Yearly Archives:: 2018

Top Ten Books My Mom Loves

April 16, 2018 About Me, Top Ten Tuesday 79

This week I gave you the opportunity to come up with your own topic. I love doing this because then I can visit all the participating blogs and steal your ideas!! Haha, just kidding. That’s not totally the reason. I always get requests for really specific topics that I can’t broaden enough to make them apply to everyone who wants to participate, such as “top ten science fiction books” or “top ten books to read if you liked [insert book title here]”. Not everyone can do those kinds of topics and then they would have to sit out that week. So this week you get to do whatever you want!

Today’s my mom’s birthday, and since she’s my favorite person in the world I figured I’d share with you some of the books she’s read and loved, both as a child and an adult, and recommended to me throughout my life.

To my first and favorite follower:

 

 

The Bobbsey Twins by Laura Lee Hope
Cherry Ames, Student Nurse by Helen Wells
Racoons Are the Brightest People by Sterling North
The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough
Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
Sacajawea by Anna Lee Waldo
The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom
Mary Higgins-Clark (all her books)
Virgin River by Robyn Carr (The entire Virgin River series)
Summer at Willow Lake by Susan Wiggs (The entire Lakeshore Chronicles series)

Have you read any of these books?
Which books do your mom or dad recommend to you all the time?
What topic did you come up with this week?


Roomies by Christina Lauren | Book Review

April 12, 2018 Book Review, New Adult 2 ★★★½

Roomies by Christina Lauren | Book ReviewRoomies by Christina Lauren
Published by Gallery Books on December 5, 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Contemporary Romance, Romance
Pages: 368
Format: eARC
Source: From the publisher through Edelweiss
Amazon Add to Goodreads
3.5 Stars
Marriages of convenience are so…inconvenient.

Rescued by Calvin McLoughlin from a would-be subway attacker, Holland Bakker pays the brilliant musician back by pulling some of her errand-girl strings and getting him an audition with a big-time musical director. When the tryout goes better than even Holland could have imagined, Calvin is set for a great entry into Broadway—until he admits his student visa has expired and he’s in the country illegally.

Holland impulsively offers to wed the Irishman to keep him in New York, her growing infatuation a secret only to him. As their relationship evolves from awkward roommates to besotted lovers, Calvin becomes the darling of Broadway. In the middle of the theatrics and the acting-not-acting, what will it take for Holland and Calvin to realise that they both stopped pretending a long time ago?

I love marriages of convenience and fake/sham romances, so I was excited to find another one from an author (or author partnership) I’ve been hearing really good things about. I also love books set in New York and/or surrounding the theme of music. And… it kind of goes without saying that I love Irish men, so the synopsis checked all my boxes. I eagerly jumped in, and had a lot of fun with this one! As always, my main points are bolded.

1. I really loved Holland Baker. She’s so relatable, and I think we can all see at least a small part of ourselves in her. She’s a 25-year-old plain Jane living in New York City (with the help of her two uncles who pay most of her rent), working a dead-end job (that her uncle go her) that is way below her qualifications as she tries to achieve her dream of becoming a published author. Who has been in this position before? *raises hand* Her morning subway runs to work become bearable when she stumbles across a musical genius busking in the station one morning. She gives him a name and makes up his life story in her mind, going out of her way to hear him play as often as she can. This mysterious musician has her completely entranced even though she’s never seen his face or heard his voice. If you haven’t ever had a crush on someone you don’t know, then you’re either crazy or lucky.

2. Calvin is a swoony Irishman who is also working below his qualifications while trying to achieve his dream of becoming a Broadway musician. While busking in the subway station one evening, he saves Holland from an attack and then pretty much disappears. We learn a lot about Holland’s mystery musician, and the two of them end up in a marriage of convenience–both for very different reasons. Calvin is pretty cute (his accent comes through the pages), but not my favorite male love interest. I had a really hard time trusting his intentions with Holland, and questioned his feelings pretty consistently throughout the story. He’s not incredibly thoughtful or romantic, either. I did change my mind about him, and by the end I was in love with him. I was sad I didn’t get more pages with him like he was in the end.

3. I did really like the banter between Holland and Calvin. They’re pretty funny and flirtatious, and I ate it all up.

4. I could not help but picture scenes from the movie, The Proposal, while I read about Holland and Calvin at their interview to prove the validity of their marriage. And their cramming sessions where they tried to learn as much about each other as possible were great.

5. I LOVED Holland’s two uncles, Robert and Jeff. They took care of her like they were her parents, and I loved how tender and concerned they were for her. They call her “Hollsy”, which is so cute! Robert is the mastermind behind a hit Broadway show, but he’s still super down-to-earth and even a little silly.

6. I loved the walks through New York in the freezing cold because it took me back to when I was there at Christmastime freezing my butt off.

7. I love the author’s descriptions of music and what it does to a person. There were some beautiful, sweeping passages that perfectly described the impact music has on people.

8. A fair amount of the book takes place at the theater, and I enjoyed all the tidbits of life behind Broadway. 

9. I think things went slightly sour for me when Holland and Calvin left the getting-to-know-you phase and jumped into the lustier side of their relationship. I loved the sincerity that they brought to the scene as they got to know one another and were intoxicated by Calvin’s new job and Holland’s secret infatuation with him had her checking herself to see if she was dreaming. That was all very sweet and exciting. When they started lying to each other and sleeping together for no meaningful reason, it cheapened everything for me.

10. There was a lot of needless drama, in my opinion. I’ve never read a book where the main couple argued with one another so much, or had so many disagreements. 

11. I loved watching Holland find herself. 

12. The ending was very sweet, if not a little convenient and quick. It all seemed to wrap up too fast for me.

13. I could have done with fewer f-words. 

So, there you have it! My slightly all over the place review. There were parts I loved, and parts I didn’t love. Overall, however, I am so glad I read this book. It was fun and fresh and different from all the other contemporary romances I’ve read.


Top Ten Books I’m Scared to Re-read

April 9, 2018 Top Ten Tuesday 52

Today’s TTT topic was submitted by Brandyn @ Goingforgoldilocks. Thanks for the fun idea, Brandyn! If you have ideas for future topics, submit them here!

A note about last week’s topic:

I know how hard it was for many of you to come up with a list of characters you liked from books you didn’t like, and I’m sorry if you couldn’t participate! Always feel free to switch up a topic to make it work for you when this kind of thing happens. I really loved the topic idea when I saw it come through my TTT topic submission form, but was pretty daunted by it at the same time. I usually don’t like a book because I didn’t like the character(s). I know I’m just one person, though, and I shouldn’t only pick topics that are easy for me. And honestly, I really liked the challenge because I ended up mentioning some books I’d never talked about before on the blog!

Anyway, I posted a discussion a few days ago about whether or not you’re a character or plot driven reader, and we’re having fun over there. Jump in and tell me what kind of reader you are, and if last week’s topic was a bit of a challenge for you!

We did a topic a couple months ago on books we could re-read forever. This time we’re showcasing books we liked but will never re-read. For me those books are usually books I loved years ago that I’m scared I won’t love anymore if I read it now (tastes change, you know?). It’s kind of like meeting up with a best friend from childhood and then not liking them anymore and ruining the memories of your time together as kids. I don’t want to erase the experience I had reading it when I loved it. I also run into this issue with books that have major plot twists or are mysteries because I know I will never be able to duplicate the amazing reading experience I had before I knew what was going to happen. These are the kinds of books I’m going to talk about today.

 

1. Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
I really loved Twilight (it came out while I was in college), and it re-ignited my love of reading and introduced me to the magical world of YA books. I didn’t have YA as a teen and spent my teens years reading historical romance novels. I wish I’d had YA back then, with characters and situations that I could relate to.

 

2. Wanderlove by Kristen Hubbard
Wanderlove changed my life. It’s one of those books that I found at just the right time, and I’m not sure I’d ever feel like I did when I read it. It scares me that I’d taint that life-changing reading experience if I tried to re-read it now. 

 

3. Delirium by Lauren Oliver
I read Delirium right when it came out. I was still on a dystopia kick after reading and loving The Hunger Games. I LOVED this book so much. When I read the synopsis now, though, it’s the kind of story I’d pass over. Maybe I read too many dystopian novels, or maybe I got tired of reading so many similar stories. I don’t think I’d love it anymore, which is sad because I own Requiem and want to see how it ends. But that means I’d have to re-read Delirium and Pandemonium because I’ve forgotten everything. I’m worried I wouldn’t make it through and then I’d have ruined one of my favorite books for myself.

 

4. Till Death by Jennifer Armentrout
Ah, this is one of my favorite romantic suspense novels! And I’m oo scared to re-read it because I already know what happens and I don’t ever want to forget how terrified and confused I was. lol. I had NO CLUE who the culprit was, and I loved trying to figure it out. Would I enjoy this book as much the second time if I already knew the ending?

 

5. Incarnate by Jodi Meadows
This is another favorite book of mine. There is a very strong musical theme throughout that I really connected with. It’s the kind of connection I would never want to lose, and it scares me to think of re-reading it even though I want to so bad!

 

6. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
I miiiiight not hold myself to this becuase I LOVE this book so much. It’s another one I’m scared I won’t love anymore because I’ve been having a hard time with contemporary YA lately.

 

7. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
While the writing is beautiful, and I loved this book a lot, I’m not sure I could put my heart through it again.

 

8. Wings by Aprilynne Pike
I’m really done with any and all fae that are not Sarah J. Maas’s.

 

9. Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater
Maggie’s writing is beautiful (and I loved this book), but I’ve really fallen out of love with most paranormal/folkloric creatures. I still love mermaids, but that’s about it. I also think I’d eyeroll over the instalove and the Twilight-esque feelings.

 

10. Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson
MAJOR PLOT TWIST that I can never ever re-experience unless I get amnesia. If I do, remind me I want to read this book.

Which books did you enjoy, but will never re-read? Why?
Do you ever experience this problem I have where you’re worried you won’t like a book as much the second time and end up ruining everything? What do you suggest I do about this fear?


The Debut Dish: Jessica Leake, Emma Berquist, Kaitlyn Sage Patterson, & Carolyn O’Doherty (+ Giveaways)

April 8, 2018 Author Interview, Debut Author Challenge, Debut Dish, Giveaway 8

The Debut Dish, a bi-monthly Debut Author Challenge feature, is where you go for the scoop on some pretty awesome debut authors and their new books! Hopefully these interviews will inspire you to add many, many more books to your to-read list. Because, really, who doesn’t need more books in their lives?

This issue of The Debut Dish features Jessica Leake (Beyond a Darkened Shore), Emma Berquist (Devils Unto Dust), Kaitlyn Sage Patterson (The Diminished), and Carolyn O’Doherty (Rewind).


Beyond a Darkened Shore by Jessica Leake
April 10, 2018 from HarperTeen
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

The ancient land of Éirinn is mired in war. Ciara, Princess of Mide, has never known a time when Éirinn’s kingdoms were not battling for power, or Northmen were not plundering their shores.

The people of Mide have thankfully always been safe because of Ciara’s unearthly ability to control her enemies’ minds and actions. But lately, a mysterious crow has been appearing to Ciara, whispering warnings of an even darker threat. Although her clansmen dismiss her visions as pagan nonsense, Ciara fears this coming evil will destroy not just Éirinn, but the entire world.

Then the crow leads Ciara to Leif, a young Northman leader. Leif should be Ciara’s enemy, but when Ciara discovers that he, too, shares her prophetic visions, she knows he’s something more. Leif is mounting an impressive army, and with Ciara’s strength in battle the two might have a chance to save their world.

With evil rising around them, they’ll do what it takes to defend the land they love…even if it means making the greatest sacrifice of all.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Action-packed mythological fantasy & romance.

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
One of my non-spoilery scenes comes in the beginning of the book when the main character Ciara meets the Morrigan for the first time. The Morrigan forces her to watch all the horrible things that can happen to Ciara’s world and family if she doesn’t do anything to stop the coming evil, and it’s creepy and intense and dark…just like the Morrigan herself.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
I had just had my fourth baby the week before, so I was at home in that state of happy exhaustion, and I saw that I had a missed call from my agent. I listened to the voicemail right away, of course, (I actually still have the voicemail lol) and she said that I needed to call her immediately, that if I was driving, I needed to pull over and call her right away. So my mom was there helping with my other kids, and she excitedly told me to hurry up and call my agent back. I went into my room, and I listened in a state of shocked confusion as my agent told me that HarperCollins had offered to buy not just one, but TWO books!! I remember I just kept saying, “What?!” over and over. And then I went out of my room and told my mom, and she cried. Such an incredible surprise! One of my happiest memories, for sure.

What’s your favorite junk food?
Chocolate and just about anything sweet. I try to tell myself eating dark chocolate isn’t really the same as eating junk food, but I’m pretty sure it is when I chase a square of it with chocolate-chip cookies 😆.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
I just cleaned out my office so I can answer this definitively: a small figurine of Willow from the movie Willow circa 1988.

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Devils Unto Dust by Emma Berquist
April 10, 2018 from Greenwillow
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

Ten years ago, a horrifying disease began spreading across the West Texas desert. Infected people—shakes—attacked the living and created havoc and destruction. No one has ever survived the infection. Daisy Wilcox, known as Willie, has been protecting her siblings within the relatively safe walls of Glory, Texas. When Willie’s good-for-nothing father steals a fortune from one of the most dangerous shake-hunters in town, she finds herself on the hook for his debt. With two hunters, including the gruff and handsome Ben, to accompany her, she sets out across the desert in search of her father. But the desert is not kind to travelers, and not everyone will pass through alive.

Western meets horror for this riveting story about survival, family, and inner strength. Tense, short chapters propel readers from one action-packed scene to the next, while Willie’s distinctive, introspective voice deepens the emotional stakes with every turn of the page. High concept and character-driven, Emma Berquist’s debut will satisfy fans of The Magnificent Seven, Rae Carson’s Walk on Earth a Stranger, and HBO’s Westworld.

Describe your book in five words or less.
No Country For Young Adults

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
I’m a sucker for the quiet moments that sneak up in-between all the chaos. I tried to give Willie a few of those moments, and they stuck with me the most.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
I’d just finished taking my dog out, and I got tangled up trying to get the leash off while lunging for the phone. I could barely hear anything, I was breathing so hard.

What’s your favorite junk food?
Tough to choose just one. I’m partial to a giant bowl of popcorn with olive oil, salt and pepper. That or a spoon in a jar of peanut butter.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
Random plug adaptor that I’m sure belongs to something I’ve already lost. A tiny cake made out of clay.

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The Diminished by Kaitlyn Sage Patterson
April 10, 2018 from Harlequin Teen
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

In the Alskad Empire, nearly all are born with a twin, two halves to form one whole…yet some face the world alone.

The singleborn

A rare few are singleborn in each generation, and therefore given the right to rule by the gods and goddesses. Bo Trousillion is one of these few, born into the royal line and destined to rule. Though he has been chosen to succeed his great-aunt, Queen Runa, as the leader of the Alskad Empire, Bo has never felt equal to the grand future before him.

The diminished

When one twin dies, the other usually follows, unable to face the world without their other half. Those who survive are considered diminished, doomed to succumb to the violent grief that inevitably destroys everyone whose twin has died. Such is the fate of Vi Abernathy, whose twin sister died in infancy. Raised by the anchorites of the temple after her family cast her off, Vi has spent her whole life scheming for a way to escape and live out what’s left of her life in peace.

As their sixteenth birthdays approach, Bo and Vi face very different futures—one a life of luxury as the heir to the throne, the other years of backbreaking work as a temple servant. But a long-held secret and the fate of the empire are destined to bring them together in a way they never could have imagined.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Siblings, grief, politics, loneliness, rebellion

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
My favorite scene in THE DIMINISHED is a kissing scene that takes place in a pool on board a ship. It’s all about letting go and living in the moment, which is really hard for my main characters.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
I was in a board room, making a presentation to my bosses. I’d forgotten to put my phone on silent, and it started blaring “Formation” by Beyoncé. You cannot imagine the blushes.

What’s your favorite junk food?
Ruffles and canned french onion dip 4eva.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
Is it weird to keep hot sauce AND nail polish on your desk? I don’t know what’s normal anymore. I’m too deep in my deadline.


Rewind by Carolyn O’Doherty
April 10, 2018 from Boyds Mills Press
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

Sixteen-year-old Alex is a Spinner–she has the ability to rewind time to review past events. Hated and feared because of their ability to find the truth, the small population of Spinners is restricted to Centers–compounds created to house and protect them. Alex’s society uses the Spinners’ skills to solve major crimes, but messing with time comes with consequences: no Spinner lives past the age of twenty. At sixteen, Alex is in her prime–until time sickness strikes early. When she is offered an experimental treatment, Alex sees a future for herself for the first time. But the promising medication offers more than just a cure–it also brings with it dire consequences.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Teenagers who can freeze time.

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
My favorite scene is when Alex wakes up in the clinic and discovers her time freezing skills have changed. It’s a pivotal event in her life and a place in the story where the stakes start to ratchet up. It was also a super fun scene to write — especially in a book where my main character doesn’t get to have too many lighthearted moments.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
You know what’s crazy? I’m not 100% sure. It was two years ago and I think I was at work, but I’d imagined the scene in my head so many times it’s possible I’m remembering the fantasy rather than the reality!

What’s your favorite junk food?
Salt and vinegar potato chips.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
A big bag of sweet li hing mui (pickled plums). I grew up in Hawaii and these were my favorite snack so I bought some for my son’s birthday. They were not a hit. Now the whole bag is for me!


Are You a Character Driven or Plot Driven Reader? | Discussion

April 6, 2018 Discussion 38

 

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday has brought up an interesting discussion that I wanted to expound upon. Let me set the stage: I have a Top Ten Tuesday topic suggestion form, where participants can submit their suggestions for future TTTs. The topic “Characters I Liked from Non-Favorite/Disliked Books” came through and I was kind of intimidated by it, but figured I’d put it on the schedule because I want topics to apply to a variety of readers and not just be ones that are easy for me.

As I started building my list a couple weeks in advance I realized how unbelievably hard it was for me to come up with 10 characters I liked from books I didn’t like. I am a very character driven reader. If I don’t like a book it’s usually because I did not like the characters. I’ve never disliked a story but liked the characters enough to continue reading it. If I can’t connect with or fall in love with the characters, then it’s a pretty automatic DNF for me. There’s just no reason for me to stick around. I started looking at all my one and two star reviews to try and find books I rated low, but found redeeming qualities in the characters. Most of the time I was actually complaining about the characters! I ended up picking a lot of characters that I used to love, who took a bad turn in sequels and series books because I couldn’t come up with much else.

Once this TTT went live and the Linky was open for people to link up their posts, I quickly noticed how slowly the links were submitted. Usually the Linky explodes with submissions within minutes of the post going live. I started visiting the blogs who participated, and made it through the first 20 or so posts before sleep took over. I noticed that many people were in my same boat and struggled with coming up with their lists. Some of them reversed the topic and wrote about characters they hated from books they loved, which would have been so much easier for me. Someone even changed the topic to characters they loved. Period. Participation was also down. By the next day only 85 people had linked up their posts, as opposed to the 300-350 I usually see.

Clearly, I’m not alone! I saw several posts where people said they loved the topic, and easily came up with 10 picks. For a lot of us, though, I know how tricky it was and I feel bad that so many people struggled with it. I’ll do my best to not make such a hard topic anymore.

So, let’s discuss!
– Are you a character driven reader like me, or plot driven reader?
– Or does something else drive your love of books? The writing? The world? The author? Your own stubbornness? All of the above?
– Do you DNF over characters you can’t connect with, or can you keep going with a book even if you don’t like them?
– Which books come to your mind when you think of this discussion topic? 

There’s so much to talk about!


Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch | Book Review

April 5, 2018 Book Review, Young Adult 8 ★★★★★

Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch | Book ReviewLove & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch
Published by Simon Pulse on May 3, 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Contemporary Romance, Romance
Pages: 389
Format: eARC
Source: From the publisher through Edelweiss
Amazon Add to Goodreads
5 Stars
“I made the wrong choice.”

Lina is spending the summer in Tuscany, but she isn’t in the mood for Italy’s famous sunshine and fairy-tale landscape. She’s only there because it was her mother’s dying wish that she get to know her father. But what kind of father isn’t around for sixteen years? All Lina wants to do is get back home.

But then she is given a journal that her mom had kept when she lived in Italy. Suddenly Lina’s uncovering a magical world of secret romances, art, and hidden bakeries. A world that inspires Lina, along with the ever-so-charming Ren, to follow in her mother’s footsteps and unearth a secret that has been kept for far too long. It’s a secret that will change everything she knew about her mother, her father—and even herself.

People come to Italy for love and gelato, someone tells her, but sometimes they discover much more.

I love books set in other countries, especially countries I’ve visited myself. It makes for a very fun reading experience, and I usually gobble them up quickly. Love & Gelato is another book I can add to my stack of favorites, and it’s not just because it takes place in one of my favorite cities in the world.

1. Love & Gelato was everything I hoped for and more. I loved it so much, not only because the story and writing were pure and utter perfection, but because my love of YA contemporary romance was renewed. I’ve been having a hard time with this genre for the last couple of years, and I chalked it up to the fact that I’m not a young adult anymore. I figured I was identifying less and less with the characters, so I needed to move on and read books with characters my age in order to connect. I was pretty heartbroken about this. I thought back to all my favorite YA contemporaries: Wanderlove, Just One Day, Anna and the French Kiss, Unbreak My Heart, The Summer I Became a Nerd, and Wish You Were Italian and was super sad that, if I were to re-read them, maybe I wouldn’t love them anymore. Love & Gelato was a bit of a gamble for me, but since I love Italy so much I figured I would at least love that about it. But I loved EVERYTHING. I loved the characters, the story, the romance, the issues, the scenery, the mystery, and all the coming of age moments. It reminded me that I will always be able to relate to teens because I was there. I went through it, and no matter how old you get you never forget what it was like to be a teenager. I’m so relieved that I’d just found a bunch of bad egg books, rather than discovered that the genre that once brought me so much joy was not for me anymore.

2. This book takes place on the outskirts of Florence, Italy… one of my favorite places in Italy. Lina’s mother dies of cancer and has spent her last months talking with Lina about her time in Italy. She wants so badly for Lina to move there and live with a man named Howard. So she goes there and lives with him in a WWII cemetery where he is the groundskeeper. Lina is given the journal that her mom wrote in while she was living in Italy, and she learns so much about her mom and herself. Pretty much the entire story is Lina walking in her mother’s footsteps, while also falling in love and experiencing Italy. I loved every page.

3. Howard is the kind of guy every girl wishes was her dad. He clumsily navigates his relationship in a way that only a man who has no idea what a teenage girl is could. But he is so full of love and only wants what’s best for her. If that’s an overflowing plate of lasagne or a shoulder to cry on, he’ll give you both.

4. Lina is strong in the wake of her biggest personal tragedy to date, and I admired her. She flies all the way to Italy and into the unknown while mourning the loss of her mom. She pouts and mopes and comes up with a million reasons to go home, but she also searches for answers and discovers why she’s there. Ren is very sweet and goofy, and I loved his personality. The supporting characters are all great, too. Ren’s mom is so much fun. Ren’s friends are great.

5. So much Italy! And so much gelato! It was like I was there again.

6. The writing was lovely. I can’t say much more about it, other than the fact that I remember the story and the people more than the writing. I think an author does their job when that happens.

All in all, I will be forever grateful to Jenna Evans Welch for reminding me why I love YA so much. I’ve read two more YA contemporary romances since I read this book, and I loved them both. I think I’m out of my slump! I loved going back to Italy and watching Lina figure out who she was and where she came from. I highly recommend Love & Gelato.


Top Ten Characters I Liked That Were In Books I Didn’t Like

April 2, 2018 Top Ten Tuesday 18

Today’s TTT topic was submitted by Annemieke of A Dance With Books through the topic suggestion form. If you have ideas for future topics, submit them here!

Ok, so have you ever come across a character who you actually liked but really didn’t like the book they were in? Maybe the character was amazing, but the author never put him/her in the limelight or developed their character enough. Maybe the author had this character do something really dumb? Or maybe this character was just the only bright spot in the book for you. OH, and my least favorite situation? When I LOVED the character until they turned into someone I didn’t love anymore as the series continued. Today we’re showing those characters some love.

Ok, so… confession time: THIS LIST WAS REALLY HARD. It’s hard for me to curate this list because usually the lack of great characters is what makes me hate a book in the first place! I don’t usually dislike a book if I liked the characters. A great character will make it easier on me to enjoy reading a book, even if the story is not resonating with me as much as I’d like. Needless to say, I was pretty stumped. After a TON of thinking, though, I’ve done it!

1. Nikolai from The Crown’s Fate by Evelyn Skye
Nikolai was wonderful in The Crown’s Game, but his character was unrecognizable in a bad way in this sequel. He went in a very heartbreaking direction that I did not get over by the end of the book. He was one of the main reasons I rated this book so low.

2-4. Rafe, Leah, and Kaden from The Beauty of Darkness by Mary E. Pearson
My beloved characters became flat, shells of themselves. Rafe lost his backbone, Leah got selfish and demanding, and Kaden was completely ignored. This book kind of broke my heart all over the place.

5. September from The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente
Now… I liked September, but not as a twelve-year-old. Her voice is very strong and dynamic, but she does not act her age. She acts WAY older, so it all just felt really weird. And that book is a trip. I don’t even know what happened there. lol.

6-7. Emma and Galen from Of Neptune by Anna Banks
Emma became very selfish and immature in this third and final book of the Syrena Legacy trilogy. Also, things I found funny in book one, like Emma’s “ohmysweetgoodness” and “fan-freaking-tastic” and sarcastic quips were not funny this time. I wanted her to grow up a little and show me that she has changed over the years. I didn’t love Galen anymore either. His uses of marine words inserted into human phrases is not endearing anymore. He calls Emma “Angel Fish” and that really started to bug me! He has also gotten way too broody. I loved the romance in the first book, but things really fizzled in book 2 and even more in this one. I don’t even believe their love story anymore.

8. Jules’s Father in Everless by Sara Holland
This man is sweet and caring and loyal and way too good for his crappy, lying daughter.

9. Catherine in Heartless by Marissa Meyer
Catherine is sweet and spunky and so full of innocence and hope. I just loved her personality and her quirky love of baking and her sarcasm. We all know how she turns out (Queen of Hearts, duh), but boy was I hoping for a different outcome.

10. Rose from Public Relations by Katie Heaney and Adrianna Rebolini
I liked Rose for her ability to stand up for herself (and not keep quiet as she was instructed) and voice her opinions during the client meeting that would inevitably change her life. Her inner monologue was very entertaining. The book itself was pretty awful.

So there you have it! Which characters are you loving on today?
Do you agree with any of my picks?

And did you have as hard a time as I did coming up with your list this week? Do you tend to dislike books, but still like the characters? It’s super rare for me.

 


The Debut Dish: Lindsay Champion & Amelia Brunskill (+ Giveaways)

April 1, 2018 Author Interview, Debut Author Challenge, Debut Dish, Giveaway 5

The Debut Dish, a bi-monthly Debut Author Challenge feature, is where you go for the scoop on some pretty awesome debut authors and their new books! Hopefully these interviews will inspire you to add many, many more books to your to-read list. Because, really, who doesn’t need more books in their lives?

This issue of The Debut Dish features Lindsay Champion (Someday, Somewhere) and Amelia Brunskill (The Window).


Someday, Somewhere by Lindsay Champion
April 3, 2018 from KCP Loft / Kids Can Press
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

Dominique is a high school junior from a gritty neighborhood in Trenton, where she and her mom are barely getting by.

Ben is a musical prodigy from the Upper East Side, a violinist at a top conservatory with obsessive talent and a brilliant future.

When Dom’s class is taken to hear a concert at Carnegie Hall, she expects to be bored out of her mind. But then she sees the boy in the front row playing violin like his life depends on it — and she is transfixed.

Posing as an NYU student, Dom sneaks back to New York City to track down Ben Tristan, a magnetic genius who whisks her into a fantasy world of jazz clubs and opera, infatuation and possibility. Each sees something in the other that promises to complete them.

As Dom’s web of lies grows, though, so does Ben’s obsessive need to conquer Beethoven’s famous Kreutzer Sonata. But Ben’s genius, which captivates Dominique, conceals a secret, and the challenges of her life may make it difficult to help him.

Alternating perspectives and an unreliable narrator create suspense and momentum, romance and heartbreak. Author Lindsay Champion’s deep roots in theater and music are evident on every page — structured like a sonata with hints of West Side Story, her debut novel hits all the right notes.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Teens find art, love, themselves.

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
SOMEDAY, SOMEWHERE is written in first-person, with alternating accounts from the perspectives of the two main characters, Dominique and Ben. In my favorite scene, Dom and Ben share their first kiss while riding the subway. As they kiss, the point of view switches to second person (“we” and “us”) and the language becomes more poetic – it’s a cool trick to heighten the stakes of the scene and help readers understand what an important moment this is for the characters. (And because I’m a huge symmetry nerd, I also love that it happens right in the middle of the book!)

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
What an amazing day – I was at my favorite restaurant of all time, Upstate (don’t let the name fool you, it’s in the East Village, in New York City). It was a gorgeous summer day, and my fiancé and I had both gotten out of work early and were hanging out, having an early dinner, which we almost never get to do. He got up to go to the bathroom, I checked my phone, and there it was…the most glorious email to end all emails, from my agent, Sarah Davies: “Kate Egan, the editorial director of KCP Loft, loves your book!” It was a perfect moment I’ll never, ever forget.

What’s your favorite junk food?
It’s an extremely difficult toss-up between peanut butter cups and pizza. Don’t make me choose.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
An alpaca stuffed animal named Andre-Andrew.

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The Window by Amelia Brunskill
April 3, 2018 from Delacorte
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

Anna is everything her identical twin is not. Outgoing and athletic, she is the opposite of quiet introvert Jess. The same on the outside, yet so completely different inside–it’s hard to believe the girls are sisters, let alone twins. But they are. And they tell each other everything.

Or so Jess thought.

After Anna falls to her death while sneaking out her bedroom window, Jess’s life begins to unravel. Everyone says it was an accident, but to Jess, that doesn’t add up. Where was Anna going? Who was she meeting? And how long had Anna been lying to her?

Jess is compelled to learn everything she can about the sister she thought she knew. At first it’s a way to stay busy and find closure . . . but Jess soon discovers that her twin kept a lot of secrets. And as she digs deeper, she learns that the answers she’s looking for may be truths that no one wants her to uncover.

Because Anna wasn’t the only one with secrets.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Twins: One lost, one searching.

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
The book is mostly from Jess’s perspective, with snippets of Anna’s thoughts from the night that she died. There is only one scene in the whole book where Anna and Jess are both together, and I think that is my favorite scene, because it is where we get to see them interacting and get a true sense of what they meant to each other.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
I was on the couch at home, and it was in the evening, so I had assumed that there would be no news coming that day. Then I got an email from my agent, who was on vacation in London, with the subject line “Interest from Random House!”. I read it about four times, and then made my husband read it. He thought it was going to be bad news because apparently I looked completely freaked out!

What’s your favorite junk food?
It really is hard to beat Chubby Hubby ice cream from Ben & Jerry’s. There is something miraculous about the combination of malt ice cream and peanut butter filled pretzels.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
An old wooden mannequin hand, which is one of the coolest and the creepiest things that I own.

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Jenn Bennett’s Mood Board for Starry Eyes | Blog Tour + Giveaway

March 30, 2018 Blog Tour, Giveaway, Guest Post, Mood Board 3

Jenn Bennett’s Mood Board for Starry Eyes | Blog Tour + Giveaway

I’m so excited to be on the blog tour for Jenn Bennett’s Starry Eyes, hosted by The Fantastic Flying Book Club! I posted my review of Starry Eyes earlier this week (spoiler alert: I LOVED IT!), and now I get to share Jenn’s mood board for the book! I absolutely love looking at an author’s mood board. It’s so much fun to see what they pictured while they were writing their story. Jenn’s is pretty amazing! Check it out and read a little more about the book below!


Starry Eyes Mood Board

Curated by Jenn Bennett

Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett
Published by Simon Pulse on April 3, 2018
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
Add to Goodreads
AmazonBarnes & NobleBook Depository • iBooks • IndieBoundKobo

Ever since last year’s homecoming dance, best friends-turned-best enemies Zorie and Lennon have made an art of avoiding each other. It doesn’t hurt that their families are the modern day, Californian version of the Montagues and Capulets.

But when a group camping trip goes south, Zorie and Lennon find themselves stranded in the wilderness. Alone. Together.

What could go wrong?

With no one but each other for company, Zorie and Lennon have no choice but to hash out their issues via witty jabs and insults as they try to make their way to safety. But fighting each other while also fighting off the forces of nature makes getting out of the woods in one piece less and less likely.

And as the two travel deeper into Northern California’s rugged backcountry, secrets and hidden feelings surface. But can Zorie and Lennon’s rekindled connection survive out in the real world? Or was it just a result of the fresh forest air and the magic of the twinkling stars?


About Jenn Bennett

Jenn Bennett is an award-winning author of several young adult books, including ALEX, APPROXIMATELY and STARRY EYES. She also writes romance and fantasy for adults. Her books have earned multiple starred reviews, won the Romance Writers of America’s prestigious RITA® Award, and been included on Publishers Weekly Best Books annual list. She lives near Atlanta with one husband and two dogs.

Website | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook

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Make sure you follow the rest of the tour for more great content!


Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett | Book Review

March 28, 2018 Book Review, Young Adult 8 ★★★★★

Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett | Book ReviewStarry Eyes by Jenn Bennett
Published by Simon Pulse on April 3, 2018
Genres: Contemporary, Contemporary Romance, Romance
Pages: 432
Format: eARC
Source: From the publisher through Edelweiss
Amazon Add to Goodreads
5 Stars
Ever since last year’s homecoming dance, best friends-turned-best enemies Zorie and Lennon have made an art of avoiding each other. It doesn’t hurt that their families are the modern day, Californian version of the Montagues and Capulets.

But when a group camping trip goes south, Zorie and Lennon find themselves stranded in the wilderness. Alone. Together.

What could go wrong?

With no one but each other for company, Zorie and Lennon have no choice but to hash out their issues via witty jabs and insults as they try to make their way to safety. But fighting each other while also fighting off the forces of nature makes getting out of the woods in one piece less and less likely.

And as the two travel deeper into Northern California’s rugged backcountry, secrets and hidden feelings surface. But can Zorie and Lennon’s rekindled connection survive out in the real world? Or was it just a result of the fresh forest air and the magic of the twinkling stars?

Jenn Bennett is a wonderful storyteller, and is quickly becoming a YA author that I trust to provide some really sweet, swoony contemporary romances. After really enjoying Alex, Approximately, I was excited to spot this next book of hers on Edelweiss. I’m happy to report that I loved this one even more. As always, my main points are bolded.

1. I was immediately drawn to the unique plot elements that were mentioned in the synopsis. Former best friends go camping and end up stranded in the wilderness, having to fend for themselves. I love survival stories, and stories that take place outdoors so I really loved this idea. It was done SO WELL.

2. I loved the little tidbits about how to survive outdoors, as well as the beautiful descriptions of scenery. There’s a pretty intense thunderstorm that happens in this book, and I was captivated by the way the author portrayed it.

3. The characters are sweet and quirky. I know I will never forget Lennon, son of a sex shop owning lesbian couple and a punk rocker has-been. He loves reptiles and graphic novels, wears all black, and has spiky hair and a dry sense of humor. He’s also very loving, loyal, kind of broken, and very mysterious. I loved him! Zorie is a wannabe astronomer, who gazes at life through the eyepiece of her telescope. Her birth mother died when she was young, and she’s fallen in love with her dad’s Korean wife, Joy, and adopted her as her real mom. This family, like all families, has some issues. As Zorie and Lennon work to survive the wilderness and the elements, they talk and work through how to survive their lives as well. They both grow so much individually as well as together, and I loved watching them process real emotions together.

4. Things got really good for me once the glamping trip ended and Lennon and Zorie were left to fend for themselves. Don’t get me wrong, I liked the parts leading up to that, but I got super invested at this point in the story and had a really hard time putting my book down to go to bed.

5. There was a strong focus on friendship and relationships that I loved.

6. I don’t want to spoil it, but there’s some major girl power moments towards the end of the book that had me cheering. I love strong women in books because they inspire me to be more assertive and not take crap from anyone.

All in all, I loved Starry Eyes. It’s swoony and deep and angsty and full of so much reality, set against the love-hate relationship between two best-friends-turned-enemies as they traverse the elements and depend on one another to survive the literal wilderness, as well as their own wild, untamed lives.