June 30, 2019

So You Like... #84

Ready for the next T-Swift album post? So you like...


You should definitely read...








Last post of this mini series coming your way in a few weeks!

June 29, 2019

Another Twenty 2020 Reads

It's time for the second (and last) set of twenty 2020 releases I'm looking forward to!

1. Break the Fall by Jennifer Iacopelli
All the Olympics books, please and thank you.

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2. Kingdom of Back by Marie Lu
I definitely prefer Marie's fantasy to her sci-fi, so I'm 100% here for this.

3. These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong
An historical fiction, Chinese Romeo and Juliet? Uh, yes please.

4. By the Book by Amanda Sellet
Look at that pretty cover! As always, I love a bookish protagonist.

5. Off Script by Kate Watson
I have two Emma retellings in this post, and this one is gonna be about the #TimesUp movement, so I think it has a lot of potential

6. The Princess Will Save You by Sarah Henning
This was pitched as a Princess Bride readalike, so brb while I have a quick happy dance.

7. Chirp by Kate Messner
I will scream about Kate's books all dang day. They're everything I love about middle grade.

8. Six Angry Girls by Adrienne Kisner
Sometimes YA books don't feel teenager-y enough (especially when it comes to school), but this one is going to involve Mock Trial, so I have high hopes.

9. The Stars We Steal by Alexa Donne
It's Persuasion IN SPACE. The only type of space book I will read. (Okay, kind of a lie, but whatever.)

10. Lucky Caller by Emma Mills

It me.

11. The Empire of Dreams by Rae Carson
Rae Carson is back!!!

12. Woven in Moonlight by Isabel Ibanez
I always want diversity in fantasy, and this one has Colombian influences, so that definitely ticks the box. :)

13. Yes No Maybe So by Becky Albertalli and Aisha Saeed
An author dream team. I've loved everything Aisha's written thus far, and you can't go wrong with a Becky book.

14. The Perfect Escape by Suzanne Park
An escape room rom-com? YAS.

15. Every Reason We Shouldn't by Sara Fujimara
This will hold me over til all the figure skating competitions at the 2022 Winter Olympics.

16. Secrets of the Printery by Kelly Powell
Protagonists with cool jobs ftw.

17. The Life and (Medieval) Times of Kit Sweetly by Jamie Pacton
I smell a book all about girl power.

18. The Code for Love and Heartbreak by Jillian Cantor
An Emma retelling? Sign me up.

19. Untitled by Maika Moulite and Maritza Moulite
Road trip? Historical inspiration? Strong sister back story? I'm sold.

20. This Flame of Gold by Emily Victoria
I think this might be Jewish-inspired fantasy? Even if not, the main character is asexual, which is very rare in YA (both in general and outside of contemporary), so I'm super excited for this book.

Edit, 7/9/19: I'm squeezing a bonus pick in this year because a title coming out in March was announced last week, and I NEED IT.

Salty, Bitter, Sweet by Maya Cuevras
It sounds like everything I love in a book. France? Cooking? A protagonist of color? I'm practically drooling. 

So there you have it! Hopefully 2020 is gonna be a GREAT book year. :)

June 28, 2019

Random Friday: If I Had a Book Club

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I've never had a massive interest in starting or joining a book club, mostly because I hate having to fit my reading schedule to other people's. (I'm terrible at buddy reading too lol.) But if I did have a book club, here's what I'd want to do.

1. We'd always have really good treats. I'd probably bake for a lot of the meetings

2. I wouldn't want to be the one to come up with discussion questions, but I'd also like it if the questions were more unique than the ones people tend to think of for discussion.

3. We'd meet somewhere cozy and comfortable. No circles of hard chairs, no noisy coffee shop, no interruptions from family members.

4. And we'd read really good books. We'd read historical fiction with strong protagonists, YA romances with fluff and serious moments, fantasy with sweeping world-building, mysteries with plot twists we'd be screaming over at the next meeting, gentle middle grade stories. Maybe we'd even spend a few months specifically choosing books by authors of color.

Are you part of a book club? Tell me about yours. Or, if you were forming a book club, what would you do?

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June 26, 2019

Most Anticipated July 2019 Releases

My birthday month is bringing us a handful of delightful-sounding books. Here's what I'm looking forward to most.

Waiting For

1. Symptoms of a Heartbreak by Sona Charaipotra (7/2/19)
This sounds like it's right up my contemporary YA alley.

2. Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim (7/9/19)
This one's been getting some great buzz, and I have a feeling it's going to be the title in a certain subscription box's July mailing...

3. The Last Word by Samantha Hastings (7/9/19)
Historical fiction about an author and writing? GIMME.
(Although, perhaps, with a less tragic cover.)

4. Maybe This Time by Kasie West (7/9/19)
Always here for a Kasie West book.

5. The Spaces Between Us by Stacie Tolman (7/23/19)
I love a good friend-focused story.

6. The Arrival of Someday by Jen Malone (7/23/19)
Jen can write some pretty good contemporary YA, so we'll see what I think of this one.

7. Truly Madly Royally by Debbie Rigaud (7/30/19)
The YA Harry-Meghan story of everyone's dreams.

Already Read - You Should, Too! 

Meep. None. I've been really behind on my titles for review. I'm in the middle of reading Spin the Dawn now, though!

June 25, 2019

From the Bookshelf to the Kitchen: Strawberry Basil Pie

Now that I'm at my parents' house again, I can bake a lot, and I wasted no time in making something delicious.

As soon as I read Summer of a Thousand Pies, I knew I'd be using a recipe from the back of the book. This book is perfect for Great British Bake Off (Show, in the U.S.) fans.

Strawberry Basil Pie

Pie Crust
(makes two 9-inch crusts)

2 1/2 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
1 t. salt
1 c. unsalted butter (if you need to use salted butter, reduce the salt in recipe to 1/2 t.)
1/2 to 3/4 c. ice water

1. In a food processor, pulse the flour and salt together.
2. Cut the butter into 1-inch cubes. Pulse in food processor or work it into the flour with a pastry cutter or knives until pieces of butter are scattered throughout. 
3. Drizzle a little of the ice water in. Pay attention to the dough texture. Once it's sticking together, don't add any more water.
4. Form the dough into a big ball, then divide in half. Shape each half into a disc, cover with plastic wrap, and chill in fridge for at least 30 minutes. (If it's too hard when you take it out, let it rest for about 10 minutes.)
5. Roll out the dough in a circle, trying to keep an even thickness. Roll in only one direction at a time and pretend the dough is a clock (so roll towards 12, then 6, then 3, then 9). It should be about an 1/8 of an inch thick and be about 12 inches in diameter so as to fit a 9-inch pie pan.
6. Repeat with the other dough disk, for the top crust.

Strawberry-Basil Pie

2 lbs. strawberries
8 basil leaves, chopped
juice from 1 lemon
3 Tb. sugar
2 Tb. cornstarch
two pie crusts
1 egg, beaten for egg wash
sugar, for sprinkling

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Hull and slice the strawberries.
3. In a large bowl, combine strawberries, basil, lemon juice, sugar, and cornstarch. Make sure to not leave sitting too long, else it will start to produce too much liquid.
4. Lay one of the pie crusts into the dish and leave a little overhang.
5. Pour in the mixture, then top with the other pie crust. 
6. Crimp the edges together with a fork, then make steam holes in the middle.
7. Use a pastry brush to apply the egg wash and sprinkle with sugar.
8. Bake for 45 minutes, then allow to cool most of the way before eating.

This pie is best eaten all in one sitting; otherwise, it starts to gather too much liquid and then you'll have a soggy bottom. ;)

Have a book or recipe suggestion? Leave it in the comments below, and hopefully I'll get around to making it soon!

June 23, 2019

Rewind & Review #137

~*keeps singing the "Taylor Swift is gonna be the death of me" song*
~The new job is tiring me out, ugh.

Books I Received for Review
She's the Worst by Lauren Spieller (from S&S via NetGalley)
In the Hall with the Knife by Diana Peterfreund (from Abrams via NetGalley)
Who Put This Song On? by Morgan Parker (from Random House via NetGalley)

Books I Bought
Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson (OwlCrate edition)

Books I Read
Stealing Home by Becky Wallace
I Love You So Mochi by Sarah Kuhn (4.5 stars)
The Rest of the Story by Sarah Dessen (4 stars)
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling (reread)
There's Something About Sweetie by Sandhya Menon (4 stars)
The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen (3 stars)
The Satapur Moonstone by Sujata Massey (4 stars)
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling (reread)
Let Me Hear a Rhyme by Tiffany D. Jackson (4 stars)
A Kind of Paradise by Amy Rebecca Tan (5 stars)
I Wanna Be Where You Are by Kristina Forest (3 stars)
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling (reread)
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling (reread)

Blog Posts You Might've Missed in the Last Few Weeks
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June 22, 2019

Why I Love Kate Messner's Books

This is a first. Instead of talking about an individual book, I'm talking about four of an author's books.

Sugar and Ice and All the Answers by Kate Messner

The Seventh Wish and Breakout by Kate Messner

So why do I love Kate Messner's books?

1. The protagonists have varied interests.
The main characters can be athletic (figure skaters and Irish dancers, and, in her upcoming book, Chirp, gymnasts). Or they can aspire to be journalists or scientists. Since all of Kate's protagonists are girls (in her books that I've read, at least), this is such a great message for young readers - that girls can pursue any interest.

2. Kate tackles tough topics for young audiences.
Breakout covers racism (systematic and on a more personal level). The Seventh Wish addresses a family member's drug addiction, but in a way that never feels too old for a middle grader. All the Answers covers anxiety in a way that even felt relatable to me.

3. The family representation is realistic.
None of the families are perfect, but in general, the parents and children love and care for each other. 

4. The books feel homey.
Maybe that's due in part to the settings (Vermont and upstate New York, I think), but I think Messner's books are perfect for a snow day, or on a front porch in spring, or on the trip home from a good vacation.

5. There is a variety of books.
I haven't read all of Messner's backlist yet, but she's written straight-up contemporary, as well as stories with hints of fablism (a wish-granting fish and a talking pencil), and even some science fiction. Any young reader has their pick of adventures when it comes to Kate Messner's books.

Have you read and enjoyed Kate Messner's books too? What's your favorite?

June 20, 2019

Review: Virtually Yours

Virtually Yours by Sarvenaz Tash
Grade: B-
An e-galley was provided by Simon & Schuster via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Summary: NYU freshman Mariam Vakilian hasn’t dated anyone in five months, not since her high school sweetheart Caleb broke up with her. So, when she decides to take advantage of an expiring coupon and try out a new virtual reality dating service, it’s sort of a big deal.

It’s an even bigger deal when it chooses as one of her three matches none other than Caleb himself. That has to be a sign, right?

Except that her other match, Jeremy, just happens to be her new best friend IRL.

Mariam’s heart is telling her one thing, but the app is telling her another. So, which should she trust? Is all fair in modern love?

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: It's always interesting to watch romance blend with other genres. Virtually Yours could be considered contemporary, in a way, because the only new technology seems to be virtual reality for dating, and VR already exists. However, it didn't quite feel like 2019 to me.
I really liked how the author built Mariam's family and friends. Her family felt fully-formed, and I liked that Mariam had her roommate, as well as the friend from home that she needed to repair things with. There was a scene later in the book, where Mariam goes home for a belated Eid lunch with her parents and siblings, and it felt so lovely to me. It helped build the world and breath...I want to say humanity...into a story that didn't always feel like it was set in our world.
Virtually Yours is pretty much a love triangle story, and I definitely rooted for Jeremy more just because I could see how blah Caleb was. Often in stories like this, the older option is never the better one, just because of how characters grow throughout the story.
There's a break-up scene, and it honestly felt like it needed more build-up in the moment. It was too rushed with not enough fallout. 

Content warning: catfishing (of sorts), swearing, references to sleeping together

The Verdict: Worth a read.

Will I be adding this book to my library?: Probably not.

June 18, 2019

Top Ten Tuesday: Most Anticipated 2019 Releases, Part Two

I already featured several late 2019 releases in my post in January, but I will never pass up an opportunity to list more books I'm hype for. I'm gonna feature a couple from my last list, just because at that time I wasn't sure if they would publish in 2019 or not.

1. Truly Madly Royally by Debbie Rigaud

2. American Royals by Katharine McGee

3. Five Dark Fates by Kendare Blake
This series is so epic. I'm terrified to see how it ends.

4. More to the Story by Hena Khan
Middle grade inspired by Little Women? Sounds perfect.

5. Now Entering Addamsville by Francesca Zappia

6. A Kingdom for a Stage by Heidi Heilig

7. The Library of Lost Things by Laura Taylor Namey

8. Our Wayward Fate by Gloria Chao
I love when authors of color write characters of color in small towns. The nuance is fascinating.

9. The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys
Look, I always complain about so much YA historical fic being centered around the World Wars, but Ruta always brings a fresh perspective to the era and focuses on the parts we rarely hear about.

10. Across a Broken Shore by Amy Trueblood

11. Supernova by Marissa Meyer
This trilogy is gonna be the death of me.

12. Deadly Little Scandals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Needed this yesterday.

What books are you looking forward to most in the rest of 2019?