August 30, 2017

So You Like... #56

I'm sure there are tons of posts like the one you're about to read, but I thought it was time I threw my two cents in on what books you should read if you like...



HARRY POTTER.
(as always, book covers link to the Goodreads poage)


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What books would you give to fans of Harry Potter?
Any So You Like... themes you want me to do next?

August 29, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: Hidden Gem YA Contemporary Books

Hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

Ugh, it was hard choosing just one genre, and I really wanted to do historical fiction, but honestly, I'd have to list so many books because historical fiction is such an underrated genre.

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1. Smart Girls Get What They Want by Sarah Strohmeyer

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2. Anything Could Happen by Will Walton

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3. Like No Other by Una LaMarche

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5. Don't Touch by Rachel M. Wilson

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6. 17 First Kisses by Rachel Allen

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7. The Wrong Side of Right by Jenn Marie Thorne

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9. Tash Hearts Tolstoy by Kathryn Ormsbee

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10. Wish You Were Italian by Kristin Rae

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Bonus pick: Little Black Dresses, Little White Lies by Laura Stampler


What are your favorite hidden gem contemporary books? Or what genre did you choose for your post today?

August 27, 2017

Rewind & Review #92


~The first week of classes was not fun. It was good to catch up with people, but wow, this semester is going to be a lot of work.
~I can't do the practicum I wanted to do. Instead I'm stuck with something I'm concerned won't actually benefit me in the long run.
~WE'RE FINALLY GETTING A NEW TAYLOR SWIFT ALBUM. Y'ALL CAN'T FATHOM HOW EXCITED I AM.
~Had my first official archery classes. The first one was discouraging, but the second one went much better even though I didn't ever hit within the actual target, haha.

Books I Received for Review
The Reporter's Kitchen by Jane Kramer (from St. Martin's Press via NetGalley)
Speak Easy, Speak Love by McKelle George (from HarperCollins via Edelweiss)
A Dangerous Year by Kes Trester (from Curiosity Quills Press via NetGalley)
Meet Cute by various authors (from HMH via NetGalley)

Books I Won/Traded for/was Gifted
Neighborhood Girls by Jessie Ann Foley (via trade)
You Bring the Distant Near by Mitali Perkins (via trade)

Books I Read
Murder, Magic, and What We Wore by Kelly Jones 
Jane, Unlimited by Kristin Cashore
Maybe in Paris by Rebecca Christiansen (1 star)
Tash Hearts Tolstoy (reread)
If Birds Fly Back by Carlie Sorosiak (3 stars)
Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia (reread)
Invictus by Ryan Graudin
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (reread)
Someone Else's Summer by Rachel Bateman (4 stars)
The Ends of the World by Maggie Hall (3 stars)

Blog Posts You Might've Missed in the Last Few Weeks
   (from 8/14-8/19)
   (from 8/20-8/26)

August 26, 2017

Professor Emma Teaches YA Heroines in History...Again

The second class I'm teaching this semester is one of my favorites. This should come as no surprise, because every so often, I mention how much I love historical fiction, particularly when the protagonist is a girl.

The recommended reading list has grown quite a bit since last time I taught the class (spring 2016), and I changed up the required reading list a teeny bit, but let's get started, shall we?

Required Reading:
Recommended Reading:

~Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers
~Deception's Princess by Esther M. Friesner
~Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson
~Vengeance Road by Erin Bowman
~Cinder & Sapphires by Leila Rasheed
~Prisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blankman
~Girl in the Blue Coat by Monica Hesse
~The Girl from Everywhere by Heidi Heilig
~Wait for Me by Caroline Leech
~These Vicious Masks by Tarun Shanker and Kelly Zekas
~I'm Glad I Did by Cynthia Weil
~The Notorious Pagan Jones by Nina Berry
~Velvet Undercover by Teri Brown
~Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin
~The Steep and Thorny Way by Cat Winters
~Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys
~Outrun the Moon by Stacey Lee
~The Forbidden Orchid by Sharon Biggs Waller
~Traitor Angels by Anne Blankman
~Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein


So go forth and read, my students, about the fictional women who made history in these books...and then go study up on the real women who have shaped history.

August 25, 2017

Review: Welcome Home


Welcome Home by various authors
Grade: C+
Release date: September 5, 2017
An e-galley was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Summary: Welcome Home collects a number of adoption-themed fictional short stories, and brings them together in one anthology from a diverse range of celebrated Young Adult authors. The all-star roster includes Edgar-award winner Mindy McGinnis, New York Times bestselling authors C.J. Redwine (The Shadow Queen) and William Ritter (Jackaby), and acclaimed YA authors across all genres, like Adi Alsaid, Lauren Gibaldi, Sangu Mandanna, Karen Akins, and many more.

An Overview: This boom of YA anthologies has been so much fun, because there's such a variety of themes. However, I'm finding that most of the stories are too short and/or feel too incomplete. As a writer, I know short stories can be short and feel complete, so it's not necessarily the nature of the short story length. Because Welcome Home featured so many stories, I'm going to highlight a few standouts (both on the high and low ends of the rating spectrum as well as some in the middle).


"These Broken Stars" by C.J. Redwine - 5 stars
I liked how the author went a fantasy route (most of the stories were contemporary), and I liked how the adoptive family wasn't what Bellana expected. The ending was open while still feeling conclusive, and I could imagine a happily ever after.
"Twenty-Seven Days" by Jenny Kaczorowski - 4.5 stars
I loved Aprillia's inner narration, and I liked the focus on friendship as well as a kind foster family.
"Life: Starring Tallulah Grey" by Lauren Gibaldi - 4.5 stars
I really liked this one. (Obviously.) Tallulah's personality came through well, and I liked what I saw of Oliver.
"Up by A Million" by Caela Carter - 5 stars
Sweet without being sappy. The card game was a good plot device to move the story along, and I thought the dialogue was done well.

"Ink Drips Black" by Julie Leung - 4 stars
Surprisingly short, but good. I liked the blending of fantasy with reality.
"Invited" by Lauren Morrill - 4 stars
It was really cute and sweet, and I'm glad it went a different direction than I thought it was at the beginning.
"A Lesson in Biology" by Sammy Nickalls - 3.5 stars
I liked this one all right. I appreciated that a grandmother was important to the narrative and how non-angsty the story was.
"Happy Beginning" by Nic Stone - 3 stars
I didn't mind the non-linear telling of the story, but the use of "I" and "you" threw me. I liked Jenna's dad and Ny's foster parents.
"Jar of Broken Wishes" by Tristina Wright - 4 stars
I loved this story, but I wish it wasn't quite so brief. I liked that the foster home felt more like than the families that adopted Daisy. I liked the jar of wishes and Farah's potential to become a friend. I definitely wanted more of Farah.

"Mama's Eyes" by Libby Cudmore - 1 star
Way too dramatic, and not the kind of story I was expecting from this anthology. I felt anxious the entire time I was reading it. There was waaaayyy too much foul language as well.
"Salvation" by Shannon Gibney - 2 stars
I didn't like the way the Christian character was portrayed. In addition, the narrative felt too choppy, and I was confused about who some of the characters were when they were brought into the story.
"Empty Lens" by Tameka Mullins - 2 stars
I didn't like the style of the story. It felt too removed, and I didn't like the way the main character phrased things in her writing. I think this could've been a great story if it was told more traditionally.
"Deeply" by William Ritter - 2 stars
The voice felt awfully young at times, and it took a weird turn.


The Verdict: Good, but not overly wowing. I think the anthology might be dragged down by just how many stories there are and how some of them weren't given enough room to blossom.


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

August 23, 2017

Why I Love Heist Society

I read Ally Carter's Gallagher Girls series first. I didn't think I would like her Heist Society trilogy. Boy, was I wrong.


Even now, four and a half years after reading the books for the first time, Heist Society is still one of my favorite series, and the first book is probably in my top ten all-time favorites (although that list is hard to pin down because I love a lot of books).

So why do I love this trilogy so much?

1. Katarina "Kat" Bishop
Her stubborn tendencies, her desire to play hero and do good, her feelings and the actions they cause when it comes to Hale, her intelligence...Kat is just all around fun and great.

2. Hale
This boy. HALE. He's swoonworthy and funny and caring. We still have no clue what the W.'s in his name stand for (and it's gonna drive me crazy until Ally deigns to reveal the answer), but he is so much fun and way better than 99% of the other guys in YA books.

3. The family
Most of them take some getting used to (not Simon or Kat's dad, though), and there are few women (something Kat brings up several times), but they are a barrel of fun, especially in Perfect Scoundrels.

4. Just how elaborate and well-thought out the heists are
I'm not going to spoil anything for y'all, but Kat is really good at withholding information from the readers (the third-person narration helps), and Ally has created some great heists that are complex and beat every hurdle in the way.

5. The different con names
Some of my favorites include Mary Poppins (which apparently requires rain), Princess Bride (needs a six-fingered man), Wind in the Willows, and Anne Boleyn.

6. The rereadability
I know I brought up this reason in my last Why I Love post, but it's just as valid here. Even though you know how the book will end, it's just as fun to go on the journey again, especially because I sometimes forget the little details that make the heists what they are.

So what are you waiting for? Buy and read the Heist Society trilogy and join the rest of us in praying that book four will come sooner rather than later (Ally has said it'll happen; she just has other projects at the moment).

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August 22, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I'd Include in My Classroom Library


Lol, no way I could limit myself to ten books this week. With this post, we're hypothesizing that I'm a high school English teacher; these are the books that would be must-haves in my classroom library. (Also, if I list the first book in a series, it's only fair to assume I'd have the rest of the series.)

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1. The Names They Gave Us by Emery Lord

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2. Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia

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3. Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

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4. The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli

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5. Tash Hearts Tolstoy by Kathryn Ormsbee

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6. This Side of Home by Renee Watson

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8. The Girl from Everywhere by Heidi Heilig

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9. The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

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10. Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin

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11. The Weight of Feathers by Anna-Marie McLemore

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12. Under a Painted Sky by Stacey Lee

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13. Written in the Stars by Aisha Saeed

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14. The Archived by Victoria Schwab

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15. The Young Elites by Marie Lu

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16. Don't Touch by Rachel M. Wilson


If you were a teacher, what books would you have in your classroom library?

August 21, 2017

Professor Emma Teaches Cooking Through YA Novels

I'm teaching two classes at the Bibliophile University this fall, and here's the reading list for the first!

I love baking so much and I'm getting better at cooking, so I thought it was time to highlight my favorite YA (and one MG) books that feature cooking/baking. While there would be reading and discussion, there would also be plenty of practical lessons in the kitchen - probably featuring recipes from my From the Bookshelf to the Kitchen series.


Reading list:



If you were teaching this class, what books would you include? Any classes you think the Bibliophile University should offer?

August 18, 2017

Random Friday: Books That Start at the Beginning of a School Year


Want to participate in Random Fridays? Just do the following: 
  • Include the above image in your post and link back to my post.
  • Blog about this week's topic.
  • Add the link to your Random Friday at the bottom of this post.
Since classes at my university started on Monday, I thought it was a good time to compile a list of some books that start at the beginning of a school year. If they start a few weeks before, that's okay, but the first day of school has to be in the book, and it can't just be the protagonist's first day at the school if it's midway through the year. My favorite examples this fit this post's requirements are...

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1. The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord

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2. To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han

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3. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

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4. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

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5. Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone


I wish I could've thought of more examples! What books can y'all think of?


August 16, 2017

The Final Eighteen 2018 Reads

Phew! Y'all have no idea how hard it was to pick these final eighteen books for the list. As always, here's hoping they a) don't get pushed back to 2019 (or later), and b) don't end up disappointing me.


1. Listen to Your Heart by Kasie West
I am not above putting two Kasie West books in my Eighteen 2018 Reads, because she has been an auto-buy author for so long now. (Also hoping this one gets a cute cover in the vein of P.S. I Like You and Lucky in Love)

2. La Vie en Rosie by Stephanie Kate Strohm
Food? Paris? Love? Sounds like a recipe for the perfect Emma book. (Sorry, couldn't resist.)

3. Rule by Ellen Goodlett
This sounds like Three Dark Crowns and Dividing Eden, and I am here for that.

4. The Weight of Worlds by Laura E. Weymouth
"...meets Chronicles of Narnia..." I'm sold.


5. Resistance by Jennifer A. Nielsen
In general, I'm tired of YA historical fiction set in World War II...but not when it's a story like this.

6. Not the Girls You're Looking For by Aminah Mae Safi
Always up for diverse YA, especially when it sounds as darling as this one.

7. The Length of a String by Elissa Brent Weissman
A Jewish middle grade story and the main character is adopted!


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8. The Beloved Wild by Melissa Ostrom
If it's YA historical fiction and it has a lovely cover like that, it's going on one of my highly-anticipated lists.

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9. Love & Luck by Jenna Evans Welch
I liked Love & Gelato all right (I should really give it another try), but I'm hoping to love Love & Luck, because I quite enjoy living vicariously through teenagers who get to go to Europe.

10. Bookish Boyfriends by Tiffany Schmidt
The premise of this one sounds so incredibly fun.

11. Ash Princess by Laura Sebastian
Debut fantasy that sounds fascinating. *crosses fingers*

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12. Together at Midnight by Jennifer Castle
I'm a little nervous - just because the timeline sounds a little short to me - but the cover and premise are lovely.

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13. What the Night Sings by Vesper Stamper
Of course I'm always cautious when it comes to Holocaust stories, but I hope this one will be powerful and respectful.

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I love quiet narratives, and I have a feeling this book fits the bill.

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15. Dread Nation by Justina Ireland
I don't really do zombie books, but with covers like that, how can a girl resist? Besides, alternate history is kind of my catnip.


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16. Nice Try, Jane Sinner by Lianne Oelke
There's been a smattering of reality TV-themed YA books over the last five years, so let's hope this one is a hit.

17. Stay Sweet by Siobhan Vivian
All I've got to say is...ICE CREAM.

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18. The Forgotten Book by Mechtild Glaser
Ignoring that the main character is named Emma, I'm game for anything with a magic book.


So that's it! The last of my Eighteen 2018 Reads! If you're looking for part one and part two of the series, they're linked right there. Let me know if I helped you find books for your TBR list and/or what 2018 YA/MG releases you're looking forward to.