Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Favorite Books From The Last 3 Years

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the lovely folks over at The Broke And The Bookish.  Every week, bloggers from all over share their own top ten list based on the topic of the week.  You can find all Top Ten Tuesdays here.

Top Ten Tuesday 2

Top Ten Favorite Books From The Last 3 Years

I’ve been meaning to update my favorite books list for ages now, and I never seem to get around to it.  This list is a great way to get myself to actually do it, because I’ve read a lot of great books over the last few years. Narrowing down a list of 30 books since I’ve started blogging down to 12 was hard, but here they are, in no particular order.

  1. Morganville Vampires by Rachel Caine.  It’s one of my favorites to read and re-read, and it’s such a fun vampire series.
  2. The Iron Fey by Julie Kagawa.  I just love the Never-Never and the whole idea of faeries who are pretty chill with iron.
  3. Paranormalcy by Kiersten White.  This series definitely pokes at the paranormal genre a little, and Evie is a pretty awesome character.
  4. The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han.  This whole series makes me feel so nostalgic, and it makes me miss summer vacation.
  5. Anna And The French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins.  I couldn’t help but swoon and squee over this book.
  6. Reason To Breathe by Rebecca Donovan.  So much crying!  But Emma is such a strong character, and I really felt for her. Her story is definitely hard to forget.
  7. The Sky Is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson.  I related so much to Lennie and how she dealt with the sudden loss of her sister.
  8. Unearthly by Cynthia Hand.  I love that angels have a purpose in this series, and Hand really created a memorable and vivid angel mythology.
  9. Ten Tiny Breaths by K.A. Tucker.  Kacey is such a strong character, and has been through so much, and her story has still stuck with me, even though it’s been almost a couple of years since I’ve read the book.
  10. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell.  I love this book so much and it reminds me so much of my life as a Harry Potter fan.
  11. Isla And The Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins.  I love this book as much as I love Anna And The French Kiss, and I loved Isla and Josh and how intense their relationship was.
  12. Hate List by Jennifer Brown.  Hate List is an intense, emotional book and unsettling, but such a great read.

Currently Obsessed With: February Was Exhausting

Currently Obsessed With is a once-a-month (but sometimes more) feature where I talk about my favorite things from the last month.

Currently Obsessed With

February was pretty exhausting!  For most the month, I went to bed super-early, but a lot of days, I was ready for bed when I got home at 5:30!  And yet, while tired, I found myself with not a lot energy, but not actually able to go to bed that early.

Nails/Beauty:

I had a lot to talk about with nail polish, so check out this post if you want to know more!  I really am glad I set this different color a week project for myself, because it’s actually getting me to go through my nail polish and wear a lot of different colors. There are so many I kind of forgot I had.  It’s sad, but I’m also glad I’m starting to wear some of the older ones.

Crochet:

I did some crocheting, but not a lot.  For work one day, we had to wear red, and instead buying something red, I decided to make something instead, especially since I have some red yarn to use.  I was going to do a scarf, but as usual, I didn’t give myself enough time to make it, so I went with a hat instead.  I do have a red-orange scarf I’m working on, and I do want to start something red soon so I’ll have something red for both Valentine’s and Christmas.

Crochet- Feb 2015 Collage

I also finished the Leprechaun beanie I was working on- well, the hat.  There’s still a yellow buckle I need to do, but I think it’s slightly too big.  I’m horrible at sizing beanies for myself, but I do have a green beret, so I’m not too worried if I don’t get something else done in time.

Books:

Much like crochet, I haven’t been in much of a reading mood, but I did get some books in February!  From Audible, I got Shadow Study, which is the newest book in the Study Series by Maria Snyder!  I didn’t even know the series was continuing until I saw it up as a recommendation when I randomly went to Audible recently, so I got that one.  I also bought Fledgling by Octavia Butler, which I’m excited about listening to.

Books- Feb 2015

I also bought a couple of books!  I bought Banana: The Fate Of The Fruit That Changed The World by Dan Koeppel and The Secret Rooms by Catherine Bailey.  I’m really excited about the Dan Koeppel one- I know it sounds weird but it also looks really interesting!  I’m also intrigued by The Secret Rooms, which is about this room that was sealed up by this one British Duke back in the 1940’s, and how the author got into the room to read everything.

T.V.:

I’ve been watching it!  Well, falling asleep and then having to catch up would be much more accurate of a statement.  Sleepy Hollow and How To Get Away With Murder are done for the season!  I hope Sleepy Hollow comes back for a third season, and I was quite surprised with the last few minutes!  If it doesn’t, I am glad with how everything was wrapped up, but if it does…let’s just say I’m interested in what happens next!  Same with How To Get Away With Murder, although we know it’s coming back. I can’t wait to see what happens next season because I have so many questions.

I also watched the Oscars, and I really loved a lot of the speeches.  I liked a couple of the performances for best song- Everything Is Awesome was fun, and Rita Ora did awesome, as Common and John Legend.  And Lady Gaga was fantastic!  I don’t know why I was so surprised by how talented she is.  They seemed more boring/longer than they normally do, and I liked the opening number that Neil Patrick Harris did but overall, he wasn’t one of my favorite hosts.  Plus, it was the first time in a while since I’ve seen only one of the best animated movies, and I kind of wish I had seen the rest of the ones nominated.

Around The Internet:

I don’t have a lot this month, because trying to get anything onto Pinterest (and saving posts) has been a pain!  Most of what I’m sharing is before it went all wonky.  I really like bloglovin’, but I’m so frustrated with some changes they’ve made recently that I’m currently looking at new blog feed readers.  If anyone knows of a good one that will let me save and share posts, share it in the comments!

The Guardian created a sorting hat quiz, and I got Hufflepuff, which wasn’t a surprise…but I will say that it’s super easy to get the house you want.  The reason why I love the Pottermore sorting hat quiz is because it’s super-random and you really can’t figure out which answers go with which house.

The Guardian also has an interesting post about why reading classics are important.

This is a great blog post about plot and how to write about it in reviews.  The Point Of View post is also awesome.  I’m totally looking forward to reading all of the posts in this series.

I really want to try Center Double Crochet.

What does everyone think of this video of important moments in Snape’s life?  It’s interesting to see them in chronological order, especially since we don’t get them that way in the book.

I totally got Anne Of Green Gables in this Buzzfeed quiz, and I think it fits me perfectly!

I love how Neil Gaiman responded to this question about the number of copies 50 Shades has sold- basically, don’t worry about it was his answer.  Totally not what I expected it, but it’s such a great answer.

And this post about how to forgive people who have hurt you (including yourself!) is amazing.

Music:

I LOVE Love Me Like You Do by Ellie Goulding!  It’s definitely one of my favorite song this month, and in my quest to find the song, I ended up buying the entire 50 Shades soundtrack.  I haven’t read the book or seen the movie, so I have no opinion on either, but the soundtrack is actually really good!  Last month, I listened to Taylor Swift on repeat, this time it’s the soundtrack to 50 Shades Of Grey.

I also really like Undiscovered by Laura Welsh and Earned It by The Weeknd.  I could do without the remix of Crazy In Love, which I skip every time it pops up, and it’s the only one I don’t like.  I love the song, just not this remix.  Not all of the songs were available on Spotify, but I love that Annie Lennox and Frank Sinatra were on the soundtrack (I Put A Spell On You and Witchcraft are great songs!)

Have a happy week!

Nail Polish Talk: February Seems To Be An Interesting Nail Polish Month

I thought I’d talk about nail polish today!  I am a huge fan of nail polish, and as I started to jot down some notes about this month’s nail polish fun, I realized I had way more to talk about than I could possibly fit in my next currently obsessed with post.

Let’s start with the colors I wore this month!

Nail Polish Project- February 2015 Collage

I wore Julep’s Marjorie, Nicole by Opi’s Please Red-Cycle with Julep’s Hartleigh as a top coat, followed by Keiko and Dawn, both by Julep.

I remember nothing about Marjorie.  Nothing.  The only thing I have on it is that I’d maybe wear again. Clearly, it didn’t stand out that much, but at least my notes started to get more detailed after that.

Beauty- February 2015

For Valentine’s week, I wore Please Red-Cycle, which I ended up getting at Target this month, because the closest thing to a good Valentine’s color is something I want to wear closer to Christmas.  I don’t have many reds or pinks, and the ones I do have aren’t good Valentine reds or pinks, so I cracked and got something new.

I also wore Hartleigh on top, which was a freebie included in my Julep box for February.  I totally wasn’t expecting it, since they (very infrequently) will throw in something fun.  I don’t know that I would have picked it out on my own, and it really is perfect for Valentine’s day.  I don’t know that I picked the right shade of red for it, and I think a lighter color would have made it stand out more, but overall, it looked fine.  It was really hard to remove, as in the color was easy to take off, but the glitter stayed on, so I had to soak my nails in nail polish remover.  Even then the hearts had to be peeled off.

I got Keiko in February’s Julep box, and I’m not sure how I feel about it!  I took a chance on it, and I was intrigued by the description of a charred olive shimmer.  I think it’s better suited as an accent nail, and with 2 coats, it was more of a brown-black with no shimmer whatsoever.  It grew on me by the end of the week, but if I do it as a main color, I think it needs something glittery and holographic, like Adele by Julep on top to give it something special.

This week, I’m wearing Dawn by Julep, and I really like it!  It’s a pretty yellow that’s really good for spring and summer.  It is thin and a little streaky with one coat, so I definitely needed two coats to even it out.

Maven- Feb 2015

As for the Maven box, I was really glad I have the option to customize my box this month, since I ended up swapping out all of my colors! Don’t get me wrong, I like the It Girl box, and most of the time, I love the colors right away or they end up growing up.  At the very least, I’m much more willing to try out the colors in that particular group the other ones.  Well, except for lately.  Carla’s not my color out (and I’m way too pale for it to look good on it), Becky isn’t my thing (and is too close to a couple of other colors I’ve had for at least a year and never worn), and I decided against Colton because it’s too similar to other colors I have and like.

I already talked about Keiko, and I also got Hazel and Brandis.  Hazel looks so pretty, and I really need a violet like that!  And I don’t have turquoise, so I’m excited about wearing Brandis.

I’m both nervous and excited about March’s box, because I opted for the mystery box.  Once again, I’m not into the colors (Janet is too light for me, Ming isn’t appealing at all, plus I have a sort of brighter shade of that color somewhere but the idea of jelly nail polish is intriguing and Nedra is similar to several shades of indigo and gray-blue I have).  I thought about the St. Patrick’s day box they had,  but as I have some great shades of green and gold and even white, I opted not to get it.

I’m intrigued by the mystery box, where I’ll be getting colors from previous Maven boxes.  It’s a total surprise, so it’ll be fun to see what I get.  But at the same time, I’m nervous about taking a chance, because it’s possible I’ll get colors I’m not into or don’t like or colors I have or are too similar to ones I have.  But I’m intrigued enough to take a chance, and I’ll definitely talk about it next month!

That is the one thing I’ve noticed lately, with swapping out colors and skipping boxes- I don’t know if it’s because I have enough nail polish that it was bound to happen eventually, or if it’s something else.  Like maybe I need to try new colors.

Anyway, that’s all the nail polish talk for today!  Hope today is awesome for everyone!

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Favorite Heroines

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the lovely folks over at The Broke And The Bookish.  Every week, bloggers from all over share their own top ten list based on the topic of the week.  You can find all Top Ten Tuesdays here.

Top Ten Favorite Heroines

I believe this was done a few years ago as a topic for a Top Ten Tuesday, so I thought I’d do some of my favorite heroines since that post.  Mostly because I’ve read a lot of books since then, and I thought it would be fun to do 10 new favorite heroines.

  1. Sophie from Hex Hall.  She’s sarcastic and awesome and I like that we actually see her have a moment of doubt when she’s saving the world.
  2. Anna from Anna And The French Kiss.  I just love her and how much she changed during the book.  Paris was really good for her!
  3. Elise from This Song Will Save Your Life.  I related to Elise so much, and I really liked seeing how being a DJ boosted her confidence.
  4. Livie from One Tiny Lie.  I liked a lot of the characters in the Ten Tiny Breaths series, but I think Livie’s my favorite, because, like Livie, I feel like I need to be the perfect person and to make everyone proud.  Plus, I liked seeing her struggle with that, and I liked seeing her come of her shell and take a few chances.
  5. Eliza from A World Away.  It took leaving everything she knew to realize what she wanted- and while it was hard for her to choose between the Amish world and the non-Amish world, she knew where she belonged.
  6. Alexia from The Parasol Protectorate Series.  She’s hilarious and sarcastic and gets herself into all sorts of crazy adventures but also smart enough to get herself out of anything weird going on.
  7. Cath from Fangirl.  Cath’s story as a fan of the Simon Snow reminded me so much of my life as a Harry Potter fan.  And Cath struggling to find her place in the world is something I think we can all relate to.
  8. Cress from Cress.  I think Cress is my favorite character in the series so far.  I really felt for her and she is so lovable, and I just loved her and her story.
  9. Anna from Sweet Evil.  Anna is so awesome, because she still has a certain innocence and purity about her, and I think that’s sort of refreshing.
  10. Harper from Rebel Belle.  Rachel Hawkins writes really amazing characters!  Like Sophie from Hex Hall, Harper has some sarcasm in her, plus she’s a Southern Belle Paladin who has some doubts but comes around to what she has to do.

 

Audio Book Review: Jesus Land by Julia Scheeres

Jesus Land CoverBook: Jesus Land by Julia Scheeres, Narrated by Elizabeth Evans

Published December 2012 by Audible Studios|Length: 10 hours, 6 minutes

Where I Got It: Audible.com

Series: None

Genre: Adult Non-fiction- Memoir

You can find Jesus Land on goodreads

Goodreads Summary: 

“Sinners go to: HELL. Rightchuss go to: HEAVEN. The end is neer: REPENT. This here is: JESUS LAND.”

Julia Scheeres stumbles across these signs along the side of a cornfield while out biking with her adopted brother David. It’s the mid-1980s, they’re sixteen years old, and have just moved to rural Indiana, a landscape of cottonwood trees and trailer parks–and a racism neither of them is prepared for. While Julia is white, her close relationship with David, who’s black, makes them both outcasts. At home, a distant mother–more involved with her church’s missionaries than with her own children–and a violent father only compound their problems. When the day comes that high-school hormones, racist brutality, and a deep-seated restlessness prove too much to bear, their parents’ solution is reform school–in the Dominican Republic.

In this riveting memoir, first-time author Scheeres takes us with her from the Midwest to a place beyond imagining. Surrounded by natural beauty, the Escuela Caribe is nonetheless characterized by a disciplinary regime that demands its teens repent for their sins under boot-camp conditions. Julia and David’s striving to make it through is told here with startling immediacy, extreme candor, and not an ounce of malice.

What I Thought: 

After reading A Thousand Lives a couple of years ago (also written by Scheeres), Jesus Land was on my radar, but it wasn’t until recently that I decided to listen to it.  It’s definitely one of the more interesting books I’ve read in a while.

I really felt for Scheeres, who really had some horrible parents.  Her dad was largely absent, due to being a doctor, but violent when he is around.  And her mother is much more interested in religion than raising children.  Their home seemed more like a compound (largely due to the intercoms installed in the house) rather than a home, and her parents seem like the sort of people who would adopt 2 African-American boys to show how Christian they are, rather than because they really want to. As for their biological children?  We only see Julia (and not her other siblings) but their idea of parenting is to provide the basic necessities and no affection or caring.  They’re pretty distant and detached and unfeeling.  Still, I do sort of admire them for adopting when it would have been easy not to.  And while not really presented in the book, they may have started out with the best of intentions before things went terribly wrong.

The fact that they would get rid of David’s things days after he goes to reform school at the age of 16, and some of the comments they made after his early, tragic death at the age of 20 were just horrible.  You do have to wonder if their relationships with Julia’s older siblings were different, because they seemed pretty indifferent to Julia, David and Jerome.  It made me so sad, and so angry on their behalf.  I do have trouble believing that rural Indiana in the 70’s/80’s is as bad as seen in the book, and there is a part of me that wonders if maybe parts of it were embellished.  There were so many times when it seemed like the book was set much earlier, and it was always jarring to hear the author reference Duran Duran or Reagan, because it seemed like the book happened several decades earlier than it did.

And the school they had to go to!  I can’t believe a school like that exists, and yet I’m not surprised that such a school would exist.  The things that they had to do- asking permission for everything, including sitting up or down or leaving or entering a room, or using a machete to whack weeds or carrying rocks back and forth for no reason.  The reasons why the kids ended up at the school in the first place seemed to be very over-exaggerated and twisted.  Julia drinking at a party?  It means she’s an alcoholic.  Julia’s brother Jerome ending up in jail?  Julia and David will be kept at the school for as long as necessary, even if they’re legally adults, just to make sure that they don’t end up going down the same path.

Here’s where one of my reservations about the book comes in.  I mean, Julia does make quite a few mistakes but doesn’t seem to show any responsibility for her actions.  Granted, the book ends when she leaves Escuela Caribe, plus an epilogue that gives a brief overview of her life and David’s after leaving the school.  Even in the epilogue, she doesn’t reflect on why she ended up in so much trouble.  It doesn’t make everything else that happened okay, but I do wish we saw even a hint of owning up to her mistakes.

Another thing that I thought was interesting was how one-sided her account seemed.  Every adult was horrible and cruel and stupid, and I’m really skeptical of that.

As much as I appreciate her experience, and how horrible some of these reform schools are, and the racism she had to deal with just because of her adopted brothers, and how horrible it is to use religion (particularly Christianity) to abuse kids, there’s also something this memoir that didn’t quite sit right with me.  It wasn’t as reflective as I thought, and while I know it’s Scheeres memoir, something about it seemed very one-sided to me.

Let’s Rate It:

Parts of Jesus Land made me so angry and so sad.  While parts of it were interesting (especially when she was at Escuela Caribe), overall, something about it seemed off to me.  I did love the relationship she had with her brother David, and how they’d do almost anything for each other.  Jesus Land gets 3 stars.

Currently Obsessed With: Learning New Crochet Things

Currently Obsessed With is a once-a-month (but sometimes more) feature where I talk about my favorite things and everything I’m up to.

Currently Obsessed With

 

One of my goals for this year was to do some new things with crochet, an d I really wanted to talk about it, especially since I’m back to crocheting up a storm.

I don’t have a lot of specific goals, but I do have some!

I really want to learn how to do the magic circle, and have a bunch of different tutorials bookmarked.  I really hope at least one of the makes sense!  By the way, I love that I’m crocheting at a time when finding tutorials is super-easy- and finding one that makes sense is also super-easy and super-awesome.  I even have an awesome pattern that I think would be great- this really cute easter bunny beanie!

Speaking of easter bunny beanies, I’ve been on a search for patterns for stuff I can wear for different holidays. Like a Leprechan beanie for St. Patrick’s Day (which I’m currently working on), and a turkey one for Thanksgiving, and the Easter bunny one, of course.  Plus Santa and Elf hats for Christmas, of course, though I’m sure there are tons of cute Christmas ones out there.  I haven’t really looked for anything Valentines Day or Halloween or Memorial Day/4th of July, but I figure for this year, I can crochet myself something red (I’ve started on a scarf) and maybe a red/pink/white hat made of super bulky yarn, and maybe a heart to go on the hat.

I really want to try new things with crochet, because my tendency is to stick with making the same few things.  Don’t get me wrong, I like making hats and scarves, but I also want to make other stuff too.  Like amigurumi and some more fingerless gloves and maybe I’ll even finish that blanket that I started almost a year ago and never really picked back up.

I also want to learn how to do some new stitches, because I’ve seen a bunch of them on pinterest, and they look so cool!  It’s always fun to try making something that’s a variation on a stitch I already know.  If anyone knows of any books focusing on crochet stitches or blogs/websites that have some tutorials on crochet stitches, I’m definitely open to suggestions!

There are so many awesome things that I can make, and this year seems like the perfect time to try some new things and not put it off because it looks hard and scary.  It’s definitely time to make some new things!

One thing I have been thinking about is starting a gift stash.  In the past, I’ve made things for gift exchanges at work, and it might be nice to have a few already made, instead of furiously trying to crochet something in a short amount of time.  It would definitely be a great way to use some of the yarn stash I’ve been wanting to use (which is mostly so I can buy some shiny, soft new yarn).  Since I have a lot of acrylic, worsted weight yarn, I’ve been thinking of making stuff to donate, so any places that take donations of handmade things would be appreciated!  It’s something I could probably figure out myself, but I don’t even know where to start with something like that.

Speaking of using yarn I already have…I also want to use the yarn I have as much as possible.  I love yarn and it’s fun to buy and look at it and touch, but it’s sort of starting to take over where I have it stored, plus I have yarn stashed in other (random) places, so I kind of need to not buy any more until I’ve actually used some of what I have.

It’s part of why I want to do amigurumi, since I have a ton of Red Heart yarn that would be perfect for it.  And also why I want to start a gift stash.  I definitely have a lot of project ideas, so I’ll definitely be working on the ones that go with yarn I already have.  I even have ideas for the random bits of yarn leftover from other projects!  It’s just enough that I’m not getting rid of it, but not quite enough to do anything with (literally), so I’m going to have to get creative with some of it, but I think I can manage to do something with it.

I’m definitely excited about trying out some new crochet things this year, especially after writing this post!

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Book-Related Problems I Have

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the lovely folks over at The Broke And The Bookish.  Every week, bloggers from all over share their own top ten list based on the topic of the week.  You can find all Top Ten Tuesdays here.

Top Ten Book-Related Problems I Have

I could go on and on about all of the book related problems I have, including the ones I didn’t realize I had until I started this blog, whether it’s fun/silly or serious, I have them.

  1. Buying books and not reading them.  I am horrible with this, and I really need to start reading the books I have, instead of buying them all the time.
  2. Book-related guilt/shame.  So many things!  Liking certain books, not liking certain books, reading too much or not fast enough…I could go on and on about it, but it’s annoying and I don’t like it one bit.
  3. Reading anywhere between 4-6 books at any given time.  Usually this isn’t a problem, because I kind of have issues where I cannot focus on 1 or 2 books for the life of me.  Sometimes, it would be nice to focus my attention on a couple of books instead of bouncing between a few of them.
  4. There are so many cute book-inspired things on Etsy, and I wish I could have all of them.
  5. Series.  Sometimes, it’s hard to remember what’s going on, especially since I read so many series.  If I don’t re-read, I won’t remember what’s going on, and I won’t like the book as much, but I don’t always want to re-read the book for a refresher.
  6. Also finishing series- I’m good at starting them, but I’m terrible at finishing them.  Which probably accounts for why I have trouble remembering what happened.
  7. Buying print books without thinking about where to put them.  Space is at a premium, and while I would love to have more print, it’s also something I really have to limit, so I really need to be better with thinking about each print purchase more carefully.  On the plus side, if I ever have more room for print one day, at least I know what books to buy!  In the meantime, my e-reader is a huge life-saver.
  8. Wishing I had time to read all of the things.  I know I will never be able to read everything I want to read, and I think that may partly explain #3.  Also why I need to start listening to all of the audio-books I get through Audible.
  9. Being a mood reader can be awesome, but sometimes, it’s not so awesome.  Sometimes, I can’t just pick up a book and read it.  As much as I want to, and think I am not a mood reader, I really am.
  10. An ever-growing TBR list.  This goes well with some of the other things on my list, but it’s huge!  I totally admit to going through it every once in a while and weeding out the books that no longer sound interesting.  Only to add more books, of course.  But still, I need to do this more often.

Book Review: Openly Straight by Bill Konigsberg

Openly StraightBook: Openly Straight by Bill Konigsberg

Published May 2013 by Arthur A Levine Books|253 pages

Where I Got It: the library!

Series: None

Genre: YA Contemporary- LGBT

You can find Openly Straight on goodreads

Goodreads Summary: 

A funny, honest novel about being out, being proud…and being ready for something else.

Rafe is a normal teenager from Boulder, Colorado. He plays soccer. He’s won skiing prizes. He likes to write. And, oh yeah, he’s gay. He’s been out since 8th grade, and he isn’t teased, and he goes to other high schools and talks about tolerance and stuff. And while that’s important, all Rafe really wants is to just be a regular guy. Not that GAY guy. To have it be a part of who he is, but not the headline, every single time.

So when he transfers to an all-boys’ boarding school in New England, he decides to keep his sexuality a secret — not so much going back in the closet as starting over with a clean slate. But then he sees a classmate breaking down. He meets a teacher who challenges him to write his story. And most of all, he falls in love with Ben…who doesn’t even know that love is possible.

This witty, smart, coming-out-again story will appeal to gay and straight kids alike as they watch Rafe navigate being different, fitting in, and what it means to be himself.

What I Thought:

I have so many thoughts about Openly Straight that I’m not quite sure where to start!  There a lot of things I really like, but there are also things that were really frustrating.

Like, I can relate to Rafe wanting to start over and not do the whole label thing.  It’s something we can all relate to, because we put labels on ourselves.  Others put their own labels on us.  And it’s annoying and frustrating, because we’re more than whatever people label us as.  It’s something we all have to deal with, and it can be hard when it’s all people see us as.

I really understood where Rafe was coming from- people definitely saw him as the gay kid, and didn’t seem interested in who he was beyond that.  His teachers seemed to constantly want the gay opinion (not my words, by the way, it’s phrased that way in the book at one point).  Everyone around Rafe is super-supportive, to the point where he felt like he had to transfer to all-boys boarding school on the other side of the country.  I don’t blame him at all for wanting to get away from it.

A really great example of what he has to deal with is Halloween one year.  He dresses up as an ’80’s rocker chick for Halloween, and everyone’s either uncomfortable (pretty much all of his classmates) or they see it as a statement (his teachers) while a couple of kids at his school (straight, if anyone’s wondering) did the same type of costume the previous Halloween, and everyone thought it was hilarious.

That was one thing that really stood out to me- the fact that he does it, and an uncomfortable statement, just because he’s gay, and yet, it’s really funny when someone who’s straight does it.  It’s something I never thought about before, and it made me sad that so many of his classmates were uncomortable with his costume.  And that people saw it as a statement, even though he didn’t mean it that way- he just thought it would be a great costume.  It’s amazing how people see a type of costume differently, just because of who’s wearing it, and I can totally see people reacting the way they did.

I knew pretty early on that not telling his new classmates he’s gay was going to backfire, especially when he starting falling for his classmate Ben.  Him hiding it was going to end disastrously, and I’m not surprised that it really messes up his relationship with Ben.  However, I really like the message that hiding even a piece of who you are never ends well, and can cause a lot of pain.  And that replacing one label with another can be just as bad, if not worse, than the one you’re trying to get rid of.

I did find myself really frustrated with Rafe at times.  By the end of the book, I was finding myself really frustrated with how he was so tired of people making a big deal out of the fact that he was gay.  I understand where he’s coming from, but at the same time, I felt like he took so much for granted.  With all of the news recently, with teens killing themselves because of bullying, I really felt like Rafe didn’t realize how lucky he was that he wasn’t bullied and that everyone in his life was supportive.  His parents are really accepting- they even threw him a coming out party!

It did make me think about whether being really supportive has a negative effect.  It’s still better than the alternative, of course, but is it possible to be too supportive?  It certainly is in Rafe’s case.  It did feel like everyone in Colorado was trying too hard to show how supportive they were, and it just made them feel stereotypical and flat.

Still, even though I’m not too fond of Rafe, sometimes, we learn by making mistakes.  And I really feel for him.  He didn’t want to be defined by his sexuality, and yet, that’s all people seem to expect- that it should define him.  You see it more in the flashbacks of his life in Colorado, but I am curious about how it relates to his life at boarding school now  that he’s come out to his new classmates.

Let’s Rate It:

I do have mixed feelings.  There are things I like (don’t be someone you’re not, we all have to deal with labels, regardless of who you are) but those are overshadowed by other things, like how much Rafe seemed to take for granted, how uber-supportive everyone else was, and how predictable certain things were.  I will say that he did seem to appreciate how lucky he is to have the parents he does, and that certain things needed to be predictable in order for him to realize that he needed to be himself- his whole self and not just part of it.  But it still took away from the story a little bit.  I still recommend it, because I did start thinking about things I would never think to think about.  Openly Straight gets 3 stars.

Currently Obsessed With: Nail Polish!

Currently Obsessed With is a once-a-month (but sometimes more) feature where I talk about the things I’m currently into and up to.

Currently Obsessed With

Nail polish is one of my favorite things to talk about.  I always share what I get in the Julep monthly Maven box, which I love, because I get nail polish every single month.

One of my goals for this year (which I mentioned in this post) was to start wearing a different color each week. I have a lot of nail polish, which is great in some ways because I have a ton of colors to choose from and the chances of me picking a color to match the season, a holiday, my mood or a special event is very high.

At the same time, though, I sometimes find myself wishing I had more, because nothing seems to fit or I’m bored with what I have.  I’m somewhere in the low 80’s in terms of nail polish.  I should not be bored with that many bottles of nail polish.  As a result, I tend to use the bottles of nail polish that are most recent, because I never know what to wear.  As much as I love nail polish, I’m also starting to feel like it’s becoming a huge problem, for those reasons.  It’s more than I could ever possibly wear.

It’s the nice thing about getting new nail polish every month: I don’t really think about what I’m going to wear, because I’m good for most of the month.  But when you have enough nail polish to wear a different color every week for around a year-and-a-half with no repeats and I get bored…that’s not good either.  It means there’s a lot of nail polish that I’m not wearing.

I love getting it, I really do.  But lately, I’ve been skipping it, because I’m not into any of the colors. It’s either something I know I wouldn’t wear and/or wouldn’t look good on me because I’m too fair-skinned to pull it off (wintermint) or it’s something similar to other shades I already have (eggplant or charcoal grey).  Even when there are colors I like that aren’t similar to ones I already have (a grey-ish teal), I’m not in love with it to take a chance on it.

For New Years, I did my nails in several different metallic/chrome colors- gold and silver mostly, with some glitter. The two different shades of silver I picked?  I am utterly convinced they are the exact shade of silver.  If I didn’t know they were two completely bottles, I never would have known that they were two different bottles.  I don’t need 3 slightly different variations of navy blue or silver or eggplant or any other color to the point of not being able to tell the difference once I’m actually wearing it.

As much as I love nail polish, I’m also starting to feel like it’s becoming a huge problem, for those reasons.  It’s getting a bit out of control, and yet, I don’t want to give it up either.

Having skipped the last few months of Julep boxes (for reasons mentioned above), I’ve been going to my nail polish collection, which is basically what prompted this whole thing in the first place.

I started noticing that I tend to go to the same few colors whenever I don’t have a shiny new bottle of nail polish.  And I realized that with the amount of nail polish I have, I really should be wearing a different color every week.  And how I had so many options that I couldn’t actually pick a color.

It’s going to be a special project for 2015.  Every week is going to be a different color of nail polish, and once I wear a certain color, I cannot use it for the rest of the year, regardless of when I got it.  I’ve been keeping track with a spreadsheet, so I know what I’ve worn and when I wore it.  Notes are also helpful.  Like if a polish is thin and/or streaky and needs 2 coats for full coverage or if I find something hard to remove or something else entirely.

Taking pictures is still kind of weird, but I’m getting used to it, and I’m sure I’ll get better at it every week. Also: you really need to take pictures at the right time, because let me tell you, if I wait a few days, my nails get chipped so fast!  I blame it on the fact that I deal with paper a lot at work, and then needing to wash my hands all the time.  I also want them to actually look nice when I take the pictures.  Be glad I lotion up before taking pictures because I refuse to inflict my dry, winter hands on y’all.

There’s part of me that’s hoping I’ll be able to weed out some of it.  I still don’t know what to do with it, but I’ll cross that bridge if/when I get to it.  But with the amount of colors I have, and the fact that I have bottles I’ve never worn (or barely worn), it might be good to actually weed those colors out in order to make room for colors I know I’ll wear.

And even though it’s been a few weeks, I’ve noticed that I’m much more conscious of the colors I’m picking out- I thought about doing red one week, but after looking it?  It’s a good Christmas red and it would also work really well for either 4th Of July or Memorial Day or even Valentine’s Day, so I opted for a different color.  I’m so much more conscious of when I wear certain colors now.

It’s definitely something I’ll be sharing throughout the year.  I’m not sure how often, and if it’ll be part of my month in review posts, or a completely separate post, and if it’ll be monthly, weekly, or every few months.  If I opt of the Maven box, I’ll likely do it in place of that (like I did in my last currently obsessed with post), but other than that, it’ll randomly pop up.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Things I Like/Dislike When It Comes To Romance

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the lovely folks over at The Broke And The Bookish.  Every week, bloggers from all over share their own top ten list based on the topic of the week.  You can find all Top Ten Tuesdays here.

Top Ten Things I Like/Dislike When It Come To Romance In Books

This is a great topic for Valentine’s week, and as much as I love romance, it was harder than I thought it would be, even splitting the list between things I like and dislike.

What I Like:
  1. Forbidden Romance- there’s something about a relationship being forbidden that I really like.
  2. 2 characters who are in an established relationship at the start of the book.  Not always, of course, but generally speaking, I like it.  I’m not completely sure why I like it, but sometimes it’s nice to read about characters who are already together.  That being said…
  3. …I also like seeing characters fall in love.  What is it about brand-new love that’s so fun to read?
  4. People who were sworn enemies before dating.  I just love this!  Especially when they finally admit to liking each other.
  5. Opposites attract!  Sometimes, it’s much more fun and interesting to read.
What I Dislike:
  1. The love triangle.  I have a love-hate relationship with love triangles, and I go back and forth on how I feel about them.  My biggest reason for not liking them is that a lot of times, it’s there just to add conflict and tension and feels utterly useless.
  2. Lack of chemistry.  Lately, I feel like there’s no spark between the couples in the romances I’ve been reading.  Seriously, it’s like, why are they even together?  I mainly have this as separate from insta-love, because they haven’t been cases of insta-love.
  3. Speaking of Insta-love…it does get annoying.  I know I’m not the only Even if/when I like the couple later on in the book, I still like all of the build-up and tension and not something that happens instantly.
  4. The whole I love you but need to stay away from you thing.  We all know the couple is going to end up together in the end. Why prolong it?
  5. Couples who were best friends before dating.  I don’t know why, but I tend to get bored with it.  I can see why people like it but it’s generally not my thing.