An Open Letter to My #OTSPSecretSister

First of all, I have three special ladies to thank.

1. Brittany from The Book Addicts Guide

2. Alyssa from Books Take You Places

3. Amy from Tripping Over Books

Without you awesome ladies, I never would have stumbled upon #OTSPSecretSister or the absolute joy it has brought my overly stressed life over the past few months. For doing all of this, for the love of books and our awesome bookish community, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Now to my own secret sister.

Dear #OTSPSecretSister,

As of today, June 27th, I still don’t know who you are. I feel I am too stupid to follow your very clever clues. Usually I hate secrets. I hate surprises, especially when I know they’re coming. This whole experience has changed my mind. I know a lot of people tried to take advantage of our wonderful hosts and this phenomenal program by just wanting STUFF. You and I both know that it is so much more than the stuff. It’s about paying attention and thinking about a person you’ve never met. Then, getting to know them through emails and Twitter and secretly stalking their every move online. While to some people, that sounds creepy, to us, it’s love.

It astounds me how someone I have never met (not to mention, someone whose identity I have yet to find out) gets me so completely. It’s like you have ESP and know exactly when I need a pick me up. I remember I had one really bad day right when I started teaching. I got my mail after work that day, and you had written me this beautiful message that lifted me up so much that I was determined to make the next day a better day. You’ve been doing this exactly when I’ve needed it for the past six months. I cannot even describe how much you and your kind words mean to me and how absolutely joyous I get whenever anything from you comes in the mail – letter or otherwise.

I can see how Alyssa, Amy, and Brittany are wary about who they choose to be a part of this. It is difficult to pick and choose since some people who basically just want stuff would take advantage. While the stuff you’ve sent me is amazing, it’s the thought behind it that takes my breath away every time I get a special delivery from you. Most people in my real life don’t know my tastes as well as you or GET me as much as you and for that, you have a lifelong friend out of me. I really and truly adore you.

I hope soon that I get to know your identity, because this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship. Thank you for lifting me up when I’m down, wishing me well with my health, and being an all around incredible person. You’ve meant so much to me the past 6 months and I kind of always find my mind drifting to the possibilities of who you might be. Soon, though, I’ll know!

But, until then, know that I love you and I cherish the bond that we have. You’re a beautiful person and I hope you end up reading this. However, these words don’t even convey the gratitude and joy and love I have towards you!

You’re wonderful.

And I love you.

Love,

Andi

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The Boys of Summer with Andi from Just a Broke Bookworm

Thank you, Nicole, for getting me out of the box for this! So much fun swooning over Oliver!

The BookBandit Blog

BoysOfSummer

Hello Readers!

Today is a very special day here on The BookBandit Blog. It’s the first official post in my The Boys of Summer feature! And I’m super excited because today’s post is from Andi from Just A Broke Bookworm.

Andi and I became friends via Twitter, and not only is her blog a must read, but she, herself is awesome! Make sure you check her out!

***

Oliver: The Boy Who Made Me Swoon Too Hard
From Robin Benway’s Emmy and Oliver.

I am not the type of girl to swoon. In fact, it’s very rare that I feel so strongly connected to a book boy to swoon. So when Nicole offered me a spot on this feature, it took me a long time to think of a boy I thought swoon-worth enough. I wracked my brain to think of a boy who made me feel any feels…

View original post 604 more words

ARC Review: The Leveller by Julia Durango

The LevellerTitle: The Leveller

Author: Julia Durango

Series: The Leveller #1

Release Date: June 23, 2015

Publisher: HarperTeen

Source: E-Galley from Edelweiss

I was provided with a free e-galley of this book from the publisher through Edelweiss. This in no way affects the honesty of my review.

Love games? Virtual reality? Awesome female protagonists? Krakens? THIS BOOK HAS ALL OF THESE THINGS. Here’s your synopsis from Amazon:

Nixy Bauer is used to her classmates being very, very unhappy to see her. After all, she’s a bounty hunter in a virtual-reality gaming world—and she’s frequently hired by irritated parents to pull kids out of the mazelike MEEP universe.

But when the game’s billionaire developer loses track of his own son in the MEEP, Nixy is in for the biggest challenge of her bounty-hunting career. Wyn Salvador isn’t some lazy kid looking to escape his homework: Wyn does not want to be found. And he’s left behind a suicide note. Nixy takes the job but quickly discovers that Wyn’s not hiding—he’s being held inside the game against his will. But who is holding him captive, and why?

Nixy and Wyn attempt to fight their way out of a mind game unlike any they’ve encountered, and the battle brings them closer than either could have imagined. But when the whole world is virtual, how can Nixy possibly know if her feelings are real?

1. While reminiscent of Ready Player One, this was a story all its own.

Nixy (um, okay awesome name) is a leveller. She is paid by parents to trick their kids into leaving the virtual reality called the MEEP. Since it is slightly dangerous to remove the device which puts them into the MEEP, they have to leave willingly, which is where Nixy comes in. At first, it was too similar to Ready Player One, which scared me, but I checked reviews and saw it definitely isn’t trying to step on Cline’s toes. Those reviews are correct, let me tell you. The Leveller is so unique, while still having the setting of virtual reality and featuring some hardcore gamers. This was so interesting and I was hooked from the first sentence.

2. It’s not often you see a book about video games or virtual reality where you have an awesome female protagonist who can take care of herself, thank you very much.

This book centered almost completely in the MEEP. While most everyone in the world is addicted to virtual reality, you usually only see Nixy levelling boys. Which, haha. Nixy is chosen to save the MEEP creator’s son, Wyn. It seems that he has trapped himself inside the MEEP with an apparent suicide note. None of the creator’s hardcore programmers can get through the maze to get to him, so he chooses Nixy. Of COURSE she gets through because she is AWESOME. Shouty caps, god, sorry. She doesn’t depend on dudes to do her work and has built a successful (albeit illegal) virtual reality business. There is a lot of flack for female gamers in real life. They’re seen as not good enough and a lot of male players don’t want to play with them as soon as they find out they’re female – regardless of how they play. I get really carried away with this subject, so just know how excited Nixy made me. She needs NO man!

3. The romance bothered me. It bothered me so much that I took away a star.

So Wyn is super hot, even when he’s comatose in the real world. When Nixy finds him, she gets all weak in the knees and talks about his “chocolate eyes” and his smile. I found this extremely irritating because she was so bad ass up to that point that I was kind of disappointed in her feelings towards Wyn. She really did turn into the weak kneed, quintessential “girl” trope in most YA books. Other than this, though, she continued to be brave and smart and insanely funny. This was really my only gripe.

4. You HAVE to love a book that not only builds two worlds, but follows the rules for each one.

I have a hard time suspending belief when it comes to virtual reality unless it’s done REALLY well. And this was done REALLY well. All of the rules were followed and I honestly felt like I was playing a game rather than reading a book. The gamers have to get a piercing in order to get into the MEEP. While Wyn was comatose, there were a lot of rules explained to questions I would have asked (the characters asked them, yay). And, it all made sense, which is GLORIOUS. Oh, bless you for sticking with me through all of these shouty caps, I’m just so excited. Long story short, the MEEP totally sounds like my kind of place.

OVERALL 4 STARS! I only took a star away because of the romance. It changed Nixy for a little bit and that bothered me since she is so strong and smart and independent. One of my favorite parts of this book was the gamer lingo. At one point, Nixy’s dad says something about “filthy casuals” and I almost stopped breathing I was laughing so hard. This was a quick, insanely fun read. If you love video games – honestly, if you love Ready Player One – this is a great read for you! This book releases on June 23, 2015 so make sure to click the link below to pre-order!

Click to Pre-Order!

ARC Review: Between the Notes by Sharon Huss Roat

Between the NotesTitle: Between the Notes

Author: Sharon Huss Roat

Series: Stand alone.

Publisher: HarperTeen

Release Date: June 16, 2015

Source: E-Galley from publisher through Edelweiss

I was given an e-galley of this book from the publisher for no charge; this in no way affects the honesty of my review.

This book made me really angry for a really good percentage of it. I’m not going to say much more here except here’s your synopsis from Amazon:

When Ivy Emerson’s family loses their house—complete with her beloved piano—the fear of what’s to come seizes her like a bad case of stage fright. Forced to give up her allowance, her cell phone, and the window seat in her lilac-colored bedroom, Ivy moves with her family from her affluent neighborhood to Lakeside, aka “the wrong side of the tracks.” Hiding the truth from her friends—and the cute new guy in school, who may have secrets of his own—seems like a good idea at first. But when the bad-boy-next door threatens to ruin everything, Ivy’s carefully crafted lies begin to unravel . . . and there is no way to stop them.

Once things get to the breaking point, Ivy turns to her music, some surprising new friends, and the trusting heart of her disabled little brother. And she may be surprised that not everyone is who she thought they were . . . including herself.

1. Warning: There’s a love triangle. *vomit*

I hate love triangles so much, which is why I removed a star. For the sake of the story and Ivy’s self discovery, I see its necessity, but I still don’t like it. Ivy is torn between the rich, cute James and the bad boy, Lennie. Love triangles make me want to punch myself in the face. As much as I hate to admit it, this one fit. Usually, a love triangle is set up to create drama, but this one was absolutely necessary in order for Ivy to find true self.

2. The classism is rampant in this book, and I think it’s a super important look at our world.

Ivy comes from an extremely wealthy family. The way her house is described is insane. She and her friends have families who are absolutely loaded. Now, before her family loses their house and fortune, Ivy is not necessarily a bad person. She is forced to move to a poorer part of town called Lakeside while attending her same high school. However, she and her friends all see this side of town as a place for druggies and delinquents and even calls their bus the penitentiary bus. They make all of these assumptions about the people who live there, who would much rather live on the nicer side of town, I’m sure. It’s disgusting to see Ivy and her friends make all of these generalizations based on someone’s socioeconomic status. Normally, that’s not brought about by their own doing. They suffer because of the economy (which is why Ivy’s dad loses his money). It takes Ivy an extremely long time to learn this, which is why she pissed me off for most of the book. They assume every student that goes to their school who comes from Lakeside does drugs or is in a gang or is generally a bad person – which is extremely untrue. Ivy and her family are forced to move to Lakeside and when she first gets there, I honestly could NOT handle her whining about how her life was over, etc etc. More on that in my next point.

3. Ivy. Oh, Ivy.

Ivy is the quintessential rich girl. When forced to move to Lakeside, she is convinced her life is over. She has twin siblings, Kaya and Brady, who are six years old. Brady has a developmental disability and needs a lot of expensive therapy which is one of the reasons why her parents lose their house and money. Ivy is usually always there for her siblings – especially Brady. After moving to Lakeside, she goes to great lengths to hide from everyone at her school that she’s moved. She wakes up extra early in order to ride her bike to school so she doesn’t have to be seen on the “pen” bus. She is especially mean to her neighbor, Lennie, because she thinks he’s a lowlife druggie. She becomes so consumed with the tragedy of her life that she forgets to be there for her family and she forgets about her one love – music. Every night, she would sing Brady a lullaby (Ivy is extremely talented) and because of her crippling stage fright, she refuses to sing anymore because their walls are too thin and she doesn’t want anyone to hear her. She completely changes and neglects the fact that her entire family is going through the same thing. She doesn’t realize that most of the world is in her family’s situation. Ivy starts to understand – albeit grudgingly – that money isn’t everything and that sometimes, the poor people are happier than the rich. A lot of my Goodreads updates had to do with Ivy and how I couldn’t feel much sympathy for her and how stupid she is. She was just blinded by her former life.

4. Lennie is the best guy in the world, and the readers can tell from page one.

Ivy and her friends believe, and have said aloud, that Lennie Lazarski is a nobody. Because he comes from Lakeside and has tattoos, they believe he is a pothead drug dealer who is in a gang. He doesn’t wear the latest fashions because he can’t afford them and he doesn’t care what anyone thinks. I loved Lennie from the second I met him. Ivy would have, too, if she weren’t such a spoiled snob. After moving to Lakeside, Ivy finds out that Lennie is her neighbor. Ivy’s brother, Brady, doesn’t handle change well. He used to always pick up the gravel from their driveway at their old house. He’s big on patterns. The first day he gets off the bus at their new place, he has an episode because he doesn’t know how to handle change. Enter Lennie. He helps him find a new pattern and is eventually able to pull little Brady out of his emotional breakdowns. It is such a beautiful thing to see. Lennie continues to prove himself not at all what he seems to Ivy.  Lennie is one of my favorite characters in this book.

OVERALL: 4 STARS!!! I really hated that there was a love triangle, even though it was definitely necessary for Ivy’s metamorphosis into the person she always was, but never knew. This was a glaring look at socioeconomic status in America and how even the poor have things that can make them happy and more close knit than any person with money. Money is not always the thing, but it does help to have from time to time. I kind of really needed to see this message and I’m so, so glad I picked up this book. It was written so well and I adored the message it contained: don’t judge a book by it’s cover; you never know what’s going on inside. (Although, this cover is GORGEOUS). This book comes out on June 16, so go click the link to reserve yourself a copy!

Click to Pre-Order!

Girl, Where You Been?

I feel so bad for not posting much within the past month, so I figured I’d change it up a little and do a personal post, just to kind of catch you up on where I’ve been! I have a lot to say here…I hope you don’t mind.

First thing’s first: I just started my career. I started teaching (for real) in January. I got thrown into a classroom in the middle of the year. It wasn’t just that, but it was a middle school, when I got all of my training in high schools. That ALONE is a huge adjustment. Over the past few months, I have honestly grown to love these kids, even if they’re not the age I want to teach.

Honestly, teaching is the hardest profession. I mean, not to discount military or firemen or police, it’s just…really stressful. These past few months have been crucial (plus, I got so sick for about a week, so that was fun) especially since the school year was ending. It was a lot of hurry up and teach this material so your kids don’t fail your final and the department needs to turn in your final exam, we need to hurry and do this last minute. Seriously. Stressful.

So, the past few weeks has been a slew of living, learning, messing up, feeling like a horrible teacher, and stressing about getting things done last minute. Until this. For the end of the year, I wrote every one of my students a letter. Thanking them, telling them how wonderful and smart and kind they are, telling them how I’m so excited to see what they do with their lives, etc. I gave these letters to them on Monday. I have had students write me letters back, and let me tell you how emotional and rewarding it is to see how you’ve made a difference in a kid’s life. “Thank you for always believing in me.” *sob* “Thank you for always supporting me, even if you didn’t always know you were doing it.” *sobs harder* “You’ve made a huge impact on my life.” *dies*

That was a huge rant. And really, altogether positive! Here’s the other reason: I’ve procured myself a boyfriend. Yes! Me! I have feelings now, I guess. He’s kind of new/old. We dated when I was a teenager (he’s 3 and a half years older) and it wasn’t really serious since he lives in California and we were both broke. Now, though? We both have degrees and careers and he’s wonderful. That’s all the gushing I’ll do for now; I don’t want you to throw up with the cuteness of it. We’ll hopefully be seeing each other in two weeks. Yay for summers off!

Thanks for reading this, if you kept going. I know I’m not on a specific schedule and I know that blogging is for ME, but I really do appreciate all of you for following me. I kind of just wanted to give you an update. I haven’t been reading much. It used to take me a day or so to read a book, now it takes at least 7! But, summer is coming (Friday is my last day of school, then I’m off until August!). I’m going to read hard and review hard, so never fear.

Thanks for sticking with me. I love you, awesome nerds.

❤ Andi