Week in Review: August 31

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Happy Monday! What are you reading this week? What’s on your to do list? What are you excited about? 📚 I’m between books but The Guinevere Deception should be on your radar for November. 📚 Big work meeting tomorrow and in blog news I’m trying to knock some book reviews off my to do list. 📚 Friday I get to see @thebookbandit for the first time in weeks so we can go to Rainbow Rowell and Faith Erin Hicks’ NYC tour stop for Pumpkinheads. 📚 Also it’s the first day in ages that hasn’t been painfully hot. I am ready for the fall weather to stick around. 📚 #instabooks #arcaugust19 #amreading #instareads #lovereading #bookworm #bookblogging #bookblogger #bookstagrammer #bibliophile #booklove #bookphotography #instabook #reading #reader #booktography #bookstagram #beautifulbooks #booksofinstagram #goodreads #bookaholic #bookish #bookishfeature #bookstafeatures #bookstagramfeature #readersofinstagram #unitedbookstagram #theguineveredeception #kierstenwhite #arcaugust

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How My Week Went:

I totally nailed it this week–got tons of stuff done. Unfortunately August totally wore me down and I think I’m fighting off a cold but whatever I’m still taking the win.

What I Read:

I haven’t been loving any of the books I’ve tried but hoping the next one will be a winner once I figure out what the next one should be.

Now, tell me about your week!

August 2019 Reading Tracker

Books I Read:

  1. Queen of Ruin by Tracy Banghart
  2. Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin
  3. Daisy Jones and The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid
  4. All These Things I’ve Done by Gabrielle Zevin (re-read)
  5. Because It Is My Blood by Gabrielle Zevin (re-read)
  6. The Guinevere Deception by Kiersten White
  7. Picture Us in the Light by Kelly Loy Gilbert
  8. In the Age of Love and Chocolate by Gabrielle Zevin (re-read)
  9. One Dark Throne by Kendare Blake
  10. Gravemaidens by Kelly Coon
  11. Eight Will Fall by Sarah Harian
  12. Into the Crooked Place by Alexandra Christo
  13. The Liars of Mariposa Island by Jennifer Mathieu
  14. Best Babysitters Ever by Caroline Cala

Books I Had Planned to Read:

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What are you hoping to read this August? 📚 This is my entirely too ambitious stack that I want to read for #arcaugust. It’s also every September release and most of my already published arcs from my shelves at home. 📚 The titles are: -The Boy and Girl Who Broke the World by Amy Reed -One Dark Throne by @kendareblake -The Girl King by @baby_ajumma -Serpent & Dove by @shelbymahurin -Daisy Jones & The Six by @tjenkinsreid -Sky Without Stars by @jessicabrody and @joannerendellauthor -The Merciful Crow by @what_eats_owls -The Tenth Girl by @sarafaring 📚 Which one would you read first? 📚 #instabooks #currentlyreading #amreading #instareads #lovereading #bookworm #bookblogging #bookblogger #bookstagrammer #bibliophile #booklove #bookphotography #instabook #reading #reader #booktography #bookstagram #beautifulbooks #booksofinstagram #goodreads #bookaholic #bookish #bookishfeature #bookstafeatures #bookstagramfeature #readersofinstagram #unitedbookstagram #arcaugust19 #toberead

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Books Bought:

  1. Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid (loved it and couldn’t pass up the sale discount)

ARCs Received:

  1. Heartwood Box by Ann Aguirre (not requested)
  2. Iron Gods by Andrew Bannister (not requested)
  3. Out to Get You by Josh Allen and Sarah J. Coleman (not requested)
  4. Surprise Lily by Sharelle Byars Moranville (not requested)
  5. Running Wild by Lucy Jane Bledsoe (not requested)
  6. Ra the Mighty: The Great Tomb Robery by A. B. Greenfield and Sarah Horne (not requested)

You can also see what I read in July.

Truly Madly Royally: A Chick Lit Wednesday Review

Zora Emerson knows exactly who she is and she knows that she has everything she needs to make big changes in her part of the world. But even with all of her confidence, no one is more shocked than Zora by her immediate connection with Owen–the actual prince of an island off the coast of England.

Attending a prestigious summer program should give Zora all the skills she needs to grow her after school helper program to reach even more of her neighbors. But it’s hard to focus on her courses when thinking about Owen is taking up so much of her attention.

When Owen invites Zora to be his date at his older brother’s wedding, it’s a dream come true. But it also sets Zora up for more scrutiny (and criticism) from strangers than she ever imagined. Soon Zora has to decide if dating Owen is worth the media attention–and if she can still stay true to herself while dating an actual prince in Truly Madly Royally (2019) by Debbie Rigaud.

Truly Madly Royally is a standalone contemporary perfect for anyone who can’t get enough royal romances.

Zora is a no-nonsense heroine. She is a practical, passionate Black girl and she is more than ready to speak her mind when the situation calls for it. She has immense pride in her hometown in New Jersey and a lot of affection for her family–even when it looks like her brother and her best friend might be making some questionable dating decisions.

Owen has a lot more whimsy and is the perfect counterpoint for Zora as the story focuses on their courtship and builds up to the big royal wedding (which is a clear and beautiful homage to Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s nuptials in 2018). Themes of civic engagement and initiating change when and where you see a need in your community are solid undercurrents throughout this frothy romance.

Truly Madly Royally is a funny, effervescent story sure to leave a smile on your face. Recommended for readers who like their romances filled with witty banter, strong friendships, and plenty of empowerment for the heroine.

Possible Pairings: Somewhere Only We Know by Maurene Goo, Prince Charming by Rachel Hawkins, Comics Will Break Your Heart by Faith Erin Hicks, The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord, Now a Major Motion Picture by Cori McCarthy, American Royals by Katharine McGee, My So-Called Bollywood Life by Nisha Sharma, Field Notes on Love by Jennifer E. Smith, Prince in Disguise by Stephanie Kate Strohm, Pride by Ibi Zoboi

*An advance copy of this title was provided by the publisher for review consideration*

Caster: A Review

Magic killed Aza Wu’s sister. Shire had more experience and more innate talent as a caster than Aza. She was able to work in secret, completing illegal full magic spells for customers to help keep Wu Teas open and pay their required tributes to Saint Willow–the gang leader overseeing their sector of Lotusland.

Shire has been dead for almost a year and Aza is no closer to fully controlling her own abilities as a caster or paying back her family’s mounting debts.

Desperate and just a little reckless, Aza’s efforts to investigate Shire’s death leads her to an underground casting tournament. Winning could be solve most of Aza’s problems. But losing could leave her dead in Caster (2019) by Elsie Chapman.

Caster is a gritty urban fantasy set in a world where magic–that is, full magic–taps into the earth’s energy and is slowly destroying it. Desperate to stave off further disasters, full casting has been declared illegal. But that doesn’t change that some people still have the ability to cast–or the fact that it’s the only option Aza sees for keeping her family afloat.

Stark prose, restrained world building, and suspense immediately draw readers into Aza’s world and the web of intrigue surrounding her sister’s death. High action and detailed fight scenes bring the casting tournament to life.

Caster seamlessly blends mystery and fantasy elements in this story where organized crime and full magic go hand in hand. Based on the ending, readers can only hope that this is but the first of Aza’s adventures.

Possible Pairings: The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert, White Cat by Holly Black, The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline, Devil’s Pocket by John Dixon, Chasing Power by Sarah Beth Durst, Tell the Wind and Fire by Sarah Rees Brennan, Unwind by Neal Shusterman

*An advance copy of this title was provided by the publisher for review consideration at BookExpo 2019*

Week in Review: August 24

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"Life is beautiful and life is stupid." 🔮 When the end of the world arrives on Earth, no one expects it to be announced by a blue half-flamingo, half-anglerfish creature with the voice of an angel, or the person you love most in the world, or a non-threatening American waitress in Cleveland depending on who you ask. 🔮 People are even less prepared to learn that Earth's absolute very last hope is the washed out, broken up, and decidedly no-longer-good former glam rock sensation Decibel Jones and the Absolute Zeroes. 🔮 But that's jumping ahead. Really, it all started a hundred years ago when the Sentience Wars almost destroyed the galaxy. 🔮 In the peace following the Sentience Wars, everyone involved felt like it was time to celebrate while also imposing a non-negotiable hierarchy on civilization. Thus began the Metagalactic Grand Prix, a combination talent show, beauty pageant, fight for supremacy where all participating species can demonstrate their sentience along with as many special effects and as much stagecraft as they can manage. 🔮 After years of existing in relative obscurity, humanity has finally entered the galactic stage. Now all we have to do is put all of our faith in two thirds of what used to be the greatest glam rock band ever and hope that they can sing their hearts out to prove our entire species' sentience, our ability to rock, and how very much we should not be summarily vaporized in Space Opera (2018) by Catherynne M. Valente. 🔮 Have you ever asked yourself what The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy would have been like with 90% more singing? If the answer is yes, then Space Opera is the Douglas Adams inspired homage to Eurovision that you've been waiting for. Even better? It's out right now and a sequel is slated for 2021. 🔮 #instabooks #currentlyreading #amreading #instareads #lovereading #bookworm #bookblogging #bookblogger #bookstagrammer #bibliophile #beatthebacklist2019 #instabook #reading #reader #booktography #bookstagram #beautifulbooks #booksofinstagram #goodreads #bookaholic #bookish #bookishfeature #bookstafeatures #bookstagramfeatur #readersofinstagram #unitedbookstagram #spaceopera #catherynnemvalente #beatthebacklist

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How My Week Went:

Forget weird, this week was just absurd. Already looking forward to my three day weekend next week lol

What I Read:

Finished One Dark Throne and I have a lot of Thoughts. And many Feelings. Onward to Gravemaidens. In other words: I’m doing pretty well with the ARC August thing.

Now, tell me about your week!

The Beauty of the Moment: A Chick Lit Wednesday Review

“Nothing lasts forever. Not this snowflake. Not our homes, not our families. But it doesn’t mean you can’t live in the beauty of the moment.”

Susan Thomas doesn’t cause trouble. She does well in school and she always meets her parents exacting expectations. Maybe that’s why she goes along with her family’s move to Canada without much fuss. Now, instead of spending her senior year with her friends in the familiar surroundings of Saudi Arabia, Susan is in Canada dealing with winter, a school that– while less demanding–is co-ed, not to mention her mother’s depression while they both wonder if Susan’s father will actually make the move to join them in this new country.

According to almost everyone in his life, Malcolm Vakil is trouble. He remembers when he used to care about things like school and making his parents proud but it was a while ago. Before his mother died, before Malcolm found out about his father’s affair, and long before his father finally stopped hitting him and his younger sister. He knows what people see when they look at him. He doesn’t care enough to prove them wrong.

Susan and Malcolm have nothing in common except for wanting desperately to run away from their lives and, maybe, finding a welcome distraction in each other. But the problem with running away is that eventually you have to figure out somewhere–and maybe someone–to run to in The Beauty of the Moment (2019) by Tanaz Bhatena.

Bhatena’s sophomore novel is a contemporary romance set in the same world as her critically acclaimed debut novel A Girl Like That.

The Beauty of the Moment is a light story but don’t make the mistake of thinking that means it is slight. Bhatena effectively contrasts Susan and Malcolm’s points of view to highlight their differences as well as the common threads that draw them to each other in this story about perceptions and expectations.

This novel is as self-aware as its two main characters. Bhatena artfully explores typical conventions found in romantic comedies while subverting the familiar trope of the smart girl meets bad boy to move the story in unexpected directions. Like all of the best comedies, The Beauty of the Moment isn’t afraid to make fun of itself even drawing its title from a line that Malcolm himself recognizes as being incredibly corny seconds after he shares it.

The Beauty of the Moment is everything you could want in a romantic comedy. As with many things, it’s easy to ignore the work–the strength of Bhatena’s writing– because so much of it is hidden behind well-drawn characters and an engrossing plot. Not to mention beautiful sentence level writing that is sure to immediately draw readers into Susan and Malcolm’s world.

The Beauty of the Moment is a breezy, sweet story about an unlikely romance, complicated families, changed circumstances, and perception. Highly recommended for fans of the genre, readers looking for a new take on some familiar tropes, and anyone looking for a genuine story with authentic, intersectional characters.

Possible Pairings: Love and Other Perishable Items by Laura Buzo, Emergency Contact by Mary HK Choi, The Revolution of Birdie Randolph by Brandy Colbert, 96 Words for Love by Ava Dash and Rachel Roy, 29 Dates by Melissa de la Cruz, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han, There’s Something About Sweetie by Sandhya Menon, The Field Guide to the North American Teenager by Ben Philippe, Frankly in Love by David Yoon, The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon, Places No One Knows by Brenna Yovanoff

*An advance copy of this title was provided by the publisher for review consideration*

Top Fives: Simon and Schuster Fall 2019 Preview #sskidspreview

Here are my top fives from Simon and Schuster’s Fall 2019 preview for librarians and educators.

If you want to see all of the tweets from the preview, you can check out of the #sskidspreview tag on twitter. (You can also find all of my tweets from the preview too!)

Here are the top five titles I’m excited about from the preview:

Picture Books

  1. People Share With People by Lisa Wheeler, illustrated by Molly Idle: Lisa Wheeler and Molly Idle are back with a companion to People Don’t Bite People. Another delightful rhyming book—this time all about sharing. Publishing in September.
  2. Dancing Hands by Margarita Engle, illustrated by Rafael Lopez: The team behind Drum Dream Girl is back with this picture book about piano prodigy Teresa Carreño and the moment when she played for Abraham Lincoln. Publishing in August.
  3. Spencer’s New Pet by Jessie Sima: I didn’t think I could love Jessie Sima

    more. Then I read this picture book about Spencer and his new pet. An almost wordless picture book in the style of classic silent films. Publishing in August.
  4. Infinite Hope by Ashley Bryan: In this picture book memoir Bryan shares his experiences serving in WWII in the segregated army. This book shines a light on the shameful treatment of black soldiers during this time. Includes sketches Bryan sent home to his parents during his time overseas and bright spots that kept him going. Publishing in October.
  5. Amy Wu and the Perfect Bao by Kat Zhang, illustrated by Charlene Chua: Can Amy Wu rise to the occasion and make the perfect bao? Publishing in October.

Middle Grade

  1. Roll With It by Jamie Sumner: Ellie’s carefully ordered world is thrown into chaos when she and her mom move to take care of her ailing grandfather. Can she find her place, pursue her celebrity chef aspirations, and find people ready to see Ellie for herself and not just her wheelchair? Publishing in October.
  2. The Okay Witch by Emma Steinkellner: Oh hey it’s my favorite graphic novel of the year. You need this story about witches, family, and love. Publishing in September.
  3. The Green Children of Woolpit by J. Anderson Coats: New historical fantasy inspired by the story of the Green Children. Deliciously creepy and perfect for fans of The Doll Bones or Coraline. Publishing in September.
  4. The Class by Frances O’Roark: Twenty kids. Twenty points of view. One sixth grade class dealing with a new girl who might be a spy, classroom theft, a classmate who shouldn’t be a classmate at all, and all of those awkward moments where it feels like everything is changing. Publishing in October.
  5. Oh, Rats! by Tor Seidler: What happens when the most sought after squirrel in New Jersey is kidnapped by a hawk and unceremoniously dropped in New York City? Publishing in August.

Young Adult

  1. Winterwood by Shea Earnshaw: I was all set to write down a pithy pitch for this one, but then I started hearing the comps and lost all my chill. Practical Magic meets The Sixth Sense?! Comps to Caraval and The Hazel Wood?! I’m ordering this one now. Publishing in November.
  2. Our Wayward Fate by Gloria Chao: Swoony romance, juicy family drama, and a story about communication breakdowns within a family. I don’t know about you but I can’t wait to check out Chao’s sophomore novel. Publishing in October.
  3. Slay by Brittney Morris: I’m not even going to try to paraphrase this pitch: Ready Player One meets The Hate U Give with a teen game developer defending her Black Panther-inspired game and the safe community it offers Black gamers. Publishing in September.
  4. The Lady Rogue by Jenn Bennett: Historical fantasy where one girl has to race to hunt down Vlad the Impaler’s cursed ring to save her father. Publishing in September.
  5. Songs From the Deep by Kelly Powell: YA debut set on an island where sirens live under the sea and a killer lurks in this combo fantasy and murder mystery. Publishing in November.

Let me know if any of these were already on your radar or if this post helped you find some new titles for your to read list!