April 30, 2020

DNF Review: The Betrothed

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The Betrothed by Kiera Cass
Grade: DNF
Release date: May 5, 2020
An e-galley was provided by HarperTeen via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.
Summary: The young king of Coroa has never been the type to settle down—that is, until he meets Hollis Brite.

Hollis has grown up at the castle, among the other daughters of nobility who hoped beyond hope that they’d catch the king’s eye. So when King Jameson declares his love for her, Hollis is shocked—and thrilled.

But she soon realizes that along with the extravagant presents and fawning attention, this new life brings outsized expectations—expectations that make her wonder if she’s really cut out for life as a royal.

And when she meets an Isolten stranger with the mysterious power to see right into her heart, she starts to wonder: Is there more to life outside the palace walls?

When did I stop reading?: Like, three chapters into my e-galley.
Why did I stop reading?: Unfortunately, Kiera's writing has not changed much since she was writing The Selection series. Her partiality for odd names has made it into this book as well. There was no spark from the beginning, and life is too short to force myself to read a book I wasn't going to enjoy.

April 29, 2020

Most Anticipated May 2020 Releases

May is always a big month for books, but this year is a bit of an exception because coronavirus. :/ I had a nice long list, but a bunch of books got pushed back to June, July, or even later. 

Waiting For

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1. Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo (5/5/20)
More from Elizabeth, yay!

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2. The Life and (Medieval) Times of Kit Sweetly by Jamie Pacton (5/5/20)
This one sounds like it's got that rom-com-ness with female empowerment.

3. By the Book by Amanda Sellet (5/12/20)
I love a bookish protagonist.

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4. The Map of Stars by Laura Ruby (5/12/20)
Conclusion of a great middle grade trilogy!

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5. A Deadly Inside Scoop by Abby Collette (5/12/20)
A very recent cozy mystery rec by a blogger friend.

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6. Summer at Meadow Wood by Amy Rebecca Tan (5/19/20)
I thoroughly enjoyed Amy's debut, and I'm sure this one will be just as cute

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7. The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins (5/19/20)
I know some people are really mixed over this one, but I'm excited. I reread the trilogy in March, and it felt so familiar and good.

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8. Parachutes by Kelly Yang (5/26/20)
I so enjoyed Kelly's middle grade, so I'm interested in her foray into YA.

9. The Jewel Thief by Jeannie Mobley (5/26/20)
Historical fiction!

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10. The Paper Girl of Paris by Jordyn Taylor (5/26/20)
This one sounds like adult historical fiction, so I'm interested to see how this plays out in YA.

I hope all of these books do well, despite circumstances.

April 28, 2020

Top Ten Tuesday: Middle Grade Books I Wish I'd Had as a Preteen

Hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.

I reread so many books when I was in middle school, and they were mostly the ones I'd read in late elementary school. I had trouble finding a lot of new books that actually suited what I wanted in a middle grade story. And since then, there have been a bunch of wonderful middle grade titles that I would've loved to have at that age.

1. Absolutely Truly by Heather Vogel Frederick

2. Amal Unbound by Aisha Saeed

3. Other Words for Home by Jasmine Warga

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4. Amina's Voice by Hena Khan

5. Tuesdays at the Castle by Jessica Day George

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6. Some Kind of Happiness by Claire Legrand

7. Caterpillar Summer by Gillian McDunn

8. Breakout by Kate Messner

9. Wish by Barbara O'Connor
(Considering how much I loved Shiloh as a kiddo, I would've been all over this book as a preteen.)

10. The Shadow Cipher by Laura Ruby

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11. The Length of a String by Elissa Brent Weissman

12. Hook's Revenge by Heidi Schulz

13. Murder Is Bad Manners by Robin Stevens

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14. Some Places More Than Others by Renée Watson

What books do you wish existed when you were younger?

April 27, 2020

DNF Review: Chasing Lucky

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Chasing Lucky by Jenn Bennett
Grade: DNF
Release date: November 2020
An e-galley was provided by Simon & Schuster via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Summary: Budding photographer Josie Saint-Martin has spent half her life with her single mother, moving from city to city. When they return to her historical New England hometown years later to run the family bookstore, Josie knows it’s not forever. Her dreams are on the opposite coast, and she has a plan to get there.

What she doesn’t plan for is a run-in with the town bad boy, Lucky Karras. Outsider, rebel…and her former childhood best friend. Lucky makes it clear he wants nothing to do with the newly returned Josie. But everything changes after a disastrous pool party, and a poorly executed act of revenge lands Josie in some big-time trouble—with Lucky unexpectedly taking the blame.

Determined to understand why Lucky was so quick to cover for her, Josie discovers that both of them have changed, and that the good boy she once knew now has a dark sense of humor and a smile that makes her heart race. And maybe, just maybe, he’s not quite the brooding bad boy everyone thinks he is…

When did I stop reading?: 23% into my e-galley

Why did I DNF this book?: Jenn's books have been hit-or-miss for me, and this was a miss. But I've always finished her past titles. The difference here is that I felt like nothing about Chasing Lucky was original. I've read so many stories lately where women in a family feel like they're cursed in love, or the daughter is more mature than the mom, or the single mom and daughter have to go back to their hometown. The love interest is both the best friend and bad boy tropes rolled into one. With Jenn's other lead characters, often there's a quirky hobby or job that helps me connect with them; Josie didn't have that.

This might be a case of "it's not you, it's me," or it could've been that I tried to read this book during COVID lockdowns and so had zero focus. But either way, it was not an enjoyable read, and I didn't want to force myself to finish it.

April 25, 2020

Why I Love Other Words for Home

I've long said I don't like novels in verse, but the last few years have brought two exceptions to that. One received a Newbery Honor this year, and I couldn't be prouder of the author. So in case you haven't read Jasmine Warga's middle grade debut yet, here are four reasons why I love Other Words for Home.

1. The setting
In the book, Jude moves with her mother from Syria to Cincinnati. I loved how Jasmine illustrated the differences between the two and introduced us to Ohio.

2. The themes
Other Words for Home is a book about family and feeling like an outsider and missing home and one's culture. Those are all good current themes, and they're explored on the perfect level for preteens. Jasmine also tackles Islamophobia on an appropriate level.

3. The softness of the protagonist
Jude is just so caring and gentle and lovable. I wanted to give her hundreds of hugs throughout the entire book.

4. Jude's big heart
She is so passionate and cares so much. I don't think the book would have been nearly as vivid and intimate without those qualities.


April 23, 2020

Twenty-One 2021 Reads

This is the latest I've ever done the first post in these annual series. I've pushed it back twice, just because my 2021 TBR shelf is still so small that it was hard to pick the subsection of books I was super excited for. But I finally succeeded in coming up with twenty-one books that are (hopefully) publishing next year.

1. Beyond the Mapped Stars by Rosalyn Eves
Historical fiction! Magic! A fun time all around.

2. Your Life Has Been Delayed by Michelle Mason
Not to flex, but I was still interning at Blooms when they acquired this one, and I got to read a bit of it, and I really enjoyed it! I can't wait to see how much better it's become, with a few rounds of edits. It's sort of a contemporary, and it's a nice, quiet story.

3. My Contrary Mary by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows
I'm so glad the Lady Janies are now becoming the Lady Marys. This one is about Mary, Queen of Scots!

4. The Bones of Ruin by Sarah Raughley
More historical fiction with more magic. 

5. Perfectly Parvin by Olivia Abtahi
Cute, fun rom-com with a non-white protagonist.

6. A Taste for Love by Jennifer Yen
A baking competition!!

7. That Way Madness Lies by various authors

8. Better Than the Movies by Lynn Painter
The theme of 2021 is rom-coms.

9. Never Saw You Coming by Erin Hahn
*starts singing "State of Grace"*

10. The Jasmine Project by Meredith Ireland
More rom-com love. Also for fans of Jenny Han's books apparently.

11. Hello, World by Yvonne Woon
Smart girls kick butt.

12. Speak for Yourself by Lana Wood Johnson
Considering I liked Technically, You Started It, I have hopes for this one.

13. Once More with Chutzpah by Haley Neil
Anxiety AND a trip through Israel? Sign me up.

14. You Can Go Your Own Way by Eric Smith
Excuse me while I go blast the Fleetwood Mac song.

15. Anatomy: A Love Story by Dana Schwartz
The theme of this list is basically rom-coms and historical fiction. This is the latter.

16. Our Way Back to Always by Nina Moreno
In the vein of Sarah Dessen and When Harry Met Sally? Okay.

17. Mazie by Melanie Crowder
I love the idea of historical fiction set on Broadway!

18. Made in Korea by Sarah Suk
This one feels so relevant, cause everyone is obsessed with Korean skincare and beauty products these days.

19. Spice Road by Maiya Ibrahim
First true fantasy pick for this list!

20. Darling by K. Ancrum
Peter Pan retellings are often a let-down, but something about this one is super intriguing to me.

21. What's Not to Love by Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka
Hate-to-love from everyone's favorite rom-com team.

So there you have it! Twenty-one of the books I'm most looking forward to next year. Cause it's never too early to think about the future. (Especially with how much of 2020 is being lost to COVID-19.)

April 22, 2020

Review: Unscripted

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Unscripted by Nicole Kronzer
Grade: B+
An e-galley was provided by Amulet Books via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Summary: Seventeen-year-old Zelda Bailey-Cho has her future all planned out: improv camp, then Second City, and finally Saturday Night Live. She’s thrilled when she lands a spot on the coveted varsity team at a prestigious improv camp, which means she’ll get to perform for professional scouts—including her hero, Nina Knightley. But even though she’s hardworking and talented, Zelda’s also the only girl on Varsity, so she’s the target for humiliation from her teammates. And her 20-year-old coach, Ben, is cruel to her at practice and way too nice to her when they’re alone. Zelda wants to fight back, but is sacrificing her best shot at her dream too heavy a price to pay?

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: I am always here for books about girls striving to do what they love. Zelda wants to do improv - a form of comedy that, admittedly, has never been my favorite, but I was still interested in her story.
Through Unscripted, Nicole Kronzer explores how misogyny is so engrained in our society and how exhausting it is for a teen girl to have to put up with sexism and to also be groomed/emotionally abused by a power figure. But it's also a story of girls standing up for each other and finding the guys who aren't amused by sexism. Thankfully, Zelda has that in the Gildas (her cabinmates), her brother, their friend from home, and some Boy Scouts she meets while hiking. She also finds a boy who truly likes her for who she is and wants to help and protect her in any way he can.
This book will be highly relatable for many teen girls, and it'll challenge guys to revisit the jokes they make and how they view women. 

Content warnings: sexual assault, misogyny and sexism, gaslighting, emotional abuse, microaggressions

The Verdict: I know all of those content warnings sound heavy, but this is a truly enjoyable book!

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

April 19, 2020

Rewind & Review #158

~I've been behaving myself and am not letting myself buy any books (except for preorders) til I finish most of the books in my TBR stack.
~I caved and got a Nintendo Switch and Animal Crossing, once I had my stimulus check. My island has peaches, and I named it Florin.

Books I Received for Review
Never Look Back by Lilliam Rivera (from Bloomsbury via Edelweiss)

Books I Read
Since You've Been Gone by Morgan Matson (reread)
Most Likely by Sarah Watson (3 stars)
One Person, No Vote by Carol Anderson and Tonya Bolden (4 stars)
On the Fence by Kasie West (reread)
Loveboat, Taipei by Abigail Hing Wen (4 stars)
Moment of Truth by Kasie West (4 stars)
The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson (reread)
Peach Pies and Alibis by Ellery Adams (2 stars)
Prairie Lotus by Linda Sue Park (3.5 stars)
The Betrothed by Kiera Cass (DNF)
Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins (reread)
Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins (reread)
Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins (reread)
Home Work by Julie Andrews (4 stars)

Blog Posts You Might've Missed in the Last Few Weeks
   (from 4/6-4/11)
   (from 4/12-4/18)

April 17, 2020

What I Like About You Blog Tour: Author Q&A


Emma: Your main character, Halle, is a book blogger. Is there a particular kind of blog or vlog you like to follow?
Marisa: Halle being a book blogger was inspired by my own experience as a teen book blogger. As a teen, I was immersed in the blogging community and formed very real friendships through it. Book blogging was also totally different when I was active in the early ‘10s—Twitter was just becoming a thing and most of the blogs I followed were through blogspot. Today, I love bookstagram and engaging with book bloggers on Twitter. There isn’t a particular kind of blog I’m drawn to so much as I’m drawn to the voice of the blogger, those whose passion for books is so unapologetically on display.

Emma: What were your first favorite YA books? 
Marisa: I’m going to try to keep this answer a reasonable length because much like Halle, one of my favorite things to do is gush about books. I could go on forever about the books that made me fall in love with YA. The authors whose books got me hooked were Meg Cabot, Sarah Dessen, Morgan Matson, and Emery Lord. Reading their books, I felt both understood and respected as a teenager. Also, the swoony love interests didn’t hurt. Looking back, my early manuscripts that will never see the light of day were inspired and drawn from these authors’ books. My sophomore year of high school, I wrote a road trip book because I loved Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour so much!

Emma: What's your writing routine like? (Do you write every day, for a certain length of time, only with a very specific song playing, etc.?)
Marisa: My writing routine is very much the “write whenever there is time!” sort and depends on what I’m working on and whether or not I’m on deadline. I work full-time, so writing happens at night and on the weekends for me. If I’m on deadline and have to be writing every day in order to meet it, I try to either workout or watch an episode of television between my day job and writing, as a way to decompress and reset my brain for the evening of revisions ahead. I do listen to music while I’m writing and it’s usually a rotating list of albums I love so much and know so well that they are easy to tune out and act as background noise. For me, that tends to be anything of the folk-rock variety—Fleetwood Mac, Mumford and Sons, and The Lumineers are examples of some artists who have gotten me through revisions. 

Emma: If Halle were to create some custom cupcakes for WHAT I LIKE ABOUT YOU, what would they be like?
Marisa: I love this question! I love even more that I am prepared with an answer. If Halle created a custom cupcake for What I Like About You, it would be a lemon cupcake with raspberry cream cheese frosting. A little sweet, a little sour, but the perfect combination.

Emma: What are your favorite romance tropes?
Marisa: Ooh! I love tropes and I had so much fun incorporating mistaken/hidden identity, friends-to-lovers, and a sort-of love triangle into What I Like About You. I’m also such a sucker for fake dating, enemies-to-lovers, and second chance romance stories. 

Emma: Cake or pie, and what kind?
Marisa: I love a good pie, but my heart says cake. Red velvet, specifically. Because cream cheese frosting. 

The Book

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There are a million things that Halle Levitt likes about her online best friend, Nash.

He’s an incredibly talented graphic novelist. He loves books almost as much as she does. And she never has to deal with the awkwardness of seeing him in real life. They can talk about anything…

Except who she really is.

Because online, Halle isn’t Halle—she’s Kels, the enigmatically cool creator of One True Pastry, a YA book blog that pairs epic custom cupcakes with covers and reviews. Kels has everything Halle doesn’t: friends, a growing platform, tons of confidence, and Nash.

That is, until Halle arrives to spend senior year in Gramps’s small town and finds herself face-to-face with real, human, not-behind-a-screen Nash. Nash, who is somehow everywhere she goes—in her classes, at the bakery, even at synagogue.

Nash who has no idea she’s actually Kels.

If Halle tells him who she is, it will ruin the non-awkward magic of their digital friendship. Not telling him though, means it can never be anything more. Because while she starts to fall for Nash as Halle…he’s in love with Kels.

The Author

Marisa Kanter has worked in publicity for major publishers and covered YA books for MTV. Currently, she works in sales, on the distribution side of the publishing industry. She can often be found searching for the best iced chai in NYC, or reading on the 3 train. What I Like About You is her first novel. Follow her at marisakanter.com

The Blog Tour

Week 1

BookHighlight W/ Giveaway
Author Guest Post
Author Q&A
Week 2

Creative Post
Pub Day (Marisa)
Creative Post
Author Q&A
Author Q&A
Week 3

BookHighlight W/ Giveaway
Author Q&A
Week 4

BookHighlight W/ Giveaway
Author Q&A
BookHighlight W/ Giveaway
Week 5

BookHighlight W/ Giveaway