Tuesday, June 30, 2020

DNF&Y [30]

DNF&Y is used to explain why I gave up on certain books, and what about them just didn't work for me. What I disliked about a book might be something you love, so it helps to share your thoughts even when they're negative! If you would like additional information, please click on the DNF&Y tab at the top. If you want to join, you can link up at the bottom!

I didn't have any DNFs during June (yay!), so here are some of my favorites instead! 

https://amzn.to/3e1uPychttps://amzn.to/2YXeHJO
  • The Mountains Wild (Maggie D'arcy, #1) by Sarah Stewart Taylor was excellent. I don't read a lot of mysteries, but this one blew me away. I'm really looking forward to reading more books by this author. Click here to read my review.
  • What Unbreakable Looks Like was an emotional read that I couldn't put down. Human trafficking is an issue that more people need to be aware of and talking about, and I thought the author did an amazing job of addressing those issues while telling a story. Click here to read my review.
https://amzn.to/3gosr6khttps://amzn.to/38qRDXfhttps://amzn.to/3e6wHGg
  • Changeling (The Oddmire, #1) by William Ritter is a book I really enjoyed reading with my son. There were a lot of laugh-out-loud moments for him (fart and pee jokes aren't my thing), and he always wanted me to read just one more chapter. We've recently started the second book, so he's happy. Click here to read my review.
  • Love Songs & Other Lies by Jessica Pennington was one I listened to and enjoyed! I usually had it playing in the background while working out, and Vee and Cam's story kept my mind off my muscles (and their extreme discomfort). I really liked watching them fall in love (with flashbacks to the past), and seeing how they interacted with each other after being thrown together unexpectedly months later (the present). It was a lovely love story! Click here to read my review. 
  • Ruthless Magic (Conspiracy of Magic, #1) by Megan Crewe was another audiobook, and it was wonderful! I loved how unexpectedly dark it was, and would often lose myself in the story (completely forgetting what I was doing)! Click here to read my review. 
*Share your DNF&Y post! Please leave the direct link to your DNF&Y post and not just your blog's URL. Thank you for participating and happy reading!

Saturday, June 27, 2020

It's My Birthday Giveaway ♥

Hello, lovelies! My birthday is in a few days, so I wanted to do a giveaway! I hate surprises, so I have four for you, haha. My logic is sound! 😉 If I ever think Jacob is attempting to surprise me, I start trying to figure out what it is (which he thinks is incredibly frustrating). The not knowing is torture!

I have wrapped four very different books, but written little clues so you can hopefully choose something you'll enjoy! There will be four winners (one for each book). The first winner will get first pick, the second winner will get second pick, and so on until all of the books are chosen. (Some are ARCs, others are finished copies!)


Your choices are:
  1. Fiction / Contemporary Adult / Family Focus
  2. Historical Fiction / Fans of Classics / Small Town
  3. YA / Romance / Realistic Fiction / Sad but Funny / Lucky #7
  4. Mystery / Thriller / Suspense / Unreliable Narrator
I hope that's somewhat helpful! 😂

Rules:

This giveaway officially starts on June 27th and ends on July 11th at 12 AM. The winner will be announced on July 11th on this post within the Rafflecopter form, and also notified via email. Once the first winner has made their selection, I will choose a second, then a third, and finally a fourth. The winners will have 48 hours to respond or I will have Rafflecopter select another winner(s) (read my full giveaway policy here).

International friends -- your giveaway will be a little different! Instead the books mentioned above, you can choose one book (up to $15) from The Book Depository! Just make sure they ship to you, which you can check right here. I know it's not the same thing, but I don't want to leave anyone out! If this happens, one of the books will be recycled for a later giveaway (or maybe there will be a fifth winner). Good luck!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, June 26, 2020

Letters to the Lost (Letters to the Lost, #1) by Brigid Kemmerer

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1681190087/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&SubscriptionId=1MGPYB6YW3HWK55XCGG2&linkCode=ll1&tag=doyoudogear-20&linkId=91231f2210f70447eaa443cd294a34f6&language=en_US
Synopsis (via Goodreads): Juliet Young always writes letters to her mother, a world-traveling photojournalist. Even after her mother's death, she leaves letters at her grave. It's the only way Juliet can cope.

Declan Murphy isn't the sort of guy you want to cross. In the midst of his court-ordered community service at the local cemetery, he's trying to escape the demons of his past.

When Declan reads a haunting letter left beside a grave, he can't resist writing back. Soon, he's opening up to a perfect stranger, and their connection is immediate. But neither Declan nor Juliet knows that they're not actually strangers. When life at school interferes with their secret life of letters, sparks will fly as Juliet and Declan discover truths that might tear them apart.


"If she was a firecracker, spreading light across the sky, I'm a lit match, going dark before doing much of anything at all."
I finally got around to reading Letters to the Lost after really enjoying both A Curse So Dark and Lonely & A Heart So Fierce and Broken by Kemmerer. It was also a buddy read with Karen from For What It's Worth, and counts towards my Read the Alphabet Challenge since June is K&L! Unfortunately, this book didn't meet my expectations, and left me with a very unsatisfying conclusion.

There are several sticky notes peppered throughout this book, and tackling them all might take too long, so I'll just touch on the ones that stood out the most. Right off the bat Juliet has a thought that made me stop and take notes. She was walking to her car in the dark and hears a man cough nearby. How was able to distinguish gender based on a cough? She can't see where the noise came from, but that's immediately her assumption.

Juliet is also very judgmental of both Declan and Rev despite not knowing anything about them. She's heard rumors about the two, but she didn't actually have a reason to think, "He's that freak loner who sits in the back of every class and never talks to anyone." This is just one comment of many, and while she does grow a teeny tiny bit throughout the book, this is still how she views people. She made a comment about only seeing a snapshot of a person, but refuses to try and see the whole picture herself. I really didn't like Juliet or agree with her thoughts and actions. I thought she was a cruel character that was consumed by her grief, and unwilling to give people the benefit of the doubt.

You might think that sounds harsh, but she had similar thoughts about her father. Someone who has always been there for her. "I look at him. He's so perfectly average it makes me wonder what my mother ever saw in him." He would do something nice for her, and she would dismiss his kindness and feel annoyed by his efforts. I also don't understand why she felt like she had to mentally knock him down over and over again. She often referred to him as being plain and "beige," yet saw her mother as "vibrant" and full of color. I hated the comparisons. They were cruel and unfair.

Later she wants to blame Declan for something because of who she thinks he is. She wants him to be responsible for murder, because it would give her closure and make her feel better. She didn't stop to consider what that would mean for Declan. She didn't even give him the benefit of the doubt. She was quick to judge and blame him despite being given the opportunity to get to know him. "It's him. It has to be him." Not to mention how unhealthy their relationship (whatever they had) was. They would yell at each other, verbally cut one another down, and then suddenly feel attracted? "Despite all the anger, the aggression, electricity sparks between us." NO. Their relationship was unhealthy from the start. When Declan wrote on her letter, he definitely overstepped and should have apologized, but he ended up making her feel bad instead. How does that happen???

I also loathed Alan (Declan's stepfather) and Abby (his mother). They were so abusive. At one point Rev says, "Maybe I think his stepfather shouldn't be starting battles with him," and I wholeheartedly agree. Alan felt the need to challenge Declan constantly. That is terrible parenting! His mom just let Alan do whatever he wanted, even though she could clearly see how hurt her son was by his words and actions. She was too passive and uninvolved when it came to her son, and I don't think I can forgive that. Yes, she was grieving, but she shouldn't have blamed any of that on her son. If anything, she should have apologized for putting him in a horrible situation to begin with. He shouldn't have had to live with so much guilt, and thinking that something so devastating was all his fault. I hated how one conversation seemed to change the dynamics of their family, and wish Declan had been taken in by Frank or Rev's parents. He shouldn't have lived in that environment for as long as he did, and then Alan saying it was all because they were "worried" about Declan? I don't think so. Not good enough. 

Alan constantly put Declan down, unfairly compared him to his father, challenged him on everything, made his life as hard as possible, and frequently threatened to have him sent away. He didn't try to understand Declan or meet him halfway, he just wanted to prove that he was the boss and his word was law. It kills me that no one stepped in on Declan's behalf. No wonder his anger and resentment festered and made him aggressive. He was being attacked in his own home by an adult that should've known better. Alan should have been better. A better example. A better father figure. A better everything. His mother shouldn't have sat on the sidelines and watched as events unfolded. She should have been an active participant and an ally. She should have talked to her son before getting remarried. She should have talked to him period. 

Back to Juliet... she was so hot and cold when it came to Declan. They're both argumentative and abrasive in their interactions, but then suddenly she'd "walk into fire if he asked right now." Where did all of this love and affection come from? I'm not saying they weren't attracted to each other, because in a really convoluted way, they were. However, this sudden infatuation seemed to come on in a hurry, and I wasn't able to get behind their newfound feelings. She said she never hated him, but there was definitely contempt on her part, and a strong dose of dislike. I think they would have been better off as friends. There was too much between them–too much anger and hurt–for them to just simply forget and move on.

Speaking of friends, Rowan and Brandon were just as dismissive of Rev and Declan. They called them "losers" and even Rowan's mon thought of Rev as a "vampire." WHY? Why were they so callous and cruel? Juliet rarely stood up for or defended them (only once that I can remember), because she was often thinking the same thing. I hated that. I hated her. UGH, I hated almost everyone in this book. They all failed in one way or another. I did like Rev and Declan, but I think the two of them really need to talk about their issues before they're swallowed by them.

You might be thinking I hated this book, but that's not necessarily true. I hated the characters. However, that doesn't mean they didn't behave authentically, because people aren't always going to make the best decisions (for themselves or others), and grief impacts people in different ways. If Declan's stepfather and mother had been held accountable for their actions (maybe if Frank or Rev's parents had told someone), then I might have liked this one more. Unfortunately, the story is neatly wrapped by the end, and that's the part that felt unrealistic to me. There were no consequences for people's actions, when there definitely should have been. (★★★☆☆)

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Ruthless Magic (Conspiracy of Magic, #1) by Megan Crewe

Narrated by Austin Rising 
& Jennifer Jill Araya
Synopsis (via Goodreads): In the contest to keep their magic, the only options may be die... or kill.

Each year, the North American Confederation of Mages assesses every sixteen-year-old novice. Some will be chosen. The rest must undergo a procedure to destroy their magical ability unless they prove themselves in the mysterious and brutal Mages' Exam.

Disadvantaged by her parents' low standing, Rocío Lopez has dedicated herself to expanding her considerable talent to earn a place in the Confederation. Their rejection leaves her reeling—and determined to fight to keep her magic.

Long ashamed of his mediocre abilities, Finn Lockwood knows the Confederation accepted him only because of his prominent family. Declaring for the Exam instead means a chance to confirm his true worth.

Thrown into the testing with little preparation, Rocío and Finn find themselves becoming unlikely allies—and possibly more. But the Exam holds secrets more horrifying than either could have imagined. What are the examiners really testing them for? And as the trials become increasingly vicious, how much are they willing to sacrifice to win?

The first in a new series by
USA Today bestselling author Megan Crewe, Ruthless Magic combines the magic of Harry Potter with the ferocity of The Hunger Games alongside a poignant romance. Fans of Cassandra Clare and Holly Black, look no further for your next urban fantasy fix.

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I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. My thoughts and opinions are my own. Any quotes I use are from an unpublished copy and may not reflect the finished product.

I really liked Ruthless Magic! It felt a little like The Hunger Games, but with mages and more secrecy. In The Hunger Games, President Snow and the Capital wanted to make a spectacle of the participants, so all of Panem witnessed the brutality of the Games. In Ruthless Magic, the rest of the world is blind to what the North American Confederation of Mages is up to, so they can do whatever they want to those who elect to take the Mages' Exam. People have died over the years, and no one is ever told how or why. It's just accepted, which is bananas! More often than not, the families aren't even given their bodies.

Both Rocio and Finn were excellent characters, and I found myself relating to them in different ways. Rocio has had to work for everything in her life, while Finn has been given every opportunity whether it was deserved or not. He doesn't realize how much people have coddled him until he earns a spot at the college and his best friend does not. It's then that he sees how flawed the system is, and chooses to try and prove he's worth his salt when it comes to using magic. Finn has lofty goals, and honestly wants to do his part to help people, but his magic is weaker than most. His good ideas take longer to execute, and often require more of his focus and energy than it conceivably would for the others.

Rocio was the opposite. She had the talent but not the training. She isn't from one of the original families, so they view her magic as untested and a liability. They don't want someone like her tarnishing their reputation, or questioning the way they've been doing things for years. Unbeknownst to everyone else, Rocio has an uncanny connection to the magic, and it's something she can feel on a level no one else can. It's almost like the magic itself interacts with her, so she sees it as another living thing to work with. Everyone else views magic as a tool to be wielded. Her connection gave her a small advantage in the trials, and she did her best to keep everyone in her group safe and alive. She desperately wanted to trust a system that had repeatedly failed her, and I respected her determination in the face of adversity.

The secondary characters were also interesting to read about, but I wanted to know more about their specific backgrounds. They all chose to take the Mages' Exam for a reason, just like Rocio and Finn, and we weren't always told what those reasons were. I also wanted to know more about Rocio's family and her life with her brother before.

I wasn't always 100% sure how the magic worked, only that it did. Finn was taught to use a certain language and specific texts to harness the magic, while Rocio used old lullabies and songs from her childhood. The differences were major, which was briefly touched on towards the end of the book, but I still wasn't sure why some people were able to use magic and others weren't. Where does the magic come from? Questions like this might be answered in later books, but I wish it had been expanded on a little throughout this one, since it was a such a prominent part of the story.

Ruthless Magic was also a lot darker than I was expecting. The Mages' Exam was BRUTAL, and not everyone made it out alive. Even the people that did survive until the end weren't necessarily named Champion. They still have their magic forcibly removed, despite enduring the tortures of the trials. People died in horrible ways, and the author doesn't skim over those deaths. We're told very clearly how they happen (also very The Hunger Games-like), and some of those descriptions will stay with me forever. I'm still not sure how the truth of the Exam hadn't leaked beyond the borders of the island and its participants. Someone had to tell or slip-up over the years, right? How could you not say anything about people trying to kill you in extremely extravagant ways over the course of 5 days? How could you not talk about the horrors you saw end endured?

Rising and Araya were amazing narrators, too. I was so engrossed in the story and thought they did a wonderful job bringing the characters to life. The story was good on its own, but they added an additional layer of authenticity. I highly recommend listening to this one if you get a chance! Wonderfully relatable characters, life-and-death experiences, and a setting that will make you cringe, rage, and cheer for the fictional people you've just met. (★★★⋆☆)

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

My Weekly Pull [121] & Can't-Wait Wednesday [96]

My Weekly Pull is something I do every Wednesday to show which comics I had pulled for me that week! If you're into comics, or you're looking to start, please join me! If you decide to do your own post, there's a link-up at the bottom. I would love to stop by and check it out!

https://www.amazon.com/Wicked-Things-2-John-Allison-ebook/dp/B085HJ6VFZ/ref=as_li_ss_tl?dchild=1&keywords=Wicked+Things+#2&qid=1593014671&sr=8-2&linkCode=ll1&tag=doyoudogear-20&linkId=d62bb38919ed7c9b1a2b0150ddc230b5&language=en_UShttps://www.amazon.com/Once-Future-8-Kieron-Gillen-ebook/dp/B085HQ9RZM/ref=as_li_ss_tl?dchild=1&keywords=Once+&+Future+#8&qid=1593014748&sr=8-2&linkCode=ll1&tag=doyoudogear-20&linkId=f269f6488d54d359363e5b8a7100080a&language=en_UShttps://www.amazon.com/2020-Rescue-2-Dana-Schwartz-ebook/dp/B0844R6Q5D/ref=as_li_ss_tl?dchild=1&keywords=2020+Rescue+#2&qid=1593014866&sr=8-2&linkCode=ll1&tag=doyoudogear-20&linkId=55cf16bfc4ab42f7c0f1ebb2465e257b&language=en_US
Wicked Things #2 by John Allison, Max Sarin
Once & Future #8 by Kieron Gillen, Dan Mora
2020 Rescue #2 by Dana Schwartz, Jacen Burrows, Mirka Andolfo

https://www.amazon.com/Sleeping-Beauties-10-Rio-Youers-ebook/dp/B0849N9LQD/ref=as_li_ss_tl?dchild=1&keywords=Sleeping+Beauties+#1&qid=1593014966&sr=8-16&linkCode=ll1&tag=doyoudogear-20&linkId=074f736b846d55394b26f3fa2902f68a&language=en_UShttps://www.amazon.com/Mirka-Andolfos-Mercy-3-Andolfo-ebook/dp/B084Z5QWYS/ref=as_li_ss_tl?dchild=1&keywords=Mirka+Andolfos+Mercy+#3&qid=1593015036&sr=8-1&linkCode=ll1&tag=doyoudogear-20&linkId=9a7132fdbe6475ab3d9ae144f513abf2&language=en_US
Sleeping Beauties #1 by Rio Youers, Alison Sampson, Jenn Woodall
Mercy #3 by Mirka Andolfo

Jacob's comics for the week!

https://www.amazon.com/Transformers-vs-Terminator-2-4-ebook/dp/B0849KP9GF/ref=as_li_ss_tl?dchild=1&keywords=Transformers+vs+Terminator+#2&qid=1593015306&sr=8-1&linkCode=ll1&tag=doyoudogear-20&linkId=40cf0c40a093ac809b0210c139391bcd&language=en_UShttps://www.amazon.com/Teenage-Mutant-Ninja-Turtles-Jennika-ebook/dp/B0849XBCQK/ref=as_li_ss_tl?dchild=1&keywords=Teenage+Mutant+Ninja+Turtles+Jennika+#3&qid=1593015375&sr=8-2&linkCode=ll1&tag=doyoudogear-20&linkId=9065c731a270f279fc754e2c2aa8f4ce&language=en_UShttps://www.amazon.com/Spawn-307-Todd-McFarlane-ebook/dp/B0831RFFHG/ref=as_li_ss_tl?dchild=1&keywords=Spawn+#307&qid=1593015441&sr=8-1&linkCode=ll1&tag=doyoudogear-20&linkId=3535f0594db22a08f451e49b890ccc66&language=en_UShttps://www.amazon.com/Teenage-Mutant-Ninja-Turtles-105-ebook/dp/B0849LKD1N/ref=as_li_ss_tl?dchild=1&keywords=Teenage+Mutant+Ninja+Turtles+#105+tom+waltz&qid=1593015594&sr=8-1&linkCode=ll1&tag=doyoudogear-20&linkId=b512164c4831f7a6f1f7701328b73875&language=en_US
Transformers Vs Terminator #2 by David Mariotte, Alex Milne, Gavin Fullerton
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Jennika #3 by Brahm Revel
Spawn #307 by Todd McFarlane, Philip Tan, Francesco Mattina
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #105 by Tom Waltz, Sophie Campbell, Kevin Eastman

Can't Wait Wednesday is a weekly feature that's hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings. It highlights the upcoming releases we're really excited about reading! CWW is a spinoff of the feature Waiting on Wednesday (WoW), that was started by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1728206146/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&SubscriptionId=1MGPYB6YW3HWK55XCGG2&linkCode=ll1&tag=doyoudogear-20&linkId=cb5cbedbda41b306e3cb7d224470ec65&language=en_US
Boyfriend Material by Alexis Hall
Expected publication: July 7th 2020 by Sourcebooks Casablanca

Synopsis (via Goodreads): Wanted:
One (fake) boyfriend
Practically perfect in every way

Luc O'Donnell is tangentially--and reluctantly--famous. His rock star parents split when he was young, and the father he's never met spent the next twenty years cruising in and out of rehab. Now that his dad's making a comeback, Luc's back in the public eye, and one compromising photo is enough to ruin everything.

To clean up his image, Luc has to find a nice, normal relationship...and Oliver Blackwood is as nice and normal as they come. He's a barrister, an ethical vegetarian, and he's never inspired a moment of scandal in his life. In other words: perfect boyfriend material. Unfortunately apart from being gay, single, and really, really in need of a date for a big event, Luc and Oliver have nothing in common. So they strike a deal to be publicity-friendly (fake) boyfriends until the dust has settled. Then they can go their separate ways and pretend it never happened.

But the thing about fake-dating is that it can feel a lot like real-dating. And that's when you get used to someone. Start falling for them. Don't ever want to let them go.

*Share your My Weekly Pull post! Please leave the direct link to your My Weekly Pull post and not just your blog's URL. Thank you for participating and happy reading!

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Head Over Heels by Hannah Orenstein

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1982121475/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&SubscriptionId=1MGPYB6YW3HWK55XCGG2&linkCode=ll1&tag=doyoudogear-20&linkId=9ca0aa7fa50c15642c5a945195c3cf18&language=en_USSynopsis (via Goodreads): The past seven years have been hard on Avery Abrams: After training her entire life to make the Olympic gymnastics team, a disastrous performance ended her athletic career for good. Her best friend and teammate, Jasmine, went on to become an Olympic champion, then committed the ultimate betrayal by marrying their emotionally abusive coach, Dimitri.

Now, reeling from a breakup with her football star boyfriend, Avery returns to her Massachusetts hometown, where new coach Ryan asks her to help him train a promising young gymnast with Olympic aspirations. Despite her misgivings and worries about the memories it will evoke, Avery agrees. Back in the gym, she’s surprised to find sparks flying with Ryan. But when a shocking scandal in the gymnastics world breaks, it has shattering effects not only for the sport but also for Avery and her old friend Jasmine.


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I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. My thoughts and opinions are my own. Any quotes I use are from an unpublished copy and may not reflect the finished product.

I enjoyed Head Over Heels, but I didn't love it. I thought Avery was shallow and insincere, and I never felt like Ryan was THE GUY for her. (I really struggle with books when I dislike the characters.) Additionally, this book was marketed as a romance, but it definitely should've been labeled Women's Fiction. There's a relationship hovering in the background, but it wasn't the focus of the story.

Avery lost everything when she sustained an injury at the Olympic Trials. She lost her coach and best friend, she lost her motivation and the future she had planned for, and subsequently lost herself. She didn't know who she was without her training and lofty aspirations. She poured so much of her life–her very self–into a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. When she lost that, there wasn't anything for her to fall back on. She didn't have any other hobbies or interests, since gymnastics had required all of her time and energy. It was actually really sad to see her struggle with her identity and self-worth. In addition to her wallowing in self-pity, Avery often made comments (mostly to herself) that left a sour taste in my mouth.

"I reject the first seven men right off the bat because once you’ve dated a pro football player on People’s 50 Most Beautiful list (number forty-one, but still), it’s tough to recalibrate your standards."
Really Avery? Your standards are now pro football player or higher? Why was she being so critical of herself, and also super judgmental of others? It was clear someone's appearances mattered more to her than their personality, but who could compete with someone who almost made it to the Olympics? *oozes sarcasm* She really let who she used to be interfere with who she was now–abusive coaching and resulting issues aside. I'm not saying her childhood wasn't traumatic, because it definitely was, but her personality left a lot to be desired. She also went on and on about her past, and rarely focused on living in the moment. Yes, she was slowly building something for herself, but it took her twenty-something years to do it. She kept saying it was because of Dimitri, which was partially true, but she never wanted to accept responsibility for herself or her life. Even towards the end, she was still looking to others to make decisions for her.

"I care about her opinion, and I’d feel less guilty over my storm of conflicting emotions toward Ryan if I had her approval of him."
I hated that she seemed incapable of doing something on her own. She relied on Dimitri as a child, then her college roommate, then her boyfriend, then her parents, then Ryan, Hallie, Sarah, and Jasmine. It was like she couldn't decide something unless she'd discussed it with several other people first. Other people's perspectives can be valuable, but they shouldn't always be necessary. She rarely did anything on her own, and when she did, she complained about feeling lonely. Even her brief relationship with Ryan left her craving companionship. The girl doesn't know how to exist without being attached to someone else. She liked to cook, which I thought would be something, but it ended up being an activity she wanted to share with others (which is understandable, but defeats the purpose). I feel like Avery jumped from one thing to the next without ever stopping to figure herself out. She needed to know and love herself before she could truly commit to loving someone else.

Ryan was also very blah. I never felt the sparks or understood the attraction. They have similar backgrounds, sure, but that's all they really had in common. They were both gymnasts, and now they coach the same girl. Shouldn't there have been something more? I like this or that about you? I honestly can't tell you anything about Avery or Ryan that doesn't also involve gymnastics. Additionally, it didn't take Ryan very long to do something selfish and shady, and Avery forgave him long before I would have. She was open and honest with him, and he brushed aside her concerns and misgivings (on a very important and sensitive topic). The whole sort-of-a-secret relationship was weird, too.

I really liked Hallie (the young gymnast) and Sarah (Avery's roommate). They were both confident, level-headed characters, and they encouraged Avery to be better. Hallie was living the dream Avery had once had for herself, and coaching Hallie also seemed to help Avery. Sara had to tell Avery not to be so hard on herself (she was constantly criticizing the way she looked), and never failed to try and include Avery in her yoga sessions (that Avery rudely dismissed because she initially believed it wouldn't be much of a workout). She was a solid presence in Avery's life, which is why I was a little bummed her role was downplayed, and when Avery and Jasmine suddenly became BFFs again after two interactions. I get that those two have a shared past, but their new relationship didn't feel authentic. It was like the author needed to force them together again to further the story. (I didn't particularly like Jasmine's character either–she was snobby and inconsistent.)

“Jasmine, this isn’t the fanciest place,” I say quietly, nudging her. She grimaces. “Another vodka soda, sure.” Under her breath, she mutters, “Great bar.”
The aforementioned bar was donating all of the money they made that night from people buying drinks TO THE CHARITY AVERY AND JASMINE STARTED. How rude and ungrateful can you be? They're making $0 in order to help raise money for something you're trying to get off the ground.

I didn't hate Head Over Heels, but there were some problematic areas. Maybe some of my issues were ironed out before the published copies were released, but I have a feeling the heart of the characters stayed the same. I also wish publishers would stop marketing Women's Fiction as Romance, because I go into books thinking one thing and get something completely different. There was very little smooching in this one (their one sexual encounter was glossed over), and it was more about Avery learning to love herself and find her place in the world. I'm not saying sex is necessary in a romance, but this one was decidedly unromantic even with the main characters getting a little nooky. (★★★⋆☆)

Sunday, June 21, 2020

The Sunday Post [50]

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimberly at the Caffeinated Reviewer! It's an opportunity to share news, post a recap for the previous week, showcase books, and highlight what's planned for the week ahead.

News:

Happy Father's Day, lovelies! I'm currently not speaking to my Dad (more on that in a minute), but my husband is a phenomenal father! Marriage is hard𑁋we've struggled over the years𑁋but he has always been there for our children. His love for them is apparent in everything he does, and I couldn't have asked for anyone better to share this life with. He's never too tired to play with them, or too frustrated to help with homework. He'll let the girls put bows in his hair and paint his toes. He lets our son climb all over him like a jungle gym, and ask endless questions about the world (sometimes the same question repeatedly). No matter what happens with the kids𑁋good or bad𑁋his words and actions always come from a place of love. Our monsters are so lucky to have him for a father. ❤

As for my Dad...

Reason #1: I didn't know my father was married before my mother, or that I had a half-sister, until I was in High School. My sister called one day and said, "Hey, can I talk to Dad?" and I had no idea what she was talking about. My parents had kept this HUGE SECRET𑁋a sibling𑁋from me and my brother for years. How crazy is that? Even once we learned about her and my father's first wife, we still didn't visit my half-sister, nor did she come to visit us. It was a very messed up situation. I'm going to be 31 in a few days, and I only recently (as in two days ago) tracked her down online and got in touch with her. 

Just think about that for a minute... I've had a sister for THIRTY ONE YEARS, and we are just now speaking and getting to know one another. I did meet her very briefly at a Thanksgiving several years ago, but I wouldn't have known who she was had she not introduced herself. I'd never even seen a picture of her before. I regret not getting her information then, but at the time I thought, "Oh, I'll just get it from Dad later." Well, every time I asked him for her address or phone number, he had some excuse for why he wasn't able to. Lame excuses. "Oh, I don't have it on me", or "I'll have to look when I get home." Thankfully, the internet loves to share people's personal information, and an old email address of hers was still active. 

I've discovered that my sister is a lovely, wonderful person. She's a mother! I have a nephew that's going to be a senior this year𑁋bananas! I can't believe I've missed out on so many milestones in her life, and that she hasn't been able to be there for mine (the birth of my children, college graduation, etc.). We're definitely not going to waste anymore time, and I've enjoyed staying up late getting to know this person that I should have known my entire life

Reason #2: My father is racist. It's so bad you guys, it's hard to talk to my parents. What makes it worse? My newly-found sister's husband is Black, and my nephew is biracial. That means my father's son-in-law and grandson are often on the receiving end of that racism, whether he "means it that way" or not. The other day I asked him how he could so casually use the N-word when his own family was diverse, and his response was simply, "And?" AND? I shouldn't have to explain this to him! I shouldn't have to tell my father why it's not okay to hate an entire group of people. 

I asked my mother if she could say, "Black lives matter," and do you know what she said? You've probably guessed by now, "ALL LIVES MATTER, LINDSI!" Again, I tried to explain the ignorance of this response, but then turned her hypocrisy around on her. My aforementioned half-sister was in and out of children's homes while she was growing up, and my parents didn't take her in. Why? "She was too damaged at that point," and they "didn't want her around" me and brother. I WAS LIVID. I said, "All lives matter, just not the broken ones?" She hung up on me, and we haven't spoken since. 

What's even more insane, is that my parent's don't think they're racist, despite my providing them with evidence that proves otherwise. They told me I hadn't lived their lives, or shared their experiences at work, blah blah blah, so there's no way I would understand their beliefs and prejudices. They even tried to contact my sister to "warn her against me," because they were afraid of what I might say. Guilty conscience? I think so. I don't need that negativity in my life, and I certainly don't want it around my children. This is something I needed to get off my chest, because it hurts that they are this way. It hurts that they can't see how their words and actions affect people.

Previous week on the blog:
What I'm currently reading: 

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0316126047/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&SubscriptionId=1MGPYB6YW3HWK55XCGG2&linkCode=ll1&tag=doyoudogear-20&linkId=561c6036c3ac8fbad1b77f906ff4297b&language=en_UShttps://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1982121475/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&SubscriptionId=1MGPYB6YW3HWK55XCGG2&linkCode=ll1&tag=doyoudogear-20&linkId=1374c88ef7bb86dcde22c144ee7b248d&language=en_UShttps://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1681190087/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&SubscriptionId=1MGPYB6YW3HWK55XCGG2&linkCode=ll1&tag=doyoudogear-20&linkId=a4d16e57d41ef82640882683bf5c6f18&language=en_US
Lair of Dreams (The Diviners, #2) by Libba Bray 🎧
Head Over Heels by Hannah Orenstein 
Letters to the Lost (Letters to the Lost, #1) by Brigid Kemmerer

What I plan on reading next:

https://www.amazon.com/Girl-Unframed-Deb-Caletti/dp/1534426973/ref=as_li_ss_tl?adid=082VK13VJJCZTQYGWWCZ&campaign=211041&dchild=1&keywords=Girl,+Unframed&qid=1592765740&s=books&sr=1-1&linkCode=ll1&tag=doyoudogear-20&linkId=ff30a7a4dba10ba74285a38406e6f473&language=en_UShttps://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07WK4X981/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&SubscriptionId=1MGPYB6YW3HWK55XCGG2&linkCode=ll1&tag=doyoudogear-20&linkId=9ed177f9ecee999753a6ad258ccd4183&language=en_UShttps://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1534449701/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&SubscriptionId=1MGPYB6YW3HWK55XCGG2&linkCode=ll1&tag=doyoudogear-20&linkId=789ec2c2f97c7eb9e5751a63fc3e0c9b&language=en_US
Girl, Unframed by Deb Caletti 
The Oddmire, Book 2: The Unready Queen (The Oddmire, #2) by William Ritter
I Killed Zoe Spanos by Kit Frick

What I'm watching:

The kids and I have been watching Avatar: The Last Airbender, and Jacob and I started Space Force. I'm really enjoying sharing something from my childhood with the monsters, and I'm loving the cast for Space Force. I'm trying to catch up on The Good Place, but there's just not enough time in a day. Oh! The new season of Kipo is fantastic! 

Challenge updates: