January 31, 2019

Review: Fame, Fate, and the First Kiss

Fame, Fate, and the First Kiss by Kasie West
Grade: B-
Release date: February 5, 2019
An e-galley was provided by HarperCollins via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.
Summary: Lacey Barnes has dreamed of being an actress for as long as she can remember. So when she gets the opportunity to star in a movie alongside one of Hollywood’s hottest actors, she doesn’t hesitate to accept the part.

But Lacey quickly learns that life in the spotlight isn’t as picture perfect as she imagined. She’s having trouble bonding with her costars, her father has hired the definition of a choir boy, Donavan Lake, to tutor her, and somewhere along the way she’s lost her acting mojo. And just when it seems like things couldn’t get any worse, it looks like someone on set is deliberately trying to sabotage her.

As Lacey’s world spins out of control, it feels like the only person she can count on—whether it’s helping her try to unravel the mystery of who is out to get her or snap her out of her acting funk—is Donavan. But what she doesn’t count on is this straight-laced boy becoming another distraction.

With her entire future riding on this movie, Lacey knows she can’t afford to get sidetracked by a crush. But for the first time in her life Lacey wonders if it’s true that the best stories really do happen when you go off script.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: In this companion sequel to Love, Life, and the List, Kasie West uses a favorite YA trope - the aspiring actress gets her first chance at stardom.
One of Fame, Fate, and the First Kiss's biggest flaws is the lack of strong character relationships. There were no friendships, no strong family connections to buy into. Lacey's growing connection with Donavan is perhaps the strongest relationship and even that lacks a strong swoon factor. I knew they'd fall for each other and end up together, but I didn't care either way. (I was just glad there wasn't a love triangle with Lacey's famous costar.) 
The plot is made a little more interesting by the mystery person sabotaging the movie and Lacey, but it feels very Disney Channel Original Movie-esque instead of like a strong plot element.
Overall I just felt kinda meh about this book. I didn't hate it at all, but it didn't get me excited. After finishing a good book, my feeling should be akin to when I eat a slice of my favorite pie. After finishing Fame, Fate, and the First Kiss, I feel like I ate a slice of store-bought peach pie: it was mediocre.

Content warnings: nothing I can really think of.

The Verdict: Some of Kasie's books are losing the swoon factor.

Will I be adding this book to my library?: Probably at some point, yeah.

January 30, 2019

New York Adventures, Month Eight

You'll have to excuse the lack of a month seven post. December was just too busy to fit one in. But I'll definitely list stuff that happened in December here, too. :)


1. Winter 2020 launch. There'll be some good titles. They're all so far away though, lol.
2. Work holiday party and other related happenings. Authors send some pretty great food-related gifts, just saying.
3. I got to watch the ALA Youth Media Awards ceremony with Bloomsbury for the second year in a row. Lots of surprises and not-surprise winners. I was especially excited that Tiffany D. Jackson won the Steptoe Award for New Talent, Sadie won the Odyssey Award, and Darius the Great Is Not Okay won the Morris.
4. Still looking for a full-time job and hoping the right position comes along soon. :)


1. I went to Mimi Yu's launch event at Books of Wonder. This was the first event for a Bloomsbury author that I've attended since I started my internship. There was a fair turn-out, and it was fun to support The Girl King. Mimi was in conversation with Laura Sebastian, the author of the awesome Ash Princess.

2. The Epic Reads Winter Meet-Up tour happened at Books of Wonder toward the end of the month. I got to hear Evelyn Skye, Sara Holland, Ben Philippe, and Maureen Johnson all talk about their books, and then had a few signed by Maureen and Evelyn. Also, Ben is French-Canadian! Hurrah for Montreal.


1. I finally checked out One Girl Cookies in DUMBO, and they're so cute! I got four of the tea cookies; they all have cute names, but I only remember the flavors - lemon rosemary shortbread, chocolate chip, chocolate caramel layer bar, and apricot/almond. And I've gone three more times since lol and tried a couple other cookie types.
2. I got chocolates at Jacques Torres, too. ^.^
3. Back to Blue Stove, this time with Sarah. I got a mini pear ginger crisp pie, as well as a slice of quiche. And she got a mini bacon apple cheddar pie.
4. One of my friends from work and I went to this tiny Italian place in my neighborhood. It felt like such a local place, which was great. I really liked my tagliatelle with lamb ragù.
5. I tried a ramen place with some friends, and I spotted an actor I recognized from Come from Away while we were waiting for a table.
6. Buttermilk Channel in Brooklyn - The wait was soooo long, but it was worth it. I need to go back and try the pancakes, though.
(the walnut sticky bun appetizer we were given because our wait had been longer than projected)

(the mushroom, spinach, and goat cheese scramble plus toast, hash browns, and salad)


1. I got to see Once on This Island. I'd gotten my ticket through TodayTix's Cyber Monday sale for after I got back from Christmas break, but then the producers announced the show was closing on January 6th, so TodayTix moved my ticket up to December 7th. I would've preferred a matinee, but it was such a fun show. I went into it knowing very little and was pleasantly surprised. Everyone's vocals were amazing, and my seat was right at the stage edge. I also got lots of The Little Mermaid vibes (the original Andersen tale version), which was cool. We weren't allowed to take pictures at all in the theater, otherwise I would've taken so many because it was so coooolllll.
2. Sarah, another friend, and I went to a church's holiday gala, which was held at the Brooklyn Historical Society. It was so fun to get to dress up and dance.
3. Wine and game nights with friends.


1. Nowhere. (Unless we count IKEA.) It's too darn cold. Winter is fully here.

What were y'all up to in December and January? Any tips for things to do that will keep me inside?

January 29, 2019

Top Ten Tuesday: Most Recent Additions to My TBR List

This post is always a little hard to do because, often, the most recent additions to my TBR list are books that won't pub for a few years. So I'm going to try to list only titles in the already-published section of my TBR list.

1. Finding Esme by Suzanne Crowley
This was on a publishing friend's list of favorites of 2018.

2. Eva Luna by Isabel Allende
Rory Gilmore Challenge pick.

3. 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson
As voiced a few weeks ago in a Random Friday post, I haven't read most of Maureen's work, but I loved Truly Devious, so this is a must.

4 and 5. Words in a French Life by Kristin Espinasse and I'll Never Be French (No Matter What I Do) by Mark Greenside
For my inner Francophile who enjoys a good memoir.

6. The Distant Hours by Kate Morton
I read one of her other historical fiction titles last year, and I want more.

7. The Subway Girls by Susie Orman Schnall
More historical fic.

9. The Truth About Leaving by Natalie Blitt
I'm not even sure how this one popped onto my radar, but it's from a smaller press, and it sounds like it could be good in a quiet way.

9. Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy
Part of my effort to read a few more classics in 2019.

10. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
Like I said, trying to catch up on a lot of adult historical fiction.

What books have you recently added to your TBR list?

January 27, 2019

Rewind & Review #127

~Winter is here. I hate it.
~It was nice to have a long weekend, thanks to MLK Day. I did a whole lot of nothing, though.
~I got to meet up with a friend for brunch at one of my favorite cafés.

Books I Received for Review
Hurricane Season by Nicole Melleby (from Algonquin BFYR)
Opposite of Always by justin a. reynolds (from HarperCollins)
Eyes on Me by Rachel Harris (from Entangled: Teen via NetGalley)

Books I Bought
Famous in a Small Town by Emma Mills
The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux

Books I Read
The Art of Eating by M.F.K. Fisher (3.5 stars)
Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson (reread)
Letters from Home by Kristina McMorris (4 stars)
The Loose Ends List by Carrie Firestone (3 stars)
Smart Girls Get What They Want by Sarah Strohmeyer (reread)
Just For Clicks by Kara McDowell
A Curious Beginning by Deanna Raybourn (4 stars)
Famous in a Small Town by Emma Mills (reread)
The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall (3 stars)
The Multiplying Mysteries of Mount Ten by Krista Van Dolzer
This Side of Home by Renée Watson (reread)
Spectacle by Jodie Lynn Zdrok
The Great Unknowable End by Kathryn Ormsbee
Field Notes on Love by Jennifer E. Smith (4 stars)
The Vanishing Stair by Maureen Johnson (5 stars)
The Mother-Daughter Book Club by Heather Vogel Frederick (reread)

Blog Posts You Might've Missed in the Last Few Weeks
   (from 1/14-1/19)
   (from 1/20-1/26)

January 25, 2019

Random Friday: Comfort Foods

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.

One of the most fascinating things is comfort food. There are often cultural standards and then also personal preferences. For example, I feel like a lot of Americans consider macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes, cookies, and grilled cheese to be comfort foods. But of course, that could also be based on where I grew up.

For today's post, I'm going to list my personal choices when it comes to comfort food.

1. Tacos
But only if they're my family's recipe.

Image credit.
2. Donuts
Glazed cake donuts are my favorite, and The Doughnut Pub in Chelsea makes some of the best. They're classic and home-y.

3. Peaches
Peaches are absolutely one of my favorite fruits, but really, they have to be fresh because canned ones can't compare.

4. Pie
Pie is better than cake. End of story.

5. Waffles
And waffles far outweigh any other breakfast food.

What are your comfort food picks?

Inlinkz Link Party

January 23, 2019

From the Bookshelf to the Kitchen: Soft Pumpkin Cookies

It's been SO long since I did a baking post! But I was determined to get one done over the holidays, and I did. Although it didn't go as perfectly as I hoped. (I didn't include nearly enough white sugar, oops.)

I wanted to make something cozy and autumnal to go with the vibes I get from The Language of Thorns. Even though I didn't bake these in the fall, haha.
Goodreads  Read Between the Lynes  Barnes & Noble

Soft Pumpkin Cookies

1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 egg
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 can (7.5 oz) pure pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
2 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 cup butter, melted
2-3 cups powdered sugar (more or less depending on how thick you like it)
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large bowl, beat butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds.
Add both sugars, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
Beat until combined, scraping bowl occasionally.
Add eggs and vanilla; beat until combined.
Beat in pumpkin.
Beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixer. Using a wooden spoon, stir in any remaining flour.
Drop dough by heaping teaspoons 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.
Bake in the preheated oven for 10 to 12 minutes or until tops are set. Transfer cookies to a paper bag; let cool. [The original recipe says a wire rack, but the cookies felt a little too soft to use a rack. Also, a paper bag is better because it absorbs extra grease!]
Mix all frosting ingredients together and frost cooled cookies.

My poor cookies came out a little funky-looking, but they still tasted good!

Have a book/recipe suggestion? Leave it in the comments below.

January 22, 2019

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Meant to Read in 2018 But Didn't

Ah yes, the annual TTT post that reminds me of my failures, haha. Seriously, though, I like doing this post because it motivates me to keep reading "older" titles.

1. Dare You to Lie by Amber Lynn Natusch

2. Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan

3. When Elephants Fly by Nancy Richardson Fischer

4. Amber & Dusk by Lyra Selene

5. Home and Away by Candice Montgomery

6. As She Ascends by Jodi Meadows

7. One Giant Leap by Heather Kaczynski

8. Odd One Out by Nic Stone

9. I, Claudia by Mary McCoy

10. 29 Dates by Melissa de la Cruz

11. Anger Is a Gift by Mark Oshiro

Which 2018 releases have you neglected to read yet?

January 21, 2019

Review: Courting Darkness

Courting Darkness by Robin LaFevers
Grade: B
Release date: February 5, 2019
I acquired my ARC through a book trade.
Summary: Sybella has always been the darkest of Death’s daughters, trained at the convent of Saint Mortain to serve as his justice. But she has a new mission now. In a desperate bid to keep her two youngest sisters safe from the family that nearly destroyed them all, she agrees to accompany the duchess to France, where they quickly find themselves surrounded by enemies. Their one ray of hope is Sybella’s fellow novitiates, disguised and hidden deep in the French court years ago by the convent—provided Sybella can find them.

Genevieve has been undercover for so many years, she struggles to remember who she is or what she’s supposed to be fighting for. Her only solace is a hidden prisoner who appears all but forgotten by his guards. When tragedy strikes, she has no choice but to take matters into her own hands—even if it means ignoring the long awaited orders from the convent.

As Sybella and Gen’s paths draw ever closer, the fate of everything they hold sacred rests on a knife’s edge. Will they find each other in time, or will their worlds collide, destroying everything they care about?

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: What a joy it was to return to the world of the His Fair Assassin trilogy. I was a bit tentative, just because Sybella's book has never been my favorite, but I was eager to meet Genevieve. 
Although Sybella's chapters were definitely better (in my opinion) than Dark Triumph, I found myself eagerly anticipating Genevieve's chapters more. I was intrigued about the hidden prisoner, Genevieve's past, and how she and Sybella would end up in the same place. 
It was fascinating to read about all the different power plays, and the different women. From Sybella to Anne (Duchess of Brittany and Queen of France), the regent to Margot, there is a lot of variety of personality. Of course Anne is still one of my favorites.
I loved the romantic tension that brewed between Genevieve and the mysterious guy. (I had my guesses early on about who he was, and I was RIGHT. Huzzah!) She's got a lot of walls and history that prevent anything from working out for now, but I have hopes they'll find each other again.
It was interesting to see just how many of the male characters, deep down (or even on the surface), are jerks. From Sybella's brother, who's stirring up trouble, to the king, it's hard to trust any of them. Beast is still an upstanding man, of course. And I definitely think Genevieve's mystery guy is one of the good guys. But I'm looking forward to how things go in the second book.
Plot-wise, the pacing is a bit slow, even for a book about assassin nuns. Courting Darkness really takes things back to the court intrigue featured in Grave Mercy, so if that's not your cup of tea, then you might want to pass on this book.

Content warnings: Plenty of violence. References to past sexual abuse. More sexual content on-page than with the past HFA books.

The Verdict: Good. That title is apt, though.

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

January 19, 2019

So You Like... #77

2019 is here, and I'm so excited to bring y'all my first recommendations post of the year (if we don't count reviews, anything from Rewind to 2018, or Top Ten Tuesdays). Once again, I've got another So You Like... post themed around diverse YA books!

If you liked...



(for parental expectations and pressure)

If you liked...


you should read...

(Because racism stinks.)

If you love...


then you absolutely have to read...

(For a thriller that is just as enticing.)

If you enjoyed...


then you might like...

(For girls with art in their veins.)

If you liked...



(Because fairytale retellings never go out of style.)

If you like...


then read

(For the fat girls out there who want more than weight loss stories.)

And if you liked...


then you need to read...

(For stories about communities.)

Got any recommendations or So You Like... post topics for me? :)