None right now

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Top Ten Books I Wouldn't Mind Santa Bringing Me

Holy crap, this topic is actually really difficult. There are so many fabulous books out there that I want, it feels like an injustice to pick just ten, but somehow I managed. 
I have heard nothing but amazing, incredible things about this book and this author. And also, look at that cover! 

I read and loved the first two books in this series, and I really want to know how it concludes. 

Never a bad thing has been said about The Lunar Chronicles. I read the an ARC of the first book in the series, Cinder, before it was released. I really enjoyed it, but I never got around to finishing the series, which was obviously a mistake. 

I discovered Rowell this year and loved her work. Fangirl sounds like the perfect book for a me, an eternal fangirl. 

I read an eARC of this one before it came out, and holy cow it is absolutely amazing. I've been in love with this book ever since, and I'd really like to own a copy. This one deserves a re-read.

One thing you'll learn about me is I am a die hard Katie McGarry fangirl. Everything she writes is absolutely amazing. This is the last book in the Pushing the Limits series, and it's one of the only ones I haven't read. I needs it! 

Gotta have me some more McGarry. No shame! This is the first book in her new Thunder Road series, and the sequel comes out in March, and I just need this in my life, ya dig? 

This is one of those books that I have heard nothing but good things about, and it sounds so incredibly intriguing. I've been trying to read more sci-fi and fantasy lately, so basically this is a book I need to read. 

Again, so many good things are being said about this book. I think the premise sounds fantastic. I love the cover. And I love anything having to do with palaces and social stratification. 

I have been wanting to read this book since I first heard the premise YEARS ago. I love the whole competition aspect, and again, PALACES! To top all that off, my non-reader best friend read this entire series recently and she is in love with it! 

What books are you hoping Santa will bring you? 

Monday, December 21, 2015

Lefty's Lowdown: Thicker Than Water by Brigid Kemmerer

Thicker Than Water by Brigid Kemmerer
Published: December 29, 2015 by Kensington
Source: I received an eARC for review via Netgalley, but that hasn't affected my thoughts in this book in any way, shape, or form.
Summary from Goodreads:
Thomas Bellweather hasn’t been in town long. Just long enough for his newlywed mother to be murdered, and for his new stepdad’s cop colleagues to decide Thomas is the primary suspect.

Not that there’s any evidence. But before Thomas got to Garretts Mill there had just been one other murder in twenty years.

The only person who believes him is Charlotte Rooker, little sister to three cops and, with her soft hands and sweet curves, straight-up dangerous to Thomas. Her best friend was the other murder vic. And she’d like a couple answers.

Answers that could get them both killed, and reveal a truth Thomas would die to keep hidden…
This book was not at all what I expected. but HOLY CRAP I LOVED IT. Mystery typically isn't my genre of choice, so I didn't go into this book with the highest of hopes. but from the very first sentence, I shit you not, this book had me hooked. 

My favorite part of this book was definitely the voice. Thicker Than Water is told in two different points of view: Thomas, the guy accused of murdering his mother, and Charlotte, the girl who just can't seem to stop getting wrapped up in his drama. Both of these characters have extremely sharp, engrossing voices. I'll admit, I'm a bit more partial to Thomas's voice because I thought he was a bit more sarcastic, and there were points I actually laughed out loud. Here are some of my favorite quotes by him.

"She stands with an older woman, and by older I mean that there's a chance her wrinkled skin might give up the fight and slide the rest of the way down her body. Ol' Wrinkly is wearing an honest-to-god navy blue hat with a veil" (location 98).

"She could call me Princess Sparklepants if she wants. I couldn't care less about my name at this point" (location 112). 

"Stan stands close to me. 'I don't mean to pry, you have money for this, Tom?'

'I don't need money. I was planning to wait until the sales guy was distracted, then run.'" (location 1849)

Aside from just the voice, the characterization in this novel was great! Thomas was typically pretty moody, he was also so kind and misunderstood. My heart went out to him so much throughout the book. I got so super duper frustrated on his behalf. I honestly fell in love with him the second he was introduced. Like, I found a new book boyfriend here, that's for sure. I liked Charlotte a lot, too. She initially comes off as the semi-annoying girl who has to stick her nose in but can't stick up for herself, but she definitely redeems herself by the end of the novel, proving that there is some badassery in her after all. She's also kind, understanding, and refuses to accept that Thomas is the guy everyone says he is. I was super connected to the characters and I SHIP 'EM. Truth be told, it wasn't the shippiest ship I've ever shipped, but I was still rooting for them hardcore. I knew they belonged together.

All the secondary characters were interesting and well-developed as well. Charlotte has 3 brothers, each of which have their own distinct personality. I wouldn't say I necessarily loved them, but they were good characters. Stan, Thomas's new step-dad, is also a really interesting character. I loved seeing how much his relationship with Thomas developed over the course of the novel.

I also thought the pacing of the novel was really good. I was not bored while reading this or even a second. I tore through this book like it was nothing. There was not a single part of this novel where I felt like I just needed to power through.

I'll admit, I wasn't entirely surprised by the mystery aspect. I can't say a whole lot about it, but it wasn't that hard to predict. I also would not have minded if the paranormal aspect was a bit more expanded on. Aside from that, I have no complaints about this one! It was intriguing and it kept me ensnared more than any book has done in a really long time. I gotta say, I don't think the general synopsis of this book does it justice. Even if you're not a big mystery reader, I still encourage you to give this one a shot!


Sunday, December 20, 2015

Sunday Post #4

  • Hallelujah for winter break!! It's so nice to not have a single thing to worry about right now. I got through my third semester of college with a 4.0 and I could not be more happy with the semester I had. 
  • I really did not get as much reading done this week as I thought I would, which is basically the story of my life. I did, however, get a TON of 90210 watched. I've become far too obsessed with this show. If you've watched it, please chat with me about it. 
  • But y'all. Y'ALL! This upcoming week is Christmas and I am so unbelievably excited. I'll be going to Florida to see my brothers and sisters I am just cannot wait!! I wish all of you the very happiest of holidays!

Did I Mention I Love You by Estelle Maskame
Sever by Lauren DeStefano

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?
Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Books I Read in 2015

My Bookish Tattoo
The Eclectic Corner #1: My Unrealistic Christmas List

Thicker than Water by Brigid Kemmerer
Blackhearts by Nicole Castroman

It's Monday! What are you reading?
Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Wouldn't Mind Santa Bringing
Sunday Post #5

Flashback Friday #3
The Eclectic Corner #2: 90210

From Edelweiss:

Liars and Losers Like Us by Ami Allen-Vath - Thank you Sky Pony Press!
Published: March 1, 2016 by Sky Pony Press

~ Lauren at Bookmark Lit posted Help Me Deal with HYPE!, which covers the hype surrounding books. It's really fun! She talks about the different levels of hype and some of the books for which she found the hype warranted, and for which she was very disappointed because of the hype. I think it is something that every bookworm can get behind. It's a great discussion post, and Lauren makes sure to reply to every comment. 

~ The absolutely wonderful Jamie at The Perpetual Page Turner has been doing a series called A Very Homemade Holiday, where she showcases (and hosts a giveaways for) different handmade bookish items by bookish people that you can give as gifts (or buy for yourself!). There have been 3 posts so far, and I have fallen in love with every single item she has posted about. Day 1 was candles, day 2 was coffee mugs, and day 3 was book quote necklaces. I can't wait to see what else she has in store for us. 

What has your week in books and blogging looked like?

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Lefty's Lowdown: Sever by Lauren DeStefano

Sever by Lauren DeStefano
(The Chemical Garden #3)
Published: February 12, 2013 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Summary from Goodreads:
Time is running out for Rhine in this conclusion to the New York Times bestselling Chemical Garden Trilogy.

With the clock ticking until the virus takes its toll, Rhine is desperate for answers. After enduring Vaughn’s worst, Rhine finds an unlikely ally in his brother, an eccentric inventor named Reed. She takes refuge in his dilapidated house, though the people she left behind refuse to stay in the past. While Gabriel haunts Rhine’s memories, Cecily is determined to be at Rhine’s side, even if Linden’s feelings are still caught between them.

Meanwhile, Rowan’s growing involvement in an underground resistance compels Rhine to reach him before he does something that cannot be undone. But what she discovers along the way has alarming implications for her future—and about the past her parents never had the chance to explain.

In this breathtaking conclusion to Lauren DeStefano’s Chemical Garden trilogy, everything Rhine knows to be true will be irrevocably shattered.
Holy crap. It's so hard to write a review for the last book in a series without repeating everything I've already said about the previous books or discussing spoilers. I know everyone won't agree with this, but I found Sever to be a satisfying conclusion to The Chemical Garden series. 

I'll admit this book wasn't as exciting as the previous one, Fever. It got off to a slow start, but then, all of a sudden, I was hooked. I read 70% of the book in one sitting because I just couldn't put it down. I think Sever is by far the most interesting book in the series. There are so many bombs dropped--literally and figuratively. I accidentally read a few spoilers beforehand, but I was still shocked when certain events took place. Another thing that I really liked about this one was that we were finally offered an explanation into the dystopian world and Vaughn's mind. I'll be honest, the worldbuilding isn't flawless. It's not all that intricate, and there are holes, but I found it sufficient enough. There were no glaring errors that got on my nerves or anything. Then again, worldbuilding is not really my focus when I'm reading. 

This is also the first book in the series in which I felt a real emotional connection. I actually cried a little in this book! In the past two, I had a hard time feeling connected to any of the characters, but something shifted in this book. Gabriel was basically not in the book, and I have to say, I didn't miss him at all (his ending is one of the only ones I'm not particularly fond of). I did, however, really enjoy Linden's presence in the novel. I wasn't exactly sure how to feel about him before this novel, but he really won my heart in Sever. He was going through a lot and he had a hard time processing the reality of the world he lives in. But the way he cared for Cecily and Rhine, even though she wronged him in so many ways, was adorable. I can't say any more on my feelings about Linden without revealing spoilers, but know that I loved him. 

We get to know two new characters in this novel, both of whom I enjoyed. It took two and a half books but finally it happened. We got to meet twin brother Rowan in the flesh. Some people didn't like him, but I did. The way he interacted with Rhine just made my heart happy. Maybe it's because I have always been super close with my brother, but I just adored how much he obviously cared for his sister. Then there is Reed, Vaughn's way less maniacal brother. I loved him a lot too. He is a unique one, that's for sure. Maybe he isn't great with people, I could tell how much he ended up caring about Rhine, Cecily, Bowen, and of course Linden. I wish we got to know him a little better, but I loved the way this story ended for him. 

Everyone grew so much over the course of the series. Cecily...Cecily. She has come so far from the first novel, and I hate the she had to experience so much tragedy and was forced to grow up so quickly, but she is such a dynamic character and never dull to read. Rhine is so much stronger and much more independent. In this final novel, I felt like I finally connected to her. She finally let herself feel something other than sorry for herself.  

I'm so glad I read this series. With beautiful, gorgeous, completely stunning writing, and a seemingly hopeless world, DeStefano has gifted us a dystopian story that stands out from the rest of the pack. I really enjoyed this final installment. I didn't like everything that happened in it, but I think it ended the way it needed to, and it left me with a fluttery feeling as I closed the book. I'll miss these characters and this world. It was a good run, and I can't wait to read anything else DeStefano graces us with. 


Friday, December 18, 2015

The Eclectic Corner #1: My Unrealistic Christmas List

The Eclectic Corner is a new feature on The Left-Handed Book Lover in which I talk about basically anything I want. A whole variety of topics! This is kinda like my chance to talk about non-bookish things. I came up with this idea because I really wanted to incorporate my love of TV shows and music somehow. This gives me a chance to connect with other readers and bloggers beyond similar taste in books. 

My first topic for The Eclectic Corner is My Unrealistic Christmas List. Basically, here are some things that are really expensive and I would never ask anyone to buy me, but a girl can dream. 

I think all book lovers lust over cool bookshelves. Here are a few I found on Pinterest that I can only hope to have one day (there were sooooo many, this is only a select few). 

I think the newest one is like the Galaxy S6 Edge+. I can't keep up these days. But I am an android person to the bone and I have a really cheap straighttalk phone right now. I'd like a better one, mostly for the high quality camera tbh. 

My wanderlust has been out of control lately. But like I'm a broke college kid so traveling is out of the picture, really. I'd love to go to New York because that's place in which my soul resides. But I have been there before, so I'd also love to take a trip to Germany (Ich lerne Deutsch) or maybe Italy or London. One day, one day. 

Okay, so cats aren't expensive, but I live in a place with no pets, so it's out of the realm of possibilities. But I love cats. I love cats so much. Like, I am fully prepared to be a crazy cat lady in 20 years and I just want a cat. 

Well, there you have it. My unrealistic Christmas list. 
What are some things you want for Christmas but know you can't get? 

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Lefty's Lowdown: Did I Mention I Love You by Estelle Maskame

Did I Mention I Love You by Estelle Maskame
(The DIMILY Trilogy #1)
Published: December 1, 2015 by Sourcebooks Fire
Source: Received an egalley for review via NetGalley, but I promise this hasn't influenced my opinion of the book at all!
Summary from Goodreads:
When sixteen-year-old Eden Munro agrees to spend the summer with her estranged father in the beachfront city of Santa Monica, California, she has no idea what she’s letting herself in for. Eden's parents are divorced and have gone their separate ways, and now her father has a brand new family. For Eden, this means she's about to meet three new step-brothers. The eldest of the three is Tyler Bruce, a troubled teenager with a short temper and a huge ego. Complete polar opposites, Eden quickly finds herself thrust into a world full of new experiences as Tyler's group of friends take her under their wing. But the one thing she just can't understand is Tyler, and the more she presses to figure out the truth about him, the more she finds herself falling for the one person she shouldn't – her step-brother.

Throw in Tyler's clingy girlfriend and a guy who has his eyes set on Eden, and there's secrets, lies and a whole lot of drama. But how can Eden keep her feelings under control? And can she ever work out the truth about Tyler?

Did I Mention I Love You is the first book in the phenomenal DIMILY trilogy, following the lives of Eden Munro and Tyler Bruce as they try to find their way in an increasingly confusing world. 
Okay, when I decided to start blogging again, I made a promise to myself that I was not going to let any part of this be unpleasant. I wasn't ever going to let any part of blogging feel like a chore, because that is what really killed me in my previous blogging endeavors. A big part of that promise includes not forcing myself to read books I'm not enjoying. Unfortunately, that brings me to Did I Mention I Love You.

Obviously I was really hoping to love this book, or else I wouldn't have requested it. However, hopes are not always met. I DNF'ed this book. I hate writing negative reviews with all my heart, but even more than that, I hate writing DNF reviews. Is it really fair to write a review for a book I didn't even complete? 

So let me make this very clear. I got 38% through this novel--I DID NOT FINISH READING THIS BOOK. I am only judging the parts I did read, and I can only give my reasons for not being able to finish it. 

The primary reason is that I hated all the characters, and that kind of leads into all the other stuff I disliked about this story. Every. Single. One. At first, I thought I was going to like Eden, the narrator, a lot. I thought I could relate to her. She was uncomfortable in social settings and seemed like a straightforward person. But she turned out to be a pushover, judgmental, hypocritical, and annoying as shit. I have so much rant to say about this girl that I honestly don't know where to start. She lets all her new friends convince her to do things and go to things she doesn't want to do, and then she complains about it the whole fucking time. She also criticizes everything everyone does and gets in their business when it is not at all her place. Like, I get that what your step-brother does is shitty, but how can you sit there and lecture him and get mad at him when you've known him for a total of two days? 

But oh boy! The step-brother/obvious love interest, Tyler. I never reached the point where they got together, but I don't want to, because everything about him is horrible. He is a teenage brat, acting like a total asshole just because he has a rough past. I get misbehaving, but this is a whole new level. He treats everyone like crap. The very first scene he's in, he interrupts a neighborhood barbecue, cusses at everyone, and insults them. No! And the little scenes where he is actually showing a bit of humanity do not excuse that kind of behavior. I don't want to read about the Eden, I don't want to read about Tyler, so I especially don't want to read about the relationship between them. 

All the secondary characters are more-or-less irrelevant. They party all the time. They care about sex and drugs and alcohol and they have no depth whatsoever. I don't like any of them, I don't care about any of them.

Honestly, I don't think there was a single meaningful interaction in the whole first 38% of the book. In fact, I feel like most of what I read were pointless arguments between Eden and Tyler. Like honestly stupid, melodramatic arguments. I don't need deep philosophical life lessons or anything, but I want something more than empty conversations and shallow interactions between characters. I don't care if that stuff comes later. It shouldn't be lacking throughout the entire beginning. I was bored, and I didn't care about what I was reading. I've read reviews on the book, so I know that there is a lot revealed about the characters in the part I didn't read, but I simply am not interested enough to read on and figure out what they are. 

I really wish I had something good to say about this novel, but I did not enjoy reading this even the slightest. I didn't look forward to picking it up, and I knew I needed to call it quits. 

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

My Bookish Tattoo

For most of my life, I had no interest in getting a tattoo. I always said that tattoos looked cool on others, but I was far too fickle to get something permanently inked on my body. 

Last December, it was like a switch flipped and I woke up one morning wanting to get a tattoo. I'm not even joking. I just woke up with the desire. Of course, I knew better than to immediately run off and get one, so I more-or-less disregarded the feeling and moved on with my life. Months later, the desire was still there, and I realized that maybe getting a tattoo wasn't just an impulse--it was something I really wanted. I just had no clue WHAT I wanted, and that wasn't a decision I wanted to make lightly. Again: me fickle, ink permanent.

I ruminated on this for a while. I only knew two things about my future tattoo. I wanted it to be bookish and I didn't want it to be cliche. I'm the type of person who thinks tattoos should be meaningful (At least on myself. Everyone gets tatted for their own reasons.) So, I scoured Pinterest and asked my friends' advice. Did I want it simple or intricate? An image, a quote, or both?

Finally, after a couple months, I found what I wanted. My best friend took me to get inked this summer.

This is a picture from the day I got it done. Sadly, I realized today this is the only picture I have of my tattoo. I guess the back of my neck isn't a place I photograph often. Whodathunk it.

I know it seems super simple, but I am still in love with it. It is honestly perfect for me. My whole family was super shocked (my dad especially), but when they saw it, they all agreed that it was extremely fitting. My boyfriend at the tame hated it and was extremely against me getting a tattoo, but I'm so glad I didn't listen to him, because he's irrelevant now.

Anyway, I got it on the back of my neck because that means I can show it off and keep it hidden whenever I want to, which was, in my opinion, the smart decision. Admittedly, I have long, thick hair that I don't wear up all that often, so people don't see it all that often, but I feel so happy and confident on the rare occasions I do show it off.

When people see a tattoo, everyone's first instinct is, of course, to ask what it means. Y'all have no clue how many people have seen it and asked me, "So, like, do you just really like reading or something?"

And here's what I've been trying to work toward the entire post. Usually when people ask me that, I simple smile sardonically and say, "Yeah, something like that," because I don't feel like trying to explain it all to people. Most people will find my full explanation of my tattoo lame and cheesy. But you, fellow bloggers, I feel will understand exactly what I mean when I say this.

Here is the full, honest explanation for my bookish tattoo that I've never really told anyone.

I like to think of my tattoo as having three tiers of meaning.

The first tier is the obvious, superficial reason: I love reading and I love books. Simple as that.

Even though tier 2 is essentially the same sentiment, but it goes a bit deeper. I got this tattoo because my life basically revolves around books. My past, present, and future. In the past, books basically saved my life and my sanity. When I was younger, I moved a lot, attended like a trillion different schools. It was hard to make friends and strong connections with others, so I would seek refuge in books. I found solace in the pages and the fictional characters living within them. In the present, I am double majoring in English and creative writing. I'm basically double majoring in analyzing books and writing books. In the future, I plan to be a writer and a novel editor. Like I said, my whole life revolves around books.

The third tier is a bit more weird and abstract. Here is the caption I posted the day I got it:

And there it is. Books, to me, are the most magical thing in this world. All these letters and syllables combine to create people and worlds that we can fall in love with, that we can relate to and find comfort in, that can show us we're not alone in this world. That's one of the most incredible things I can think of.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Top Ten Books I Read in 2015

I've said it before, I'll say it again--I did not read nearly as much as I would have liked this year. But I still happened upon a ton of great books! Here are my top reads of 2015!
All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
I was completely taken aback by this book. It was an emotional roller coaster and I was stunned for days. This book will always be in my heart.

Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen
Sarah Dessen, you goddess, you. This book definitely swept into my heart and I am more than okay with it! This one has made it's way to my list of favorite Dessen books.

Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins
Thank you Ms. Perkins! This novel renewed my love for books and got me back into the blogging world. You can read my review, if you'd like.

Fever by Lauren DeStefano
Hah. This is the only book on my list that isn't a contemporary. Whoops! Anyway, I have really been loving this series, and though Fever is the second book in the trilogy, it is definitely my favorite. You can read my review of Wither and my thoughts on Fever. My review for Sever will be posted tomorrow!

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
I feel like I was the last one to discover how awesome this book is! But it is awesome. And I'm so happy I finally read it!
Saving June and Speechless by Hannah Harrington
I put off reading these two books for so long because I wasn't sure how interested in them I would actually be, but I fell in love. I definitely need more Hannah Harrington in my life.

To All the Boys I've Loved Before and P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han
I've loved Jenny Han for years, so I was beyond eager to read these two new books by her. Glad to inform y'all that I was not disappointed.

The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
So I'm about 30 years late to this party, but I read this for my YA lit class last semester, and I just fell in love with it. An oldie but goodie, without a doubt.

Tell me about the best books you've read this year! 

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Sunday Post #3

  • Well. Finals week. I survived, just barely. And it ain't even over yet. I have two more tests tomorrow (one of which is chemistry and I might actually die). However, I came home this weekend so I could watch my high school choir's Feast of Carols, which is this really beautiful Christmas dinner/concert they put on every year. I used to be in it, and now it's so fun watching it as an alum. 
  • I didn't get done nearly as much reading as I would have liked, but I should have expected as much. I just can't wait until my tests are over tomorrow, because then it is officially winter break and I have about a month off from school--so, plenty of time to read and blog! 
  • I'm really excited because I got an A on my poetry portfolio, My professor said it was an excellent portfolio and it made me really happy, because poetry is not even my genre! Now I just have to wait for my grades on my other finals. Ahhhh. 
The Trouble with Destiny by Lauren Morrill
Ghostboy, Chameleon, and the Duke of Graffiti by Olivia Wildenstein

Sunday Post #2
It's Monday! What are you reading?
Top Ten Tuesday: Authors I read for the first time in 2015

Flashback Friday #2: Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley(I'd love for this one to receive some more attention. I am crazy about this book!!)
Sever by Lauren DeStefano (Wednesday, 12/16/15)
Did I Mention I Love You by Estelle Maskame (Saturday, 12/19/15)

It's Monday! What are you reading?
Top Ten Tuesday: Books I read in 2015

Flashback Friday #3
From Edelweiss:

 South of Sunshine by Dana Elmendorf - Thank you Albert Whitman!
Published: April 1, 2016 by Albert Whitman 

 I just want to tell everyone that I know my blog has been pretty routine for the past few weeks. Every week has pretty much had the same schedule. Well, I have a ton of creative and fun things planned for this blog, but I wanted to hold off a little while until my blog has more viewers and whatnot. Please don't get me wrong, I'm so thankful for the viewers and followers and people who comment now--y'all make me so unbelievably happy! I just think it will be better for the blog to get some more traffic before I start posting certain things. It will allow for more discussion and attention to ideas that I'm really proud of.

What has your week in books and blogging looked like? 

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Lefty's Lowdown: Ghostboy, Chameleon, and the Duke of Graffiti by Olivia Wildenstein

Ghostboy, Chameleon, and the Duke of Graffiti by Olivia Wildenstein
Published: April 8, 2015
Source: Received for review via Netgalley. I promise you that has in no way influenced my review or my opinions on the book.
Summary from Goodreads:
Some endings are inevitable, but so are some stories.

Cora Matthews, the principal’s gloomy goth daughter, is not exactly popular Duke Meyer’s type. Still, Duke finds himself inexplicably drawn to her dark eyes and mysterious manner. She makes it clear she doesn’t return his admiration, but when a burst appendix lands Duke in the hospital, he and Cora will be forced to come together by the most unlikely intermediary: her eight-year-old brother, Jaime.

Duke learns Jaime has brain cancer and little chance of long-term survival. He admires the kid’s plucky positivity and wild imagination and offers to write a story about Jaime’s make-believe superheroes. So begins an epic tale—that of Ghostboy, Chameleon, and the Duke of Graffiti—and a deep friendship between Duke and Jaime.

Despite their outward differences, Cora and Duke bond over their affection for Jaime, but unintended betrayal and Jaime’s advancing disease threaten to derail their blossoming romance before it can truly take root.

Ghostboy, Chameleon & the Duke of Graffiti is a gorgeous debut novel that will resonate with the thoughtful fans of John Green’s blockbuster The Fault in Our Stars. 
I finished this book just a few minutes ago, and I'm extremely conflicted about how I felt about it. It took me a little while to get into the story, and there were definitely things that annoyed the living crap out of me, but as I finished the last page, the feeling that settled over me let me know I was glad I got to read Ghostboy, Chameleon, and the Duke of Graffiti

As I said, it took me a while to get into this story, because the first half of this novel is absolutely infuriating. We're introduced to Duke, the protagonist, who is in the principle's office for painting a penis on the principle's car for a prank.Okay, I'll admit that part is funny. But it doesn't take us very long to get to know Duke's personality. Basically, he's a rich private school boy, really concerned about his popularity, his reputation, and, of course, sex. That's all realistic, I know. But he was also very ignorant.

And here's where it gets rant-y.

Duke kept judging Cora hardcore for all the makeup she wore and the piercings she had. The fact that she wore so much makeup was a major part of the story, actually, and that was really annoying. There just HAD to be a reason she liked to wear so much makeup, apparently. He even asked one of his teachers if Cora's dad abused her because she liked to wear such heavy makeup. GOD FORBID SHE WEARS THAT MUCH MAKEUP BECAUSE SHE FUCKING LIKES IT. And when he realized that he was kinda into Cora, he called it a twisted fantasy. It was just soooo wrong that he liked someone who wasn't a cheerleader. There was also one point where he google searched information on goths and took the stereotypes posted on the internet as truth. Like...what? He's supposed to be so smart (he wants to get into Harvard), but he reads that gothic people are typically gay so he thinks, "Hm...I bet she's a lesbian." 

I feel like this is such a prominent issue in our society nowadays. There is so much discussion about people being able to just like what they like, and I agree. Sometimes people wear black because they like the color black. I have a nose piercing because I thought it would look good. None of that says anything about a person's character. Obviously, all this pissed me off. 

But theeeennnn Duke meets Jaime in the hospital after an appendicitis surgery. He later figures out Jaime is Cora's little brother, and that he has brain cancer. But I just adore Jaime. It's impossible not to. He is this ball of energy and, for the most part, positive vibes. The relationship he forms with Duke is precious. They have this inexplicable bond that no one else would be able to fully understand. Duke tries to give Jaime every chance at happiness and Jaime changes Duke so much. The second Jaime steps on to the scene, this story is redeemed. Duke became much more tolerable. 

I'll admit, I found this book to be a bit slow, but a bunch of interesting things still happened. The story that Duke and Jaime begin to write together is creative and fun, and I would love to see that turned into a novel of its own. And when Duke starts helping Jaime fulfill his bucket list, I could not keep the grin off my face. I won't tell you exactly what happens, but I'll let you know a few of the items on Jaime's bucket list: drive a car, try beer, do something illegal, fly. There are definitely quite a few adventures! 

All in all, I enjoyed Wildenstein's debut much more than I thought I would in the beginning. I became invested in the characters, the story, and the story within the story. This book had me laughing and crying and I don't think anyone will regret reading it, even with the little peeves in the beginning. 

Actual rating: 3.5/5

Friday, December 11, 2015

Flashback Friday #2: Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley

Hello everyone! Welcome to The Left-Handed Book Lover's Flashback Friday. I'm not sure if this feature has been done on other blogs. I haven't seen it, but if it has been, let me know so I can give some credit! 

FF is a feature here where I talk about books I read a while ago but still want to give major love to. This feature is designed to give some exposure to books that may have been forgotten about or that some people haven't heard of, even though they're really great! 

This week's FF goes to.,.
Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley
Published: February 14, 2012 by Knopf Books for Young Readers
Summary from Goodreads: 
Senior year is over, and Lucy has the perfect way to celebrate: tonight, she's going to find Shadow, the mysterious graffiti artist whose work appears all over the city. He's out there somewhere—spraying color, spraying birds and blue sky on the night—and Lucy knows a guy who paints like Shadow is someone she could fall for. Really fall for. Instead, Lucy's stuck at a party with Ed, the guy she's managed to avoid since the most awkward date of her life. But when Ed tells her he knows where to find Shadow, they're suddenly on an all-night search around the city. And what Lucy can't see is the one thing that's right before her eyes. 

When did I read this?  

I read this in 2012, when the U.S. version was released. I'm pretty sure I got it as an eARC. I stayed up until 4:30 AM reading it.

Why did I pick this book?  

Y'all don't understand. I love love love contemporary books, but that has not always been the case. I was like a die-hard paranormal fan, and this is one of the first contemporary books I ever fell in love with. It's this beautiful adventure of a book. I takes place in only one night, but it is a night full of growth, flashbacks, and feelings beyond belief. I feel like it was pretty popular in the blogosphere when it was released, but I haven't heard mention of it in way too long.

It is a dual narrative novel, and both the narrators are a delight! They're flawed and so honestly written. Sometimes in between chapters there would be a poem that actually enhanced the story a lot, so that was really cool. There is a gorgeous, genuine romance, brimming with chemistry. I promise you, you will ship so hard in this novel. You will feel the kisses in your bones. You will feel this entire novel in your bones. The writing is stunning.

Bonus: This novel has an art focus, if you're into that sort of thing. There's painting and glass blowing and pottery. It's really cool even if you're not into that sort of thing.

Bonus part 2: It takes place in Australia. I was obsessed with Australia in 2012, so that was like amazing to me. It's still pretty cool, because the point of books is to take you to far-off places.

Now that all my love for this book is resurfacing, I'm probably going to go order it and re-read it. You should order it and read it, too. You will not regret it.

Other info--

Author info: 
Cath Crowley is an award-winning author of young adult novels, The Gracie Faltrain series, Chasing Charlie Duskin and Graffiti Moon. She lives, writes, and teaches creative writing in Melbourne. Her next book, The Howling Boy, will be out in 2016.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Lefty's Lowdown: The Trouble with Destiny by Lauren Morrill

Published: December 8, 2015 by Delacorte
Source: I received an eARC for review from the publisher via Netgalley. This does not affect my review in any way, don't worry.
Summary from Goodreads: 
It’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey...

With her trusty baton and six insanely organized clipboards, drum major Liza Sanders is about to take Destiny by storm—the boat, that is. When Liza discovered that her beloved band was losing funding, she found Destiny, a luxury cruise ship complete with pools, midnight chocolate buffets, and a $25,000 spring break talent show prize.

Liza can’t imagine senior year without the band, and nothing will distract her from achieving victory. She’s therefore not interested when her old camp crush, Lenny, shows up on board, looking shockingly hipster-hot. And she’s especially not interested in Russ, the probably-as-dumb-as-he-is-cute prankster jock whose ex, Demi, happens be Liza’s ex–best friend and leader of the Athenas, a show choir that’s the band’s greatest competition.

But it’s not going to be smooth sailing. After the Destiny breaks down, all of Liza’s best-laid plans start to go awry. Liza likes to think of herself as an expert at almost everything, but when it comes to love, she’s about to find herself lost at sea.

I am a huge fan of Lauren Morrill's previous novels, Meant to Be and Being Sloane Jacobs, so I was really super excited when I got approved for her newest book, especially since it deals with the high school music department and I am a huge choir nerd. That being said, it breaks my heart to say anything negative about this book, but the truth is I have extremely mixed feelings about The Trouble with Destiny

Let's start with the things I enjoyed:

The premise - I've said it before, I'll say it again. I am an enormous choir nerd. It was my life throughout high school, and I'm still in choir in college (only now I get a scholarship to sing in it). While this book deals with band rather choir, it still makes my musical heart happy. There are not nearly enough YA books about band and choir kids. I'll admit, Morrill did a fairly good job handling this aspect. She definitely got the clique-yness right and showed how important these music programs can become to students. Reading about this realllly made me miss my high school choir fam. I wish we saw a bit more tension when it came to the competition. Yeah, we see Liza freaking out, but I know that music kids get really competitive no matter what's on the line, and I would have liked a bit more of that. 

The setting - I don't think I've ever read anything set on a cruise before, and it was a lot of fun. It was almost like I was reading an episode of Suite Life on Deck. I love how our characters are put in a place where there are so many luxuries, but they're all basically stuck together unless they plan on jumping overboard. 

The writing - When I open a Lauren Morrill book, I am expecting light, fluffy writing and a narrator that can bring the humor. I wasn't disappointed. Though I am not a huge fan of Liza's character (which I'll talk more about), I did like her voice a lot. 

And that's all I've got for the positives, honestly. Now let's talk cons:

Liza - So, Liza, our narrator, is the drum major of her high school band, which means she is like the leader. However, she takes it upon herself to be the band's freaking dictator. And she treats the people who are supposed to be her friends so poorly. I get that she is stressing and acting a little crazy because she is the only one who knows that the band might be losing it's funding, but we only really get to see that version of her. We don't know how she treats her band before all that craziness, so how are we supposed to know what she's really like? Also, it really bothers me that she thought she was the only one in the band who should know that there might not be a band much longer. I get that she was trying not to worry them, but she would have saved herself so much trouble had she just told them. Like,'re not the only one capable of handling that information. ALSO, when situations get bad, she tends to run away from them. She didn't know how to calmly handle stressful things. Some leader. I'll admit, she grew a ton over the course of the novel, but that doesn't make up for how much I didn't enjoy her character as I was reading the first 80% of the novel. 

The romance - This right here is the most devastating thing to admit. I did not like the way the romance was handled in this book, for the most part. I thought, if nothing else, this would be what I loved about this novel, because Morrill wrote romance so well in both her previous novels. But alas. So, Debby at Snuggly Oranges wrote in her review of this novel that the romance was very A Midsummer Night's Dream, and I cannot think of a better way to describe it. I made a diagram for y'all.
As you can see, it's all very complicated...and that's not what bothered me. I think things like that are fun. What bothers me is how underdeveloped all of it was. I felt a big fat nothing about the romance and that doesn't happen to me, like, ever. Russ is great! He's goofy and sweet and seems to genuinely care about Liza, but we don't actually know anything about him besides the fact that he plays football. I totally wanted him to get what he wanted because I liked him, but I still felt no connection whatsoever to his and Liza's relationship. They don't even really have chemistry. Liza spends the whole book pining over Lenny and being a total bitch to Russ. I'm not even sure why he liked her. There was a lot of eye-rolling, that's for sure. 

Lenny's Ending - I can't say what it was, but it didn't really make sense to me. 

Missing authority figure - This is one of those tropes in YA that can work sometimes, but when it doesn't, it really doesn't. I'm sorry, but the drum major does not have THAT MUCH responsibility, but it was like she called most of the shots when it came to the band, while the actual director was doing who-knows-what. His absence is, realistically, unacceptable. Liza and her best friend Huck came up with a plan to keep him distracted for the trip, but that was an obvious move on Morrill's part to just get him out of the way. He finally became an authority figure at the most inconvenient time for Liza. It was my biggest pet peeve in this novel. 

Obviously, this novel really let me down. And that really sucks. But, while it was super predictable, I still felt the need to read it to its completion. If you're a Morrill fan, I'll tell you right here right now, you're most likely going to be disappointed by this book. If you've never read anything by her, I don't recommend starting with this one. 

Actually 2.5/5

Check out her other books!

Meant to Be (November, 2012)
Being Sloane Jacobs (January, 2014)