March 24, 2018

DNF Review: In Her Skin

In Her Skin by Kim Savage
Grade: DNF
Release date: March 27, 2018
An ARC was provided by Macmillan in exchange for an honest review.
Summary: Sixteen-year-old con artist Jo Chastain is about to take on the biggest heist of her life: impersonating a missing girl. Life on the streets of Boston these past few years hasn’t been easy, and Jo is hoping to cash in on a little safety, a little security. She finds her opportunity in the Lovecrafts, a wealthy family with ties to the unsolved disappearance of Vivienne Weir, who vanished when she was nine. 

When Jo takes on Vivi's identity and stages the girl’s miraculous return, the Lovecrafts welcome her back with open arms. They give her everything she could want: love, money, and proximity to their intoxicating and unpredictable daughter, Temple. But nothing is as it seems in the Lovecraft household—and some secrets refuse to stay buried. As hidden crimes come to the surface, and lines of deception begin to blur, Jo must choose to either hold onto an illusion of safety, or escape the danger around her before it’s too late.

When did I stop reading?: About 25% into the book.
Why didn't I finish this book?: I received this book as part of my Fierce Reads ARC box and wasn't sure I was going to read it originally, but I decided to give it a try. I've read impersonation stories before (the most recent one being Here Lies Daniel Tate), but this one didn't catch my interest like others have. I knew I was to expect more than what was on the surface, but there wasn't enough to keep me interested. Also, I really hated the narration style. In Her Skin is told in second-person POV, which just felt so awkward and stilted.

If this is your type of book, go ahead and try it. 

March 21, 2018

Review: The Beloved Wild

The Beloved Wild by Melissa Ostrom
Grade: B-
Release date: March 27, 2018
An ARC was provided by Macmillan in exchange for an honest review.
Summary: Pride and Prejudice meets Cold Mountain in this debut YA American epic/adventure.

Harriet Winter is the eldest daughter in a farming family in New Hampshire, 1807. Her neighbor is Daniel Long, who runs his family's farm on his own after the death of his parents. Harriet's mother sees Daniel as a good match, but Harriet isn't so sure she wants someone else to choose her path—in love and in life. 

When her brother decides to strike out for the Genesee Valley in Western New York, Harriet decides to go with him—disguised as a boy. Their journey includes sickness, uninvited guests, and difficult emotional terrain as Harriet comes of age, realizes what she wants, and accepts who she's loved all along.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: Listen, I am always here for YA historical fiction. There needs to be more of it, in my opinion. So The Beloved Wild was definitely right up my alley.
In a lot of ways, it didn't fit into what I normally expect from YA historical fic. In other ways it did, especially when Harriet disguised herself as a boy. 
Harriet didn't feel that unique to me. She was just...there. I was more interested in Gideon and Rachel as characters. In fact, I really wanted more from Harriet and Rachel's developing friendship. I appreciated how Harriet protected Rachel at the end, but it didn't feel like quite enough. Also, I didn't feel the chemistry between Harriet and Daniel Long. I know I was supposed to, but I felt more like I was being told they had chemistry and I should think they were a good match. I did feel the chemistry between Rachel and Phineas, and I was pleasantly surprised by the direction Gideon's story took.
I did enjoy all the parts about life in rural New York. It was nice to see a pioneering historical fiction book set some place besides the West or the Plains states. It did take a little while for Gideon and Harriet to actually set off for Genesee Valley, which wasn't necessarily a problem...I just wish the book's synopsis hadn't made it sound like that was the main part of the book.
Finally, this is a bit nitpicky, but ages were vague, and if they were stated, they didn't quite fit the characters. Most of them seemed much older than their stated ages.
I don't remember any foul language or extreme violence. There's some sexual innuendos, and a character is abused off-page.

The Verdict: Pretty good. Worth the read, especially if you like historical fiction.

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

March 20, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday: Spring 2018 TBR List

There's some YA and MG books releasing this spring that sound so great, and I can't wait to read them. (Also, I featured eight more titles on my Random Friday post a few weeks ago, if you want to check that out as well.)

1. Ace of Shades by Amanda Foody

2. Stay Sweet by Siobhan Vivian

3. Bookish Boyfriends by Tiffany Schmidt

4. Amal Unbound by Aisha Saeed

5. Love & Luck by Jenna Evans Welch

6. My So-Called Bollywood Life by Nisha Sharma

7. Listen to Your Heart by Kasie West

8. Sweet Black Waves by Kristina Perez

9. Save the Date by Morgan Matson

10. The Summer of Us by Cecilia Vinesse

11. The Bird and the Blade by Megan Bannen

What books made your Top Ten Tuesday list this week?

March 19, 2018

Great Food Places in Québec

It's been a while since I talked about my trip to Québec, but I want to use today's post to recommend some of the best restaurants we went to, in hopes that it'll entice y'all to visit too. Of course this is only a sampling of what both Montréal and Québec City have to offer, but if you're planning a trip there, you'd do well to start with these suggestions.


While you'll see in the next section that Québec City had the best breakfast options, Montréal had the best dinners. I didn't have a bad dinner there. The first three recommendations are in Old Montréal and the fourth is out in the Plateau Mont-Royal neighborhood.

The first and third nights, we ate at Creperie Chez Suzette. The first night, I had a crepe with Brie and apple slices but had no room for dessert crepes, so we had to go back. My mom and I shared a savory breakfast-type crepe and then all three of us shared two different dessert crepes: one was plain with chocolate sauce, and the other had apples and a sweet sauce.

For my birthday dinner, we went to a little restaurant called Le Chat Noir. The typical Parisian bistro fare - steak and frites - were outstanding, and I loved the dipping sauce for the frites.

If you're looking for some non-French food in Montréal, my top recommendation is Stash Café which serves...Polish food. We got the cutest little pierogis as appetizers. (This trip was the first time we've really splurged on appetizers and desserts, which was so much fun but only really possible because my mom and I shared a lot of entrées; no way could I have eaten so much food otherwise.)

Finally, my last recommendation is a restaurant I actually didn't get to go to because they were closed on Sundays and Mondays, but I really wanted to try the food there! It's called Plein Sud, and they serve typical southern French fare. I think their menu changes with the season, which keeps it interesting.

Another food recommendation I have, particularly if you go to Montréal in late spring-early fall, is Marché Atwater. You can get fresh fruits and vegetables, cheeses, meats, bread, and pastries and have a little picnic or snack. :) 

Québec City

One of the best breakfast places is Paillard on Rue St-Jean. They have lunch-type options, too, but what more do you need than pastries and chocolat chaud?

(I literally dream about Paillard and that brioche au chocolat daily. Also the fleur du sucre was lovely, too.)

But if you want a little more substance in your breakfast, Le Casse-Crepe Breton is the place to go. They have a lovely little restaurant overlooking Rue St-Jean, and you can either sit in front of an open window (if it's fair weather) or close to the kitchen where you can see them cooking your crepe. The service isn't exactly prompt, but they are French (Canadian).
(Look how stuffed it was!)

If you're going to Québec for the poutine, Snack Bar Saint-Jean outside the Old City is the best option. We tried poutine in both Montréal and QC, and I preferred this offering much more.

A favorite lunch option was Le Chic Shack, down by the Chateau Frontenac. Once again, their windows were wide open, and the breeze was beautiful. We had yummy burgers and fries with a great signature sauce, and my mom tried a pear soda, which she loved.

A dinner option we liked was decidedly un-French: Pub St. Patrick. At the corner of two streets, including Rue St-Jean, we sat outside on the patio (I really came to love dining el fresco on this vacation) and took in a summer evening in Old Québec. We loved the shepherd's pie, Dublin fried chicken, and salmon.

Have I made you hungry for Québecois food yet? I can say with utmost certainty that I'm dying to go back and eat at all of these places again...but I also have a few more restaurants to try in each city. We didn't really eat any seafood, and both cities are on the river, so that was a missed opportunity. Plus, we didn't get to eat at Plein Sud like I mentioned, and there was a cute lunch place in QC I wanted to check out. Guess I have to start planning my trip back... ;)

March 17, 2018

Review: Local Flavor

Local Flavor: Restaurants That Shaped Chicago's Neighborhoods by Jean Iversen
Grade: B
An e-galley was provided by Northwestern University Press via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Summary: The neighborhoods that make up Chicago's rich cultural landscape have been defined by the restaurants that anchor them. In Local Flavor, the popular food writer Jean Iversen chronicles eight beloved local eateries, from Chinatown on the South Side to Rogers Park in the far North, tracing the story of how they became neighborhood institutions.

Iversen has meticulously gathered the tales, recipes, and cultural traditions that define Chicago's culinary past and present. Rich with firsthand accounts from local restaurateurs, their families, long-time customers, and staff, Local Flavor is a community-driven look at Chicago through a gastronomical lens.

Including recipes for popular dishes from each restaurant that readers can try at home, Local Flavor weaves together ethnography, family, and food history into a story that will enthrall both food and Chicago history lovers.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: I lived in Illinois for 15 years, 9 of which were in a Chicago suburb. I've been downtown more times than I can count. To hear more about the cuisines that have shaped the city was wonderful, particularly since it reminded me about the diversity of Chicago. 
Iversen gives the history of a restaurant for each section - Chinese, Italian, Mexican, Greek, Jamaican, Polish, Indian, and Persian. I was most looking forward to the Polish section, just because the Polish history of Chicago fascinates me. That section was one of my favorites, but the section on Hema's Kitchen (Indian food) and Borinquen (Jamaican) surprised me with how much I enjoyed them. 
There are many stories of endurance in this short book, and I loved seeing how much the various restaurant owners invested in their communities through their businesses. I could've done with a little less history about neighborhoods, but perhaps people from those areas will appreciate it.
I do think it would've been nice to hear about a restaurant run by African-Americans, since (as of 2010) Chicago's population was 32% black. I know Iversen's book focused on immigrants but to leave out Chicago's largest minority seemed odd to me.

The Verdict: How fun is that cover? Also, a great read for anyone who likes food, a variety of personal stories, and/or Chicago.

Will I be adding this book to my library?: Hmm, I'll consider it.

March 16, 2018

Oh, the Places I'll Go

I've talked about my wanderlust in a lot of places - an Odyssey article, various blog posts about books that have incited it, Facebook...even my Tumblr devoted just to travel. There's something immensely scary about traveling - particularly outside the country and particularly for someone with anxiety like me. But there's also something alluring and enchanting about it at the same time. 

I think some of it comes with the territory of being a reader and a writer. The former means I want to explore new places and have new experiences. The latter means I need to have new experiences so I can write richer stories.

Plus there's just something fascinating about other cultures. My love for history draws me to those types of sites, and I can appreciate art and beauty as well.

I'm still very much a broke college student (about to graduate with a sizable amount of student loans), but I can't help but dream of all the places I will travel to in the (hopefully near) future.

Like France. Oh, how I long to go to France. I'm sure that comes as no surprise to anyone who's been a reader of my blog for even just a few months. I want to see Paris, but I also want to go to Annecy, and the Loire Valley, and Normandy, and Monet's garden and...I could go on forever.
(Beuvron-en-Auge, Normandy, France)

I want to visit Finland, particularly Helsinki and Turku. I'm part Finnish, so I think my heritage is calling me back home.

There's something about teeny little Belgium, as well, and Budapest and Bratislava. Just look at that cathedral.
(St. Martin's Cathedral, Bratislava, Slovakia)

And I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the British Isles. England...



(Trinity College, Dublin)

I'm coming for you soon. :)

I don't want to just travel internationally either. There's so much of the United States I haven't seen yet. I've been west of the Mississippi, but no further than Minnesota and Iowa. San Francisco is definitely on my bucket list, along with Charleston, S.C., Savannah, GA, and Boston

And if I'm leaving the country but not the continent...I really want to go back to Montréal and Québec City as well as visit Prince Edward Island (admittedly because of Anne of Green Gables).
(Charlottetown, PEI)

Of course this is only the tip of the iceberg. I'll admit my Pinterest board is very Euro-centric right now. One of my best friends is hopefully traveling to Thailand in the near future, though, and I'm ready for her recommendations. I think Singapore could also be interesting, and with my recent history explorations, Morocco is definitely on my radar.

So, yeah, I've definitely caught wanderlust. Now I just need some traveling partners, a steady income, and a plan.

March 15, 2018

NoVa Teen Book Fest 2018

After planning to go to NoVa last year and then catching the flu two days before spring break...well, getting to go this year was definitely the culmination of a year of hopes. And it was made only better by winning VIP ticket status. Hear all about my time at NoVa 2018 in the video below!

March 13, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday: Books That Surprised Me

(All in a good way, I promise.)


2. One Past Midnight by Jessica Shirvington

3. Cinder by Marissa Meyer

4. All Four Stars by Tara Dairman

5. Across a Star-Swept Sea by Diana Peterfreund

6. Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin

7. Anything Could Happen by Will Walton

8. The Weight of Feathers by Anna-Marie McLemore

9. The Archived by Victoria Schwab

10. In a Perfect World by Trish Doller

What books surprised you (positively or negatively) and why?

March 11, 2018

Rewind & Review #105

~How did February go by so fast??
~Internship applications are continuing, and I'm very nervous. Please keep me in your prayers and thoughts!
~My last spring break as a student has begun. Honestly, it's not going to be that exciting. My parents have to work all day, so I'm pretty sure the only fun thing I'll be doing happened yesterday: NoVa Teen Book Fest. More about that in a post later this week.

Books I Received for Review
What You Left Me by Bridget Morrissey (from Sourcebooks Fire via Edelweiss)

Books I Won/Traded for/was Gifted
Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia ARC (traded with Becca)
The Boyfriend Bracket by Kate Evangelista (traded with Christy)
The Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell
Hamilton and Peggy! by L.M. Elliott (from my parents)
Tradition by Brendan Kiely
Ash Princess by Laura Sebastian
Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman (in my VIP swag bag at NoVa)

Books I Bought
A Million Junes by Emily Henry
Truthwitch by Susan Dennard
The Unlikelies by Carrie Firestone
Let's Talk About Love by Claire Kann
The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert
Bygone Badass Broads by Mackenzi Lee

NoVa haul:
More Than We Can Tell by Brigid Kemmerer
The Radical Element by various authors
Windwitch by Susan Dennard
Sightwitch by Susan Dennard

Books I Read
Sounder by William H. Armstrong (4 stars)
In Her Skin by Kim Savage (DNF)
The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert (4 stars)
The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo (reread)
Bygone Badass Broads by Mackenzi Lee (4 stars)
Now a Major Motion Picture by Cori McCarthy
The Queen's Rising by Rebecca Ross (4 stars)
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien (reread)
A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett (4 stars)
My Plain Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows
Impossible Love by Craig and Médine Keener (3.5 stars)
Royals by Rachel Hawkins

Blog Posts You Might've Missed in the Last Few Weeks
   (from 2/26-3/3)
   (from 3/4-3/10)

March 8, 2018

So You Like... #66

There are two constants in my life: books and Taylor Swift. Whenever I can do blog posts that marry the two, well, I'm a happy camper. So you like...

(as always book covers link to Goodreads pages)







Have any other suggestions for fans of Taylor's fourth album? Or do you have a request for a So You Like... post's topic? Let's chat in the comments!