December 31, 2019

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Books of 2019

2019 was such a lovely reading year! Here are my new favorites from the last twelve months. I think this is the most I've had in several years, so that's a really good feeling.

Pictured above:
1. With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo
2. King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo
3. Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson
4. Other Words for Home by Jasmine Warga
5. Summer of a Thousand Pies by Margaret Dilloway
6. If I'm Being Honest by Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka
7. The Vanishing Stair by Maureen Johnson
8. The Lovely and the Lost by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
9. Serious Moonlight by Jenn Bennett

Other favorites (that I didn't own this summer, or still need to acquire copies of!):

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10. Analee, in Real Life by Janelle Milanes

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11. Some Places More Than Others by RenĂ©e Watson

12. Voracious by Cara Nicoletti

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13. A Kind of Paradise by Amy Rebecca Tan

14. Lucky Caller by Emma Mills

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15. Well Met by Jen DeLuca

16. Tweet Cute by Emma Lord

17. A Match Made in Mehendi by Nandini Bajpai

18. The Measure of My Powers by Jackie Kai Ellis

19. 10 Blind Dates by Ashley Elston

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20. Crying Laughing by Lance Rubin

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21. A Spoonful of Murder by Robin Stevens

What were your favorite books that you read in 2019?

December 30, 2019

Review: The Map from Here to There

The Map from Here to There by Emery Lord
Grade: B
Release date: January 7, 2020
An ARC was provided by Bloomsbury Children's Books in exchange for an honest review.
Summary: It's senior year, and Paige Hancock is finally living her best life. She has a fun summer job, great friends, and a super charming boyfriend who totally gets her. But senior year also means big decisions. Weighing "the rest of her life," Paige feels her anxiety begin to pervade every decision she makes. Everything is exactly how she always wanted it to be--how can she leave it all behind next year? In her head, she knows there is so much more to experience after high school. But in her heart, is it so terrible to want everything to stay the same forever?

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: For the most part, Emery Lord's books are very teenager-y. The main characters have jobs. They care about friendships, worry about crushes, and think about the future (some more than others). 
A lot of YA books set during senior year don't actually focus on senior year. This one does, from Paige's changing extracurriculars, to her and her friends' college applications and worries, to her part-time job. I also liked that we got a bit more background on Kayleigh and Tessa, two of Paige's best friends. Some phrasing for their plots (mainly how they were introduced) felt a bit shoehorned in, but the characters felt more fleshed-out, so yay! Also I really appreciated how Emery tackled anxiety with Paige. There's plenty of anxiety about college and her new relationship, and both those situations play out in ways that sort of work but on the anxiety side of things, there are some good results. 
The problem with sequels is that often romantic relationships from the first book have to be torn up and go through conflict, and I did not want to see major drama for Paige and Max. They are one of my favorite YA ships, but I didn't feel the same way about them in The Map from Here to There. They kept growing apart and not talking to each other about things, and I really hate communications issues causing drama. Then certain things resulted in jealousy, and they were separate for most of the second half of the book, and it just left a bad taste in my mouth.
The writing was familiar and endearing though. Emery Lord's best books have a voice running through each of them, and you feel comfortable with how she tells a story. But the ending definitely lacked something and arrived way too soon with the pacing of the rest of the book. I hate endings that feel rushed.

Content warnings: anxiety, underage drinking, foul language

The Verdict: Not quite what I wanted from a sequel to one of my favorite books of all time.

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

December 29, 2019

Rewind & Review #150

~I caught a cold during the second week of December. :(
~My first staff recs went up at work: The Start of Me and You and The Winner's Curse. I have several other books in mind, but I don't think our branch has copies, so that's going to make this interesting.
~Christmas 2019 has come and gone. I ate yummy food, got some nice gifts, and saw friends and family.
~Cats was blah. Taylor did all right, and I didn't hate most of the characters, but it was terribly paced and didn't have any spark.

Books I Received for Review
The Perfect Escape by Suzanne Park (from Sourcebooks via Edelweiss)
The Paper Girl of Paris by Jordan Taylor
You Say It First by Katie Cotugno (from HarperCollins via Edelweiss)
The Life and (Medieval) Times of Kit Sweetly by Jamie Pacton
The Henna Wars by Adiba Jaigirdar (from Page Street Kids)

Books I Won/Traded for/was Gifted
A Kingdom for a Stage by Heidi Heilig
A Christmas Carol and Other Holiday Treasures by Charles Dickens
The Case of the Missing Treasure by Robin Stevens
Death in the Spotlight by Robin Stevens
Top Marks for Murder by Robin Stevens (gifts from my parents)
The Length of a String by Elissa Brent Weissman (gift from my aunt and uncle)

Books I Read
Rules We're Meant to Break by Natalie Williamson (4 stars)
Famous in a Small Town by Emma Mills (reread)
Radio Silence by Alice Oseman (3 stars)
Crying Laughing by Lance Rubin (4 stars)
Lucky Caller by Emma Mills (reread)
Murder with Cinnamon Scones by Karen Rose Smith (4 stars)
Tweet Cute by Emma Lord (reread)
Word to the Wise by Jenn McKinlay (4 stars)
Murder with Cucumber Sandwiches by Karen Rose Smith (4 stars)
Gone by Nightfall by Dee Garretson (DNF)
Mistletoe and Murder by Robin Stevens (reread)
Winterwood by Shea Ernshaw (4 stars)

Blog Posts You Might've Missed in the Last Few Weeks
   (from 12/9-12/14)
   (from 12/15-12/21)

December 28, 2019

Most Anticipated January 2020 Releases

The new year is bringing a BUNCH of new books. Are you ready for them?

Waiting For

1. This Light Between Us by Andy Fukada (1/7/20)
2. Only Love Can Break Your Heart by Katherine Webber (1/7/20)

3. The Night Country by Melissa Albert (1/7/20)
4. Throw Like a Girl by Sarah Henning (1/7/20)

5. The Hand on the Wall by Maureen Johnson (1/21/20)
6. Off Script by Kate Watson (1/21/20)

7. Don't Read the Comments by Eric Smith (1/28/20)
8. Blood Countess by Lana Popovic (1/28/20)

Already Read - You Should, Too!

1. Lucky Caller by Emma Mills (1/14/20)
I'd probably love Emma's shopping lists, if they're as great as her books.

2. Tweet Cute by Emma Lord (1/21/20)
We stan all the Emmas who write cute, contemporary romances.

3. The Map from Here to There by Emery Lord (1/7/20)
If you love Emery's books, and particularly The Start of Me and You, you can't pass this one up.

What are the first books of 2020 that you're looking forward to most?

December 27, 2019

Random Friday: Favorite Movies of 2019

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.

While I didn't see nearly as many movies this year as I did in 2018, there were still some standouts.

1. Captain Marvel
The best Marvel film this year. Period. 

2. Yesterday
I really liked the Beatles-ness of this one. Plus, they could've gone for a bland white protagonist but instead they cast a British-Indian actor in a story NOT about diversity for once.

3. Spider-Man: Far from Home
We are all surprised that I liked a Spider-Man film. (Also I totally recognized where they shot that mid-credits scene. It's right by where I lived in the summer of 2018. I'm just annoyed that I moved to Brooklyn like two weeks before they filmed it!!)

4. Harriet
It is 2019, and we just got a movie about Harriet Tubman. It's slightly dramatized (i.e., not a documentary) but still good.

5. Frozen II
I have disavowed the first movie, but the second one is more complex, has more music running through it, and does some cool things with animation.

6. Jumanji: The Next Level
It was funny, and I like movies that aren't necessarily super serious.

So what were your favorite movies this year?

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December 25, 2019

Merry Christmas to All the Book Characters I've Loved Before

And still love, I promise. But when you've been doing a post series for seven(!!) years, it gets harder to be creative with the titles. ;P

First Sophie from Maybe This Time,

I gift another book about events and weddings.

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To Emoni from With the Fire on High...

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Because girl needs some fun pie recipes to bake.

For Mae from Field Notes on Love,

I've chosen another book with an aspiring filmmaker.

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To Cameron from If I'm Being Honest,

who would probably like to read about more determined heroines in retellings of classic literature....

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For Rachel from Devoted,

who I continue to gift books to each year, I've chosen another excellent fantasy story.


For Theo from Lady Smoke,

I've picked another fantasy about rebellion and magic.


And finally, for Analee from Analee, in Real Life,

I've selected two books about friendships formed through mediums other than in person.

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Which books would you gift to your favorite characters this year?

December 24, 2019

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Really Want for Christmas

Happy Christmas Eve! Here are some of the books I put on my Christmas wishlist, plus a few more that maybe I'll be able to get with bookstore giftcards?

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1. A Kingdom for a Stage by Heidi Heilig

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2. Death in the Spotlight by Robin Stevens

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3. Top Marks for Murder by Robin Stevens

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4. Sugar and Ice by Kate Messner

5. A Match Made in Mehendi by Nandini Bajpai

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6. The Length of a String by Elissa Brent Weissman

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7. Hungry Hearts by various authors

8. The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas

9-12. the new paperback covers for Emma Mills's books
(Only one of which has a release date and Goodreads entry BUT I DON'T CARE I WANT THEM ALL)

What books are you hoping to get for the holidays?