Review: How to Make a Wish by Ashley Herring Blake

HOW TO MAKE A WISH
Author: Ashley Herring Blake
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance
Pub Date: May 2, 2017
Publisher: HMH
Source: Library

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Grace, tough and wise, has nearly given up on wishes, thanks to a childhood spent with her unpredictable, larger-than-life mother. But this summer, Grace meets Eva, a girl who believes in dreams, despite her own difficult circumstances. 

One fateful evening, Eva climbs through a window in Grace’s room, setting off a chain of stolen nights on the beach. When Eva tells Grace that she likes girls, Grace’s world opens up and she begins to believe in happiness again.        How to Make a Wish is an emotionally charged portrait of a mother and daughter’s relationship and a heartfelt story about two girls who find each other at the exact right time.

TITLE: boring | nothing special | pretty good | caught my eye | perfection | music to my ears
COVER: not my favorite | goes well with rest of the series | boring | generic | pretty | series cover change | beautiful | HEART EYES
POV: 1st | 2nd | 3rd limited | 3rd omniscient | multiple POVs | too many POVs
CONCEPT: original as heck | run of the mill in genre | average | has potential | great idea, bad execution
MOOD: dark (at times) | hilarious | light hearted | romantic | depressing | suspenseful | fluffy | mysterious
PACING: snail’s pace | couldn’t keep up | mix of fast and slow | slow in the wrong places | fast in the wrong places | what even is pacing?
CHARACTERS: i’m in love | couldn’t connect | too many | well developed (all) | infuriating | annoying | precious babies | underdeveloped (all)| a mix of good and bad | diverse | okay | new favorite characters
ROMANCE: none | steamy | fluffy | OTP status | cute | not center stage | barely there | cheesy | instalove | slow burn | i ship it | love triangle
DIVERSITY: none | lgbtq+ (bi and lesbian rep) | racial (love interest is biracial) | religion | disabled | mental illness | body | #ownvoices

 

I was destined to love this book. I firmly believe this.

Why? Oh, let me tell you why.

I didn’t like the author’s first book, I’ll be honest. I thought it was cliche and as someone who has experienced something very similar to the things the main characters do, I thought it wasn’t well handled at all. And yet, I still wanted to read this book. Like Suffer Love, I have a very personal connection to this book.

I thought this would be easy to read. I thought I could pick it up and read it in a couple hours and be done.

I was very, very wrong. This book was beautiful and everything I could ever want it to be, but it was a heavy read for me.

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Review: Want by Cindy Pon

WANT
Author: Cindy Pon
Series: Want #1
Genre: YA, Sci-Fi, Romance
Pub Date: June 13, 2017
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Source: FC from ALAAC 2017

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Jason Zhou survives in a divided society where the elite use their wealth to buy longer lives. The rich wear special suits that protect them from the pollution and viruses that plague the city, while those without suffer illness and early deaths. Frustrated by his city’s corruption and still grieving the loss of his mother, who died as a result of it, Zhou is determined to change things, no matter the cost.

With the help of his friends, Zhou infiltrates the lives of the wealthy in hopes of destroying the international Jin Corporation from within. Jin Corp not only manufactures the special suits the rich rely on, but they may also be manufacturing the pollution that makes them necessary.

Yet the deeper Zhou delves into this new world of excess and wealth, the more muddled his plans become. And against his better judgment, Zhou finds himself falling for Daiyu, the daughter of Jin Corp’s CEO. Can Zhou save his city without compromising who he is or destroying his own heart?

 

review-at-a-glance

TITLE: boring | nothing special | pretty good | caught my eye | perfection | music to my ears
COVER: not my favorite | goes well with rest of the series | boring | generic | pretty | series cover change | beautiful | HEART EYES
POV: 1st | 2nd | 3rd limited | 3rd omniscient | multiple POVs | too many POVs
CONCEPT: original as heck | run of the mill in genre | average | has potential | great idea, bad execution
MOOD: dark | hilarious | light hearted | romantic | depressing | suspenseful | fluffy | mysterious
PACING: snail’s pace | couldn’t keep up | mix of fast and slow | slow in the wrong places | fast in the wrong places | what even is pacing?
CHARACTERS: i’m in love | couldn’t connect | too many | well developed (all) | infuriating | annoying | precious babies (Daiyu <3) | underdeveloped (all)| a mix of good and bad | diverse | okay | new favorite characters
ROMANCE: none | steamy | fluffy | OTP status | cute | center stage | barely there | cheesy | instalove | slow burn | i ship it | love triangle
DIVERSITY: none | lgbtq+ (side characters) | racial (mutliple different races) | religion | disabled | mental illness | body

 

Ah, science fiction, the genre that seems to get brushed aside. At least that’s how it seems when it comes to me. I read a ton of fantasy, but sci-fi is a different story. It’s not that I dislike the genre–quite the opposite. I love it. When my friends started reading Want and praising it, I knew I had to check it out. Plus, look at that cover! As soon as I had a gap in my reading schedule, I dove in and devoured the story in two days.

Overall, it was an enjoyable book (I wouldn’t have been able to read it so quickly if it was bad). It lands smack in the middle of star ratings; it had some great things about it, but it also had some weak spots.

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Hidden Gems as ALA: 11 Underrated Books to Look For

We all know those big blockbuster YA titles, the ones from NYT bestselling authors or authors with a mega popular series. These ARCs are often pushed hard, with big marketing budgets and a ton of promotion on social media. While those books can be super good, there are a ton of books that don’t get the same amount of promotion but sound just as good as the huge titles.

I kept an eye out for these books while I was at ALA, and I compiled a list of 11 books I think you should keep an eye out for in the upcoming months! Let’s get to those hidden gems, shall we?

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ARC Review: The Epic Crush of Genie Lo by F.C. Yee

THE EPIC CRUSH OF GENIE LO
Author: F.C. Yee
Series: Genie Lo #1
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Romance
Pub Date: August 8, 2017
Publisher: Amulet Books
Source: ARC from ALAAC 2017

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The struggle to get into a top-tier college consumes sixteen-year-old Genie Lo’s every waking thought. But when her sleepy Bay Area town comes under siege from hell-spawn straight out of Chinese folklore, her priorities are suddenly and forcefully rearranged.

Her only guide to the demonic chaos breaking out around her is Quentin Sun, a beguiling, maddening new transfer student from overseas. Quentin assures Genie she is strong enough to fight these monsters, for she unknowingly harbors an inner power that can level the very gates of Heaven.

Genie will have to dig deep within herself to summon the otherworldly strength that Quentin keeps talking about. But as she does, she finds the secret of her true nature is entwined with his, in a way she could never have imagined…

 

review-at-a-glance

TITLE: boring | nothing special | pretty good | caught my eye | perfection | music to my ears
COVER: not my favorite | goes well with rest of the series | boring | generic | pretty | series cover change | beautiful | HEART EYES
POV: 1st | 2nd | 3rd limited | 3rd omniscient | multiple POVs | too many POVs
CONCEPT: original as heck | run of the mill in genre | average | has potential | great idea, bad execution
MOOD: dark (at times) | hilarious | light hearted | romantic | depressing | suspenseful | fluffy | mysterious
PACING: snail’s pace | couldn’t keep up | mix of fast and slow | slow in the wrong places | fast in the wrong places | what even is pacing?
CHARACTERS: i’m in love | couldn’t connect | too many | well developed (all) | infuriating | annoying | precious babies | underdeveloped (all)| a mix of good and bad | diverse | okay | new favorite characters
ROMANCE: none | steamy | fluffy | OTP status | cute | not center stage | barely there | cheesy | instalove | slow burn | i ship it | love triangle
DIVERSITY: none | lgbtq+ | racial (chinese) | religion | disabled | mental illness | body | #ownvoices

 

All my friends have been raving about this book for weeks, so I just *had* to see what all the buzz was about. This book is making some waves in the book community, and rightly so–it sounds AMAZING. As soon as I got through all my books I needed to read for July, I jumped into this one, expecting the best.

Was it amazing? Yes, YES IT WAS! If you loved Percy Jackson, then you’ll love this book, too.

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ALA Annual 2017 Recap + Giveaway!

ALA Annual was a couple weeks ago, but better late than never, right? I went to ALA for the first time last June and it was by far the best book event I’ve ever been to. I was fortunate enough to be able to attend this year (shout out to Claribel–thank you again for making my dreams come true <3), and it certainly didn’t disappoint. Awesome signings, eagerly anticipated galleys, an amazing roommate (my love Ava) = the best time EVER?

The answer is yes. HELL YES IT WAS!! Stick around for a recap of the 3 days I was there, plus a giveaway for 5 books (including ARCs) and assorted swag!

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ARC Review: Little Monsters by Kara Thomas

LITTLE MONSTERS
Author: Kara Thomas
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Mystery, Thriller
Pub Date: July 25, 2017
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Source: ARC from #booksfortrade

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For fans of Pretty Little Liars, Little Monsters is a new psychological thriller, from the author of The Darkest Corners, about appearances versus reality and the power of manipulation amongst teenage girls.

Kacey is the new girl in Broken Falls. When she moved in with her father, she stepped into a brand-new life. A life with a stepbrother, a stepmother, and strangest of all, an adoring younger half sister.

Kacey’s new life is eerily charming compared with the wild highs and lows of the old one she lived with her volatile mother. And everyone is so nice in Broken Falls—she’s even been welcomed into a tight new circle of friends. Bailey and Jade invite her to do everything with them.

Which is why it’s so odd when they start acting distant. And when they don’t invite her to the biggest party of the year, it doesn’t exactly feel like an accident.

But Kacey will never be able to ask, because Bailey never makes it home from that party. Suddenly, Broken Falls doesn’t seem so welcoming after all—especially once everyone starts looking to the new girl for answers.

Kacey is about to learn some very important lessons: Sometimes appearances can be deceiving. Sometimes when you’re the new girl, you shouldn’t trust anyone.

 

review-at-a-glance

TITLE: boring | nothing special | pretty good | caught my eye | perfection | music to my ears
COVER: not my favorite | goes well with rest of the series | boring | generic | pretty | series cover change | beautiful | HEART EYES
POV: 1st | 2nd | 3rd limited | 3rd omniscient | multiple POVs (diary entries) | too many POVs
CONCEPT: original as heck | run of the mill in genre | average | has potential | great idea, bad execution
MOOD: dark | hilarious | light hearted | romantic | depressing | suspenseful | fluffy | mysterious
PACING: snail’s pace | couldn’t keep up | mix of fast and slow | slow in the wrong places | fast in the wrong places | what even is pacing?
CHARACTERS: i’m in love | couldn’t connect | too many | well developed (all) | infuriating | annoying | precious babies | underdeveloped (all)| a mix of good and bad | diverse | okay | new favorite characters
ROMANCE: none | steamy | fluffy | OTP status | cute | not center stage | barely there | cheesy | instalove | slow burn | i ship it | love triangle
DIVERSITY: none | lgbtq+ | racial (stepbrother is half korean) | religion | disabled | mental illness | body | #ownvoices

 

Ahh, thrillers. My current obsession. Usually, I only read adult thrillers, which is a little silly, because I’m obviously a huge fan of YA. So when I saw this YA thriller at ALA, I snatched it up. The blurb sounded promising, and the comparison to PLL made me intrigued.

Was it accurate? If you consider PLL a mysterious, twisty, disturbing thriller, then yes! (Also, if anyone has read Gillian Flynn, this book is like a mashup of Sharp Objects and Dark Places).

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ARC Review: Daughter of the Burning City by Amanda Foody

DAUGHTER OF THE BURNING CITY
Author: Amanda Foody
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Mystery, Romance
Pub Date: July 25, 2017
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Source: ARC from ALA

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A darkly irresistible new fantasy set in the infamous Gomorrah Festival, a traveling carnival of debauchery that caters to the strangest of dreams and desires.

Sixteen-year-old Sorina has spent most of her life within the smoldering borders of the Gomorrah Festival. Yet even among the many unusual members of the traveling circus-city, Sorina stands apart as the only illusion-worker born in hundreds of years. This rare talent allows her to create illusions that others can see, feel and touch, with personalities all their own. Her creations are her family, and together they make up the cast of the Festival’s Freak Show.

But no matter how lifelike they may seem, her illusions are still just that—illusions, and not truly real. Or so she always believed…until one of them is murdered.

Desperate to protect her family, Sorina must track down the culprit and determine how they killed a person who doesn’t actually exist. Her search for answers leads her to the self-proclaimed gossip-worker Luca, and their investigation sends them through a haze of political turmoil and forbidden romance, and into the most sinister corners of the Festival. But as the killer continues murdering Sorina’s illusions one by one, she must unravel the horrifying truth before all of her loved ones disappear.

 

review-at-a-glance

TITLE: boring | nothing special | pretty good | caught my eye | perfection | music to my ears
COVER: not my favorite | goes well with rest of the series | boring | generic | pretty | series cover change | beautiful | HEART EYES
POV: 1st | 2nd | 3rd limited | 3rd omniscient | multiple POVs | too many POVs
CONCEPT: original as heck | run of the mill in genre | average | has potential | great idea, bad execution
MOOD: dark | hilarious | light hearted | romantic | depressing | suspenseful | fluffy | mysterious
PACING: snail’s pace | couldn’t keep up | mix of fast and slow | slow in the wrong places | fast in the wrong places | what even is pacing?
CHARACTERS: i’m in love | couldn’t connect | too many | well developed (all) | infuriating | annoying | precious babies | underdeveloped (all)| a mix of good and bad | diverse | okay | new favorite characters
ROMANCE: none | steamy | fluffy | OTP status | cute | not center stage | barely there | cheesy | instalove | slow burn | i ship it | love triangle
DIVERSITY: none | lgbtq+ (demisexual) | racial | religion | disabled | mental illness | body | #ownvoices

 

I’ve been looking forward to this book since the deal was announced in PW. This book sounds a lot like Caraval, but don’t be fooled–they’re not quite that different. Yes, they both involve carnivals, but Daughter of the Burning City was like if Caraval met American Horror Story–it has a dark, mysterious feeling that makes for a great atmosphere.

This book, in my opinion, was better than Caraval, but it still had some problems.

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Review: Ramona Blue by Julie Murphy

RAMONA BLUE
Author: Julie Murphy
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance
Pub Date: May 9, 2017
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Source: Library

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Ramona was only five years old when Hurricane Katrina changed her life forever.

Since then, it’s been Ramona and her family against the world. Standing over six feet tall with unmistakable blue hair, Ramona is sure of three things: she likes girls, she’s fiercely devoted to her family, and she knows she’s destined for something bigger than the trailer she calls home in Eulogy, Mississippi. But juggling multiple jobs, her flaky mom, and her well-meaning but ineffectual dad forces her to be the adult of the family. Now, with her sister, Hattie, pregnant, responsibility weighs more heavily than ever.

The return of her childhood friend Freddie brings a welcome distraction. Ramona’s friendship with the former competitive swimmer picks up exactly where it left off, and soon he’s talked her into joining him for laps at the pool. But as Ramona falls in love with swimming, her feelings for Freddie begin to shift too, which is the last thing she expected. With her growing affection for Freddie making her question her sexual identity, Ramona begins to wonder if perhaps she likes girls and guys or if this new attraction is just a fluke. Either way, Ramona will discover that, for her, life and love are more fluid than they seem.

 

review-at-a-glance

TITLE: boring | nothing special | pretty good | caught my eye | perfection | music to my ears
COVER: not my favorite | goes well with rest of the series | boring | generic | pretty | series cover change | beautiful | HEART EYES
POV: 1st | 2nd | 3rd limited | 3rd omniscient | multiple POVs | too many POVs
CONCEPT: original as heck | run of the mill in genre | average | has potential | great idea, bad execution
MOOD: dark | hilarious (at times) | light hearted | romantic | depressing | suspenseful | fluffy | mysterious
PACING: snail’s pace | couldn’t keep up | mix of fast and slow | slow in the wrong places (only the beginning) | fast in the wrong places | what even is pacing?
CHARACTERS: i’m in love | couldn’t connect | too many | well developed (all) | infuriating | annoying | precious babies | underdeveloped (all)| a mix of good and bad | diverse | okay | new favorite characters
ROMANCE: none | steamy | fluffy | OTP status | cute | center stage | barely there | cheesy | instalove | slow burn | i ship it | love triangle
DIVERSITY: none | lgbtq+ | racial | religion | disabled | mental illness | body (SUPER tall)

 

Ramona Blue is a book I wanted to read for awhile. I heard a lot of discourse relating to the main character’s sexuality, and when I saw it sitting on the shelf of my library, I thought “Why not?” and grabbed it. I thought I would simply add my two cents and read this book without much fanfare.

This is one of the best books I’ve ever read.

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