Thursday, June 29, 2017

The year's just about half over and I've read or listened to a total of 136 books so far, with another one almost done. That's 14 books ahead of schedule, and yet it still doesn't feel like I'm reading as much as I did last year. But there have just been some days where I literally could not bring myself to pick up a book or turn on an audiobook, which, up until this point, was pretty much unheard of for me.

I don't think I'm in a slump, but I just don't feel like I've read anything mega-super-amazing-fantastic recently...despite there being a few five-star reads below. Maybe it's because my last few reads have been really mellow -- and contemporary -- and so I'm just feeling blah. I have been doing some re-reading that had me pretty excited, but that's over and now I'm just looking for the unexpected, I think. Here's hoping that puts an end to whatever this is, anyway.

And without further ado, here's what I've been reading lately...

(More on why I've gone to this format here in lieu of traditional reviews for each.)

Y O U N G   A D U L T

When It's RealZenn DiagramMade You Up

When It's Real - I wasn't expecting a whole lot from this book going into it, especially considering the ranty reviews I've read of The Royals series. But I didn't hate it. It was super corny at times and pretty unrealistic most of the time, but it was sweet. I'm always here for the fake romance trope, though I've definitely seen it done better. If you're wondering if this book made me want to pick up the duo's others, the answer is a resounding no. Because if I only sorta liked this one, there's no way I'm going to enjoy the others. But I didn't hate it. 🌟🌟🌟

Zenn Diagram - This story was so clever and sweet and genuine, and I can't believe past me would ever have passed up something so adorkable because it was contemporary and touchy-feely. I want to smack that past version of me. Because this book isn't just contemporary; it contains a bit of magical realism, too, and a whole lot of nerdy math convos and science-y stuff. And while I don't believe Eva's condition as it is described is a real thing, there are other very real types of touch-emotion synaesthesia. And I find all forms of synaesthesia absolutely fascinating. I loved the family dynamic, the swoony romance, and even the sense of fate that came with the story. It actually reminded me a bit of The Love That Split the World, which I also adored. The only thing that bothered me was that the ending felt a little abrupt, but maybe that's just me because I wasn't ready to leave these characters behind. And I was still left with a few unanswered questions, even with that touching epilogue. 12/10 would read again. 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Made You Up - First off, I love an unreliable narrator, especially when even they don't know if they can trust their own judgment. And I totally sympathized with Alex, even more so when the severity of her condition came to light. And when her parents started looking for other treatment options, including those that would make a normal existence impossible, I railed against them in my head. But this story is about more than just Alex's paranoia and schizophrenia. There's a bit of a mystery to solve. First love to contend with. And an awesome friend group and hijinks to carry out. All in all, Made You Up was sad and serious and fun and triumphant and I can't wait to pick up the author's sophomore novel. 🌟🌟🌟🌟

What to Say NextA Million JunesFlame in the Mist (Flame in the Mist, #1)

What to Say Next - I loved Tell Me Three Things and knew that I'd read anything else by Julie Buxbaum because of it. This book felt decidedly more tragic than her debut YA novel, but it was no less captivating. And there was still an air of mystery to it that kept me glued to the pages. I also appreciated the handling of autism and bullying; both aspects felt genuine and were interwoven delicately with the other character's grief. And while there was also a sweet romance, this is the type of book I'll pass on and tell others about because it was such a comfort to read. 🌟🌟🌟🌟

A Million Junes - Magical realism is quickly becoming my go-to sub-genre. It lends itself to the here and now while also being a bit mired in fantasy elements. Add to that the star-crossed lovers aspect and I am sold. The O'Donnells and the Angerts have generations-long feud that rivals that of the Hatfields and McCoys and A Million Junes is basically the unraveling of that tale, of how the feud started and how it will end. There is banter. There are flashbacks. And there is magic. And it all culminates into a gloriously unique story, full of the beautiful writing I discovered in Emily Henry's debut novel last year. 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Flame in the Mist - Okay, I'm a little pissed at myself for not checking Goodreads before downloading this audio because I had it in my head that this was a stand-alone and GAH I WAS NOT READY FOR IT TO END AND IT DID AND NOW I NEED MORE AND I HAVE TO WAIT FOREVER AND A DAY. So, yeah, it was good. Better even than I was expecting, which is saying a lot because I loved Ahdieh's previous duology. I've seen everyone trussing this up as a Mulan retelling, but it is so much more than that. And it's not that at all. I adored this book because it was all about female empowerment, familial responsibilities, secrets and lies and betrayals. It was about finding your place in the world and holding tight to it. And I can't wait to read more! 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

The Female of the SpeciesRoar (Stormheart, #1)All the Truth That's in Me

The Female of the Species - JFC. Holy shit! That was fucking brutal. I know from experience not to expect a HEA or even any semblance of happiness when it comes to Mindy McGinnis' novels, but I think this book was a whole new level of fucked up. But it was also thought-provoking and shined a very bright light at rape culture and how we react to it and how we should react to it. I want to take this book and shove it in everyone's faces. It took so long to bring myself to read it -- even after reading the first four chapters in an excerpt and really connecting to it -- and I feel guilty about that now. Because this isn't just a story. Any one of the three points of view could potentially be yours or that of someone you know. And I don't know which perspective would be the worst because it's all awful, regardless of the victim. I applaud McGinnis' ability to portray so much -- the emotion, the violence, the indecency -- in one single novel, but I'm almost afraid to read what she writes next. 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Roar - I've really enjoyed most of Cora Carmack's new adult novels, but I have to say I was a bit hesitant to pick up Roar. The summary reminded me a bit of Storm Siren, and this being the author's first fantasy novel, I wasn't expecting much. But from the very beginning, I was captivated. The world-building was intriguing. The cast of characters and their development was fantastic. And while the story did lose a bit of steam around the halfway point, with the constant traveling and breaks for training, I'm still very excited to see where it goes. I'm not 100% sold on the romance because I shipped Roar with someone else, so I'd happily take a love triangle in the sequel. :P I believe this is a planned trilogy, but I'd happily read more as Roar learns about herself and her place in the Stormheart world. 🌟🌟🌟🌟

All the Truth That's in Me - A friend was spot-on when she mentioned in her review how very unfitting this cover is for the story within. I mean, if I hadn't been on Goodreads that particular day and seen her review in my feed, I might never have picked it up because it looks straight-up contemporary; an issues book, if you will. But it's about a girl from a Puritan village who goes missing and who is deemed less than upon her return...and all the other truths that come out in due course. It's a page-turner with super-short chapters and flashbacks, and I absolutely could not stop listening. The narrator was superb, especially considering the limitations on the main character's speech. Super glad I gave this one a try, despite that incongruous cover. 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Ramona BlueOnce and for AllDear Reader

Ramona Blue - I knew I was going to love this book despite (or in spite of?) the controversy when the summary was first revealed. I mean, it's Julie Murphy. Her stories are genuine and heartfelt and though every character is different and going through something different, you can always find some way to identify with them because they're realistic and imperfect, just like us. Ramona Blue is no different. I'm not a 6 ft. tall swimmer with blue hair, but I grew up poor in a small town where being different would get you ostracized quicker than admitting you cheered for someone other than the Cowboys. And Ramona has had to deal with all of that, plus Hurricane Katrina. So, I felt for her. I still think Dumplin' is my favorite character of hers so far, but I feel a kind of kinship with them all, even the side characters. And that's the beauty of a Julie Murphy novel... 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Once and for All - This was by no means my favorite Dessen novel, but it was a very typical Dessen novel: heartfelt and full of loss but also hopeful and full of new beginnings. There were really two love stories rolled into one, and if I could have read each one separately, I might have fared better. I loved the flashbacks and I loved both Ethan and Ambrose, though for different reasons. But I just couldn't help but feel that Louna was not being honest with herself or those around her and it was frustrating to read, especially since the story progressed sooo slowly. It was also kind of a downer. I don't remember Dessen's earlier novels being quite so depressing. 🌟🌟🌟

Dear Reader - Well, that was a wandering, convoluted, ambitious tale...and I think I liked it? Be forewarned, that Gilmore Girls nod in the summary is not all that appropo, except maybe for the fast-talking and that might only be because I listened to the audio on double speed. ;) But on the whole, I found the narrative transformative, at least for the main character. I'm not sure that I'm all that changed for having read this story, but I did enjoy the literary scavenger hunt aspect of it. It also made me want to go back and re-read Wuthering Heights, which I remember enjoying as a teenager, so there's that. The prose in Dear Reader is lovely but it also left me feeling empty when the story was said and done, which is how I remember feeling after finishing Wuthering Heights. And yet I can't help but appreciate the parallel stories of two lonely young women, searching for their own stories in the pages of a book. 🌟🌟🌟

R E - R E A D S

Catching JordanEvery Breath (Every, #1)Every Word (Every, #2)The Winter King (Weathermages of Mystral, #1)

Catching Jordan - It's summer and I miss football. 🌟🌟🌟

Every Breath & Every Word - I have been saying I'll finish this series for years. Since I pre-ordered the Aussie version of the final book. And I am finally doing it. I even created a shelf on Goodreads called "so I can finish the series" because this phenomenon is not restricted to this series. :P I loved it every bit as much upon my re-read and now I'm wondering why I've been putting this off... 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

The Winter King - I was granted an early copy of The Sea King and I wanted a refresher. Plus, sometimes you just really need a good adult fantasy to get you through the week. ;0) 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Enclave (Razorland, #1)Outpost (Razorland, #2)Horde (Razorland, #3)

Razorland series - Prepping for Vanguard, and I seriously cannot believe I forgot how much I love this series. I love zombie stories, but I've kind of strayed from them until recently. But now that I'm hooked on iZombie and there's a new book releasing in the Razorland world, I'm a full-fledged zombie lover again. Such a great re-read and. So. Many. Feels. 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟


The Lady Travelers Guide to Scoundrels & Other Gentlemen (The Lady Travelers Guide, #1)

The Lady Travelers Guide to Scoundrels and Other Gentlemen - Slow to start but pretty par for the course once it got going. Maybe slightly floofier than the standard historical romance fare -- at least what I've read of it -- but also less sexy-times. It was cute, though, and an enjoyable way to pass this dreary Monday. 🌟🌟🌟

Have you read any of these? What did you think? Find any new titles to check out? ;0)

Until next time! Happy reading!

Monday, June 5, 2017

Thanks to the fabulous publicity team at Bloomsbury, I have an excerpt from one of my top reads so far this a chance to win all of the books being featured on the Boldly Bookish Blog Tour this June! First, here's a bit more about the book I'm featuring:

Title: Letters to the Lost
Author: Brigid Kemmerer
Series: n/a
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Publication Date: April 4, 2017
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Audible

Add to Goodreads
Juliet Young always writes letters to her mother, a world-traveling photojournalist. Even after her mother's death, she leaves letters at her grave. It's the only way Juliet can cope.

Declan Murphy isn't the sort of guy you want to cross. In the midst of his court-ordered community service at the local cemetery, he's trying to escape the demons of his past.

When Declan reads a haunting letter left beside a grave, he can't resist writing back. Soon, he's opening up to a perfect stranger, and their connection is immediate. But neither Declan nor Juliet knows that they're not actually strangers. When life at school interferes with their secret life of letters, sparks will fly as Juliet and Declan discover truths that might tear them apart.

I legit loved Letters to the Lost when I read it earlier this year. I loved the pen pal aspect but also the depth of the story and the characters' grief. It really was just an all-around great wonder it's on my list of favorites for 2017.

Behold, a snippet from Letters to the Lost...and yet another reason you should pick up this book ASAP:

The hallways are empty, which seems impossible. Where are the rest of the slackers? Why am I always the only late one?

Besides, it’s not like I wasn’t here. I’m physically in the building. It’s not like I’m going to turn into a model student once a teacher starts doing the Charlie Brown at the blackboard.

By the time we reach the language arts wing, we’re half running, skidding through turns. I grab hold of the corner to help propel me down the last hall.

I feel the burn before I feel the collision. Hot liquid sears my skin, and I cry out. A cup of coffee has exploded across my chest. I slam into something solid, and I’m skidding, slipping, falling.

Someone solid.

I’m on the ground, eyes level with scuffed black work boots.

In a rom-com, this would be the “meet-cute.” The boy would be movie-star hot, first-string quarterback, and class valedictorian. He’d offer me his hand, and he’d coincidentally have an extra T-shirt in his backpack. I’d change into it in the restroom, and somehow my boobs would be bigger, my hips would be smaller, and he’d walk me to class and ask me to prom.

In reality, the guy is Declan Murphy, and he’s practically snarling. His shirt and jacket are soaked with coffee, too, and he’s pulling material away from his chest.

If the rom-com guy was the star quarterback, Declan is the senior-class reject. He’s got a criminal record and a frequent seat in detention. He’s big and mean, and while reddish-brown hair and a sharp jaw might turn some girls on, the dark look in his eyes is enough to keep them away. A scar bisects one eyebrow, and it’s probably not his only one. Most people are afraid of him, and they have a reason to be. Rowan is simultaneously trying to help me up and pull me away from him.

He looks at me with absolute derision. His voice is rough and low. “What is wrong with you?”

I jerk away from Rowan. My shirt is plastered to my chest, and I can guarantee he’s getting a great view of my purple bra through my pastel-green shirt. For as hot as the coffee was, now I’m wet and freezing. This is humiliating and horrible, and I can’t decide if I want to cry or I want to yell at him.

My breath actually hitches, but I suck it up. I’m not afraid of him. “You ran into me.”

His eyes are fierce. “I wasn’t the one running.”

Then he moves forward sharply. I shrink away before I can help it.

Okay, maybe I am afraid of him.

I don’t know what I thought he was going to do. He’s just so intense. He stops short and scowls at my reaction, then finishes his motion to lean down and grab his backpack where it fell.


There probably is something wrong with me. I want to yell at him all over again, even though all this was my fault. My jaw tightens.

Temper, Juliet.

The memory of my mother hits me so hard and fast and sudden that it’s a miracle I don’t burst into tears right here. There’s nothing holding me together, and one wrong word is going to send me straight off an edge.

Declan is straightening, and that scowl is still on his face, and I know he’s going to say something truly despicable. This, after the chastising letter, might be enough to turn me into a sopping me.

But then his eyes find mine, and something he sees there steals the dark expression from his face.

A tinny voice speaks from beside us. “Declan Murphy. Late again, I see.”

Mr. Bellicaro, my freshman year biology teacher, is standing beside Rowan. Her cheeks are flushed and she looks almost panicked. She must have sensed trouble and gone running for a teacher. It’s something she would do. I’m not sure whether I’m annoyed or relieved. A classroom door hangs open behind him, and kids are peering into the hallway.

Declan swipes at drops of coffee clinging to his jacket. “I wasn’t late. She ran into me.”

Mr. Bellicaro purses his lips. He’s short and has a round gut that’s accentuated by a pink sweater-vest. He’s not what you’d consider well-liked. “No food is allowed outside the cafeteria—”

“Coffee isn’t food,” says Declan.

“Mr. Murphy, I believe you know the way to the principal’s office.”

“Yeah, I could draw you a map.” His voice sharpens, and he leans in, glowering. “This isn’t my fault.

Rowan flinches back from his tone. Her hands are almost wringing. I don’t blame her. For an instant, I wonder if this guy is going to hit a teacher.

Mr. Bellicaro draws himself up. “Am I going to have to call security?”

“No.” Declan puts his hands up, his voice bitter. His eyes are dark and furious. “No. I’m walking.” And he is, cursing under his breath. He crumples his paper cup and flings it at a trash can.

So many emotions ricochet around my skull that I can barely settle on one. Shame, because it really was my fault, and I’m standing here, letting him take the blame. Indignation, for the way he spoke. Fear, for the way he acted.

Intrigue, for the way the darkness fell off his face when his eyes met mine.

I wish I had a photograph of his face at precisely that moment. Or now, capturing his walk down the shadowed hallway. Light flashes on his hair and turns it gold when he passes each window, but shadows cling to his broad shoulders and dark jeans. I haven’t wanted to touch my camera since Mom died, but all of a sudden I wish I had it in my hands. My fingers itch for it.

“For you, Miss Young.”

I turn, and Mr. Bellicaro is holding out a white slip of paper.

Detention. Again.

Well, after reading that unfortunate meeting again, I kind of want need to re-read this yesterday. Think I'll try out the audiobook next. ;0)

About the author:

BRIGID KEMMERER is author of LETTERS TO THE LOST (Bloomsbury; April 4, 2017), a dark, contemporary Young Adult romance; THICKER THAN WATER (Kensington, December 29, 2015), a New Adult paranormal mystery with elements of romance; and the YALSA-nominated Elemental series of five Young Adult novels and three e-novellas which Kirkus Reviews calls “refreshingly human paranormal romance” and School Library Journal describes as “a new take on the supernatural genre.” She lives in the Baltimore area with her husband and four sons.

Find Brigid:

Website | Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

Open to US/Canada ONLY

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Be sure to check out the rest of the Boldly Bookish tour! (Links to each blog are below the graphic.)

Enjoy the rest of the tour! Happy reading! =D

Friday, June 2, 2017

Title: When Dimple Met Rishi
Author: Sandhya Menon
Series: n/a
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication Date: May 30, 2017
Source: ARC received from publisher
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Audible

Add to Goodreads
A laugh-out-loud, heartfelt YA romantic comedy, told in alternating perspectives, about two Indian-American teens whose parents have arranged for them to be married.

Dimple Shah has it all figured out. With graduation behind her, she’s more than ready for a break from her family, from Mamma’s inexplicable obsession with her finding the “Ideal Indian Husband.” Ugh. Dimple knows they must respect her principles on some level, though. If they truly believed she needed a husband right now, they wouldn’t have paid for her to attend a summer program for aspiring web developers…right?

Rishi Patel is a hopeless romantic. So when his parents tell him that his future wife will be attending the same summer program as him—wherein he’ll have to woo her—he’s totally on board. Because as silly as it sounds to most people in his life, Rishi wants to be arranged, believes in the power of tradition, stability, and being a part of something much bigger than himself.

The Shahs and Patels didn’t mean to start turning the wheels on this “suggested arrangement” so early in their children’s lives, but when they noticed them both gravitate toward the same summer program, they figured, Why not?

Dimple and Rishi may think they have each other figured out. But when opposites clash, love works hard to prove itself in the most unexpected ways.

That. Was. Adorable! Like a sparkly unicorn farting rainbows and wearing fuzzy slippers adorable. I didn't know that much cute was possible in one little book, but I couldn't help but smile stupidly the entire time I was reading this story. I probably looked deranged to anyone who saw me, but who freaking cares?!?

When a book makes you this unabashedly happy, well...there's just nothing quite like that feeling. Sure, there was tension in the story -- it would have been pretty tame otherwise -- but it was well-placed and was genuine and made everything else that happened worth it. And for me, any story about #nerdlove is TOTALLY worth it.

I loved Dimple's rebellious streak. I adored Rishi's easy manner and his dedication to family and tradition. In fact, I loved the emphasis on that, in general, because Dimple also had to deal with familial expectations and also how to remain true to herself without disappointing her parents. I also enjoyed the glimpse we're given into Indian-American culture. At times, perceptions were brutally honest and I applaud that.

The romance was unbelievably sweet. The friends and side characters only added to the story. And that ending was truly precious. I pretty much adored When Dimple Met Rishi, and I can't wait to read the author's sophomore novel.


GIF it to me straight:

About the author:

Hi, hi!

My name is Sandhya Menon, and I write books for teens. I currently live in Colorado, where I’m on a mission to (gently) coerce my husband, son, and daughter to watch all 3,221 Bollywood movies I claim as my favorite. Also, I love my cat a little too much, as you can probably tell.

My YA novel WHEN DIMPLE MET RISHI will be out on May 30, 2017 from Simon Pulse (Simon & Schuster).

Find Sandhya:

WebsiteGoodreads | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

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