March 31, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Recent Adds to My TBR List

My TBR list is constantly changing. I'm always taking books off as I read them and adding them as I find new titles. So making this post was a challenge. I promised myself I'd include only released books that were recent additions because otherwise there'd be a lot of reminders of books I won't read for months. Also, I promised myself I wouldn't read any of the books in this post until April so they'd still be on my TBR list when this post went live. (I'm really good at writing posts weeks in advance.) So without further delay, here are ten recent additions to my TBR list.

1. A Darker Shade of Magic by Victoria Schwab
Couldn't finish Vicious, but I loved The Archived and have been told that this is very much a YA/adult crossover. Hopefully I'll like it!

2. Marie, Dancing by Carolyn Meyer
It's no secret that I love Edgar Degas's art, particularly his Little Dancer sculpture. So when I found out there was a YA account of its making, I knew it had to go on my TBR list. I read a children's book about it when I was little so I'm just graduating to something more on my reading level now.

3. Prodigy by Marie Lu
I finally read Legend a few weeks ago, and I'm eager to continue the trilogy.

4. Enthusiasm by Polly Shulman
Pride and Prejudice retelling!

5. Ophelia by Lisa M. Klein
Hamlet retelling from Ophelia's POV (obviously)! *makes grabby hands* I have mad love for Ophelia (Mad. Ha...ha...ha. Please tell me my unintentional pun was funny.)

6. Something Rotten by Alan Gratz
Modern Hamlet retelling with Horatio as the protagonist. Heck, yes.

7. 25 Roses by Stephanie Faris
This looks cute, and I've been trying to read more MG lately.

8. Jewel of the Thames by Angela Misri
It's historical fic and involves Holmes and Watson. Count me in.

9. Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard
I don't do zombies, I don't do zombies, I don't do zombies.
Oh, to heck with it. It's historical fic, bloggers friends have liked it, and THOSE COVERS.

10. Strings Attached by Judy Blundell
More historical fic because, why not?

March 30, 2015

Review: The Truth About Us

The Truth About Us by Janet Gurtler
Grade: D
Release date: April 7, 2015
This e-galley was provided by Sourcebooks Fire in exchange for an honest review.
Summary: The truth is that Jess knows she screwed up.
She's made mistakes, betrayed her best friend, and now she's paying for it. Her dad is making her spend the whole summer volunteering at the local soup kitchen.

The truth is she wishes she was the care-free party-girl everyone thinks she is.
She pretends it's all fine. That her "perfect" family is fine. But it's not. And no one notices the lie...until she meets Flynn. He's the only one who really sees her. The only one who listens.

The truth is that Jess is falling apart – and no one seems to care. 
But Flynn is the definition of "the wrong side of the tracks." When Jess's parents look at him they only see the differences-not how much they need each other. They don't get that the person who shouldn't fit in your world... might just be the one to make you feel like you belong.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: You know those books you aren't eagerly anticipating, but you hope they'll be good anyways? (There really aren't any books I hope will be bad.) This was one of those. I requested it for review because it was on my TBR list and I was interested enough to want to read it early.
Unfortunately, The Truth About Us didn't live up to any of my expectations. It was full of cliches and stereotypes (the rich girl with a screwed-up home life, the rich girl falling for the poor boy and saying she "loves" him, all the friends and family hating the poor boy, the little brother who likes his brother's girlfriend, and way too much swearing, drinking, and bad decisions for my taste). I know I'm in the minority, but I hate lots of swearing and especially drinking in YA. And like I said, The Truth About Us had both in abundance. Additionally, the ending didn't work for me. This whole book read a bit like a checklist of things that "should" be in YA novels. There's a death. There's miscommunication. There are star-crossed lovers. There's a break-up. Yup, this one has it all.
Finally, I know I read an e-galley but I noticed some big typos (like the wrong form of your/you're and some weird word choices).

The Verdict: I really wish I had good things to say, but I wasn't into this one at all.

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

March 28, 2015

Review: Kissing Ted Callahan (and Other Guys)

Kissing Ted Callahan (and Other Guys) by Amy Spalding
Grade: D+
Release date: April 14, 2015
This e-galley was provided by Little, Brown for Young Readers and Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.
Summary: After catching their bandmates in a compromising position, sixteen-year-old Los Angelenos Riley and Reid become painfully aware of the romance missing from their own lives. And so a pact is formed: they'll both try to make something happen with their respective crushes and document the experiences in a shared notebook.

While Reid struggles with the moral dilemma of adopting a dog to win over someone's heart, Riley tries to make progress with Ted Callahan, who she's been obsessed with forever-His floppy hair! His undeniable intelligence! But suddenly cute guys are popping up everywhere. How did she never notice them before?! With their love lives going from 0 to 60 in the blink of an eye, Riley and Reid realize the results of their pact may be more than they bargained for.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: I sat down to write this review only a few hours after I finished the book, which is standard operation for me. (I usually write reviews within the 2 minutes to 36 hours range of finishing a book.) But this time was different. You're certainly wondering why. Well, a certain blogger bingo card circulated the Twitter-sphere just last week. It was made by Ms. Spalding, and let's just say, it wasn't kind. She alienated a lot of readers - me included - and seems entirely unapologetic. I decided that, whilst Kissing Ted Callahan (and Other Guys) doesn't come out for another 2 months (at the time of writing this), I needed to get it read and over with since I owe it to the publisher to write an honest review.
Kissing Ted Callahan reads much like a Disney Channel Original Movie. And I don't mean the perennial faves High School Musical, Sky High, and Camp Rock but the recent ones that are kind of...tweenish. Riley is not a mature character. She rags about her parents, she strings three boys along (she wasn't exclusive with any of them, but it's best to let a guy know he's not the only one you're seeing), she was pretty much seeing which guy she could go furthest with first, she shunned her best friend, and she didn't seem like a sixteen year old. I kept thinking she was only fourteen...or younger. Also, she was very obsessed with Ted's hair.

Speaking of Ted, he was the main boy Riley was interested in, along with intelligent Garrick and music nerd Milo. Ted was also the blandest. I felt like we got to know Garrick and Milo much better than him, but I wasn't a fan of any of them for Riley's main love interest.
Reid was...something else. I think he needed a little more time devoted to him. Perhaps an alternating POV would have worked here? A large part of his plot revolved around Jane and the dog so when that didn't work out and he moved onto another girl, it took me a bit by surprise.
Kissing Ted Callahan is all romance. There aren't any other super important plotlines that would place it under contemporary on my shelf. And while I appreciate a good romance, I usually like some character growth or another plotline as well (like in On the Fence or The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, for example).
There was some foul language. I caught the f-word a few times. There's plenty of making out and off-screen sex.

The Verdict: I've read better romances. Sorry, but it's true. And to Ms. Spalding, if you ever see this review or fellow bloggers' critical reviews, learn from them and then...

Will I be adding this book to my library?: After that blogger bingo card, no way. Even if I had loved Kissing Ted Callahan, that bingo card will color my opinion of Spalding forever.

March 27, 2015

Random Friday: A Song That Means a Lot to Me

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.
Music can affect my emotions so easily, and there are many songs that mean a lot to me -whether because they make me happy, or exactly express my feelings, or because they are inspirational. So choosing just one song for today's post was hard. And that's why I chose two.

This past fall, Taylor Swift released her fifth album, 1989. (I mean, y'all probably knew I was going to talk about Taylor, right?) It's gotten me through this difficult first year of college in more ways than one. There are dance-able songs for when I'm feeling down. There are songs that I can "sing" at the top of my lungs when I'm angry (I don't sing, for the record). And there are songs that give me that warm happy feeling (namely, "You Are in Love"). 

The first song that I could really relate to was "Bad Blood." I've had someone in my life who hasn't been the nicest even though they've claimed they have. I'm not going into details because I promised my RD I wouldn't, but I won't stand for being treated like I was and I never will, and I'm not fully happy with the "resolution" to the situation. Additionally, I - and anyone else - should not be made to feel silly or like they're overreacting when they're genuinely upset about a situation.
The second verse of "Bad Blood" feels very applicable to me. The whole song is one I can jam to. What's even cooler is that someone has made a "Bad Blood"/"Centuries" mash-up and it sounds just as amazing as the original.

And the second song is "Clean." It's something I'm still longing for in several instances in my life. I want to move on from situations, relationships, etc. that are causing me nothing but stress. Stuff like that can really make you feel defeated when you can't get away from it. I love the way the lyrics, "When the butterflies turned to dust, they covered my whole room/So I punched a hole in the roof" sound, especially the second one. I love that, when you're drowning, that's when you can finally see the light of day, you can finally breathe and make better choices. I really long for that.

So what's a song that means a lot to you? Make your own post and link it up or share in the comments below.

March 25, 2015

DNF Review: Solitaire

Solitaire by Alice Oseman
Grade: DNF
Release date: March 30, 2015
This ARC was provided by Read Between the Lynes in exchange for an honest review.
Summary: In case you're wondering, this is not a love story.

My name is Tori Spring. I like to sleep and I like to blog. Last year – before all that stuff with Charlie and before I had to face the harsh realities of A-Levels and university applications and the fact that one day I really will have to start talking to people – I had friends. Things were very different, I guess, but that's all over now.

Now there's Solitaire. And Michael Holden.

I don't know what Solitaire are trying to do, and I don't care about Michael Holden.

I really don't.

When did I stop reading?: Page 111 of my ARC.
Why didn't I finish?: I understand you can't like every protagonist (believe me, I don't like them all). But Tori Spring was just too unlikable for me. This girl regularly expresses her dislike for reading and books and I cannot stand characters like that. I'm a strong believer that there's a book out there for everyone and I don't understand people who don't like reading at least something (whether it be graphic novels or classics, giant history tomes or YA). Additionally, she seems to think she's better than everyone else and I can't stand snobbish protagonists. So I didn't connect with the narrative, and just...nothing exciting enough was happening.

The Verdict: Feeling like a bit of a black sheep, since this has some fairly strong ratings on Goodreads. And as much as I like contemporary fic, Solitaire didn't make the grade for me.

March 24, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Childhood Reads I Want to Revisit

Er, this is going to be more like Top 7 Tuesday since there aren't many childhood reads I have time to/want to make time to revisit since I have so many teen reads I want to reread again and again.

1. Canterwood Crest series by Jessica Burkhart
I really want to make time this summer to reread the first 12 books!

2. Betsy-Tacy series by Maud Hart Lovelace
Although I've packed up the younger books, I still keep the high school (and after) volumes around. I've gotta reread those again soon.

3. Christy Miller series by Robin Jones Gunn
These were more of a preteen/teen read, but I haven't reread Christy's books in quite awhile.

4. Katie Weldon series by Robin Jones Gunn
I have reread Katie's books more recently, but not recently enough. I should've brought them to college with me!

5. Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink
Good heavens, it's been a long time since I read/watched Caddie Woodlawn. It, along with Anne of Green Gables, was one of those movies I always watched when I was home sick and on the couch.

6. Main Street series by Ann M. Martin
This series was the best. I loved Flora so much, and actually, I once had an ARC of book three, 'Tis the Season. I was very bummed when the series came to an end. I definitely need to reread these books soon. I will be grumpy and note that I didn't like the slight cover design change after book five. The first five are this lovely watercolor-looking art; books 6-10 are a bit crisper and the girls don't look quite the same.

7. Treasures of the Snow by Patricia St. John
My first exposure to this book was when our third-grade teacher read it to us. I remember there actually being sort-of cliffhangers at the ends of chapters and she'd end the reading for the day right at those places and drive us crazy.
(I would've included a cover, but all the images I could find of the cover most familiar to me were terrible quality, and I'm not about that life.)

So what are some childhood favorites you'd be interested in revisiting soon? Leave the link to your TTT below, and I'll try to visit your post and comment!

March 23, 2015

Book Lovin' Part 2

I read a lot of books that I don't review. And several of those books are ones that I thoroughly enjoy and wish I could promote. So that's what this post is all about. Those books that I really enjoyed reading in 2014 but didn't review (and didn't rave about endlessly. For example, Since You've Been Gone). These are going to be short reviews (I'm going to try and limit them to 140 characters), and therefore they won't go in my review archive. But I hope y'all will find some books you haven't read yet! Additionally, as I prepared for this post, I realized I liked so many books, I was going to have to do this in two posts. So that's why this is part two. If you missed the first post, here's the link to it.

Illusive by Emily Lloyd-Jones
Rating: 5 stars
Everything I wanted from Dangerous. Super powers, gray areas, and a bit of a love triangle that I'll put up with. More female characters needed.

Like No Other by Una LaMarche
Rating: 4.5 stars
Amazing diversity. Entertaining, but I learned a lot. Devorah is an amazing character. Not a "comfortable" read.

Dissonance by Erica O'Rourke
Rating: 5 stars
More than a gorgeous cover. Set in my favorite city, and one of the rare sci-fi titles I enjoyed.

All Four Stars by Tara Dairman
Rating: 5 stars
The title that helped me regain hope in MG. Deserving of all five stars, and definitely a mouth-watering tale.

Wildflower by Alecia Whitaker
Rating: 4 stars
Loved the country music setting and the younger voice. Enjoyed Bird finding herself. Was not okay with that ending.

Rating: 4.5 stars
Novellas that add more depth to the Girl of Fire and Thorns world. Mara's story made me cry, and Hector's story was heartbreaking and revealing.

Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch
Rating: 4 stars
One of my most anticipated titles of 2014. Didn't quite live up to what I wanted it to be, but it's a great debut with fantastic worldbuilding. Team Theron!

The Young Elites by Marie Lu
Rating: 4.5 stars
Amazingly vivid setting. Very villainous protagonist with fascinating powers for many of the characters. Need more, especially after that last chapter!

Maid of Deception by Jennifer McGowan
Rating: 4.5 stars
Much better than Maid of Secrets. Another historical fiction win.

So that's all for my favorite books of 2014. I genuinely hope these posts helped you find some new reads.

March 22, 2015

Rewind & Review #34

Rewind & Review

The first week after that last Rewind & Review was hectic. I had four exams and a presentation and I was very much looking forward to spring break. But my art history prof decided it would be a brilliant idea to assign a ton of reading and work over break, thus cancelling out the break part. I have a speech to work on for intro to communications, too, but that's going to be about Taylor Swift, so it's no hardship.
I managed to get a fair amount of reading done over spring break and I went to see Cinderella with my mom and Insurgent with Kate. I also had to start packing up some of my room late May or June we're moving. Yup, that's right. My dad has a new job so we're moving back to Virginia. I'm excited and sad at the same time because I'm leaving all of my friends here and a great indie bookstore and the place where I've spent the last eight and a half years of my life. But we're moving back to a place where my parents have lots of friends, and it's where my very best friend lives, and we won't have to deal with awful winters anymore. I'll be in the same state as a lot of cool authors, and Washington, D.C. gets some good authors on tour. 

Books I Received for Review
Bright Lights, Dark Nights by Stephen Emond (via NetGalley/Roaring Brook Press)
Immaculate by Katelyn Detweiler (via Penguin)
Emancipated by M.G. Reyes
Extraordinary Means by Robyn Schneider
Proof of Forever by Lexa Hillyer (via Read Between the Lynes)

Books I Traded for/was Gifted/Won
Tangled Webs by Lee Bross (traded with @kalebsmome)
Revenge of the Girl with the Great Personality by Elizabeth Eulberg (gifted by @miss_print)
Nearly Gone by Elle Cosimano (won in The Library Canary's blogoversary giveaway)

Books I Bought
Deception's Princess by Esther M. Friesner
The Winner's Crime by Marie Rutkoski
The Wrong Side of Right by Jenn Marie Thorne

Books I Read
Love, Lucas by Chantele Sedgwick
The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes (reread)
Killer Instinct by Jennifer Lynn Barnes (reread)
Rook by Sharon Cameron
Galgorithm by Aaron Karo
Lion Heart by A.C. Gaughen
The Winner's Crime by Marie Rutkoski (4 stars)
The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith (reread)
Forever With You by Robin Jones Gunn (reread)
Wild Hearts by Jessica Burkhart
I Remember You by Cathleen Davitt Bell (3 stars)
Tunnel Vision by Susan Adrian (3 stars)
The Blazing Star by Erin Hunter (2.5 stars)

Blog Posts You Might've Missed
   (From 3/9-3/14)
   (From 3/15-3/21)
  • Book Lovin' Part 2
  • TTT: Childhood Reads I Want to Revisit
  • DNF Review: Solitaire by Alice Oseman
  • Random Friday: A Song That Means a Lot to Me
  • Review: Kissing Ted Callahan (and Other Guys) by Amy Spalding
  • Review: The Truth About Us by Janet Gurtler
  • TTT: Recent Adds to My TBR List
  • Review: 5 to 1 by Holly Bodger
  • Judging a Book by Its Cover
  • Interview with Martha Brockenbrough, Author of The Game of Love and Death

March 20, 2015

Preordering Books

Recently, I realized that, while I've talked about why I'll buy a book, I've never talked about why I'll preorder a book. It used to be, before my reading horizons expanded, I'd preorder every new book in the series I read (Main Street, Canterwood Crest, The Mother-Daughter Book Club, etc.) from my local indie. On release day, they'd call me and say it was in and I'd go pick it up. But now that I read a wider variety, I have to be much more selective in what I preorder. So here are some questions I ask myself when I'm picking which titles to preorder.

Is it part of a series I've read and enjoyed?
If so, I've gotta have the latest installment on release day. Think books like Cress, The Winner's Crime, and The One.

Is it by an author whose previous works I've enjoyed?
Maybe that author only writes standalones, or she's starting a new series. I'll often preorder books if it's a tried and true author for me. 
Kasie West and Emery Lord fall under this category. They're basically auto-buy authors for me at this point.

Have there been lots of good reviews?
Basically, have bloggers I trust given it strong ratings? If so, then the book's chances of being preordered go up significantly.

Do I have an e-galley/ARC of it?
Sometimes, this will affect whether or not I preorder a book, even if I really enjoyed it. If I know I have a physical galley, I'll still be able to reread it for awhile and get a finished copy eventually. I have to be so choosy when it comes to preordering books that this question will really affect my decision.

Open preorders I have right now and why:
The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord - I read an ARC (and an e-galley) and loved it even more than Open Road Summer. Plus, like I said, Emery is one of my auto-buy authors.
Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke by Anne Blankman - I didn't manage to get an ARC of this one and I loved Prisoner of Night and Fog, so of course I need the sequel!
The Heir by Kiera Cass - I need to keep my Selection series collection complete.
The Fill-In Boyfriend by Kasie West - Hello, auto-buy author.
P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han - I bought To All the Boys I've Loved Before on a whim the week it released. Best decision ever. So obviously its sequel is a preorder.

Books I want to preorder soon:
Hello, I Love You by Katie M. Stout
The Fixer by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
The Heart of Betrayal by Mary E. Pearson
Deceptive by Emily Lloyd-Jones
The Road to You by Alecia Whitaker
Resonance by Erica O'Rourke
Daughter of Dusk by Livia Blackburne
The Nightmare Charade by Mindee Arnett
Jubilee Manor by Bethany Hagen
Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas
Don't Fail Me Now by Una LaMarche
This Is Where the World Ends by Amy Zhang

So do you preorder books? What drives your decision?

March 19, 2015

Taylor Swift and Poetic Devices

So I have a pretty big topic for today: Taylor Swift's use of poetic devices. As part of my Intro to Lit class last fall, we had half a semester on poetry and different poetic devices. I wanted to write an essay on her use of them, but that wouldn't fit under the assigned topics for the final essay. So I'm going to talk about it here instead.

Songs are like poems. Many poems could be put to music and sung. And throughout her career, Taylor has made good use of several poetic devices, including simile, metaphor (and extended metaphor), imagery, personification, consonance, hyperbole, alliteration, assonance, euphony, nostalgia, and oxymoron. I went through most of her songs and wrote down each type of device I noticed. 

As might be expected, simile and metaphor appeared the most (I counted 21 songs that I could identify one or both in). "Tim McGraw" uses a simile in comparing the moon to a spotlight on the lake. "Untouchable" says a guy is "untouchable, like a distant diamond sky." "Dear John" describes a guy's mood metaphorically by saying: "You paint me a blue sky/And go back and turn it to rain/And I lived in your chess game/But you changed the rules every day." One of my favorite examples is "Red." Taylor uses a heck ton of similes in that song, comparing different feelings to colors and other things (driving a new Maserati, crossword puzzles, free falls, memorizing songs, etc.). "Out of the Woods" and "Bad Blood" use metaphor in crazy cool ways: monsters that turned out to be just trees and scars on Taylor's back from her frenemy's knives.

Taylor is amazing at painting pictures through songs. That's largely due to her use of imagery in songs like, "Fifteen," "The Best Day," "Speak Now" (how about that gown shaped like a pastry?), "Innocent," "Last Kiss," "All Too Well," "Style," and "You Are in Love."

She also likes to exaggerate. We know that she doesn't literally see sparks fly every time that guy smiles, and it isn't raining forever and always - especially in that guy's bedroom, because, if it is, he needs to get his roof looked at - and she might've been getting a little ahead of herself in "Starlight" when she said they could get married, have ten kids, and teach them how to dream, and Taylor and the guy didn't literally go insane in Wonderland. But that's what's fun about stories, poems, and songs. You can use hyperbole a bit, and everyone will understand the point you're driving home.

These are just a few reasons why I love that Taylor writes her own songs. She wrote all of the Speak Now album by herself when she was 18, 19, and 20. She's written the rest of her songs with only a few co-writers and most of them are only fine-tuning and adding a few lyrics here and there. Ed Sheeran has said "Everything Has Changed" was mostly written when he heard it for the first time. I can only dream of doing amazing things with my writing like Taylor has done. And you better be darn certain I'll be incorporating literary/poetic devices.

March 18, 2015

We Need Diverse Books

Have you ever thought about the characters and places in the books you've read? Have you ever considered how many characters are white, how many settings are American or British, how many casts lack diversity beyond that token black character or token gay guy?

I'll admit, I've never thought about it excessively. I have noted that there seems to be a standard description for most YA heroines (particularly contemporary ones) and a standard look for most YA love interests. I don't see myself overthinking my book choices in the future, but I am making more of an effort to read books by diverse authors and/or with diverse characters and settings. One of the cool things about books is how much you can learn. That's why I appreciate historical fiction so much.

But the need for diverse books is about more than learning about those different from us; it's about everyone finding a character they can relate to. Now, of course it's most important to relate to their personalities. But if you know a character has had similar life experiences to you based on their appearance or where they come from or where they live, then that can make all the difference.

I'll let the We Need Diverse Books organization speak for itself on its website found here. The purpose of this post is to share an informative speech I gave a few weeks ago in my communications class. I chose We Need Diverse books so my audience could learn about an important topic. I'm including my speech below, as well as the list of books on the hand-out I mention in the speech. I hope you enjoy. :)

Diverse YA Books
Written by diverse authors and/or about diverse characters

Already Released
Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley
The Lunar Chronicles series by Marissa Meyer
Like No Other by Una LaMarche
Waterfire Saga series by Jennifer Donnelly
The Young Elites by Marie Lu
Midnight Thief by Livia Blackburne
The Girl of Fire and Thorns trilogy by Rae Carson
Falling into Place by Amy Zhang
Don’t Touch by Rachel M. Wilson
At Somerton trilogy by Leila Rasheed
The Only Thing to Fear by Caroline Tung Richmond 
This Side of Home by Renée Watson
Illusions of Fate by Kiersten White
Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell
The Fire Wish by Amber Lough
The Selection series by Kiera Cass
Say What You Will by Cammie McGovern
The Ring and the Crown by Melissa de la Cruz
Shatter Me trilogy by Tahereh Mafi
The Tyrant’s Daughter by J.C. Carleson
Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige
Black Dove, White Raven by Elizabeth Wein
Under a Painted Sky by Stacey Lee
Written in the Stars by Aisha Saeed (technically it doesn't release until Tuesday, but that's close enough)
The Memory Key by Liana Liu

Will Release in 2015
The Game of Love and Death by Martha Brockenbrough
Endangered by Lamar Giles
An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
5 to 1 by Holly Bodger
The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh
Scarlett Undercover by Jennifer Latham
Tiny Pretty Things by Sona Charaipotra and Dhonielle Clayton
Hello, I Love You by Katie M. Stout
Joyride by Anna Banks
Bright Lights, Dark Nights by Stephen Emond
Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon
The One Thing by Marci Lyn Curtis
See No Color by Shannon Gibney

I'd love to get a good discussion going! Have you read any of these diverse books? Do you make a conscious effort to read diversely?

March 17, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Spring TBR List

Since I did this topic a few weeks ago for Random Friday, I decided to only include books I hadn't put on that giant list and I managed to limit myself to 10 books for this post!

1. Liars, Inc. by Paula Stokes (3/24)
As much as I enjoyed The Art of Lainey, I didn't put this one on my TBR list until recently. At first, it didn't sound like it would be up my alley but then Paula compared it in a tweet  to one of my fave TV shows.

2. Deception's Pawn by Esther M. Friesner (4/28)
I'm really excited for this sequel to Deception's Princess.

3. Lois Lane: Fallout by Gwenda Bond (5/1)

4. The Stars of Summer by Tara Dairman (5/5)
*makes grabby hands* To my surprise, I loved All Four Stars so I absolutely need its sequel in my life.

5. The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest by Melanie Dickerson (5/12)
I love Melanie's other fairytale retellings, and I can't wait to see what she does with Robin Hood and Swan Lake.

6. P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han
That cover, though. I've already preordered it, and I'm so incredibly excited.

7. Nearly Found by Elle Cosimano
I don't normally include June titles on my TBR list, but I'll make an exception for the following four books. This is the sequel to a really fun thriller, Nearly Gone.

8. Joyride by Anna Banks
I'm mainly adding this for my roommate's benefit. I'm semi-excited for the book, but she loves Anna and the Syrena Legacy.

9. Hello, I Love You by Katie M. Stout
Well, hello, Fifteen 2015 Reads title. Be mine now. Please?

10. Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone
Another Fifteen 2015 Reads pick, and I thoroughly enjoyed Tamara's previous novels. Plus, I have an e-galley of this one so I'll get to read it sooner rather than later. So exciting!

March 16, 2015

Review: The Start of Me and You

The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord
Grade: A+
Release date: March 31, 2015
This e-galley was provided by Bloomsbury in exchange for an honest review.
Summary: It’s been a year since it happened—when Paige Hancock’s first boyfriend died in an accident. After shutting out the world for a year, Paige is finally ready for a second chance at high school . . . and she has a plan. First: Get her old crush, Ryan Chase, to date her—the perfect way to convince everyone she’s back to normal. Next: Join a club—simple, it’s high school after all. But when Ryan’s sweet, nerdy cousin, Max, moves to town and recruits Paige for the Quiz Bowl team (of all things!) her perfect plan is thrown for a serious loop. Will Paige be able to face her fears and finally open herself up to the life she was meant to live?

Brimming with heartfelt relationships and authentic high-school dynamics, The Start of Me and You proves that it’s never too late for second chances.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: I do not give out A+'s very often. So right off the bat, I think that says just how amazing this book was. Open Road Summer was lighter and less emotional. But I really felt how Emery poured her soul into The Start of Me and You, making it a more literary tale that still has its light moments that made me squeal like a fangirl, or laugh, or just smile. The Start of Me and You is filled with a lot of sadness and bittersweet moments that will make you want to hug Paige and bring her Do-si-dos. Emery Lord writes phenomenal friendships and romances. Paige, our protagonist, has a tight-knit group. Morgan could've used a little more development, but I loved getting to know her, Tessa, and Kayleigh. There's no cattiness with those girls. Yes, they have disagreements, but they felt just like ones I've had with my own friends. 
And now for the romance. Sweet heavens, I need a Max Watson. I thought Matt Finch was extraordinary, but Max definitely takes the top spot on my book boyfriend list. He's nerdy but still an entirely normal guy, sweet, funny, and caring. He pushes Paige a little too much perhaps at times, but it's easy to see he truly cares for her and wants to make her happy. Page 261 in my ARC is one of my favorite moments. I think I literally did a book shimmy. The romance is a slow-burn, since The Start of Me and You covers a school year. I would've liked a few more swoonworthy moments between Paige and Max, but mmm, that last chapter... 
My final critique has to do with something else that happens towards the end of the book. It took me by surprise and came out of the blue just a little too much. There needed to be a bit more build-up for it, I think. But it doesn't ruin the book at all.
Romance is PG (verging on PG-13 just a bit), and language stays very clean except for a handful of s-words.

The Verdict: Emery Lord writes amazing romances and realistic characters and I think The Start of Me and You has fully cemented her place in my list of favorite authors. Overall, it was a book that made me so happy, especially because I read it during a rough patch in my life. So thank you, Emery, for writing another book that will always be there for me.

Buy: Read Between the Lynes  Barnes & Noble
Will I be adding this book to my library?: Um, of course! I can't wait for my preorder to get here!!!

March 15, 2015

Rewind to 2014: Books I Acquired

So in my last Rewind to 2014 post, I shared my reading stats. I read 302 books in 2014! And I bought and received a heck ton, too. Ready for this stat?


Yeah, I wasn't expecting that number either. I went back through all my Rewind & Review posts and totaled things up. I didn't include e-galleys or books I borrowed. Also, I may have sold or traded some of the books by now and some books may have been left off Rewind & Review posts. But it's pretty accurate and a shocking number. It's no wonder I'm running out of room on my bookshelves at home and in my storage bins here at school!

A large chunk of my books came from those I bought after I graduated, Christmas gifts, and ones I got at book signings. I'm also very grateful to all the publishers and bloggers who sent me ARCs (and the same to Read Between the Lynes for continuing to let me review their YA ARCs).

We'll see how many books I add to my library in 2015!