August 30, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: The Syllabus of ENG 313 (Literary YA)

I had so much fun with creating the reading list for a class for a Top Ten Tuesday last year that I knew I had to do it again this year for the back-to-school freebie.

I couldn't pick just a few books, so I guess I'll have to use little bits of each book; otherwise, my students will resent how much reading I gave them, haha. Anyways, I really like the idea of teaching a literary YA fiction class because most of what I read for my English classes at college is literary fiction...but not YA, and I think we can learn a lot from literary YA fiction as well as literary adult fiction.

1. Like No Other by Una LaMarche

2. The Weight of Feathers by Anna-Marie McLemore

3. Just One Day by Gayle Forman

4. Out of the Easy by Ruta Septys

5. Breakfast Served Anytime by Sarah Combs

6. Outrun the Moon by Stacey Lee

7. Devoted by Jennifer Mathieu

8. Written in the Stars by Aisha Saeed

9. Falling into Place by Amy Zhang

10. Every Last Word by Tamara Stone

What type of book-inspired class would you want to teach at a university? And what did you do for your Top Ten Tuesday this week?

August 28, 2016

So You Like... #32

Another day, another "Emma gets to recommend books" post. Let's be real, besides reviewing books, that's probably why I started a book blog. Anyways, today's theme is: 

So you like...


Now these aren't going to be books you'd like if you enjoy Beauty and the Beast - no, it's going to specifically be books you'd like if Belle is your favorite Disney princess. I've divided my recommendations into two categories.

Taking charge of her destiny

Outrun the Moon by Stacey Lee

The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson
Court of Fives by Kate Elliott

Adventures in far-off places

Traitor Angels by Anne Blankman
The Girl from Everywhere by Heidi Heilig
Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Across a Star-Swept Sea by Diana Peterfreund
A Tyranny of Petticoats by various authors
The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi

So, if you love Belle, did you find some new books to try? What other Disney princesses might you want me to do book recommendations for?

August 27, 2016

Review: The Replacement Crush

The Replacement Crush by Lisa Brown Roberts
Grade: B
Release date: September 6, 2016
An e-galley was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for review consideration.
Summary: True love can’t be strategized.

After book blogger Vivian Galdi’s longtime crush pretends their secret summer kissing sessions never happened, Vivian creates a list of safe crushes, determined to protect her heart. 

But nerd-hot Dallas, the sweet new guy in town, sends the mission and Vivian’s zing meter into chaos. While designing software for the bookstore where Vivian works, Dallas wages a counter-mission.

Operation Replacement Crush is in full effect. And Dallas is determined to take her heart off the shelf.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: If you're in the mood for fluffy, swoony fun, look no further than The Replacement Crush. This book is basically a bibiliophile's dream. 
Vivian is pretty smart; once she gets her head out of the hormone-induced cloud of Jake, she realizes he's an awful guy and wants to move on. Of course, she's a bit dumb and oblivious too, especially when it comes to Dallas. She still has a pretty good head on her shoulders otherwise, so I'll excuse her stubbornness in not admitting that she and Dallas are perfect for each other. They have such insta-chemistry (NOT insta-love) that I couldn't resist shipping them from the get-go, and you won't be able to either. There is one scene with the sort-of ex that really bothered me. I felt like it was mostly used to drive home how awful he was and how great both Dallas and Vivian's sort-of brother, Toff, are. It felt highly necessary to me.
I did enjoy how Vivian's book blogger side was portrayed; it was relatively accurate to most book bloggers. I would've liked a little more focus on that, though, since it seemed to just be a way to make us early readers like her more. But I appreciated that she wasn't one of those protagonists who loves classics or YA; no, she full-on loves romances. I know a lot of YA authors read those as teenagers so it seemed accurate and fun. I really liked the plot bits with Ms. Galdi's store. Vivian's mom was pretty cool. She was a bit stereotypical at times, but overall, she wasn't bad for a YA mom.
As for the ugly, only nine s-words and f-words that I caught, most clustered during the tense scene with the ex-crush. Romance was pretty clean, although discussions of the romance novels produced some interesting conversations. There's a couple of fights between guys.

The Verdict: Pretty fun, nothing ground-breaking. If you really like contemporary romance, you can't miss this one.

Will I be adding this book to my library?: Hmm....maybe.

August 26, 2016

From the Bookshelf to the Kitchen: Cookies and Cream Cookies

Some characters are obsessed with books, some with sports or a certain TV show. Simon Spier is obsessed with Oreos.

There are so many routes I could've gone with this recipe - Oreo cheesecake, Oreo pie, cookies and cream cupcakes (which I have made before). But I decided to try a new recipe - cookies and cream cookies.

The recipe originally called for chocolate chips, too, but I made the decision to leave them out - and it was a good decision. They would've been weighed down by too much filling.

Cookies and Cream Cookies

1 vanilla cake mix (15.25 oz)
8 T. butter, melted
1 egg
1 t. vanilla extract
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
2 c. Oreo cookie chunks

Combine the cake mix, butter, egg, and vanilla. Beat until a soft dough forms. Add the cream cheese and beat again. Stir in the cookie chunks by hand. Refrigerate dough for 30 minutes and then roll into 36 balls. Place on baking sheets and bake at 350 degrees for 9-10 minutes. The cookies will seem underdone, but they will continue to set up as they cool. Let cool on baking sheets for 2-3 minutes and then remove to wax-paper-lined counters. Cool completely before storing in sealed containers.

Have a book/recipe suggestion for From the Bookshelf to the Kitchen? Leave it in the comments below.

August 23, 2016

2016 Cover Love

There have been some pretty fantastic covers this year - even though it's August, I think I can say this since all of the covers for this year have been revealed - and I decided to share my favorites. I tend to put them in a Pinterest board as they're unveiled, so this list should be fairly comprehensive. (Also, each cover links to the book's Goodreads page.)


This edition of Cover Love could most definitely be subtitled "Or Judging a Book by Its Cover," because my expectations for these books were (and are) sky-high since they were given such phenomenal covers. Unfortunately, they didn't all live up to those expectations. Anyways, what covers have you loved this year? What do you like to see in a book cover? Do you judge a book by its cover and why? Let's talk book covers in general! :)

August 22, 2016

A Trip Down Main Street

So way before I got into YA, before I'd even read the Percy Jackson or Mother-Daughter Book Club series, there was this middle grade series I loved called Main Street. It was by the author of The Baby-Sitters Club, Ann M. Martin. I loved The BSC books when I was in elementary school, and I loved Ann's new series even more. 


Well, back in June, I decided to take a trip down memory lane and reread all ten Main Street books. They're all right around 200 pages with medium-size type, so it wasn't a difficult feat. It took a little over two weeks.

My opinions of a few of the books changed. I still liked the earlier books best (Welcome to Camden Falls through September Surprises), although my rating of the first went down to 4 stars because the plot felt like it hadn't been given enough attention. I still don't like the cover design change they made starting with September Surprises.


The art style of the earlier covers fits the quiet tone of the series better.

But they don't write middle grade like the Main Street series any more. If you have younger siblings or children who are reading middle grade, than you need to hunt down copies of this series for them.

It was pretty satisfying, taking my walk down "Main Street Memory Lane." It was kind of inspired by reread of the Percy Jackson books back in the spring, and now I want to do it for more of my childhood favorites (Canterwood Crest, The Mother-Daughter Book Club, etc.). We'll see if that happens. Maybe I'll post about it if I do!

August 21, 2016

Rewind & Review #67

~I watched as much of the Olympics as I could before I left. The rest of the recordings will be waiting for me when I return at Thanksgiving. And not gonna lie, I teared up a lot during the gymnastics events and when Katie Ledecky won her events. I was just so proud of girls doing awesome things.
~I moved back into the dorm. That was stressful.
~First week of classes happened, along with all the stress and busyness that come with that. My Mondays/Wednesdays/Fridays are gonna be super low-key (just lots of homework since all but one of my classes are on Tuesdays/Thursdays).
~My work schedule is a mess at the moment, and I really hope it gets worked out because I need to be earning money.
~I had my first new viable book idea in two years. Pray that good things come from this, that I can produce the right story and I don't feel blocked at all, especially since I can submit bits of it for my intermediate fiction writing class.

Books I Received for Review
Like a River Glorious by Rae Carson (from HarperTeen via Edelweiss)

Books I Won/Traded for/was Gifted
The July Novl Box, including Belles by Jen Calonita, Not If I See You First by Eric Lindstrom, Wildflower by Alecia Whitaker, The Loose Ends List by Carrie Firestone, A Midsummer's Nightmare by Kody Keplinger, and Hello, Goodbye, and Everything in Between by Jennifer E. Smith

Books I Bought
Tumbling by Caela Carter
The Beauty of Darkness by Mary E. Pearson
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
All In by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
What You Always Wanted by Kristin Rae

Books I Read
The Seventh Wish by Kate Messner (4 stars)
The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett (4 stars)
The Assassin's Blade by Sarah J. Maas (reread)
Lucky Few by Kathryn Ormsbee (3 stars)
Devoted by Jennifer Mathieu (reread)
The Possibility of Somewhere by Julia Day (2 stars)
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs (2 stars)
Hearts, Fingers, and Other Things to Cross by Katie Finn (4 stars)
The Natural History of Us by Rachel Harris (3 stars)
Wanderlost by Jen Malone (4 stars)
Kingdom of Ashes by Rhiannon Thomas (3 stars)
Tumbling by Caela Carter (4 stars)

Blog Posts You Might've Missed in the Last Few Weeks
   (from 8/8-8/13)
   (from 8/14-8/20)

August 20, 2016

Review: The Great Shelby Holmes

The Great Shelby Holmes by Elizabeth Eulberg
Grade: B-
Release date: September 6, 2016
An e-galley was provided by the publisher in exchange for review consideration.
Summary: Meet spunky sleuth Shelby and her sports-loving sidekick Watson as they take on a dog-napper in this fresh twist on Sherlock Holmes.
Shelby Holmes is not your average sixth grader. She’s nine years old, barely four feet tall, and the best detective her Harlem neighborhood has ever seen—always using logic and a bit of pluck (which yes, some might call “bossiness”) to solve the toughest crimes. 

When eleven-year-old John Watson moves downstairs, Shelby finds something that’s eluded her up till now: a friend. Easy-going John isn’t sure of what to make of Shelby, but he soon finds himself her most-trusted (read: only) partner in a dog-napping case that'll take both their talents to crack. 

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: Sherlock is big in YA these days, and now middle grade is no exception. It was refreshing to read a middle grade Sherlock remixing, mostly because most YA adaptations end up being just so dark and heavy. Of course, not everything is light in The Great Shelby Holmes, but overall, it was a fun romp that I could see many middle grade readers loving.
I especially liked Watson. He was just so great and normal, and I thought his voice was strong. Shelby grated on my nerves just a little, but not Watson. I enjoyed the references to other Sherlock things. Overall, though, there was just that lack of connection that I need to love a book. The writing does read pretty young, which was a little disappointing.
As far as mysteries go, this one was pretty simple and for some reason, I assumed there would be multiple dog-nappings which I think I would've preferred to the actual plot line. That would've made the book a lot longer, though, and perhaps too complicated for a middle grade book, but I don't know if I could say that for certain.
The Great Shelby Holmes was very clean across the board.

The Verdict: It was good. I'm just not the target audience, so I didn't love it as much as I would've liked to.

Will I be adding this book to my library?: Hmm...probably not.

August 19, 2016

Random Friday: Fall 2016 Reads

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Time to talk about the fall 2016 releases I'm most anticipating!

1. As I Descended by Robin Talley

2. Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas

3. Frost Like Night by Sara Raasch

4. Vassa in the Night by Sarah Porter

5. Like a River Glorious by Rae Carson

6. Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

7. Interference by Kay Honeyman

8. Blood For Blood by Ryan Graudin

What are you hoping to read this fall, and what releases are you anticipating?