All the Bright Places

A Collection of YA Book Reviews. (Feat. Nelson, Niven, Kinsella, & Blume.)

8:28 AM

Hey everyone!

Looking for some summer reads? I've got a few for you here, potentially. Even if I didn't like them, I suggest you give them a try if you like the sound of them. Everyone has different opinions.

I'm a book person. I work at a bookstore, I spend my nights with my nose tucked between pages, I have various book-themed apparel, and I could go on and on all day about my favorite characters and stories. I've read a lot of books this summer and even got my hands on some September releases (future review post to come!). I'm going to share them all with you today and hopefully give you an idea of what you'd like to read.

Follow me on Goodreads if you're interested in my what I'm reading!
I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson. 
Three and a half Stars. 

Photo from
This is the story of twins, told from two different point of views and at two different times in their lives. The twins deal with the loss of their grandmother and then mother, among other issues that circle throughout the book. At a young age, Noah and Jude are inseparable. They barter the features of the universe together (hence the title), until they grow up and things get rocky and go wrong. Noah is gay and a former artist, hiding his secret. Jude is a former ray of sunshine gone dark. In a beautifully written language you hear the story of "NoahandJude".

I give this book a 3.5/5, mostly for the beautiful writing. I didn't find the story to be that captivating and at times found myself putting it down to read something else. However, Nelson adds great characterization and language, making this book a truly beautiful work of art. I would recommend this book for ages 14+ due to language and sex.

All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven. 
Five Stars. 

Photo from
Violet Markey and Theodore Finch meet at the top of a bell tower. Both have had thoughts of ending their lives, but only one intended to do so on that day. Guided back down the tower by Finch, Violet remains alive after continuously coping with the death of her older sister, Eleanor. Finch feels the need to take care of Violet, make her feel okay again, give her a perfect day. He's not exactly the most popular guy around school, though, being nicknamed Theodore Freak; Violet is in with the popular crowd. While dealing with his own troubles and mental illness, Finch helps Violet live again through a school project on wandering their own state. A tragic tale of mental illness in young adults, it's a must read.

This book deserves awards. 5/5 for a beautifully written words, a killer story line, and the addressing of a serious growing issue in society (mental illness). The characters are funny and sad, but at the same time very true. This book was needed, though I'm not sure Niven knew that when she wrote it. It has helped so many already. I sped through this book in two days, and I really encourage any one else to give it a shot. I would recommend this book for ages 14+ due to language and sex.

Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella. 
Four and a half Stars

Photo from
Audrey is trapped inside herself via an anxiety disorder. Being too afraid to make eye contact with anyone, she wears sunglasses 24/7. Even inside. Even in the dark. Minor disturbances send her into a full on panic attack after an incident that has her pulled out of school and transferring next semester. Linus, her video-game big brother's best friend, begins to tap at Audrey's shell. Sometime develops between them and soon Audrey wants to get better. Fast. Another story of the way mental illness impacts teens' lives, you'll have to read about Audrey's roller coaster of a ride toward recovery.

First of all, this was a hilarious read. I still can't get over it. Kinsella portrays the over-bearing mother figure, the go-with-the-flow the flow father, video game obsessed brother, and quirky little sibling perfectly. Her writing is true to an anxious teen, the feelings they might have and the thoughts running inside their heads. This was a fast read because of the easy language and lightness, even though it dealt with some serious issues. I give it 4.5/5 stars for funny, cool writing and a captivating story. I wasn't a huge fan of the whole, boy-meets-girl-and-saves-her-from-her-troubles thing, but it worked for the story. I recommend this for ages 12+, not a whole lot of swearing and no sex.

In the Unlikely Event by Judy Blume. 
Four Stars. 

Photo from
This is an adult book for the upper YA readers. Judy Blume has long written books for kids, and this coming of age story fits in with the group. Growing up, Blume's hometown experienced three plane crashes in one year. This story is based on that true event, told from a variety of character's perspectives. You meet the main character, Miri, who is growing up, falling in love, and losing friendships during this time of tragedy.

This is a timeless read. Set in the 50's, you feel the era while you read it. I gave the story 3.5/5 stars for the story line, which was woven perfectly. I didn't find myself getting confused amongst characters that often. I took points off because I felt that the book didn't leave me wanting more that often when I'd put it down. I did evoke strong feelings, though, and is a great read for all seasons. I recommend this book for ages 14+ due to some language and sex.
Let me know if you've read any of these books and what you think of them. Also let me know if you plan to read any of them.

What have you been reading lately? Any good recommendations?

Happy Sunday,

p.s. I really enjoyed the comments left on my last post about love. Thank you for reading and spending the time to craft such beautiful responses :)


I'm in Love with Love | Confessions of a Daydreamer, Idealist, and Hopeful Romantic

1:33 PM

I'm pretty sure that I could go through a breakup the emotional equivalent to a hurricane typhoon and still come out untouched by the bitterness that consumes some people post-breakup. I could be shown a thousand reasons not to love, and still love or at least like seeing people in love. You could say that I'm invincible, or you could just call me a daydreamer, idealist, and an unhopeless romantic. (Why do they call it hopeless anyway?  I'm pretty hopeful. I think it's really cool when people love love. That's not hopeless...hopeless is being bitter and losing all sight of love.)

The fact is: I'm in love with love. At markets my eyes follow the couple holding hands, the old man and woman bickering over tomatoes, or the young mom and dad with a newborn child at their heels. I watch them pick their produce, laugh, fight, tickle their child and chase him around the aisles, everything. Sometimes I creepily write about it, but I think that will work out for me one day if I happen to publish a cutesy romantic book.*

I read books about couples, form limitless OTPs, listen to music and imagine scenarios with characters totally and completely in love, because that's just who I am. Yet, there's a grounded side of me which makes me a hopeFUL romantic and not a hopeLESS romantic.

I'm realistic about it when it concerns my own life. I went through a breakup this year and still came out loving love. It's because I know that now is not my time for it, that now is my time to learn to love myself and those around me without the tie-down of someone showing me how to love. I need to learn how I love in my own way. I think that's what keeps me a hopeFUL romantic: knowing now's not my time, but that my time will come and it will be great because of all that I've seen, done, and reflected on.

So if you see me staring at you and your significant other in the local Meijer, don't be alarmed (be flattered instead, I'm probably thinking up a really cute story about you). It's just the way I live my life in a hopeful way. It's a way that I've learned to appreciate what I have and be happy for other people. It's just me and I love love. I really do.

Let me know how you feel about love in the comments below, I would really love to hear your perceptions.

Side note: this post doubles as Confessions of a Girl Who Can't Make Short, Concise Titles. I might suck at titles, but I sure do win in appreciation of love.

*Other side note: Don't worry about libel because: a) I'll change enough of the person to not make it them...heck, half of this stuff is made up in my head. For example, the couple holding hands has just moved into an apartment together across from the neighborhood Panera Bread and Target. It's a cute little neighborhood that they take late night strolls around with their Pug, Brady. Sometimes they'll stop at Panera for dinner and then make a Target run. He's about to propose next week, diamond ring and everything. See, besides the fact that they were holding hands at the market, I made the rest of it up. And b) There's not going to be anything bad written because it'll end happily and lovely. No chalked up, dirty or damaging false info. I'm libel free. (That was all a joke please skip and continue on with your life).


DIY - Make Your Own Blog Book Organizer

7:53 AM

Hi everyone!

First of all I'm just going to let you know that I've started my job up here at the bookstore and things are going really well. However I'm pretty busy, so I'm going to move my weekly posts to Sunday, which is my day off. :-)

So recently I thought it would be a cool idea to make a Blog Book - a place where I can store planning, inspiration, photos, etc. for my blogging adventures. I've seen blog planners, but not just a Blog Book in general, so I decided to make one and share it with you today.

I think that a binder organizer like this could be useful not only for blogging but also for other things, like keeping pieces or writing together or things for teaching (lesson plans, grading scales, ideas, etc.). It could be used for a lot of things.

Here's what you'll need:

1. A binder (it doesn't have to be fancy like mine. I was originally just going to take a white one and decorate it with photos and magazine clippings. I found a Target gift card, which is why I ended up buying a nice one).
2. Lined paper or graph paper.
3. Scrapbook paper (optional, just if you want an extra pretty touch).
4. Tape/glue.
5. Hole puncher.
6. Pens/pencil.
7. Tabs (or make your own like I did).
8. Optional: printed photos and decor.

Here's what you'll need to do: 

1. Go get your binder. If you already have one, then great! I just got mine at Target, and I'm in love with how cute it is.

2. Go to your computer, open word, and select the calendar template. Here you can customize the way that you want your calendar section to look. Check out mine for an example. I included a goals section at the bottom to help keep myself on track!

3. Fill your binder with lined/graph paper. These will be used for a variety of things. You can also fill it with scrapbooking paper, just to give it more of an artsy feel. I have a mix of both!

4. Design your cover page. I cut a scrapbook page to fit the inside of my binder and then decorated it with a title (Brooke's Blog Book), and some different aspects of the book. This page can be anything you want it to be, though! Make it fun; make it you!

5. Add tabs between the lined/graph paper. If you want more colorful tabs like mine, cut your scrapbooking paper to a desirable width. Clip one section at one length, and then add a quarter of an inch for every tab you make. This will allow the tabs to fan out when you're looking at them. Then label your tabs however you want. I secured mine to lined paper with Washi tape, which I thought was really cute.

6. Decorate your starting pages with photos and decor! I used my printed off Instagram photos that I cut into squares, or left the bottom open to make it look like a polaroid (really fun tip!).

7. Put everything together if you haven't done so yet! Straighten out your pages, and you're good to go.

Bonus: I bought some extra supplies from the Target dollar section to keep myself organized. They're some sticky notes with bullet points and some flag sticky notes to mark off any important pages.

Have fun with your blog books! You can take them anywhere you want and add meaningful sentiments for you blog. I think it's a really good and cheap way to stay inspired. I spent less than $10 on this project because I used stuff that was mostly from home.

Be sure to send me pictures and let me know if you do this project!



Life: side effects may vary.

9:13 PM

Recently I've been prescribed a lot of medications. I feel like I'm getting older, which I am but it really doesn't count yet because I'm only 19.

So I've been prescribed a lot of medications and with these medications comes various spiels..."Don't take this with dairy or carbohydrates, you may experience nausea, headaches, blood clots, strokes, weight gain...etc."

The words run around in my head for days before I realize that they aren't happening to me (except for when they are happening to me). I recently got put on something for my acne problem that basically promised (according to the internet, not my doctor) at least 15 pounds weight gain, and I'm still freaking out about it. I try too hard to be healthy to be set back by one little pill. 

The thing that I've realized and I'm still trying to come to terms with is this: life has side effects, and you can't really worry about them. The life-doctor can look you in the eye and say, "living may cause side effects such as loss, heartbreak, tears, insecurities, unhappiness, etc. To avoid this pain you may want to look into digging yourself a hole (perhaps your future grave?) to live in until the end of the world. Avoid breathing, laughing, falling in love, caring for anyone or anything, smiling, dancing, and most importantly your own thoughts. By steering clear of these things you should avoid the side-effects, but contact your primary physician if they begin happening anyway (which they will)."

The point is that life happens, and the good things aren't going to happen without the bad. It's important to remember to live and forget about all of those silly side-effects that can happen along the way as long as you're happy where you are. Sure, my medicine might make me gain some weight. MIGHT. And sure, falling in love might lead to heartbreak. MIGHT. That doesn't mean you shouldn't go for something for all of the benefits it might give you.

Laugh without thinking that in two hours you might be crying, fall in love without thinking that it could lead to heartbreak, care for people without thinking of the world without them, dance without thinking of breaking your legs (or worse, embarrassing yourself), commit yourself to deep self-reflection because you will grow without worrying about the dark places you might discover. Do things without the fear of their consequences, please. Don't get held back by that thought in your head.  

Here's a little exercise for you. Think about that one thing you've always wanted to do. Now go do it. 

Life isn't what's stopping you. 

Do great things, 

Holy bananas. I just turned a post about my complaints of side-effects for medicine into a motivational post on doing what you want to do. What in the world. Side note, I'm going to take that medicine despite it perhaps causing weight gain; I'd like to figure out what's going on with my body and this might allow me to do so. If I experience too negative of side-effects, I'll ask my doctor if I can try a different medication. I really believe it's worth a try though. 

21 proms

21 Proms - A Book Talk

3:35 PM

Phew. So I have had a long day. Here's a book update for you all. If you weren't aware, I'm studying to be a high school English teacher - mostly because I love books, talking about books, want to get kids excited about that passion too, and would like to make a difference in their lives. I read a lot of Young Adult fiction. You can check out my Goodreads account to get updated on what I'm reading and what I like.
I'm currently reading: I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson
Just finished: The Heir by Kiera Cass, and of course the book this post is about...
So as I'm writing this I've just finished reading 21 Proms by various young adult authors*. It's a collection of short stories about, you guessed it, prom. I know that this review doesn't really matter to the authors or anyone looking for a professional review, but I think I can give a good recommendation to fellow readers.

There are, in fact, 21 short stories in the collection. I found some of them that I liked, and some of them that I didn't. That's very typical of short story collections for me. There are always the ones that I really, really adore and those that I can't stand to continue reading (though I do anyway). A few that I loved include: You Are A Prom Queen, Dance Dance Dance (Elizabeth Craft), Better Be Good to Me (Daniel Ehrenhaft), Three Fates (Aimee Friedman), How I Wrote to Toby (E. Lockhart), Apology #1 (Ned Vizzini), See Me (Lisa Ann Sandel), Chicken (Jodi Lynn Anderson), The Backup Date (Leslie Margolis), and The Great American Morp (John Green). The Great American Morp was my personal favorite.

I can't talk about every story individually, but I can speak for them all as a whole. Even when I didn't like a story, I could see the truth of it peeking out and telling me something. There are stories about gay couples, lesbian couples, troubled teens, sex, and more, which are all topics that deserve to be talked about or read about. It's the truth of the situation, sometimes.

A lot of the stories talked about prom being a rite of passage in life. I went to one prom, not even my own schools prom, and didn't feel like it was the best thing ever. But do I regret going? No, I think I needed to experience it to know what it was all about, to understand that prom wasn't my kind of place to be at. It was actually my idea to go to my boyfriend-at-the-time's prom, not his. I wanted to be the kind of girl who got all dolled up for the prom, met her friends in someone's big front yard for pictures, showed up and had the best time, then went to someone's fun after party. I figured out that I'm more the type of person who enjoys sitting at home and reading books about prom than the person who actually goes to the prom and likes it (there are two types of people in this world...).

Overall there were only nine stories out of the 21 that really stuck out to me by the time I was done reading it, not that I didn't enjoy most of them - I did, I just really loved these ones. For this reason, I gave 21 Proms 3/5 stars. There were some that I loved, some that I liked, and some that I just didn't want to read. They all gave me the pleasure of experiencing 21 different types of proms, though, and touched on some serious issues.

Before I close, I want to point out something important that I found in the back of the book. All of the authors of 21 Proms donated their portion of the proceeds from the book sale to "Advocates for Youth", an organization that raises youth and adult awareness of reproductive and sexual health issues,  as well as promotes public policies that support rights, respect, and responsibility for young people, and develops youth-friendly programs in the United States and developing countries. 

Happy reading! What book(s) have you been loving lately?

*Authors: Jodi Lynn Anderson, Holly Black, Libba Bray, Rachel Cohn, Elizabeth Craft, Melissa de la Cruz, Daniel Ehrenhaft, Aimee Friedman, John Green, Brent Hartinger, Will Leitch, David Levithan, E. Lockhart, Leslie Margolis, Billy Merrel, Sarah Mlynowski, Lisa Ann Sandell, Ned Vizzini, Cecily von Ziegesar, Adrienne Maria Vrettos, and Jacqueline Woodson.


Dog Walks. Dog Talks. - Reflecting

12:52 PM

I love taking walks with my dog. They're relaxing and they really get me thinking.

Mostly I think about how beautiful life is. Then my mind wanders to the people in my life and God and just...everything. For a brief moment I'm distracted by my dog barking her head off at some biker, and then I'm back to my peaceful thoughts.

I always take pictures of this small forest behind a school near my house. I secretly think it's enchanted and I hope one day I walk in and am transported to a magical world. It's so lush and green in the springtime. I'm sure God meant to make the world a magical place, I just didn't expect to find it so close to my own home, in the middle of U.S. suburbia. I've never been so thankful for the sun, the colors, the air, and the place that I live and have grown up in {home}.

Next week I'll be leaving to go live with my grandparents for two months in their tiny up-north town. I'm really excited, but very scared. I'll be working at two local shops, a bookstore and one that sells cherry products. It's going to be an adventure in not only a physical way, but also a mental way. My home can get a bit hectic, so taking a break will be nice and it'll give me time to figure some things out. Home is beautiful, but up north is more beautiful and I cannot be more grateful for the chance to getaway up there.

This picture was inspired by those hot Tumblr couples who post photos with their hands held, one behind the camera and one looking off into the distance at some gorgeous city. I did my own version but with my dog, Ellie. 

I cannot think of a life without a dog, any life without dogs. She's an amazing companion, loyal to the point of warding off intruders on our walk, always staying by my side. She's getting older and I can't help but think about the days when she won't be here anymore; those are sad days to imagine. I also can't help but think about my future own dog one day. I'll probably get a Labrador. 

Life is beautiful and it never stops being beautiful. That's also the thing: life never stops. Sometimes we need to slow it down a little bit ourselves, and that's what I like to do on these walks. 

How do you like to slow things down? 

I hope your days are lovely,

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