August 18, 2017

Random Friday: Books That Start at the Beginning of a School Year

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Since classes at my university started on Monday, I thought it was a good time to compile a list of some books that start at the beginning of a school year. If they start a few weeks before, that's okay, but the first day of school has to be in the book, and it can't just be the protagonist's first day at the school if it's midway through the year. My favorite examples this fit this post's requirements are...

1. The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord

2. To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han

3. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

4. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

5. Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone

I wish I could've thought of more examples! What books can y'all think of?

August 16, 2017

The Final Eighteen 2018 Reads

Phew! Y'all have no idea how hard it was to pick these final eighteen books for the list. As always, here's hoping they a) don't get pushed back to 2019 (or later), and b) don't end up disappointing me.

1. Listen to Your Heart by Kasie West
I am not above putting two Kasie West books in my Eighteen 2018 Reads, because she has been an auto-buy author for so long now. (Also hoping this one gets a cute cover in the vein of P.S. I Like You and Lucky in Love)

2. La Vie en Rosie by Stephanie Kate Strohm
Food? Paris? Love? Sounds like a recipe for the perfect Emma book. (Sorry, couldn't resist.)

3. Rule by Ellen Goodlett
This sounds like Three Dark Crowns and Dividing Eden, and I am here for that.

4. The Weight of Worlds by Laura E. Weymouth
"...meets Chronicles of Narnia..." I'm sold.

5. Resistance by Jennifer A. Nielsen
In general, I'm tired of YA historical fiction set in World War II...but not when it's a story like this.

6. Not the Girls You're Looking For by Aminah Mae Safi
Always up for diverse YA, especially when it sounds as darling as this one.

7. The Length of a String by Elissa Brent Weissman
A Jewish middle grade story and the main character is adopted!

8. The Beloved Wild by Melissa Ostrom
If it's YA historical fiction and it has a lovely cover like that, it's going on one of my highly-anticipated lists.

9. Love & Luck by Jenna Evans Welch
I liked Love & Gelato all right (I should really give it another try), but I'm hoping to love Love & Luck, because I quite enjoy living vicariously through teenagers who get to go to Europe.

10. Bookish Boyfriends by Tiffany Schmidt
The premise of this one sounds so incredibly fun.

11. Ash Princess by Laura Sebastian
Debut fantasy that sounds fascinating. *crosses fingers*

12. Together at Midnight by Jennifer Castle
I'm a little nervous - just because the timeline sounds a little short to me - but the cover and premise are lovely.

13. What the Night Sings by Vesper Stamper
Of course I'm always cautious when it comes to Holocaust stories, but I hope this one will be powerful and respectful.

I love quiet narratives, and I have a feeling this book fits the bill.

15. Dread Nation by Justina Ireland
I don't really do zombie books, but with covers like that, how can a girl resist? Besides, alternate history is kind of my catnip.

16. Nice Try, Jane Sinner by Lianne Oelke
There's been a smattering of reality TV-themed YA books over the last five years, so let's hope this one is a hit.

17. Stay Sweet by Siobhan Vivian
All I've got to say is...ICE CREAM.

18. The Forgotten Book by Mechtild Glaser
Ignoring that the main character is named Emma, I'm game for anything with a magic book.

So that's it! The last of my Eighteen 2018 Reads! If you're looking for part one and part two of the series, they're linked right there. Let me know if I helped you find books for your TBR list and/or what 2018 YA/MG releases you're looking forward to.

August 15, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: Recommendations for People Who Like Book Hangovers

So this list isn't foolproof, but these are several of the books/series that have given me book hangovers. If you enjoy the pain of a book hangover, then you should read these books.

1. Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas
Heir of Fire especially caused me pain.

2. Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia
I was suffering from the wonderfulness of this book for weeks.

3. Not Now, Not Ever by Lily Anderson
I was mid-hangover from Eliza when I read this one, and it didn't help matters.

4. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

5. Six of Crows duology by Leigh Bardugo

6. Scarlet trilogy by A.C. Gaughen
Lady Thief was the worst (in all the best ways).

7. The Fixer duology by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

8. Prisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blankman
One of the first times I used the phrase "book hangover" was in reference to this book.

9. The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer

10. Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson

11. The Winner's Curse trilogy by Marie Rutkoski
Thanks, The Winner's Crime. (It seems to be a second book thing.)

What books have given you hangovers?

August 14, 2017

Review: The Winner's Kiss

**Warning: There will be spoilers for the first two Winner's Trilogy books and a few tiny spoilers for The Winner's Kiss. Proceed with caution.

The Winner's Kiss by Marie Rutkoski
Grade: A
Summary: War has begun. Arin is in the thick of it with untrustworthy new allies and the empire as his enemy. Though he has convinced himself that he no longer loves Kestrel, Arin hasn’t forgotten her, or how she became exactly the kind of person he has always despised. She cared more for the empire than she did for the lives of innocent people—and certainly more than she did for him.

At least, that’s what he thinks.

In the frozen north, Kestrel is a prisoner in a brutal work camp. As she searches desperately for a way to escape, she wishes Arin could know what she sacrificed for him. She wishes she could make the empire pay for what they’ve done to her.

But no one gets what they want just by wishing.

As the war intensifies, both Kestrel and Arin discover that the world is changing. The East is pitted against the West, and they are caught in between. With so much to lose, can anybody really win?

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: I was so concerned The Winner's Kiss would stink since the second book didn't suffer from second book syndrome and that is so rare. (And also when they tried to do that cover change, I was concerned.)
So much happens in The Winner's Kiss. It starts pretty much right where The Winner's Crime left off, and it follows Kestrel into the work camp, which was so interesting, and I would've liked to spend more time there (or at least see more of it later in, like, an information share). Kestrel is still the same and yet changed, particularly because of the events in the work camp and immediately prior to that.
The Dacrans feature more prominently in this book, especially the three royal siblings. None of them quite settled well with me. I just didn't click with them. However, I loved the further characterization of Sarsine, and she's become one of my favorite characters of the trilogy. Verex is still near-and-dear to my heart, and I seriously wish he and Kestrel had worked out because I still see him as a better match for her (my love for Slytherin-Hufflepuff pairings is showing). I did really like Arin in this book, though, so it gets points for that.
I continue to love Kestrel's scheming and how's she still not really a fighter in the traditional sense of the word.
The violence is definitely more extreme in this book. There's also a fade-to-black sex scene and talk of Roshar's romancing.

The Verdict: A solid final book in a trilogy. I look forward to whatever Marie writes next.

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

August 13, 2017

Rewind & Review #91

~My last two weeks before senior year starts! Eek. 
~Saw Wonder Woman for a second time.
~Tried to figure out my practicum; prayers would be appreciated.
~Move-in happened. It was just as stressful as always, but at least this is the last time I have to move into a dorm...

Books I Received for Review
The Radical Element by various authors (from Candlewick via NetGalley)
Prince in Disguise by Stephanie Kate Strohm (from Disney-Hyperion via NetGalley)

Books I Won/Traded for/was Gifted
Cold Summer by Gwen Cole (won at The Fountain Bookstore event)

Books I Bought
Mansfield Park by Jane Austen
You're Invited Too by Jen Malone and Gail Nall
My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows
Blood for Blood by Ryan Graudin
Kissing Max Holden by Katy Upperman
The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
Forest Born by Shannon Hale
Lucky Few by Kathryn Ormsbee
The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton
Persuasion by Jane Austen

Books I Read
The Distance Between Us by Kasie West (reread)
Saints and Misfits by S.K. Ali (4 stars)
The Girl with the Red Balloon by Katherine Locke
Ask Again Later by Liz Czukas (reread)
The Fixer by Jennifer Lynn Barnes (reread)
Welcome Home by various authors
In a Perfect World by Trish Doller (4.5 stars)
The Long Game by Jennifer Lynn Barnes (reread)
Wesley James Ruined My Life by Jennifer Honeybourn (3.5 stars)
Furthermore by Tahereh Mafi (4 stars)
Time Between Us by Tamara Ireland Stone (reread)
I Believe in a Thing Called Love by Maurene Goo (3 stars)
Everything All at Once by Katrina Leno (4 stars)
The Lines We Cross by Randa Abdel-Fattah (2 stars)
Mist of Midnight by Sandra Byrd (3 stars)

Blog Posts You Might've Missed in the Last Few Weeks
   (from 7/31-8/5)
   (from 8/6-8/12)

August 12, 2017

Review: The Girl with the Red Balloon

The Girl with the Red Balloon by Katherine Locke
Grade: C
Release date: September 1, 2017
An e-galley was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Summary: When sixteen-year-old Ellie Baum accidentally time-travels via red balloon to 1988 East Berlin, she’s caught up in a conspiracy of history and magic. She meets members of an underground guild in East Berlin who use balloons and magic to help people escape over the Wall—but even to the balloon makers, Ellie’s time travel is a mystery. When it becomes clear that someone is using dark magic to change history, Ellie must risk everything—including her only way home—to stop the process.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: Time travel. A Jewish main character. Communist-era Germany. What more could a girl ask for? 
The Girl with the Red Balloon had a strong start, introducing us to Ellie quickly and then jumping straight into the plot. I really enjoyed her narrative voice. However, I didn't realize this book is trial POV, with Ellie, Kai, and Benno narrating. I didn't enjoy Kai's narrative voice at all and found him boring, to be frank. He wasn't a compelling love interest to me (and I'm also tired of YA love interests named Kai). Benno's story was fascinating, so I wouldn't have minded dual POV between him and Ellie. The middle part of the book definitely dragged though, and the science/magic in it got confusing.
I also loved just how much Jewish culture Katherine Locke included. To comfort Ellie and remind her of home at one point, Kai and Mitzi get Shabbat candles. Benno's chapters are set in a Jewish ghetto in Poland during World War II. And I appreciated the themes of memory and history.
Ellie's narrative voice changed a bit at the very end, which I found odd. I liked the ending though, how everything wasn't tied up in a neat bow.
A fair amount of foul language. Some minor violence.

The Verdict: Okay but not good enough in my opinion. 

Will I be adding this book to my library?: Likely not.

August 10, 2017

Best Parents in YA Books

Absentee or dead parents/guardians/adults have long been a part of middle grade and young adult books. After all, adults are often sensible enough to keep kids from getting into the messes that send them on the grand adventures that books revolve around. But there are plenty of well-written books with present parents that prove otherwise.

For the sake of this list, I only included biological/adopted/step-parents, no adults who behaved in a parent-like manner (like Hagrid in Harry Potter). I also noticed that my choices were primarily from contemporary fiction, with one sci-fi, one fantasy, and one paranormal. So I think there's still room to improve parents in books besides contemporary YA, but I think this list will prove that contemporary YA itself is doing a pretty fine job (especially in recent years).

1. Lucy's mom in The Names They Gave Us
Of course Lucy is at a different camp from her mom for large chunks of the book, but her mom is constantly on her mind and when we do see Mrs. Hansson, she is loving, wise, and involved. And this isn't to discount Lucy's dad; he does a good job as well, but he's not as important to the story as her mom is.

2. Taylor's dad in Second Chance Summer
I love how well-written Taylor's relationship with her father is, and Morgan Matson did such a good job balancing every relationship in this book, but Taylor and her dad are the stand-out pair.

3. Marguerite's mom and dad in the Firebird trilogy
Because of how this trilogy works, often Marguerite isn't interacting with her actual parents, but versions of them in parallel universes. But in pretty much every universe (including Marguerite's own), her parents are strong, loving (towards each other and their daughters), and smart.

4. Lara Jean's dad in To All the Boys I've Loved Before
Dr. Covey is a single dad, but he still knocks it out of the park. Of course, both Margot and Lara Jean stepped up to the plate to fill the void left by their mother's death, but he's still involved in his daughters' lives and sets ground rules.

5. Miri's dad in Princess Academy
Although he's a quite type, Miri's dad clearly cares for his daughters and would do anything to protect them.

6. Blue's mother in The Raven Cycle series
Although Blue has numerous mother figures (since she lives with so many female relatives), Maura is actually a pretty good mother. She's protective but also smart enough to know she can't always save Blue, and she's also smart in general.

7. Nikki and Maya's parents in This Side of Home
Although it's been a while since I reread This Side of Home, but I remember enjoying their smart, driven, loving parents who cared about their community.

8. Maguire's mom and stepdad in Girl Against the Universe
Of course Maguire's relationship with her mom is super strong, but I was pleasantly surprised by how well her stepfather was written. (Which tells you how often stepparents are cliche monsters in fiction.) He cares for Maguire like she's his own, and he wants her to succeed and overcome her fears.

So take note, authors. Readers definitely want more positive family relationships in the books they read.

August 8, 2017

Bookshelf Tag

Time for another book tag! I got this one from Cait at Paper Fury, although I know she wasn't the original blogger to do this.

Describe your bookshelf and where it came from:
Well, I have five... 

Those three are from IKEA; the middle one is my most recent acquisition.

I have no clue where my parents got this one from.

And this one's from Target. It partially serves as my nightstand; that's why the top left shelf is so empty. It holds the books I'm currently reading and planning to read very soon, plus my bookmarks.

How do you organize your books?
Since I have so many differently-sized bookcases, my system is a little weird. The first two bookcases hold all my YA books in alphabetical order by author's last name (and then chronological publishing order), plus the ARCs I keep. The third bookcase (the black one) holds my Heather Vogel Frederick books, Harry Potter books, library books, ARCs I have yet to read and some I'm holding onto for a giveaway, and then coffee table books. The fourth bookcase holds my special Word Cloud Classics editions, middle grade books, classics, and French editions. And then the fifth one holds books by authors I really like (or have a lot of books by). You can see my Ally Carter, Emery Lord, Sarah J. Maas, Marissa Meyer, and Jennifer E. Smith collections. In a perfect world, though, most of these books would be on my main bookcases, but I'm trying to conserve space.

What's the thickest/biggest book on your shelves?
It's a close competition between The Complete Works of William Shakespeare and Les Miserables.

What's the thinnest book on your shelves?
Betsy-Tacy, although another book I own is shorter (but they must've used thicker paper).

Is there a birthday gift book on your shelves?
Yup! I beg my parents for books as gifts. Here's some I received last year (since I'm scheduling this post before my birthday this year), also featuring a lovely notebook one of my dearest friends gifted me.

Is there a book from a friend on your shelves?
You'd be surprised how few books my friends give me (mostly because they have no clue what I own, and they're nervous about giving me something I already have - true story, courtesy of Mary-Courtney), but here's one Kate gave me for Christmas a few years ago.

Most expensive book?
My first instinct was one of the books I bought from France (by themselves, they were a little cheaper than normal YA books in the U.S., but shipping was insane), but then I remembered my giant history of fashion book was expensive. I bought it for a project, and it proved useful, so I guess it was worth it.

The last book I read on my shelf?
Well, this isn't gonna be super accurate to when the post actually goes up, but the most recent physical copy of a book I read from my own shelves when writing this post was...

Do you have more than one copy of a book?
In a few cases. I have two copies of Sense and Sensibility. I have foreign editions for several of my books. I have tons of ARCs and finished copies. But here are three books I have an ARC, a hardback, and a paperback for (and if they ever publish these in French, you'd better believe I'll acquire those copies, too): 

Do you have a complete series?
A few! I have a lot of complete trilogies, but here are two longer series: 

Newest addition to your shelves:
Once again, this won't be super accurate, but as of writing this post, it was Saints and Misfits by S.K. Ali!

Most recently published book on your shelves:
I can kind of cheat with this one, haha. I have an ARC of The Authentics, which comes out today!

The oldest book on your shelves:
Most of my books are new copies or fairly new at least. But I found a copy of Little House on the Prairie from the 1970s at a library sale; it's actually on a bookcase downstairs, but I say it counts.

A book you won?
I've been fortunate to win a few. I won A Study in Charlotte from the author, so it's personalized. ^.^

A book you'd hate to let out of your sight?
Considering I'm separated from 2/3 of my book collection for 9 months of the year, I get by a little better than you'd expect. But my copy of The Only Thing Worse Than Me Is You is always at school or home with me.

A book that doesn't belong to you?
Hello, current library stack:

A book with a special/different cover?
My French copy of Heist Society is SPARKLY.

A book that is your favorite color?
I have a few different favorite colors, but as a loyal Slytherin, I'm going to show off some mostly-green covers:

A signed book?
I'm lucky to have a lot of signed books, but here's one of my favorite personalizations:
(Jasmine says I'm the best, but, really, she is.)

If you want to do this book tag, go for it!