Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Ten Books Set Outside The US That We've Enjoyed

For future Top Ten Tuesday topics & info on how to participate, click here!

I don't know about you guys but I feel like the majority of the books I read are set in the US and sometimes I am specifically looking for a book that is NOT set in the US so I thought it would be fun to make handy lists for others looking for the same thing.

Jamie's Picks

1. Written in the Stars by Aisha Saeed: This book was so great and the majority of the setting was not one I’ve encountered in YA — Pakistan. Learned a lot about a culture I honestly didn’t know much about truly. (My thoughts on Written in the Stars)

2. Sea by Heidi R. Kling: The setting of this one was incredible. It’s set in Indonesia after a tsunami and towards the end when we get to see the devastation near the sea it’s devastating. (My thoughts on Sea)

3. When You Were Here by Daisy Whitney: I just mentioned this one recently in my post about books I super love but don’t talk about enough/haven’t in a while but I think it’s sooo underrated. It’s set in Tokyo and made me want to book a flight ASAP. (My thoughts on When You Were Here)

4. Wildlife by Fiona Wood: I could have picked a number of my favorite Aussie YA books to represent Australian settings but I loved that this one was set in the Australian wilderness. (My thoughts on Wildlife)

Julia's Picks

5. Angels and Demons by Dan Brown - I read this book when I was in high school, right around the time that we went to Rome. It was amazing to be able to see the sites that Robert Langdon travels around to while trying to save all of the priests. Plus the book is an edge of your seat, fun ride! It's still one of my favorites, maybe because of the attachment I have to Rome.

6. Fatherland by Robert Harris - Alternate history novel set in about the 1960s in the Third Reich. It's a what would have happened if the Nazi's won WWII. Another mystery book that sends the leads on a chase over Europe to find out the truth of what happened during the war.

Jana's Picks

7. Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard - This book takes place in Belize, and since I've been there it brought things to life for me! I really love this book, and it's definitely on my list of favorites.

8. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins - Takes place in Paris, which I love! I've also been there and love books set in that magical city. It's also an adorable book.

9. Love, Lucy by April Lindner - This one takes place in one of my favorite Italian cities: Florence. LOVe the story, too!

We can't to see your recs for books set outside the US!

Monday, July 18, 2016

Lily Made Me Cry (Kimberly's Review of Lily and the Octopus by Steven Rowley)

Lily and the Octopus, by Steven Rowley             
Published: June 2016
Rating: 5+ Stars

Confession time. I cry easily. I'll just admit that now. But when I read Lily and the Octopus?

Endless tears. I locked myself up in my library at home to finish it. I'm talking going through several tissues. The type of crying that leaves you a little tired when you're done. Luckily my husband was busy during all of this, I didn't want to explain. HA

I've owned dogs all of my life, several of them have been dachshunds.  I picked up this story mostly because of my adoration of the breed. I've also lost two dogs to cancer. If you're a pet owner you understand the grief that comes with learning that your pet is sick, the decision that rests on your heart and on your shoulders, and the feeling of impending doom that sits with you, as well as that final awful grief that sweeps in once that beloved animal is gone.

Mr. Rowley also understands this, and it is devastatingly described in this story. Every single aspect of owning and loving a dog. The frustration, the joy, the companionship, the hard times. The little random things that they do that wiggle into your heart and become precious. Those moments of sheer panic when something is wrong and you don't know what to do to help them. Knowing that you belong to them as surely as they belong to you. Bonding with others through your mutual love of four legged companions. The confusion of meeting someone who doesn't like them.

I started this story knowing I'd probably cry. I had no idea just how many emotions I'd go through. I feel like I experienced everything with Ted and Lily. I was there when he first met her and fell in love. I was there with them for each of the things they experienced together. I was with him and shared his grief.

I realize I might sound like a real weirdo. Especially if you've never owned a pet. It's probably similar to parenthood, you can't fully understand it until you experience it.

I wholeheartedly recommend this book. I'd suggest not reading it in public.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Lauren Reviews The Leaving by Tara Altebrando

The Leaving by Tara Altebrando
Published: June 2016 by Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Source: NetGalley
Rating: 3 Stars

Six were taken. Eleven years later, five come back -- with no idea of where they've been.

Eleven years ago, six kindergarteners went missing without a trace. After all that time, the people left behind moved on, or tried to.

Until today. Today five of those kids return. They're sixteen, and they are... fine. Scarlett comes home and finds a mom she barely recognizes, and doesn't really recognize the person she's supposed to be, either. But she thinks she remembers Lucas. Lucas remembers Scarlett, too, except they're entirely unable to recall where they've been or what happened to them. Neither of them remember the sixth victim, Max. He doesn't come back. Everyone wants answers. Most of all Max's sister Avery, who needs to find her brother -- dead or alive -- and isn't buying this whole memory-loss story.

I liked this book for what it was - six children disappeared and five later returned. I enjoyed the mystery along with the characters. Their memories seems to be wiped clean. Some were sure they wanted to know where they had been and a couple thought maybe it was best they didn't know. I'd want to know. I'd want to know who to kick in the nads for stealing so much of my childhood from me. 

The characters were well rounded and you could easily follow their evolution from naive teenagers to adults facing their past, one thing most of us find extremely hard to do. I think I liked Avery the most. She was not one of the taken who was brought back. She was one that lived her life with this hanging over her head. Her brother was taken, but was not brought back like the others. She wanted so badly to know where her brother was and what the truth was. Was it aliens? Was is a psycho kidnapper? Maybe mad scientists who conduct experiments on children to make super human teenagers? You could go on and on with all of the possibilities, but Avery wasn't buying the memory-story and wanted to get down to the facts. Where was her brother? Why did this horrible incident rear its ugly face again, eleven years later? You've got to admire a teen who not only faces reality, but does it with the sort of determination that should make any parent proud.

The only think that kept this book from getting a higher rating is the ending. It honestly was a good book and I'm glad to have gotten the chance to read it. I think that my love of the sci-fi and horror genres have started to run YA books for me. I expect more outrageous or unconventional endings these days, and this book was too realistic for my taste of late. If you're looking for a thrilling YA novel full of mystery, I'd suggest you pick this one up. You won't be disappointed.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Ten Facts About Us

For future Top Ten Tuesday topics & info on how to participate, click here!

Ten Facts About Us (bookish or just general about you facts or ten facts about you as a blogger...whatever you want)

Lauren's Facts

If you were around when I started contributing to this blog over a year ago, then you already know what I'm about to say next...

1. I am OBSESSED with tattoos. 

I've affectionately dubbed myself The Tattooed Biblio and most of my tattoos are book related. Here's a short recap of a few of my favorite tattoos. 

The quote on the skull is from Victor Hugo's Les Misérables that reads, "It is nothing to die. It is frightful not to live." Another quote on my inner arm is from Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale that reads, "Nolite te bastardes carborundorum," which is mock-Latin for "Don't let the bastards grind you down." Lastly, there is a quote on my back from Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five reading, "Everything was beautiful and nothing hurt." 

2. A very special weeny dog.

I have one of the most adorable/dingus dogs ever. His mom was a regular sized dachshund and his dad was a mini dachshund. (How in the world did that work, right?) Put those two together and this is what you get... cuteness overload with a flair of goofy. His name is Emmitt and he enjoys licking the boyfriend's face like a popsicle, making bold leaps onto furniture (missing completely about 80% of the time), and acting like a big dog. 

Julia's Facts

3. My summer has been SUPER ACTIVE
This summer has been crazy for me with getting back into playing multiple sports (softball and sand volleyball), but instead of juggling it with like homework and middle school activities, I am juggling it with work. I travel a lot for my job so running these two leagues is sometimes challenging. Do we have enough people to play tonight? Yes. Awesome. 

We have one more softball game tonight before the end of the year and are just wrapping up our first sand volleyball session. I like the volleyball because 1) sand evens out people skills usually when it comes to speed and jumping, both of which I suck at.  2) It's at a bar so I can drink and play which makes diving all the more fun. 

Also Pokemon Go? Yeah, I walked all over the place this weekend trying to catch 'em all. Including my local library :)

4. I'm currently planning a trip to Paris and Rome
This fall can't come soon enough with this trip on the horizon. My friend and I like to plan vacations and never take them, but this time we are actually going. I am so excited but sort of freaking out that all we have books so far is the airfare to Paris and from Rome. Nothing in between and no hotel accommodations yet... 

If anyone has any tips about either location, let me know! Must see place, best areas to stay, hit me up in the comments!

Daisy's Facts

5. I'm a doctor
I'm not really sure if people on the internet know this about me, but I'm a GP in training and have been working as a doctor for 4 years now (I just realised it's been 4 years, wow), 2017 will be the year in which I finish my train and will be a full grown GP :) 

6. I'm finally working out regularly
I'm not a person who particularly enjoys working out. I've been going on and off with it for years, not working out for long stretches of time, diving back in and getting burned out on it again. BUT ever since I got home from our vacation in Thailand last year (in which we were not as active as we usually are and did eat as much as we normally do on vacation, which is slightly more than at home), I decided it was time to get it together and now I'm basically working out 2-3 times a week, doing pilates at home. In the beginning I followed Cassey's monthly calendar on Blogilates and now I've switched to her PIIT28 program, which is AWESOME.

7. I went to Croatia this year
And guys, it was AMAZING! Seriously, it's such a beautiful country! They had lovely old towns, gorgeous nature parks where we went for long walks, great food, nice people. Basically all things I love to have when I'm exploring a new to me country! 
And also, they have Game of Thrones. After we already decided we wanted to go there, we discovered that actually a lot of GoT is filmed in Croatia, they have King's Landing there and we did an awesome tour walking around Dubrovnik and seeing all the sights that were used in the series and having our very own battle with Longclaw and Oathkeeper. Oh AND I rang the bell that was used in the walk of shame, it was SO much fun!

Jamie's Facts

8.  My mom named me after Jamie Lee Curtis
 No joke. I mean, it was the 80's. And yeah, my full first name is Jamie Lee. I don't have a middle name. Let me tell you how fun that has been my whole life trying to explain to people. "No but really what is your middle name?" I DO NOT HAVE ONE. Sure, Lee seems like a middle name but nope it's not. It's part of my first name. 

9. I hated my husband when I first met him

You can read more about it here but TLDR I hated my husband when I met him but also tried to hook him up with my sister because I thought he was way more her type? lols forever. It was fun for her to talk about that when she gave her maid of honor speech at my wedding.  

10.  I just spent 4 days faux parenting six children and two dogs and I'm bone tired
My sister just gave birth to my baby nephew and was in the hospital for a few days because of her c-section so I packed my dog Finn and myself and went and watched their 6 kids for 4 days -- with special appearances by my husband for half that time. It was actually really fun to hang out with them for an extended period of time but oh man am I bone tired. I did it before for a week when they went on their honeymoon and I forgot how I wanted to sleep for a week after it. The kids range from 2 to 17 so luckily the older kids helped out too so it went smoothly and there were no disasters but OOF I WANT TO SLEEP FOR A WEEK. But so excited for my new baby nephew and I'm happy I could be there for my sister and her husband to help out/spend lots of time with the nieces and nephews. Plus it's fun to be the fun and cool aunt who lets the littles stay up late and do all the fun things. Mwahaha. Being an aunt is the best. 

 Can't wait to get to know you all better with your facts about YOU! 

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Jamie Does The Bedtime Book Tag

It's summer and I feel like my brain is not working properly to write Really Good Things for the internet. A few years ago I created the A to Z survey tag, the My YA Life In Book Titles tag and the Book Superlatives tag to help combat those moments when you can't think of something to post but wanted to do something fun in the summer! However, years later my brain is even worse at coming up with stuff in the summer so I thought it might be fun to do somebody ELSE'S book tag!

My friend Lindsey just did this one so I figured I'd follow suit!

So let's take it really casual on the blog today and you can learn about books I've read in a fun way and my brain can relax a little!


(original can be  found here!)

1. What book kept you up all night reading?

Mostly recently that would be The Memory Book by Lara Avery. It was a combination of not being tired after the 4th of July festivities and hitting a point in the book where I just really wanted to know what happened. Another one of recent history was Losing The Light!

2. What book made you scared to go to sleep?

Hmm I don't typically get scared by books but I'll say the scariest one I read recently was The Dead House!

3. What book almost put you to sleep?

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake  -- so much so I had to put it down. And falling asleep would have been a problem considering it was an audiobooking I was listening to while driving.

4. What book has you tossing and turning in anticipation of its release?

Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas I NEEDS IT SO BAD!!! BOOK 5!!!

5. What book has your dream boyfriend/girlfriend?

Hmm so many of them but I totally would have wanted to date Matt Finch when I was a teen from Open Road Summer.

6. What book world would be your worst nightmare to live in?

Oh dear sooo many (I wrote a post about this with 10 worlds I wouldn't want to live in but I'll say Wither by Lauren DeStefano always sounded particularly awful to me.

7. What book has a nightmarish cliffhanger?

I remember Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver being a pretty awful cliffhanger.  

8. What book cover reminds you of night time?

Wytches by Scott Snyder -- pretty creepy comic!

9. What book have you actually dreamed about?

I honestly can't say I've dreamed about a book specifically -- maybe about GETTING a book early I really wanted or I've had dreams where authors I know have been in them. BUT I will say that after read Last Will and Testament by Dahlia Adler that I had a pretty steamy dream. 

10. What book monster would you not want to find under your bed?

I absolutely do not want any Dementors under my bed!! 



  You are tagged if you are reading this and want to do it!!


Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Top Ten Books We Enjoyed That Have Under 2000 Ratings On Goodreads

For future Top Ten Tuesday topics & info on how to participate, click here!

Top Ten Books We Enjoyed That Have Under 2000 Ratings On Goodreads 

Lauren's Picks

Daisy's Picks

THIS BOOK! If you're looking for a brilliant historical romance, you should definitely read this one! SO much lovely tension and swoons and just YES!

This was just so incredibly cute and had me laughing out loud and I'm not sure why this hasn't gotten more ratings, cause I totally loved it, perfect summer (or any other day) read!

I still cannot believe this hasn't been made into a series, because the worldbuilding is fantastic and the characters are amazing and there's a VERY swoonworthy guy and the main character is basically awesome. Go read this.

LOVE! This is just perfect if you're a little Tudor obsessed like me. I loved this tale about Anne Boleyn that for once doesn't villify her and that made me feel all the things and wish that things could have gone down differently.

This might be due to it's only having been published about a year ago, but you guys, this book is beautiful and I think the message is so important, so please read it!

Tell us your underrated gems!!

Saturday, July 2, 2016

June Faves & July TBR

Here's what we loved in June and what is on the top of our TBR piles for July! Tell us your faves of June and what you plan to read in July!


Jana's Pick

Ivory and Bone
Prehistoric fantasy is something totally new and exciting for me! I've been thinking about this one a lot since I read it. Read my review here.

Jamie's Pick 

God I just love Taylor Jenkins Reid's books soooo much. They always make me think about stuff! This one absolutely gripped me and honestly I felt like a wishbone being pulled into two directions. I mean, what would you do if you lost the love of your life in a plan crash, finally moved on many years later to be engaged to someone you really love and then your husband is found many years later and comes back into your life??? YEAH. I loved this book. I loved how the story was told. It was beautiful and heart-wrenching.  

Daisy's Pick

A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas
This was AMAZING and everything I wanted and then some.

Lori's Pick

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
I loved reading about the war women fought during World War II.  One sister joins the French Resistance and the other fights to keep her daughter and herself alive.  Lovely, lovely story.

Lauren's Pick 

I loved this both. I can never get enough sci-fi in my life, but this one blew me away. I even convinced the boyfriend to read it and he loved it!


Jana's Pick

The Beauty of Darkness (The Remnant Chronicles, #3)
I'm SO excited to start this one! I love this trilogy, and I can't wait to read the final book. I was one of the lucky ones to receive a galley, so I'm going to jump in in time for the blog tour spot I'm hosting on my personal blog this month. :)

Jamie's Pick

This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab
This summer I plan to finally read Victoria Schwab's books!!! I have owned The Archived since it was published along with many others but there's so much hype involving this author that I am always so scared to start!! BUT THIS SUMMER IT WILL HAPPEN.

Daisy's Pick

The Rose and the Dagger by Renee Ahdieh
OBVIOUSLY I should already be reading this. So I'm going to start right after typing this up, I'm so excited because OMG THE ENDING of The Wrath and the Dawn!!

Julia's Pick

And I Darken by Kiersten White
I haven't been reading much at all lately, but this book looks really interesting. I am sort of in love with the badass cover. Maybe I'll actually find time this month to sit outside and devour it. :)

Lori's Pick

Under Magnolia: A Southern Memoir by Frances Mayes
Honestly, I have been reading a lot of great fiction this summer and I have loved that.  So I just want to read something that it a bit different, but still has the feel of great writing.

Lauren's Pick

So... I've already started this book... and I'm scared. This book has actually creeped me out enough that I had nightmares one night that were semi-related. I mean, The Exorcist was a good horror book, but this one... whew. DON'T READ ALONE.

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