The Reading Rush Wrap-Up

Whew! The Reading Rush is over! This was the first time I have ever participated in a readathon from beginning to end, and I COMPLETED EVERY READING CHALLENGE! I am so proud of myself, but honestly I'm exhausted. I think I pushed myself a little too hard...this is a lot of reading for someone with a full time job! Every night all I did when I came home was read, so I'm excited that it's over and I can binge some trash TV now!

Here are some mini-reviews of the books I completed, along with the challenge that each one met!

The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery: I read this one for "Read a book you meant to read last year." So many people love and treasure this book, but I didn't feel the same. It was a solid 3 star for me, and I'm glad I read it, but I wouldn't pick it up again. The illustrations are adorable though!

Never Have I Ever by Joshilyn Jackson: This fulfilled the challenge of "Read a book with purple on the Cover." I actually did a full review for this one, which you can find here. This was a pretty good read! It was slow at first, but picked up well and was very shocking at the end. I'm definitely going to look into more of this author's books! I gave this read 4 stars.

Last Ones Left Alive by Sarah Davis-Goff: This was for the challenge of "Read an author's first book." This one will have a full review eventually, and it got a 4 star rating from me. Think The Walking Dead meets The Road with 99% female characters.

Animal Farm by George Orwell: Ick. I didn't get the point of this one. I know it's supposed to be satire but I just didn't enjoy it. I felt bad for the animals and wasn't entertained. At least this was a short read for the "Read a book with a non-human main character" challenge. I would rate this one 2 stars.

The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware: I ADORED this read. Absolutely a 5 star. A full review will come for this one soon! This completed the challenge to "Read a book with 5 or more words in the title."

Little Girls by Nicholas Aflleje and Sarah Delaine. I chose this for "Read a book in one location" and this may be the biggest letdown of the entire readathon. I had really high hopes for this one and had heard great things, but it ended up being basically a deranged version of The Lion King. I didn't love the art style either, and this one ended up as a 2 star.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald: I panicked a day before the readathon was over and swapped this one in for the "Read and watch a book to movie adaptation" challenge. The Great Gatsby is one of my favorite books of all time and I love this movie as well. This was the last challenge I completed and I'm glad this is how I ended up wrapping up the readathon. 5 stars again, to both the book and the movie.

Total books finished: 7
Total pages read: 1661

Never Have I Ever by Joshilyn Jackson

Cover Art Courtesy of Goodreads
This was the book I chose to fulfill the "read a book with purple on the cover" challenge for The Reading Rush, because come on, all that purple is gorgeous! In Never Have I Ever by Joshilyn Jackson, Amy Whey has a seemingly perfect life: a great husband, infant son, and stepdaughter, a wonderful best friend, and a job she loves at a dive shop. But when mysterious Roux comes to town, all of that is put in jeopardy. Amy's past is no longer something she can run from, and when Roux issues an ultimatum, Amy has to decide whether to give in, or to play Roux's own game against her.

At first, I thought this book was only okay. I was enjoying it enough but it hadn't wowed me. Until it did. This book went from fairly tame to pretty dark in an instant, and it's honestly hard to describe because it probably needs a trigger warning, but that warning would give away a major detail at the end. 

I thought the diving element was an excellent add to the story, and is something you don't really see often. The side plots were great as well, and I loved seeing Amy's interactions with her stepdaughter Madison. I did think Amy's husband was a little oblivious, but aren't lots of husbands? It was so easy to imagine Amy's neighborhood, the book club, and her frenemy neighbors. Everyone involved had so much at risk, so much riding on Roux's game, and I was so anxious to see who would escape as the victor.

Overall this was a really solid read. It does start off a little slow, but it is absolutely worth pushing through. Juicy and intriguing, this is a great thriller to pick up this summer.

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

Thanks so much to William Morrow for a finished copy of this read! Never Have I Ever by Joshilyn Jackson is out next Tuesday, July 30, so be sure to pick up a copy!

The Reading Rush TBR

This year, I decided I wanted to participate in The Reading Rush readathon (formerly known as the BookTubeAThon)! It starts TODAY and runs through through July 28th, and you can learn more about the readathon here.  I'm not the best with readathons, and usually either forget or taper out in the first few days, but since so many people are doing this one I really wanted to give it a shot! I don't think I've ever read 7 books in a week before so we'll see if I can rise to the occasion! Here is my TBR that I hope to knock out during the week of challenges:

1. Read a book with purple on the cover: Never Have I Ever by Joshilyn Jackson

2. Read a book in the same spot the entire time: Little Girls by Nicholas Aflleje and Sarah DeLaine (I'll be trying to finish this whole graphic novel in our hammock!)

3. Read a book you meant to read last year: The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery

4. Read an author's first book: Last Ones Left Alive by Sarah Davis-Goff

5. Read a book with a non-human main character: Animal Farm by George Orwell

6. Read a book that has five or more words in the title: The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware

7. Read and watch a book to movie adaptation: A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

Bonus: Read 7 books!

Yes, I am aware a few of these books are pretty short. Nothing wrong with setting yourself up for success, right?

Are you participating in The Reading Rush? What books are on your TBR?

Love at First Like by Hannah Orenstein

Cover Art Courtesy of Goodreads
I've been getting a lot more into chick lit lately and this book definitely fell into that category. Love at First Like by Hannah Orenstein follows Eliza, part owner of a small Brooklyn jewelry store. 

When Eliza sees that her ex boyfriend is engaged, she takes one of the rings from her store and drafts an Instagram engagement post of her own to make herself feel better...even though she is single as can be. When she accidentally posts the picture and her business starts reaping the marketing benefits it provides, Eliza finds herself stuck in a lie that she can't get out of. But maybe, if she meets the right guy, it will all end up working out...

The story absolutely spoke to the realities of the internet today. From online dating to the importance of Instagram likes, from internet scams to app creation, it really does have it all when it comes to addressing the digital age we live in. It really makes you wonder how many "influencers" are actually honest vs how many do or say whatever it takes to get free clothing, trips, etc. 

This book was definitely a fun read! It was pretty predictable, but that didn't take away from the story for me. I will say that I wasn't the biggest fan of Eliza and was appalled at some of her actions. I think she had some great friends in her life, even if she didn't always deserve them. I really liked Raj and Carmen as side characters, and appreciated that Eliza and her sister were entrepreneurs owning their own business. The story behind why Eliza wanted to work in jewelry was precious as well. This was a cute, light read that is perfect for poolside reading this summer!

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

Thanks so much to Atria Books for an ARC of this read! Love at First Like by Hannah Orenstein is out Tuesday, August 6, so be sure to pick up a copy!

Wilder Girls by Rory Power

Cover Art Courtesy of Goodreads
I had been seeing this gorgeous cover everywhere, but knew nothing about the book itself when I picked up an ARC at the ALA Annual Conference. Shortly after, I heard Wilder Girls by Rory Power touted as a feminist "Lord of the Flies" retelling and was sold. In reality, it was so so much more than that.

Eighteen months ago, the Tox hit the Raxter School for Girls. Still without rescue and quarantined together, the faculty and students have no escape in sight, waiting for that rescue that had long ago been promised. As their bodies mutate and decay, and their friends die around them, the surviving girls must fight daily to make it in this wild new world. When Hetty's best friend Byatt goes missing amid the chaos, Hetty will stop at nothing to determine what happened to her friend, discovering some shocking truths about their reality on the island that she never expected.

Some parts of this book are descriptively gruesome when describing how the Tox had impacted different people. One girl got scales. One grew a second spine. One went blind in one eye and grew a second eyelid. The vivid descriptions made it so easy to imagine the Tox as a reality, immersing you in the story from the very beginning.

I loved how this was told from the POV of both Hetty and Byatt, letting the reader in on certain parts that only one girl or the other knew were happening. I also loved that this had queer representation. I honestly didn't get the Lord of the Flies retelling bit, if that's even what this was supposed to be, but it's been forever since I read that book and regardless this was amazing. 

Being completely honest, this may be the best book I've read all year. Hell, it may be one of the best books I've read EVER. It was unique, and beautiful, and horrific, and wonderful, and scary, and atmospheric all at once. I became so invested in these girls and this story that I was desperate for more when I hit the last page. I will sing the praises of this book for a long time to come. This is Rory Power's debut novel, and I cannot wait to see what she puts out next.

Overall Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

I received an ARC of this read at the ALA Annual Conference. Wilder Girls by Rory Power is out now!

Your Life is Mine by Nathan Ripley

Cover Art Courtesy of Goodreads
I really enjoyed Nathan Ripley's first book, Find You In The Dark, so I jumped at the chance to review this one. Your Life is Mine follows Blanche, the daughter of a cult leader who committed a mass shooting at a shopping mall when she was a child. 

Blanche has tried her whole life to escape the legacy her father left behind. From moving away from home and changing her name, to breaking all ties with her mother and her old life, Blanche seems to be doing a good job ignoring her past. But when her mom suddenly shows up to speak with her, then ends up dead just days later, Blanche can no longer avoid the past she fought so hard to disconnect herself from. Is the cult her father started back? Are people in danger? Is the tragic shooting that happened so long ago going to happen again?

Unfortunately, I didn't feel the same way about this book that I did about Find You In The Dark. It was not scary at all (whereas Find You in the Dark terrified me and left me with a super unsettling feeling). It really dragged and it felt like nothing happened for 98% of the book. It started off well but quickly I realized that it was going nowhere fast. I kept pushing through hoping something exciting would take place but it never did. I was expecting a twist that I never got. When I finally finished it, I was left disappointed and empty. 

Blanche was an annoying and self-centered character and I couldn't like her no matter how hard I tried. She was cold and unforgiving, which makes some sense given her past, but I couldn't care less whether or not she made it out of this story alive.

I'm very fascinated by cults, but I didn't get as much cult content as I was hoping for. And with mass shootings being front and center in our society right now, I feel like an author needs to tread lightly and do them correctly. I don't think he did. 

Overall Rating: 2 out of 5 Stars

Thanks so much to Atria Books for an ARC of this read. Your Life is Mine by Nathan Ripley is out now!

Runaway Max by Brenna Yovanoff

Cover Art Courtesy of Goodreads
With Stranger Things Season 3 having just been released (it was SO GOOD!) I've been snatching up all the ST books I could find! The first one I read was the YA fiction Runaway Max by Brenna Yovanoff. This story basically tells the entire plot of Season 2 from Max Mayfield's point of view. If you haven't watched Season 2, make sure to do so before reading this book!

Max is the new girl in town in Hawkins, Indiana. Sporty and a tomboy, she always fits in with the guys more than the girls, so when Dustin, Lucas, Mike, and Will start spying on her, she thinks she might have found her new group of friends. But the gang has a secret, and secrets are for party members only. Content only to eat lunch with her and invite her trick or treating, the group keeps leaving her out of secret meetings and Max is fed up. What are these boys hiding? Will they ever actually be her friends, or is she bound to wind up friendless in her new town?

In addition to Max navigating a new life in Hawkins, there are also a lot of family dynamics discussed in this book. From her abusive stepfather and timid mother, to her angry, off-the-rails stepbrother Billy, Max has it pretty rough at home. You got a tiny bit of this in the show, but this book really delved deeper into the things that Max has experienced outside of her interactions with the boys.

I did enjoy getting to know Max more as a character, since a lot about her was still an unknown while watching the show. This book was good, but was mostly just a written regurgitation of Season 2. As a huge ST fan, I liked it, since anything ST is good in my book. If you are just meh about the show, this definitely wouldn't give you anything new other than a bit more about Max's family dynamic. 

Overall Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars

The Lost Coast by Amy Rose Capetta

Cover Art Courtesy of Goodreads
This book has a gorgeous cover and is about queer witches. Need I say more?? The Lost Coast by Amy Rose Capetta follows Danny and The Grays: Hawthorn, Lelia, Rush, and June. The Grays are a group of witches who are trying to get their friend and fellow Gray Imogen back after she turns up with sea glass eyes and a completely zombified personality, and have summoned Danny to the town of Tempest, California to help them. Danny, unaware that she has any powers at all, quickly becomes enamored with these girls, stopping at nothing to learn her new role in the group as a finder, or "dowser," and help them save Imogen.

I really loved this book! It was so atmospheric and ethereal, and I felt myself right in the woods with these girls among the tall and regal redwood trees. I loved how the Grays were unashamedly themselves, regardless of what the rest of their school thought about them, and how they loved each other so fiercely. There was great diverse representation as well.

The plot was fantastic. There were so many things going on at once, but they all tied well into one another. This was almost like The Craft meets The Wicked Deep meets The Blair Witch Project. 

The only odd thing about this book was how it was told. There were so many different points of view, from Danny, to each of the Grays, to the trees, and the ravens, and more, both in flashbacks and present day. This was a little tricky to follow so you really had to pay attention to each chapter's header to make sure you knew who it was about. This didn't bother me, but I can see it being a turn off for some people.

Overall Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

Thanks so much to Candlewick Press for an advanced review copy of this read! The Lost Coast by Amy Rose Capetta is out now!

My Infrared Sauna Experience

Lately it seems like there are all kinds of new health and wellness products and experiences popping up all over the place. One that intrigued me more than the others is the infrared sauna. After researching, I discovered that there was actually an infrared sauna salon near me, and with a fabulous offer for first timers, I had to give it a try!

Primarily, I was interested in hitting the sauna to lose weight. Being on the keto diet, any time I have too many carbs I immediately gain water weight. I was hoping that hanging out in the sauna a bit would rid me of any extra water weight that a little carb binge might have caused. After researching further, I learned that additionally, the infrared sauna can remove other toxins from your body, as well as assist with pain relief, muscle recovery, relaxation, and improved sleep.

These are different from traditional saunas. They are set to a lower temperature, but are actually more effective. The infrared rays heat your body whereas a traditional sauna heats the entire room. This allows the heat to penetrate more deeply, causing more sweat and heightened benefits.

In addition, the sauna near me offered chromotherapy, which is colored light therapy. In your sauna room, you were able to choose a lighting color, each which come with their own benefits. I always choose green, as it's the color for relaxation.

I have absolutely loved my experiences with the infrared sauna so far. The session is 40 minutes long, and after the first 10 minutes or so I am always sweating buckets! Good thing I bring some ice water in with me! During my sauna time, I either bring a book in to read, play on my phone, or just relax alone with my thoughts. It's a completely silent experience, which is a nice change of pace from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. 

I've noticed that since going to the infrared sauna regularly, my skin has been clearer. I also feel very energized after leaving a session and sleep well that night. And I do lose water weight! Plus, 40 minutes of completely uninterrupted quiet time is an absolute blessing! Even though sessions are fairly expensive after my initial trial offer, I plan to try to go every other week or so.

Have you ever been to an infrared sauna? Would you try it? Sound off below!

Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag

I cannot believe we are already halfway through 2019! Even though this is typically a BookTube tag, I wanted to take a stab at it for my blog. I thought this would be a good way to reflect on my reading year so far and take a look at the next 6 months! I've also linked to all my reviews in my answers so you can take a closer look at my opinions. I'd love to see if anyone else did this tag as well...if you did, please share a link in the comments!

1. Best Book You've Read So Far in 2019
I've had a few books that I REALLY enjoyed, so I don't think I can pick just one! I really loved Daisy Jones & the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid (didn't everyone?!) and I finally got to read Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia and absolutely adored it. The Girls at 17 Swann Street by Yara Zgheib deserves a mention here as well.

2. Best Sequel You've Read So Far in 2019
I'll be the first to admit that I'm the worst about starting series and never finishing them. That being said, I read the last book in the Amy Cole series, Amy Cole Has It All Figured Out by Elizabeth McGivern, and it was fantastic.

3. New Release You Haven't Read Yet, But Want To
I really want to get to The Devouring Gray by Christine Lynn Herman!

4. Most Anticipated Release for the Second Half of 2019
Hands down, Girls of Storm and Shadow by Natasha Ngan. Girls of Paper and Fire was incredible and had the most dramatic cliff hanger at the end. I actually have an ARC of this one, but I'm trying to hold off until closer to publication to read it! I'm also super excited for The Toll by Neal Shusterman, which is the third book in the Arc of a Scythe trilogy!

5. Biggest Disappointment
Yikes. This one is going to have to be Forget You Know Me by Jessica Strawser. I really loved Not That I Could Tell, so I had high hopes for this one. It just didn't deliver and I ended up giving it 1 star.

6. Biggest Surprise
Verity by Colleen Hoover! I had previously steered clear of this author because I was wary of the "romance" label. I heard that this one was really creepy so I decided to give it a try and it ended up being a 5 star read for me!

7. Favorite New Author (Debut or New to You)
Christina Lauren! Just like with Colleen Hoover, I'd never read any of their books before this year because they were "romance" novels. After reading two Christina Lauren books, Josh and Hazel's Guide to Not Dating and My Favorite Half-Night Stand, I'm absolutely in love!

8. Newest Fictional Crush
I'm working my way through the Game of Thrones books right now, so I'm going to have to say Jamie Lannister. Is that bad??

9. Newest Favorite Character
I really liked Eva-Kate Kelly from Fake Plastic Girl by Zara Lisbon! I'm a big fan of manic pixie dream girl characters and she definitely was one.

10. Book that Made You Cry
I tend to avoid overly emotional reads...I don't pick up books so they can make me sad. It's also pretty hard to make me cry in general. So I can't think of one for this category right now.

11. Book that Made You Happy
Cold Day in the Sun by Sara Biren was just the most adorable read that gave me all the warm fuzzies!

12. Favorite Book to Movie Adaptation You Saw This Year
So for all the ones I would use here, I haven't actually read the book-just seen the movie. Those would be Dumplin and A Simple Favor. I don't watch a ton of movies really!

13. Favorite Review You've Written This Year
How do I answer this? I like all of my reviews...I wrote them after all!

14. Most Beautiful Book You've Bought So Far This Year
The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi is a stunning book!

15. What Books do you Need to Read by the End of This Year
HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA. All of them. But literally, my TBR has like 500 books on it. #sorrynotsorry #bookbloggerproblems