February 27, 2017

Why I Love P.S. I Like You

I've long been a fan of Kasie West's books, but P.S. I Like You is probably my favorite.

1. The rereadability
I first read P.S. I Like You the day it released and loved every word of it. Then I reread it countless times last fall, and I've already reread it once this year. Even though I know who Lily's pen pal is, as Paige says in The Start of Me and You, "Knowing what happens is different from knowing how it happens. And the getting there is the best part." 

2. The family dynamics
Kasie West created a quirky, realistic, awkward family, and I loved it. Too many YA families feel stiff and too perfect (or too imperfect). The Abbotts are the right mix of embarrassing and lovable.

3. First impressions can be wrong/hate-to-love relationships.
Two of my favorite tropes. I love how Lily and her guy learn how they misjudged each other and also admit their flaws. Pride and Prejudice, Much Ado About Nothing, and You've Got Mail are some of my faves. Speaking of You've Got Mail... 

4. It's reminiscent of You've Got Mail.
I really have a thing these days for YA You've Got Mail stories (maybe because I'm writing one...). There's just something so fun about a couple hating each other but actually being best friends online or elsewhere.

5. The letters
(If you can't tell from the picture above, I actually hand-wrote part of one of Lily's letters.)
They're such great tools for character development. Plus, I can totally see why Lily falls in love with her guy. Heck, I would too with letters like that.

If you haven't read P.S. I Like You yet, I will nag you until you do. So go read it now.

Goodreads  Read Between the Lynes  Barnes & Noble

February 26, 2017

Rewind & Review #80

~I reached 100 pages in the novel I've been working on since intermediate fiction last fall.
~Of all things, I had a muscle spasm in my shoulder about a week and a half ago. That was really fun. :P
~The weather has been gloriously warm the past week, and I don't care that it's supposed to be cold in February. I even took the opportunity on Friday afternoon (since I don't have classes or work) to go up on the roof of my dorm and read for a couple hours. ^.^

Books I Received for Review
Words in Deep Blue by Cath Crowley (from Random House via NetGalley)

Books I Won/Traded for/was Gifted
Frostblood by Elly Blake
Court of Fives by Kate Elliott (both from the January Novl Box)

Books I Read
Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake (4 stars)
P.S. I Like You by Kasie West (reread)
The Valiant by Lesley Livingston (2 stars)
The Heartbeats of Wing Jones by Katherine Webber
Holes by Louis Sachar (reread)
The Girl from Everywhere by Heidi Heilig (reread)
The Diabolic by S.J. Kincaid (2 stars)
Lucky Few by Kathryn Ormsbee (reread)

Blog Posts You Might've Missed in the Last Few Weeks
   (from 2/13-2/18)
   (from 2/19-2/25)

February 25, 2017

DNF Review: Waking in Time

Waking in Time by Angie Stanton
Grade: DNF
Release date: March 1, 2017
An e-galley was provided by the publisher in exchange for review consideration.
Summary: Still mourning the loss of her beloved grandmother and shaken by her mysterious, dying request to “find the baby,” Abbi has just arrived at UW Madison for her freshman year. But on her second day, she wakes up to a different world: 1983. That is just the first stop on Abbi’s journey backward through time. Will is a charming college freshman from 1927 who travels forward through time. When Abbi and Will meet in the middle, love adds another complication to their lives. Communicating across time through a buried time capsule, they try to decode the mystery of their travel, find the lost baby, and plead with their champion, a kindly physics professor, to help them find each other again ... even though the professor gets younger each time Abbi meets him. This page-turning story full of romance, twists, and delightful details about campus life then and now will stay with readers long after the book’s satisfying end.

When did I stop reading?: I think after chapter 3 or 4.
Why did I stop reading?: I really wasn't connecting with the protagonist's voice. It was nothing special. Also, the love interest (I'm guessing that's who he was) seemed to definitely be from our time, but he used outdated phrases. Also, freshmen do not take quantum physics.

The Verdict: Not worth your time at all.

February 24, 2017

Random Friday: Secret Sister

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.
So another round of Secret Sister came to an end last month, and the first month of round 6 is less than a month in. I'm so glad this project has been around for all of my college career (although I didn't participate in round one) because the bookish cheer is just what I need.

I've made new friends from around the country - I've had a Secret Sister from the West Coast and a couple from New England. I've bonded with people over Taylor Swift, Gilmore Girls, and Hogwarts houses. My first Secret Sister gifted me my very first Pop! Funko (Elsa, if y'all were wondering), and I've received too many books to name.

I've put together some fun theme boxes - country, fairytales, Gilmore Girls, and two Christmas ones. 
I've received postcards from my Sisters' travels, been introduced to new music, and written dozens of letters.

So this post is to say thank you to Alyssa, Amy, and Brittany, for running such a wonderful program.
This post is to say thank you to Audris, Veronica, Emily, and Bree, for being excellent Secret Sisters with the most heartfelt gifts and notes.
This post is to say thank you to Jessica, Roxanne, Anna, and Allison for being great recipients. It was so much fun planning boxes for you.

I can't wait to see what this next round of Secret Sister has yet to give. Hopefully new friendships and lots of letters.

Do you participate in OTSP Secret Sister, too? What has been your favorite part? Have you met any of your Sisters in person?

February 21, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Wanted to Love But Didn't

I could write a book about all the books I wanted to love but didn't. Today, though, I'll just list ten.

1. Dangerous by Shannon Hale

2. This Adventure Ends by Emma Mills

3. Winterspell by Claire Legrand

4. Very in Pieces by Megan Frazer Blakemore

5. Diplomatic Immunity by Brodi Ashton

6. This Is My Brain on Boys by Sarah Strohmeyer

7. Mother-Daughter Book Camp by Heather Vogel Frederick

8. Frost Like Night by Sara Raasch

9. Scarlett Epstein Hates It Here by Anna Breslaw

10. Silver in the Blood by Jessica Day George

Any recent reads you wanted to love but disliked instead?

February 20, 2017

Dreamland Burning Tour: Spotlight + Giveaway

I love historical fiction and mysteries, so Dreamland Burning sounded like it would be right up my alley!

The Book

Dreamland Burning by Jennifer Latham

Some bodies won’t stay buried.
Some stories need to be told.

When seventeen-year-old Rowan Chase finds a skeleton on her family's property, she has no idea that investigating the brutal century-old murder will lead to a summer of painful discoveries about the past... and the present.

Nearly one hundred years earlier, a misguided violent encounter propels seventeen-year-old Will Tillman into a racial firestorm. In a country rife with violence against blacks and a hometown segregated by Jim Crow, Will must make hard choices on a painful journey towards self discovery and face his inner demons in order to do what's right the night Tulsa burns.

Through intricately interwoven alternating perspectives, Jennifer Latham’s lightning-paced page-turner brings the Tulsa race riot of 1921 to blazing life and raises important question about the complex state of US race relations – both yesterday and today.

The Author

I'm a grown-up army brat with two kids, two dogs, and a husband. After working in a morgue, a maximum-security prison, a heroin detox, and assorted middle and high schools, I decided to try may hand at writing. Happily, it stuck.

I love watching people.

And I love writing about the characters who live inside my head—even when they don’t play nice.

The Giveaway

~U.S./Canada only
~3 winners will each receive a finished copy of Dreamland Burning

February 19, 2017

So You Like... #44

Do you like to read the classics? If so, I have some book recommendations for you!


(As always the book covers link to their Goodreads pages, and if you've read the YA book but not the classic, give the latter a try!)

If you liked...



(for the governesses)

If you liked...



(for the love-to-hate relationship and the imperfect protagonist with dreams)

If you liked...



(For the sisters.)

If you liked...



(For the fantastical settings.)

If you liked...



(For the secret places the protagonists escape to, where they find themselves.)

If you liked...



(For the injustice.)

Did you find some new books to read? Are there other classics you'd like to see me feature?

February 18, 2017

Contemporary: the Genre I Both Love and Hate

There's something about contemporary YA that is utterly irresistible to me. I think it's because the characters live in our world, yet extraordinary things happen to them, so I feel like there's hope for the rest of us. 

Eight of my favorite books last year are contemporary, and if I included previous years, that number would be much higher than fantasy or even historical fiction. Yet, my average rating for contemporary YA last year was only 3.1 stars.

So why does this happen?

Do I have higher expectations for contemporary YA, since it's my favorite genre?

Is contemporary an easier genre to write, therefore more not-so-great authors write it?

Is there a formula for the contemporary YA books I like that I haven't figured out yet?

Every year, I vow to be choosier in the contemporary YA I read. As of writing this post in late January, I'd only read four contemporary books, and I'd rated them 3 stars, 2 stars, 5 stars, and 4 stars. So my resolution isn't going too well so far.

Why do I dislike so many contemporary books, yet like so many of them too??

Do you relate to this at all, with whatever genre is your favorite? Do you have any tips for me?

February 17, 2017

Piecing Me Together Blog Tour: Excerpt + Giveaway

If you missed my review from last week, you wouldn't know just how much I loved Piecing Me Together by Renee Watson. I'm honored to share part of the book with you today, as well as an opportunity to win a copy of your own.

The Book

Piecing Me Together by Renee Watson

Jade believes she must get out of her neighborhood if she’s ever going to succeed. Her mother says she has to take every opportunity. She has. She accepted a scholarship to a mostly-white private school and even Saturday morning test prep opportunities. But some opportunities feel more demeaning than helpful. Like an invitation to join Women to Women, a mentorship program for “at-risk” girls. Except really, it’s for black girls. From “bad” neighborhoods.

But Jade doesn’t need support. And just because her mentor is black doesn’t mean she understands Jade. And maybe there are some things Jade could show these successful women about the real world and finding ways to make a real difference.

Friendships, race, privilege, identity—this compelling and thoughtful story explores the issues young women face.

The Excerpt

to want
                  “Now let’s get to business,” Mrs. Parker says.
                  I take a deep breath and prepare to act surprised when she tells me she’s nominating me for the study abroad program. She picks up a folder, looks at it, and like an orator who decides to improv instead of using her notes, tosses the folder back onto her desk and asks, “Jade, what do you want?”
                  To eat.
                  To travel with the study abroad program. Maybe go to Argentina.
                  To taste asado hot off the fire.
                  To lick my fingers after enjoying sweet alfajores—the dulce de leche dancing on my tongue.
                  To eat and speak Spanish in Argentina, in Costa Rica. In New York, in California. In job interviews where knowing more than one language moves your application to the top of the pile.
                  To give myself a way out. A way in. Because language can take you places.
                  Mrs. Parker clears her throat. “It’s okay if you don’t have an answer yet,” she says. “That’s why I’m here. To help you figure it out. To help you get it once you know what it is.” She picks the folder back up and hands it to me.
                  The front of the folder shows a group of black women—adults and teens—smiling and embracing one another. Woman to Woman: A Mentorship Program for African American Girls. Mrs. Parker is smiling like what she’s about to tell me is that she found the cure for cancer. But really, what she has to tell me sounds more like a honking horn that’s stuck, a favorite glass shattering into countless pieces on the floor.
                  Mrs. Parker tells me that twelve girls from high schools throughout the city have been selected to participate in Woman to Woman. Each of us will be paired with a mentor. “Look at all the great activities that are planned for you,” she says. She takes the folder from my hand and opens it, pulling out a sheet titled Monthly Outings:
                  A Night at Oregon Symphony
                  Museum Visit at Portland Art Museum
                  Fun Day at Oaks Amusement Park
                  “Do you have any questions?” Mrs. Parker asks.
                  I want to speak up, ask What about the nominations for the study abroad program? I want to ask about that day she looked into my eyes and said, “St. Francis provides opportunities for our students to travel the world,” but instead I ask, “Why was I chosen for this?”
                  Mrs. Parker clears her throat. “Well, uh, selection was based on gender, grade, and well, several other things.”
                  “Well, uh, several things. Teacher nominations…uh, need.”
                  “Mrs. Parker, I don’t need a mentor,” I tell her.
                  “Every young person could use a caring adult in her life.”
                  “I have my mother.” And my uncle, and my dad. “You think I don’t have anyone who cares about me?”
                  “No, no. That’s not what I said.” Mrs. Parker clears her throat. “We want to be as proactive as possible, and you know, well, statistics tell us that young people with your set of circumstances are, well, at risk for certain things, and we’d like to help you navigate through those circumstances.” Mrs. Parker takes a candy out of her jar and pops it into her mouth. “I’d like you to thoroughly look over the information and consider it. This is a good opportunity for you.”
                  That word shadows me. Follows me like a stray cat.
                  I stand up. “What happens if I don’t participate?” I ask.
                  “If you do participate and complete the two-year program—keeping your grade point average at a three point five or above—you are awarded a scholarship to any Oregon college,” Mrs. Parker tells me.
                  A scholarship to college?
                  I sit down, lean back in the seat, hear Mrs. Parker out.
                  She lowers her voice and talks as if what she is telling me is off the record. “You know, my son-in-law grew up in your same neighborhood. He lives in Lake Oswego now. Not a lot of African Americans live there, you know. And, well, he’s a grown man, and even he’s having a hard time adjusting. So, well, I think this school can be hard for anyone, but especially if you don’t really have anyone who, you know, you can relate to. That’s why I selected a mentor for you who went to this school,” Mrs. Parker says. “She graduated four years ago. And now she’s a graduate of Portland State University. You remind me so much of her,” she says.
                  I don’t say anything. I’ve already made up my mind that I’m going to do this, but I’m kind of enjoying listening to Mrs. Parker beg a little.
                  “Jade. You’re a smart girl. Are you really going to pass on a chance to get a scholarship to college?”
                  “I’ll do it,” I say. And then: “Thank you for the opportunity.”
                  She hands me a sheet of paper with a list of questions on it. “We’ll give this to your mentor before you meet so she can learn a little about you,” she says. She hands me a pen.
                  I fill out the form.
                  Name: Jade Butler
                  Favorite Color: Yellow
                  Hobbies: Collaging
                  And then there’s a question:
                  What do you hope to get out of this program?
                  I leave that one blank.   

The Giveaway

~open to US/Canada only
~one winner will be chosen by Bloomsbury

February 15, 2017

DNF Review: The Education of Margot Sanchez

The Education of Margot Sanchez by Lilliam Rivera
Grade: DNF
Release date: February 21, 2017
An e-galley was provided by the publisher in exchange for review consideration.

Mami, for destroying my social life
Papi, for allowing Junior to become a Neanderthal
Junior, for becoming a Neanderthal
This supermarket
Everyone else

After “borrowing” her father's credit card to finance a more stylish wardrobe, Margot 
Sanchez suddenly finds herself grounded. And by grounded, she means working as an indentured servant in her family’s struggling grocery store to pay off her debts. 

With each order of deli meat she slices, Margot can feel her carefully cultivated prep school reputation slipping through her fingers, and she’s willing to do anything to get out of this punishment. Lie, cheat, and maybe even steal…

Margot’s invitation to the ultimate beach party is within reach and she has no intention of letting her family’s drama or Moises—the admittedly good looking but outspoken boy from the neighborhood—keep her from her goal.

When did I stop reading?: 10% into my e-galley.
Why didn't I finish?: I just really wasn't feeling Margot's voice. I'm fine with first-person, present-tense books, but this one didn't gel with me. I was annoyed with her attitude and how she treated people. Also, the way the book launched right into her at the grocery store didn't work so well. I needed a little exposition at least.

The Verdict: I appreciated the diversity, and I wish I could've liked this one more. Don't be afraid to give this one a try, though, just because I wasn't a fan.

February 14, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Book Boyfriends

I used to be like, "How does someone get crushes on fictional characters?" Then I realized how it can happen. So, in honor of Valentine's Day, here are my favorite book boyfriends (not all of which I wish were my boyfriend, though).

1. Gilbert Blythe from the Anne of Green Gables series

2. Max Watson from The Start of Me and You

3. Clark McCallister from The Unexpected Everything

4. Frank Porter from Since You've Been Gone

5. Matt Finch from Open Road Summer


7. Cade from P.S. I Like You

8. Paul from the Firebird trilogy

(Once he's mustache-less, of course.)

10. Kai from The Lunar Chronicles

Honorable mentions: Peter from Don't Touch and Darren from Wish You Were Italian

What Valentine's Day-themed topic did you do for Top Ten Tuesday today?