June 24, 2017

Burn, Rewrite, or Reread Tag

No idea who started this tag (if someone knows, comment and let me know and I'll edit this intro), but it sounded like painful fun.

So, if you don't know what this book tag is, you are given three books. You must choose one and only one for each option: burn, rewrite, or reread. 

I had my mom choose at random four stacks of three books from my main bookshelves (the ones with all YA) and here are the results...

Group #1:

Burn: This was a hard choice, but I'm going with Wildflower. It's a fairly good book, but I'd rather keep the others around.
Rewrite: Hello, I Love You has a few flaws, so I'd iron those out and then keep rereading it to my heart's content.
Reread: The Winner's Curse. I love this entire trilogy, and I'm actually planning to reread it this summer.

Group #2: 

Burn: Probably Going Vintage. Sorry to Lindsey but the main character started to grate on my nerves during my last reread.
Rewrite: This was actually a toss-up between the two books left, but I'd actually rewrite Anna and the French Kiss, just to take out the cheating bits and chunks of the Ellie sub-plot because that just dragged.
Reread: That leaves Better off Friends, which is a solid book. It really needs less rewriting than Anna, which is why it won out for this option.

Group #3: 

Ack, this is a really tough one.

Burn: All Fall Down. Unfortunately, I love the other books just a little more, and Embassy Row is, sadly, Ally's weakest series.
Rewrite: Heir of Fire. Just to fix Rowan's abusiveness and also eliminate any potential of him becoming a love interest. (Sorrynotsorry.)
Reread: Open Road Summer. While Emery's debut isn't as perfect as The Start of Me and You or The Names They Gave Us, it's pretty darn good. I don't think I'd change anything about it.

Group #4:

Burn: A Thousand Pieces of You. Upon my recent reread of the trilogy, this first book drags the most (surprisingly).
Rewrite: The Raven King. Just to get rid of all the parts that lean towards horror, and also I think I'd change the majority of the climax/ending just a bit. Fan theories honestly overhyped what might happen in TRK, so I expected more than we got. 
Reread: The Anatomical Shape of a Heart. By process of elimination, although I think I'd put it under a minimal rewrite.

Okay, I kind of want to do this tag again, so we'll see what happens, haha. I'm actually surprised my mom didn't pick any historical fiction books, although my love for contemporary fiction is well-represented. What would you have done in these scenarios?

June 23, 2017

Random Friday: Book Covers

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I really love that there are so many different styles of book covers these days. There's illustrated, photographed, simple typography, graphically-designed...

Lately, I tend to favor illustrated or graphically-designed covers. Photographed covers seem to be going out of style for YA anyway. There's still some good ones...

30312860 30285562

...but I think the market got swamped with too many photographed covers of Straight White couples looking cutesy, and someone said enough was enough.

I've noticed a lot of the covers I favor have a fair amount of color to them... 

33275690 22501055

Oh, and just because I like a cover doesn't mean I like the book. (But the reverse is true too, even if I don't like the cover, I may like a book, although I'm more likely to like or feel neutral towards a cover if I liked the book.)

In general, though, I think I'm pretty neutral towards most book covers. They won't necessarily make me pick up a book I wasn't already interested in; they won't make me take a book off my TBR list (unless, like, the cover reveals how racist/bigoted the book actually is).

What makes you like a book cover? Do book covers change your opinion of certain books?

June 21, 2017

Review: The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue

The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee
Grade: B
Release date: June 27, 2017
An ARC was provided by HarperCollins in exchange for an honest review.
Summary: An unforgettable tale of two friends on their Grand Tour of 18th-century Europe who stumble upon a magical artifact that leads them from Paris to Venice in a dangerous manhunt, fighting pirates, highwaymen, and their feelings for each other along the way.

Henry “Monty” Montague was born and bred to be a gentleman, but he was never one to be tamed. The finest boarding schools in England and the constant disapproval of his father haven’t been able to curb any of his roguish passions—not for gambling halls, late nights spent with a bottle of spirits, or waking up in the arms of women or men.

But as Monty embarks on his grand tour of Europe, his quest for a life filled with pleasure and vice is in danger of coming to an end. Not only does his father expect him to take over the family’s estate upon his return, but Monty is also nursing an impossible crush on his best friend and traveling companion, Percy.

Still it isn’t in Monty’s nature to give up. Even with his younger sister, Felicity, in tow, he vows to make this yearlong escapade one last hedonistic hurrah and flirt with Percy from Paris to Rome. But when one of Monty’s reckless decisions turns their trip abroad into a harrowing manhunt that spans across Europe, it calls into question everything he knows, including his relationship with the boy he adores.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: Can Mackenzi Lee always write historical fiction? Please and thank you.
I've been following Mackenzi since her debut with This Monstrous Thing in 2015 - a book that was a bit too science fiction for my tastes. So I had much higher hopes for The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue, a book she's been pitching as "Blank Space" meets "Chandelier" in the 1700s since 2015. (Don't believe me? Here's the tweet to prove it.) The Taylor Swift comparison had me sold instantly, plus I loved the concept of using a Grand Tour as a framing device. (Why don't we get to have Grand Tours anymore?)
I love how the trio each had something different to contribute, and especially because Monty had a lot to learn. He had to grow up in a lot of ways, but he also had his privilege checked in some marvelous ways. (Ways that may have been a tad modern, but I'll accept it.) I also loved just how much research Mackenzi put into this book. I got to explore Europe in ways other historical fiction novels I've read haven't.
One quibble I had is that pretty much every adult character wasn't a great person; they were either villains or got in the way of Monty's fun, and I feel like YA adults are like that too much. Even if teenagers think they're a pain, it isn't always true. I also thought the beginning dragged just a little too much before the big adventure started.
Obviously the level of sexual content and drinking isn't my thing, and since that's a large part of Monty's character, it did get to be a bit too much at times.

The Verdict: Pretty good. Surprisingly long.

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

June 20, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: Series I Need to Keep Reading

Technically today's topic is "series I need to start," but I actually have fewer series to start than ones I need to keep reading/finish so...

1. The Falconer trilogy by Elizabeth May
I read book one when it first came out in the U.S., and I meant to read book two last summer, but it never happened. Considering the third book came out last week, I really ought to continue/finish this series.

2. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
I read the first book ages ago, of course, and I've read Anne of Avonlea, but I need to read the remaining four books that are counted as the main ones (based on the order in which they were written). I'm kind of holding out until I own them with the covers I like best (seen above), though...

3. Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
So I'm gonna share a secret with y'all... I've actually only read Rose Under Fire. I know I started CNV when I first starting getting into YA books, but I remember it having more foul language than I could tolerate in books at that point. But now that The Pearl Thief is out and I put that on my TBR list, I really should read CNV first, shouldn't I?

4. The Memoirs of Lady Trent by Marie Brennan
One of my best friends is writing a YA dragon story, and someone told her she should read A Natural History of Dragons. I saw her carrying it around campus and decided I had to read it too. I read books 2-4 last month, but I still need to get to book 5.

5. These Vicious Masks by Tarun Shanker and Kelly Zekas
Okay, so book three isn't out yet, but I still need to read book two. *glares at library for not having a copy*

6. RSVP duology by Jen Malone and Gail Nall
As far as I know, this is only going to be a duology but I still need to read book two. Once again, I blame the library for this, though.

7. Murder Most Unladylike series by Robin Stevens
This is due in part to the fact that it's a U.K. series, and so I have to wait for the U.S. editions to release; the first three books have, but books four and five released in the U.K. last year, and the U.S. publisher has yet to release either. (Although book four has a publication date set next April...)

8. The Queen's Thief series by Megan Whalen Turner
On a whim, I bought The Thief at Barnes & Noble towards the end of May, after noticing several bloggers rave about it for years. I found it to be quite satisfactory, so now I need to continue the series, particularly since I've finished a bunch of books for review.

What series do you need to start/continue/finish?

June 19, 2017

Review: Once and for All

Once and for All by Sarah Dessen
Grade: A-
This ARC was provided by Miss Print's ARC Adoption Program in exchange for an honest review.
Summary: As bubbly as champagne and delectable as wedding cake, Once and for All, Sarah Dessen's thirteenth novel, is set in the world of wedding planning, where crises are routine. 

Louna, daughter of famed wedding planner Natalie Barrett, has seen every sort of wedding: on the beach, at historic mansions, in fancy hotels and clubs. Perhaps that's why she's cynical about happily-ever-after endings, especially since her own first love ended tragically. When Louna meets charming, happy-go-lucky serial dater Ambrose, she holds him at arm's length. But Ambrose isn't about to be discouraged, now that he's met the one girl he really wants. 

Sarah Dessen’s many, many fans will adore her latest, a richly satisfying, enormously entertaining story that has everything—humor, romance, and an ending both happy and imperfect, just like life itself.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: I'm pretty sure I have wedding fever. I don't even necessarily want to get married; I just want to go to weddings and maybe help plan one. So reading Once and for All fit my mood perfectly.
Most of Sarah Dessen's latest book is set in Louna's present-day life; a few chapters jump back to the previous August and fall, to tell her love story with Ethan. While the flashbacks were sometimes annoying and dragged on, they were necessary to understand why Louna is so cynical now. Of course, part of her cynicism is due in part to her mother and her godfather, William, who runs the wedding planning business with Natalie. They've seen so many weddings that they don't have high hopes for love. I was surprised just how many couples seemed to struggle, though, and I wanted more positive portrayals of couples getting married where everything wasn't all roses and kisses, but they didn't mind and they were going to make things work. 
Back to Ethan, though. I liked how things started for him and Louna, although I felt like their relationship was too much all at once on that first night at least, and it definitely came across as insta-love (especially since, SPOILER, they said "I love you" after having known each other for less than 24 hours). Their relationship seemed to exist only in the honeymoon phase, and I think it would've been interesting to see them past that, although of course, Once and for All wouldn't be the story it is if Ethan and Louna's relationship had continued.
Ambrose was something else. I loved how his earnestness contrasted with Louna's cynicism, although he sometimes got on my nerves as much as he got on hers. The ending with them really worked, though, and I was happy with where the plot took them. (Poor Ben Reed, though. He seemed like such a good guy.)
I know I read an ARC, and mistakes will be fixed, but it definitely bothered me that one of the brides referenced changed names. She was "Marlo" at first and then she became "Margo."
A few instances of foul language. Maybe a dozen total f-bombs and s-words. There's a fade-to-black sex scene and a fair amount of underage drinking, which I can never get behind.

The Verdict: I never thought I'd like a Sarah Dessen book, but I really enjoyed Saint Anything and this one, so maybe it's just her earlier stuff that I find too cliche.

Will I be adding this to my library?: At some point, yeah.

June 17, 2017

Seventeen 2017 Reads Check-In

Every year, I do two check-in posts to let y'all know how I'm enjoying the books I said were my top picks of that year. Well, it's time for the first 2017 one!


Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett (4 stars)
Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han (5 stars)
The Heartbeats of Wing Jones by Katherine Webber (4 stars)
The Names They Gave Us by Emery Lord (5 stars)
Piecing Me Together by Renee Watson (5 stars)
The Ship Beyond Time by Heidi Heilig (4 stars)
Tash Hearts Tolstoy by Kathryn Ormsbee (4.5 stars)
Wait for Me by Caroline Leech (4 stars)


By Your Side by Kasie West (3 stars)
Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller (3 stars)
When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon (4 stars)


Crazy Messy Beautiful by Carrie Arcos (2 stars)
Romeo & What's Her Name by Shani Petroff (2 stars)
Seven Days of You by Cecilia Vinesse (2 stars)
The Valiant by Lesley Livingston (2 stars)
Waking in Time by Angie Stanton (DNF)


The Continent by Keira Drake (technically I marked it as DNF and gave it 1 star, because it is problematic as all-get-out)
Dreamland Burning by Jennifer Latham (didn't like the narrators' voices)
Rebels Like Us by Liz Reinhardt (lost interest)
Speak of Me as I Am by Sonia Belasco (due to slurs and descriptions of POC characters that compared them to food)
The Traitor's Kiss by Erin Beaty (due to reviews that revealed racism and girl hate)
You Don't Know My Name by Kristen Orlando (tried a few pages; really couldn't get into it)

Between Two Skies by Joanne O'Sullivan
Long May She Reign by Rhiannon Thomas
Someone Else's Summer by Rachel Bateman


A Dangerous Year by Kes Trester
Dare Mighty Things by Heather Kaczynski
Dear Martin by Nic Stone
Even the Darkest Stars by Heather Fawcett
The Girl with the Red Balloon by Katherine Locke
Little & Lion by Brandy Colbert
Lost Causes by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Meant to Be by Julie Halpern
Neighborhood Girls by Jessie Ann Foley
Nutcracked by Susan Adrian
Prince in Disguise by Stephanie Kate Strohm
Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman
This Promise I Will Keep by Aisha Saeed
Wesley James Ruined My Life by Jennifer Honeybourn
Who's That Girl by Blair Thornburgh
Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie McLemore


Black Rose by Bree Barton
Game of Secrets by Kim Foster
The Perfect Ending by Nisha Sharma
The Queen's Rising by Rebecca Ross
Reign the Earth by A.C. Gaughen
This Tiny Perfect World by Lauren Gibaldi

2017 has apparently been a hit-or-miss year for me.

June 16, 2017

Severus Snape Is the Actual Worst

My best friend, who introduced me to Harry Potter, and I have long been anti-Snape. This spring, I embarked upon the task of writing an academic essay (for funsies) on why Snape is actually the worst (apart from Voldemort and Umbridge, whose statuses as terrible people are rarely questioned by the fandom). I wanted to be very accurate, so I reread all of the books and put sticky tabs by every instance where Snape displayed how terrible he was in interactions with Lily, Harry, Neville, Hermione, and others. I double and triple-checked that I was citing quotes correctly, and the aforementioned best friend read and critiqued the essay. It came out at a grand total of 13 double-spaced pages (plus a works cited page), and now I'm going to share them here with you. I'm only going to include an excerpt, since it's so long, but you'll find the rest in a Google Doc link below. :)

Why Severus Snape Is the Actual Worst
By Emma B. Saska

The world of Harry Potter is filled with gray characters, ones who are neither fully good nor fully bad; in that, they are much like real people. One such gray character is Severus Snape However, many fans and J.K. Rowling herself often excuse Severus Snape’s actions because he was in love with Lily Potter (née Evans) and supposedly sacrificed himself to save Harry. In reality, Snape is more black than white, and he deserves little praise or adoration because he was obsessive and a bully.
Perhaps, perhaps Snape’s obsession with Lily could be excused and we could write him off as a gray character, but only if he had not been openly abusive to Lily’s son, the boy he promised Dumbledore he would protect. It is not Harry’s fault Voldemort killed the woman Snape loved, yet Snape constantly acts as if it is. From Harry’s very first day at Hogwarts, he senses the professor does not “like Harry at all” (Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone 126). The book later states: “At the start-of-term banquet, Harry had gotten the idea that Professor Snape disliked him. By the end of the first Potions lesson, he knew he’d been wrong. Snape didn’t dislike Harry—he hated him” (Rowling, “Sorcerer’s Stone” 136).
From day one of potions class in Harry’s first year at Hogwarts, Snape singled out the 11-year-old boy as a particular target. He starts off by saying, “‘Ah, yes, Harry Potter. Our new—celebrity” (Rowling, “Sorcerer’s Stone” 136), and goes on to interrogate the boy with potions-making questions that most first-year students would not have the answers to. It is acknowledged in the fourth book, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, that Harry does not like Snape, but it is also stated, “Harry’s loathing of Snape was matched only by Snape’s hatred of him, a hatred which had, if possible, intensified last year, when Harry had helped Sirius escape right under Snape’s overlarge nose” (Rowling 175).
In classes throughout the years, Snape picks on Harry. During a Defense Against the Dark Arts (DADA) class in Half-Blood Prince, Snape mocks Harry as the teenager tries to answer Snape’s question. “‘Oh, very good…Yes, it is easy to see that nearly six years of magical education have not been wasted on you, Potter. Ghosts are transparent,’” Snape says; a few paragraphs later, “‘A five-year-old could have told us as much,’ sneered Snape” (Rowling, “Half-Blood Prince” 460). In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry actually suspects Dumbledore had to stop Snape from giving Harry a failing grade in potions.
Snape bullies most of his students, but another one that he singles out is Hermione Granger. Hermione is intelligent and eager-to-please, but Snape never likes when she knows the answer to his questions in class. Hermione is also willing to help others learn; when Neville was struggling with his potion in Prisoner of Azkaban, she offers to help him fix it. Snape interrupts her to say, “‘I don’t remember asking you to show off, Miss Granger’” (Rowling, “Prisoner of Azkaban” 126). Later in the same book, he calls her an insufferable know-it-all when she is only trying to answer his questions. All of her classmates—who generally think she is a bit of a know-it-all—are furious with Snape, and Ron verbally defends her, earning himself detention. During a confrontation even later in the book, Snape yells at Hermione and calls her “a stupid girl” (Rowling, “Prisoner of Azkaban” 360), and a few chapters after that, he yells at her once again when she is only trying to state the truth. Even worse, though, is what happens in Goblet of Fire. Harry and Draco Malfoy get into an argument and pull their wands on each other; their spells ricochet off of each other, and Draco’s hits Hermione, causing her front teeth—which were already a tad large, and which Hermione was already self-conscious about—to grow at an exceedingly fast rate. Snape comes across the students and when the damage done to Hermione is pointed out, the following happens:
Snape looked coldly at Hermione, then said, “I see no difference.”
Hermione let out a whimper; her eyes filled with tears, she turned on her heel and ran, ran all the way up the corridor and out of sight. (Rowling, “Goblet of Fire” 300)
No authority figure should ever be permitted to get away with saying something so rude to a young student. Adults should not pick on children and teenagers for anything, whether it be physical appearance or for behavior in the classroom.

Link to the rest of the essay: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1kdqR-x3GMSTX-AMIRLccOOt9tsnM6LsfDy2-rZtyr0Q/edit?usp=sharing

June 15, 2017

Review: The Unlikelies

The Unlikelies by Carrie Firestone
Grade: B
An ARC was provided by Little, Brown BFYR via their Novl ARC request program in exchange for an honest review.
Summary: Rising high school senior Sadie is bracing herself for a long, lonely, and boring summer. But things take an unexpected turn when she steps in to help rescue a baby in distress and a video of her good deed goes viral.

Suddenly internet-famous, Sadie's summer changes for the better when she's introduced to other "hometown heroes." These five very different teens form an unlikely alliance to secretly right local wrongs, but when they try to help a heroin-using friend, they get in over their heads and discover that there might be truth in the saying "no good deed goes unpunished." Can Sadie and her new friends make it through the summer with their friendships--and anonymity--intact?

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: Well. This book was a total surprise.
Last year, I tried to read Carrie Firestone's The Loose-Ends List, which, despite a lovely cover, was disappointing. I tentatively added The Unlikelies to my TBR list and then managed to snag an ARC, so I was really hoping I would like it more. And I did.
Sadie was such a great main character. She's earnest and eager to help, and yeah, she makes mistakes, but she wants to be a good person, and I appreciated that so much. I liked how her friendships worked out; she didn't dump her old best friend, but they went through growing pains and then held on. The new friends were such a dynamic bunch, and their personalities were formed pretty well so they were distinguishable from each other. I really liked Gordie; he surprised me, and he was such a good guy. All of Sadie's new friends were good kids. It was so refreshing to read a book where teenagers try to give more to the world than they take. I also liked how important Sadie's dad was, and how well he and Sadie got along. Sadie's parents eventually make her go to therapy because of the trauma she experienced, and she stereotypically complains about it for a bit and I worried about the direction that was going, but in the end, she admitted much it helped her and I appreciated that. 
I didn't love Alice's voodoo thing, and I was also really concerned about how much the kids weren't telling their parents. They did involve the authorities in good ways when it came to Izzy, but the New York trip made me very anxious.
There's a smattering of foul language, drug use (never portrayed positively, though), some underage drinking, and talk of hooking up.

The Verdict: Such a fun summer read. I definitely recommend it if you like contemporary YA.

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

June 12, 2017

So You Like... #52

It's time for another Disney Princess-related So You Like...! This time, I've got double the princess for y'all. So you like...

(as always, book covers link to Goodreads pages)
Image result for anna and elsa











Is Anna or Elsa your favorite Disney princess? 
What's a topic you'd like me to use for a So You Like... post?

June 11, 2017

Rewind & Review #87

~Trying to write a bit most days! Slowly making progress towards the 250 pages I'll need for advanced creative writing this fall...
~Starting to get really excited for the trip to Quebec; I mean, I was already excited, but we're starting to make reservations for a few other things (like dinner the night of my birthday, and a food tour). I'm so looking forward to traveling outside the country and temporarily satisfying my wanderlust.
~I went to the zoo on Friday with one of my best friends. Giraffes are now one of my favorite animals.

Books I Won/Traded for/was Gifted
A Crown of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi (gifted by my Secret Sister)

Books I Bought
Tash Hearts Tolstoy by Kathryn Ormsbee
The Queen of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner
The King of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner

Books I Read
Overturned by Lamar Giles (3.5 stars)
The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner (4 stars)
First Class Murder by Robin Stevens (5 stars)
Once and for All by Sarah Dessen
Thimble Summer by Elizabeth Enright (2 stars)
Windfall by Jennifer E. Smith (3.5 stars)
I Feel Bad About My Neck by Nora Ephron (2 stars)
Amina's Voice by Hena Khan (4 stars)
A Year Down Yonder by Richard Peck (3 stars)
Sweet Spot by Amy Ettinger
That Thing We Call a Heart by Sheba Karim (3 stars)
Garlic and Sapphires by Ruth Reichl (4 stars)
The Friendship Experiment by Erin Teagan (DNF)
P.S. I Like You by Kasie West (reread)
I Remember Nothing by Nora Ephron (4 stars)

Blog Posts You Might've Missed in the Last Few Weeks
   (from 5/29-6/3)
   (from 6/4-6/9)

June 9, 2017

Random Friday: Travel Tips

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If you're like me, you might be doing some traveling this summer! One of my best friends is getting married, so I'm going back to Illinois for that, and then my parents and I are going to visit Quebec for a week. So I'm going to share some tips I've acquired through my research and own experience.

1. Do budget
Make sure you know how much you have to spend on things like hotels, food, experiences, transportation, and souvenirs. If you know there is something you're willing to compromise, do it. Then you can allot more money for something you'd value more.

2. Pack wisely
Make sure you know what the weather is going to be like wherever you go and plan accordingly. Unless you're going to be doing some super outdoorsy things, two pairs of jeans should be enough for a week. If you're unsure if you'll be doing something fancy, bring an outfit that can be a bit dressier, just so you're prepared.

3. Carry-ons
Most airlines will allow you to have a larger carry-on (so long as it'll fit in the overhead compartment) and a smaller one like a laptop case or a purse, something that'll fit under the seat in front of you. Take advantage of this. 

4. Clear your phone
Make sure you have enough storage space on your phone for any necessary travel apps (like airlines) and all the pictures you might take.

5. Transportation
If you're going to need to take a train or bus as soon as your plane lands, make sure you have that information ahead of time. Don't wait until you're tired from the flight and trying to navigate the chaos of the airport.

6. Use a private/incognito browser when booking things.
Seriously, websites use cookies to track how many times you've visited, and they'll jack up the prices as a result. It's ridiculous but true.

7. Be smart
When traveling alone, make safe choices. Don't leave your stuff alone, protect important documents, etc. On a related note...

8. Don't be an obvious tourist
If you're obviously American, some people will find you an easy target for pickpocketing or scamming. So be a tourist, but not so blatantly American (expecting everyone to speak English, wearing certain clothes, speaking at a certain volume, etc.).

9. Venture outside your comfort zone
You're traveling to a different state/country! Eat at local places, not national/international chains. (McDonald's might be different in other countries, but DON'T EAT AT MCDONALD'S.) Try and find a local hotel or even an Airbnb to stay at. Research where locals go and find the less touristy areas to explore.

10. Savor the moment
Take lots of pictures, but also find time to just be present in the moment and enjoy what you're doing.

11. Have a plan...but don't stick to it all the time
Plan out an itinerary of what you'd like to do each day, but don't stick to it. Figure out what's best at certain times of the day and prioritize what you want to do most; have back-ups in case you have extra time or you can't do something you really wanted to. But also go with the flow; if you want to spend more time than you allotted for a certain museum, do it! If you planned to go visit an historical site, but you feel like walking around the city/town instead, do that. 

12. Appreciate the culture
No matter where you go, appreciate their culture and its differences from your own. Go in knowing some of what to expect (and know some of that may be stereotypes), but let the locals inform a new opinion.

Are you traveling this summer? Where to?

June 7, 2017

Review: Dramatically Ever After

Dramatically Ever After by Isabel Bandeira
Grade: B-
An e-galley was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for review consideration.
Summary: Senior year is not shaping up to be the picture perfect movie Em Katsaros had imagined. Her super hot leading man is five thousand miles away. Her dad just got laid off. And Em can kiss her first-pick university goodbye if she doesn't snag a scholarship.

To turn this Shakespearean tragedy into the Academy Award-winning dream Em has written for herself, she enters a speech competition and manages to cinch a spot in the US Youth Change Council national round. She gets to spend a week in Boston and her prayers might be answered if she can kick butt and win one of the national scholarships.

Everything seems to be going by the script until she finds out Kris Lambert—senior class president, stuck-up jerk, and her nemesis—is going, too. Cue the dramatic music. In Boston, Kris is different. Nice. Cute, even. But she knows his game way too well—be nice to your opponents and then throw them under the bus on your way to victory. Instead of becoming his next victim, Em decides to turn the tables by putting her acting and flirting skills to work. Unfortunately, as they get close to the final competition and judging, reality and acting start to blur.

Can Em use the drama from the stage to get the future she's been dreaming of?

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: As much as you might think I'd relate to Isabel Bandeira's prior heroine, Phoebe Martins, I actually liked Em Katsaros more. 
The synopsis for Dramatically Ever After actually had me expecting money and poverty to play a bigger role in the story, and I was kind of disappointed they didn't. I did like how Em had a plan and a goal that drove this book; it isn't just a romance, y'all. Her family felt a little two-dimensional, so more development for them would've been nice. I did like that Grace and Alec got a slightly bigger role in this book than they did in Bookishly Ever After, even though Phoebe is still definitely Em's BFF. (Also I loved the little moments we got with Phoebe and her boyfriend.) I also liked that we got new characters, like Ann and Geoff and the other competitors in the speech contest.
The romance is very much hate-to-love, and even before Em realizes it (because she's still stuck on her sort-of ex, Wil), she and Kris have intense chemistry. Hate-to-love stories can be very enjoyable, and I liked that Em and Kris debated and disagreed but still found ways to be nice to each other.
Language was relatively mild. Romance had a few almost PG-13 moments.

The Verdict: A bit of a slow read but still enjoyable.

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