#NTTBF16

Oh, you know we love a book fest.

Last week, we went to the North Texas Teen Book Festival in Irving, TX (close to Dallas). It was a ton of fun! Unfortunately, Rachel wasn’t able to come because she was at a tech festival back in Louisiana. BUT we were super excited that our wonderful friend Faith came! She was very happy to plaid with us! 🙂

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We (of course) went to several panels featuring the one and only Ally Carter, who is still our favorite (of course.)

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We ate PB&Js. (A festival tradition.)

A bit of festival advice: take a picnic lunch! Sometimes concession lines are long (last year people waited in them for over an hour!), plus PB&J is yummier than nasty nachos.

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The line to get TO the signing line was crazy and insane! But NTTBF had a pretty good system down which really cut the crazies. Next time we’ll know to get closer to the front of the line for more time in the signing lines!

Also, shout out to all our awesome line buddies! We met lots of really awesome people while we stood in line, which was a great experience! Thank you all for talking books with us! We really enjoyed! (Also, we randomly met a girl—hi Sarah!—whose family goes to our church. Small world!)

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Jules took this time to catch up on some reading.

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Some of the authors we had sign our books:
Soman Chainani
Victoria Aveyard
Kristin Rae
Ally Carter

I feel like there were more (we split up a few times, so I don’t know who all saw who), but I just can’t remember. We didn’t get to all the authors we hoped to, but there’s always next time!

The amazing Ally Carter was amazing and recognized us (“I was wondering if y’all were here. Y’all have been quiet today!”) and told us SEKRETS and signed a million of our books. (Nine. She signed nine. The limit was three per person, which I’m sure she was appreciative of!) She really liked that I had all my favorite parts sticky noted. (Obviously there were a lot of sticky notes.) Also I kind of surprised her by pulling out a copy of Cheating at Solitaire, her first book. (If you haven’t heard of it, that’s because it’s an adult book and no longer in print.) We asked if we could take a pic with her and she said, “Only if you’re stealthy.” Thankfully, we learned stealth from the Gallagher Academy!

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I think we counted 37 books in my trunk.

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After the festival, we met up with Jules’s sister and ate some amazing Mexican food. A good rule for life: When in Texas, eat Mexican food! We always find random Mexican places to stop at and we’ve never had a bad experience yet. Before we left town, we pulled out some sparkling pear juice to drink on the drive home!

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On the way home, we stopped at Buc-ee’s. My first time! I was told there would be a slide. There was not a slide. For some reason, I had it in my head that it was basically a grown up’s Chuck E. Cheese. It wasn’t. It was a big convenient store. That’s it. BUT they had very nice bathrooms so it will definitely go on the list of places for potty stops.

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A big thank you to the NTTBF committee, the volunteers, our wonderful line buddies, and (of course!) the authors. NTTBF16 was a great festival we are sure to remember!

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JB’s 2015 Reads

Hello book lovers! I hope you all had a fantastic Christmas and got lots of reading material!

At the end of the year, I can’t help but reflect on the books I’ve read. Did I accomplish my goals? Did I do lots of rereading? How many books did I read? Thankfully, Goodreads makes it easy to keep up with what I read throughout the year!

Let’s see how I did with my goals! (See original post here.)

1) Meet my Goodreads goal of 40 (new-to-me) books. DONE! I actually read 49 new-to-me books this year! This year I chose a lower goal for new books so I could do more rereading. I reread 20 books, bringing me to a total of 69 books for the year. (Possibly more if I do any reading in the next few days!)

2) Read two classics. …Didn’t happen. Why is it so hard for me to make myself read classics? Someone please recommend me a classic to read for 2016! (Preferably one that’s enjoyable and short.)

3) Read two non-fiction books. Okay, I read one and a half. I read Developing the Leader Within You by John C. Maxwell and half of Facing Your Giants by Max Lucado. I really enjoyed both! (I’ve also almost finished my annual Bible reading… does that count?)

4) Finish The Chronicles of Narnia series. I read The Horse and His Boy and absolutely loved it! Next is Prince Caspian. (Yes, yes, I know I didn’t finish the series. But at least I’m one book closer!)

5) Read the second Percy Jackson book (if not more!). Also didn’t do this, but I’ve been on a romance book kick this year, so.

So, it seems as though I did a terrible job at meeting the goals I set for myself a year ago, BUT I have had an incredibly good reading year. I rated 41 of the 69 books I read FIVE STARS. I discovered my favorite standalone, reread my favorite series, and also reread the first three Lunar Chronicles books in preparation for Winter! (Which was fabulous, of course.)  

Below I’ve listed some of my favorite reads this year (that haven’t already been mentioned in this post). Click the link to go to that book’s Goodreads page!

Geek Girl by Holly Smale (I actually liked the second one better!)
I Am Princess X by Cherie Priest
Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
Stitching Snow by R.C. Lewis (Perfect for fans of The Lunar Chronicles!)
Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson
The Fill-In Boyfriend by Kasie West (Did you seriously think I wouldn’t include Kasie West?)
Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins (A Most Favorite.)

To see everything I read this year, friend me on Goodreads!

What were your favorite 2015 reads?

 

Review: Better Off Friends

Review of Better Off Friends by Elizabeth Eulberg from thegirlsinplaidskirts.comAuthor: Elizabeth Eulberg

Age: Young Adult

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Released: February 25, 2014

Click here to read summary

Yes, hi, my name is JB and I have a new OTP, thank you very much.

So here’s the story behind how I became aquainted with Levi and Macallan. (You can skip this part if you want and scroll down for just the review. You’ll only hurt my feelings a little bit.)

Before Jules and I went to the North Texas Teen Book Festival, we both read lots of books by authors who were attending the festival. So I read books by Leigh Bardugo and A.G. Howard and Sarah Mlynowski while Jules read all these books. One of those books was Better Off Friends by Elizabeth Eulberg.

So Jules gets in my car (30 minutes late, mind you) and at some point once we were finally in an awake state of being (we had to meet at like, 5 so we could drive to Dallas and get to the festival on time), we began discussing the books we had read in preparation for the festival. And the reason Jules had shown up late that morning was because she overslept because she had stayed up all night reading Better Off Friends. She went on and on and on about it and how adorable it was and it was a clean read and I totally needed to read it.

Fast forward to the festival and Elizabeth Eulberg is in the first panel I go to. Now, at the time, I didn’t realize she was the author behind this fantastic book that Jules had been going on and on about. What I did know was that she was hilarious and I wanted to be her best friend. So I text Jules and told her she had to go to a panel that Elizabeth was in. And she did, and also decided that we should make Elizabeth our new bestie.

During the book signings, we pranced ourselves to our new BFF’s table (even though she was unaware of the fact that she was our new BFF—minor issue) and introduced ourselves even though we didn’t have any of her books. She gave us stickers and signed our bags and fangirled over Ally Carter with us. It wasn’t until after we had left her table that we put two and two together—this lady we’d fallen in love with was the author behind THE book. So we found her again and Jules told her how much she loved THE book while I stood there having no idea what was going on.

A week or so after the festival, I downloaded the ebook from my library and read it super fast. I was in love. So in love that I reread the book the next day. As far as I know, I have never done that before. A reread a week later? Yeah, I did that with The Selection. But the next day? That, my friends, is true love.

If you read my entire saga above, bless you. Now on to the actual review.

THE ACTUAL REVIEW

I’m a sucker for an adorable romance. We all know this already, but still.

Better Off Friends tells the story of how Levi and Macallan became best friends. And they’re the most adorable best friends ever. (Okay, second most adorable best friends ever, second only to us and our new BFF.) Their bantering is too cute and they are both obsessed with the British TV show Buggy and Floyd (I was so sad to find out it’s not a real show), and everyone thinks they’d make an adorable couple.  But, hey, they’re just friends.

I really think Macallan and Levi could be tossed into any situation and I’d read about it. Washing the car? Picking up stuff at Wal-Mart? I don’t care what they’re doing. They’re such a fun pair, and I love to read their dialog. Their banter makes the book.

The book takes place over several years, starting with the first time they met in 7th grade and telling the stories of their hardships and new experiences over the next few years. It’s fun to watch how their relationship grows and changes over time as they make new friends and drift away from old ones.

One of my favorite parts of the book is the interstitials. (I only know that word because it was on Elizabeth’s blog.) Between every chapter (which alternates POV between Macallan and Levi) is some banter as they reminisce on their relationship. (For an example of this, read the first page here.)

It’s adorable to see them looking back on old memories. Jules says she pictures them as old grandparents telling their grandkids the story of how they met.

If you’ve read any of my reviews for romance books, you know my big problem with them: the L word. And… this story has it. And… I’m okay with it. WHAT? I know, right? I think the reason it doesn’t bother me is because the story is told over a long period of time, and the reader can really see their love unfold, whether the two realize it or not. Now if their entire relationship were to take place over like, 2 weeks and then they were all I LOVE YOU, then I’d have a problem with it. But these two truly know each other and, I believe, truly love each other. (This is probably one of the few times I’m not going to hate on the use of the L word in a romance book, which is a big deal.)

Basically, you need to read this book. Especially if you love romances with fun characters and banter. Like, seriously. Go read this now. Five out of five stars!

Content Advisory:

Language: 2 I think there was one or two curse words. (For some reason, I didn’t take notes when I read this book, so I don’t have it marked!)

Sexual: 2 Some kissing, a few innuendos

Violence: 2 *minor spoiler alert* She punches a guy because he makes fun of her mentally retarded uncle. (In my opinion, the guy totally deserved it.)

>>>If you like fun couples with fantastic banter, you might also like

Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins

The Distance Between Us by Kasie West (read our review)

>>>Other books by this author

Prom and Prejudice

The Lonely Hearts Club

Take a Bow

Revenge of the Girl with the Great Personality

*Our reviews do contain affiliate links, meaning we could make a very small commission should you buy something using one of those links.

Review: I Love Him, I Love Him Not

23129506Author: Ella Martin

Age: YA

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Released: September 29, 2015

Click here to read summary.

This is the second book in the Westgate Prep series. For the release of the first book, we held a super fun Westgate Spirit Week! Check out those posts here.

Review:

I’m still binging YA contemporary romance books like there’s no tomorrow, so I was super excited when Ella Martin emailed us an e-ARC of the newest Westgate Prep book! I had included it in my Top Ten Sequels I Want to Read, so I couldn’t help but read it immediately!

Here’s some things I love about Ella Martin’s books:

  1. They are CLEAN! Oh, how we love clean reads! The Westgate Prep series is published by Clean Reads (previously Astraea Press), and they have strict guidelines that authors must meet. This means there is no cursing and no sex. (I don’t know the guideline specifics, but Ella mentioned that they are fairly strict.)
  2. They are ADORABLE! All the warm fuzzies, all the cute boys, all the adorable romances that make you want to squee. (I will elaborate on this later.)
  3. They are RELATABLE! One of my favorite things about both Will the Real Prince Charming Please Stand Up? (book 1) and I Love Him, I Love Him Not is that there are some very serious, yet very real and relatable situations.

So onto why I loved I Love Him, I Love Him Not!

The “very real, very serious, relatable” issue in this book is the fact that Talia’s mom gets remarried! As a daughter of divorced parents, I feel like this is an issue that a lot of kids deal with, and Ella makes it incredibly realistic. It’s hard when someone new pops into your life and you aren’t sure if you want them to be a part of it. That’s how Talia feels about her mom’s new husband as she struggles with a new father-figure in her life.

Then, we have the adorable-ness. It was incredibly obvious to me by page five that Jake liked Talia because he programmed her phone to play “I Want You to Want Me” when he called. Isn’t that so cute? And aren’t teenage girls so oblivious? (The answer to both is “yes”, and I am entirely guilty of that last one.) Jake is a musician, and I’m a sucker for a cute guitarist, so I found myself all smiley when he was around.

Another thing I love about this series is how the characters appear in each others’ books. We met Talia in WTRPCPSU, but we really get to know her in ILHILHN since we’re seeing things from her perspective. She’s such a spunky, fun character. It’s really fun to see Bianca (the narrator of book one) from Talia’s view, and see how her story pans out after WTRPCPSU.

I Love Him, I Love Him Not has a fantastic cast of characters, an adorable romance story, and some twists and turns that hit me out of nowhere. If you’re a fan of cute romances, this is a must-read! Five out of five stars!

Content Advisory:

Language: 0 None!

Sexual: 2 Nothing more than basic kissing, but there are a few comments such as “What do you think would happen if a roach had sex with a lobster?” (All of these comments came from a stupid teenage boy, so.)

>>> OTHER BOOKS BY THIS AUTHOR<<<

Will The Real Prince Charming Please Stand Up

>>>SIMILAR BOOKS<<<

If you’re in the mood for some adorable romance books, check out our Ultimate Guide to the Cutest YA Love Stories.

*Our reviews do contain affiliate links, meaning we could make a very small commission should you buy something using one of those links.

Graduating Gallagher Academy

gg6First up, our apologies for not including a recap of Out of Sight, Out of Time. Due to that little thing called life, we found ourselves finishing it up a few days late! But we’ll get it posted soon, so we can fangirl with you guys!

The last Gallagher Girl book, United We Cry Spy, released almost two years ago. It was a special day. Even though we couldn’t be together, Rachel, Jules, and I found ourselves at various bookstores across town picking up the final book. Each of us went home and stayed up into the night, texting each other things like, OH MY GOODNESS. NO SHE DID NOT. HOW DID WE NOT SEE THIS COMING. There were lots of caps and exclamation points involved. And also lots of tissues and tears.

I told Rachel and Jules that I felt like my graduation from the Gallagher Academy marked the end of my childhood more than my actual high school graduation. Because, even though I was out of high school, I was still able to live vicariously through Cammie, Bex, Liz, and Macey.

I was the same age as Cammie when the first book came out. The sad thing about fictional characters is that they don’t age with us. But at the same time, it’s kind of refreshing. Because any time I miss being 16, I can reread I’d Tell You I Love You, But Then I’d Have to Kill You. And I can remember butterflies caused by boys and sleepovers with my best friends and the coded messages we use to pass each other.

The best part about fictional characters is that they never die. Even if the author kills them off at the end (*glares at the mean authors*), they live inside us forever. And that’s exactly how I feel about The Gallagher Girls series. The Gallagher Academy will always have a piece of my heart.

Week 5: Out of Sight, Out of Time

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This week we’re reading Out of Sight, Out of Time.

For funzies, we’re sharing some pics of the first time we met Ally Carter!

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When we heard she was going to be in Austin for the Austin Teen Book Festival (now the Texas Teen Book Festival), we couldn’t NOT go! So we:
-packed up the car after we got off work
-decorated the car
-left two hours late
-got lost on the way (“We were supposed to turn… an hour ago.”)
-got pulled over for driving without lights on (in my defense, I was driving a car I wasn’t used to and I’d JUST pulled out of the gas station. I would have noticed a few minutes later!)
-had a brief moment when *name redacted* tried to be more Bex-like. (“YOU ARE DRIVING ON THE WRONG SIDE OF THE ROAD.”
-got caught up in traffic for the state festival
-and FINALLY made it to Austin at 2:00 in the morning.

The next morning, we donned our plaid skirts again.
austin3Since we were only going to see Ally Carter, we decided to skip the morning sessions and go to the Texas State Capitol. (This was our first festival, so we didn’t know how awesome ALL the panels were! Now we go to as many as we can!)

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That photo is my favorite of us. ^ So funny!

Then… the book festival! We spotted Ally Carter from afar before walking in and all of us just stopped.
“It’s her!” we squealed among ourselves.
“Go say hi,” my mom told us.
“We can’t just… go up to her!” So we didn’t, and just creepily stared at her until she went into the panel. Where we stared at her more. Jennifer Lynn Barnes was the moderator for the panel and told us all that Ally Carter had been Homecoming Queen and we’re like, yeah she’s totally a queen.

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Then came the infamous photobombing. Then we met authors! Ally Carter’s line was crazy long (as always), so my mom and aunt held our spot in line so we could meet other authors.

We met:

Jennifer Lynn Barnes (Ally’s bestie, who told us that she named some of our favorite characters)
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John Corey Whaley (who grew up in a city near ours!)
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Dan Krokos (We told him he needed to watch Doctor Who)
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Will Richter (The story behind the photo: someone called him and, since he was busy signing books, he handed the phone to Jules and said, “Talk to him for a minute.”)
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Marissa Meyer and Eliot Schrefer (A year later we contacted Marissa for an interview and she remembered us.)
atbf3We also met a lot more! And we bought some books that we ended up LOVING!
atbf8We were sad to leave, but knew we wouldn’t miss ATBF13. We’ve been every year since!
(Those super tall guys in the background are Lex Thomas–authors of Quarantine.)

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Question of the Day: If you could meet any author, who would it be and why?
Gallagher Girl readathon logo hosted by thegirlsinplaidskirts.com

Reflections: Gallagher Girls 3

Gallagher Girl readathon logo hosted by thegirlsinplaidskirts.com

It’s time to discuss our thoughts about Don’t Judge a Girl By Her Cover! How awesome is that title? Be warned, there are spoilers for the first two books as well!

JB:

First off, I think this is my favorite cover of the series. I love the red, white, and blue! I feel like this is the first book where things start to get real and serious. It marks a turning point for the whole series.

Quotes:

Preston: “Are all the women of the Gallagher Academy as striking as the two of you?” Macey spun on him. “Actually, striking is what we do best.”

For a Gallagher Girl, “Boy crazy” might be the most dangerous kind of crazy there is.

Aunt Abby: “Look at you. All grown up and breaking hearts… and rules. Honestly, as an aunt, I don’t know which makes me prouder.”

Macey: “You’re a spy, Cam. Don’t you know that nothing is ever as it seems?”

When Cammie whispers Zach’s words, “Sombody knows.”

Probably my most favorite quote in the whole book: The only way Bex would miss this would be if she were unconscious. And tied up. And locked in a concrete bunker. In Siberia.”

I took a chance and called upon a Gallagher Girl’s weapon of last resort. I flirted.

When being faced with being somewhere you’re not supposed to be, rule number one is simple: be someone else.

Zach: “I heard someone’s playing hooky.” Cammie: “There’s a boy in my life. He’s a very bad influence.” Zach: Bad boys have a way of doing that. But they’re worth it.”

Fave scenes and stuff:

The entirety of being in Macey’s train car. Yep. That’s my favorite scene.

JOE SOLOMON HAS A HOUSE.

That point when the guy sees Zach and says, “You?” and I’m just like YOU WHAT, ZACH?! YOU WHAT!??!? (Thank goodness the rest of the books are out now. There were some very major serious feels when we finished reading this book on release day.)

Foreshadowing and clues and stuff: (Includes spoilers for books 4-6, so highlight to read at your own risk)

>>>“The whole school was on fire (without actually burning, of course.)”

“We’re like smoke and fire that way.” (Just… all the fire quotes kill me because book 6.)

We huddled together in the nearest, quietest, safest place I could find, surrounded by the remnants of the first-ever *covert carrier pigeon* breeding program.<<<

Jules:

So this book has TONS of awesome quotes. Not that the other ones don’t, but by this point in the story, there are many more feels-y things to reference, in addition to referencing things that we now know are a MAJOR part of the rest of the story.

Quotes:

(on the elevator to the roof)  …[A]ll I could do was think about another boy in another elevator, and remember that there are some things even a Gallagher Girl can’t keep from sneaking up behind her.

>> you can’t hide form everything<<

(because I’m a total sarcasim ninja) “They don’t look like undecided voters,” he said, as if sarcasm was a weapon he’d relied on his entire life and he didn’t want it to fail him then.

(after she falls down the chute) For a moment, I could almost see his face leaning toward me, as if my life were flashing before my eyes.  [HE WAS THERE!!]

For a Gallagher Girl, boy crazy might be the most dangerous kind of crazy there is.

She’s beautiful, and I’m plain.  She grew up in London and I spent my summers on a ranch in the middle of nowhere. She was born for fight, and I was born for flight.  But the way she looked at me reminded me that Bex and I are alike in all the way that matter.

There are things spies often carry with them: pocket litter, fake IDs, the occasional weapon-slash-camera-slash-hair accessory.  But the heaviest things, I think, are secrets.  They can drown you if you let them.

Things move through our mansion as fast as fire sometimes.

[ahhhhhhhhhh!!!! ifyouonlyknew!!]

I had the superior position, and with any boy – much less a Blackthorne boy – superior position is something you should hang on to when you get the chance.

Fall was coming soon, and yet the mysteries of summer were still alive and well.

I love the Gallagher Academy at night.  There’s beauty in the shadows – the only time where the outside really reflects what’s going on inside.

Cam: Why do I feel like I can’t trust you anymore?

Zach: Because Gallagher Academy dosen’t admit fools.

Sometimes people run.. to see if you’ll come after them.

Thoughts, ect.:

So many times Cammie mentions the girls coming to her side.  I love that they are so together through everything. “I stepped into the darkness with nothing but my training and my cover and friends who would follow me to the ends of the earth, no matter what was waiting for us on the other side.”

Also, so many times in this book I wanted to BE AUNT ABBY!!!

I love how Ally brings to mention the weather, not just setting a scene, but almost giving the rain or the wind a part in the story.

In this book secrets have more physicality, almost like they are a character… “And that’s when I knew I had the second type of secret.  I didn’t dare set it free. So I carried it into the Grand Hall with me and sat down…”

I love that Bex’s hair is “particularly out of control” after waking up, but later in the chapter is “the only girl I know who can exit a helicopter without having it do really unfortunate things to her hair.”  Like only something as innocent as sleep could mess with that amazing hair.

It makes me giggle that when the girls fight the big bad guys Liz is the one jumping on people’s backs.

It ends with another swoony kiss and a dramatic exit!!

Oh you guys… this book…