April 30, 2017

Rewind & Review: #84


~Easter weekend happened. I stayed on campus and worked at the desk a lot and got a ton of homework done. I also watched half a dozen movies.
~I've started writing an essay about why Severus Snape is the actual worst.
~I had a Shakespeare group project - we had to perform a scene from one of the plays we read. My group chose a tavern scene from Henry IV, Part I and we performed it in our school's bistro.
~My university's annual film festival was last Saturday. It was freezing cold that day, but we managed the hour-long wait in line to get good seats. Some of the films were really good; others, frankly, stunk.
~Last week of classes has passed. I'm gearing up for finals week and move-out. But I managed to film a book haul video yesterday! Check it out at the bottom of the post.

Books I Received for Review
The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee (from HarperCollins)
Dramatically Ever After by Isabel Bandeira (from Spencer Hill Press via NetGalley)

Books I Won/Traded for/was Gifted
Taylor Swift: This Is Our Song by Tyler Conroy (Easter gift from my parents)
Literary Starbucks by Nora Katz, Wilson Josephson, and Jill Poskanzer (April Secret Sister gift)
The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss (gifted by one of my professors)

Books I Bought
Triple Threat by Gwenda Bond
Rebels Rising by Shanna Swendson
First Class Murder by Robin Stevens

Books I Read
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (4 stars)
Two Summers by Aimee Friedman (reread)
The Distance from A to Z by Natalie Blitt (3 stars)
The Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh
Saturdays at Sea by Jessica Day George (4 stars)
The Names They Gave Us by Emery Lord (reread)
Tash Hearts Tolstoy by Kathryn Ormsbee
Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie (4 stars)
The Beautiful Pretender by Melanie Dickerson (3 stars)
A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan (4 stars)
American Street by Ibi Zoboi (3 stars)
Triple Threat by Gwenda Bond
The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli (4 stars)
Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller (3 stars)
Two Naomis by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich and Audrey Vernick (3 stars)

Blog Posts You Might've Missed in the Last Few Weeks
   (from 4/10-4/15)
   (from 4/17-4/22)
   (from 4/23-4/29)

April 29, 2017

Review: You're Welcome, Universe

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You're Welcome, Universe by Whitney Gardner
Grade: B-
Summary: When Julia finds a slur about her best friend scrawled across the back of the Kingston School for the Deaf, she covers it up with a beautiful (albeit illegal) graffiti mural.

Her supposed best friend snitches, the principal expels her, and her parents set Julia up with a one-way ticket to a “mainstream” school in the suburbs, where she’s treated like an outcast as the only deaf student. The last thing she has left is her art, and not even Banksy himself could convince her to give that up.

Out in the ’burbs, Julia paints anywhere she can, eager to claim some turf of her own. But Julia soon learns that she might not be the only vandal in town. Someone is adding to her tags, making them better, showing off—and showing Julia up in the process. She expected her art might get painted over by cops. But she never imagined getting dragged into a full-blown graffiti war.
 

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: What drew me to You're Welcome, Universe was the mention of deaf characters in that cover copy. Deaf culture fascinates me, and I've been watching Switched at Birth for years. Every bit of the Deaf/deaf culture in YWU felt authentic to me. Sometimes, I was confused as to if the characters were signing or speaking aloud, but I think that was pretty realistic. Julia, the protagonist, wouldn't constantly say, "I signed this" or "I signed that." She would say, "I said..." because ASL is her language. What also worked nicely was how Whitney Gardner wrote the moments when Julia was trying to lip-read and couldn't catch everything the hearing person said. Readers are very much inside Julia's head for this book, so I could feel her frustration, annoyance, and confusion.
Julia is definitely a teenager. She has her bratty moments and her stubbornness and her ridiculousness, but I felt like she made some good choices at the end of the day. She learned how to be more open to friendship, and she got rid of the fairly toxic friendship in her life. I could see how she loved and wanted to please her parents but was also balancing being herself.
I don't get street art, to be honest, so I didn't always love that plot line. There's a plot twist related that I really didn't expect. There were a few tiny hints, looking back, but it kind of came out of the blue for me. Still not certain if I liked that or didn't.
Side characters...Julia's parents shine. I grew to like Casey, even if she did try too hard, and Mr. Katz was cool. Jordyn pissed me off (I really wanted to shake her for her stupid choices), as did Donovan. YP (whose real name I wish we'd learned) had just as much of a character arc as Julia, which was great. Yay for friendship!
I appreciated that there was no romance. I felt like there two potentials for one to happen, and I honestly didn't see how either ship would've been good, so YWU gets major points for the lack of a romance. There is a moment between Julia and Donovan that kind of came out of nowhere and definitely annoyed me.
There's a fair bit of foul language, so I think that was the main thing keeping this from being a 4-star book.

The Verdict: I never experienced that deep love I feel while reading a new favorite, but this is such an important story.


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

April 26, 2017

So You Like... #48

Time for another Disney Princess-themed So You Like... post!


So you like...


ARIEL.
(Note: I tried to find a credit for this drawing, but couldn't, so if anyone knows who to credit it to, let me know.)


OTHER CULTURES/OTHER WORLDS (since Ariel is fascinated with the human world)


25203675
The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi



24934065
Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton



18798983
The Wrath & the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh



20821111
The Young Elites by Marie Lu



18594391
Wish You Were Italian by Kristin Rae



22521951
Written in the Stars by Aisha Saeed


Is Ariel your favorite Disney Princess? Which one would you like me to recommend books for next?

April 24, 2017

Review: Noteworthy

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Noteworthy by Riley Redgate
Grade: B
Release date: May 2, 2017
An e-galley was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for review consideration.
Summary: It’s the start of Jordan Sun’s junior year at the Kensington-Blaine Boarding School for the Performing Arts. Unfortunately, she’s an Alto 2, which—in the musical theatre world—is sort of like being a vulture in the wild: She has a spot in the ecosystem, but nobody’s falling over themselves to express their appreciation. So it’s no surprise when she gets shut out of the fall musical for the third year straight.

Then the school gets a mass email: A spot has opened up in the Sharpshooters, Kensington’s elite a cappella octet. Worshiped ... revered ... all male. Desperate to prove herself, Jordan auditions in her most convincing drag, and it turns out that Jordan Sun, Tenor 1, is exactly what the Sharps are looking for.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: Noteworthy is definitely a book for music lovers. Other than that, it's a book for the dreamers, go-getters, and social justice warriors. Jordan Sun is not about to sit idly by and let her dreams slip through her fingertips. I admired her determination and hardworking attitude. I wasn't surprised when she made it into the Sharpshooters. I was surprised by a couple of things: 1) the lack of supervision for the Sharpshooters (even music groups at my university have more supervision than the Sharps), and 2) how much I enjoyed a story filled with boys. I'm usually all about the female-driven books, but I didn't mind that Jordan was pretty much the only girl on most of the pages. And I really enjoyed the group of friends that developed for Jordan, but I especially loved the romance with Isaac. I liked all of the dynamics with him, and he was super swoony. I enjoyed being able to contrast him with Jordan's ex, and he was so much better for her, partly because Isaac and Jordan got to form a friendship first.
The ending felt a little off to me; I think it was mainly the parts post-competition. It just felt maybe a little too perfectly wrapped up, if that makes sense.
There's a lot of swearing. Sometimes I felt like there was an s-word or f-bomb dropped on every page, but I tried to look past that because the quality of the rest of the book is pretty good.

The Verdict: Great rep and an enjoyable read.


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

April 23, 2017

Sunday Street Team: Interview with Laura Silverman + Giveaway



The Book

29640839
Girl Out of Water by Laura Silverman
Release date: May 2, 2017

Anise Sawyer plans to spend every minute of summer with her friends: surfing, chowing down on fish tacos drizzled with wasabi balsamic vinegar, and throwing bonfires that blaze until dawn. But when a serious car wreck leaves her aunt, a single mother of three, with two broken legs, it forces Anise to say goodbye for the first time to Santa Cruz, the waves, her friends, and even a kindling romance, and fly with her dad to Nebraska for the entire summer. Living in Nebraska isn’t easy. Anise spends her days caring for her three younger cousins in the childhood home of her runaway mom, a wild figure who’s been flickering in and out of her life since birth, appearing for weeks at a time and then disappearing again for months, or even years, without a word. 

Complicating matters is Lincoln, a one-armed, charismatic skater who pushes Anise to trade her surfboard for a skateboard. As Anise draws closer to Lincoln and takes on the full burden and joy of her cousins, she loses touch with her friends back home – leading her to one terrifying question: will she turn out just like her mom and spend her life leaving behind the ones she loves?

The Author-Laura Silverman

Laura received her MFA in writing for children from the New School. She loves books and dogs—okay, and quite a few people too. She currently lives in Atlanta, Georgia. You can say hello on Twitter at @LJSilverman1.

Find her on: Tumblr Twitter Goodreads

The Interview

Emma: Anise is an athletic character, as is Lincoln. Why was it important for them to both have a sport to participate in?
Laura: It was their connection! Anise was a surfer from the start, and it made sense she’d gravitate towards a new sport stuck in landlocked Nebraska. Thankfully Lincoln is there to guide her

E: Are you in any way similar to Anise, Lincoln, or another character from Girl Out of Water?
L: I’m probably most similar to Tess – Anise’s best friend. I’m really loyal and honest with my friends (hopefully! I think!). Like Lincoln, I can definitely nerd out about things other people might find boring. And Anise and I are actually pretty different but we both share/shared that fear of losing friendships to distance.

E: One of the best parts of Girl Out of Water is the focus on family - not just parents and children but also cousins and aunts. What are some of your favorite other YA books that have strong focuses on family?
L: *screams Jenny Han’s books from the rooftops* I’m so flattered some early reviews have compared our books because I absolutely love her focus on family.

E: What's been the best part of your debut author experience?
L: EVERYTHING. It’s honestly hard to pick one thing. Signing that contract. Holding my ARC for the first time. Signing ARC copies. Holding the real book for the first time. All of the relationships! Meeting amazing writers and readers and people who work in publishing! And of course – the biggest perk – all the books!

E: What would be the best kind of book swag for Girl Out of Water? (Like, if you had no budget restraints, what would you love to give as a preorder promotion prize?)

L: Ooh! Probably like a two-week trip to California and Nebraska. With tours guided by Anise and Lincoln because they’re real people in this fantasy, right?

E: What's the weirdest writing advice you've ever received?
L: The “only write what you know” advice has always struck me as odd. Am I only supposed to write about girls growing up in Georgia who go to the University of Georgia for college and study English and Advertising and have never gotten on a surfboard?


E: Cake or pie, and what kind?
L: Oreo cheesecake Also apple pie with vanilla ice cream, though. Also why is dessert so good?

The Giveaway



April 21, 2017

Random Friday: Creative Nonfiction


Want to participate in Random Fridays? Just do the following: 
  • Include the above image in your post and link back to my post.
  • Blog about this week's topic.
  • Add the link to your Random Friday at the bottom of this post.
I talked a bit about CNF and memoirs last fall. Reading more food and travel memoirs is definitely still on my agenda, but I haven't been checking a lot of physical books out of the library, and they don't have many titles as e-books. I did read a few over Christmas break, especially while I was traveling to Chicago, and hopefully I can read more this summer.

I read The Man Who Ate Everything, which taught me way more than I needed to know about the nutritional facts of certain foods.
I also read Maman's Homesick Pie, which was good but not great. I definitely loved learning about a different culture's food, but I don't think the timeline of the book was well-organized.
I finished 2016 by reading A Pig in Provence, which frankly bored and annoyed me. I liked some of the bits about provincial French life, but most of the characters grated on my nerves.

This year, I've read Lauren Graham's memoir and one of Ina Garten's books (which is more cookbook than CNF), so I definitely need to get cracking.

Even if I haven't liked every example of CNF I've read, I'm optimistic, mostly because I liked the first two I read (Delancey and The Wilder Life, in case you're wondering).

Is there a specific type of CNF you feel drawn to? Anthologies, food memoirs, travel memoirs, autobiographies...


April 20, 2017

Review: Girl Out of Water

29640839
Girl Out of Water by Laura Silverman
Grade: C
Release date: May 2, 2017
An e-galley was provided by Sourcebooks Fire via NetGalley in exchange for review consideration.
Summary: Anise Sawyer plans to spend every minute of summer with her friends: surfing, chowing down on fish tacos drizzled with wasabi balsamic vinegar, and throwing bonfires that blaze until dawn. But when a serious car wreck leaves her aunt, a single mother of three, with two broken legs, it forces Anise to say goodbye for the first time to Santa Cruz, the waves, her friends, and even a kindling romance, and fly with her dad to Nebraska for the entire summer. Living in Nebraska isn’t easy. Anise spends her days caring for her three younger cousins in the childhood home of her runaway mom, a wild figure who’s been flickering in and out of her life since birth, appearing for weeks at a time and then disappearing again for months, or even years, without a word. 

Complicating matters is Lincoln, a one-armed, charismatic skater who pushes Anise to trade her surfboard for a skateboard. As Anise draws closer to Lincoln and takes on the full burden and joy of her cousins, she loses touch with her friends back home – leading her to one terrifying question: will she turn out just like her mom and spend her life leaving behind the ones she loves

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: The premise of Girl Out of Water is wonderful - I love the focus on family, and it's great to see athletic heroines (even though I can't relate to them at all). Anise has a good bond with her father, she's got a solid group of friends, and she acts like a typical teenager - a bit self-focused, but also willing to help and step up to the plate if needed. Lincoln felt a little unnatural at first, but I grew to like him, and his and Anise's romance was sweet. I also really enjoyed watching Anise and her cousin, Emery, bond. At times Emery and Austin (Lincoln's brother) seemed a bit unrealistic in how they acted - after all they're only supposed to be thirteen - but they weren't unrealistic all the time, and Emery has gone through a lot of things that might make her mature more quickly than the average middle schooler. I loved how her friend group sub-plot resolved.
The sub-plot with Anise's mom felt very unresolved. I kept thinking it was going to lead somewhere at the end, but it never did, and I felt unsatisfied.
The main thing keeping me from loving this book was the amount of swearing. It's really not my thing, and I'm okay with half a dozen to a dozen uses of the words, but this felt excessive. There was also underage drinking and talk of drugs, which are not things I appreciate in books either.

The Verdict: Definitely great for fans of Sarah Dessen. It just wasn't completely my cup of tea.


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

April 18, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: Things That'll Make Me Want to Read a Book


I am extremely picky about the books I read, but there are at least ten things that'll make me more likely to read a book. Ready?


1. You've Got Mail comparisons
I love rom-coms, and YGM is one of my top faves. Books like Alex, Approximately and P.S. I Like You were made for me.

2. Homeschoolers
As a former homeschooler, I always want to read about more protagonists that had a similar high school experience to me. Unfortunately, most homeschooled protagonists are either a) famous (so they can't go to public/private school), or b) unrealistic. Here's hoping more books like Lucky Few show up on the YA scene soon.

3. YA historical fiction
I'm a sucker for history in general, but specifically YA historical fiction.

4. Time travel
On a related note, I love time travel stories, whether they're more like Time Between Us or in the same vein as The Girl from Everywhere.

5. Virginia or Kentucky settings
I'm pretty loyal to the two states I currently call home, so I will always take more books set in them.

6. Settings outside the U.S.
But also, I'm up for books set outside America! Of course, there are a lot set in Europe, but I'll always take more of that, as well as books set in East Asia, South Asia, the Middle East, South America, Africa...basically, the whole world.

7. FOOD
Whether it be a character who loves to bake, a teen cooking competition, or a food memoir, I'm generally down for books that revolve around food in some way.

8. Shakespeare retellings
I love me some Shakespeare, but modernized (or historical fiction) YA retellings of his plays are my jam. There's a reason The Only Thing Worse Than Me Is You is one of my all-time favorite books.

9. Superheroes/super powers
I just really like superheroes for some reason. So give me books like Fallout and Wonder Woman: Warbringer, but also books like Illusive and Pivot Point, where there are "super powers" but there aren't necessarily superheroes.

10. A Twitter recommendation from a favorite author
Ok, so this isn't necessarily something in a book that'll make me want to read it, but let's be real, if I see someone like Emery Lord, Heidi Heilig, or Morgan Matson tweet favorably about a book, you'd better believe I'm going to check it out on Goodreads.

What makes you want to read a book?

April 15, 2017

DNF Review: Maud

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Maud by Melanie J. Fishbane
Grade: DNF
Release date: April 25, 2017
An e-galley was provided by Razorbill Canada via NetGalley in exchange for review consideration.
Summary: Fourteen-year-old Lucy Maud Montgomery — Maud to her friends — has a dream: to go to college and become a writer, just like her idol, Louisa May Alcott. But living with her grandparents on Prince Edward Island, she worries that this dream will never come true. Her grandfather has strong opinions about a woman's place in the world, and they do not include spending good money on college. Luckily, she has a teacher to believe in her, and good friends to support her, including Nate, the Baptist minister's stepson and the smartest boy in the class. If only he weren't a Baptist; her Presbyterian grandparents would never approve. Then again, Maud isn't sure she wants to settle down with a boy — her dreams of being a writer are much more important.

But life changes for Maud when she goes out West to live with her father and his new wife and daughter. Her new home offers her another chance at love, as well as attending school, but tensions increase as Maud discovers her stepmother's plans for her, which threaten Maud's future — and her happiness forever.

When did I stop reading?: 24% into my e-galley.

Why did I stop reading?: I wanted to love this; after all, I quite enjoyed Anne of Green Gables, and I love stories about authors aimed at middle grade and young adult audiences. But Maud passed at a ridiculously slow pace, and I felt like the same situations kept happening again and again. Additionally, I had trouble keeping the various secondary characters straight since they had names like Mollie, Nellie, Clemmie, and Annie. I did not mind at all that Maud was only 14; so many YA leads are 16 or 17, that it's refreshing to have a younger one. 

The Verdict: Not necessarily bad, but it was just so slow.

April 14, 2017

So You Like... #47

On today's So You Like... I'm going to feature book recommendations based on...



THE CLASSICS.
(as always, book covers link to the Goodreads pages)


If you like...


10975


try...


18602660
(for the Southern setting and the commentary on sexism)



If you like...


758615


try...


23341894
(for certain spoilery reasons)



If you like...


13584801


try...


23110163
(for the detective extraordinaire)



If you like...


20893883


try...


16045296
(for the horse love)



If you like...


23168286


try...


25203675
(for the characters who leave a world like ours for something more magical)



If you like...


15824390


try...


23599075
(for all the stories and characters coming together by the end)


What other classics do you want book pairings for? (Here's the other So You Like... post I did on the classics.)