelings on all the books I read, though, make sure to follow my goodreads.

1. Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do.

This afternoon, her planet was invaded.

The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.

But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet's AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it's clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she'd never speak to again.

Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more—Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping, high-octane trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes.

My thoughts:
Ugh. Rating this book is much too difficult. There are things I love about this book, yet there are so many things I have problems with.

First off, I love the formatting of this book. The entire story is told through IM messages, email's, diary entries, computer data, case files, surveillance camera reports, and more. It is something I've never read nor seen done before, and it was a lot of fun.. I also believe it helped it to be a quicker read.

The writing of this book I found to be iffy. At times it was really good. The Aiden parts were beautifully done. Towards the end of the book, I felt the writing got a lot better and began to grasp the eeriness and excitement that was going on. Throughout most of it though, I felt the messaging and dialogue between characters seemed super unauthentic. I couldn't really quite take the characters seriously.

Speaking of characters, I had a very hard time connecting to any of them. That is the one downside to how this book was written, is that you can't bond to the characters how you normally would. I really cared nothing for Ezra and even Kady I had a hard time feeling much for until the end. The side characters were just a distraction to me and when any died, it pulled no heart strings. Maybe some would say I'm just cold hearted.

I loved Aiden though. Even though this character is really a computer, it ended up being the only character I was attached to and really rooting for. I loved seeing Aiden evolve and the parts from its perspective were probably my favorite.

Finally, the plot I really enjoyed. Spaceships, a mad computer, running away from an evil company, a deadly disease outbreak. Almost the entire book was action packed and full of discoveries. Though sadly, the story was a bit predictable. With it being a trilogy, you knew all has to be resolved, or else where would it go from there? I kind of wish it had been a standalone and had ended tragically, instead of angering me with a convenient ending. It left me dissatisfied and rolling my eyes.

All in all, I did still enjoy my reading experience and I would suggest picking it up. Although I'm not too keen on this being a series, I'm interested to see how they continue you it and I will be picking up the next book when it is released in October.

My rating: 
3/5 stars

Should you read it?: 
I think so, just because the reading experience is so cool.

Favorite quote: 
“I am frequently underestimated. I think it's because I'm short.”

2. All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders

Childhood friends Patricia Delfine and Laurence Armstead didn't expect to see each other again, after parting ways under mysterious circumstances during high school. After all, the development of magical powers and the invention of a two-second time machine could hardly fail to alarm one's peers and families.

But now they're both adults, living in the hipster mecca San Francisco, and the planet is falling apart around them. Laurence is an engineering genius who's working with a group that aims to avert catastrophic breakdown through technological intervention into the changing global climate. Patricia is a graduate of Eltisley Maze, the hidden academy for the world's magically gifted, and works with a small band of other magicians to secretly repair the world's ever-growing ailments. Little do they realize that something bigger than either of them, something begun years ago in their youth, is determined to bring them together--to either save the world, or plunge it into a new dark ages.

A deeply magical, darkly funny examination of life, love, and the apocalypse.

My thoughts: 
This was probably the weirdest book I've read this year, if not ever. It's probably the hardest book I've had to rate as well.

All the birds in the Sky was full of magical realism, fantasy, and sci-fi elements. We start off with our two main characters in elementary school, then we follow them a ways through middle school, and finally we catch up with them in their adult life where they have gone their separate ways and discovered their talents and who they are. One character is a witch who can speak to birds, the other is a genius who built a two second time machine.

Hearing a similar description peeked my interest. It sounded whimsical and fun. Sadly, it wasn't as fun as I thought it would be.

My first problem was that it took forever to get into. I was constantly putting it down and having a break on my phone, always counting to see when the chapter was going to end, my mind constantly drifted off on to other thoughts and ideas. It wasn't until the last 100 pages did it start to really excite me.

I was also just very confused throughout this entire book. The writing was beautiful, but sometimes it was too beautiful instead of making sense. I never quite understood what either character was doing with their talents, the goal they were trying to reach. The world was also quite confusing. I wasn't sure if it was set in present time or in the future. Then, to top it all of, the ending left me unsatisfied and full of questions. The story did not seem resolved.

Although this book was weird and a puzzle to me, I did enjoy the writing style. Sometimes it was trying a bit too hard, but Anders used beautiful words and strung them together to create some beautiful sentences. I often would repeat a phrase out loud to whoever would listen. Her writing is really gorgeous and very quotable.

I also really enjoyed the characters. Even in the midst of their weird abilities and me not knowing that the heck they were doing with them, they seemed like real people with actual struggles, emotions, and interests. I am a sucker for good characters so this was a redeeming quality for me.

Overall, it was different than any book I've ever read, and I enjoyed aspects of it, but  it was so hard for me to get into and the ending left me disappointed.

My rating: 
3/5 stars

Should you read it?: 
If this book sounds interesting, go ahead and try it out, but I wouldn't say it's a must read.

Favorite quote: 
"Worry is often a symptom of imperfect information."

3. Extraordinary Means by Robyn Schneider

At seventeen, overachieving Lane finds himself at Latham House, a sanatorium for teens suffering from an incurable strain of tuberculosis. Part hospital and part boarding school, Latham is a place of endless rules and confusing rituals, where it's easier to fail breakfast than it is to flunk French.

There, Lane encounters a girl he knew years ago. Instead of the shy loner he remembers, Sadie has transformed. At Latham, she is sarcastic, fearless, and utterly compelling. Her friends, a group of eccentric troublemakers, fascinate Lane, who has never stepped out of bounds his whole life. And as he gradually becomes one of them, Sadie shows him their secrets: how to steal internet, how to sneak into town, and how to disable the med sensors they must wear at all times.

But there are consequences to having secrets, particularly at Latham House. And as Lane and Sadie begin to fall in love and their group begins to fall sicker, their insular world threatens to come crashing down.

Told in alternating points of view, Extraordinary Means is a darkly funny story about doomed friendships, first love, and the rare miracle of second chances.

My thoughts: 
It's driving me crazy how everyone says this is a copy of TFIOS and LFA. Just because it has similar themes does not mean the plot and characters are the same. I appreciated how Robyn Schneider took her own take on a story of sick teenagers and falling in love. This story seemed original, warm, and real, not a copy.

Let me start off with the characters, since I tend to enjoy a very character driven story. Extraordinary Means is written with alternating POVs. There's Lane, the new boy whose academic achievements outweigh mine by miles and who strives to please others constantly. And then there's Sadie, the girl who has accepted she's sick and decided to live her life as fully as she can before she dies. Both Lane and Sadie were super well developed characters. While reading this book, it truly did feel like you were getting to know them and care about them. They had real fears and interests that where easy to relate to. Schneider also made up a really enjoyable cast of side characters. Each one of them had their own personality and quirks to add to the table.

Onto the plot, I did find a few things a bit predictable. Close to the ending, a few things happen that are suppose to be a surprise, but to me they just weren't. A lot of it I had been waiting for almost the entire book, so that took a little bit of joy out of my reading experience. The ending also seemed very rushed and I was a bit unsatisfied. It didn't feel as if things were fully explained. I did really enjoy following the journey Lane and Sadie were on, though. My heart went out to them as I watched them try to make their life as normal as possible while still struggling with TD.

The writing was nothing spectacular, but it wasn't bad either. Nothing really stood out to me, but I did zip through this book and it was quite the easy read.

Overall,  I enjoyed my reading experience, but in the end it left me a bit unsatisfied.

My rating: 

Should you read it?: 
If you're looking for a quick, fun contemporary, go for it!

Favorite quote: 
“And the thing about trying to cheat death is that, in the end, you still lose.”

4. Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta

At the age of nine, Finnikin's world is shattered by the five days of the unspeakable: the royal family of Lumatere is brutally murdered, an imposter seizes the throne, and a curse binds all who remain inside the kingdom's walls. Those who escape are left to roam as exiles.

Ten years later, Finnikin and his mentor, Sir Topher, are summoned to meet Evanjalin, a young novice with a startling claim: Balthazar, the heir to the throne of Lumatere and Finnikin's childhood friend, is alive, and she can lead Finnikin to him. Even as he suspects this arrogant young woman, Finnikin also begins to believe that Lumatere might one day be raised.

My thoughts: 
What a ride! A wonderful ride indeed. It's rare for me to pick up a fantasy book in the dead of summer, but here I am. And now, I want more.

This is my first Melina Marchetta book, but I can see why so many rave about her writing. Although classified as a YA, this book read more like an adult book, in all the good ways. Nothing seemed dumb-downed and the writing was very high quality. Although the book got a bit chunky at times, I was still able to read quickly through it.

The best part of this novel was by far the characters. Each and every one was super fleshed out and full of character. Not one of them went to waste. Marchetta made sure to use each and every one to move the story along. I loved the way she introduced us to new characters, almost like we already knew them. There was never a huge explanation and a long backstory when someone new showed up. Instead, we were suddenly immersed into their perspective and learning tidbits along the way.

The plot was a little slow burning, but interesting nonetheless. As you continue reading, you learn more and more about what happened to Finnikin's home land, and you're able to experience the journey of reclaiming it with them. As the story went on, I felt myself getting more and more excited for them to return and to see how everything resolved.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book! I couldn't quite give it 5 stars since at times it was slow and lacking conflict, but for the most part, "Finnikin of the Rock" is a fast paced, spectacular read.

My rating: 
4.5/5 stars

Should you read it?: 
Yes, especially if you enjoy fantasy.

Favorite quote: 
"Be prepared for the worst, my love, for it lives next door to the best."

5. I Am Malala by by Malala Yousafzai

When the Taliban took control of the Swat Valley in Pakistan, one girl spoke out. Malala Yousafzai refused to be silenced and fought for her right to an education.

On Tuesday, October 9, 2012, when she was fifteen, she almost paid the ultimate price. She was shot in the head at point-blank range while riding the bus home from school, and few expected her to survive.

Instead, Malala's miraculous recovery has taken her on an extraordinary journey from a remote valley in northern Pakistan to the halls of the United Nations in New York. At sixteen, she has become a global symbol of peaceful protest and the youngest-ever Nobel Peace Prize laureate.

I Am Malala is the remarkable tale of a family uprooted by global terrorism, of the fight for girls' education, of a father who, himself a school owner, championed and encouraged his daughter to write and attend school, and of brave parents who have a fierce love for their daughter in a society that prizes sons.

I Am Malala will make you believe in the power of one person's voice to inspire change in the world.

My thoughts: 
This was such an eye opening read. So many things stood out to me while I read this. It made me realize how much I take for granted here in America. Like being able to worship my God without persecution, being able to step out of my house without the fear of being hurt or killed for how I'm dressed or that fact I'm a women. Being able to learn and have an education without having to hide it. I am beyond blessed to live where I live and have the rights that I posses.

I am Malala was such a fascinating read. Not only did it serve as a biography of Malala's life, but it also gave us a lot of backstory on her family's life, and their county's history. Because of that, we were able to understand a lot more about her culture and her day to day life. At times, it was a bit slow, but interesting nonetheless. After visiting a Muslim country and interacting with the people there, it was cool to read a book from that perspective. It was a huge learning experience. Malala is all about education and speaking up for what she believes is right, and I feel like this book accomplished much of that.

Overall, I highly suggest this book! Even if you're not into autobiographies or nonfiction, I believe this is an important book and anyone would benefit from reading it.

My rating: 
5/5 stars

Should you read it?:
Yes, Yes, Yes.

Favorite quote: 
“When the whole world is silent, even one voice becomes powerful.”

What did you read this month? Leave me a comment below with some new recommendations.

With love,


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