July 31, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday: Popular Books That Lived Up to the Hype

I'm a firm believer that some popular books really are that good; others, not so much. These eleven, though, are some of the best books I've ever read.

1. The Queen's Thief series by Megan Whalen Turner

2. Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia

3. Since You've Been Gone by Morgan Matson

4. The Wrath & the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh

5. Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

6. Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

7. The Archived by Victoria Schwab

8. Heist Society by Ally Carter

9. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

10. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

11. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

What popular books have you loved just as much as everyone else?

July 28, 2018

New York Adventures, Month Two

What have I been up to in the last month? You're about to find out.


1. I started a project to organize and clear out our reprints files drawer because it was getting ridiculously overcrowded.
2. More slugging! I worked on the third Great Shelby Holmes book, We Are Not Yet Equal. The Splintered Light, Art in Action, and Imprison the Sky.
3. I worked with a lot of picture book proofs, assembling them when they arrived from the printer and then copying color comments if we were sending them back out.
4. On Thursday, I got to go to Fall 2019 launch, where all of the editors talked up their books that will publish next fall. Fall is usually a little quieter, but there's some good stuff coming including Emery Lord's next book and some super cute picture books.
5. My internship has been extended through at least mid-December! I am over the moon with joy and relief.


1. I used UberEats for the first time ever twice in one weekend. I got grilled cheese and tomato soup from Creamline (at the Chelsea Market) for lunch on a cloudy Saturday, and then ordered cake from The Cake Pusher on Sunday evening. Both were just what I needed. (And that cake was so good that I had to order it again at the end of the month.)
2. Bistango - an Italian place in Midtown East. Pretty good, but definitely fancier than I can afford most of the time.
3. Doughnut Pub in Chelsea - Highly recommend. Cute, classic, and super tasty.

4. Friend of a Farmer - a restaurant near Union Square and Gramercy Park. SO GOOD. We went for brunch, and I wanted to stay for lunch and dinner.
5. Brunch at Maman - I finally got to try their waffles, and they were so good! And I got their Pink Lady cocktail, too, and it was so yummy. (Sparkling wine with elderflower rose lemonade.)


1. I went to Lauren Spieller's launch event down at Books of Wonder. It was my first Books of Wonder author event, which was exciting. They had champagne and cupcakes, and I got Lauren's book signed, as well as one by Dahlia Adler (she was sort of the moderator/in conversation with Lauren).
2. I took Elizabeth to Books of Wonder when she visited, and I got another book in the Anne of Green Gables series.


1. I saw Beautiful: The Carole King Musical again because Melissa Benoist is starring in it this summer. Sadly, she and most of the cast had a party that night, so only three of them came to the stage door. I had been dying to meet her, as well as the actors that played Cynthia and Barry, but alas.
2. Nori (from ReadWriteLove28) and I met up for dinner and then watched the Fourth of July fireworks together. She was great fun to hang out with, but this is the only time I'm going to the NYC fireworks. It's too much work, especially when you're as short as me and tall people think it's okay to stand in the front rows. :P

3. I saw Wicked, and it was everything I hoped it would be. I got actual chills during "No Good Deed."
4. For my birthday/my parents' anniversary, we saw The Phantom of the Opera which was pretty spectacular.
5. I saw Mamma Mia 2, and the movie itself was AMAZING.
6. My friend Elizabeth came to town for the event in item #7, but while she was here, we saw Anastasia on Broadway, since that was the musical she was dying to see.
7. I GOT TO SEE THE REPUTATION TOUR! I went with a friend to the third show, and it was so epic. The only things I didn't like were a) the sporadic rain, b) Taylor played "So It Goes" instead of "Dancing With Our Hands Tied," and c) some jerk in Chicago called me during "Enchanted" (the surprise song) so my video got cut off. I did a whole post about the concert a couple days ago, and you can find it here.
8. Then, two days later, I saw Aladdin, thanks to my dorm. (They got discounted tickets for this show and Wicked.)


1. The Met Cloisters - I went up here for a bit on the Fourth. It's much smaller than the main Met campus, but still cool. The architecture and cloisters gardens are the best. If it hadn't been so hot and I had had a friend with me, I probably would've wandered around the park as well.

2. Red Hook Winery in Brooklyn - My dorm did an event where we did a tasting here, and it was fun! We took the train down to Wall Street, then took the ferry across the river. I liked the red wine I tried best, which was surprising because I tend to prefer whites and ros├ęs.

3. The Central Park Zoo - I took a spontaneous trip up there one Sunday afternoon. For how much it cost to get in, I'm not sure it's worth it...but it was fun to see snow leopards and red pandas.

4. Brooklyn Heights - So I'm moving to another dorm in Brooklyn in a few weeks, and we got to see my new neighborhood. Y'all. I'm so close to the river, and there's a big supermarket across the street, and then there's a street nearby with restaurants and a Starbucks and a Francesca's. I'm so excited for this next step in my New York adventure.
5. TriBeCa - I had brunch at the Maman location down there, and Elizabeth and I walked around a little bit. We even walked past Taylor Swift's apartment building! (But we did not wait outside for her like a bunch of people and paps were. Cause that's crossing a line.)

So yeah, that's month two! I think month three might slow down in some respects, but I'm excited to see what my new neighborhood holds and how my internship will grow as we move into fall. I've got a few things planned for the next few months and tons of museums to still explore. And as always, I'm open to suggestions and recommendations (especially for restaurants).

July 26, 2018

Best Big Apple YA Books

As I continue to settle in New York, I thought I ought to recommend YA books set here (or at least, partially here). If y'all want to travel here without having to deal with airfare, crowds, and the insane food prices, these books would be a nice substitute.








(technically set in Brooklyn, but it still counts, imo)

Do you know of any other YA books set in New York that I should read?

July 25, 2018

Hold on to the Memories, They Will Hold on to You

It's been two days, and I'm still not sure how to put my evening into words. Everything about the Reputation Stadium Tour feels like a wonderful blur. I have videos and pictures, but I'm also holding on tight to my memories because I never want to forget Taylor Swift's latest tour.

We got really lucky because it poured the previous night, but it was only sporadic throughout our show. Charli XCX opened, and I didn't know most of the stuff she sang except for "Boom Clap" and her covers of "Fancy" and "I Love It." Then Camila Cabello came on, and I knew a little more of her set. Plus she has a really good voice.

"Obsessed" by Mariah Carey and Joan Jett's "Bad Reputation" played before Taylor arrived, and honestly, what a mood.

Here's video of Taylor's entrance:

"I Did Something Bad" was next, and it was honestly one of the best experiences. Like, it's a solid jam by itself, but Taylor made it such an outstanding production on tour.

She had light-up bracelets for everyone like with last tour, and my favorite moments were when they were pink during "Love Story" and then crowns formed on parts of the crowd during "King of My Heart." And the crowd absolutely glittered during "Shake It Off," which was so magical.

(See? The yellow lights were the crowns.)

She played "So It Goes..." instead of "Dancing With Our Hands Tied," which I didn't like. I love DWOHT, so I was really looking forward to the acoustic version of that. But then she played "Enchanted" as the surprise song, and I loved every minute. The last two tours, the surprise songs at my shows were "Fearless" and "Fifteen" so it was great to get a song from a different album, especially one I love so much.

And I didn't know I needed a "Bad Blood/Should've Said No" mash-up, but hearing banjo in "Bad Blood" was epic and I danced so hard during "Should've Said No." (During "Gorgeous" earlier in the show, too.)

The pyro during "Don't Blame Me" was just as wild as it was during "I Did Something Bad." I could literally feel the heat on my face. There were a bunch of fireworks too, which was epic.


I teared up during "Long Live/New Year's Day" on the piano, and then cried during the video of one of her poems.

(Look at my fave. She was so happy with us.)

"Getaway Car" and "Call It What You Want" were everything I wanted them to be.

And then she closed with a mash-up of two of her songs with the longest titles: "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together/This Is Why We Can't Have Nice Things."

Getting back to New York was very slow, but at least we didn't have to sit in traffic. I was very tired the next day at work, though, haha.

Overall, though, I'm so glad I bought tickets after all and was able to go. I know I would've regretted not going with Taylor so close, and I'm very grateful that I had a friend who was willing to come visit and go with me.

July 23, 2018

Review: The Impossibility of Us

The Impossibility of Us by Katy Upperman
Grade: C-
Release date: July 31, 2018
An ARC was provided by Fierce Reads in exchange for an honest review.
Summary: The last thing Elise wants is to start her senior year in a new town. But after her brother’s death in Afghanistan, she and her mother move from San Francisco to a sleepy coastal village.

When Elise meets Mati, they quickly discover how much they have in common. Mati is new to town too, visiting the U.S. with his family. Over the course of the summer, their relationship begins to blossom, and what starts out as a friendship becomes so much more.

But as Elise and Mati grow closer, her family becomes more and more uncomfortable with their relationship, and their concerns all center on one fact—Mati is Afghan.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: The Impossibility of Us promises a Romeo and Juliet-esque story where their families want to keep them apart, and it delivers on that with plenty of the expected drama. Thankfully, unlike Katy's debut novel, the tension and drama feel less cheesy.
The cast of characters is very small - Elise and Mati narrate, and the group is rounded out with Elise's mother, sister-in-law, and niece; Mati's parents; and the boy next door, Ryan. A small cast can be good; readers can get to know characters extremely well, and it makes the story intimate. I felt like that wasn't quite present in this book, though. I never connected with Elise or Mati, and it was annoying that pretty much all of the adult figures were portrayed as absent or wrong.
Mati's chapters were told through verse, but most of it didn't flow right to me. Honestly, I'd have rather his sections have been prose. I know it was meant to support his interest in writing, but it didn't quite work for me. At least the effort was made to show how much he loved to write, though. Elise was supposedly passionate about photography, but I never really got that. It was just something she did.
I persisted in finishing this book, but it was missing that spark that a good contemporary YA needs. I appreciated that the author wanted to write a biracial romance, but the rest of the story didn't support that well enough to make it a strong novel.

Content warning: Islamophobia, violence, discussions of death and war, PG levels of making out.

The Verdict: Alas, a bit disappointing.

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

July 22, 2018

Rewind & Review #114

~We had the Fourth of July off, so the night before, I treated myself to dinner and Beautiful: The Carole King Musical. Then on the Fourth, I went to the Cloisters before meeting up with Nori from Readwritelove28 for dinner and the fireworks.
~I had a fairly busy weekend, between a winery tour and then a spontanous trip up to the Central Park Zoo.
~I SAW WICKED!!!!!!!!!
~Also!! My internship got extended through mid-December! So guess Bloomsbury and New York are stuck with me a little longer. ;)
~My parents came to town for my birthday. We saw where I'll be living this fall, explored the Upper West Side and Brooklyn Heights, and saw Phantom of the Opera.

Books I Received for Review
The Lady's Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzi Lee (from HarperCollins via Edelweiss)
For a Muse of Fire by Heidi Heilig (from ARC Adoption)

Books I Won/Traded for/was Gifted
My Plain Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows
Hero at the Fall by Alwyn Hamilton (from the free table at work)
Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein (birthday gift from my parents)
Courting Darkness by Robin LaFevers
The Lady's Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzi Lee (traded with Christina)

Books I Read
Save the Date by Morgan Matson (reread)
Letting Go of Gravity by Meg Leder
Summer of Salt by Katrina Leno (3.5 stars)
A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas (reread)
My So-Called Bollywood Life by Nisha Sharma (3 stars)
We Are Not Yet Equal by Carol Anderson and Tonya Bolden (4 stars)
The Light Between Worlds by Laura E. Weymouth
A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas (reread)
One Of Us Is Lying by Karen McManus (4 stars)
A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas (reread)
The Impossibility of Us by Katy Upperman
Pride by Ibi Zoboi

Blog Posts You Might've Missed in the Last Few Weeks
   (from 7/2-7/7)
   (from 7/8-7/14)

July 20, 2018

Random Friday: Journaling

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  • 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.

I have a lot of journal-type notebooks, but I tend to use them for writing my novels as opposed to journaling. But this past fall, I took up journaling, just to have a place to put down and process my thoughts and moods.

I'm not very good at journaling, truth be told. I was good at keeping up with it at the beginning, writing every few days. But I've had several long spells in the last six months where I just don't write. And it's not like stuff isn't happening, but I've kind of lost my taste for it. On the other hand, I still want a record of my thoughts and feelings during different stages of my life.

I know bullet journaling is big, but I don't think it's something that appeals to me. As much as I love organization and structure, I chafe at it sometimes. Probably why I have more pantser tendencies than plotter tendencies, when it comes to writing. (Although I recognize the merits of outlining and I've started using a few techniques.)


I guess this is just my shout into the void - does anyone else journal? Do you have any tips so that I remember to write a little more often? I don't see the need to do it every day or even every other day, but at least once a week would be nice. I have a lot more free time these days, but journaling is the thing that's still fallen to the wayside.

July 17, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Novellas/Short Stories

I don't read a lot of novellas (or novella collections) or short stories, but I managed to find ten excellent ones for today's post.

1. Queens of Fennbirn by Kendare Blake

2. The Girl of Fire and Thorns Stories by Rae Carson

3. Infinite Repeat by Paula Stokes

4. The Grift of the Magi by Ally Carter
(Probably my fave novella EVER.)

5. The Distance from A to Z by Natalie Blitt

6. "Oomph" by Emery Lord (from Meet Cute)

7. "Welcome to Christmas, CA" by Kiersten White (from My True Love Gave to Me)

8. "Good Luck and Farewell" by Brandy Colbert and "A Thousand Ways You This Coul All Go Wrong" by Jennifer E. Smith (from Summer Days & Summer Nights)

9. "The Legendary Garrett Girls" by Y.S. Lee (from A Tyranny of Petticoats)

10. "Daughter of the Book" by Dahlia Adler (from The Radical Element)

What are your favorite novellas and short stories?

July 15, 2018

Why I Love The Names They Gave Us

Emery Lord continues to be one of my favorite authors. I'm eagerly anticipating The Start of Me and You's sequel, due to release next fall. (And believe me, if I'm still with Bloomsbury once ARCs drop, I will be pestering everyone who can get a copy in my hands.) But while I wait, I'll bask in the wonderfulness that is last year's release: The Names They Gave Us. If you haven't read it yet, I'm about to give you five reasons why you should.

1. The faith plot
Lucy Hansson is a Christian, and not just a casual or phony one like often seen in YA books. But her faith is still shaken by her mother's reappearing cancer, and I appreciated seeing her learn how to hold on even when everything is going horribly wrong. Christians are imperfect; our faith can still be shaken, and we still experience human emotions. And Lucy exemplified all of that perfectly.

2. The friendships
I'm always impressed when authors can write blossoming friendships so well, because I struggle with it. Lucy finds a new group of friends just as her world comes crashing down, and it's wonderful. Speaking of those friends...

3. Henry Jones
Emery writes great book boyfriends. From Matt Finch to Max Watson, Jonah to Henry Jones, they're all spectacular dudes. Imperfect, but truly good guys, which YA needs more of. Henry is definitely up there on my faves list. He's friendly, sweet, and dorky in the best way.

4. The words
Emery Lord has a way of writing familiar, comfortable, effortless prose. I love the story of the wishing tree, and also quotes like this:

“And I want to be one of them. I want to be one of them so, so badly - to fit into this balance, their history, the wolf pack way of them. I see it now, why my mom wants that for me. I see how you can't help but want it, if you get close enough to witness a group of friends knitted together like this.”

5. The feels
The Names They Gave Us is, for the most part, not a happy book. It is painful and sad and hopeful. You will feel a lot and possibly cry while reading it. But isn't that beautiful? That certain combinations of 26 letters will make you feel things so intensely?


When it all falls apart, who can you believe in?

Everything is going right for Lucy Hansson, until her mom’s cancer reappears. Just like that, Lucy breaks with all the constants in her life: her do-good boyfriend, her steady faith, even her longtime summer church camp job.

Instead, Lucy lands at a camp for kids who have been through tough times. As a counselor, Lucy is in over her head and longs to be with her parents across the lake. But that’s before she gets to know her coworkers, who are as loving and unafraid as she so desperately wants to be.

It’s not just new friends that Lucy discovers at camp—more than one old secret is revealed along the way. In fact, maybe there’s much more to her family and her faith than Lucy ever realized.

Read Between the Lynes  Barnes & Noble

July 14, 2018

So You Like... #71

If you're like me, some of the stories you were raised on were fairy tales. I'm most familiar with the Disney adaptations, of course, but I also read some versions of the legends that were still fairly appropriate for kids. Well, if you still like fairy tales, I have some recommendations for you.

(as always, covers link to Goodreads)






A Thousand Beginnings and Endings

What books would you recommend for fans of fairy tales?