May 26, 2017

Random Friday: Summer 2017 Reads


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Here are seven of the books I can't wait to read this summer!


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1. Saints and Misfits by S.K. Ali

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2. If Birds Fly Back by Carlie Sorosiak

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3. I See London, I See France by Sarah Mlynowski

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4. This Is How It Happened by Paula Stokes

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5. Wesley James Ruined My Life by Jennifer Honeybourn

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6. Lucky in Love by Kasie West

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7. Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo

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8. You Don't Know Me But I Know You by Rebecca Barrow

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9. Even the Darkest Stars by Heather Fawcett

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10. The Girl with the Red Balloon by Katherine Locke

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Bonus pick: The Glass Town Game by Catherynne M. Valente


What summer releases are you anticipating? Or, what books do you plan to read this summer?

May 24, 2017

Review: Tash Hearts Tolstoy

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Tash Hearts Tolstoy by Kathryn Ormsbee
Grade: A
Release date: June 6, 2017
An e-galley was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for review consideration.
Summary: After a shout-out from one of the Internet’s superstar vloggers, Natasha “Tash” Zelenka suddenly finds herself and her obscure, amateur web series, Unhappy Families, thrust in the limelight: She’s gone viral. 

Her show is a modern adaption of Anna Karenina—written by Tash’s literary love Count Lev Nikolayevich “Leo” Tolstoy. Tash is a fan of the 40,000 new subscribers, their gushing tweets, and flashy Tumblr gifs. Not so much the pressure to deliver the best web series ever.

And when Unhappy Families is nominated for a Golden Tuba award, Tash’s cyber-flirtation with a fellow award nominee suddenly has the potential to become something IRL—if she can figure out how to tell said crush that she’s romantic asexual.

Tash wants to enjoy her newfound fame, but will she lose her friends in her rise to the top? What would Tolstoy do?

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: There are, as of right now, three YA books I wish I'd written that I often call "the books of my heart." This is one of them. I was drawn to Tash Hearts Tolstoy by the mention of a literary-inspired web series. Sometimes my gut instinct telling me a book sounds phenomenal is wrong; sometimes it is right.
Tash as a protagonist was wonderful. She grew in little ways and acted like a teenager to me. She tried to be a good kid and a kind person, and I appreciated that. The cast of supporting characters is a bit large, between Tash's parents, her sister, Thom (the crush), her best friends, Jacklyn (Jack) and Paul, and the cast of the web series. I did have trouble keeping some of the more minor characters straight, but Tash Hearts Tolstoy focused nicely on Tash, her family, Jack, Paul, and Thom. The friendship between Tash, Jack, and Paul was great. It wasn't idealized and perfect; Jack frustrated Tash at times (in fact, she frustrated me), but I think that comes with the growing pains of being seventeen/eighteen. I called certain spoilery things about Paul from the start, but I think I liked where that plotline went at the end. 
The web series bits are great fun, and I wish Unhappy Families was real. The author previously worked on a web series, so her firsthand experience shows and really makes for authentic descriptions. Tash gives a lot of information all at once explaining how the show came to be, but it didn't feel like info-dump. Sometimes it's good to reveal all the information at once, just so readers aren't confused.
Tash Hearts Tolstoy is also about Tash watching her older sister, Klaudie, handle the summer between graduation and college, and then figuring out herself how her plans for the future might be changing. I liked how the Zelenka parents encouraged Tash to pursue her dreams...just reasonably. I also felt like I got to know her mom and dad pretty well, and they were great parents for a YA book.
It surprised me how long it took to get to the Golden Tubas awards show, but that ended up being the climax of the book, which worked nicely. Thom fits into the conflict, and I wasn't feeling too weird about him until then, so maybe a few hints earlier on might've been nice (besides Tash's friends feeling uncertain about him).
As far as I know, the scenes about Tash's asexuality were good and accurate. It was revealed slowly, with little hints, and I thought the on-page reveal came about quite organically instead of it being a forced thing where Tash is basically just telling the readers.
Another thing I noticed: the tone and narration voice are different from Kathryn Ormsbee's Lucky Few, and I liked the tone in Tash Hearts Tolstoy better. I liked Lucky Few, too, but I connected with Tash Hearts Tolstoy more.
The only things that keeps me from giving this five stars is the amount of foul language (not my thing, y'all) and the focus on Buddhism; I appreciate the religious diversity, but Buddhism just isn't my thing either.

The Verdict: Quiet, but in the best way possible. Also, my desire to read Anna Karenina has grown exponentially.


Will I be adding this book to my library?: Absolutely. It's preordered and everything.

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.

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1. A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray

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2. The Wrath & the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh

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3. Murder Is Bad Manners by Robin Stevens

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4. The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

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5. The Weight of Feathers by Anna-Marie McLemore

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6. Prisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blankman

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7. The Conspiracy of Us by Maggie Hall

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8. Deep Blue by Jennifer Donnelly

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9. Cinder by Marissa Meyer

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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...



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


If you like...


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try...


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If you like...


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try...


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If you like...


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try...


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If you like...


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try...


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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

#BooksforTrade

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

Wishlists
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.


Guidelines
~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

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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.

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1. Gallagher Girls series by Ally Carter

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2. The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski

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3. The Distance Between Us by Kasie West

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

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5. Better off Friends by Elizabeth Eulberg

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6. The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord

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7. Prisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blankman

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

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9. This Side of Home by Renee Watson

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10. All Four Stars by Tara Dairman


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