May 31, 2018

Most Anticipated June 2018 Releases

Another month, another list of books I cannot wait to read. Are you ready for it?

Waiting For

1. Save the Date by Morgan Matson (6/5/18)
I mean, duh.

2. Little Do We Know by Tamara Ireland Stone (6/5/18)
It's been several years since Tamara's last book, and I'm excited to see what she's written next.

3. Summer of Salt by Katrina Leno (6/5/18)
I enjoy Katrina's books, despite the fact that there's always something in each one that I don't like.

4. A Thousand Perfect Notes by C.G. Drews (6/7/18)
It is a truth universally acknowledged that if a book blogger is getting published, I will eagerly anticipate their book.

5. Not the Girls You're Looking For by Aminah Mae Safi (6/19/18)
I didn't get an ARC or e-galley of this one, and I have a fierce need.

6. The Game of Hope by Sandra Gulland (6/26/18)
Historical fiction is my fave.

Already Read - You Should, Too!

1. My Plain Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows (6/26/18)
While not quite as delightful as My Lady Jane, MPJ was still fun.

2. A Thousand Beginnings and Endings by various authors (6/26/18)
If you like fairytale/folktale/legend anthologies, you have to try this one!

May 28, 2018

#QuietYA Recs Round 8

I've got a list of books that have slid under the radar lately that y'all should consider reading. They aren't NYT bestsellers or ones that have gotten movies, but they're still good books.

With an asexual protagonist, this title is from the Swoon Reads imprint, which can be hit or miss. This is definitely one of their hits.

The sort-of companion sequel to Letters to the Lost, and infinitely better in my opinion. The emotions are strongly written, the romance is compelling, and characters are fleshed out.

Fantasy that truly reminds me of historic France and England.

Historical fiction about pioneers...but not to the Wild West.

Mystery/thriller that will keep you guessing.

Quiet and lyrical and thought-provoking with a lovely cover.

One of the best summer 2018 reads you'll find. Lots of food, plus changing friendships and a romance.

Short and fun read with nerdy characters and an exploration of sexism and learning not to apologize for who you are.

What #quietYA titles have you read lately?

May 26, 2018

Review: Everywhere You Want to Be

Everywhere You Want to Be by Christina June
Grade: C+
An ARC was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.
Summary: Matilda Castillo has always done what she was told, but when she gets injured senior years, she watches her dreams of becoming a contemporary dancer slip away. So when Tilly gets a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to spend the summer with a New York dance troupe, nothing can stop her from saying yes--not her mother, not her fears of the big city, and not the commitment she made to Georgetown. Tilly's mother allows her to go on two conditions: one, Tilly will regularly visit her abuela in New Jersey, and two, after the summer, she'll give up dancing and go off to college.

Armed with her red vintage sunglasses and her pros and cons lists, Tilly strikes out, determined to turn a summer job into a career. Along the way she meets new friends ... and new enemies. Tilly isn't the only one desperate to dance, and fellow troupe member Sabrina Wolfrik intends to succeed at any cost. But despite dodging sabotage and blackmail attempts from Sabrina, Tilly can't help but fall in love with the city, especially since Paolo, a handsome musician from her past, is also calling New York home for the summer.

As the weeks wind down and the competition with Sabrina heats up, Tilly's future is on the line. She must decide whether to follow her mother's path to Georgetown or leap into the unknown to pursue her own dreams.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: With elements of Little Red Riding Hood, Everywhere You Want to Be is a delightful, if a bit predictable, summer read set in every teen's dream city - New York.
This book thrives on three things: the city, dance, and romance, which I'm sure many teen readers will love. Tilly, the main character, doesn't have a lot of depth, but she's relatable enough, and it's likely that readers will root for her and her love interest, Paolo. Charlotte and Tatum work as friend characters, although Arden and Ella definitely didn't feel fleshed out enough. I wanted to see Tilly exploring the city just a little more because her list of things to do is featured towards the end of Everywhere You Want to Be, and a bunch of adventures are checked off that weren't even referenced earlier in the novel.
Overall, the dance plot wrapped up pretty nicely. I appreciated the happy ending, and it wasn't terribly cliche. However, I felt like the plot with Sabrina came to a very typical ending. I'm not sure how it could've been better, but it was very expected.
I've also noticed this trend of dialogue in YA books that sounds super stiff and unrealistic. Teenage characters definitely say "yeah" and "hey/hi" more than "yes" and "hello" and they use contractions most of the time unless they feel the need to be formal or they're angry. 

The Verdict: I didn't hate this book; I just didn't love it either. But it's definitely a fun read.

Will I be adding this book to my library?: Nah.

May 25, 2018

Random Friday: Summer 2018 Reads

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.

Summer is always a much quieter publishing season. But here are the releases I'm eager to read!

1. Always Never Yours by Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka

2. The History of Jane Doe by Michael Belanger

3. A Thousand Perfect Notes by C.G. Drews

4. Final Draft by Riley Redgate

5. Heart of Thorns by Bree Barton

6. These Rebel Waves by Sara Raasch

7. Catwoman: Soulstealer by Sarah J. Maas
(I can't help it, y'all.)

8. To Be Honest by Maggie Ann Martin

9. In Another Time by Caroline Leech

10. Two Dark Reigns by Kendare Blake

What summer 2018 releases are you anticipating? Or what are you planning to read this summer?

May 21, 2018

Review: The Way You Make Me Feel

The Way You Make Me Feel by Maurene Goo
Grade: A
An e-galley was provided by Macmillan via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Summary: Clara Shin lives for pranks and disruption. When she takes one joke too far, her dad sentences her to a summer working on his food truck, the KoBra, alongside her uptight classmate Rose Carver. Not the carefree summer Clara had imagined. But maybe Rose isn't so bad. Maybe the boy named Hamlet (yes, Hamlet) crushing on her is pretty cute. Maybe Clara actually feels invested in her dad’s business. What if taking this summer seriously means that Clara has to leave her old self behind? 

With Maurene Goo's signature warmth and humor, The Way You Make Me Feel is a relatable story of falling in love and finding yourself in the places you’d never thought to look.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: I'm gonna be honest with y'all. I didn't love Maurene Goo's I Believe in a Thing Called Love. So the fact that I devoured this book and never wanted it to end says a lot. It was everything I love in contemporary YA - friendship, family, romance, and fun.
Clara and Rose start as a bit one-dimensional, but their characters develop so well. Clara goes through some great changes and realizations, and I loved finding all of Rose's layers. Clara's friend group from before helped develop her personality, and although they felt more like plot devices, Patrick and Felix did have personalities. I also loved the relationship dynamics between Clara and each of her parents. She's always loved her dad and appreciated him, but when she finds out just how much he's done for her, it gets even better. I did wish there were more consequences for some of Clara's choices towards the end of the novel, but I guess it did feel very Gilmore Girls-esque that Adrian (Clara's dad) didn't do much.
The romance element is fun. Hamlet is a bit caricature-ish at times, but I do really love the trend of earnest, dorky love interests. I appreciated where the end of the story took Hamlet and Clara and their potential for a future. And this is a tiny little thing, but I liked that they weren't both Korean. Often, with a POC lead (especially Asian-American leads), the love interest is either white or the same ethnicity, so it was nice to see something different.
I will say that the food truck plot wrapped up a little too quickly and neatly, but I loved how it was a vehicle for change and growth.

Content warning: Underage drinking. Minor violence.

The Verdict: So, so, so much fun.

Will I be adding this book to my library?: Yes!!

May 20, 2018

Rewind & Review #110

~It's been so good to read so much. I'm squeezing as much in while I'm home as I can.
~I haven't even fully unpacked, and I'm just gonna have to pack again for New York in a few days. :P
~We visited family in Minnesota these last several days. I got to shop at two adorable children's bookstores (Wild Rumpus and Red Balloon Bookshop), read lots, and see my grandparents and cousins.

Books I Received for Review
When We Caught Fire by Anna Godbersen (from HarperCollins via Edelweiss)
We Regret to Inform You by A.E. Kaplan (from Random House via NetGalley)
The Opposite of Here by Tara Altebrando (from Bloomsbury)

Books I Bought
Royals by Rachel Hawkins
Thick As Thieves by Megan Whalen Turner
Emily of Deep Valley by Maud Hart Lovelace
The Way You Make Me Feel by Maurene Goo
Noteworthy by Riley Redgate

Books I Read
Amal Unbound by Aisha Saeed (4 stars)
A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J. Maas (3 stars)
My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows (reread)
The Way You Make Me Feel by Maurene Goo
Turtles All the Way Down by John Green (3 stars)
Stay Sweet by Siobhan Vivian (4 stars)
The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner (reread)
Chaotic Good by Whitney Gardner (4 stars)
The Opposite of Here by Tara Altebrando
Queens of Fennbirn by Kendare Blake (4 stars)
Emily of Deep Valley by Maud Hart Lovelace (4 stars)

Blog Posts You Might've Missed in the Last Few Weeks
   (from 5/7-5/12)
   (from 5/13-5/19)

May 19, 2018

So You Like... #68

Today's recommendation post is all about a feature in a book. If you like books with dual narration, I've got some recommendations for you! (And as always, book covers link to Goodreads pages.)

(Same character, two different scenarios.)

(Romeo & Juliet-esque, but better.)

(If one of your favorite childhood movies was The Parent Trap, you'll like this one.)

(Two girls finding friendship in the summer before their freshman year of college.)

(By one of my auto-buy authors, Emery Lord.)

(Friendship and European travel. Sign me up.)

(Another Romeo & Juliet-esque tale, but with magical realism.)

What are some of your favorite dual-narrated books?

May 17, 2018

Review: Monday's Not Coming

Monday's Not Coming by Tiffany D. Jackson
Grade: B
Release date: May 22, 2018
An e-galley was provided by HarperCollins via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.
Summary: Monday Charles is missing, and only Claudia seems to notice. Claudia and Monday have always been inseparable—more sisters than friends. So when Monday doesn’t turn up for the first day of school, Claudia’s worried. When she doesn’t show for the second day, or second week, Claudia knows that something is wrong. Monday wouldn’t just leave her to endure tests and bullies alone. Not after last year’s rumors and not with her grades on the line. Now Claudia needs her best—and only—friend more than ever. But Monday’s mother refuses to give Claudia a straight answer, and Monday’s sister April is even less help.

As Claudia digs deeper into her friend’s disappearance, she discovers that no one seems to remember the last time they saw Monday. How can a teenage girl just vanish without anyone noticing that she’s gone?

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: It's been a week since I finished Monday's Not Coming, and I'm still trying to process it and my feelings. It's such a complicated story, and I'm worried it will slip under the radar or be dismissed too quickly. The way it is told will definitely turn off a lot of readers, and I struggled with the narration, but I knew the plot was going to be worth it. One of the minor plot threads is about Claudia's dyslexia, and I thought that worked pretty well. I did want more of her dance plotline because that really developed her character.
MNC is a story about friendship, the truth, and domestic abuse. Claudia is persistent and loyal; she cares about Monday above all else. Also, thanks to Claudia being the narrator, there's still an element of innocence despite the topic - missing black teenage girls - being so tragic. I did feel her voice read awfully young; in the "After" chapters I felt she was probably fourteen or so, but she read closer to eleven or twelve for most of the book.
The timeline of the story did confuse me quite a bit, but I think Monday's Not Coming would make a good reread. Knowing what happens won't lessen one's enjoyment at all, in my opinion.

Content warnings: Foul language, sexual content, underage drinking, bullying (verbal and physical), violence, and death.

The Verdict: It made me feel a lot of emotions.

Will I be adding this book to my library?: I don't think so...? We'll see.

May 15, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Disliked But Am Glad I Read

I dislike a lot of books. It's unfortunate but a side effect of reading so many books. But there are some I'm glad I read despite not enjoying them. Many are classics that I feel richer for having read; others are YA books or historical fiction that I feel I would always have wondered "What if?" if I hadn't read them.

1. The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis

2. Words in Deep Blue by Cath Crowley
(If only because that cover would have kept calling to me if I'd never read it.)

3. Beloved by Toni Morrison

4. As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner

5. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

6. Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard
(Because it got me to try Dennard's Truthwitch series, which is loads better, imo.)

7. A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
(I didn't hate it enough to not read the rest of the series, and I enjoyed ACOMAF much more.)

8. Da Vinci's Tiger by L.M. Elliott

9. Three Day Summer by Sarvenaz Tash

10. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

What books did you list for this week?

May 13, 2018

Review: Furyborn

Furyborn by Claire Legrand
Grade: C-
Release date: May 22, 2018
An e-galley was provided by Sourcebooks Fire in exchange for an honest review.
Summary: When assassins ambush her best friend, the crown prince, Rielle Dardenne risks everything to save him, exposing her ability to perform all seven kinds of elemental magic. The only people who should possess this extraordinary power are a pair of prophesied queens: a queen of light and salvation and a queen of blood and destruction. To prove she is the Sun Queen, Rielle must endure seven trials to test her magic. If she fails, she will be executed...unless the trials kill her first.

A thousand years later, the legend of Queen Rielle is a mere fairy tale to bounty hunter Eliana Ferracora. When the Undying Empire conquered her kingdom, she embraced violence to keep her family alive. Now, she believes herself untouchable--until her mother vanishes without a trace, along with countless other women in their city. To find her, Eliana joins a rebel captain on a dangerous mission and discovers that the evil at the heart of the empire is more terrible than she ever imagined.

As Rielle and Eliana fight in a cosmic war that spans millennia, their stories intersect, and the shocking connections between them ultimately determine the fate of their world--and of each other.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: When the entire YA book blogger community seems to love a book, and you don't, it can be super hard. So many trusted bloggers have raved about Furyborn, and I definitely had high hopes. My expectations weren't unreasonably high, but Furyborn didn't come close to meeting them.
I don't mind dual POV books, but the way this one switched between Rielle and Eliana felt choppy. Besides that, neither sounded particularly like a teenager. And while Rielle's personality felt well-formed to me, everyone besides her came across as two-dimensional, including Eliana. Her allegiance felt so uncertain to me, and characters who are indecisive are fine, but it needs to be explained well, and hers wasn't. There's also this weird trope I've noticed of fantastical/supernatural characters who are super subservient and almost worshipful of a main character, and that popped up here, and it makes me super uncomfortable.
There were little journal excerpts, book excerpts, prayers, etc. to begin each chapter, and those were interesting but they didn't feel connected enough and often left me with more questions than answers.
One of the few things that kept me reading was because I wanted to know what happened just so that wouldn't bug me, but if it weren't for that, I think I might've DNFed Furyborn.
There's one sex scene, and I'm sorry, but that was much too explicit for young adult fiction. There's also foul language and a lot of violence.

The Verdict: I'm sorry, but this was not YA. And it just wasn't for me, so I guess I'm a black sheep.

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