May 31, 2017

Review: Song of the Current

Warning: There are a few spoilers ahead, but I tried not to spoil anything major.

Song of the Current by Sarah Tolcser
Grade: C
Release date: June 6, 2017
An ARC was provided by Bloomsbury in exchange for an honest review.
Summary: Caroline Oresteia is destined for the river. For generations, her family has been called by the river god, who has guided their wherries on countless voyages throughout the Riverlands. At seventeen, Caro has spent years listening to the water, ready to meet her fate. But the river god hasn’t spoken her name yet—and if he hasn’t by now, there’s a chance he never will.

Caro decides to take her future into her own hands when her father is arrested for refusing to transport a mysterious crate. By agreeing to deliver it in exchange for his release, Caro finds herself caught in a web of politics and lies, with dangerous pirates after the cargo—an arrogant courier with a secret—and without the river god to help her. With so much at stake, Caro must choose between the life she always wanted and the one she never could have imagined for herself.

From debut author Sarah Tolcser comes an immersive and romantic fantasy set along the waterways of a magical world with a headstrong heroine determined to make her mark.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: There was nothing terribly wrong with Song of the Current really, but it didn't excite me like it should've. I wanted to love this book so badly. Any fantasy novel that doesn't follow the normal formula is bound to be great...except this one disappointed me.
The good news is, the world-building felt very original. I loved that it wasn't all humans, that there were frog-people, and they weren't the enemy. I also loved the difference between Caro's world and her mother's world. I really wanted more setting details, though. Nothing was lush enough to help me imagine it. 
I never felt connected to Caro or Tarquin/Markos or any of the other characters. The plot didn't keep me on the edge of my seat. 
Language, romance, and violence all seemed relatively tame.

The Verdict: Could've been so good; I'm definitely a black sheep when it comes to this one.

Will I be adding this book to my library?: It's unlikely.

May 30, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: Most Anticipated 2017 Releases Part 2

I'm so glad the bloggers at TBATB divide this topic into two parts because there's no way I could fit all my most-anticipated books in one post. Here's my first one for this year, and I'm about to share my most anticipated releases for July-December 2017.

1. Lucky in Love by Kasie West

2. The League of American Traitors by Matthew Landis

3. Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo

4. Speak Easy, Speak Love by McKelle George

5. Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman

6. One Dark Throne by Kendare Blake

7. Into the Bright Unknown by Rae Carson

8. Calling My Name by Liara Tamani

9. Here We Are Now by Jasmine Warga

10. Not Now, Not Ever by Lily Anderson

11. Foolish Hearts by Emma Mills

What books are you eagerly anticipating in the rest of 2017?

May 29, 2017

Review: Words in Deep Blue

Words in Deep Blue by Cath Crowley
Grade: D
Release date: June 6, 2017
An e-galley was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for review consideration.
Summary: Years ago, Rachel had a crush on Henry Jones. The day before she moved away, she tucked a love letter into his favorite book in his family’s bookshop. She waited. But Henry never came. 

Now Rachel has returned to the city—and to the bookshop—to work alongside the boy she’d rather not see, if at all possible, for the rest of her life. But Rachel needs the distraction. Her brother drowned months ago, and she can’t feel anything anymore. 

As Henry and Rachel work side by side—surrounded by books, watching love stories unfold, exchanging letters between the pages—they find hope in each other. Because life may be uncontrollable, even unbearable sometimes. But it’s possible that words, and love, and second chances are enough.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: I am tempted to call this the biggest disappointment of 2017. I was so looking forward to a book about books and bookshops and second chance love stories.
However, Words in Deep Blue starts off with a very blah voice. I kept losing track of who was narrating - Rachel or Henry, and neither of their voices impressed me. The book is lacking in details that could make it really come to life. None of the characters stand out as very interesting. In addition, secret-keeping and communication issues are terribly overdone plot devices.
Because I couldn't get invested in the beginning of the book, I skimmed the rest, and it didn't seem to get any better. My inner hopeless romantic did not appreciate the ending.
Way too much foul language, too.

The Verdict: Not at all what I wanted it to be. It's a shame, too; the cover is gorgeous and would look beautiful on any bookshelf.

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

May 28, 2017

Rewind & Review #86

~I did a whole lot of nothing for the most part, although we have started planning our trip to Quebec.

Books I Received for Review
Once and for All by Sarah Dessen (received via @miss_print's ARC adoption program)
The League of American Traitors by Matthew Landis (from Sky Pony Press via Edelweiss)

Books I Won/Traded for/was Gifted
The Ship Beyond Time by Heidi Heilig (via trade)
The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi (via trade)

Books I Bought
The Names They Gave Us by Emery Lord
The Crown's Fate by Evelyn Skye
Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia
The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner

Books I Read
The Tropic of Serpents by Marie Brennan (3 stars)
Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo (reread)
The Unlikelies by Carrie Firestone
Voyage of the Basilisk by Marie Brennan (4 stars)
And We're Off by Dana Schwartz (4 stars)
Kids of Appetite by David Arnold (3 stars)
The Kitchen Counter Cooking School by Kathleen Flinn (3 stars)
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte (3.5 stars)
Being Sloane Jacobs by Lauren Morrill (reread)
The Watchmaker of Filigree Street by Natasha Pulley (3 stars)
In the Labyrinth of Drakes by Marie Brennan (4 stars)
The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee

Blog Posts You Might've Missed in the Last Few Weeks
  (from 5/15-5/20)
   (from 5/21-5/27)

May 27, 2017

From the Bookshelf to the Kitchen: Sugar Cookie Lemon Tarts

I just love when a YA book infused with food comes along. Marissa Meyer's Heartless is a perfect example, and ever since I read it over Christmas break, I've been plotting what recipes to make.

I counted approximately 19 references to various baked goods, although Cath only makes three different recipes on-page during the course of the story. She starts off the book with lemon tarts, so I figured that was a good place to start for my Heartless-inspired recipes.
Goodreads  Read Between the Lynes  Barnes & Noble

I know Cath made full-sized tarts, but I'm still mastering the art of pie/tart crusts, so I decided to do a slight variation.

Sugar Cookie Lemon Tarts

For the crust:
8 T. unsalted butter, softened
1/2 c. granulated sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1/4 t. baking powder
pinch of salt
For the filling:
2 eggs
3 egg yolks
1/4 c. whipping cream
juice from 1 large lemon
1/4 c. granulated sugar
For the topping:
2 T. powdered sugar
1/2 c. whipping cream

To make the crust, beat the butter and granulated sugar until light and fluffy in a stand mixer (about three minutes on high). Add the egg and mix on medium until incorporated. Add the flour, baking powder, and salt and mix just until no spots of flour remain. Wrap the dough in parchment paper and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly grease a mini muffin tin and set aside.
Whisk together the eggs, egg yolks, cream, lemon juice, and sugar until smooth.
Remove the cookie dough from the fridge; divide it into quarters and divide each quarters into six even balls of dough. Press each into a cup of the muffin tin. Use your thumbs to press the dough into an evenly distributed cup along the sides and bottom of each space of the tin. Pour the filling into the center of each sugar cookie cup, stopping just below the top of the crust.
Bake until the filling is set and the crust begins to turn golden (approximately 10-12 minutes). Allow them to cool completely to room temperature, then refrigerate until ready to serve.
Beat the whipping cream with the powdered sugar until stiff peaks form. Pipe or spoon onto each tart. Serve chilled.

**I'd personally do one less egg yolk than the recipe calls for just because the tarts tasted awfully eggy.

Have a book/recipe suggestion for From the Bookshelf to the Kitchen? Leave it in the comments below. ^.^

May 26, 2017

Random Friday: Summer 2017 Reads

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.
Here are seven of the books I can't wait to read this summer!

1. Saints and Misfits by S.K. Ali

2. If Birds Fly Back by Carlie Sorosiak

3. I See London, I See France by Sarah Mlynowski

4. This Is How It Happened by Paula Stokes

5. Wesley James Ruined My Life by Jennifer Honeybourn

6. Lucky in Love by Kasie West

7. Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo

8. You Don't Know Me But I Know You by Rebecca Barrow

9. Even the Darkest Stars by Heather Fawcett

10. The Girl with the Red Balloon by Katherine Locke

Bonus pick: The Glass Town Game by Catherynne M. Valente

What summer releases are you anticipating? Or, what books do you plan to read this summer?

May 24, 2017

Review: Tash Hearts Tolstoy

Tash Hearts Tolstoy by Kathryn Ormsbee
Grade: A
Release date: June 6, 2017
An e-galley was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for review consideration.
Summary: After a shout-out from one of the Internet’s superstar vloggers, Natasha “Tash” Zelenka suddenly finds herself and her obscure, amateur web series, Unhappy Families, thrust in the limelight: She’s gone viral. 

Her show is a modern adaption of Anna Karenina—written by Tash’s literary love Count Lev Nikolayevich “Leo” Tolstoy. Tash is a fan of the 40,000 new subscribers, their gushing tweets, and flashy Tumblr gifs. Not so much the pressure to deliver the best web series ever.

And when Unhappy Families is nominated for a Golden Tuba award, Tash’s cyber-flirtation with a fellow award nominee suddenly has the potential to become something IRL—if she can figure out how to tell said crush that she’s romantic asexual.

Tash wants to enjoy her newfound fame, but will she lose her friends in her rise to the top? What would Tolstoy do?

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: There are, as of right now, three YA books I wish I'd written that I often call "the books of my heart." This is one of them. I was drawn to Tash Hearts Tolstoy by the mention of a literary-inspired web series. Sometimes my gut instinct telling me a book sounds phenomenal is wrong; sometimes it is right.
Tash as a protagonist was wonderful. She grew in little ways and acted like a teenager to me. She tried to be a good kid and a kind person, and I appreciated that. The cast of supporting characters is a bit large, between Tash's parents, her sister, Thom (the crush), her best friends, Jacklyn (Jack) and Paul, and the cast of the web series. I did have trouble keeping some of the more minor characters straight, but Tash Hearts Tolstoy focused nicely on Tash, her family, Jack, Paul, and Thom. The friendship between Tash, Jack, and Paul was great. It wasn't idealized and perfect; Jack frustrated Tash at times (in fact, she frustrated me), but I think that comes with the growing pains of being seventeen/eighteen. I called certain spoilery things about Paul from the start, but I think I liked where that plotline went at the end. 
The web series bits are great fun, and I wish Unhappy Families was real. The author previously worked on a web series, so her firsthand experience shows and really makes for authentic descriptions. Tash gives a lot of information all at once explaining how the show came to be, but it didn't feel like info-dump. Sometimes it's good to reveal all the information at once, just so readers aren't confused.
Tash Hearts Tolstoy is also about Tash watching her older sister, Klaudie, handle the summer between graduation and college, and then figuring out herself how her plans for the future might be changing. I liked how the Zelenka parents encouraged Tash to pursue her dreams...just reasonably. I also felt like I got to know her mom and dad pretty well, and they were great parents for a YA book.
It surprised me how long it took to get to the Golden Tubas awards show, but that ended up being the climax of the book, which worked nicely. Thom fits into the conflict, and I wasn't feeling too weird about him until then, so maybe a few hints earlier on might've been nice (besides Tash's friends feeling uncertain about him).
As far as I know, the scenes about Tash's asexuality were good and accurate. It was revealed slowly, with little hints, and I thought the on-page reveal came about quite organically instead of it being a forced thing where Tash is basically just telling the readers.
Another thing I noticed: the tone and narration voice are different from Kathryn Ormsbee's Lucky Few, and I liked the tone in Tash Hearts Tolstoy better. I liked Lucky Few, too, but I connected with Tash Hearts Tolstoy more.
The only things that keeps me from giving this five stars is the amount of foul language (not my thing, y'all) and the focus on Buddhism; I appreciate the religious diversity, but Buddhism just isn't my thing either.

The Verdict: Quiet, but in the best way possible. Also, my desire to read Anna Karenina has grown exponentially.

Will I be adding this book to my library?: Absolutely. It's preordered and everything.

May 23, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: Non-Contemporary Beach Reads

When people recommend books to read on the beach or poolside, they suggest primarily contemporary novels. (I'm guilty of this myself.) So this time around, I'm going to recommend YA books that are any genre but contemporary.

1. A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray

2. The Wrath & the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh

3. Murder Is Bad Manners by Robin Stevens

4. The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

5. The Weight of Feathers by Anna-Marie McLemore

6. Prisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blankman

7. The Conspiracy of Us by Maggie Hall

8. Deep Blue by Jennifer Donnelly

9. Cinder by Marissa Meyer

10. Pivot Point by Kasie West

What are your favorite beach reads?

May 21, 2017

So You Like... #50

Since this is my 50th So You Like... post, I thought I ought to do one that's a little extra special. :)

There's this one YA author, whose books I've been reading since her debut. I've preordered every single one and had the opportunity to review the last three. She writes beautiful contemporary full of feelings and relationships (familial, platonic, and romantic), and I'd go as far as to say she's the next Sarah Dessen. And if she's one of your favorite authors, too, you need to check out the books I'm about to feature. So you like...

(as always, book covers link to the Goodreads pages)

If you like...




If you like...




If you like...




If you like...




So are you an Emery Lord fan? Or do you love these books I recommended for her fans? Got any other recommendations?