October 18, 2017

DNF Review: Meant to Be

Meant to Be by Julie Halpern
Grade: DNF
Release date: October 24, 2017
An ARC was provided by Macmillan in exchange for an honest review.
Summary: In a world where the names of MTBs—"meant to be" mates—appear on the body at age eighteen, a girl must decide whether to believe the phenomenon or follow her heart in this YA novel.
It started happening a few years ago: the names of MTBs—"meant to be" mates—appeared emblazoned on the skin at age eighteen. Agatha's best friend has embraced the phenomenon and is head over heels in love with her MTB. But Ag isn't so sure. As she searches the interwebs for her MTB (who has a common name, no less) she finds herself falling for a co-worker at the local amusement park. Is he a better match? What does Agatha really want in a mate, and moreover, what does she want for herself?

When did I stop reading?: 28%, or 88 pages, in.
The Review: I thought Meant to Be sounded trope-y and fun, but it ended up being ridiculously cringeworthy. Agatha, the main character, thinks she's so much better than everyone else just because she's not into the whole MTB idea. I would've much preferred her to not care so much but respect those who do. Also pretty much everyone in this book has a weird or unusual name - Lish, Hendrix Cutter, Scarlett, Agatha. And by almost 1/3 of the way through the book, nothing felt more than surface deep. Even for lighter romance novels, I like a little more depth to the characters and the plot.
This final point is more personal taste than anything else. I don't like particularly crude books with lots of foul language, and there was just too much of all of that for me to try to keep reading.

October 17, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: Food Mentioned in Books

Since I do my From the Bookshelf to the Kitchen series, today's topic is perfect! I tried to go with recipes that were directly drawn from the story rather than just inspired by the book, but there are a few that don't quite line up. Also, while I haven't made the final recipe yet, it's definitely in my plans for upcoming posts.

1. Cowgirl cookies (from To All the Boys I've Loved Before)
They're so good, y'all.

2. Chai sugar cookies (from P.S. I Still Love You)
Originally Taylor Swift's recipe, I was delighted to find out that Lara Jean baked them too. They taste like winter in a cookie.

3. Cornbread (from The Game of Love and Death)
I'm mildly famous for my cornbread now, since I used this recipe.

4. Black cherry cobbler (from When We Collided)
I made a Jonah-approved recipe for Father's Day in 2016.

5. Waffles (from Six of Crows/Crooked Kingdom)
Nina loves waffles, which firmly establishes her as one of my favorite characters in Leigh Bardugo's duology. I made two different types of waffles that I hope she would love.

6. Moon muffins (from Alex, Approximately)
After checking with the author to find out how she envisioned moon muffins, I made this sweet treat that Porter and Bailey devour.

7. Cinnamon quick bread (from Stray)
I did a variation, so I didn't have to make a yeast-based bread, but it tasted so yummy and I really want to try making it again...with a few seasoning variations.

8 and 9. Croissants and macarons (from Paris, My Sweet)
This book revolved around New York and Paris desserts, pastries, etc., and it definitely made me crave some croissants and macarons.

10. First-Week Cookies (from The Names They Gave Us)
Cookies that sound a bit interesting but nonetheless look like they'll be fun to make.

What foods in books do you crave?

October 15, 2017

Rewind & Review #95

~Midterms came and went. #yikes
~Well. I thought I'd figured out a practicum option that I would enjoy and learn a lot from and that would use skills I already have. But my advisor vetoed it for incredibly inane reasons, so I think I'm back to a practicum I don't want to do and one that I don't think God is leading me towards. So continued prayers for that, please, because I feel very discouraged.
~I GET TO GO TO THE SCBWI WINTER CONFERENCE FOR MY PRACTICUM. God is so good; I persisted, and He gave me professors who fought for me and who were willing to make an exception since the conference didn't fit the requirements exactly (for a tiny little reason). So guess who's gonna be in NYC in February? :D
~My last homecoming was kind of blah.
~I wrote an art heist story in homage to Ally Carter's Heist Society trilogy. They're not that similar, but Heist Society is the reason art heist stories interest me, so I have to acknowledge Ally's role in this story's creation.
~Fall break: My mom got here on Thursday afternoon. We shopped on Friday, visited Ashland on Saturday, and cooked dinner both Friday and Saturday nights.

Books I Received for Review
I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sanchez (from Miss Print's ARC Adoption program)
Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe by Melissa de la Cruz (from St. Martin's Griffin via NetGalley)

Books I Won/Traded for/was Gifted
Little & Lion by Brandy Colbert (via trade)
Dear Martin by Nic Stone (via trade)

Books I Bought
Far from the Tree by Robin Benway
The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo

Books I Read
Cinder by Marissa Meyer (reread)
Meant to Be by Julie Halpern (DNF)
Before She Ignites by Jodi Meadows (3.5 stars)
Even the Darkest Stars by Heather Fawcett (4 stars)
The Names They Gave Us by Emery Lord (reread)
I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sanchez
Scarlet by Marissa Meyer (reread)
A Dangerous Year by Kes Trester (DNF)
One Dark Throne by Kendare Blake (4 stars)
Made You Up by Francesca Zappia (3 stars)
The Great Shelby Holmes Meets Her Match by Elizabeth Eulberg (3 stars)
Retribution Rails by Erin Bowman
That Inevitable Victorian Thing by E.K. Johnston (4 stars)
In Search of the Perfect Loaf by Samuel Fromartz (2 stars)
You Don't Know Me, But I Know You by Rebecca Barrow (3 stars)

Blog Posts You Might've Missed in the Last Few Weeks
   (from 9/25-9/30)
   (from 10/1-10/7)
   (from 10/8-10/14)

October 14, 2017

Non-Contemporary #QuietYA Recommendations

A few weeks ago, I shared some contemporary #quietYA recs. I'm combining all the other genres into one post since I read so much more contemporary than even historical fiction and fantasy (my second and third favorite genres). (Also, interestingly, it seems most of #quietYA is contemporary...) But I hope you enjoy these recommendations!

First up, three historical fiction choices. One is set during World War II, the second in the 1960s, and the third in the lead-up to WWII.

Girl in the Blue Coat by Monica Hesse
I'm Glad I Did by Cynthia Weil
Prisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blankman

Now if you'd prefer sci-fi mixed with contemporary, you should read Lauren Miller's books:


Perhaps you'd rather read a post-apocalyptic companion duology inspired by classic literature:


Maybe you like mystery/thrillers with strong girls who don't give up. Read Rites of Passage by Joy N. Hensley:


Or maybe you like super powers (like I do). It's time you read Emily Lloyd-Jones's Illusive duology.


I clearly couldn't think of any #quietYA fantasy titles that I love and haven't recommended recently. Do you have any suggestions (both fantasy and other genres)?

October 13, 2017

Random Friday: Wanderlust

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I've been finishing up the assignments for my required Cross-Cultural Experience at my university, and I've been reminiscing about my trip to Québec as a result. There was so much we didn't get to do, but there was also so much I wanted to experience for a second (or third) time.

I also definitely have the wanderlust bug. I mean, I was pretty certain I had caught it last fall and this spring, but I know for sure now. I am dying to go to Europe and see France and Switzerland and Germany and Scotland and Finland and Italy and Austria and Belgium and -

You get the point.

I even started a Pinterest board for all the places I want to go, although it's pretty much dominated by Europe at the moment. I'd love to add parts of the U.S. to it eventually and maybe even countries like Japan and Thailand because it would be good to broaden my horizons.

So have you caught wanderlust too?

October 12, 2017

Review: I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter

I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sanchez
Grade: D+
This ARC was provided by Miss Print's ARC Adoption Program in exchange for an honest review.
Summary: Perfect Mexican daughters do not go away to college. And they do not move out of their parents’ house after high school graduation. Perfect Mexican daughters never abandon their family.

But Julia is not your perfect Mexican daughter. That was Olga’s role.

Then a tragic accident on the busiest street in Chicago leaves Olga dead and Julia left behind to reassemble the shattered pieces of her family. And no one seems to acknowledge that Julia is broken, too. Instead, her mother seems to channel her grief into pointing out every possible way Julia has failed.

But it’s not long before Julia discovers that Olga might not have been as perfect as everyone thought. With the help of her best friend Lorena, and her first kiss, first love, first everything boyfriend Connor, Julia is determined to find out. Was Olga really what she seemed? Or was there more to her sister’s story? And either way, how can Julia even attempt to live up to a seemingly impossible ideal?

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: I wanted to love this National Book Award finalist so badly, but I didn't. There are a lot of issues with the writing that I am going to explore in this review.
The time jumps in the book are very sudden, and the timeline feels stretched too long (from right after Olga's death to two years later). There's a time/plot gap between chapters 16 and 17, leaving readers to guess what happened until much later in the book. Honestly, the mystery didn't help the book any. Most of the plot doesn't take off until a year after Olga's death, and the plot felt like it was made up of a lot of little details that didn't matter. The characters were all vaguely annoying, and I didn't feel anything in me to root for them, which is kind of hard to achieve actually. 
There were so many elements that could've worked - Julia's mental health, her relationship with Connor, the relationship with Olga - but they felt two-dimensional and shoehorned in like puzzle pieces that don't fit together.
The one thing I did like was the setting and culture. It all felt authentic.
There was foul language, on-page sex, underage drinking and drug usage, a suicide attempt, and some other violence. (Honestly this book felt like a giant YA stereotype at times.)

The Verdict: I know enjoyment of a book is subjective, but I'm honestly not sure how this one made it onto the NBA shortlist.

Will I be adding this book to my library?: No.

October 10, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: Covers Perfect for Autumn

Autumn is a great season...when it actually feels like autumn. (I'm writing this post at the end of September when the high was still 89 degrees. *sobs*) But here are some book covers that make me think of fall; peruse them and sip a nice pumpkin spice latte.

1. Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson

2. Under a Painted Sky by Stacey Lee

3. Time After Time by Tamara Ireland Stone

4. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

5. The Weight of Feathers by Anna-Marie McLemore

6. Court of Fives by Kate Elliott

7. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle
(The Goodreads image doesn't so it justice, so that's why I used a picture I took myself.)

8. A Madness So Discreet by Mindy McGinnis

9. Enna Burning by Shannon Hale

10. Revenge and the Wild by Michelle Modesto

What book covers do you think are perfect for fall?

October 9, 2017

Title Trends Redone

There's cover trends (I mean, y'all have seen all those girls in dresses, right?), but then there also seem to be title trends. This post isn't fully comprehensive, but boy, is it going to be giant. Just preparing y'all. I originally posted this two years ago, and I decided to redo it just because there are even more books for the list now.

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The Goose Girl, Girl Overboard, Don't Judge a Girl by Her Cover, The Girl of Fire and Thorns, The Unbearable Book Club for Unsinkable Girls, Smart Girls Get What They Want, Revenge of the Girl with the Great Personality, Fangirl, Material Girls, A School for Unusual Girls, Jesse's Girl, Red Girl Blue Boy, The Girl with the Wrong Name, The Factory Girl, Dead Girls Society, The Last Boy and Girl in the World, The Girl from Everywhere, The Girl Who Fell, A Psalm for Lost Girls, Those Girls, The Girl with the Red Balloon, Girl Out of Water, Girl Against the Universe, Flygirl, Girl on a Wire, Girl in the Blue Coat, Who's That Girl, A Girl Like That, Neighborhood Girls, The Lost Girl of Astor Street, Gunslinger Girl, Girls of Paper and Fire.
That's a lot of girls.

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Lola and the Boy Next Door, The Boyfriend App, The Boy on the Bridge, To All the Boys I've Loved Before, How to Meet Boys, A Blind Spot for Boys, The Fill-In Boyfriend, Red Girl Blue Boy, The Last Boy and Girl in the World, Kill the Boy Band, The Boy in the Black Suit, This Is My Brain on Boys, The Raven Boys.
There's a lot of boys, too.

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Catching Fire, The Girl of Fire and Thorns, Fire with Fire, Rose Under Fire, Fire & Flood, The Fire Wish, Heir of Fire, Liberty's Fire, Ice Like Fire, Tell the Wind and Fire, Girls of Paper and Fire, A Spark of White Fire.
We've got a bunch of arsonists in YA.

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Out of Sight Out of Time, Time Between Us, Time After Time, Breakfast Served Anytime, The Last Time We Say Goodbye, Never Always Sometimes, The First Time She Drowned, The Ship Beyond Time, Timekeeper
This is the last time I discuss this.

The Lost Crown, The Crown of Embers, Crown of Midnight, The Ring and the Crown, The Crown's Game, Three Dark Crowns, The Crown's Fate, A Crown of Wishes, The Crown.

Princess Academy, Paparazzi Princess, Princess of the Midnight Ball, Princess of Glass, Princess of the Silver Woods, Deception's Princess, The Princess Spy, Princess of Thorns, I Am Princess X, The Princess Diaries, Ash Princess.

The Cupcake Queen, The Queen's Daughter, Red Queen, The Orphan Queen, The Queen of Bright and Shiny Things, Queen of Shadows, The Shadow Queen, Stef Soto Taco Queen, The Star-Touched Queen, The Queen of Attolia, The Queen's Rising, The Nameless Queen.
Like I've said before, YA loves royalty.

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Sixteenth Summer, Second Chance Summer, Fifteenth Summer, The Summer I Became a Nerd, Summer on the Short Bus, Open Road Summer, Unforgettable Summer, The Summer After You and Me, Three Day Summer, Summer Days & Summer Nights, The Square Root of Summer, Summer of Sloane, The Summer I Turned Pretty, Two Summers, Song of Summer, The Summer of Chasing Mermaids, Someone Else's Summer, Summer Bird Blue.
Well, summer is pretty nice.

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Perfect Lies; Lies We Tell Ourselves; Lies I Told; Even When You Lie to Me; The Lies About Truth; Little Black Dresses, Little White Lies; Loves, Lies & Spies; Love Songs & Other Lies; Perfect Liars; We Were Liars; Liars, Inc.
I think the lesson here is, YA characters lie a lot.

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Shadow and Bone, Sea of Shadows, Falls the Shadow, Shadow Scale, Queen of Shadows, The Shadow Behind the Stars, The Shadow Queen, In the Shadow of Blackbirds, The Shadow Society, A Shadow Bright and Burning, Circle of Shadows.
Let's avoid the shadows from now on, please.

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Princess of the Midnight Ball, One Past Midnight, Crown of Midnight, Starry Nights, Prisoner of Night and Fog, Midnight Thief, Starry Night, Inherit Midnight, The Night We Said Yes, Bright Lights Dark Nights, Until Friday Night, A Night Divided, Tonight the Streets Are Ours, A Thousand Nights, A Drop of Night, Wink Poppy Midnight, Summer Days & Summer Nights, Vassa in the Night, The Nightmare Affair, The Nightmare Dilemma, The Nightmare Charade, The Midnight Star, Frost Like Night, We Own the Night, The Midnight Dance, Batman: Nightwalker, The Midnights, Beasts Made of Night, Together at Midnight, What the Night Sings, Last Night at the Telegraph Club.
Do people just not like the morning or afternoon?

Anna and the French Kiss, The Last Best Kiss, 17 First Kisses, The Things You Kiss Goodbye, The Kiss of Deception, Kissing Ted Callahan (and Other Guys), Kissing in America, 26 Kisses, The Winner's Kiss, Can't Kiss Won't Tell, My Last Kiss.
Well, there is a lot of kissing in YA.

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River Secrets, Secrets of My Hollywood Life, Maid of Secrets, Manor of Secrets, Wicked Little Secrets, The Secrets of Lily Graves, The Secrets of Attraction, The Secret of a Heart Note, My Secret to Tell, The Secret History of Us.
Apparently, there's a lot of secret-keeping in YA.

The Queen's Daughter, Daughter of Smoke and Bone, The Merchant's Daughter, The Madman's Daughter, The Tyrant's Daughter, Daughter of Deep Silence, Daughter of Dusk, Daughter of the Pirate King, The Dark Lord's Daughter, I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter, Daughter of the Burning City.

Don't people have sons anymore?

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Heart and Salsa; Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy; The Lonely Hearts Club; Broken Hearts, Fences, and Other Things to Mend; Mortal Heart; My Heart and Other Black Holes; Things We Know by Heart; Wild Hearts; A Matter of Heart; Lion Heart; The Heart of Betrayal; The Anatomical Shape of a Heart; Hearts, Fingers, and Other Things to Cross; The Museum of Heartbreak; Assassin's Heart; Blackhearts; That Thing We Call a Heart; Tash Hearts Tolstoy; The Heartbeats of Wing Jones; Heartless; The Secret of a Heart Note; Steelheart; Between the Blade and the Heart; The Hearts We Sold; Three Sides of a Heart; Comics Will Break Your Heart; Heart of Iron; When My Heart Joins the Thousand; Foolish Hearts; Listen to Your Heart; Hungry Hearts.
Hearts are important, yes.

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I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have to Kill You; Wanderlove; The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight; Pizza, Love, and Other Stuff That Made Me Famous; How to Love; OCD Love Story; To All the Boys I've Loved Before; Love Me; Love Letters to the Dead; My True Love Gave to Me; A Little in Love; Love and Other Unknown Variables; Famous in Love; How (Not) to Fall in Love; The Game of Love and Death; Love, Lucas; Love Fortunes and Other Disasters; P.S. I Still Love You; Hello, I Love You; Suffer Love; The Geek's Guide to Unrequited Love; The Love That Split the World; Love, Lies & Spies; Wanted: Dead or in Love; Lucky in Love; Love & Gelato; The Love That Split the World; Love Fortunes and Other Disasters; I Believe in a Thing Called Love; The Love Letters of Abelard and Lily; Speak Easy, Speak Love; Love, Hate & Other Filters; Let's Talk About Love; Love & Luck; Love, Life, and the List; A Taxonomy of Love.
If you couldn't tell, a lot of YA revolves around love.

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The Fault in Our Stars; For Darkness Shows the Stars; Days of Blood and Starlight; Still Star-Crossed; These Broken Stars; Starstruck; Starry Nights; The Chaos of Stars; Across a Star-Swept Sea; Catch a Falling Star; Starry Night; Written in the Stars; The Shadow Behind the Stars; Inherit the Stars; Wandering Star; The Stars Turned Away; Where the Stars Still Shine; The Sun Is Also a Star; The Midnight Star; Map to the Stars; The Star-Touched Queen, Stars Above, Even the Darkest Stars, Starfish, Among the Red Stars, A Conspiracy of Stars, and Starry Eyes.
The stars are nice.

A Crown of Wishes, The Fire Wish, Wish You Were Italian, As You Wish, The Seventh Wish.
Where there are stars, there are wishes.

Famous Last Words, The Last Best Kiss, The Last Time We Say Goodbye, Last Year's Mistake, Every Last Word, The Last Boy and Girl in the World, The Last Thing You Said, Last Night at the Telegraph Club.
And of course that's accompanied by...

Not If I See You First, First & Then, 17 First Kisses, The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, The First to Know, Not If I Save You First.

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The Young World, This Shattered World, The World Within, Etherworld, In a World Just Right, A Whole New World, This Is Where the World Ends, Either the Beginning or the End of the World, The Love That Split the World, The Last Boy and Girl in the World, When the World Became White, You and Me and the End of the World, A Million Worlds with You, A World Away, The Ends of the World, In a Perfect World, Kat and Meg Conquer the World, This Tiny Perfect World, The Weight of Worlds.
*belts out "A Whole New World" from Aladdin*

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Something Strange and Deadly, Love Letters to the Dead, Wanted: Dead or in Love, Vivian Divine Is Dead, Deadly Little Sins, Dead to Me, Charlie, Presumed Dead, Dead Girls Society, I Woke Up Dead at the Mall, The Game of Love and Death, Death Sworn, Dorothy Must Die, They Both Die at the End
Are all teens obsessed with death or something?

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Letters to the Dark, For Darkness Shows the Stars, The Darkest Minds, Dark Triumph, Her Dark Curiosity, Dark Metropolis, A Darker Shade of Magic, Bright Lights Dark Nights, Out of Darkness, Dark Tide, Three Dark Crowns, And I Darken, The Darkest Hour, A Darkness Strange and Lovely, The Darkest Corners, The Dark Lord's Daughter, Even the Darkest Stars, One Dark Throne, Beyond a Darkened Shore, A Poison Dark and Drowning.
What's wrong with light? (Although this is coming from a girl who hates really bright lights and an excess of sunlight.)

(blade, dagger, gun)
Poisoned Blade, The Assassin's Blade, Between the Blade and the Heart, The Rose & the Dagger, Gunslinger Girl.

Blood Rose Rebellion, RoseBlood, Bad Blood, Blood for Blood, Silver in the Blood, Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke, Blood and Sand, Children of Blood and Bone.
YA books can be violent.

(rose, lily, etc.)
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Blue Lily, Lily Blue; The Secrets of Lily Graves; Tiger Lily; The Love Letters of Abelard and Lily; Blood Rose Rebellion; RoseBlood; The Rose & the Dagger; The Rose Society; A Court of Thorns and Roses; Rose Under Fire; Rosemarked; Wildflower; Magnolia.
Hopefully these books' prose isn't too flowery.

I stared at these words for so long, they stopped looking like words.
So had you noticed that these words were used a lot in titles? Are there other title trends you've noticed?