November 30, 2015

Emma's Study Tips

Hello, lovely readers! Finals are next week for me, and I'm sure tons of other college students will have theirs soon, too. Here are my tips for during finals week.


1) Your friends may try to convince you to forego studying. DO NOT LISTEN TO THEM. Studying for finals is actually important. Most of them can make or break your overall grade for the class.

2) BUT if your friends are telling you that you've studied as much as you can (and you've studied for hours), listen to them and take a break.

3) Find the place where you study best. The library is usually too distracting for me, so I stay in my room or try to claim my unit's study room before anyone else can.

4) Make sure you have plenty of water/coffee/tea and snacks so you can stay focused.

5) Additionally, make sure you have all the things you'll need for studying - notes, notebooks, textbooks, study guides, sticky notes, flash cards, Quizlet, highlighters, etc.

6) If you study better with music, make sure you've got that playlist set. Don't choose anything you'd rather dance to.


7) Get sleep. No matter what anyone tells you, running on five hours of sleep total for two to three days is not healthy.

8) Like I said before, don't over-study. Your brain will implode.

9) Your school might have some fun events to help their students get through finals week. Plan your studying around those so you can go and release some stress!

10) Take movie-watching study breaks. Don't take book-reading study breaks. You've done enough reading for your classes.

11) Figure out what works for you. The above advice are all things that work for me, but everyone is different. Good luck conquering your finals!

November 29, 2015

Sunday Street Team: For the Record Review



The Author

Charlotte Huang

Charlotte Huang is a graduate of Smith College and received an MBA from Columbia Business School, which is clearly something every aspiring writer should do. When not glued to her computer, she cheers her two sons on at sporting events and sometimes manages to stay up late enough to check out bands with her music agent husband. Charlotte lives in Los Angeles and is the author of For the Record (Delacorte, 2015)

The Book

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For the Record by Charlotte Huang
Chelsea thought she knew what being a rock star was like . . . until she became one. After losing a TV talent show, she slid back into small-town anonymity. But one phone call changed everything 

Now she’s the lead singer of the band Melbourne, performing in sold-out clubs every night and living on a bus with three gorgeous and talented guys. The bummer is that the band barely tolerates her. And when teen hearthrob Lucas Rivers take an interest in her, Chelsea is suddenly famous, bringing Melbourne to the next level—not that they’re happy about that. Her feelings for Beckett, Melbourne’s bassist, are making life even more complicated.

Chelsea only has the summer tour to make the band—and their fans—love her. If she doesn’t, she’ll be back in Michigan for senior year, dying a slow death. The paparazzi, the haters, the grueling schedule . . . Chelsea believed she could handle it. But what if she can’t?

Grade: C+
An ARC was provided in exchange for an honest review.

I went into For the Record expecting something a bit like Open Road Summer, except more from Dee's POV and with a different type of music. And I didn't really get that. There was a lot of angst with Chelsea feeling like an outsider and unwanted and the romantic tension. It was still a fairly enjoyable story, but it wasn't quite as perfect as I expected. While I didn't dislike Chelsea, I didn't love her. I really didn't like her best friend or Lucas Rivers. The whole plotline with Lucas was a bit cliche. I much preferred Beckett, even with all his faults. I actually really enjoy when bandmates fall for each other, so I mostly liked how that played out. And I did like the idea of the band. I would've liked a little more setting and imagery of all the places they were playing. It would've grounded me in the story better.
There's a lot of kissing and talk of sleeping together. There's a fair amount of foul language.

The Verdict: I still recommend reading For the Record, I really do. But it wasn't quite what I wanted, so that's why I'm not in love with it.

Will I be adding this book to my library?: Eh, probably not.

The Giveaway

November 27, 2015

Random Friday Winter 2015/2016 Reads


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.
Can you believe winter is already upon us? Here are a few of the books I can't wait to read in the next few months!

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1. See How They Run by Ally Carter
*makes grabby hands*

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2. Zero Day by Jan Gangsei
I do love a good thriller.

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3. Bookishly Ever After by Isabel Bandeira
Hello, Sixteen 2016 Reads pick.

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4. Burn by Elissa Sussman
I know a lot of people didn't like Stray, but I did, and I can't wait for this companion/sequel.

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5. Shade Me by Jennifer Brown
I've only read one other of Jennifer's books, but I hope this one will be just as good.

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I'm gonna be talking about this one a lot, because I'm just that excited for it.

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7. The Mystery of Hollow Places by Rebecca Podos
Mysteries are my jam.

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8. Fridays with the Wizards by Jessica Day George
I'm so excited for another Castle Glower book!

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9. The Forbidden Orchid by Sharon Biggs Waller
Doesn't this one sound great? And look at that cover!

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10. Sweet Home Alaska by Carole Estby Dagg
I see a mention of Laura Ingalls Wilder in that synopsis...

Honorable mentions: Salt to the Sea by Ruta Septys, Stars Above by Marissa Meyer, Kill the Boy Band by Goldy Moldavsky, and Kingdom of Ashes by Rhiannon Thomas

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Bonus pick: The Girl from Everywhere by Heidi Heilig
I've already read this one, but of course I'm pushing it on everyone. Watch for my review closer to its release date!

So what books are you looking forward to reading this winter?


November 26, 2015

Reading for School

Both my spring semester and my fall semester this year involved a lot more reading. So I wanted to devote this post to all the books I had to read for various classes.


Lit and Culture
This was one of my classes last semester.

First we started off with Einstein's Dreams, a novel I had never heard of before I had to order it for my class.
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It was all about different worlds where time ran differently, with interludes about Einstein himself as he tried to work out his theory of time. It wasn't terrible; it just dragged at times.

Next was Shakespeare's The Tempest.
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I've read some of Shakespeare's other plays, and this was definitely one of my least favorites. I can't entirely explain why; I just know that I really didn't like it.

Our next unit focused solely on Persuasion by Jane Austen.
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I've read two retellings of this one, so I knew the gist of the story, but this was one of the Austen novels I had never actually read before. (I'm very partial to Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, and Emma.) It was pretty dull and dreary to me, which I thought was sad. I really want to love all of Jane Austen's novels.

The final unit was devoted to two novels, the first of which was Notes of Underground, which I abhored. Clearly, Russian literature is not for me.
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And the second one was One Hundred Years of Solitude.
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This one was so weird, and that was a bit off-putting. It did introduce me to the genre of magical realism, which made me appreciate The Weight of Feathers.

Western Civ II
Another of my classes last semester. Technically, we had to read three(?) books for the tests, but I may have only read one and Shmooped the others...

The one I did read was...
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It's safe to say I didn't like it. I've never enjoyed reading for class, but I had high hopes for this one since it's one of the first dystopian novels.

Modern Novel
My main literature class this semester! It's taught by the same prof that I had for Lit and Culture, so once again, we read five novels. This class was all about the modernist period in literature.

We started off with Howards End.
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When we first read this one, I wasn't a big fan. I'm still not, really, but in comparison to some of the others we've read, this one stands above them.

Then we read one of Virginia Woolf's novels.
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I liked the parts with Septimus and Rezia, but that was about it.

Then we read a Faulkner novel.
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I think I would've liked this one better, were it not for the nontraditional narration. It was too confusing for me.

The Good Soldier was fourth.
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My abhorrence for The Good Soldier knows no end. It was so pointless and ridiculous and ugh.

So, as of writing this post, I haven't actually read this one yet...
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But I hope I'm enjoying it! Our final reading from this one is due next Thursday.
Edit: We've started reading this one and so far, it's the easiest to understand, based on narration and word choice.

Revolutionary Europe
For my history minor. That prof had us read two small books for class discussions and one GIANT book (it's over 1,000 pages) for three book reviews. Needless to say, I enjoyed none of these.

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This was the first book discussion read. I'm not ashamed to say I mostly skimmed it.

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Second book discussion read. As of writing this post, I haven't started it, but I will be soon, I'm sure.
Edit: Started it, and it's pretty boring but at least easier to comprehend than Reflections.


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This is the book review one. I haven't finished it yet; the final book review is due on Wednesday so I should be done soon.

So, in conclusion, I hate reading for class. I rarely find new favorites (To Kill a Mockingbird is the one exception). I rarely skim books, I promise, especially for Dr. Penner's classes. She requires us to turn in "reading responses" (which are quotes we like from the books, passages we want to respond to, and parts we're confused about) so that makes it very hard to skim or Shmoop for her class.
What have you had to read for school? Do you generally hate the books you've had to read, or have you enjoyed them? 

November 25, 2015

Review: Just Visiting

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Just Visiting by Dahlia Adler
Grade: B-
An ARC was provided by the author in exchange for review consideration.
Summary: Reagan Forrester wants out—out of her trailer park, out of reach of her freeloading mother, and out of the shadow of the relationship that made her the pariah of Charytan, Kansas. 

Victoria Reyes wants in—in to a fashion design program, in to the arms of a cute guy who doesn't go to Charytan High, and in to a city where she won't stand out for being Mexican.

One thing the polar-opposite best friends do agree on is that wherever they go, they’re staying together. But when they set off on a series of college visits at the start of their senior year, they quickly see that the future doesn’t look quite like they expected. After two years of near-solitude following the betrayal of the ex-boyfriend who broke her heart, Reagan falls hard and fast for a Battlestar Galactica-loving, brilliant smile-sporting pre-med prospective... only to learn she's set herself up for heartbreak all over again. Meanwhile, Victoria runs full-speed toward all the things she thinks she wants… only to realize everything she’s looking for might be in the very place they've sworn to leave.

As both Reagan and Victoria struggle to learn who they are and what they want in the present, they discover just how much they don't know about each other's pasts. And when each learns what the other’s been hiding, they'll have to decide whether their friendship has a future.
 

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: I love contemporary YA fiction so much, but only when it's done well. And I feel good contemporary YA novels are far and few between because most are too unrealistic or just not my thing. Well, thank goodness for Just Visiting. It had so many realistic aspects that I felt like I was witnessing something my own friends were going through. 
Rae and Vic are best friends; they have been for about two years, and their main goal is to get out of Charytan, Kansas. I loved that Dahlia showed the college visit process. As someone who attends a small, Christian university, I can't say how accurate the colleges were. BUT, for the most part, the prospective weekends seemed similar enough to what I've heard and seen before. Also on the college side of things, I enjoyed that the girls didn't have everything perfectly figured out. Yeah, some high schoolers know exactly what school they'll attend and what they'll major in, but that was a little more iffy for Vic and Rae. AND Vic started to wonder if college was the right path for her, which I thought was fantastically relatable. (Not for me, personally, but other young readers.)
I kind of enjoyed the main romances. Rae meets a guy named Dave while they're visiting the first college, and they kind of click. Their relationship has a few too many miscommunications for me. Vic's sort-of romance with Steve was cute and realistic. I liked how things with that went.
Most of what I didn't like about Just Visiting was the amount of foul language. It's just not my thing. The sexual content was also a bit much for my tastes.
But, overall, I really did enjoy Just Visiting.

The Verdict: If you want a good book with a realistic friendship, look no further. I'd definitely recommend for fans of Open Road Summer and Since You've Been Gone.


Will I be adding this book to my library?: I'd like to.

November 24, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Characters I'd Invite for Thanksgiving


Can you just imagine a Thanksgiving dinner with all your favorite YA characters? (Also, I may cheated with this list a little because I counted couples as one, so I may have invited fourteen people instead of ten...)


1. Linh Cinder from Cinder by Marissa Meyer
Cinder definitely needs a happy dinner with friends. She'll just need to leave her tools off the table.

2. Cammie Morgan from the Gallagher Girls series by Ally Carter
Cammie is sort of a kindred spirit, and she's from one of the first YA books I read, so I feel like I have a special bond with her. She totes needs to be there.

3. Cricket Bell from Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins
Because every Thanksgiving dinner with a group of friends needs a cute boy. *pretends Lola doesn't exist*

4. Levi and Macallan from Better off Friends by Elizabeth Eulberg
One of my favorite couples. They'd entertain all of us with their banter, I'm sure.

5. Gretchen Muller and Daniel from Prisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blankman
They need a day of peace with all of the craziness they've been through.

6. Jersey Cameron from Torn Away by Jennifer Brown
Jersey definitely needs time with loving people, and that's what Thanksgiving is all about.

7. Emmy and Oliver from Emmy & Oliver by Robin Benway
I just feel these two should come.

8. Rachel from Devoted by Jennifer Mathieu
Rachel is like Jersey in my opinion. Plus, she's a kindred spirit and someone I'd want to be friends with.

9. Grace Wilde from All Fall Down by Ally Carter
She fits in to the same category as Gretchen, Daniel, and Cinder.

10. Lara Jean Covey and Peter Kavinsky from To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han
Fave couple. Lara Jean would help cook, I'm sure, and you can't invite Lara Jean without inviting Peter.

So what characters would you invite over for Thanksgiving dinner?

November 22, 2015

Rewind & Review #50

Rewind & Review

My fiftieth Rewind & Review post! How exciting!
While you're reading this, I'm visiting my best friend at her university or I'm on the way home or I'm at home. I'll get to stay for a whole week, which is exciting. I'm so ready to eat some good food, and see my puppy, and sleep in my own bed, and see my bookcases, and relax - to an extent. I still have a fair amount of homework to do. *sigh* Christmas break isn't far away though...

Books I Received for Review
Future Shock by Elizabeth Briggs (from Albert Whitman and Company via NetGalley)

Books I Bought
Winter by Marissa Meyer
Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Books I Read
Torn Away by Jennifer Brown (reread)
Winter by Marissa Meyer (4 stars)
Illusive by Emily Lloyd-Jones (reread)
Deceptive by Emily Lloyd-Jones (reread)
The Secularization of the European Mind in the Nineteenth Century by Own Chadwick (literally no rating because I have no opinion about this book)
Parallel by Lauren Miller (reread)

Blog Posts You Might've Missed
   (From 11/9-11/14)
   (From 11/15-11/21)
  • Top Ten Tuesday: Characters I'd Invite for Thanksgiving
  • Review: Just Visiting
  • Reading for School
  • Random Friday: Winter 2015/2016 Reads
  • Sunday Street Team: For the Record Review
  • Emma's Study Tips
  • TTT: Debuts in 2016
  • A Return to "Girly" Books for Manly Guys
  • Review: The Trouble with Destiny
  • Professor Emma Teaches Worldbuilding
  • TTT: New-to-Me Authors in 2015
  • Get Ready to Preorder
  • YA Historical Fiction of 2016 Is Squad Goals
  • Random Friday: Best Movies of 2015

November 21, 2015

Songs for When I Need to Write

I'm one of those writers who usually needs to write to music. It blocks out distractions and often sets me in the right mood.

My favorite songs when I need to write are...

  • "I Know Places" by Taylor Swift
  • "The Call" from the Prince Caspian soundtrack
  • "Defying Gravity" from Wicked
  • "Out Of The Woods" by Taylor Swift
  • "Masquerade" by Robosoul (ft. Cid Fox)
  • "Love Runs Out" by OneRepublic
  • "The Hanging Tree" from Mockingjay Part 1
  • "Clean" by Taylor Swift
  • "Treacherous" by Taylor Swift
  • "Piece by Piece" by Kelly Clarkson
  • "All Too Well" by Taylor Swift
  • "No Good Deed" from Wicked
  • "On the Willows" from Godspell
  • "Salvation" by Gabrielle Aplin

But sometimes I need instrumental music to really set the mood and so I'm not so caught up in the lyrics and the desire to sing along. So I have an instrumental playlist, too. It's full of instrumental versions of classic Disney songs, the Downton Abbey theme, music from Pride and Prejudice, Narnia, and Harry Potter, the suites from The Polar Express and Mulan, and the Cloud Atlas finale (because, boy, is that song majestic).

I've talked about listening to music while reading before, and I've mentioned certain songs I've listened to during NaNoWriMo. But what about writing? Are there any songs you have to listen to while writing? Or are you a complete silence type of person?

November 19, 2015

Review: Promises I Made

**Warning: the following book synopsis and review contain spoilers for Lies I Told.

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Promises I Made by Michelle Zink
Grade: C+
Release date: November 24, 2015
Summary: Grace Fontaine was trained to carry out perfect crimes. But when a mistake was made the night her family tried to execute their biggest heist yet, her world fell apart. Now her brother is in jail, her mother has disappeared with the entire stolen fortune, and her father is determined to find a new mark, no matter the cost. 

Haunted by the way she betrayed her friends—and Logan, the only boy she’s ever loved—as well as the role she played in her brother’s arrest, Grace decides she must return to the place every thief knows you should avoid: the scene of the crime.

Returning to Playa Hermosa as a wanted criminal is dangerous. But Grace has only one chance to make things right. To do it, she has to use everything she’s been taught about the art of the con to hunt down the very people who trained her: the only family she’s ever known.


Perfect for fans of Ally Carter, Cecily von Ziegesar, and Gail Carriger, this thrilling, high-stakes novel deftly explores the roles of identity and loyalty while offering a window into the world of the rich and fabulous.
 

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: I love heist books. And I apparently really like characters named Grace. Grace Fontaine is a lovely character. She's done a lot of bad things, and she knows they were bad. She doesn't excuse all her actions, and she's trying to be a better person. Not many books show the fallout and consequences of big things like the crime the Fontaines tried to pull off in Lies I Told, so I appreciated what Promises I Made had to offer in that area. This book provided resolution in pretty much all the important areas - Grace's friendships, Grace's romantic relationship, and the loose strings in book one. However, in a lot of ways, this sequel was wholly unnecessary. The first part of the book was very slow and introspective - which can be good. However, I would have much rather seen Promises I Made in the same book as Lies I Told. Certain parts of both could have been cut and we'd all be better for it. A lot of Promises I Made was told in summary, so Ms. Zink could have even made it an epilogue to Lies I Told, or even a novella. Ah, well. 
Bonus points, though, for Marcus and Scotty. They really cared for Grace, and I loved that.
There's a fair amount of f-words and s-words. Romance and violence were pretty much nonexistent, though.

The Verdict: Good, but honestly not necessary as an entire book.


Will I add this book to my library?: Probably, just because I did like Lies I Told.

November 18, 2015

More of the Inclusive

I'm here today to recommend more diverse/inclusive books that I've enjoyed lately. *jazz hands* Because, psst, you should be reading more of them!

If you've read a lot of inclusive contemporary lately, than you should try...

UNDER A PAINTED SKY by Stacey Lee

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The main protagonist is Chinese, and her new friend is black. Plus, it's good to read inclusive historical fiction. This one is set in the Wild West, and there are swoony cowboys. What more could you want?


Or maybe you recently saw/read Paper Towns and you're looking for more road trip books. Well, it's high time you tried...

DON'T FAIL ME NOW by Una LaMarche

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Michelle is biracial, and her home life and financial situation are very atypical of YA and, in my opinion, they were portrayed realistically.


Or maybe you're interested in books about mental illnesses. Well then, you should read...

ALL THE BRIGHT PLACES by Jennifer Niven
DON'T TOUCH by Rachel M. Wilson

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The former has characters with depression, and the latter tackles OCD.


Maybe you really liked Veronica Mars and want to read about another teen private eye.

SCARLETT UNDERCOVER by Jennifer Latham

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Bonus points for a POC protagonist and religious diversity!

I could go on for awhile, but I'll just list some more inclusive/diverse titles below that I think are definitely worth checking out.
Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley
Cinder by Marissa Meyer
The Game of Love and Death by Martha Brockenbrough
Just Visiting by Dahlia Adler

Happy reading!

November 16, 2015

Interview with Dahlia Adler, Author of Just Visiting


The Author

Bio

I'm an Associate Editor of mathematics by day, a Copy Editor by night, and I do a whole lot of writing at every spare moment in between. I've also been a Production Intern and Editorial Assistant at Simon & Schuster, a Publicity Intern at HarperCollins, and a Fashion Intern at Maxim. (I'm kind of into that whole publishing thing.)

I'm the author of the Daylight Falls duology (consisting of Behind the Scenes and Under the Lights), the upcoming Just Visiting, and the NA novel Last Will and Testament.  For information on those books and where you can buy them, check out My Books!

I live in New York City with my husband and our overstuffed bookshelves,

The Book

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Reagan Forrester wants out—out of her trailer park, out of reach of her freeloading mother, and out of the shadow of the relationship that made her the pariah of Charytan, Kansas. 

Victoria Reyes wants in—in to a fashion design program, in to the arms of a cute guy who doesn't go to Charytan High, and in to a city where she won't stand out for being Mexican. 

One thing the polar-opposite best friends do agree on is that wherever they go, they’re staying together. But when they set off on a series of college visits at the start of their senior year, they quickly see that the future doesn’t look quite like they expected. After two years of near-solitude following the betrayal of the ex-boyfriend who broke her heart, Reagan falls hard and fast for a Battlestar Galactica-loving, brilliant smile-sporting pre-med prospective... only to learn she's set herself up for heartbreak all over again. Meanwhile, Victoria runs full-speed toward all the things she thinks she wants… only to realize everything she’s looking for might be in the very place they've sworn to leave. 

As both Reagan and Victoria struggle to learn who they are and what they want in the present, they discover just how much they don't know about each other's pasts. And when each learns what the other’s been hiding, they'll have to decide whether their friendship has a future.

The Interview

Emma: What drew you to write about high school girls going on college visits?
Dahlia: The impetus for the book was really about wanting to write a solid friendship between girls in YA. I was in a reading rut where it seemed like every female secondary character was a frenemy, and I wanted to combat that. But high school is a very particular type of setting that does a lot of the work for you, in the sense that you don't have to make a real conscious effort to see your classmates every day, and I wanted to dip beyond that and explore the particularly tenuous time when you're making decisions about the future and aren't sure how your current experiences fit into that. 

Emma: When writing Just Visiting, did you connect more with Reagan or Victoria?
Dahlia: That's actually something I think really changed for me mid-book. Victoria and her family were really out of my wheelhouse - they're Mexican-American, her mother is Deaf, her brother's in the Peace Corps, her passion in life (fashion) involves visual artistry and crafting skill - whereas Reagan's, well, white, bookish, and bitter. I thought for sure she'd be the POV I more closely aligned with, because I was just more comfortable writing her. But the more I wrote, the more I realized I had in common with Vic, coming from a culturally strong background, with a nice home life, and a lot of anxieties about what to do with her life even though she knows what she loves...so by the end I think I flipped from Rae to her.

Emma: What do you think is most important when writing about friendships?
Dahlia: Not to associate the ones that require more work with being bad. Yes, there are some people you click with and trust in every way, and that's fantastic; some friendships are easy and fluid and magical. But not everyone is capable of connecting with people in that way, and that's okay too. There's so much to be said for wanting to, for putting in the effort, for sticking with someone even though it can be a battle. (This is why Bea and Lish from Corey Haydu's OCD Love Story is one of my favorite friendships in YA.) Reagan and Victoria aren't flawless besties, but I believe in their future because they're willing to work at it to get there together. 

Emma: If Just Visiting was being made into a movie and you had a say in it, who would you cast?
Dahlia: Thank you, Pinterest, for the fact that I already have answers for this! I'd love to see Maddie Hasson as Reagan, Naya Rivera as Victoria, and Raymond Ablack as Dev. Still looking for actors for the rest, but I feel pretty set on those three!

Emma: If you could hang out with three YA heroes/heroines for a day, who would you choose and why?
Dahlia: Ooh, good question! Audrey, from Robin Benway's Audrey, Wait! because fun things seem to happen when she's around, plus she's also a music person; Liv, from Rachael Allen's The Revenge Playbook, because she's just so full of the best energy, I had a crush on her almost instantly; and Julep, from Trust Me, I'm Lying and Trust Me, I'm Trouble, by Mary Elizabeth Summer, because even though I'd probably get myself killed after five minutes with her, she's just so much fun, it'd probably be worth it.  

Emma: You're a big presence on Twitter in the book/blogging world (I've seen you referred to as the "recing ball"). How do you balance that with your day job and writing?
Dahlia: Well I definitely don't tweet while I'm at work or while writing... *shiftiest of the shifty eyes* It's kinda something I just do without even thinking. My phone is always at my side, I'm always on a computer, and...I have a lot of things to say, apparently!  

Emma: Speaking of other jobs...how has working as a copy editor affected you as a writer?
Dahlia: I'm not sure it really does. I think it probably used to more, but I make errors just like everyone else, and need my copy editors just like everyone else! The only big thing is that sometimes I have struggle with the choice to go with character voice over proper grammar, when I don't think a character would say "whom," for example; like, that was not a word I used as a teen. I feel like a traitor to My People when I do that.  

Emma: Can you recommend three YA titles that seem to have flown under the radar?
Dahlia: ALWAYS. The two debuts that have struck me the hardest this year as being the most incredibly confidently and well written, as well as bold, are definitely ones I'm not hearing people talk about nearly enough: Conviction by Kelly Loy Gilbert (which is extra frustrating, because I think it would actually cross over into adult well) and The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly by Stephanie Oakes. I also really, really loved What You Left Behind by Jessica Verdi, which has a really great and honest male POV about teen parenthood, and I wish I saw people talking about it more!  

Emma: Finally, signature question time: what's your favorite fairytale and why?

Dahlia: At the risk of being a total heretic here, I've actually never been a huge fairytale person. I've never even read or seen most of them. But now when I think of fairytales, I think of Melissa Grey's really thoughtful and articular Twitter treatise on the character of Cinderella as a really well-drawn abuse survivor, and it's given me the biggest soft spot for that story. 

Emma: Thanks so much for stopping by my blog!


You can find Dahlia and Just Visiting (and her other books) at the links below:
Dahlia's website: http://dahliaadler.com/
Just Visiting at Read Between the Lynes: http://www.readbetweenthelynes.com/book/9781633920538

November 15, 2015

Sunday Street Team: The Anatomical Shape of a Heart Review



The Author


Jenn Bennett is the author of the Arcadia Bell urban fantasy series with Pocket and the Roaring 20's historical paranormal romance series with Berkley. She lives near Atlanta with one husband and two pugs.

The Book

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The Anatomical Shape of a Heart by Jenn Bennett
Artist Beatrix Adams knows exactly how she's spending the summer before her senior year. Determined to follow in Leonardo da Vinci’s footsteps, she's ready to tackle the one thing that will give her an advantage in a museum-sponsored scholarship contest: drawing actual cadavers. But when she tries to sneak her way into the hospital’s Willed Body program and misses the last metro train home, she meets a boy who turns her summer plans upside down.

Jack is charming, wildly attractive . . . and possibly one of San Francisco’s most notorious graffiti artists. On midnight buses and city rooftops, Beatrix begins to see who Jack really is—and tries to uncover what he’s hiding that leaves him so wounded. But will these secrets come back to haunt him? Or will the skeletons in Beatrix’s own family’s closet tear them apart?

Grade: B
An e-galley was provided by Feiwel & Friends via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

It's often the case that humorous novels are light on good imagery, and descriptive novels are more serious or light on true humor. Well I'm here to say that Jenn Bennett managed to get both in The Anatomical Shape of a Heart. Bex, the protagonist, has a great inner monologue. She's funny, and she describes the scenery and characters well. I loved that she had a fairly unique interest, too. Like, a lot of YA heroines and love interests are artists, but Bex (and Jack) took it to a whole new level, and it actually seemed to be their passion - not just an interest to flesh out their personalities. On the romance-side, they had a great meet-cute. I did feel like they started to spend more time together than with other people (does Bex have any friends?!), but I liked them together.
The plot revolved around Bex secretly sketching cadavers and Jack's street art. Bex was allowed by the school to do her sketching, so she's not breaking into the lab; the secret part revolves around her mother not knowing her daughter was doing that. My main problem lies with the cliche-ness of the climax. When Jack's parents find out what he's up to, everything goes down like it does in practically every YA novel. The rich parents overreact and then realize how wrong they were. Also, Bex's mom was so against her particular art, and that seemed like a YA stereotype to me.
In addition, there was a fair amount of f-bombs and s-words, which are always off-putting to me, and the sexual content is more graphic than I usually prefer mine to be.

The Verdict: Really good! I liked The Anatomical Shape of a Heart more for its characters than its plot. I definitely recommend it.

"Guess who just won a golden ticket to Wonka's Cadaver Dissection Lab?"

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

The Giveaway


November 14, 2015

Review: The Golden Braid

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The Golden Braid by Melanie Dickerson
Grade: C-
Release date: November 17, 2015
An e-galley was provided by Thomas Nelson via NetGalley in exchange for review consideration.
Summary: The one who needs rescuing isn’t always the one in the tower.

Rapunzel can throw a knife better than any man around. And her skills as an artist rival those of any artist she’s met. But for a woman in medieval times, the one skill she most desires is the hardest one to obtain: the ability to read.

After yet another young man asks for Rapunzel’s hand in marriage, Mother decides they need to move once again, but this time to a larger city. Rapunzel’s heart soars—surely there she can fulfill her dream. But Mother won’t let her close to a man. She claims that no man can be trusted.

After being rescued by a knight on the road to the city, and in turn rescuing him farther down the road, Rapunzel’s opportunity arrives at last. This knight, Sir Gerek, agrees to educate Rapunzel in order to pay back his debt. She just has to put up with his arrogant nature and single-minded focus on riches and prestige.

But this Rapunzel story is unlike any other and the mystery that she uncovers will change everything—except her happily ever after.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: Tangled is one of my favorite Disney movies ever, so I'm always interested in Rapunzel retellings. I've also enjoyed Melanie Dickerson's past books, so it was a given that I would read The Golden Braid. Unfortunately, I didn't enjoy it nearly as much as The Healer's Apprentice or The Merchant's Daughter.
The writing was not nearly as smooth as it could've been. It felt fairly basic for a YA/NA story. There was a lot of telling and not showing. Also, everything seemed too easy for Rapunzel and Gerek. I knew they were going to emerge unscathed. There was also a plot twist that I predicted only a third of the way into the book that turned out to be right. 
The Golden Braid is set at the same time as The Princess Spy, and a lot of the events overlap so Ms. Dickerson did a lot of summarizing in this novel. I found that boring and awkward. Honestly, I think the story would've been better had it been set later than the events of The Princess Spy.
And if I'm being honest, I didn't really ship the relationship. Like, in Melanie's first three books, I really wanted the couple to end up together. But I honestly didn't care if Rapunzel and Gerek were endgame (which, I knew they would be).

The Verdict: I feel pretty meh about this one.


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