December 17, 2017

Rewind & Review #99


~Finals are conquered. I managed three A's and two A-'s. I really wanted straight A's, but an oddly low participation grade killed my grade in one class, and I don't think I was graded fairly in the other. But...c'est la vie.
~I'm home!!! Mary Courtney came with me for the first few days, and we relaxed a lot, but I also showed her around Richmond and we went to the mall. 
~Book haul video at the bottom of this post!

Books I Received for Review
Along the Indigo by Elsie Chapman (from Abrams via NetGalley)
No Filter by Orlagh Collins (from Bloomsbury via NetGalley)
Summer Constellations by Alisha Sevigny (from Kids Can Press via Edelweiss)
Furyborn by Claire Legrand (from Sourcebooks Fire via NetGalley)

Books I Won/Traded for/was Gifted
The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton (via trade)

Books I Bought
Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo
Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo

Books I Read
My Life in France by Julia Child (4 stars)
The Only Thing Worse Than Me Is You by Lily Anderson (reread)
My New Crush Gave to Me by Shani Petroff (4 stars)
Nice Try, Jane Sinner by Lianne Oelke
Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire (3 stars)
 A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg (4 stars)
A Long Way From Home by Saroo Brierley (3 stars)
A Quiet Kind of Thunder by Sara Barnard
Dare Mighty Things by Heather Kaczynski (4 stars)

Blog Posts You Might've Missed in the Last Few Weeks
   (from 12/4-12/9)
   (from 12/10-12/16)

December 16, 2017

Emma's Recipe for the Christmas Season

The Christmas season is perhaps one of my favorite times of the year. It's cozy, happy, and festive. If you're looking to make your holiday season a little more merry, here are my tips.



Bake
Find some yummy recipes, whether they're for soup, cookies, or Christmas morning breakfast.

Wrap presents
Get yourself some cute wrapping paper like these at Target: 


(Or maybe some with foxes on it like I managed to snag a few years ago...)

Christmas ornaments
Decorate your tree, whether it be small or big. I get a new ornament every year that represents something big that happened to me that year. My mom gets ornaments wherever we travel to.

Christmas movies
Freeform better come through this year. They've been so repetitive of late, showing the same few movies and half of them aren't even good. (They show some weird Rudolph movie instead of the classic one.) But you best believe I'll be watching White Christmas, The Santa Clause, Polar Express, and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

Christmas music
One of my favorite things in the world. I think I've admitted it before, but I start listening to my playlist right after Halloween just because 25 days is not nearly enough time to listen to my carefully-curated Christmas playlist. It's been tweaked over the last few years, and it's almost perfect except for two things:
-Spotify doesn't have the version of "White Christmas" from the movie.
-Although Taylor's other albums are back on Spotify, her Christmas album isn't, and that's a good six songs that could be on my playlist.

I try not to let those things get me down too much because I still have Leslie Odom, Jr. blessing my ears with "The First Noel," Burl Ives's rendition of "A Holly Jolly Christmas," and Mariah Carey AND Michael Buble's versions of "All I Want for Christmas Is You."

(Also if you like Big Hero 6, you should go listen to this clip.)


May your holiday season be merry and bright!

December 15, 2017

So You Like... #63

In honor of yesterday being the 2-year anniversary of me listening to Hamilton for the first time, I'm bringing y'all some very special recommendations. So you like...


HAMILTON

(As always, book covers link to Goodreads pages.)



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(Yay, Hamlet!)



What books would you recommend to fans of Hamilton?

December 13, 2017

From the Bookshelf to the Kitchen: Pumpkin Cake

I already made a dish from this book, but I couldn't resist doing another.

There's a whole scene in Heartless about Cath making a pumpkin cake, so of course the wheels started turning in my head. I made one over Thanksgiving break, so I hope you enjoy this recipe!

(I forgot to take a few pictures, since I haven't done one of these posts lately. Sorry!)






Pumpkin Sheet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1/2 cup vegetable oil
4 large eggs
1 3/4 cups canned pumpkin
1/3 cup milk
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans (optional)

12 oz. cream cheese, nearly at room temperature
3/4 cup unsalted butter, nearly at room temperature
4 cups powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract



1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a rimmed 18 by 13-inch baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray, set aside. 
2. In a medium mixing bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves for 20 seconds, set aside.
3. In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (preferably an attachment that constantly scrapes bowl, if not attachment doesn't then stop and scrape down sides and bottom of bowl occasionally throughout entire mixing process) blend together granulated sugar and brown sugar until combined and there are no clumps of brown sugar (break them up with your fingertips if needed). Mix in melted butter and oil. Blend in eggs one at a time. Add in pumpkin, vanilla and milk and blend until combined. With mixer set on low speed slowly add in flour mixture and mix until combined. Scrape down sides and bottom of bowl and fold batter several times with a spatula to ensure it's evenly incorporated. Pour batter into prepared baking dish and spread into an even layer. Bake in preheated oven until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, about 20 - 25 minutes. Allow to cool completely on a wire rack then frost with cream cheese frosting and top with nuts if desired.
4. In the bowl of an electric stand mixer whip together butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy. Mix in powdered sugar and vanilla and whip for a few minutes until light and fluffy. If needed freeze in bowl for a few minutes then mix again, repeating a few times as needed for a thicker consistency.


So tasty and not at all dry!


Have a book/recipe suggestion for From the Bookshelf to the Kitchen? Leave it in the comments below.

December 12, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Books of 2017


My list, once again, isn't as long as it has been in the past. I think I've given up hoping it'll be long again. But anyways, I already listed some of these books back in June, but this is a mostly comprehensive list of every book I read in 2017 that I consider a new favorite (barring any I read over the next couple weeks).

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1. Piecing Me Together by Renee Watson

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2. The Names They Gave Us by Emery Lord

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3. The Ship Beyond Time by Heidi Heilig

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4. Tash Hearts Tolstoy by Kathryn Ormsbee

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5. The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli

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6. Wish by Barbara O'Connor

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8. Once and for All by Sarah Dessen

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9. Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia

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10. Not Now, Not Ever by Lily Anderson

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11. In a Perfect World by Trish Doller

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12. Tower of Dawn by Sarah J. Maas

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13. Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman

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14. Even the Darkest Stars by Heather Fawcett

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15. The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo

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16. Foolish Hearts by Emma Mills

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17. The Queen of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner

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18. The Shadow Cipher by Laura Ruby


What were your favorite books of 2017?

December 10, 2017

RepuTAYtion

Date-wise, it's been one month since reputation released. So now I'm gonna share my favorite lyrics and favorite songs from Taylor's latest album.

Songs
"Getaway Car"
"Delicate"
"Call It What You Want"
"I Did Something Bad"
"New Year's Day"
"Don't Blame Me"
"Gorgeous"
"End Game"

Lyrics

From "End Game" - I like this lyric 'cause it basically sets up the whole album - Taylor's gonna tell her truth...although it may be satirical or not even the whole truth because if the media's not gonna tell what's real, why should she?


"Is it cool that I said all that?
Is it chill that you're in my head?" ~ "Delicate"
(Haven't we all felt this way with a new crush?)


from "Look What You Made Me Do"


"You should take it as a compliment
That I'm talking to everyone here but you." ~ "Gorgeous"
(Lol, a friend had to explain to a guy-friend of hers because he didn't get that all girls tend to do this. If they have a crush on a guy, they often go out of their way to talk to everyone else at an event but him.)


"It was the best of times, the worst of crimes." ~ "Getaway Car"
(Charles Dickens reference, anyone?)

"There were sirens in the beat of your heart." ~ "Getaway Car"

"But with three of us, honey, it's a sideshow
And a circus ain't a love story
And now we're both sorry." ~ "Getaway Car"
(June 2016 was such a media circus for Taylor. "Getaway Car" is such a masterpiece.)


"And therein lies the issue
Friends don't try to trick you
Get you on the phone and mind-twist you." ~ "This Is Why We Can't Have Nice Things"
(I love the lyrical sound of these lyrics, but also she does not hold back when she comes for Kanye and Kim in this song.)

"And here's to my mama
Had to listen to all this drama." ~ "This Is Why We Can't Have Nice Things"
(Shout-out to Mama Swift!)


"Loves me like I'm brand new" ~ "Call It What You Want"
(Her reputation doesn't matter to her new man.)

"And I know I make the same mistakes every time
Bridges burn, I never learn
At least I did one thing right." ~ "Call It What You Want"
(Don't mind me, I'm just weeping over here.)

(I love this imagery in "Call It What You Want".)


"You squeeze my hand three times in the back of the taxi." ~ "New Year's Day"

"Hold on to the memories
They will hold onto you." ~ "New Year's Day"
(Flashback to "Long Live.")

"Please don't ever become a stranger
Whose laugh I could recognize anywhere." ~ "New Year's Day"
(Taylor said she's been holding onto this lyric for a long time, and I think it's perfect.)


What are your favorite songs and lyrics from reputation?

December 9, 2017

Review: Foolish Hearts

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Foolish Hearts by Emma Mills
Grade: A+
An ARC was provided by Macmillan in exchange for an honest review.
Summary: A contemporary novel about a girl whose high school production of A Midsummer Night's Dream leads her to new friends—and maybe even new love.

The day of the last party of the summer, Claudia overhears a conversation she wasn't supposed to. Now on the wrong side of one of the meanest girls in school, Claudia doesn't know what to expect when the two are paired up to write a paper—let alone when they're both forced to try out for the school production of A Midsummer Night's Dream.

But mandatory participation has its upsides—namely, an unexpected friendship, a boy band obsession, and a guy with the best dimpled smile Claudia's ever seen. As Claudia's world starts to expand, she finds that maybe there are some things worth sticking her neck out for.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: After feeling a bit let down by This Adventure Ends, I was a bit tentative going into Foolish Hearts. My concerns were for naught. 
The first chapter had me a little concerned about Claudia's character, but I ended up really liking her. She's imperfect and uncertain but oh so earnest in the best way. I liked all the different relationships in her life - her best friend, Zoe, her brother, her sister, the "mean girl," Iris, and Gideon. They all get the right amount of attention in a standard-length contemporary novel. I appreciated how everything wasn't perfect and fell apart but was repairable. 
Gideon is such a sweetheart. I adored him so much. He's even more earnest than Claudia, and I want a guy like him. He cares so much about his best friend, Noah, which I think is rare to see in books. He also found Claudia fascinating, and I love how that shook her so much. 
Her relationship with Iris was great, too. Iris isn't really a mean girl; she's just a bit cold and distant, but both she and Claudia learn how to make new friends and not be so self-absorbed through each other. Also, I think Iris could be on the autistic spectrum? Which would be great. The book never confirms this guess, though, so I don't want to say it like it's a fact. Also! She gets an happy ending, too, which was awesome.
There's also a girl, Lena, who's more of a stereotypical mean girl, but even she gets a bit more depth, which I appreciated.
One of my few complaints is that there are a bunch of character names tossed around, and I honestly don't remember most of them. (I've even forgotten Claudia's brother's name, oops.) But also, I understand the necessity of naming characters, so I'm not quite sure how that could've been resolved. I also would've liked a little more of Claudia's parents, but maybe that's just me.
Some language. Kissing and making out is as far as it goes. There's some underage drinking, but there are also characters who aren't into that type of thing, which is great.

The Verdict: 100% a character-driven story, and I am absolutely here for that.


Will I be adding this book to my library?: Hopefully soon!

December 8, 2017

Random Friday: Most Anticipated 2018 Debuts


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 can't wait for all the (hopefully) good books we're gonna get in 2018! Here are some of the debut titles I'm most looking forward to.


1. A Court of Miracles by Kester Grant




3. Honey and Me by Meira Drazin


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4. Love, Hate & Other Filters by Samira Ahmed

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5. The Beloved Wild by Melissa Ostrom


6. What You Left Me by Bridget Morrissey

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7. Ash Princess by Laura Sebastian

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8. Not the Girls You're Looking For by Aminah Mae Safi

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9. Heart of Thorns by Bree Barton


10. The Vanishing Kingdom by Laura E. Weymouth


What 2018 debuts are you anticipating most?


December 7, 2017

Review: Prince in Disguise

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Prince in Disguise by Stephanie Kate Strohm
Grade: C
Release date: December 19, 2017
An e-galley was provided by Disney-Hyperion via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Summary: Life is real enough for Dylan—especially as the ordinary younger sister of Dusty, former Miss Mississippi and the most perfect, popular girl in Tupelo. But when Dusty wins the hand of the handsome Scottish laird-to-be Ronan on the TRC television network’s crown jewel, Prince in Disguise, Dylan has to face a different kind of reality: reality TV.

As the camera crew whisks them off to Scotland to film the lead-up to the wedding, camera-shy Dylan is front and center as Dusty’s maid of honor. The producers are full of surprises—including old family secrets, long-lost relatives, and a hostile future mother-in-law who thinks Dusty and Dylan’s family isn’t good enough for her only son. At least there’s Jamie, an adorably bookish groomsman who might just be the perfect antidote to all Dylan’s stress . . . if she just can keep TRC from turning her into the next reality show sensation.
 

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: I haven't really enjoyed Stephanie Kate Strohm's past books, but this one's premise was too good to pass up. It was a good guilty pleasure read, but it wasn't one of my favorite books.
I appreciated the character growth for Dusty and the girls' mom, but Dylan really doesn't change at all. She doesn't gain new perspective on her father (not that she should), nor does she change her mind about thinking reality TV is ridiculous (it kind of is). Her best friend, Heaven, is surface-level, her relationship with Dusty was cliche, and her relationship with Jamie was predictable. (Also I totally called the thing about Jamie from super early on. Just saying.) Oh and Jamie's mother was so annoying and unrealistic.

The Verdict: If you want something without substance, this is a good book for you.


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

December 4, 2017

I'm Already Drowning in 2018 Preorders

(a.k.a. the now annual post where I give away a preorder...but first, you gotta read the post)

I'm writing this post at the end of October (because I'm an overachiever), and I'm already drowning in preorders. I've already preordered 15 2018 releases, and I'll be adding more to that list once I figure out which summer and fall releases I want most. 

But I bet you're wondering what those 15 preorders are. (If you're not, humor me.)


My first of the year is...

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Love, Hate & Other Filters by Samira Ahmed (a.k.a. the book I want to hate because of its lack of an Oxford comma but also the book I'm sure I'll love because of its plot and characters)


Then, on the first Tuesday in February, I'll have two books (The Queen's Rising and American Panda) coming my way:

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The former's a fantasy that made my Eighteen 2018 Reads list; the latter is an excellent-sounding diverse contemporary.


In March, I'll have three history-centric books in my mailbox. I can't decide which I'm most excited for:

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Bygone Badass Broads by Mackenzi Lee
The Radical Element by various authors
The Beloved Wild by Melissa Ostrom


April is bookended by another historical fiction novel and then the third book by a YA darling, plus one MG title in the middle.

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Dread Nation by Justina Ireland
Jolly Foul Play by Robin Stevens
Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli


I actually haven't preordered any releases for the first week of May, which is a shocker since that's usually my biggest preorder week. I've got a couple on my radar, but they're still maybes. BUT. I've preordered a book releasing the 8th, one on the 22nd, and one due to release the 29th:

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Love & Luck by Jenna Evans Welch
Furyborn by Claire Legrand
Listen to Your Heart by Kasie West

June brings Morgan Matson's latest, Save the Date. It's been so long since we got a new Morgan book, and I'm pumped. I've also preordered...

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Not the Girls You're Looking For by Aminah Mae Safi
My Plain Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows


And now that I've gotten through all of that, here's what y'all are really here for - the giveaway.
I'm giving away a preorder of any 2018 YA release under $20. It's your choice as long as it's a YA title. The giveaway will be open until New Year's Even, so get entering and spread the word!

Rules
~No cheating. I check entries.
~Open to U.S. only.
~The book must cost less than 20 USD and must have a confirmed release date in 2018.
~If you're the winner, you must reply to my email within 48 hours; otherwise, I will choose another winner.