Friday, July 28, 2017

Mid-Year Book Freak-Out Tag I 2017




The Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag was created by Chami from ReadLikeWildfire and Ely from Earl Grey Books a few years ago to recap your reading from the first half of the year and to anticipate for the upcoming half of the year.



#1:

Best book you’ve read so far in 2017? 

When Dimple Met Rishi
by Sandhya Menon

When Dimple Met Rishi was utter perfection. Whether you love Young Adult contemporary novels or not, I highly recommend reading When Dimple Met Rishi. It is an adorable YA contemporary novel that follows two Indian-American teens that attend the same summer camp because their families hope to arrange them into marrying one another. 

Dimple and Rishi were absolutely adorable together, they are one of my favorite YA couples. While both Dimple and Rishi are a year older than me and we have cultural differences, I was able to identify with both of them. I was able to relate to Dimple on her fears of moving forward and finding her own future. I was also able to relate to Rishi's torn future and expectations.

I cannot wait to read Sandhya's upcoming Young Adult releases, When Ashish Met Sweetie and From Twinkle, With Love. I highly recommend reading When Dimple Met Rishi. It is adorable, relatable, and my favorite book of the year so far. You can read my review of When Dimple Met Rishi here.



#2:

 Best sequel you've read so far in 2017?

Crooked Kingdom (Six of Crows #2)

by Leigh Bardugo

Crooked Kingdom is technically the only sequel I have read this year. I have read a couple companion novels, but none of them have been direct sequels. That is not to say that Crooked Kingdom is winning this category by default. I read both Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom this year and I loved them both. They were thrilling and heart-pounding reads that had me second guessing everything. 

I do prefer Six of Crows to Crooked Kingdom, but they were both enjoyable reads that I would gladly reread. I hope Leigh decides to expand the Grisha world further by creating another trilogy or duology. I would love to see the Six of Crows crew featured in them as well. Crooked Kingdom was a great sequel, but it was not the perfect closer. I loved that the plot was layered even more than Six of Crows and I also loved the progression of the character's relationships, but the ending was too open. It did not feel final or give me closure. You can read my review of both Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom here.



#3:

New release you haven't read yet, but want to?

The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue
by Mackenzi Lee

My preorder of The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue, which was released June 27th of this year, came in the mail a couple weeks ago; however, I have yet to have the time to pick it up. All I know about it is that it follows two siblings and the brother's best friend as they journey through Europe. I have heard nothing but rave reviews for the book, but I unfortunately have other books to read first. I would like to congratulate Mackenzi for hitting the New York Times bestseller list earlier this month with The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue.

I hope that I can read The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue before the beginning of the school year because I do not believe I will have much time to read during the school year. If you have already read The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue, please let me know what you thought in the comments below. Also, please motivate me in the comments to read the other books I am obligated to read so I can finally get around to reading The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue.



#4:

Most anticipated release for the second half of the year?

They Both Die at the End
by Adam Silvera

One of my favorite books of this year was Adam Silvera's History Is All You Left Me, which you can read my review of here. I absolutely loved History Is All You Left Me and I am highly anticipating Adam's third YA release, They Both Die at the End, which is expected to be released September 5th of 2017.

They Both Die at the End takes place in the distant future where scientists have been able to predict when you will die. There is an app that connects individuals that will die on the same day. They Both Die at the End follows two boys that connect on the app and spend their last day together.

They Both Die at the End sounds like an extremely emotional read and I have heard nothing but rave reviews. Thankfully it's release is only a little over a month away. I cannot wait to have my hands on a copy, I know what I will be doing on September 5th.



#5:

Biggest disappointment?

Silenced
by Leddy Harper

I was fortunate enough to receive an advanced digital copy of Silenced for review. The premise of the novel intrigued me and I was honored to be able to read it before the masses. However, it was a mess. I adored the first half of the story, but the second half was trash. The author should have completely scrapped the second half, rewrote it, or ended the novel half way through. 

The story follows the same characters throughout it's entirety, but I felt as though she mixed two different drafts together and the characters coincidentally had the same names and similar appearances. I dislike using the word hate when it comes to books because I feel that there is always something redeemable about a story, but I hated the second half of the story. The only reason I gave Silenced a two star rating is because I did enjoy the first half of the story, which I would have rated 4-5 stars on it's own. Please do not read Silenced. Even though I enjoyed the first half of the book, I would not recommend it. You can read my entire review of Silenced here.





#6 & 7:

Biggest surprise? Favorite new author?
(Debut or new to you)

North of Happy
by Adi Alsaid

I was fortunate enough to read an advanced copy of North of Happy this year and it shocked me. I had previously heard great things about Adi's other books, Let's Get Lost and Never Always Sometimes, but I did not realize how impactful North of Happy would be. North of Happy is deceptively cute and happy on the surface, but the book itself delves into loss, grief, and moving-on. It also has fun moments and features numerous recipes that you need in your life. North of Happy was a curve ball this year that I absolutely loved. You can read my full review of North of Happy here

North of Happy was the first book I read by Adi Alsaid, but it will most certainly not be my last. I am excited to read Let's Get Lost, which I own, and hopefully borrow a copy of Never Always Sometimes from my local library. I am excited to see what Adi releases next. North of Happy put him on my to-be-read radar. 



#8:

 Newest fictional crush?

Levi from 
The Color Project
by Sierra Abrams

The Color Project is Sierra Abrams' Young Adult debut and it is an extremely close second to When Dimple Met Rishi as my favorite book of the year. The Color Project is a unique and vibrant story that I absolutely fell in love with. I was fortunate enough to be a part of the blog tour for The Color Project, which you can read my post here

One of the best features of The Color Project is it's characters, particularly Levi. Levi is the creator of The Color Project. He is the main character, Bee's, love-interest. I absolutely adore them both together, but I have a serious crush on Levi. He is an absolute sweetheart and I love how easily he fits into Bee's family. Bee's father becomes the Dad Levi never had. Levi is precious and anyone would be lucky to have someone like him, not only in their life, but as their significant other. While I adore Levi, I must honorably mention Rishi from When Dimple Met Rishi, who I also developed a massive crush on. Rishi is a sweetheart as well and a hopeless romantic.




#9:

 Newest favorite character?

Inej from
Six of Crows (Six of Crows #1)
by Leigh Bardugo

Six of Crows features a unique and diverse cast of characters that the readers instantly fall in love with. While I prefer some characters more than others, they are a great cast and I loved learning about each of them. Kaz and Inej are my favorite characters from the series, but Inej is my favorite out of the two. 

Kaz and Inej have both overcome different obstacles in their past and those events have helped shape the individuals they are. While overcoming their pasts would be difficult for anyone, Kaz allowed his past to make him a monster while Inej allowed her past to make her stronger. Obviously both of them have had to become strong characters in order to survive life in Ketterdam, but Inej has allowed her past to make her life purposeful in a positive way. She wants to help save those that were forced into situations they never wanted to be in. She wants to be the hero that she never had. I love her resilience and ability to move forward and help others that are in a place she once was. 




#10:

A book that made you cry?

History Is All You Left Me
by Adam Silvera

History Is All You Left Me is an emotional journey and I cried on a couple occasions. History Is All You Left Me follows Griffin who is grieving for his ex-boyfriend, Theo, who he considers the love of his life. Griffin attempts to grieve for Theo by starting an unlikely friendship-of-sorts with Theo's boyfriend, Jackson. History Is All You Left Me is told in alternating chapters of the present and past. I was crying within the first chapter and the waterworks only got worse as the story began to unravel and the present intersected with the past. 

While it is a book that features a heavy topic, I never felt overly sad. The book was focused more on grieving and moving-on than loss itself. Every ending is always a beginning. I highly recommend reading History Is All You Left Me if you have yet to. I absolutely loved it and I cannot wait to read Adam's More Happy Than Not and his upcoming releases. You can read my full review of History Is All You Left Me here.




#11:

 A book that made you happy?

Salvaged (Saints of Denver #4)
by Jay Crownover

If you have been reading my blog for the last year or two, you probably know that I absolutely love Jay Crownover's Marked Men and Saints of Denver series. Salvaged was my most highly anticipated release of this year and I was fortunate enough to receive an advanced copy. Salvaged is the fourth and final book in the Saints of Denver series, the spin-off series to the Marked Men series. 

Poppy and Wheeler, the main characters of Salvaged, were two of my favorite characters from both series. The perfect end to the series is when they  finally receive their happily ever after. While I hope to see these characters revisited in the future, I am happy to let them go knowing that they are content and happy together. They deserved a future full of happiness and love, which they rightfully received. Poppy and Wheeler deserve nothing less. You can read my full review of Salvaged here.



#12:

 Most beautiful book you've bought so far this year (or received)?

Because You Love to Hate Me
Edited by Ameriie

Because You Love to Hate Me is an anthology in which authors are paired with a member of the BookTube community and the author is given a prompt, which was prepared by the BookTuber, to respond to. The anthology is focused on beloved infamous villains, hence the title, Because You Love To Hate Me. I am interested to see what villains will be included, whether they will be Disney villains, villains from other children stories, or other villains from pop culture.

I have yet to read the anthology, but it is absolutely stunning and features several of my favorite authors. I am interested to see if the beautiful cover art plays into any of the authors' stories. I love the color scheme, the use of font, and the flower itself. The cover designer did a fantastic job on it! Caz from the Little Book Owl on Youtube recently recreated the cover of Because You Love to Hate Me for a challenge during the Biannual Bibliothon, which you can watch here. I highly recommend doing so, it is a really cool video! If you have read the anthology, please let me know in the comments below which story was your favorite.




#13:

What books do you need to read by the end of the year?

The Mara Dyer Trilogy
by Michelle Hodkin

I have read the first two books in the series, The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer and The Evolution of Mara Dyer, twice, but I have never been able to get myself past page two of The Retribution of Mara Dyer. I remember finishing The Evolution of Mara Dyer in 2013 and painfully waiting for the release of The Retribution of Mara Dyer as it got pushed back. 

I was, by no means, boycotting The Retribution of Mara Dyer. I automatically started it when my preorder came in the mail. I just have a problem reading some of the content that was featured within the first couple pages. I put the book down expecting to come back to it in a couple days, but I never did. 

I attempted to reread the series before I met Michelle Hodkin at Comic-Con last year, but I only made it halfway through The Evolution of Mara Dyer before Con craziness swallowed me whole. With the release of The Becoming of Noah Shaw, the first novel in the spin-off series, The Shaw Confessions, I need to finally finish The Mara Dyer trilogy and move on to The Shaw Chronicles. I hope to finish The Mara Dyer trilogy before the beginning of the school year.



#14:

 Favorite Book Community Member

You tell me!

One of the worst things I do (or is it not do?) is that I rarely interact with other bookish community members. I watch a couple BookTube videos and follow a few bookish people on Instagram, but I scarcely read blog posts. Considering my lack of involvement, I do not believe I have the right to choose a favorite community member. Please let me know in the comments below who your favorite book community member is and make some recommendations! 




I tried to share my love for the books I read this year as much as I possibly could. I minimized the overlap as much as I could, but it was hard not to in some cases. Please let me know your responses to these questions in the comments below or leave a link to your post if you have already done this post!










Monday, July 24, 2017

Six of Crows (Six of Crows #1) & Crooked Kingdom (Six of Crows #2) by Leigh Bardugo

SummaryCriminal prodigy Kaz Brekker has been offered wealth beyond his wildest dreams. But to claim it, he'll have to pull off a seemingly impossible heist:

Break into the notorious Ice Court
(a military stronghold that has never been breached)

Retrieve a hostage
(who could unleash magical havoc on the world)

Survive long enough to collect his reward
(and spend it)

Kaz needs a crew desperate enough to take on this suicide mission and dangerous enough to get the job done - and he knows exactly who: six of the deadliest outcasts the city has to offer. Together, they just might be unstoppable - if they don't kill each other first (Via Goodreads.com).




Pages: 462

Release Date: September 29th, 2015 

Rating: 4.5/5 Stars






Summary: Welcome to the world of the Grisha.

After pulling off a seemingly impossible heist in the notorious Ice Court, criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker feels unstoppable. But life is about to take a dangerous turn—and with friends who are among the deadliest outcasts in Ketterdam city, Kaz is going to need more than luck to survive in this unforgiving underworld (Via Goodreads.com). 

Pages: 536


Release Date: September 27th, 2016


Rating: 4/5 Stars



Reviews:

In 2013, I started the Grisha trilogy and devoured Shadow and Bone and Siege and Storm, the only books out in the trilogy at the time. By the time Ruin and Rising, the third and final book in the trilogy, was released the following year, I had forgotten most of the content from the first two books and I never made the effort to reread the novels and finish the trilogy. I still have not finished the Grisha trilogy, but I hope to one day finish it. 

I have been hearing relentless hype surrounding the Six of Crows duology, as well as the Grisha trilogy, for years. The teen book club at my local library decided to read Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom for two of our summer meetings this year. Overall, I enjoyed the duology. I fell in love with the characters and the plots of Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom were mind-blowing and deeply developed; however, I was disappointed with the openness of the end and the lack of character development. The Six of Crows duology is worth the read, but I was somewhat disappointed. 





As a whole, I preferred Six of Crows to Crooked Kingdom. While Six of Crows ends with Inej taken, the end felt more final that the ending of Crooked Kingdom. Understandably, Leigh is more than likely keeping the end open because she can expand on these characters in the future; however, too much was left open. Crooked Kingdom created new relationships and delved deeper into them; however, the readers were forced to leave so soon. Both novels are rather lengthy, but I would have loved to see them longer. The plot is perfectly executed and unbelievably layered, but I would have loved to see Wylan and Jesper and Kaz and Inej continue their relationships instead of being locked out right when it started. I also would have liked to know if Nina reached Fjerda safely or at least how she was holding up on the boat. I would have preferred more closure. 

Six of Crows also developed the characters and their relationships to a point that I was okay leaving them at. However, the development of each character was extremely skewed throughout both of the novels. While Kaz is technically the main character of the duology, the novels unfairly focused on his development and past. Inej is also developed fairly well, but everyone else has their past randomly included and they are not balanced in any way. Obviously some characters have more traumatizing pasts than others, but I wish that each character was given equal time. Jesper and Wylan felt like strangers to me during Six of Crows, and they still do in a way, but they randomly got a decent amount of screen-time in Crooked Kingdom. I love Kaz and Inej the most, but I feel like that was purposeful because none of the other characters were flushed out as much as they were. I love these characters, but I feel as though there is so much I do not know about them. I understand that six characters, excluding Kuwei who is treated like a background character, is a lot to develop, but I wish a little more effort was put into them. 

While Matthias' death did hurt my heart slightly, I did not feel that because of him, I felt that because I was concerned for Nina. Along with Matthias, Nina is not one of my favorite characters of the duology, but their development was so interconnected that if you hurt one, you hurt both of them. It was tragic what happened to him, but hopefully Nina can continue forward and hopefully carry out Matthias' wish. I must admit, I hoped that if any of the crew died, it was either Matthias or Nina, but Matthias' final chapter did break my heart. 

The plot of Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom make up for all the faults that I had with the end and the character development. Leigh is an absolute genius and schemer, I would never want to have her against me. She created so many tiny holes, that no one can see without a microscope, and closed them or zipped through them. She went in directions no one would expect. I could not image having half-decent characters, let alone the characters she created, and also creating such an elaborate plot. It was a thrilling and nail-biting journey that had me flipping the pages even if I was afraid to.



Friday, July 21, 2017

Event Review: Julie Eshbaugh's Library Visit + Giveaways



Find Julie Online:
   
Twitter  I  Instagram  I  Pinterest   


Julie Eshbaugh is the author of Ivory and Bone and Obsidian and Stars, a Young Adult prehistoric duology that features the perfect blend of romance and action. I was fortunate enough to meet Julie Eshbaugh when she visited my local library on her Obsidian and Stars tour on July 8th. Her visit was an absolute blast, I am extremely lucky to have had the opportunity to meet her. 

Julie is an absolute sweetheart and I hope to meet her again in the future. She was extremely personal and it was easy to hold hours of conversation with her. Her talk was informative and captivating; it was a shame when it was over. I could have listened to her for hours. The event seemed more like catching up with an old friend at a local coffee shop than a book event. She was extremely engaging, funny, and kind. I learned so much more about publishing and her journey with the industry. She is a great resource for aspiring authors and I highly recommend picking up her Ivory and Bone duology. I also highly recommend visiting any of her tour stops in the future if she visits your region. It was one of my favorite bookish events that I have attended. I am thankful for Julie's visit.

I read Ivory and Bone prior to her visit and I really enjoyed it. The library actually hosted a book club discussion for Ivory and Bone a couple weeks prior to her visit. The book club meetings are a highlight of my week when we have them. We spoke about Julie's visit at our last meeting and those that I have spoken to that attended the event had a fantastic time and hope to host more events in the future. Julie's visit was an absolute success and I highly recommend taking any chances to meet authors that visit your region.





Giveaway 1:

Two winners will receive an Ivory and Bone and Obsidian and Stars swag pack, which includes bookmarks and a signed bookplate!




Rules:
  • You must be 18 years or older, unless you have a parent's permission
  • This giveaway is open Internationally
  • Once contacted, the winner will have 72 hours to respond with their address, or a new winner will be chosen
  • STARTS July 21st, 2017 at 12:00 a.m. EST 
  • ENDS September 3rd, 2017 at 12:00 a.m. EST

Disclaimer: I am not responsible for any lost or damaged packages







Giveaway #2: 

One winner will receive a signed copy 
of both Ivory and Bone and Obsidian and Stars





Rules:
  • You must be 18 years or older, unless you have a parent's permission
  • This giveaway is only open to the U.S.
  • Once contacted, the winner will have 72 hours to respond with their address, or a new winner will be chosen
  • STARTS July 21st, 2017 at 12:00 a.m. EST 
  • ENDS September 3rd, 2017 at 12:00 a.m. EST

Disclaimer: I am not responsible for any lost or damaged packages


a Rafflecopter giveaway



Good luck! 








(Julie Eshbaugh and Me)

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

Summary: The rom-com that everyone’s talking about! Eleanor & Park meets Bollywood in this hilarious and heartfelt novel about two Indian-American teens whose parents conspire to arrange their marriage.

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 (Via Goodreads.com).

Pages: 378

Release Date: May 30th, 2017

Rating: 5/5 Stars

Review:

When Dimple Met Rishi is the perfect Young Adult Contemporary novel for anytime of the year. It is one of the best YA debuts I have ever read and it is one of my favorite novels of the year. When Dimple Met Rishi features an adorable romance and two main characters that I would love to befriend in real life. When Dimple Met Rishi is a must-read YA contemporary novel for any YA lover.

Rishi is the most romantic male YA character I have ever encountered. He is constantly courting Dimple and thinking of adorable dates for the two of them to enjoy. He is an absolute sweetheart and I loved his dedication and appreciation for comics. Dimple was also a fantastic heroine. While I have yet to throw an iced coffee on anyone, I related to her determination and fierceness. I could also easily relate to her fear of the future and her unwillingness to give up her future for someone else. Together they made the perfect match.

I just recently returned home from Washington D.C. where I attended the Washington Journalism and Media Conference, a six-day journalism/media conference held at George Mason University. I had never attended a summer camp prior to WJMC. While I read When Dimple Met Rishi before leaving for the conference, I was able to fall more in love with the novel after my experience at WJMC.

I never thought you could fall in love with a person in a couple of months like Dimple and Rishi; however, I was able to fall in love with a group of people in six days at WJMC. I can never doubt characters ability to fall in love so fast because I truly made life-long friends at WJMC. If you can attend any summer camp that interests you, I highly recommend taking the chance. I was extremely nervous to be in a new city and new university with people I had never met, but it was one of the best experiences of my life. 

This was the first time I had read a book that featured Indian-American main characters. My only prior exposure to Indian culture was two years ago in school when we watched Bend It Like Beckham, which follows a British Indian main character, and the country of India was our topic of Academic Decathlon two years ago as well. However, AcaDec focused more on the history of the country, not the people and their culture. It was fascinating to learn more about Indian culture and I am glad that Sandhya is going to continue to publish stories featuring characters who lack representation in the publishing industry.  

When Dimple Met Rishi was an addictive and delectable YA contemporary novel that I could not get enough of. I am extremely excited for it's companion novel, When Ashish Met Sweetie, which follows Rishi's younger brother, Ashish. I am also excited for Sandhya's other YA contemporary novel From Twinkle, With Love. Sandhya's YA debut, When Dimple Met Rishi, was an absolute treat, I cannot wait to see where her stories take her. If you have yet to read When Dimple Met Rishi, I highly recommend doing so.