February 22, 2019

Random Friday: Favorite Royalty


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  • Include the above image in your post and link back to my blog.
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For quite some time, I've had a quiet fascination with royal families. I would always read about them on Wikipedia every few months, and now I follow a few "fan blogs" on Tumblr that keep me much more up to date. So I figured I'd take a Random Friday post to list some of the royals I find most interesting. :)

Image result for princess charlotte and prince george 2018
1. Princess Charlotte and Prince George
She is such a perfect cinnamon roll, with so much energy and spirit, and I appreciate his sensitivity and how William and Catherine seem to be letting him be quieter and less in the public eye.

Image result for crown prince frederik and crown princess mary
2. The Danish Crown Prince Couple
They just seem so elegant and put-together and like they'll be good for the country (not that Frederik's mother has been bad for Denmark).


3. The Swedish Crown Princess Family
Crown Princess Victoria's journey is very inspiring. Plus her kiddos are precious.


4. Lady Jane Grey
If we're talking historical royals, I find the Nine Days' Queen absolutely fascinating. (Which is only helped by the YA book, My Lady Jane.)


Which royal figures fascinate you? Which do you want to learn more about? I want to learn more about basically any royal family outside of Europe (historically and currently).


February 20, 2019

So You Like... #78

Valentine's Day has passed, but if you're still looking for a perfect romance...check out the titles I'm about to recommend. So you like...


ROMANCE TROPES


If you like hate-to-love, you should read...


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If you like forbidden love, you might like...


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If star-crossed love is one of your favorite tropes, you need to read...


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If friends-to-lovers is your thing, you might like...


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If you can't resist a love triangle, you should read...



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(After reading To All the Boys I've Loved Before, of course.)



If you find costars/coworkers who fall for each other a fun trope, you should read...


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If you love fake dating (I do!), you need to read...


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OR

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And if you like love at first sight, you have to read the tried-and-true classic...


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What's your favorite romance trope? What books would you recommend for it, or the ones I shared recs for? Let me know in the comments. :)

February 19, 2019

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Loved That Are Criminally Underrated


So we're gauging this by Goodreads ratings (under 2,000 is the cut-off Jana set when she gave the topic). There are some books I absolutely adore that no one seems to know about or love as much as me. Maybe this'll motivate more people to pick up these titles! Also, I was careful to pick books that have already released, just so it's a little more fair.

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1. Analee, in Real Life by Janelle Milanes

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2. Snow in Love by Melissa de la Cruz, Nic Stone, Aimee Friedman, and Kasie West

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3. The Last Summer of the Garrett Girls by Jessica Spotswood

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4. The Length of a String by Elissa Brent Weissman

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5. The Light Between Worlds by Laura E. Weymouth

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6. In a Perfect World by Trish Doller

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8. Diamonds & Deceit and Emeralds & Ashes by Leila Rasheed
Even the first book in the trilogy comes in just above the cut-off. (And I'm sure book 3 is hurt by the fact that they only released it as an e-book.)

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9. This Side of Home by Renee Watson
Why is no one reading Renee's earlier YA??? This isn't to say Piecing Me Together isn't amazing and doesn't deserve attention and accolades, but I love This Side of Home.

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10. Rules for 50/50 Chances by Kate McGovern

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11. The Comeback Season by Jennifer E. Smith
Yes, it's sad, but it has a baseball-loving protagonist. So many people talk about how they want more sports in YA books. Well, here ya go!

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12. Devoted by Jennifer Mathieu


Which books do you love and wish more people would read?

February 18, 2019

Review: Spectacle

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Spectacle by Jodie Lynn Zdrok
Grade: C+
An e-galley was provided by Tor Teen via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Summary: Paris, 1887.

Sixteen-year-old Nathalie Baudin writes the daily morgue column for Le Petit Journal. Her job is to summarize each day's new arrivals, a task she finds both fascinating and routine. That is, until the day she has a vision of the newest body, a young woman, being murdered--from the perspective of the murderer himself.

When the body of another woman is retrieved from the Seine days later, Paris begins to buzz with rumors that this victim may not be the last. Nathalie's search for answers sends her down a long, twisty road involving her mentally ill aunt, a brilliant but deluded scientist, and eventually into the Parisian Catacombs. As the killer continues to haunt the streets of Paris, it becomes clear that Nathalie's strange new ability may make her the only one who can discover the killer's identity--and she'll have to do it before she becomes a target herself.
 

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: This is the type of historical fiction I look for, the ones set in a time rarely touched on and about a subject most fiction doesn't cover. It was utterly fascinating to me that so many people turned out to the Paris morgue every day to see the dead John and Jane Does.
Overall, though, Spectacle suffered from a lack of truly compelling characters. I wanted Nathalie to survive, but other than that, I found myself not caring about her life or what happened to the other characters. Which is sad because her aunt, Brigitte, was a fairly tragic character who deserved better.
Also the special abilities thing went in a really weird direction that was kind of super power-esque but not really how I would've liked it to be. Things about how the powers actually came to be were very vague and confusing.
Nathalie had a crush on this guy who worked at the morgue, but there's not really a romance, although there are random little scenes that made it feel like Zdrok was writing towards one. I didn't really want a romance - with that guy at least - because he was too old for Nathalie.

Content warnings: gore, murder, stalkings, some occult-type stuff (a bit more of that than I would've liked), scenes in an insane asylum.

The Verdict: Good but not spectacular.


Will I be adding this book to my library?: I don't think so.

February 16, 2019

10 Historical Fiction Settings Besides WWII

I love historical fiction. Primarily of the YA variety, but I've ventured into adult historical fic as well. While both have their own tropes (adult hf LOVES dual narration, often in dual timelines, and YA hf has a bunch of spunky protagonists that are probably not fully historically accurate), they also have one thing in common:

Their favorite setting is World War II.

And it's kind of boring at this point. There are only so many books you can read about WWII spies or pilots or people on the homefront. Besides, WWII spanned six years. There are thousands of years of world history that we could be setting stories in. There are thousands of places besides Paris, England, and the United States' East Coast. So why aren't we writing books set in those places?

I'm going to suggest time periods and places where more historical fiction (primarily YA) titles should be set. Of course there are probably at least a few books out there already for some of these, so please tell me about them! But that doesn't mean there shouldn't be more to balance out all the WWII titles. 


1. The Glorious Revolution
Or anything having to do with the tail end of the Stuart house in power in the U.K. The new movie, The Favourite, clearly proves that there's an interest in that period. Plus, it would be a nice balance to the focus on the Tudor period.


2. 1950s-1970s America
I'd love to see more books focusing on the Civil Rights Era, school integration, and the aftermath. Maybe this is just me, since I wrote a paper about it, but the repercussions are so fascinating and the students who led the fight are so inspiring.


3. Central/South America
There's very little contemporary fiction set south of the U.S. border anyways, but imagine what rich stories there could be in historical fiction. You have Simon Bolivar, the Incan Empire, and all of Mexico, just for starters. There are so many opportunities for #ownvoices novels, too.


4. The rest of the world during the Dark Ages
While much of Europe was in upheaval, India, the Arabian Peninsula, parts of Africa, the Mayan Empire, and many other places were having Golden Ages. So many people don't realize this because it's hardly touched on in history classes and there are so few (if any) fiction books about it.


5. Muslim Spain
One of my history classes briefly touched on this period, but it brought about some of the most stunning architecture in the world and so much more.


6. Colonial America
Colonial America is ripe for book settings, since it came with so much unknown and adventure.


7. Japan
Most calls for East Asian books focus on China and even Korea to an extent, so I'd love to see more, especially historical fiction, set in Japan. (Bonus points if it's written by #ownvoices authors.)


8. Universities
I guess this would have to be more historical fantasy-based than historical, because I want to see all the super cool ladies studying at universities and changing the world in history-inspired settings. For example, it's highly likely that Fatima al-Fihri founded the oldest university in the world. Why is that not being used as fodder for more novels??


9. Other wars
Like I said, most historical fiction seems to focus on World War II (and even World War I). What about the Vietnam War, all the revolutions in Europe during the 1800s, the Boer War, the Thirty Years' War, the Sino-Japanese Wars... if war is such an interesting starting point for fiction, then writers need to be more creative and pick something other than the World Wars.


10. The things I don't even know about
Despite minoring in history and being a self-professed history geek, there's still so much I don't know. So authors, use your niche knowledge to create awesome historical fiction set some place and some time other than WWII, WWI, and, for the most part, England, France, and the United States.


What time periods and settings would you like to see more of in historical fiction?

February 14, 2019

Twenty 2020 Reads

It's here! The latest post in my favorite series. I know it's barely 2019, but here are twenty books that are (hopefully) publishing next year that I think sound great. (Although, with my track record, at least half of these will be pushed to 2021 lol.)


1. Fall Like Thieves by Marie Rutkoski
Y'all should know I love The Winner's Curse, and apparently this new book is going to be set in the same world!


2. My Calamity Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows
Sad that this is the last book in the companion trilogy (of sorts), but I'm excited to see what the Lady Janies do with Calamity Jane!



3. Muse by Brittany Cavallaro
Alternate. History. Chicago. World's. Fair.
I'm basically one giant heart-eyes emoji.


4. Descendants by Tracy Deonn Walker
King Arthur with Southern Black girls. Sounds fresh, new, and great.



5. A Pho Love Story by Loan Le
Vietnamese-American rom-com?? I'm back to being a heart-eyes emoji.


6. The Summer I Learned Chinese by Lindsay Wong
2020 (and 2019) are giving us all the Asian-American rom-coms, and I am 100% here for it. Plus I love a good "Anna and the French Kiss meets..." pitch.



7. Eventide by Sarah Goodman
The orphan train diaries were my fave back in the day, so this sounds like the YA upgrade I need.


8. Unscripted by Nicole Kronzer
I'm hoping this brings lots of humor and feminism.


9. The Silence of Bones by June Hur
A murder mystery set in 19th century Korea is everything I didn't know I needed.


10. Splinters of Scarlet by Emily Bain Murphy
More historical fic (my love), this time with magic and a Downton Abbey-esque pitch.



11. What I Like About You by Marisa Kanter
Y'all know I'm a sucker for any You've Got Mail-esque story.


12. Anna K. by Jenny Lee
A modern-day Anna Karenina? I'm intrigued.



13. Most Likely by Sarah Watson
I love plots that keep you guessing. Plus this one sounds promising for strong female characters.


14. The Sound of Summer by Veera Hiranandani
Middle grade in the aftermath of Loving v. Virginia? Yes, please.


15. Tweet Cute by Emma Lord
Like I said for What I Like About You, if it's a You've Got Mail-like story, I'm all in.



16. The Sun, the Moon, and the Truth by Kasie West
This one was originally supposed to come out years ago, but that publisher folded. But now HarperCollins has acquired it, and Kasie has confirmed it'll be her 2020 book!


17. Meteor by Tehlor Kay Meija and Anna-Marie McLemore
Ugh, what a power duo. This sounds like delightful magical realism fun.


18. Truly Devious #3 by Maureen Johnson
Already lusting after the final book in this incredible mystery series.



19. Not Up for Debate by Tiana Smith
Like I said, every You've Got Mail YA story.



20. Rebelwing by Andrea Tang
I'm always nervous about sci-fi because it often isn't my thing, but this one has a dragon.
The Hobbit Dragon GIF


Did any of these books pique your interest? Let me know if you added them to your TBR.

February 13, 2019

Emma's Favorite Slow Cooker Recipes

I got a CrockPot last fall, and I've been using it a bunch because I hate dragging a bin with all my equipment and ingredients down nine floors to the kitchen. So, unless the meat I'm using needs to be cooked first, I can do all the prep work in my room. Plus, I use slow cooker liners so clean up is much easier. In light of all of that, I thought I should share some of my favorite slow cooker recipes so y'all can enjoy them too.

Slow Cooker Honey Garlic Chicken and Veggies - The easiest one pot recipe ever. Simply throw everything in and that's it! No cooking, no sauteeing. SO EASY!
Photo credit
1. Honey Garlic Chicken
I made this for the first time over spring break a year ago, and it's so hearty and yummy. It's good with warm bread and probably a salad.

Beef and Barley Soup
Photo credit: The Spruce Eats
2. Hamburger Barley Soup
This one's a family recipe, so I tried to find something similar. 

3. Chicken Cacciatore
This feels like such a classic CrockPot meal to me. I've typed up our recipe for y'all in a Google Doc. ;)

4. Pasta Sauce
This one is a family recipe, as well, one that I'm definitely not willing to share. But most marinara/meat-based tomato sauces that you cook for a long time are adaptable to the CrockPot. Just brown the ground beef ahead of time.

Slow Cooker Chili Mac is an easy comforting dish made right in your crock pot!! | www.countrysidecravings.com
Photo credit: Countryside Cravings
5. Chili Mac
This made so much, y'all. I've got a BUNCH in my freezer, lol. So if you're gonna be the only one eating it, or if it's just two of you, I'd halve this recipe.

Slow Cooker Chicken Marsala | Creme de la Crumb
Photo credit: Creme de la Crumb
6. Chicken Marsala
Would like to try this actually using the wine. It tasted good but the "gravy" got kind of thick and cloying upon reheating.

7. Chicken Fajitas
I made fiesta rice to go with this, so it wasn't an entire slow cooker meal, but it was a fun change from the ground beef I usually cook to make a taco casserole of sorts.

Do you use a slow cooker a lot? What are your favorite things to cook in it? I know my roommate will sometimes throw chicken and some barbecue sauce in ours, then shred the chicken to make sandwiches and things, so that's another idea too! 

Let's talk food in the comments!

February 10, 2019

Rewind & Review #128


~It got colder??? And then...we had a couple days where it felt more like spring?? I am so confused.
~I managed to finish King of Scars in 24 hours (I wanted to read it before January was over), so I consider this a great triumph.
~One of my friends asked me to write a short story with the characters from the You've Got Mail-esque story, and that's been fun to write. I've been working on another short story with those characters for awhile, but this one is set a little earlier and isn't going to be as angsty, lol.
~It was a year ago this weekend I was in New York to shadow at Bloomsbury. And now I've worked there eight months.

Books I Received for Review
Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim (from Random House via NetGalley)
Color Outside the Lines by various authors, edited by Sangu Mandanna (from Soho Teen via Edelweiss)
Enchantée by Gita Trelease (from Miss Print's ARC Adoption Program)

Books I Won/Traded for/was Gifted
If You're Out There by Katy Loutzenhiser (via trade)

Books I Bought
The Vanishing Stair by Maureen Johnson
Rainbow Valley by L.M. Montgomery
King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo
On the Come Up by Angie Thomas
Lady Smoke by Laura Sebastian

Books I Read
Heaven to Betsy by Maud Hart Lovelace (reread)
13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson (3 stars)
Betsy in Spite of Herself by Maud Hart Lovelace (reread)
Betsy and Joe by Maud Hart Lovelace (reread)
The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux (4 stars)
King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo (4.5 stars)
Match Me If You Can by Tiana Smith (3 stars)
Odd One Out by Nic Stone (3 stars)
One Giant Leap by Heather Kaczynski (DNF)
Betsy's Wedding by Maud Hart Lovelace (reread)
Dear Pen Pal by Heather Vogel Frederick (reread)
Dare You to Lie by Amber Lynn Natusch (2 stars)
Cress by Marissa Meyer (reread)
Pies & Prejudice by Heather Vogel Frederick (reread)

Blog Posts You Might've Missed in the Last Few Weeks
   (from 1/28-2/2)
   (from 2/3-2/9)

February 8, 2019

Random Friday: Favorite Neutral-Colored Book Covers


Want to participate in Random Fridays? Just do the following:
  • Include the above image in your post and link back to my blog.
  • Blog about this week's topic (or a variant of it).
  • Add the link to your Random Friday post at the bottom of this one.

Often, we only talk about brilliantly-colored book covers, but I'm here today to share my favorite covers that are (predominantly) in shades of black, white, brown, and gray.

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Hold Me Like a Breath by Tiffany Schmidt

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The Ship Beyond Time by Heidi Heilig

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The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

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The Light Between Worlds by Laura E. Weymouth

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Pride by Ibi Zoboi

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The Wren Hunt by Mary Watson

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Courting Darkness by Robin LaFevers


What covers would you pick for today's Random Friday post?



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