Thursday, January 22, 2015

Review: The Boy Next Door by Katie Van Ark (ARC)

The Boy Next Door by Katie Van Ark
Swoon Reads (Macmillan), 368 pages
US Release Date: January 6, 2015
Format/Source: ARC via Around the World Tours - thank you!

Maddy Spier has been in love with the boy next door forever. As his figure skating partner she spends time in his arms every day. But she’s also seen his arms around other girls—lots of other girls. 

Gabe can't imagine skating with anyone but Maddy, and together they have a real chance at winning some serious gold medals. So, he’s determined to keep thinking of her like a sister. After all, he’s never had a romantic relationship that lasted for more than two weeks.

But when their coach assigns a new romantic skating program, everything changes. Will this be the big break that Maddy’s been hoping for or the big breakup that Gabe has always feared?
----------------Goodreads Summary
Notable Quote
I look at Mad, zipping through her brackets. She attacks the twisty turns, the determination fierce on her face. She puts so much power into the pattern that she almost slams into the barrier at the end. That’s the problem. I’ve compartmentalized my life for so long but Mad has no fear of the barrier.
So far I’ve read two of Swoon Reads’ books, and let me tell ya: they are definitely living up to their name! Maddie and Gabe’s story is filled with moments that stole my breathe and made me swoon so hard I actually put my hand over my heart at one point.

I’ll admit that I was shocked this got so…graphic. It’s not lewd or anything, but it’s…they go there. You know. IT. And I was kind of shocked! I don’t mind it, I found it to be quite fitting of the story and done very tastefully. Mostly I’m glad it’s there, because sex in teenagers is a very real thing. And regardless if I agree or disagree with it, I like that this one came with the knowledge that it happens, that it can happen, that some people don’t wait, and that some people do. It’s very real in that sense.

I’ve mentioned on here a few times how obsessed I am with figure skating, but I’ll say it again: I am OBSESSED with figure skating. Seriously. I watch it any chance I get—and not just during the winter Olympics. I used to have a poster of Nancy Kerrigan on my wall when I was younger, and I still have a deep-seeded hatred for Tonya Harding. So I definitely loved the setting and setup to this novel! Figure skating, especially pairs and ice dancing, are incredibly romantic at the core. The fluid movement, the trust in another, how close and emotionally charged everything is…this is all the makings for some serious swoonage.

Maddie annoyed me. Dear God. I wanted to push her so many times and tell her to stop flip-flopping between certain things and just…go for it. She was a bit of a strange mix of strength and indecision…and it’s not that it isn’t realistic, but something about it bugged me. Between the pair of them, Gabriel was my favourite by a long shot. He was a typical guy, and you kind of hated him in the beginning with his revolving spin of girls…but then you come around to him. And that was nice.

As always, I liked the element of family in here and how much it influenced Maddie and Gabe. How it was a reason they were who they were, and how it’s a reason they have so many cracks and fissures, too. I was a little nervous knowing Maddie’s father is a politician and how that would be portrayed (government and politics makes me nervous in novels, for personal reasons), but it actually was handled very little and quite well. Supportive families are wonderful in YA books, and this one was done right: supportive and kind, with lives of their own and problems to take care of. None of it diminished any of the other areas, and that was fantastic.

If a reader wants a fun romance with serious swoonage and heart stopping moments, The Boy Next Door is the perfect read. While I wasn’t entirely into the female MC, everything else was so wonderfully realistic and real that I can overlook her.

4 stars

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Top Ten Movies I Haven't Seen That Shocks Everyone

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the lovely ladies at The Broke and the Bookish!
In honor of a coming week's topic that explores the books I shockingly haven't read, I thought I'd do a non-bookish one for the freebie week!

Top Ten Movies
I Haven't Watched That Shocks Everyone

I don't watch movies too often. And it's not that I don't like to - I actually quite like them, it's just another form of stories in the end - but I never make the time for it. And I'm definitely one of those people that feels like if I'm sitting on the couch watching, I need to have my laptop open to be doing something else at the same time.

Combined with the fact I am an English-speaker who didn't move to an English-speaking country until I was 12, I never had the habit of going to the movies nor did I get into the habit.

So! I haven't seen a lot of movies. Seriously, tell me your favourite movie(s) in the comments, and I bet 80% I've not ever seen. It's startling, really, because I swear I have seen quite a few!

These get the most surprised reaction:
Which one shocks you the most?
Are you like me and not seen any of these, either?
Link me to your Top Ten and I'll hop by!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Review: Wish You Were Italian by Kristin Rae (ARC)

Wish You Were Italian (If Only #2) by Kristin Rae
Bloomsbury, 323 pages
US Release Date: May 6, 2014
Format/Source: ARC via Around the World Tours - thank you!

Pippa has always wanted to go to Italy … but not by herself. And certainly not to sit in art school the entire summer learning about dead guys’ paintings. When she steps off the plane in Rome, she realizes that traveling solo gives her the freedom to do whatever she wants. So it’s arrivederci, boring art program and ciao, hot Italian guys!

Charming, daring, and romantic, Bruno is just the Italian Pippa’s looking for—except she keeps running into cute American archeology student Darren everywhere she goes. Pippa may be determined to fall in love with an Italian guy … but the electricity she feels with Darren says her heart might have other plans. Can Pippa figure out her feelings before her parents discover she left the program and—even worse—she loses her chance at love?
-----------------Goodreads Summary
If you suffer from wanderlust like I do, Wish You Were Italian is probably a bad book for you – it describes Italy and so many various cities around that beautiful country that it just made my soul ache to go visit immediately! Kristin Rae did a wonderful job making me feel like I was really walking around Cinque Terre, or staring at the Ruins of Pompeii, that I was right there with Pippa and Darren at the Coliseum. Her descriptions are accurate and amazing.

This book is pretty much the epitome of a YA Romance – it’s got everything you’d look for. Hot foreign guys, awesome best friends, parental angst, shenanigans and mischief, lessons and mess-ups and love. There’s sort of a triangle situation (though it was never a question who she should—and would—go for), but it’s not over the top or ridiculous. It makes sense, in the context.

I was pleasantly surprised by the addition of Pippa’s journal! I thought it was really fun of her friend to create that for her, and I loved how it actually kind of outlines and brought together all the events. It wasn’t major or minor—just a part of it, and that was pretty fantastic.

There aren’t many negatives I can give, aside from the predictability of the book. But it’s one of those that it’s sort of nice that it all plays out in a way you would expect and hope for. I do really love Darren too, even though he’s a little too perfect boy, perfect friend. But I totally fell for it, so who am I to complain?! He was sweet and funny and tender and I would not have protested having him show up when I hurt my ankle and give me piggy back rides!

Wish You Were Italian was a sweet, fun Italian adventure. We get to see Pippa really grow and come into her own person, and it’s a lovely journey. If anything, you should read this book just to be transported to Italy! I just won’t be held responsible if you suddenly have the undeniable need to purchase a plane ticket.
3.5 stars

Monday, January 12, 2015

Top Ten Releases from 2014 I Never Got Around to Reading

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the lovely ladies at The Broke and the Bookish

Top Ten 2014 Releases I Meant to Read
but didn't get around to.

I know All the Bright Things was a 2015 release, but I received it in 2014 so I counted it!
(Funko Raj & Wolowitz say hi!)
Poisoned Apples: Poems For You, My Pretty by Christine Hepperman
Landline by Rainbow Rowell
100 Sideways Miles by Andrew Smith
Gracefully Grayson by Ami Polonsky
This Shattered World by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner
Zac & Mia by AJ Betts
We Should Hang Out Sometime by Josh Sundquist
The Young Elites by Marie Lu
I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson
All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

They're all high on my TBR, so hopefully they'll be read soon! If you've read any, which should I read next?

What books got pushed to 2015 for you?
Leave your link and I'll hop by!

Giveaway! Ashley Loves Books turned 3! (Like, 12 days ago. But better late than never!) INT, ends 1/31

Guys. Guys guys guys.

My little blog turned 3 this month!!

It was actually back on January 1, but things are just a madhouse at that point. I mean, how in the world did I have time to start a book blog 3 years?! It's unfathomable, but I am grateful to January 1, 2012 Ashley for doing this.

I don't have much to give, but I'll certainly hold a lot of giveaways throughout the next few months -- my stacks and shelves at home need a much-needed cleaning, and my birthday is in March, and if I go to ALA Annual in SF this year (YAY!) I'll need more space, and I am going to Comic-con in July again so I'll need more space for that…really it benefits everyone here.

Back to today. I don't have much, but I do want to say thank you to my followers, both old and new! If you've stuck around for all 3 years, I can't say thank you enough. You mean so, so much to me and my entire life. And if you're new, I hope you like it and say hello! All this time later, this space is about books and bookish love and the utter, impossible love for it all.

So, to celebrate 3 years, I'm giving away any book I mentioned in my 2014 Year In Review! And yes, that means the 2015 releases I mentioned, too. You can check out the post here, but here's a small sampling of the ones I mentioned.

Ends January 31, 2015, and this is open Internationally!
(As long as The Book Depository ships to you. Check here if you're uncertain!)
Because this is about loving all those who are with me, you must be a follower to enter.
My the odds be ever in your favour!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
**image credit:

Saturday, January 10, 2015

2014 End of Year Book Survey! (Image heavy)

Thanks to the wonderful Jaime of The Perpetual Page-Turner for doing this every year!
All graphics are hers as well.

Number Of Books You Read:
Number of Re-Reads: 3

Genre You Read The Most From: YA Contemporary
1. Best Book You Read In 2014?
The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord (SO GOOD.)
Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge
Open Road Summer by Emery Lord

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?
My True Love Gave To Me, edited by Stephanie Perkins. I loved a couple stories from it, but I found the majority to be more weird than I liked.
Broken Hearts, Fences, and Other Things to Mend by Katie Finn. I love love LOVE all things Morgan Matson, so I think I went into this expected way too many things.

3. Most surprising (in a good or bad way) book you read in 2014?
Talon by Julie Kagawa. NOT my normal read at all, but I loved it.
A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray. It’s well documented how much I can’t stand time travel, but this one was fantastic.

4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did) In 2014?
Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge
The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski

5. Best series you started in 2014? Best Sequel of 2014? Best Series Ender of 2014?
Series: The Uninvited Series by Sophie Jordan
Started: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han
And honestly…I don't think I ended any series in 2014! I'm so bad at completing series.

6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2014?

7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?
Talon by Julie Kagawa. And even though I was mixed about Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch, I did like it and am looking forward to book 2.

8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?
Unleashed by Sophie Jordan in terms of action and bloospill.
Liars, Inc by Paula Stokes in terms of it actually being a thriller – and a damn good one.

9. Book You Read In 2014 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?
All Emery Lord books. I actually think I might read Open Road Summer sometime this week.

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2014?
A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray and Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge. COVER. LOVE.
11. Most memorable character of 2014?
I still love Arin from The Winner’s Curse series. I will never let him go.
And Max Watson from The Start of Me and You. Oh god, Max.

12. Most beautifully written book read in 2014?
Emery Lord’s are just…amazing.
And Nina LaCour’s Everything Leads To You was lyrical and seriously made me feel like I was floating. Same with The Museum of Intangible Things by Wendy Wunder--beautiful and ethereal.

13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2014?
Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Telley.

14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2014 to finally read?
Most of the ones I read are from 2014, actually, though I’m surprised I was able to hold out on reading House of Hades for so long. And of course, now I’m stalling on Blood of Olympus. Which is bad, since I borrowed it from a friend.

15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2014?
“I once read in my physics book that the universe begs to be observed, that energy travels and transfers when people pay attention. Maybe that’s what love really boils down to—having someone who cares enough to pay attention so that you’re encouraged to travel and transfer, to make your potential energy spark into kinetic energy. Maybe all anyone ever needs is for someone to notice them, to observe them.” 
---Jasmine Warga, My Heart and Other Black Holes

16. Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2013?
Longest: The House of Hades, by Rick Riordan – 597 pages
Shortest: Just One Night, by Gayle Forman – 40 pages
If novellas don’t count: Sisters by Reina Talgameier – 200 pages
and if graphic novels don’t count: Finding Mr. Brightside by Jay Clark – 224 pages.

17. Book That Shocked You The Most
Hmmmm… Say What You Will by Cammie McGovern. Not that anything was OMG SHOCK AND AWE, but the content, the progression, how different it is from any story…it really had me. I also love love loved the English version, and picked it up while in London!

18. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!)
Kestral & Arin from The Winner's Curse series by Marie Rutkoski
Matthew & Amy from Say What You Will by Cammie McGovern

19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year
Dee & Lilah from Open Road Summer by Emery Lord

20. Favorite Book You Read in 2014 From An Author You’ve Read Previously?
Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson.

21. Best Book You Read In 2014 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure:
Falling Into Place by Amy Zhang. I would have read it anyway since it’s definitely my cup of tea, but I moved it real high on the TBR after picking it up at ALA due to all the blogger love for it.

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2014?
Max Watson from The Start of Me and You. God I am so in love with him. Can he just be real?!

23. Best 2014 debut you read?
Open Road Summer by Emery Lord
Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge
My Heart and Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga

24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?
Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch

25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?
Boys Don’t Knit by TS Easton. I seriously laughed aloud. Multiple times. In public. And Top Ten Clues You're Clueless by Liz Czukas. Lists and fun!

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2014?
The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand. I mean, read the premise. How could you NOT cry?!

27. Hidden Gem Of The Year?
Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Telley, and Althea & Oliver by Cristina Moracho

28. Book That Crushed Your Soul?
The Winner’s Crime (Winner's Curse #2) by Marie Rutkoski.

29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2014?
Hmmm…this one is tough. I’ll say Sisters by Reina Telgameier since it’s a graphic novel haha. I cheated!

30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?
The Jewel by Amy Ewing. Because it’s The Selection all over again and DAMMIT WHY.

1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2014 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2015?
100 Sideway Miles by Andrew Smith and I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

 2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2015 (non-debut)?
Watch the Sky by Kirsten Hubbard. Because it’s Kirsten and I will always support all her endeavors.
Things We Know by Heart by Jessi Kirby
I Was Here by Gayle Forman

3. 2015 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?
An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
Tiny Pretty Things by Sona Charaiporta & Dhonielle Clayton (I can’t resist ballet books!)

4. Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2015?
PS. I Still Love You by Jenny Han. DYYYYYING for this!
Fairest & Winter by Marissa Meyer. LOVE love love this entire series. And Marissa! (and while we're at it, I love Jenny, too!)

5. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2015?
Other than finally getting my act together so I can fill out the Blog Life section in next year's wrap up? Finally set up all my posts to push to social media. Four years and I stil haven’t gotten that together.

6. A 2015 Release You’ve Already Read & Recommend To Everyone:
Is it obvious if I choose The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord? Yes? I’ve pimped her out too much? (NO SUCH THING).
Fine. I’ll choose one I haven’t mentioned: Solitaire by Alice Oseman. I’m not entirely sure it will be everyone’s cup of tea, but I do think everyone should give it a go. It’s…powerful.

Did you do the 2014 Book Survey? Link me to it in the comments!
And if you didn't, what was your favourite book read in 2014? Least favourite?
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