May 23, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: Non-Contemporary Beach Reads

When people recommend books to read on the beach or poolside, they suggest primarily contemporary novels. (I'm guilty of this myself.) So this time around, I'm going to recommend YA books that are any genre but contemporary.

1. A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray

2. The Wrath & the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh

3. Murder Is Bad Manners by Robin Stevens

4. The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

5. The Weight of Feathers by Anna-Marie McLemore

6. Prisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blankman

7. The Conspiracy of Us by Maggie Hall

8. Deep Blue by Jennifer Donnelly

9. Cinder by Marissa Meyer

10. Pivot Point by Kasie West

What are your favorite beach reads?

May 21, 2017

So You Like... #50

Since this is my 50th So You Like... post, I thought I ought to do one that's a little extra special. :)

There's this one YA author, whose books I've been reading since her debut. I've preordered every single one and had the opportunity to review the last three. She writes beautiful contemporary full of feelings and relationships (familial, platonic, and romantic), and I'd go as far as to say she's the next Sarah Dessen. And if she's one of your favorite authors, too, you need to check out the books I'm about to feature. So you like...

(as always, book covers link to the Goodreads pages)

If you like...




If you like...




If you like...




If you like...




So are you an Emery Lord fan? Or do you love these books I recommended for her fans? Got any other recommendations?

May 19, 2017


Hey, y'all, I have a lot of ARCs I want to clear, so I figured it was time to do another post, especially since no one's been biting on the Goodreads trade group.

ARCs I Have for Trade

Not pictured: ARCs of Ten Thousand Skies Above You by Claudia Gray, Hello, I Love You by Katie M. Stout, and The Unlikelies by Carrie Firestone

I'd mostly prefer to trade ARC-for-ARC, but I will consider, in a few cases, trading for a hardcover from the respective wishlist.

~I can only trade within the US; shipping is too expensive otherwise, and I don't have a steady income this summer.
~If we haven't traded or interacted on social media before, I will ask you to mail your book first and send the tracking number as proof. (If you're concerned I'm trying to scam you, I can direct you to others who I have traded with recently.)
~If you're interested in a book, please email me at MDBCnumber1fan [at] gmail [dot] com, or contact me on Twitter (@AwkwordlyEmma). 

Hope to hear from some of y'all soon!

May 18, 2017

Review: When Dimple Met Rishi

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon
Grade: C+
Release date: May 30, 2017
I received my ARC in trade with another blogger.
Summary: A laugh-out-loud, heartfelt YA romantic comedy, told in alternating perspectives, about two Indian-American teens whose parents have arranged for them to be married. 

Dimple Shah has it all figured out. With graduation behind her, she’s more than ready for a break from her family, from Mamma’s inexplicable obsession with her finding the “Ideal Indian Husband.” Ugh. Dimple knows they must respect her principles on some level, though. If they truly believed she needed a husband right now, they wouldn’t have paid for her to attend a summer program for aspiring web developers…right? 

Rishi Patel is a hopeless romantic. So when his parents tell him that his future wife will be attending the same summer program as him—wherein he’ll have to woo her—he’s totally on board. Because as silly as it sounds to most people in his life, Rishi wants to be arranged, believes in the power of tradition, stability, and being a part of something much bigger than himself. 

The Shahs and Patels didn’t mean to start turning the wheels on this “suggested arrangement” so early in their children’s lives, but when they noticed them both gravitate toward the same summer program, they figured, Why not? 

Dimple and Rishi may think they have each other figured out. But when opposites clash, love works hard to prove itself in the most unexpected ways.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: While I enjoyed When Dimple Met Rishi, I didn't love it like I wanted to for a few key reasons.
The drama with the "popular" kids felt a bit tired. I'm tired of rich bullies being the driving antagonists in a story. Because of them, Celia felt a bit too two-dimensional for most of the book, although she and Isabelle get some needed depth at the end.
I liked that Dimple loved coding, and her motivation behind her project was portrayed well. She's definitely a compassionate girl, no matter how closed off she wants to appear. I wanted even more of her relationship with her father. Rishi felt a little two-dimensional at times, but his personality differed from Dimple, which I appreciated in the dual third-person narration.
And then there's the whole romance plot. Of course I knew Dimple and Rishi were going to get together, and I did ship them. Both their "first" meetings - you'll see what I mean if you read the book - were precious. But a lot of pieces of their relationship happened too fast. They said, "I love you," after having known each other only a few weeks. Their relationship moved too fast and maybe it was in character for them, but I didn't know enough about Rishi and Dimple prior to meeting them in the story to know if they were the type of teenagers to move so quickly (and not all teenagers do, trust me).
No foul language that I can recall. There's making out and some lead-up to a fade-to-black sex scene.

The Verdict: Pretty good, but I expected it to be great.

Will I be adding this book to my library?: Yeah, it's preordered.

May 16, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: YA Books I've Recommended to My Mom

In the last few years, I've started giving my mom some of my YA books to read. Here are some of the ones I've liked best...that she's liked, too.

1. Gallagher Girls series by Ally Carter

2. The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski

3. The Distance Between Us by Kasie West

4. The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith

5. Better off Friends by Elizabeth Eulberg

6. The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord

7. Prisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blankman

8. P.S. I Like You by Kasie West

9. This Side of Home by Renee Watson

10. All Four Stars by Tara Dairman

Have you shared any of your favorite books with your mom?

May 15, 2017

Professor Emma Teaches High School English

Recently, I was thinking about what YA books would make good editions to a high school English class's curriculum. Then I started thinking about the classes I've "taught" and was like, "Why don't I make up a list?" I did that...then realized I had too many books for one school year.

So I made up lists for both junior and senior years. So, if I were to teach high school English with zero restrictions, these are the books my students would read. Note: I perused lists of books normally read in high school (since my literature education was a bit abnormal as a homeschooler). I cannot vouch for the quality of every book, but from what I know of them, they fit well with other books I was planning to teach.



If you taught high school English, what books would you teach?

May 14, 2017

Rewind & Review #85

~Finals are DONE. I did well on one of them, but I don't know grades for the other two (although I do know all my final grades).
~Came home. Relaxed and unpacked a lot. Started figuring out what I'll be doing this summer.
~Started volunteering at our local animal shelter; I was there for a 2-hour shift on Thursday, and it was very tiring and a lot to learn, but I think it went well.

Books I Received for Review
Not Now, Not Ever by Lily Anderson (from Wednesday Books via NetGalley)
Sweet Spot by Amy Ettinger
Murder, Magic, and What We Wore by Kelly Jones (from Random House via NetGalley)
The Bedlam Stacks by Natasha Pulley (both from Bloomsbury)
Backfield Boys by John Feinstein
Flashtide by Jenny Moyer
Foolish Hearts by Emma Mills
The Librarian of Auschwitz by Antonio Iturbe
Meant to Be by Julie Halpern
The Midnight Dance by Nikki Katz (all from the Macmillan/Fierce Reads fall 2017 mailing)
The Unlikelies by Carrie Firestone (from Little, Brown BFYR)

Books I Won/Traded for/was Gifted
Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han (my mom got it for me at Jenny's signing)
The Long Game by Jennifer Lynn Barnes (via trade)
When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon (via trade)

Books I Bought
A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas
And We're Off by Dana Schwartz
The Long Game by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Windfall by Jennifer E. Smith
The Conspiracy of Us by Maggie Hall

Books I Read
Wish by Barbara O'Connor (4 stars)
A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas (4 stars)
A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray (reread)
Song of the Current by Sarah Tolcser
Ten Thousand Skies Above You by Claudia Gray (reread)
Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han (5 stars)
A Million Worlds with You by Claudia Gray (reread)
Rebels Rising by Shanna Swendson (3 stars)
Dramatically Ever After by Isabel Bandeira
The Wonder of Us by Kim Culbertson (4 stars)
Mastering the Art of French Eating by Ann Mah (3.5 stars)
When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon
The Silent Songbird by Melanie Dickerson (2 stars)
Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo (reread)
Hunted by Meagan Spooner (4 stars)

Blog Posts You Might've Missed in the Last Few Weeks
   (from 5/1-5/6)
   (from 5/7-5/13)

May 13, 2017

Bailey Rydell's Recommended Films from Alex, Approximately

If you've read Alex, Approximately, you know the main characters, Bailey and "Alex" are major film geeks. They love movies, and it's how they bonded. As I was rereading Alex, Approximately on its release day, I decided to make a list of every movie quoted at the beginning of a chapter and other movies Bailey herself directly references. So if you're wondering what movies Bailey Rydell recommends you watch, I've got a list for you (I should note that I haven't seen most of these movies, so they don't necessarily have my stamp of approval).

Quoted Movies

~North by Northwest (1959) twice

~Pitch Perfect (2012)
~Mean Girls (2004)
~Easy A (2010)
~The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946)
~Chinatown (1974)
~Jaws (1975)
~Clueless (1995)

~The Maltese Falcon (1941)

~Some Like It Hot (1959)
~Sleepless in Seattle (1993)
~Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009)
~From Here to Eternity (1953)
~Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)
~Sid and Nancy (1986)
~Young Frankenstein (1974)
~Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009)
~Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
~10 Things I Hate About You (1999)
~Sabrina (1954)
~The Big Lebowski (1998)
~The Force Awakens (2015)
~Roman Holiday (1953)
~The Wizard of Oz (1939)
~The Philadelphia Story (1940)
~Pulp Fiction (1994)

~You've Got Mail (1998)

Referenced Films

~Roman Holiday (1953) twice
~Bringing Up Baby (1938) twice
~Gold Diggers of 1933 (1933)
~Dr. Strangelove (1964)
~Young Frankenstein (1974)
~Only Angels Have Wings (1939)
~The Philadelphia Story (1940) twice
~The Awful Truth (1937)
~His Girl Friday (1940)
~My Favorite Wife (1940)
~Deliverance (1972)
~Blazing Saddles (1974)
~Carrie (1976)
~Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961) twice
~Star Wars (1977) 
~Citizen Kane (1941)
~Key Largo (1948)
~The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

So if you've been looking for some movies to watch, you might want to check these out.

What are some of your favorite movies? 

May 10, 2017

Review: The Names They Gave Us

**Note: this review is going to be a little different from my usual reviews, because we were required to write a review in my journalism class this semester, and I chose to rave about The Names They Gave Us. Also, all quotes are taken from an uncorrected proof, so they may be different in the final copy.

I will preface by saying, as much as I love Open Road Summer, Emery Lord excels most when she's writing about grief - both the beginnings of it and the moving on bits. That's why I love The Start of Me and You, and now The Names They Gave Us, so much.

The Names They Gave Us by Emery Lord
Grade: A+
Release date: May 16, 2017
An ARC was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Summary: Lucy Hansson was ready for a perfect summer with her boyfriend, working at her childhood Bible camp on the lake. But when her mom’s cancer reappears, Lucy falters—in faith, in love, and in her ability to cope. When her boyfriend “pauses” their relationship and her summer job switches to a different camp—one for troubled kids—Lucy isn’t sure how much more she can handle. Attempting to accept a new normal, Lucy slowly regains footing among her vibrant, diverse coworkers, Sundays with her mom, and a crush on a fellow counselor. But when long-hidden family secrets emerge, can Lucy set aside her problems and discover what grace really means?

In her fourth novel, Emery Lord explores themes of anxiety, doubt, faith, and growth, all through the voice of 17-year-old Lucy Hansson. Doubt and growth are not unfamiliar topics for Lord’s past books, but faith is certainly a new theme for her to tackle, and she does it masterfully, while showcasing well-formed characters as well as brokenness, new friendships, and summer romance.
The Names They Gave Us features a cast of around ten significant characters. Lucy, of course, is the most important. From chapter one, her character traits are clear—helpful, caring, take-charge, and creative, all important traits for a camp counselor. Supporting characters include Lucy’s parents; Rhea, the camp director; Lukas, the aforementioned ex-boyfriend; Bryan, the camp’s therapist; and her fellow high school junior counselors, Keely Simmons, Anna Miroslaw, Henry Jones, and Mohan Tambe. Each of the counselors—who are already a tight-knit group but become Lucy’s friends over the course of the book—gets a fair amount of characterization, and I appreciated how Lucy’s mom and dad were defined through their relationships with her but also by their pasts and through their relationship with each other. One of the few things that would improve The Names They Gave Us is more time to process all the other counselors’ backstories/baggage, particularly since Mohan’s is never shared. Anna’s gets perhaps the most focus after Lucy’s, and both Keely’s and Henry’s are touched on during key moments, but I wanted more of their stories in general.
I love several things about The Names They Gave Us, too many to fit in this review. There are so many little moments that pulled me into the story, and I think readers will connect with them, as well. Lord’s writing is magnificent, highlighted by the way she uses words. Some of my favorite moments are at a wedding (“I’m not prepared for ‘La vie en rose’ amid their life in lavender” [321]), and when Lucy describes her favorite part of nature: “Because when you’re little, it seems like clouds are solid, like you could sit on some. But then you grow up and cut through them in an airplane, ad when you’re high enough, they blanket the world with soft cotton” (99). Chapter three’s structure is centered around numbers, like how long Mrs. Hansson’s surgery takes and how many sermons Pastor Hansson preaches; this, to me, illustrates how Lucy is trying to process everything. Lord also uses details to anchor important moments and make them stand out, such as in the first chapter when Lucy’s parents deliver the bad news and when Lucy is thinking through things, particularly her relationship with God, throughout the book. 
Few young adult novels cover faith and religion as well as they should; most feature atheist or agnostic characters, and any Christians present are stereotypically self-righteous, hypocritical, and judgmental. Lucy, her parents, and Henry—the primary Christian characters—are none of those things. Lucy’s faith is of course shaken by the recurrence of her mother’s cancer, but she tries on several occasions to hold onto her relationship with God. Lucy’s mother is a good source of wisdom; her faith seems steady throughout The Names They Gave Us, despite the pain she goes through. Mrs. Hansson is one of my favorite parts of the novel. Henry, who has experienced grief, too, also speaks words of wisdom. Lucy asks at one point if he regained his faith after his anger with God, and he responds, “All that church stuff seemed black and white when I was little—easy. And now it’s gray, but I…choose it anyway, I guess” (237). The fact that he chooses it makes all the difference, and I think it’s good for readers to see fellow teenagers exploring religious questions.
Speaking of Henry, he and Lucy form a good friendship and then a blossoming romance. He is caring, giving, and friendly, and he challenges Lucy to think, share, and learn. Yet, he is also respectful of her boundaries, both because he knows of her recent break-up and because of who he is as a person. Yet, when their romance finally takes off about three-fourths of the way through, it is as satisfying and well written as the rest of the novel.
There are about fifteen s-words and five f-bombs, and most of them felt like they weren't too gratuitous.

The Verdict: Probably my second favorite of Emery's books (if anything can displace The Start of Me and You, it'll be a miracle). So worth the read.

Will I be adding this book to my library?: Absolutely. I've had it on preorder since last June.

May 9, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: Reading Wishlist #2

This topic was used first three years ago, and I'm excited to again discuss what I'd like to see more of in books (particularly YA).

Here's my first reading wishlist, in case you were wondering.

1. Realistic homeschoolers
As a former homeschooler, I live for characters who share my educational background, but only when done realistically. Lucky Few by Kathryn Ormsbee is a great example of how homeschoolers don't always fit the stereotypes and how diverse we can be.

2. Less drinking in YA
I'm sure this is personal taste, but I hate it when teen characters do drugs or drink. I'm not naive enough to think teens never do those things, but I also know a vast majority of them don't. Besides, neither is a safe choice for developing minds, so why are we promoting such behavior to teenagers?

3. YA Shakespeare retellings
I don't care if they're historical, contemporary, or even fantasy. Just please, more books like The Only Thing Worse Than Me Is You or Exit, Pursued by a Bear.
Addendum: I want more YA Shakespeare retellings of his plays that AREN'T Romeo and Juliet.

4. More deaf main characters
Disabilities are starting to be better represented in MG/YA lit, but I want even more deaf characters, because they have a whole different language and community. So, please, more books like Song of Summer, You're Welcome, Universe, and Tone Deaf (which I haven't read yet, but want to!).

5. Anne of Green Gables retellings
I can only think of one (and I didn't love it), but there have been two great literary web series inspired by Anne, and YA authors should definitely capitalize on this. Plus, Gilbert Blythe is one of the ultimate book boyfriends.

6. More light fantasy
As much as I love a good high fantasy novel, one of my favorite trilogies is The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski, and this is due in part to the fact that it is set in a world that definitely isn't our own, but there's no magic.

7. History geek characters
As a self-proclaimed history geek, I'd love to see more main characters get all excited about history. Plenty of them geek out over pop culture or nerd culture, but history can be exciting and fascinating, and there have to be enough teenagers who like it to declare history majors when they enter college.

8. Jane Austen retellings*
*That aren't Pride and Prejudice.
I love P&P, I really do. But it seems to be the only Austen novel people bother to remix. I'd love to see retellings of her other works, especially Sense and Sensibility and Emma (who is perhaps the ultimate unlikeable heroine).

9. More POC protagonists
Always. Especially in #ownvoices books. I can't wait to have my horizons broadened by all the different experiences I'll be exposed to as the Diversity Renaissance continues in YA lit.

10. Books set outside the U.S.
Don't get me wrong, I love books set in specific U.S. states, especially because certain states have such a distinctive culture that it creates a good book setting. But I want to learn more about other countries, both in contemporary and historical settings.

What do you want more of in books?