August 31, 2018

Most Anticipated September 2018 Releases

September is always a big month in publishing, so this is gonna be a nice long list. Are you ready for it?

Waiting For

1. Two Dark Reigns by Kendare Blake (9/4/18)
This series is so quietly, creepily good.

2. As She Ascends by Jodi Meadows (9/11/18)
I'm interested to see where this series goes.

3. Rule by Ellen Goodlett (9/11/18)
This is the type of fantasy that sounds right up my alley. And even though the girls are in competition with each other, I'm hoping there isn't too much girl hate.

4. The Dinner List by Rebecca Serle (9/11/18)
This is one of the rare adult novels that has popped up on my TBR, mainly because Morgan Matson recommended it!

5. Mistletoe and Murder by Robin Stevens (9/18/18)
I love the Murder Most Unladylike series so much, and I'm so glad we're getting two of the books in the U.S. in one year.

6. Analee, In Real Life by Janelle Milanes (9/18/18)
I love stories exploring the duality of how we act "in real life" vs. who we are online.

Already Read - You Should, Too!

1. Pride by Ibi Zoboi (9/18/18)
*screams because P&P retelling* *screams even louder because it's diverse*

2. For a Muse of Fire by Heidi Heilig (9/25/18)
Just as magical as Heidi's first two books.

What September releases are you most excited for?

August 30, 2018

Review: Summer Bird Blue

Summer Bird Blue by Akemi Dawn Bowman
Grade: C+
Release date: September 11, 2018
An e-galley was provided by Simon Pulse via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.
Summary: Rumi Seto spends a lot of time worrying she doesn’t have the answers to everything. What to eat, where to go, whom to love. But there is one thing she is absolutely sure of—she wants to spend the rest of her life writing music with her younger sister, Lea.

Then Lea dies in a car accident, and her mother sends her away to live with her aunt in Hawaii while she deals with her own grief. Now thousands of miles from home, Rumi struggles to navigate the loss of her sister, being abandoned by her mother, and the absence of music in her life. With the help of the “boys next door”—a teenage surfer named Kai, who smiles too much and doesn’t take anything seriously, and an eighty-year-old named George Watanabe, who succumbed to his own grief years ago—Rumi attempts to find her way back to her music, to write the song she and Lea never had the chance to finish.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: I love a good introspective book. I knew Summer Bird Blue would fit the bill perfectly, but I worry that I set my imaginary bar a little too high because SBB wasn't everything I wanted it to be.
My main issue was that I struggled with Rumi's voice. I never quite connected to it, and I felt distanced in a way that I shouldn't in a first-person-narrated story. None of the characters ever felt quite certain to me. I liked Mr. Watanabe best, I think, but I wanted to know Hannah better. Kai felt pretty one-dimensional, too.
The growth Rumi goes through is good and makes for a good story. I appreciated that she was asexual, but it felt a little stiff at points and really good at others. 
The ending worked really well, though. There's good closure with most of the characters.

Content warnings: death, grief, depression, almost drowning, foul language.

The Verdict: Not as good as I hoped.

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

August 29, 2018

New York Adventures, Month Three

I have lived in New York for three whole months now, which is hard to believe.


1. More slugging.
2. We've been having intern lunches where we get to learn about the different departments at Bloomsbury, and it's been interesting and tasty (only the first and last lunches were catered by the company, so the different departments have been trying to one-up each other with the lunch they provide for us on their own dime).
3. The children's editorial intern and I have been reorganizing the editorial shelves. They were getting impossibly crowded and also very much out of alphabetical order. If y'all ever want to work in publishing, expect books to be piled everywhere just because there's not enough room for all of them. But if you're like me and love books, it's only a hardship when they're taking up space behind your desk, lol.
4. A lot of the other interns are finishing their time here, so it'll be interesting to see who the new ones are. Hopefully they'll be good desk-mates!


1. Empanada Mama - It's along 9th in Hell's Kitchen, and I met a friend there for dinner at the beginning of the month. Let me tell you, those empanadas are amazing. They're stuffed full and so good. I ordered three, but would probably only get two next time so I'd have room for a dessert empanada. We also got plantain chips and guac to share, and plantain chips are my new favorite thing. They're less salty than potato chips but taste similar and have a little more substance.
2. Javelina - An Upper East Side Tex-Mex place. The white queso is soooo good. If you have a low heat tolerance, though, definitely make sure they put your salsa and pico de gallo on the side.
3. S'MAC - Located in the East Village, this place definitely feels local and "hole-in-the-wall." You can customize your mac and cheese (their only offering) pretty much any way you want. You can even get it gluten-free.

4. Four & Twenty Blackbirds - Ya girl has been missing pie like nobody's business. I've known about this pie shop for a while, but since it's in Brooklyn, I wasn't able to venture there until I moved. It's still a bit of a hike (I have to transfer trains), but I'll definitely be going there semi-regularly. And then another intern at Bloomsbury told me about another pie place, so I'm gonna have to go there soon.
5. Brunch at Maman again. It's my happy place.


1. I found out about Albertine through another blogger's Bastille Day in New York post. It's the only French language bookstore in the city, so I knew I had to go. Their YA section was much smaller than the bookstores I went to in Montréal and Québec City, but I got two of the Harry Potters in French! I'm excited to see how much I understand. (And yes, they do call wands "les baguettes magiques.")
2. I found the nearest Barnes & Noble to my new place. Definitely within walking distance or a quick subway ride, if the weather isn't great.


1. Hello, Dolly! - My mom splurged for orchestra seats while she and my dad were here to move me over to Brooklyn. I knew next to nothing about the story, but WOW, did we have amazing seats, and it was a fun show. We didn't see Bette, which was fine (tickets were a bit cheaper), and we got to see Donna Murphy as Dolly (she voiced Mother Gothel in Tangled).
2. I moved! I'm living in Brooklyn now and getting to know the area. It's much quieter and reminds me more of Richmond or Lexington while still having that New York feel.
3. I won The Lion King lottery??? I've been trying to consistently enter the lotteries for most shows every day, but of course it escapes my mind now and again. Well, I forgot to enter Lion King's on Saturday night and remembered while getting ready for church the next morning, so I quickly entered, like, thirty minutes before it would close. Then, as I was on the subway on my way to church, I got the email that I'd won. I was in absolute shock most of the day.


1. The New York Historical Society - I spent about an hour here at the end of July. They had special exhibits about Norman Rockwell's art and Stuart Weitzman's shoes, and they also have a large collection of Tiffany lamps.
2. The High Line - So this is a former elevated train line turned walking path that extends from about 34th down to Gansevoort, and I walked the section from 23rd to 14th one Sunday morning. While down there, I went to the Chelsea Market again and explored more of the offerings. There're a cheesemonger and fruit and veggie market down in the basement that I had no idea about! Plus there are so many restaurants that I didn't notice last time. So excited to go back again and try hand pies, chocolates, breads, and more.
3. The Frick Collection - I ventured here after work on the first Friday of the month with two other interns from Bloomsbury. The museum has free hours between 6 and 9 on the first Friday of almost every month, so we took full advantage of that. There's some gorgeous art, but I'm definitely glad we went when it was free because it's not very big.

4. Getting used to my new dorm and neighborhood mostly. There's a grocery store across the street, and a liquor store right down the block so I can easily get my wine fix. I also popped by a farmer's market about half a mile away. It's smaller than the one I'm used to from Illinois, but it's still nice to have.

August 28, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday: Nonfiction I Want to Read

Today is a back-to-school freebie, and one of the topics Jana suggested was nonfiction you loved or want to read, which seemed like a great topic for me to do since there are a bunch of memoirs and history books I want to read.

1. She-Wolves: The Women Who Ruled England Before Elizabeth by Helen Castor

2. Matisse the Master by Hilary Spurling
(Thanks to the Rory Gilmore Reading Challenge that I am massively behind on.)

3. The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry by Kathleen Flinn

4. Miriam's Kitchen by Elizabeth Erhlich

5. A Taste of Paris by David Downie

6. Daughters of the Winter Queen by Nancy Goldstone

7. Inspired by Paris by Jordan Phillips

8. A Paris Year by Janice Macleod

9. A Bite-Sized History of France by Stephanie Henaut

10. Born to Rule by Julia P. Gelardi

What nonfiction do you want to read or love? Do you have any history or food/travel memoir recommendations for me? I'm all ears!

August 26, 2018

Rewind & Review #116

~I've been getting settled in my new dorm, and my roommate moved in just last Sunday.
~I've been making some plans for the fall. There's gonna be a ton of great book events, and I'll be going home a few times.
~Other than that, it's been a pretty quiet two weeks. I've been working on my novel revisions. If I keep plodding through them, I should be able to send the manuscript to beta readers and critique partners soon. Nervous but excited to get feedback.

Books I Received for Review
You'd Be Mine by Erin Hahn (from Wednesday Books via NetGalley)

Books I Bought
Always Never Yours by Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka
Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan
China Rich Girlfriend by Kevin Kwan

Books I Read
The Shadow Cipher by Laura Ruby (reread)
For a Muse of Fire by Heidi Heilig
Famous in a Small Town by Emma Mills
To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han (reread)
Summer Bird Blue by Akemi Dawn Bowman
Hero at the Fall by Alwyn Hamilton (DNF)
The Women Who Made New York by Julie Scelfo (3.5 stars)
The Lady's Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzi Lee

Blog Posts You Might've Missed in the Last Few Weeks
   (from 8/13-8/18)
   (from 8/19-8/24)

August 24, 2018

Random Friday: Fall 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.

I've been/I'm going to be talking lots about the books I'm most looking forward to in the rest of 2018. But I figure, the more posts I feature certain titles in, the more attention they'll get.

1. Dare You to Lie by Amber Lynn Natusch

2. A Spark of White Fire by Sangu Mandanna

3. As She Ascends by Jodi Meadows

4. Analee, In Real Life by Janelle Milanes

5. Mistletoe and Murder by Robin Stevens

6. The Lady's Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzi Lee

7. Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan

8. Little White Lies by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

9. Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix by Julie C. Dao

10. All the Wandering Light by Heather Fawcett

I'm also looking to branch out and start reading some cozy mysteries. I do love a good mystery, but, most of the time, I don't like it when they get too creepy, so I figure cozy mysteries are a good genre for me. So if anyone has any recommendations, I'm all ears.

What fall 2018 releases are you looking forward to? Or what do you hope to read this fall? 

August 23, 2018

Why I Love All Four Stars

The latest post in my "why I love such-and-such book" series is all about a deliciously adorable middle grade novel.

1. All the food
Gladys doesn't just talk the talk, she walks the walk. She cooks and bakes (or schemes to, since she's not allowed to for most of the book). She loves to learn about new foods and spices, and she has acquired impeccable taste for someone so young.

2. The food critic plot
I love, love, love middle grade and YA protagonists who want to do something different, and Gladys's foray into the food critic world is such fun.

3. Gladys's aunt, Lydia
I love supportive relatives, and Lydia is the best. She introduces Gladys to so many things and never doubts her niece. (Her role gets bigger later in the series.)

4. The book that gave me hope
So, for a while there, I thought I was starting to outgrow middle grade. I'd had a couple titles in a row to review back in 2014, and the preteen slang and inane plots drove me up a wall. But All Four Stars is everything I could ever want out of middle grade fiction (and I would've loved it when I was in the target audience, too). So now, while some MG still lets me down, I kept trying because of All Four Stars.

So what are you waiting for? Read All Four Stars and maybe you'll give it all five stars like I did. ;) It's great for people who love Ratatouille and Masterchef Junior.

Goodreads  Barnes & Noble  Read Between the Lynes

August 21, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday: Books That Pull Me Out of a Reading Slump

You know those books you love so much that rereading them can instantly make you feel better and, if not pull you out of a reading slump, at least give you a break from it? This week's post is all about those books.


2. Not Now, Not Ever by Lily Anderson
(Shh, yes I included two of Lily's books.)

3. Since You've Been Gone by Morgan Matson

4. P.S. I Like You by Kasie West

5. Foolish Hearts by Emma Mills

6. Princess Academy by Shannon Hale

7. Heist Society by Ally Carter

8. The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord

9. Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia

10. Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson
(Morgan is THAT author for me, so yeah, I had to include two of her books as well.)

Most of my choices are contemporary, which I feel is quite revealing.

August 18, 2018

Review: The Shadow Cipher

The Shadow Cipher by Laura Ruby
Grade: B
Summary: It was 1798 when the Morningstarr twins arrived in New York with a vision for a magnificent city: towering skyscrapers, dazzling machines, and winding train lines, all running on technology no one had ever seen before. Fifty-seven years later, the enigmatic architects disappeared, leaving behind for the people of New York the Old York Cipher—a puzzle laid into the shining city they constructed, at the end of which was promised a treasure beyond all imagining. By the present day, however, the puzzle has never been solved, and the greatest mystery of the modern world is little more than a tourist attraction.

Tess and Theo Biedermann and their friend Jaime Cruz live in a Morningstarr apartment house—until a real estate developer announces that the city has agreed to sell him the five remaining Morningstarr buildings. Their likely destruction means the end of a dream long-held by the people of New York. And if Tess, Theo and Jaime want to save their home, they have to prove that the Old York Cipher is real. Which means they have to solve it.
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: If you grew up reading The 39 Clues or The Mysterious Benedict Society, this book is for you. (Or if you have a middle schooler who loves those books, give them this one!)
With a narrative voice somewhere between middle grade and young adult but with a plot that will probably interest middle grade readers more, The Shadow Cipher is inventive, mysterious, and fun. It plays with New York history and present in such a fun way, and I love how author Laura Ruby left some things the same, tweaked others a little, and invented all new things.
The book is narrated by the three main characters - Tess, Theo, and Jaime. Their narrative voices aren't very distinct, and the story is told in third-person so I constantly had to check to see who was actually narrating a chapter. They each have bits of personalities that start to shine through, but The Shadow Cipher is more plot-focused. I do think the twins' Aunt Esther will play a big part in future books, and I'm excited to see how. The antagonists were a bit typical of middle grade fiction, but I think the cipher itself will keep readers guessing. It's not one that readers can necessarily piece together for themselves first, which adds fun since no one knows what will happen.

Content warnings: Mild danger.

The Verdict: The adventure is only beginning.

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