[Feature and Follow Friday] I'm this Week's Feature! *throws confetti*

Feature and Follow Friday is a meme hosted by Parajunkee's View and Alison Can Read. This meme is a great way to meet new bloggers, and to likewise know more about them. And.... guess what? I'm today's feature! Follow me and I'll be sure to follow you back - I have added a Bloglovin widget to my blog as well, so feel free to follow me via Bloglovin as well! (Please feel free to check out my birthday giveaway too!)

Q: What are some of your favorite magazines?
I don't usually read magazines that much anymore, but I do like flipping through fashion magazines like Vogue and the like. Also, given that I love reading about celebrities' lives (and salivating over the clothes that they wear), hand me magazines like OK! and I'm guaranteed to not bother you for at least 20 minutes. *winks*

[Blog Tour: Review + Giveaway] After Hello by Lisa Mangum

 After Hello
Title: After Hello
Author: Lisa Mangum
Release Date: August 29, 2013
What if the first day of your relationship was the only day you had?

Seventeen-year-old Sara is a seeker. She’s always on the lookout for the perfect moment to capture with her ever-present, point-and-shoot camera, especially on her first trip to New York City.

Sam is a finder. He has a knack for finding what other people can’t—a first-edition book or the last two tickets to a sold-out Broadway show. In New York, there is always something interesting to find.

When Sam and Sara’s paths cross, neither one of them is prepared for what they will find out about each other—and about themselves when they form an unlikely partnership in search of a seemingly elusive work of art. They have one day to find the impossible. Fate brought their talents together, but what happens when time runs out? Will love be able to overcome fate? This new novel from award-winning author Lisa Mangum explores what happens after hello.

To be honest, I had such a difficult time trudging through the first thirty percent of this book. No matter how hard I tried (and believe me, I did), nothing about the characters and plot made me want to keep on reading. I remember being quite disappointed because I had such high hopes for this novel - a good friend of mine (who has amazing taste in books) is hosting the blog tour after all! Looking back, I have no idea if maybe I was just tired or I simply wasn't in the mood to read when I picked up After Hello, but man, after thirty percent and I still found myself unable to connect to any aspect of the story, I promptly gave up. Life is too short to force yourself to finish reading a book that simply didn't capture your interest, right?

Wrong. Life is never as simple as it seems, ladies and gentlemen. (Check me out - I'm pulling a Sam with this contemplative line of thinking!) I thought I was satisfied with my decision to DNF After Hello, but next thing I know, I see reviews left and right about how this book is such a precious gem. Color me intrigued - surely all these people (and believe me, there were a lot!) were talking about a different book! Anyway, a few days after giving up on After Hello, I found myself ultimately deciding to give it another chance... and wow. Suffice to say that I'm extremely glad I did!

Now that I think about, one thing that made me initially a bit wary towards this book was how improbable the entire setup was. Girl meets boy, boy then enlists her help, girl messes up, and now boy and girl must team up on order to save boy's older brother's job? Yeah, I remember my eyebrow shooting up. I have pretty much mastered suspending my disbelief after reading all sorts of genres, but I vividly recalling not liking this premise. At all. It was just too... out there for me, most especially since this was a contemporary read. After finishing the book however, this aforementioned fact is what makes the book such an amazing read - while seemingly improbable, you would be surprised that similar instances have occrured to so many other people. That's the beauty of life - you can only expect the unexpected. I have no idea why it took me so long to realize this and why it took me so long to appreciate the sheer genius that is this book, but I'm really glad I did. I may have been late to the After Hello party, but at least I made it!

It took a while before I warmed up to the characters, true, but wow, they left their mark on me. I can't help but love how unafraid Sara is - when an adventure makes itself known, she embarks on it with no hesitations whatsoever. That kind of bravery is just plain admirable! I also adore how attuned Sam is to life as a whole - this truly shows that maturity and being wise has nothing to with age. I'm not lying when I say that every single time Sam talks about life, or shares an insightful thought, I had to pause to let what he said sink in... and I had to give myself time to reflect on my actions in the past. I usually read very fast, but I really had to read this book slowly - I wanted to soak in all of Sam's words!

Sometimes, people make themselves a part of your life, make a mark, change who you are forever, and leave. This is something I'm sure everyone is well aware of, but the way Mangum tackled this concept is nothing short of exquisite. Not only did explore the beauty that is the city of New York, she was also fully to explore the lives of her two main characters. Here we have two teenagers, still trying to figure out who they are... and through each other, they're almost there. Never mind that they only had a day - that will never change the fact that their lives have been forever altered by each other. Sam and Sara were able to grow - they finally faced their demons, learned to trust other perople, and look forwards to whatever may face them in the near future.

I don't think it's possible for me to find words beautiful enough to describe this masterpiece of a novel. Everything - every word - was perfect. I love Sam. I love Sara. I love how they got to know each other through the streets of New York. I love how they learned more about themselves through each other. I love Mangum's writing. This is one book that you're going to remember forever - trust me.

Rating: 4 Stars

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[Blog Tour: Review + Giveaway] American Girl on Saturn by Nikki Godwin

American Girl On Saturn (Saturn, #1)
Title: American Girl on Saturn
Author: Nikki Godwin
Release Date: August 29, 2013

The summer after graduation is supposed to be that first real taste of freedom - but not for eighteen-year-old Chloe Branson. Just as that breeze of freedom is making its way into her galaxy, her secret-service-agent dad drops a meteor-sized bomb of bad news on her and her sisters. An attempt has been made on the lives of Canadian boyband, Spaceships Around Saturn, during their USA tour, and the guys have to go into hiding ASAP. The only problem? In the midst of the crisis and media frenzy, their dad volunteered to hide the guys...in their house.

Six-year-old Emery is as ecstatic as any self-proclaimed Saturnite would be, but Chloe and her seventeen-year-old sister Aralie watch their summer plans crash and burn like a falling star. The SAS guys aren't happy with the situation, either. Bad boy Jules picks fights with Aralie about everything from his Twitter followers to his laundry, and heart-throb Benji can't escape Emery's fangirlisms for more than three minutes.

But after the super-cute Milo kisses Chloe during a game of hide-and-seek, she finally understands what Emery means when she talks about SAS being "out of this world." If this is what Saturn feels like, Chloe doesn't want to come back to Earth.

Bar none, this is the single most entertaining, giggle-inducing, and to be succint (not that I ever am), most enjoyable YA book I have read this past year. Folks, if you need something light to read make you forget about that unending pile of homework or those long hours at work even for just a little while, this is the perfect book for you. (Last time I checked, it's on sale on Amazon too! *winkwinknudgenudge*) I usually read pretty slow on my kindle, and I always need to take several breaks as well (don't ask me why - I guess I still prefer feeling an actual book on my hands), but for American Girl on Saturn, I had no trouble breezing through this one heck of a fun, amazing read. (Well, I did have to pause for a few times while I was reading because I was trying my damn hardest not to squeal, but that's not really a bad thing, is it?)

In no way would I consider this book realistic, but the fact that it's so improbable is what makes it all the more fun! Come on, not only does the MC have a secret agent for a dad... add in the fact that somehow, when an unknown person makes an attempt on the lives of a famous boyband, the powers that be ultimately decide that YOUR HOUSE is the safest location for these boys to go into hiding! DUDE. I have to admit that the premise kind of made me roll my eyes for a bit, but in no time at all, Spaceships Around Saturn had me wrapped around their fingers. Suspension of disbelief kicked in, and a part of me actually felt like I was in lockdown with the MC Chloe, her sisters Aralie and Emery, and the boys, and I was just all sorts of excited to see what happens next!

The Branson sisters were easy enough to like, and in no part of the book did I want to bash their heads against the wall. (A huge achievement for me, folks!) Also, the story was entertaining from the get go - both Chloe and Aralie are pissed that they would be forced to spend a chunk of their vacation locked inside their house, while little Emery is beside herself with glee at the prospect of spending time with her favorite boyband. The boys aren't that pleased with the sudden turn of events either, and suffice to say we have a recipe for disaster - we have all these huge personalities stuck in a place where they would rather not be... and they're with people they don't even know that well! Dundundun!

I found myself laughing so hard at certain parts of this novel. I love how Emery basically attached herself to Benji, the lead singer, during the lockdown, and I actually wondered whether I would act the same way should something similar happen to me. (I probably would, come to think of it...) Benji's twitter withdrawal was so entertaining, and I found it so funny that Chloe and the girls had to devise a way for Benji to be able to 'tweet' while he wasn't allowed to go online. I really adored the other boys as well - we didn't exactly get a lot of Jules and Tate since they were closer to Aralie than Chloe, but we got a lot of Noah and Milo (especially Milo!) and what I knew I loved!

The writing was smooth, the story flowed, and I found myself enjoying how the relationships of everyone in the house evolved. Chloe and Noah's friendship was just beautiful, and I loved how Noah made sure to always look out for her. And Milo... Milo Milo Milo. Boy... where do I start? The chemistry between Chloe and Milo was just off the charts from the very beginning! Also, it was never about dating someone famous for Chloe - she was truly interested in Milo for Milo, and the scenes where the two snuck out to be alone to get to know each other better were favorites of mine.

I wouldn't say that this is a book about fangirls, or an inside look at how the the rich and the famous and live. Heck, let me point out that this isn't a book about aliens, abduction, or anything paranormal at all. Both the title and the cover are rather deceiving, so hopefully you know what you're getting yourself into. The best advice I can give to anybody about to read American Girl on Saturn is just to enjoy everything the book throws your way, and believe me, stressed out you will no longer be once you finish reading!

Rating: 4 Stars

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