January 15, 2018

Review: Nice Try, Jane Sinner

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Nice Try, Jane Sinner by Lianne Oelke
Grade: D+
An e-galley was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Summary: The only thing 17-year-old Jane Sinner hates more than failure is pity. After a personal crisis and her subsequent expulsion from high school, she’s going nowhere fast. Jane’s well-meaning parents push her to attend a high school completion program at the nearby Elbow River Community College, and she agrees, on one condition: she gets to move out.

Jane tackles her housing problem by signing up for House of Orange, a student-run reality show that is basically Big Brother, but for Elbow River Students. Living away from home, the chance to win a car (used, but whatever), and a campus full of people who don't know what she did in high school… what more could she want? Okay, maybe a family that understands why she’d rather turn to Freud than Jesus to make sense of her life, but she'll settle for fifteen minutes in the proverbial spotlight.

As House of Orange grows from a low-budget web series to a local TV show with fans and shoddy T-shirts, Jane finally has the chance to let her cynical, competitive nature thrive. She'll use her growing fan base, and whatever Intro to Psychology can teach her, to prove to the world—or at least viewers of substandard TV—that she has what it takes to win.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: Ughhhhhhh. This book could've been so much fun but it missed all the marks from the first page. I'm sure a lot of readers will call Jane unlikeable and appreciate her for that, but I couldn't find anything interesting about her. Part of that was due to the narration style. All of the dialogue is written like a script, which keeps reader distanced from the characters. I also couldn't tell which conversations were real and which were in Jane's head. (I think the psychiatrist was all in her head? But I'm not certain.) It was also very much like a diary, which was too much. Also I'm really over books written as diaries and letters because they feel inauthentic. (How does everyone remember exact conversations and all the actions of their day?) Holly and Raj ended up not being that important, but I barely remember any details about them. Chaunt'Elle lasted longer, but I don't know anything concrete about her either. And Tom's connection to Jane never felt right to me. I couldn't figure out who he was in her life.
Setting was never established well. Also, I didn't appreciate how Christianity was portrayed.
Waaaaaayyyyyyy too much foul language.

The Verdict: I don't understand all the hype for this book.


Will I be adding this book to my library?: No.

January 14, 2018

Rewind & Review #101


~I've officially started my last semester of college. #yikes
~It's been pretty chill so far? (Lol, weather included.) My practicum won't start until Tuesday, so I had a lot of free time this past week.
~I got to go to Joseph-Beth on Thursday. I've definitely missed that bookstore.
~I'm taking a history class, a literature class, and a writing independent/directed study. Pretty easy semester, class-wise.

Books I Received for Review
Monday's Not Coming by Tiffany D. Jackson (from HarperCollins via Edelweiss)

Books I Bought
The Forbidden Orchid by Sharon Biggs Waller
Even the Darkest Stars by Heather Fawcett

Books I Read
American Panda by Gloria Chao 
Foolish Hearts by Emma Mills (reread) [Finished 2017 off with these two books!]
Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins (reread)
Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins (reread)
Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins (reread)
Sunset Lullaby by Robin Jones Gunn (3 stars)
Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett (reread)
The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton
Fifteenth Summer by Michelle Dalton (reread)
In a Perfect World by Trish Doller (reread)
Tout Sweet by Karen Wheeler (DNF)
This Is Our Story by Ashley Elston (4 stars)
In Search Of Us by Ava Dellaira
I See London, I See France by Sarah Mlynowski (reread)
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis (reread)
The Ship of the Dead by Rick Riordan (3 stars)

Blog Posts You Might've Missed in the Last Few Weeks
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   (from 1/7-1/13)

January 13, 2018

Books That Encourage My Wanderlust

I've officially caught the travel bug, and the following books haven't helped me whatsoever in this desire.

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1. The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee
Road trip through Europe!

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2. Wanderlost by Jen Malone
Another European road trip.

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3. I See London, I See France by Sarah Mlynowski
So much Europe.

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4. Paris, My Sweet by Amy Thomas
All the French bakeries.

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5. The Girl from Everywhere by Heidi Heilig
Hawaii, China, fictional places, different times...

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6. A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray
Different dimensions are just as worthy of wanderlust.

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7. Wish You Were Italian by Kristin Rae
A giant love letter to Italy, especially Cinque Terre.

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8. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
Paris. <3

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9. Hello, I Love You by Katie M. Stout
South Korea!

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10. Heist Society by Ally Carter
Paris, London, and more. ^.^


Are there any books that make you want to travel?

January 11, 2018

Professor Emma Teaches How to Be a Spy

Not sure how qualified I am to teach this class (although that information could be classified, haha), but I've got a good set of books to guide this class.

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1. Gallagher Girls series by Ally Carter
OBVIOUSLY.

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2. The Fixer by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

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3. Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

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4. Fallout by Gwenda Bond

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5. Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers

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6. The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner


What books would you include if you taught this class?

January 9, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Meant to Read in 2017


As always, there are several books I didn't get to read in 2017. (I blame my local library mostly because they don't get books until they've been out for, like, four months. No matter how many book requests I submit.) But here's hoping I get to them in 2018!

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1. Rosemarked by Livia Blackburne

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3. A Poison Dark and Drowning by Jessica Cluess

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4. Mansfield Park by Jane Austen
This one's all my fault. I own it and everything.

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5. Calling My Name by Liara Tamani

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6. This Is Our Story by Ashley Elston
A holdover from 2016. But! I ended up buying this one with a Christmas giftcard, so I'll get to read it very soon.

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7. The Ship of the Dead by Rick Riordan

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8. Interference by Kay Honeyman
Another holdover from 2016. However, neither library has it, so I'm up a creek without a paddle unless I want to buy it without having read it. (Which I caved and did after Christmas.)

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9. Renegades by Marissa Meyer
I preordered a copy and everything, so there's no excuse. 

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10. Windwitch by Susan Dennard


What books did you mean to read in 2017 but didn't?

January 7, 2018

Review: You'll Miss Me When I'm Gone

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You'll Miss Me When I'm Gone by Rachel Lynn Solomon
Grade: B-
An e-galley was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Summary: Eighteen-year-old twins Adina and Tovah have little in common besides their ambitious nature. Viola prodigy Adina yearns to become a soloist—and to convince her music teacher he wants her the way she wants him. Overachiever Tovah awaits her acceptance to Johns Hopkins, the first step on her path toward med school and a career as a surgeon.

But one thing could wreck their carefully planned futures: a genetic test for Huntington’s, a rare degenerative disease that slowly steals control of the body and mind. It’s turned their Israeli mother into a near stranger and fractured the sisters’ own bond in ways they’ll never admit. While Tovah finds comfort in their Jewish religion, Adina rebels against its rules.

When the results come in, one twin tests negative for Huntington’s. The other tests positive.

These opposite outcomes push them farther apart as they wrestle with guilt, betrayal, and the unexpected thrill of first love. How can they repair their relationship, and is it even worth saving?

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: I wanted to love You'll Miss Me When I'm Gone. Unfortunately, it falls into that place of "I sort of liked it."
Tovah's journey and connection with her Jewish faith were my two favorite parts. I appreciated how she didn't get everything she wanted but still ended up in a good place. I loved how much Judaism meant to her. Tovah is one of the most religious characters I've seen in YA, and nothing about her felt inauthentic or forced.
Adina, however, tended to get on my nerves. I expected her to act out, but the ways she acted out made me uncomfortable. I'm trying not to spoil too much, but basically her romance felt so squicky to me.
I liked the journey with the girls' mother, and I loved hearing about her past.
There's a fair amount of foul language, much more than I expected. There was also far more sexual content than I prefer in my YA fiction.

The Verdict: Definitely a quiet story. Good, thought-provoking, but not great.


Will I be adding this book to my library: In all honesty, no.

January 6, 2018

Rewind to 2017: What Got Me Through Life

Usually I just do this post as books that got me through life, but there was also some great music, TV shows, and movies that helped me power through this mixed bag of a year.

Books

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All books I highly recommend.

Music

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My three favorite singers.

TV Shows

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(Which I've been cruising through since my plane rides at Thanksgiving.)

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(Always.)

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(Season two isn't on Netflix yet, but shhh.)

Movies

Only one, but it's a good one...

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(DIANA.)

Were there any specific books, music, TV shows, or movies that helped you get through 2017?

January 5, 2018

Random Friday: Favorite New-to-Me Authors in 2017


Want to participate in Random Fridays? Just do the following:
  • Include the above image in your post and link back to my blog.
  • Blog about this week's topic (or a variant of it).
  • Add the link to your Random Friday post at the bottom of this one.

I know TTT did this topic on Tuesday, but I had a Rewind to 2017 post scheduled for then, so I'm doing it now. (I also didn't have close to ten authors to feature.)

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I finally read The Queen's Thief books, and I'm so glad I did!

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Eliza and Her Monsters was ah-mazing.

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I haven't read any of her other books, but I really, really enjoyed The Shadow Cipher.

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The Memoirs of Lady Trent series is so creative, and I'm glad I got to enjoy them with one of my best friends.



January 4, 2018

Rewind to 2017: Best Sophomore Authors

Today's post is a new topic to my Rewind series, but 2017 was absolutely the Year of the Sophomore Author, so this is a shout-out to all the amazing people whose second novels were as good as or better than their debuts.


1. Mackenzi Lee (The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue)
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Since sci-fi isn't quite my thing, Mackenzi's debut, This Monstrous Thing, wasn't my favorite. But I eagerly anticipated all her future writing, because I always hunger for more historical fiction. TGGTVAV was an epic ride, and I can't wait for the sequel featuring Felicity, which releases this fall.


2. Heidi Heilig (The Ship Beyond Time)
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Heidi's duology is epic fun. I love how twisty it is and how neatly she managed to wrap up the story.


3. Becky Albertalli (The Upside of Unrequited)
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Becky is one of the Queens of Contemporary, and I loved Molly's voice, passion, and worries. I loved that she was Jewish and fat and that her story was about family as much as it was a romance.


4. Francesca Zappia (Eliza and Her Monsters)
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So I actually read Francesca's sophomore novel before her debut, but Eliza was everything to me. I appreciated the portrayal of anxiety as well as her creativity and the positive look at fandom (without painting it as too perfect).


5. Lily Anderson (Not Now, Not Ever)
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While I think The Only Thing Worse Than Me Is You will always hold the number one spot in my heart, Not Now, Not Ever was just as much nerdy fun. 


6. Roshani Chokshi (A Crown of Wishes)
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With a cover just as beautiful as The Star-Touched Queen, Roshani once again created an epic fantasy story set in a rich, fascinating world.


7. Emily Henry (A Million Junes)
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So haunting and beautiful. Just picture me looking like the heart-eyes emoji right now.


8. Carrie Firestone (The Unlikelies)
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I love contemporary novels where the characters genuinely want to change the world and do good, even in the smallest of ways. I also appreciated that Sadie's trauma was not brushed over.


9. Riley Redgate (Noteworthy)
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Like Pitch Perfect, only better. Also perfect for fans of As You Like It and Twelfth Night (all of which sounds very catnip-py to me).


Who are your favorite sophomore authors of 2017?