January 31, 2020

Most Anticipated February 2020 Releases

One month down, eleven to go!

Waiting For

1. Ember Queen by Laura Sebastian (2/4/20)
The final book in the trilogy. We'll see how this goes.

2. A Good Girl's Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson (2/4/20)
This one has been super popular in the UK. I do love a good murder mystery, so we'll see what I think of this one!

3. The Stars We Steal by Alexa Donne (2/4/20)
A Persuasion retelling in space. Color me intrigued.

4. Storm from the East by Joanna Hathaway (2/11/20)
The sequel to a very solid fantasy. (If you like The Winner's Curse you'd probably like this one and its predecessor, Dark of the West.)

5. In the Shadow of the Sun by E.M. Castellan (2/11/20)
Historical fiction set during Louis XIV's reign!

6. Break the Fall by Jennifer Iacopelli (2/18/20)
Give me all the gymnastics and Olympics books.

7. Of Curses and Kisses by Sandhya Menon (2/18/20)
I'm very excited to see how Sandhya's venture into contemporary fantasy goes!

Already Read - You Should, Too!

1. Yes No Maybe So by Becky Albertalli and Aisha Saeed (2/4/20)
Another solid contemporary from Becky, made all the better by Aisha's writing, and great Muslim and Jewish rep.

2. Chirp by Kate Messner (2/4/20)
One of the queens of contemporary middle grade has done it again.

What's on your most-anticipated list for the next month?

January 29, 2020

Review: Yes No Maybe So

Yes No Maybe So by Becky Albertalli and Aisha Saeed
Grade: B+
Release date: February 4, 2020
An e-galley was provided by HarperCollins via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.
Summary: YES
Jamie Goldberg is cool with volunteering for his local state senate candidate—as long as he’s behind the scenes. When it comes to speaking to strangers (or, let’s face it, speaking at all to almost anyone), Jamie’s a choke artist. There’s no way he’d ever knock on doors to ask people for their votes…until he meets Maya.

Maya Rehman’s having the worst Ramadan ever. Her best friend is too busy to hang out, her summer trip is canceled, and now her parents are separating. Why her mother thinks the solution to her problems is political canvassing—with some awkward dude she hardly knows—is beyond her.

Going door to door isn’t exactly glamorous, but maybe it’s not the worst thing in the world. After all, the polls are getting closer—and so are Maya and Jamie. Mastering local activism is one thing. Navigating the cross-cultural romance of the century is another thing entirely.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: Aisha Saeed has not disappointed me yet, and this co-authored book with Becky Albertalli was just as good, if a bit lighter than Aisha's normal stories.
The premise of Yes No Maybe So is that there's a special election happening in July for a Georgia state senate seat. Jamie and Maya get thrown together to canvass, and that's how their relationship grows. There are second-hand embarrassment moments that are typical of an Albertalli book, but there's also a lot of great cultural exploration (Jamie is very clueless about fasting for Ramadan, even with his knowledge about fasting for Yom Kippur) and also political activism in a teen-friendly way. Because that's the thing; a lot of today's teens are very attune to politics and have opinions and want to make a difference. Jamie, however, does not want to make a difference in such a public way; public speaking of any type terrifies him. So that provides another area of character growth. Maya, on the other hand, feels lonely and has friendship plots - both with Jamie and her longtime friend Sara, who she's drifting away from - AND her parents are divorcing. Girl has a whole lot going on. 
I never quite warmed to Jamie's voice (though I loved his mom, grandmother, and little sister), but I was definitely here for Maya's struggles and triumphs. When politics become personal, she really shines and starts to become a dynamic character. I expected a romance between them, of course, and it kind of worked, but I also wasn't 100% onboard with it. I liked their chemistry as friends and a canvassing team better.

Content warnings: anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, foul language 

The Verdict: Good but not ground-breakingly amazing. Worth the read though!

Will I be adding this book to my library?: Yes No Maybe So

January 27, 2020

So You Like... #91

It's time for another author-specific recommendation post. I've been reading this author's books since 2013, and I love how twisty her stories can be. If you also like her books, these recs are meant specifically for you. So you like...


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What's your favorite Jennifer Lynn Barnes book?

January 26, 2020

Rewind & Review #152

~We've had some very cold days recently, and I do not like it.

Books I Received for Review
Unscripted by Nicole Kronzer (from Amulet Books via NetGalley)

Books I Bought
Death by Dumpling by Vivian Chen (bought with Kindle credits)
Famous in a Small Town by Emma Mills
Lucky Caller by Emma Mills
The Hand on the Wall by Maureen Johnson
Scavenge the Stars by Tara Sim
Tweet Cute by Emma Lord

Books I Read
Slay by Brittney Morris (5 stars)
Crime and Poetry by Amanda Flower (4 stars)
Only Mostly Devastated by Sophie Gonzales
Supernova by Marissa Meyer (4 stars)
The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski (reread)
Top Marks for Murder by Robin Stevens (4 stars)
The Hand on the Wall by Maureen Johnson (4 stars)
The Winner's Crime by Marie Rutkoski (reread)
Murder with Cherry Tarts by Karen Rose Smith (3 stars)
Clean Getaway by Nic Stone (3 stars)
The Queen Bee and Me by Gillian McDunn

January 24, 2020

Random Friday: Favorite New-to-Me Authors in 2019

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For this post, I only include authors who have written more than one book. I have a whole other post just for my favorite debut authors each year! This type of post used to be much longer, since I was still discovering a bunch of established YA/MG authors back in, say, 2016. But this year I have just three authors for the list. 

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Although I knew of her and tried to read some of her books while I was still a teen (and read and enjoyed Saint Anything and Once and for All more recently), I didn't really dive into her canon until summer 2019. I didn't read all her books - there were a few I tried to read and couldn't get into - but I read nine of them. None of them are super unique, but I liked a few enough to put them on my book wishlists.

I discovered the Veronica Speedwell series last winter, and they are such bingeable, mysterious fun.

Jessica introduced me to a bunch of cozy mysteries, including Jenn's Library Lover's series. I binged that in November, and her Cupcake Bakery series is on my radar to start soon.

So which new-to-you (that is, not debut) authors did you discover in 2019?

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January 23, 2020

6 Cozy Mystery Recommendations

I've been reading a BUNCH of cozy mysteries in the last few months, and I thought it was time to share some recommendations. :)

1. Murder with Lemon Tea Cakes by Karen Rose Smith
If you like food-centric mysteries and small rural towns, this four-going-on-five book series is a great fit.

2. A Lady's Guide to Etiquette and Murder by Dianne Freeman
If you're like me and crave more historical fiction that isn't dual timelines or narration, plus has an interesting plot, you've got to read Dianne Freeman's books.

3. Library Lover's Mystery series by Jenn McKinlay
For book lovers and people wanting a nice long series, you have to check out Jenn McKinlay's cozy mysteries. (This also isn't the only cozy mystery series she has! She's also done one about a hat shop and one about a cupcake bakery.)

4. Murder in the Mystery Suite by Ellery Adams
This one is set in my home state, so that was an immediate draw. It has some intrigue that puts it just a little over the cozy mystery line, but it's still an enjoyable read.

5. Pies and Prejudice by Ellery Adams
If you like a little magic in your books, this rec and the next are perfect for you. I picked this one up since it's about a pie shop.

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6. Crime and Poetry by Amanda Flower
This one has probably my favorite pet in a cozy mystery series (there's always a cat or dog, let's be real), and it has a magical bookstore to boot. Fair warning: some aspects of the Native American rep feel a little iffy to me.

If you want more recommendations, I have a whole list I plan to read, but since I haven't read them yet myself, I didn't want to put them in this official post. :)

January 21, 2020

Top Ten Tuesday: Most Recent Additions to My Library

Hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.

Recently Bought

1. Lucky Caller by Emma Mills

2. The Night Country by Melissa Albert

3. The Map from Here to There by Emery Lord

4. Scavenge the Stars by Tara Sim

5. Famous in a Small Town by Emma Mills

6. I'm Not Dying with You Tonight by Kimberly Jones and Gilly Segal

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7. Crying Laughing by Lance Rubin

8. The Hand on the Wall by Maureen Johnson

Recently Gifted

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9. The Length of a String by Elissa Brent Weissman

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10. A Kingdom for a Stage by Heidi Heilig

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11-12. Death in the Spotlight and Top Marks for Murder by Robin Stevens

January 20, 2020

DNF Review: Gone by Nightfall

Gone by Nightfall by Dee Garretson
Grade: DNF
Release date: January 21, 2020
An e-galley was provided by Macmillan via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.
Summary: It’s 1917, and Charlotte Mason is determined to make a life for herself in czarist Russia. When her mother dies, Charlotte is forced to put her plans to go to medical school aside to care for her unruly siblings. Then a handsome new tutor arrives. Charlotte has high hopes that he’ll stay, freeing her up to follow her dreams of becoming a doctor. But there’s more to Dmitri that meets the eye.

Just when she thinks she can get her life back, Russia descends into revolution and chaos. Now, not only does Charlotte need to leave Russia, she needs to get her siblings out too--and fast.

Can Charlotte flee Russia, keep her siblings safe, and uncover Dmitri’s many secrets before she runs out of time?

When did I stop reading?: 10% into my e-galley
Why did I stop reading?: I really want to love more historical fiction, but the voice wasn't there for this one. I couldn't bring myself to care about any of the (many) characters we met in the first three chapters.

The Verdict: Lacked that certain spark.

January 18, 2020

DNF Review: Dark and Deepest Red

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Dark and Deepest Red by Anna-Marie McLemore
Grade: DNF
An e-galley was provided by Macmillan via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.
Summary: Summer, 1518. A strange sickness sweeps through Strasbourg: women dance in the streets, some until they fall down dead. As rumors of witchcraft spread, suspicion turns toward Lavinia and her family, and Lavinia may have to do the unimaginable to save herself and everyone she loves.

Five centuries later, a pair of red shoes seal to Rosella Oliva’s feet, making her dance uncontrollably. They draw her toward a boy who knows the dancing fever’s history better than anyone: Emil, whose family was blamed for the fever five hundred years ago. But there’s more to what happened in 1518 than even Emil knows, and discovering the truth may decide whether Rosella survives the red shoes.

With McLemore's signature lush prose, Dark and Deepest Red pairs the forbidding magic of a fairy tale with a modern story of passion and betrayal.

When did I stop reading?: 8% into my e-galley
Why did I stop reading?: Although I used to really enjoy Anna-Marie's books, I think I'm no longer enamored with their prose. I'm also not a fan of dual-narrated books set across two time periods. This is definitely a case of "It's not you, it's me." I think the premise is still good for a magical realism story, and I'm sure it might've been an interesting story if I'd had the drive to give it more time.

The Verdict: If you've liked Anna-Marie's other books, you might like this one! It just wasn't for me. :)

January 16, 2020

Tweet Cute Blog Tour: Review and Q&A

I'm so excited to share a deliciously delightful new YA rom-com with y'all today! And I definitely can't wait to get my copy on release day and take five million pictures of it with grilled cheese. (You'll understand that reference once you read more of this post.)

The Book


Meet Pepper, swim team captain, chronic overachiever, and all-around perfectionist. Her family may be falling apart, but their massive fast-food chain is booming ― mainly thanks to Pepper, who is barely managing to juggle real life while secretly running Big League Burger’s massive Twitter account.

Enter Jack, class clown and constant thorn in Pepper’s side. When he isn’t trying to duck out of his obscenely popular twin’s shadow, he’s busy working in his family’s deli. His relationship with the business that holds his future might be love/hate, but when Big League Burger steals his grandma’s iconic grilled cheese recipe, he’ll do whatever it takes to take them down, one tweet at a time.

All’s fair in love and cheese ― that is, until Pepper and Jack’s spat turns into a viral Twitter war. Little do they know, while they’re publicly duking it out with snarky memes and retweet battles, they’re also falling for each other in real life ― on an anonymous chat app Jack built.

As their relationship deepens and their online shenanigans escalate ― people on the internet are shipping them?? ― their battle gets more and more personal, until even these two rivals can’t ignore they were destined for the most unexpected, awkward, all-the-feels romance that neither of them expected.

The Author

Emma Lord is a digital media editor and writer living in New York City, where she spends whatever time she isn’t writing either running or belting show tunes in community theater. She graduated from the University of Virginia with a major in psychology and a minor in how to tilt your computer screen so nobody will notice you updating your fan fiction from the back row. She was raised on glitter, grilled cheese, and a whole lot of love. Her sun sign is Hufflepuff, but she is a Gryffindor rising. TWEET CUTE is her debut novel. You can find her geeking out online at @dilemmalord on Twitter.


Awkwordly Emma: With TWEET CUTE based around a Twitter battle, how do you think social media has changed modern teen romances?
Emma Lord: I think it’s given teens an entirely new language to communicate — like, literally, teens are crafting their own slang, creating infinite new types of memes, crafting their own unique forms of syntax and grammatical rules. I think it only broadens the opportunities you have to get to know and relate to people, having this shared language that is tight knit and highly relatable, and takes a lot of the pressure off interactions that might otherwise cause anxiety. Social media has its pitfalls, sure, but at its best it gives teens a low stakes, high reward way to connect with each other, whether it’s for friendship or romance or just to share some laughs. 

Awkwordly Emma: Did any rom-coms influence you while writing TWEET CUTE?
Emma Lord: Oh, for sure You’ve Got Mail — or at least, what I knew of it. (As soon as people started likening the idea to the movie, I wouldn’t let myself watch it so I didn’t rely too much on its plot!) 

Awkwordly Emma: Pie or cake, and what kind?
Emma Lord: What an excellent question that I have a highly specific answer for!! Cake, and the best kind I’ve ever had was a yellow cake that was filled with three types of frosting between each of its three layers: a peanut butter cream cheese frosting, raspberry jam, and chocolate ganache. I never would have thought of it on my own, but I used to work in a cake bakery, and when they were chopping off the ends of this particular cake to shape it into a football they let me eat the leftovers. I still DREAM about it. But truly, I’m here for any cake except chocolate cake (I’m ashamed to say it — I’m more of a chocolate frosting lady, unless the chocolate cake is like, absurdly rich, in which case it has my attention). 


Grade: A

Don't hate me, but I was worried I wouldn't like Tweet Cute. It's the latest in a line of You've Got Mail YA retellings, and since I have one of my own...I tend to worry the market is saturated with them. But I couldn't help falling in love with Tweet Cute. It's very New York, and I was missing New York when I read it. And it's about food and banter and a very shippable couple.

There are so many layers to how Jack and Pepper are communicating, and they're hilarious and great because for good chunks of the book, they don't know they're communicating in three different ways. Because of all three platforms/methods of communication, there are so many layers revealed that might not otherwise be shown. And that's a word I want to focus on - layers. The hallmark of a good YGM retelling is playing with perceptions of people and the different layers we all have. It goes beyond Pepper and Jack in Tweet Cute - there are layers to their siblings, Paige and Ethan, and Pepper's school competitor, Pooja. And if you think you have the parents figured out early on, you'll be wrong.

I also love books about food. This one is all about a fast food burger place that started small and is growing like a weed, and a New York deli that's seen its heyday and seems to be on its way out. What a perfect YGM-esque dynamic. Plus Pepper and her older sister, Paige, bake a ton (and give their concoctions creative names like they're in Waitress).

I will say that a certain amount of privilege is shown in this book. Both Jack and Pepper work hard for what they have, but both go to a very exclusive high school, and they apply/interview for some top competitive colleges. Pepper lives on the Upper East Side, close enough to their school that one can assume she lives in the VERY nice part of the UES. And while Jack's family's shop is struggling at the beginning of the book, there aren't a lot of references to the things "struggling" can actually do to a family and their finances. There were also a couple annoyingly cliche moments (like when one parent forbids a main character from seeing the other and how that part of the plot spirals). The resolution also didn't hit quite all the right notes for me. BUT. It's still a very sweet story that I can't stop thinking about. And, when I was rereading it to write this review, I ate like 500% more grilled cheese than I had in months. So, A+ on the subtle conditioning lol.

January 15, 2020

What I Meant to Read in 2019...But Didn't

Every year, I intend to read lots of books. Some actually get read. But a bunch don't. So I'm doing a self callout post for all the books I meant to read in 2019 but didn't.


Oh, so many. I still haven't touched Mansfield Park, even though I've owned a copy for a couple years. And I have copies of Anne Bronte's books now, and George Eliot's and Thomas Hardy's, too, and I definitely want to read those. And I really need to finish the Anne of Green Gables series. I own Rainbow Valley, and Rilla of Ingleside would be so easy to purchase.


1. Hitty, Her First Hundred Years by Rachel Field

2. The Giver by Lois Lowry
Both books have been sitting on my Goodreads TBR shelf forever, and then of course there are several other Newbery winners in my spreadsheet that I need to get to, too.

I think I've officially abandoned the Rory Gilmore Challenge, though. If you know of any reading challenges you think I might enjoy, feel free to suggest them.

2019 RELEASES (a.k.a., Emma didn't read much fantasy)

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1. Descendant of the Crane by Joan He

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2. Beyond the Black Door by A.M. Strickland

3. The Never Tilting World by Rin Chupeco

4. The Tiger at Midnight by Swati Teerdhala

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5. Wicked Fox by Kat Cho

6. The Last True Poets of the Sea by Julia Drake

7. Dear Haiti, Love Alaine by Maika and Maritza Moulite

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8. A Kingdom for a Stage by Heidi Heilig

So what books did you want to read in 2019 but didn't get around to?