Confession: I'd never finished a Nicholas Sparks novel before this one. I've started a couple of his books in the past few years upon suggestion from others but never made it more than twenty pages in before giving up. I'm not sure what it is, but none of them have ever appealed to me. But a close friend of mine LOVES this book, and she told me I should read it, so of course, I did. I made it all the way through this time, but let me just say right now that I didn't love it. I also watched the movie (both were checked out from the library, so don't judge the quality of the items in the photo), and I didn't fall in love with that.
    I went into the book with high hopes and low expectations. I wasn't entirely sure what it was about: I knew it had a bull rider and some sort of crazy romantic love story (because Nicholas Sparks). Other than that, I didn't really know what I was getting myself into, but honestly, that was basically what I got out of it.
    This book has two storylines that cross over (though not until very late in the book). The first focuses on Ira Levinson, a ninety-something man who gets trapped in his car after going through a guardrail during a snowstorm. His chapters span a day or two in which he drifts in and out of consciousness, dreaming/hallucinating about his deceased wife, Ruth, and their life together. Their love story begins in the 1940s and progresses until her death decades later, and tells of shy walks home from church, war, early marriage, problems with children, and a lot of art collecting.
    The second storyline follows Sophia Danko, a college senior coming off of a recent breakup, who meets Luke Collins, a bull rider who, for reasons not stated until much later in the book, hasn't ridden in a long time, and may be considering quitting altogether. The two meet at a competition near Sophia's school in North Carolina, and have, as expected, a beautiful love story, though it is punctuated with difficulties and some big secrets. 
    Overall, I didn't love this book because it was predictable. It read like a typical YA romance novel, as I expected, but their story never caused me to feel any strong emotions, which I usually hope to get out of these books. It wasn't a bad book, but I would have liked a little more from their romance, to make it easier for me to fall in love with the idea of love. (Goodness, it's hard to articulate what I expected from this book! But you get it, right?)
    After reading the book, I promptly got the movie from the library, and, possibly because I'd just read the book, I didn't feel that the movie held up. Of course, movie adaptations are always missing some of the best parts of the book (in my opinion), but this one seemed to cut out all of the parts that made the story sweet and endearing. Obviously, it would have been difficult to jam everything that made the book what it was into a two-hour film, but because of the way things were cut, I didn't feel any of the emotional appeal that was present in Sophia and Luke's story in the book. Instead, their journey felt shallow, and only the physical aspects of their relationship were emphasized. If I had enjoyed the book more, I may have had a deeper appreciation for the movie, but as I didn't love the book, so the movie just felt a little disappointing.
    The Longest Ride was a good story, especially if you love the rodeo and bull riding, but if you're looking for something deep that requires a lot of thought and consideration to appreciate, this isn't it. It is the first Nicholas Sparks novel I've ever finished, but I didn't love it by the end. I did appreciate the stories that wove together nicely, and the romance in general, but in some ways, it just wasn't my style. However, after attending a college rodeo this spring, I did have a much greater appreciation for Luke Collins. Thank you, Taylor, for making me read and watch this (and for making me go to the rodeo)!!

    My first book review back! Yay! I got this book forever ago, but I hadn't read it yet (which seems to be a theme for my summer). I tried several months ago, but I only got about ten pages in before I gave up. So needless to say, I didn't have super high hopes for it. Nevertheless, I picked it up last month, hoping that I could just get it over with once and for all.
    The story centers on Barrie Watson, a teenage girl about to enter her senior year of high school when her mother dies and she is sent to live on a plantation in South Carolina with family she's never heard of. There she discovers a reclusive aunt, cute future lawyer and/or baseball player, possibly murderous uncle, jealous cousin, family secrets, potential magic, and a curse that will change her life. It's difficult to summarize this book without spoiling anything, but just trust me when I say that there are twists and turns every few pages.
    As someone who generally appreciates character development more than plot, I didn't really like Barrie for most of the book. She felt somewhat like a real teenage girl, albeit not a very bright one. Over the course of the book, she didn't change a whole lot, even when crazy things were happening in her life that definitely should have affected her. 
    While I didn't like that, though, I did like the exploration of family. I wish the book had gone a little deeper into Barrie's aunt, mother, and the rest of the family, because there seemed to be some tense, yet interesting, dynamics in their past that could have been explored a little more. For instance, Barrie's mother and aunt are revealed to have had very different and complicated relationships with their father, but Barrie only seems interested in learning the basics of those relationships. 
    Overall, my reaction to this book was kind of a rollercoaster. I didn't like it, then I did, then I didn't, and then I kind of did again. By the end, I appreciated the story for what it was, but I still wished there had been a little more to it. I think it was a fascinating idea for a novel with a lot of potential, but I think because of how much there was to work with, it could have been more than it turned out to be. I didn't dislike it by the time I was finished, but I also didn't feel compelled to read the sequel.

    Hey, everyone! I know it's been so long (six months!) since I last published, and the reasons for that are technical difficulties and life. I just finished up my freshman year of college, and the second semester was so busy that I just had to no time to read for pleasure, and therefore nothing to write about. Once I got out for the summer, I planned on doing a lot of reading and writing a lot of blog posts, but unfortunately, I've been having difficulties with my website's host service for quite some time. But it's finally up and working again, so I'm back!
    In case anyone was wondering, here's a brief overview of my life the past six months: I did my second semester of college, took some really cool classes, did a lot of fun things with friends and groups at school (including planning an escape room, taking a scary night drive, and buying 30 pizzas), got a job as an RA for next semester, moved out of my dorm and back home, took a trip to New York, turned 19, and spent a bunch of time with family. Needless to say, it's been busy!
    I've also read several books over the last six months, most since I got out of school, so I'll be writing some reviews for those soon! Thanks for sticking with me!
   So I’ve been gone forever. My bad. This one’s on me, guys. Actually they’re all on me because this is my blog and I’m the only one responsible for it. But I still take full responsibility for this. I feel bad for not posting in so long because I actually enjoy this blog and would really like to write for it regularly. Unfortunately, that’s just not realistic for me at the moment.
   Being in college is a lot harder than I expected it to be in regard to time. I just don’t have a lot of time to work on creative endeavors, or to get an adequate amount of sleep. I’d like to say it’s because I’m so busy having fun and doing things and being awesome, but for the most part, I’m just sitting in my room doing homework. Super lame, I know. But I’m kind of addicted to school.
   Time isn’t the only thing, though. I just can’t get motivated to do it, to write often enough that I can actually keep up with my blog the way I should. I tried to write something a few months ago about my lack of activity here, but I never even got around to finishing it.
   After months of guilt because I wasn’t writing anything, I finally approached the holiday season, and I thought maybe, just maybe, I would finally write something. A whole month off from school with no responsibilities? What would I do with my time? The possibilities were endless! I’d planned to write something shortly after I got home and maybe re-establish a schedule that I could actually stick to, and maybe even continue to write after going back to school. But instead I wasted three weeks doing pretty much nothing. Why, you ask? I really don’t know. I have no excuse. I thought about writing every day, and I never did it. So here I am, in the very last week of my month-long break, finally apologizing for having not written anything in about four and a half months.
   As a peace offering, here are some of the things I’ve been up to recently. I’ve done a lot of schoolwork, and therefore finished my first semester of college (with grades I’m proud of). I’ve spent a lot of time with my family since I’ve been home. I’ve enjoyed a lot of things, and I’ve also wasted a lot of time. I hate how much time I’ve wasted, but at least I can go back to school rested and ready to get back to work, right? I’ve done some really fun things in the last few months, and also some things that weren’t so fun.
   So here I am, writing after several months of not writing. It’s exhilarating, and it’s also a little weird. Am I rambling? Most likely. Sorry about that. But not really. Anyway, the future. I would like to say I’m going to start writing for my blog regularly, that it was a New Year’s resolution and that I’m definitely going to stick to it. But alas, I know that’s not true. If I were to make such a resolution, it would fall apart within a number of weeks, and then I would just hate myself until I did something worthwhile, which doesn’t happen often. You can see how that would be bad, right?
   Really, things aren’t going to change much. I’m not setting any sort of schedule for when I’ll write again because I just don’t want to disappoint myself. It’ll likely be quite a while before I write anything else, and for that I’m sorry. But that’s just the way it is. I can't bookmark my life and move on, then come back whenever I feel like it. I just have to keep reading.

P.S. If you have any suggestions on staying motivated to do creative things that you actually enjoy, please tell me what they are. I need all the help I can get.
   Two​ ​days​ ​late!​ ​Awesome!​ ​I’m​ ​so​ ​good​ ​at​ ​keeping​ ​to​ ​my​ ​schedule.​ ​But​ ​I​ ​have​ ​a​ ​really 
good​ ​reason​ ​this​ ​week,​ ​and​ ​it’s​ ​that​ ​I​ ​moved​ ​into​ ​college!​ ​I​ ​spent​ ​all​ ​last​ ​week​ ​running​ ​around 
frantically,​ ​and​ ​then​ ​I​ ​left​ ​Saturday,​ ​moved​ ​in​ ​Sunday,​ ​and​ ​have​ ​been​ ​going​ ​nonstop​ ​since. 
   Despite​ ​my​ ​busy​ ​schedule,​ ​though,​ ​I’m​ ​loving​ ​college​ ​so​ ​far.​ ​I’m​ ​doing​ ​a​ ​special​ ​program 
through​ ​my​ ​school​ ​that​ ​helps​ ​freshmen​ ​get​ ​acquainted​ ​with​ ​the​ ​campus​ ​and​ ​college​ ​in​ ​general, 
so​ ​I​ ​haven’t​ ​had​ ​anything​ ​really​ ​hard​ ​yet,​ ​but​ ​what​ ​I’ve​ ​been​ ​doing​ ​is​ ​great! 
   Anyway,​ ​for​ ​those​ ​who​ ​may​ ​not​ ​know,​ ​I’m​ ​a​ ​huge​ ​fan​ ​of​ ​Gilmore​ ​Girls.​ ​It’s​ ​easily​ ​my 
favorite​ ​television​ ​show.​ ​And​ ​in​ ​the​ ​episode​ ​in​ ​which​ ​Rory​ ​leaves​ ​for​ ​college,​ ​Lorelai​ ​does​ ​a 
jaunty​ ​little​ ​walk,​ ​which​ ​she​ ​calls​ ​the​ ​“going​ ​off​ ​to​ ​college​ ​walk.”​ ​​ ​For​ ​some​ ​reason,​ ​possibly 
because​ ​I​ ​watched​ ​it​ ​so​ ​many​ ​times,​ ​the​ ​going​ ​off​ ​to​ ​college​ ​walk​ ​stuck​ ​with​ ​me.​ ​So​ ​when​ ​I 
moved​ ​in,​ ​I​ ​tried​ ​to​ ​embody​ ​the​ ​spirit​ ​of​ ​adventure​ ​and​ ​excitement.​ ​I​ ​hoped​ ​that​ ​in​ ​doing​ ​so,​ ​I 
would​ ​be​ ​able​ ​to​ ​take​ ​on​ ​Lorelai’s​ ​confidence​ ​and​ ​start​ ​college​ ​off​ ​on​ ​the​ ​right​ ​foot.  
   Of​ ​course,​ ​college​ ​move-in​ ​day​ ​is​ ​not​ ​easy.​ ​There​ ​are​ ​people​ ​all​ ​over​ ​the​ ​place​ ​carrying 
everything​ ​they​ ​own​ ​packed​ ​into​ ​boxes​ ​and​ ​all​ ​kinds​ ​of​ ​crazy​ ​things​ ​going​ ​on​ ​everywhere.​ ​But​ ​I 
did​ ​my​ ​best​ ​to​ ​remain​ ​optimistic​ ​and​ ​confident​ ​that​ ​this​ ​would​ ​be​ ​a​ ​good​ ​thing,​ ​despite​ ​the​ ​fact 
that​ ​my​ ​room​ ​was​ ​a​ ​mess​ ​and​ ​I​ ​had​ ​absolutely​ ​no​ ​idea​ ​where​ ​I​ ​was​ ​going​ ​most​ ​of​ ​the​ ​time.​ ​I’m 
proud​ ​to​ ​say​ ​that​ ​after​ ​three​ ​days​ ​on​ ​campus,​ ​my​ ​room​ ​is​ ​mostly​ ​organized,​ ​and​ ​I​ ​know​ ​how​ ​to 
get​ ​to​ ​at​ ​least​ ​four​ ​buildings​ ​(other​ ​than​ ​my​ ​dorm),​ ​without​ ​getting​ ​too​ ​lost. 
   To ​me,​ ​the​ ​going​ ​off​ ​to​ ​college​ ​walk​ ​shows​ ​what​ ​it​ ​means​ ​to​ ​be​ ​a​ ​college​ ​freshman; 
you’re​ ​excited​ ​and​ ​dorky,​ ​and​ ​you​ ​have​ ​no​ ​idea​ ​what​ ​you’re​ ​doing,​ ​but​ ​you’re​ ​definitely​ ​excited 
about​ ​it.​ ​I’m​ ​that​ ​freshman​ ​right​ ​now,​ ​but​ ​I’m​ ​certainly​ ​not​ ​alone.​ ​Every​ ​freshman​ ​I’ve 
encountered​ ​thus​ ​far​ ​(which​ ​is​ ​a​ ​lot)​ ​seems​ ​just​ ​as​ ​jumbled​ ​up​ ​as​ ​I​ ​am.​ ​So​ ​really,​ ​it’s​ ​okay.​ ​Now, 
if​ ​you’ll​ ​excuse​ ​me,​ ​I​ ​need​ ​to​ ​go​ ​do​ ​the​ ​walk​ ​some​ ​more​ ​because​ ​it’s​ ​actually​ ​super​ ​fun​ ​(really, 
you​ ​should​ ​try​ ​it).
   So, it's Tuesday. I wrote this post yesterday and was all ready to post it, but then I realized I hadn't posted a review last Thursday. I totally thought I did, and I guess I was just lying to myself for four days. But, anyway, let’s talk about packing for college, because it’s actually the worst thing ever.
   I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say I’m one of the three people in the entire world that actually likes packing. I enjoy folding up my clothes and seeing them all tidy. I like packing my suitcase in creative ways to see how much of my life I can fit into a tiny little space. For that reason, I think I could totally live in a tiny house, but that’s another discussion for another time.
   Long story short, I like to pack. I find it relaxing. Stressful, but strangely soothing. But packing for college is nothing like packing for a trip. Instead of packing clothes and other items for the activities you plan on participating in, you must pack everything you’ll need to live on your own for weeks or months at a time. That’s super difficult because you’ve never lived on your own, and you have to figure out every single thing that you use throughout the day, and then try to fit it all in a teeny tiny dorm room, one whose dimensions you may not actually know.
   Once you’ve identified all the items you think you’ll need, and by that I mean you’ve pored over list after list on the internet from sources whose credibility is based only upon the fact that they once went to college, you have to get everything. And there are so many choices! You want a desk lamp? Okay, here are fifty different desk lamps of various brands, styles, colors, brightnesses, and prices. Do you sacrifice price for an LED lamp that you won’t have to buy a bulb for? Do you want one you can clip on your bed? Do you want one that has power outlets? There are so. Many. Choices. And that’s just for lamps.
   So you spend what feels like six hours at Walmart, Target, Ross, Bed, Bath, and Beyond, IKEA, The Container Store, Marshalls, Michaels, dollar stores, etc. And I’m not just talking about one trip, either, because you won’t be able to find everything at one store, and you’re going to keep thinking of new things you’ll need that had never occurred to you before.
   The stuff begins to pile up in your bedroom, or your living room, or your car, or wherever you’re storing it, and it then becomes impossible to clean anything around it, so you’re basically living with all of your possessions in full view at all times, and if you’re a clean freak, you might start to lose your mind at this point.
   Then, finally, you have to pack it all up to take to school. But how? In boxes? Backpacks? Tote bags? Trash bags? The bags in which you purchased it, so you can carry it in like groceries? Some combination of all of those things?
   And then, after all of that, you move in, take it all out, and hope that it’ll fit into your shoebox of a room, along with everything your roommate (if you’ve got one) deemed worthy of bringing. I’m not at this stage of the process yet, but I’ll be there real soon.
   Basically, packing for college is stressful. It is actually fun, though, because you get to pick out new stuff, and the packing gets you excited about everything you’ll get to do. It stinks in the moment, but it’ll be worth it in the end. And even if you end up with all the wrong stuff at college, at least you’re not alone; no one knows what they’re doing.
   So, this was supposed to be posted last Thursday, but I completely forgot I hadn’t posted anything. I totally thought I was right on track, but apparently I’ve been lying to myself for days. It makes me wonder what else I’ve forgotten. But anyway, here it is.

   I bought this book after seeing one person’s review of it on the internet. I don’t remember what they said about it, but I know I was moved enough to purchase this book. I let it sit on my TBR pile for a while, though, because I wasn’t super excited to read it. That was clearly a mistake. I read this book in a day, though not all in one sitting, because I had things to do, but still. It was that good.
   It was a quick read because it’s not very long and it has fairly large text, but I flew through it because the story was amazing. If you’re unfamiliar with it, here’s a brief overview: there is a young Pakistani-American girl named Naila who has been raised by her very conservative immigrant parents to know that their word is what goes, and that she will have her marriage arranged for her when the time comes. She sees hope, however, when she is about to graduate high school and start college with her best friend and (secret) boyfriend. However, right before graduation, her parents plan a sudden trip to Pakistan, which seems like a vacation and slowly turns into something more sinister, as they have found a boy for her to marry.
   I don’t relate to any of the characters in this book. I do not come from a family where my parents have complete control over my life. I don’t have to worry that they could take away my happiness, and I definitely will not have an arranged marriage. I don’t know what it’s like not to have any say in where your life is going.
   That doesn’t mean it isn’t happening, though. It’s not a secret that other countries (especially ones that are not prosperous) have arranged marriages to ensure that their daughters will be taken care of, but it happens in the U.S. too. Thousands of girls are forced to marry people against their will every year in the most developed countries, and no one is telling their stories.
   Saeed sheds light on an issue that we don’t think about often because no one else talks about it. With all of the negativity around us every day, it’s easy to run to the happy books that tell light, fluffy stories, but we need to remember the issues. Sure, we can talk about political corruption, police brutality, and the fight for acceptance for diverse groups of individuals, and we should be talking about those things, but there are so many more things we’re not hearing about.
   I think this book would be a good read for anyone, but it’s especially important for young women who have their future ahead of them because it shows that there are people who don’t have the same choices, and for different reasons than we might think. But the bottom line is that we need to be reading more books like this one. We should be reading more books about issues that are silenced and discussing the issues themselves as a society. There are so many stories to be told, and we need to hear more of them.

   Two days late! Way to go, Brittany! I’m doing a great job keeping to the schedule I set for myself to post articles. It’s okay, though. At least I’m posting something. The only excuse for my lateness with this post is that I’ve had stuff going on for the past couple of days.
   On Monday, I had to babysit, so I should have posted in the evening. BUT, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child came in the mail, so I kind of had to read it instead of doing anything productive. Tuesday, I went to my grandparents’ house to make ice cream and hang out with them, which is always fun. And, you know, ice cream in the middle of the day. Win. I’d planned to write something after dinner, but I wasn’t feeling good. I’ve been having frequent headaches lately, and I’m not sure what’s causing them, but they’re rather annoying.
   So, long story short, here I am, posting on Wednesday. I could not think of anything to write about, so I figured I’d just talk about what’s been going on recently. I leave for school in about a week and a half, which means I have a lot of stuff to be done. I’m splitting my time between cleaning and packing, spending time with my family, and just freaking out about how much I have left to do, which I realize is not a good way to spend my time, but there it is.
   One of those things I’m freaking out about is textbooks, because Oh. My. Goodness. They are so expensive. I’d rather not buy new textbooks if it can be avoided, so I’m searching far and wide on the internet to find cheaper, used books I can rent or buy, but they still cost so much money, and you often can’t get the online access codes if you get a used book. I don’t know which professors will actually require me to have those codes, though, or have the books at all for that matter, so I don’t want to buy any books before I get to class and find out what’s really necessary. But at the same time, I don’t want to wait so long to get my books that I can’t find cheap copies anywhere. Struggle.
   Okay, textbook rant over. But seriously, college is stressful. I haven’t even started yet, and I’m ready to pull out my hair already. The only thing getting me through is that I know I’m going to get a great education and a good job, and I’m going to learn a lot of stuff and meet people and have a lot of fun. So, I guess in the end, college is probably a good choice.

P.S. I promise to come back next week with a more focused, less crazy post.
   I got this book after seeing that a few people absolutely loved it, in the hope that it would help me expand my comfort zone a little. It certainly did that, and it was also quite an enjoyable book. I expected it to be about a family before and after the loss of a daughter, with a bit of mystery surrounding the whole thing. Instead, what I got was a portrait of a complicated family with a lot of secrets.
   This book was very character-driven, with very little action going on, and that’s what I really like in a book, so I loved all the backstory. I didn’t really like any of the characters themselves, because they were all very selfish and unwilling to confront their problems, but I did like the way they were introduced and portrayed throughout the book.
   I couldn’t relate to the events in the story because my family is incredibly boring compared to the Lees, but I could understand the way that they all had their own secrets, things they didn’t want to share. They acted as though they were just a normal, happy family, but they never talked about important things, or about anything, for that matter.
   The one thing that bothered me was the relationship between Lydia and Nath. They act like they’re really close, but they both have a lot going on that they don’t ever discuss. This plays into the idea that everyone in the family is hiding something, but I guess I just couldn’t understand it because I confide in my siblings; I can’t imagine not having anyone in your family you can talk to, especially when you have all been discriminated against, as this family had.
   Some people have said they didn’t enjoy this book because it romanticized suicide, and in a way, it did. However, it also captured the reality of life after losing a loved one to suicide. The style of the story, in which so much of the family’s past was told in snippets throughout the book helps the reader understand what may have driven Lydia to do what she did, and reveal just how truly complicated families can be.
   In the end, this book was pretty good. It was slow, but it kept me engaged the whole time, and I read it in only a couple of days. It’s not the best book I’ve read this year, but it was an interesting look at a complicated family.

   I leave for college in two and a half weeks. Terrifying, I know. But as the date draws near, I’ve been thinking more and more about packing. I know I should probably be packing, rather than just thinking about doing it, but I have very little motivation to do so, and I find it rather overwhelming.
   So, in my quest to determine exactly what I’m going to pack before I pack it, I’m deciding what books I am going to bring with me when I move into my dorm. This is no easy undertaking, seeing as how dorms are incredibly tiny, and I have quite a lot of books that I love.
   This is when I have to make difficult decisions. So far, I’ve come up with four categories, into which I will sort the books I’m going to bring. If a book doesn’t fit into any category, it stays home. Obviously, I have to have the desire to bring a book at all before I determine whether it fits the criteria for each category, but that’s not a super difficult process; some books are much more important to me than others.
   The four categories I’ve come up with are: comfort, class, confidence, and coming up. Yes, I did give them all names beginning with the same letter because I’m a loser. Anyway, the ‘comfort’ category includes books that I’ve read before (possibly multiple times) that always make me feel good. This could also be described as my favorites category. I created the ‘class’ category as a way to justify bringing some of the books that I won’t necessarily want to read in the next year, but that make me seem classier. They can also function as conversation starters, or they may simply be books of literary merit that I appreciate as such. I realize now that this is a confusing category name, as it could be confused with books I need for my classes, but those are separate. I won't even purchase them until after class s
   The next category, ‘confidence,’ will serve to motivate me and make me feel better about myself. These books may not be ones that I need to read all the way through again, but I might pick them up from time to time and flip through to find passages that make me feel confident. The final category is ‘coming up,’ which consists of books that I want to read. That one’s pretty self-explanatory.
   My categories are not a perfect plan, and I might not stick to them at all when I’m actually packing, but they’re working for me right now. That’s really all I have to say about that for now, so I’ll include my current lists for the four categories. These will probably change (and grow) a lot before I leave, but here are the work-in-progress versions:

Harry Potter (at least the first one) by J.K. Rowling
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell


The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Bossypants by Tina Fey
Yes Please by Amy Poehler

Coming Up:
The first few books on the top of my TBR pile when I leave