January 31, 2018

Burn, Rewrite, or Reread Tag #2

I did this tag back in June and couldn't resist doing it again! This time, my dad picked out the books for me. 

Quick refresher: this tag works by picking out groups of three books. From each group, you must pick a book you'd (hypothetically) burn, one you'd (hypothetically) rewrite, and one you'd reread. Ready for it?

Group #1:

Well, we're off to a great start.

Burn: Nnnnngggghhhhhh.
Reread: I really need to reread all of these, because two have only been read once, and it's been a while for the other one. But I guess I'll go with My Plain Jane because I'm really in the mood for something funny.
Rewrite: Can I really claim that I could write a book better than MWT? But I don't want to burn her books, either... I guess I'll rewrite The Crown of Embers, find a way to make it even stronger.
Burn: Well. That leaves The King of Attolia. Crap. (I just want to make it EXTRA clear that I really didn't want to have to pick from this group.)

Group #2:

Lol, this is another hard choice, but for the opposite reason. (No, I don't want to burn all of these books; I'd rather rewrite all of them.)

Burn: The Conspiracy of Us, mainly because I've lost my enthusiasm for it, and I've since sold my copy.
Rewrite: When We Collided is my least favorite Emery Lord book, so I think I'd fix a few things to make it crisper and more of a book I'd love.
Reread: Surprisingly, I'm rereading Just One Year. If it had been put in any other group, it would probably be the book I'd burn, just because the ending annoys me.

Group #3:

Reread: A Shadow Bright and Burning because I don't remember most of what happens in it.
Burn: Hmm...it's a toss-up between the remaining two for rewrite, but I guess I'll burn... Three Dark Crowns. :(
Rewrite: The Rose & the Dagger. There's weird magic stuff going on with the plot that I don't think the book really needs. It needs a rewrite so it can be as strong as The Wrath & the Dawn.

Group #4:

Burn: My True Love Gave to Me is fun but too many of the stories are meh.
Rewrite: Ice Like Fire because I hate where Theron's plot goes. He deserves better. (Also Mather and Meira remind me too much of Mal and Alina.)
Reread: Heist Society, obviously. It's perfect.

I feel like you can tell my dad picked these out because the majority are fantasy, or at least not contemporary. But then again, we're talking about the man who reads more nonfiction than fiction, so I'm not really sure why he picked these books over any others, considering I have more contemporary than fantasy on my shelves.

What would you do in these scenarios?

January 30, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Can't Believe I Read

This topic could go either positive or negative, and I'm taking it both ways with a split list.

Books I Can't Believe I Read (in a Good Way)

1 and 2. Saint Anything and Once and for All by Sarah Dessen
I vaguely tried a couple Sarah Dessen books back when I first started reading YA, but I really didn't like them. Well, I ended up giving her two most recent titles a chance, and I'm so glad I did. I loved them!

3. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
It took me quite a while to read a Tolkien book (even though I'm a big Lewis fan), but Dr. Brown's adolescent lit class made this happen. I didn't love it, but I'm glad to have read it.

4. Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
All the way back in 2014, I swore I'd never read Harry Potter.
Yeah. How wrong I was about never reading Harry Potter, lolololololol.

Books I Can't Believe I Read (in a Bad Way)

5. Twilight by Stephanie Meyer
I read this for kicks and giggles back in the day, and wow, was I stupid. It was so mind-numbingly terrible that I couldn't write creatively for the longest time.

6. Autumn Falls by Bella Thorne
Not sure why I gave a book "written" by a celebrity a chance.

7. 26 Kisses by Anna Michels

8. Starry Night by Isabel Gillies
Do yourself a favor and never read this book. Read my review to find out why.

9. The Good Soldier by Ford Madox Ford
I had to read this for my Modern Novel class a few years ago, and... *cringes just thinking about it*

10. Don't Ever Change by Beth M. Bloom
This had so much potential, and it fell so flat. (Once again, you can read my review to find out why.)

What books did you talk about for this week's topic?

January 29, 2018

From the Bookshelf to the Kitchen: First-Week Cookies

The first time I read this book, I knew it was going to lead to a From the Bookshelf to the Kitchen post. It's been about a year since I read it but it's finally time to share the recipe.

"'The goods' appear to be two massive cookies. They're crammed full of chocolate chunks, oatmeal, some kind of nut--and that's only the ingredients I can decipher...
'Crumbled-up potato chips. Secret ingredient. Whelan calls them First-Week Cookies." (Emery Lord, The Names They Gave Us p. 75)

I actually had to combine two recipes to get one with oatmeal, chocolate, and potato chips. I left out the nuts, though, just because I don't like those in my cookies, but you could easily toss a few in as long as you cut the amount of chocolate chips and caramel bits so as not to overwhelm the dough (it won't hold together very well if there's too much in it).

First-Week Cookies

3/4 c. old-fashioned oats
2 c. all-purpose flour
2 1/2 t. baking powder
1 1/2 t. salt
1 1/2 c. crushed potato chips (regular salted chips are best)
1/2 c. caramel bits (I used Kraft caramel bits)
3/4 c. chocolate chips
1 c. unsalted butter, softened
1/2 c. granulated sugar
1/2 c. packed brown sugar
1 t. vanilla extract
2 large eggs

Combine the flour, oats, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Stir until combined, then set aside. Beat the butter, sugars, and vanilla with either a stand mixer or hand mixer. Beat until the mixture is lighter in color and you can no longer see any sugar granules. Add eggs; beat until they are fully incorporated. Add the flour mixture in thirds; blend well. Stir in the chips, caramel bits, and chocolate chips by hand. (It will be very thick by this point.)

Cover dough with plastic wrap; refrigerate for 1-2 hours. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit once you're ready to bake the cookies. Scoop out large balls of dough (at least 1/4 cup in size) and place on a baking sheet, leaving plenty of space in between. Don't flatten them at all. Add more caramel bits to the top if you like.

Bake 13 minutes (this will vary, though, according to cookie size), until golden around the edges. Remove and allow to cool on the sheet for 10 minutes. Then, transfer to a wire rack or a paper bag. Serve warm and store leftover cookies in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

Have a book and recipe suggestion for From the Bookshelf to the Kitchen? Leave it in the comments below!

January 28, 2018

Rewind & Review #102

~First snow day since freshman year! I hope this snowy weather doesn't stick around, though, because I don't want it throwing a wrench in my travel plans in a week and a half.
~Started my final history paper of my college career. I'm writing about a Muslim woman who helped found the oldest university in the world. I don't have as long to write it, though, as I normally do, so I'm a little stressed about producing a good paper in time. Especially because I'm having trouble finding primary sources.
~Started my practicum, and I'm super excited about it. I think I'm going to learn a lot and get to do some cool things.
~As you'll see below, I got approved for my first e-galleys from HarperCollins in, like, forever. It's a good feeling, y'all. I'm also SUPER excited for the three I've been approved for. 

Books I Received for Review
Everless by Sara Holland (from Miss Print's ARC Adoption Program)
Bookish Boyfriends by Tiffany Schmidt (from Abrams via NetGalley)
Jolly Foul Play by Robin Stevens
Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett (from S&S via NetGalley)
My Plain Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows
The Bird and the Blade by Megan Bannen
A Thousand Beginnings and Endings by various authors (from HarperCollins via Edelweiss)

Books I Won/Traded for/was Gifted
Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman (traded with Kelly)
An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson (traded with Jessica)
Love, Hate & Other Filters by Samira Ahmed (traded with Erica)
Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie McLemore (traded with Jami)
Outrun the Moon by Stacey Lee (traded with Hannah)

Books I Bought

Books I Read
Interference by Kay Honeyman (3.5 stars)
Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch (reread)
Save the Deli by David Sax (3 stars)
The Ship Beyond Time by Heidi Heilig (reread)
Prince Caspian by C.S. Lewis (reread)
Love, Hate & Other Filters by Samira Ahmed (4 stars)
Everless by Sara Holland
The Secret of the Old Clock by Carolyn Keene (4 stars)
More Than We Can Tell by Brigid Kemmerer
The Hidden Staircase by Carolyn Keene (4 stars)
Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett
Local Flavor by Jean Iversen
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis (reread)
The Bungalow Mystery by Carolyn Keene (3 stars)
When We Collided by Emery Lord (reread)

Blog Posts You Might've Missed in the Last Few Weeks
   (from 1/15-1/20)
   (from 1/21-1/27)

January 27, 2018

Writing Prompts #15

It's been a REALLY long time since I did a writing prompt post. Most of my writing this fall has been centered around my novel and a few short stories. (Those stories did start with a prompt from my prof, but they've grown too long for a blog post.) But I have a couple for y'all now!

Prompt #1: Write a letter to your book and/or your main character(s). Talk about the story and your frustrations and joys with writing it. Feel free to vent, since no one but you is going to read this letter. And you never know; it may help you if you've hit a block in writing the book.

Prompt #2: My profs love to give us ekphrastic prompts (that is, prompts inspired by pieces of art). A lot of them are actually fun to write about! So this prompt is that you are to write either a fiction piece or a poem inspired by the following painting:

"Nocturne in Black and Gold - The Falling Rocket" by James Abbott McNeill Whistler.
c. 1875
Detroit Institute of Arts

OR you can write something inspired by this painting:

"The By Road at the Roches-Cortaut Woods - Indian Summer" by Alfred Sisley
Montreal Museum of Fine Arts

Prompt #3: Last one for this post! This is one of my favorite types to do in a promptathon with Elise. Pick up the closest book to you. Either use the first line of the book, or choose a page number and a line number (before flipping to that spot in the book) and use that to start your story.

Good luck, and happy writing! Let me know if you do any of these prompts and how they turn out.

January 25, 2018

Nineteen 2019 Reads

This is my fifth year of doing __teen 20__ Reads, and I'm so excited to continue the tradition. I've picked what I hope will be a great crop of books, so let's get started!

1. Serious Moonlight by Jenn Bennett
Jenn Bennett's next title sounds absolutely wonderful - from the mystery-loving protagonist to her unique job.

2. Spectacle by Jodie Lynn Zdrok
The first historical fiction pick, with magic and a mystery/thriller vibe. I have a feeling this one will be a big hit.

3. Misaligned by Gloria Chao
Absolutely here for small Midwestern towns plus East Asian-American protagonists.

4. Pretty in Punxsutawney by Laurie Boyle Crompton
Basically two classic '80s and '90s films in one YA book. EXCELLENT.

5. Opposite of Always by J.A. Reynolds
Everything, Everything meets Groundhog Day? Sign me the heck up.

6. When the Ground Is Hard by Malla Nunn
It's a boarding school story, plus there's hopefully gonna be some important issues.

7. Color Me In by Natasha Diaz
Hooray for more Jewish protagonists!

8. Famous in a Small Town by Emma Mills
After Foolish Hearts, I have no doubt Emma Mills's next book will be great. I'm just cranky we have to wait til 2019 for it.

9. Our Year of Maybe by Rachel Lynn Solomon
The Goodreads blurb is pretty short, but I always love friendship stories.

10. Crown of Feathers by Nicki Pau PReto
It's a readalike for The Winner's Curse apparently, PLUS there's warriors who ride phoenixes into battle!!!

11. Hungry Hearts by various authors
Do y'all know how many From the Bookshelf to the Kitchen posts this may spawn?

12. The Map From Here to There by Emery Lord
I have been waiting for a sequel to The Start of Me and You for so long.

13. The Dead Queens Club by Hannah Capin
It's a modern-day imagining of Henry VIII and his wives. I have much higher hopes for this one than Anne & Henry

14. Mad, Bad & Dangerous to Know by Samira Ahmed
I'm just gonna leave the Publishers Weekly blurb here for y'all, because doesn't it sound amazing??
"A YA thriller told in dueling narratives that weave between past and present follows a Muslim-American teenager who partners with a descendant of French author Alexandar Dumas to unravel the mystery of a 19th century Muslim woman who appears in letters between Dumas and Eugene Delacroix."

15. Suggested Reading by Dave Connis
A secret book hustler who starts a reading rebellion sounds like one of my wildest dreams.

16. Ten Blind Dates by Ashley Elston
It's a holiday story, plus one of its "____ meets _____" comparisons is My Big Fat Greek Wedding.

17. Prognosis: Love & Death by Sona Charaipotra
Smart heroine? A love story? 

18. Dust Boy, Ash Girl by Andy Fukada
I'm tentative because this will probably be an epistolary novel, which isn't my favorite thing. BUT it's about pen pals at the onset of World War II, one of whom is Japanese-American, and the other is French.

19. King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo

I'll see y'all halfway through the year for the second and final group of Nineteen 2019 Reads! Also stay tuned for check-ins on my Eighteen 2018 Reads!

January 24, 2018

Review: Reign the Earth

Reign the Earth by A.C. Gaughen
Grade: B-
Release date: January 30, 2018
An e-galley was provided by Bloomsbury via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Summary: Shalia is a proud daughter of the desert, but after years of devastating war with the adjoining kingdom, her people are desperate for peace. Willing to trade her freedom to ensure the safety of her family, Shalia becomes Queen of the Bonelands.

But she soon learns that her husband, Calix, is motivated only by his desire to exterminate the Elementae—mystical people who can control earth, wind, air, and fire. Even more unsettling are Shalia’s feelings for her husband’s brother, which unleash a power over the earth she never knew she possessed—a power that could get her killed. As rumors of a rebellion against Calix spread, Shalia must choose between the last chance for peace and her own future as an Elementae.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: Well. Even a couple days later, I'm not quite sure how I felt about Reign the Earth. There were things I expected more of, I suppose, and the plot didn't quite go how I wanted it to.
I definitely expected more of an explanation of how the Elementae magic worked, where it came from, and the characters using it. I kept reading, hoping to learn that, but I never did. Maybe it'll be explained better in future books, but I guess I would've liked a taste of that in Reign the Earth.
I did like that Shalia took her duties as queen seriously, but things in the castle didn't feel quite royal to me. Maybe more setting details would have helped with that. More setting details overall would have been nice because I had trouble placing the various locations in my head and figuring out where the characters were.
I also wanted more from the other female characters. Shalia's basically the only one that matters, and she's surrounded by guys - Calix, Galen, her brother, her personal guards... There's some violence. There's also vague descriptions of a few sex scenes (between Shalia and her husband). I should also give trigger warnings for physical and verbal abuse and a miscarriage.

The Verdict: Good but not great. Maybe the sequel will be better?

Will I be adding this book to my library?: I'm not sure.

January 23, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Liked But Can't Remember Much About

This is my first week doing the new Top Ten Tuesday, in case you're wondering about the change in logo. I'm so glad it's continuing!

This week is all about the books we liked when we first read them, but it's been a while (or maybe not...?) and now we can't remember diddly-squat about them. For all of these books, I recall the general premises and some character names, but that's about it. I guess it's time I reread them?

1. The Revenge Playbook by Rachael Allen

2. Tumbling by Caela Carter

3. A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess

4. Rook by Sharon Cameron

5. Across a Star-Swept Sea by Diana Peterfreund

6. The Archived by Victoria Schwab

7. The Secrets of Lily Graves by Sarah Strohmeyer

8. The Possibility of Now by Kim Culbertson

9. Falling into Place by Amy Zhang

10. The Steep and Thorny Way by Cat Winters

What books did you list this week?