WHO EVEN FOLLOWS THIS THING ANYMORE?

Dear Reader,

The only consistent thing about me is my inconsistency, that’s for sure. But it’s final’s week in my life currently (well, the past three weeks have basically been considered “final’s week” for me), and I am a terrible procrastinator. Fortunately for me, I often procrastinate schoolwork by working on passion projects.

I’ll practice guitar or listen to covers I think I might be able to pull off one day. I’ll write handwritten notes or journal entires. Sometimes I’ll work on my teaching portfolio or browse Pinterest to see what I could implement in my own classroom. And just now, even, I finished listening to Logic’s third album, “Everybody,” and then read some articles on what people think about him–side note, LOTS of people hate on Logic. I don’t really care, though. I like his message and I like the way he tells it. Good enough for me.

But this blog is very much a “passion project” for me. I’ve never tried to make money off of it (lol could you imagine) and I haven’t been consistent in my posts for QUITE some time. But I still keep it around because every once in a while I feel like writing a blog post.

That being said, I really feel like I’ll be utilizing this more once the summer hits. So I thought I’d just make this little update post for anyone out there who still checks in on me every once in a while.

MUSIC: Music is one of the things that continues to inspire and motivate me. I’ve gone kind of crazy with making playlists this year (pushing on 90 in total, so says Spotify) and I’ve certainly pulled the occasional accidental all-nighter because I got wrapped up in finding new shit. But I have a lot that I want to share and a lot of half-written blog posts that I want to eventually publish. There’s one in the works about my favorite albums of all-time, and another one of my all-time favorite covers from The Voice that I can’t stop listening to. I also just have a lot of admiration for people who know SO MUCH about music. So, while this certainly isn’t going to turn into a “music blog,” you can definitely expect that in these next few posts.

SCHOOL/TRAVEL: Every semester I get more and more into my major–English Education–which is a good thing, of course. It’d be pretty concerning if I became less interested in it over the years. But in a little over a week, I’ll actually be leaving for Europe to take a two-week course that compares different education systems. Now, this blog also isn’t going to turn into my professional development in that realm (that’s for a separate corner of the Internet where I reside), I will be visiting four countries in two weeks, and then hanging out in Vienna for another week with my family. So, you’ve seen me in Hilton Head. You’ve seen me in Gulf Shores. Get ready to witness me taking on Europe.

TV: Netflix has sort of been killing it with the originals lately. I, along with everyone else, finished Thirteen Reasons Why and definitely had some thoughts. I really don’t know if I’ll post all of that, though, because my journal entry about it ended up being over 3,000 words. You guys don’t want to read that. I also watched BoJack Horseman before that (LOVE, btw) and am now watching Girlboss which makes me want to get bangs and steal stuff. So who knows, maybe I’ll share some opinions on these shows in a bit. Critical thinking can happen everywhere, y’all. Don’t let our hierarchy of culture tell you that we need to bash good television and praise art that makes us feel nothing.

 

LOVE LIFE: 

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READING: Lastly, I’m hoping to read a lot more this summer than I have thus far in 2017. Last semester I was going strong all the way until the end, but the motivation just hasn’t been there lately. However, I did just give a speech on the importance of reading and as I was talking I was just thinking, “shit I need to start practicing what I preach.” So, if anything, this blog might start being book recommendation and review heavy. But, hey, could be worse, right?

So that’s where I’m at right now. I’m twenty-years-old and the world’s lookin bright. If you’ve been following me for a while and like what you just read, I’m happy to have ya around. If you’re bored out of your mind and wanna leave, no scrape off my nose. I’ll probably have to delete this thing or make all the posts private when I start looking for a teaching job in a year and a half, anyway. So let’s live it up while we can.

I mean besides, it’s not like the internet is forever or anything.

Sincerely,

Sammy

[VIDEO] MY YEAR IN BOOKS

Dear Reader,

Last week I spent way too much time editing and uploading this video of me discussing the 20 books I’ve read so far in 2015 (I’m having a hard time mastering YouTube lol I h8 technology).

Because it’s fifteen minutes long, I don’t expect many people to take the time to watch it, which is why I linked all of my reviews in the description of the video. But, just in case, I thought I would link the video on my blog as well.

Enjoy!

Sincerely,

Sammy

PS. Let me know your favorite books from the year/of all time because all I’m asking for for Christmas this year are books and I’m running out of names to give my family members.

PPS. Is it bad that the majority of my family (myself included) hasn’t started our Christmas shopping yet?

{ESC} BOOK SEVEN: THE EX FILES

A few months ago, I was walking through Half-Priced Books, and I came across The Ex Files. After reading the back, I decided to buy it for $4. Was it worth that $4? Hard to say…

Here’s what I gathered from the back: Kendall’s husband left her for her sister, Sheridan’s husband left her for another man, Asia’s baby daddy left her for his wife, and Vanessa’s husband committed suicide. Each woman deals with heartbreak in a different way–from depression to revenge. Interesting plot, right?

That’s what I thought! But now it’s over a month later and I’m just now finished.

Part of this is due to it being almost 400 pages long, but part of it, too, is because I actually had to put it down at one point.

It says on the cover that it’s a faith-filled novel, but I didn’t even consider everything that meant. So when I got to the part where two characters are casually talking about how homosexuality is a choice–and a wrong one at that–I was floored. It shouldn’t have come to me as a surprise, especially since one of these characters is a pastor, but I was shocked to be reminded that some people truly believe homosexuality to be a sin.

This along with some of the comments about suicide made me a bit uncomfortable, and when I first set it down, I didn’t pick it back up for three and a half weeks. Part of this is because second semester started and all of a sudden I was really busy, but it was also hard for me to go back to a book that was preaching ideas I just couldn’t get behind.

So that’s part of the reason why I give this book 3 stars. Other than that, the characters were alright, but not ones that I fell in love with. I didn’t really understand Sheridan or Vanessa, so I didn’t connect with them, and by the end of it I was so done with Kendall, I didn’t even want to read the chapters devoted to her.

Then we have Asia. I didn’t mind her, but her morals were pretty questionable. And I don’t want to spoil anything (in case this review for some reason prompts you to read the book for yourself), but what she does it horrifying and awful. I enjoyed watching her character develop, though.

Another sidenote is that some parts were really cheesey. There was one part at the end with Sheridan that actually had me rolling my eyes.

Also, I found a blatant typo, and I always find that to be weird. I mean, didn’t someone read this before it got sent to publishing? How was “reuion” missed? Did the editor just get bored and skip that part to get to the end? Because I’m not sure I blame them.

Well that’s all I’ve got for you. The Ex Files was a bit of a disappointment, but I’m holding out hope for Book #8.

It’s a good one.

Sincerely,

Sammy

{ESC} BOOK SEVEN: THE MANNY

Dear Reader,

I guess they all can’t be my new favorite book.

The Manny by Holly Peterson really isn’t that bad. I picked it up knowing exactly what it would be: a cute, cliché story. A quick read. A setting in New York City. All of this was enough for me to purchase the book (for $5, mind you) and read it.

So, if you want to read it, be aware of what you’re getting yourself into. I honestly think half the reason why I liked it as much as I did is because I didn’t set high expectations. But then I went online and read some pretty mean reviews. I mean, some people seemed actually offended that they spent time on this book.

Now, some of the criticisms I found to be valid. A lot of people didn’t like the main character–I didn’t mind her, but I can definitely see how she could get on some nerves. Personally, though, I feel that the other characters (like, I don’t know, the manny) were lovable enough to make up for it.

Another criticism I read was about the, ahem, sexy scenes. Now, I’m not one to peruse erotic romance novels. I haven’t purchased or read Fifty Shades of Grey (yet), so I didn’t think they were truly awful. But, again, if you’re expecting hot and heavy scenes full of intense passion that just flies off the page: probably not the book for you.

Overall, though, it was just as I thought it would be. So I give it 3.5 stars and accept that I will probably not be rereading it any time soon.

I did find the ending adorably perfect, though.

Sincerely,

Sammy

{ESC} BOOK SIX: MISS PEREGRINE’S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN

Dear Reader,

This is another review where I’m not going to give anything away because I actually picked it up without knowing anything and I really enjoyed it. So, because I don’t want to spoil anything, I’ll just tell you this:

Read this book if you want a particularly quick read. Read it if you enjoy looking at spooky little pictures that go along with a story. Read it if you like mystery and magic and peculiarity. But don’t read it if you want to be shaking from fear in your bedroom, unable to put it down at 1am.

I really liked it. It was an interesting, well-written story, and I’m looking forward to reading the sequel and seeing the movie in 2016. But when I went onto goodreads to give it four stars, I saw that the top four reviews all gave it two.

Confused and curious, I decided to see what their reasons were, and they all seemed to be the same: not scary. Sure, the pictures are creepy enough to send a chill down your back, but sometimes that’s not enough.

Now, I don’t particularly like being scared–partly because I spook easily and partly because I’ve just never seen the appeal of horror stories and films, and even haunted houses for that matter! You want to get an adrenaline rush? Go ride a roller coaster. Don’t give yourself nightmares!

So I say read it. It’s a great book and I’m glad the storyline is to be continued. I’ll definitely be reviewing the sequel once I get around to reading it.

Hopefully Ransom Riggs didn’t read the reviews from goodreads and decide to avenge his reputation and show the critics something truly scary.

If he did you can bet my next review on his work will be far from raving.

Sincerely,

Sammy

BOOK HAUL? (IS THAT WHAT THIS IS?)

Dear Reader,

I’m driving back to school today, which means break is over. And, as you may have realized, I’ve become kind of book-obsessed this winter break. But I don’t think you realize how much.

I have 15 more books than I had 3 weeks ago.

It started on the day of my older sister’s shower. My Aunt recommended a really good local bookstore, so we decided to check it out on our way home.

I left with four books:

Crazy-Rich-Asians

Crazy Rich Asians

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How to be Parisian Wherever You Are

bossypants

Bossypants

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and Let it Snow

A few days later, my younger sister and I decided to visit Books a Million. Because why not? And I purchased three more books because there were surprisingly good sales that day:

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Emma – a book I needed for school

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Warm Bodies – a book that was on sale for five dollars! 

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and It’s Kind of a Funny Story – a book that I felt I needed. And I was right.

Then, on the weekend after Christmas, we drove down to Dayton to celebrate with my family. And what did my older sister get me for Christmas? The only thing I asked for, of course–books!

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Bossypants 

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Let’s Pretend this Never Happened

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and Gone with the Wind

I know, I had a major brain fart a week earlier and already bought Bossypants, even though I specifically told Caitlin that it was a book on my list. But, hey, it’s a great book. Having a spare copy isn’t the worst thing in the world.

Anyway, while in the Dayton area, my family decided to make a pit stop at a store called “Half Price Books.”

This. Store.

Oh my gosh, it was amazing. After spending fair chunks of my allowance at Books a Million and Barnes and Noble for all these years, I’ve learned how expensive reading can be.

But this. Store.

I left there with three movies (Baby Mama, American Pie, and Moulin Rouge) and five books for–wait for it…

$39.05.

Tax included.

The lucky picks were:

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The Help

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Nineteen Minutes

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The Manny

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The Ex Files

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and Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

In conclusion, I am now fifteen books richer. The books that I’ve read have links to my reviews of them (It’s Kind of a Funny Story coming soon), and I’m currently working on Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children and Let’s Pretend This Never Happened. I don’t normally read two books at once, but I have my reasons in this particular situation (ones I’m not about to delve into right now).

But I have a question for anyone who’s made it this far. Have you read any of these? Which one should I start next? And what books should I add to my growing to-be-read shelf?

DON’T YOU JUST LOVE BOOKS?

Sincerely,

Sammy

{ESC} BOOK FOUR: BOSSYPANTS

Dear Reader,

Get ready for a very quick review because I have a lot to do today and not a lot to say about this book.

This is not to say that this book is bad in any sense–quite the opposite, actually. It’s great! But, I mean, isn’t that what we’re expecting? People rave about Tina Fey’s autobiography. And this is just another one of those reviews, so I don’t want to waste any more time.

If you’ve never read an autobiography by a comedian (or, should I say, comedienne) before, I highly suggest you start. Tina Fey, Mindy Kaling, Chelsea Handler, and now Amy Poehler! They all have books out and they’re all hilarious. I mean, laugh-out-loud-funny. Seriously, don’t read them in public if you’re not comfortable smiling goofily at a book or chuckling to yourself with others around.

And, actually, I can’t even speak for Amy’s because I haven’t read Yes Please yet, but why would it be any different? It’s Amy Poehler.

Which brings me back to Bossypants: it’s Tina Fey. Of course it’s hilarious and charming, while still insightful and, well, informative of her past. It is still a biography.

So, no more time to waste. If you feel like laughing, and especially if you watch 30 Rock or follow Tina’s career in any way, pick up this book. You won’t be sorry.

Sincerely,

Sammy

{ESC} BOOK THREE: WARM BODIES

Dear Reader,

If there are two things I want you to get from this review it’s this: 1. Warm Bodies is definitely worth the read. And 2. The book is sooooo much better than the movie (shocker).

That actually made me sad, though. I bought the book the same day my sister bought the movie and I read it in a night (it’s a quick read, which I loved). So we watched the movie and, though I adore Nicholas Hoult, I was just mad the whole time. Sarah, on the other hand, had never read the book, so she loved the movie.

But obviously the book is going to go into things that the movie just doesn’t have time for, but that’s what made the book so amazing! I had heard of it before–I knew it was about a zombie who fell in love with a human, but the book explained life before the apocalypse so much better, and it went into the backstories of the characters. I mean, I loved Perry in the book, and his story was heartbreaking, but in the movie he was just a jerk. And we didn’t get to understand why.

Anyway, Warm Bodies is now one of my favorite books. I’d recommend it to anyone who loves a good romance story but doesn’t mind a bit of action, blood, guts, and brains, or an insight into our civilization and what might cause its downfall.

Sincerely,

Sammy

PS. The song for this post is actually from the trailer of Warm Bodies: Lonely Boy – The Black Keys. I hope you enjoy the official music video, which is just a man dancing to the song.

{ESC} BOOK TWO: HOW TO BE PARISIAN WHEREVER YOU ARE

Dear Reader,

I really didn’t think I would love this book as much as I did. Or that it would be as quick of a read. But I read it in one night and absolutely loved it.

It isn’t a story of any kind, but rather tips and insights for a Parisian lifestyle. Four French women came together and wrote everything from basic wardrobe and jewelry pieces to parenting tactics to books you should have on your bookshelf to how to make him think you have a lover.

I’ll admit, when I first started reading it, I didn’t think I would enjoy it. I thought so in the bookstore, but within the first few pages, I read about how the Parisian woman is not a role-model, which is a disclaimer they have. But I kept turning the pages and asked myself, “why am I reading this? Why did I even pick this up?” I mean, this woman seemed so stand-offish and self-entitled. And not only could I never become her (I’ve always tried to be polite and kind to others), but why would I want to?

Nevertheless, I continued reading and slowly fell in love. Maybe it was the perfection of the author’s writing or the fact that it made me miss Paris, but I ate everything up. I mean, I stayed until until 2 just reading furiously and taking notes, writing down everything that I loved (I’ll probably make an entirely separate post later sharing them). And then the next day, I shared them with my sister and we marveled at its beauty together.

Still, I can see the beef that some people have with this book. I mean, there’s a section called “The ABCs of Cheating,” and the first rule is deny, deny, deny. Furthermore, the book is riddled with contradictions and startling claims made by these Parisian women. I’ll repeat: they’re not role models.

But there’s something to say about their message. They have many, but the one that most stuck out and resonated with me was their confidence. If the Parisian woman is one thing, it is confident. And I think there’s something admirable about that.

The Parisienne adores her imperfections, and never completely corrects. They’re not against plastic surgery or makeup or anything, but, as they put, “the gap in her smile or her slightly crooked tooth, her prominent eyebrows or strong nose: these are the signs of a certain strength of character and allow her to feel beautiful without before perfect.

More than anything, their beauty is underneath the surface.

“It’s her personality that sparkles like nothing else: the signs of intellectual wealth.”

So maybe I don’t want to cheat on my husband or act like a snob as often as I can, but I want to be strong, confident, and beautiful. In that sense, I want to be Parisienne.

Sincerely,

Sammy

PS. The song for this post is Flawless Remix by Beyonce feat. Nicki Minaj. Love.

{ESC} BOOK ONE: CRAZY RICH ASIANS

Dear Reader,

I actually forgot to post this review right when I finished the book (last Friday, oops), but better late than never, right?

So here’s what I’m going to do with this Empty Shelf Challenge: once I complete each book, I’m going to share my thoughts on it in a quick review-type fashion. Except I don’t make my reviews in the typical, “here’s the entire plot and prologue, here’s my list of pros and cons that I thought up whilst reading, and here’s my recommendation: do/don’t read this book” way. There’s nothing wrong with that sort of review, it’s just not how I do things.

You see, sometimes I don’t like knowing the plot. I’m very weird about spoilers (I mean I only get one chance for a book to make a first impression on me–one chance to read it for the first time ever! This can be a big deal.) and sometimes I like picking up random books in the library and check them out and read them without so much as perusing the back cover. That’s what I did with Rebel Belle and let me tell you, that was a surprise.

Sometimes the entire book is summarized in a paragraph on the back page and it’s almost like why even read the book in the first place? Of course there’s plenty of reasons to read a book after learning what it’s about, but all I’m saying is sometimes it’s fun to dive in without knowing a thing, and then everything‘s a surprise!

Alright, enough talk about how I’m going to review these books–I’ll just go ahead and do it.

Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan. I actually really loved this book. I picked it up in a random bookstore in Dayton because, well, that title. How could I not? And then I actually did read the back cover and it was enough for me to buy it. And I’m so glad I did.

It wasn’t as quick of a read as the books I’ve been reading lately (it’s 500+ pages), but by the end I couldn’t put it down. There’s just so many stories, so many characters to fall in love with, and so many twists that I didn’t see coming. It’s also much sadder than I expected. I had to put the book down a few times because some of the lines just broke my heart. But, without spoiling anything, I will say that it definitely has its heartwarming parts as well.

All in all, I loved this book–more than I thought I would. AND there’s a sequel. It’s expected to come out in 2015 but I can’t wait. I’ll definitely be picking up my own copy as soon as it’s released. This one was a solid four stars for me.

Sincerely,

Sammy

PS. Miniature throwback for this feature song, but it’s just as good as it was in 2012: Bruises by Train feat. Ashley Monroe

PPS. I’ll be posting all of my 2015 reads on here, of course, but you can also keep up with me on Goodreads. Let’s be friends!