July 17, 2019

Awkwordly Emma's Eighth Blogoversary

Well, y'all, I've been officially doing this for eight years. It's hard to believe I started my dear little book blog that long ago (although it wasn't a book blog until 2013).

To celebrate this year, I'm doing a giveaway (obviously) AND I'm doing a birthday book tag I found!


1. BIRTHDAY CAKE
A book with a plot that seems cliché, but you adore it anyways.

Everyone under the sun is doing You've Got Mail retellings (including me, *gulp*), but this one is definitely my favorite:
25486998 P.S. I Like You by Kasie West


2. PARTY GUESTS
Your most anticipated book release for this year.

Well, 2019 is half over, but I do have several anticipated books for the second half of the year. This time, I'd have to say...
35391237. sy475 4277175443245851. sy475 Five Dark Fates by Kendare Blake
Supernova by Marissa Meyer
A Treason of Thorns by Laura E. Weymouth


3. BIRTHDAY PRESENTS
A book that surprised you with how much you loved it.

I semi-enjoyed Always Never Yours last year, so the fact that I LOVED If I'm Being Honest definitely took me by surprise!
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4. THE HAPPY BIRTHDAY SONG
A book that certainly deserved all the hype it got.

Oh, definitely Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson.
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5. HAPPY MUSIC
A book with some very beautiful and truly memorable quotes.
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Ooh, that's hard to pick because I tend to focus less on quotes from a book and more on the book as a whole. I'd probably have to go with The Names They Gave Us by Emery Lord or The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo.


6. GETTING OLDER
A book that you read a long time ago but think you might appreciate more if you read it when you were more mature.

I think I would have appreciated Fangirl even more if I read it as a college freshman or sophomore, because I would've more keenly understood Cath's struggles.
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7. SWEET BIRTHDAY MEMORIES
A book that kept you incredibly happy during a sad or demanding period of your life.

Ooh boy, I have a lot of these. The first one that comes to mind, though, is Foolish Hearts by Emma Mills. I read and reread it a bunch during the last couple months of senior year, when my advanced creative writing portfolio was killing me. I found comfort in this friend-focused but also swoonworthy story. <3
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Annndddd now for the giveaway. The winner will receive...

~a paperback copy of Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson
~a hardcover copy of one of my favorite books from this year (list will be provided to winner)
~a mystery ARC

This is a US-only giveaway, just because of shipping costs and requirements. But I'll definitely try to do an international giveaway later this year, so watch for that if you can't enter this one. The winner will have 48 hours to respond to my email, and no cheating. The giveaway ends a week from today, so good luck!



July 16, 2019

Top Ten Tuesday: Auto-Buy Authors


There are some authors whose books I'll preorder as soon as they're available, or make sure I get an ARC. These are those authors.

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3. Emma Mills
(I preordered her upcoming fifth book as soon as I knew about it lol.)

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8. Marie Rutkoski

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9. Angie Thomas

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10. Jennifer Lynn Barnes
(For the most part. Since I had an ARC of Little White Lies, I haven't bought that yet, and I haven't read her earliest series.)


Who are your auto-buy authors?

July 15, 2019

Nineteen 2019 Reads Check-In

I'm doing this post a little later than I usually do, but it's time for us to check in and see how I'm feeling about my Nineteen 2019 Reads thus far. (As in the past, if I reviewed a book, I've linked to the review instead of its Goodreads page.)

READ AND LOVED/LIKED

Famous in a Small Town by Emma Mills (5 stars)
Hungry Hearts by various authors (4 stars)
I Love You So Mochi by Sarah Kuhn (4.5 stars)
King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo (4 stars)
Our Year of Maybe by Rachel Lynn Solomon (4 stars)
Serious Moonlight by Jenn Bennett (4 stars)
Summer of a Thousand Pies by Margaret Dilloway (4 stars)

READ AND FELT NEUTRAL ABOUT

Enchantée by Gita Trelease (3 stars)
In the Key of Nira Ghani by Natasha Deen (3 stars)
In the Neighborhood of True by Susan Kaplan Carlton (3 stars)
I Wanna Be Where You Are by Kristina Forest (3 stars)
The Weight of Our Sky by Hanna Alkaf (3.5 stars)
When the Ground Is Hard by Malla Nunn

READ AND DISLIKED

The Dead Queens Club by Hannah Capin (DNF)
Opposite of Always by justin a. reynolds (DNF)
Spectacle by Jodie Lynn Zdrok (3 stars)

REMOVED FROM TBR LIST

Crown of Feathers by Nicki Pau Preto
The Devouring Gray by Christine Lynn Herman
Pretty in Punxsutawney by Laurie Boyle Crompton
The Raven's Tale by Cat Winters


STILL NEED TO READ

An Affair of Poisons by Addie Thorley
Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim
Symptoms of a Heartbreak by Sona Charaipotra

YET TO RELEASE IN 2019

10 Blind Dates by Ashley Elston
Color Me In by Natasha Diaz
Dangerous Alliance by Jennieke Cohen
A Match Made in Mehendi by Nandini Bajpai
The Never Tilting World by Rin Chupeco
Our Wayward Fate by Gloria Chao
She's the Worst by Lauren Spieller
Sick Kids in Love by Hannah Moskowitz
Songs from the Deep by Kelly Powell
Suggested Reading by Dave Connis
Who Put This Song On? by Morgan Parker


PUSHED TO A LATER PUB DATE

It's not as many as the last few years, thankfully.

Dust Boy, Ash Girl by Andy Fukada (I'm guessing, at least, since its pub date hasn't been updated and if it were still gonna be pubbed in 2019, I feel like it would have a cover and summary by now)
Reconnected by Catherine Tinker

At least this is a smaller section than in past years!


Well, that's it for now. I'll do a final wrap-up in December. :)

July 12, 2019

Random Friday: Unexpected Lessons from College


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.

1. Your advisor might not always be on your team.
Your academic advisor is supposed to be there to help you graduate on time, to give you advice (obviously), and to support your career goals. But sometimes they aren't. Sometimes they're convinced their plan and their experiences are the only way to do things, and sometimes they'll even keep you from doing something supposedly guaranteed for all seniors of your major. Sometimes you have to turn to the other professors in your department for support instead. 

2. College friendships can be weird.
If you go to a small enough school like I did, your friendships form based on who lives in your dorm, who you have the same classes with, who you're assigned to sit next to in chapel, etc. But then you often forget to go out of your way to see those people at other times, or you easily fall out of each other's lives after college ends.

3. You may not achieve anything memorable.
I tried for three years to get a short story, a poem, a creative non-fiction piece, even my photography, published in our arts and literary magazine (the magazine that I was even on staff of for three semesters), and I never did. It always hurt when my freshman friends would have pieces accepted instead; of course their writing was good, but I felt mine was just as good. As far as I know, I was the only person in my year to never get anything published in the Review, and it still stings.
I didn't do anything else that got me an accolade or a superlative. But hopefully my time will come.

4. You don't have to be roommates with your best friend.
Honestly, the whole college housing system sucks. Being assigned to live with a random person is hard. I'm so impressed by everyone who makes it work, because I'd rather live with someone I've chosen and who I know I can get along with. But even then it's hard because you share the same tiny living space and it's so hard to get alone time. If you're an introvert, sometimes you just want a bedroom to yourself so you can breathe and not feel the pressure of other people and their habits.

5. It's okay not to date.
Everyone says it's okay not to date in high school, but it's also okay if you aren't ready for that in college either. Or maybe the selection of people is just...really sucky. (The subsection of good single guys at Asbury was...really low, and it kept dwindling as I got older.) Even if everyone else around you is coupling up, and God forbid, getting married WAY too young, you don't have to.

6. You should make sure your intended major's department will be able to help you with internships.
I can't help but wonder if I'd still be working in publishing if the professors in my department had had better connections so I could've had a publishing internship during college.

7. You're not always going to know where you belong.

Yeah, home is home, but most of the time you might only live there for two to four months a year. But also a college dorm never quite feels like home because you can't paint the walls, choose your own furniture, or even fit all your belongings.


You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!
Click here to enter

July 10, 2019

Review: Truly Madly Royally

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Truly Madly Royally by Debbie Rigaud
Grade: B-
Release date: July 30, 2019
An ARC was provided by Miss Print's ARC Adoption Program in exchange for an honest review.
Summary: Fiercely independent and smart, Zora Emerson wants to change the world. She's excited to be attending a prestigious summer program, even if she feels out of place among her privileged, mostly white classmates. So she's definitely not expecting to feel a connection to Owen, who's an actual prince of an island off the coast of England. But Owen is funny, charming...and undeniably cute. Zora can't ignore the chemistry between them. When Owen invites Zora to be his date at his big brother's big royal wedding, Zora is suddenly thrust into the spotlight, along with her family and friends. Everyone is talking about her, in real life and online, and while Owen is used to the scrutiny, Zora's not sure it's something she can live with. Can she maintain her sense of self while moving between two very different worlds? And can her feelings for Owen survive and thrive in the midst of the crazy? Find out in this charming romantic comedy that's like The Princess Diaries for a new generation. 

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: I love a good meet-cute. Truly Madly Royally has a great one, and I wish the premise connected to that had continued a little while longer before launching into Zora and Owen actually dating.
Overall the book is a bit surface-level, like a DCOM or Hallmark movie, but there were some moments where the author tried to go a little deeper. I'm not sure they always worked, but I appreciated the moments about Black hair, when racist issues were highlighted, and when the supposed mean girl was given depth (though I wish that had come a little sooner so she had felt like less of a stereotype).
I appreciated that Owen wasn't the heir to the throne, and I liked that he did call Zora out on some stuff, thereby helping her character arc, but I felt kinda meh about the romance in general. It didn't give me butterflies like some YA romances do.
I found Owen's dialogue a bit stiff at times like the author was trying to make him a little more formal because of his upbringing, but not quite succeeding at that goal, especially when he used some phrasings and slang that were still very American.

The Verdict: This is a great choice for younger YA readers.

Will I be adding this book to my library?: Still thinking about it.

July 9, 2019

Top Ten Tuesday: Characters and Their Hogwarts Houses


I'm going to have a little fun with today's topic, since it's a character freebie, and sort some of my favorite book characters into the Hogwarts houses!

SLYTHERINS

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1. Mercy Wong from Outrun the Moon

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2. Twinkle Mehra from From Twinkle, with Love

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HUFFLEPUFFS

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4. Ariel Stone from You Asked for Perfect

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GRYFFINDORS

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7. Starr Carter from The Hate U Give

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8. Nix from The Girl from Everywhere (although she has some Slytherin and Ravenclaw tendencies, too)


RAVENCLAWS

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9. Alyson from Just One Day

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10. Millie Quint from Her Royal Highness


Do you know which Hogwarts houses your favorite characters would be in?

July 7, 2019

Rewind & Review #138


~I got to see Anna Bright and Brigid Kemmerer on tour for Brigid's latest, Call It What You Want, and Anna's debut, The Beholder. So much fun!
~My parents and I saw Yesterday, and it was super fun, and I need that new Ed Sheeran song ASAP.
~Stranger Things season 3 dropped, and I WAS NOT PREPARED.

Books I Received for Review
By Any Means Necessary by Candice Montgomery (from Page Street Kids)
The Revolution of Birdie Randolph by Brandy Colbert (from Novl)

Books I Bought
Cold Day in the Sun by Sara Biren
The Beholder by Anna Bright

Books I Read
The Downstairs Girl by Stacey Lee (4 stars)
Becoming Us by Robin Jones Gunn (3 stars)
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling (reread)
Truly Madly Royally by Debbie Rigaud
What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen (4 stars)
The Field Guide to the North American Teenager by Ben Philippe (3 stars)
Hot Dog Girl by Jennifer Dugan (3 stars)
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling (reread)
Cold Day in the Sun by Sara Biren (4 stars)
When the Ground Is Hard by Malla Nunn (3 stars)
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling (reread)

Blog Posts You Might've Missed in the Last Few Weeks
   (from 6/24-6/29)
   (from 6/30-7/6)

July 6, 2019

Review: Stealing Home

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Stealing Home by Becky Wallace
Grade: C
Release date: July 9, 2019
An e-galley was provided by Page Street Kids in exchange for an honest review.
Summary: Seventeen-year-old Ryan Russell has life perfectly planned. If she keeps up her hard work, one day she’ll take over the family business: owning the Buckley Beavers, a minor league baseball team, and become one of the only female General Managers in the sport.

But when the newest member of the Beavers, child-phenom Sawyer Campbell, shows up, Ryan’s carefully laid plans are thrown a major curveball. Sawyer is far more charming than the arrogant jocks she usually manages, his ambition rivals her own workaholic nature—and he’s completely out of bounds. Fraternizing is against every rule in the Beaver’s handbook.

Then Ryan’s divorced parents butt heads over the future of the Beavers, and her mom plans to sell her shares to a business group known for relocating teams. If this happens, Ryan’s dreams of becoming GM disappear. In a bid to save her future, she partners with Sawyer to use his star power to draw in sponsors who will keep the team in Buckley. But the more time she spends with him, the more impossible it becomes to play by the Beaver’s rules, and she can’t afford a strikeout on the path to her dreams.

Full count with two outs, Ryan’s one pitch away from losing the whole ball game.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: A lot of bloggers like to talk about how YA needs more sports books, and they definitely have a point. While I personally prefer ones about gymnasts, figure skaters, swimmers, and equestrians, I don't mind baseball ones. Mainly because I (reluctantly) grew up learning far too much about MLB. And in general, I really enjoyed the baseball angle in Stealing Home. I appreciated Ryan's passion for the sport, especially at a minor-league level.
However, the plot meandered for far too long, and most of the characters felt surface-level at best. I liked Mia, the best friend, and Ryan's dad, but Ryan's mom was a caricature, and I never felt like I got to know Ryan or Sawyer all that well. Their only interests were baseball; that's all they seemed to do, and they definitely needed more dimension than that.

Content warnings: Swearing was the extent of it, I think.

The Verdict: Fine, but not great.

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

July 4, 2019

11 #QuietYA Titles from the First Half of 2019

There's been a handful of books this spring that got plenty of hype and made bestsellers lists. But then there's also been several that haven't. Here are some of the books that have flown under the radar that you should check out.

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1. Summer of a Thousand Pies by Margaret Dilloway
If you love baking, The Great British Bake Off, or soft middle grade stories, you NEED to read this book.

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2. The Lovely and the Lost by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Jen's doing it again. It's got dogs, it's got a mystery, and it's got sequel potential, so please give this book enough attention!

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3. If I'm Being Honest by Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka
This is the kind of YA rom-com I'm 100% here for. Friendships, romance, and a main character who learns to be kinder while not compromising who she is.

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4. Serious Moonlight by Jenn Bennett
It's got a diner, a mystery, and some serious chemistry.

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5. Our Year of Maybe by Rachel Lynn Solomon
If you want a story about Judaism and the complexities about friendship, this is the book for you.

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6. Famous in a Small Town by Emma Mills
I'll always scream about Emma's books because they're the kind of stories I want to write.

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7. Caterpillar Summer by Gillian McDunn
More middle grade softness for you. It's all about family and being noticed.

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8. The Weight of Our Sky by Hanna Alkaf
I liked this one because it was historical fiction set in another country, during events I knew nothing about.

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9. Sherwood by Meagan Spooner
Another good gender-bending retelling of the Robin Hood myth.

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10. Love from A to Z by S.K. Ali
Such a wonderful romance with serious moments and great activism moments.

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11. The Beholder by Anna Bright
For all y'all who started reading YA because of The Selection, this is the book for you.


Bonus pick:

Okay, this one is technically a 2018 release, but I didn't read it til January, so I couldn't recommend it before now.

If you like books like To All the Boys I've Loved Before, Fangirl, or Alex, Approximately, you should read...

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Analee, in Real Life by Janelle Milanes


So that's it for some great underrated YA books from the first six months of the year. Stay tuned for some more later in 2019.