July 3, 2020

Emma's Ultimate Rec Series: Mystery/Thriller

If I were fancy, I'd have a graphic for the post series I'm about to spend half of July on. But I am not. However, get ready because I have a whole bunch of book recs coming your way for a variety of genres as well as lists of books written by authors of color. Today is all about one of my favorite genres - the mystery novel and thrillers.


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Overturned by Lamar Giles

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The Lovely and the Lost by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

The Naturals series by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

The Fixer by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

All Fall Down by Ally Carter

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Truly Devious trilogy by Maureen Johnson

This Is Our Story by Ashley Elston

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A Madness So Discreet by Mindy McGinnis

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What YA mysteries or thrillers do you think I should read? This rec series can go both ways. ;)

July 1, 2020

Review: Keep My Heart in San Francisco

Keep My Heart in San Francisco by Amelia Diane Coombs
Grade: C-
Release date: July 14, 2020
An e-galley was provided by Simon & Schuster via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Summary: Caroline “Chuck” Wilson has big plans for spring break—hit up estate sales to score vintage fashion finds and tour the fashion school she dreams of attending. But her dad wrecks those plans when he asks her to spend vacation working the counter at Bigmouth’s Bowl, her family’s failing bowling alley. Making things astronomically worse, Chuck finds out her dad is way behind on back rent—meaning they might be losing Bigmouth’s, the only thing keeping Chuck’s family in San Francisco.

And the one person other than Chuck who wants to do anything about it? Beckett Porter, her annoyingly attractive ex-best friend.

So when Beckett propositions Chuck with a plan to make serious cash infiltrating the Bay Area action bowling scene, she accepts. But she can’t shake the nagging feeling that she’s acting irrational—too much like her mother for comfort. Plus, despite her best efforts to keep things strictly business, Beckett’s charm is winning her back over...in ways that go beyond friendship.

If Chuck fails, Bigmouth’s Bowl and their San Francisco legacy are gone forever. But if she succeeds, she might just get everything she ever wanted.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: This book seemed like it would be perfect for me. It's contemporary YA, and it has a great pitch (a bowling alley? a setting other than Los Angeles or New York? former friends reforming their relationship?). But something didn't work.
There were just so many communication problems. Chuck's dad isn't telling her anything about their problems at Bigmouth's Bowl; she's not telling him how she's trying to save it. I also really couldn't get behind two teenagers running around and illegally gambling on bowling games.
I was also a bit bored by the lack of characters. The story is mainly just Chuck and Beckett, and I think Chuck really needed at least one more friend, just for some variety. I also felt Keep My Heart in San Francisco followed the same trite pattern of a parent with mental illness and their child being afraid of following in their footsteps. There was too much stigma around mental illness (specifically bipolar disorder and depression).

Content warnings: bipolar disorder, suicide, foul language, underage drinking and gambling

The Verdict: I felt very let-down by this book.

Will I be adding this book to my library?: Sadly, no.

June 30, 2020

Top Ten Tuesday: Most Anticipated Releases in 2020, Part Two

I posted my first list for this year back in January. Now here are the rest.

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1. The Princess Will Save You by Sarah Henning
(Y'all are probably gonna be so glad when I stop talking about how much I want to read this book, lol.)

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2. Igniting Darkness by Robin LaFevers

3. Our Lady of Perpetual Hunger by Lisa Donovan

4. Death Sets Sail by Robin Stevens

5. The Knockout by S.A. Patel

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6. The Black Kids by Christina Hammonds Reed

7. Majesty by Katharine McGee
(I didn't love the first book, but the premise is so enticing that I can't resist.)

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8. Recommended for You by Laura Silverman

9. Legendborn by Tracy Deonn

10. The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

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11. Return of the Thief by Megan Whalen Turner

12. This Is How We Fly by Anna Meriano

13. These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong

So what are the books you are looking forward to most for the next six months?

June 28, 2020

Rewind & Review #163

~Posts are going to be a bit more sporadic over the next few weeks. I've had a bunch of other stuff on my mind.

Books I Received for Review
The Quantum Weirdness of the Almost-Kiss by Amy Noelle Parks (from Amulet Books via Edelweiss)
I Hope You're Listening by Tom Ryan (from AW Teen via Edelweiss)

Books I Bought
Where Dreams Descend by Janella Angeles

Books I Read
The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins (3 stars)
How to Speak Boy by Tiana Smith (3 stars)
Lucky Few by Kathryn Ormsbee (reread)
Beach Read by Emily Henry (3.5 stars)
By the Book by Amanda Sellet (4 stars)
My Calamity Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows (3.5 stars)

Blog Posts You Might've Missed in the Last Few Weeks

June 27, 2020

Most Anticipated July 2020 Releases

How's everyone's summer going? Are you managing to read lots of great books? Well here's a few more for those TBR lists.

Waiting For

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1. The Princess Will Save You by Sarah Henning (July 7)
I've talked about this one enough that no one should be surprised it's on yet another list.

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2. Loveless by Alice Oseman (July 9)
A UK release with an asexual main character, which still isn't all that common in YA.

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3. Running by Natalia Sylvester (July 14)
With this burst of political YA, we'll see how this one goes down.

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4. The Invention of Sophie Carter by Samantha Hastings (July 14)
We love YA historical fiction that does something different.

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5. Now & When by Sara Bennett Wealer (July 14)
Speculative fic that sounds very interesting.

6. 10 Things I Hate About Pinky by Sandhya Menon (July 21)
Sandhya's latest rom-com! 

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7. More Than Maybe by Erin Hahn (July 21)
This is my book club's August pick. I'm very excited.

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8. Splinters of Scarlet by Emily Bain Murphy (July 21)
More unique YA historical fiction.

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9. This Is My America by Kim Johnson (July 28)
Sounds super timely.

Already Read - You Should, Too!

None actually! Oops.

June 26, 2020

Random Friday: My Ideal Taylor Swift Concert

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.

Loverfest has been cancelled for this summer, though I was not planning to go. The only two U.S. locations she was playing were much too far away. However, if I could customize a Loverfest setlist, I think this is what it would look like. (There are a few songs I think Taylor would include that I didn't, and I doubt she'd actually do a setlist quite this long. But a girl can dream.)

Open with:

Cruel Summer

Why?: For a summer festival tour, this would be the perfect track to kick things off with. In my imagination, she'd pause one second longer after singing, "He looks up grinning like the devil," before launching into the chorus.

2. You Need to Calm Down
3. Blank Space
4. The Man
(She did this song acoustically at her City of Lover concert, but I think this is the rare Taylor track that shines better with full production.)

*costume change*

5. Sparks Fly/I Think He Knows mash-up

Why?: They're both about Taylor getting the hots for a guy.

6. Paper Rings

*move to B stage during this song for acoustic set, mini costume change*

7. You Are in Love/Lover mash-up
8. Cornelia Street (while it's lovely with full production, it's equally lovely acoustic)
9. Our Song
10. It's Nice to Have a Friend (preferably with ukulele instead of guitar)
11. The Archer

*move back to main stage while singing this next one*

12. Delicate

*costume change*

13. Miss Americana and the Heartbreak Prince
14. I Knew You Were Trouble
15. Out of the Woods

*costume change*

16. Style/Love Story/You Belong With Me mash-up, exactly like it was on the Reputation Stadium Tour
17. Death by a Thousand Cuts (I like this better as the acoustic version she did for City of Lover, but I already included more acoustic songs than she usually does.)

*costume change*

18. Red/Daylight piano mash-up



Why?: Because it's still drum-heavy but also a bit slower. Also it would be the perfect set-up for her post-show meet-and-greet room to be called The Afterglow, and she's literally closing the show by singing, "Meet me in the afterglow."

*quick costume change for encore*

Taylor hasn't done an encore since the Speak Now World Tour, but I am willing it into existence.

20. Long Live (on guitar of course)
21. Me! (Couldn't leave this one off the setlist unfortunately. It has closer potential, but I like the note of closing on Afterglow, then coming back and doing this one.)

So which artist would you design a setlist for, and what would it consist of?

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June 23, 2020

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Reads of 2020 So Far

2020 has been a bit slower with favorite books so far. Another thing coronavirus has ruined. But these favorites are amazing.

1. All-American Muslim Girl by Nadine Jolie Courtney

2. Slay by Brittney Morris

3. Throw Like a Girl by Sarah Henning

4. The Midnight Lie by Marie Rutkoski

5. Break the Fall by Jennifer Iacopelli


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7. Mad, Bad & Dangerous to Know by Samira Ahmed

8. This Is My Brain in Love by I.W. Gregorio

What books have been your favorite reads thus far?

June 22, 2020

So You Like... #98

My music obsession this spring has been Heartbreak Weather by Niall Horan. I probably listen to the album every other day. So if you like Niall's music and particularly his new album, I have some book recs for you.






What other books do you think pair nicely with Heartbreak Weather?